Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 93

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Usage section

(1) I seek consensus to add the following:

Avoid the use of wordings such as "note that" and "remember that", which change the tenor by directly instructing the readers.

(2) As the invisible comment says, this is probably better in the Abbreviatinos section: "Abbreviations of Latin terms like i.e. and e.g., or use of the Latin terms in full, such as “nota bene”, or “vide infra”, should be left as the original author wrote them. In the main text of articles intended for a general audience, consider spelling out the item in English (“that is”, “for example”).<!-- why is this not in [[#Abbreviations]]?-->

(3) I wonder whether this is better in the Varieties of English section: "Use an unambiguous word or phrase in preference to an ambiguous one. For example, use “other meaning” rather than “alternate meaning” or “alternative meaning”, since alternate means only “alternating” to a British-English speaker, and alternative suggests “nontraditional” or “out-of-the-mainstream” to an American-English speaker. Tony (talk) 01:21, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

Agree strongly with 1, but it could (should?) be made more general - we do not address the reader directly. I think we already do say that somewhere, so we could just add these examples as subtle variants to watch out for. Point #2 sounds very reasonable. Same for #3, as far as placement, though I think it probably exaggerates the actual case considerably (not the topic under discussion here; just a side comment). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 04:55, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

I strongly disagree with your first suggestion. These are rhetorical phrases, and much finely crafted prose uses them freely. I strongly disagree with your third suggestion as well, at least as far as your example goes. "Other meaning" is awkward, and "alternative meaning" will only suggest "nontraditional [sic]" in a slang context. An encyclopedia needs to be written in formal prose. I mildly disagree with your second suggestion. TheScotch 07:44, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

(2) and (3) are not my suggestions: they're there already, if you'd bothered to look. I disagree that much finely crafted prose uses "note that" and "remember that". Please provide examples. Doesn't sound finely crafted to me. Tony (talk) 09:47, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Words to avoid covers (1), though that guideline does ramble a bit. I'm not clear what the "Usage" in the "Usage and spelling" section title means. It seems a bit of a mixed bag. I can't see any spelling guidelines in that section either. Colin°Talk 11:33, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

  1. 1 is fine with me (perhaps it should live with Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Avoid second-person pronouns). Could we add the Latin phrase Nota bene to your short list of what constitutes addressing the reader? N.B. instructs the reader to "note (this information) carefully" and as such is another direct mode of addressing the reader. WhatamIdoing 16:10, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
I would say that that that isn't really what n.b means anymore. It might stand for nota bene, which literally means "note well" (or indeed "note good"), but the usage has drifted so much that it really doesn't mean that literally anymore. Usually, writers use it for emphasis or to denote a caveat. It's not great to use, but I wouldn't want to see it recommended against strongly. Plus, of course, if it's in a quote it gets left alone. SamBC(talk) 18:26, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

De-bolding synonyms

When did not bolding synonyms for a person become the new rule? Or not having it as a standard in MOS? Can I now deBold every synonym in every biography in Wikipedia? See: [[1]] --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) 08:50, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

Since that part of MOS was overhauled a few months ago. Now it's optional. "Equivalent names may follow, and may or may not be in boldface." Sometimes it just makes the opening look ugly/lumpy. But don't upset people by mass debolding—unless you think they won't mind. Tony (talk) 09:45, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
Why was this made optional? If they appear they should be bolded, for consistency's sake, surely. Either that or don't bold them at all. It's just weird to have some articles bold alternative titles and others not do it (and really weird to have people editwarring over it.) — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:52, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Because they can look so untidy—bold all over the place at the top of an article. Why is it necessary to bold any more than the subject of the article title? This came up at the FAC page, where one nomination had a large number of synomyms that were all bolded. In those cases, it's better to have the option of not bolding every one of them. It made the page hard to read. Making it mandatory not to bold all synonyms would have been a back-compatibility problem. Tony (talk) 14:02, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
PS It's not something I feel strongly about, so I'd agree with whatever you feel is best. Tony (talk) 16:44, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
The rationale as I recall was to highlight the alternate names so that persons arriving at the topic via a redirect would not be left wondering "WTF am I doing at X topic when I wanted Y?" This is perhaps more significant where the alternate names are very dissimilar or somewhat unexpected. Where the alternates are simple variations on a theme, there is little point to the added emphasis. olderwiser 16:55, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

Links in titles

On "Wikipedia:Only make links that are relevant to the context" it says: "As a general rule, do not put links in the bold reiteration of the title in the article's lead sentence or any section title." Following the link given: "from Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Article titles" - I couldn't find an account of this guideline concerning section titles. I found Wikipedia:Lead section#Bold title, which refers only to avoiding links in the bold title words. Does this guideline still apply to section titles, and if so, what's the reasoning behind it? Dan Pelleg 10:43, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

The reasons are that:
  1. Some preference settings make clicking on the section head open that section for editing - this means the links are non-usable
  2. In certain settings and for some vision problems the presence of links will be hidden.
  3. It overloads the section heading.

Rich Farmbrough, 12:35 9 October 2007 (GMT).

Nobiliary particles: usage and capitalization?

Hi, I just would like to clarify our usage and capitalization conventions for nobiliary particles. These are the "of" words used in many European languages to denote that the family belongs to the hereditary nobility. Examples might be Charles de Gaulle, Simone de Beauvoir, Max von Laue, Johannes Diderik van der Waals and Lorenzo de' Medici.

My questions are whether we should include the nobiliary particle (de, della, von, van, etc.) whatsoever, and where it should be capitalized. My own preference would be to include it as part of the last name (e.g., "After winning the battle, de Gaulle returned to...") and to capitalize it only when it occurs as the first word in a sentence, e.g., "Van der Waals proposed a modification of the ideal gas law, which von Laue confirmed experimentally..." or (possibly) in a section heading or article title, e.g., ==Della Rovere family==.

I'm sure that this is treated in one or another style manual, but I haven't found it as yet. Any suggestions or clarification would be very welcome — thank you! :) Willow 15:15, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

Good luck. The article van (Dutch) shows some of the problems that arise as one country differs from another in its use of prefixes. rgds, johnmark† 16:59, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
Also note that these are not always "Nobiliary" as they are in German and as such their capitalization varies. Even the usage of Van and van differs between Belgium and Dutch in the same language. We can apply to each name the same common use in English standard we apply in other situations. Rmhermen 20:21, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for your help and insights! I never knew all that about the Dutch van. :) Unfortunately, I'm a little unclear on the solution. Do you mean that we should adopt the same custom as the originating country does, e.g., Belgian typography for Belgian names and Dutch typography for Dutch names? It's a minor technical point, I realize; I was just curious whether WP had any consistent policy on such nominal particles. Willow 22:42, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

We should do what English does. If you are using an English source, follow it, unless a majority of other English sources disagree; this will usually (but not always) be what the original language does. Since the original languages are not consistent among themselves, and English is not consistent in following them, no simpler rule is possible, or desirable; although your example is often a good first guide. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:00, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

Establishing geographical context

I didn't know where to post this comment, so please move it to the appropriate page. I noticed that many editors (especially those working on US articles , and obvsiously know intimetly the country) take for granted that the average editor have the same knowledge of the country as them and often omit specifiyng the country in which the article refers to. Examples include:

  • In biographical infoboxes, for a US native the country USA is rarely mentioned (Portland, Maine instead of Portland, Maine, USA)
  • For an article related to a place of person in the United States, the name of the country is not mentioned once in the lead, instead editors rely on the name of the state to establish the geographical context.

What Im saying is that editors should be precise when establishing the geographical context of the article in the lead, and indicating the country should be highly recommended.

Note that the same applies for UK-related articles, however when commenting on this issue, editors were strongly opposed to using (for example) Manchester, England, UK or even indicating that it is located in UK. Thank you for your comments. CG 16:29, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

I think that this context is often aided by wikilinking the location. If this is sufficient is certainly open to debate. SamBC(talk) 18:47, 29 September 2007 (UTC)
Heck, who doesn't know where Maine is? Tony (talk) 09:37, 30 September 2007 (UTC)
Um, WP:BIAS? SamBC(talk) 14:07, 30 September 2007 (UTC)
To give a slightly better response, I know plenty of people here in the UK who wouldn't recognise Maine as being in the US, or even a US state. A lot of British people certainly couldn't name the 50 states (I can on a good day), and many couldn't even recognise them (given a list of, say, 60 place names, they wouldn't be able to say confidently which 10 weren't US states, unless you chose the 10 to be ones they would recognise). Your example is especially good because it isn't one of the states that British folks tend to be aware of (like California, Florida, New York, Texas and the like); a lot of Brits are also unaware of the difference between Washington DC (which we are probably all familiar with) and Washington state. Outside the native-English-speaking world, I wouldn't be surprised if the same is true of the UK nations. Well, maybe a little surprised. The point is, just because most contributors would be surprised to meet people who didn't know it, doesn't mean we can work with the assumption that people will. SamBC(talk) 14:14, 30 September 2007 (UTC)
Portland, Maine, is American idiom; Portland, Maine, United States, is nobody's idiom. Therefore we should use the first, in accordance with the section on National Varieties of English. Some readers will have to click on the link to Portland, Maine, which is the reason we require the link. Portland is not alone in this; far more readers will have to click on Naypyidaw, or even Myanmar.Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:09, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
As it happens, I agree with you. I was just explaining above why there might be a concern about geographics context. I think the link provides the context just fine. SamBC(talk) 17:34, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
Nice to find an area of agreement. Yes, we should be careful; but we should not require the unnatural. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:39, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
Ok, I understand that Portland, Maine, USA is odd, but aren't we following a US or UK bias when it is required to specify that Rangoon is in Myanmar, while it is assumed that the location of Maine is known? I'm thinkin of proposing a change to WP:LEAD to make the geographical context (up to the country) required in the lead. What do you think? CG 15:43, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
No. We are not required to provide infinite amounts of context; for example we are not required to say that Rangoon, Burma, is in SE Asia. Those who need context can follow links; that's what they are for. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:36, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
We are not, strictly speaking, required to say it's in Burma, and it may yet be the settlement to a POV dispute to say neither Burma nor Myanmar. It's a good idea, of course. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:07, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
Giving the country a city is located in can hardly be called "infinite" context. It is one of the most elementary geographical indicators. Leaving the country name out if it happens to be the USA is clearly a regional bias. −Woodstone 21:45, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
No, it's called writing English; in Portland's case, in accord with a long-established convention here, American English. I regret that sound American does not satisfy you; but Wikipedia is not a language reform movement. Feel free to start one, and I'm sure Wikipedia will adapt when you succeed. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:03, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
This is interesting, at Wikipedia: WikiProject Ice Hockey we decided for NHL players birthplaces - if born in Canada or USA, used city-province/state and if born elsewhere city-country. GoodDay 22:11, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
And our existing guidelines at WP:NCGN and WP:NC (settlements) say that
  • we should refer to Portland by the name of its article,
  • the names of American municipalities should, with some exceptions, be in the form Portland, Maine.
  • There is some sentiment to change the naming convention, but all of it would change to Portland, or, for disambiguation, Portland (Maine). The exceptions are also simple forms, like Chicago. No one has yet argued, in pages and pages of discussion, for Portland, Maine, USA. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:19, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
Sept has a point, would we change Chicago to Chicago, Illinois, USA or Toronto to Toronto, Ontario, Canada? GoodDay 22:30, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

(outdent)A balance is required between the easy, unambiguous identification of a city, and uncluttered brevity for the readers (and even the avoidance of irritants). Where a city is very well-known, let's not go for the formulaic US-address mantra, especially when the country-context is clear. "Chicago", "Los Angeles" and "New York" (when clearly the city), should be well-enough-known to every English speaker in context. Including the state is entirely ephemeral, and the country unnecessary in most cases. Same for "London", unless it's not clearly a UK context and there's a need to disambiguate with "London, Ontario". For less well-known cities/towns, the state would be good, but not the country unless the context gives no help. Triple-bungers might occasionally be necessary (Portland, Maine, US - unless we're already talking about Maine), but they clutter the text.

But please, after the first occurrence in an article, it shouldn't be necessary to tag the name of a city with any state/country ID, should it? Same for links, of course. Tony (talk) 03:37, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

I think you're getting far from what I originally suggested. I'm not talking about changing article titles to for example Chicago, Illinois, USA , this is up to the community to decide for a naming convention that harmonize all geographic titles. I'm talking about defining the context in the lead of the article so any reader will be able to localize the subject of the article easily. For example, I've been pushing for using the form it is located in the U.S. state of Pensylvania instead of it is located in Pensylvania as a minimum format in order to help the reader (Look how a tributary of a river is located in thePlunketts Creek (Loyalsock Creek) article). My idea is to adopt a convention that require that at least the country name is mentioned in the lead. CG 20:09, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Sorry about that, my misunderstanding. GoodDay 20:23, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
This being enWP, it can be assumed that people know that Pennsylvania is in the Untied States. If not , the link will tell them. Similarly for the primary subdivisions of the other major english-speaking countries. DGG (talk) 00:56, 13 October 2007 (UTC)
How explicit something has to be depends upon many things. I've been running through state and city articles where there are numerous references to cities by single name. There's no need to require "Paris, SomeState" when "Paris" is nearby (or in a state), particularly if the city name happens to be wikilinked to the right article. (SEWilco 02:21, 13 October 2007 (UTC))
And no need to link "Paris" either, pullease. Tony (talk) 03:34, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
I agree with the suggestion that the lead of the article use the form "it is located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania" (and disagree that the country definition should be left out because this is the English WP). This form strikes a good balance between avoiding regional bias and being verbose and annoying to USA-based readers. hajhouse 18:06, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Article Layout

What is the policy or consensus on the structure (alignment) of an article?

I realise that all the articles (that I have visited) are left aligned, but has anyone considered the fact that it may be more encyclopaedia like to have the text 'justified' for some or all of the articles. Anyway, since I am new, I was wondering if someone could tell me there opinion on this matter, as it was just an idea I had. -Jack 04:42, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

Justified type is, generally speaking, more difficult to read than regularly left-aligned type. I think it could be left alone. EVula // talk // // 04:44, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

Hmmm...For arguments sake, is this your opinion or are u speaking on behalf of everyone? Note: Please don't take my question the wrong way (I do not mean anything by this question, other then the fact that I wish you to expand on what you are saying), I am just wondering how you find it harder to read, when it can make a document (or article) appear more professional (more reliable). -Jack 05:37, 2 October 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Stealth Carbon Eagle (talkcontribs)

Strictly my opinion. What I do feel comfortable speaking on behalf of everyone on, though, is that changing the formatting of the page won't make a document look more reliable; adding references and reliable sources will. Anything less is just a shallow attempt. EVula // talk // // 06:01, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
Formatting of the page is done by the reader's software. Find a web browser which will do text justification. (SEWilco 13:56, 2 October 2007 (UTC))

You do realise I am refering to the alignment structure of an article, not some software which helps people build websites for them. Anyway, text justification is done by inserting the following code in the 'edit this page' section (without the brackets) and by appropriately placing the relevant parts where necessary:

(<)div style="text-align: justify;"(>)TEXT(<)/div(>) -Jack 04:28, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

It's already there. If you are a registered user you can set justification in your user preferences. Go to tab "misc" and check "Justify paragraphs". −Woodstone 21:08, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Number of references

Well, what you have just mentioned leads me to a new question I would like to put forward. Why is it that some articles have a lot of proper references (and citations) and reliable information and yet, some articles (I have also come across) have factual information but few (and sometimes no) citations or references? -Jack 06:29, 2 October 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Stealth Carbon Eagle (talkcontribs)

Because nobody has provided the references for it yet. :) EVula // talk // // 13:50, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

Hahaha, well that is a point. But it doesn't really justify the reason for articles being set out like this. Let me give you an example I have come across...Age of Empires III: The War Chiefs - It has factual info, but only 2 references, one of which I added. So, how can you state that it hasen't been referenced yet, when people continue to add stuff to it. Therefore, the information they have obtained will most likely have to have come from a source...however, I do realise that some of the info given is based on gameplay and I will admit that this info cannot be referenced, generally speaking, but besides this how can you justify this? Hahahaha, it should be referenced more like Age of Empires III...I congratulate those who did this and my hat goes off to them, wow, what a lot of effort. Anyway, any comments? - Jack 04:22, 3 October 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Stealth Carbon Eagle (talkcontribs)

You know, none of that is really relevant to the talk page for the Manual of Style. EVula // talk // // 15:48, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

Recent edit to "avoid first-person pronouns"

Someone has added this: "It is customary to use we in mathematical derivations; for example: “To normalize the wavefunction, we need to find the value of the arbitrary constant A." In historical fields, it is also customary to use we of the present age as a whole: "The fragments of Menander which have come down to us...".

I do wish that such additions to the text were posted here, even for a day or two, so that they could be improved. Why, for example, wouldn't you just write "The surviving fragments of Menander"? Is there a need for the ellipsis dots? If so, insert a space before them. Why not use the customary formatting for examples in MOS: parentheses, pure and simple?

There's also a faint possibility that some folk might object to the addition. I don't, at first look, but it would be practical and, dare I says it, courteous, to use the expertise of users on this page. It's a collaborative project. And does the Mathematics submanual sing from the same songsheet? It would be nice to be reassured first. Tony (talk) 13:58, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

Aww, did someone insert a fact on the page Tony owns? This is a wiki; improve it in place. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:42, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
Um, WP:BRD? It's a nontrivial change, so if one is more than slightly dubious, revert and discuss is generally recommended. Would you care to discuss? SamBC(talk) 17:46, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
Also, Tony didn't revert it, and he started this discussion section before it was reverted, I think. SamBC(talk) 18:10, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes; I oppose the attitude that we need to discuss changes in the absence of any objection or reversion. Without an actual objection, there's very little to discuss. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:44, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
WP:MSM cautions against "we", but doesn't say it's unacceptable. The implication seems to be that it's best avoided, but not a huge problem; it's in a huge list of constructs to which there's the same attitude. It certainly contradicts the idea that it's "customary". However, the idea that it's acceptable was, I believe, present before the recent edit in question.
As regard history, I'm no historian. It seems, however, the contexts like that given are just as easy to avoid using the first-person plural in, and very nearly as desirable, including for the sake of consistency. SamBC(talk) 18:15, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
I can, I think, speak for the classicists; the phrase quoted is idiom, and I've seen it pointlessly objected to. Since the we involved is not Wikipedia, while the mathematical we usually could be, the arguments in the rest of the section do not apply. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:44, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
By raising the matter here rather than reverting this unannounced change, I was trying to be polite and non-confrontational; I do this where possible. This time, for my trouble, all it got me was an accusation that I think I "own" this page. Tony (talk) 23:27, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
You don't dispute the change; you admit that it is unlikely that anybody does, and no-one seems to. If this is not ownership, it is bureaucracy for its own sweet sake, which is nomenklatura. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:19, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
There was a reasonable concern, and some specific queries, but nothing to definitely object to it. Questions about comparisons with other sections of the MOS. What exactly is wrong with that? Or are you just objecting to Tony for objection's sake? SamBC(talk) 00:31, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
Tony, I'd advise you to ignore the ownership thing... it's totally bogus. Discussing without reversion is the most appropriate thing to do when there's no major objection, but some question. SamBC(talk) 00:31, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
Discussion is always welcome; and if Tony comes up with a question, I will be happy to answer it, or revise to meet it. It's the bogus procedural claim which I reject. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:34, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
Thing is, substantive changes to policy and, to a lesser extent, guidelines is supposed to merit discussion in advance. The {{guideline}} tag even implies this - how can you have any confidence that a substantive change represents consensus without discussion? I don't think Tony's comment was unreasonable. SamBC(talk) 00:42, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
This page doesn't represent consensus now; even less than it is a rational manual of style. It represents a few willful cranks. The only possible evidence that it was consensus would be if many Wikipedians read it, which does not appear to be true, and all of them were free to change it without revert warriors defending it, which is not true. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:26, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
(Outdent) Your comment is coming awfully close to a personal attack of others here, Anderson. I've removed the third example of the "open your eyes and you see something" example; it's stronger and clearer with just the two examples, and mixing up the passive voice issue with the main point here will confuse some readers. But no one is going to find it a compelling usage when illustrated with such a lame example. I'm also uncomfortable with the fuzziness ("it might be better") and the inappropriateness of citing a usage that is explicitly framed as inferior to the example just provided. Too many shades, angles, levels. MOS should be simple, clear and plain.

"Nevertheless, it is sometimes appropriate to use we when referring to an experience that any reader would be expected to have, such as general perceptual experiences. For example, although it might be best to write “When most people open their eyes, they see something”, it is still legitimate to write “When we open our eyes, we see something”.

Tony (talk) 07:36, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, the alleged "norm" of "we" does not in my experience apply outside of elementary school texts. I just went back to university after ages, to finish my degree finally, and got arm-twisted into taking a math class; the textbook does not use "we" phrasing. I don't see a rationale for supporting infantilizing language in Wikipedia. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 09:22, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
I take it it was not a graduate degree in mathematics; the locution is routine at that level also. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:11, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm beginning more and more to resent accusations here and at MOS subpages that Tony1 is engaging in WP:OWNership. For one thing, it is a very blatant accusation of bad faith on his part, and secondarily relegatates the participation of others here to irrelevancy, as if my and 50+ others' input has no value. Enough of that, please. I didn't get every darned thing I wanted when I first came to MoS and started editing, but I've realized over time that this is a good thing. The MoS needs to be stable. I hope you (PMAnderson/Septentrionalis) figure that out ,too. I'm honestly shocked that you haven't; your and my participation at in the enormous debates at and revolving around WP:ATT seemed pretty mutually helpful and rational (against a wave of nonsensical crap) to me, so I find it frustrating and odd to be at loggerheads with you so frequently here. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 09:30, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm sorry to see that, as I said above. From my POV, this page strongly resembles WP:ATT: Tony and a handful of friends are revert-warring for a strong POV, which they have written into this obscure page, and which is not widely supported beyond it, and attempting to control Wikipedia by setting Rules for All Wikipedia to Tremble and Obey. I don't think I need to spell out the analogy, especially since the ATT disaster is long since over; but the result is likely to be the same. Good ideas were lost when ATT crashed, in the middle of the sea of -er- nonsense; and in this case, there's no obvious fallback. As for their good faith: no, I do not doubt their sincerity; but then I am sure that most of the protests of a certain prominent admin that her actions were all intended for the good of Wikipedia were sincere too.
As for MOS; no, it does not need to be stable; it needs to be consensus of Wikipedia, which it is not; it needs to support clear, intelligent, English in all its varieties, which it does not. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:20, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

Foreign terms

I see a contradiction between these two sentences as they stand, the section entitled "No common usage in English":

Wikipedia prefers italics for phrases in other languages and for isolated foreign words that do not yet have common usage in English. However, in an article on a subject for which there is no English-language term, the foreign term does not require italicization.

Surely the foreign term should be consistently italicised throughout? BrainyBabe 08:10, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

The second-sentence clarification is key here: "in an article on a subject for which there is no English-language term". There is no English-equivalent term for enchilada. In some other article (e.g. Mexican cuisine) this term would be italicized as a loanword. At Enchilada it would not be italicized, as this italicization would rapidly become tedious for both editor and reader. I can actually see an argument... scratch that, I am hereby making an argument, that the first (i.e. beginning of lead sentence) occurrence of "enchilada" should be italicized (as well as boldfaced per WP:LEAD) at Enchilada. <yelling for others' input goes here> I'm not entirely certain that this makes sense. If not, please WP:TROUT me. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 09:05, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
I could go either way on that, to be honest. It does make logical sense, but the meaning of the italicisation may be lost when combined with bolding. SamBC(talk) 11:23, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
Hmm. In my idiolect, "enchilada" has been accepted as a loan word into English and as such is a poor example, although I acknowledge the point, and the distinction between item-mentioned-in-passing and item-mentioned-as-subject-of-article. I disagree that consistent and repeated italicisation is necessarily tedious. Visually, I would have to agree that emboldening and italicising in tandem is too difficult to process. BrainyBabe 11:39, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
I would agree with you on the specific example (I would consider enchilada, taco, burrito all loanwords, and possibly fajita as well - much like bolognese), but I think we all get the gist of what is meant. Consistent and repeated italicisation is okay, and I would say that isn't the best (or even a very good) reason to not italicise the subject of the article. One good reason to my mind, is to avoid any possible confusion as to why the word is italicised, especially with new users. Another is that it seems strange to highlight the foreigness of a word that we're actually writing an article about (or about the actual thing the word refers to). Where there's a subject that is often referred to by a non-English-language name that also has a (possibly less well known) English-language name (not that I can think of an example), then generally I think the article should be at the English-language name as an article, with redirects for the others, and those can certainly be consistently and repeatedly italicised when they occur in the article, even when bolded on first use, in my opinion. SamBC(talk) 11:48, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
I think enchilada is a bad example, because I agree it is a loan word, meaning "enchilada". Please consider banausos, which is not, despite occasional nonce uses, accepted in English; the article italicizes, and I think it does well to do so. But drawing this line should be a matter of article-by-article editorial judgment, not a ruling here. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:25, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

Double Standard in British/Irish related articles

There seems to be a 'double standard' applied to these articles. For example - British Isles is forbidden at Ireland and Lough Neagh & yet Irish Sea is allowed at Ireland, Great Britain. Why is this so? GoodDay 17:30, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

Because it is a point of honour for Irish nationalists, but not for British nationalists, in their several varieties. Should it be so? Probably not. Will fiddling with MOS change it? Almost certainly not. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:14, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
It's just Wikipedia frowns, on edits being politically controlled. GoodDay 22:32, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
While bare logic would agree with you, it's more complicated when there's strong feelings about such things. Plus, I don't know anyone who objects to the Irish Sea being call the Irish Sea. The Irish wouldn't exactly object, and it's what the British call it because it's the sea between us and Ireland. In any case, trying to "solve" the problem is a bit of Cnut situation. SamBC(talk) 23:32, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Let me be less cynical: You are almost certainly right; but it will take a lot of work, and this is not the most productive place to do it. Try WT:NPOV, and if the Irish are really obnoxious about it, the methods of Wikipedia:dispute resolution. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:26, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
That's OK, there seems to be compromise in the works. Irish articles leaning to Irish edits, UK articles leaning to British edits and mixed articles accepting 'compromise' edits. Here's hoping. GoodDay 15:49, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
I have had this argument many times with Irish people personally. They always seemed cool about it once I explained the "British Isles" is merely a geographical expression. What else could you call them? Any other term I can think of would also include the Frisian Islands and half of Denmark! TinyMark 16:09, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
British Isles simply isn't being accepted. Currently, there's a compromise proposal (British-Irish Isles) at Ireland and Lough Neagh. It may be the only way to end the dispute. GoodDay 16:12, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
I seem to recall that the term "British Archipelago" is a more inclusive and correct term, but it's the "British" that causes the objections, because it puts Britain in a position of conceptual seniority. I'm stating this without reading the actual dispute, by the way. If that compromise works, then that's fine, as long as it doesn't lead to a renaming of the British Isles article. SamBC(talk) 16:31, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
I don't think the British Isles article will be renamed. The proposed compromise would be 'wiki-linked' to it - Example: British-Irish Isles, that's all. GoodDay 16:41, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Re: "British Isles", simply use "Britain" and "Ireland" as geographical/geological terms ("the Isles" is a common all-encompassing term, but not understood by many who don't live there, so not of any encyclopedia-writing value to us). If you are writing political material, use "United Kingdom" and "Republic of Ireland". Do not mix the geo. and the poli.; "Great Britain and Ireland", in the modern context is a particular no-no, as it leaves Northern Ireland open to interpretation and resultant political ranting on talk pages. "British Isles" is deprecated (everywhere, I mean not WP-specifically), beause it asserts the Britishness of Ireland and its people, which is simply wrong in virtually every possible interpretation, all the way back to the first recorded (Roman and Greek) names for these parts of the world and their peoples. "Irish Sea" make no such assertion (except perhaps about mermaids). It is just as neutral as "Gulf of Mexico", "English Channel" and "Indian Ocean"; while there are perhaps a few cranks who'd like to rename them the "Gulf of Texas", the "French Channel" or the "Bangladesh Ocean", no one would take them seriously because there's nothing politically offensive about the current names, even if you hate Mexico, England or India politically. If the Irish Sea were ever to be renamed, it should probably be the Manx Sea. :-) PS: "British-Irish Isles" should be avoided like the plague as it is a Wikipedian-invented neologism and misleading to our readers, who may think it is a well-accepted term they should use. And it still favors Britain over Ireland, so the Ireland boosters will never be entirely happy with it anyway, leading to more dispute on the talk pages. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 19:16, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
PPS: Minor point of clarification: To properly do what I suggest for geo. topics, you'd need to wikilink it as "Britain and Ireland" because Wikipedia has made the (to me rather grave) error of using "Great Britain" as synonymous with "Britain", while relegating Britain to being a disambiguation page. What a total screwup. I guess it is faintly understandtable, but "Great Britain" is a political term, not a geographical one. The confusion stems from the French term (which is geographical) for the island, Grande Bretagne, "Great(er)/Grand/Big Britain", as distinct from Bretagne, Brittany, a cultural confusion of the French from the days of the Normans, who thought of their local mini-Britain (settled by the "Great" British during the Anglo-Saxon invasions) as "the" Britain. This appears to be a confusion not shared by anyone else I can think of; in paritcular, contrast the English: "Britain" and "Brittany", which is a funny-spelled diminutive, i.e. "Little Britain", derived from mispronouncing Bretagne to agree with English use of -y as a diminution suffix, as in "dog" and "doggy"). A current compromise judging from some infoboxes and navboxes is "British Islands and Ireland", but the article is still at British Isles. To completely resolve all of this mess, the Britain DAB page's content should move to Britain (disambiguation), that of Great Britain to Britain with a DAB hatnote pointing to the new DAB page, Great Britain turned into redir to Kingdom of Great Britain with a DAB hatnote pointing to Britain (disambiguation) for people looking for the island and other potential meanings, or maybe just to Britain the island, depending on what is really on that DAB page in detail (I haven't memorized it), and finally British Isles should be moved to British Islands and Ireland since that seems to be what people want to use. Irish die-hards would probably want it to be Ireland and British Islands, but Britain has had more impact on the history of the world and the region, so too bad. NB: Virtually any work (in English) you pick up on the history and/or archaelogy of the region uses "Britain" to refer to the island; I cannot think of a single book I have read (out of several hundred!) in those fields that used the term "Great Britain" geographically without also referring to the historical period in and after which the Kingdom of Great Britain arose. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 19:57, 8 October 2007 (UTC) <Sigh> It gets even more complicated: There is a half-stub, half-DAB page at Great Britain and Ireland that needs to be merged or simply deleted. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 20:04, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
Even as a descendant of Celts, I find this exaggerated. Great Britain is a calque of Grande Bretagne; one is as much a geographical term as the other. (I have no doubt that the adjective appealled to James' I sense of self-importance, and appeals to British nationalists nowadays, but so what?) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:15, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
  • [Britain is] The proper name of the whole island containing England, Wales, and Scotland, with their dependencies; more fully called Great Britain; now also used for the British state or empire as a whole. - OED.
As usual, the answer to "so what" is "avoid ambiguity". "Great Britain" was historically initially synonymous with "Britain", sure, and certainly as you say appealed to British vanity, but it became the name of the political kingdom, and except, as OED documents of course, inasmuch as "Britain" is used informally to refer to the political entity, "Britain" never stopped meaning "the island of Britain". The principal meaning of "Britain" is the latter, while the principal meaning of "Great Britain" is the political one, which for WP purposes means we should distinguish between them. The difference has plenty of relevance in British history too. There have been long periods during which the kingdom, despite its name, did not rule or even occupy all of Britain, meanwhile Wales and Scotland have been part of Britain, the island, since prehistory, and remain so, even when they have had their own kings and neighbored on England while "Britain" (Great or otherwise) had no existence as a political concept and had not since the early Dark Ages. Anyway, the point wasn't really to go on a renaming spree, but to answer the original question: for now "British Isles" can be avoided with "British Islands and Ireland", and eventually the piped link can be made a real one after an article move. I just got sidetracked. PS: This is all somewhat like, but inversely, the term "America", which basically means "the Western Hemisphere", but is often used informally to mean the United States of America, much to the chagrin of Central and South Americans. While that usage, even in those countries is very common in informal speech it is widely considered inaccurate, insensitive, imperialistic, offensive, etc., when used in more formal registers. There are Welsh, Scottish, even Cornish who don't like the terms "Britain" or "British" applied to them for similar but reversed politico-linguistic reasons. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 03:34, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

"Sources" section now close to the top

Why? It might be important, but it's not central to the specific purpose of the MOS. Now it interrupts the flow of sections on style. I think this should go back to where it was. Tony (talk) 02:30, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

I don't see why it's here at all. All of it is somewhere else, mostly in more complete form; see WP:V, WP:CITE, WP:FOOT. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:17, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Quite so. Tony (talk) 03:38, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Then let's get rid of it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:27, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Anyone object? If not, it should be removed, say, tomorrow. Tony (talk) 14:32, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Delete it. Jɪmp 06:03, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Bands - Is/Are

Wiki grammar gurus! If you're talking about a band, do you use "is" or "are"? "Iron Maiden is a band", or "Iron Maiden are a band"? Band = noun = is, surely? The members "are", the band "is"... Cardinal Wurzel 08:29, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

I would regard this in the same way as "data" and say it's a singular noun used in a plural way. Only pedantics say "data is". The same goes for "police". Nobody says, "The police is erecting a roadblock." TinyMark 09:42, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

I've never heard anyone say anything but "data is", but there you go. You're right about the police. Anyone else? Cardinal Wurzel 09:47, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

I'm sorry, my mistake. It's the other way round with data! "Data are" sounds awful. TinyMark 10:00, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Police is already a plural noun; you don't say "polices" to indicate more than one, and there is no singular form of the word when used as a noun referring to police officers, so "police are" is correct. Data can be plural or singular in US English (see data for a good explanation). Bands vary, and I'd say it depends on whether the name itself seems more like a singular or plural term. Iron Maiden seems singular, so "Iron Maiden is...." The Beatles (even though a made-up word) seems plural, and people generally say "The Beatles were a great band." The band The Police, to tie in the first sentence of this paragraph, is also generally used as a plural, so "The Police were a great band." If Iron Maiden had been named Iron Maidens, then I'd use a plural verb. If a band were called "The Data," I think a lot of editors would be stumped. :-) Note that I'm just giving my opinion, no sources to back it up, other than checking Google's news archive that my interpretation seems consistent with common usage. -Agyle 11:35, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Bands are technically a single unit each; hence, use it would be correct to use the singular. "The Replacements is a band", just like "Metallica is a band." However, it sounds awkward in some circumstances but not others so there seems to be a mini-rule about this. If you look up "The Rolling Stones are" versus "The Rolling Stones is" in google, for example, plural is running 4-1 against singular.Wikidemo 10:54, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

I think it's the more the fact that it's the British English way of saying it. Iron Maiden are [sic] an English band. If it reads okay as "are" then it should stay. Cradle of Filth are an English band. It reads fine with "are" and there shouldn't be a problem with that. "Is" and "are" are both correct grammar, but "are" should take precedence being the predominantly British grammatical way of saying it. But that's just my opinion. ScarianTalk 12:06, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Previous, longstanding concensus across many many articles over this hard fought topic is that proper/international English accepts group nouns as plurals. The "simple" singular form is very common in the U.S.(for various "simple" reasons) In Canada, we accept both variations as norm... depending on who our audience is. The plural form is commonly used in the east(Auld Canada) whereas western Canada(more Yankee-fied... or 'simple') uses the 'dumbed down' singular version. Pink Floyd 'are' a band. Led Zeppelin 'were' a band... They 'are' a band... They 'were' a band.... they/their/are/were/ always plural indicating group. Never "It"... it's not a group of objects... it's a group of people... they/their... etc. Pink Floyd(GB) are, Grateful Dead(US) was... it's been a long standing rule-of-thumb on Wikipedia... and an edit war that's been slowly fading away(or so we all hoped) as more regular editors "catch on" to whats accepted. They WAS a band... They IS a band...????. Dat jus' ain't properly spoke stuff :D. I work at a University. A local band are to perform here on Friday. They are very talented. Wiki-alf... I leave the forum to you :D . 14:39, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
"Proper/international" English is an excuse for that deprecated thing: an Anglo-American edit war. In American, which uses (with one glaring exception) "logical" number, a band is, no matter what it's doing; this should be used for American bands; in British English, it depends on whether you are speaking of the band as a whole, which is performing, or as individual players. The anon's suggestion is a hypercorrection, and should be avoided. (In all varieties, if you use "they", you are speaking of the players, and they are.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:40, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

An academic buddy of mine at Bristol University comments "a collective noun is properly given in the singular. Write 'is'. The other usage is commonplace but ghastly." Scarian, this is not a matter of British English versus American English. Anon, there's no question of saying "They was a band". The question is do you say "It was a band" or "They were a band"? Cardinal Wurzel 17:49, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Yes of course it is a matter of British English versus American English. I am sorry to hear that the tradition of denying the existence or propriety of AmE lives on; I hoped it had died half a century ago. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:54, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

I'm doing nothing of the sort - I'm saying that the gramatically correct answer is the same in both! Cardinal Wurzel 18:08, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Still don't agree. The correct formulation, logically, is to use "is" because the band is a single thing. There's something peculiar abound bands and I don't think we've hit on it. In other contexts we don't pluralize the verb just because we have a name for something created out of a plural noun. We say "the United States is", "The Rolling Stones, a new book on the band, is", "Shingles (the disease) is", and so on. It seems that insisting on using the plural when referring to a band is fussiness, perhaps not quite coming to grips with recognizing a musical act as a corporate entityWikidemo 18:48, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
As a Brit, I'd find myself saying "The United States is a big place" and "The United States is over there" (points west), but it would be "The United States are involved in this" , "...are dominating the market", "...are negotiating with Canada" and so on...--Alf melmac 19:52, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
The well know "Fowler's Modern English Usage" calls these words "nouns of multitude", giving as examples amongst others: committee, crew, orchestra, army, crowd, number, majority. It states that they are treated as singular or plural at discretion, depending on whether they are seen as a group of people or a single entity. So it's definitely not incorrect to use the plural form and we should leave it up to the editor. −Woodstone 18:59, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Interesting. Useful, although one could draw a distinction between some "nouns of multitude" and others depending on whether the individual members are acting independently or whether the action is instead done by the entity. I can see why Americans would tend to use the singular; they tend to insist on precision and logic in the language, whereas the British enjoy formalism and convention. Wikidemo 19:14, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
I didn't know of the Brit/Am distinction, but media usage corroborates; NY Times (1999) says "Iron Maiden is a band more....", (2005) says "Iron Maiden are headlining this year's...." Plural-like bands being the exception: NY Times (2005) says "The Beatles are the most famous rock group...", and NY Times (1997) says "The Rolling Stones are one of the few rock bands...." Wikidemo, I agree with your logic, but accepted proper usage is sometimes independent of any logic. :-) As a legitimate Brit/Am distinction, with a British band, "Iron Maiden are" seems reasonable to me. If this is a previously much-discussed topic, was there a consensus that could be added to the MOS, or a clear non-consensus ("Opinions vary...") that could be added to it? -Agyle 19:18, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
With the exception of United States, largely for constitutional reasons, American will use are with formally plural nouns, like Beatles, and is with formally singular nouns, like Iron Maiden. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:03, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Both constructions are very frequent; as others have noted, American English tends toward is and British English tends toward are. I assume the guidelines concerning US vs. UK English in an article still apply. Strad 01:47, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

For those interested more information is at synesis. Rich Farmbrough, 13:27 5 October 2007 (GMT).

Thanks, Rich - that's exactly what I needed. Cardinal Wurzel 16:50, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

I'd say scrap the whole debate, and recommend "are" across the board, since it will be correct in American English as well, even if it is somewhat more common to use "is" in A.E. when the band's name sounds somehow more singular. No big opposition to the "leave to to a US/UK distinction" tactic, but why bother? I'm hard pressed to imagine an American editor getting genuinely upset with "ZZ Top are a band from Texas". If anything I have a suspicion that the majority of WP's American editors would prefer "are" to "is" there, that the vast majority of the readership would not mind "are", and that of the probably over-50% of the American readers who if pressed on the matter would prefer "is", only a tiny handful would even notice the difference if it weren't pointed out to them. Meanwhile, use of "is" probably rankles more British/Commonwealth speakers than "are" does Americans and Western Canadians. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 20:26, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

PS: A side point: In today's world of electronic music, it has probably already happened many times that a single person appears to be a "band" or "act", with a plural-sounding name, but has no bandmates, in which case only "is" makes sense, regardless of the name format. If I decide to make a one-man ambient electronica album under the name, I dunno, how about "Dark Whispers", the local music mag, and Wikipedia, can only sensibly say that "Dark Whispers is...", not "...are..." It'll sound funny, but the plural verb would be absurd. :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 20:31, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Quotations and punctuation

After a lengthy disagreement today I would like to see a definitive example in the manual of style for the following problem:

"Satellite" was also featured on an episode of the television show Miami Vice titled "Amen...Send Money," which first aired on October 2, 1987.

IMO the comma is a part of the sentence and not a part ot the program's title. For this reason, the comma should be after the quote. Comments anyone? TinyMark 09:42, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

It should definitely be after the quote, otherwise we have the totally absurd result of asserting that the episode title was "Amen...Send Money," rather than "Amen...Send Money", an obvious problem. NB: Miami Vice should be italicized up there (in the article; if you just didn't bother to italicize it here because that wasn't the point, I don't mean to nitpick. :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:00, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
There have been wikiwars over this issue, in case you want to read through the archive. I think the outcome (or rather non-outcome) is that you can use either, but be consistent within a page. Wikidemo 10:55, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
There was no doubt about the outcome. Wikipedia consensus to abandon logical quotation just because a handful of people don't like it was not reached. At all. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:00, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
I agree with TinyMark here. The comma is an inherent part of the logical thrust of the entire sentence. --ROGER DAVIES TALK 11:32, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
The example provided here is indeed wrong. WP uses logical punctuation at the end of a quotation; i.e., keep the comma/period outside the quotation unless it belongs as part of the quotation. It's clearly set out in the guidelines, isn't it? Tony (talk) 11:35, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
If it is I couldn't find it! TinyMark 13:53, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
It's under "Inside or outside" at Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Quotation_marks. Tony (talk) 14:31, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
It's not clearly enough explained there. Too many people are focusing on the physical presence of punctuation in the quoted element rather looking at the dynamics. Better examples would emphasise the difference between unquoted text as scene-setting and as a crucial part of the sentence's thrust, for instance, He wrote, "Brighton was dreadful." and He disagreed that "Brighton was dreadful". I suppose a simple test would be that if you can put the unquoted text in brackets without changing the meaning of the sentence the point or comma goes inside the quotes. --ROGER DAVIES TALK 14:40, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
The "dynamics" of the sentence are not effected in any way in the quoted example; the comma still follows the episode title, just as intended. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:00, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
I don't know if it's not clear enough (it made sense to me), but the defining point isn't how it fits into the structure, it's whether or not the source the quote is from contains the punctuation. In the unlinkely event that the official title of the episode ended with a comma, then that would be correct, but under logical punctuation the comma goes outside the quote marks simply because it's not there in the source being quoted. SamBC(talk) 14:46, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
It's whether or not the source the quote is from contains the punctuation AND how that punctuation impacts on the sentence as a whole. The second example illustrates this but is overlooked:
Correct:    Martha asked, “Are you coming?”
(When quoting a question, the question mark belongs inside because the quoted text itself was a question.)
Correct: Did Martha say, “Come with me”?
(The very quote is being questioned, so here, the question mark is correctly outside; the period in the original quote is omitted.)
--ROGER DAVIES TALK 15:31, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Ah, you're talking about the seperate but related issue of whether to include the punctuation from the original, which I wasn't thinking to address. Perhaps the two points should be addressed seperately, but as I see it it's quite simple. The punctuation in the original, at the end of the quote, is only included if it fits the sentence structure or is integral to the meaning as quoted. Punctuation marks are only inside the quotation marks of that punctuation is present in the material being quoted. Between the two, I think that tells you everything. SamBC(talk) 16:36, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Quotation_mark#Punctuation states that this is (another) British vs. American English discrepancy. Apparently the punctuation is always inside the quotes in American English. I suppose it will be a case of first come, first served! What annoys me is the "my way or the higheay" attitude some people have. "That's the way I learnt it and that's the only way to do it." Maybe I have no tolerance, but its only towards people with zero tolerance ;-) TinyMark 16:33, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Interesting. The discussion here recently about logical vs aesthetic punctuation has demonstrated that that isn't true in practice - many americans learned and/or prefer logical punctuation, and I believe that some brits prefer aesthetic. It's complicated by the fact that, when the quotation marks represent dialogue, there should always be terminating punctuation. SamBC(talk) 16:39, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Indeed, the Quotation mark article is simply wrong; typesetters' quotes have been abandoned in US publishing except for very general audiences who still prefer it as a "tradition"; your average American novel and newspaper still use it, but it is virtually unknown in technical and scientific writing any longer. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:00, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
Even if I believed this claim, so what? We should be writing American for the general reader, not for the followers of "technical and scientific writing." Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:57, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

I see this is back, much sooner than I predicted. Can we, this time, deal with the matter soberly, and admit that there are two systems; both are used; and the important thing is to be consistent within an article? Then we can stop discussing this every month. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:42, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Yes, there are two systems and both are used, however the use of typesetter's punctuation here goes against policy. Change policy so we can stop discussing this every month? Such a change would only turn the heat up. It's not really "back" though, this time it's a call for further examples not for change in policy. What is the important thing, however? Is it to be consistent within an article ... or is it more important not to change a quotation willy-nilly just to fit one's own idea of æsthetics? Jɪmp 22:07, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Not policy; just the whim of this guideline. Please note that insisting on logical punctuation when taking a quotation from a source that uses aesthetic punctuation will often involve changing the quotation; and quite often involve guesswork as to how the source's source was punctuated. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:43, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Well, no, because you punctuate exactly how your source punctuates, so quotes within the quote get left alone. SamBC(talk) 23:08, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Exactly. A whim—"a sudden desire or idea, especially one that cannot be reasonably explained" says one dictionary. It's hardly sudden & has been explained in minute and very reasonable detail. Jɪmp 23:29, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Stop trying to muddy the waters, Anderson: you know very well that if illogical punctuation (there's nothing aesthetic about it) is used in a quote within a quote here, it's not tampered with. That's the point behind WP's insistence on logical quotation in the first place: don't tamper with quoted material. This is quite apart from and in addition to the analogy with brackets (where no one would put the dot inside.) Tony (talk) 00:07, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
How curious. In an article now at FAC, the original source says:
At one point during Tool's set, Keenan acknowledged his debt to the long-running art rockers: "For me, being on stage with King Crimson is like Lenny Kravitz playing with Led Zeppelin, or Britney Spears onstage with Debbie Gibson."
Our article used the quoted sentence, precisely as given, including the quotation marks. A certain editor objected to this, as not being logical punctuation. That would seem to me to depend on whether Keenan, in the original interview, ended a sentence after Gibson or not; it is one of the difficulties of logical punctuation that we cannot be sure from the evidence at hand. But we can postpone discussing this further until Tony manages to agree with himself exactly what logical punctuation is. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:18, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
Not difficult at all. If WP quoted the entire passage you just did, it would remain unchanged. If it quoted only Keenan (which is the case here; I just looked at the diff and compared it to what you quoted above), it would end with the period outside the punctuation, since WP has no basis on which to know whether the original source quoted Keenan entirely or in truncated form. I think you are trying to make this sound difficult because that suits your argument, but really, how hard do you think anyone else is going to find this? It's trivially simple, just like whether to put the period inside or ouside a parenthetical at the end of a sentence. Why on earth is hard about asking "Do I know that this is the end of the original, primary-source sentence? If no, outside, if yes, inside." Compare "Does this parenthetical form a complete sentence by itself (or end with an exclamation point, question mark or elipsis)? If no, outside, if yes, inside." — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:00, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
It is not trivially simple; neither is determining whether a form of words forms a complete sentence. But we do the latter all the time: every time we punctuate unquoted prose. You are, however, in the name of accuracy, recommending that we change a quoted sentence from the punctuation of the source; allowing aesthetic punctuation would avoid the nedessity of thin, and the necessity of making the decision. Aesthetic punctuation is purely formal, and it has survived precisely because it makes no assertion about the original position of the comma in question. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:00, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
Again, you just seem to be making this hard for yourself. If it were really hard, the rest of the world and plenty of Americans would not be using logical quotation, and WP would have an e-riot on its hands about this, and yet it doesn't, unless (sorry, my bad) two editors somehow marks an overwhelming trend. If the source is not reliable on a particular thing, then do not rely upon the source for that thing; that's simple and reasonable as well. There's nothing wrong with making some simple decisions; as you say, we do this every time we punctuate. I understand that you do not see the potential difference between what the primary source actually said and what the secondary source chose to report of what was said, in a manner that leave us by definition uncertain as to the primary's actual statement, or that you think the distinction is trivial if you do recognize it. Either way, you are clearly someone who has never been misquoted-by-truncation in the press. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 03:12, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
I don't see any "disagreement" on Tony's part with himself. What I do see is you lurking like a vulture waiting for any opportunity to dredge up this debate because it is your personal pet peve and you just won't let it go. I would like to observe that this current topic began as a request for advice on interpretation which diverged, reasonably and rather constructively, into a suggestion that that guideline's wording could be improved to make the matter clearer. You, and from my read only you, are trying to turn it into yet another redundant debate about whether the guideline's underlying advise should change, an idea you never get even close to consensus on, no matter how many times you bring it up. Give it a rest, huh? A really long one for a change. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 20:39, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
In fact, TinyMark disagrees with the present wording; it is not consensus among Wikipedians, far less among the users of English as a whole. That SMcCandlish still wants to get back at the professors of his elective courses is a pity; but it should not determine our guidance on the matter. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:57, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
Strange characterizations of my alleged movites doesn't make an actual argument. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 03:12, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
So when are you planning on holding your next public flogging of this dead horse, PMA? Tony (talk) 05:09, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Hello. I'm new here, but I am not going to abandon everything I learned in school and college on where to put the period and other punctuation marks when quotation marks are involved. You want umpteen students to learn one way in school and another here. That ain't gonna fly. Students do not get it correct all the time in school; now they will see examples of what is taught as incorrect and think it is correct. I will put a period inside the quotation marks if it is an American-related topic. British people, I assume, will put in on the outside. Don't take one argument and turn it into something else. — Bobopaedia 20:43, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

We generally expect you, as a WPian, to be more flexible than to insist that everything you were taught about formatting/punctuation at grade school should be automatically used in an international English-language project (it's not an American project). WP is a set of compromises that largely works, given the big bagginess of the English language. Here, the issue is that the Chicago MoS is pronouncing for many tenors and modes, whereas our mission is rather more specific; critically, it involves an unwavering respect for not tampering with quoted material. The illogical method is problematic in inserting into quoted material punctuation that arises from the structure of our sentence, not that of the original author. SImple as that.
So if you go about changing WP's established practice, you deserve to be reverted. It would be better to spend your time doing the opposite. Tony (talk) 00:34, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Tony, this is exactly the same issue as U.S. above: you don't have to abandon the way you spell US (except in strongly American articles, where we should use American English); but neither method gets imposed on other people. So here; Bobopaedia, and his kids, should not be required to abandon aesthetic punctuation; we should note the existence of both methods, and discuss advantages and disadvantages. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:03, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
- - - -
Tony, you turned the discussion into something else. I know there are American and British differences; I had already allowed for that. Tony, and other users, I'm not talking about changing the punctuation from the source of a quote; I'm talking about, as an example to illustrate my point, how the terminal punctuation is written when something is in quotation marks. Thus:
The character of Peter is introduced in the chapter "Sunrise." (American English)
The character of Peter is introduced in the chapter "Sunrise". (British English, I assume)
There are other instances when something is written as dialogue that has not yet appeared in print. If an American reporter is covering what, say, a person said aloud, he would puncutate it according to American custom when writing for his newspaper; a British reporter would punctuate it according to his respective custom and newspaper. Thus:
Today the ambassador of Kookooland said "We will not intervene." (American)
An educated American who found the period outside of the ending quote mark would say that it is incorrect, just as he would if the writer had spelled the last word interveen.
Now, if I am quoting an article from The Times, I would punctuate it however it appeared in that newspaper.
I hope this clarifies what I said. Bobopaedia 16:51, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

According to CMOS (Chicago), APA, MLA, Merriam-Webster, Associated Press Stylebook, OWL (Purdue U.) and every other style guide I could find, in North America (not just US) periods and commas always (without exception) go inside the closing quotation marks. A Survey of Modern English By Stephan Gramley, Kurt-Michael Pätzold. Routledge, 2004. ISBN 0415300355, explains:

  • "American English (AmE) opts for simplification whenever closing quotation marks occur together with a period or comma. The period or comma always comes inside the quotation marks whether or not it 'belongs' to the material quoted or not.
  • British English (BrE) places its full stops and commas inside if they belong to what is quoted and outside if they do not."(p. 282, para. 12.2.2)

No educator on either side of the Atlantic should ever have to tell a student: "This is the way it is except in Wikipedia." Wikipedia has never been about changing the generally-accepted standards of anything. Where there are two generally-accepted ways to do something, the Wiki rule of thumb is to allow either method, so long as it is consistent within an article. We should show respect for both traditions and ask only for within-article consistency. Highly recommend amending MoS to this effect. Afaprof01 03:17, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

I absolutely agree 100% with you, Afaprof01! Wikipedia should allow standard, widely-used forms of punctuation in its articles. TK421 23:05, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

I'm very new to editing, but I find that this sentence should settle the argument: "scientific and technical publications, even in the U.S., almost universally use logical quotation (punctuation outside unless part of the source material), due to its precision". I find that the goal of Wikipedia should be the same to that of scientific and technical publications in regards to precision, eventhough I was taught the typesetter rule in school. My question though, is what system most encyclopedias use?Resu ecrof 21:07, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

You've basically negated your own question by effectively deeming it meaningless, but to answer it anyway, you'll find that some encyclopedias do one style and others do the other. American ones like the modern Britannica (despite its name, it is today a US publication) use the typographic style, while others use logical punctuation. I want to to stress again that this is not actually a transatlantic issue, and further that WP does not have to do what Britannica does, just "because"; WP is setting its own standard. WP for example, prefers SI and metric units over US units. I.e., give hectares, not acres. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 15:52, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

U.S. vs US.

See also Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 81#U.S.

It has been a long standing feature of the MoS that it promotes U.S. over US. How long standing can be seen by this proposal to delete the then wording [for those who don't want to follow the link - dated 2004]... "When referring to the United States, please use "U.S."; that is the more common style in that country, is easier to search for automatically, and we want one uniform style on this. When referring to the United States in a long abbreviation (USA, USN, USAF), periods should not be used."

While I have no strong view either way, it has always seemed to me a good thing that the MoS has one, and in this case a long-standing one.

Imagine my surprise when on the 6th of September I was unable to find something I was sure was in the MoS! Perhaps it was in a subpage, but diligent searching revealed nothing. Nor was there recent "talk" of a change, an the history going back yonks did not reveal a likely change. Nonetheless I checked a very old version, and indeed it was there, so I assumed I'd missed the discussion and change. I eventually found the change hidden in the midst of a lot of minor changes here. Clearly this was an error (not mentioned in the comment, but an HTML comeent asks why it's not in the "Abbreviations" section), so I reverted it (with this comment "Acronyms and abbreviations - restoring section that was commented out by Crissov in this ed"), and thought no more of it.

The following day Tony reverted me with "Rv: This needs discussion. At the moment, formatting of "the US" is by consensus for each article; please discuss reasons for imposing this text".

Well I agree such a change needs discussing, which is why I restored the original text! And Tony, I wish you'd told me that you reverted me.

I am restoring once more the status quo, please discuss it here if it needs discussion.

Rich Farmbrough, 09:11 5 October 2007 (GMT).

I'm unsure of the history of whatever MOS used to say about how to format this item, but since I started hanging around MOS, it hasn't prescribed one set of usages and proscribed others. There are a few issues:

  • Why would it be good for one country to be privileged over others by having one particular formatting practice enforced for its name in MOS? There's no equivalent section saying "No dots in UK". There's no dictum that you must write "People's Republic of China" rather than "China", or to refer to Taiwan or Tibet by the names the Chinese regime would prefer.
  • In most varieties of English outside North America, the dots are not used except in upper-case text, where the abbreviation would be the same as the personal pronoun "us". The rule about spelling out "the United States" when in the same sentence as the names of other countries is a nuance that Chicago, is it, recommends, but this is not practised consistently by Americans and is an unknown rule outside North America. Many Wikipedians might resent being told, or even urged, to "toe the line" with respect to an American practice that goes against what they are used to in real-life, and which has no logic to it.
  • On a purely linguistic level, you dot es dot goes against what is now an almost universal practice of losing the dots in abbreviations, in all varieties of English. To many people, it looks cumbersome against that practice, whereas a few decades ago, people were so used to dotted abbreviations that it wasn't an issue.

Thus, I suggest that MOS continue to remain silent on the issue, so that WPians may dot or not, and abbreviate or spell out regardless of the presence of the names of other countries in the sentence, provided consistency is maintained within each article. Tony (talk) 11:22, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Tony I see you've reverted me again. I think that a consensus in needed to remove this from the MoS, regardless of individual opinion. And with the widespread use of infoboxes and navboxes, consistency within an article is not always limited to changing that article. Further the MoS doesn't prescribe or proscribe, it is a style guide. The reason U.S. was adopted seems to have something to do with self-identification - if you look hard enough you'll find extensive talk archives on why this is/isn't acceptable for various entities and where it crosses the line to POV pushing. Nobody is being told to "'toe the line' with respect to an American practice" as identified in the discussion I refer to above U.S./US is no more exclusively American/Commonwealth than date ordering or many of the other dilemma characterised as such. In terms of dottiness, it would make more sense to remove the previously slightly deprecated Ph.D. etc. from appropriate section of the MoS. And if we are to change, the "Mos staying silent on the issue" is a recipe for fudge and muddle. Rich Farmbrough, 12:31 5 October 2007 (GMT).
Rich. You say a consensus is needed to remove this. I would counter that you inserted it arbitrarily without consensus. If it was previously in the MoS and was removed then surely that would also have happened with consensus. Perhaps a little more investigation as to why it was removed would be the order of the day??? TinyMark 13:08, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
Tiny, please read the explanation I gave above. WP:AGF it was removed by accident. See the diff. See also the talk page from that day which does not mention it. Both as checked by me before restoring, together with scads of archived talk and history. Rich Farmbrough, 13:20 5 October 2007 (GMT).
This was decided by consensus -- way back in 2003 (see Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive (abbreviations and acronyms)). It was added to the MOS on "Revision as of 21:03, May 14, 2004 Jiang (=Usage and spelling= from archive 3, w/o objection)" where it stayed until the uncommented removal "12:14, March 30, 2007 Crissov (quotation marks, see Talk; words-as-words rule is not consistently applied, neither is the order of punctuation and quotation marks)" I have returned it to the MOS. Please build a consensus if you wish to change it. Rmhermen 13:49, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
It can't have been there in MOS for quite a while. I don't think you can come back and insert it and then ask for consensus to remove what you've just inserted. I, for one, would be very much against the insertion. What exactly is the point? Why are you so keen to discourage people from using the dotted or undotted versions they're used to—in their variety of English—as long as internally consistent? It's akin to inserting a clause that metric units should be spelt with "-re", not "-er". I also reverted at the Abbreviations submanual your removal of "am/pm" as an (undotted) option (instead of "a.m./p.m."), which was explicitly allowed by MOS and MOSNUM by consensus several months ago. Tony (talk) 14:38, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

OK, so you don't mind if MOS says that you can't use US spelling for "kilometre", then. Because that's what it will come to. The suddenly shoved in guideline to use you dot es dot is in conflict with the MOS guidelines on "National varieties". In my variety of English, it's "US", and that's that. This is a blatant attempt to impose some notion of US English on all other varieties, and it's outrageous. I will fight this until the end of the earth. In fact, tomorrow, I'll be changing the guidline for the spelling of "kilometre", to insist on the non-US spelling. Tony (talk) 15:36, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

I doubt you would get consensus for that. All we have done is restore the consensus version - unless you can find the link to some consensus that led to the uncommented removal of the lines, it should stay until a consensus forms for the change. Rmhermen 15:52, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
Nor would you get consensus nowadays for a guideline that is just as blatantly an infringement on other varieties of English. I've improved the wording and, along the lines of PManderson's compromise edit a few minutes before, made it clear the the spelling-out rule also applies to AmEng articles: there's absolutely no justification for forcing this Chicago MoS thing on other varieties either. And I should let you know that many Americans observe neither, on WP or elsewhere, no matter what Chicago huffs and puffs about, and no matter what some school textbook might prescribe. Tony (talk) 16:10, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
It is, however, already our advice to use American English for American articles, and it should be considered elsewhere. Consider all the arguments that respect for self-identification requires that we use Myanmar; shouldn't the same apply to the United States? (This seems to have disappeared in a flurry of vandalism fixes at the end of March, although I can't find the exact edit; I don't see any discussion either. If the removal was a slip, there's no reason to revert-war for it; although that everyone just assumed it was here rather than consulting speaks to our obscurity.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:48, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
Bush used Burma the other day. Tony (talk) 16:28, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
Not an exemplar of perfect style, is he? But, in fact, I support the move back to Burma; I merely note that there are arguments on both sides. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:45, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
Everyone in the UK uses Burma - most people will look at you blankly if you say Myanmar. But we're getting a bit sidetracked now. SamBC(talk) 20:57, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
My opinion: the "U.S." recommendation was removed from MOS in a hard-to-notice way in this March 30 edit, and changed in MOS:ABB in a hard-to-notice way in this September 27 edit, and I don't think those two changes should remain, even though they've been around a bit, given that they were rather hidden until now. (By hard-to-notice, I mean they were a couple words changed in edits that involved many little changes in several dozen places, with the abbreviation change not mentioned in the edit comment or in the talk page.) While I'll assume good faith in this case, allowing hard-to-spot changes that aren't noticed for a while to become the established the style guideline seems like it would encourage people to make these sorts of hard-to-spot changes as an alternative to discussing changes and reaching consensus. Note that it wasn't changed in MOS on March 30, it was simply commented out (removed from normal display) altogether, which is why it was hard to notice. Until a couple weeks ago, you could still look up the previously recommended "U.S." abbreviation on MOS:ABB, so the change was further obscured until then. I think the debate here over which abbreviation style to recommend ignores the question of whether it's appropriate to allow MOS changes to be made in this manner. -Agyle 08:01, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
I agree that both the MOS change back in March and the ABB change last week were both hard to notice. The editor concerned—Crissov—has leapt in and made unilateral changes that may be controversial on other occasions. I think that he should have at least posted a note on the talk pages on those occasions, or have proposed the change beforehand. It's understandable why those who might have an emotional investment in the dotting of "the US" might be upset.
Be that as it may, now that the re-inserting of the original text has caused sudden debate, multiple reversions, a compromise initiated by PManderson (who I believe is American himself), and further tweaking by Noetica and me, I can't see that there's anything to be gained by going back to the original text, which, had it remained, would most certainly have been raised here (by me, if no one else), as a serious "variety of English" infringement. Richard Farmbrough has told me he's more concerned about the provision of an option than the allowance of the undotted version; but allowing all varieties of English on WP (consistently within each article) implies that there won't be individual restrictions on this. I don't see it as fair or workable to force what is a preference by many (not all) American writers on all English-speakers. Tony (talk) 11:29, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
I'll point out that it is not just this MOS and Wikipedia:Manual of Style (abbreviations) that speak to the US-vs-U.S. question, and unfortunately there is conflicting guidance. Many guidelines for naming articles have suggestions, some more strongly worded than others: see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (abbreviations)#Acronyms as disambiguators, Wikipedia:Naming conventions (abbreviations)#Acronym usage in article body, Wikipedia:Naming conventions#Album and song titles and band names, all of which currently suggest U.S.; on the other hand, Wikipedia:Naming conventions (television)#Additional disambiguation says to use US instead. There may be others; these were just the ones I was aware of off the top of my head. I think it would be simpler if there was one standard (and my vote would be for US). --Paul Erik 17:21, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
I agree the issue of which style to recommend should be discussed further. I just think that until that is decided, the current recommendation should revert to how it was before the unnoticed changes occurred.
Side topic: in Paul's examples, until April, WP:ACRONYM suggested US just for disambiguation in article titles, U.S. otherwise; WP:TV-NAME cites WP:ACRONYM but wasn't updated to reflect the April change, so still suggests US in disambiguation. In April, WP:ACRONYM decided to follow other MOS recommendations of "U.S.", even in disambiguations. -Agyle 18:04, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
I strongly concur with Agyle that we should stay with the longstanding consensus version in favor of U.S. For one thing, as any typesetter/graphic designer can tell you, U.S. is much easier on the eyes. It's the dominant usage in the United States, especially in many legal documents (e.g., the United States Code) and government publications. Plus it's substantially less ambiguous. US can be a typo of "us" or can stand for numerous other things as noted at US (disambiguation), forcing readers to parse the token twice against context to eliminate ambiguity. Wikipedia should be trying to reduce ambiguity, not promote it! --Coolcaesar 19:53, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

(Outdent) Sorry, but my variety of English uses "US", except perhaps in all-caps (not all that common in normal text, now that we we've dispensed with typewriters). You can't come along and tell people who speak and write in different varieties of English that they must now use the AmEng term, when in real-life they see and write differently. Otherwise, I'll make a pronouncement that you must use "kilometre", not "kilometer"'. Same deal. WP is already used to both versions, and I hate to say this, but quite a few Americans use the undotted variety, not wanting to fuss with the distinction between the ugly you dot es dot in normal text, and the undotted USA, USAF, UK, and the rest.

The first issue is a reason to retain the delineation of "American English" in the MOS guideline; the second is a reason to soften it from a "you must use" tone. Tony (talk) 01:12, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

I don't care to bicker and argue about who edited what, when. The important part seems to me whether the guideline makes sense on this point. I think after the changes I made to it today that it does. For one thing, it stops asserting falsely that in American English it just is "U.S."; that was absurd. "U.S." is sharply on the decline, along with periodizing all other acronyms. Looking at the stuff around me right now, about all I can determine is that some but not all newspapers and magazines, as a rather jingoistic exception, periodize "U.S." and US states like "N.Y.", but do not do so with 100% consistency, and that most other types of publications have abandoned it. I have the good fortune to have my grandmother visiting, and just asked her to write "NASA is in the US" on a piece of paper; she wrote "N.A.S.A. is in the U.S." This leads me to the tentative conclusion that use of periods increases with age of the writer, and that the lingering practice in a newspaper that utterly consistently leaves off the periods for every other kind of acronym other that "U.S." and US states, is a sentimental, patriotic bit of silliness being curmudgeonly insisted upon by some senior editors. I'd be willing to bet real money that in 10 years (i.e. after a bunch more editor retirements) that the incidence of "U.S." will have declined by at least 30% more in US newspapers and that by that time the slow-moving Chicago Manual of Style will have changed its tune on the matter. From a Wikipedia perspective, I would much rather that the MoS just said "don't do it", for consistency's sake, but can live with the version we now have, which makes it a second choice, and advises against several particular situations in which it is especially inappropriate. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:14, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
PS: Part of the point that I'm making is that there is no American Engish practice of dotting abbreviations; There was one about 3 generations ago, but it has been in fatal tachycardia for about the last 20 years, with the last 10 seeing a very rapidly accelerating decline while the dotless style has taken over. There is a lingering practice of dotting "U.S." and a handful of other things in mainstream news publications, but so what? Wikipedia is not written in news style. Anyway, just to make it clear, I am disagreeing with Tony that it should be relegated to the US vs. UK English "do whatever you like" pile; it simply doesn't qualify. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:20, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
False. But it has long been clear that SMcCandlish is not a reliable reporter of his native tongue. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:34, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
PPS: WP:MOSABB needs to conform to WP:MOS on this; in order to get consensus here (I kind of like these separately-posted consensus polls; polling isn't always evil!) we should probably give some notice at WT:MOSABB in case there are folks who care a lot over there but don't hang out in here. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 22:01, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
We should certainly give notice; but the idea that they have to conform to us is pointless bullying. We should, in the long run, reach consensus with them, because they are also editors. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:34, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
They do have to conform, or rather both documents need to be in conformance with each other, and that MOS versus MOS* serves as the more authoritative document is long since settled. The reason that they must conform is due to the nature of Wikipedia guidelines, which have to prepresent consensus; if they do not agree, then by definition one (or both!) is not representing consensus and therefore cannot legitimately be designated a guideline. MOS's subpages are elaborations on MOS, not alternatives to it. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:55, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
This page is not consensus. It never has been, and it will never be until it ceases to be a few editors' effort to reform the English language. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:27, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
PS: If your point is that the editors on this page should not be "bullying" editors at that page, we are in violent agreement, since that was my point too - that's why I say we should invite MOSABB editors (to the extent they differ from MOS editors) to give their input, or we run the risk of forming what we think is a consensus but isn't because key minds are missing. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 03:02, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
Naming conventions (abbreviations) is just as important. It took several months to get them to come alongside the old policy... Rich Farmbrough, 12:01 9 October 2007 (GMT).
I beat SMcCandlish to it in predicting, above, that soon the dots in "US" will be history (I think I cited the year 2015). If Americans' usage on WP is any guidance, SMcC is right in asserting that the anally retentive practice of dotting "US" is on the wane. I don't entirely agree with him that it's outside the bounds of a variety of English issue. In Australia, no one dots it. Maybe they did 30 years ago, but not now. And the major dictionary, the Macquarie, agrees. The naming conventions page needs to be alerted to this issue. Tony (talk) 12:13, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
I see the policy was updated to prohibit the use of the dotted U.S. in articles that include any undotted country abbreviations (e.g. UK). I think that's a big, counterproductive change.
Personally I don't care which I read, but I think the dotted makes sense for Wikipedia as it aids in search engine queries concerning the U.S. Google, for one, applies increasingly good heuristics to try and give you what you mean regardless of whether U.S. or US appears on the page; it seems to try to recognize what was meant by the capitalization when it's indexing a page. So for Google, the search engine rationale is diminishing, but I don't know any other search engines do that, including Wikipedia's internal search. As an arbitrary example, "U.S. beans" and "US beans" give very similar results on Google, but give completely different results on Yahoo, including several first-page results based on the word "US" being used in phrases like "About us" or "Contact us." Converting so many articles from U.S. to US on Wikipedia seems certain to diminish the relevant search results from Wikipedia involving "U.S." on most search engines, and searching with "US" instead of "U.S." adds a lot of results that just have the word "us." -Agyle 02:50, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
Doesn't it say only when they're in the same sentence? It's not a case of mass conversions. Tony (talk) 03:09, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
No. "When the United States is mentioned by acronym in the same article as other abbreviated country names, for consistency do not use periods...." (Emphasis on article mine.) -Agyle 04:12, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

I personally prefer "U.S." to "US" as it is more distinct from the pronoun "us." I find it annoying to read "us" every time someone refers to the United States. Also, it is standard in legal writing to punctuate "U.S." Whichever is preferred, there is another issue that is not addressed here that I believe deserves note: when is it appropriate to use U.S./US and when should the country name be spelled out? In legal writing, U.S. can only be used as an adjective. Unites States is used otherwise. For example, "he is from the United States" would be correct while, "he is from the U.S." would not. Is the MoS willing to offer guidance on the matter?

Italics before punctuation

Italicization is restricted to what should properly be affected by italics, and not the surrounding punctuation.

I'm not sure this is wise, especially for semicolons, which look dreadful on default IE settings, especially after y or f; while sentences can be recast, it is a cost to do so to solve a purely typographical problem. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:45, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

IE 6, is it? It sucks, and is almost universally denigrated by IT professionals. It's also the reason WP can't use quite a few formatting innovations, such as non-breaking thin spaces; why not use another browser? Tony (talk) 01:10, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
Because, like many of our readers, I'm not usually using my own computer. A university computer has many advantages; but I can't reconfigure the system at will. We should serve our readers where they are. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:29, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
Within reason cater for all types of computer, OS and browser. Compromising by not promoting the option of the otherwise excellent non-breaking thin-space template, and other formatting improvements, to suit a bad but sadly commonly used browser was frustrating enough. I don't think I'd favour further compromises that go more deeply into WP's practices, here, its long-standing guidelines on the logic of using punctuation at the right level. I just hope the appalling IE Version 6 is superseded promptly, but my tech friends give me no reason for optimism. Firefox and other freeware browsers are readily available for download onto Windows, and Mac users would be eccentric not to use Safari or another good browser. That's a better option, or put up with the jangling of italics up against roman parentheses, etc. Tony (talk) 03:50, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
Well, I would be glad to see the Soft Revolution which would sweep Microsoft away altogether; but Wikipedia is not a crystal ball. In the meantime, we have to be readable on all widely used platforms, as a minimum.Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:58, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

My typographer friend reminds me that this is a general problem: italic punctuation has survived because italic text jangles with roman punctuation in general. (There are exceptions, like the period; but is it worth insisting on the roman instead of the italic period? How many pixels do they differ on? Sample follows, with the italic on the left.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:58, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

More than I thought; on this machine the italic is double size - but does this matter? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:00, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
No. If we tried to handle every browser hiccup, we'd have to revert back to *ASCII* _markup_, as in Usenet. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 18:59, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
We cannot allow improper handling of literal strings (for the same reasons we've settled on a logical-quotation norm) to handle suboptimal Browser display. That problem is (slowly) self-fixing, and is already non-problematic in Mozilla-family browsers regardless of OS and in all modern MacOS browsers, as long as non-stupid fonts are used. The only problematic area seems to be IE6/Win (maybe IE7; I haven't used it much and didn't think to look into its behavior here). I can't think of anthing worse than including extraneous punctuation like semicolons inside italics and quotations, and I revert it mercilessly wherenever I find it. It would also lead (and has led; I revert several of these per week) accidental redlinks, when people do things like "...Intel, IBM, and Apple..." out of the bad habit formed by typesetters' quotation style. I also encounter mis-paranthetization of punctuation fairly often as well, probably from the same root habituation cause. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 18:59, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
Is there any other support for this position, or is it simply another prejudice of this editor? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:45, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
A typically PMAnderson non-responsive handwave. You've not actually responded to my point at all, and attempt instead to mislead the reader with emotive and illogical language. How can it be "another" alleged prejudice on my part when I've made it clear that there is no difference between the rationale for logical quoting and logical italicization (and logical parentheticals, and...); they're the same: Don't mess with quoted material, be it a quotation of someone's speech, a book title, or whatever. How can it be a "prejudice" when it is a logical argument backed by a solid rationale that I have been presenting entirely consistently for months, based on the facts and issues presented, as they apply to Wikipedia, rather than personal feelings of what looks better or nicer or suits notions of prescriptive, subjective "correctness" or tradition? Please go look up the word prejudice and think about how your own arguments on these matters stand up. In the interim, perhaps you can explain how you come to the conclusion that italicization not not be restricted to what should properly be affected by italics, and should be allowed to pollute the semantics of the text and its markup, with potentially ambiguous, confusing and error-causing results, simply to make the visual display look a little better for some people using certain fonts in a certain browser (that is widely known to be deficient in more ways than can be enumerated), on a certain operating system, especially when simply changing to a better-kerned font will probably resolve the local problem? — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:37, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I suppose the two are both forms of the same argument; unfortunately, the common argument is WP:ILIKEIT. This instance does contain two things more: the unsupported value judgment "improper handling of literal strings" and a series of remarks to the effect that the reader will have no problems if only she upgrades her software to the bleeding edge enjoyed by SMcCandlish. This will not do; I hope it is not merely "Tough on you, Jack; I've got mine", but it certainly reads like it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:21, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
That's not the common argument at all. "I like it" is an expression of emotional, subjective preference (aesthetic, habitual, beaten into me by a mean mom with belt, whatever.) The common thread of my argument, and Tony's, is the common thread of much of the MOS: "Don't change quotations or other verbatim material" (i.e. "don't improperly handle literal strings"; sorry if it wasn't clear that I was using them as synonymous). I don't urge that everyone upgrade or sidegrade. It's just that preference for a particular browser always has some kind of cost associated with it, because all of them have implementation problems. We cannot make endless exceptions and changes to compensate for browser compliance problems, and we're already making some for IE that have people ticked off; I understand proponents of the thin-space character when it comes to various numerical formatting applications, but folks overall seem to agree that the IE problem with it is serious enough (there's a difference between a semicolon being a little closer to italic text than it should be and characters not appearing or worse yet appearing as the wrong character. Triage has to happen somewhere, and font kerning seems to me to be a really good line to draw. Especially when the "remedy" for the "ailment" would be sacrificing the discreteness of literal strings like quotations, titles of works, etc. A bit like killing the doctor to save the patient. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:50, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Back to the impasse about words as words: call for consensus

Thanks to Noetica for his recent copy-edits to MOS. However, they have brought up again a niggling issue that was raised by SMcCandlish only last week on this page, and which received but one response apart from mine (an extremely negative one for which the reasoning escaped me). Insisting on italics for words as words requires writers and readers to be aware of an all-too-subtle boundary between noun phrases and larger chunks of text. A whole clause clearly does not fit the ambit of words as words, and under the current rule should be marked by quotes, not italics.

Following the current rule, only the last item (Old Man Winter) should be italicised:

Seasons, in almost all instances, are lowercase: “This summer was very hot”; “The winter solstice occurs around December 22”; “I’ve got spring fever”. When personified, season names may function as proper nouns, and they should then be capitalized: “I see that Spring is showing her colors”; Old Man Winter.

But all examples are now italicised. This looks better and avoids the need for readers to wonder about this fussy grammatical distinction, but goes against the current rule.

Above, SMcCandlish called for a compromise proposal: that both styles be allowed, as long as consistency is maintained within each article. This would allow editors to get rid of the need to observe this awkward grammatical distinction it they wish, by using quotations marks for all examples. The quote-marks method is widely used in all varieties of English.

Existing text in MOS:

Words as words

Italics are used when citing a word or letter (see use–mention distinction). For example, “The term panning is derived from panorama, a word coined in 1787.” “The most commonly used letter in English is e.” Here, word includes noun phrases (e.g., the brown dog).

Proposed text:

Words as words

Words discussed as words are indicated by either quotation marks (The term "panning" is derived from “panorama”) or by italics (The term panning is derived from panorama). Be consistent within an article.

Tony (talk) 02:17, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

  • SupportTony (talk)
  • Support- The sort of compromise we should be using a great deal more often than we are. Tony, the reason for the hostile response seems clear enough: the declaration that there is only one right system on this matter is Original Research. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:33, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
    Rejoinder to PMA: the hostile response was to the compromise proposal, strangely. Tony (talk) 03:37, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
    So I see, but th suspicion that this is salami tactics, is (while I do not share it) not entirely unreasonable.
    • General comment; this seems wordy; surely it is sufficient to say something like In any given article, words discussed as words may be indicated either by italics [example], or as by quotation marks: [example] but be consistent within any given article. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:47, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
    Rejoinder: OK, done. Tony (talk) 04:01, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Support. Makes sense. But I'm not sure how a manual of style can be accused of original research, as this is not a page in the article space and doesn't have to worry about citing sources or NPOV. — Brian (talk) 05:07, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Reject – Only because the formulation we are now contemplating is incomplete.
Fine, for mention of individual words. But the reason Tony started this present discussion is that there are problems when we go beyond such small units. Units larger than words that one might wish to mention are these: noun phrases; other sorts of phrases; clauses; defective or incomplete sentences, cited as fully as in their original use; portions of sentences, cited with or without an ellipsis before or after (or both); "sentences" that do not include a finite verb; and finally standard, full, sentences that one wishes to mention in their entirety. My proposal is that any of these may be mentioned by enclosing in double quotes, or alternatively by use of italics. There is no principled motivation for treating sentences and smaller units differently, when they are mentioned. And let's be clear about this: mentioning is exactly what we are doing in our MOS, and in its auxiliary pages, and in all articles that discuss sentences or their parts.
Beyond that principle of consistency, in such pages as MOS italics are overwhelmingly clearer (as my recent editing should demonstrate). Glance at any part of the italicised text and you know immediately that it is marked off for some special purpose. Not so with quotes, where one has to search back and forth for the markers that show whether and with what boundaries the text is delimited. One can be and should be sensitive to special local needs in a section, of course. For example, when italics are under discussion, use quotes for the mention of strings of words (of whatever size and construction). That is a rational modification, and one that we can all easily compass, I'm sure. See examples from my recent edits.
Another good reason to prefer italics, especially in MOS-style articles and the like, is to avoid those damnable curled quotes: “ and ”. Easy to fix en masse by special techniques, sure – for those with the necessary technical knowledge. But the bane of editors in the ordinary course of editing, and utterly frustrating for users who might want to search for text that includes quote marks with their browser's search facility, or with Wikipedia's own search system. How do we input them, in continuous editing within Wikipedia's standard editing system? It's not as if they have the status of Greek unaspirated initial lower-case epsilon with an acute (ἔ) – quotes are standard punctuation, and we need them as a matter of course. So let's not compound the difficulties by requiring that mention of sentences be by quotes, especially when they are those wretched curled ones.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 05:24, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
(1) Curly quotation marks and apostrophes are not much used outside MOS; I was surprised to find them used here. Why not just change all in MOS to straight quotation marks, and we've solved one of your issues.
(2) I'm not quite sure what you're proposing—that either quotations marks or italics may be used, consistently, for words as words and larger examples that couldn't be considered to be such? If so, please confirm. What term/description to use for the larger ones? Tony (talk) 12:09, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
Reply to Tony:
(1) I'd be delighted if we could settle on having only straight quotes, both here and outside MOS, as established policy. They are simply a liability in Wikipedia, as things stand. Let's have a vote on that! Having only straight quotes would make life easier for everyone – except the curly zealots – even if the issues with mentioning were not settled rationally. (Meanwhile I have just recently edited out some straight quotes here at MOS, simply for consistency. And I speak as one who would never use straight quotes in normal wordprocessing, of course.)
(2) First: I have a strong preference for italics by default, for all mentioning of any string of characters or words, up to and including a full sentence. Accordingly, my term for the mentioned items would be any string of words or characters, including whole sentences. Call this the uniform italics way. This way would sometimes need to be modified to fit the context, as I note above and as I implemented in my recent edits here. Second: We won't agree that the uniform italics way be adopted as the default for mentioning. Some will always prefer the uniform quotes way. So realistically, let's at least agree that every article should restrict itself to one way or the other, and not mix styles – except, again, in cases like MOS, where the default style must be varied in order to exhibit something that concerns punctuation itself, or italics.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 13:46, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
Reply to Noetica: Sounds good to me. Can we get consensus on both of these matters?
(1) Quotation marks or italics, consistently within each article, for all mentioning of any string of characters or words;
(2) Straight quotes and apostrophes recommended.
I've suggested "recommended" for (2), because I think some people may object to a blanket ban on curlies.
Over to everyone else ... Tony (talk) 16:31, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
Noetica, I think you may have missed some of the earlier debate on this, if you are so pro-italics, since you don't address or seem to recognize the problem of the overloading of italics to do so many other functions compared to quotation marks. The main problem is that italics are used very widely here for empphasis, with the result that everything italic looks like it's really, really important, which is often not the case. In something like the MOS itself, laden with both lots of emphasis and lots of examples (some of which use even more functions of italics, such as flagging a word as foreign or formatting a book title), it makes the document unnecessarily difficult to read and to parse correctly. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:56, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Support consistent quotes or italics. Support strongly recommending straight quotes because curved quotes tend to come from the nonstandard Microsoft "smart quotes" character set which often end up displayed as question marks (or otherwise not displayed). Suggest splitting quotation mark discussion out to a separate topic before discussion fractures. (SEWilco 16:48, 6 October 2007 (UTC))
  • I'm happy on both counts, but would be happier with a blanket ban on curly quotes and apostrophes. --Paul Erik 17:06, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
  • For the record, I support both. A blanket ban on curly quotes (and apostrophes, I guess, for consistency) would be fine, but I'd climb down to a strong recommendation if there's significant opposition to a blanket ban. Tony (talk) 03:26, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Support. But I also note and echo Paul Erik's support of a blanket ban on curly quotes altogether. I think that should go to a separate subsequent vote. Meanwhile: I have edited the page to replace all curled apostrophes and quotes with straights (yes, apostrophes need to be considered together with quotes), except where the variants are themselves under discussion. This is how the article started out, so the original style should – by its own principles – be respected! If we are, in the eventual outcome here, to accept curled apostrophes and quotes consistently in an article, any editor should be encouraged in overriding them at will if they are not part of the original style of the article. That is not an extreme position, by any means.– Noetica♬♩Talk 03:36, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Strong support for quotes-or-italics, and would add that we should directly advise the use of quotation marks in material that is otherwise making heavy use of italics for other purposes, and advise italics for articles already using a lot of quotation marks e.g. for quotations and titles of things. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 18:52, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
    • Also the use of quotation marks for meanings, when italics have been used for words as words. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:38, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Why? What is wrong with ' "myocardial infarction" is a medical term for what is commonly called a "heart attack" '? Both are mention, not use, cases. I think it would be weird/confusing to use ' "myocardial infarction" is a medical term for what is commonly called a heart attack'? Or did you mean something else? — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:56, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
    • Nothing; the distinction should be: 'The phrase acute myocardial infarction is used only in the sense "interruption of the blood supply to a part of the heart"; heart attack has this as its strict sense, but is more widely used.' The italics mark words; the quotes the denotation. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:43, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Support recommendation on curly quotes also. I recommend that we say something like Curly quotes are not well-supported by browsers, and may well display as straight quotes, a little square box, or gibberish. Some editors also regard them as an archaism. We therefore recommend the use of straight quotation marks only. Any editor who sees that and still uses curly quotes will not be deterred by a ban; we are large enough to tolerate editors with such strong beliefs on proper punctation. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:38, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Support curlies deprecation also (I wouldn't go so far as ban, which a guideline can't really enforce anyway). Cool, I actually get to agree with PMAnderson on something. I wish that happened more often! While I agree with some editors that curlies look better, they are a major editing nuissance. I'm not terribly swayed by the browser compatibility issue (we use Unicode right and left in here, so any browser that freaks on curlies is going to freak all over the place anyhow.) I see them was may more of a usability than accessibility issue, and would like to see that in the text, but otherwise like PMA's version. Concur in principle with however said curlies should be addressed separately, but I think that horse is out of the barn, thus this supplementary !vote of mine. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:56, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
    • We can certainly add "difficult to edit", "hard to search for", or whatever else usability issue means in this context. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:23, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I don't have any particular preferred wording; I think the main points would be those two - it is much harder to find in the characters feature below the edit box, or memorize keyboard codes, to generate those characters than to use what's right there on our keyboards, and (as far as I know) search results will come up short. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:39, 9 October 2007 (UTC)


A good example of where quotes instead of italics would be better, from WP:MOSNUM:

Converted values should use a level of precision similar to that of the source value; for example, the Moon is 380,000 kilometres (240,000 mi) from Earth, not ... (236,121 mi).

It's basically impossible to tell that the elipsis is part of the example without quotation marks; in fact, the lack of them makes the passage look completely weird. There are many, many more examples like this I could come up with (I see about 10 per day), but the point ought to already be clear: By using quotation marks as the delimiter of examples and words-as-mentioned rather than -as-used, we actually delimit the passage in question, while italics often do not (except in the source code, which is of no relevance to the general readership). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 16:26, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

In an edit summary somewhere, Gene Nygard hit upon another issue. When we mention rather than use units we are italicizing them, and this runs at least some risk of confusing users, on two levels. Gene's point was that they could be confused with variables, which are often italicized in mathematical contexts. I think a bigger risk is that some editors may well believe that they are to be italicized in articles, e.g. "43 cm". Using quotes for mention of units would solve this problem. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 16:43, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

A classic case of the confusion italics cause when used this way: Editor did a revert based on the mistaken impression that the italics in the case in question were being used to delimit words-as-mentioned, when they were in fact being used for their main purpose, emphasis: diffSMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 16:52, 12 October 2007 (UTC)


Where known, use terminology that subjects use for themselves (self-identification). This can mean using the term an individual uses for himself or herself, or using the term a group most widely uses for itself.

This is confusing recommendation. So, if the KKK claims they are not racist, then should Category:Antisemitism or Category:Racism be removed off the KKK article? Or if the AFA claims they are not homophobic, should Category:Homophobia be removed off the AFA article even though there is substantial proof the AFA are involved in homophobia? Please clarify. Thank you. —Christopher Mann McKaytalk 17:27, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
It doesn't say "don't use other terms", just to use those terms. For example, say that the KKK describes itself as a "fraternal association dedicated to this-that-and-the-other", then you might say (in an the KKK article) "The KKK are a fraternal organisation dedicated to this-that-and-the-other, with a history of association with antisemitic and racist activity". Just a thought, but that's as I understand it. SamBC(talk) 19:15, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
I have recently edited in the section Identity. The issue for me is nothing to do with any political stance or campaign. I only want the guidelines to be as crisp and readable as the complexity of the content will allow. A certain point was not made lucidly at all, and indeed I failed to discern the meaning, until someone kindly left a note at my talkpage. (Thanks for that!) Here is the separate bullet point that I have made, now that I know what was meant:
  • A transgender person's latest preference of name and pronoun should be adopted when referring to any phase of that person's life, unless this usage is overridden by that person's own express preference in how this should be managed.
Some of us are concerned first of all to have things put clearly, for all users everywhere. Please consider the section as I have now tidied it, as a whole. Doesn't it still reflect the fragile partial consensus towards which people were working here? At least now we can all see what was intended!
– Noetica♬♩Talk 01:13, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
I support the wording currently in place - it's clear, oriented towards readability and best reflects 'self-identification' as the primary guideline for identity of transgendered individuals. Good job, Noetica. -- User:RyanFreisling @ 01:33, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
The "fragile partial consensus" is very much both of those, and thus not a consensus. The problem here is that this issue was being debated at much more length in two other topics, and this third one has failed to get the attention of most of those involved in the discussion, forming an accidental case of "asking the other parent" as discussed at WP:CONSENSUS. As I suggested earlier, the wise thing to do would be to archive all of these threads, and start a new one clearly labelled something like "Resolution of the gender neutrality discussions", and propose very specific things, based on the previous discussions (all three of them, not just this one, which is missing crucial points including that there is out-standing dispute both here and elsewhere about whether using currently preferred pronoun for all phases of a subject's life actually makes any sense (there is a sharply divided opinion on that matter), and both sides of that issue's agreement, for several weeks now, that one way or another awkward/confusing phrasing like "fathered her first child" should be avoided. Among other problems. I think the current edit while philosophically-minded is too much so, and has lost sight of practicality (in a way that actually points out the root problem with the "use currently preferred pronoun" meme): "that person's own express preference" is simply not going to be available to use 99 times out 100 (or worse), which means that most of the time the usage is basically original research on our part - what we think the subject would want. Which doesn't really address the core question of what is useful to our readers, what we should really be caring about. All that said, the only part I'm particularly insistent upon right now is the "she fathered" caveat. Addressing that already had consensus before your third thread even got started. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:10, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
A genuine consensus can, of course, be fragile; and a genuine consensus – even, or especially, a fragile one – can be partial by having settled some issues and not others. Therefore fragile partial consensus does not involve a contradiction.
Do I care? No.
Do I care how transgender folk get talked about? Not a lot, so long as it be with respect for them, for the language, and for the readers or hearers.
Do I want our guidelines to be rational, well expressed, consensual, and well integrated into Wikipedia as a whole? Emphatically yes. I'm happy to let others sort all this out among themselves, but I'll be among those sorting out wording and such details in the guidelines themselves.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 02:37, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Alternative approach

A completely different idea is that this could be handled the same way that non-transgender-related alternate names are. Typically (there's no rule about this, I just see it), it goes something like this:

Joe Foobar (born James F. Bazquux, date, place) is a professional Scrabble player, four-time world champion. He is also the banjo player for the bluegrass group My Hands are Too Small.
Born to a coal-mining family in West Virginia, blah blah blah. Bazquux, a poor student despite his obvious gift for words, left school at age 16, and while working as a waiter took on the name Joe Foobar when he entered his first regional Scrabble championship.
By 1983, Foobar had won the Eastern Regional Championship three years in a row, and took the national title in 1984, and the international title a year later.

I.e., the original name is used up until the new name was assumed, and use of either is avoided in the lead's additional sentences. Works just fine. Pronouns would be adapted in the same way to the extent that they should be used at all; it is quite easy to write around them. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:10, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Adding both Notes and References sections

The following MOS guideline was added today, in an edit with the associated comment "Merging "Article titles" with 'Sections and headings'—more logical)":

"Create both Notes and References sections only where this is helpful. Their order can be reversed, depending on the system of references and notes used in the article."

I'm not sure when it would be considered non-helpful, as "helpful" is somewhat vague as a requirement. I think this is a new style guideline, derived from guidance in Wikipedia:Citing_sources#Maintaining a separate "References" section in addition to "Notes", which said only that separate sections can be helpful, not that they must be helpful. Personally, I put non-footnote citations (which I use if they apply to a big part of the article) in a References section, and inline footnoted citations (which I use for a quote, sentence, or other limited part of the article) in a Notes section, even if there is only one entry under the Notes and/or References headings. -Agyle 19:38, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Good point, it seems to me, and further evidence that MOS and its submanuals need closer coordination. The overhaul of the Article titles and Section headings sections that I did 10 hours ago arose from my proposal that the Headings submanual (MOS:HEAD) be deleted and what little extra information it contains on the subject transferred to MOS itself. So I set about combining the best of both sources, and improving the wording; in that task, there are just a few things I didn't get around to adding, and I suspect that they're amply dealt with at the main articles linked-to by the submanual and MOS. So at some stage, I do believe that the submanual would be better deleted to avoid mild chaos.
During this process, I realised that many of the guidelines that apply to section headings apply also to article titles. This was a problem in both MOS and MOSHEAD. Thus, what were the opening two sections of MOS are now merged and the guidelines more logically allocated in relation to titles and headings. Timneu22 has since modified the sections—good, except that s/he changed the "Wording" section (previously in both sources) to "Headings", with a rider about dual applicability within several points. However, it's neater to reinstate "Wording" and insert just one rider, in reverse, as it were: that the last point applies only to headings. I've done this.
The point raised by Aryle concerns what was clearly spelt out at MOSHEAD. Can you advise whether this would be better?
EXISTING: "Create both Notes and References sections only where this is helpful."
PROPOSED: "Creating both Notes and References sections can be helpful."
or remove the whole point? Tony (talk) 02:20, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
PS I see that several of the points in Timneu's reorganised "Article titles" section apply also to section headings. Shouldn't this be rationalised? Don't make section headings more than 10 words if you can help it, surely, as well as article titles? I've reorganised. Tony (talk) 02:22, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
On the question of what to say about Notes and References, I would suggest removing the whole point, or saying "For usage of References, Notes and Footnotes sections, see Wikipedia:Citing_sources#Section headings."
Also, I'd think about the adjacent sentence added to MOS, "Standard heading titles at the end of an article are See also, Notes, References, Further reading, and External links." If that's trying to summarize what was in WP:MOSHEAD, I think MOSHEAD was trying to suggest two specific orders for those appendix sections, while the one-sentence MOS summary doesn't suggest an order. -Agyle 07:01, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
OK, this is my latest attempt: "The standard order for heading titles at the end of an article are See also, Notes, References, Further reading, and External links; the order of Notes and References can be reversed where helpful. For more information on References, Notes and Footnotes sections, see Wikipedia:Citing_sources#Section headings."
What is missing is a sense of which headings are mandatory, for all articles, and which are optional. Can you help on that? Tony (talk) 08:15, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm fairly sure all five of those headings are optional. Citing sources is always encouraged, but isn't required if the material isn't "challenged or likely to be challenged." WP:CITE says the Notes section name can alternately be called Footnotes, and Further reading can alternately be called Bibliography. From your recent wording, I'd omit "where helpful" (WP:MOSHEAD says there are unspecified factors, but I think it's an arbitrary choice), and omit the "more" of "more information," since it really doesn't provide any information on those sections. Here's a modified alternative:
"The standard order for optional appendix sections at the end of an article are See also, Notes (or Footnotes), References, Further reading (or Bibliography), and External links; the order of Notes and References can be reversed. For information on these optional sections, see Wikipedia:Guide to layout#Standard appendices and descriptions and Wikipedia:Citing_sources."
-Agyle 09:17, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, Agyle: I've implemented your suggested wording, hoping that others agree with it. I guess we'll see. Tony (talk) 11:04, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

(Outdent) I've got the loud shouting in edit summaries from Timneu22, which doesn't impress me. S/he is insisting on a sequence of headings in this part of MOS that take you logically through the sequence a reader meets in reading an article. Article titles, First sentences, Section headings. It has some advantages, but one big disadvantage in that the guidelines for the wording of both article titles and section headings are identical, except for one (Avoid restating wording on a higher level in the heading hierarchy). As Timneu has loudly insisted, the guidelines are illogically strewn between the two. Now it's OK to use "You" in an article title, where not part of a proper noun? And "The" and "A" as opening word? And now you can insert links into article titles.

And it's unfortunate to trot out the same points twice in the space of the three opening sections of MOS. I'll have a go at fixing this while retaining the current structure. Tony (talk) 01:25, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

It seems to me that there is an overwhelming trend away from using both, and a strong one away from using a Notes section at all except in article with genuine non-reference footnotes. I think it could be time to delineate more clearly between them: If all of the footnotes are reference citations, even with commentary, use References. If there are both and different footnoting systems are used (e.g. <ref> for refs and one of the footnote templates for notes of a non-ref nature, use both, and use only Notes if both are used and both use the same footnoting system. Agree with keeping notes between See also and References. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:15, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

One feature that should be addressed here is accessibility. Many ref-sections now use small type, which (even) I find difficult with perfect corrected vision. The only good reason for this is that the references are "taking too much space" which in turn only makes sense if they are not, if you will, actually footnotes at the very foot of the article. Therefore I would like to see consideration to moving the footnotes (whatever the section is called) right to the end of the article proper, possibly beyond any navboxen, at the same time deprecating small fonts. Rich Farmbrough, 12:07 9 October 2007 (GMT).
So people render their ref-sections in 10 point rather than 12? Could there be a compromise in 11 point as a minimum? And can you spell out the reason that locating references at the end is going to help? Thanks. Tony (talk) 12:25, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
It would help if editors would not overuse the named footnote feature of <ref>. This all too often multiplies footnotes: yes, it permits all the citations of "Reference A, p. 10" to become one footnote; but at the cost of making the citations of "Reference A, p. 10", "Reference B, p. 29", and "Reference C, p.578 n.28" into three separate footnotes, even when they are cited at the same place, and support the same text. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:51, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
Can someone point me to an adequate and simple description of how one can use a book as a source of references, and in disparate parts of an article refer to different pages within that book, then? I note that the changed Wikipedia:Guide to layout#Standard appendices and descriptions seems to render the style of referencing used in, say Runcorn and others articles that have acieved GA status within the Cheshire WikiProject as a MOS breach.  DDStretch  (talk) 09:03, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Ellipses policy unclear

I find two things unclear with the ellipses policy:

(1) The example of "Even more rarely, before an exclamation mark…!" seems to contradict the given rules. Is this intentional, or a mistake?
(2) What do we do for ellipses that separate complete sentences? Using "…." seems misleading, since it suggests that the elided text came before the end of the sentence. I think that ". …" would be more appropriate, but that form is not mentioned.

Tristan Schmelcher 21:15, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

You're right on the first count: thank you. On the second, isn't it four dots without space before them? ("The house was on the hill.... It had been unoccupied for many years.") Tony (talk) 00:56, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
It is normally so done; the fourth dot being the period at the end of the first complete sentence. Many readers will be likely to miss the distinction between three and four dots, however; if it matters, we should mark the difference explicitly. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:41, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
Right, it is normally done that way. But what could be more explict a marker that four instead of two dots? Any reader paying enough attention to care about what was elided seems to me to be likely to care enough to noticed four vs. three dots. But maybe it's just; I tend to notice four dots instantly, maybe it doesn't "resonate" for others as well. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:24, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
What could be more explicit? A footnote; a statement in text. Most of the time, whether the elision is whole sentences won't matter; when it does, we should say so. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:51, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Please archive again

This page is again causing Firefox/WinXP to crash due to its bulk, on systems that don't have gobs and gobs of RAM (100%-repeatable crash on my system). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 18:14, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

There are auto-archiving bots; we could install one here. SMcCandlish has no problem requesting that we adapt to the peculiarities of an operating systme when it's his OS; perhaps he will be less dismissive of the foibles of other operating systems hereafter. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:50, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
As per Tony and others, why do you always seem to attempt to muddy the water with logically fallacious arguments? Things not looking perfectly pretty with your particular font in your particular browser is nothing at all like bluescreening applications that make WT:MOS completely unusable in circumstances that are likely to affect a large numbers of user (WinXP, Firefox, less that 1GB of RAM). Jee-zus. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:19, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
Done. OS problems or not, the page was just too damn long. Strad 23:24, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
Thank you! — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:19, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

This page is archived by subject (as well as?) not just date, so a bot might not be the best soln. Rich Farmbrough, 13:57 9 October 2007 (GMT).

Somewhere in the text archived, IIRC, is an assertion that the archiving by topic (as opposed to copying the section headers into an index page) wasn't working very well, and has been abandoned. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:47, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
As far as I know, there some of the archives are sorted by subject but most (and all recent ones) go in chronological order. I'm not aware of any dual achiving whereby the same thing is archived twice. It would be nice but who's about to devote the time to sorting the archives by topic? Jɪmp 04:30, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

British vs. American English for terms

What standard is followed in issues of term usage between British and American English? For example, the use of 'paraffin' in Tractor_vaporising_oil. Britain uses 'paraffin' for both kerosene and paraffin wax, while all other English-speaking countries, as far as I know, call it kerosene nearly exclusively. I know that in matters of spelling, articles are left in the style in which they were written, but terms seem to have a much larger impact. What should be done in this case? Phasmatisnox 01:58, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Seems best to me to avoid ambiguous terms, dialect issue aside. I assume that UK readers will understand "kerosene" and "paraffin wax"? Also, linking to more specifically-termed articles is often helpful in situations like this. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:21, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
Agree with SMcC, if a suitable alternative term would be universally clear. If there is no single term that would be commonly understood in both places, I'd say pick one, and on first usage explain the other term. An example would be the Williams pear, called the Bartlett pear in the U.S. and Canada; I doubt many people are familiar with both of those terms, or the formal name which is universal. -Agyle 06:30, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
It isn't always obvious that an article incorporates terms or spellings of one national variant, rendering the idea of keeping a consistent variant a bit tricky. A consistent way of flagging source to say something like en-ca spoken in 37 places in this article might be helpful. A bot could presumably be devised/devized to scan against the list of national spellings.LeadSongDog 17:56, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
NB: It's "devised" even in American English; AmEng is not terribly consistent with this sort of thing. E.g. we advertise with advertising, but criticize with criticism. Go figure. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 17:12, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
In fact, that BrEng does distinguish, calling one "paraffin" (wax) and the other "paraffin oil" (kerosene) but there are less verbose ways of expressing it. Both OED and SOED mention kerosene predominating in technical contexts. So, I agree with SMcCandlish here. --ROGER DAVIES TALK 10:46, 11 October 2007 (UTC)


Can we have a guideline that states that one does not have to put the US in front of $ for articles that are clearly talking about American things? I find the US$ wording to be an eyesore and usually unnecessary. Alternatively, perhaps have a template that goes towards the end of the article (such as in "Notes" or "References") that reads something like "All $s in this article refer to United States dollars." Other countries' dollars could have similar templates. It seems that the need to specify which dollars is only needed for articles that talk of things of a global nature.--SeizureDog 05:50, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

If the practice really is that common then I suppose a proscription ought to go in. There's no need to write US$ for obviously American prices, just as there's no need to write UK£ for obviously British prices. Strad 05:59, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
It's been there for a while: Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Formatting. Tony (talk) 06:30, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
As Tony notes, it is already in there, but we should not get any more prescriptive that we already are on this one, I would think. In an American article about US economics in which the US dollar was compared to the Canadian and Australian dollar, it would make eminent sense to use "US$", etc. (but linked only the first time). Likewise, some editor or another once wanted to change UK£" to simply "£" in all the snooker bios until it was pointed out that just because snooker is a rather British game does not mean that all players' professional earnings were in fact reported in their infoboxes in UK pounds. PS: Speaking of pounds, what's up with there being two symbols: £ and ₤ ? On my monitor it looks like the second has two lines thru it as opposed to one. Which is the correct symbol for pounds sterling, and what does the other represent? — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 14:21, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
See Pound sign. -- Arwel (talk) 21:50, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
Cool. I have updated the MOS text to distinguish. I assume that is still in there; I haven't looked lately. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 17:14, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Closing parentheticals

Resolved: Rescinded by proponent.

There's been some confusion here on what to do with parentheticals that end in terminal punctuation and also end their enclosing sentence. As we already know from quotations, which when used inline in a sentence are basically a form of parenthetical, terminal punctuation that must be inside a parenthetical that agrees with the terminal punctuation required by the enclosing sentence, ends the sentence there, with the terminal punctuation not duplicated outside the parenthetical. This is so obvious that few style guides address it directly. Because they don't need to. A rule already given long before parentheticals are even mentioned will already address it. Examples:

  • Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed: 6.15 Omission of period: ... When an expression that takes a period ends a sentence, no additional period follows." And, "6.122 No double period: When an expression that takes a period ends a sentence, no additional period follows.... (Yes, they actually said it twice.)
  • Mayfield Handbook: "Section 8.1.: If an abbreviation ending in a period comes at the end of a sentence, do not attach an additional period to the sentence...."

I'm sure others go into it as well, but I have better things to do that look up a multitude of references that all says the same thing.

The principle here is reiterated, even in the rather too concise Fowler's Modern English Usage, as well as a other style guides, when addressing quotation handling and other issues, such as titles of works, usage of commas, and so on.

By way of further comparison: If I wrote a song that was literally called "Foo," with the comma part of the song name, we would not write about the song with redundant commas: "SMcCandlish's song 'Foo,' released in 2007...", not "SMcCandlish's song 'Foo,', released in 2007...".

Any read through Wikipedia articles will show that the principle here is being applied consistently, and there's evidently no widespread confusion about it, but someone keeps insisting on adding redundant punctuation to MOS itself, thus this long message to address it before it starts inspiring editors at large to add redundant punctuation all over the place.

The problem probably stems from failure to recognize that the "except when the parenthetical is separate or self-contained" exception in various style guides that applies to "always put terminal punctuation outside a parenthetical at the end of a sentence" is satisfied by abbreviations that terminate with a period (again, as long as the period agrees with the sentence), because the period is indivisible from the acronym. Abbreviations that end with periods are "detached" or self-contained by virtue of their format, as they cannot be altered to move their punctuation away. The mistake is in assuming that the only things that satisfy the exception are sentences (CMS even appears to say this, until one remembers that they've already countermanded double-perioding elsewhere. Twice.)

Some examples:

  • Agreement of parenthetical and sentence: He went to the pub (at 5 p.m.) (the period cannot be moved from the abbreviation to the outside)
  • Redundant: He went to the pub (at 5 p.m.). (just as He said 'I'm going to the pub at 5 p.m.'. would be redundant)
  • No agreement of p. and s.: He went to the pub (at 5 p.m.)? (whole sentence is a question)
  • Alternative abbreviation style: He went to the pub (at 5 pm). (lack of period on comma does not force terminal punctuation inside the paren.)

Another way of looking at this is, "Why on earth would we advise doing one thing with parenthetically-constructed quotations (and titles of works, etc.), and something completely different with all other parentheticals?" (Please note that a period does not follow the end of that pseudo-quotation. :-)

SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 13:15, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Eloquent, SMcCandlish. And for some, perhaps rhetorically effective. Pity it's completely wrong! Look at this, from the editors of Chicago Manual of Style itself (find it here):

Q. Hi—I seem to remember in an earlier edition of the CMOS that, if parenthetical material ended in a period, the final period of the sentence should be omitted, even if the rules would otherwise require it. Here’s an example:

 She prepared all the Thanksgiving dishes (turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, etc.)

 She prepared all the Thanksgiving dishes (turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, etc.).

A co-worker has insisted that the second example is correct and has scoffed at me for suggesting that the first example is preferred. Did I deserve the scoffing? Please do not tell me to omit the “etc.” whenever possible, because this will not be an option in most cases.

A. The scoffer is right. A sentence needs punctuation at the end, and it can’t appear within the parentheses unless the entire sentence is contained in the parentheses. Version 2 is correct.</bockquote>

This is a time-honoured principle. It is expressed well in Strunk's original little text, all those years ago:

An expression containing an expression in parentheses is punctuated, outside of the marks of parenthesis, exactly as if the expression in parenthesis were absent.

Obviously in agreement with this, Merriam-Webster's Manual for Writers and Editors (1998, p. 25) gives this example, so that no one will mistake their intention:

The conference was held in Portland (Me., not Ore.).

Similarly Penguin Working Words (1993, p. 78), though the specific examples it gives do not address our present concern directly:

When you enclose material in brackets, punctuation within the sentence remains the same:[...]

The Oxford Style Manual (2003, p. 145) joins the chorus:

When parenthetical matter is not punctuated as a complete sentence, the closing parenthesis precedes any punctuation marks in the enclosing sentence:[...]

And later on the same page:

As punctuation within parenthetical matter does not affect matter outside it,[...]

Returning now to CMOS (cited above in a way that clinches the matter, anyway), here is all of 6.103 (the relevant section!), to which I have added emphasis by underlining:

With other punctuation

An opening parenthesis should be preceded by a comma or a semicolon only in an enumeration (see 6.126); a closing parenthesis should never be preceded by a comma or a semicolon. A question mark, an exclamation point, and closing quotation marks precede a closing parenthesis if they belong to the parenthetical matter; they follow it if they belong to the surrounding sentence. A period precedes the closing parenthesis if the entire sentence is in parentheses; otherwise it follows. (A parenthetical enclosure of more than one sentence should not be included within another sentence. If a final period is needed at the end of such an enclosure, rewording may be necessary to keep the enclosure independent of the surrounding text, as is this one.) Parentheses should rarely appear back to back. Different kinds of material may, if necessary, be enclosed in a single set of parentheses, usually separated by a semicolon. For parentheses in documentation, see chapters 16 and 17.

SMcCandlish, you cite CMOS's 6.122 and 6.15, but they are not addressing the present point. In each case their wording is, as you cite it yourself: When an expression that takes a period ends a sentence. In the cases we are interested in, the expression does not itself end the sentence: it is followed by a closing parenthesis that is not a part of the expression itself. CMOS makes this perfectly clear, with the Q&A response that I quoted at the start. The Mayfield source does not address the question we are looking at – at least at the point you quote it at.
You claim that Fowler's Modern English Usage supports your case? Show me where! The truth is that no source that addresses the precise question under discussion here agrees with you. CMOS explicitly disagrees, and so do others – with examples! The honourable course now is for you to acknowledge your mistake. While you ruminate on this possibility, look also through books published by any respectable publisher. I challenge you to find support in their practice.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 14:17, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
I should perhaps add, for perfect clarity, that in the cases I corrected in MOS (all due to SMcCandlish) the material enclosed within quotes was not itself a complete sentence: or, if it be argued that it was, it did not begin standardly with a capital letter, and the parentheses themselves where elements in an enclosing sentence that was not ended with its own full stop in the way prescribed in all the manuals. In any case, the manuals say that a full sentence enclosed in parentheses within another sentence should not end with a full stop, though it may end with a question mark or exclamation mark.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 14:53, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
No worries; you've found more support for your position that I have so far so I'm not going to editwar with you about that stuff. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 15:26, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm shocked that a CMS editor would have replied to that question in the way it was replied to. Ignoring that for now, to put my argument another way: The style guides consistently say two conflicting things: 1) Sentences must end with punctuation outside a sentence-concluding parenthetical. 2) Do not double-period the end of a sentence. The only way to resolve this conflict is to look at which "rule" is more basic, and the second obviously is, and is precisely why quotes in the same situation as the parentheticals do not double-punctuate either. This becomes even more clear when you consider parentheticals that don't use brackets; moving such a parenthetical around does nothing to make it less parenthetical, so we have a clear and easy means of testing this (ignoring MOSNUM's science notation for the sake of easy examples):
  • Embedded parenthetical: "My cat—he weighs 21 lbs.—is at risk for diabetes."
  • Move the parenthetical: "My cat is at risk for diabetes—he weighs 21 lbs."
  • Nonsense: "My cat is at risk for diabetes—he weighs 21 lbs.."

As with no doubling of commas and no redundant punctuation after quotations, the no-double-periods rule trumps parenthetical handling. The CMS editors have simply goofed in my opinion, forgetting their own underlying reasoning, and I have to note that CMS's blog or message forum is not CMS, and is not subject to peer review and other external editorial review, so citing it does not "clinch the matter" at all. The fact that CMS, Fowler's, Guardian and other style guides differ on numerous points means that they are all subjective and fallible, so even if CMS itself disagreed with me and removed its no-double-period rule, it would still have to contend with other style guides that insist upon it. Handling of parentheticals does not exist in a vacuum, but interacts with more basic rules, such as against double-dotting. I've offered a logical deduction that so far is countermanded by a blog post and by a Merriam-Webster publication, so I'm outgunned by one reliable source for now. Oh well. In response to your question about Fowler's, as I clearly wrote: It and other style guides address parallel constructions that illustrate the same principles (don't double end-punctuation after a quote, etc.) I did not say that Fowler's or any other actually directly addresses dotted acronyms at the end of paratheticals that close a sentence. The very fact that they don't is why any deduction has to be done at all. The argument that "the expression does itself end the sentence: it is followed by a closing parenthesis that is not a part of the expression itself" is simply impenetrable (I realized you've borrowed it from M.-W.); it either does or it doesn't end the sentence, and can't do both at the same time. To argue that the closing parenthesis somehow makes it not the end of the sentence, thus requiring a second period, is the same as arguing that a closing quotation mark has the same effect, and we know from all style guides that this is not the case. The analogy between the two situations is so perfect that style guides simply never bother to mention the parenthetical case, with the sole case so far as either of us have found being the M.-W. item you cite. Strunk and White doesn't address the matter other than to indicate that we do not double-punctuate outside of quotes, and that we punctuate outside of brackets; it seems unlikely to me that if they'd thought to include whether or not to double-punctuate outside of brackets that they would have contradicted their previous advice with regard to the same situation in quotations (then again, if Merriam-Webster is doing it...). So, I certainly do not concede the argument, only that it remains unsettled pending my finding counter-citations. In another window, I'm actually composing a letter to CMS about this, because I do not think that their position is logically defensible, and I want to see if they can come up with some rationale for it. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 15:26, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

PS: Just to be clear, I'm rescinding my stance that the MOS should say (or reflect) the sensible practice, and remain using the one that contradicts parallel usage, since at least one reliable source and one questionable source says to do so and I've yet to dig up a counter-sources. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 23:21, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
It is well that you have withdrawn, SMcCandlish. You might have done it with better grace! There is still much that cries out for immediate refutation in what you have written above, but I don't want to waste more time on this. I will just add my own clear summing up.
The issue concerning your edits and my corrections of them was not difficult or unfathomable. The simple rule, sometimes made explicit and sometimes assumed as straightforward background knowledge, is this:
If a sentence includes material that is enclosed in parentheses, it still must end – with a full stop, a question mark, or an exclamation mark – after those parentheses.
This specific principle is respected by all guides and manuals: American, British, transgender, or Presbyterian. Most regrettably, guides are often not precise: CMOS leaves many things unsaid that ought to be said, and Fowler's (which is not a fully fledged guide or manual anyway) has its own inconsistencies and omissions. But nowhere will you find the principle as I give it above contradicted – except by artificially constructed argument, sometimes relying on imperfect formulations on other matters, found in some manuals. Beyond that, all reputable publishing houses respect the principle (as you'll see by looking dispassionately at their work), and would certainly endorse the formulation I give it. SMcCandlish, I note that in other places you solitarily and habitually flout the principle. This is from your own talk page, for example:

I suspect I'll be a "star pupil" on that stuff since I've already aborbed much of those areas (though I never pretend I have nothing to learn.)

Do it there, by all means. But don't do it here, and don't hold it up as a standard – certainly not here in MOS. The universally respected principle is so fundamental that I am about to put it into MOS. Please respect that.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:49, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Thanks Noetica, but I do not need "grace" snipes from you (or anyone else). If I think that the CMOS is being illogical about something, I will darned well say so. It is frequently criticized on a wide range of small matters throughout its bulk as being irrational, hyperbolic, over-prescriptive, conflicting with other style guides, jingoistic, obsolete on many matters, countervailingly too quick to adopt recent trends in other places, and simply assertive of nonsense that no other such pundit, singular or collective, concurs with. I realize that some leeway has to be given with regard to argument to authority in matters of English usage and style, because the entire nature of the subject makes it highly subjective and prescriptive, often on the flimsiest of bases; we all have to rely to an extent on such works, while also relying for WP purposes on basic logic and reasoning when apparent contradictions arise. I've conceded this argument for now, on the basis that I don't have a counter-source yet, but that doesn't mean automatically that one does not exist. If you want to talk about "grace", why not learn to accept concession, temporary or otherwise, from debate opponents without feeling the need to kick them in metaphoric gonads for it, please. I also don't need you poring over my talk page looking for grammar faults to criticize me for in public. Comes off a bit WP:STALKy. Rather than ankelbite me about a page that isn't any of your concern, maybe you'd like to ask me if I've made a decision to use the redundant but widely recommended ".)." style while editing Wikipedia. ("Yes" is the answer.) By the way, you are the only editor, in over two years of editing here, that I know of who has reverted my ".)" usage, which strongly suggests to me that the preference for ".)." is not nearly as prevalent in actual practice as you and your style guides believe it should be. It seems to me that a lot of others intuitively recognize that, like ".'." it is redundant, and eschew it. This is precisely the process by which language evolves away from obsolete styles (e.g. German-style capitalization of Nouns simply because They are Nouns didn't fully die out in English until the late 1800s), so this should not be particularly surprising to observe happening. That said, I will hardly insist upon doing it my preferred way in WP, for the same reasons I oppose others' insistence on using typesetters' quotations, or periodizing "U.S." but doing all other acronyms like "UK", and so on. That would be hypocritical. Anyway, that's all I care to say about any of this mess, and I hope our interaction can be more pleasant next time around. :-/ — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 17:34, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
I share that hope, SMcCandlish. I see no need to respond to any of that. If there is anything you want to pursue, please take it to my talk page rather than add to the volume of talk here. Best wishes to you!
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:18, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
It needn't be put into the MOS if it is as universal as you think it is, and MOS generally does not give style advice on things that do not have an important effect on article readability/understandability (e.g. MOS doesn't address split infinitives or sentence-final prepositions). I won't revert it if you do, though. <shrug>. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 17:37, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

First Sentence

Is this is just my personal opinion? It seems to me that starting off an article with "In <whatever subject domain>, a <subject of this article> is ..." is not really nice. Maybe it is still encyclopedic, but seems just a little bit, not meaning to be pejorative, well, sort of childish.

For example: "In mathematics, a parallelogram is a four sided figure whose opposites sides are parallel to each other". I would rather it read just straight: "A parallelogram is a ...". Any ideas on this? Peashy 13:42, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Of course. Only in relatively obscure fields or for relatively obscure expressions would we expect to see "in classical magneto-hydrodynamics". Clearly terms like parallelogram are part of mainstream English, whereas "Navier-Stokes equation" is not. Also it would be gauche to say, for example, "In history, the rebellion of 1402 was...". Nonetheless context is important, and I would be reluctant to forbid that formula. Rich Farmbrough, 14:03 9 October 2007 (GMT).
You and I are both guilty of using the wrong examples!<grin> I just sucked parallelogram out of my thumb to illustrate what I meant (you are right, it wouldn't need the In mathematics kick-off because everyone knows that (I think)), and I have just looked at the "Navier-Stokes equations" article, which doesn't in fact start off with "In ...". In fact the Navier-Stokes article starts off in a way that makes me feel good. I'm going to try and find some more articles starting "In ..." and see if I can work out what feels nicer to me and see if others agree. I changed the Database first sentence yesterday, just before posting (posing?) the above question, so there is one example already.
By the way - gauche is the kind of word I was looking for when I wrote childish. Thanks. Peashy 08:32, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Database is a good example, because although, almost universally, a computer database is meant, a qualifier to restrict the domain of discourse is a Good Thing - and in this case your solution does that well. Rich Farmbrough, 08:36 12 October 2007 (GMT).

Bullets and numbered lists

I have added the caveat that it is good to number lists where the number itself is of some importance, for example track listings. Rich Farmbrough, 14:04 9 October 2007 (GMT).

Good point. I've just massaged the whole section. I clarified the case and punctuation of elements that are (1) whole sentences, and (2) sentence fragments. Tony (talk) 14:13, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Periods and acronyms dispute

Someone disputed my prescriptive edits to the section on acronyms and abbreviations, and made the entire thing descriptive on the assertion that there isn't any consensus to be descriptive about it. I've now rewritten that to at least be accurately descriptive, based on reliable sources (Chicago Manual of Style, etc.) I argue against the descriptivist position here, on the following basis:

  • It is the purpose of the MOS to be prescriptive, as it is a guide for what to do for the sake of consistency and unambiguity in Wikipedia articles, not a general reference work on the English language.
  • There is precedent that indicates underlying consensus: The article naming conventions insist that articles on subjects known by initials be named in the form X. Y. Abecedarian, not the colloquial British usage XY Abecedarian.
  • That the British periodless usage for some or all abbreviations is informal is abundantly clear:
  • It is inconsistent, applied by some only to contracting abbreviations and not to truncating or compressing ones, while applied by others to all abbreviations (source: Strunk & White, Elements of Style)
  • It is not even supported by all British style guides; Fowler's Modern English Usage (Burchfield's recent Oxford ed., not the American one from the 1970s) illustrates almost totally consistent use of periods with abbreviations that are not acronyms/initialisms (including initials of people, "stock" abbreviations like etc. and 20c., and less common abbreviations like superl., with the exception that abbreviations for a few, but not most, languages are given without periods for unexplained reasons – Gk, but Sp., Fr., L.)
  • More to the point, the only "authority" that appears to advocate abandonment of periods for all abbreviations in non-scientific prose is the Guardian's style guide, which is produced by a populist newspaper writing for a general audience (so much so that it is full of a lot of jesting and informal language), and recommends many things that conflict with the MOS. WP is not a newspaper, and does not follow news style.
  • The usage introduces ambiguities, and even fans of no-dotting do add periods (full stops, whatever) when ambiguity may result (sources: Fowler's and CMS both).
  • The above point means that the style will necessarily lead to lack of consistency within articles, despite MOS insists upon it.
  • That it's a (non-total) British preference is immaterial; putting periods after non-metric units of measurement is a strong (though again not absolute) American preference, but my own putsch to see the MOS acknowledge that at MOSNUM failed, establishing another precedent: the UK vs. US laissez faire attitude of the MOS is easily trumped by other concerns such as consistency and accuracy (cf. also insistence on logical quoting, despite the fact that a lot of Americans aren't used to it).
  • The usage will lead to editing disputes. British users all recognize the period-terminating style, yet a) many Americans mistake the no-periods style for typographical errors and will "fix" them, meanwhile b) since British editors themselves are not in agreement as to when periods are and are not required, they will conflict over the matter even among each other, too.

I could add more, but these are probably enough points against dropping periods from abbreviations (other than units of measure, where the science crowd won out). The points for it seem to be "we're used to it because of British newspapers" (which is no stronger an argument than "get rid of logical quotation because American newspapers don't use it"), and ... well, that seems to be it.

My proposal: Eschew the colloquial British no-dots practice for the formal use-dots practice, which is even preferred by British sources like Fowler: "Dr. Smith of 42 St. Joseph St." I could probably live with some carefully enumerated exceptions in articles on British topics (or begun in British English on dialect-neutral topics) for the most common British usage, no-dotting forms of address such as "Dr Smith" and "St Joseph", so long as it remains clear that otherwise, periods are used, thus deprecating "op cit", "etc", "approx", "123 Second Ave", and other period omissions.

This is the mirror image of my urging deprecation of "U.S.", because there isn't a rationale other than "I'm used to it and it's traditional in my neck of the woods" for the dialectal exception.

SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 14:09, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

My view; while the variety and history of abbreviations are wonderful, I would like to see the following:-
  1. It is clearly understood that the caveats at the top of the MoS apply.
  2. A clear definition of which abbreviations are preferred by the MoS.
  3. No "either or" clauses - yes we know that various forms are acceptable, the purpose of the MoS is largely to guide between alternative acceptable English forms, not between solecism and grace.
  4. Simplicity.
  5. A good chance of the guidance not changing for some months or years.
I actually have enough faith in most of the regulars on these page not to put together something "stupid" as it were. However I would also say that it is not the end of the world if WP has it's own idiosyncrasies as long as they don't grate - and most of the choices are unlikely to grate on any except those used to extensive proofing of one kind or another.
Rich Farmbrough, 05:45 10 October 2007 (GMT).
BrEng usage (and close cousins) is stabilising on removing superfluous points, leaving just one to mark the sentence end. This is much better established than informal usage. The Times online style guide omits the point in doctor, street, saint, eg, EU, etc, and The Times of India follows it closely. The contemporary Shorter Oxford Dictionary has BBC, US and NATO; while the historial Oxford English Dictionary has B.B.C. and U.S., but NATO. Merriam Webster has BBC, UK, EU and NATO without points. I suspect it's Burchfield who's out of step here (he did say when New Fowler's came out that he aiming to create a bridge between (old) Fowler and modern usage). Incidentally, The Guardian is not a popularist newspaper but a liberal-leaning heavie; its Sunday stable mate is The Observer. The other UK broadsheets are The Telegraph and The Independent.

--ROGER DAVIES TALK 09:47, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

I meant no slight by "populist" (note spelling), only that it is a general-public newspaper, not something specialized to a particular niche, like the Wall Street Journal and its focus on the financial sector. I do of course know that it is a "heavy" in terms of readership and quality; I was not implying that it was a tabloid like the Sun. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 17:51, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Much of the above doesn't seem to be quite on-point, since it is mostly about acronyms/initialisms which (aside from "U.S." are not a matter of WP dispute at all. Not much of it addressed truncating, compressing and contracting abbreviations. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 17:53, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Comment above that The Guardian is just a "popularist newspaper": I have the Oxford University Press instructions in front of me for the book I'm editing for them. They insist on no dots and no spaces in initials.
Being a minimalist who recoils from redundancy in formatting as well as wording, I strongly object to both the dots and the spacing in people's initials. I think that WP should be flexible here, as long as a consistent style is used in each article. Tony (talk) 14:06, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
In this matter I am a minimalist, like Tony. The most respected Australian style guide (often referred to as AGPS Style Guide) follows the British norms for shortened forms, and remarks specifically on the difference between British and American practice. AGPS also notes that stops are more abundant in informal than formal writing; SMcCandlish notes the case of "units of measure, where the science crowd won out" (see above). This should give us pause, and at least alert us to the likelihood that a judicious minimalism enhances precision. Punctuation should be reserved for marking real differences in structure and sense, rather than merely adding to the décor. While I agree that our MOS should be prescriptive, it should not be so on partisan grounds; and it must be realistic about the limits within which consensus is achievable. In many cases the best we can achieve is local consistency, and regulated pluralism. It is not a matter of "logic", since both styles are inconsistent in their details. It is a matter of efficiency, clarity, and concinnity in our articles.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:28, 12 October 2007 (UTC)
Consistency I'm basically indifferent what the standard for names of articles about persons is (aesthetically, I prefer it as is, but that's hardly a persuasive argument), as long as it is consistent. I think it would be ridiculous to have pages at titles like "X. Y. Lastname," "X.Y. Lastname," and "X.Y.Lastname" among other permutations. The only real exceptions would be in cases like Harry S Truman, where the letter was his name or when someone deliberately chooses a stage name with particular punctuation, capitalization, etc. Otherwise, they should all conform to one standard, whatever that is. -Justin (koavf)·T·C·M 16:53, 13 October 2007 (UTC)
Chalk me and most Americans up as "quasi-minimalists" in that we detest the spacing ("J. K. Rowling"), except for people my grandmother's age, many of whom still space in this manner; it is broadly considered obsolete, and CMOS (for what the big blob is worth) recommends against it. We use the periods because they disambiguate abbreviations from non-abbreviations. This function is the main point of pro advocacy in their favor, and the MOS otherwise takes pains to recommend practices that aid in prevention of ambiguity and other confusion. Regardless of whether to periodize, I would love to see a concerted effort to remove the spacing of initials from the naming conventions on bio articles (and to make the comma between name and "Jr." or "Sr." ("Jr" or "Sr" in BrEng) deprecated as redundant. (I am not in concert with most Americans on that one; it would just be more consistent, as we do not write "Elizabeth, II, of England".) Anyone with me on the anti-spacing? — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 17:51, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
I agree wholeheartedly about removing the unnecessary spacing. Titles like W. E. B. Du Bois make me cringe. olderwiser 17:05, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Serial comma

Can we reduce
"By convention, the names of railroads and railways do not employ the serial comma (for example, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad). This is also the standard for law firms and similar corporate entities (for example, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom)."


The names of corporate entities do not usually use the serial comma (for example, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad).

Rich Farmbrough, 14:12 9 October 2007 (GMT).

Seems reasonable to me. At least find a shorter example that than SASMF one. It wouldn't suck to find a shorter one than CCCSLR either (if one cannot be found then railroads do not even need to be used an example here.) On second thought, it might just be better to say "The names of corporate entities do not usually use the serial comma, for example an A, B C example here", since law firms and railroads are corporate entities, and in truth most corporate endities do NOT use serial commas (cf. various multi-partner investment banking and venture capital firms). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 15:31, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
Done. How about author as identifiers? They follow the same rule I think. Rich Farmbrough, 05:49 10 October 2007 (GMT).
I'm not happy with this. The name of an entity should be whatever the name actually is, not how we modify it. If the official name has a comma or other punctuation, we use it; if not, not. Most companies and other organisations consider the distinction significant. The name is the way the name is used on its own publications. If there is no consistency, then we can normalize to the more frequently found form. DGG (talk) 02:23, 13 October 2007 (UTC)
A very good point; now that DGG makes me think harder about this, this is simply another application of the "do not alter quotations" maxim. I think Rich's text could be largely preserved, but written as what to do when there's no consistency in the source. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 17:59, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Letters of the alphabet; français and italiano

Resolved: Off-topic; better discussed at the talk page of the template in question.

I can find nothing about the treatment of individual letters of the alphabet in linguistic contexts. The MoS should recommend lower case italics as follows: c sounds either like k or like s. Rothorpe 18:00, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

This is already covered at "Words as words", under the "Italics" section. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 23:16, 9 October 2007 (UTC) - Right, and it does, thanks. Rothorpe 13:29, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Also, regarding the names of languages in infoboxes, it would seem more educational not to use capitals when the language does not always require them: español, not Español. Present practice is inconsistent. Rothorpe 18:00, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Where are we using español instead of Spanish, and why? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:53, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Have a look at the infoboxes for Spanish language & Portuguese language, and you'll see the inconsistency: español has a capital but português does not. Capitalizing the Occitan one would be awkward (how much? for a start), and that suggested to me that the the Romance languages should all be lower case in the boxes, just as they are normally in italiano, en français, etc. - in contrast, for example, to German, Deutsch. Simply educational. Rothorpe 21:19, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

If I'm following PMAnderson's lead correctly, I have to say that this is irrelevant and substandard here; English capitalizes proper nouns, whether they be directly borrowed or anglicized. I don't know much about the language Gujurati, but if they use latinate orthography, and happen to not capitalize the name of their language in their language, and render it as "gujurati", in English we would still render it as "Gujurati", because that's simply what we do in English. I'm with PMA in asking why an en.wikipedia template is using non-English names like "español" at all; this is not going to be helpful for our readers. In the article Spanish language, by contrast, I would expect to see "español" somewhere in the lead, italicized as a foreign word, bolded as an alt. term for the article topic, and lower case since we are reporting a foreign word, not a loanword in this context. Oppositely, if, here in the American Southwest, I start an ESL school called "The Español-English Institute", it would be capitalized, and non-italicized, because here it is being used as a loanword in an English-language phrase, and in English we capitalize proper nouns. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 23:16, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
My question was a question; I think the answer that español is a datum in {{Infobox Language}} is quite reasonable. The case for capitalization is that it is being used, in that infobox, as part of a title, and should therefore be capitalized, in both English and Spanish. But this is a issue on how that infobox should work, and should be discussed on Template talk:Infobox Language, not here. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:55, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
I have continued there - Rothorpe 14:29, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Recent edits

I've edited Words as words after its recent editing to introduce the new policy. But my changes don't alter the fact that users will have to work hard to get it. In particular, I'm unsure myself how mentioning a whole sentence differs from quoting it.

I hated the God save the King example—not only the ideological implications of the title, but the label "subjunctive", which I need to be persuaded is correct (in any case, it would have made most WPians knit their brow, and why the internal italics, just to make things harder?). The example didn't clarify the distinction between quoting and mentioning. I simply removed the example.

Here it is:

Italics are used when mentioning a word or letter (see use–mention distinction) or a string of words up to and including a full sentence: "The term panning is derived from panorama, a word coined in 1787"; "The most commonly used letter in English is e". For a whole sentence, quotes may be used instead, as they are in this manual of style where this helps to make things clear. But distinguish mentioning (to discuss such features as grammar, wording and punctuation) from quoting, for which only quote marks should be used (or appropriate indenting for large quotations). (See Quotations, below.)

Tony (talk) 12:41, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

I'm not surprised you did not think this subsection was perfect, as it stood! We must always allow for a little settling in. The matter of mentioning is intricate, in fact. We know well enough how it works with letters, words, and phrases; but when the notion is extended to whole sentences, our grasp becomes shakier. This is because our most natural engagement with the sentences we issue is using them, followed by quoting someone else's use of them. Arguably quoting is a species of mentioning, anyway. But I think it's better not to construe things that way. In writing "He said 'You are welcome!' ", we mean something more than "He uttered the string of words you are welcome, with some animation" (which is a plain example of mere mentioning of the string you are welcome): we mean also that he expressed something. He expressed, presumably, what one normally expresses when one utters that string of words! Simply put, we are quoting him as saying "You are welcome!" Now, this certainly is hard to explain to editors consulting MOS. Nevertheless, we do this sort of mentioning a lot in Wikipedia, and generally in life – when we say things about our use of language. Editors who are sufficiently attuned to the relevant subtleties will not be too bamboozled, especially since I have now edited it a little, in response to your qualms:
Words as words
Italics are used when mentioning a word or letter (see use–mention distinction) or a string of words up to and including a full sentence: "The term panning is derived from panorama, a word coined in 1787"; "The most commonly used letter in English is e";. For a whole sentence, quotes may be used instead, as they are in this manual of style where this helps to make things clear: "The preposition in She stoops to conquer is to", or "The preposition in 'She stoops to conquer' is to". Mentioning (in order to discuss such features as grammar, wording and punctuation) is different from quoting (in which something is usually expressed, on behalf of some person who is quoted). For quotations, only quote marks should be used (or appropriate indenting for large quotations). (See Quotations, below.)
I have even removed God save the King! to accommodate your squeamishness. In my opinion it doesn't matter that there is no God, there is no King, and if there were both of these the first ought not to be wished to save the second. For what it is worth, save most assuredly is a subjunctive in the sentence. But it's gone now anyway.
Thank you for fixing interrupt reading flow, elsewhere. (How did that get there?)
– Noetica♬♩Talk 13:27, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, Noetica; I'm copying your explanation so I can consult it when necessary. (I'm quite willing to do that, but it does point out the problem.) Tony (talk) 14:00, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

And this one is a problem:

however, alif and ayin should normally have their standard transliterations, and rough and smooth breathings in Ancient Greek should be marked where necessary; but note that there are browser compatibility issues with them also.

  • Alif and ayin "have" their standard transliterations?
  • "But note that" is just what we're trying to discourage in articles, isn't it? And why "but"—the logic escapes me.
  • What does "them" refer to?
  • What does "also" refer to? With them also?
  • And why bother in the first place when there's uncertainty over the browser thing?

Now sorry to be a party pooper, but why are such arcane matters as breathings in Ancient Greek being introduced into MOS? Hello? Isn't there a WikiProject where this kind of thing could be discussed? Or a talk page? It's covered, anyway, by saying that only apostrophes when used as apostrophes should be "straight". I haven't checked, but is this PManderson's doing? (Sorry if I've leapt to a wrong conclusion.) Tony (talk) 12:58, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Proposed changes to the exit list guide

Please read and comment at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (exit lists)#Proposals for clarifications. --NE2 05:16, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

McDonald's glyph example

The sentence sentence with a McDonald's example of glyph style was changed by one character, and I don't understand the distinction.

Old: For example, searching in an article for McDonald's (typewriter quote) will fail to find McDonald’s (typographic quote), and vice versa

New: For example, searching in an article for McDonald's (typewriter quote) will fail to find McDonald's (typographic quote), and vice versa.

For me, the old sentence's second occurrence of McDonald's wouldn't be found by Firefox or Internet Explorer (U.S. English browser settings, on U.S. Windows XP) searching for "McDonald's," while in the second example, the two examples are rendered the same way, and both are found by either browser. Do they appear different with other language or country settings? Note that I copied and pasted the "New" sentence, and it's possible my browser lost something in that process, so you might want to check the MOS itself. -Agyle 05:36, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

It needs to be changed back.Strad 00:22, 12 October 2007 (UTC)
This seems to have been changed back-and-forth a bit. The example of a typographics quote should really be a typographic quote, or it doesn't make sense. SamBC(talk) 16:19, 12 October 2007 (UTC)
Is this resolved now to everyone's satisfaction, or is something still broken? Looks fine to me. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 19:33, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Submanual section

Any reason we need to list all of the daughter manuals in a section towards the end as well as in the infobox at the top? I see that the two lists aren't quite the same, too.

I'd rather just keep the box at the top. Tony (talk) 11:00, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

That makes sense, from both a redundancy and a maintenance perspective. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 16:21, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

MOS and FAs

Featured Articles are supposed to meet our MOS guidelines. Well apparently not, as an ongoing discussion shows. violet/riga (t) 20:17, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

I invoke WP:IAR. From the sound of it, some featured articles use US-style punctuation consistently. Why fix what isn't broken? Strad 22:08, 12 October 2007 (UTC)
IAR is great when there is a reason to do so. The only reason mentioned there is that it would make maintaining the article more difficult, but I find that to be a poor argument. It's not something I would FARC an FA about, but if the article is changed to follow the MOS it shouldn't really be reverted without a very good reason for exemption. violet/riga (t) 07:48, 13 October 2007 (UTC)

Ellipses in square brackets

MOS currently says:

Where ellipses are used to indicate material elided from a direct quotation, they should not be square-bracketed.

When was the this discussed here? I think we should have instead:

Square brackets should not be used around an ellipsis, except where this is necessary to show that the ellipsis was not in the original, but added in shortening it.

The square brackets are standard in most scholarly practice. And after all, what do you do if you want to show elision from a quote that already includes its own ellipses? An appended note would be cumbersome; and the meaning of the square brackets is immediately obvious.

– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:31, 13 October 2007 (UTC)

Response: This is a distinction I hadn't thought of; but what if the original source had square brackets as well? Where will it end?

Enclosing every set of ellipsis dots with big square brackets partly negates the reason for using the ellipsis dots in the first place, which is to remove text that is not strictly relevant to the sense, and to save clutter and make the passage easier to read (while preserving the meaning). Square brackets are visually disruptive.

I wonder whether, in the rare cases in which ellipsis dots are part of the original source, this could be explicated after the quoted material, analogous to the requirement that editors explicate their own highlighting of words within quoted text with italic:

Italics are used within quotations if they are already in the source material, or added to give emphasis to some words. If the latter, an editorial note "[emphasis added]" appears at the end of the quotation ("Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince: And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest" [emphasis added]).

If the source uses italics for emphasis, and it is desirable to stress that Wikipedia has not added the italics, the editorial note "[emphasis in original]" appears after the quote.

By converse analogy:

Where Wikipedia uses an ellipsis to indicate that material has been elided from a direct quotation, they should not be square-bracketed. Where ellipses appear in the original source, their original form should be retained and an editorial note added at the end of the quotation ("Blah blah oink oink ... gabba gabba diddley squat" [ellipsis in original]').

How's that? Default is that WP has inserted the ellipsis, which is almost always the case. (Can you point to examples where ellipses are themselves quoted?) BTW, singular or plural for ellipsis/es here? Tony (talk) 01:57, 13 October 2007 (UTC)

Interesting observations, Tony. First please note carefully: neither I nor Oxford have proposed that all ellipses showing omission should have square brackets, though you give that impression at the start of your comments.
I still think that the proposal I make keeps things trim, immediately understandable, easily implemented, and consonant with sound practice elsewhere. The Oxford Style Guide discusses and rules on this matter at 8.4.1:

An original sentence or fragment may include an ellipsis, for example as points of suspension, that should not be deleted. For clarity, any later ellipsis inserted in such a passage must be set in square brackets. This passage from The Importance of Being Earnest, for example, contains two ellipses:

The fact is, lady Bracknell, I said I had lost my parents. It would be nearer the truth to say that my parents seem to have lost me...I don't actually know who I am by birth. I was...well, I was found.

In the following extract, the square brackets make clear which are in the original and which have been added subsequently:

The fact is, lady Bracknell, [...]my parents seem to have lost me...I don't actually know who I am [...]. I was...well, I was found.

The Oxford ruling reflects a widespread and established practice. I don't see, therefore, that there is any problem to which we need to find a new solution. What is unsatisfactory about this standard way? As for adding any sort of a note, that is non-minimalist, and makes for more clutter to wade through. If the article has a lot of analysis and quotation of original texts, this would quickly become a nuisance for all concerned. Save such notes for the extremely rare cases in which we need to quote original square-bracketed ellipses.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 02:23, 13 October 2007 (UTC)
But if the use of square brackets around ellipses is prescribed and common out there, why wouldn't most of the quotations in WP that include ellipses already have the square brackets? And doesn't that make the whole thing unclear? Tony (talk) 02:30, 13 October 2007 (UTC)
Sorry Tony, I have just amended my last contribution here to clarify things, and you may have missed that. The proposal is not to square-bracket all ellipses of omission. Some quoted text will have ellipses of omission that did not originally need square brackets to mark their intention; but they might still be conforming to the Oxford ruling. Also, as Oxford more or less points out, ellipses are used for other purposes, and in such cases they never call for square brackets (for "suspension", yes?). The Wilde quote gives examples. Finally, the claim is not that all sources "out there" conform to the Oxford ruling: simply that the Oxford ruling formalises a widespread and sound practice in much careful and scholarly writing. I see no reason not to adopt it ourselves.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 02:40, 13 October 2007 (UTC)
Agree with Noetica's idea, but the entire thing can be summed up very simply: "If a quotation contains one or more unbracketed elipses that were in the quoted source, any ellipsis added by Wikipedia editors is enclosed in square brackets." Put that after the bit saying we don't put ellipses in square brackets. Easy-peasy, and no example needed, probably. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 18:06, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Actually, it does leave one thing out that should be added to the bit about how we do editorial notes: "If a quotation contains one or more square-bracketed passages that were in the quoted source, any editorial notes added by Wikipedia editors go after the quotation." — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 18:09, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Troublesome second paragraph in the lead

Privileging a chosen few other style guides (and along with them the two varieties of English in which they are located), with uncertain relationship to this one, is very awkward right at the top. Why is it necessary to interrupt the flow of the lead, which contains critical information such as overarching principles, with this kow-towing to other, hard-copy-oriented tomes? It's just muddy and confusing. There's already a clear statement to raise issues on the talk page where they're not covered by WP's MOS. This parade of people's pet favourites has no place at the top, and could even be regarded as POV. Is Wikipedia endorsing these select few? Bad idea.

I suggest that if people are still keen to list their favourites, it be done at the end under its own section (perhaps "Other style guides"). Tony (talk) 02:52, 13 October 2007 (UTC)

I agree. I have recently adjusted and inflated that section (as others have recently also); but I did this only for balance and accuracy, pending some more satisfactory arrangement. Let's move any such material to the end, and keep it lean, balanced, and useful – not "political".
– Noetica♬♩Talk 02:56, 13 October 2007 (UTC)
Done, boldly. Tony (talk) 03:13, 13 October 2007 (UTC)
Major improvement! — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 18:09, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Intro section

If this page does not specify a preferred usage, discuss your issues on the talk page of this manual. When either of two styles is acceptable, it is inappropriate for an editor to change an article from one style to another unless there is a substantial reason to do so (for example, it is acceptable to change from Canadian to British spelling if the article concerns a British topic). Edit warring over optional styles is unacceptable. If an article has been stable in a given style, it should not be converted without a reason that goes beyond mere choice of style. When it is unclear whether an article has been stable, defer to the style used by the first major contributor.

The way I read this is that if an article with BrEng spelling about, say, a US president or an American literary figure has been stable in BrEng, it should not be changed to AmEng spellings. Or if the same article starts in AmEng, is changed to BrEng, remains stable in BrEng, it cannot be reverted to AmEng. Is this the intention? Strong national ties seems to me a one-off change or a one-off revert which cannot lead to edit-warring. --ROGER DAVIES TALK 12:26, 13 October 2007 (UTC)
In those two cases, AmEng must be used, and the article should be changed accordingly no matter how stable it has been in BrEng. See "National varieties of English". Tony (talk) 14:37, 13 October 2007 (UTC)
I.e., such cases constitute "a reason that goes beyond mere choice of style". — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 19:32, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
That should probably be included. It currently implies that If an article has been stable in a given style, it should not be converted without a reason that goes beyond mere choice of style overrules strong national ties. --ROGER DAVIES TALK 08:18, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
SMcCandlish made the point I neglected, which is the clincher. And in addition to the beyond mere choice of style, there's the unless there is a substantial reason to do so clause above, and, of course, the section that is devoted to this issue below. Do you feel that it's unclear for a casual visitor to this page? Tony (talk) 08:29, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes. I've had it quoted to me as meaning that change on national ties grounds is insufficient once the article is stable. --ROGER DAVIES TALK 08:36, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Well, that user needs to be alerted to the relevant sections of MOS—and perhaps even this discussion. Rv wars over varieties of English are really tiresome. Tony (talk) 10:29, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Done that. I still it would do no harm if the intro were explicit. --ROGER DAVIES TALK 11:42, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Happily there are no revert wars going on. Sometimes hypothetical situations are not the best. The instance(s) User:Roger Davies is referring to is actually a series of nine articles, all of which are featured (they are all about Mary Wollstonecraft and her works). As the near-sole editor and maintainer of these pages (User:Kaldari helps me maintain Mary Wollstonecraft), I find it much easier to keep the pages vandalism-free and updated if I can edit in AE, my native dialect. Since the MOS is a guideline (not a policy) and there is no real reason to write about any topic in any particular dialect (certainly real scholars don't alter their writing depending on the subject matter), this did not seem like a big issue to me. Tony and others are welcome to look at the long and tedious debate at Talk:A Vindication of the Rights of Men. I am currently ill and do not really feel like rehashing it here. Thanks. Awadewit | talk 11:46, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

(For the main arguments in a nutshell, see talk:Mary Wollstonecraft and Talk:Mary Wollstonecraft/Archive 3#National spellings.) The issue is not writing in AmEng but subsequent ring-fencing against edits into BrEng, which has been a feature of - and regular cause of complaint in - these articles since February. Effectively, any changes need to be negotiated with Awadewit or Kaldari who will not consent to BrEng spelling changes. To put this into perspective, these articles are written in Standard ("high") English with AmEng spellings, and typically only a dozen or so words, out of around 5000 are effected. There are also at least 20 spin-offs articles on British topics in AmEng. It is a good example of how refusal to accept an across-the-board guideline, based by years of consensus, leads to divisive debates. This will only escalate when the replacement Jane Austen article in AmEng goes online. I have every respect for Awadewit's scholarship. --ROGER DAVIES TALK 12:22, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure why you think this will escalate when the Austen article is posted. We are going to have that article "translated" into BE, as I mentioned at Talk:Mary Wollstonecraft. Please don't misrepresent the situation. Thanks. Awadewit | talk 18:53, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Misrepresent!? Harsh words. Your mention was made less than 30 minutes before I posted here and I simply hadn't seen it.--ROGER DAVIES TALK 06:49, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
I don't think they were harsh. You assumed that we were going to post the Austen article in AE without even asking us first. You represented the events you described as inevitable when in fact you had taken no steps to discover whether or not they were going to occur. To me, it looked you were automatically assuming bad faith. But, hopefully that is all behind us. I look forward to your transformation of the Austen page when it is complete. Awadewit | talk 07:23, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Let's just agree to disagree on this? Public squabbling will just make us both look silly. Yes, I do look forward to working on it so, um, more power to your pen.--ROGER DAVIES TALK 07:39, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
The Jane Austen replacement article will not "go on-line" in American English. The few of us who are working on this are all North Americans (as far as I know) and are working on the draft in American English for our own convenience. We've been discussing for almost two weeks (independent of this discussion) the need to bring someone in just before posting to convert the article to British English, and that is what will be done. (Quotations of course will be in the language in which they were published.) We're certainly sensitive to the issues and are not interested in giving offense, only in completing our work efficiently. The temperature of these discussions is much too high, especially given the WP injunction to assume good faith. Simmaren 02:14, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Excellent news! Absolutely agree, especially about assuming good faith. --ROGER DAVIES TALK 06:49, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Manual of Style (flags)

Resolved: Proposal successful; WP:MOSFLAG now designated an MOS guideline.

This has been proposed (under the working title Wikipedia:Use of flags in articles and some others) since April 2007 (and was "officially proposed" at WP:VPP more recently, with plenty of helpful feedback and virtually no opposition). I was about to go put {{Guideline}} on it, but thought I'd let folks here know before hand in case anyone here hasn't seen it yet. The only bone of contention I know of at present is that WP:ELG conflicts with WP:MOSFLAG in a few ways. Discussion about that is ongoing, and I don't think has any bearing on whether the general material in WP:MOSFLAG has consensus. It's a dispute over whether the most general language in WP:MOSFLAG would also cover roadsign icons (I think it does; it was certainly intended to cover any such usage of symbols and seals especially their abuse as image cruft – and especially especially in the main prose of articles rather than in tables and lists – though much of the detailed material is flag-specific). Anyway, that aside, WP:FLAG is ready to roll as far as I can determine. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:56, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

Other editors have now designated it a guideline, after zero complaints or concerns were raised, and I've added it to {{Style}}. A question has arisen about whether to summarize and link to WP:MOSFLAG in WP:MOS the way we do with some other MOS subguidelines. Opinions? — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 18:11, 15 October 2007 (UTC)


Stuck: Discussion of what to do with WikiProject guidelines as an entire class is now at WT:COUNCIL.

The more I look into it, the more of a problem I have with WP:ELG. Curious if this is shared by others. It was written by one person and designated a guideline after only three weeks, with not a single other person editing it. Since then it has has a very small editorship who have seemingly been developing it in a vacuum, without any regard to or awareness of how it would integrate with other guidelines. I believe its conflicts with WP:MOSFLAG, which has been building genuine consensus, including a WP:VPP proposal, for 6 months, are more serious than I initially thought. Its principal editors seem to believe that the template atop ELG vs. the template atop MOSFLAG actually means something important and that ELG automatically trumpts MOSFLAG (they don't seem to understand that consensus is consensus and random stuff without consensus except among members of a single wikiproject isn't consensus, and that a template doesn't change this). I'm not sure whether to MfD this (for merge into MOSNUM, to the extent useful to the general editing population, which is very little, with the how-to minutiae moved to a Wikipedia:WikiProject U.S. Highways subpage as an {{essay}} for the benefit of highway article specialist editors; the bulk of it simply isn't MOS-suitable material, but it says it is part of the MOS); just move it to said subpage and make it an essay, and not bother importing any of it into MOSNUM; simply slap it with {{disputedtag}}; or change it to {{proposal}} (though it has never been proposed), or just {{essay}}. I'm about equally concerned with the content of this specific page and with the process/precedent issue here, in which any random person can cobble something together out of left field and call it part of the MOS without anyone challenging that. However, I am now engaged in a dispute on ELG's talk page, so I don't really consider myself in a position to do any of the above, since it will look like a punitive measure. Also, I believe everyone at ELG is editing in good faith and they have put a lot of work into it rather recently, ergo I wouldn't advocate MfD'ing it for outright deletion. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 03:47, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

You can't be serious. --Rschen7754 (T C) 03:51, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Quite. And please stop taking this personally (this is the 2nd edit of yours that seems to indicate that you are doing so.) — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 08:39, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Discussion…even if it may not look like much on ELG's page history. O2 () 03:57, 14 October 2007 (GMT)
It doesn't. I see plenty of chat about how the exchange table should look (a discussion that became quite moribund and only seems to have restarted very recently, at WP:ELG, despite the fact that ELG's been around since late 2006; but I don't see any discussion of guideline formulation and proposal. While all that is evidentiary of an unresolved issue at the WikiProject with regards to how to format certain kinds of tables, it doesn't speak to this legitimately being labeled a WP guideline. Mind you I don't have any particular problem with this, that or the other being called a guideline, I just a) don't see the point in something this narrow getting that treatment, and b) it's just so embryonic – it is not written in the style of the rest of the MOS, it's not been thought through from the perspective of the encyclopedia as whole but only in terms of the project, it focuses on and advocates "gee-whiz" icon-cruft for its own sake, and it's apparently had no input from much of anyone but project members (by very stark contrast, check out the history of Wikipedia:Notability (books), which also began as a WikiProject document). "It won't be taken seriously unless we call it part of the MOS" (to paraphase; see Scott5114's comments below) is not a sufficient rationale for labeling something part of the MOS. That editors not deeply concerned with the subject matter aren't likely to pay any attention to it is a good indication that it is not MOS material, meanwhile essays and even guidelines that live in the Wikipedia:WikiProject subnamespace are plenty effective when used properly. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 08:39, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
This page started out as a WikiProject guideline and was moved to the present locations when someone raised concerns about whether it could be applied. You can probably find more discussion in the WikiProject talk page archives. Also, note the fact that the ELG's talk page has three archives: that doesn't exactly scream "this has had no discussion" to me. —Scott5114 04:05, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
I didn't say "it had no discussion", I said it was labeled a guideline after 3 weeks of existence and only one person ever editing it. Also of note are that after a long period of quasi-moribundity there is a big multi-subthread debate on what it should actually say (i.e., there's isn't any consensus yet for most of the "guideline"), and the topic is so incredibly narrow (it's not even style issues relating to highways, it's style issues relating to formatting of certain things about US highways) that it sets a bad precedent. What next? Wikipedia:Manual of Style (New Mexico cuisine topics)? Again, I have no ill-will toward anyone involved, or toward the notion that the project in question should provide consistent advice on how to format tables of highway exchange information; but calling this a part of the MOS is like saying that the Friday lunch menu at the University of Wisconsin is a matter for federal congressional legislation. If it isn't something that editors in general need to be aware of it doesn't need a MOS subpage for it. Yes, it has three archives. Short ones. That consist of nothing but wrangling over minute details. The only interesting thing I saw in the entire pile was the name of the document before it was moved to its present one; this was Wikipedia:WikiProject U.S. Roads/Exit list guide, and it should move back there. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 08:39, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
If it were to move under any project, it would be a subpage of Wikipedia:WikiProject Highways. --NE2 10:42, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Good enough, but as I noted on its talk page is presently addresses nothing but US highways. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:13, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

(Outdent)I take SMcCandlish's summary comments about this subpage as entirely in good faith. I've always looked in wonderment upon the title in the list of subpages at the top of MOS, but never investigated it to learn why such an eccentricly narrow field was appropriate as a Manual of Style. I agree that it is an inducement to others to bring to prominence their pet topic through MOS status (and I mean nothing personal by saying this—I appreciate that effort has gone into the highway page). In addition, the subpage is not well written and shows problems of uneven and inappropriate tone.

  • The wording of the title, "Exit lists", is too general.
  • The opening says it all: it's just a formalisation of a discussion: "Several discussions regarding the designing of exit lists have occurred in the past, and can be found on this guide's talk page, and at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject U.S. Interstate Highways and Wikipedia talk:WikiProject U.S. Interstate Highways/Archive 2. These discussions have resulted in the standard outlined below."
  • There are MOS breaches in the language. Tony (talk) 11:08, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

I found the specific discussion that led to it being moved: [2], User talk:Northenglish/Archive 5#WP:USRD/ELG, User talk:Matt Yeager#WP:USRD/ELG . --NE2 11:19, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

I can't see evidence of this being a guideline with broad consensus, largely because it's so specific. Such things generally, IME, live in a wikiprojects and, well, don't need tagging as a guideline, they're just to do with how the wikiproject works. There certainly doesn't seem to have been an appropriate process to adopt it as a guideline - people from the relevant wikiproject(s) say it should be, so they make it so; that isn't appropriate discussion and consensus, IMO. SamBC(talk) 11:36, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

This looks to be nothing more than a project guideline and should not be considered as part of the MOS. olderwiser 11:56, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

So somebody complains that it's a project guideline, and we move it to MOS. So somebody complains it's MOS, and it should be a project guideline. Either way, road editors lose... --Rschen7754 (T C) 16:49, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
I think the biggest issue is that it was moved to MOS and tagged as a wikipedia guideline without any sort of broad consensus-building. Try to build a broad consensus, including people who aren't directly involved with the wikiprojects, and see what happens. Explaining clearly, in one place, why it's necessary to be a general guideline rather than a wikiproject practice, would probably help. Diffs being included in this explanation would also help, if relevant. SamBC(talk) 16:53, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
However, then people shout WP:CREEP as they did at WP:N/HWY... --Rschen7754 (T C) 16:57, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
There are so many problems with the concept of notability in general on Wikipedia that using that as an example is a bit of a red herring. And if the same instructions are WP:CREEPy, in one location, how are they not so in a different location? olderwiser 18:11, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Because of the audience and context. As part of the MOS it's expected that editors, of all sorts, will want to learn and know it, while as part of a project it's not expected that anyone but project members are going to want to absorb it. In the context of the project it may well be essential, while in the context of the entire community, it is quite instruction-creepy. Cf. WP:CUESPELL and WP:CUENOT, which are of use to the WP:CUE project, but which are not appropriate as {{guidelines}}, much less outside the project subnamespace. (Even their designation as {{essays}} gets driveby reverted by Radiant from time to time. Hmm. This suggests to me the idea of creating a subcat of Category:Wikipedia essays: Category:WikiProject essays, which would be ideal for both of those documents and the one under discussion here.) — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:15, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Looking at {{essay}}: This is an essay. It is not a policy or guideline; it merely reflects the opinions of some of its author(s).-- This is a fully established guideline supported by consensus that does more than reflect the opinions of its authors. It sets a standard for all exit lists worldwide. Considering that this is 0.52% of Wikipedia currently, this is an area that needs to be addressed. Essays are not enforceable, and nobody would follow an essay. --Rschen7754 (T C) 21:30, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
"Merely reflects the opinions of some of its authors" strikes me as a very accurate description of WP:ELG, but I don't want to belabor the point. Clearly the term "guideline" is important to editors of this document and similar ones, and the issue has come to a head over at WT:COUNCIL. PS: People follow essays all the time. Not an important point for this discussion, I'm just sayin'. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:00, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
If you want the page to be "enforceable" in the sense that policy is enforced, then it needs to have a fairly widely supported consensus, which this page does not have by any stretch of the imagination. Guidelines, such as the MOS are not, strictly speaking, "enforceable" in the same way that policy is. Something along the lines of a comprehensive style guideline for articles about roadways might be appropriate for consideration as a subpage of the MOS. But such a narrowly focused topic like how to format a list of exits is not. I don't agree that the page is an essay -- it clearly has the support of at least a substantial portion of a Wikiproject. If there are editors who don't agree with the project guidance, the best place to begin working out any differences is at the project level. olderwiser 21:58, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
The broader discussion over at WT:COUNCIL gets into all of this. I'm not sorry I brought it up here, but it almost certainly won't be resolved here. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:00, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

(ec) Look, we just want a standard for exit lists so we don't get a bunch of totally inconsistent tables and even bulleted lists on all sorts of pages. I personally don't care what it's called. So move it back to the project, to Wikipedia:Exit list guide or whatever, all we want is to have a consistent set of rules that can be applied to exit lists in highway articles. I thought that the Manual of Style was to provide a home for such standards. I'm sure whoever moved it here thought the same thing. Also, with all the hand-wringing over how it's not globalised, I don't see anyone from outside the U.S. stepping up and actually fixing it. We'd be happy to help normalise it to have global terms that don't clash with the U.S. usage (that is prevent the globalisation changes from altering the intended meaning). I live in Missouri and I've never been to the UK; I haven't a bloody clue what needs to be done. Also, calling this an essay is horribly inaccurate, because as I understand it essays express one person's opinion and are most prose. This has full support of just about everyone at WP:USRD, so don't say there's not a consensus for it. The reason there's no discussion involving the "greater community" is because the greater community won't use it most of the time. I will devote time (taken away from bringing an article up to GA) to develop a glossary of terms used in the document to assist editors who would like to globalise this document. —Scott5114 21:44, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

Tiny note: I think you are confusing Wikipedia essays in general, which are multi-editor (unless just now created) like anything else, with userspace personal essays which are usually single-editor. I just address this because I think this is the 2nd or 3rd time something like this has been said here about {{essay}}. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:00, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Looking at the essays category, it's full of Wikipedia aphorisms that are explained in an essay. "Make good exit lists" is not an aphorism, as far as I can tell. --Rschen7754 (T C) 21:49, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Please see Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (exit lists)/Glossary for the aforementioned glossary. —Scott5114 22:20, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
If no one wants to globalize it, then a simple name change would be appropriate. Something like "US Exit List Guidelines" (or USELG) would be appropriate. the reason some may not want to help to globalize it could be that it is already perceeived to be too much of a US biased document.  DDStretch  (talk) 22:40, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
A name change would be best. Outside of Canada and the US, other countries have a MUCH different style of exits, if you want to call it that. For example, a British equivalent would best be called "Junction list guidelines" and so on. It's a guideline geared toward the US and Canada cases, so bias is going to happen. --MPD T / C 22:55, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Agreed with MPD. I have absolutely no problem with getting a wider input about something like this, globalising it, or whatever needs to be done. However, the stationary fact is that this needs to stay as a guideline, with a wider bunch of users discussing, of course. On another note, I was in the PRC two months ago, and expressway exits are still exits, not "junctions" as the UK calls it. Probably move to Wikipedia:Manual of Style (junctions) to globalise it (after a wider consensus has been reached)? Overall, we should get some more consensus somewhere, probably here, as there are lots of users who are suggesting this. However, the problem with that is that there would be lots of users complaining about something related to ELG (as foreseen above) and nobody actually commenting about how it should be structured or even fixing anything that is actually reasonable. Thoughts? O2 () 23:43, 14 October 2007 (GMT)
For all intents and purposes this is a moot point here; very shortly after the issue was raised here, with regard to ELG specifically, it was raised in a much broader fashion at WT:COUNCIL: What to do about, what to call, where to locate the documents that could be called "WikiProject guidelines" or "WikiProject-generated guidelines". I've tagged this topic with {{Stuck}} here, to redirect folks to bring it up at the WikiProject Council instead, since the issue is complex and needs to be settled for such documents as a class, not just this case in particular. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:00, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Numbers as figures or words

I have edited throughout MOS to get rid of "spell out", which was over-used and imprecise. There was always a clearer way to express things, so I did just that. I looked at this, along the way:

General rule

*In the body of an article, single-digit whole numbers (from zero to nine) are given as words; numbers of more than one digit are generally rendered as figures, or as words if they are expressed in one or two words (sixteen, eighty-four, two hundred, but 3.75, 544, 21 million).

Now, I must have missed something. Forgive me: I was out of action at Wikipedia for several weeks. Was there really a consensus that the 9–10 boundary was so important? (Why?) But what I really have difficulty with is this part:

numbers of more than one digit are generally rendered as figures, or as words if they are expressed in one or two words (sixteen, eighty-four, two hundred...

Where, pray tell, does that come from? Interpreting strictly, both 10 and ten are right in text, right? (And 20 and twenty, ninety-nine and 99, and so on). By the rule as it stands, sentences like these would be permissible:

From nine to 11 she learned flute, and from 10 to fifteen she learned Latin.

Between eight hundred and 1450 satellites pose a risk to manned flight; or some estimates between 1540 and three thousand.

Really? Rethink! – Noetica♬♩Talk 07:19, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

It also says not to mix numerals and words in the same context, which covers the examples you give on flute and satellites; but I've never been entirely happy that you can't use three and 33 in the same sentence.
There have been complaints about both the nine–10 and the ten–11 boundaries. House styles vary on this point. My personal preference is to allow ten to be a numeral or a word. (Aside: I don't like the wording of the "General rule", anyway.)
The rule about "expressed in one or two words" has been there for some time, I think. I don't like it.
My preference is to encourage the use of numerals for numbers over ten. I see far too much seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, rather than 17th and 18th centuries.
Got some ideas for replacement guidelines? Tony (talk) 10:56, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Tony, it does say not to mix numerals and words "in a context or a list"; but this is vague – perniciously so, given the vagueness of the general rule. As for the nine–10 or ten–11 split, where did that come from? The world-leading CMOS and OGS both make the split at 99 – one hundred ninety-nine – 100 (our "general rule" lulled me into going astray), for what that may be worth.
There are too many contradictions, uncertainties, and omissions, overall. I can work up an alternative draft of this whole section for discussion, if that would be acceptable. Give me a day or two though.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 11:41, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Sure, sounds good. Many international scientific journals and publishers specify a nine–10 boundary. Tony (talk) 13:44, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
There needs to be allowance for exceptions. For example, in billiards articles, WP:CUESPELL (which is currently designated an essay not a guideline; I would work on WP:SPORTSPELL first, and just may do so, so that game-specific spelling and naming conventions can be made shorter, having most principles already established in the general sports one), we use nine-ball, seven-ball, fifteen-ball etc. for game names, and "9 ball", "7 ball", "15 ball" to refer to specific numbered balls, among some other relevant conventions all aimed at preventing ambiguity and confusion. I wouldn't want MOS's wording to be so limiting on this subject that all of those articles would need to be rewritten and renamed. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 20:04, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Good point: perhaps whatever the guidelines, a rider is necessary that where a field/topic traditionally uses words or numerals in its own ways, this is acceptable. I remember that quick lobbying by one SandyGeorgia about baseball averages (e.g., .33) let to the inclusion of an exception to the rule that a leading zero is required (0.33). Tony (talk) 03:15, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Keen. Just to be clear though, I wasn't arguing for a specifically-billiards exception. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:05, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Manual of Style (text formatting) merge

There doesn't seem to be any surviving rationale for that subpage to exist. Every topic covered in it is covered in MOS proper, and all that needs to be done is for some specifics to be merged in from the subpage. As a separate document, it is falling out-of-synch with the main MOS, and its talk page is simply a magnet for FAQs to be re-asked and for debates to fragment into "different parents to ask" to use the metaphor explored in detail at WP:CONSENSUS. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 09:20, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

Strong support. The MOS project needs to be better coordinated, and a good deal of rationalisation is in order. The current sprawl of daughter manuals is unwieldy and virtually impossible to manage. Tony (talk) 10:38, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Support merge. I didn't even realise that page existed. Tim Vickers 19:02, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The present text formatting subpage has resulted from a merger of several separate subpages. Give that a chance to work. Remove most of the duplication instead, with a "Main article" format in the main MoS page as well as the existing navigation box. Gene Nygaard 02:52, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
Rejoinder to Gene Nygaard's oppose: The history of the subpage seems irrelevant: all we can do is consider what is there now. Can you explicate what information you think should be retained on the subpage and not included in rationalised form here at MOS? This would give us a better idea of why it is useful to retain the separate page. Are you implying that none of the information in the subpage is important enough to be included here at MOS? Tony (talk) 04:04, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
That is at MoS. That's what I'm saying. Just as WP:MOSNUM is at MoS (i.e., Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers). That's what I'm saying. There should be nothing here other than a brief summary pointing out what it covers (italics, boldface, etc.) and a "Main page" link. That's where the problem comes in, somebody has been duplicating and changing things here in the wrong place, and then comes whining about it being difficult to manage two pages.
Maybe you could do the "management" first; take everything that has been added here on this page and do a standard merge into the subpage, so that it doesn't clutter up the history and talk page here but only dealing specifically with that subtopic. Then when you get a succinct and clear statement, rather than two self-contradictory sets of rules, you might propose merging it into here. Gene Nygaard 10:02, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Strongly support. There are too many secondary guides of that sort. Condense what it has that's valuable into this steadily improving central MOS: streamlined, stable, accessible, consensual, and therefore worthy of the respect of all Wikipedia editors.– Noetica♬♩Talk 06:28, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

No, No, No! Not just no, but hell no! I've already opposed it above, but didn't know then what I know now.

I am fuming, livid, totally pissed off.

I just figured out how the guidelines for non-breaking spaces got changed without discussion. In this edit on Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers) subpage, User:Tony1 implemented a major rewrite, including a total rewrite of non-breaking spaces guidance.

Then, less than two days later, before anybody had a chance to digest his changes and see if they were worthwhile, and discuss them, he moved his rewrite about non-breaking spaces here, to the main page.

Anybody looking at that move sees, at least in regard to non-breaking spaces, that he merely copied exactly what was at MOSNUM. So he sneaked it in here, craftily avoiding any discussion on the (dates and numbers) subpage, and avoiding any discussion here on this page. Gene Nygaard 07:53, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

I don't know what is making you so emotional. Please assume good faith, because that is the spirit in which I made the change here. To start with, there's the mechanical matter of ensuring that MOSNUM and MOS are saying the same thing. MOSNUM was the place to object, when this was being developed. You had plenty of time there. Please don't accuse me of sneaking in changes, as though they had no consensus. And just what is your problem with the guideline, anyway? Dying to hear. Tony (talk) 10:40, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

Too many (allegedly) regional subpages


There is already a rather silly number of (seemingly) region-specific subguidelines. Some of them are not even what they purport to be. For example, the one that is allegedly about China-related topics is not about that at all but about the Chinese language. I propose refactoring this entire mess into two instead of a dozen+ subpages (before that turns into 4 dozen), each with short sections pertaining to the region/language in question, with cross-references between them. The two proposed are: one on foreign languages, and one on political disputes. The former would discuss handling of Chinese, Korean, Russian and other non-Latinate character set material, and the latter on issues to be congnizant of that have POV-inflaming potential (Londonderry vs. Derry, etc.) I think that each of the two could begin with generic/overall sections that elaborate on what MOS already says about that subject, and then have sections for specific countries and other areas. So the language one would have a bit about English vs. Irish Gaelic placenames under ==Irish== and conclude with a cross-ref to the ==Ireland== section in the politics guideline, about avoiding PoV disputes like the Derry issue (and that in turn would xref to the language one). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 09:31, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

Again, wholehearted support for the Foreign languages subpage. What do you propose calling the "political" subpage? I don't oppose this in principle, but am unsure what shape it would take. Tony (talk) 10:43, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Manual of Style (political concerns)? — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 19:47, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
So where would you put guidance about whether or not to put, say, names of Hungarian people in the Hungarian order (surname first), and whether or not to provide diacritics normal in Hungarian? This isn't a matter of a "non-Latinate character set", and it's not obviously political. (Actually I think it's most simply located in an MoS for Hungarian matters.) -- Hoary 12:30, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Manual of Style (foreign languages)#Hungarian, obviously. "Foreign languages" and "non-Latinate character sets" are not synonyms. :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 19:47, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
If short sections could handle all the problems in question, that would be one thing, but I don't believe that it's possible for that setup to work without losing a great deal of detail. If we lose clarity we will lose consistency, which would seem to defeat the purpose of our MOS. Dekimasuよ! 13:25, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Why would this entail a loss of detail? The advantage is structural, in having not a plethora of foreign-language MOS subpages, but one that would have lots of sections (in alpha order, probably) that would be easier to coordinate and scrutinise. Tony (talk) 13:46, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
The China page is at 25Kb. The Japan page is at 25Kb. If the issue is that there are too many of these pages and they are at similar sizes, it isn't possible to merge them onto two pages without a loss of detail. Dekimasuよ! 14:14, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
What's the maximum preferred for each page? I wonder whether we can group them into manageable units. Anything's better than the wide scattering we have now. And I suspect that when it comes to merging, there'll be plenty of standardising, trimming, even some removal where necessary. That's what I've found is necessary when trying to merge other MOS subpages: they grow like topsy and need overhauling. The result is usually smaller. Tony (talk) 16:33, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Right. I'm also sure that much redundant stuff can be compressed into general advice, across all languages (or across all languages that do not use our character set, for some aspects), instead of being redundantly re-specified for every language. The CJK material can be condensed into tables with three columns, and so on. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 19:47, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
I do not see evidence that "many" region-specific MOS is "too many". Let the specialists deal with issues within the range of their interest and expertise. The reality is that many more issues than language and politics arise on these pages, and as Dekimasu says it is likely too much material for just one or two pages. CES 17:48, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
The problem is that "many" is turning into "many + more" and then "(many + more) + more", etc. over time. Pretty soon, they will outnumber non-regional/language pages. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 19:47, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
So what? CES 20:30, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
So, it's a messy, hard-to-maintain profusion of inconsistent, and often redundant, and often questionable, guidance run amok. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 20:59, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
From a point of view of a user who doesn't seem to understand the other language(s)… O2 () 03:34, 15 October 2007 (GMT)
The primary reason no to do this is the focus of the discussions; I speak Japanese and work professionally as a translator, so I watch the Japan page for related discussions, where I might be able to contribute. If these pages are combined with every other language, the discussions I can participate in will easily be lost in the shuffle. The pages need to be separated. Doceirias 18:44, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Just watchlist the two pages, and if the edit summary doesn't mention the section you care about ignore it, and maybe check the section out manually every few weeks. I don't feel utterly strongly about this merge idea, but, well, pretty strongly. I guess the way to demonstrate whether this is a good idea or not is to simply do it (without actually removing the original pages) and then either delete the originals or the combined versions after everyone's had a look at the results. But I don't think I personally have time to do all of that right now, so I'm not "putting my money where my mouth is" on this one. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 19:47, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
No, you aren't getting it. If all of the language/country/ethnicity/topical MOS pages were merged into one (or even two) pages, the topic-specific discussions could (and would) get lost in the shuffle. There are plenty of concerns and issues with each individual language/country/ethnicity/topic MOS page that there is no logical reason to combine them all into one huge monstrosity.
As for having them continue to increase in number: so what? Have you ever looked at the Chicago Manual of Style? It's many times larger than all of our MOS pages combined, and they keep making it larger. On top of that, we don't have the space limitations a printed MOS has, so again, there's no logical reason to limit these MOS pages by merging them all into one big confusing mess. It's much more logical and orderly to have them split out by topic when needs be. All of the existing MOS pages I've seen are perfectly reasonably split from the main MOS pages due to specific concerns that do not exist outside of their topic area (or that require specific handling in order to have consistency). ···日本穣? · Talk to Nihonjoe 20:10, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
You're not getting me: If you are interested the Japan parts, watchlist both pages and pay attention to changes to the "Japan" or "Japanese" section. Easy. By your rationale, every single section of the MOS should be forked into its own page so that editors who care about punctuation, or quotations, or whatever can more conveniently keep track of changes. The CMOS comparison doesn't make sense. The CMOS does indeed get larger, as does WP:MOS. But no one is expected to absorb all of the CMOS, which is a reference work people turn to to look things up. Many editors do in fact memorize the bulk of the MOS. And there's only one CMOS, not a profusion of Chicago Manual of Style: Japan-related topics, etc., books. Finally, your avowed need to have all of the Japan-related guidance in one place could be trivially achieved by making each of the sections actually exist as transcluded subpages of the two pages proposed. You could watch list the lang. and polit. Japan subpages for changes, and for your own reading convenience transclude them both onto one subpage of your userspace or under WikiProject Japan. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)›
Now you're just being silly. I never said anything about splitting out punctuation or quote sections. I do, however, see the value of having a separate MOS-JA (as well as other regional MOS pages), and I see absolutely no need for combining them all into one or two pages. You have provided no compelling arguments that support what you want to do. ···日本穣? · Talk to Nihonjoe 21:29, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
I didn't say you said anything about splitting such sections out, I'm comparing the logic of doing so with the logic of opposing merges of conceptually-related MOS subpage material into more central locations. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 18:23, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Agreed with the dissenting voices above ... there has not been a persuasive argument for changing the status quo. CES 20:30, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
In which case, do the dissenters agree that an audit is necessary to establish standard formatting and guidelines for structure and content, and to copy-edit the language, ensure that it complies with MOS, and remove fluff? I'm sure that if we conducted such an audit, one by one, we'd soon see ways of rationalising this "messy, hard-to-mainting profusion", to use SMcCandlish's words. Who is interested in participating? 03:11, 15 October 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tony1 (talkcontribs)
Unfortunately, I am going to have to agree with the opposing arguments of keeping these pages separate. It is apparent that the proponents of this merge only understand English, and this is probably one reason why this discussion is going sideways. If everything is merged, we'd lose a whole lot of detail, which is important when dealing with languages other than English. For example, some stuff in the Chinese language (my native language) has lots of quirks that need to be exact, and if these are merged, not only will the content be less, but outsiders might not know about the stuff that needs to be exact. As for copy-editing, there is pretty much no way to effectively copy-edit the other languages if you don't even understand it in the first place. Finally, from the way that I see it, the specialists in the other languages are doing a good job of maintaining the pages and making sure that it agrees with other parts of the MOS, and therefore I see no real, rational, and logical reason for anything to be merged right now. It's just a bunch of complaints from users who don't even care about fixing the problem from a point of view of someone who even understands the other language(s). O2 () 03:32, 15 October 2007 (GMT)
Slow down there ... hold the crusade. Generalists are welcome to come to the individual region/topic-specific pages, raise points for discussion, and offer suggestions for solutions just like any other user. But it is mildly insulting to hear demands for audits from users that cannot articulate a need for an "audit" or change beyond vague and unsupported claims of the material being "fluff" "messy" "hard-to-maintain" etc. Most of the guidelines on the region-specific pages are the result of weeks, months, or even years of discussion between users with specialized knowledge and interest ... to suggest mandating "standard formatting and guidelines" when the whole reason why these pages exist in the first place is because the standard formatting and guidelines were inadequate reveals a lack of understanding about the issues these pages deal with. CES 12:54, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Don't WP:PANIC. First, on one is talking about wholesale slaughter of details in this pages, only compression of advice that applies across the board to all such cases, into a lead section, and then having sections for the language/region specific details on a per-language/region basis. Second, the fact that a problem of MOS inadequacy was the rationale for the creation of the profusion of these micro-topical subguidelines neither means that said creation was actually the best way to work around the problem, nor that the problem cannot be simply solved completely. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 18:23, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

(Outdent) So you're saying that you'd resist scrutiny of your page, then? That is what an audit would amount to. Hmmm ... the first one I visited for a look-see—Wikipedia:Manual of Style (Thailand-related articles)—has, guess what, an "inactive" tag. Why, then, is it listed at MOS? The prose is faulty, there are digressions from MOS guidelines, and the tone is uneven.

The one on Ethiopia is quite well-written, but is not long and is very narrow in its audience. I wonder whether MOSes on Sudan- and Kenya-related articles will pop up, and if they do, whether a merger would be productive.

The Japan-related article opens with a delicious morsel: "The English Wikipedia is an English-language encyclopedia." Later, "English grammar rules", which is in the same self-ironic vein as "pronounciation". It could do with scrutiny, but I must say that it's substantial, contains good information, and is apparently regularly edited.

The statement "The English Wikipedia is an English-language encyclopedia" is there to make it very clear that articles need to be in English with only the minimum Japanese necessary for context. It was phrased that way on purpose, and yes, it was done somewhat tongue-in-cheek. My sympathies that you can't seem to see that. I hope you forgive us for not being completely serious all the time.
As for "English grammar rules"—what is wrong with that phrase? All the words are spelled correctly. In the context of the sentence, it makes perfect sense. Or would you rather we spell it "grammer"? ···日本穣? · Talk to Nihonjoe 01:55, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

My first impression is that the quality and maintenance of these subpages varies considerably. That is why the MOS project needs to keep tabs on its daughters, irrespective of defensive reactions by their owners. Tony (talk) 15:45, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

As I've hinted at before (and in one case self-reverted because it came across as too personally-directed) there is a lot of quasi-, and sometimes completely outright, WP:OWN going on in these documents. This makes them especially problematic when viewed as alleged guidelines. This is a major part of the issue-set raised over at WT:COUNCIL about these WikiProject-generated alleged guidelines. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 18:23, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Clearly ungrammatical statements and other "delicious morsels" are evidence that the MOS-Japan should be shut down and consolidated with other MOS. Very persuasive. Like I said, visit the pages, make minor changes yourself, propose major changes on the talk page. But here's the reality--this is not a turf war, some kind of "my page" versus "your page" battle that you are making it out to be. The people that work on these region-specific pages (many of them my fellow editors of the MOS-Japan) are telling you that consolidation and an artificial divide between "character-set material" and "political disputes" makes no sense. If you want to clean up individual pages, fine. But there's no sense in changing a system that works just fine on the whole. CES 18:07, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

I think this can basically be closed as "no consensus" for now. I'd like to see what comes out of WT:COUNCIL, then after that settles out in a few months, revisit this issue. Some of us are convinced that the profusion of micro-topical guidelines about languages/regions is a Bad Thing. Those who disagree are unconvinced, but clearly cannot counter-convince either, so we have an impasse for now. Maybe the eventual solution to he WikiProject guidelines overall issue will change the nature of the situation. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 18:23, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Good luck in your campaign against the Bad Things! =) CES 19:05, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Well, before we leave this, what is happening about the defunct Thailand-related MOS? Should we simply remove it from the list, or chase up the former contributors, or what? Tony (talk) 08:23, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

As a road editor, I invite "scrutiny" on WP:ELG. Please look it over and make sure that it complies with the MOS, after I finish applying the changes discussed on the talk page in a day or two. --NE2 12:22, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Proposal to merge MOSHEAD with this page

Back on 28 September I posted a merge tag on MOSHEAD, but neglected to post a corresponding tag here; I've now done this. The Headings subpage contained little extra information to what was already here, and the recent overhaul of the first two sections (Now "Article titles, headings and sections") has made this redundancy clearer. All that remains is MOSHEAD's little point about floating the table of contents, which in any case links to Help:Section#Floating the TOC. I've suggested that MOSHEAD be deleted in about a week's time. Tony (talk) 11:36, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

Go for it. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 19:38, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Just noticed also that parts of Wikipedia:Guide to writing better articles are also redundant with this part of MOS, and even with itself! (Guidance on things like lead sections, headings, etc., appears in two widely separated places at that page.) Also, if it is designated part of the MOS it should probably be proposed for rename to Wikipedia:Manual of Style (writing better articles). However, my overall sense of the purpose of that document is getting more hazy. I don't see that it actually serves any purpose, as it mostly just regurgitates the rest of the MOS in piecemeal fashion. Different problem, that the one this topic is really about, I guess, and better discussed over at its talk page; just wanted to flag these issues as a mental sticky note. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 19:53, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
<Sigh>. That page has little to do with style, in the sense of WP:MOS, and covers that better than we do here. Excommunicate it from {{style-guideline}} by all means, but please do leave it alone. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:49, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Back onto the MOSHEAD issue (presuming that PMA was referring to another page, not MOSHEAD)—it's about time the merger was acknowledged in the deletion of MOSHEAD. How is this done? Tony (talk) 04:00, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

WP:TRIVIA big cleanup proposed

See merge and rename proposals at end of Wikipedia talk:Trivia sections. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 20:46, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

Some further input would be of use there. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 19:27, 15 October 2007 (UTC)


The Images section doesn't say anything about panoramas, which are possible using template:wide image (see Denver, Colorado for two examples). Do we want to make a definitive statement in MOS about use of full width panoramas? I've started a thread at talk:Denver, Colorado#Panoramas? about the ones that are there, but it seems like a broader issue. -- Rick Block (talk) 00:57, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Ellipses revisited

I set out to made a small change to the section on ellipses. But then I discovered that an important part of it needs radical surgery. Rather than cite how it goes right now, I present how it would look if we were simply to clarify the recommendations and give examples that reflect them:

*A space is inserted either side of the ellipsis, except where the ellipsis follows a period, in which case no spaces are inserted. To prevent an ellipsis from wrapping to the beginning of a line, use a non-breaking space (&nbsp;...) before it instead of a normal space.

Examples: "in the middle of a sentence where punctuation does not occur ... "; "after a comma, ... "; "a semicolon; ... "; "a colon: ... "; "or at the end of a sentence ... ."; "or after a sentence that ends with a period...."; "or after an abbreviation ending in a period, e.g...."; "rarely, in a question ... ?"; "and even more rarely, before an exclamation mark ... !".

Where did such arbitrary recommendations come from? They are bizarre. I will be happy to rewrite all this, but I would like to see others' comments first.

– Noetica♬♩Talk 23:11, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Thank you; please do rewrite. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:57, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
OK. I've done it. I've rewritten the whole section, having reviewed standard style guides, and having thought through the ways HTML should modify printed practice. It's not as short as some would prefer, but I think it covers most things in an unambiguous, rational, conservative, natural, and editor-friendly way. I did not cover retention or loss of associated punctuation, which I think would be pressing things too far.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 20:48, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Good to see some to and fro with the newly edited section. I have added some content; and I have reverted a couple of things, where appeal was made to CMOS. That is just one style guide, and recommendations vary considerably from one guide to another. There is no consensus to appeal to, so we have to make up some sound practice of our own. Considerations that we need to bear in mind:
  • Readability (appearance, clarity, freedom from ambiguity).
  • Reasonable accord with established ways.
  • Ease of editing (logic and simplicity of rules; avoiding characters that are hard to input or remember).
  • Adaptation to HTML.
I have aimed at a fair compromise between these competing pressures. For example, we recommend three periods to form the ellipsis. If we follow these with a period to mark the end of the sentence as well, the reader may be puzzled by the string of four periods, and may not immediately know what is intended. So have a space. (Why not, after all?) Another example: since many people use the set of characters for insertion under the edit window, why insist that it not be used?
So the system I proposed was one that I thought out with those four principles in mind, consulting but not slavishly following the competing rules of various other guides that say nothing about HTML. This is bold, as it should be. I welcome discussion towards improving the system that I propose.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 03:37, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
What the source for the ...&nbsp;. formatting of elipsis + period? I read a lot and I don't think I've ever seen that in my life. Only ... and ...., with the latter seeming to be chiefly American. Also be aware that the usual spaced style raises some of the same issues as end punctuation and quotations; if this style were used it would need to be Content1.& ... Content2 in cases of a quoted sentence ending, material being skipped, and more material following that, and so forth. Using 4 dots with no space just avoids that issue entirely. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:05, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
PS: I don't mean to pick a fight, but I'm a little concerned with your "I accepted"/"I didn't accept" language in your edit summaries. If you are not willing to be mercilessly edited here, then don't edit here. I do of course agree that things should be discussed if they arouse controversy, but the controlling attitude that can be inferred from the "accept" language is out-of-place to me. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:05, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Great to see people working together to improve the ellipses section, as I say! SMcCandlish, you have shortened some examples so that they now fail to cover certain points. And you have not divined the exquisite motivations behind some of the wording I chose. Well, I can explain only so much without being accused of verbosity, so I did not articulate every matter that I weighed up in arriving at the choices I made – always provisionally, of course, since as always I was eagerly awaiting being "mercilessly edited".
I'll leave things to settle before making some small modifications to the way things now stand, which is not quite satisfactory, any more than the way I had it was quite satisfactory. Then I'll comment here on some points that have been raised, since my appeal to four salient considerations (see above) does not appear to have explained enough.
As for comments on tone (no, not you Tony!), if you are worried about such a thing I must once more ask you to take it to my talk page. Concerning arrogance in edit summaries I will here say only this: there are editors "running around" (to borrow supercilious words from one of your own summaries) with all kinds of strange ideas about punctuation, of unfathomable provenance. It would not be a good idea to throw stones, would it?
– Noetica♬♩Talk 06:51, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
What points do you feel the shortened examples fail to cover? One was removed intentionally ("...&nbsp;." because it is disputed and remains unsourced); other than that, they were simply trimmed to avoid excess verbiage. If actual points were lost in the process it is likely that they should be separate examples, because if we use one example to make two points, one of them will usually be lost.
If I cannot (I'm not sure I believe you seriously wrote that) "divine" your "exquisite motivations", other editors won't either. We're not here to write poetry. Regarding "mercilessly edited", I'm quoting WP policy, not making up phrases that express my intentions.
Waiting: Tony seems to have an issue to raise, merged in below, and a few bits are nagging at me, and I'm still waiting on a source for the "... ." usage that you appear to claim is at least as authoritative as CMOS, etc., so more talking here may be conducive to arriving at what this should say.
Re: your 4 points:
  • Readability (appearance, clarity, freedom from ambiguity).
Seems fine to me.
  • Reasonable accord with established ways.
Seems fine to me as it stands, minus the "... ." which doesn't seem to be attestable.
  • Ease of editing (logic and simplicity of rules; avoiding characters that are hard to input or remember).
Seems fine to me.
  • Adaptation to HTML.
Seems fine to me.
It may be helpful for us to, instead of continuing to piecemeal edit the extant text, create an outline of all of the points we feel should be covered, agree on those, then redraft? I've seen that method work well elsewhere.
Tone issue: Per req. will take that to user talk, aside from observing that continuing to beat a dead horse dispute doesn't change the fact that concerns about your edit summaries may be legitimate; whether one editor was or wasn't right about something last week has nothing to do with whether another editor is or isn't browbeating other editors. There's no logical comparison between the two concepts. That's all that needs to be said. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 10:07, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Concerned that triple periods representing pauses in speech ellide nothing, and are confusing if integrated into the "Elipses" section solely because they have in common with real ellipsis punctuation just the triple dots (not the spaces, and not the square brackets). That is why I put the guideline about pause dots (or whatever they should be called) almost as an aside at the end, untitled. I find it confusing under a title now, interceding information about ellipses proper.

Also concerned at the example: Her long rant continued: "How do I feel? How do you think I... look, this has gone far enough! [...] I want to go home!". I find the roman "think" confusing—is it coincidental, or does it have something to do with the point being made? If not, let's smooth it out so readers are presented just with the point of this guideline. Tony (talk) 07:30, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

A countervailing concern is that the with-brackets example (indeed the entire raison d'etre of the "with brackets" segment) makes no sense until after the usage for pause/truncation of speech is explained. I don't think we need be at all concerned with the elision-related and speech-halting-related usage differences; I'm not even certain the words "elide" and "ellipsis" are all that closely related. The name of the character/character string is "ellipsis", no matter how it is used. While I suppose it is possible, I've never heard any other name for "...", in any context, other than "dot-dot-dot" in the geek context, where we call exclamation points "bangs", etc. (i.e. it's humorous jargon). Agree with trimming the example; several others were also overly long and convoluted. The examples here should do anything but exemplify the point at hand. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 09:53, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Coming back to this Ellipses section after a couple weeks, we see that it still has structural flaws, at least one example that is not in accord with the recommendations given, incomplete advice about retaining original punctuation from quoted material (retain original spacing, or just all original punctuation marks?), and more problems. When these elementary matters of housekeeping are fixed, preferably by those who introduced the relevant changes, perhaps those interested can rationally address the question of ellipses again.

– Noetica♬♩Talk 22:50, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

List of current world boxing champions

Resolved: Just a misunderstanding.

Yes I know they both show the Union Jack, (and I figured no one would object to my changes, as a result). Yet I'm being disputed and reverted, the flagicon link should be flagicon|UK (respecting a British boxers full nationality), not flagicon|GBR which does not. The last time I checked, Northern Ireland was included in the UK. GoodDay 14:10, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Dispute has ended, I was unaware of IOC and ISO codes. GoodDay 21:35, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Precedence of style

Very occasionally, when I have made a change to an article to bring it into line with WP:MOS, I have been challenged by another editor who claims that a certain project does things differently. I am not sure how best to reply to such situations.

It seems to me that Wikipedia should be cohesive and local guidelines should only resolve matters not already covered by top-level guides. If separate projects are to have their own special-case exceptions to guidelines should they not first get a consensus for such an inconsistency here?

Thoughts? Gaius Cornelius 21:43, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

The ArbCom has already spoken on this, at Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Naming Conventions and probably other cases. Wikipedia-wide guidelines do trump WikiProjects' preferences, and their topical guidelines and wannabe guidelines, and other non-WP-wide style or other assertions. Where are you encountering this "our project doesn't have to follow the MOS" attitude? — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:56, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
I don't see that anywhere in ArbCom's actions: I do see this: Rather than simply list known alternatives, debate for a short time, vote, and then accept or reject by some measure, a consensus decision-making process involves identifying and addressing concerns, generating new alternatives, combining elements of multiple alternatives and checking that people understand a proposal or an argument, Consensus_decision-making#Key_principles. That would rule out any process of the form Page A "trumps" Page B, since that is a measure of acceptance and rejection even more rudimentary than those proposed in the case. In particular, a widely supported and discussed decision by a WikiProject has more weight than the decision of two or three editors here (and conversely); but it would be preferable to work out an agreement between them. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:12, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Do people want the project to be a loose collection of pieces or a more disciplined, cohesive authority? There has to be a hierarchy here, and MOS is the obvious source of overriding guidelines. In the same vein, not to state that MOS prevails over MOS subpages, where there is disagreement between them, is pure folly. Those who seem to assert ownership over subpages at the moment need to be encouraged to engage with the community at a centralised location, viz. here, when there is a lack of coordination. It's the only sane way of organising the project. Tony (talk) 07:35, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Wholeheartedly concur, though maintainability wasn't the crux of this particular ArbCom-related discussion. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:46, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
(e.c.) You have to read the whole case more carefully, then. The most salient point is quite a bit below that under "Closing of a consensus process". Interpreted within the detailed framework of that case, it can be translated along these lines:

After extended discussion, to be effective, the consensus decision making process must close. [I.e., after a guideline is proposed and accepted by the community, it is designated as a guideline and considered accepted by the community; it's designation as a guideline is not open to random or piecemeal dispute, but would need to be taken to a policy re-examination process like RFC or more likely VPP to be considered suddenly not a Wikipedia consensus-reflecting document. The applicability of its particular recommendations could also be challenged that way, or more commonly by gaining a more local consensus to modify it. Simply ignoring it doesn't work.] In many Wikipedia decision making processes, such as Wikipedia:Articles for deletion or Wikipedia:Requests for adminship, an administrator or bureaucrat "closes" the discussion by evaluating the arguments, considering which alternatives have more support and announces a decision, which may be "no consensus", an outcome which, depending on the context, usually has definite consequences. In other, less structured, situations, as in the case of how to structure the titles of television episodes, there is no formal closer. [I.e. the lack of an official closer doesn't mean that the decision hasn't been arrived at.] Nevertheless, considering the alternatives proposed, the extended discussion engaged in, expressions of preference, there is a result which should be respected. [I.e., a Wikipedia-wide guideline was in fact formulated and accepted by consensus, and it doesn't just go away because someone has a bone to pick.] Absent formal closing, it is the responsibility of users to evaluate the process and draw appropriate conclusions. [I.e., if there wasn't anything procedurally wrong with the process, conclude that consensus was reached and that it would have to be changed, which is different from alleging that consensus was not reached.]"

The entire crux of the common "our WikiProject wannabe-guideline trumps the Manual of Style" idea is "because we like it, and we don't like the MOS and we don't think the MOS represents consensus simply because we don't happen to agree with it on this point. Rather than try to change MOS, or even to go the more extreme route of challenging MOS's status as a guideline, we're simply going to ignore the consensus that we as a little group think shouldn't be considered valid, declare our own new consensus, and promulgate our own conflicting rules".
It's not a particular complicated case when read in full and thought through. The ArbCom could have written a little more clearly, but they seem to like being cryptic sometimes. The gist is: Don't make up a conflicting "guideline"; work to change the one you disagree with, either to say something different in the case of disagreement over the advice given, or to say something new in the case of advice being considered missing or insufficient or insufficiently specific. Simple. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:45, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Half of this is correct; the other half reminds me of Mencken on "simple" solutions. The easy way to tell which half is which is that there is nothing in the decision privileging this page over any other. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:10, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
SMcCandlish: The matter that prompted this posting was a complaint by editor Tenebrae regarding the style of dates in the WikiProject Comics. See here. I would like to emphasise that my question is a general one, not particular to this problem. Gaius Cornelius 12:52, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

OK, so we seem to have gone full circle on a question that I think is of central importance. Thank you to all the contributors, but I am still confused. I hope all will excuse me if I try putting the question again in a slightly different way:

  • Is it Wikipedia policy that there is a hierarchy of guidelines?

And, if that question cannot be definitively answered, I must hesitantly ask:

  • What is the process for obtaining definitive answers to questions of policy?

Thanks. Gaius Cornelius 13:04, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

Italics and books?

Should names of books be italicised? What about Bible, Talmud etc? Chesdovi 13:45, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

Please read the guideline before asking questions about it. The answer is of course "yes" to both questions. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:18, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes to the first question, Chesdovi. But you are quite right to ask your next question. Style guides including CMOS, OGS, and M-W's Manual specifically exclude the Bible, the Koran, and such central religious works. So do the relevant articles here in Wikipedia; and so does the subsidiary guide that we link to in the relevant section of MOS (Wikipedia:Manual of Style (titles)). In fact, to reflect that well-established practice here, the consensus among style guides, and just about all publishers, I am about to amend MOS appropriately. Thanks for bringing up this anomaly! Let anyone who wants to revert my alteration discuss it first. We were simply remiss.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 01:37, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Right, I confused myself on that one. Spoken of generically, the Bible is the Bible; it is only italicized in reference to a specific version/edition, e.g. The Jerusalem Bible. My bad! PS: I hate to bring this up again, but Noetica, please stop implying at every other point that no one is allowed to revert you without your permission. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:17, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
The point above was that "central religious works" should not be italicized so the second question is moot. My interpretation of MOS is that the answer to the first question is "yes", except where the word has entered everyday English (which could be contentious; most New Yorkers would say that "bar mitzvah" qualifies, many in other parts of the world could disagree; likely to be something that has to be decided on a day-to-day basis; "kosher" qualifies, period, as there is no native English word for this, and there are Jews in all parts of the English-speaking world) and except in the case of proper names (holidays, etc. would not be italicized). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 12:44, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Problems in theatre land

We have some problems at both Stanislavski's 'system' (beginning with its name) and Method acting. In both cases, use-mention distinction is pretty confused, and editors at the former insist on always writing 'system' because that's how S. preferred to write it. My contention is that this article must be at Stanislavsky System, and be referred to as the Stanislavsky System as a proper noun, and as Stanislavski's system, the system, his system as a non-proper noun. S. can be quoted directly as calling it "my 'system'", with the scare-quotes and lower case he preferred, but despite the fact that theatre publications prefer to also use that scare-quoting, WP is under no such obligation and should do what it always does. WP should not use the Stanislavski 'system' or Stanislavski's 'system'. Scare-quoting like this implies a leading "so-called" or "alleged", and using the scare-quoted version in this manner strongly implies a Wikipedia point-of-view about the system, which we can't do. Similarly, the Method acting article uses a capitalized Method or the Method all over the place, even when it is not being used a proper noun, and editors there are highly resistant to fixing this, because they are used to the (grammatically incorrect) usage in the theatrical press and are simply failing to see the distinction. There are usages in that article where the capitalization is appropriate, but the Method is an informal colloquialism just like the 'system', not a formal proper noun, so all cases of the Method in that article (other than its mention as an alt. term in the lead) should be Method acting (assuming that phrase is always a proper noun; I'm not personally certain that it is) or the Strasberg Method. I think the MOS should directly address this kind of thing in the section on philosophies and theories. We need better examples in there. Also, it's not getting across to people at the S. article that even where it is approproriate to use S.'s scare-quoting, in WP we do this as "system", not 'system' (S. used single quotes because he was European, and at least one editor insists that we have to keep doing it that way; same editor also seems not to understand that we don't use single-quotes for mention cases generally, but either italics, double-quotes, or single-quotes-inside-double-quotes, but I'm trying to explain that to him.) I saw a very similar case somewhere in a religious context, in which an "in-universe" term was used in place of the formal one, in a way not appropriate for an encyclopedia. (My reference to "in-universe" is also a hint that this problem has occurred before in articles on fiction series, and been resolved there; I don't see any rationale for not applying the encyclopedic language principle behind that precedent to articles outside of fiction.) — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:12, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

You acknowledge that normal usage is to employ the scare quotes. Unless there is some strong technical reason to do otherwise, we should follow it, explaining in the intro why we do. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:15, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
I did no such thing. I "acknowledged" that Stanislavski scare-quoted his own material (he's allowed to have a POV about his own work), and that a particular class of writing also does this out of deference to him, not realizing that doing so denigrates his work by implication (they seem to forget that they are third parties commenting on him and his work, rather than writing as him). For WP to do it is POV, whether intentionally or not, and is not logical. It will be instructive (and amusing) to read the pieced on scare quoting, cited at Scare quote. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:21, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Another example: Mike Godwin has called Godwin's Law "Godwin's law" at times, and the article was originally at that name, but was renamed "Godwin's Law" and that spelling is used throughout, because that's simply how we handle proper names/titles of that sort in Wikipedia. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:24, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Further clarification: Wikipedia itself using the term "the Method" to refer to method acting a.k.a the Strasberg Method is highly POV. There are many methods (even in acting specifically; see end of the Stanislavski Method article (yes that redirect works; should be the real article name) for a partial list of them. That Straberg and his protegés and their students prefer to call it "the Method" (or even "The Method"), and that some but not all theatrical industry people do likewise is of no concern to Wikipedia at all other than this fact should be mentioned (if/when it can be sourced) in the article on the topic. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 12:40, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Major self-correction: While I wasn't looking (darned near literally), Godwin's Law was renamed back (after something like a year) to Godwin's law; it seems that there (somewhere; haven't found it yet) was a consensus discussion that concluded that all such usages should be "Doe's law", "Doe's theorem", "Doe's system", etc. I remain skeptical, but on the basis of assumption of good faith, I now assert that whenever this can be determined to be the actual consensus, it needs to be in the MOS somewhere, as "Doe's law" (thus, above, the "Strasberg method" or "method acting", and the "Stanislavski system", consistently in lower case). I have to observe that if this consensus shift is for real that "the Method" is now doubly contraindicated, since we don't even capitalize it any longer when used in the non-colloquial, formal proper name scenario, and that this trebly contraindicates "the Stanislavski 'method' " and "Stanislavski's 'method' ", since if even a capitalization practice that is more common that lower case is being rejected on Wikipedia, there is no basis at all for adopting even more-niche punctuation practices. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 15:20, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
I agree with SMcCandlish on the scare quotes and possessive being unnecessary. While both are sometimes used, there are abundant examples of common usage without the special punctuation. In the absence of an unequivocally predominant common usage, there is no reason to defer to typographic peculiarities. Just a couple of examples, [,,0_9780140466607,00.html

The Stanislavski System: The Professional Training of an Actor] (a standard text) and Encyclopedia Britannica. olderwiser 12:46, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

There are quite a few problems and factual inaccuracies in what has been written above. Firstly, you write that "Scare-quoting like this implies a leading "so-called" or "alleged", and using the scare-quoted version in this manner strongly implies a Wikipedia point-of-view about the system, which we can't do". This misrepresents the way the term is used; Stanislavski is qualifying, not scaring; he is indicating that 'system' should not be understood as a System. There is no implication of alleged. By theatre publications, I'm assuming that you mean the scholarly community, since they, too, follow that way of referring to the approach. Wikipedia, as I understand it, is meant to follow the use outside of Wikipedia, not to impose its own distortions (which is what, as Stanislavski and contemporary theatre scholars insist, the change you propose would be). To say that this use implies a POV is inaccurate; that is the standard usage; to adopt another (such as the 1960s American Method-inspired Sonia Moore book, to which another editor refers, does) is a POV, and one that ignores the mainstream, contemporary critical consensus. In a related sense, you write of the Method that "they are used to the (grammatically incorrect) usage in the theatrical press and are simply failing to see the distinction"; I can assure you that I do see the distinction; you are failing to understand the way the term is used. I notice the slide from scholarly community to 'theatrical press'; it is not journalists who refer to the Method (though they may also do so), but the academic community. Your assumption that this community are not able to grasp the subtle distinctions of language-use and grammar is astonishingly patronising. What on earth makes you think that an entire academic community failed to spot a grammatical error? Your suggestion that this should be the Strasberg Method is strongly POV, since there are other versions of the Method than Strasberg's (Adler, Meisner). My understanding, with regard to single or double quotation marks, was that an article ought to follow the conventions most appropriate to the subject (as in the case of British or American spelling); italics confuses emphasis and double-marks confuses quotation. Your suggestion that it is a "particular class of writing" that follows Stanislavski's usage in order to "defend" him, again, is patronising and incorrect. It is the scholarly community that does so; while that may contain 'defenders' of his work it also contains many who would not wish to "defend" it; as an academic discipline, it also adheres to rigorous scholarly principles that exclude the POV you imply. The suggestion that they are "not realizing that doing so denigrates his work by implication (they seem to forget that they are third parties commenting on him and his work, rather than writing as him)" is astonishing, particularly since you're clearly not familiar with the work and consequently not in a position to make such a judgmental attack. They are professors of drama and theatre in highly-respected institutions. You then go on to say: "Wikipedia itself using the term "the Method" to refer to method acting a.k.a the Strasberg Method is highly POV. There are many methods (even in acting specifically; see end of the Stanislavski Method article (yes that redirect works; should be the real article name) for a partial list of them. That Straberg and his protegés and their students prefer to call it "the Method" (or even "The Method"), and that some but not all theatrical industry people do likewise is of no concern to Wikipedia at all other than this fact should be mentioned (if/when it can be sourced) in the article on the topic." It is important to state quite unambiguously that this is complete nonsense and, again, displays an arrogance and ignorance that astonishes me. It is referred to as the Method because it is a proper name. The approach to acting that developed out of Stanislavski's 'system' in the United States from the early 1920s is the Method; that's what it's called by an entire academic discipline, not to say the entire theatrical and cinematic industry. Both the discipline and the industries are well aware, thanks very much for the head's up, that there are other approaches or 'methods'; that's why the American realistic approach is called the Method. Again you suggest this use is defined by a constituency far narrower than it is, in reality. It's not merely Strasberg's protegés; it's an entire academic discipline. That there is a redirect from Stanislavski Method is a reasonable support for the confused, not a theoretical statement; it is symptomatic of the recurrent confusion in the US (mostly) between the American Method and the Russian 'system' that the introduction to the article on Constantin Stanislavski describes. With regard to the possessive, it is categorically not the Stanislavski system; this kind of brand-naming is rejected by contemporary scholarship (and the Sonia Moore book cited is explicitly identified as a guilty party). "Older wiser" is very, very ignorant. No doubt you are unaware that our contemporary understanding of Stanislavski's work has undergone a significant mutation in the last decade or so, principally in response to the abundance of new material made available to scholars in the west following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Moore is symptomatic of an outdated identification of Stanislavski's acting approach with that of the Americans. DionysosProteus 20:38, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
The scare quotes are not essential to the name, and do appear to suggest a pejorative or otherwise coloured attitude, whether or not anyone intends that. I'm for removing them, in a title of this sort. Surely the matter can be properly teased out early in the text. Simplicity, clarity, and searchability are most important in titles of articles. If subtle "political" distinctions are to be made in titles, there are certainly means other than scare quotes. (Incidentally, a point of consistency in Wikipedia practice: this is quite similar to the matter of US versus U.S. The points are not essential to the "name" US, and as a matter of sound general principle ought to be freely applied or removed according to the variety of English being used in an article. Stanislavski, whatever else he was, was not the owner or arbiter of the punctuated form in question. Same for the US.)
– Noetica♬♩Talk 22:50, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
To DionysosProteus--love the way you assume I am "very very ignorant". Perhaps you could try writing an intelligible argument instead of a massive block of text bordering on an incoherent rant. olderwiser 23:06, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
I addressed each point in the order in which they appeared in the posts above; any incoherence follows from that structure; I'm sure I wasn't ranting, but attempting to explain to a general audience the specific practices adopted by a particular academic field. My apologies, though, as I see my error in the reference made to you. I read a comment "older = wiser", referring the the Moore and EB citations, rather than a username; "very very ignorant" was a response to the opinion I understood was being expressed, not the person who expressed it.
With regard to the "pejorative or otherwise coloured attitude", neither Stanislavski nor the academics in the field understand such an attitude, nor are they making a "political" distinction. They are indicating how the term should be understood; how it was intended by its creator, and how they as experts in the field understand it. To describe that use as "scare quotes" is a misrepresentation. If you don't believe me, go read the sources. Unlike the US/U.S. distinction, there is a theoretical distinction being indicated by the distinction 'system'/System. To suggest that the Wikipedia editors have more right to determine the form in which the concept is expressed than Stanislavski, the creator of that concept, does, or the expects in the field do, is surely wrong. DionysosProteus 23:51, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

"biblical" or "Biblical"?

Biblical or biblical? Should Wikipedia adopt a style guideline favoring one over the other when used as an adjective referring to the Bible (e.g., Biblical scholar, biblical exegesis, Biblical foundation, biblical support, etc.)?

Please comment on the RFC at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Bible#RFC: "biblical" or "Biblical". Thanks — DIEGO talk 22:20, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Thanks Diego. I have recently commented at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Bible#RFC: "biblical" or "Biblical", and I have altered things here at MOS, to read like this:

*Scriptures are capitalized but not italicized (for example, the names of the Qurʾan, the Talmud, the Granth Sahib, and the Bible). When the is used, it is not capitalized. Some derived adjectives are capitalized by convention, some are not (biblical, but normally Koranic); for others, check a dictionary appropriate to the topic, and be consistent in an article.

This reflects practice in major dictionaries and style guides. It may, of course, be subject to further discussion and amendment.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 01:38, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
I think Some derived adjectives are capitalized by convention, some don't have to be would be closer. It is perfectly good English to use Biblical, we simply tend to prefer lower-case. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:48, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

"Legibility" subsection contains link to unreferenced data and advertising

The link "How Users Read on the Web" contains lots of interesting data, but hello, no reference to the study (there is a link to an eye-movement study at the bottom, but who knows what that is). I'd like to be presented with a few details of the study on that page.

Then we're confronted with a link to an invitation to buy, clothed in an academic reference to a "conference": "Full-day tutorial on content usability and writing for the Web at the User Experience 2007 conference in Las Vegas and Barcelona".

It's a pity, but I don't think this link should be on MOS. Any thoughts? Tony (talk) 01:34, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

I've removed it. Tony (talk) 03:59, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

I disagree. The author is a well-known author on web usability, and has published several books on the topic. The fact that he has some advertising on his website has nothing to do with the usefulness of the article for the purposes of linking from the MOS. He did the study himself, so I don't understand what you think should be referenced there. Sure, it's not written like a full-blown academic paper, but it can still be a useful guideline. --Itub 11:11, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for letting us know that he did the research himself. It needs to be transparent on the page. I have no confidence in the data, and just what the data means is quite unclear from the page. Link it from some other page if you're keen, but not MOS. Tony (talk) 13:18, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
It's quite funny how that study proved itself. Their conclusion was: users don't really read; they just skim. And the proof is that, had you actually read the entire page, you would have noticed the parts where he said what they did (search for "we") and what the data means (click on "measured usability"). --Itub 13:28, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, call me conservative, call me old-fashioned, but "we" doesn't cut it. Who's "we"? Our readers deserve a proper, formal reference. What kind of sample was this? It probably isn't, but this could all be kitchen science, and we have to work hard to get to the bottom of it, at some further linked page, I suppose. The page itself needs to convince otherwise. It is not the kind of authoritative reference that should be staring out from WP's MOS. Tony (talk) 15:39, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

Units of measurement

I have been bold and changed:

"In scientific articles, SI units are the main units of measure, unless there are compelling historical or pragmatic reasons not to use them (for example, Hubble's constant should be quoted in its most common unit of (km/s)/Mpc rather than its SI unit of s−1)"


In scientific articles, SI units are the main units of measure, unless the SI unit is rarely used in the current scientific literature (for example, Hubble's constant should be quoted in its most common unit of (km/s)/Mpc rather than its SI unit of s−1)

I think this gives editors a clearer idea of how to solve disputes, i.e. by looking at the literature. Tim Vickers 18:50, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

I think this does make it clearer, to those who know about these things or look it up, that in particle physics velocities are in c, energies are in eV, and so on. I assume that's the kind of thing it's aimed at? SamBC(talk) 19:00, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
This can be simplfied:
In scientific articles, use the units of measure employed in the current scientific literature. This will often be SI, but not always (for example, Hubble's constant should be quoted in its most common unit of (km/s)/Mpc rather than its SI unit of s−1)
and we can add the natural units of particle physics and general relativity if there is reason to. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:19, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
Is it worth noting, as we mention scientific literature, that the literature for the specific field be referred to? After all, someone could look at chemistry, or mechanics, articles and see that joules are used for energy, and then use this to justify re-unit-ing a particle physics article. Just trying to imagine plausible misunderstandings. SamBC(talk) 19:27, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
Good point, what about - In scientific articles, use the units of measure employed in the current scientific literature on that topic. This will usually be SI, but not always (for example, Hubble's constant should be quoted in its most common unit of (km/s)/Mpc rather than its SI unit of s−1) Tim Vickers 19:35, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
Two other ubiquitous examples are the use of Ma (millions of years ago) rather than s in geology and paleontology, and the use of ºC rather than K in much of biology.--Curtis Clark 19:56, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
While it occurs to me that we don't want loads and loads of examples, and one is probably enough, is Hubble's really the best example? It's a really wacky unit used for one quantity rather than for all quantities of a given dimensionality in a certain field. SamBC(talk) 20:06, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
The use of the actually non-ubiquitous Ma is already covered at Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Longer periods.
And the Hubble example is a particularly bad one, using units for which "The CIPM can see no case for continuing to use these units in modern scientific and technical work." (see below in this discussion for cite) Gene Nygaard 10:48, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
I like the Ma example, since that is something that puzzled me when I came across it and is something the general reader might wonder about: it won't even occur to most people that the Hubble constant has units. Tim Vickers 20:20, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
I've put the improved version from Pmanderson on the page for now, while we discuss if the Hubble constant is the best example. Angströms are another possibility, almost universally used in structural biology, but non-SI. Tim Vickers 20:28, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
I repunctuated, and added the two other proposed examples (I met angstroms in quantum chemistry, myself). I think they outline the range of exceptions, but I don't really care if somebody takes two of the three out. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:19, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
Looks good to me! Tim Vickers 21:30, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
I have simply altered the text to Ångströms (or "Angstroms") are normally used in chemistry and structural biology. Browsers' facilities will not find Ångströms using Angstroms. And who remembers how to input Å? In fact, there is variation in the full name of this unit, perhaps compounding the difficulties.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 22:32, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
The link works, if anybody needs to look it up. Tim Vickers 23:53, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, no one denies that the link works. But MOS is a long document, and browsers have a search capability just so that text can be found in a document. Searching with Angstrom will fail to find Ångström, and most people would find it very hard to input Ångström for searching. Many will not even know that spelling accurately.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:01, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
I don't understand why you think people would they be searching for Angstrom in the MOS in the first place. What possible reason would there be? Tim Vickers 00:21, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  1. To see whether MOS has any mention of this peculiar word, in order to find if there is a ruling about it.
  2. To find it again, having seen it there before.
  3. To locate it in the course of editing MOS.
  4. Other reasons that we cannot foresee.
(I note, by the way, that you preferred to type in Angstrom rather than Ångström.) :)
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:51, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
If you are looking for information on systems of measurement you look in that section. Anyway, your addition of both spellings makes this even easier for people. I think your change has solved this hypothetical problem. Tim Vickers 01:01, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
Thanks Tim. It is in fact notoriously difficult to predict how other users and editors might work and think, and therefore what their needs might be. I think we have to try to do that, though, since we are aiming for excellent articles and robust guidelines.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 01:08, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

[Comment and my reply shifted to the end:]

I also note that neither of you follow the rules: it is angstrom,, ångstrom, or ångström, but in any case, the initial letter is lowercase. I have corrected the project page. Gene Nygaard 18:21, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, Gene. Myself, I was not addressing the matter of capitalisation, so I didn't do anything about it. In fact, although the authoritative Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) uses ångström, both OED and Chamber's give only Ångström and angstrom; SOED is inexact, but gives several variants; M-W Collegiate and CMOS give only angstrom. Where is your authority for ångstrom? Capitalised Angstrom is much used in some areas of the scientific literature, I think. As for your application of a "dubious" tag, I have modified the wording, and accordingly removed the tag. The reference supporting the new wording is the BIPM brochure The International System of Units (SI) (p. 127, note c), online here. We do not provide such references within MOS itself; it would become far too cluttered.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:57, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
The general rule about lowercase unit names is expressed in many technical style guides. And in a not-as-ugly-as-it-used-to-be template on several of the units pages in Wikipedia.
My authority for "ångstrom"? Mostly, I pay attention to what I read. It is quite common in print, as well as on the internet.
Neither your modified wording nor your reference solve the problems:
  1. The BIPM also says, right in the footnote you cited, "However it has no official sanction from the CIPM or the CGPM." That is certainly good enough reason not to encourage their use here on Wikipedia.
  2. Furthermore, in the section in which that Table 8 appears, it says "Since, however, SI units are the international meeting ground in terms of which all other units are defined, those who use units from Tables 8 and 9 should always give the definition of the units they use in terms of SI units." In other words, the interdisciplinary nature of the SI is as important as its international nature. Technically literate people ought to be able to understand our Wikipedia articles, without having to learn specialized jargon, especially in the form of the units of measure used, peculiar to some limited field of interest.
  3. Even more important, BIPM says "widely used". You have changed that to "normally used". Those are two completely different things. In fact, while remaining fairly widespread, that use has become increasingly rarer as time goes by.
  4. But quoting "widely used" wouldn't solve the problem either; there is inherent vagueness in it; others will misread it just as you did as you did. It is likely to result in needless quibbling.
Now to the good stuff. Since you insist that the BIPM and its SI brochure are authorative, I'm going to assume that I can count on your wholehearted support in removing that language about the Hubble constant from the MoS as well. Can I?
That's because in the BIPM brochure, the parsec does not come under any of the tables listed in section 4.1 Non-SI units accepted for use with the SI, and units based on fundamental constants:
  • Table 6. Non-SI units accepted for use with the International System of Units
  • Table 7. Non-SI units whose values in SI units must be obtained experimentally
  • Table 8. Other non-SI units
In fact, parsecs are not mentioned anywhere in that publication.
Rather, the parsec falls under the next section of that brochure, 4.2 Other non-SI units not recommended for use, and parsecs are only incorporated by reference through their link from their brochure page to (note also the URL that shows up in your browser when you follow that link).
That recently revised 8th edition (2006) of the BIPM SI brochure, your own cited source on the angstrom usage, specifically says at document page 129 (pdf file page 37, or HTML link):
The CIPM can see no case for continuing to use these units in modern scientific and technical work. (link added, in case you are not sure of the relative roles of the three agencies, it and the BIPM and the CGPM)
So let's get those parsecs out of our MoS as well, okay? Neither they nor the language about angstroms belong there. They are totally out of place, when they are based on their use in "modern scientific and technical work". Yes, there are Wikipedia articles in which it is appropriate to mention them; they do not belong in some exclusionary, half-baked attempt to preclude conversion of certain units into more universally understood units. That's the purpose you and Tim Vickers are pushing here. Gene Nygaard 02:39, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
Gene, I am not so involved in this debate as you seem to think I am. I am "pushing" very little, and not aligned with Tim Vickers in any sort of a cabal. I was interested first of all in making MOS, and Wikipedia generally, more searchable. That's all. So I added a commonly attested variant angstrom, lacking those characters that cause us non-Swedes such Ångst. Then, after your application of a "dubious" tag, I have in discussion here supplied a reference that I still think is perfectly defensible and authoritative. BIPM is an authority on SI units; but that fact does not preclude its being an authority on non-SI units as well. In fact, it is strong evidence that it is an authority on units generally. I inadvertently retained the word normally, rather than substituting widely as you claim that I should have. But that is a nit-picking complaint, and I could (trust me!) mount a sustained argument for the acceptability of normally, on the evidence at my disposal. But it doesn't matter to me at all. I'll change it right now to widely – there, done.
For the rest, I currently have no relevant view about the Hubble constant or parsecs at all. You may not count on me for any support, as things stand. If asked to assess well-presented evidence in some dispute, I might do so. But it isn't in my sights at the moment.
Finally, you are not the only one here who pays attention when reading. I do so with ferocity, myself. Do let's use a common standard about what sorts of evidence are admissible, yes?
– Noetica♬♩Talk 03:08, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

I agree with Tim Vickers's proposed rule. I think it is more important to show how the units are used in the real world rather than obsessing over BIPM or NIST recommendations (basically, be descriptive rather than prescriptive). In general, whatever value is being quoted in an article has to come from a source. I suggest that, by default, we should use the same units that were used by the source, except when there is a compelling reason to do otherwise (for example, if it is a historic source with really archaic units, or for consistency when quoting values from different sources.) --Itub 13:28, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

Yes, that's why the original proposal was changed to the current version that reads "use the units of measure employed in the current scientific literature". The addition of "current" avoids the problem of people arguing that we should use archaic measurements. Tim Vickers 16:56, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I came here from Talk:Enzyme kinetics#Molarity is obsolete; agree with the changes; it's the sensible thing. I don't see why the lay man needs to use the "correct" units when for all practical purposes something else is being followed. It would only make things more complicated. - TwoOars (Rev) 20:44, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
Maybe you, Twooars, and all the other Tim Vickers recruits, ought to go back and revisit Talk:Enzyme kinetics. First, Tim Vickers' insistent claims that the SI units were never used by the professionals were proved wrong. Then his insistence that the were never used in his favorite journal was proved wrong. Then, finally, Tim Vickers himself admitted that their own professional organization recommends the SI units. So now the article does include the SI units, last I knew. Gene Nygaard 06:35, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
I have no intention of getting into protracted arguments, I just gave my support to a change in the wording on this guideline. No one "recruited" me and I came here of my own accord. Your belligerence won't get things done. Please be patient and calmly express your opinion. If what you say is not accepted by the community, so be it. Don't take it so personally. It's such a minor thing after all. - TwoOars (Rev) 11:57, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Tim Vickers asked me to comment here, on an issue I'd hoped to avoid. On reviewing the comments above, it seems plain to me that Tim's proposed guideline is a neat way of providing an easy solution in almost all cases, and at least setting the parameters for disputes if they do occur (i.e., argue about what is used in the literature). So I support it. Tony (talk) 03:02, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
  • While the CIPM has a point that parsecs are stupid, the CIPM's recommendation is universally ignored by the astronomical community who continue to delight in publishing in historically problematic measurement systems for convenience-sake. Since it is not the job of Wikipedia to tell the astronomical community to follow the CIPM, it should not be our job to tell people writing astronomical articles that they should convert the Hubble's constant into SI units, for example, when the most ubiquitously cited measurement is in the horrific km/sec/Mpc. It's not an ideal situation from a pragmatic or stylistic standpoint, but that's beside the point. Language is a messy business and we must go ahead and describe things as they are most often found in the literature and in external sources we cite. Therefore, I enthusiastically endorse Tim Vickers' proposal. ScienceApologist 17:46, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
  • As a scientist in a certain field, one should use good information from that field, therefore using terminology and units common in that field. That jargon should be avoided, and too difficult wording should be explained for the lay reader goes without saying. Support to Tim's proposal. Wim van Dorst (Talk) 19:12, 26 October 2007 (UTC).
  • SI units should be preferred in most cases, but substantial use of non-SI units justifies their usage in Wikipedia articles. Therefore, whenever practical, a non-SI unit should probably be followed by an SI equivalent (as when distances in km are presented for every time miles are used) as well as linked to an article that explains the unit. Though aesthetics may suffer, no information is lost, and greater comprehension is possible. — Scientizzle 20:21, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
You do realize, don't you, that Tim Vickers proposal is an exclusionist one, designed solely to prevent that addition of the SI equivalent? Gene Nygaard 06:39, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
Huh? No he is trying to make wikipedia a less confusing place. Why don't you come back with your proposal when sceintist stop using molarity? I, for one, will be happy to support you. David D. (Talk) 04:15, 29 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I agree that Tim's wording is an improvement, and I support it. I don't think we should use SI in areas where most scientists use something else. One possible area of contention - which "scientists"? If you are considering a physical organic chemistry topic like cyclohexane conformations, you find the organic chemists use kcal/mol and the physical chemists use kJ/mol (the article - thankfully - gives both!). But hopefully we can resolve these things the wiki way, via consensus. Anyway, the new wording is clearer than the old, and gets my vote. Walkerma 21:46, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, if two nomenclatures are both commonly used in the literature, then articles should use both. However, if you are talking about protein molecular mass, you would use kDa, rather than ku, since kDa is what everybody else uses. I'm hoping people will look at the literature and make common-sense decisions. Tim Vickers 21:53, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
Maybe now you can tell everybody what you learned about your own professional standards organizations recommendations, because I didn't let you get away with all your unfounded claims on Talk:Enzyme kinetics. Don't be making the same unsupported "what everybody else uses" claims here; turned out not to be true there, and will turn out not to be true most everywhere else you go. Gene Nygaard 06:43, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
It is a very good example, but probably not of what you think. To see an excellent instance of when clear guidance on this point would avoid tedious argumnets, see Talk:Enzyme_kinetics#Molarity_is_obsolete. Tim Vickers 20:52, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I agree with the suggested change by Tim Vickers. Also note the first point raised by Warren Siegelhere. Units are not important precisely because when we refer to physical quantities we also include the units. We never say that some length is 1. If we always used SI units, we would not need to include the unit, as a length of 1 would then always mean 1 meter. When we say 1 meter, the length we refer to is now defined unambiguously, independent of any conventions for units.

The new guidline will have consequences for theoretical physics articles on wikipedia. Most of the wiki articles use SI units to make them better accesible to the lay public even though almost no one in this field uses SI units. But I don't think we need to worry about this, as people who do not understand units won't understand much of physics anyway. Count Iblis 20:36, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

  • I support the proposal by Tim Vickers as well. Gene Nygaard, can you please try to dial back your temper on this page? Thanks, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:49, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I agree with Tim's proposal. Gene has proved beyond doubt to be driven by a totally impractical approach to using SI units. I always use SI units when practical and hate to use feet and inches etc. But to not realise that some units are used almost universally by a scientific field (not just the USA), yet insist that wikipedia stick with the SI equivalent is just perverse. David D. (Talk) 04:11, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

Summary of discussion

Most editors feel the revised wording reflects what we already do and provides a simpler way of resolving disputes than the previous version. With the exception of Gene Nygaard, who has now been blocked for incivility and disruptive editing, I think there is a broad consensus to adopt this wording. Thanks to everybody who commented on this. Tim Vickers 17:05, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

Bolding Rules

There aren't any rules on bolding. We should reach a consensus on these rules. LuisGomez111 20:31, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

There are, at WP:MOSBOLD#Boldface. --PEJL 20:35, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
And that page is about to be merged with MOS, yes? I see that its guideline on "Words as words" still sings from the old song-sheet. But there seems little point now in changing it now. Tony (talk) 01:50, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Housecleaning: coordinating MOS and MOSNUM

I'm working through both gradually, because the texts have changed in the months since the more commonly used guidelines in MOSNUM were duplicated here. This has entailed changes to both. I hope that I've made no substantive changes to either.

There's an unresolved issue: the last two points in MOSNUM on "Dates", which I've numbered for convenience, are:

  1. Use numerals for centuries (the 17th century), except at the beginning of a sentence; do not capitalize century.
  2. The 1700s refers to a decade, not a century, that is, 1700–1710, not 1700–1799.

Both points are absent from MOS and require deliberation here. I'm in favour of the first, but I suspect that there may be objections: it need consensus. The second I've always found problematic, since the 1700s will mean the 18th century to many of our readers. I'd prefer to remove this point.

Your opinions will be appreciated. Tony (talk) 02:43, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Tony, some of the first point is indeed to be found in MOS:

The exception is ordinals for centuries, which are always expressed in figures (the 5th century CE).

Apart from a brief recent interregnum in MOS, this is a pretty stable Wikipedia principle, I think. But this business of using words for a century at the beginning of a sentence is not sound at all, and I will argue against if it is pushed.
As for the second point, I've seen no justification for it. Probably just one of those expressions that we should flag as ambiguous, and therefore to be avoided.
I prefer not to do any editing concerning numbers right now, despite my earlier offer. The ellipses section has engaged my attention since, and as it is right now it is incomplete. It also has has flawed internal referencing. When those things are remedied I'll be happy to discuss that section, towards an agreeable and stable solution. Then I'll be ready to look at numbers, if anyone wants me to. (By the way, I changed your formatting above. Wikipedia's blockquote doesn't seem to work that way.)
– Noetica♬♩Talk 06:35, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, Noetica. Tony (talk) 08:26, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • The first point should probably be downgraded to "normally". There are a great many hits on twentieth century out there, although 20th century is more common. It's a matter of cadence and emphasis, and there is no reason for an absolute rule. (The use of numerals is probably more common for the 5th century than the 18th or 20th.) I typed "eighteenth" below before I corrected myself, for example.
  • The second point invites misunderstanding, both by readers who know we have a rule and read a decade where we meant a century, and by those who don't know and assume a century where we meant a decade. How about something like 1700's is ambiguous; in practice, it is used to mean either the decade 1700-1709 or the century 1700-1799. The former use is preferred, but be sure that it is used unambiguously or recast the sentence. "The first decade of the 18th century" is not exactly the same period, but will often work in the same sentence.? (Tweak if we don't prefer the decade, etc.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:07, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
Both these suggestions seem to make clear sense and are more clear and less likely to lead to misunderstandings. SamBC(talk) 18:19, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
Better not to mention decade and century, since they start on 01, not 00. If this survives at all, it should be shorter, don't you think? "The 1700s is ambigouos, meaning either 1700–1709 or 1700–1799. Ensure that the meaning is clear, or reword." Tony (talk) 01:27, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
Tony: the shorter version is acceptable, although 1700-1799 (or for that matter, say, 1715-1814) is a century, a period of one hundred years; it's merely not the Eighteenth Century. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:15, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
And in most references, it doesn't matter if you are talking about 1700 through 1799 or 1701 through 1800. We shouldn't worry ourselves overmuch about the problems resulting from nobody in Europe knowing about the number zero when Denis the Little established his chronology. It's nice to be aware of it, because it can sometimes cause problems, but do we really need a whole lot about it in the MoS? When some "1800s means the decade" fanatics insisted on changing things like "Category:Schools established in the 1800s" to Category:Schools established in the eighteenth century (now Category:Educational institutions established in the 18th century), a couple of problems resulted:
  1. Those "1800s means the decade" fanatics were strangely absent when it came to correcting the mess of articles now in the wrong category as a result of the change, and
  2. Category:Educational institutions established in the 1800s now has to be a subcategory of both Educational institutions established in the 18th century and Educational institutions established in the 19th century. But it took a while for anybody to figure that out. Gene Nygaard 12:19, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
Septentrionalis-PMAnderson: Cadence and emphasis? I'm all in favour of minutely weighing such things, poet that I am. But at least in this case we need a clear-cut rule. So what if twentieth century can be found throughout Wikipedia? If we allowed that sort of evidence we should just give up offering guidelines altogether! I spent a little while fixing misuses of whomever the other day (like *give it to whomever you think wants it, and worse). These are all over the place, and of course I soon gave up. By your reasoning, oughtn't we simply to accept them? Not on my watch[list]!
– Noetica♬♩Talk 01:39, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
I regret having expressed myself poorly. I think we should guide, although I do not find this particular guidance particularly compelling; I doubt we should proscribe "twentieth century", on the ground that it is natural and useful to some editors. We do not normally use "twentieth century" is not Do what you please. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:15, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

I rather think the Oxford manual of style favours using words for centuries. Rich Farmbrough, 10:28 22 October 2007 (GMT).

I rather think it does too, Rich. So does CMOS. But neither of them even begins to contemplate guidelines for encyclopaedic work in an HTML environment, for a bunch of dedicated and forward-looking amateurs. We decide what will work here. We're doing it, and they're not.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 11:02, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
Quite so. Tony (talk) 11:03, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
And how exactly does being HTML affect whether "eighteenth century" should be spelled out or not? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:43, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
PMA, HTML does not by itself affect that. In fact, it is doubtful whether the abstract entity HTML, comprising as it does a suite of abstract protocols and constructs, can affect anything at all in what we are pleased to call "the physical world". Then, as Dennett observes, "[a]nything that has no effects whatever in the physical world surely has no effects on the function of anything." The same, mutatis mutandis, may be said of the property "being HTML". It surprises me therefore that you, who insist that we speak "by the card" lest equivocation undo us, should ask such a question.
But let me be charitable, even to an uncharitable interlocutor. It is not that the use of HTML in Wikipedia has by itself any direct bearing on the choice of words or figures in naming centuries.* It is that CMOS, OGS and the other major guides do not address our type of endeavour, broadly construed. One feature of that broad construal is limned by characterising it as being "in an HTML environment"; and I deemed that feature prominent and indicative enough to make special mention of it. Clear?
* I should explain, since context has seemed insufficient to show this to you above (that is, "earlier" on this very page: not above the reader's head in the usual "off-screen" sense), that when we speak in this discussion of centuries we mean "calendar" centuries: not periods like 9:34 am EST 23 July 1983 CE – 9:34 am EST 23 July 2083 CE. These, I will allow you, are centuries in an extended sense. Nor do I mean such aggregations of entities other than years as OED mentions (in a typical extended metonymic use of the word mention), for example: "[century:] 1. a. Rom. Hist. A division of the Roman army, constituting half of a maniple, and probably consisting originally of 100 men; but in historical times the number appears to have varied according to the size and subdivision of the legion." I do hope I make my meaning clear.
Or rather, the physical-world correlates of those guides, which alone, as we have seen, may have effects of the sorts under discussion here (or rather, above – in the sense I adumbrate, um... above).
– Noetica♬♩Talk 06:57, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
Wow, can I call you Humphrey? ;) see Yes, Minister if you're confused by that, and it might help. SamBC(talk) 07:10, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
I still don't see what "our type of endeavour, broadly construed" has to do with spelling out the names of the centuries. --Itub 11:04, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
Itub, it's an example of the sort of thing that traditional style guides don't necessarily help us with. They are not written for a loosely coordinated army of dedicated amateurs, but mainly for professional editors. Of course they deserve our respect, and what they say should often guide us; but we also have to make adjustments for this very new field of operations, in which Wikipedia is the dominant and pioneering player.
Use of words for numbers? I do that a lot outside of Wikipedia, and also counsel others to do such things (they respect my advice, incidentally). Actually, I like words up to ninety-nine, and will push for that in our MOS. But Wikipedia people will use figures more, especially (and quite naturally) in dates – and that includes centuries, of course. That's a fact of life, and we have to adapt to it if we want consistency and stability in our articles. This principle applies broadly and generally. For example, I've just written something about hard spaces at WT:MOSNUM – the need to be realistic about editors' varying needs and capacities. We would do better to work from such broad principles, not just narrowly and ad hoc.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 11:49, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
Good, that's clear enough. I wasn't advocating following any particular style guide, I just wanted to know what the reason was for preferring numbers here. I don't have objections with using figures on the grounds that most Wikipedia editors prefer them, if that is the case. In fact, I tend to prefer figures myself! --Itub 11:56, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
Noetica, what are your reasons for preferring words up to 99? Tony (talk) 13:21, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
Unsurprisingly, continuous non-technical prose most often makes use of small everyday numbers, but these go well beyond ten. CMOS and OGS therefore make the break at 100. Now, think of numbers of participants in a war, or at a meeting: Seven countries were involved at the start, but this soon swelled to 12; or The quorum was set at 15, so the eight were powerless to act. I for one find this sort of thing jarring; there is little doubt that it impedes comprehension. Or think of ages of people. Nearly everyone lives for less than 100 years, so in a biographical article you get uniformity with words for numbers that you don't get if you switch at nine or ten: From nine to 11 she learned flute, and from eight to 13 she learned Latin (to modify an example I gave earlier). Rather than allow ad hoc fixes for local uniformity here, start with a better rule. Or again, if percentages are mentioned occasionally and incidentally in an article, using words below 100 yields uniformity, since most (not all!) percentages involve numbers less than 100. As you have pointed out Tony, newspapers typically switch at nine or ten. But this is usually applied mechanically and without thought for the reader's needs. Better, again, to have a general rule that works well even if applied mechanically. Of course, some articles will call for an easy and comprehensible variation of that rule: if the content is statistical, mathematical, or dense with numerical measurements, use figures only. (Don't you wish newspapers would do that?) Times and dates are an exceptional category. People standardly give accurate time of day in figures; they give days of the month in figures; they give calendar years in figures. And they tend to do the same with centuries, wanting uniformity and readability. So, against both CMOS and OGS, we should respect and enshrine that practice for all elements of dates, especially in a date-rich encyclopaedia – and especially in one like this that is amateur in the best sense. The task is to minimise its being amateur in the worst sense!
– Noetica♬♩Talk 21:13, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

(Outdent) Amateur? Noetica, FAs are required to be written and formatted to a professional standard, and they set the goal (even if not achieved) for all articles. WP won't survive on a highly competitive Internet unless it does aspire to professional standards. WP is heaving with academics and ex-academics: promising material.

My reasons that the guidelines should be changed to accept either nine/10 or ten/11 as the boundary, provided consistent are as follow.

  • I can't remember having seen a scholarly or scientific journal that goes for ninety-nine/100; more often, it's nine/10 or ten/11.
  • WP's articles, whether scientific or not, are often number-rich. Numbers are typically the news in a sentence, and are much easier to pick out when numerals. The most commonly occurring numbers are probably those up to 100.
  • Sure, more number-rich contexts cross the nine/10 or ten/11 boundaries than a ninety-nine/100 boundary; but that shouldn't matter, because we also have a sensible clause, which says, basically, not to write the flute and piano examples as above. This is not uncommon in styleguides:

*Within a context or a list, style should be consistent (either There were 5 cats and 32 dogs or There were five cats and thirty-two dogs, not There were five cats and 32 dogs).

We also need to think through whether to do something about the "or as words if they are expressed in one or two words" bit. Tony (talk) 02:23, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

Tony, I very carefully wrote this " like this that is amateur in the best sense. The task is to minimise its being amateur in the worst sense." Of course amateur in the best sense includes all kinds of people who are highly skilled professionals donating their services. At Wikipedia, they are amateurs – as elite athletes competing at the Olympics are amateurs. So are the many others who contribute well and carefully, but do not have high standing "officially". And clearly, amateur in the worst sense means the same as amateurish. Of course we aim at and hope for what you call a "professional standard"; that is perfectly compatible with what I have said. Capito? As for your reasons for favouring a nine/10 or ten/11 boundary:
  • I can't remember having seen a scholarly or scientific journal that goes for ninety-nine/100; more often, it's nine/10 or ten/11.
I explicitly wrote first concerning continuous non-technical prose. I went on to mention exceptions, and one of these is surely understood to be "scientific" journals. Any "scholarly" journal that follows CMOS (and as you know there are very many) will adopt as a default the ninety-nine/100 limit, subject to CMOS's provision for exceptional circumstances. Same for OGS, which will include OUP publications. Looking at random, at "Imago Mundi: Cosmological and Ideological Aspects of the Shield of Achilles" Hardie, PR, The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 105. (1985), we find this: "Over thirty separate devices are found on representations of the shield of Achilles..." (p. 18, n. 49). Do you really think the editor should have made this 30 separate devices? Looking again at random, at the exquisitely scholarly and erudite Apollo's Lyre (Thomas Mathiesen, University of Nebraska Press, 1999), I find this: "...completed after Isidore's death and arranged in twenty books..." (p. 640). Now, are you really saying that this is atypical, and that scholarly publication would normally prefer in 20 books? I don't think so! With all due respect, I say: look again at the evidence.
  • WP's articles, whether scientific or not, are often number-rich. Numbers are typically the news in a sentence, and are much easier to pick out when numerals. The most commonly occurring numbers are probably those up to 100.
Absolutely. The even more commonly occurring ones are those up to ten! So in such number-dense articles have all numbers in figures. A clear exception, that we can all understand, and which I mention myself, above: "Of course, some articles will call for an easy and comprehensible variation of that rule: if the content is statistical, mathematical, or dense with numerical measurements, use figures only."
  • Sure, more number-rich contexts cross the nine/10 or ten/11 boundaries than a ninety-nine/100 boundary; but that shouldn't matter, because we also have a sensible clause, which says, basically, not to write the flute and piano examples as above.
As I pointed out, I modified my formulation of that example: to make it plausible. In any case, of course we agree that allowance can be made for exceptions. All I have added to this is that we should start with a better and more robust rule in the first place.
I agree with you that we have to think again about the rule of thumb involving numbers expressible in one or two words. It happens to be not too bad, but it looks arbitrary – and that isn't a good look.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 03:31, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
I accept what you say above, except that I'm very uneasy about encouraging people to use words between 11 and 99. Is is an aesthetic issue for you? Tony (talk) 13:21, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
It is an aesthetic issue in certain senses: Consistency is beautiful and efficient in an article. So is conformity with rational and accepted standards of scholarly writing, and with the recommendations of style guides that most scholarly writing defers to. So is a kind of graceful flexibility in serving the readers' needs, which those style guides also clearly call for. So is intelligent adaptation to the needs of our very new and different environment: amateur, dynamic, democratic, and not on the printed page.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:28, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
Noetica, I reinstated the bit about using words for century numbers that start sentences. Unsure why you removed this—it's consistent with the MOS guideline on numbers generally. Tony (talk) 02:47, 26 October 2007 (UTC)


Hello. User:Caroig's {{Geobox}} template shows up technical categories in all articles which use it, see e.g. Warta Bolesławiecka and Category:Geobox Settlement, Poland which shows up. Caroig said he didn't find any official policy saying that such technical categories in the article namespace are prohibited. I asked him to alter the Geobox code but he didn't do that. Can you point me to proper policy, please? - Darwinek 22:14, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

Having a namespace category called "Geobox Foo" is arguably a self-reference and should be disallowed. I can see no benefit to having these categories in the article space and would definitely argue to have them deleted in CFD. — Brian (talk) 22:41, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
Should I then nominate them to WP:CFD? - Darwinek 05:12, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
I think it maybe more appropriate to bring this up at WP:VPP instead of here. However, the only reason I can fathom to have such a category would be to preform some type of maintenance to the infoboxs. If there isn't an on-going task involving these categories then they don't seem like they are needed. When the time arises [at a later date] that some type of task is needed to be done then the category can always be reinstated. —MJCdetroit 12:23, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

Nominated to WP:CFD --> here. Please vote and express your opinion. - Darwinek 20:28, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

Note, these can probably be replaced by a "whatlinkshere" piece of functionality. Rich Farmbrough, 15:37 26 October 2007 (GMT).

Charon as a moon

Charon's status as a satellite of Pluto is rather uncertain. I do not mind the example much as it stands now, but perhaps it would be better if it could be changed to one which might produce fewer disputes in the future? Waltham, The Duke of 15:42, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

I don't think anybody would object if you just changed it to an example of your choice. Phaunt 21:28, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
This remains to be seen; I have now changed the example. Thank you for your prompt response, Phaunt. Waltham, The Duke of 22:40, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

Non-breaking spaces

I've skimmed the archives, but this seems not to have come up before; please correct me if I'm wrong.

The MOS lists only usage for non-breaking spaces: between numerical and non-numerical elements (though implicitly also lists the space in "sq ft"). What do you think about using it in "St. John"? In my opinion, this is valid (and indeed, the MOS doesn't forbid it). However, in an article like Johannes Passion the source will become very cluttered if one were to replace all instances of "St. John" with "St.&nbsp;John". What are your opinions?

Regardless of this specific example, I think the MOS would benefit from expanding the section on usage of the non-breaking space. Regards, Phaunt 21:25, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

I agree entirely about "St. John", Phaunt – except that I would as a matter of policy omit the full stop, which only aggravates things, since in some situations in could be taken as the end of a sentence, especially when it falls at the end of a line. The reader can nearly always sort these things out by looking again, but momentary distractions of this sort should be avoided. And they always can be, by careful writing and careful use of hard spaces and the like. Since you raise this matter in a general way here, I'll reproduce what I have recently written at WT:MOSNUM:

As for the hard space (an easier name than non-breaking space), it is often essential in HTML documents because of the unpredictable ways such documents get displayed (affected by browser, viewing settings, size of window, and style and size of font). This problem is compounded at Wikipedia, since our editors are uneven in skill and diligence. Dynamic pages indeed!

We should, I think, educate editors about hard spaces and similar resources, pressing home the general theory behind them. Merely prescribing specific occasions for their use both looks mindlessly legalistic, and works against acceptance and recall. The theory of hard spaces is not rocket science: let's have a better section showing the techniques and motivations for their use – at WP:MOS where it belongs. We should press for an improved way of inputting hard spaces in Wikipedia editing, too.

All that said, we can sometimes reduce the need for hard spaces, making life easier for everyone. Why, for example, must there be a space after c. (for "circa") before a date? Not only does it need to be hard itself, it often calls into being other hard spaces – before an en dash, for example (see discussion above). Oxford Guide Style (OGS) wants c. to be set close the number that follows it, presumably for a reason of this sort.

This is more relevant here, for MOS itself.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:18, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
I strongly agree with Noetica on everything except the questioning of the need for a space between c. and the number. C. stands for whole word. The same argument could be put for squashing initials up to names: JSBach rather than JS Bach. How do we go about getting a hard-space button inserted below the edit box? Tony (talk) 02:55, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
That c. thing is just an incidental example, as far as I'm concerned. Nevertheless, I observe that in JS Bach (a form I myself favour), J represents a whole word too, yet it is pressed up against S! Consistency has its limits, and often another consideration will work against it. As with words instead of figures, for numbers at the start of a sentence, right?
And I repeat once more the refrain that you have now taken up:
How do we go about getting a hard-space button inserted below the edit box?
(Anybody?) In fact there are very many hard spaces below the edit box – among the visible characters. But they can't be copied and pasted by standard means. A further question: how should the mark-up of any such an inserted hard space look, in the edit box? If it should appear as a normal space, textual editing and mark-up repairs are very awkward. If as "&nbsp;", that's always going to be a mystery to most editors (as it is now). Given the unique and ubiquitous importance of this humble little resource in making good code, I would push for some marker specially tailored to Wiki-needs, modelled on the way italics and bold are currently marked. But how would we get all that to happen?
– Noetica♬♩Talk 06:34, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
It shouldn't be too hard to convince a developer to add a link for the hard space such as are already present for the various dashes and other symbols. I myself am willing to write the code and present it to a developer. However, before we do that, we should agree on how it is to be implemented, at least for the time being; it can of course easily be changed but let's try to think it through so we improve the odds of getting it right immediately.
As I wrote above, I agree that "&nbsp;" can be awkward and confusing. The en- and em-dashes appear like normal minuses in the edit box, and we could also use the Unicode symbol U+00A0 in lieu of "&nbsp;" for a hard space, which I think would show up identical to a regular space in the edit box; however, since spaces are so much more ubiquitous, problems would be likely to occur much more often.
I like your third suggestion; I'm thinking of a symbol like the tilde (as used in TeX) or possibly the underscore. This would probably require a slightly more substantial update to MediaWiki software, which I'm also willing to dive into. It would also require careful thought to prevent existing usage of whichever symbol we choose to overload from breaking, and certainly a broad consensus from the community. Phaunt 08:34, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
Phaunt, while the tilde and especially the underscore seem convenient, they have too many other meanings and uses – though I concede that the single straight quote ( ' ) serves several purposes in editing, and the community works well enough with it.
I've thought more now. Here is my considered view:

Assign a normal qwerty-keyboard character (or better, a pair of them) to stand for a hard space. One suggestion is the underused and almost useless backtick, or for perfect clarity two of them ( `` ). Everyone has ready access to these from a standard keyboard, rather than having to hunt around under the edit box every time the hard space is needed. Typing, recognising, and searching for `` is easy, and this makes compliance highly likely. The change is not extravagant. It is a proper response to a serious defect that experienced editors have diagnosed, which impedes sound and efficient editing, and therefore compromises the quality of articles. Such a unique innovation is justified in the case of the hard space, because this is the single most beneficial improvement we could suggest, when we consider the many ways we have called for the hard space to be used – in ordinary writing and editing, along with standard punctuation.

– Noetica♬♩Talk 11:18, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
Noetica and Phaunt, I like all of these ideas. Please let's explore. Tony (talk) 01:11, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

The whole non-breaking spaces with numbers is nonsense now. It slaps them in where they aren't needed in any case. It doesn't mention the cases where they are needed. It has also expanded in scope from what it used to be. Was that discussed? And, as Phaunt points out, it also includes an example which does not comport with the stated rule.

Noetica is also pushing a national varieties of English button with her "St John" recommendation. Gene Nygaard 07:05, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

(Is that me?) No Gene, I am not really pushing a national variety. When I wrote ...except that I would as a matter of policy omit the full stop, I was referring to my own personal policy. There is no Wikipedia policy to that effect. As it happens, I also support such a usage at Wikipedia: that is, I support it as a rational way with punctuation that may co-exist with other rational ways, and which has wide support in the English-speaking world and in several respected style guides. Neither way is going to win as a unique policy, let's face it.
I agree that a great deal concerning numbers is unsatisfactory, right now. Numbers at MOS and at WP:MOSNUM (which I hope will soon cease to exist) need revising entirely. I will be ready to work systematically on that myself, along with whoever else is interested, once ellipses are sorted out.
But why have you not expressed an opinion about the important proposal I have made, above? Your view would be noted, I'm sure. Let's get some focus on this, so we can implement a change that will benefit everyone.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 07:47, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
What "important proposal" is that? A suggestion that we have an nbsp in the edit box? Not necessary, and counterproductive.
Most of the non-breaking spaces we have in our articles now don't really belong there, and clutter up the edit page making it difficult to read and hard to tell what number is associated with which units, etc.
Most of all, our current non-breaking spaces rules were implemented without discussion, by User:Tony1 completely rewriting the section when it was on the Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers) subpage, then before anybody got around to digesting what he had done objecting to his changes, he moved it here. So there wasn't any reason left for anyone to discuss it there. But what he moved here was just a verbatim copy of what was there, as near as anybody looking at it from here could tell—they wouldn't see that Tony had recently changed it to make it that way. That's why I'm fuming as mentioned in #Wikipedia:Manual of Style (text formatting) merge above. Gene Nygaard 08:07, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
Gene, I think you're being a little unfair. MOSNUM was sorely in need of an overhaul, and improving it (yes, it is a vast improvement) took a huge effort. The sandbox was there the whole time for all to see as it evolved. In putting in this hard work, I pushed for a few changes that I felt were desirable: some of these changes, BTW, failed to gain consensus, and some were reversed afterwards because of objections. Where were you during this process? It took many, many weeks. Rather than see you "fume" now, I'm keen to hear your arguments for change that you would have put to the MOSNUM talk page when this was all nutted out there.
I think you're also being unfair to Noetica WRT the dot; dropping dots in abbreviations is a long-term trend in all varieties of English; yes, English in Canada and the US tends to use more dots than some other varieties, but there, users differ in their approach.
Can you explain your angle on hard spaces, and provide examples to support it? Nothing worse than seing a compound expression—especially one that contains numerals—wrapped across two lines. Tony (talk) 10:00, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
Gene, I put a specific and unusual proposal, which I clearly marked above. I specifically asked for some focus on that proposal, which directly addresses the topic of this section. The question right now is not in exactly what circumstances hard spaces ought to be used. That's a good question, but a separate one. Instead of focusing on the present topic, you "fumed" (your word) about an irrelevant matter, and raised another trifling point based on your misperception of my intentions. When that misperception was explained to you, you ignored the explanation and instead launched into a tirade against such things as the way hard spaces currently are difficult to read on the edit screen – one of the very reasons we have for proposing a change!
Please don't contaminate a focused discussion, based on teamwork, with your own favourite distractions. If you have any personal complaint against anyone here, take it their talk page. Mine or Tony's, for instance.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 11:42, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
To change the subject back to your suggestion, Noetica, I like it and readily submit that it is more workable than the tilde or underscore options. I am not sure that the backtick is the most intuitive choice, but that does not really matter. What needs to be checked is whether the backtick is this easily accessible from non-English keyboard layouts; I have a suspicion that it might not be. I don't have time for this myself at the moment, have to go; I'll return to this discussion on Monday, probably. Cheers, Phaunt 15:24, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
Good, Phaunt. Let's work on this. It turns out that two backticks (``) may not be good, because such a pair is a feature of Wiki syntax here and there (see this site, for example). It also seems that most major international keyboards do have direct or easy indirect access to the backtick, so we should not abandon it altogether. It has to be something easy to input and read on the screen, as intuitive as any of these things can be, and yet not interfere too much with established practice. Perhaps, then, "`~": a backtick and a tilde (same key, for most of us)? The details are a matter for further research and discussion. I'm sure we can find something suitable. And we have to be bold! A lot more people do Wikipedia editing than the majority of those less common scripts and codes put together, perhaps: and in any case the context of use is different.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 06:48, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

Bad idea, this whole merging business.

Comment: No, it is not a good idea. This project page is getting too long as it is. The edit section even warns people: "This page is 108 kilobytes long". If we merge other articles into it, it might collapse, and all of the information on fixing articles to meet Wikipedia's quality standards would be lost. Wilhelmina Will 00:28, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

I figured someone would notice my comment sooner down here. Wilhelmina Will 00:33, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

They might, but they will wonder whether it's technically true that MOS might collapse from size. I have always understood the size limits to apply for the sake of the readability of our "normal" articles. One would expect a MOS—a highly segemented one at that—to be large. I think it's still short for a MOS. In any case, SMcCandlish has suggested that the now-defunct MOSHEAD be simply redirected here rather than being deleted; it contains no information that is not either here or at other policy or how-to pages, and is now much less well written than the equivalent sections here. Tony (talk) 01:09, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
Wilhelmina has redirected the page; thanks to her. Tony (talk) 09:45, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
The countervailing view is that the more MOS subpages there are the fewer editors who know about them. Tony is right that the size "limit" (it's not really a limit but a suggestion) is about the readability of topical articles. MOS is an internal reference work, our editors are generally more patient at reading than our general-public readership, and MOS is really meant to be referred to in looking for specific things - few literally read it from top to bottom. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:11, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Punctuation with quotation marks

Resolved: Rehash of discussion already held many times, most recently less than a month ago.

On page 278 of "The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage" in the section "PUNCTUATION WITH QUOTATION MARKS," it states: "Periods and commas, in American usage, always go inside the closing quotation marks, regardless of grammatical logic." Now if Wikipedia states that the opposite is true and disregards this common usage, it leads me to understand why teachers and professors refuse to let students reference Wikipedia; it promotes illiteracy.

- 02:32, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

Nice try, Safely Anonymous! But in fact that manual you cite is just one of very many. It is certainly not one of the main players (look to Chicago Manual of Style and Oxford Guide to Style, if you want those). And the guides are not unanimous on these matters by any means. Much of what you see here at MOS and in the articles concerning punctuation, etc., is well ahead of many of the old-fashioned guides, which for one thing simply do not address the needs of a dynamic and democratic online environment such as we're working in here. There is much to improve here still, but you have not, in your comment, identified an area that needs improvement.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 02:42, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
The New York Times would also be more involved with grammar in a newspaper entry, and not for an encyclopedic article or research paper. There is actually some difference between the two. The359 03:10, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
This is not a transatlantic issue. As SMcCandlish has already pointed out at length, many US publications—especially those that are concerned to maintain the privilege of unchanged sources, use logical punctuation, with good reason. And WP has its own, unique environment, which is different from those of the sources cited above (and I'm unsure that the information they all provide is accurate); primary among those WPian concerns is not to tamper with sources. Have a good read of the discussion above, and similar discussions in the archives. Tony (talk) 02:44, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
No, it's a civility issue: a handful of self-appointed "reformers" think they can use this page to make English into what they would like. Since aesthetic punctuation is purely formal, it tampers with sources no more, perhaps less, than "logical" punctation. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:21, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
No PMA, it's question of moving on – towards a stable consensus that leaves bickering and small-minded national allegiances behind, along with merely sentimental attachment to one body of practice or another. On this and other matters, we simply have to consider what can be changed and what can't be, and to form the best guidelines we can with those ineluctable limits in mind. The self-appointed obstructors of such work would be well advised to go away and do something else. Something productive, perhaps. What should Wikipedia be, if not essentially reformist, in the best sense? Where should discussion focused on rational reform in the service of excellence occur, if not exactly here? (Answer only if you support such efforts here, please. Otherwise take no part in a process you deprecate.)
– Noetica♬♩Talk 21:00, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
The only possible stable consensus, as the history of this section demonstrates, includes the admission that there exist two systems. It may then be possible to have a stable, unprotested, text that recommends one of them; although it would be better to treat our editors like adults by giving the reasons to prefer one system (including the number of editors who prefer it) and letting editors make up their minds accordingly. 02:12, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia is not a language reform movement; nor should we be. Even if this were a matter of thoughtless linguistic chauvinism (and Tony disagrees that it is a national difference at all), it is not the business of Wikipedia to compel our editors to the broad sunlit uplands of positive freedom which supposedly lie beyond "small-minded linguistic differences". Some readers and writers of English use logical punctuation; some use aesthetic punctuation. We may be able to persuade some editors to reconsider their choices in this matter; we cannot, and should not attempt to, do more. We should treat this as we treat color/colour, and move on. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:19, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

With national spellings, it is easy to tell the difference at a glance, one either knows that "centre" is a spelling mistake or Commonwealth English. The trouble with punctuation and quotes is that it can be difficult to tell which style is being used. Indeed as Wikipedia is optimised for readers, the chances are that many will get it wrong even if there is an in house style, unless they take the trouble to read the MOS, which is unlikely unless they are Wikipedia editors. --Philip Baird Shearer 07:58, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

See WP:CONSENSUS#"Asking the other parent": "It is very easy to create the appearance of a changing consensus simply by asking again and hoping that a different and more sympathetic group of people will discuss the issue. This, however, is a poor example of changing consensus, and is antithetical to the way that Wikipedia works. Wikipedia's decisions are not based on the number of people who showed up and voted a particular way on a particular day. It is based on a system of good reasons." PS: MOS does not deny that two systems "exist", it simply prefers one over the other for precisely the same reasons that technical, scientific and other publications do so: logical punctuation is more precise. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 20:48, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Delimiting marks in Musical artist infobox

The current situation regarding which delimiting marks to use in the Genres sections of Template:Infobox Musical artist has led to edit warring and breaking of the three-revert rule by various editors. I would like a wider opinion of this to see if some improvement to the situation can be made. A discussion about this took place on the WikiProject Albums talkpage in June, which concluded that commas were preferable. A question about which to use was raised in April, starting the Genres section on the talkpage of Infobox Musical artist, which started to lean towards both line breaks and commas being acceptable, or line breaks being better. The current discussion on the talkpage of Infobox Musical artists started in July and has been continuing since. As yet no resolution has been made and meanwhile, editors are reverting each other over the preferences. As this is a style issue, I would like some input from this neck of the woods to see if the situation can be resolved. Thanks.--Alf melmac 11:11, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Let's get this issue resolved. I happen to be of the view that not only do the line breaks look better and are easier for the eyes to follow, but there is no reason to use comma breaks but length of the music infobox, which will only be increased by a line or two. Most pages still use this format (with line breaks), so why change it? Navnløs 23:25, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
I agree, commas can also cause unwanted linebreaks when there are multiple genres listed and some of the genre names have more than two words and it breaks off right in the middle.--E tac 07:34, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Line breaks are in no way "easier on the eye". Also the argument that it looks "better" is flawd - things don't need to be "pretty", they need to be informative, and the infobox is less informative if it stretches over more than a page which is likely to be the case if there are more than ~2 genres listed and the user is using a small resolution or a not-maximized window. Also, as we all know, those genre names are not proper nouns, so there is again no reason to have them put on a new line each. I try to be as detached as possible, yet i can't find one good reason for line breaks. I however do agree that this issue should be cleared and a rule be set, so there is a standard everybody adheres to, no matter what his or her opinion is. ~ | twsx | talkcont | 11:33, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Rather than repeat arguments previously made, I will just point to Template talk:Infobox Musical artist#Standardizing genre delimiters. --PEJL 12:07, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
This issue definitely needs resolution. I prefer the use of commas, mostly because the use of line breaks leads to inappropriate capitalization of genres; this is sometimes carried over to the body of the article (especially, I find, with "Jazz"). The use of commas also helps to keep the infobox from becoming overly long when multiple genres are applicable. As WP:Album has decided to go with commas for the genre field of the album infobox, the use of commas in the genre field of the musical artist infobox seems appropriate to avoid confusion and keep these closely related infoboxes in agreement with one another. Strobilus 20:44, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Well it adds maybe 2 or 3 centimeters to the infobox at most, so length really is not an issue. Saying this is confusing and leads to inncorect capitalization of genres in the body so we should not use it is silly. It is like saying that when a genre starts a sentence and is capitalized it could confuse editors into inappropriately capitalizing it in other places so we should not ever start a sentence with a genre.--E tac 21:18, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
How much it adds depends on how many items are listed. Plenty of infoboxes include so many items that their content don't fit in a normal browser window if line breaks are used, but would if commas were used. The analogy is flawed, because grammar dictates that the first word in a sentence should be capitalized (and because genres rarely start sentences). --PEJL 21:41, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

As a couple people have already noted...this debate is not taking place here. The real debate has been on for the longest time here: Template_talk:Infobox_Musical_artist#Standardizing_genre_delimiters. Please take your opinions to that page. Thanks. Navnløs 21:49, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

The discussion for concensus was moved here by a Wikipedia Administrator as this is the proper binding forum for any debated style issue. If a consensus is reached here it will be the binding decision over whatever debate has been brought up at the template discussion page. And I support the majority opinion that the comma is the better choice for spacing. And I add that it should be used in all fields. Peter Fleet 23:18, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
This is a guideline. Such authority as it has consists of the editors who support it; and their suthority is the same there as here. In short, don't pretend, as too many do, that this page is the Secret Master of Wikipedia; if you have an actual opinion on the issue, accept the invitation above: go and discuss it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:49, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
Do keep in mind further that this will have fallout far beyond this particular template. Whatever's decided here would likely be an MOS recommendation for the handling of all such entries in infoboxes of any kind, since we aim for consistency, and if music genres get formatted this way so will other things. NB: I don't have a strong preference either way, and can see both sides of the argument. My problem with linebreaking is that it can make some infoboxes get long for no real reason (e.g. when the multiple entries are simple and clear), while the problem with commas isi that it can get hard to read (when the entries are not so simple and clear). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:08, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
It will be an example only. What works for music may well work for other things; but if not, they don't have to.
SMcCandlish's actual position, however, is quite sensible, and should be considered: avoid linebreaks when you have simple entries; avoid commas with complex entries. This can be implemented by a style= switch, which would evaluate to <br> on one setting and to a comma on the other. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:49, 8 November 2007 (UTC)


I believe one of the example pages in our project article needs disambiguating.

The current text is *Generally, right-alignment is preferred to left- or center-alignment. (Example: Race).

I believe this possibly should be disambiguated to: *Generally, right-alignment is preferred to left- or center-alignment. (Example: Race (classification of human beings)). Alice.S 08:36, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

Just do it, and better yet, link to a specific diff, since the layout of the page could change. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:05, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Another first-sentence question (re: bolding)

I was looking at an article tonight that seemed to be sacrificing readability in order to adhere to the 'subject bolded/nearest the beginning of the sentence' structure. Scott Thomas Beauchamp controversy is the article.

"The Scott Thomas Beauchamp controversy concerns the publication of a series of diaries..."

is the start of the lede, which is awkward.

Now, I know if the title is descriptive, it doesn't need to be placed/bolded, but I'm also wondering if it might be acceptable to improve the language of the sentence by saying something like:

"Scott Thomas Beauchamp caused controversy after the publication of a series of diaries..."

That is less strained linguistically, but splitting the subject even by one word might not be the best option, either (the whole article needs a rewrite, it just reminded me that I'd hit a similar article a few days ago, and also thought that the language sounted awkward, for the same reason; often the subject, even while a noun, just doesn't fit nicely into the format. Unlike a couple days ago, I had time to ask this today ;-) )--Thespian 08:51, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

I don't mind the wording of the first option (looks better than the suggested replacement). I note that it's a different tense, too. At the same time, I'm all for lattitude when it comes to this bolding thing. Tony (talk) 13:34, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Yeah; I absolutely would prefer to keep the subject together if possible, but it's just so awkward and stilted on this page. I may well find a better way of stating that, while keeping the whole subject together, but the first one as it stands has a feel of a paper turned in on a subject the student doesn't really care about. As to tense, I'd be rewriting the whole thing, so that doesn't bother me as much; I think that the second is more encyclopedic because the first has a more 'current' feel to it (using 'concerns', of ambiguous tense, with 'caused', which is past tense). Thanks for replying, --Thespian 18:47, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
But again, why is the first one awkward (given that it should be "was")? Tony (talk) 23:42, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Concur with Tony. Keep the article title phrase together and same as article title. We can live with a little alleged awkwardness. If the awkwardness is real, then it calls for either a rewrite of the sentence (e.g. something other than "concerns..." - I'm not sure that a "controvery" "concerns" anything. My cat's misbehavior concerns me, but I am both animate and sapient. The empty food bowl concerns my cat, who is animate and while not sapient is thinking on a level, emotional, and instinctual. A controvery is inanimate, and unthinking, so it can't concern itself with anything. Where the agency of a sapient party can be conveyed by their inanimate creation, "concern" can also be used, e.g. my paper concerns gluons and muons. But that isn't the case with a controversy. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 20:58, 7 November 2007 (UTC)


Can I get some consensus that scrollbars for every section of an article is not acceptable, despite its not being explicitly discussed? See [3] and User_talk:Cohesion#Article_page_Scroll_Boxes. Thanks. - cohesion 12:51, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

Yeesh, that was definitely hideous and user-hateful. I'm not sure that one case is enough, though, per WP:CREEP / WP:BEANS, to add something about it to MOS. Simple consensus against the idea, as evidenced on millions of articles, should be sufficient. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:04, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I don't think we should add anything, I just wanted to get some consensus so it didn't seem like I enforcing some non-standard unilateral opinion. :) - cohesion 00:34, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
I think we should add something. These are starting to show up in articles with a lot of references. For an example, please see Madonna. I think they can be a good idea in that situation because they allow the reader to more easily see that the "External links" section and categories follow the references. A long reference section could cause readers to miss important links, such as a link to Commons.
I agree with Cohesion and SMcCandlish that they are not generally a good idea for most sections. I propose we add something like the following:
"Scroll bars should not be manually added to prose sections of an article. They may optionally be added to non-prose sections, such as "References", if that section has become lengthy."
This will give guidance as to when this is a acceptable and when it is not. The scroll bars are here for some reason - we might as well layout what that reason is instead of making editors guess when to use them and when not to. Johntex\talk 19:53, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
Johntex pretty much covered all my points. Scroll bars should only be used for references. An article with a lengthy references section looks much better when the section is collapsed. See this revision. BlueAg09 (Talk) 23:44, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
Erm, this has been debated to death at WT:CITE. Scrollbars are bad—not least of all because they break both printed versions of the article as well as copied versions on many mirror sites. They shouldn't be used on any section, references or otherwise. Kirill 23:55, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
I echo Kirill Lokshin's comments here. I recall a TFD and discussion on {{scrollbox}} that it should not be used in article space. Even more, they break screen readers and are just plain bad web design. O2 () 00:23, 11 November 2007 (GMT)
I don't agree with the arguments against the scroll bars.
I think the mirrors need to step up and fend for themselves. I don't think we should waste one moment of our time worrying about making their lives easier. They can write their own script to remove these.
I also don't think we need to worry much about printouts. I think the isntances of people printing out articles is probably vanishingly small. For those few who may want to print an article, they can take the time to print the references separately.
However, if consensus is against the scroll bars then we should put that into an appropriate guideline. Editors should not be expected to be conversant with all TFD discussions. Expecting them to keep up with our ever-changing policies and guidelines is sufficiently taxing on its own. Johntex\talk 04:12, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
Please see WP:CITE and its Talk page for a related discussion why scrolboxes are a bad idea even for references. --ElKevbo 01:56, 12 November 2007 (UTC)
Ah, good. I disagree with all those arguments, but I'm glad we have the prohibition written down somewhere. Editors should not be forced to guess whether they should use scroll bars or not. Johntex\talk 16:54, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

Things that shouldn't be changed

The idea that certain things taken from an original source should not be edited for (at least some aspects of) style is a fairly basic principle, but it's one that possibly not everyone is aware of; see this discussion about dashes in the titles references being altered (things like case are also relevant). It might be a good idea to include something mentioning that there are certain things which should not be changed to meet our style guidelines, like the titles of references, and direct quotations for another example. Any suggestions on language? --bainer (talk) 00:33, 3 November 2007 (UTC)

Only one suggestion. Don't do it. :) It's not for us to decide on the format of an article title for instance. That decision was taken by article's author(s), or its publisher. And to change it potentially makes the article more difficult to find, for no added value. --Malleus Fatuarum 01:10, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
But there are some things that are normally adjusted. The form of dash used in a title (including substitution of an en or em dash for a hyphen, where that has been used in a title as a dash); sentence-level en dash or em dash to fit the style chosen for the article in which the quotation occurs; the form of an ellipsis (preformed, unspaced dots, spaced dots); spacing around dashes, ellipses, and the like; style of double and single quotes and apostrophe (straight versus curly); normal English quotation marks for French-style quotation marks (guillemets: « and »). So long as all and only those punctuation marks that are in the original quoted excerpt are in fact reproduced, not only can these things be made to conform to our style, they should be. Every publisher does that sort of thing all the time.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 02:09, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
I've never "adjusted" an article title and see absolutely no reason to do so. Just reproduce what is there- it's a reference. Tim Vickers 02:18, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
Does your comment take into account what I have just said, Tim? For example, suppose you are citing a French title that has a colon with a space before it. Should English Wikipedia retain that space? If it did, it would be totally out of touch with the practice of all reputable publishers. What about the form of the ellipsis, if it occurs in a title? People ought to be able to search for such a title using Wikipedia's preferred form (currently, three unspaced dots). And after all, if we quote such a title, we are often citing it from some secondary source, which will undoubtedly have imposed its norms on the title. Do we strain to preserve those imposed norms, or do we diligently seek out the spacing and typographic form of the original (which may vary in different manifestations and editions anyway)? No. Like publishers, makers of library catalogues, and everyone else, we adjust the features that I mention above to our own norms. Everyone quite rationally does that, within well-understood limits. Let's work with the subtleties of the situation, rather than over-simplifying. Distinguish text from typography.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 03:05, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
Tim, to take one little issue I deal with occasionally: double hyphens in the titles of journal articles that have most likely been pasted into the copy from the web, and carelessly not scrutinised for mangling by web code (whatever one calls it). They should definitely be changed back to what the journal published, and since no journal would be crass enough to put -- double hyphens as a separator in a title, I automatically assume it's an en dash. Shouldn't affect an electronic search. Tony (talk) 03:18, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
(Yes, that sort of thing happens all the time – and not just in titles.– Noetica♬♩Talk 03:22, 3 November 2007 (UTC))
You make a faithful copy of the original. If you have to edit the Wikitext to make a faithful copy on the screen, that isn't changing the reference. Since the reference displayed is identical to the original, that's OK. But "correcting" the text to fit your stylistic preferences, that's not OK. Tim Vickers 05:15, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
With respect, Tim, you simply have not responded to what I have taken pains to detail above. Twice. What about the form of an ellipsis? What about a space before a colon? What about the double hyphens that Tony has mentioned (such as some secondary source might have introduced)? What about conformity to the practice of all publishers?
– Noetica♬♩Talk 05:52, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
If the reference's title was published with a space before a colon, you keep the space before the colon. If the space is a error introduced by formatting that does not correspond to what the author wrote, you remove the space. I think you copy the original, and make the copy as close to the original as possible. Tim Vickers 05:57, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
OK. got that. Now, what about conformity to the practice of all publishers, which is to remove or modify such spaces, for example, to fit established regional or local practice? And what if the space in question is a thin space, which is a special character often used in these situations with punctuation? Do you keep the thin space (or perhaps en space, em space, hair space, or whatever space the typesetter chose for the secondary source from which you quote)? This would be unworkable, and in accord with no practice anywhere outside Wikipedia. As I say, distinguish text from typography.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 07:10, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes, silent correction. A closely related problem is that OCR software strips out the preceding spaces - which were also very common in English until about a century ago - for question and exclamation marks, and preceding and trailing spaces for quote marks. Small caps, also very common at one time, are often rendered as upper case. This often makes electronic texts unreliable. --ROGER DAVIES TALK 07:20, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
I see this is much more complicated than I imagined! Tim Vickers 16:20, 3 November 2007 (UTC)

Generally, a direct quotation should not be altered (although there are exceptions, including the modernizing of archaic text and using only one space after the end of a sentence regardless of the original spacing). However, citing a reference is not a direct quotation of the reference's title, nor is it intended to be. All style guides and guides to bibliographic citation prescribe how a reference is to be cited, generally without regard to the title's original published format, and Wikipedia's MOS should not be the lone exception. Like most style guides, we render English language titles in title case, even though the original may be in all caps or large and small caps, and even if titles or subtitles are lower case. We render titles of certain types types of works in italic type (e.g., books, feature films, albums of recorded music), regardless of the original title's format. We render titles of other types of works in roman type between quotation marks (e.g., articles, poems, songs), again regardless of the original title's format. (The Library of Congress capitalizes only the first word and proper nouns in a title—do you really want to tell these experts that they are not justified in "altering" the original title?) We use these conventions (when we actually follow them) to give our text a consistent appearance and also to convey meaning: the reader knows that David Berlinski's A Tour of the Calculus is a book because the title is in italic, and that his "The Deniable Darwin" is an article (or essay) because it is in roman. And we use our punctuation conventions, which are matters of typography rather than faithful reproduction of the original. It really is not so complicated, and should not be so controversial. Finell (Talk) 10:42, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

I've certainly been persuaded about the validity of applying the MOS to the titles of publications. I do remain a little dubious about some of the alterations to punctuation in quotations mentioned by Noetica (above) though. --Malleus Fatuarum 14:08, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, except to note that it is typical to retain title case for the titles of journals and conference proceedings (why, I have no idea). I'm happy not to on WP, though. Tony (talk) 23:27, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
I have not suggested changes to punctuation, Malleus: just some ways of keeping things regular that are the same as what Finell has spoken of (some less radical, in fact). I have simply affirmed that we, along with everyone else, should keep our typography consistent. Which exact part do you still have doubts about? None of this should be a problem; but I now think we need to devote a couple of sentences to it in MOS, since the concepts involved apparently need to be made explicit.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 20:02, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
Some details like changing guillemets to normal English apostrophes made me feel a little uncomfortable. But so long as there was something in the MOS to make it clear what was and what was not permissible - like adding wikilinks to quotations for instance - then I'd be quite content. --Malleus Fatuarum 20:21, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

IMO, the changes Noetica is talking about are closer to typesetting than to punctuation and shouldn't cause any trouble. You wouldn't worry about quoting in Verdana a text that you read in Times, would you? ;-) --Itub 21:39, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

No, I wouldn't. Point taken. --Malleus Fatuarum 21:42, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
Good, Malleus. And quite so, Itub. Most of them are clearly just typographical (including the matters of spacing), so alteration is fine. Are questions of capitalisation, small caps, and other styling like italics or bold mere matters of typography? With some of these it's debatable; but these can often be altered so long as it is systematic and accords well enough with common practice. We need to establish a couple of crisp, easy principles, and put them in MOS.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 05:01, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
I have to agree with Noetica on this stuff. It would be nuts not to use consistent punctuation, and really nuts not to replace guillemets with English-style quotation marks, since this is the English language WP and our readers generally have no idea what guillemets signify. Such punctuation as quotation marks and and dashes have to be understood as signifiers; if they will not signify in the en.wp context what they signified in the original, they should be changed to do so, for the same basic reason that we translate foreign language quotations into English. If we don't, the quoted material is simply "noise" to 99.99% of our readership. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 20:53, 7 November 2007 (UTC)


Is MOS a little strict in its disapproval of its usage? A user has rightly replaced "BC/BCE" in MOS, unfortunately with a hyphen rather than "or". Are there not instances where either of two items is used, habitually, which are neatly coupled with a slash? Tony (talk) 21:39, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

There are some "good" uses, of course. MOS currently gives the case of financial years (such as those starting with July and ending with June): the year 2007/8, for example. This seems sensible, in the absence of unambiguous alternatives. Generally, there is such a plague of slashes in current writing (even in academia) that if we are to have a simple policy, let it be one that is firmly against the slash. If we say more, first be firm and clear, giving reasons against promiscuous slashing: it is ugly, lazy, and ambiguous or otherwise uninformative; and then list the chaste few cases in which it is genuinely useful.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 02:04, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Templates as headers

Do we have a guideline about what types of templates can be used as headers? - Peregrine Fisher 01:33, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

This is an example of what's being discussed I think. [4]. Personally I think it's very ugly, and non-encyclopedic seeming. We're not - cohesion 16:20, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Please archive

Resolved: Archival took place.

Please archive this page's old threads and include this and similar comments in the archiving (at least the last two times, the "please archive" topics have remained, which is kind of silly, wasting bandwidth/RAM in the very name of saving it.)

This page is getting so long that it is somewhat (about 50/50 so far for me) causing Firefox/WinXP to crash (totally, taking all windows/tabs with it) when this page is edited or even diffed as a whole unit (this happens automatically any time there is an edit confict, so "just edit one topic" is not an adequate answer). I'd do it myself, but I've already had 4 crashes here when I try to do anything other than edit/create one specific topic and get lucky enough to not have an edit conflict. If this is hitting me, with a 1yo snazzy Dell laptop, it must be wreaking untold carnage among people running old, piecemeal machines with 1MB of RAM or worse. Please archive with extreme prejudice or we'll just be back in crash city in a few days. I.e., if there are no new comments of substance, then file the entire thread. This probably means auto-archive with some software on the first run then human judgement to archive even more. WT:MOS is high-traffic and then some. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 15:22, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Just for reference, this page has never caused me a problem under IE 7 (on a machine older than yours; with XP SP2 and 1 Gb of RAM). Why don't you give IE 6 or 7 a quick fire-up and see if you still get the same problems? If not, perhaps you can upgrade Firefox? 02:15, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

So does archiving now involve sorting out all of the themes, or can material be dumped into a chronological archive pending allocation by some good person into the themed archival sections? Tony (talk) 01:48, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

Formatting the index for each new archive is tedious enough; sorting topics by theme is masochistic. Strad 23:42, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

Done. Strad (talk) 23:20, 18 November 2007 (UTC)