Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Biographies

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RfC: Comma or no comma before Jr. and Sr.[edit]

NAC:The consensus is that, while both forms are acceptable, the omission of the comma is preferred. One of the reasons is that the rules about following the qualifier with a comma are themselves complicated. The MOS page already states that the comma is not needed, so that the MOS page can be left as it is. Robert McClenon (talk) 03:39, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

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

What guidance should be given (on this page and on Wikipedia:Naming conventions (people)) concerning the use or non-use of commas between a person's name and "Jr." or "Sr."? W. P. Uzer (talk) 09:36, 27 December 2014 (UTC)

  • There was an RFC on this matter earlier this month (no consensus), followed by a subsequent discussion - what good would a fresh RFC do so soon? GiantSnowman 10:07, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
    • Most recent discussion (see threads above) seems to imply a new consensus may be forming; in any case the matter needs to be resolved somehow, since at least one editor is insisting on making WP:NCP say something that contradicts this guideline. W. P. Uzer (talk) 10:19, 27 December 2014 (UTC)

Do not place a comma before Jr., Sr., or Roman numeral designations. Examples: Sammy Davis Jr. (not Sammy Davis, Jr.); John F. Kennedy Jr. (not John F. Kennedy, Jr.); Otis D. Wright II (not Otis D. Wright, II).

Style guides vary on whether or not to include a comma before "Jr." and "Sr."; both forms are acceptable, but there is no good reason why Wikipedia's style should bow to the subject's preference. (Determining the subject's preference is also needlessly time-consuming and can lead to disputes.)
The contemporary trend is to omit the commas. As noted above, where a comma is included before, one must also be included after when used mid-sentence, although some editors disagree and this could lead to confusion where there is other punctuation, so it would be simpler all around to omit them. (If the consensus was to include the comma, or to allow it in some cases, the guidance would be more contentious and would need to be more complicated to reflect authoritative style guides on the matching comma.) sroc 💬 07:48, 28 December 2014 (UTC) [added first parenthetical remark 11:42, 28 December 2014 (UTC)]
Accordingly, consequential amendments to remove the commas from:


In the case of Senior/Junior, the preferred format is with "Sr." or "Jr." written after the name without any preceding comma (see WP:JR); ...

sroc 💬 07:54, 28 December 2014 (UTC) [added to latter section 11:38, 28 December 2014 (UTC)]

Can we just vote... sorry, get a show of hands on this?[edit]

Well, given the previous discussions, I don't think we need a general discussion of what guidance should be provided, but rather a simple up-or-down show of hands on what we want to say. So pick one:

  • Option 1: Do not place a comma before "Jr.", "Sr.", or Roman numeral designation. Examples: Sammy Davis Jr., John F. Kennedy Jr., Otis D. Wright II.
  • Option 2: Do not place a comma before "Jr.", "Sr.", or Roman numeral designation unless it is the preference of the subject or sources concerning the subject. Examples: Sammy Davis, Jr., John F. Kennedy Jr., Otis D. Wright II.

[N.B.: bolding in Option 2 is just to highlight the existence of the additional text, which will not be bolded in the actual rule.] Herostratus (talk) 19:39, 28 December 2014 (UTC)


  • Option 1 for my part. Herostratus (talk) 19:39, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Option 2. Wikipedia doesn't use standardized spelling (US vs British English) or consistent date formats (MDY vs DMY; BC/AD vs BCE/CE), so why should we have a hard rule for this? It's really a solution in search of a problem. And, a subject's consideration should be taken into account. -- Calidum 19:52, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
Why should a subject's consideration be taken into account on a question of style? Do you think other encyclopedias, newspapers and publications consult the subject's preferences? Making allowance for the subject's preference (if they have one) or a preponderance of sources (which likely use their own style rules regardless of the subject's views):
  • is irrelevant, as the subject's style (or sources' styles) should not determine Wikipedia's style;
  • needlessly takes up editors' time checking sources and debating preferences;
  • can only lead to arguments over which style should apply in individual cases;
  • makes the guideline more involved than it needs to be;
  • lends to inconsistency if different subjects are formatted differently and discussed together, say, in a list of famous Americans that mentions "Sammy Davis, Jr." and "John F. Kennedy Jr.";
  • leads to arguments amongst editors over whether a comma should also appear after the "Jr." (it most definitely should, although some editors find this hard to believe).
Option 2 is a bad idea. Option 1 is a simple solution that avoids all these issues. sroc 💬 09:00, 29 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Option 1 if the Sammy Davis Jr. example is fixed to reflect the rule, as I proposed above. Option 2 is deficient for the reasons I have already given above. Consequential changes to WP:NCP would also be needed, as noted above. sroc 💬 08:42, 29 December 2014 (UTC) [addendum 08:50, 29 December 2014 (UTC)]
And can we put the "Jr." and "Sr." in the rule in quotation marks or italics, as they are used meta-syntactically? sroc 💬 09:29, 29 December 2014 (UTC)
OK fixed. Herostratus (talk) 14:55, 29 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Option 1 is my preference, as it's a simple rule, consistent with modern style guides, and probably the only way to avoid the inconsistencies such as people who put a comma before but then don't want to put the matching comma after, in violation of ALL style guides. It also avoids all the arguments and guesswork about what someone might have preferred, like on the Sammy Davis Jr. case where some think the comma is better, but half of the books about him, including the one by his daughter, don't use the comma. It's obviously a style choice, and if WP expresses a simple style rule things will go easier. Dicklyon (talk) 04:07, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
  • If I have to choose, Option 1 is also my preference, for the same reasons. But, let's take a look at the advice in the Oxford New Hart's Rules (latest ed., 2005, p. 103). The fact that NHR now includes explicit guidance for American writers and editors—and apparently enjoys significant sales and readership in the US—raises its status in this context. For these two identifiers they distinguish both American and British usage, and American and British people to whose names these identifiers might be added (a 2 × 2 situation, if you like). I quote:

    "Use the abbreviation Jr (with a point in US use) for Americans, prefaced by a comma unless it is known that the bearer of the name did not use one. In British usage, Jun. is more common, and the comma is not usual."

    I think NHR's intended meaning would be clearer if they started the second sentence with "In British usage referring to Britons,"). Am I right in saying that? They seem to leave it open for US usage in referring to Britons (admittedly, it arises much much less often). Either way, it seems to me that our old article-consistent model—so successful for spelling varieties, units of measure, and date formatting—might be the first principle to state, with some flexibility written in and pointers to the most usual US and UK practice. Could be done fairly succinctly, I think. Tony (talk) 16:48, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

Why don't you propose an Option 3 for consideration? Sounds complicated though. I have that New Harts Rules of 2005; but I haven't noticed anyone using it or referring to it. Amazon shows a 2014 edition; looks like it also has complicated advice on that: "Page 109 ... Each has several abbreviations (Jun., Jnr, Jr; Sen., Senr, Snr, Sr)." & "Page 176 …end in full points while contractions do not, so that we have Jun. and Jr f…" in which they seem to be saying no period after Jr or Sr; I've never seen that before. Dicklyon (talk) 00:16, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
It is a convention of some age (depending on where you come from) that a full-stop is omitted from abbreviations ending in the last letter of the unabbreviated word - Dr, Mr, Jr etc. I think Jr or Jnr are to be preferred over Jun (and like for senior) because of possible ambiguity. Option 1. I think there is scope to address both the preferred abbreviation here and the absence of a full-stop as well. Cinderella157 (talk) 02:57, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Option 1 - consistency. Commas seem to inundate the line when other names are involved - for example John F. Kennedy, Jr., Joe Blow, Sr., Bill King, III, ugh. AtsmeConsult 01:19, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Of course a comma before 'Jr.' should be kept if the person is known by that name, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. A very few people on a talk page in a non-binding discussion should not be able to say that Martin Luther King's name should be changed on Wikipedia even though the world at large, the U.S. government, and his family adds the comma. I see that Dicklyon has gone ahead and changed the main page of this talk page already, believing that some kind of consensus has been formed here. It has not. The naming of names seems to be a point of conflict, but in this case common sense and common name should prevail, not a set-in-stone policy which is actually a non-set-in-stone guideline. Randy Kryn 6:14 9 February, 2015 (UTC)
  • It's too trivial for most people to care either way. We have inconsistent citation styles between articles, inconsistent spelling, some articles are written in American English, others British, etc. There is no need to impose one way or another. This is a case where it essentially doesn't matter whether there is a comma or not. So, neither or both should be acceptable. DrKiernan (talk) 08:37, 9 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Option 1 I, too, find sroc's reasoning on this issue persuasive, tending to clarify a prevalent standard and to minimize disputes by affirming its usage. FactStraight (talk) 09:25, 9 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Option 2 When in doubt, the usage by the particular person ought to be adhered to. I doubt this will cause any substantial inconvenience, and conforms to the general principle of accepting the person as a source for their own name as presented in titles on Wikipedia, while allowing names found in reliable sources also to be used in the body of such articles. Collect (talk) 13:04, 9 February 2015 (UTC)

Threaded discussion[edit]

IMO sroc kind of nailed it. To reiterate what he said, Option 1 is the way to go because using Option 2:

  • is irrelevant, as the subject's style (or sources' styles) should not determine Wikipedia's style;
  • besides which sources' styles are only reflecting their own style books, which who cares;
  • needlessly takes up editors' time checking sources and debating preferences;
  • can only lead to arguments over which style should apply in individual cases;
  • makes the guideline more involved than it needs to be;
  • lends to inconsistency if different subjects are formatted differently and discussed together, say, in a list of famous Americans that mentions "Sammy Davis, Jr." and "John F. Kennedy Jr.";
  • leads to arguments amongst editors over whether a comma should also appear after the "Jr." (it most definitely should, although some editors find this hard to believe).

IMO this is a pretty strong argument and a close on strength-of-argument alone could be called for here. Herostratus (talk) 14:40, 1 January 2015 (UTC)

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


Just to be clear, when the closer says "the MOS page can be left as it is", that's because I already made the change a while ago to remove the exception "unless it is the preference of the subject or sources concerning the subject" per consensus here. Dicklyon (talk) 04:10, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for the clarification. I have made corresponding revisions to Wikipedia:Naming conventions (people) (see [1][2]). sroc 💬 08:10, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

I've been moving and editing to get rid of the unbalanced commas. Maybe a hundred articles so far; but miniscule impact on the problem. No pushback encountered. In most cases I find the classic mismatch comma error that all the guides warn against. And in many the titles of cited sources have commas inserted where the source did not use it. Apparently a number of editors felt that comma before was really important for some reason. I also see quite a few uncommented moves to titles with comma, when the article originally was without. Dicklyon (talk) 02:30, 21 February 2015 (UTC)

Per discussion below, I regret that I had not noticed that my change to the MOS per the text proposed in the RFC had been changed by DrKiernan before the close. What a mess this causes now. Dicklyon (talk) 04:33, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Consequential moves[edit]

I recently moved:

These moved have been reverted by Richard Arthur Norton claiming that the names with a single comma should remain "per the name from government website" or "the actual name", even though the names with a single comma are not only against MOS but also style guides on English punctuation. I have started a move request at Talk:John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway § Requested move 2 March 2015.

I have also requested a technical move for:

See Talk:Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. § Requested move 1 March 2015. sroc 💬 08:58, 2 March 2015 (UTC)

One wonders what would motivate Richard Arthur Norton to oppose a move toward compliance with the MOS, especially when the site is itself so inconsistent in their styling. Dicklyon (talk) 04:35, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Requested moves are decided on the AT policy and its naming convention guidelines. So why are you posting this here? and not on WT:AT? -- PBS (talk) 20:15, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Not sure what you mean. Don't we style titles the same as text? Does AT have a separate recommendation on how to style Jr. and Sr.? Not that I've seen. Dicklyon (talk) 04:04, 3 April 2015 (UTC)
Please let's not have this MOS–AT loggerheads thing again, PBS. Tony (talk) 04:36, 3 April 2015 (UTC)

Clarification on wording[edit]

There seems to be some confusion about what this RfC actually decided. The whole point of the RfC was to amend the previous wording:

Do not place a comma before Jr., Sr., or Roman numeral designation unless it is the preference of the subject or sources concerning the subject. Examples: Sammy Davis, Jr., John F. Kennedy Jr., Otis D. Wright II.

On the basis that there was a consensus forming that Wikipedia's style should not be subject to an evaluation of the subject's preferences, I proposed that the wording be amended to read:

Do not place a comma before Jr., Sr., or Roman numeral designations. Examples: Sammy Davis Jr. (not Sammy Davis, Jr.); John F. Kennedy Jr. (not John F. Kennedy, Jr.); Otis D. Wright II (not Otis D. Wright, II).

Herostratus restated this as:

Do not place a comma before "Jr.", "Sr.", or Roman numeral designation. Examples: Sammy Davis Jr., John F. Kennedy Jr., Otis D. Wright II.

This wording was broadly supported by most respondents. Dicklyon made the change on 7 February to reflect the above wording. DrKiernan made a further change on 9 February to read as follows:

Generally, there is no need to place a comma before Jr., Sr., or Roman numeral designation. Examples: Sammy Davis Jr., John F. Kennedy Jr., Otis D. Wright II.

I reverted that edit on 10 February as it was not supported by the RfC discussion but DrKiernan again edited it to read:

It is unnecessary to place a comma before Jr., Sr., or Roman numeral designation. Examples: Sammy Davis Jr., John F. Kennedy Jr., Otis D. Wright II.

Although the above change was not supported by the above RfC, it was the wording that was in place when Robert McClenon closed the RfC on 13 February stating:

The consensus is that, while both forms are acceptable, the omission of the comma is preferred. One of the reasons is that the rules about following the qualifier with a comma are themselves complicated. The MOS page already states that the comma is not needed, so that the MOS page can be left as it is.

The consensus of the RfC was that the commas should be omitted; however, the final wording at WP:JR does not reflect this. In fact, the final wording arguably opens up the case to allow a comma before "Jr." and "Sr." at editors' discretion where this was not permitted before (it previously said "Do not" except for following the subject's preference). The current wording has been used in discussions to thwart page moves on the basis that the wording does not prohibit commas before "Jr." and "Sr.":

The current situation remains deplorable also because WP:JR provides no guidance on matching commas having to follow "Jr." or "Sr." if one precedes it, which is also being disputed by various users, and which is one of the reasons supporting the RfC to omit the commas altogether.

It seems that Robert McClenon, in closing the RfC, did not realise that the words "It is unnecessary..." would be interpreted in this way and used to undermine the whole point of the proposal. The wording "Do not...", which was as it appeared in the original text and in the proposals put forward in the RfC and agreed by most respondents, should be restored to WP:JR to avoid any ongoing confusion. sroc 💬 14:47, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

  • Oppose. The consensus is not "do not place a comma"; the consensus is "both forms are acceptable, the omission of the comma is preferred". DrKiernan (talk) 14:53, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
The wording proposed and agreed by the majority was "Do not..." You snuck in your wording unnoticed and Robert didn't realise the difference. Let's ask Robert to clarify this. sroc 💬 15:09, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
I didn't sneak in anything. Your personal attack is unwarranted and offensive. DrKiernan (talk) 15:34, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm sorry I you see this as a personal attack; I did not mean to offend you. The fact is that you made a change to the wording of WP:JR from "Do not..." to "It is unnecessary to..." which I do not believe was supported by the RfC discussion (it was contrary to the proposal that had majority support) and it either went unnoticed or the subtlety was not realised by the time the RfC was closed. I do not believe that your version reflects the consensus, but the AN review will hopefully resolve this. sroc 💬 00:01, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Support restoration of the version that the RFC agreed on before DrKiernan modified it. I'll do that now. Dicklyon (talk) 00:18, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Closer comments[edit]

It appears that I may have made the mistake of following a Wikipedia policy, assume good faith. I am no longer sure that there is good faith, because there are low-grade personal attacks. On the one hand, my own opinion is that the use of a comma between the name and the suffix should not be prohibited, provided that two conditions are met, first, the subject has expressed the desire for the comma, second, the rules concerning subsequent punctuation, which are complicated, are followed. However, my own opinion is not important, because I was trying to summarize consensus in closing the RFC. I will be requesting closure review at WP:AN with regard to three issues: first, did my closure reflect consensus, or, at least, was it a valid assessment of consensus; second, were there issues that should have been addressed that were overlooked; third, is administrative attention needed because of low-grade personal attacks? Normally non-administrative closure is just as good as administrative closure, but this may be a case where administrative closure is needed. Robert McClenon (talk) 17:18, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

New RFC[edit]

It has been suggested by administrator User:EdJohnston that a new RFC be opened to change the current wording "It is unnecessary to" to "Do not", as in "Do not use a comma". I will be opening such an RFC shortly, but would appreciate comments on one particular point. That is the impact in cases where the subject prefers the use of the comma. In those cases, we have two choices. We can say that, in Wikipedia, we will not use the comma. (The policy on biographies of living persons doesn't require that degree of deference.) Alternatively, we can specify that we will use the comma in that situation, but that the rules concerning subsequent punctuation must be followed. My wording of the RFC will simply say "Do not", thus mandating no comma. Robert McClenon (talk) 18:38, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

Well let's see. The close was

The consensus is that, while both forms are acceptable, the omission of the comma is preferred. One of the reasons is that the rules about following the qualifier with a comma are themselves complicated. The MOS page already states that the comma is not needed, so that the MOS page can be left as it is

Striking to heart of this, it devolves to

both forms are acceptable

when push comes to shove, since "is preferred" is just a general admonition with no enforceability, and "not needed" is far from "forbidden".

The difference is that, if I am reading things correctly, formerly the rule was:

Both forms are used, use the one preferred by the subject and/or most sources

and now it is

Both forms are used, use the one you prefer

since it just says "It is unnecessary..." which can certainly be interpreted as "Not required but allowed". Looking at it one way this is even worse than it was (endless arguments, even less uniformity), looking at it another way it removes one small bureaucratic rule preventing writers from writing how they like.

So how about a clean RfC which simply asks for preference:

  1. Don't use the comma, it's forbidden.
  2. Do what you think is reflects the will of the subject and/or most sources.
  3. Do what you like (adding some vague handwaving language that not using the comma "is preferred" is optional and not very important).

Let voters rank these 1-2-3. (You could add a #4 "must use the comma" if you think that ought to be on the table (it hasn't been brought up as a possibility before, though)). If #3 wins the day we would then (I guess) be faced with whether to have an admonition to leave existing material as you found it. How this would work with article titles I don't know -- probably simple majority rule on a case-by-case basis. Herostratus (talk) 21:56, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

Well the preceding RfC is now the subject of an AN review so I suggest that we wait for that to play out first. No point confusing the matter further with another RfC which could lead to conflicting results. sroc 💬 23:54, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
Despite my comment that another RfC would confuse matters, DrKiernan has started one anyway (§ Request for comment: Child named for parent or predecessor).
Note that saying "both forms are acceptable" in English does not mean that we can't mandate one form or another in our Manual of Style; we are free to adopt a style from those forms that are generally acceptable in English. This is the nature of the MoS.
Also, the former rule was not "Both forms are used, use the one preferred by the subject and/or most sources", as stated by Herostratus, but "Do not use commas unless preferred by the subject"; the preference of the subject was always a matter of conjecture, but the general rule was not to use commas if the subject's preference was unknown or unclear. In contrast, DrKiernan's wording seems to allow for the editor's preference when this was not the case before (and the RfC never discussed this outcome as being a desired change). sroc 💬 09:40, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
I don't like these terms "mandate" and "forbid". The MOS says what is preferred. Editors should be encouraged and supported to move toward more preferred styles. Nobody should be forbidden for doing things differently, nor mandated to conform. But it's bad form to fight those who are working to move toward a more preferred styling. Whether the MOS expresses it as "do not" or "it is not necessary to" hardly makes a difference, if people will understand that these are just ways of expressing the preferred style. Dicklyon (talk) 05:44, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
The problem is that we still have disagreement as to whether one form actually is (or even should be) preferred over the other. If people are fighting those who are "working towards a more preferred styling"... I have to question whether that styling is actually "preferred". The more I think about this issue, the more I am reaching the conclusion that we should adopt the third option that is always available... to intentionally not adopt a single style. If we have to say anything, simply state that both forms are acceptable. Blueboar (talk) 17:13, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
If we were to allow both styles, then we need to make it clear that a comma before "Jr." or "Sr." requires a comma afterwards. This is a standard rule of English punctuation universally supported by style guides but often overlooked by those who sometimes insist on using only one comma, sometimes copying "official" sources that have it wrong. For this reason, it is simpler to omit the commas altogether (and consistent with MOS:COMMA, which states "Modern practice is against excessive use of commas"). sroc 💬 16:48, 8 March 2015 (UTC)
Separate issue... let's see if we can gain consensus for "allow both" on the "comma before" question... and then tackle the "comma after" issue in a separate discussion. (Grammatically speaking, I would agree... but once again I have to point out that names are unique things, and don't always follow the standard rules of English punctuation. So there would be exceptions no matter what we decide). Blueboar (talk) 17:20, 8 March 2015 (UTC)
Why should there be exceptions? All style guides say a comma before "Jr." or "Sr." requires a comma after. sroc 💬 13:14, 9 March 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────My issue isn't about whether or not to have a comma, but whichever it is, it should say why -- not just say do not do it. --Musdan77 (talk) 21:35, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

Are we ready?[edit]

Are we ready for a new, broader RfC? The current RfC languishes at a closure review that may or may not be acted upon any time soon. In the meantime, we have had several ad hoc RMs on the issue of Jr. commas. User:sroc above said that we should wait for that review to close before starting a new RfC, while User:Dicklyon has queried why some RM participants have not already started a new one if they intend to.

I think it's time to start the new RfC. The current RfC asked a narrow question: whether to allow evidence of personal preference over comma usage, or only to mention guidance to avoid the comma. The RfC will include several options, some of which were not presented in the current RfC. For that reason, the new RfC will likely make the current RfC moot. Instead of waiting for that RfC closure review to conclude, I'd like to start the new RfC now. But I think we'd all like to avoid procedural objections from people who think we should wait.

So I'm asking here: does anyone object to starting a new RfC on Jr. commas now? Dohn joe (talk) 17:07, 6 April 2015 (UTC)

Yes, please do. The close review isn't going to accomplish anything one way or the other. Dicklyon (talk) 17:25, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
I support a new RfC, given that the close review has stalled and several users have now criticised the previous RfC for not being widely signposted. I would still support the wording proposed last time (i.e., "Do not place a comma before 'Jr.', 'Sr.', or Roman numeral designation"). In any option to allow for the subject's preference or editors' preferences (either of which are fraught with difficulty and prone to argument), I would recommend including guidance that a preceding comma must be matched by a succeeding comma (as unanimously indicated by style guides). sroc 💬 04:44, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
Great. I'll wait a couple more days to see if any dissenters show up. Any thoughts on venue and/or notifications to bring in a wider audience than last timeDohn joe (talk) 20:51, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
I don't object to a second RFC... However, I suspect that if you ask the same question as before, the outcome will be the same as before (ie no real consensus will be reached). Blueboar (talk) 01:37, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
Fear not. New questions will be asked. Do you have a suggestion as to how to more widely advertise the new RfC? Dohn joe (talk) 02:05, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
WP:VPP would likely be the best venue to hold the discussion at since the result of it will affect both MOS:BIO and WP:AT. Calidum ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 05:53, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
I agree. The best venue for such an RfC is WP:VP/P, which has a wide audience, and which is the appropriate place for discussing such changes. RGloucester 05:57, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
Go for it. Dicklyon (talk) 05:45, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
So, are we doing this? Do we want to draft the question here first? sroc 💬 08:43, 12 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes - sorry for being so deliberate. I just want to make sure no one raises procedural issues that would muddy the RfC. As for the question itself, I was thinking it could extremely simple, as "What should WP's guidance be regarding commas before Jr. and Sr.?" Then we present comprehensive options for people to consider. I would suggest 1) no commas, no exceptions (current language); 1A) no commas, subject and source exception (previous language); 2) use commas, no exceptions; 2A) use commas, subject and source exception; 3) allow both, with internal consistency; 4) no guidance (remove WP:JR). Editors could choose one, or possibly rank their choices in order. Others are free to suggest further options.

The big question for me right now is what to do with guidance on the comma after Jr. Addressing that issue right now is good because it would hopefully resolve the WP:JR guidance completely. Doing so now is bad because it could make the RfC too unwieldy, and doom consensus on the comma before. We could split this into two questions, with the second question being something like "When a comma is used before Jr. or Sr., what should WP's guidance be regarding a comma following Jr. or Sr.?" The options could be 1) include a following comma, no exceptions; 1A) include a following comma, subject and source exception; 2) allow both, with internal consistency. I'm on the fence as to whether to include this at the same time as the other. Any thoughts? Dohn joe (talk) 15:10, 12 April 2015 (UTC)

I think you've outlined the options perfectly. Although it might be useful to ask both questions at once to avoid re-hashing the same arguments, the second question becomes redundant if option (1) is carried on the first question (as I hope it will). For the sake of simplicity, it may be better to hold off on the second question until the result on the first question emerges, although it would be prudent to flag this as a point for further discussion (if relevant). sroc 💬 17:48, 12 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks - I agree. Let's see if anyone else has feedback, and then I'll post the RfC tomorrow. Dohn joe (talk) 21:54, 12 April 2015 (UTC)

New RfCs[edit]

RfC: Expanding the permissiveness around ethnicity or sexuality[edit]

The following discussion is an archived record of a request for comment. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
The proposal was rejected. --GRuban (talk) 20:30, 10 June 2015 (UTC)

So, WP:OPENPARA currently states that "Ethnicity or sexuality should not generally be emphasized in the opening unless it is relevant to the subject's notability. Similarly, previous nationalities or the country of birth should not be mentioned in the opening sentence unless they are relevant to the subject's notability." This feels highly reductionist and very limited. It's possible for somebody to be notable, generally, and their ethnicity or sexuality to be a prominent contextual element for understanding their work.

A good example of this is artists; there are a lot of artists who have an ethnicity and a nationality; say, Chinese-American or African-American. Their ethnicity is not part of their notability: they are notable as artists. But it is important in understanding the context in which they work. When you have an artist who is a first generation Chinese-American and their work is centred on that identity...sure, they're notable without it. But it's pretty much impossible to understand the work they do, or why they do it, or what it refers to, without also understanding their background.

I'd like to propose amending the guidelines around the opening paragraph, specifically, changing:

Ethnicity or sexuality should not generally be emphasized in the opening unless it is relevant to the subject's notability. Similarly, previous nationalities or the country of birth should not be mentioned in the opening sentence unless they are relevant to the subject's notability.


Ethnicity or sexuality should not generally be emphasized in the opening unless it is relevant to the subject's notability, 'or provides important context to understanding the subject or their work. Similarly, previous nationalities or the country of birth should not be mentioned in the opening sentence unless they meet the same standard.

Bolding for the diff (I don't plan to have random bold text in guidelines ;p). Thoughts? Ironholds (talk) 19:44, 3 April 2015 (UTC)

Agree and support. Certainly there is a tightrope Wikipedia walks, in terms of over-emphasizing ethnic heritage, so prudence is warranted. But often there seems to be a disingenuous de-emphasis, on the well-intentioned assumption that "it ought not to matter" when, in some contexts, it does. When the contextualized importance of ethnicity is well attested in respected, reliable sources yet omitted or downplayed here, it can have the un-intended effect of minimizing a historical or cultural milestone, e.g. the elections of Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama as the first black (in the latter case, by U.S. definition) presidents of nations with records of recent legal racial discrimination. It comes across as a glaring, almost suspicious omission and, more importantly, deprives readers unfamiliar with the subject of the ability to readily learn and understand a significant factor in the person's notability. FactStraight (talk) 20:59, 3 April 2015 (UTC)
@FactStraight: Good to hear it's not just me who finds this problematic! Think I should start an RfC, orrr..? Ironholds (talk) 16:21, 5 April 2015 (UTC)
With notification to the Ethnic groups, Discrimination and any other relevant or potentially interested Wikipedia:WikiProjects, yes! FactStraight (talk) 08:19, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
The intention was always to include ethnicity for articles like Nelson Mandela, but not for all biographical articles. Part of the difficulty is that emphasizing ethnicity is not always an unalloyed good, as when for example we have an article on a controversial or criminal figure, and their ethnicity has sometimes been emphasized in the past for no clear reason.--Pharos (talk) 16:10, 14 April 2015 (UTC)

Oppose and counterproposal. Isn't the real problem here with the use of the word "notability"? Notability has a very specific meaning here and is actually a fairly mechanical concept only affecting inclusion or exclusion from the encyclopedia. We don't evaluate significance or importance to determine notability, we look for multiple reliable sources. That makes this standard, frankly, nonsense. If "notability" were replaced with "overall importance or significance," then it wouldn't seem to me that we would need to invite rule creep by adding the proposed qualification. I would note that the current formulation has been here (in reference to ethnicity, sexuality was added later) since this edit by @Pharos in 2006, whose edit comment refers to this discussion on the talk page, in which Pharos' comment before making the edit was, "It's not official anywhere, but it's I think this is the general consensus of the very long discussions above. Exceptions would be in cases where someone's ethnicity was exceptionally tied to their significance; e.g. some minority rights activists and ethnically-focused artists. Since the issue comes up so often, perhaps we should establish a simple guideline on ethnicity for the fromt side of this page." (Diff, emphasis added.) Perhaps Pharos will respond here and say why he chose "notability" over "significance" in the actual edit. Since I spend most of my time doing dispute resolution, I'm really afraid that the proposed addition is going to provide an excuse to open up a furball of contentious claims between warring ethnic and national groups and have to wonder if the current reductionist formulation wasn't designed to avoid that. Best regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 15:36, 14 April 2015 (UTC)

This was the original intention that I had back in 2006, to reduce the type of edit-warring that sometimes comes up, for example, in Eastern European articles.--Pharos (talk) 16:10, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
The problem with "importance" is, well - what if it's nothing to do with their importance, but is necessary context to their work? Jayron's comments below are excellent. Ironholds (talk) 14:29, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
I think if we're going to discuss changing this, we really need to hammer down the language so we're including highly relevant information in lead paragraphs where appropriate, and excluding such information where not. Just a few examples I can think of off hand:
  • Compare Jackie Robinson to, say, Dave Winfield, two African-American baseball players. Consider the men's relation to baseball's color line. Jackie Robinson's biography rightly mentions his ethnicity in context because to entirely omit it would seem out of place. Dave Winfield's biography doesn't mention his ethnicity, also quite rightly, because while he is African American, his ethnicity is not a major part of his narrative.
  • Compare Harvey Fierstein to Neil Patrick Harris, which I think probably gets it a bit wrong. Both are openly gay actors, but Fierstein's professional career is built upon his semi-autobiographical accounts of life as a gay actor. To minimize the importance of his sexuality to his professional career and public life is to ignore a major facet of his biography. Neil Patrick Harris, on the other hand, while he is openly and publicly gay, has not made his sexuality a major portion of his professional career the way Fierstein has. Fiersteins art is in many ways centered on the life of a gay man in America. Harris's, much less so. The fact that the lead of Harris biography has made his sexuality more prominent than Fierstein makes them both WP:UNDUE in opposite directions: It's more of a central issue to Fierstein's biography and less of one to Harris's.
This is not to downplay the real impact of ethnicity and sexuality (and related issues of identity) to these men's lives as a whole. I'm certain Winfield is quite aware that he's African-American, and I'm certain it is important to him. Likewise, Harris is very publicly and openly gay, and to deny that being "gay" is not important to Harris would be stupid. But that's not the same thing as saying these facts are central issues in the men's biographies. I think if we're to rewrite policy here, we need to indicate in some way the difference between "Every person's ethnicity and sexuality and other identity features must be featured prominently in the lead", which is ludicrous, and "No one should ever mention it ever", which is also ludicrous. I'm not sure how to solve the problem directly, but wanted to capture the realness of the issue. This is at least how I read it, and the issue before us is finding the appropriate middle road that results in well-written biographies. --Jayron32 23:44, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
I pretty much completely agree with Jayron's analysis here too, and this is the same thinking that I had tried to use in originally wording the "relevant to the subject's notability" standard. This doesn't mean that this aspect of personal identity must be essential to the subject's work, just that it is relevant to it in a major way. For example, I could imagine that if we are writing on the hypothetical artist mentioned, and it is possible to back up with WP:RS that "a major theme of her work is her Chinese American identity", then certainly that should belong in the intro. The key should be that it is introduced in a sentence that actively shows its relevance, it's not just "X is a Chinese American artist". But aspects of personal identity wouldn't be emphasized in the intro if art critics, etc, have not considered it a major theme of that particular artist, while the information would still be covered in a family or personal life section.--Pharos (talk) 00:20, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Remember what the leading paragraph and the introductory section is. It is a summary and introduction to what follows in the article proper. If ethnicity and sexuality are a very important part of an individuals identity, that it forms a significant part of the article proper, then it should also form a significant part of the lead. If it is not mentioned at all in the article proper then it probably belongs in the infobox but not in the lead. Greater or lesser significance of anything in the lead section should reflect the weight it is given in the article proper.--KTo288 (talk) 13:37, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose, there is no need to emphasize the ethnicity or the sexuality of the subject unless there is significant weight from a multitude of reliable sources that emphasize the subjects ethnicity or sexuality as the primary reason why they are notable. This is usually the case for those who have made a notable first. Therefore, the subject's sexuality and/or ethnicity need not be in the lead sentence. Perhaps elsewhere in the lead paragraph if reliable sources give it weight, but not the lead sentence.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 04:33, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
    Okay. Why? You've made an argument for a standard for inclusion, not an argument for why that standard for inclusion is the right one. Ironholds (talk) 14:29, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose - it seems redundant. Understanding the subject's work really has to do with notability - and if they are notable for being, say, an American artist, then it will say that, if they are just notable for being an artist, then it should say that. — kikichugirl oh hello! 08:49, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
    @Kikichugirl: Except that's not how it's being interpreted by people. I started this discussion precisely because the person immediately above you in this section decided that readers would not find any additional context in the fact that an artist from Oakland who exclusively worked on Filipino-American cultural divides and elements was Filipino-American. Someone can be a notable artist as a result of making works influenced by their cultural background, and not be "notable for their cultural background", which is what you seem to be suggesting the solution would be. Pharos says, above, that when he drafted this section my point was precisely what he meant, but there's clearly some ambiguity or we wouldn't be having this discussion. So all this is really doing is more clearly stating the status quo. Ironholds (talk) 19:48, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
  • I don't know. I see the point that the original proposer is making and it's a fair point. Jayron32 has a good analysis and makes his point well. The problem, as Pharos points out, is that we also need to "reduce the type of edit-warring that sometimes comes up, for example, in Eastern European articles". Tell me about it! You are always going to have editors who are just really really really excited to make sure that for every article subject who has a touch of Macedonian blood or (or whatever... not to pick on on Macedonians, applies equally to many ethnic groups), this is put front and center in the lede for the reader to admire and ponder over. And then you have [historical figure who died in 1123 or whatever]... it's just really really really important for the reader to understand that his paternal grandmother was Herzegovinian and not Montenegrin, and this need to be in the lede or whatever. And so on. I exaggerate, but not much. And this is why we can't have nice things, like the nice and subtle contextual distinctions that Jayron32 expounds on. But maybe with the right wording this could be a go. Herostratus (talk) 12:53, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
    Yeah, that's why it's "necessary to context"; if you can convince the other editors it's necessary context, great! If not, not so much. But the status quo opens us up for problems in completely the other direction - essentially, whitewashing a lot of culture because we've decided someone's passport summarises their cultural or racial identity. Ironholds (talk) 19:48, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
    I'm not sure I agree with all the specific wording changes suggested, but I do hope that this recent discussion has established that the relevant to the subject's notability. standard is not (and never was) just about "firsts", and I hope this can be considered clarified through general agreement here. The intention was always that these aspects of personal identity be treated pretty much as described in Jayron's examples.--Pharos (talk) 20:03, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
    @Pharos: what? No; that's not why we have policy. We have policy because a wider audience than "people who showed up to have an opinion in the right discussion at the right time" might, over time, care about the outcome. If you want to clarify it, suggest an amendment or endorse an existing suggestion - ideally one that removes the word "notability", which has a very specific meaning. Ironholds (talk) 20:22, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
    I'm not convinced it's terribly unclear now (I think it has worked in most cases), but if we're looking at potential replacements, I would perhaps suggest something like "reliable sources support this as a major topic of the article" or "as part of a sourced statement establishing the context of their importance".--Pharos (talk) 21:11, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
    The fact that I opened this discussion because it wasn't working doesn't indicate to you that it doesn't work? "Reliable sources consider this a major part of the subject's identity"? Ironholds (talk) 23:29, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
All this discussion and not a single reference to the WP:EGRS guide, even though it deals with categories, it is where the issue is actually fleshed it much more detail and nuance than the simplistic "summary" in WP:OPENPARA. -- Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 20:22, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
This is a good point! (although the category context is indeed a bit different)--Pharos (talk) 21:11, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
IMHO I think the present guideline is "working" in a great majority of cases. If there is a debate/content dispute about it, that is why there is that article's talk page. Let consensus be formed there. No need to instruction creep, or to make less clear edit to the established guideline thus making it more difficult.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 00:44, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
@RightCowLeftCoast: if it's "working", could you explain why you're precisely the person I had to bring this case because? You personally deciding the status quo works for you when you're the reason I'm trying to change it is not, actually, tremendously informative. Ironholds (talk) 23:14, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
@Ironholds: don't get personal, see WP:AVOIDYOU.
Yes this is my opinion of it, and compared to the thousands of active Wikipedians, there are very few who have found an issue with the guideline as it stands. Furthermore, any change, would need more consensus than the few Wikipedians presently involved.
The article in question, there was a wide difference, and there remains a wide difference, as to opinion as to the subject's ethnicity being central to their notability. As others have pointed out this leads to unnecessary content disputes when different ethnicities attempt to claim that individual as soley their own. Loosening the guideline as it stands will lead to more unnecessary content disputes. Furthermore, IMHO it is the burden of those who want to emphasize a subjects ethnicity and or sexuality in the lead sentence. If an editor, or group of editors, show that reliable sources give the subject's ethnicity or sexuality as central to their notability, than they can seek consensus to invoke IAR. Otherwise, we have these guidelines to reduce the likelihood of content dispute in this regards, as there is an established consensus against emphasis of subject's ethnicity and or sexuality.
Sometimes, emphasis is necessary. Sometimes, emphasis is useful. Do you acknowledge that "notability" as used in this guideline is a lot wider than, say, the GNG? Because that's what I'm reading from, say, Pharos's comments, and the fact that I keep having to ask questions like this is why I want to change the wording - notability is a term of art with a very specific meaning, and that meaning is not what is meant here. Ironholds (talk) 09:52, 24 April 2015 (UTC)
May I suggest that we use the word "Noteworthiness" rather than "Notability" (since the term Notability has a defined meaning on Wikipedia). Blueboar (talk) 12:37, 24 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. "...provides important context to understanding the subject or their work" is too vague and subjective and is just likely to create disputes. Moreover, I think the OP fails to make the case for a change being needed. We deal with the hypothetical artist whose work is all about their ancestry by describing their work in the article. That's adequate and nothing is gained from also pigeon-holing them. Formerip (talk) 19:29, 24 April 2015 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Bias, name, and linking[edit]

This edit summary requested a discussion. It's unclear, though, what new can be said that wasn't already in previous edit summaries. Can someone please clarify what the problem is now? --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 18:28, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

IMHO, the problem is, you're continuing (at this MoS page) to downplay the United Kingdom's unique status among the Commonwealth realms. GoodDay (talk) 18:45, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Unsurprising that's your opinion, since it is (for some unknown reason) your mission to see Wikipedia reflect your personal Britannicentrism. Can you provide a reason why any country need be mentioned here? The focus is the article as an example, not the person and what she is/does. --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 19:16, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
You shouldn't be accusing anyone of pushing a personal opinon in this area. Anways, the UK is the commonwealth realm that's associated the most with Elizabeth II. She lives there, was born there, will likely be buried there. There's a reason why the UK doesn't have or 'require' a Governor General. PS - I'm going to let others have their say on this matter, as you & I, will never agree with each other on this topic. GoodDay (talk) 19:25, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
I should when someone is.
You didn't answer my question: Can you provide a reason why any country need be mentioned here? The focus is the article as an example, not the person and what she is/does. If you cannot do so, you have no objection to my edit, which doesn't at all play this one-country-is-better-than-the-rest game. --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 19:35, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Let's allow others to weigh in. Going in circles, isn't going to be productive. PS- I object to your 'ongoing' attempts on Wikipedia, to downplay the UK's unique status among the Commonwealth realms. GoodDay (talk) 19:06, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
(Putting aside questions of why Queen Elizabeth II should be referred to as "Queen Elizabeth" and why there should be implication there is more than one biography of Elizabeth II on Wikipedia...) GoodDay, if you don't present a cogent argument for why a country needs to be mentioned and continue to revert, you'll be meeting the text book definition of edit warring. This kind of behaviour--the repetitious straw men on talk pages, the tendentiousness, the edit warring--is what's had you banned before. You are the only person contesting my edit. I've asked you a very legitimate question. For the third time, please answer it. Or cease reverting. --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 22:48, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
The edit you're trying to force onto this MOS page, is pointy. For years, you've been 'downplaying' the United Kingdom concerning Elizabeth II. I'm asking you to STOP pushing this & go onto something else. Therefore, I'll let you have your way, if nobody else opposes you 'here'. But, I do wish you would for once STOP, just STOP :( GoodDay (talk) 22:59, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
You don't understand WP:POINT. You also don't see the hypocrisy in accusing me of pushing some anti-British POV everywhere while you push your pro-British one everywhere.
I will put this fairly simple question to you one more time (so I can get some idea that your objection to my edit is more than just kneejerk): Can you provide a reason why any country need be mentioned here? I truly hope you provide a clear answer. I've given you four chances to do so. If you don't this time, I'll put my edit back. If you then revert once more, your name is unfortunately going to appear at WP:AN/I again. --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 23:13, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
I've put in a compromise - Sweden's monarch. If you don't except the compromise, then you're free to restore your edit. I still oppose your edit, but we both know, you have the advantage over me. I've no intentions of getting into an edit-war with you, seeing as you're willing to take this to the extreme - which would be devastating for me. GoodDay (talk) 23:26, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict) You have an odd definition of "extreme", too.
I clearly asked why a country need be mentioned. Rather than answer that, you've just replaced one country with another. It certainly avoids an NPOV breach. But, the country name is still entirely unnecessary, as I see it, and I've seen no counter-argument to even consider. I'd now just change "an" to "the" and take "Sweden" out. --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 23:34, 7 May 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Thanks to @GoodDay: for the request to join this discussion. I don't have an opinion on the matter one way or the other as I don't edit on these kind of articles, however @Miesianiacal: (or anyobody else for that matter) should not be making changes which affect so many articles without going through RFC or similar lengthy discussions. GiantSnowman 16:49, 8 May 2015 (UTC)

As far as I can see, my change affected one article: this one. --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 17:36, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
I think GS means the changes you've made, over the years, across Wikipedia. But, I'll let him clarify what he means. GoodDay (talk) 19:27, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
Can you stop with the unnecessary and inflammatory comments, please? Again, recall why you were banned. --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 03:54, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
My apologies, Mies. GoodDay (talk) 13:01, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
No, I mean changes to the MOS like this and this - @Miesianiacal: if you continue to make edits to the MOS while a discussion is ongoing, especially edits where you cite non-existent consensus, then I will raise the matter of your behaviour at ANI. GiantSnowman 08:53, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
Excuse me; when the only person who's shown any disagreement with my edit can't articulate why he opposes my edit, then states clearly he won't further oppose my edit, and nobody else, after a number of days, expresses opposition to my edit, how, then, am I not entitled to make the change? The change doesn't affect "so many articles"; how can you honestly feel such a minor alteration requires an RfC??
I have been collegial, patient, and followed the editing process guidelines. So, if you ever feel a need to go to AN/I, please, do so. You'll be soundly disappointed with the result. --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 15:25, 10 May 2015 (UTC)

I recommend that we continue to include the country of the monarch's entry we're mentioning in the section we're discussing. Not all of our readers are fully knowledgeable of which country a monarch lives in. GoodDay (talk) 12:58, 10 May 2015 (UTC)

Do you object to my edit or not? You appear to have reversed yourself twice now. Please be more clear.
This isn't an article. As I already said (though here altered to take subsequent changes into account): The focus is on the article [Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden] as an example, not on the person and what he is/does. A user can click through to the article to find information on the monarch; this isn't the place for biographical or geographical information. --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 15:25, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
No, GoodDay has explained his opposition to your edits, you have simply chosen to ignore it and make edits while a discussion (albeit it a slow one!) continues here between you two. GiantSnowman 16:32, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
I suggest you read through this discussion again. GoodDay first made repeated accusations of anti-British bias to which I responded (which is, by definition, the opposite of ignoring) with an explanation of why a country name is unnecessary here and asking him why he feels a country need be mentioned at all. He did not reply to that question until only just today. Add to that evasion a statement that he won't revert my edit and an absence, over seven days, of an objection from any other editor to my rationale and any reasonable person would conclude the edit can go ahead.
Now, in regard to GoodDay's newly given recommendation: It is not an articulated argument countering my earlier explanation of why the country is unnecessary. Hence, I can only repeat myself in response. --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 17:13, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
No, GoodDay's compomise was to replace the use of a British Monarch with a Swedish one - you will note with nationality. You removed the nationality. Therefore the issue rumbles on. GiantSnowman 17:28, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
No, you will note that at 23:34, 7 May 2015 I reiterated "the country name is still entirely unnecessary, as I see it, and I've seen no counter-argument to even consider" followed by "I'd now just change 'an' to 'the' and take 'Sweden' out." In the three days between my writing those words and making the edit I suggested, GoodDay made one remark and it had nothing to do with the suggested edit. In what way is anyone supposed to construe three days of silence on the matter of an edit, following an assertion by the supposed objector that he wouldn't revert any edit, as an objection to the edit? --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 17:40, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Jesus Christ... Someone add this debate to WP:LAME where both Miesianiacal and GoodDay can be enshrined forever. Two Canadians - one a staunch monarchist and the other a staunch republican - fighting it out over whether a MOS page refers to Elizabeth II as being "British" or not is asinine. GoodDay: This is exactly the kind of behaviour that resulted in your site ban. Miesianiacal: You are edit warring against multiple editors. Both of you need to go find something better to do with your time. Resolute 17:39, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
Jeepers, Resolute. Afterall, we did reach an agreement :) GoodDay (talk) 23:56, 24 May 2015 (UTC)

Names of royals[edit]

The Manual of Style insists that royals have their names split at the beginning of the article. For instance, the article on Princess Charlotte begins "Princess Charlotte of Cambridge (Charlotte Elizabeth Diana)". What is exactly is the reason for this? The Manual says something about "visual clarity", but what is visually unclear about starting the article with her full name, viz. Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge? This is the format used on all non-royal articles; for instance, the article on David Cameron begins "David William Donald Cameron", not "David Cameron (David William Donald)".

I therefore propose that the Manual be amended to state that articles on royals begin with the subject's full name, as any other article would. Zacwill16 (talk) 19:09, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

IMHO, it should remain as is. GoodDay (talk) 19:15, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Firstly, WP:OTHERSTUFF. While Cameron's article may presently show something, that doesn't mean the article must show that something, nor that it what it shows is either proper or better.
Secondly, the use of "Princess Charlotte of Cambridge" (to continue with that example) has the bold in the opening sentence repeat the title of the article, as required by WP:LEDE. There are also royal persons with longer full names than the princess'. Are we to use their full names first, as well? Alternately, if the current stipulations in the guideline are to apply to the biographies of only some royal persons, where is the line drawn and why draw a line at all? --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 19:32, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
WP:OTHERSTUFF does not refer to this kind of thing. It states that it's not valid to invoke a single occurrence of something. Whereas literally any article on a non-royal follows the format I propose; I only chose Cameron as a specific example. And I cannot comprehend why you are bringing up WP:LEDE. It does not say that the emboldened words have to exactly repeat the title. As to your third point, I agree. We should begin with the full name for all royal persons. Zacwill16 (talk) 19:51, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Mm, well, yes, it does seem bios of non-royals typically use full names first. Still, because they do doesn't mean bios of royal persons have to. And I don't see why they should. Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David is not a good way to begin Edward VIII, nor is Prince Andrew Albert Christian Edward, Duke of York an easily readable way to start Prince Andrew, Duke of York. --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 20:19, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Notwithstanding its readability, which in any case is subjective, it is the full name, and it is misleading to split it up in the manner we currently do. The shortened form can still be used at the head of the infobox. Zacwill16 (talk) 20:47, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Sensible exceptions are nevertheless made. The most notable would probably be Princess Charlotte of Wales, a Featured Article, and Maria Theresa, a Good Article. Surtsicna (talk) 19:25, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
FWIW, the intro at Queen Letizia of Spain should be changed to conform with royal bio articles. GoodDay (talk) 19:36, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
A famous person said that conformity is the enemy of growth. Besides, it conforms with articles about other Spanish queens - Julie Clary, Mercedes of Orléans, Maria Christina of Austria, etc. Surtsicna (talk) 19:25, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Letiza's intro doesn't match well with her article's title. Anyways, others can weigh in on that, as you & I will always 'disagree' on that article-in-question. GoodDay (talk) 19:31, 5 May 2015 (UTC)

Conversation at WT:MoS about making that talk page the official site for style questions[edit]

The proposed style noticeboard has fallen through. There is now a conversation under way at WT:MoS about endorsing and centralizing its longstanding Q&A function. One of the issues raised is encouraging users to ask questions about style and copyediting either at WT:MoS or a subpage and not at other talk pages. The discussion is still very preliminary and participants from other pages that would be affected are very welcome. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:03, 5 May 2015 (UTC)

There is now a proposal at the Village Pump that WT:MoS be established as Wikipedia's official page for style Q&A. This would involve actively guiding editors with style questions to WT:MoS and away from other pages. Participation is welcome. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:13, 14 May 2015 (UTC)

Nationality of people from the United Kingdom (yet again...)[edit]

The essay at Wikipedia:Nationality of people from the United Kingdom was put together some seven to eight years ago, following extensive discussion, to help editors in addressing the thorny question of nationality in relation to biographies of UK subjects - in particular, whether they should be described as British, English, Scottish, Welsh, etc. etc. Many would argue, I think, that the essay has been more helpful than unhelpful in reducing pointless arguments, edit warring, etc., over that period. However, discussion had now flared up again on the talk page - with some unilateral editing of the essay and subsequent reverting - and is focused in particular (but not solely) on the question of whether the nationality of all UK subjects should be described as British (rather than English, Scottish, Welsh, etc.) in the infobox. (The word "nationality" has several meanings - its meaning in law being just one of them.) The move to change (or delete) the existing essay was initiated by Martin Hogbin, and is supported by Twobells and GoodDay. I and others have argued against many of the proposals being made by those editors, believing them to be ill-considered and unhelpful. The discussion on that talk page is clearly never going to achieve a consensus. I am raising it here, firstly to alert a wider group of editors of the continuing discussion and disagreement, and secondly to seek some help in identifying the best way forward. I'm aware that many, many experienced (and not-so-experienced) editors have tried to address this issue before, and the great majority of those editors are probably fed up to the back teeth of it being raised again. But, the issue refuses to go away, and some editors are unfortunately becoming increasingly agitated as a result. I'm sure that the three editors I've mentioned will comment here, but, personally, I'd like to hear a wider range of views. Ghmyrtle (talk) 19:32, 26 May 2015 (UTC)

Indeed, we need input from the wider community. GoodDay (talk) 19:37, 26 May 2015 (UTC)

I agree, a wider reange of view would be better. Particularly suggestions for reaching a consensus. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:02, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
A long dormant discussion at James Clerk Maxwell was re-opened by Martin Hogbin on 26th October 2014. Thereafter it continued both there and in a number of other forums, including Nationality of people from the United Kingdom, the Village Pump, and the raising of an Arbcom case request. The decision of the Arbitration Committee to decline Martin Hogbin's case can be found here. On 12th January 2015 Martin Hogbin posted the following statement on the James Clerk Maxwell talk page: "I will not edit this page again. It seems that Arbcom are not interested in fixing what is likely to lead to the downfall of WP; editors here deciding what the truth is. This is problem in many other places. The concept of an encyclopedia seems to have been lost. I have lost all faith in WP and do not intend to waste much more time here. Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:58, 12 January 2015 (UTC)" It is sad to see that he is once again in the vanguard of the same tired campaign. FF-UK (talk) 20:27, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
I did not initiate anything, I joined an existing discussion. It would be better if editors here stuck to discussing content and not to atacking othere editors' actions. Let us all try assume more good faith and work together. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:02, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Not an attack, but an observation in the interests of ensuring that anyone who may first become aware of the issue on this forum is aware of the other forums on which Martin Hogbin has conducted this campaign during the past year. I would also note that since he "joined an existing discussion" two weeks ago, he has contributed 41 posts on the subject. We should also bear in mind that this campaign is an apparent attempt to overrule the importance of sources, replacing them with a synthesis based on assumption. Editors should cite sources for all articles and, if nationality is mentioned, must use the nationality descriptor which appears in those sources. WP:NOR prevents editors from synthesizing nationality as British if the sources indicate English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish. FF-UK (talk) 09:56, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
You could just write nothing. State "So-and-so is a <job title> born in <city>." Stick to statements which are not open to debate. --Jayron32 02:41, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
That is an excellent idea which I have suggested many times before. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:02, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

I've been on the 'pedia for nearly 10yrs. I'm still amazed that there's a resistance to using British & United Kingdom across most British bio articles. GoodDay (talk) 10:03, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

What do RS say? Many describe people as Scottish/Welsh/English/Irish - not 'British'. This is especially true of footballers. GiantSnowman 12:28, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Of course they do. AGF is not a suicide pact. At a certain point this will become something which will need to be dealt with as a behavioural issue. We cannot go on discussing this every few months as some of us have better things to do. It is almost ripe for WP:PEREN. Whether it goes there via AN/I, Arbcom, topic bans, blocks etc remains to be seen. Any other editors who can overcome their boredom and disinterest in this stale topic would be welcome at the essay discussion page meantime. --John (talk) 15:10, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Soccer is a unique case though given the home nations each have their own national teams, therefore being English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish is a fact of key importance for such an athlete. That may not be nearly as relevant for other occupations - or even other sports, for that matter. Resolute 19:30, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Well, partly correct. Football and rugby are by far the most important ball sports in the British Isles and in both cases Scotland, England and Wales have their own internationally recognised teams. Cricket too, come to think of it; it isn't really played in Scotland but the main team is called England, not Britain. One cannot win arguments by referring to sports teams, but this is a significant data point and surely ought to register with those who persist in comparing the UK nations with the states of the US or the provinces of Canada. Ontario and California are not represented in the World Cup; Scotland and Wales are. --John (talk) 20:23, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
And, of course, the Six Nations Championship is the annual international rugby union competition involving the six European nations of England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. FF-UK (talk) 21:28, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Then again the Olympics and Tennis only fields the team from Great Britain. So people who are notable for those sports are given Great Britain as their nationality, with of course a mention that they are from Scotland or Wales. Fyunck(click) (talk) 18:45, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

The people of the UK are British, whether they like it or not. But, we'll never be able to get those British bio articles corrected, as long as opposition continues :( GoodDay (talk) 21:44, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

My perspective is that in recent years there's been far more of a push against describing people as 'British' and in favour of having them as English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish. It's being forced as the default on articles where the subject is not known to have any particular preference for their allegiance. For instance almost all contemporary British actors aren't allowed to be British but have to be English or Welsh or Scots. I would far prefer to see the default being 'British' with exceptions for those who have made it clear they consider themselves English/Welsh/Scottish over or instead of being British. Sports figures are however a case apart; almost all sport in Britain (with the principal exception of the Olympic team) is organised on an English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Ireland basis, so it makes sense for sporting figures to have their sporting allegiance used as their nationality. Sam Blacketer (talk) 23:35, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict)@GoodDay: While this is true, for some people, their specific nationality is notable. Take Scottish poet Robert Burns, "widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland", who notably wrote "Scots Wha Hae" (Scotland's "unofficial national anthem") and Address to a Haggis, and for whom the traditional Burns supper is named—he is more relevantly described as Scottish, although he was also British. Or Ieuan Wyn Jones, former Deputy First Minister for Wales and former leader of Plaid Cymru—it is more relevant to characterise him as Welsh than as British. These are just two examples of people who are better known and more notable for their specific home country than more generally as British. sroc 💬 23:53, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Burns & Jones are both British, as they lived in the UK. However again, I'll never be given the oportunity to make these corrections. Thus is the nature of the 'pedia, when sources collide, it's the majority of editors who decide. GoodDay (talk) 23:58, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Sources decide. Ghmyrtle (talk) 07:34, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
..and sources say that England, Wales, Northern Ireland & Scotland are within a sovereign state called the United Kingdom. You & I can go around in circles on this for weeks or months. Again, the deciding is & always has been -How many editors want this -vs- How many editors want that-. GoodDay (talk) 09:51, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
...Goodday, the problem is that you persist in ignoring the simple fact that the sources which matter are those that refer to the nationality of the individual subject of a bio, you CANNOT synthesize something which is not in the cited source! WP:NOR FF-UK (talk) 10:02, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
They're British, as long as their constituent countries remain within the UK. But as I told Ghmyrtle, we can in circles for hours. I'm not going to convince you & you're not going to convince me. GoodDay (talk) 10:07, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Actually GoodDay, you did have that opportunity. One of the many disruptive edits you made at Robert Burns (after you added 'UK' to his places of birth and death) removed 'Nationality – Scottish' from the infobox. Daicaregos (talk) 08:00, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Nice try Daicaregos. But, no cigar. If there were a huge enough number of editors pushing for British usage? there'd big nothing you could do to stop it. However, so far, there's enough editors on your side, to prevent such changes across the board. PS- I've no doubt that you would continue to resist such changes strongly, on Wales-based bio articles. GoodDay (talk) 09:48, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
I have no idea what you mean by "Nice try". I brought this up here to refute the claim that you had no opportunity to make what you term 'corrections'. Indeed, you even brought a proposal to WikiProject Biography, citing Robbie Burns as an example, replacing Scottish in the intro and infobox with British. You withdrew the proposal (due to WP:SNOW) two days before making those edits on the article. You were being disruptive on that article and have been on many others, which is why you were banned. And, quite frankly, you are becoming so again now your ban has expired. Stirring up other editors on their talkpages and endlessly repeating the same opinion on various other talkpages including this one is wearysome and unnecessary. Please stop. Daicaregos (talk) 13:12, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Howabout we just no longer respond to each other's posts. We've too much history between us. GoodDay (talk) 19:45, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Be careful to distinguish national allegiance from nationality law. There is no such thing as Welsh or Northern Irish nationality and since 1707 there has been no such thing as English or Scottish nationality - in the sense that no-one now has a legally valid document which is a Scottish passport. There is only British nationality. Sam Blacketer (talk) 08:23, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
No such thing legally... but that is not the point. We are discussing identity. Ghmyrtle (talk) 08:28, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
As long as there's many editors opposing the usage of British, we're quite limited to correcting the British bio articles, Sam Blacketer. If anyone should be aware of this fact, It would be me. GoodDay (talk) 09:53, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
  • It seems for the most part we are in consensus with Ghmyrtle being against, with this in mind we cannot let the 'consensus' argument be a reason to prevent credibly-sourced evidence being included in articles as that is against long-standing policy. Subsequently, credible sources state categorically that people of the United Kingdom are British. I move that the essay confirm uniformity, following guidelines that British people are not broken down into their constituent parts. Also, threats of banning for trying to add credible sources confirming the subject of the bio is British also be removed from the essay for being over the top draconian npov push that it tries to be. Twobellst@lk 12:33, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
    • Twobells, you are making the same fundamental error as GoodDay in that you both persist in ignoring the simple fact that the sources which matter are those that refer to the nationality of the individual subject of a bio, you CANNOT synthesize something which is not in the cited source! Applying uniformity as you would wish can only be done on the basis of synthesizing the nationality as British where the sources may say that it is English, or Irish, or Scottish, or Welsh. WP:NOR You may have noticed that those who oppose such "unWiki" concepts do not deny that British is a valid nationality, but it is only one of the possible valid choices for persons belonging to the nations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales (as another editor has pointed out, on your own user page you describe yourself as English rather than British). Why is English permissible for you, but only British for others? As for your impression of who is for and who is against, look again! FF-UK (talk) 13:38, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Synthesis? Credible cited sources for British bio's confirm that they are British, yet seemingly we have editors with a nationalist agenda who wish to break down British people from Britain into their constituent parts, an action that is against the essay's guidelines. No-one has attempted to rectify the numerous non_English bio's back to 'British' and when anyone attempts to revert they are overuled. Twobellst@lk 19:28, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
It seems that Twobells is unable to "do the math", as he puts it. We currently have three in favour of removing the section concerned, five against (not including myself), and probably many more waiting for her/him to move on. No-one, of course, denies that UK people are British in one sense - the question is whether that sense should override all other senses of the word "nationality", and there is no consensus that it should. Ghmyrtle (talk) 13:43, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Where did those other editors suddenly appear from? WP:Canvass? canvassing which is done with the intention of influencing the outcome of a discussion in a particular way is considered inappropriate. This is because it compromises the normal consensus decision-making process, and therefore is generally considered disruptive behaviour.Twobellst@lk 19:28, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Probably because I raised the question on this page, as I indicated I would, and as the box at the top of Wikipedia talk:Nationality of people from the United Kingdom suggests probably should have been done some time ago. Both GoodDay and Martin Hogbin agreed with this course of action, incidentally - see the top of this thread. Ghmyrtle (talk) 19:42, 29 May 2015 (UTC)


We could adjust the infoboxes, to add UK to the birthplaces or deathplaces of those who were born or died in a foreign country. As for those born & died within the UK, we'd merely leave UK out. For examples: We should add UK to Andrew Carnegie's birthplace, because he died in the United States. Meanwhile, we don't add UK to Robert Burns, because he was born & died within the UK. GoodDay (talk) 11:06, 29 May 2015 (UTC)

Lead section[edit]

I'm wondering why the MOS has a section called "Opening paragraph" (singular) instead of "Lead section". But my main question is this: I've seen several bio articles where most of the lead is basically a listing of awards and nominations given to the person. Is that really what an intro section should be like? --Musdan77 (talk) 02:26, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

Because the opening paragraph is different from a lead section. A lead section may have multiple paragraphs. --Jayron32 02:39, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
We would need to see examples to make a determination. Most Wikipedia articles are deficient in various ways, the lead section included. Resolute 19:31, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Jayron32, how is "the opening paragraph different from a lead section", when it's in the lead section? And if the first paragraph is so different from the following paragraphs, then it should also say what should be in those following paragraphs in the lead. --Musdan77 (talk) 18:28, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Because there are certain things, and a certain organization, expected specifically of the opening paragraph specifically. Other paragraphs in the lead exist where needed in longer articles. --Jayron32 23:08, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
But, the MOS doesn't say that -- and that's (in part) why I brought this up. If that's how a lead section should be then it should say that. --Musdan77 (talk) 18:27, 30 May 2015 (UTC)


I suggest to insert the following phrase, or similar, into the section Post-nominal letters before the words "ensuring that readers".

or by using the template {{Post-nominals}},

I also suggest to remove the line "See also" at the beginning of this section because a) referring to 'Middle names and abbreviated names', its relevance in this section is unclear; b) the target section doesn't exist under that name. Lastly, the meaning of the sentence "(See above in regard to academic titles and post-nominal initials.)" is unclear and it should be removed. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 23:36, 30 May 2015 (UTC)

@Michael Bednarek: See my revisions in light of your comments above. I'm not sure about the "See also" hatnote: I've updated the link, but it can be deleted unless someone can explain the relevance to this section. sroc 💬 11:59, 31 May 2015 (UTC)

NOTICE: Persondata has been officially deprecated[edit]

Persondata has been deprecated and the template and input data are subject to removal from all bio articles in the near future. For those editors who entered accurate data into the persondata templates of biography subjects, you are advised to manually transfer that data to Wikidata before the impending mass deletion occurs in order to preserve all accurate data. Here are two examples of Wikidata for film actors: Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. If you have any more questions about the persondata removal, Wikidata, etc., please ping me. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 13:57, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

"… advised to manually transfer that data …' – That's the most pointless/impractical advice I've read in a long time.
For convenience: {{Persondata}}, Wikipedia talk:Persondata#RfC: Should Persondata template be deprecated and methodically removed from articles?, and Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)/Archive 122#RfC: Should Persondata template be deprecated and methodically removed from articles?. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 02:16, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
@Michael Bednarek: While it is certainly helpful to link to the discussions underlying the decision to deprecate persondata, so that folks may understand why we are switching to the better Wikidata system, everyone needs to understand that accurate data that they previously entered into persondata templates is at risk of being lost in that process, name variants such as married names, maiden names, and full names in particular. Over the last five years, I have added persondata to over 2000 bio articles. And as "impractical" as it may be, I am manually transferring that data to Wikidata so that it is not simply deleted when the persondata templates are removed by bot edits in the near future. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 10:22, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
I understood what you wrote and I admire your zest to retain the work you did by transferring it to Wikidata, but I suspect not many editors have a way of following up on years of occasionally improving Persondata details. My spontaneous comment above was driven by my concern that the non-unanimous decision to deprecate might have unintended consequences. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 10:46, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
Michael, I think we both wish that the engineers of this transition were committed to preserving more of the accurate information currently found in the persondata templates. The two or three editors leading the charge for immediate removal of persondata from all articles seem to put very little value on the past work of their fellow editors in contributing to persondata over the last five or six years. There should be a reasonable period of "deprecation," with editors given plenty of notice and ample opportunity to transfer data from the old to the new system. In the mean time, the continued presence of persondata does no harm. The rush to delete is unseemly and ill-considered, and seems to be based on biased information regarding the "unreliability" of existing persondata datapoints. Given the wiki-politics, I'm doing what I can to preserve the accurate persondata of articles on my watch list by transferring it to Wikidata, and advising others who care to take similar steps. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 11:12, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
Thumbs up Couldn't have said it better. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 11:36, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
You may want to share your opinion regarding a reasonable transition period in some of the following threads:
Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 12:04, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
The decision may have been (like many on Wikipedia) non-unanimous, but it still had strong consensus. The issues have been long and knowledgeably discussed and the consequences well-considered, both here and on Wikdiata. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 18:20, 4 June 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @Pigsonthewing: Apparently no updated data in the persondata templates has been pulled by the bots since at least November 2014. It is unclear whether newly entered data has been added or not in the eight months since then, or whether the bots have simply ignored updated datapoints. It is apparent that the issues have not been long and knowledgeably discussed because in manually transferring over the persondata from over 150 articles in the last two days, I can substantiate that many items of accurate data have not been previously transferred by bot action to Wikidata, including full names and other name variants, birth places, and all "brief descriptions" updated since November 2014. It's more than enough to raise doubts about whether these issues have "been long and knowledgeably discussed and the consequences well-considered." I'm happy to share details of my review. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 19:40, 4 June 2015 (UTC)

Placement of a nickname in the full name[edit]

There are no clear guidelines for when a nickname is supposed to be placed within the full name as opposed to being mentioned separately afterwards, e.g. (using listed examples from the article itself) William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton vs. David Drew Pinsky, nicknamed "Dr. Drew". Can this be addressed? MarqFJA87 (talk) 15:49, 6 June 2015 (UTC)

  • This has always been one of the formatting eccentricities of Wikipedia bios, in contravention to the manner in which pretty much every other serious encyclopedia or biographical compilation lists full names of subjects. William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is mildly off-putting; David Drew "Dr. Drew" Pinsky is redundant and repetitive. The silliness of this practice is even more apparent in cases such as Michael "Mike" Smith and Jennifer "Jenny" Jones, wherein the included nickname is the most common diminutive form of the subject's given/first/Christian name, and especially so where the nickname is included in the article's title and infobox. it gets even messier for women when we attempt to insert their nickname in the middle of their maiden name or married name, confusing readers as to what the subject's full name actually is. There may be circumstances where including the "quoted" nickname in the statement of the subject's full name is appropriate, but more often than not, it is unnecessary, redundant, inaccurate and confusing. It would be far better to adopt the following practice:
  • William Jefferson Clinton, born William Jefferson Blythe III, and commonly known as Bill Clinton, . . .
  • George Herman Ruth, Jr., commonly known as Babe Ruth, and nicknamed the Bambino and the Sultan of Swat, . . .
  • Elizabeth Ann Ford, née Elizabeth Ann Bloomer, and commonly known as Betty Ford, . . .
  • David Drew Pinsky, commonly known as Dr. Drew, . . .
Inserting the "quoted" nickname in the middle of the subject's full name, as if it were an actual part of the subject's full name, is a sloppy practice and far too casual for an encyclopedia that should be written in relatively formal style and encyclopedic tone. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 16:17, 6 June 2015 (UTC)
I absolutely agree. This insertion of nicknames was never something that tended to be done on Wikipedia until fairly recently when we had an outbreak of it and now many seem to think it's established practice. It isn't and it shouldn't be. -- Necrothesp (talk) 17:09, 6 June 2015 (UTC)
Yes. I want to give very strong support to the view that any nickname, or common name variant, should be given separately from the subject's full name. It looks very casual to have the nickname placed inside the full name and it's also confusing - it can be unclear whether the nickname is actually part of the formal name. I think this is a topic on which the Manual of Style should give firm guidance. Sam Blacketer (talk) 17:37, 6 June 2015 (UTC)
You guys raise quite a few good points. I should note, however, that the insertion of the nickname in quotes into the subject's full name (typically right before their surname) is something that I've seen being used a lot outside Wikipedia, so it doesn't appear to be a unique phenomenon to it. That said... What now? MarqFJA87 (talk) 01:28, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
Yes it is very common in informal writing. Perhaps it is not so common in writing at the level of formality thart Wikipedia aims for. Personaly i woulkd linit it to cases where the nickname is by far the most common way in which the person is known, and it does not duplicate an element of the full name (so yes to "Bill Clinton", but no to "Dr Drew"). But it may be simpler to ahve a clear bright line rule of never do this. DES (talk) 01:33, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
  • A lot depends on how sources typically present the name. For someone like Babe Ruth... sources often write his full name with the familiar nickname included... as: "George Herman "Babe" Ruth For someone else they may not... using either the nickname of the more formal name. Ultimately how we write it comes down to consensus... and consensus is notorious for being inconsistent. This may not be something we can or should write a firm "rule" about... It may be something that has to be determined on a subject specific (article by article) basis. Blueboar (talk) 02:44, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
  • @Blueboar: Unfortunately, a lot of editors seem to think this practice represents project-wide consensus, leading them to insert a lot of the really egregiously redundant examples, like Michael "Mike" Smith for an article entitled "Mike Smith". I know that several WikiProjects, including WP:Golf and WP:Swimming, tend to strive for the common nicknames in the article title per WP:COMMONNAME, have a specific infobox parameter for "nickname," and therefore frown on the insertion of common diminutives in the bolded full name in the lead. Perhaps they should adopt express WikiProject-level guidance on point, and simply refer editors to such consensus. Clearly, there is no explicit MOS-level consensus on point, despite the misperceptions of some editors.
I would like to see the MOS provisions tweaked to clarify that there are several acceptable alternatives for dealing with the nicknames of subjects of our biographical articles, and perhaps two or three additional examples added regarding the treatment of nicknames and other name variants. We also really need clarification and several good examples of how we should deal with the married names of women subjects, especially for those women who have used multiple married name variants over time. I have yet to find good, consistent advice on this latter point. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 14:30, 10 June 2015 (UTC)
I've definitely been guilty of the "Michael "Mike" Smith"-type useage, whereas something like "Michael John Smith, commonly known as Mike Smith" is much more appropriate and in-line with WP:OPENPARA. GiantSnowman 15:44, 10 June 2015 (UTC)
It used to be standard procedure here that recording an obvious diminutive at all when the article title reflected that diminutive was completely unnecessary. When did that common sense consensus change, I wonder? -- Necrothesp (talk) 16:13, 10 June 2015 (UTC)
I have seen past discussions on this very page where editors verhemently defended the Michael "Mike" Smith silliness in the name of consistency and Wikipedia having "its own style," intentionally different from Britannica, World Book, and any other encyclopedia or biographical dictionary. I think the way to tackle this problem, without imposing some new mandatory format, is to add several additional examples of the accepted treatment of common nicknames in the lead sentence of bio articles. If I had my way, we would also include specific guidance that it is unnecessary to insert obvious and commonly understood dimunitive and short-form nicknames, including, but not limited to Al, Alex, Allie, Andy, Angie, Annie, Art/Arty, Barb/Barbie, Becky, Beth/Betty/Libby/Liz/Liza, Ben/Benjie, Bev, Bill/Billy, Bob/Bobby/Rob/Robby, Brad, Cat/Cathy, Charlie/Chuck, Chris, Chrissy/Christy, Cindy/Cyndy, Dan/Danny, Dave/Davey, Debbie/Debby, Dick/Rich/Rick, Don/Donnie, Ed/Eddie, Fran/Franny, Frank, Fred/Freddy, Jeff, Gene, Geoff, Greg, Jan, Jen/Jenny, Jess/Jessie, Jim/Jimmy, Joe/Joey, Kathy/Katie/Katy, Ken/Kenny, Larry, Marty, Matt, Max, Mike, Nate, Nick/Nickie, Niki, Mitch, Pat, Pete, Phil, Randy, Reggie, Ron/Ronny, Sam, Steve, Sid/Syd, Sue/Susie/Suzie, Teri, Terry, Tom/Tommy, Tony, Vicky, Walt/Wally, Will/Willy. I'm sure I missed plenty, but I think that's a representative list in common Australian, British, Canadian and American usage. If any of those names are included in the article title, they really don't need to be restated in the lead at all. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 17:15, 10 June 2015 (UTC)
First, we need to distinguish between how we format the article title and how we format the running text. For the article title, we follow source usage (see WP:COMMONNAME). If a significant majority of sources use a nickname when discussing the subject of an article, our policy is that the nickname is used in our title. The example used in our WP:AT policy is Bill Clinton not William Clinton (nor William "Bill" Clinton). On the other hand, should the majority of sources routinely use the full name... or with a mix (such as giving the nickname in quotes)... we would follow the sources and use that format as our article title.
Now... for the running text we don't have a set policy... we can be more flexible and use common sense. Every article should mention the subjects full (formal) name somewhere in the lede paragraph (it's important information)... and if the subject has a nickname that should also be mentioned in the lede as well (it is also useful information). However, There is no need for every article to use the same styling format when doing this. Let article writers have the freedom to write in the style of prose they find most pleasing. If two writers disagree, let them discuss it on the article talk page and encourage them to find common ground. Blueboar (talk) 22:24, 10 June 2015 (UTC)
@Blueboar: There's no need to belabor the WP:COMMONNAME guidance; we're already on the same page 100%. The article titles are always going to be "Bill Clinton" and "Babe Ruth," because those are the names for which the majority of our readers know to search.
To restate the premise, the question is how we deal with nicknames? Currently the sum total of MOS:BIO guidance on nicknames is embodied in a single example, William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton; MOS:LEAD provides a second example, Harvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn, Jr.. Given the only two nickname examples provided by MOS, it's not outrageous for some of our more formulaic gnomers to assume that those examples represent exclusive consensus how to deal with nicknames in the lead, when in fact they do not. This needs to be clarified, so that we are not stuck with the silly Michael "Mike" Smith redundancies. I think the best way to accomplish that is with additional MOS examples of nicknames in the lead, as well as additional examples of other name variants, like women's married and maiden names. What do you think? Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 03:00, 11 June 2015 (UTC)
I think this is something the MOS should not try to dictate... attempting to have any consistent "rule" about nicknames is overkill. There is no need to have a consistent format on nicknames. What is appropriate will depend on the subject of the article, and consensus of editors working on the article.
Personally I prefer to have nicknames presented in a parenthetical... as in:
  • William Jefferson Clinton (more commonly known as Bill Clinton) is..." or
  • William Joseph Donovan (nicknamed "Wild Bill" Donovan) was..."
I think that reads better. However, that's simply my own personal preference... and I can accept that other editors might have a different preference. If I really disliked the way a specific opening sentence is written, I would go to the talk page, discuss it, and reach a consensus.
So... to answer the question: How do we deal with nicknames? On a case by case basis... through discussion and article level consensus. Blueboar (talk) 13:52, 11 June 2015 (UTC)
@Blueboar: Let's be crystal clear: I am not arguing for a single mandatory formula for how we state nicknames in the article lead. Exactly the opposite in fact; I am arguing against a very common misinterpretation of the only two MOS examples of nicknames in the lead as the sole and obligatory way in which is to present them, which leads to the silly Michael "Mike" Smith-type redundancies. I want to make it perfectly clear that there is more than one acceptable way to state commonly used nicknames in the lead, including those examples I provided above.
Regarding the tangential issue you raise: putting the nicknames in parentheticals is problematic because it visually conflicts with the birth date/death date parenthetical. I only mention this because you did; it is tangential to the principal subject of this thread, which is that there is absolutely, positively, no consensus to require that nicknames be stated in quote marks in the middle of the subject person's full or legal name as the sole manner to present nicknames, although that way remains an option. Let us provide absolute clarity on this point by providing more examples of other acceptable ways in which nicknames may be stated in the lead. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 14:16, 11 June 2015 (UTC)
My own preference, and the one I always use, would be:
  • William Joseph Donovan (January 1, 1883 – February 8, 1959), often known as "Wild Bill" Donovan, was...
  • William Jefferson Clinton (born August 19, 1946), born William Jefferson Blythe III, is...
I always think parentheses look awkward for anything other than dates and that it's best to put additional info after the dates and not before them. It's completely unnecessary to state that William Clinton is known as Bill because (a) it's a common diminutive of William, and (b) it's in the article title. If he was usually known as Bill Clinton but occasionally as Willie Clinton instead then that would be a different matter. It would then be:
  • William Jefferson Clinton (born August 19, 1946), born William Jefferson Blythe III, usually known as Bill Clinton but sometimes also as Willie Clinton, is...
Since then we do have to state his commoner against his not so common but still common enough to be recorded diminutive. -- Necrothesp (talk) 17:40, 11 June 2015 (UTC)
I think all of those are acceptable alternatives for dealing with nicknames, Necrothesp. Obviously circumstances vary from subject to subject, and some alternatives work better than other given the particulars. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 18:11, 11 June 2015 (UTC)
Choor monster, are you asking what we should do with the "Jimbo" nickname in the lead of his article? Before answering, I would ask a question: does anyone in the mainstream media (i.e. reliable sources) actually refer to him as "Jimbo Wales"? Is his legal first name really "Jimmy," or is that a nickname for James too? Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 17:28, 11 June 2015 (UTC)
Actually, in reviewing the article, it appears that "Jimbo" is a reference to his Wikipedia username, not a nickname per se. Of course one could reasonably ask "what's the difference?" Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 17:34, 11 June 2015 (UTC)
I was being slightly sarcastic. As it is, the footnote to this source reveals that "Jimbo" is indeed a nickname. It may have originated as an on-line handle, the article doesn't say. (I was unaware that he was called "God-King" on WP; I will resist "fixing" the article to include nickname #2.) Choor monster (talk) 13:46, 12 June 2015 (UTC)
If the consensus at the article level supports Jimmy Donal "Jimbo" Wales, that's good enough for me. As for the second nickname, I'm not sure it's widely recognized enough to merit adding it to the article in any way. I try to avoid Wikipedia self-parody whenever possible, lest we descend to the level of "life imitates The Onion". Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 14:13, 12 June 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Question, what do manuals of style for major publications say? NYT goes with full name, also known as nickname, format. I cannot access the Chicago Manual, which has a section on it (8.36). Christian Writer does not give a preference to within the name or after the name, but when in the name quotations are required. We should take some of our guidance from other MoSs if we are to create an essay or guideline about such a thing, as it will impact a large number of articles.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 03:00, 16 June 2015 (UTC)