Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Biographies

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A slight expansion of MOS:JR[edit]

Passed: and implemented.[1]Mandruss  01:06, 16 October 2016 (UTC)

First, this is not about the comma-before-Jr controversy, per se, although some of it follows logically from that part of MOS:JR. Further, this does not affect article titles.

There are two questions that I think should be addressed at MOS:JR:

  1. Doe Jr., John or Doe, John Jr. ? (MOS:JR logically precludes Doe, Jr., John and Doe, John, Jr., with local exceptions)
  2. When the given name is omitted, Doe or Doe Jr. ? (MOS:JR logically precludes Doe, Jr., with local exceptions)

I feel the answers to both questions follow from the answer to this question: Does the Jr. (as well as Sr. and III) modify the surname, or the given name?

I have no easy access to hardcopy style guides, and I'm too ignorant to find those that are online, so perhaps someone else could see what they say. With any luck, there isn't wide disagreement between the style guides on this.

I do find some other web guidance that says the modifier suffix disambiguates the given name, not the surname, despite its position in a full name of the form First Last Jr.. And that is what makes sense to me. The son generally has the same surname as the father, and he is called Jr. when his given name is the same as his father's. Therefore I'm proposing the addition to MOS:JR of language similar to the following:

When the surname is shown first, the suffix follows the given name, as Kennedy, John F. Jr. When the given name is omitted, omit the suffix—Kennedy, not Kennedy Jr.—except where the context requires disambiguation.

Aside from the comma before the modifier suffix, which is actually a completely separate issue, I don't see the need for local leeway on these two questions. It would make no sense to deviate on these matters of form on the basis of a perceived "preference" by the subject. As for reliable sources, their treatment of a specific individual, as to these two questions, generally comes from their own manuals of style, not from anything specific to that individual. So, likewise, we don't need discussion at Talk:John F. Kennedy Jr. about whether reliable sources prefer Kennedy, John F. Jr. or Kennedy Jr., John F.. Thus, I feel this change should prevent far more battleground than it creates. While MOS, and guidelines in general, do not usually indicate "amount of leeway", I think an informal consensus in this discussion should be enough. ―Mandruss  06:56, 8 May 2016 (UTC)

In the DEFAULTSORT spec, the Jr; usually follows the given name, as {{DEFAULTSORT:Davis, Sammy Jr.}}. The ones that aren't like this, I've been fixing. Good idea to put it into the guidelines, I agree. But omitting the Jr. after the surname really depends on whether or not the meaning is clear without it; sometimes it's used contrastively vs Sr. Dicklyon (talk) 05:21, 9 May 2016 (UTC)
Hence, "except where the context requires disambiguation". ―Mandruss  05:28, 9 May 2016 (UTC)
Right, you did say that already. Dicklyon (talk) 05:48, 9 May 2016 (UTC)

BTW, if anyone opposes as "a solution in search of a problem", I can produce a couple of examples that I've run across in the past couple of days, and I haven't been paying much attention to the questions prior to that. I simply omitted that for the sake of brevity, per TL;DR. Bear in mind that this should affect citations, not just body text, as |author=Kennedy, John F. Jr. versus |author=Kennedy Jr., John F.. That's real, and significant. ―Mandruss  05:33, 9 May 2016 (UTC)

I agree; I've seen and fixed a bunch of "last = Kennedy, Sr." type cites. But mostly I've overlooked them. Dicklyon (talk) 05:49, 9 May 2016 (UTC)

In my proposed text, I am changing the term "modifier" to the more correct term "suffix", per Suffix (name). For conciseness, the guideline should be updated to briefly define what the term means in this context, and then use it instead of phrases such as "Jr. / Jr / Jnr or Sr. / Sr / Snr"; but that issue is separate from this proposal. ―Mandruss  09:33, 14 May 2016 (UTC)

I find that a number of DEFAULTSORT specs follow the name with 1 and 2, or 01 and 02, presumably to get Sr. alphabetized before Jr. Not very consistent, though. Seems like just using Jr and Sr, and letting Jr. come before Sr., is more normal, and we ought to just accept it as standard or recommended practice. Is it worth saying so in the guideline? Dicklyon (talk) 03:53, 16 May 2016 (UTC)

Not this guideline imo. As for the DEFAULTSORT guideline (wherever that is), it seems a bit creepy. ―Mandruss  10:34, 16 May 2016 (UTC)


!Voting as to whether to add the text in the blue-green box above to MOS:JR. Support for "do that", Oppose for "don't do that". As proposer, I don't consider my comments about "amount of leeway" to be part of this Survey, but rather just separate musing with no other interest, and I expect that question would remain unaddressed for now. ―Mandruss  10:41, 16 May 2016 (UTC)

  • Support as proposer. Oppose the two-comma alternative discussed below, due to the lack of convincing arguments given for it to date. ―Mandruss  06:06, 9 May 2016 (UTC)
  • Support as it agrees with typical usage, and what I have been moving toward for consistency. Dicklyon (talk) 06:08, 9 May 2016 (UTC)
  • Support as this indeed follows standard English usage. Hawkeye7 (talk) 06:40, 9 May 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment, can you please reword or summarize whatever this survey is on in clear language at the start of this 'Survey' section. Thanks. Randy Kryn 4:06, 16 May 2016 (UTC)
I believe it is to add the text in the box the MOS guideline section: "When the surname is shown first, the suffix follows the given name, as Kennedy, John F. Jr. When the given name is omitted, omit the suffix—Kennedy, not Kennedy Jr.—except where the context requires disambiguation." I suggest we add something to say that this applies also in a DEFAULTSORT spec. Dicklyon (talk) 04:36, 16 May 2016 (UTC)
Done. ―Mandruss  10:38, 16 May 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose in this circumstance a second comma would be de riguer. "Kennedy, John F., Jr." just as in "Trousers, white, officers, for the use of". All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 19:24, 16 May 2016 (UTC).
    To my eyes, that second comma is the same comma already precluded by MOS:JR, as I said at the top of the parent section. It is not "comma-after-surname", but rather "comma-before-suffix". As I've indicated above, that comma is a question that has already been decided, and it is a separate issue from this proposal. If you assert that "Kennedy, John F., Jr." is de rigueur, then you're also asserting that "John F. Kennedy, Jr." is de rigueur, and the community already has a consensus against that form as default. ―Mandruss  20:59, 16 May 2016 (UTC)
  • I think the comma is needed in last name fist situations. "Kennedy, John F. Jr." would indicate that his name is "John F. Jr. Kennedy" (as if "Jr." was a middle initial). To conform to the preclude we would have to style it "Kennedy Jr., John F." Blueboar (talk) 22:08, 16 May 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose as written, but Support with the second comma, per several above commenters. The sensible form is Surname, First Middle, Jr.. While, yes, you can find publications that do other things (including "Surname, First Middle Jr.", "Surname Jr., First Middle", "Surname, Jr., First Middle", "Surname (Jr.), First Middle", and "Surname, First Middle (Jr)", probably among others), none of those are the majority usage, and they do not make much sense. They generally only arise when a publisher has an indexing back-end that is hardcoded in a not-so-great way and they have little choice but to use some odd option. Or they just didn't think about it very much. Our own system is smarter. What works best on WP, and what will be least confusing to readers are the only two matters we need concern ourselves with, and "Surname, First Middle, Jr." fits the bill in both cases. PS: The argument 'If you assert that "Kennedy, John F., Jr." is de rigueur, then you're also asserting that "John F. Kennedy, Jr." is de rigueur' has no basis at all.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:05, 17 May 2016 (UTC)
    Mandruss and I have been changing DEFAULTSORT entries per his proposal, which as far as I can see is probably an improvement over the bizarre range of variations we had there before. As for the second comma, it appears to me that it is unlikely to make a different, as long as we do it consistently one way or the other. The only thing affected is sort order on things that are the same up to the point where that comma might be, right? Does anyone use default sort some other way, such as for metadata? Dicklyon (talk) 02:40, 16 July 2016 (UTC)
    I suppose that is true, so I won't object further. I really thought this had more to do with (e.g. in tables) presenting names in "Surname, First., Jr." order.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  14:03, 7 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Support. My earlier partial objection was based on data-separation principles in the abstract, but on closer inspection there is no actual use-case for doing it on Wikipedia, that would be affected in any way, and Mandruss, below, is correct that trying to explain why to use a comma in one circumstance but not another would be too complicated for MoS to get into. We really just don't need the comma.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:40, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Seems to make sense. LK (talk) 07:30, 28 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Support On the basis that the surname as commonly understood is "Smith", not "Smith jr" (with or without the comma). Almonaster (talk) 09:55, 2 September 2016 (UTC)

Extended discussion of the expansion proposal[edit]

  • Comment - Ok, I didn't know there would be this much disagreement, with everyone applying their own personal reasoning to the question. With that much disagreement, this is not a good way to make this decision, and it probably wouldn't be very durable. In my opinion it's time to suspend until someone can survey major style guides. Per MOS:JR, we should limit that survey to style guides that favor no comma in "John F. Kennedy Jr." ―Mandruss  23:56, 16 May 2016 (UTC)
@SMcCandlish: Would you have any interest in doing this? Clearly, you're already somewhat familiar with those guides, where to find them and how to navigate them. ―Mandruss  00:33, 17 May 2016 (UTC)
Symbol declined.svg Declined. I'm only doing detailed source research on this stuff for mainspace. MoS is based on editorial consensus on what makes most sense for the WP context and readership. That may be informed in part by style guide compare–contrast, and by surveys of what different genres and registerd of publishing are actually doing on average, but it is not the primary concern. WP:ISNOT#PAPER and is not bound to do exactly what any external publications, or any grouping of such publications, is doing. The principle of least astonishment is generally in play, per WP:COMMONSENSE, so we are not going to adopt something unique and confusing, when the intent is to adopt something that will be non-confusing, for readers and secondarily for editors. We had about 7 years straight of constant strife caused by someone rattling a quixotic "source the MoS!" sabre all the time, and virtually nothing ever good came of it, just increasing MoS rigidity and WP:CREEP, compounded by cyclical rehash of the same issues over and over, and a huge drain on editorial productivity, with people devoting time to sourcing, and writing multiple pages to keep track of the sourcing, for an internal guideline that is not subject to WP:V to begin with. The entire fiasco was ridiculous. I do in-depth source research for mainspace. If it occasionally also helps resolve an MoS issue, that's great (and that was the case with the MOS:JR RfC), but spending hours and hours going through style guides just to settle a question we should collectively be settling with editorial judgment, is not on my to-do list.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:05, 17 May 2016 (UTC)
  • Re: "everyone applying their own personal reasoning to the question" – That is precisely how consensus discussions work and are supposed to work.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:05, 17 May 2016 (UTC)
    Fine. I believe that my personal reasoning, "that second comma is the same comma already precluded by MOS:JR", is stronger than the other personal reasoning. Your comment about "unique and confusing" is at odds with the experience of at least the first three !voters here, who do not find it unique or confusing at all. Are we too ignorant, uneducated, or uninformed to be properly confused? Your argument is thorough and articulate as always, but not all that convincing in my opinion. ―Mandruss  08:47, 17 May 2016 (UTC)
    Except you haven't actually provided any reasoning for that view, just stated it, and I see no basis for such a belief. The two comma rationales (in index-reversed and normal name order) are clearly unrelated, and you haven't established a relationship between them. It would seem that by your reasoning, because the name is written "Smith, John J." in index format, it would have to be written "John J., Smith" when unreversed. Does not compute, ha ha. The commas in the reversed, index format exist for the sole purpose of separating types of name elements, and have nothing to do with how the name is normally spelled/punctuated.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  09:07, 17 May 2016 (UTC)
    The trend away from "John F. Kennedy, Jr.", toward "John F. Kennedy Jr.", which you documented, is based on simplification, elimination of an arbitrary and unnecessary comma, an archaic historical artifact. Likewise the British elimination of the full stop in Jr., Dr., etc., which I'm confident the U.S. will eventually adopt for the same reason it has eliminated that comma. Accepting your argument for the sake of discussion, "Kennedy, John F. Jr." also eliminates an arbitrary and unnecessary comma. There is nothing remotely "confusing" about that form; I look at it and I know exactly what it means. Surely you're not suggesting that we need to show that Jr. is not part of the given name, as if the number of people with names like "John Jr. Doe" is large enough to be considered.
    Even if we did that, what would a reader infer when they saw "Doe, John Jr." for that extremely rare John Jr. Doe? I'm fairly certain they would infer "John Doe Jr." Thus we would have accomplished nothing but satisfying our own nitpicking, pointless pedantry. ―Mandruss  10:17, 17 May 2016 (UTC)
    @Mandruss: This seems to put me in the position of repeating myself, but I'll try to re-explain beyond rehash: The use cases are totally unrelated. The visual simplicity of "John F. Kennedy Jr." versus "John F. Kennedy, Jr.", where the comma in the second case serves no actual reader-useful purpose and just makes visual scanning more difficulty in a tiny way, has nothing to do with the use of commas to delimit formatted data like "Kennedy, John F., Jr.", which clearly delineates three forms of associated but not identical data that, as Checkingfax notes below, we may need to code differently for COinS purposes. Since I'm evidently not being clear (so far, anyway), I'll explain it another way: It's operator overloading. The comma in the context of plain English and in tabular data is parsed (both by the human brain, and by software agents) completely differently and conveys different information (basically null in the prose case, and something meaningful in the data case), the same way that you know that the × in "4×4 lumber", "Felis catus × F. chaus", and "4 × 4 = 16" all denote something different, even if you somehow managed to put them all in the same sentence. Anyway, a fluent English reader can parse the meaning of "Kennedy, John F. Jr." (and even "Kennedy, John F Jr" for that matter) with no difficulty, but this is not the only scenario we have to deal with.

    All that said, as I indicated to Dicklyon in the subthread above this one, I'm actually going to yield on this matter, as long as it's constrained to category sort keys, and doesn't affect actual content (like names in alpha-by-surname tables in articles) or metadata export of name parts in COinS, so maybe we needn't argue any further about it.  ;-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:22, 7 August 2016 (UTC)

    @SMcCandlish: I have never intended for the comma to be omitted only in DEFAULTSORT and in fact I referred to |author= in the parent section. Only Dicklyon brought up DEFAULTSORT, and it's not clear to me that was what he meant anyway. DEFAULTSORT is never seen by readers, so that is not a style question and is independent from MOS. If anything were said about this with respect to DEFAULTSORT, it should be in the DEFAULTSORT spec, wherever that is.
    Based on your comments above, and as a compromise to help pass the main improvement of the proposal, I'll concede the comma question. Where given name is omitted, it's not clear whether you would prefer Kennedy Jr. or Kennedy, Jr., but I'll go either way; just let me know. That leaves only the question of whether a revised proposal and another round of !voting are required, or whether we can call this a pass with those one or two added commas. ―Mandruss  18:40, 7 August 2016 (UTC)
    I will note that the reasoning behind the comma will not be apparent to many editors, for precisely the same reason it was/is not apparent to me. It's not hard to imagine repeated ongoing heated debates at article level about this, where editors are not aware of this discussion. There may well be occasional attempts to "correct" the guideline by removing the comma, and without discussion. Will there forever be people watching who are aware of the outcome of this discussion? Doesn't seem very likely. I wonder whether the guideline therefore needs some clarifying language added to explain the apparent "discrepancy", and I wouldn't know what that should be. ―Mandruss  19:51, 7 August 2016 (UTC)
    It would be "Kennedy Jr" in regular prose. The distinction I've been trying to draw is between regular prose usage and tabular data. Having had time to sleep on it, I'll just drop the matter, because in a table of athletes or whatever that was arranged by surname (something we don't do often anyway), we wouldn't be generating any metadata directly from the article, and in a context where we are generating it, like template-formatted citations, we have no consistency anyway, so the preservation of name data as clearly separated Surname, Given name(s), Suffix CSVs is a lost cause on Wikipedia. Even if we were to have a consistent citation system, it could be coded as |first1=John F.|last1=Kennedy|suffix1=Jr. and still render as "Kennedy, John F. Jr." with no violence to the metadata, so I've had my undies in a twist for no reason but lack of coffee-induced focus, I guess. It would require more explanation than MoS can get into, so I'll jump ship to the "just drop the comma" crew, and apologize for wasting time.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:37, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
    Rarely seen in the wild, a debate between editors who both wish to concede. In the interest of moving this forward, I am prepared to magnanimously concede to your concession. The question, then, is whether we have reached a consensus. ―Mandruss  01:55, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
    The hold-out is Rich Farmbrough. Rich, given that I took (I think) the same position you did at first, but came around to the conclusion that there's no actual on-Wikipedia use case for teasing out Jr/Sr/III etc. from given names in a surname-first construction (even if we would necessarily do so in, say, a genealogical database), what say you?  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:33, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
    Also Blueboar, although we obviously don't need unanimity. ―Mandruss  16:51, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

I'm OK with either way, or even with continued inconsistency, since this pretty much shows up only in citations and sort order. In the DEFAULTSORT specs, I found the no-comma version common even when articles used the comma before Jr. otherwise, so it looked like going commaless was going to be the easiest thing (also it works best with global replace, making fewer commas needing to be put back). And citations are pretty much a messy inconsistent area, so I don't worry about them much. Probably this discussion should go where citation styles are discussed. Dicklyon (talk) 16:12, 18 May 2016 (UTC)

  • Comment – I feel this is a Wikipedia:COinS discussion; how will the metadata be harvested in the most useful manner. Let me know and I will !vote on this. Maybe templates need to have new parameters for Suffix (and Prefix)? Ping me back. Cheers! {{u|Checkingfax}} {Talk} 02:47, 27 June 2016 (UTC)
    • @Checkingfax: I did some pondering on it and (to save you the trouble of wading through my theory-based stance-taking and later self-reversal) concluded that in the citation templates 'it could be coded as |first1=John F.|last1=Kennedy|suffix1=Jr. and still render as "Kennedy, John F. Jr." with no violence to the metadata'. I.e., the change contemplated here does not appear to have any COinS implications, and is only about display, avoiding WP:CREEP and unnecessarily complication in MoS, and (per Dicklyon) simplified category sort keys.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:40, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

I'm not quite sure what I'm the holdout against. But I am prepared to throw some examples around and see where and when commas are useful.

1. Running text, normal order

  • "...John Peter Jr went shopping..."
  • "...John Peter, Jr., went shopping..."

all are equally readable.

2. Table entries

John Peter Jr
Peter John Jr
John, Peter Jr
Peter, John, Jr
John Peter, Jr
Peter, John, Jr.

I am confused here as to who is the son of John Peter Sr, and who the son of Peter John Sr. Moreover "John, Peter Jr" could be two people or one person. In this context only a forwards name John Peter Jr or a comma delimited "reverse" Peter, John, Jr make sense. (The commas are essentially parenthetical.) I see very little cause for reverse naming in Wikipedia content, we have no need of paper indices, we don't do it in article names, and I wish we didn't do it in other content. However where we do, it needs to be clear.

3. Sorting We need to decide how we want things sorted. Then we have a number of options on what sort key system we use - in every case I would espouse the simplest system that gives us the sort order we want.

The standard wiki ASCII sort order is space, apostrophe, open parentheses, comma, dash, dot, 0-9, a-z, A-Z - case insensitive for categories.

We might imagine that we would like the following to be the sort order:

  • Joe Smezzle
  • John Smith
  • John Smith Jr
  • John Albert Smith
  • Jane Smith Jones
  • John Albert Smith-Smythe

in this case the sort keys might be:

  • Smezzle , Joe
  • Smith , John
  • Smith , John , Jr
  • Smith , John Albert
  • Smith Jones, Jane
  • Smith Smythe, John Albert

This is neither what we currently do, nor what is being proposed. Currently "Smith Jones" as a last name sorts before "Smith", whereas Smith-Jones sorts after.

All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 18:42, 8 August 2016 (UTC).

Or to address the point more directly, there is a need to tease out suffixes, unless we want Fred Smith Jr to sort between Fred John Smith and Fred Juan Smith.
All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 22:06, 9 August 2016 (UTC).

Two stage names[edit]

What happens when a person has a two-names stage name, for example Luis Miguel (born Luis Miguel Gallego Basteri) or Juan Gabriel (born Alberto Aguilera Valadez). I'm asking this because it first caught my attention when Romance (Luis Miguel album) was a TFA back in November. At Talk:Romance (Luis Miguel album)#"Miguel" I asked this, and I was pointed that it was a SURNAMES guide. I couldn't reply on time so I let it be, but today I was curious again with the article about Juan Gabriel, as in some parts "Gabriel" alone is used. In both cases they are known as "Luis Miguel" and "Juan Gabriel", not "Miguel" nor "Gabriel" (consult most sources and they will use both names and not one--not even "Luis" or "Juan" alone). So my question is, should these cases use the "last name" of their stage names when referring to them, or they should use their full stage name? © Tbhotch (en-2.5). 04:00, 29 August 2016 (UTC)

@Tbhotch: It's been nearly a month since you've posted this and no one has commented. I think you should start a RFC for this. Erick (talk) 00:35, 27 September 2016 (UTC)


I recently made this edit to add "Sir" before Angus Houston's name as he has been knighted. I was reverted by Abraham, B.S. as "he wasn't a knight at this time". I'd welcome advice on whether titles like Sir should be included in descriptions of actions occurring before an individual is knighted as MOS:HONORIFIC does not answer my question, as far as I can see. Thanks. EdChem (talk) 07:46, 17 September 2016 (UTC)

They usually aren't in my experience. It is standard practice for example to say "In 1999, she met Senator Obama" or "In 1999, she met Barack Obama, the future president" rather than "In 1999, she met President Obama". Similarly, we don't say things like "The Earl of Guilford was prime minister in 1778"; we use the contemporaneous name, Lord North. See the related guidance at Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biographies#Changed names. DrKay (talk) 08:51, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
No, they shouldn't. Someone isn't knighted until they're knighted. Use their rank and title as it was at the time, not as it later became. -- Necrothesp (talk) 12:51, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

Remove exception clause from MOS:JR[edit]

MOS:JR: The comma can be used in cases where it is clearly and consistently preferred for a particular subject in current, reliable sources (most likely a living subject whose own preference is clear and consistent).

  • To date, not one case has been found to clear this threshold, and not for lack of trying.
  • A challenge to the removal of the comma from the title of a creative work failed.[2] I am not aware of any that has succeeded.
  • An editor argued for an exception to the no-comma house style for non-biographical article titles. They were specifically interested in the titles of articles about legal cases, where the names of cases include Jr. or Sr. The consensus was that no exception was justified.[3]

The community consensus seems clear: Removing this comma is equivalent to changing curly quotes to straight quotes, or to converting a source's all-caps style to mixed case. Would we use curly quotes where that is "clearly and consistently preferred for a particular subject in current, reliable sources"? I have not seen that exception clause in any guideline.

In other words, regardless of context, the comma is a completely trivial matter of style, full stop. Thus the exception clause in MOS:JR serves no good purpose, generates more heat than light, and should be removed. Nota bene: Obviously this will not make MOS:JR immune to WP:IAR.

  • Support as proposer. ―Mandruss  11:48, 15 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose, to stem the tide of some removals, such as changing the article title of Hank Williams, Jr.'s first greatest hits album which contains a comma. While some editors believe the comma is a "trivial matter of style" that comma is part of many names and titles. We are an encyclopedia, and if an album or book title includes the Jr. comma its corresponding Wikipedia page should include the full and correct name. This also goes for people who prefer the comma in their name, as Martin Luther King did on the author attribution on all of his book titles (although unfortunately that issue has been resolved). Randy Kryn 12:12, 15 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose MOS:JR ranks the lowest of low on the MOS totem pole, and certainly below MOS:QUOTE, MOS:TITLE, MOS:COMMA and MOS:STRONGNAT. Hawkeye7 (talk) 06:16, 19 October 2016 (UTC)
    In which case this change would be inconsequential, which is not a good reason to oppose it (in my opinion). ―Mandruss  08:09, 19 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose. We should use the format set out in reliable sources, in each case, and not try to impose our editorial opinions in relation to consistency. Ghmyrtle (talk) 09:30, 21 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment - I invite any actual reasoned responses to the points of my argument. Leaving them uncountered only lends the argument credibility. ―Mandruss  06:37, 22 October 2016 (UTC)

Philip "Phil" Chess[edit]

I think this issue has been discussed before, but the guidance does not seem to make it clear if a consensus was reached. I was reverted here by Wash whites separately, on the basis that nicknames - even simple contractions such as in this case - should be included within the first mention of the subject's name. My opinion (discussed on that editor's talk page) is that, frankly, that is just silly. "Phil" is an obvious contraction of "Philip", and there is no need to "explain" the article name in that way. If there is a consensus here over such obvious cases, what is it, and should it be more clearly set out in the guidance? Ghmyrtle (talk) 09:40, 21 October 2016 (UTC)

The same with Tom Smith (American football). (talk page stalker) CrashUnderride 09:48, 21 October 2016 (UTC)
WP:QUOTENAME states that "if a person has a commonly known nickname, used in lieu of a given name, it is presented between quote marks following the last given name or initial". People have been pointing to WP:LEGALNAME saying that "it is not always necessary to spell out why the article title and lead paragraph give a different name", but that policy is clearly referring to stage names (which substitute for the entire given name), not nicknames (which blend into the rest of the given name). The MOS makes it quite clear that any familiar name used in lieu of a given name should be placed in quotes, no matter how obvious or silly you think it is. We're building an encyclopedia; it does no harm to be lucid. —Wash whites separately (talk) 21:30, 21 October 2016 (UTC)
You do realize in may case it's insulting to say Phillip..." and have "Phil" in as a nickname, when the article's name is "Phil...". It's like saying "Hey stupid, if you didn't know the guy's name is Phillip and his nickname is Phil." It's like no duh, countless guys with the name Phillip go by Phil. I'm just using him as an example. It's insulting and a clear case of WP:COMMON. (talk page stalker) CrashUnderride 09:51, 22 October 2016 (UTC)
So we should detract from the clarity of an encyclopedia because some readers get their feelings hurt? WP:QUOTENAME is set in stone about what to do, whereas WP:COMMON just sounds like an excuse to push your own agenda—any editor can cite WP:COMMON for anything they personally disagree with. In my opinion, it is common sense to include nicknames in quotes. How does it improve an article to make it less clear? —Wash whites separately (talk) 00:34, 23 October 2016 (UTC)
Well... looking at the guidance and examples at WP:QUOTENAME, it seems clear that we would indeed include a nickname that is not a hypocorism of the birth name in parens, e.g. Roland Bernard "Bunny" Berigan. However, what about hypocorisms? Well, it says at Jack (given name) that "it is traditionally used as the diminutive form of the given name John", and the example at WP:QUOTENAME has John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy. If [John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy], then by analogy [Thomas Eric "Tom" Smith] and [Philip "Phil" Chess] and etc. etc. -- case closed, and if you want to change it lobby for a change to WP:QUOTENAME via RfC.
Except... the "Jack" Kennedy thing is not a good example. Thomas -> Tom and Philip -> Phil etc. is obvious, and most people know Robert -> Bob and Elizabeth -> Betty etc., but John -> Jack I did not know. Do most people? I always assumed Jack Kennedy was like Bunny Berrigan's -- not actually based on his legal first name.
If the people who constructed WP:QUOTENAME really wanted [Thomas Eric "Tom" Smith] -- a construction that is often not used in practice, and that I personally find annoying and silly -- they should have used an example that made that manifest. For all I know they were under the same impression that I was, that "Jack" is is not based directly on "John". (This is further indicated by the fact that at WP:QUOTENAME they call "Jack" a nickname. It is not. It is a hypocorism (or diminutive if you prefer), which is a different thing. "Bunny" is a nickname.)
Well, so WP:QUOTENAME is a dog's breakfast. IMO this lessens its authority considerably. It's not entirely clear what the original framers wanted. What I would recommend is:
  • Editors doing what their common sense and their ear for the language tells them is best.
  • And other editors respecting that and leaving alone constructions that they themselves might not have chosen, and not getting in sterile arguments about it.
  • And we ought to clean up WP:QUOTENAME via an RfC asking the community, giving clear examples -- "Bunny" and "Tom" and not that debatable "Jack" -- what they think is best. (I'm not up to doing this right now.) Herostratus (talk) 01:50, 23 October 2016 (UTC)
Totally agree. It's ridiculous to include the contraction in the first line when it's in the article title and is a clear contraction of the first name. I've argued this many times. Wikipedia is not written for morons. We don't have to explain every blatantly obvious thing. This is also fully mandated in the guidelines. See MOS:FULLNAME (do you see any contractions inserted in quotes there? Bill Clinton, for example?), which contradicts WP:QUOTENAME! Therefore, it is not "set in stone" at all! This is an encyclopaedia, not an idiot's guide to the world. If clarification is needed then the contraction or nickname can be included after the dates. It should not be included within the full name, which is highly popularist and not the way an encyclopaedia should be written. The Kennedy example is a terrible one in any case, since it implies he is commonly known as Jack Kennedy, whereas in fact most people know him as John F. Kennedy or just as JFK. This illustrates the whole problem with adding nicknames or contractions in quotes like this. It's better to add them afterwards and explain when, how and by whom they were used (e.g. "sometimes known as Jack Kennedy", which provides far more accurate information). -- Necrothesp (talk) 13:08, 26 October 2016 (UTC)