Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Biographies

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RfC: Clarification and/or change in how common hypocorisms (diminutives) are handled on first use of name[edit]

The reforms of Proposal 2 are accepted, I would say. Proposal 1, or keeping the current wording, had little support. There was support for a Proposal 3 (which had not been part of the original RfC), but in my opinion there are two good reasons for not considering this: it would be a major prescriptive change rather than just codifying existing practice, which we want to be very cautious about that; and would materially affect the wording of probably hundreds of thousands of articles. Instead, this should be reserved for a new, separate, and probably WP:CENT discussion, if editors want that. Herostratus (talk) 18:29, 4 December 2016 (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.

(non-admin closure)

It has been suggested (above, at #Philip "Phil" Chess) that the example and wording WP:QUOTENAME regarding the presentation of nicknames and hypocorisms (diminutives) is not entirely clear, thus leaving open whether an article such as (for instance) Tom Petty Should begin Thomas Earl "Tom" Petty is... or just Thomas Earl Petty is... (with the "Tom" being implied by the article title and the fact that it's an obvious and very common shortening of "Thomas").

To avoid endless confusion and discussion and contention, let's clarify what is intended here and nail this down one way or another. (I used underlines to show both additions and changes.)

The current wording of the operative paragraph in Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section#Usage in first sentence is:

The name of a person is presented in full if known, including any given names that are not included in the article's title or are abbreviated there. For example, the article on Calvin Coolidge gives his name as John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. 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, as for John F. Kennedy, which has John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy. The quotation marks are not put in bold. A nickname that comes in place of the whole name should be presented after the full name, in parentheses. Also acceptable are formulations like "Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli", when applicable.


Proposal 1 is to clarify that both common hypocorisms (diminutives) and nicknames are to be included (in quote marks) in the initial presentation of the name:

The name of a person is presented in full if known, including any given names that are not included in the article's title or are abbreviated there. For example, the article on Calvin Coolidge gives his name as John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. If a person is commonly known by a nickname or hypocorism, used in lieu of a given name, it is presented between quote marks following the last given name or initial, as for Tom Petty, which has Thomas Earl "Tom" Petty. The quotation marks are not put in bold. A nickname that comes in place of the whole name should be presented after the full name, in parentheses. Also acceptable are formulations like "Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli", when applicable.


Proposal 2 is to differentiate between common hypocorisms and other nicknames, and to proscribe writing the hypocorism (diminutive) when it is common and obvious:

The name of a person is presented in full if known, including any given names that are not included in the article's title or are abbreviated there. For example, the article on Calvin Coolidge gives his name as John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. If a person is commonly known by a nickname that is not a common hypocorism, used in lieu of a given name, it is presented between quote marks following the last given name or initial, as for Bunny Berigan, which has Roland Bernard "Bunny" Berigan. The quotation marks are not put in bold. If a person has a well-known common hypocorism, used in lieu of a given name, it is not presented between quote marks following the last given name or initial, as for Tom Hopper which has Thomas Edward Hopper. Also acceptable are formulations like "Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli", when applicable.


For Proposal 2, it is also suggested to include a footnote in the Notes section, with the link at "commonly used hypocorism" above: As a guide to what is a "common" hypocorism, consider consulting the Hypocorism#English subsections "Shortening, often to the first syllable" and "Addition of a diminutive suffix..."; consider treating names listed in the in "A short form that differs significantly from the name" subsection as non-hypocoristic nicknames, depending on the particular case (a few short forms that differ significantly from the name are well known common hypocorisms, such as "Bob" for "Robert", but most are not. Herostratus (talk) 17:31, 3 November 2016 (UTC)

Survey on diminutives[edit]

  • Proposal 2 (RfC author here.) It's silly to write David "Dave" Smith, especially in an article that is already titled "Dave Smith". It slows down the reader and really is almost a parody of pedantic style. Herostratus (talk) 17:35, 3 November 2016 (UTC)
Agree with Herostratus. (talk page stalker) CrashUnderride 14:20, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Neither really. I do not believe a name should ever be included in quote marks in this way. It's always confusing. Does it mean they were always known by that name? Sometimes known by that name? Known by that name to their family and friends but not to the world at large (e.g. see John F. Kennedy - the current lead construction suggests he was commonly known as Jack Kennedy, whereas in fact that was only a name used by his friends and family and he is known to the world as John F. Kennedy or JFK)? What? Far better to put alternative names after the name and the dates (e.g. John Smith (1920–1997), commonly known as...), which negates all confusion and looks much more professional to boot. But for common and/or blatantly obvious diminutives even that is not necessary per Proposal 2. -- Necrothesp (talk) 12:49, 7 November 2016 (UTC)
That's fine, but within that context, do you have an opinion whether hypocorisms (diminutives) should be handled different from other nicknames, that is should
  • Alexander Joe Smith [commonly] known as Sandy Smith... and
  • Alexander Joe Smith [commonly] known as Alex Smith...
be handled the same -- the argument against being that they're different in that "Alex" devolves naturally and obviously from "Alexander", and "Sandy" does not, and it matters. That's the argument, I'm not saying it is necessarily right... do you have an opinion on that question?
Sandy, while not strictly a shortening, is a common English-language name for someone called Alexander. I don't have a problem with it being spelled out, but I don't think it's completely necessary or should be mandated. This is, after all, English Wikipedia. -- Necrothesp (talk) 14:41, 9 November 2016 (UTC)
OK. I never heard of "Sandy" used for "Alexander", but that's me. So then I gather that your position is Alexander Joe Smith [commonly] known as X...}} is valid for any value of X. Assuming that's not adopted here, are you OK with Alexander Joe "X" Smith for any value of X, and if you are, wouldn't it maybe be better to clarify that by voting for Prop 1 rather than leaving the (perhaps unclear) current wording? Herostratus (talk) 22:06, 9 November 2016 (UTC)
I'm happy with the former and not with the latter, as I quite clearly said (to quote myself, "I do not believe a name should ever be included in quote marks in this way"), so why would I in any way be agreeing with Proposal 1? I agree with Proposal 2, but covering all nicknames, diminutives, hypocorisms and other common names; I do not believe quote marks within names should ever be used, e.g.:
Proposal 3: The name of a person is presented in full if known, including any given names that are not included in the article's title or are abbreviated there. For example, the article on Calvin Coolidge gives his name as John Calvin Coolidge Jr. If a person is commonly known by a nickname that is not a common hypocorism, used in lieu of a given name, it is presented as "Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi (c. 1445 – May 17, 1510), better known as Sandro Botticelli". If a person has a well-known common hypocorism, used in lieu of a given name, it is not presented between quote marks following the last given name or initial, as for Tom Hopper which has Thomas Edward Hopper. -- Necrothesp (talk) 11:57, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
Very well, I understand. After some thought I elected not to add Proposal 3 to the above list (leaving it as a "write-in" as it were) for a couple of reasons. One being that changing our biographies to the "X better known as Y" format would be a really big change and would be best be served by a WP:CENT discussion that focused just on that. This doesn't mean your proposal isn't better on the merits. If there's enough grassroots support for Proposal 3 (another editor has also suggested it) we can look that down the line. That's my take. Herostratus (talk) 15:54, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
In fact, that form of words is very widely-used and always has been. The insertion of nicknames in quotes within names is something that seems to have grown recently. I've only noticed it taking over in the last year or two, so in my opinion that is the big change. -- Necrothesp (talk) 16:22, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
But the rule goes back to at least 2011 (I didn't check further). And I think for non-hypocorisms, the Walter "Killer" Kowalski format has been in regular use. Not the David "Dave" Smith version. But the rule does say to do that. And some editors are enforcing it now. As is proper, I guess. You could look at it this way: most people, by far, who don't use their full-length first name use a hypocorism (diminutive). Exempting hypocorisms from the quotation-marks format will have the virtue of removing most potential uses of that format. Herostratus (talk) 03:06, 11 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Proposal 2. I agree that it is wholly over-pedantic and silly to use formulations like David "Dave" Smith or Philip "Phil" Chess'. The suggested rewording seems to me to improve the guidance. Ghmyrtle (talk) 13:00, 7 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Proposal 2 makes much more sense, @Herostratus: however I am wondering what the standard for common would be for nicknames. Iazyges Consermonor Opus meum 04:32, 8 November 2016 (UTC)
There isn't one -- "If a person has a commonly known nickname..." just means "If a person has a nickname by which s/he is commonly known", which is probably a better construction, so I changed it. Herostratus (talk) 15:21, 8 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Proposal 2, but footnotes are not necessary. Lizard (talk) 04:41, 8 November 2016 (UTC)
  • I like the additional clarity of Proposal 3 and generally dislike this use of quoted nicknames inserted in a person's full name. That said, Proposal 2 is still an improvement.--Trystan (talk) 13:28, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
Thank you for including a second choice! That is helpful and functional IMO. At this point I have elected to not add Proposal 3 to the above list (leaving it as "write-in") because I think its such a big change that a WP:CENT RfC focusing just on that would be best. We can do that later. For now, if Proposal 3 supporters would add a second choice, I think that would be helpful. Herostratus (talk)
  • Strongly support Proposal 3. It is not always clear whether an abbreviated name is an additional part of the subject's full name, so I think that full names should be given uninterrupted, followed by an explanation for any other more common forms by which they are known. Proposal 2 as second preference. Sam Blacketer (talk) 21:04, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Proposal 2 or Proposal 3. Articles starting David "Dave" Smith or Philip "Phil" Chess or William "Bill" Clinton and the like are all excessively pedantic, and make Wikipedia look ridiculous. You won't see this in Encyclopaedia Britannica. We could even try to keep the pedants happy by starting a list of hypocorisms where a Philip "Phil" construction is not required. Edwardx (talk) 18:20, 3 December 2016 (UTC)
Well, part of the proposal is indeed to add a footnote to the effect "As a guide to what is a "common" hypocorism, consider consulting the Hypocorism#English subsections "Shortening, often to the first syllable" and "Addition of a diminutive suffix..." Herostratus (talk) 18:14, 4 December 2016 (UTC)
Oops - missed that. Thank you, that is an extensive and very useful list. Edwardx (talk) 14:33, 10 December 2016 (UTC)

Threaded discussion[edit]

Just to point out, there are apparently obscure technical differences between the terms "nickname", "diminutive", and "hypocorism". It is for this reason that I used "hypocorism" in the text, in the interest of precision, figuring that since the audience is serious Wikipedia editors they can look it up via the link. If people want to swap in "diminutive" for "hypocorism" we can do that.

Also, IMO while "No change needed, it's already clear" is a valid vote, keep in mind that it is apparently not already clear to everyone, since "John -> Jack" is non-obvious and "Jack" is called a nickname but it may not be (its a hypocorism which may or may not be a subset of nickname, depending on who you talk to). A number of editors are balking at having to write David "Dave" Smith and if we really want to make them do that I think we ought to make it clear that that is what the community expects. Herostratus (talk) 17:31, 3 November 2016 (UTC)

Well... crickets so far. But FWIW above at #Philip "Phil" Chess we have 4 people clearly favoring the change to Proposal 2 (User:Ghmyrtle, User:Crash Underride, User:Necrothesp, and User:Lizard the Wizard) and one opposed (User:Wash whites separately). Add me in and that's 5-1 4-1 favoring the change to Proposal 2 to this date. Whether that's enough to be a quorum (if there are no more comments) I don't know...

Just looking at how others do it: Britannica has Tom Petty, in full Thomas Petty, which is different from both our current format and what I've proposed. The Canadian Encyclopedia has Tom (b Thomas Dale) Jackson, also different from both our current format and what I've proposed, but then also just Charlie Major, so they are maybe not consistent... Citizendium has Thomas Gerard "Tom" Tancredo but also just Tom Whitmore, so they are maybe not consistent... Googling at random here, 100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia has just Hank Aaron... the The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz has AARONS, AL (ALBERT W.), which is different from both our current format and what I've proposed. Some fields like philosophy and classical music, everyone uses their full name. Biographical Encyclopedia of American Radio has just Allen, Fred... Yadda yadda. There are lots of biographical dictionaries and anyone is free to peruse them; my quick survey seems to indicate that people do it lots of different ways, which I guess means we are on our own here. Herostratus (talk) 12:16, 7 November 2016 (UTC)

Not sure I like either proposal but think (Proposal 3) we should just use Alexander Joe Smith known as Sandy Smith for all cases as the "quotes" always look a bit contrived. MilborneOne (talk) 13:11, 7 November 2016 (UTC)
Actually, for MilborneOne's example I think it should be Alexander Joe "Sandy" Smith. (talk page stalker) CrashUnderride 15:31, 7 November 2016 (UTC)
Right... MilborneOne is suggesting a (very reasonable and valid) different way to handle names generally, but not answering whether hypocorisms (diminutives) should be handled different from other nicknames, that is should
  • Alexander Joe Smith known as Sandy Smith... and
  • Alexander Joe Smith known as Alex Smith...
be handled the same -- the argument against being that they're different in that "Alex" devolves naturally and obviously from "Alexander", and "Sandy" does not, and it matters. That's the argument, whether it's right is what we're trying to decide. Herostratus (talk) 17:18, 7 November 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for that Herostratus for better explaining what I meant, the editor doesnt have to think if we have a different solution for Sandy and Alex as they would be the same, sometimes simple is better. MilborneOne (talk) 17:26, 7 November 2016 (UTC)

Whatever the outcome, it would be helpful to bring MOS:LEGALNAME (part of MOS:BIO) and WP:QUOTENAME (part of MOS:LEAD) into agreement. MOS:LEGALNAME says:

It is not always necessary to spell out why the article title and lead paragraph give a different name. However, provide a short explanation if a person uses a non-standard contraction of their name, for example "Timothy Allen Dick, known professionally as Tim Allen ..." or "Prince Rogers Nelson, known mononymously as Prince ...".

...which I would interpret in line with Option 3 above. QUOTENAME, as discussed above, advises to provide all nicknames in quotes.--Trystan (talk) 02:07, 11 November 2016 (UTC)

Well, yes. That's exactly the part in question here. Lizard (talk) 01:17, 22 November 2016 (UTC)
That's correct. The actual wording we are talking about changing is in Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section#Usage in first sentence (also called the WP:ALTNAME section of WPLMOSLEDE and pointed to directly by WP:QUOTENAME). It affects biographies specifically so I placed the RfC here in WP:MOSBIO (also my guess is that MOSBIO is watched a bit more) with a note at WPLMOSLEDE pointing here. But further notes and calls for participation are fine. Herostratus (talk) 17:16, 23 November 2016 (UTC)

So, do we have a consensus here yet? I'm willing to keep commenting as many times as it takes so that this doesn't archive before a consensus is reached. The vagueness of this guideline has been the source of heated arguments for years, and it should be easy to fix. Lizard (talk) 02:42, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

I've added my vote above, and would say that we have consensus. Only one vote against, and their supporting argument is weak. Edwardx (talk) 18:22, 3 December 2016 (UTC)
Oh, and it's been thirty days. So it's good to go. Since the rule says "if the consensus is clear, any editor—even one involved in the discussion—may close the discussion" I'll do it. Herostratus (talk) 18:19, 4 December 2016 (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.

Photos in biographies[edit]

Is there a guideline (or should there be one) about the main photo for a person in their biography having them be the main or only person in the image? I find the main images in the articles for Carol Huynh, Cheryl Pounder and Vicky Sunohara to be quite off putting. Is there a guideline for this or is it just a matter of opinion? Air.light (talk) 01:17, 1 December 2016 (UTC)

Probably don't need to a guideline. Why don't you go ahead and make derivative images and see if anyone objects? Dicklyon (talk) 04:13, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

J. J. Watt or J.J. Watt[edit]

The discussion currently active at Talk:J. J. Watt#Requested move 2 December 2016 features arguments for either variation. Greater participation is invited. —Roman Spinner (talk)(contribs) 04:07, 4 December 2016 (UTC)

Add clarity and some examples (of what not to do) to Opening paragraph section?[edit]

The organization of this section is not ideal. I propose the examples be moved to the end of the section. This interrupts the flow between the list and the items below. Makes it disjointed and confusing, especially when dealing with similar terms like birth place, nationality, and ethnicity. I highlighted a few other minor moves and the addition of the UK nationality essay. The underlying meaning of the section has not changed, I'm just creating some repetition and reorganization to make it read a little easier.Dig Deeper (talk) 19:16, 19 December 2016 (UTC)

Searchtool-80%.png Proposed change to Opening Paragraph section:

Opening paragraph[edit]

MOS guidelines for lead paragraphs should generally be followed; the opening paragraph should establish notability, neutrally describe the person, and provide context. The opening paragraph should usually have:

  1. Name(s) and title(s), if any (see also Wikipedia:Naming conventions (royalty and nobility));
  2. Dates of birth and death, if known (for dates of birth see WP:BLPPRIVACY, which takes precedence) deleted MOS reference, too wordy for a bullet point and it was repeated below anyway
  3. Context (location or nationality);
  4. The notable position(s) the person held, activities they took part in or roles they played;
  5. Why the person is notable.
Birth date and place[edit]

The opening paragraph should usually have dates of birth and death. Birth and death dates are important information about the person being described, but if they are also mentioned in the body, the vital year range (in brackets after the person's full name) may be sufficient to provide context. For living persons, privacy should be considered (see WP:BLPPRIVACY, which takes precedence).

Birth and death places, if known, should be mentioned in the body of the article, and can be in the lead if relevant to the person's notability, but they should not be mentioned in the opening brackets of the lead sentence alongside the birth and death dates.

Context[edit]

See also the essay WP:Nationality of people from the United Kingdom

The opening paragraph should usually have context. In most modern-day cases this will mean the country of which the person is a citizen, national or permanent resident, or if the person is notable mainly for past events, the country where the person was a citizen, national or permanent resident when the person became notable.

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

Positions and roles[edit]

The lead sentence should describe the person as he or she is commonly described in reliable sources. The notable position(s) or role(s) the person held should usually be stated in the opening paragraph. However, avoid overloading the lead paragraph with various sundry roles; instead, emphasize what made the person notable. Incidental and non-notable roles (i.e. activities that are not integral to the person's notability) should usually not be mentioned in the lead paragraph.

Examples[edit]
  • On first look I'm not really sure I like the head of the context leading us to an "essay." Guidelines and policies sure... but an essay? Those can range from good to garbage, so putting it in a guideline like MoS seems wrong to me. Fyunck(click) (talk) 10:28, 20 December 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback @Fyunck(click):. It is not uncommon to see essays referred to (in a see also) within the guidelines and MOS. Even in this article there is a see also to Wikipedia:There is no credential policy in the credentials section. This essay is frequent cited in discussions, I believe it I'd of acceptable quality and useful here. please let me know if you have additional concerns.Dig deeper talk 06:09, 22 December 2016 (UTC)
Made a few changes to the article as per my suggestion above. The meaning has not changed, it just reads a little easier. I held off on adding the essay wikilink and on shortening the bullet point on Dates of birth and death. Babysteps.Dig deeper talk 14:46, 24 December 2016 (UTC)

RfC: "survived by"[edit]

Should "survived by" and similar formulations be discouraged in biographical articles? Eg. "He was survived by his wife." 03:15, 4 January 2017 (UTC)

Survey[edit]

  1. Support - this is an encyclopedia not a memorial site. See this discussion. Nikkimaria (talk) 03:17, 4 January 2017 (UTC)
  2. Support. Absolutely. Just like euphemisms like "passed away" or the even worse "passed" should be banned. This is an encyclopaedia, not a eulogy or memorial. -- Necrothesp (talk) 14:23, 4 January 2017 (UTC)
  3. Support per User:Smccandlish here: If their family members were pertinent enough to mention in the article, they should be mentioned before the part about the subject dying. Family members can be mentioned in a Family section or wherever most natural in the body of the article. Which of a subject's family members were still alive at the time of the subject's death is typically not encyclopaedic and the survived by formulation seems like lazy obit copying likely to introduce future errors when the "surviving" family members start dying. Snuge purveyor (talk) 15:09, 5 January 2017 (UTC)
  4. Support - Not Encyclopedic. - Mlpearc (open channel) 15:34, 5 January 2017 (UTC)
  5. Oppose – I have some difficulty understanding how this phrase is related to euphemisms or how it is not encyclopedic. It's used in almost every obituary, which indicates there is value in this information. It has been used as a matter of course in thousands of articles; do we now engage a new Bryan Henderson to eradicate it? I think adoption of the proposal is unnecessary instruction creep. Gifted writers will find a less platitudinous phrase, but continued use will not harm Wikipedia. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 01:45, 6 January 2017 (UTC)
    It doesn't need any phrase. Marriage and children can be mentioned earlier in the article. Nobody is saying the information isn't notable, only that the phrasing is poor. The point is that Wikipedia is not an obituary site, and encylopaedias do not use the phrase. -- Necrothesp (talk) 13:51, 6 January 2017 (UTC)
    Don't they? What's https://www.google.com.au/search?q=%22He+was+survived+by%22+encyclopedia&tbm=bks then? -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 14:11, 6 January 2017 (UTC)
  6. Opppose. (striking my vote, see below - Herostratus (talk) 15:51, 14 January 2017 (UTC)) First of all, the question is poorly formulated. By "be discouraged" do you mean "the style guild shall deprecate it, and thus if you write it and someone comes along and changes it (citing the style guide), you are SOL and sucks to be you", or what? Please specify the wording you want and where you want it, and then we can see.
    Second of all, it's outside the scope of the style guile to manage the exact wording used in sentences, to this level. If their family members were pertinent enough to mention in the article, they should be mentioned before the part about the subject dying is entirely one person's personal opinion about how they personally are pleased to write. It's objectively false as a blanket statement, and trying to make stuff like this into a rule is not needed for making the encyclopedia, so stop.
    By all means, if one personally does not like to use the formulation "survived by", then don't. No one will make you. Do other editors the courtesy of similarly allowing them to construct their articles as they think best (subject as always to reasonable constraints), thank you. Herostratus (talk) 16:38, 6 January 2017 (UTC)
    MOS already does "manage the exact wording used in sentences", insofar as it discourages certain phrasings - that's the entire point of WP:W2W, for example. Nikkimaria (talk) 01:23, 7 January 2017 (UTC)
    Ohhh, right, Words To Watch (WP:W2W). OK forgot about that... yes if you do want to include "survived by" that would be a reasonable place to do it. The problem is, "survived by" is not a euphemism, it's not biased, it's not any of the categories the WP:W2W warns against... where would you put it? "Clichés and idioms"? Doubtful...
    It's very typical to include basic family vital info in an article, say in a Personal Life section: "Pruddle married Dolores Pigbottom in 1947. The couple had three children, Pickney, Wee Willie, and Proudfoot. He died on April 1, 1983". Or you could say "Pruddle married Dolores Pigbottom in 1947. He died on April 1, 1983, survived by their three children, Pickney, Wee Willie, and Proudfoot". What difference does it make? The latter provides the information that the kids were alive when he died, and thus that none of his children died young... not very useful information but not necessarily completely useless either. I guess my question is why do you care if I prefer the latter formulation? Can you not leave me alone about minor stylistic preferences like this?
    We need reasonable constraints. It is reasonable to abjure editors from using "joined the choir invisible" or "went to his eternal reward" instead of "died" and so forth. Does "survived by" rise to this level? Hmmmm... I would say, not. Herostratus (talk) 16:10, 8 January 2017 (UTC)
    While there may be a difference in type, I don't see a difference in intent between "Pruddle was survived by his wife Dolores" and "Pruddle passed away in April 1983" - both are, to my mind, phrasings more appropriate to an obituary than an encyclopedia. The former also creates discontinuities in chronology and has the potential to cause other problems in clarity of information (in your example, what if one of his kids had died young?). Nikkimaria (talk) 17:36, 8 January 2017 (UTC)
    "Passed away" is a euphemism. "Survived by" is not. That's the difference. If you personally believe that "survived by" is "phrasing more appropriate to an obituary than an encyclopedia" then I strongly recommend that you not use the phrase. I won't make you, I promise! If one of the kids had died young then say so: "Survived by four children; a son had died in childhood" or whatever. Herostratus (talk) 18:38, 8 January 2017 (UTC)
    I've struck my vote and no longer oppose (don't necessarily support either). For two reasons: some of the Support arguments here are cogent, and in my recent research I've come across "survived by" a few times, and I've realized how unhelpful it is -- "survived by" three children, but how many did he have in toto? I realize I can't use "survived by" in my biographies here, since I want to say "he had X children" and "survived by" doesn't tell me that. Since it's not useful in my sources, I realize it's not useful to our readers here. ("Survived by three children, a son had died in World War II" would be fine though since it does tell how many total children.) Herostratus (talk) 15:51, 14 January 2017 (UTC)
  7. Support in some form. Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Words to watch may be a better place to implement this. I come across this phrase occasionally when changing occurrences of passed away to died. It is generally used to introduce inappropriate information in an unencyclopedic style as described by Snuge purveyor above. A mention of relatives in e.g. a family section or if they've also done something of note is generally okay. The mentioned of related individuals solely because they've lived longer than a subject is not. Wikipedia isn't for memorializing. — Godsy (TALKCONT) 18:09, 6 January 2017 (UTC)
  8. Support – Which family members are still alive at the moment of a person's death is extraneous information that serves no encyclopedic purpose. It makes sense in an obituary because readers might want to know who is grieving the death if they are sending their condolences, but that's not appropriate for an encyclopedia. If a person's spouse or child dies before them, and it's relevant, that should be discussed at the appropriate place, but it's generally not relevant to that person's death if their loved ones are still alive, and there's no reason to include it when discussing the death. If, for some reason, that information is particularly relevant (say someone died in a carcrash but their spouse survived the crash), it could be mentioned in regular prose without the “was survived by” language. -- Irn (talk) 00:08, 9 January 2017 (UTC)

Threaded discussion[edit]

Surname use at Katherine Johnson article[edit]

Opinions are needed on the following: Talk:Katherine Johnson#WP:SURNAME (permalink here). The issue is whether or not we should use Johnson's maiden name for some parts of the article and her surname for other parts of the article. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 16:50, 21 January 2017 (UTC)

I believe the issue is larger than just at the Katherine Johnson article. Women are born into particular families and often have lives, sometimes of many years, in which they have achievements and records under their birth names. Such records may include advanced academic degrees, publications, or any variety of things. Women may marry and later become known by their married surnames, if they take their husband's name (before the late 20th century, that was the general practice). But, I think the encyclopedia articles should recognize and use the names an individual woman used at different periods of her life, rather than folding everything under the last name (often a married surname) by which she was known.Parkwells (talk) 17:09, 21 January 2017 (UTC)