Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Capital letters/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3

Individual typographical choices for personal names

A couple of times I've come across debates on Talk pages concerning capitalisation of a proper name when the bearer has chosen to use all lower caser case (I suppose that the same would apply to all upper case, and other variations). The Japanese singer hide, for example, spelt his name with no initial capital; the standard approach in most publications would be to respect this, capitalising ithe name only at the beginnings of sentences. I can find no mention of such cases in the MoS, though (or anywhere else). have I missed it? If I haven't could we reach agreement on a guideline, and include it here? --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 13:16, 6 January 2007 (UTC)

As I have already outlined on the talk page of the example Mel Etitis mentioned, my approach would be to apply (and if necessary extend) WP:NC#Album titles and band names and WP:MOS-TM and give standard English text formatting and capitalization rules the preference over typographic eccentricities, in order to maintain a unified approach and make affected articles more readable in general. In this particular case for example, it is only obvious through context that one is reading the artist's stage name and not the verb "hide". - Cyrus XIII 15:54, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
In this particular case, I must admit that I don't see much genuine scope for confusion (first, few sentences could use "hide" as either a verb or a name and still make any sense; secondly, in any case, given that it's an article on a person called "hide", it would be a very slow reader who didn't pick up on the fact that it's meant as a name). The question is, though, more general. WP:NC#Album titles and band names doesn't cover this issue (it doesn't mention initial capitals), and I'm afraid that I disagree with what is said about the first case in WP:MOS-TM#Trademarks which begin with a lowercase letter (though the the second two cases make sense — and it's difficult to see why they're not extended to cover the first). --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 16:45, 6 January 2007 (UTC)

Cyrus XIII has now edited the article to change all the capitalisation to his preferred style, on the grounds that no-one has answered here, and one newspaper article does the same. Any chance of some discussion on this?

When E.E. Cumming's name was presented in lower case by his publishers, newspapers, magazines, and books followed suit, respecting what they believed to be the author's preferred typography (this page gives some of the history, with clear accounts (including quotations from letters, etc.) of respected academic publishers being prepared to decapitalise the name, but asking for details). --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 10:23, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

A few points which I would like to add:
  • That one newspaper article was written by noted music journalist Neil Strauss and published in the New York Times, which is quite an established publication.
  • I have previously contacted Mel Etitis on his talk page, asking whether he would consider the article a sufficient enough source to settle this dispute, or whether we should put in for a third opinion over at WP:3O. After three days without reply, I changed the article in question to my preferred style as it has been put.
  • Because of Mel Etitis reverts of these and other, rather uncontroversial changes to the article, I have now put in for a third opinion.
- Cyrus XIII 11:52, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
  1. Different publications have different styles; the question is what we should do. Note that our MoS differs from that of the New York Times in many respects.
  2. I'm sorry that I was too busy to reply within three days; I hadn't realised that that was the deadline, though.
  3. I rather thought that asking for other opinions was what I was doing here... --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 12:14, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
I think the rules regarding lowercase-beginning trademarks would be good to apply here as well. I have always thought this article at The Slot summarizes the arguments well. You have to draw the line somewhere and tomorrow someone could decide their name was "" Grouse 13:53, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

There are surely significant differences between what we say about logos and what we say about personal names. A logo is generally different from the official name of a company; in most cases the official name conforms to normal usage. Similarly for the choices of typeface and style for the names of bands: not only do they differ from the official names, but they often vary from album to album, from press release to press release, etc. Personally I deprecate the use of non-standard capitalisation in such names (and in personal names); it's a silly gimmick, and I lose some respect for those who go in for it — but it's a fact that that's how they give their name. (The document to which you link, by the way, is itself contentious in places. the first point they maek – that people glancing through text only register capitalised words – just doesn't seem to stand up, and is in any case irrelevant here. We're not writing for people who only glance through the text, even if journalists are.) --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 15:04, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

Sorry for arriving this late. Thanks for notifying me about this discussion, Cyrus. I agree with Mel Etitis and Grouse. Whenever I saw the line The correct name of this individual is xxx. It is capitalized due to technical restrictions, I always felt tempted to change it to This individual can't even spell their own name correctly. The word "correct" was the most annoying -- correct according to what? I would understand if it was in Vladimir Putin's article, saying that The correct name of this indiviual is Влади́мир Влади́мирович Пу́тин, but names written in an English wikipedia about English-speaking people with English names should follow the rules of the English grammar. I don't think anyone is important enough to have the rules of grammar changed for them.

This issue comes up most often in the articles of various Japanese singers and several music albums. It is often impossible to find out whether the name of that music album indeed has to be spelled this way, or is it in uppercase only because it looks better that way. I have lots of books and music albums, and just taking now a quick glance at all the books and CDs that are currently on my table, all of them except for two CDs have their articles in all caps, just because it looks good. I guess at least 90% of all books ever published have the title on the title page in all caps. Still we don't write those titles in all caps, because everyone with a sound mind realizes this is just a question of typography, a part of the artwork. (And those two CDs that are exceptions have their titles in spall caps and italics; how will we manage to write article titles in italics?)

As I wrote on the talk page of the Bell Hooks article, it doesn't matter how does an individual write his or her name, or how does it appear in books. IMO in importance grammar comes first, personal preferences second. It can be mentioned in their article if their preference of this unusual spelling plays an important role in their life, but spelling their name in lowercase is:

  1. grammatically incorrect
  2. makes the text harder to read (some users' insistence on using the lowercase version was so intense that they used it even at the beginnings of sentences, which made the whole text flow together as if the article were one long sentence)
  3. and on overall makes Wikipedia seem less serious.

In addition, it is potentially confusing for non-native English speakers, especially if the should-be-capitalized name is similar to other nouns, e.g. when reading an article about feminism, and seeing bell hooks mentioned in the middle of a sentence just like this, in lowercase, I stopped for a few seconds, not knowing what a bell hook is and what does it have to do with feminism.

Proper names should be capitalized and this should be included in the Manual of Style. I have to add that I'm sad that it has to be included -- in my native language's Wikipedia it doesn't have to be included in the MoS, as it had already been included in grammar books for seven-year-olds, but judging from the edit wars in some articles, apparently some people have skipped those.

(Sorry if I sound harsh, but I feel strongly about this issue.)

Alensha talk 01:51, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

Firstly, you should note that it's possible to feel strongly while remaining polite. (Perhaps in your native language's Wikipedia that's not considered important, but here it is.) Saying that you're "sad" that people disagree with you, seeing as seven-year-olds should be taught to agree with you, is not polite.
Secondly, your vague references to "grammar" confuse me; what rule of grammar says that names should be misspelled? And where do we draw the line; does this mean that in general, if we consider a name to be grammatically incorrect, we should "correct" it? How about misspelled names? (Should we write "Outcast" instead of "OutKast"?) And how do we feel about people who change their names, or use pseudonyms? Should we "correctly" use their birth names?
You'll note that major news organizations generally use correct names; see for example, and note that most news organizations use "eBay" (except at the start of a sentence, where they're about evenly divided between "eBay" and "EBay"). There are a few that write "Ebay", but as of right now, all such put it right next to glaring grammatical errors (seemingly as a polite way of indicating that they're not even trying to be correct, though that can't really be the reason).
When news organizations and scholars don't capitalize a name, it makes Wikipedia look unprofessional to enforce a "grammatical" style that capitalizes it. You might as well say that Wikipedia should replace all instances of who with whom because the latter looks more correct.
RuakhTALK 02:39, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
I'm afraid the more recent posts have introduced a few misunderstandings, I would like to sort them out before proceeding with an answer:
Alensha initially aligned herself with Grouse and Mel Etitis in this dispute, while actually these editors do not share the same opinion. Grouse and me consider the Manual of Style regarding trademarks (WP:MOS-TM) to be applicable to personal names and stage names, Mel Etitis - and I hope I am not misrepresenting his position - does not.
Now, Ruakh has mentioned eBay as an example for names which are generally not "corrected" in most publications. Yet, eBay is the trademarked name of a company, not a personal name. If it was out of question to apply that bit of the MoS about trademarks for any name whatsoever, we would not be having this discussion.
Regarding drawing the line: I believe the rule Alensha is referring to is one regarding personal names and proper nouns, namely "as proper nouns these names are always first-letter capitalized" (quoting Wikipedia:Proper names#Personal names). In the initial discussion (on Talk:Hide (musician)), Mel Etitis has considered people's individual typographical choices important enough to override this rule, but not at the beginning of a sentence. Now please consider that eBay for which we have a guideline, is not first-letter capitalized, even at the beginning of a sentence.
Indulge me for a second: I am currently looking at the mental image of a graph attached to my fridge, with little magnet markers on it. The graph says "rules I can override", one marker says "trademark" and the other says "personal name". "Trademark" is really high up on the graph, it gets to override pretty much all of the rules. "Personal name" is somewhere in the middle, it gets to topple some, but not all of them. Now, is this really a respectful way for treating those names? I think the implications for drawing the line somewhere are quite nasty and applying an already existing set of rules which has been deemed appropriate for all those products, companies and organizations out there, is at least a clean cut. - Cyrus XIII 09:00, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

I agree with much of what Cyrus XIII says here (and thanks to him for clearing up some misundrestandings that have crept in to the discussion). It is, of course, only at the end, where he gives his opinion of the treatment of personal names, that I disagree. It seems to me that some people wish to be addressed and referred to by a common noun (an uncapitalised name). Fine; the capitalisation rules of English say that common nouns are uncapitalised except at the beginnings of sentences. (Many (most?) Manuals of Style would say the same about a trade name such as "eBay", judging by printed sources that I've seen.) No rule of English is overridden, only the social conventions of naming, with which the Manual of Style is surely unconcerned. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 11:59, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

First, sorry if what I wrote came across as rude. Second, of course I meant to write "I agree with Cyrus XIII and Grouse" but it was already late at night when I wrote that and mixed up their names... sorry. By grammar I meant the rule that proper names should be capitalized. Cyrus pretty much cleared up what I mixed up. Thanks!
Mel says that some people wish to be referred to by a common noun. For me those names did not seem common nouns but uncapitalized proper nouns. The reason for this is that common nouns are generally preceded by articles, e.g. if "Michael" were a common noun, we would not write "michael said this and that", we would write "the michael said this and that", just like we would write "the teacher said", not "teacher said". From this it seems that these persons do treat their names as names, not common nouns. So actually the rule would be overridden.
Also, when deciding about how to write names in an article we should be reader-friendly. When someone's name is not capitalized, it is possible to write whole paragraphs without a single capital letter in them, which would make the paragraph difficult to read. "eBay" is different in this case, since the letter B fulfills the role that a capital E would do in "Ebay", but if their name would be spelt as "ebay", I'd say let's capitalize the first letter and mention it in the article that they don't capitalize it.
Alensha talk 15:10, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
Good point about common nouns — I'll withdraw that argument. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 15:38, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

Given that there has recently been another comment on Talk:Hide (musician) in favor of capitalizing the name, can we conclude, that the majority of editors actively involved in this discussion are in favor of applying standard English formatting rules, with some of them considering WP:MOS-TM applicable in these cases? - Cyrus XIII 21:37, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

That's not terribly clear to me, to be honest. It looks pretty well evenly divided — two on each side. The issue has been raised elsewhere, recently (see The pillows). --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 22:54, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
No, I am afraid the ratio is more like 2:1 by now and I would not have requested for this discussion to come to its due end, if it was any less clear.
In favor:
Not in favor:
  • Mel Etitis
  • Ruakh (though his argument is based on a trademark example, covered by WP:MOS-TM)
Regarding The Pillows: You previously dismissed one of my arguments on Talk:Hide (musician), stating "Cyrus XIII's point doesn't apply here; not only are we not dealing with an album or band name...", so please, practice what you preach and do not bring in a band name-related example either. Unless of course you would like me to point out the recent consensus to move KISS (band) to Kiss (band) and that bit of the Manual of Style which explicitly mentions Korn (KoЯn) as an example for stylized typography not to be carried over to Wikipedia. - Cyrus XIII 00:18, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
  1. Please try not to be so confrontational; I didn't present The pillows as an argument, I mentioned that the issue had been raised elsewhere recently, and pointed you to an example.
  2. I missed Grouse's (indented and short) contribution (though 3:2 is not more like 2:1 &nmdash; it's 3:2, which is still not consensus).
  3. The Korn case is not analogous; leaving aside the difficulty of typing "KoЯn)", it involves an alien character, not merely the case of a letter. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 09:23, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

I had been avoiding this particular discussion since it’s gotten a little hairy and all the arguments I would have made have already been stated. But Cyrus invited me to chime in, so here I am. You can include my name in the “in favor” list. People’s names get capitalized. That applies just as much to Bell Hooks and Hide as it does to the rest of us. I consider it in the readers’ best interest to capitalize proper nouns accordingly. --Rob Kennedy 03:52, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

I would like to weigh in in favor of respecting typographical choices for personal and even group names, such as bell hooks and CLAMP. Typography is not grammar, and when it comes to names, idiomatic typography may be considered by the parties involved to be as essential as idiomatic spelling. —pfahlstrom 00:07, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
I also bring up the case of danah boyd whose legal name is lowercased (see its talk page), yet for some reason this statement is not even being allowed to exist in the article. I will see if anything can be done about that. —pfahlstrom 02:33, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Like Pfahlstrom, I'm chiming in in favor of respecting people's choice in how their names are written, be those personal names, professional names or band names. We have no right to choose how to spell their names, this would be original research and breaking NPOV (preferring one style over another). Spelling choices are verifiable and should follow the same rules as the inclusion of any material: WP:ATT. Kyaa the Catlord 06:05, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Like Rob Kennedy, I'm in favor of capitalizing all personal names and other proper nouns. The preference of the subject should definitely be mentioned in the article intro (and discussed elsewhere in the article if relevant to the subject's notability) but otherwise the article should conform to standard capitalization conventions. This is something that should be clarified in the guideline, as the guideline explicitly states that proper nouns should be capitalized in headings but is silent about body text. PubliusFL 23:25, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

FWIW WHS Rich Farmbrough, 18:31 1 October 2007 (GMT).
Translated from digispeak, "For what its worth, what he said." --Bejnar (talk) 18:34, 25 November 2007 (UTC)
  • I have to agree with Cyrus XIII. Respect for a subject's unusual self-identification orthography/typography can be shown in the article. In the article about E. E. Cummings it should indicate that he preferred to sign his name on poetry as "e.e. cummings". --Bejnar (talk) 18:25, 25 November 2007 (UTC)

It certainly does not look like a consensus has been reached here, and yet with edit, made a couple months after the discussion had died down without conclusion Elonka seems to have changed the styleguide to reflect the view that wikipedia shall never respect the idiomatic typographical choices of people, not withstanding any amount of verifiable sources, and without regard for how widely in use or in general acceptance the idiomatic capitalization is. Naturally that freed people to start "winning" the capitalization discussions by referring back to this styleguide, which now included text (which has since been tightened considerably by Cyrus XIII) for which no consensus had been reached. That's pretty disappointing. -- Charles (Kznf) (talk) 04:58, 13 March 2008 (UTC)


I'm confused about the following paragraph:

In the case of "prime minister", either both words begin with a capital letter or neither, except, obviously, when it starts a sentence. Again, when using it generically, do not use a capital letter: "There are many prime ministers around the world." When making reference to a specific office, generally use uppercase: "The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said today…" (A good rule of thumb is whether the sentence uses a definite article [the] or an indefinite article [a]. If the sentence uses the, use "Prime Minister". If the sentence uses a, go with "prime minister". However to complicate matters, some style manuals, while saying "The British Prime Minister", recommend "British prime minister".)

Is this rule only applicable to the office of prime minister? For example when speaking of George W. Bush, the sentence "The (Pp)resident walked his dog." Should this be "The President walked his dog," due to the rule "When making reference to a specific office, generally use uppercase," as well as " good rule of thumb is whether the sentence uses a definite article [the] or an indefinite article [a]"? Stating "The president walked his dog" does not seem right to me. We're having this exact problem on Bush's page at the moment. Jpers36 03:24, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

It's not limited to prime ministers, but it might be peculiarly British. I (being British) apply the same rule universally to all titles of office, and it is the rule suggested by the Oxford Manual of Style, but I've seen Americans dispute the validity of it before now. JulesH 16:15, 17 July 2007 (UTC)
This should work the same as "the university". Rich Farmbrough, 18:46 1 October 2007 (GMT).
What about the issue of referring to a specific title, rather than a generic title? A President, meaning a President of the USA, while a president means any type of president? really the title section is unclear and confusing. Rds865 (talk) 19:34, 26 April 2008 (UTC)


"When showing the source of an acronym, initialism, or syllabic abbreviation, emphasizing the letters that make up the acronym is undesirable:"

What's the reasoning behind this? — Omegatron 00:56, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

I'm unsure - I don't see a reason for discouraging one instance of emphasizing specific letters once. Such as it is desirable to define an acronym in the beginning of a text or upon its first usage, it seems important to clearly define an initialism or acronym through bold letters if nothing else... Nicholas SL Smithchatter 02:49, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

'God' vs. 'god'

What's the policy on capitalisation of common nouns that denote deities? Another editor apparently prescribes using a capital letter whenever the extension can be implicitly restricted to monotheistic deities (as in "I believe in a god"), but I see no support for this position in the MoS and it flouts basic English orthographic standards. I'd argue that they should remain lower-case for the same reason equivalent pronouns do. Ilkali (talk) 13:46, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

context: [1], Talk:Misotheism This isn't about "common nouns that denote deities", it is about the word God/god in particular. Ilkali seems to labour under the misapprehension that any orthographical convention of the English langauge that isn't specifically mentioned in MoS somehow does not take effect on Wikipedia. I ask him to consult any major dictionary of the English language, which will either treat god and God as two separate lemmata (so CALD, Encarta), or specifically note the application of capitalised God under the god lemma (so OED, COED, MW). This isn't a "style" issue, it's an orthographical one. By all appearances, we are looking at a case of WP:POINT (the point made being that God "shouldn't" be so spelled, according to Ilkali's opinion). I can't believe I wasted 15 minutes addressing a non-issue like this. --dab (𒁳) 17:22, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

This is why I don't think you understand my position. I am not disputing that there are two separate lexemes, but that's irrelevant to the issue. We already agree that the proper noun 'God' should be proper-cased - note that I didn't change any proper nouns in the article. We disagree on the conventions surrounding a specific one of the lexemes - the common noun that denotes all deities. You argue that it should be proper-cased in certain circumstances, and neither the OED nor MW agree with you.
"I believe in God" is correct. 'God' here is a proper noun, and should be capitalised per English orthographic standards. This is the lexeme represented by Encarta's 'God' entry.
"I believe in a god" is correct. 'God' here is a common noun, and should be left lower-case per English orthographic standards. This is the lexeme represented by Encarta's 'god' entry.
Ilkali (talk) 21:12, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
I understand your point. Again, by changing "belief in a God" to "belief in a god", you are not doing a stylistic edit, you are changing the meaning of the phrase. "belief in a god" expresses a polytheist position. "belief in a God" expresses a monotheist position, the indefinite article expressing the plurality of possible conceptions of God in monotheism. You are mis-representing my position. I certainly agree that "the common noun that denotes all deities" (including polytheistic ones) is god, not God. "Proper cased" God is restricted to monotheist conceptions. We can discuss which case applies in any given context, but we'll only be able to have this discussion once you stop alleging that it is a matter of stylistics, not content. [comment continued below]
So are you arguing for three separate lexemes? Something like this?
  1. A proper noun referencing a single monotheistic god
  2. A common noun denoting all gods defined in monotheistic religions
  3. A common noun denoting all gods defined in polytheistic religions
Where the first two are capitalised (the latter being a special case in English orthography) and the third is not? Or are you pointing out that proper nouns can function as common nouns, as in 'There are two Davids in our family'? Ilkali (talk) 12:36, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
He's not doing that at all. What is being referenced here is the difference between a single entity named God (proper noun) versus a name for a class of entity also commonly refered to as "deity." You are cluttering a very clear distinction for no apparent reason. I'm with dab, and I cannot see your point at all. Again, your failure to get us to see the point of what you're saying is not a failure in us, as you have implied, but a failure in your effort to communicate. If you cannot communicate with clarity what point you are really seeking to make, perhaps you are mistaken in thinking you have one. In the misotheism article you have persistently re-injected your edits changing "God" to "a god" over and over again, despite your failure to demonstrate the reasoning behind these changes. Please, you are now just being petty, and it's clear you don't care whether your point of view has merit, you just plan to keep re-injecting it regardless. Craig zimmerman (talk) 15:44, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
One profoundly irritating fact about being a student of linguistics is that, no matter how much you might learn, every person on the street will assume himself equally qualified to talk about language. You're even more brazen than most - if I use linguistic terminology, you accuse me of obscuring the issue or being uncommunicative because you don't understand the words I'm using. I'm sorry, but I'm not obligated to teach you syntax just so you can talk productively about this topic. But I'll explain how you're wrong.
"What is being referenced here is the difference between a single entity named God (proper noun) versus a name for a class of entity also commonly refered to as "deity."" In the noun phrase "a monotheistic, omnipotent God", the final word is functioning as a common noun. The determiner is pretty damn big clue. The question is over what lexeme is being used and what it means, and I don't think you're equipped to contribute to that discussion. Ilkali (talk) 08:47, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
since you are obviously being tongue-in-cheek now, I will not reply to this. All I am doing is referring to common English language orthographical practice. I don't have to go into metaphysical or ontological discussions on the nature or countability of God for that. dab (𒁳) 15:47, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
"since you are obviously being tongue-in-cheek now". Ugh. Just when I thought we might make some progress. At no point did I delve into metaphysics, and at no point did I ask anything about the nature of God. All I did was demonstrate a process in which proper nouns can be used as common nouns - I didn't assert anything about how accurate it would be if God were the subject. How about this, instead: "After being fired, a despondent David walked home in the rain". Common literary device, yes? Proper noun functioning as common noun? In "I believe in a God", is this what you think is happening? Or do you think there are three separate lexemes, as described in my earlier post - the one you wouldn't deign to respond to? Ilkali (talk) 08:47, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
[continuation of comment torn apart by Ilkali] I also draw your attention to google scholar which establishes that the large majority of occurrences of the phrase have God, not god. That is, "belief in a god" is the marked case, implying a conscious statement that the intended god is not the Singular God of monotheism. I do not believe that this question can be decided via MoS. Instead, it needs to be decided on a case-by-case basis, by careful consideration of the intended semantics. I am very careful in choosing god vs. God in my prose, and I object to have my spelling switched around summarily and without reference to the context. dab (𒁳) 12:13, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Agreed, dab. It would seem our friend here is of the opinion that he can tell us what it is we are really thinking, and how we should think it. :-) Craig zimmerman (talk) 15:44, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
I think We Get It by now: Ilkali is An Atheist and wants to make The Point that special orthographical conventions for God are to be rejected as theist bias. Too bad not even atheists generally agree with this. The distinction of monotheism and polytheism encapsulated in God vs. god is important regardless of whether you discuss them from a monotheist, a polytheist or an atheist perspective. dab (𒁳) 15:50, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
In an ideal world, an admin would stick to discussing the disagreement with the person he disagrees with, and not stage these ridiculous "HEY WE'RE RIGHT LOL" conversations. Ilkali (talk) 08:47, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
In an ideal world, prospective editors of Wikipedia pages would be required to demonstrate their points clearly to others, and not snap "I already explained that" when others fail to understand what's being said. And so it goes. Dab's point is that the user in question is on some kind of crusade against capitalization of the word "God" based on his personal beliefs. That would be fine, if he provided logical support for his contention that the word needs to be lowercased. But he has not. When asked to explain what his point is, he yammers that "he already has." He extends this to include a crusade to decapitalize pronouns refering to God. While this part of his evangelistic crusade I can heartily agree with, I can't abide by the main thrust of his crusade, because quite simply, the word "God" is being used as a proper name for a particular entity, and that warrants capitalization. We don't see him demanding that "harry potter" be spelled in lowercase because there is no real person named "Harry Potter" (as described in Rowling's books, anyway). Likewise, we don't see this person changing discussion of Jesus in which he is refered to as "the son of God" to read "the son of a god." He does not actually have a point here, just an agenda. Let's move on. Craig zimmerman (talk) 17:55, 26 November 2007 (UTC)
  • I believe that, unlike Craig zimmerman, I understand some of Ilkali's point even if I may not necessarily agree with every edit of his (I haven't looked). I think that there is agreement that the word god should only be capitalized when it is a proper noun. (If there is not, please let the discussion know.) The question then boils down to whether reference to a monotheistic god is always a reference to a proper noun, i.e. the same specific entity. If one believes as George W. Bush does (link) (i.e. a pluralist), that is that all monotheistic worshipers worship the same god, then this reference to a single entity is a tenable position, if one believes that Allah of Islam is not the same as God of the Trinity, vide licit some Christians (link), then the mere presence of the word god in a monotheistic context would not necessarily be to a specific entity. This is particularly true when the discussion of a monotheistic god is in the theological/philosophical abstract, and not related to a specific religious belief of a specific relgion. Thus the statement "Monotheists believe in a single god.", is not a reference to God of the Trinity unless one is a pluralist. Since the Wikipedia desires, to the extent possible, to not make presuppositions about beliefs and to present things as objectively as possible, it would seem that unless the context explicitly calls for a single entity as in Allah or God of the Trinity then lower case should be used. For example: "Christians worship a single god." but "Some Episcopalians describe the Trinity as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit." Disclosure: I am a monotheist and a pluralist. --Bejnar (talk) 18:01, 25 November 2007 (UTC)
The proper noun 'God' is pretty strange, in that it sometimes behaves as a deictic (taking its reference from context, from the speech participants' beliefs or from the dominant beliefs of the culture) and sometimes as a kind of vague direct reference (equivalent to 'whatever single god may exist'). I don't think proper nouns always need to make reference to specific gods, and indeed this seems to be Wikipedia policy - the page Existence of God addresses the gods of various monotheistic faiths.
The one place where we can legitimately (in my eyes) use proper-cased God as a common noun is where some kind of syntactic/semantic conversion is taking place, as I described to Dbachmann above. So, for example, we could have something like "A drunken David is more dangerous than a sober David". But this seems to require modifiers in any practical uses. I don't accept 'I believe in a God' (how would this be different in meaning to 'I believe in God'?), but find "I believe in a jealous God" acceptable in principle. The problem is that since so many people would capitalise the word regardless of whether they were using the common or proper noun meaning, the sentence becomes ambiguous. An important observation is that the above sentence entails "I believe in a jealous god". If the former is true, the latter necessarily is. So changing between the two, in that direction, will never introduce inaccuracy. In the vast majority of instances, either the noun can be decapitalised or the syntax reconfigured to use the proper noun normally, without any substantial change in meaning. Ilkali (talk) 18:46, 25 November 2007 (UTC)
A few points to note here:
  1. What "many people would [do]" (according to the above, "capitalizing the word regardless of whether they were using the common or proper noun meaning") has no bearing on the proper usage of a proper name.
  2. Let's look at this person's erroneous example here: "A drunken David is more dangerous than a sober David." Note that the deck is stacked here through the injection of another proper name. Does this sentence refer to a particular person he knows named David, saying that his behavior is more dangerous drunk than sober? Or is it a statement being made about people named David in general? He says "we could have" examples like this, but he offers no example of what a lowercase "david" might refer to, to give any balance to his assertions. "David" is a proper name. There is no lowercase "david" to play this assertion against. By his example, David is always capitalized, and thus by analogy "God" would also always have to be capitalized. Clearly this was not this person's intent, but this demonstrates the transparency of his examples.
  3. "I believe in a jealous God" makes sense only in a similar fashion to the analogous "I believe a drunken David is more dangerous." When you use the capitalized form, you are refering to a named entity. Thus, one might say "God is a jealous god."
The point is that all this handwaving by our friend here has not demonstrated anything invalid about using the name "God" to refer to the entity denoted as the monotheistic god. That he is confused by the issues has no more bearing on the merits of capitalizing the word "God" then his claim that "many people would capitalise the word regardless of whether they were using the common or proper noun meaning." (Mind you, I certainly respect his atheistic perspective that no such entity exists, but his evangelistic efforts to impose that on the rest of the world makes no sense at all. Besides, even names of purely fictional characters are properly capitalized, which makes his complaint rather odd.) Craig zimmerman (talk) 17:55, 26 November 2007 (UTC)
"What "many people would [do]" (according to the above, "capitalizing the word regardless of whether they were using the common or proper noun meaning") has no bearing on the proper usage of a proper name". In this case, I agree.
"the deck is stacked here through the injection of another proper name". The sole point of the example was to demonstrate proper->common noun conversion. It was not asserted to be parallel to any other example in any other way.
"I believe in a jealous God" makes sense only in a similar fashion to the analogous "I believe a drunken David is more dangerous.". Yes. That's the point I was making.
"all this handwaving by our friend here has not demonstrated anything invalid about using the name "God" to refer to the entity denoted as the monotheistic god". There is nothing wrong with using proper-cased proper nouns to reference entities. The only places where I changed the proper noun 'God' to a common noun was where it made the sentence more accurate. For example, if a page said "Atheism is the lack of belief in God", I would change 'God' to 'gods', because atheism is more accurately defined relative to all gods.
As I requested on the talk page of the article in question: Present examples of inappropriate edits and explain why you think they are so. Ilkali (talk) 20:09, 26 November 2007 (UTC)
    • Bejnar: I think a closer view of the edits you admit you have missed will make things clearer.
    • I think that there is agreement that the word god should only be capitalized when it is a proper noun. (If there is not, please let the discussion know.) There is full agreement here. This user has actually made modifications in cases where the word "God" was indeed being used as a proper name. It is apparently a matter of distaste with the entity he feels is non-existent having its name capitalized. Beyond that, I can see no substantive point being made, since clearly he violates this very rule you agree there is agreement on.
    • The question then boils down to whether reference to a monotheistic god is always a reference to a proper noun, i.e. the same specific entity. In the cases we are talking about, the references were to the name of a single specific entity. Logic dictates that within a monotheistic perspective only one entity refered to as God exists, no matter what language his name might be spoken in. From the monotheistic perspective, it makes no sense to assert that different religions are refering to different existing entities—that would mean, naturally, we were not talking in monotheistic terms, we would be in the throes of polytheism. We would have, for example, Allah and Jehovah. Thus references to "God" are references to the single entity who is the monotheistic deity. You mention that as a pluralistic monotheist, you believe this to be so. I put it to you that regardless of your choice of a pluralistic viewpoint, this would have to be so. As a Maltheist, I not only believe this is so, I believe that the reason different religions all of whom worship the same deity are at odds with each other is because this is so—because we have a single monomaniacal deity named God who enjoys driving human beings apart. That's ancillary to the discussion, but my point is that a proper name is proper here, and that the edited references were a proper use of a proper name.
    • Since Wikipedia desires, to the extent possible, to not make presuppositions about beliefs and to present things as objectively as possible, it would seem that unless the context explicitly calls for a single entity as in Allah or God of the Trinity then lower case should be used. Then you would agree that when the context does explicitly call for the name of a single entity (and in monotheism by definition there can be only a single entity) that the proper name using upper case should be used, correct?
    • I hope this sheds some light on why I continue to believe this user really does not have a point, at least not with respect to the edits he has chosen to make, which have been arbitrary and apparently part of some broader crusade. Craig zimmerman (talk) 17:55, 26 November 2007 (UTC)
"This user has actually made modifications in cases where the word "God" was indeed being used as a proper name". Only in the circumstances outlined above - where the goal was to change the meaning of the sentence, not the grammar or formatting. In all other cases, I made changes to uses of the common noun. Ilkali (talk) 20:09, 26 November 2007 (UTC)
In other words, the sentences originally meant some particular thing, as intended by the authors of those sentences. You decided unilaterally that you knew better than the authors of those sentences what they really meant to say. You knew better than those other people what they were actually thinking! LOL! Just goes to show that arrogant presumptive censorship comes in many flavors, liberal and conservative, religious and areligious. (By the way, please don't retort, as you have here and elsewhere, by making more snide comments about how the other person just doesn't get your brilliant repartee. Instead, do what you proclaim loudly and proudly that you aren't obliged to do: explain what you really mean, as godawfully pedantic and droll as such effort might seem to you.) Craig zimmerman (talk) 22:20, 26 November 2007 (UTC)
"In other words, the sentences originally meant some particular thing, as intended by the authors of those sentences. You decided unilaterally that you knew better than the authors of those sentences what they really meant to say." No. In the cases where I changed the meaning of a sentence, I decided that what the authors had written was inaccurate or insufficient. I changed their contribution so the article would better describe the subject material. That's kind of the whole point of Wikipedia. Ilkali (talk) 07:54, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Craig zimmerman: I ask that you try to be civil and assume good faith when commenting here. Instead of spending most of your time talking about what you perceive to be my biases and my "crusade", talk about the matter being discussed here: Wikipedia's orthographical conventions. Once we've reached consensus on a policy for capitalisation of 'god', we can examine my edits in light of it.
My position is that:

  1. The proper noun 'God', which makes reference to an entity, should be proper-cased, as is normal for proper nouns.
  2. The common noun 'god', which denotes deities, should have lower-case, as is normal for common nouns.

You may believe that my edits are in conflict with this position, and I'll be happy to address specific points of disagreement, but do you agree with the position itself? Ilkali (talk) 09:14, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

In reply to Bejnar

I think that there is agreement that the word god should only be capitalized when it is a proper noun.

not necessarily. It's the other way round: the monotheistic God is always spelled with capital G. Whether you want to deduce from this that "reference to a monotheistic god is always a reference to a proper noun" is a secondary question and open to debate, but without consequence for orthography. I'll go with the OED god lemma:
"II. In the specific Christian and monotheistic sense. The One object of supreme adoration; the Creator and Ruler of the Universe. (Now always with initial capital.)" (emphasis mine)
and only 'II. 5. "As a proper name", besides
"6. As an appellative. a. A Being such as is understood by the proper name God; a sole Divine Creator and Ruler of the Universe; that which God is represented to be according to some particular conception (as the God of philosophy, of pantheism, of Judaism), or is manifested to be in some special department of His action (as the God of nature, of revelation, of providence); God as contemplated in some special attribute or relation (as the God of love, of mercy, of vengeance, etc., the God who made us, etc., my or our God, etc.)."
I was arguing nothing less and nothing more than what is competently and unambiguously recorded in the OED lemma I just quoted. Ilkali's edits concern precisely occurrences of meanings of OED's II.6.a, which according to OED are "now" to be spelled "always with initial capital" (always as opposed to "mostly", "widely", "sometimes" or "optionally"). I would ask Ilkali to not waste other people's time forcing them to explain to him questions of the English lexicon that he might just as well have looked up in a dictionary on his own time.
incidentially, since I have now looked up OED anyway, regarding the "now": the last incidence recorded by the OED where "god II." was not spelled with capital initial was in Wyclif's Bible, written in the 1380s. So, if you want to initiate a Middle English Wikipedia project (or join ang:), feel free to spell god any way you like there, but en-wiki is normally understood to follow Modern English orthography. dab (𒁳) 14:12, 27 November 2007 (UTC)
The two definitions you quoted describe proper nouns. There is no dispute over whether, for example, "I believe in God" is appropriately formatted. It is. It uses the proper noun 'God' to make direct reference to a god. The question is over uses as in "I believe in a God". The determiner uncontroversially shows that the following noun is at least functioning as a common noun. As I see it, you have three options:
  1. Argue convincingly that some kind of proper->common noun conversion is taking place. You'll have to show that the marked syntactic conversion from 'I believe in God' to 'I believe in a God' has some useful semantic effect that emerges from some rule(s) of English syntax and semantics, whether general or specific.
  2. Show that there is a special common noun denoting only gods defined in monotheistic religions, and show that its prescribed form is 'God'. This might be achieved with a dictionary, but the OED won't help you.
  3. Agree that the word 'God' in the above sentence is the common noun synonymous with 'deity', and argue that there are special orthographic rules governing the capitalisation thereof.
Otherwise the only reasonable interpretation is that this is a normal common noun functioning as a normal common noun, and should, per general English orthographic conventions, be left in lower-case. Ilkali (talk) 14:49, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Hasn't this become more than ridiculous? Does this user believe he has the right to delete other people's comments not just because he doesn't like their content but because he doesn't like their format? This is absurd. I interjected my comments in the same manner that he interjected comments in other people's texts, but when done to his words he takes offense and deletes the text? Enough is enough! Craig zimmerman (talk) 18:31, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

My splitting of dbachmann's comment is explained in the Wikiquette alert I filed about you ([2]). Ilkali (talk) 20:01, 27 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I know. :-) Craig zimmerman (talk) 21:31, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

Specific examples

To narrow down the points of disagreement, it may be helpful to examine specific examples. The following are edits to the Misotheism article that were reverted by dbachmann and Craig_zimmerman. I'm going to explain why each was made. Feel free to add your own responses under each one (and not within mine, please), explaining why you disagree. And, of course, feel free to add your own examples. Ilkali (talk) 23:09, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

this is entirely a content dispute related to these specific passages now and has nothing to do with general MoS on capitalisation. Misotheism is discussed as a position towards monotheism in particular in these passages, and hence God is capitalised. Ilkali, you are now, by your revert-warring, indulging in WP:POINT. Review WP:DISRUPT for possible sanctions that may be taken against such behaviour. dab (𒁳) 14:45, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
"this is entirely a content dispute related to these specific passages now and has nothing to do with general MoS on capitalisation". Some of these points are indeed content-related, but this seems a lot more convenient for those involved than spreading discussion of the same five examples across two pages. Additionally, things like entailment relations between minimal pairs are pertinent to discussion on the policy.
"Misotheism is discussed as a position towards monotheism in particular in these passages, and hence God is capitalised". I've asked you more than once to explain exactly how you think these terms work, and each time you have neglected to respond. The reality is that you've never really participated at all. You haven't responded to the things I've said, you've just asserted your own viewpoint. Your belief that you are right does not make you so. You do not have to be convinced that you are wrong in order for you to be wrong. Ilkali 16:14, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

"A related concept is dystheism [...], the belief that God is not wholly good" ->
"A related concept is dystheism [...], the belief that a god is not wholly good"

Like atheism, dystheism isn't defined relatively to any particular god. I can hold a dystheistic stance about any I choose. Thus the reduction in specificity yields an increase in accuracy. Ilkali (talk) 23:12, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

"Thus dystheism is only meaningful in reference to a monotheistic, omnipotent God" ->
"Thus dystheism is normally used in reference to a monotheistic, omnipotent god"

Bad wording on my part. I should've changed it to something like "Thus the term is normally used [...]". Still,
  1. The indefinite article establishes that 'God' is at least functioning as a common noun. The modifiers (monotheistic, omnipotent) describe first a feature inherent to God and then a feature standardly ascribed to him, so if the noun is a direct reference then there's little reason for them to be there - they're redundant. They're only useful if they restrict the denotation of the common noun 'god', which strongly suggests that that's exactly what they're doing.
  2. The reason given for dystheism's meaningless in the context of polytheistic faiths is that "polytheistic deities since prehistoric times have been assumed to be neither good nor evil (or to have both qualities)". How is this sound reasoning? Even if it were the case that polytheistic deities were intrinsically incapable of evil, it would still be entirely possible to have, or to talk about a dystheistic view of them. The term would still be meaningful and potentially useful.
    Hence the change to "is normally used".
Ilkali (talk) 23:12, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

"it is generally manifested more as an opposition to belief in a God (to theism per se) than as opposition to God himself" ->
"it is generally manifested more as an opposition to belief in a god (to theism per se) than as opposition to gods themselves"

Again, the indefinite article shows that the first 'God' is functioning as a common noun. But this time it doesn't even have any modifiers. There's no conversion taking place here. Why should it be capitalised? Theism isn't belief in God, it's belief in ≥1 gods.
Assuming the above is correct, why should the latter half of the sentence contrast 'opposition to belief in a god' with 'opposition to God'? It makes no sense to change specificities halfway through the comparison. And why specifically say that antitheism is not opposition to one specific god, when we could instead make the more informative and equally true statement that it is not opposition to any gods? Ilkali (talk) 23:12, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

"these groups were dualists that held to the notion that the god of this world, the demiurge, was evil, but that there was a transcendent world greater than this one ruled by a true good God" ->
"these groups were dualists that held to the notion that the god of this world, the demiurge, was evil, but that there was a transcendent world greater than this one ruled by a true good god"

Here the original source uses common-noun 'god' in the first half, and the capitalised noun 'God' functioning as a common noun in the second. What's the point of the modifier 'true' here? There's no need to talk about a true God if there's no mention anywhere of a false God. The modifier only makes a useful semantic contribution if we take the final noun to be common, such that true gods can be contrasted with false gods. Ilkali (talk) 23:12, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

"God as depicted in the New Testament is considered to be a "kinder, gentler" God than..." ->
"God as depicted in the New Testament is considered to be a "kinder, gentler" god than..."

I have no fundamental problem with the orthography here, because proper->common conversion makes the sentence make perfect sense. But this kind of conversion is uncommon within English. People tend to expect that things functioning as common nouns will actually be common nouns. My edit does not introduce inaccuracy or ambiguity, but it simplifies the interpretation process. On what grounds should it be reverted? Ilkali (talk) 23:12, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

Outside opinion: I suggest using the Associated Press manual of style for reference. When referring to "a god" or "the god" or "my god", do not capitalize, but as a proper name "I love God" please capitalize. Here is the rule of thumb that I humbly suggest: when referring to God as a concept of a deity, do not capitalize. When referring to the deity directly, or from the perspective of a religion that uses such personal convention, then capitalize. For example, "Most Americans believe in god" would be correct when referring to the fact that most Americans are not atheists. However, "Most Americans believe in God" would be correct in referring to the specific monotheistic deity. How specific of a deity you are referring to is a matter of clarification that should be listed. SamuelRiv (talk) 05:43, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

I think there is mostly consensus now for the position that common nouns should not capitalise (four editors explicitly in agreement, with one not having made his position clear enough to tell). I propose that the appropriate sections in the MoS be changed such that they define policy in terms of proper and common nouns. The current wording delves into semantics a little too much, and is consequently somewhat equivocal. Ilkali (talk) 08:17, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

Is it possible that God is an exception to the rule? Certainly it is commonly treated as such. Is God and god completely two different words? My teachers always taught me so. It would be accurate to say Atheist believe in neither a God, or Gods. Also, scholars have capitalized God when talking about dualist beliefs. What of Neo-pagan beliefs that believe in a God and a Goddess. In this case God is not a god. What is certain is that God is a name. Is it capitalized like American, Dad, or David, or by its own rules? Rds865 (talk) 20:24, 26 April 2008 (UTC)

Seriously, look up the difference between common and proper nouns. Ilkali (talk) 07:28, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

Proposal to formalise the relationship between MOS and its sub-pages

Dear fellow colleagues: the idea is to centralise debate and consensus-gathering when there are inconsistencies between the pages.

The most straightforward way is to have MOS-central prevail, and to involve expertise from sub-pages on the talk page there, rather than the fragmentary discourse—more usually the absence of discourse and the continuing inconsistency—that characterises WP's style guideline resources now. If consensus has it that MOS-central should bend to the wording of a sub-page, so be it. But until that occurs in each case that might occasionally arise, there needs to be certainty for WPians, especially in the Featured Article process, where nominators and reviewers are sometimes confused by a left- and right-hand that say different things.

Of course, no one owns MOS-central, and we're all just as important to its running as other editors. I ask for your support and feedback HERE. Tony (talk) 12:17, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

Capitalization of foreign titles

In cases where the capitalization of foreign language titles doesn't match Wikipedia's guidelines for capitalization, should we put it in its original form, or normalize the title? Example: El tren de los momentos. I am led to believe that in its native language, only the initial word is capitalized. Should the native capitalization be retained? -Freekee (talk) 00:25, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

The artist's official website renders the record's title either in all-caps or in common title case ("El Tren de los Momentos"), hence we are certainly at the liberty of using the latter. Also, while my experience on this may by no means be exhaustive, I am under the impression, that many high-profile English publications chose to apply title case to foreign language media (see an example in the NY Times). - Cyrus XIII (talk) 12:44, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

Capitalise the first letter with bullet points?

When using examples in the form of bullet points (or, more specifically, when using bullet points whose content is more or less embedded within a sentence)

  • like
  • so

should we capitalise the first letter of each bullet point

  • Like so?

It Is Me Here (talk) 19:22, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

Different style guides disagree. The Chicago Manual of Style uses what in my personal experience is the most common format, i.e. lower case when bulleting a list of words or sentence fragments, and initial capital letter when bulleting complete sentences. However there're some style guides, for example the Guardian newspaper's, which recommend an initial capital letter at all times. I'd say both of the above are therefore correct. --DeLarge (talk) 15:35, 18 February 2008 (UTC)
Fair enough, but does that also mean that we should not change one to the other? It Is Me Here (talk) 15:21, 21 February 2008 (UTC)
I'd be inclined to say no unless you've found a bulleted list which doesn't follow any style guide. If you have a specific list in mind I can offer my opinion on a strictly case-by-case basis, but remember that such edits are implicitly "correcting an error". If it's not actually wrong per se it should be left alone; there's an enormous difference between grammatical errors and stylistic differences: "When either of two styles is acceptable, it is inappropriate for an editor to change an article from one style to another unless there is a substantial reason to do so." Regards, --DeLarge (talk) 18:28, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Capitals and quotation marks in song titles

Why can song titles of recorded songs not just use the convention of capitals for the initial letter of each word, as has always been used on record labels? Especially in a list of titles where the unnecessarily addedd "" looks extremely cluttered.Jameselmo (talk) 11:46, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

WikiProject Music already has guidelines in place that suggest normalizing capitalization in song titles. That being said, I think it's quite helpful to distinguish longer works from shorter ones by either putting them in italics or quotes, respectively (see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (titles)).– Cyrus XIII (talk) 15:30, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

I'm afraid that this does not address my questions. I'm suggesting a change in the Wiki guidlines that you quoted. I feel they need to be more flexible in regard to song titles as I clearly stated. If this is not the correct forum for this please direct me to the appropriate.Jameselmo (talk) 02:57, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Well, then I guess Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (titles) is the way to go then. – Cyrus XIII (talk) 19:34, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

Small cleanup

I truncated the last sentence in the lead; see edit history.

Mixed or non-capitalization

This is a STUPID guideline.

k d lang is k d lang. NOT K D Lang. If we are allowing articles under people's stage names then we should be capitalizing according to the stage name - because K D Lang, does not exist. TheRedPenOfDoom (talk) 14:39, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Agreed, but walls are more responsive than the champions of this MoS... Kyaa the Catlord (talk) 06:03, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

the church vs. the Church

I've been interpreting Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(capital_letters)#Institutions to also refer to churches as well (also see this that states "Never use capitalizations such as "the Church" or "The Church" to refer to any specific Latter Day Saint church. For all such churches, "the church" is acceptable when the word "church" is an uncapitalized common noun"). This issue has come up in a featured article candidacy in regards to Roman Catholic Church. I want to a) see if the regulars on this page agree with my interpretation b) see if there needs to be a larger, centralized discussion on this topic and c) alter the MoS accordingly for religious institutions. Hopefully, this won't be a big deal because it seems pretty darn straight forward to me (and introducing capitalization can run into confusion or POV issues on articles about more than one religious institutions). Anyway, what do others think?-Andrew c [talk] 23:04, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

The general rule should be that the proper names of buildings and organizations are usually capitalized, except when capitalization would create confusion with a larger organization, especially a parent organization. In the case of religions, though, WP:NPOV requires a little flexibility to let the religions tell their own stories in their own words, and sometimes this includes capitalization, as long as no ambiguity is introduced. Some judgment calls are involved.
However, looking at the lead and first section of Roman Catholic Church, I don't see any of these judgment calls; the capitalization seems fine, but for other reasons. I wouldn't be happy with saying "also known as The Church" in the first sentence, because that conflicts with the claims of other churches, but I'm okay with the capitalization that I see in the third sentence, because "the Church" clearly has "the (Roman) Catholic Church" as an antecedent. Similarly, "the President" would be okay in a sentence clearly referring to the current president of a country. Can you point out any instances where you strongly agree or disagree with the capitalization? - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 01:19, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
Outside wikipedia, I can agree with your statement: I'm okay with the capitalization that I see in the third sentence, because "the Church" clearly has "the (Roman) Catholic Church" as an antecedent. Similarly, the same logic would apply to the sentence if we replaced "Catholic Church" with Yale, and "the Church" with "the University". However, here on wikipedia, the MoS specifically says that we don't capitalize nouns that are not proper, even if they are referencing an antecedent which is a proper noun. By saying you don't have a problem with the capitalization of the Church, are you saying you disagree completely with our existing rules on capitalization of institutions, or are you saying there is something special about religious institutions that gives them a separate set of guidelines than universities? Based on your above comments, what do you recommend we should do to alter this page when it comes to capitalization of religion institutions and non-proper nouns and should we change the LDS guidelines as well?-Andrew c [talk] 03:46, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

←This guideline actually skirts the difficult case. It follows common usage on capitalizing "offices":

When making reference to a specific office, generally use uppercase: "The British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said today…" (A good rule of thumb is whether the sentence uses a definite article [the] or an indefinite article [a]. If the sentence uses the, use "Prime Minister".

So, "The Mayor talked for fifteen minutes at the press conference." This guideline also follows common usage in not capitalizing, for instance, "the university" when referring to Yale. It's institutions that are more "august" or more "intimate" than Yale where usage varies, and this guideline doesn't say anything about that; perhaps it should. I'll check the style guidelines tomorrow. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 05:35, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

There has been a long discussion at WT:MOS#University. There seems general agreement that the university example used here is more complex than it looks, and therefore a simple rule on the subject is undesirable. (As for church, I will defer to the discussion at RCC, but I see no likelihood of a consensus on lower-case, and have therefore removed the example; we should not use an example so fraught with theological issues anyway.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:44, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
I think American English is clear, but writers in other countries and writers who are targeting specific professional or academic audiences are not so fortunate; they'll have to continue to wrestle with this. I'm fine with leaving it off of this page. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 18:20, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
Sept, would you be okay with removing the disputed tag if we remove the word "church" and add the words "In American English"? - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 18:29, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
Thank you, but no. We should not be bothering to specify American English usage; more seriously, the idiomatic use of the University when a particular university is meant may well be more American than English. I deny that American English is clear; CMOS misrepresents it, in an effort to give a rule of thumb which can be applied quickly enough for a daily newspaper. I'll do a draft, which you should feel free to revert, which should capture the general ternd. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:42, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
I'm okay with your draft if we remove "any university offers courses in the arts and sciences", because I'm not aware that anyone needs to be told that "any university" is lowercase. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 19:45, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
You, Sir, are an arrant optimist; you should see University of Delhi before I did a copy-edit. But I have no problem with cutting; we can always put it back. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:35, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Church, when used alone, is usually lowercase

TCMOS covers "Religious Names and Terms" from sections 8.97 through 8.119, so it's not light reading. This section seems most relevant to me: "8.106 Church: When used alone to denote organized Christianity as an institution, the church is usually lowercased." NYTM (1999, paperback) gives: "In all later references, to building or organization: the church." AP Stylebook gives "The pope said the church opposes abortion." - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 13:59, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
Great! Thanks for the research. Would it be too bold, as of yet, to add "church" under the list of "institutions" already included on this page? I'd like a little more input, but having sources is nice.-Andrew c [talk] 15:53, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
Done, but with disclaimers. American journalistic (and to a lesser extent, academic) English is usually well-described by the style guides. British English is a little harder, and I don't know what to say about it. Capitalization rules can be brutally complex, but Wikipedian style guidelines can't be. I'm not sure what to do about all this. I made a quick and simplistic edit. Over the next few months, I'm going to try to round up as much input into style issues as I can. Wikipedia could really use its own fully-developed style guide. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 16:15, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
To be more specific, though, in the case under discussion regarding the RCC article, the question really is whether to capitalize "church" when it is used as an abbreviation, i.e., instead of having to write out "Catholic Church" or "Roman Catholic Church." Some of the grammar books I've been looking at say you are supposed to capitalize abbreviations for proper nouns, but the only examples I can find are like: "Rev. Miller" instead of "Reverand Miller." Is there anything in the MoS about this? I can't find anything. Polycarp7 (talk) 02:50, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
I'm cross posting this from the straw poll at the Catholicism entry -- Chicago clearly states that when used in a proper noun Church is capitalized. Here are the relevant discussions in Chicago: from 8.106 1) "When used alone to denote organized Christianity as an institution, the church is usually lowercased." 2) "Church is capitalized when part of the formal name of a denomination (e.g., the United Methodist Church; see other examples in 8.105) or congregation (e.g., the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle)," and from 8.105 3) "Roman Catholicism; the Roman Catholic Church (but a Roman Catholic church)." To use "the church" according to TCMOS is not correct when referring to one denomination specifically. The "Church" here is used as an abbreviated form of the "Roman Catholic Church," and hence is a proper noun that specifies one denomination only.PelleSmith (talk) 03:06, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
The exact same argument about "abbreviation" could be used for everything listed under "institution". Hospitals, universities, etc. Is there something that I am missing that makes Christian denominations different? Or are Polycarp7 and PelleSmith arguing to alter the entire "institutions" portion of this manual of style (so that we capitalize University, Hopstial, etc when it is an "abbreviation" for the full name)? I just want to figure out the scope that this conversation needs to take on, and perhaps we could start discussing more formal proposals. While I wanted to leave sleeping dogs lie (if you will), it seems like the "Church" issue at RCC needs to turn into a much larger conversation for there to be a satisfactory result. Perhaps even a centralized discussion. We'll see how things go over the next few days. -Andrew c [talk] 04:11, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
Exactly. That position was supported by all the guides 20 years ago, but none of them now. Chicago has 23 sections on capitalization of religious terms, and not one of them is exactly on point, but I believe I can make the case tomorrow when I get up that Chicago supports me. NYTM and AP Stylebook are clear; when "The pope said the church opposes abortion", I don't think he was talking about the Methodists, I think he meant the Roman Catholic Church. Of course proper nouns are capitalized, but AP Stylebook says that, in that sentence, church is not a proper noun, although it would have been 20 years ago. AP Stylebook is the guide used by a very large majority of newspapers in the US that rely on a professional style guide. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 04:39, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
You make a convincing argument. That said, I can see arguments going the other way as well. It isn't uncommon to see common nouns capitalizes when they act as "abbreviated" forms of proper nouns. If there was a new consensus, I wouldn't mind changing the entire style section. What bothered me was that (at least to me) the MoS was clear, but one article was trying to go against the MoS instead of altering the MoS itself. If the whole MoS is changed, I think that's great and I'd be happy. On the other hand, if the MoS is revised to make it clear that churches, like universities, shouldn't be capitalized outside of proper nouns, I'd be happy as well (and I'd hope the users at the article in question would accept that and move on). To me, it's a win/win situation, as long as there is a clear new consensus about this matter here in the MoS, and that new consensus acts to settle the dispute at Talk:Roman Catholic Church. I think it is divisive and shot in the face of the cohesiveness of the entire project to try to alter basic style guidelines on one article, but not for the entire site. And as it stands, we could have situations where LDS articles may get upset that the Catholics get to capitalize Church, but they do not. I'm trying to avoid denominational conflicts like that now by trying to get a discussion about this to reach a new consensus and have the MoS revised to be clear on the issue. Like I said, I'd be happy with either outcome (capital or lowercase), as long as it is a true reflection of the community's desire. (IMO, it helps if the community's desire is based on more scholarly, notable style guides, as opposed to personal opinion and what was learned in grade school, as those things aren't really reliable or verifiable).-Andrew c [talk] 13:59, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
Apparently another editor claims to have asked TCMOS about "church" specifically and received clarification that it is never capitalized unless part of an official name (e.g. the Roman Catholic Church, or the Catholic Church but not the Church). If this is the case their own presentation needs rewriting. It this is the case then peer reviewed academic publications oddly do not enforce the Chicago rule in their own editorial oversight, and I don't just mean Catholic publications, theological publications, and/or other publications associated with Christianity specifically. A quick database search in historical and social science publications finds the same result all the way up to this current year. Examples here include the Australian Journal of Anthropology, Adolescence, Sociology of Religion, Journal of the History of Ideas and The Sixteenth Century Journal. The result is of course mixed with some articles using the lower case and some the upper case--though a cursory and informal review using Wilson Web gets more upper case usage in the last two years. There are also contextual differences and I've seen what seems to be a preference with some to always use the full name, or at least "Catholic Church," but never "the church." Notably I found one example of the "Catholic church." All in all, as I said, there seems to be an overwhelming preference for not using "the church," and either using the entire name with capitalization or the capitalized abbreviation "the Church." My point here is not to prove that one usage is more popular in academia (though I believe it still is) but simply to suggest that if you go the academic route here you will at least find mixed results, and not simply because Catholic writers or Christian publications use the upper case. Regards.PelleSmith (talk) 15:01, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
The FAC at Talk:Roman_Catholic_Church#Straw_Poll seems most urgent, so I'll answer there. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 19:49, 11 May 2008 (UTC)


I disagree with the point about 'it is not necessary to capitalize the letters in an expanded acronym to show the source of the acronym:

i.e. incorrect (FOREX - FOReign EXchange)

    correct   (FOREX - foreign exchange)

I think that some acronyms are so contrived and hard to follow that, in these cases, it should happen:

i.e. (made-up example)

MADMAN - MAssive acaDeMic Arsenal Nuclues

Saccerzd 21:25, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Offering made-up examples doesn't really advance your position at all. Style guides are meant to be practical documents. If the only reason for changing them is to accomodate fictional predicaments, they're no longer as useful.
I agree with the guideline as it's currently stated. Drawing special attention to how the abbreviation was formed insults the readers' intelligence and is not necessary. Reading through the acronym and initialism topic, I've developed the opinion that drawing so much attention to the forming letters is distracting, especially when the the abbreviation is not the actual focus of an article. There are exceptions to every rule, and the wording in the MoS is not so stern as to forbid the occasional straying from the guideline for a particularly hairy abbreviation. It should definitely be avoided, though. So much of it just makes the expansions look weird.
According to Abbreviation, the example in the MoS is a "syllabic abbreviation," not an acronym per se.
--Rob Kennedy 00:29, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
I don't think we should stay away from drawing attention to letters which define an acronym or initialism simply because we think a reader would be insulted or distracted by it. Honestly, we define the color Red... This is an information source and it should be as clear as possible. I only see pros and no cons. How would a reader be distracted from a single instance where emphasis is drawn to certain letters in a phrase?
  • Pro: It is clearer and more informative to draw attention to the letters which make up an acronym.
  • Con: ?
I propose changing this guideline to allow or even encourage this practice.
Nicholas SL Smithchatter 02:54, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Agree so change. Especially in "lists of ... acronyms" where there is no risk of confusing the reader as to title case, brandnames are generally the exeception and the whole point of the article is to explain abbreviations and how they are so formed (eg. List of medical abbreviations) David Ruben Talk 00:00, 6 May 2008 (UTC)
Any objections? I'll change the guideline unless anyone can bring up a drawback. Nicholas SL Smithchatter 02:00, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
It depends on the examples. On which pages is this currently an issue? - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 14:47, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

A Question of Style

The above query regarding capitalization and the Roman Catholic Church is an on-going discussion on the articles talk page. Currently there is a straw poll underway at Talk:Roman_Catholic_Church#Capitalization_of_.22Church.22 regarding the style guidelines for capitalization and church bodies, which may be of interest to those who watch this page. Pastordavid (talk) 19:26, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

See above for what the American style guides say. I'll go tune in to the discussion; I understand it may be a sensitive topic for some. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 02:19, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
And for some it is not a "sensitive" topic but a matter of common academic usage. I'm not sure now where I stand on this, and may in fact be convinced that "the church" is preferable but it has become clear to me that "the church" is rarely used to refer to the Catholic Church in peer reviewed publications still at this date in time (and by this I mean in the Social Sciences and History). I do not think you were making an insinuation with ill will in mind, but I do think that we need to stop talking about this as a "sensitive" issue because it implies that those who prefer "the Church" do so simply because of their religious identities, and that is not necessarily the case.PelleSmith (talk) 15:26, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
I will be more careful with what I say. I meant "I can't just throw out an opinion here, because religion is a sensitive topic, so I need to go tune in to the discussion." Thanks for your AGF. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 16:55, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
I was a significant contributor to the Roman Catholic Church article. I have almost all of the source materials used to create both the Beliefs section and Church History sections. I am not an MoS expert but I will tell you that in all of the peer reviewed source materials where the subject of the book was specifically about Roman Catholic Church, the university professor authors used the upper case C when using the word Church as a substitute for repeating the name Roman Catholic Church over and over again throughout the book. As a reader, I found it easier to understand their meaning when these books talked about Roman Catholic Church issues and their interactions with other Christian institutions. I also did some research at our local library that I posted on the RCC page that I have copied and pasted here from the RCC page:
"I spent some time in the library doing some research on this subject. According to L. Sue Baugh, author of Essentials of English Grammar, p 57, "Rules for capitalization, abbreviations, and numbers can be confusing. Not all grammar books agree on the same style." According to Anne Stilman, author of Grammatically Correct, p 271 "It may sometimes be appropriate to capitalize certain descriptive or identifying names and terms that are normally lowercase. The decision to capitalize may be made on the basis of convention, policy, expectations of readers or any other reason that is specific to your circumstances." According to Jim Corder of Texas Christian University and John Ruskiewicz of Univerisity of Texas at Austin authors of Handbook of Current English 8th edition, p 276 "Some words can be spelled either with or without capitals. These forms must be distinguished because they often have different meanings: Several examples ensue among which is "Orthodox beliefs (of the Greek Orthodox Church) vs orthodox beliefs (conventional) and Catholic sympathies (of or with the Catholic Church) vs catholic sympathies (broad; universal)." Clearly there is room for personal judgement on this issue from what these sources are saying and given that the article is a long one that makes mention of different churches and happens to be about one particular church, it is common sense to capitalize the one church you are talking about in an effort to make that fact clear to the reader. That is not POV, that is good style."NancyHeise (talk) 19:49, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for your work on a wonderful article. Feel free to revert me, but I'm going to copy this over to the Straw Poll thread, where the action seems to be at the moment. Passing the WP:FAC is the most urgent issue; after the FAC, then we may want to come back here and summarize the arguments for this guideline. After that, I can feel a discussion coming on in WT:MoS on which sources are most persuasive in our style guidelines. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 20:10, 11 May 2008 (UTC)


I posted at Ilkali's talk page about his two reverts; seems like an NPOV issue to me. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 23:34, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

My preference is to talk about it here. Have you seen Christian mythology? Is that article also an NPOV violation?
Again, nobody would capitalise 'monster' when talking about Medusa. By pandering to irrational hypersensitivities you have done worse than removing the example - you have confused its meaning. It would be better to have nothing. Ilkali (talk) 09:30, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
If you think the example is a worthwhile one, and I agree about that, consider changing the context it was originally in. References to fictional beings from literature, the use of the word "creature," and the less exact but perhaps more popular definition of "myth" are not ideal when talking about a "supernatural being" with this much significance to a majority of the worlds religious peoples. The word "creature," in fact simply strikes me as wrong. Medusa is a "creature" but would you call Odysseus a "creature"? What about Zeus? I think there could easily be a compromise here that uses the Gabriel example and makes the surrounding context more appropriate.PelleSmith (talk) 12:21, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
'Creature' could be substituted for something like 'entity'. 'mythical creatures' for 'mythical or religious creatures', perhaps, with some instances of 'mythical' simply removed (they're mostly redundant anyway). I disagree with your first point, though. I think there's merit to talking about elves and fairies at the same time as angels and devas. It gives a better indication of the scope of the guideline. Ilkali (talk) 12:38, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
"Being" would be more precise than "entity." Mythical creatures could be replaced by "mythical or religious beings." One of the problems here is that the angels which appear in the narratives of the Abrahamic faiths are not primarily considered, either by believers or academics, as "mythological." Within the specific context of or study of Christian mythology Gabriel may logically be considered a mythological being, but the guideline about writing the "angel Gabriel" does not only apply to this rather specific context. So my point is that it isn't simply out of respect to believers, amongst whom I don't count myself, but from a more general concern that I do not like the notion of simply throwing a being that is part of a living religious belief system into a guideline that is currently, as written, only about mythology.PelleSmith (talk) 13:25, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
"One of the problems here is that the angels which appear in the narratives of the Abrahamic faiths are not primarily considered, either by believers or academics, as "mythological."". Believers never believe that their own myths are mythological. There is no "unless it's part of a current world religion" clause in any well-cited definition of a myth. Ilkali (talk) 14:43, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
Since you selectively quoted I'm assuming you missed the the "believers or academics" bit. Angels, and the narratives they are in, are not usually part of scholarship on mythology and scholarship about them is rarely ever in terms of their "mythical," "mythic" or "mythological" status. The believers bit is about being respectful, the academics bit is not. In all scholarship it is correct to write "the angel Gabriel" and since a very small amount of that scholarship has anything to do with myth it is inappropriate to make our guideline out in this manner.PelleSmith (talk) 19:53, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
"Since you selectively quoted [...]". I quoted the part I was replying to. Calm down.
"In all scholarship it is correct to write "the angel Gabriel" and since a very small amount of that scholarship has anything to do with myth it is inappropriate to make our guideline out in this manner". Can you present evidence that the relevant academics employ a definition of myth that is not appropriate to angels? Ilkali (talk) 21:50, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
Most academics who would make reference to the "angel Gabriel" would not in any way be making reference to the Angel as a "mythical creature". I'm not sure exactly what your question has to do with this at all. Calling the narratives of the Bible "myths" is a very particular way of framing them. Calling the figures from those narratives "mythical" beings is a very particular way of treating them. This particularity is not common or apropos to most scholarship about angels, or in this case specifically the angel Gabriel. Is there something confusing about this? Do you want me to rephrase it again? Why are you so concerned with calling a key figure from Abrahamic narratives "mythical"?PelleSmith (talk) 22:17, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

The use of the term "mythical creature" in connection with angels is going to cause offense to large categories of people. The intent of the guideline is correct (and "the Angel Gabriel" would indeed be bad style), but characterizing this as being about "mythical creatures" is offensive and unnecessary. The point is that it has nothing to do with whether it is mythical or supernatural or not: indications of species are not capitalized with proper names unless they would be capitalized independently. So we can have "the African Desmond Tutu", which is properly capitalized because "African" is a proper noun, but "the bishop Desmond Tutu", which is not, because "bishop" is a common noun. Then there is "Archbishop Desmond Tutu", which is capitalized because here "Archbishop" is a title. There is no special rule for "mythical creatures", just the general rule that species names in constructions like this are not capitalized with proper names unless they would be independently. Tb (talk) 13:10, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

What I'm hearing is that this is another case where there is some friction between academic and journalistic values. There are specific academic disciplines in which the word "mythological" is claimed (I don't really believe it, but that's not the point) not to carry any judgment about where it's true or not, and those are the sources that were consulted in Christian mythology, an article that carries the closest thing to a disclaimer that I've seen in WP article-space. People who write for a wider audience believe that the word "mythological" does carry a value judgment. Should we favor academic values or journalistic values in this case? Why or why not?
Why is it okay to describe Medusa as a mythological creature but not Gabriel? Ilkali (talk) 14:43, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
Because nobody believes in Medusa anymore - if they ever did. Therefore Medusa is an accepted myth. Calling Gabriel a myth is POV. (talk) 15:48, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
Is it NPOV for Wikipedia to assert that Medusa never existed? Do we have a cite for that? Ilkali (talk) 21:50, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
Ilkali, please read what I just posted above. The angel Gabriel is almost never a "mythical creature" in terms of the discourses in which it is used both popularly and academically. Medusa is almost always a "mythical creature" in both common and academic discourses. The fact that in a specific academic context Gabriel can be considered a "mythical being" does not outweigh the most common usages inside and outside the academy. If this guideline is going to be practical in application it should be clear, and incorporate the language used for supernatural beings in contexts outside of "mythology." Cheers.PelleSmith (talk) 20:00, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
Don't post a comment just to tell me to read a different comment. I'm happy to read and reply to it without your urging. Ilkali (talk) 21:50, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
(African is not a proper noun)
We have this section because people always think that English orthography bows down before their religious beliefs. If we could rely on people to consistently apply simple rules like those concerning proper and common noun capitalisation, we would. But here in the real world, we need to spell this out to them. Ilkali (talk) 14:43, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
I have started a discussion on the larger question at WT:MoS, and that might take a while. In the meantime, note that "mythical" and "mythological" have a definite sense of "allegorical" and "fictitious" in Websters Online, AMHER, etc, which is not what you are trying to say, Ilkali, if I understand you right. I think you're really intending to talk about the words "myth" and "mythology", which are the words that show up in the infobox at Christian mythology. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 15:38, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
Everyone please note that Ilkali made a change an hour ago that might be acceptable to everyone; is it? - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 15:49, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
No it is not. The term "creature" is still entirely inaccurate not preferable and to those who "believe" most probably depending on how they read it possibly offensive. I will make a slight change and see if people are OK with it.PelleSmith (talk) 20:00, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
Is it that you don't think angels are creatures, or that you don't think describing them as such implies the proper reverence? Regardless, you didn't just make a "slight change" - you heavily altered the structure of the paragraph:
  1. "denoting" -> "denoting types of". "types of" is redundant.
  2. ", except in the context of fantasy works in which the term also denotes an ethnicity" -> "An exception can be found in certain works of the fantasy genre, such as those of J.R.R. Tolkien, in which the terms also denote ethnicities". Your version is longer without delivering any more information (why are we mentioning an author? are we assuming people don't know what fantasy is?). And it's describing an exception to a rule but is separated from that rule by a sentence on a different topic.
  3. "mythical or religious" -> "religious, mythical or supernatural". Why? Do the first two not cover everything?
Motivate these changes, please. Ilkali (talk) 21:50, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
"I" don't think angels exist, but what "I think" is not apropos here. When I mention "respect" it has nothing to do with reverence towards angels, but instead it concerns showing respect to a very large population of people who inhabit this planet, among whom I don't even count myself. I purposefully altered the structure of the paragraph for clarity, but maybe it didn't have to be this long. Also note that I used the general structure of the person who edited before your last change. Let me deal with your specific points.
  1. "Types of" is only redundant if the sentence is clear without it, which I am not sure about. I only added it to make sure it was understood that it is the generic type that is not capitalized, while we do capitalize the proper names of specific beings. Does the reader clearly understand this without the specificity? Of course this isn't a huge deal and it can be removed if my addition is not helpful.
  2. The placement of this part was confusing, especially given the ambiguity of the first part. The exception should be made after the entire general rule is clarified and the rule is not clarified until we hear about what parts of terms denoting these types of beings are actually to be capitalized. How do you think that is a different topic? If it is a different topic then why not cut it altogether? I am not sure I understand what you mean by that. Speaking of different topics, I am also not exactly sure why this exception is in here. Since when do the worlds and characters of fantasy fiction fall under, "Religions, deities, philosophies, doctrines and their adherents." I imagine it was because of the terminological crossover that this exception was stated here. In other words this rule is about religion, not about fantasy fiction. The lesser topic is how this rule doesn't apply to fantasy fiction. Is that unclear? Also, FYI, many people would not understand what "fantasy works" are without some clarification. Maybe mentioning one author is unnecessary but I think my version of this was an improvement, especially with the wikilinking.
  3. Supernatural makes the category more inclusive, but perhaps we can do away with it.
I will get rid of "supernatural," and the example of Tolkien but can you please explain further why we should make the other changes you suggest. Thanks.PelleSmith (talk) 22:50, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

Creature and myth

The reason why "being" is preferable to "creature" is for the sake of NPOV. Being is a much more neutral term which passes no judgment and makes no inference. "Creature" can have many more specific connotations such as referring to lower animals, but even in its generic form it implies at least that is is an animate entity that has "been created". As I said before you wouldn't call Zeus or Odysseus "creatures," even if you could easily justify doing so by using the most generic definition of the term. A similar matter was breached earlier with "myth". While we can justify the claim that many of the narratives of the Bible are "myths" by way of this term's most common academic usage we also have other definitions of myth which are quite different. At least one of these very common definitions implies something that in this context is the furthest thing from being NPOV: (OED) "A widespread but untrue or erroneous story or belief; a widely held misconception; a misrepresentation of the truth. Also: something existing only in myth; a fictitious or imaginary person or thing." The overarching issue here is to be clear with the guidelines in the most NPOV way we can. Do you agree with this basic principle? I agreed with you that the "angel Gabriel" is a better example than the "monster Medusa" because it is much more commonly used, but I also agree that we can make this rule just as clear in a more neutral capacity. Isn't that what we are striving for?PelleSmith (talk) 23:34, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

This is a tangential point, but I'd just remark that Christian angelology definitely holds that angels are creatures; that is, that they were created (as opposed to, say, begotten). I assume this is the same for other Abrahamic religions, and as far as I know non-Abrahamic religions don't speak of angels per se (though they might have beings that play roughly the same role). --Trovatore (talk) 23:51, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
But they are not "lower animals", in any religion. My point was simply that "being" doesn't even imply what the most generic form of "creature" implies, but your point is well taken. Also, even within the perspective you refer to, "creature" is clearly not the word of preference, even if (as before) the case can be made that an angel is a creature. I guess I'm just trying to reiterate that the overarching point here is simply to imply as little as possible, and to provide language that is as neutral as possible. Again, thanks.PelleSmith (talk) 00:05, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

Foreign Exchange

Yes, I agree, that works better than caps for me too. There seems to be a consensus that caps are too "loud" if there is any good way to avoid them. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 19:40, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Plural proper nouns

What is the correct way to capitalize plural proper nouns? For example, "Marquette County" and "Delta County" are obviously proper nouns and the word "county" should be capitalized. But if you wanted to refer to both of them at once, and avoid repetition, you would say "Marquette and Delta Counties". Should that C be capitalized or not?

If not, would the same logic apply to saying "presidents Bush and Clinton" rather than "Presidents Bush and Clinton"? -- Kéiryn (talk) 04:33, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

Since you're giving American examples, Chicago gives: "Lakes Michigan and Erie" (so I think you need caps in your examples), but they also give "the Illinois and the Chicago rivers" in section 8.57 and "Carnegie and Euclid avenues" in section 8.60. But "the X of..." is always lowercase. My competence ends at the American border. The general principle these days is: lowercase except when you can't get away with it, that is, when the expression is a dead-obvious proper noun. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 13:03, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
No offense (since it's obviously not your fault) but that clears up absolutely nothing. I can't fathom any logical reason why it would be "Lakes Michigan and Erie" but "the Illinois and Chicago rivers" – especially since both are US examples. Also, in my experience, "the X of..." is rarely lowercase. For example, it's always City of New York.
I used to have a hard copy of the MLA guide lying around somewhere, I'll see if I can find it. Does anyone else know what other style guides say? -- Kéiryn (talk) 22:26, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
I can't think of a reason either. Capitalization has always been the most disappointing part of Chicago for me; way too many words, hard to make sense of it. The url for the section on capitalization in the abbreviated MLA guide at Purdue is, but it isn't helpful. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 23:15, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
From Chicago: "Where the government rather than the place is meant, the words state, city, and the like are usually capitalized.

She works for the Village of Forest Park

That is a City of Chicago ordinance.


Residents of the village of Forest Park enjoy easy access to the city of Chicago.

- Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 23:22, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for clarifying. As I went up to research, I realized that I was thinking the same thing re: City of New York.
Speaking of which, I went up to the university library to research the issue. MLA and APA say absolutely nothing on the issue. (Woohoo!) After looking at Chicago myself, they do make it pretty clear that there's a distinction between the generic term (i.e. lake, river, county) coming before or after the specific one. When it comes first, it's always capitalized; when it comes second, it's usually not. However, of course, it doesn't enlighten us as to what the logic is behind that. Talking to the man behind the reference desk, when I asked him the question before enlightening him as to what Chicago said, he automatically said that the C in Counties should be capitalized – and after looking through Chicago together, decided to just chalk it up to personal preference, because he smirked and agreed with me that it's totally illogical.
So given that we're trying to write a style guide for Wikipedia articles here, do we follow Chicago, do we follow logic (IMHO), or do we leave it up to preference? -- Kéiryn (talk) 00:15, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

The theme IMO is to lower barriers to entry into writing both for Wikipedia and professionally; that's what Wikipedia does so much better than academia and the writing professions. But lowering barriers doesn't mean saying "anything is okay", because that won't help people when they write outside WP, and it won't even help them much in Wikipedia, if they don't have reasons they can hold out to defend themselves against other people messing with their stuff. I'd say the principle here is that modern style guides have adopted what's called a "down" style in capitalization, which means roughly: you have great latitude to reinterpret words as common nouns. "The City of Chicago has boosted employee salaries every year, and the city...". The second "city" can be lowercased on the theory that you might be thinking "among all possible cities, this one...". Regarding cities, AP Stylebook says: "Capitalize city if part of a proper name, an integral part of an official name, or a regularly used nickname: Kansas City, New York City, Windy City, City of Light, Fun City. Lowercase elsewhere: a Texas city; the city government; the city Board of Education; and all city of phrases: the city of Boston." - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 02:06, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

So for Wikipedia purposes, either "Marquette and Delta Counties" or "Marquette and Delta counties" should be considered correct? -- Kéiryn (talk) 02:21, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
I'd support that. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 04:32, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
If there is a distinction of meaning, it probably is: the City of New York is the municipality, the artificial corporation; the city of Boston is the mass of buildings. If so, both are preferable in their places. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:58, 28 May 2008 (UTC)

First words in bulleted lists

Should the first word in bulleted lists be capitalized, like in see also sections for example? If you would reply on my talk page I would be quite grateful. --Emesee (talk) 05:26, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

Common noun god in monotheistic contexts

I'd like to establish consensus on a few uses of /gɒd/-words (by which I intend to denote both the common noun god, equivalent to deity, and the proper noun God, which specifically references God. I reference them this way to avoid accusations of non-neutrality). Please consider the following cases:

  • Christians believe in a single god/God.
  • The Trinity is three persons in one god/God.
  • Allah is a god/God.
  • The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are each fully the same god/God.

It is my contention that in each of these cases, the /gɒd/-word in question is the common noun god. I would hope we are already in agreement on that. The question is: Should an exception be made to the MoS policy ("Common nouns should not be capitalized") for these cases? If so, we should write this into policy. If not (and I do not believe it should, for the same reason that we do not make exceptions for capitalising pronouns), I believe our section on religion needs to be spelled out even more clearly, to make this explicit. Ilkali (talk) 20:27, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

We are not already in agreement on that. When one says "Christians believe in a single God", this is not grammatically different it seems from, "I believe in an inspiring Abraham Lincoln." English is perfectly content to use articles, adjectives, and numbers in front of proper names. As for "Allah is a god/God", this would probably never appear in a well-written article. It would be correct to say "Allah is God", but to say "Allah is a god/God", regardless of captilization, would be incorrect, making Allah one god among possibly many, whereas it is a part of the doctrine of Islam that Allah is the only possible God. Tb (talk) 02:40, 27 May 2008 (UTC)
As I've explained elsewhere, a statement like "Allah is a god" does not entail or imply that there are other gods in existence. It just ascribes a set of attributes to Allah.
"When one says "Christians believe in a single God", this is not grammatically different it seems from, "I believe in an inspiring Abraham Lincoln."". I'd think the nature of the adjective single would make it obvious this is not the case. A single God? Isn't that slightly tautological? What's more, it's not even an expression of monotheism - believing in a single God does not preclude also believing in a single Zeus, a single Vishnu, etc. The sentence makes far more sense and is far more informative if the /gɒd/-word is taken to be a common noun.
Which seems most like the original sentence: "Christians believe in a single deity" or "Christians believe in a single Yahweh"? Ilkali (talk) 07:00, 27 May 2008 (UTC)
Moreover, this is not a question of "exceptions", but of following good contemporary English style. Good contemporary English style--check out, for example, the Chicago Manual of Style says not to capitalize pronouns, but to capitalize "God" in monotheistic references without exception. Tb (talk) 02:41, 27 May 2008 (UTC)
"Moreover, this is not a question of "exceptions", but of following good contemporary English style". These are common nouns. If "good contemporary English style" requires us to capitalise them then it requires us to make an exception to the general English rule that common nouns are not capitalised. Ilkali (talk) 07:00, 27 May 2008 (UTC)
Yes, it does; however, this sort of thing is why these pages are guidelines, to be followed with "common sense and the occasional exception" as the template says. Having said that, we do not need to write out every exception; we will never succeed in doing so. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:46, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
Given the potential for disagreement over this, and the breadth of contexts in which it is relevant, I do not think it's sensible to leave it to "common sense". Ilkali (talk) 14:26, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
The commonsense involved amounts to following general English usage, rather than making up our own, or pursuing the usage of a doctrinaire minority. But in fact, we will have to leave it to common sense; most editors will never see this page. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:00, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
Anderson is right. This is nothing more than a matter of common sense. As I wrote on God's talk page ...

It's very straight-forward grammar. Take Don Coppersmith for example. He is a cryptographer and mathematician. He is not a coppersmith, however, it's probable that at least one of Coppersmith's ancestors was a coppersmith. ...

If you've found instances of bad grammar, fix them. If you're reverted explain on the talk page. Writing a rule to enforce common sense should be a last resort. Write such a rule and you're likely even to worsen things by making it appear that this is some WP convention when in reality it's nothing more than primary-school grammar. JIMp talk·cont 00:12, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
People often have great difficulty applying common sense where religion is concerned. The most I am proposing is to add an extra example sentence to the existing three, to reflect this usage case. Ilkali (talk) 06:23, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
(left) What is your proposed sentence? Your argument so far reads as though it will be a change to English idiom, which we cannot and should not enforce, per WP:CRYSTAL; but let's see. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:20, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
"Your argument so far reads as though it will be a change to English idiom, which we cannot and should not enforce". This has nothing to do with idiom - it is purely a stylistic matter. Since capitalisation of /gɒd/-words in contexts such as those above is not consistent across users of English, I am proposing that we clarify whether it is dispreferred. Further, I am arguing that it is entirely analogous to capitalisation of pronouns, with the extra problem that it introduces ambiguity, and that it should be dispreferred. Regarding the exact nature of the change: I would favor either adding an extra example sentence similar to those above, or adding an extra clause to the sentence on common nouns, such as: "Common nouns, regardless of their referents, should not be capitalized". The former is perhaps preferable, since it does not rely on knowledge of the distinction between common and proper nouns.
I've no idea how you would relate an orthographic style issue to WP:CRYSTAL. Ilkali (talk) 16:55, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
Stylistic matters are idioms, by nature. English idiom is manifestly to capitalize God in most, if not all, of the sentences discussed above. I strongly oppose any effort to change this until such change prevails outside Wikipedia, and the effort to anticipate such change is an effort to predict the future, which we should not do here any more than in article space. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:19, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
"English idiom is manifestly to capitalize God in most, if not all, of the sentences discussed above". Well, it's common. So is capitalising pronouns. The point is that both are practices conditioned largely by one's religious beliefs - they are much less common among people who do not believe in God. Where there is this kind of divide, Wikipedia should (and, in the case of pronouns, does) take the neutral position, and adhere to basic orthographical rules. People are free to glorify their gods on their talk pages. They shouldn't be doing it in article space. Ilkali (talk) 18:44, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
The point is that both are practices conditioned largely by one's religious beliefs - they are much less common among people who do not believe in God. I'm not sure this is true - Bertrand Russell routinely capitalized; but the claim flips both ways, proving equally well that lowercasing is conditioned by irreligious beliefs. Wikipedia should do what is customarily done, without inquiring into the reasons for it; for that Ilkali's admission that it is common suffices. We are not an institute for language reform; we will follow them when and if they accomplish their ends. To do otherwise is to imitate those seventh-century clerics who objected to the study of Latin grammar as leading to paganism. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:59, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
For the last time: This is not about language reform, it is about choosing between two competing convention. One is in line with basic orthographical standards, one is a flouting of said standards that is based in religion and introduces ambiguity. Ilkali (talk) 19:42, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
Your proposal, however, is to choose one of them, even where it is unusual and therefore unnatural. No, I object, again. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:10, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

Furthermore this sentence appears to have subtly appeared since the last time Ilkali was arguing on this page: Pronouns referring to deities, or nouns (other than names) referring to any material or abstract representation of any deity, human or otherwise, are not capitalized. I don't believe it to be consensus, although the reflexive capitalization some editors would perform in such contexts is unlikely to be consensus either. The first question is, therefore, does anybody other than Ilkali support this, or is it a one-man band? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:30, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

That sentence has been there since the very first version of the page. Am I to apply Hanlon's razor here?
That aside, could you explain your problem with that part of the manual? Ilkali (talk) 18:44, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
What part of I don't believe it to be consensus [or usage, btw] did you fail to understand? If only Ilkali is willing to support it, it is not consensus; if someone else is, we'll see. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:59, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
The failure to understand is yours. You quoted a long sentence with many components - how am I expected to know which parts you object to? Are you seriously advocating capitalising pronouns? Ilkali (talk) 19:42, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
I see that it was there when this page was split off. How or when it got here, I do not know, nor why the section above is phrased as it is; if it is still consensus, fine (it may do more good than harm). Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:06, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
This is only relevant to American English, but Chicago says: "8.102 Pronouns: Pronouns referring to God or Jesus are not capitalized. (Note that they are lowercased in most English translations of the Bible.) [Examples:] They prayed to God that he would deliver them. Jesus and his disciples". AP Stylebook says: "Lowercase pronouns referring to the deity: he, him, his, thee, thou, who, whose, thy, etc". - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 19:38, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
Yes, that would be normal in (some of) those contexts, and is covered by our existing preference for lower case; "If there were a Creator God, He would..." differs to my ear. Also, if we quote the King James (as we must in Messiah (oratorio), for example), this would infringe WP:V. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:10, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
I am largely ignorant on orthography in religious matters. As an ignorant person, I'd be happy with something easy to remember, but I don't care much. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 00:09, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
Regarding numbers of people in agreement:
  1. Myself, of course.
  2. Bejnar: "I think that there is agreement that the word god should only be capitalized when it is a proper noun"
  3. Craig zimmerman: (responding to Bejnar): "There is full agreement here"
  4. SamuelRiv: "When referring to "a god" or "the god" or "my god", do not capitalize, but as a proper name "I love God" please capitalize"
  5. JIMp (by analogy with coppersmith): "Take Don Coppersmith for example. He is a cryptographer and mathematician. He is not a coppersmith, however, it's probable that at least one of Coppersmith's ancestors was a coppersmith"
These are just the examples found on this page. At a glance, you are the only person who has explicitly argued for making exceptions to normal common noun conventions. Consensus against capitalising pronouns would presumably be even stronger. You are pushing your own POV by removing the corresponding policy from the MoS. Ilkali (talk) 07:56, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
I see the evidence differently.
I am the only one to oppose the rule for pronouns, which is what I doubt is consensus; insofar as it coincides with our general preference for lowercase, it is redundant; insofar as it exceeds that preference, it is doubtful. (I would equally deplore "because He, the Holy One of God, upon Whom be Peace", for the same fundamental reason: it's not common idiom.) On the other hand, Ilkali is the only one to support it, so far. If there is consensus to reinsert it, so be it.
As for the original question of god/God:
  • Craig Zimmermann goes on to say that Ilkali has actually made modifications in cases where the word "God" was indeed being used as a proper name. It is apparently a matter of distaste with the entity he feels is non-existent having its name capitalized. Your last example at the head of this section is another instance of this.
  • Quoting Jimp as though he agreed with you, when his first words of his post are Anderson is right raises real questions as to whether further discussion can be productive. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:58, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
"I am the only one to oppose the rule for pronouns, which is what I doubt is consensus; insofar as it coincides with our general preference for lowercase, it is redundant; insofar as it exceeds that preference, it is doubtful". You are not making your position at all clear here. Do you agree that there should be no orthographical exceptions made for pronouns referencing deities?
"Craig Zimmermann goes on to say that Ilkali has actually made modifications in cases where the word "God" was indeed being used as a proper name". Which has nothing to do with whether common nouns should be capitalised. If you want to discuss whether a given token is a common noun or not then I'll indulge you in that later, but I'm not going to let you take this discussion away on a tangent.
"Quoting Jimp as though he agreed with you, when his first words of his post are Anderson is right raises real questions as to [...]". Right about whether common nouns should be capitalised? No. Right about something else? Yes. Again, tangents. Ilkali (talk) 16:06, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
On what grounds does Ilkali want the word in question to be treated polytheistically even in monotheistic contexts (cf. title of the section)? No monotheist would write, as Ilkali would, "Allah is a god" (implying a whole class of gods in the sense intended by the writer, what Ilkali calls a common noun), rather than "Allah is God". It would be like writing "This book is by a coppersmith", when we mean: "The author is Coppersmith". There is a certain logic to what is, as even Ilkali admits, the overwhelmingly prevailing usage. If, to please Ilkali, Wikipedia were to go against this prevailing usage, it would violate its fundamental rule about not accepting original research. Lima (talk) 08:29, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
"On what grounds does Ilkali want the word in question to be treated polytheistically even in monotheistic contexts (cf. title of the section)?". You presuppose that there are orthographical rules distinguishing between monotheism and polytheism. That is very much not a point of agreement.
"No monotheist would write, as Ilkali would, "Allah is a god" (implying a whole class of gods in the sense intended by the writer, what Ilkali calls a common noun), rather than "Allah is God". It would be like writing "This book is by a coppersmith", when we mean: "The author is Coppersmith"". Utter nonsense.
  1. As I've already explained here to someone else, to describe Allah as a god is simply to ascribe it traits associated with godhood. Nobody that knew a jot about semantics would entertain the idea that to describe something as a god is to assert the existence of other gods. "We live in a universe" does not entail multiple universes. "Dolly is a cloned sheep" does not entail the existence of other cloned sheep. "Taipei 101 is a 1,671-foot building" does not entail the existence of similarly sized buildings.
  2. Yes, "Allah is God" is a fine statement. Nobody is contesting such a use. Neither is anybody asserting that the statement "Allah is a god" is used often. But it is meaningful and informative, and the noun in question most definitely is a common noun. "Allah is a God" is the only variant we would have cause to question.
  3. Your analogy does not remotely hold, because you are ascribing an intended meaning to the sentence "Allah is a god" that patently isn't the meaning of the sentence. The analogue of "The author is Coppersmith" is "Allah is God". The analogue of "The author is a coppersmith" is "Allah is a god". We choose between them depending on what meaning we want to convey. None of them are 'wrong'.
"There is a certain logic to what is, as even Ilkali admits, the overwhelmingly prevailing usage". I think the most I've said is that it is 'common' or 'normal'. Neither entails 'overwhemingly prevailing'. And you haven't made a single argument here for making orthographical exceptions - your blathering about coppersmiths completely misses the point. If there is a "certain logic", you have failed to exemplify it.
And I would advise you to re-read WP:OR. I do not think it means what you think it means. Ilkali (talk) 09:31, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
It seems that, among all contributors here, only one thinks it "utter nonsense" or "blathering" to postulate an orthographical distinction according as a word, identical in pronunciation, refers to an occupation or a person, to a god or to God. Lima (talk) 19:12, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
You are (deliberately, I think) misrepresenting my position. There are three stances being taken here:
  1. The words in the above sentences are proper nouns and should be capitalised per standard English orthography.
  2. The words in the above sentences are common nouns and should be capitalised in an exception to standard English orthography.
  3. The words in the above sentences are common nouns and should be decapitalised per standard English orthography.
I take the third stance. You take the first. Others (including, I believe, PManderson) take the second. If it were proven to you that the words are in fact common nouns, would you take the second stance or the third? Ilkali (talk) 19:17, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
To repeat in a different form what I have said, "Allah is a god" fits a polytheistic context, and the statement "Allah is God", while out of place in a polytheistic context, is the correct one in the context that this discussion is about - see the title that you gave this section, into which you inserted your personal opinion that the word in question can be a common noun within that context. I think that your application here of the common noun/proper noun distinction is at best an over-simplification. Is "the Good Book" (used in reference to the Bible, not some other good book) a common noun or a proper noun? Is "the God of Israel" (used - as it is used in a monotheistic context - in reference to the One Supreme Being, not some tribal god) a common noun or a proper noun? In the monotheistic contexts in which English-speakers normally capitalize the word "God" (does it matter whether they do so on the basis of stance 1 or 2?), to make Wikipedia treat it as a lower-case common noun would be having Wikipedia accept original research. So you see I am only repeating myself. As, I think, are you. For my part, I will stop now. (But only after adding a thought that has just come to mind: the Soviet government outlawed capitalization of the Russian word for God; I suppose that by now secular newspapers in that language capitalize the word; I see that the Russian Wikipedia does capitalize it.) Lima (talk) 04:36, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
"To repeat in a different form what I have said, "Allah is a god" fits a polytheistic context". Does it entail polytheism? Is this 'fit' just stylistic (nobody's claiming there are many contexts where the sentence would likely be used), or is the sentence in some way incompatible with monotheism?
"Is "the God of Israel" (used - as it is used in a monotheistic context - in reference to the One Supreme Being, not some tribal god) a common noun or a proper noun?". The entire phrase is not a noun. The /gɒd/-word could be either a common or proper noun depending on what meaning was intended. Usually I'd think a proper noun interpretation would be more sensible. Even with a common noun interpretation, though, the meaning of the noun phrase in context would most likely be identical due to how people would interpret the definite article.
"In the monotheistic contexts in which English-speakers normally capitalize the word "God" (does it matter whether they do so on the basis of stance 1 or 2?)". (Yes, it does matter. Why didn't you answer my question?).
"to make Wikipedia treat it as a lower-case common noun would be having Wikipedia accept original research". You've said this before, and it doesn't make any more sense now than then. You have to support these kinds of claim, you know.
"For my part, I will stop now". You're a hit-and-run debater. You jump in to make some forceful assertions and then you disappear when called upon to justify them. That's not productive. Ilkali (talk) 08:28, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
No, Lima is merely tired of dealing with a bore, who has invented a "standard English orthography" to suit his prejudices. "Allah is God" is usage; "Allah is a god" is usage; "Allah is the God of Mohammed" is usage. No two of them have exactly the same force, and fiddling with the capitalization of any of them is mischief against the language. No amount of playing with the tokens of common and proper nouns will change this. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:06, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
"No, Lima is merely tired of dealing with a bore, who has invented a "standard English orthography" to suit his prejudices". You ceaselessly alternate between repeating what I've said and making idiotic and uneducated claims about the language you claim to speak. I've already dealt with all of your arguments. Sniping at me here is childish and pathetic. Ilkali (talk) 17:26, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
Ah, yes: all these arguments are dealt with (elsewhere, of course) in my infallible collected works; no opinion of anyone who has not waded through them need be considered. (Was it Blavatsky who invented this rhetoric?) You have not convinced me (have you convinced anyone?); editors disagree with you; there is no consensus. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:37, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Does anyone (besides, of course, the perpetually tedious Ilkali) actually now support a change of language in this guideline? Until someone says so, I intend to join Lima in ignoring him. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:37, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

I suppose I'll add my opinion here. Obviously, we should capitalize when referring to a proper name, which I don't think anyone disagrees with. (Christians call their deity God.) I think that "Christians believe there is only one god" is better style in that case. It's usage is similar to the first usage in this sentence: "As a Christian, I believe that there is no god but God." It happens that the word "g/God" refers both to a category of things (a category that may have zero, one, or more than one members) and also to the proper name that a large number of people use for the one thing that, they believe, belongs in that category. It's pronounced the same, but the usages are different, and we should be clear about that in the text. Croctotheface (talk) 19:46, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

Good Thing and Bad Thing, wikt:Bad Thing, Real Programmer

This guideline seems to suggest that these articles should be renamed to the lowercase form, especially due to the section about using italics rather than capitalization for emphasis. The thing is, particularly for Good Thing and Bad Thing, it's explicit that the reason they're capitalized is for emphasis, and the way they've been emphasized since the very beginning is using capitals. Are these valid exceptions to the MOSCAPS rules? --Underpants (talk) 20:19, 15 June 2008 (UTC)

Yes, because "Good thing" is not the subject Good Thing is. Mostlyharmless (talk) 04:01, 1 July 2008 (UTC)


In the case of proper names such as bell hooks, danah boyd etc., we currently have a situation where the MOS is being cited to impose a use that conflicts with; common usage, (overwhelmingly with) academic usage, media usage, and the wishes and usage of the subjects themselves. The Chicago Manual of Style and the Oxford University style guide both explicitly state that in the cases of authors such as bell hooks, the lower case of their name is to be used, except at the start of sentences. I think the MOS, should be changed to reflect these realities. Accuracy should trump style, but they shouldn't have to conflict in this way. Mostlyharmless (talk) 02:24, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

I don't know that a consensus was ever reached, but if you look up the page, you'll see there was a rather lengthy discusion of this some time ago. I don't really know how to go about reviving that discussion (maybe contacting every editor involved, and going to the various talk pages and contacting those editors as well?), but I absolutely support re-starting this conversation (and changing the MOS). -- Irn (talk) 04:02, 26 June 2008 (UTC)
I reverted. (Sorry about the lack of edit summary, I clicked the wrong link). I don't feel strongly about the issue myself, but IMO we don't have consensus to change this guideline yet, because I only see two people talking about it here, and it's been widely discussed before. There are 3 general issues here:
  • Using orthography (including strange capitalization) as a weapon or a billboard: there's just a whole huge set of issues around writing things with orthography that's different from what's usual. Sometimes it's to draw special attention to a company, or an issue, or (in this case) a person; sometimes it's used to subtly represent things or people as unimportant. There has been a general tendency to say "no" to alternate orthography of any kind, especially when it violates an otherwise universal and easy-to-follow rule like "Proper nouns are capitalized". There's also the issue that anything that's different is just one more damn thing to learn, and the English language is already so complex that people are just generally resistant to exceptions to orthography.
  • There's a trade-off (as there often is) between journalistic and academic values here. Academicians are generally more willing to agree with their subjects; journalists tend to be more standardized. Wikipedia generally sides with the journalists, but we might be able to make arguments here to change the way things are done. Again, I don't see the presence of consensus yet.
  • Special attention needs to be paid to those "style" issues that aren't just style issues, but result in information being either less accurate or harder to find. Some searches are case-sensitive, and names are expected to be capitalized. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 14:33, 28 June 2008 (UTC)
I disagree and support the language added by MostlyHarmless. If we take your non-style reason at face value, "Some searches are case sensative" and so those people searching for say bell hooks or k. d. lang under the the most commonly presented case usage of their names will not find them if we insist on applying the rule that that proper nouns are capitalized, despite the fact that in these instances, these proper nouns aren't. -- The Red Pen of Doom 15:25, 28 June 2008 (UTC)
It's not a big thing for me which way we go on this. It is a big thing with me not to make changes on a style guidelines page unless we've checked around a bit to make sure there's consensus. In the bad old days, article reviewers had to constantly relearn the style guidelines when they kept changing back and forth; we aim to keep them a little more stable. They can change, we just need to ask around first. I've put in a notice at WT:MOS and WT:VPP. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 16:31, 28 June 2008 (UTC)

I apologise for moving without community consensus. I looked over previous debate and made edits which I thought reflected this (requiring a high burden of proof for exceptions), and debate on the pages of k.d. lang etc., but I really should have waited for further comment here. I disagree with all of the points made above, but feel the "billboard" objection particularly needs addressing. In the cases of hooks and boyd, their names have been changed for [particular ] reasons. But it is not up to us to judge the validity of those reasons. The job of Wikipedia is to accurately reflect them as they used and accepted and respect these people as having changed their names. I see this as no different to a person changing their name, and Wikipedia using that version rather than the previous. Mostlyharmless (talk) 01:33, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

This section and the one above have the same fundamental issue: Should we ignore our normal rules in favor of almost invariable usage? I think we certainly should; but it should actually be almost invariable. As a chief counterexample, E. E. Cummings should be capitalized; e. e. cummings only occurs in verse, and he (and his biographers) capitalize in other contexts. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:08, 28 June 2008 (UTC)

I agree that exceptions should only be made where certain criteria are met. And those criteria are narrow and will be met for only a small number of people. We do of course disregard more general rules for specific ones in the cases of Mac and Mc names, and other specific examples not limited to prefixes. However, as it stands we've currently got a situation where (danah weighs in on her talk) this kind of thing happens - and users are using this page to impose a usage which is wrong everywhere except Wikipedia. The first rule of Wikipedia (WP:Ignore all rules - rules are only there for the purpose of building a better encyclopedia) is itself being egregiously disregarded. Mostlyharmless (talk) 01:33, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

I have to disagree with the proposed change, primarily because of the first "general issue" Dank55 listed earlier. Maintaining consistency does not only make our editorial work a whole lot easier, and more professional in appearance, it also avoids drawing special attention to some subjects in particular, whether it would have furthered any kind of agenda or not.

And while meaning no disrespect to any of the previous posters, I'd like to note that it seems symptomatic to suggestions such as this one, that they stem from discussion surrounding a particular subject (or group thereof) and comparatively little thought appears to have been given to the bigger picture. When taking Wikipedia as a whole into consideration, an exception like the one proposed here would raise several rather inconvenient questions: What kinds of names should receive this sort of extra consideration? Birth names? Pen names? Stage names? Personal names only? Legal names? Would we need some kind of verification for that? Furthermore – keeping WP:NPOV in mind – what about groups of individuals, say musicians? Or larger legal entities, such as companies? And would this provide a precedent for editors in favor of emulating stylized typography across non-personal subjects, such as goods and services? These might be fairly difficult to answer, though I encourage editors in favor of this proposal to try. – Cyrus XIII (talk) 01:21, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

Since we have articles created under people's stage names, for example k. d. lang and Fatboy Slim, it makes little sence at all to say that we must impose a false capitalization scheme upon these stage names. If we are imposing a birth name standard on articles then I have less opposition to also requiring a "proper noun" capitalization scheme. But since we allow articles to be created under the stage name of individuals, retroactively applying "capitalization" upon stage names that are not capitalized is idiodic. -- The Red Pen of Doom 01:48, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
But at which kind of subject should we draw the line? If K.D. Lang is moved back to k.d. lang, should Kiss (band) also go back to KISS? Adidas to adidas? PlayStation 3 to PLAYSTATION 3? – Cyrus XIII (talk) 08:44, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
Probably, if we want to accurately reflect what the names really are. And regarding POV - forcing false capitalizations schemes on names is clearly applying a POV to the issue, whereas I do not see any POV issue with applying the actual capitalization scheme used by the product/artist. -- The Red Pen of Doom 12:35, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
That's kind of a slippery slope argument, and, while it might be worthwhile to have those in mind and think about them as well, they simply don't apply. Right now, we're discussing whether or not to capitalize a subject's name when that person has explicitly stated that ze does not want hir name capitalized. -- Irn (talk) 16:47, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
You bring up the point of when a person says they don't wish for it to be capitalized. What about overseas artists where the artist management etc is especially strict to the point where they wont let any media publish it without the correct capitalization or non-capitalization. A notorious example of this is Hide (musician) who's artist management even now 10 years after his death refuses to allow any Japanese media to write his name as Hide vs. hide to the point where all press packets talk about such capitalization requirements. We're requiring sources for everything else, but yet we'd veer away from what the official sources are allowed to do? Threemadness (talk) 18:03, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

More information: I could find very little in the project pages or talk pages or archives of WP:NAME, WP:Naming conventions (people), WP:Naming conventions (capitalization), WP:Manual of Style (biography), and a few others. I was able to find these items:

In WP:Naming conventions (capitalization): "For multiword page titles, one should leave the second and subsequent words in lowercase unless the title phrase is a proper noun that would always occur capitalized, even in the [1] of a sentence." (Italics added.) So if we decide to write "k. d. lang" in an article, it should be "K. d. lang" in the title.

That's not a rule. It's a statement of how the software works; it makes sure that links still work whether the subject is at beginning or the middle of a sentence. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:12, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

Possibly useful information from Wikipedia:Manual of Style (trademarks): All company trademarks are written as proper nouns, that is, first letter capitalized, the rest not, except for words like "iPod" and "eBay". But "if possible, rephrase to avoid beginning sentences with such trademarks: He bought his iPod on eBay." This suggests that "k. d. lang" shouldn't begin a sentence, if possible.

From Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (people)/Archive 2:

[Section heading] Autobiographical request for lowercase name
Hi, does anyone know of a precedent for this particular issue? There's a researcher by the name of Danah Boyd (or depending who you ask, danah boyd), who when interviewed or quoted in major media (NY Times, USA Today, NPR, Fox News, etc.), has her name spelled as Danah Boyd. However, she is requesting (in rather strong terms) that her Wikipedia bio have the spelling that she personally prefers, which is "danah boyd". So, which version should the Wikipedia article title use? --Elonka 22:41, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
you could do what wikipedia did with EE Cummings, where the article name is capitalised, then the lower-case usage is mentioned in the article, first paragraph. 15:46, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

From Danah Boyd: all three references that I can pull up online from reliable sources...NPR, The New York Times, Financial Times...capitalize her first and last name. This might be the most important consideration: as a general rule, Wikipedia doesn't print what people want us to print, Wikipedia prints what we find in reliable sources. If 10 out of 10 reliable sources agree that her name is Danah Boyd, then that might be the end of the argument. Anyone want to find out how reliable sources capitalize k. d. lang's name, too?

Also see #Individual typographical choices for personal names above, and the links. A point from one of the links, applied to a person: suppose a person gets their name legally changed to keNNeTH smITh. (It wouldn't be possible in most places, but suppose they do.) They print all their album covers this way, and always sign their name this way. What are the odds that newspapers will print their names this way? Should Wikipedia? - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 03:54, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

given that the top 10 (I did not look beyod 10) google news hits for k. d. lang (AND for K. D. Lang) produced articles that all used the lower case k. d. lang, my bet is that they would use keNNeTH smITh. -- The Red Pen of Doom 04:00, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
k. d. lang might be the best test case here; she's more likely to be lowercased than anyone. Not every Google hit is a reliable source. uppercases, but,, and all lowercase; that's good enough for me. How about Danah Boyd? We've got 3-0 uppercasing so far. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 04:14, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
Point of information: the google news hits were mostly Canadian newspapers. google news filters out most blogs. -- The Red Pen of Doom 12:41, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
The New York Times is (relatively, compared with a blog) reliable source. But on the subject of someone's name, the most reliable source is that person themselves. We're putting rules ahead of accuracy here. Mostlyharmless (talk) 05:12, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
Please have a look at the examples I listed above in my reply to The Red Pen of Doom. I'd very much like to know if you would be in favor of "accuracy" over third party sources and consistent presentation in these cases as well. – Cyrus XIII (talk) 08:44, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
There's another section on this subject above: "This is a STUPID guideline...k d lang is k d lang..." "Agreed, but walls are more responsive than the champions of this MoS". It isn't stupid, and there are plenty of people around here who are more responsive than a wall. If you live in North America, pick up a copy of The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage (Paperback, 2002) or subscribe to AP Stylebook; it's the best use of your money and your time if you want to get paid as a writer. When you browse through, you'll notice that a lot of what a journalist needs to learn is all the ways that people try to force you to pay special attention to them, and all the ways you have of fighting back, of maintaining the appearance of being professional and fair. Some journalists have the luxury, and some don't. If you write about Washington politicians or Hollywood starlets for a living, you have to give the appearance that you'll go along with whatever they want to say and how they want to say it; that's how you get access. If you write for a newspaper, you have more control over your style. The general fight we're having here (do we capitalize the way the celebrity wants us to?) is a fight that goes on every day, and some reliable sources do it one way and some do it the other, depending on how important it is to them to keep their subjects happy.
Either way is right, we just need to decide what kind of journalism we're doing here, which way works better for us. My vote would be, for articles in North American English (that's all I'm qualified to talk about), to use the same capitalization major newspapers use. Based on the sources we've mentioned so far, it looks like that means "k. d. lang" but "Danah Boyd". - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 14:19, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
Re: "danah boyd". Cyrus, I don't understand why you pointed to those sources. As far as I can tell, you're missing the point. The problem to me is that NPR, Financial Times, and NYTimes, aren't secondary sources here; they're primary sources. They're considered reliable sources for their fact-checking, but this isn't a fact that's in dispute: it's about whether or not they respect the subject's wishes. If you want to point to them and say that Wikipedia should do as major news sources do, I can accept that argument, but I don't think you can point to them as reliable sources here. It just doesn't apply. As The Red Pen stated, the most reliable source for a person's name is that very person. --Irn (talk) 16:16, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
No argument there, in fact, I'd consider it worthwhile to cite a first-party source when mentioning the official typeset in an article's lead paragraph, in order to make that bit as clear and descriptive as possible. But for the remainder of the article, I'm suggesting to stick with standard English, if precedent in third-party sources gives us liberty to do so (see WP:MOSTM, which uses that approach). – Cyrus XIII (talk) 00:11, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

See Prince's article for the symbol he's used as his stage name since 1993. Is Prince the most reliable source for his name? If so, then why does no one write his name that way? - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 17:30, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

Is Prince the most reliable source for his name? Absolutely. why does no one write his name that way? I can't answer for others, but I would resist writing his name that way because it's incredibly cumbersome. However, I think your question is rather irrelevant to the discussion at hand: right now, we're discussing whether or not to capitalize the first letters of people's names when those people don't want their names capitalized. I see how it relates to respecting the subject's wishes/accurately representing material, but that's a larger discussion. I think we need to take this bit by bit and not get caught on a slippery slope. -- Irn (talk) 17:58, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
I disagree with the change to the guideline, and would rather keep things as they are. The rules of capitalization on Wikipedia should follow WP:V, meaning that we follow usage as it appears in reliable sources. Where reliable sources differ, we use "most common usage". Where there is disagreement between a (limited readership) academic work, and a (widely-available) popular culture or major media usage, we should stick with the widely-available usage. If widely-read international reliable sources, such as The New York Times and other works, are using a particular capitalization routinely, and those are the sources that we are using in an article, then the Wikipedia article should conform to the spelling as it is used in the sources. Alternative spellings can definitely be included in the lead, but the article title should conform to the "Principle of least astonishment", meaning the version of the name that the general public is most likely to recognize. If this disagrees with the subject's own wishes, well, the subject should take it up with the reliable sources that are using the name differently than the subject desires. If the reliable sources change their usage, then Wikipedia can change to match. But Wikipedia follows reliable sources, we don't lead them. We are just here as a summarizing service, not an arbiter of The Truth. --Elonka 17:53, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

I apologize for not reading every word here before I leave my comment. For brand names, company names, and things like that, it would be disastrous for us to change our guidelines to say that we must replicate every crazy capitalization or punctuation scheme. Just compare the reliable sources that use PGA TOUR instead of PGA Tour or TIME magazine instead of Time magazine, and you'll see that we would basically be the most recognizable resource that does it. If we were to say that we must always "respect" the wishes of the trademark owner, it would also raise a slippery slope concern with, for instance, color, font, font size, and (TM) and (R) symbols. If the TM owner always uses a certain font, color, or symbol, we would likewise have to replicate that.

However, I can see an argument for viewing people's names differently. My only concern with that would be recognizing that something like "bell hooks" is OK, while "CRoc TOtHeFAcE" might be a little more troubling because it is so jarring. If we were to adopt a different standard for personal names compared to product or company names, I would want it to be something like, "When multiple formattings of an individual's name exist in reliable sources, choose the one preferred by the individual. If there is no clearly articulated preference, choose the format the most resembles standard English." Croctotheface (talk) 18:02, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

Dank55 left a comment on my talk page, and I want to get a little more specific about my comments here. First, I want to be clear that if we do this, we should make a very clear distinction between an individual's name and everything else. Bands, magazines, products, and companies should not get to pick their formatting. Second, I'm not saying that we should change the guideline such that we respect nonstandard formatting for individual's names, just that I think we can if we want. My language was a preliminary attempt to give a framework for doing that. Third, I'm generally wary of forcing people to discern "common use" from sources. It's basically an impossible task, since there are so many reliable sources out there. I should say that I meant secondary sources: a press release from someone is a source, but I don't think it's an adequate one for the kind of examination I propose. Basically, I think that for MOSTM, we basically say that "if there exist some reliable secondary sources that standardize a nonstandard formatting for a trademark, we should standardize, too." Here, we would basically say the opposite: "if there exist some reliable secondary sources that use the nonstandard form preferred by the individual, we should use that form, too." Croctotheface (talk) 18:22, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

Can you explain to me how you don't think a press release is an adequate source. In the case of overseas musicians, particularly Japanese which is the only other language I'm fluent enough in to read and comment about, when an artist and their agency request that a name only be written one way, and the media in that country only write it one way, I'm unsure how we have any write to write it differently. Yes, grammar is important but if the point of wikipedia is to truly create a better encyclopedia then clearly this information is of importance. -- However, I agree that if it's non-standard such as changing from album to album etc, and there's not a long history of the choice by the artist etc, the default choice should be correct English grammar. Threemadness (talk) 18:32, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
A press release is inadequate because it does not show that the usage exists in secondary sources. Croctotheface (talk) 18:46, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
For the sake of good comprehension and readability, I would really like to see Wikipedia force capitalisation of all proper nouns as such. Proper names should always appear as they would on a birth certificate unless valid legal alteration is able to be cited. Stage names (assuming that person has claimed legal ownership), should appear in print as they are registered, as long as the registration can be reliably cited. In all cases however, if and/or when an article is named after a lower-cased proper noun, a redirect of common English spelling rule should always exist as well. An explanation for the lower-case spelling should also be provided in the article's lead section. IMO, if legally registered ownership of lower-cased proper nouns do not exist, they are really nothing more than unencyclopedic spelling errors. -- WikHead (talk) 19:59, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
Are there general principles that at least 75% of Wikipedians in general would be in agreement on? - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 20:28, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
I don't think capitalization is necessary for comprehension. With most names, it's pretty obvious that we are discussing people. I could write about george bush or michael jackson, and it should have no effect on one's comprehension because they are clearly recognized as names (honestly, in emails, chat rooms, instant messages, etc. it is common practice for many people to use no capitalization at all, and it doesn't hinder comprehension). In situations where that's not as clear and lowercase is preferred by the subject (bell hooks and hide being the only examples I can think of), the names themselves pose problems, and it's the job of the editor to make sure that the sentence is easy to understand (which can be easily achieved via the use of apositives). As for the birth certificate standard, that's an incredibly high standard, and it doesn't make sense to hold capitalization to such a standard when we discuss transgender subjects by their preferred names and use pen names in article names and not the author's legal name. As far as unencyclopedic spelling errors, there is nothing unencyclopedic about reproducing a subject's name as the subject uses it.-- Irn (talk) 20:46, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
We have guidance on this elsewhere: in general, we don't do funky spellings, registered or not, unless they've caught on in general usage; official press releases are not enough. This would imply that when they have caught on, which is a question of fact, we should use them. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:15, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
Okay. How many people here would be against the following: leave WP:MOSTRADE as it is, that is, only trademarks like eBay and iPod get to have funky spellings, and you should generally not have them start a sentence. We change this guideline to say that if a person's name is more commonly spelled with all lowercase in reliable sources than not, and has been for some time, then we lowercase the name in the title and in the article. (Of course, the Wiki software will force the first letter of the title to be uppercase.) I say "for some time" because we don't want to get jerked around; celebrities and their agents use many tricks to create faux-drama, and one of them is changing names. We don't want to have to crawl through Wikipedia changing orthography, so it should be clear that the name is and will stay lower case. Note that this position is not exactly my position; I distrust using all reliable sources for help with orthography, I prefer the more independent-minded ones, but I'm getting the sense that we can't get consensus for that on this one issue. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 00:12, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
I can support this wording -- The Red Pen of Doom 00:33, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
The only part I don't like is the notion of "more commonly." That's basically impossible to determine, since there might be 500 different reliable sources that have published something about the person, and the only way to really determine "more common" would be to go through and tally up what style each of them uses. I prefer the wording I used: if multiple styles exist in reliable sources, pick the one that the individual uses/prefers. I want to reiterate again that I am not trying to advocate this change, just that I would not be opposed to it. I would be very much opposed to any change to MOSTM. Croctotheface (talk) 00:44, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
As a compromise in the name of consensus, I would also be willing to support this. However, I prefer Croctotheface's idea of simply using the subject's preference when multiple styles exist as opposed to trying to decipher if the chosen capitalization has received enough traction in reliable sources. -- Irn (talk) 00:57, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
I absolutely agree that in order for us to use a lower case variant of a name, it should be the wish of the subject and have regular and established use in reliable sources. This need not be a clear majority. Where there is no clear consensus in reliable sources, I support Croctotheface's suggestion. Mostlyharmless (talk) 01:05, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
Okay, I can live with that, as long as "existing" or "established" means that a number of sources that look professional (they seem to follow some kind of style guide) have been using the lowercase name for a while. What language do you want in the text? - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 02:50, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
I support this idea. A question about wording though, with topics about people who's native languages are others. Would we defer to professional sources in their native languages or the English one? (which in some cases don't have very many or reliable sources) Threemadness (talk) 09:51, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
These kinds of questions are usually discussed at the talk page for Use English. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 13:29, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
English sources, since English usage may well differ. For example, if Wikipedia had existed in Bismarck's time, we would use Von Bismarck, as was then customary. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:55, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

Input from Tony at WT:MOS: "My feeling is that kd is in the same boat as iPod, and that the exceptions should be widened. TONY (talk) 08:21, 29 June 2008 (UTC)" [copied by - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes)]

Capitalization continued; which sources and how to decide

I want to push back against the notion that the opinions of the subject need to be considered. Wikipedia is for the service of its readers, not its subjects, and policies should be designed to benefit readers, not reflect the preferences of its subjects. In regards to people's names, they are almost universally capitalized, so when they are not it makes reading (particularly scanning) more difficult (i.e., I disagree with the comment above that comprehension is not affected). --R27182818 (talk) 15:57, 30 June 2008 (UTC)

Although I agree with all of that, the whole point of Wikipedia, the reason it works without paying anyone to create articles, is that we learn how to take advantage of the work done by people who are professionals to turn hard decisions into easy decisions. There's an argument that capital letters are important for helping people scan articles, and that the names of people should stand out. There's an argument that it's mean to tell someone that they aren't allowed to choose their own name. How do we balance this? In cases where the issues are the same for the professionals as for us (as they are here), we take their word for it, since they weigh these kinds of questions daily. They resisted "k. d. lang" for a long time; now they're okay with it, and presumably, if other people make a good enough case, journalists will start to lowercase their names, too. All we have to do is watch. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 16:12, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
The problem with tying orthography to other sources is that we then have to argue over which of competing sources do we use? What if the New York Times styles a name in standard capitalization, but USA Today uses all lowercase? What if newspapers use standard capitalization, but academic journals use lowercase? We would have to find some rubric that takes reliability and standards into account. As far as I know, no other MoS goes strictly by what someone else is doing. Nowhere in the AP Stylebook does it say "Do whatever the Chicago Manual says to." It is much easier, and involves much less hassle and headache, to come up with one standard for everyone. That is the point of having a MoS in the first place.
I see no problem in mentioning in the lede that a person's name is usually styled in lowercase. I wouldn't even have much of a problem to have the article listed under that lowercase name. But to continue on within the article using lowercase styling makes it unreadable. That is why English capitalizes proper nouns in the first place. It is all about improved readability. Andyparkerson (talk) 17:44, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
I think you mean "less readable", and that's a valid point. If "k. d. lang" were unreadable, then you wouldn't have a variety of major newspapers printing it. The position that people ought to be able to choose their own name is also valid. I think we're largely agreed that the question isn't trivial, that we're arguing over how to balance it. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 18:35, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
P.S. On the general point of what style guidelines are good for, my not-so-humble suggestion is User:Dank55/Essays#Style_guidelines. On the point of which sources we look at, and what's the most efficient way to crank out style guidelines, and how to do it without pissing off editors in the process, I'm up for collaboration on a new essay. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 19:52, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
Unless it is a clear majority of sources (and in practice, that's not that hard to determine; see WP:NCGN for some advice on placenames which usually seems to work) the lc spelling probably isn't established yet. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:38, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
I'd say its a little different to that. While I'd be reluctant to use lc if the large majority did not recognise the use, I don't think the lack of a clear majority in favour necessarily indicates that the name is not widely accepted. Copyeditors and journalists may use the upper case while knowing that the name is lower case, to not offend their readers sensibilities, or simply because they think it looks better. Or they may not know that the lower case is the mandated use requested by the subject. The point is that less than a clear majority should be required for something to be recognised as established. Even in the case of a name which has overwhelmingly written one way in academic writing for decade, the popular press is still about 50/50. A google news search will only take you so far. Mostlyharmless (talk) 22:48, 30 June 2008 (UTC)

Thus epitomizes the breath of opinion. On one hand we have those like myself who would capitalize all proper names. On the other hand we have those like Mostlyharmess who would lowercase the name of anyone who wants their name lowercased, regardless of what most outside sources do. In the middle lie the K.D. Lang folks who want to lowercase her name because most everywhere else does. Is it fair to say to Danah Boyd that it's acceptable to lowercase Lang, but sorry, you're not famous enough to be lowercase? It doesn't rise to the level of verifiability, because it is a style issue, and not an accuracy issue. Andyparkerson (talk) 00:41, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

(I don't really know where to put this response, so I'm tacking it on here.)I can only speak for myself, but it causes me no (or, at most, minimal) problems when proper nouns aren't capitalized. I can't speak for anyone else, but I think the mere fact that disregard for capitalization is so widespread in inter-personal electronic communications speaks volumes to the amount of readability problems it causes. That is, at the very least, the readability issue is insignificant enough that it is overridden by people's laziness/desire for speed on a large scale. It also absolutely contradicts the argument that presenting proper nouns in lower case renders a text unreadable. Less readable, yes, but the text still retains its essential readability.
However, in the face of less readability, I still think it's important to lower case the proper nouns we are discussing because that is how those proper nouns are supposed to be written. Not unlike how we make exceptions for McDonald or von Bismarck, where the orthography likewise does not conform to standard English. -- Irn (talk) 01:16, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

I would be fine if we said that names should always be capitalized. However, I also think that it's valid to say that we should identify someone the way they choose to identify themselves, provided that the style they prefer is recognizable in sources. I don't see the technique the naming conventions guideline uses to discern what version a "majority of sources" uses, but I don't think that we could come up with a workable standard for figuring that out by "vote counting" unless we decided that we would only count, say, seven very prominent English sources. However, I don't think it would be appropriate to privilege, say, the BBC, AP, CNN, Times of London, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post over every other reliable source. My biggest motivation for being on the fence about names even though I am very much in favor of the guideline about not affording trademarks and brand names special treatment is that it's what I see the sources do. I see lots of "kd lang" in the sources (the whole first page of Google news results, for instance), but basically no PGA TOUR aside from press releases. It seems that there is a consensus among other style guides that names can get a degree of "special treatment" because they serve as someone's personal identity, while nonstandard styles for a commercial purpose are more dubious. Croctotheface (talk) 06:22, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

Just because someone may "prefer" to spell their own name in lower-case, does not mean that it's correct. This is not personal email or chat, nor is it a message board, blog, journal or news service. It's an encyclopedia, where fact and correctness matters. Wikipedia has zero tolerance for "laziness" or "desire for speed", and has already established guidelines pertaining to proper nouns, which unlike media services, is not influenced by advertising dollars and popularity ratings. Many professional journalists as of late, have actually been citing Wikipedia as the source of their own statements. (talk) 16:13, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
No one is saying that we should not capitalize proper nouns because we are 'lazy' or have a 'desire for speed' - Please do not attempt to use those statements out of context. -- The Red Pen of Doom 17:27, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
No, you are 100% incorrect. I posted exact quotes made by another user (above). Feel free to read it for yourself. (talk) 18:20, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
Sorry to bring up old argument - But the original poster said that "I think the mere fact that disregard for capitalization is so widespread in inter-personal electronic communications speaks volumes to the amount of readability problems it causes. That is, at the very least, the readability issue is insignificant enough that it is overridden by people's laziness/desire for speed on a large scale." The original poster was NOT by any means saying that WE should not capitalize becuase WE are 'lazy' or 'desire speed'. The phrases in context are solely relating to personal communications outside the context of wikipedia articles. -- The Red Pen of Doom 02:34, 16 July 2008 (UTC)
I have trouble with a "correctness" standard here, as "correct" is subjective. If you ask, say, K.D. Lang/kd lang the correct way to write her name, I expect that she would not have the same answer that you would. How would you feel about a case of someone who comes from Russia and chooses to transliterate his name "Aleksei." Should we determine that the "correct" transliteration is "Alexei" and use that spelling instead? Croctotheface (talk) 18:55, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
U think the exception unless the non-standard form has been almost universally adopted by reliable sources independent of the subject should be acceptable; there may be consensus to strengthen it, but this is not clear to me. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:17, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
Far too strong. Widely adopted by reliable sources independent of the subject instead, with the caveat that this need not be a clear majority. We're not going to get a black and white standard here, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.Mostlyharmless (talk) 23:10, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
I'd support that phrasing. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:58, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
Independent of the subject is critical; for example, I would consider academic papers to not be independent, because those authors tend to be deferential to the subject's wishes in order to not complicate their professional relationships. The lowercase-preferring subject might even be a reviewer, and the last thing you want to do when writing a paper is anger your reviewers. --R27182818 (talk) 14:56, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
Works for me. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 02:01, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure which "that phrasing" you are supporting, or, by extension, Dan is supporting. I think you are responding to the "widely adopted" with the caveat, yes? I also support that version. However, while, in the name of compromise so that we can reach consensus, I support the "reliable sources" bit as well, why do they need to be reliable? We aren't checking for facts here, but rather widespread acceptance, right? Wouldn't simply "sources independent of the subject" work better? Or am I missing something? -- Irn (talk) 02:37, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
"That phrasing" is widely accepted, which amends my own. Yes, we do need to say "reliable sources"; non-reliable sources are things like the Weekly World News, personal blogs, and raw google sources, which are as likely to invent terminology as they are to invent facts. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:42, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
Agreed with Sept, and yes I was agreeing to the phrasing including the caveat. Thank you, Irn. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 02:46, 2 July 2008 (UTC)

Tweaked to widely accepted. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:57, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

Everybody happy? - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 20:03, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
Works for me (sorry for not replying sooner!). How about - "Lower case may be used for proper names where this is the usage adopted by the subject, and is widely accepted by reliable sources independent of the subject"? Mostlyharmless (talk) 01:45, 4 July 2008 (UTC)
Both this suggestion and the change Sept made don't capture what seemed to me to be the consensus, that we want to have different standards for company trademarks vs. names of individuals. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 12:56, 4 July 2008 (UTC)
Didn't mean to steer away from that consensus. Perhaps you can suggest a wording then?Mostlyharmless (talk) 13:30, 4 July 2008 (UTC)
Sept added the word "widely" that we've agreed to, so now we've got "For proper names and trademarks that are given in mixed or non-capitalization by their owners (such as k.d. lang, adidas and others), follow standard English text formatting and capitalization rules, unless the non-standard form has been widely adopted by reliable sources independent of the subject. Trademarks beginning with a one-letter lowercase prefix pronounced as a separate letter do not need to be capitalized if the second letter is capitalized (e.g. iPod or eBay)." Listing "adidas" as an example probably isn't good, since it's "Adidas" in the article. Anything is okay with me, as long as the word we use for names of people is less strict than for companies, since that's what we seemed to agree to. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 14:31, 4 July 2008 (UTC)
What happens when a person's name (such as K.D. Lang) is only referenced in part (i.e. - Later that year, Lang returned to the studio... blah blah blah...)? Does the surname still appear in lower-case, even though the nickname has been split apart? And what happens if the article speaks of K.D. Lang's mother... is her name (in whole or in part) expected to appear in lower-case as well? (talk) 15:28, 4 July 2008 (UTC)
Lang's mother would be handled the same way, see how it appears in journalistic sources. "Later that year, lang returned to the studio..." - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 17:15, 4 July 2008 (UTC)

I still don't see how we are supposed to conclusively benchmark "wide acceptance" in reliable third party sources. This approach also not only suggests to emulate stylized typography but also neutrality deficiencies (see Andyparkerson's "not famous enough" comment earlier). WP:MOSTM addresses this issue in a far more practical manner, by suggesting to follow standard English text formatting, if any reliable sources that normalize the name exist. It prevents editors from inventing new formats while still satisfying all criteria that make standardized formatting so desirable in the first place (neutrality, consistency, readability, etc). – Cyrus XIII (talk) 23:45, 6 July 2008 (UTC)

The problem is that secondary sources, which are what Wikipedia looks to as the foundation of its information, seem to agree with the practice we follow in MOSTM with respect to company names, brand names and other trademarks, but not as much with respect to using, for instance, "K.D. Lang." The determination there is that personal identity is different from brand identity. That said, I agree that "widely accepted" is not a workable rule, at least unless we define "widely," and even then, I don't see how we could build a workable rule out of that. I suppose that we could require some number of reliable sources, but if we're going to do this, I still prefer the rule I gave a while back, which is sort of the inverse of the MOSTM rule. If an individual does not capitalize her name and the non-capitalized form exists in reliable sources, we should likewise not capitalize it. Croctotheface (talk) 00:08, 7 July 2008 (UTC)
I understand that this could theoretically be hard, but my position is that it isn't. See my comment in the next section, the one that starts, "Okay, my position is the more NPOV-leaning style issues should be decided based on what journalists rather than academics do." Journalistic sources in North America generally lowercase "k. d. lang", so if the article is in American or Canadian English, we're good to go. This is generally true in the U.S. and Canada; we tend to be able to agree on people's names. Don't know what you guys do on the other sides of various ponds. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 01:45, 7 July 2008 (UTC)
Your argument below deals with one specific case ("He" vs. "he" with respect to God) that journalistic style guides seem to agree on more or less unanimously. The issue of naming, though, is not a single case, it's multiple cases for multiple people. What about names for which some journalists capitalize and other journalists do not? The language you like here requires us to divine whether non-capitalization is "widely accepted." What does that mean? What if a preliminary search suggests that it's about 50-50? I could see someone arguing that 50% penetration is "wide acceptance," and I could also see someone saying that, say, there needs to be a two thirds majority of sources to constitute "wide acceptance." Your method for determining "wide acceptance" seems to be a general, subjective impression based on looking at some number of sources. If someone wants to show that a particular style is "widely accepted," how would you suggest they go about showing this? How many sources do they need to show? Which ones? What percentage constitutes "wide acceptance"? After thinking about these questions, ask whether requiring editors to go through this process every time they need to consider whether or not to capitalize is the best way to go. Croctotheface (talk) 02:00, 7 July 2008 (UTC)
My argument below is: "Okay, my position is the more NPOV-leaning style issues should be decided based on what journalists rather than academics do. If that position seems one-sided, then please read, say, NYTM, and you'll see that balancing the feelings of one side vs. the other vs. style considerations is something that good journalists do all day long; academics tend to just take a position and go with it, and insulate themselves from how the public feels about these things." As to whether it's possible to make a judgment call as to what someone is called when sources conflict, I hope it is, because it's done constantly at WT:BLP and WT:Naming conventions (people). - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 02:20, 7 July 2008 (UTC)
So, to be clear, you believe that we should have to make a "judgment call" for literally every single case? That leads me to ask what is the benefit from this, and why is it worth it? Some case where a name is adopted by a single reliable source but not others? Also, what is "wide acceptance" anyway? 100% is certainly wide, and 0% certainly isn't, but what point in between is the tipping point? Why should it be that particular percentage? Croctotheface (talk) 02:24, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

That's why capitalizing everyone's name is such a good thing. It doesn't require any judgment at all. It is a fair rule. It is NPOV, since it is applied to absolutely everyone equally. And it increases readability, something that the arguments lately have ignored completely. Requiring everyone's name to be capitalized also stops us from having this conversation on every single page over and over and over again. Too many hours are spent wasted on whether or not to capitalize this name or that name. If we have a blanket rule, and capitalize every name, we eliminate that waste. What is wrong with that? Andyparkerson (talk) 02:49, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

The problem is that we would be the most prominent source capitalizing a lot of names. I just don't see prominent newspapers or news websites using "K.D. Lang," for example. All of those concerns are subsumed by the importance of allowing an individual control over her own name. Croctotheface (talk) 02:51, 7 July 2008 (UTC)
What's wrong with being the most prominent source to do that? Prominent newspapers and news websites may do as they wish. Wikipedia is neither of those things. It is wholly proper that it have its own style guidelines. As for the importance of allowing an individual control over her own name, nobody is proposing doing that now. No one has proposed letting the subject have individual control over how her name is capitalized. Only that Wikipedia should do what everyone else (or almost everyone else, or most others, or some others, or at least one other) is doing. That's a far cry from individual control. Andyparkerson (talk) 03:42, 7 July 2008 (UTC)
The same thing that's wrong with being the most prominent source to have an article on, say, my pet goldfish. Wikipedia relies on secondary sources, and I think it's wholly appropriate to consider what they do in writing our own style guide. The idea that we have some monopoly on wisdom is a rather arrogant. To the idea of individual control, you're just wrong that nobody has brought up that topic. I never said that my standard is "individual control," but the notion of personal names being different from company names is the principle underlying my argument. I brought up the "personal identity" concern because you brought up concerns like readability. I think that personal identity trumps those concerns. Likewise, I favor (and I was on the fence before, but I'm now willing to argue for it forcefully) a standard that will bring our usage in line with the usage of other major publications. Croctotheface (talk) 04:06, 7 July 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Croctotheface. Wikipedia is not the arbiter of reality. It repeats things as they are said by reliable sources. And if reliable sources generally use a persons name in a particular way, then Wikipedia should follow that practice. We aren't bending to the whim of people who want their names written a certain way, we're reproducing their names as is standard practice. As for the percentage, I'm quite happy with 'at least (approximately) half + the person' as a minimum for editors to use. However, our standards are always going to be somewhat arbitrary, and it will always be up to editors to seek consensus about what is appropriate in a particular case. Mostlyharmless (talk) 04:14, 7 July 2008 (UTC)
"Requiring everyone's name to be capitalized also stops us from having this conversation on every single page over and over and over again. Too many hours are spent wasted on whether or not to capitalize this name or that name." That's factually incorrect. Because with the MOS as is, this issue continues to rear its head over and over and over again. Having the MOS dictate that all names be capitalized simply allows for that conversation to be quashed by pointing to the MOS. I personally think there will be a lot less disruption if we change the MOS; I can't imagine people changing every instance of bell hooks's name to capitals simply because they feel strongly about it without the MOS behind them, as the reverse happens now.--Irn (talk) 22:07, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

It seems to me that we have cycled through most of the arguments now, so it's time to point out again that (article) naming conventions are something halfway between style guidelines and policy; that is, they trump style guidelines. (They have to, because getting an article title wrong means that people may not find the page at all.) So: we can't actually decide on this page whether an article should be titled "K. d. lang" or "K. D. Lang" (all articles begin with capitals); that has to be argued on a naming conventions page, probably WT:Naming conventions (people). New people, new arguments, probably new results. All we can decide here at WT:MOSCAPS is whether the "K. D. Lang" article (it currently has caps in the title and on the page) and possibly other pages that have caps in the title should perhaps lowercase the names in the text of the article. (Of course, when we bring our arguments to WP:Naming conventions (people), the article title might get lowercased!) Are there more arguments? Do we have consensus on what we've got so far? If we don't have consensus, would it make sense to go present the arguments at WT:Naming conventions (people) and see what happens? - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 04:27, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

I don't think we quite reached consensus, but it seemed we were pretty close with "widely accepted", and just ran into some trouble in how we would define wide acceptance. I like Croc's suggestion above with how to deal with conflicting usage in reliable sources.--Irn (talk) 22:07, 7 July 2008 (UTC)
Okay, not that I'm running the show here, but I've got some RL and wiki things eating up my time, so I'm going to have to step away for a while. Best of luck; make sure to try to get the text you like both on this page and on WP:Naming conventions (people), and maybe WP:CAPS, too. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 22:17, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

I'm not really sure what happened to this conversation. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that we had reached consensus on widely accepted, but then Cyrus undid that. Which leaves us trying to figure out a better standard. Croc suggested, and I support, a model that seems logically in line with Cyrus's idea and WP:MOSTM, only reversed in its application (to borrow the wording of Mostlyharmless): to use a lower case variant of a name, it should be the wish of the subject and have regular and established use in reliable sources. This need not be a clear majority. If multiple styles exist in reliable sources, use the orthography preferred by the subject. I have bolded the three primary parts of this proposal: the preference of the subject (which is obvious), acceptance and use beyond that of the individual involved and from respected sources (to ensure that we are following the lead of reliable sources and not being jerked around), and, when in doubt, using the preferred orthography of the subject (because widespread acceptance is hard to define). -- Irn (talk) 19:54, 12 July 2008 (UTC)

That sounds like an eminently reasonable wording to me, that balances reliability, use, accuracy, and the preferred use of subject, without giving unreasonable emphasis to any. Mostlyharmless (talk) 06:37, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
Make that "reliable third-party sources" and explicitly for "personal names" and I'll concede that we have a decent guideline, in the sense that it is unambiguous and easy to apply. And while I still fail to see the reasons for giving personal names this kind of special consideration (other than pleasing K.D. Lang fans in particular), there currently appears to be consensus to do so. – Cyrus XIII (talk) 20:06, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
Ok, to check before we change MOSCAPs, -- To use a lower case variant of a personal name, it should be the wish of the subject and have regular and established use in reliable third-party sources. This need not be a clear majority. If multiple styles exist in reliable sources, use the orthography preferred by the subject. -- Does this represent the outcome of the discussion? Mostlyharmless (talk) 00:45, 16 July 2008 (UTC)
Generally speaking, I would be wary of declaring consensus with only three users participating at this point, but given the history of this conversation and the amount of support for "widely accepted", I think that's a fair conclusion to make. -- Irn (talk) 22:27, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
The key for me is commonality of usage. If several major sources were using (for example) a capitalized version, and several were using lowercase, then I could see going along with the subject's wishes. If, however, we have a case where widely-available sources are using a capitalized form, and a few lesser-used sources are using lowercase, that wouldn't meet the "subject's wishes" standard for me. But as long as "regular and established" is interpreted in terms of common usage (and not obscure usage), I think we're okay with the current wording. --Elonka 20:44, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

Pronouns etc

Sept removed "Pronouns referring to deities, or nouns (other than names) referring to any material or abstract representation of any deity, human or otherwise, are not capitalized"...what did you want to capitalize, Sept? - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 21:06, 28 June 2008 (UTC)

Christian theologians hold that the Trinity consists of three Persons; the Father as one of these exercises sovereignity over His Creation may require further qualifications on the facts, but I believe the capitalization (or most of it) is idiom. Excesses, like capitalizing sovereignity, should be avoided; and if I'm wrong, fine; but we should not set up rules which pretend to overrule idiom. 22:05, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
I agree with your last clause, but on the other hand, I'm a little choosy where I go looking for idiom, as I said in the section above. When we're looking at orthography, I like to draw a distinction between those writers who need to keep their subjects happy in order to keep their jobs, and those who take the job seriously of not letting their subjects dictate style to them, those who are the kind to care a bit more about what their readers and peers think than what their subjects think. As far as I know, these folks tend to lowercase his in this context. If I remember right, I've looked this up before in AP Stylebook and Chicago. I remember from the long Roman Catholic Church FAC that Nancy was saying that even material produced by the Vatican doesn't capitalize his in this context. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 23:53, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
Yes. From Chicago: "8.102 Pronouns Pronouns referring to God or Jesus are not capitalized. (Note that they are lowercased in most English translations of the Bible.)" NYTM, in the God entry, says to lowercase all pronouns also. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 00:02, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
Not an unreasonable rule for newspapers, which are rarely discussing theology. A caution would be appropriate here (some militant believers go to excess); a hard rule is wrong. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:09, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
Caution because of harassment? If so, would it be better for the militants to be harassing all of the editors who reasonably follow all of the major style guidelines, or would it be better for us to suck it up and decide the issue, so that if there's harassment, it falls on the few guilty rather than the many innocent? Are bullies dictating our style guidelines, now? - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 20:33, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
No. Caution because certain believers in certain faiths (Islam tends to be one) capitalize Everything That Could Possibly Be Capitalized, I think as a mark of respect. This tends to look sectarian and unprofessional. The militants are the ones who revert war over this. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:42, 30 June 2008 (UTC)

Ah, my apologies for not understanding, but the general point that we want to move conflict away from articles and onto style guidelines talk pages is still valid; see my essay linked just above. I'm not competent to talk about anything but North American style, and it's more than possible that the articles in question aren't in North American English. Also, it seems to me there are some pages where style guidelines aren't particularly relevant. People should try to make their material as accessible as possible given the material, but there's no requirement that people succeed in making it accessible. No one but a mathematician or physicist is going to understand some of the math and physics articles. Likewise, if a page is on a topic notable enough to be included, but targeted to such a specific audience that few others are going to understand it, I see no problem with tossing the style guidelines and writing to the audience that you've got. That might apply to certain religious topics. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 22:00, 30 June 2008 (UTC)

Have you any idea what Nouns (other than names) referring to any material or abstract representation of any deity, human or otherwise, are not generally capitalized. is talking about? Why do we need to say it? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:27, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
I think "representation" and "human or otherwise" might muddy the meaning a little. It's primarily talking about sons and avatars and such, I think, but it seems like it also wants to tackle things like "in his Mercy" and "perfect Justice" and such. Properties, components, works, etc. It could maybe use some refactoring. Ilkali (talk) 18:49, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

I see our recurrent atheist questions what Pronouns referring to deities are not capitalized when the deity would not be means. It seems simple enough to me: if you wouldn't capitalize a noun, don't capitalize he, it or they used in its place. But if the meaning of neither of these is clear, why have them? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:07, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

"I see our recurrent atheist questions [...]". Is my atheism relevant here, or is that just an ad hominem? There's a reason I haven't accused you of trying to use Wikipedia as a platform for glorifying your god.
"It seems simple enough to me: if you wouldn't capitalize a noun, don't capitalize he, it or they used in its place". You get that from "not capitalized when the deity would not be"? What does it mean to capitalize a deity? Is it to capitalize its name? The preceding text says we always capitalise proper nouns. Is it to capitalize a common noun whose denotation includes the deity? The preceding text says we never capitalise common nouns. Your version prescribes either always capitalising these pronouns or never capitalising them, depending on how it's interpreted.
"if the meaning of neither of these is clear, why have them?". The version you keep removing isn't perfect, but its meaning is at least mostly clear. Clarifying it is one thing. Slash 'n' burning is another. Ilkali (talk) 18:49, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
Which god would that be? I have claimed no religious belief on Wikipedia; try treating me as an agnostic.
If the sentence is entirely meaningful, what does nouns (other than names) referring to any material or abstract representation of any deity, human or otherwise mean? When we know what is meant, we can discuss whether it is consensus, and how to phrase it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:38, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
"Which god would that be? I have claimed no religious belief on Wikipedia; try treating me as an agnostic". Like many people, I use 'atheist' to mean 'non-theist'. Presumably you interpret it to mean 'rabid antitheist'?
The phrase you're asking about is logically (if not syntactically) separate from the text regarding pronouns. Having issues with one does not justify changing the other. What is wrong with the text on pronouns that you keep changing or removing? Ilkali (talk) 19:50, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
PManderson, you just inserted the text: "Do not capitalize pronouns when the noun they replace would not be capitalized". This suffers from the same problems as the version I address above. Let me try to restate my case. Pronouns don't actually replace nouns; they replace noun phrases. Given the sentence "The Islamic god can do whatever he wants", what is he replacing? Is it 'Allah'? Or 'The Islamic god'? Is the latter 'capitalized'? Two of out three words are. Is that enough?
Which should it be: "Allah likes Himself" or "Allah likes himself"? Ilkali (talk) 19:45, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
"The Islamic god likes himself", although it's not clear that the subject is idiom either. The advantage of a purely negative rule is that we can agree on it.
Does this mean you are abandoning nouns (other than names) referring to any material or abstract representation of any deity, human or otherwise as meaningless, or will you supply a meaning, or at least an example of the problem being addressed? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:52, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
Can you give some realistic instances where a person might want to capitalise a pronoun but cannot do so without contravening your rule?
"The Islamic god likes represents Himself in His Koran...". Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:19, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
"Does this mean you are abandoning [...]". No. It means I am recognising the two as separate and, in this section called "Pronouns etc", focusing on the text that addresses pronouns. You should do likewise, and stop pretending the two are part of the same issue. Ilkali (talk) 20:07, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
Then please don't revert to that text until you explain it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:19, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

As above: does anyone besides Ilkali support Pronouns referring to deities are not capitalized. ? If nobody does, it is not consensus. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:38, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

The text has been part of the MoS for a long time now, and was already restored once by Tb and once by Dan. Does anyone other than you support its removal? Ilkali (talk) 21:19, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
Both purely proceedurally. It is better to be silent, or to explain disputes, than tp assert one side of an issue, therefore those who wish to make an assertion have the burden of establishing consensus. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:27, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
I have attempted compromise phrasing, and been reverted; I object to an absolute ban, as not usage. Under those conditions, I think silence, combined with our general leaning against capitalization, is best; best to say nothing than not consensus. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:48, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
I support that phrasing. See my comments above for my reasoning. Croctotheface (talk) 19:21, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
If Croc's comment is about the pronouns for deities, which phrasing? If it is about kd lang, it's in the wrong section - feel free to remove this comment, although a third opinion would be welcome. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:55, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
I was going to ask, too. This is of course an NPOV issue and a style issue at the same time, which means that maybe we can handle it on this page, and maybe we can't. Sept, for North American usage only, what's the most anti-capitalization position you can stand? (since all of the style guides and probably all of the publications that Croc mentions above lowercase). Croc, what language do you support? I see your general reasoning above. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 19:59, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
Pronouns for deities are often or usually not capitalized, or don't capitalize when god would not be; even both. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:08, 3 July 2008 (UTC) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:54, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
You asked if anyone supported the language you quoted. I replied that I did. "Christians believe in one god" is better style than "Christians believe in one God." There's no need for the encyclopedia to say He or His or Him when referring back to the god named God. Croctotheface (talk) 20:13, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
Except usage. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:54, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
But why is that usage better? Because Wikipedia should read like a religious text? It is a secular text. Because you believe that, stylistically, the name God should be held above all other proper nouns? Again, this is a secular encyclopedia. Croctotheface (talk) 21:11, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
It's not better, merely different. In certain contexts, it connotes different things, and is sometimes more idiomatic. We should permit both, with a preference, rather than straightjacketing ourselves. (I'm secular myself; but a secular encyclopedia is one with a POV.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:15, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
  • I would be more opposed to language which set up a rule requiring capitalization; I have never argued for any. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:18, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
(ec with below comment) I think that allowing editors to use "He" when it refers to one name only necessarily privileges that name above all others. It endorses, in effect, the notion that there is something greater about that name (and implicitly what it refers to) than every other name. Croctotheface (talk) 21:53, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
That seems reasonable to me, but we don't handle that kind of reasoning on this page; that's for WT:NPOV. The closest style page to those kinds of issues is WP:WORDS. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 22:05, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
If we are going to implicitly endorse any form of language that is used in the wild, why bother having a MoS? A critical point, I think, is that usage is conditioned by belief; people only capitalise pronouns for deities that they believe in. Capitalising therefore encodes a POV. Ilkali (talk) 22:38, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
The real reason to have a MOS is to remind editors of what sound English does in the wild, and why. That's much the same reason we have any other guideline; to collect the arguments made on what good practice is. It doesn't live up to that ideal; but nothing we do does; that's why we're a wiki. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:43, 4 July 2008 (UTC)
  • people only capitalise pronouns for deities that they believe in. Nonsense; Ilkali should read Bertrand Russell. It would do him good; and show him how literate people treat deities they don't believe in. For that matter, did Kenneth Grahame believe in Pan? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:48, 4 July 2008 (UTC)
We don't need to agree with the notion of "only" to conclude that capitalizing does imply that there is something more important about that particular pronoun than all others. Adopting that style does look too much like an endorsement of religion. Croctotheface (talk) 18:49, 4 July 2008 (UTC)

Okay, my position is the more NPOV-leaning style issues should be decided based on what journalists rather than academics do. If that position seems one-sided, then please read, say, NYTM, and you'll see that balancing the feelings of one side vs. the other vs. style considerations is something that good journalists do all day long; academics tend to just take a position and go with it, and insulate themselves from how the public feels about these things. North American journalists have weighed this issue very carefully and opted to do less capitalization in general; this is nicknamed the "down style". No major North American newspaper capitalizes these pronouns, ever (except in quotes, of course).

However, that doesn't mean that "I win", because you can still make the argument that there are reasons we don't have to do this on Wikipedia. Here's the big hairy point: if we do make an argument (for AmEng) to chuck what all the newspapers do on this, it's for NPOV reasons, not style reasons. That means the argument moves off this page and over to WT:NPOV, which, thank the Gods Themselves, is not a page I keep up with. I'm guessing they've talked about this before. I would feel comfortable saying on this page that some religious people feel strongly about issues of capitalization of the nouns and pronouns referring to their deities, and these questions should be discussed at WT:NPOV and other policy forums; where there is no governing Wikipedia policy, then stylistic considerations in North America follow the so-called "down style" of capitalization, which roughly speaking means that whenever you can come up with an excuse or a way to read a sentence that allows lowercasing, do it. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 21:49, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

P.S. It is unusual to say on a style guideline page, "Go see a policy page", but on some issues, it's really the only accurate thing to say. I wouldn't mind sticking it in a footnote if it seems too informal for the main text. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 22:13, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

Expanding acronyms and initialisms

How should one spell out initialisms like AIDS, MIPS, and CRI? Should that be "color rendering index", "Color Rendering Index", or "Color rendering index"? I found this on CMOS. --Adoniscik(t, c) 04:36, 6 July 2008 (UTC)

See the example on "FOREX" on the project page (that is, not this talk page). - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 14:20, 6 July 2008 (UTC)

RFC alert

I have raised a request for comments on the application of this part of the Manual of Style to Deaths in 2008; please see the appropriate section. Sam Blacketer (talk) 20:15, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

Companies which officially use all-capital letters in their name

An edit and renaming war developed at ABN AMRO which is the legal name of the company in all-capital letters. It got very nasty when the article was renamed "ABN Amro" and that form was spread to other articles such as Bank of America and LaSalle Bank. The MOS does not reflect cases in which official and legal names of companies are in all-capital letters. MOS should reflect these issues. Steelbeard1 (talk) 22:05, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

Sure it does. WP:MOSTM says that we use standard English, rather than what's "official" or what the TM owner uses. Those names are all trademarked, by the way, the issue is not that Bank of America does not have TM protection for their own name. Croctotheface (talk) 22:09, 6 August 2008 (UTC)
We are not talking about a trademark. We are talking about the legal name of a corporation. To use your example, "TIME" is a trademark. The owner of that trademark is Time Inc. ABN AMRO is both the bank's name and the name of the legal entity which owns the bank. Look at this Hoover's directory listing for that financial institution.[3] Steelbeard1 (talk) 22:33, 6 August 2008 (UTC)
Something can be both trademarked and be a legal name. It does not cease to be a trademark because it is also a "legal name." Croctotheface (talk) 03:15, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
It also doesn't cease to be a legal name because it's a trademark. Can I call you whatever I like just because I want to, or I have a MOS to back me up, in spite of your wishes? Yes, I CAN. But to do so is rude. ++Lar: t/c 11:46, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
So our guiding principle here is to avoid doing anything a corporation might find "rude"? Croctotheface (talk) 18:56, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
Why no, CROCtoTheFACE, it's not the only guiding principle. Not being rude is merely one among many, and capitalizing things the way the owner of the name wants them capitalized is merely one aspect of not being rude. We have to balance these things off against other considerations, as always. For the purposes of this post, capitalizing your userid the way you want it was outweighed by other considerations. Hope you understand, because your wishes are of no consequence at all, right? ... ++Lar: t/c 23:59, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
You can use that style for my username if you like; I think I've actually used something similar myself at some point. (However, for what it's worth, I favor the opposite rule for individuals, as you can see from my past comments on this talk page.) It's my position that placating companies who use weird styles is not really a worthy consideration. Instead, we should be more considerate toward the companies who do not use styles like this to promote themselves (there's an undue emphasis NPOV concern there, as MOSTM alludes to), and to our readers, who are better served by choosing styles (remember, we only choose styles from among that exist in sources) that make the encyclopedia as readable as possible. Croctotheface (talk) 02:06, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

This comment which is not mine was found in Talk:ABN AMRO and has been pasted here: Maybe I don't understand the issue completely. Can someone please explain to me why AMRO is different from e.g. FIFA or CONMEBOL? What about the Norwegian bank DnB NOR? Why is there an explicit exception in the MOS for trademarks like iPod and eBay? Why is it OK for these trademarks to stray from the English capitalization rules? End quote. Again, this comment was not mine and was pasted from the ABN AMRO talk page. Steelbeard1 (talk) 00:57, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

If Time Inc has registered "TIME" as a trademark, bully for them. The magazine is still Time as far as I'm concerned, unless/until the company pays me to write advertising copy for them. The magazine doesn't seem so attentive to others' tastes: Sanyo consistently presents itself as SANYO yet Time writes "Sanyo".
Amro, Fifa, Conmebol (or CSF), DnB Nor: nothing wrong that I can see with any of these. I don't care much about iPod vs ipod vs Ipod; at least none of them shouts. -- Hoary (talk) 07:29, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

This is a perennial topic, and it covers the same ground each time, more or less. So just as I have done before when I became aware that this topic was reopened, I will again state my view. There are folk here who are convinced that we should spurn what the owners and originators of names wish about their orthography. I think they're wrong. The MOS should be changed to reflect how people (not journalists, but actual real people) do things. Perhaps someday enough people that think this minority view is wrong will turn up at the same time to actually GET it changed. But mostly, this viewpoint perseveres because, except for those people who are wrong, most people don't really care all that much. Certainly not enough to mount a concerted effort to storm the battlements here and get things changed. That doesn't at all diminish the fact that those dug in are wrong. That's my view anyway. I suspect some parts of it might be shared. PS, Hoary, you want to call FIFA Fifa ?? I suppose you want to call IBM Ibm too ??? I think making statements like that really undermines your case. ++Lar: t/c 11:46, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

As I'm not interested in sports, I seldom hear the name pronounced (or pay attention when I do hear it). However, I thought it was "fie fa", not "eff aye eff ei". The version "FIFA" does indeed look familiar; but I see that the Guardian renders it "Fifa", see here for example. -- Hoary (talk) 11:59, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
FIFA should stay where it is, since each letter stands for something. Capitalization of all the letters serves a semantic purpose there. Capitalization of all the letters in, say, TIME or FOX or REALTOR does not serve a semantic purpose, just a stylistic one. And, as has been pointed out, that stylistic purpose is to SHOUT at the readers. The issue here is whether readers are served by bending the encyclopedia to indulge crazy styles used mostly for marketing purposes, or whether they're served by using standard English equivalents that show up in reliable secondary sources. Every other major reference outlet and style guide makes the decision we do, that companies can write stuff how they want, but the readers are served by standard English.
Also, I'm confused about this distinction you make between "people" and "journalists." If it turned out that most people write Time magazine "Time" and not "TIME," you would advocate that style? Or is it just that the "people" you care about are the people who work for the company? Croctotheface (talk) 18:56, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
You are again missing the point. I told this again and again to you. "TIME" is a trademark. The company which owns the trademark is Time Inc. I am referring to the company, NOT the trademark. Again, ABN AMRO is the name of the company. You are on record in unsuccessfully attempting to remove the exclamation point off of Yahoo! That is also the legal name of the company with the exclamation point included. The Hoover's directory for Yahoo! is at [4]. I've already posted the Hoover's directory listing for ABN AMRO in the Talk:ABN AMRO talk page. I noticed that you were part of a group which tried to remove the exclamation point off the Yahoo! name in the Talk:Yahoo! message board. Even though the Yahoo! group is much larger than the ABN AMRO group, the ABN AMRO group is just as determined to make sure Wikipedia does not look stupid by not using the legal name of the company the way the legal name is legally spelled out. One other thing. Your preferred word "Amro" is not correct because it stands for Amsterdam-Rotterdam. So using your uncompromising stance, it should be if you were pedantic "AmRo." Steelbeard1 (talk) 22:12, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
So, you agree that we should use "Time" for the magazine, not "TIME"? Croctotheface (talk) 02:06, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
For the title of a magazine in Wikipedia, Time (magazine) is fine. As mentioned before, the company which publishes that magazine is Time Inc., a unit of Time Warner. Note that in Time Inc.'s brand portfolio in the Time Warner web site at [5] that the Time brand is not in all-caps. Steelbeard1 (talk) 02:23, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
If a company wants to stick an exclamation point to the end of its name and manages to register the resulting trademark, good for that company. I shall ignore it, and it appears that I'm in excellent company.
To some extent, stupidity is in the eye of the beholder. You seem to think it's stupid for Wikipedia not to use "the legal name of the company"; I think it looks stupid for Wikipedia to show such craven concern for corporate caprice and self-aggrandizement.
Toyoko stands for Tokyo and Yokohama; nobody writes it ToYoko or TOYOKO. It's a railway line run by a company called Tokyu, which stands for Tokyo and Kyuko. (For convenience's sake, I omit macrons.) The company has the good taste not to insist on TOKYU or ToKyu. It does write "TOKYU CORPORATION" from time to time but WP sensibly ignores this. If Amro wants to shout AMRO, let it; why should we? If it's pronounced "Ay em ar oh", that's one thing, if "Am-roe" another.
Incidentally, Fiat and Saab both stand for four words, or anyway stood for them; the world has moved on. -- Hoary (talk) 02:18, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

Another example is ARCO, an oil company whose name was derived from Atlantic Richfield Company. Please do not start an edit war in the ARCO article. Steelbeard1 (talk) 10:52, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

I've mentioned civility to you before. These kinds of snide remarks do not help anyone. Croctotheface (talk) 13:24, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Everyone reading this section will note that my above statement about ARCO was a polite plea not to make major changes to the ARCO article which could start an edit war with the ARCO article editors. Croctotheface considered that statement uncivil. I should pass this note along to the administrators. Steelbeard1 (talk) 15:04, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

Our question, here and at MOSTRADE, is "what do reliable third-party sources usually call the company?" This can mean capitalizing, as with IBM; it can mean spelling out; it can mean using a funny spelling, like eBay. (We do such things much less often that corporate management would like; it depends on whether the spelling has come into use outside the company.) I would tend to use ARCO, but not ABN AMRO; but then I've heard of one and not of the other. Let's have some evidence; say, the New York Times and the Economist. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:05, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

Be glad to. The first link I found from the Economist is at [6] and from the New York Times at [7]. Steelbeard1 (talk) 17:21, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Is "Amro" a word or an abbreviation? –xeno (talk) 17:02, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
    • "AMRO" is an abbreviation derived from Amsterdam-Rotterdam. Steelbeard1 (talk) 17:21, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
      • "ABN AMRO" makes the most sense to me. Neither ABN nor AMRO are words. –xeno (talk) 17:26, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
        • Well, it's both an abbreviation and a word. A word is something that communicates a meaning, and "Amro" does, as it communicates "Amsterdam-Rotterdam." I don't think the rule we should follow is to capitalize all abbreviations or capitalize everything that isn't a word. For instance, "government" can be abbreviated "gov't" or "govt." and neither is rendered in caps. We go with "Interpol" despite the fact that neither "inter" nor "pol" is a word unto itself. However, if the argument is that "AMRO" is standard English (even though I don't think it is), that at least has some merit within the guideline. Arguments that we should use it because the company does or it's the "legal name" or "official name" are arguments that have no merit in light of our guidelines. Croctotheface (talk) 17:40, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
          • I would compromise on "ABN AmRo" but that would just look silly. "Amro" doesn't work, because it's not a word (and only communicates meaning to someone who knows what it's an abbreviation for). Thus "ABN AMRO" is the ideal solution - imo. –xeno (talk) 17:42, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
            • Call the linguistics department at your local college and ask if it's a word. It is. The notion that something can't be a word unless you know what it means doesn't stop something from being a word. Any word that I don't know the meaning of is not somehow "not a word" because you don't know it. MarketWatch, Bloomberg, the London Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the New York Times all use "Amro." This is hardly a rogue group of editors championing some weird style they came up with. Croctotheface (talk) 17:50, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
eh, that's a horse of a different colour. of course, you could've expressed that without all the snark. anyways, that was just my opinion. –xeno (talk) 17:54, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
I apologize for the tone of the "linguistics department" remark from my last post. As far as citing the sources, I suppose it's somewhat different from what you were talking about, but I brought it up because I sensed that the discussion had veered toward treating this as a theoretical issue, or maybe one of individual opinion. This isn't about what style you or I would choose if we named our bank that. MOSTM says that if multiple styles exist in reliable sources (in this case, both "Amro" and "AMRO" are present in reliable sources), we choose the style that most closely resembles standard English. It specifically says that we do not give the style that the company uses any more weight than the others. Standard English is the test here. I'm happy to have a discussion about what's standard English for this case, and I think there could be reasoned disagreement there, but I wanted to recenter the discussion on that. Croctotheface (talk) 07:41, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for that. again, this is all just my opinion, MOS has never really been my strong point, but if AMRO is an abbreviation of sorts, imo it should be "ABN AMRO". but, as someone mentioned earlier, abbreviations do sometimes morph into normal words ("Radar" for example) and those links you provided do tend in that direction. So it seems we are basically stuck between two equally tenable positions. Anyone got a coin? ;> Anyways folks, let's try to keep everything civil and to the point =) –xeno (talk) 15:08, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

I think I found the last word at [8]. Try to rebut that, Croc. Steelbeard1 (talk) 18:07, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

All that page says is What does ABN AMRO stand for? Algemene Bank Nederland-Amsterdam Roterdam [sic] Bank (Dutch bank). I hadn't thought that there was any dispute about the etymology. The question is of how to write it. I believe that the company writes "ABN AMRO". That's their prerogative, just as it's Sanyo's prerogative to write "SANYO". That a company shouts its own name (even consistently, or even troubling to register an ALL CAPS trademark) doesn't seem to me to be any reason why Wikipedia should shout its name. Standard English orthography roolz OK. -- Hoary (talk) 08:54, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
It's a Dutch financial institution and that URL spelled it in Dutch. Nederland is what the Dutch call the Netherlands. So it is official that ABN AMRO is a set of abbreviations and does not use any words. So calling this company "ABN Amro" makes as much sense as calling the British music company EMI "Emi." Your argument is not holding water as far as most of the Wikipedia community is concerned and key administrators agree with me. About Sanyo, the Hoover's directory at [9] lists both "SANYO" and "Sanyo" as the name of the parent company and its subsidiaries, so "Sanyo" is fine in this case. Disregard the Dun & Bradstreet links in the Hoover's page as a flaw in the web page does not recognize all-caps so IBM comes out as "Ibm." Steelbeard1 (talk) 11:26, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes, yes, I know "Nederland". However, I'd been under the impression that the Dutch term for Rotterdam was "Rotterdam" (and it seems that I'm in good company). The etymology of "Amro" is of no interest to me when I decide how to write it out. What is of interest is how it's pronounced. It's not a word I seldom hear or say, but I believe that it has two syllables. Therefore it's "Amro". Were it to be pronounced with four syllables, "Ei em ar oh", it would be "AMRO". "EMI" could be pronounced "Emmy" (I mean, English phonology almost invites this), but it isn't; it's "ee em eye" and thus "EMI". Likewise "HMV" and "ABN" are spelled out when said, and get all-caps treatment. -- Hoary (talk) 04:42, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

The basic issue here is that for all these cases that we end up arguing about, there are multiple styles that appear in reliable sources. Our task is to develop a rule for choosing among them. We need to be clear that we're dealing with style questions, not "changing the name" or anything like it. In spoken language, for instance, "Sanyo" sounds the same whether the person speaking would write "Sanyo" or "SANYO." Style issues are distinct from factual issues. One possible rule would say that we should do whatever the company in question would want us to do. That's highly problematic, especially when dealing with trademarks, since companies like to use nonstandard styles: they're effective marketing tools, since they stand out from the rest of the text. However, readers do not benefit from being SHOUTED at or from being forced to endure end! punctuation in the middle of sentences. Furthermore, there is a neutrality concern with using these nonstandard styles: if we use "SANYO," it features their brand more prominently than the brand names of their competitors who do not use all caps. Also, there's the slippery slope: must we always use a certain color because the company prefers it? A certain font? The TM or (R) symbols? We have the technology to do that. Any willingness to not replicate color, font, or TM symbols acknowledges that we are not bound to do what the company would want us to do. The better option is the one we follow: use standard English. Words are words, even if they're trademarked as this or that or show up on legal documents as this or that. We should not use nonstandard styles to privilege certain words over others. Croctotheface (talk) 19:36, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

There you go again with that red-herring, straw-man argument about colors and fonts. You'll notice that ABN AMRO does use a particular color and font in their trademark. When writing text, you stick with text. And SANYO or Sanyo is another red-herring argument. According to the article, Sanyo is an actual word. They spell it in all caps for emphasis, like TIME or NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazines, which are also not acronyms, so we are not bound to spell them in all caps in the article. ABN AMRO is an acronym. Acronyms are in caps. That is standard English usage. Or at least the English that I've been using natively for... several decades now. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 19:46, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Could we please not make THIS discussion about this one case? I'm not talking about ABN Amro here, I'm articulating the rationale for the MOSTM guideline in general terms. You agree, then, if a given trademark owner writes their mark in all caps, and it is not an acronym, it should not be capitalized? Croctotheface (talk) 19:53, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
You're trying to establish a pedantic rule, while I would say it's on a case-by-case basis. For example, the iPod thing. If we spelled it "Ipod", people reading wikipedia would think we're morons, and rightly so. You have to go with what makes the most sense, not get hung up on alleged "standard English" rules. That's where WP:IAR comes in. Focus on what will serve wikipedia's readers the best, and what will make wikipedia look the best. Ipod would make us look ignorant. ABN AMRO might not be as strong a case. But both parts of that word are abbreviations, and hence they should be all caps - by standard English usage as I understand it as a native English speaker. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 20:00, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
The guideline is applied case-by-case, as I've already said. I agree that "iPod" is correct to use, but not because of IAR, because it IS standard English. I don't know of any major publications that use some style like "Ipod." If both styles were used, we would need to reach a consensus about which one was standard English. Based on how common "iPod" is, I think there would be a good case that it's standard English. That's the case I would make, anyway. So, to be clear, you agree that "do what the company does" is not a good rule, either? If "standard English" is "pedantic," then "because the company says so" is, I dunno, "ignorant," "sychophantic"? Croctotheface (talk) 20:05, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
There is no such "standard English" word as "iPod". It's a trade name, like "Wi-Fi" or "Kleenex" or "Qwest" or other such oddities. You go with what makes sense. I'm guessing if the company had called itself ABNAMRO, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Just because the "amro" part is "pronouncable" doesn't give us license to spell it in a way contradictory to what the company's legal name is. And since non-company sources differ on AMRO vs. Amro, it's clear there is no separate standard for it. Hence, you go back to AMRO, because that's what the company calls itself, which trumps what someone else wants to call it. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 20:10, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Here are two sources that use all caps for Sanyo: [10], They're well in the minority, just like sources that use all caps for Amro. Must we revert to what the company uses because there exist these sources? Croctotheface (talk) 20:17, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Is "sanyo" a Japanese word, or is it an abbreviation? Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 20:20, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
I don't know. Why does it matter? I thought you said that if sources differ, we break the tie by doing what the company does. Croctotheface (talk) 20:22, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Because if it's an actual word rather than an abbreviation or acronym, it need not be all caps. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 00:10, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
Why is that the distinction, though? And do you believe that it "need not" be or that it should not be all caps in Wikipedia? Would you still prefer all caps? Croctotheface (talk) 00:24, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
Because if it's an abbreviation or an acronym, it should be capitalized, unless the company chooses not to capitalize it. So, I must ask again, is "Sanyo" a real word, or an abbreviation, or an acronym, or what? Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 00:30, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

Croc, can we get a clear statement by you about what you think the guideline is for ABN AMRO, and whether it should be adhered to, and why? (and thus how the name should be written out?) You're amazingly hard to pin down, at least it seems that way to me. ++Lar: t/c 20:25, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

I really don't think I'm hard to pin down: I am a staunch advocate of choosing the most standard style. Can I ask what I said that led to this confusion? For the case you ask about, we should use "ABN Amro" because that is the style that most conforms to standard English. However, and this might be the source of the confusion, I think that there is at least an argument to be made that "AMRO" is more standard because it's an abbreviation. I do not agree with this notion, and I would argue against it in any relevant discussion, but I think that's at least a fair point to argue within the guideline. The "because the company does it" standard specifically goes against MOSTM, and I do not consider arguments of that nature to have merit. Croctotheface (talk) 20:28, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Neither "ABN AMRO" nor "ABN Amro" nor any other variation has any relationship to "standard English", because it's a made-up word. It also happens to be be an abbreviation, an acronym, or whatever the bleep you want to call it. Hence, it should be all caps. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 00:10, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
Standard English rules can be applied to any word/acronym/abbreviation. (And, really, if this turns on whether or not "Amro" is a word for linguistic purposes, I think you'll find that trained linguists would agree with me that it is indeed a word.) But anyway, I think we'd both agree that writing it "aMRO" or "aMrO" would be nakedly non-standard, since nobody writes words in either of those styles. It would not resemble standard English to write it in a font size three times larger than the surrounding text. Are you arguing that we can't take any position on whether or not the style of a new word is standard or not? Would that apply to things besides case, such as color and font preference? Croctotheface (talk) 00:24, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
No, I don't agree that writing it "aMRO" or "aMrO" is inherently invalid, if that's what it is. You've tacitly cited a parallel, in "iPod", which does not conform to "standard" rules either, but it's what it is. And "ABN AMRO" is what this one is. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 00:30, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
So, then, contrary to what you're saying above, this does not turn on it being correct to capitalize acronyms, right? If "Amro" were not an acronym, if it were just a made up word, you'd still argue for capitalization if that's what the company did? And if the company announced tomorrow that it was going to render its acronym in lowercase, you'd advocate using lowercase here, too? Croctotheface (talk) 00:45, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
Well, to change their legal name they'd have to go through a lot more trouble than that (and I would vote against it ;)), but the way I see it, the answer would be yes. Likewise, if they were to change their name to something completely different (e.g. NedBank), we'd have to change the name of the article too, although we should obviously leave a note that this company was called ABN AMRO in the past. (talk) 12:07, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
Would it matter to you if the company's usage were inconsistent? If some legal documents had one style and some had another? And what if all legal documents produced by the company went out of their way to write the company's name in red ink or a particular font? What if the company put a statement on its website saying that the color and font are essential parts of their name? Would we be obligated to use them as well? Croctotheface (talk) 13:32, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
If that actually happens, get back to us. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 14:33, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure that it hasn't or doesn't. There likely ARE entities out there that always use a given color or font and consider it part of their names. And, more importantly, if you would be willing to standardize these styles (as you appear to be but we can't know for sure because you won't answer), then there's clearly nothing stopping us from normalizing nonstandard capitalization, either. In your case, Bugs, I really have no idea what you believe. You apparently come out on opposite sides of the issue for "Sanyo" and "ABN Amro" because of the acronym issue, but then you cite the "what the company does" issue as a rationale, too, so why is it that what Sanyo does isn't worth considering at all? How would you feel about a company with a name that is neither an acronym nor a word in any dictionary that wants to render it in all caps? Croctotheface (talk) 19:11, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
The item immediately below is a good answer to the fonts and colors question. As for Sanyo, just to clarify, I have no viewpoint on it until someone can tell me if that's a real word or if it's a fake word like ABN AMRO is. As for your general hypothetical, I'm not doing hypotheticals. Examples, I can do. Because this issue has to be on a case by case basis. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 20:45, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
Well, it's just as easy to consider a hypothetical as a case, that's why they're so useful. I guess my main concern is that when you say "case by case," you just mean that your test is "what feels right to Bugs," which isn't helpful as a guideline other editors can follow. You don't have a problem with "Sanyo" instead of "SANYO," but I suspect that people from that company are just as inclined as people from ABN Amro to consider all caps correct. Croctotheface (talk) 20:54, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
I have no viewpoint on Sanyo vs. SANYO because I don't know what the nature of that string of 5 letters is. Is it a real word, or an acronym, or an abbreviation, or what? The primary guideline should be, not some pedantic manual of style, but what is least likely to make wikipedia look ignorant. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 21:13, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
But saying my side is "ignorant" is just circular logic; it assumes what it's supposed to show. We're supposed to be discussing which style is better, and you want everyont to accept as a given that the style you don't like is wrong. I think that using "ABN AMRO" makes us look ignorant. Forget about Sanyo, then. What about "FOX News" versus "Fox News"? "Fox" is a word with a meaning outside the company, it's not an acronym, and the company uses FOX. Which style should we use? Croctotheface (talk) 21:22, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
Concerning "FOX News", I looked at the Hoover's directory again at [11] which does list "FOX News" but also lists it as a unit of "Fox Entertainment", a subsidiary of News Corporation. Fox is the name of a real person, William Fox who founded Fox Film Corporation which evolved into Twentieth Century Fox which is now also a unit of News Corporation. Because most of the News Corporation units use "Fox" instead of "FOX" as the name of the various Fox units, I would use "Fox" uniformly for all the units of News Corporation. Steelbeard1 (talk) 21:48, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
Go to the Fox website [12] and you will see that they use FOX as their logo, FOX in their headings and Fox when writing in normal text. It's a word, not an acronym. Like you said. And I'm not saying anyone's "side" is ignorant, I'm talking about the way wikipedia looks to someone who doesn't happen to know anything about wikipedia's own manual of style, but who knows that ABN AMRO is the way it's properly spelled, and they say, "Well, them wikipedians is a bunch o' ignoranimuses!" Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 23:39, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
A company that uses its own name inconsistently is scarcely a company at all. I wouldn't invest my money in them if they couldn't get their own name straight, anyway. But assuming this would happen, I would go by their legal name. A legal name cannot be in a special color or font (at least not in The Netherlands), and legal documents are also always convertible to plain text without losing information. Note, however, that many legal documents *do* rely on proper capitalization for a correct interpretation! For example, many juristic persons have articles of association that start with a list of definitions. Often, when the first letter of a word is capitalized it refers to the definition in that list of definition and when it's not capitalized it doesn't. This is common practice in The Netherlands (I know this from first-hand experience) and I can imagine it's used abroad as well. But this is a tangent, really... It all comes down to the fact that in my view (and I see things this way very strongly) capitalization is a naming issue, *not* a style issue. Font, color, etc. are not and so they can be treated differently. (talk) 20:41, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
So your rule is only for companies and would not apply to, say, Pink (singer), then? Even though her management always uses "P!nk," you're fine with discarding that formatting in favor of plain old "Pink"? As far as ambiguity or confusion, it's easy enough to dispatch that by saying something right at the top like "the company uses ABN AMRO." Besides, for there to be a real ambiguity issue like the one you're talking about, we'r need something like a separate bank that uses, say, "abn amro." That new bank's name wouldn't last long because the actual bank would seek to defend their trademark and would be able to get a judge to issue an injunction against the bank for infringing on ABN Amro's intellectual property. That alone indicates to me that the two names are functionally the same. Croctotheface (talk) 20:54, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
I'm not familiar enough with Pink/P!nk to judge that but yes, I can imagine myself supporting the name P!nk if that's what she really calls herself. It's not entirely the same issue, though, because I'm quite sure that's not her official name. If/when she changes her official name to P!nk (assuming that is even possible, I would guess not) I'm all for renaming the article. Until she does, things are a bit more complicated and I have yet to be swayed either way. But that is another tangent. This isn't strictly about ambiguity either, because a new bank that called itself "ABN AMROO" would get into trouble as well and I highly doubt anyone would argue that that's just a style issue. (talk) 00:00, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Well, her legal name is Alicia Moore. Should we use that instead of any variation on "Pink"? Croctotheface (talk) 01:52, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
No, not necessarily, although if the article mentions her legal name, it should mention it as Alicia Moore, not Alicia MOore, AlIcIa MoOrE or anything else that messes up capitalization. Note that the first time I got into a revert war in the ABN AMRO article, it was because I corrected the legal names of ABN AMRO Holding N.V. and ABN AMRO Bank N.V. You see, the ABN AMRO case is very clear-cut because the name the company itself uses consistently is the same as their legal name (except for the "Holding N.V." / "Bank N.V." part). Pink/P!nk is a different issue because that's just her stage name. I don't actually know which name she uses IRL, but I assume it would be Alicia Moore. Once again, I do not have enough information to judge for certain whether the article should be called Pink or P!nk (or even Alicia Moore) and I'll leave it at that for now. To get back to ABN AMRO, what if their legal name was as it is but they used ABN AmRo as their trade name? Then things would get interesting. First of all, the legal names of both N.V.'s would have to be mentioned in the article as they are, but the name of the article itself would be open for debate (with an uncertain outcome). Frankly, I think such a hypothetical situation is a bit too bizarre for any kind of guideline that's still legible... Thankfully the current situation is very clear: the article should be called ABN AMRO. (talk) 13:29, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Entertainers often use stage names, by which they are also popularly known, so it's consistent. The article states her real name and states the "Pink" vs. "P!nk" thing. Actually, it would be better if it were "P!nk", because then should wouldn't need a disambiguation. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 02:33, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Minor differences like that do not usually preclude the need for disambiguation. For instance, the video game Half-Life was moved from Half-Life, despite it being the only usage that would call for a capital L. But, to be clear, the issue is not about "legal names," then? We should use common names? "Pink" is much more common than "P!nk," which is a real rarity in reliable sources. I guess I'm still very confused about your standard here. Let's try this one again: my preliminary research has suggested that "Sanyo" does not come from a word in Japanese. Could you explain what style you would support if it is just an invention of the company? Would it really change for you, all else equal, if it turned out that it was a word in Japanese? Croctotheface (talk) 02:41, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
"Half-Life" was replaced by "Half-Life"??? I don't get it. Regarding "Pink" vs. "P!nk", which version does she user on her albums? Is it consistently one or the other, or does it vary? Regarding "Sanyo", the article claimed that it was a word that meant something in Japanese. Once you find out what's really going on with it, I'll answer your question. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 02:49, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Right now, if you type Pink, you get the article about the colour with a disambig link to several articles. If the Pink (singer) article was renamed "P!nk", there would be no need for a disambig page for that article. But for other acts which don't need a disambig page such as The Jackson 5 (aka The Jackson Five or The Jackson 5ive), the commonly used name for that act would be acceptable so The Jackson 5 is fine with me. Because Motown Records owns The Jackson 5 name, when that group left Motown, they changed their name to The Jacksons. Steelbeard1 (talk) 02:55, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Half-Life became a redirect to the disambig page, and the article is now at Half-Life (video game). Let's forget about discussing cases, real or hypothetical. I'm just asking for what kind of factors you consider and which ones are most persuasive to you when it comes to figuring out what to do when sources use different styles for names. Could you talk about what kind of questions you ask, what issues matter to you? Croctotheface (talk) 02:57, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Well, you're the one that brought up Half-Life. That one's a close call, since the drop-down in the search box will basically take you to the disambiguation page. The factors I consider are on a case-by-case basis. I will not fall into your trap of trying to define some generalized rule. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 03:16, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

(removing indents) OK, so, you don't believe we should offer any guidance, then? That's kind of puzzling to me, since if this issue is so muddy that we can't even develop a single rule that's the least bit helpful, I can't see why you believe that there is no room for reasoned disagreement with your position. You insist that you are "right" and that those who disagree with you are "ignorant." That's circular logic, as it begins with the premise that you're right, when that's what you're supposedly demonstrating with your argument. You refuse to apply ANY of the reasons you give for one case to another case. That's not helpful for other editors. Do we throw out MOSTM, UCN, and any other naming guideline because it's impossible to develop rules? How do we decide, then? What are we to do when we don't have the benefit of your perfect judgment to decree what is right? Do we have to wait for you to weigh in? Croctotheface (talk) 03:27, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

I am getting really, really tired of you trying to put words in my mouth and mischaracterizing what I'm saying. Yes, we should have guidelines. You're treating them like absolutes. You must judge the merits of each case. That's where WP:IAR comes in. It doesn't mean "violate the rules", it means "get it right." Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 03:33, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
MOSTM specifically says that we do not regard the preference of the trademark owner. I don't see how your argument, which seems to be based on the preference of the trademark owner, does not call for ignoring the guidelines. How is this not exactly the kind of case that the guideline was designed to address? Croctotheface (talk) 03:46, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

I haven't a clue why people here are concerned about the etymology of "Sanyo". Nevertheless.... In the name of the electrical company (although not necessarily in the name of other Japanese companies that write their names as "Sanyo" within English contexts, e.g. a well-known manufacturer of raincoats), "Sanyo" is a simplification of "San'yō" (two syllables but four moras), which the company itself writes in Japanese as 三洋. This literally means "three oceans". It's certainly not a normal Japanese word (it's not in a moderately large Japanese dictionary); right now I'm afraid I don't have access to a truly large Japanese (or Chinese) dictionary so can't say for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were either (a) an archaic/poetic Sino-Japanese term meaning "the oceans" or "everywhere" or (b) merely a nonce combination. -- Hoary (talk) 04:44, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

Regional sensitivities, etc.

We're told:

Capital letters are sometimes a matter of regional differences; for example, British writers and editors are more inclined to use them than their North American counterparts. If possible, as with spelling, use rules appropriate to the cultural and linguistic context.

Is this right? I'd thought that, if anything, capitals were used rather more in the US than in Britain. Perhaps it's more a matter of the particular stylesheet within the country than of the country as a whole. And the second part leaves editors free to appeal to say, the corporate subculture of capitalizing COMPANY NAMES (perhaps in the hope of making them look MORE IMPRESSIVE). -- Hoary (talk) 07:47, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

I think that is intended for such things as As the Government declare, the opinion of the Church, which may be more British than American. If you can think of a neat way to make the second sentence the context of a national variety of English, please do. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:09, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Hmm, I believe you: I just hadn't noticed that. What I had noticed are that (for example) the Guardian (London) writes "Nato", whereas many Youessians seem to get very huffy about this. As for your invitation, thank you; I'll have to think about this. -- Hoary (talk) 08:57, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

Capital after colon in section headings

Chicago manual says that we should not put a capital after a colon, and I think we need to make sure this is explained in MOS for section headings as well. NerdyNSK (talk) 01:56, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

Legal name of corporations which are also trademarks

WP:MOSTM does not mention anything regarding the legal name of corporations which are also trademarks which conflict with TM guidelines, but is the legal name of the corporation and is in all legal documents and company directories. In this case, WP:IAR applies. Steelbeard1 (talk) 04:04, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

If you are invoking IAR, doesn't that acknowledge that the rule does apply? If it doesn't apply, why should you ignore it? Croctotheface (talk) 04:09, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
To settle edit and renaming wars such as the one for ABN AMRO. Steelbeard1 (talk) 04:20, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
I think you misunderstood me. If the rule doesn't apply, it's not necessary to ignore it, right? We're not ignoring, say, WP:REDIRECT in this case; there's no need to ignore it because it doesn't apply to what we're doing. Croctotheface (talk) 04:23, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
If adminstrators had to intervene to stop edit warring such as the one you helped developed because editors such as yourself are so stuck to treating MOS as a Holy Bible not to be questioned, we would not have to deal with this issue right now. Steelbeard1 (talk) 04:28, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
First of all, I never edit warred at all. Show me where I did, or please stop making false accusations. I'm still confused here. If the issue is that I am taking the MOS too seriously, doesn't that concede that it does apply to the case in question? Croctotheface (talk) 04:31, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

You can't have it both ways, Steelbeard1. You can't say it applies and doesn't apply. Invoking IAR is an admission that a literal reading of a rule does apply in the situation. Invoking IAR means that despite what the rules says, you aren't going to follow it for the "good of the encyclopedia". In addition, saying you have to do this for the "good of the encyclopedia" is rather lame compared to the true issues that IAR has been used to settle. It would take a very distorted sense of proportion to think that not capitalizing ABN AMRO is doing damage to the encyclopedia. --C S (talk) 05:01, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

In addition, it takes two to edit war. If there is any edit warring you were involved in, Steelbeard1, you are just as responsible for it as the other parties. IAR doesn't make you the person "in the right", and the others craven "edit warriors". --C S (talk) 05:01, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

I would say that WP:IAR is pointless to invoke on a guideline page. This page is for discussing what the guidelines should be; ideally, if everyone agrees that they make sense, then we won't have to ignore them. I would like to ask everyone involved in the "ABN AMRO controversy" to try to abandon the following lines of argument:

  • WP:MOSTM currently says XYZ, so we should do that. Yes, most of the time, but this page is for discussing what it should say in the future.
  • WP:MOSTM does or does not apply in such-and-such a circumstance. So clarify it so it works in that circumstances.
  • We can ignore WP:MOSTM if it doesn't make sense. Yes, but it's better to change it so it does.
  • The other side did XYZ against consensus, abused its authority, etc. Very possibly, but harping on it won't do any good.

These arguments aren't fruitful, because even if you resolved them, it won't help with the issue at hand. Instead, discuss what the guideline should say. -- SCZenz (talk) 12:59, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

I tend to think that a lot of editors here, if the discussion about ABN Amro is closed as no move (which it very likely will be), will stop caring about the issue. There's only a discussion here because some editors mistakenly believed that the guideline does not apply and wanted someone from here to say as much. It seems that people here only want to talk about ABN Amro, as my attempts to get them to articulate what they think the guideline should say have prompted non-responses and refusals. Croctotheface (talk) 19:57, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Right at the top of the page, on this and every other style guideline, it says there are exceptions to the rules when common sense improves the article. If consensus says the guideline doesn't apply to a specific case, then it doesn't. I do agree, though, that it would be most constructive if people would suggest how to improve the guideline if they object to it. -- SCZenz (talk) 21:37, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
I never said that there can't be exceptions made to guidelines. I do think, though, that this is not a "common sense" exception, and in fact it is precisely the kind of case that the guideline is designed to address. In cases like that, where the language of the guideline clearly shows that it is meant to apply, it should either be applied or changed. I never said that the MOS should be applied by force or against consensus. I will abide by the consensus, which will almost certainly be to use all caps. My issue is that this guideline is especially difficult to apply because of a disconnect between editors' attitudes about articles they edit and articles they don't care about. The people who edit articles with trademarked names tend to be fans/affiliates/clients/customers of the subject of the article. There is a clear predisposition on individual talk pages toward using nonstandard styles, though disinterested editors have always upheld the current consensus, which is to use the style that most resembles standard English. My issue is not some "legalistic" obsession with rules, it's that editors seem to think that because exceptions can be made, they should always be made, even when the guideline is written so as to apply to a the situation. They say, in essence, "The guideline is fine, apply it to stuff I'm not a fan of, just don't apply it to this thing I like." Croctotheface (talk) 21:50, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

Right now in the Talk:ABN AMRO straw poll, the "ABN AMRO" side is leading the "ABN Amro" side by more than a 3 to 1 margin. If the 3RR rule is enforced, the "ABN Amro" side would get punished. Steelbeard1 (talk) 19:47, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

I don't think you actually understand what edit wars or the three revert rule is. As far as I can see from the page history, there wasn't edit warring. Discussion on the talk page, even heated discussion, is NOT edit warring. Croctotheface (talk) 19:51, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
And what's up with all this talk about "punishment"? People aren't "punished" for failing to sway the consensus in a page move discussion. This comment is altogether pretty strange. Croctotheface (talk) 20:13, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
The administrators put the kabosh to the real edit and renaming warring in the ABN AMRO article. What I'm saying is that the ratio of ABN AMRO to "ABN Amro" supporters, being more than a 3 to 1 ratio as I write this, means that an unchecked edit war with all parties participating would mean that the 3RR rule would affect the "ABN Amro" supporters in this scenario. Steelbeard1 (talk) 20:34, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
But nobody has edit warred, right? What reason do you have to believe that they will? Who has violated 3RR? Croctotheface (talk) 20:43, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Steelbeard1, your confrontational us-vs.-them attitude in all this isn't helping anything. It is extremely unwise to assume administrators are going to do what you expect, especially when you're speculating about how to game the three-revert rule through sheer force of numbers. The whole point of the rule is to get people to talk to each other and work out agreements that make sense. -- SCZenz (talk) 21:37, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

The renaming poll in Talk:ABN AMRO has been closed with the result of "no consensus with a significant majority opposing." So the ABN AMRO article name stands. Steelbeard1 (talk) 19:27, 12 August 2008 (UTC)

Quoting from comics

Resolved: I got an answer from the main WP:MOS talk page. Hiding T 17:25, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

Most text which appears in comics is written upper case. When I've quoted this, I tend to place it in sentence case as appropriate. Sometimes certain parts of the text is in bold, for emphasis. Would we still embolden it, or instead italicise for emphasis? Hiding T 16:58, 15 August 2008 (UTC)

Rename section "Titles" to "Personal titles"

The word "titles" is ambiguous, so the section title "Titles" is too. Since the section is about personal titles, the heading should be renamed "Personal titles". -Pgan002 (talk) 09:29, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

bell hooks

I'm doing the monthly WP:Update. I follow that when k. d. lang was changed to bell hooks, the stated reason was that reliable sources showed intent by bell hooks (and by implication, not by k. d. lang) to have a lowercased name. That's not credible; there are about 3M ghits for k. d. lang and about 300K for bell hooks, and I think somewhere along the way, k. d. lang is likely to have noticed that her name was being lowercased in all her publicity and in reliable sources. A metaguideline (that we should probably write down) for guidelines is: if there isn't a credible reason to change the example, don't change the example, because then you'll have an endless number of editors lining up to substitute their favorite example. Can someone make a credible case that k. d. lang really didn't want her name lowercased after all? - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 20:57, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Per discussion at WP:VPP#Metaguidelines?, I removed both examples, and I'll look for opportunities to remove other examples in style guidelines. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 19:54, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
That was hardly a consensus (or even a discussion). While I don't feel strongly either way about the change, you're in dialogue with one other user, and that person disagrees with the change you've suggested. You'd be much better to alert users here of that discussion, and then make the changes, or to have the discussion here. Mostlyharmless (talk) 04:47, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
You're quite right on both points. First, I wouldn't give that advice to everyone ... WP:CONSENSUS and WP:BRD are clear that people can do any edit at any time for any reason (but they better have their reasons handy if there's opposition and there hasn't been much discussion) ... but it certainly applies to me, I need to be careful about making edits just before posting the monthly WP:UPDATE to avoid the appearance of getting in "the last word". Second, when I said "per", I didn't mean consensus was reached, I just meant "please see" ... but you're right, some people do hear "it was decided" from "per", so I'll stop saying that. So ... how do people feel about, generally, getting rid of examples if examples aren't really needed for enlightenment, on the theory that they are an attractive target for someone to come along and switch in their favorite example? - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 18:16, 3 October 2008 (UTC)

Naming conventions in games

Say you are talking about a strategy game which includes Infantry units, Ranged units, and Calvary units (or whatever) and the game itself and the game's documentation refer to these unit categories with capital first letters as I just wrote. Since these are not inherently proper nouns, is it better to follow the game's naming system and use capitals to highlight the game mechanics, or should the words be left lowercase? Personally I feel it is better to use capital letters as this clarifies that these are game-defined unit categories and not just the author's arbitrary description of the different kinds of units in the game. Some guy (talk) 19:56, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

It's a hard question, and I don't remember a previous conversation. TCMOS's Chapter 8 on names and terms has 210 sections, most dealing directly or indirectly with capitalization ... and they don't touch this. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 20:15, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
We can always create our own standards and rules. We don't have to rely on TCMOS. If anyone else would chip in with their opinion, it would be appreciated. Or tell me a better place to get this decided; I've always found the rules/guidelines/policy structure on Wikipedia to be overwhelming. Some guy (talk) 08:15, 13 October 2008 (UTC)


Hi there. I have a small question: what does MOS:CAPS#Mixed or non-capitalization means for an album called "obZen" (a fusion of the words "obscene" and "Zen")? How is obZen written at the beginning of a sentence?--  LYKANTROP  22:23, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

Probably the same as iPod... did you read the article? Some guy (talk) 19:58, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
Oh yes, I did. But the person who wrote it must not be right. Another guy did an article ObZen Tour. So I don't know.--  LYKANTROP  22:40, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
Well, do the MOS guidelines cover this issue or not?--  LYKANTROP  13:53, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Internet as a proper noun

Hi, hope this is the right place to ask this (don't be shy about steering me in the right direction if it's not).

I've just provided a WP:3O at Talk:ScienTOMogy; part of the original debate revolved around whether Internet (as a proper noun) can be written as "internet" ("internet" is any set of connected networks; "Internet" is the global set of connected networks using a specific protocol). Some sources (e.g. Wired) do not capitalise "Internet"; others do. Does Wikipedia have a specific policy on this?

Cheers,  This flag once was red  08:49, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

  1. ^ middle