Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Capital letters/Archive 3

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3 Archive 4 Archive 5 Archive 10

Mixed and non-capitalization in personal names

Testing new(ish) capitalization guideline

Given the changes made to this guideline about 6 months ago to allow us to "use lower case variants of personal names" in certain cases, I have proposed to move Danah Boyd to danah boyd. It seems like many of the arguments being hashed out in the article's Talk page are identical to those raised above. I invite comment, here and there, as it seems patently unfair that we have to rehash this entire conversation and hope to establish consensus among an even smaller and less-representative group of editors every time we propose one of these moves now supported by the MOS. I'm perfectly fine with revisiting this conversation but I don't like that those who object to this idea are taking it out on this one proposal instead of holding court here which is the proper venue. --ElKevbo (talk) 16:53, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

And I dislike that those who are seeking to force the page to lowercased spelling, are using biased "poisoning the well" comments to try and get support for their plan. A better comment here, ElKevbo, would have been a simple neutral statement like, "A move proposal which is related to this guideline is ongoing at Talk:Danah Boyd#Requested move. Any interested editors are invited to comment." --Elonka 17:22, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
The passage read: In such cases, Wikipedia articles may use lower case variants of personal names if they have regular and established use in reliable third-party sources. If multiple styles have regular and established use in reliable sources, use the orthography preferred by the individual.
The second sentence is inconsistent with the first, and violates our usual standard: when and if new usage is consistently used by reliable third party sources. I have therefore removed it, and brought it here. Language about considering the preference of the individual would be acceptable, although our purpose is to communicate, not to please our subjects. Who's Who is less reliable than we are. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:52, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
My own preference would be to explicitly mention the Principle of Least Astonishment. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:02, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
I think you might be misreading that language. The guideline exists to address cases where third party sources do not agree (that is, some use "First Last" and some use "first last"). In such cases, the guideline says, we should use the capitalization style preferred by the individual. Croctotheface (talk) 19:04, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, I'm not seeing how the guideline is confusing or inconsistent. I can see how someone could disagree with it but I don't see any logical inconsistencies.
I've reverted Pmanderson's removal of the sentence in question as it seems problematic at best to edit - without consensus - a guideline that is under discussion. If anyone is challenging whether or not the change made many months ago was made improperly or that this sentence is in conflict with policies or other guidelines then please explicitly state that challenge. Otherwise, such a change needs to be discussed and we need to reach a consensus to change this guideline just like every other guideline. --ElKevbo (talk) 19:51, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
ElKevbo, by that logic, you shouldn't have been editing the guideline either. But in any case, I support Pmanderson/Septentrionalis's change. Guidelines are intended to show how things should be handled, based on actual practice -- they're not supposed to be used as a way to create a "should", which then gets forced on other articles over the objections of the editors on those articles. I can't shake this feeling that some changes were snuck into the guideline as a way of doing an end run around the dispute resolution process. At the Danah Boyd article, we had more or less stability, and then this guideline was changed, and now there are editors at Talk:Danah Boyd who are jumping up and down and saying, "Look, the guideline's changed and no one has complained, that means we can move the article now." But no, that's not how it's supposed to work. So I would support tweaking the guideline back a notch to something that everyone is happy with, to help ensure stability. Guidelines are supposed to reduce disruption, not enhance it. --Elonka 20:00, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
The issue with what you say is that publications like Wikipedia have style guides to establish uniformity. If consensus about something like this changes, it could end up destabilizing things for a bit, but that's the price we pay for allowing consensus to change in the first place. We could probably stand to clarify those two sentences, the "may" and the "should," but manuals of style aren't really about "you may want to do this," since that kind of language would never achieve the kind of consistency that documents like this exist to facilitate. Croctotheface (talk) 20:14, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
Also, just for reference, I counted, in this page of the guideline alone, sixteen "shoulds." Croctotheface (talk) 20:17, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
I think you're really misreading things. I don't know if the change to the guideline was properly done with all of the input and discussion necessary to change a guideline; I usually don't hang out here but I've been told that the change was done properly and I'm operating under that assumption. If the change was not done properly then it should certainly be removed and reverted to the older version that presumably had more widespread consensus.
If that change was done properly then it seems entirely correct and proper that we now turn our attention to articles affected by this change. If we didn't do that then the change would effectively not be a change and we'd all be wasting our time with these silly useless "guideline" and "policy" things.
Let's get right to the point: If the change to this guideline was made correctly, then either accept that the guideline has changed or continue arguing here - not in article Talk pages - to change it again. If the change wasn't made correctly, explain that and revert the change to the guideline so we can figure out what happened and where to go from here. --ElKevbo (talk) 20:22, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
ElKevbo, I'm sorry, I'm trying to assume good faith where you are concerned, but it's getting more and more difficult. For example, I just added a sourced addition to the Danah Boyd article, and you deleted my secondary source citation which used the "Danah Boyd" name, and replaced it with primary sources which use the "danah boyd" spelling.[1] I'd like to believe that the deletion of the citation was done by accident, but good faith is getting stretched pretty thin here. Just what exactly is your connection with Boyd? --Elonka 20:36, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
I have no personal connection and only the most tenuous of professional connections with her. She's a world famous researcher in one of the hottest research areas in the social sciences; there are thousands of people who know who she is, what she does, and that she capitalizes her name funny. I assure you that there is no conspiracy here. :) --ElKevbo (talk) 20:46, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

El Kevbo does not, I think, understand (or like) the nature of guidelines, explained here: Guidelines are considered more advisory than policies, with exceptions more likely to occur. These pages are guidelines; their only reason for existence is to collect recommendations which are widely repeated, and widely held, so we don't need to type them out again. Lower case may be used... under certain conditions is a perfect example of guidance; editors should then think about whether capitalization matters, and if so, which spelling is likely to be most useful and least disconcerting to the reader. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:46, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

Sigh...I know what guidelines are and you can make your point without being condescending. :( --ElKevbo (talk) 20:48, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
Good. Then please don't dismiss guidelines which are properly restrained as "silly"; that's a sure way to come across as ignorant. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:03, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
I think that PMAnderson (with whom, if I remember correctly, I usually agree, so I don't want this to get testy) understates the fact that guidelines are the norm of "enforcement" on Wikipedia. It doesn't follow that because guidelines can have exceptions, we should just ignore them or make exceptions for any reason whatsoever. If that were so, there would be basically no reason to have a manual of style in the first place. Croctotheface (talk) 20:55, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
Ah, that's a fine point. The norm of enforcement is the WP:Consensus, which the guidelines are supposed to express. Guidelines should reflect discussions, not compel them.Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:59, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
I agree with this, with the reservation that I believe that the consensus that formed a guideline should often be stronger than the consensus of a few editors at a given page. Having said that, if the boyd/Boyd discussion does not result in a consensus to move, then the page won't be moved, and that's as it should be. Related to that, it may be that this guideline was changed after a discussion that did not attract sufficient participation. It may be wise for those who prefer a version different from the one that discussion arrived at to reopen discussion and hopefully attract some more people this time. Croctotheface (talk) 21:07, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

"May" vs. "should"

After looking over the discussion that prompted this change to the guideline, it seems very clear to me that the consensus was to use something on the level of "should" rather than "may." The fact that, by my count, this guideline says "should" sixteen times (fifteen without the entry on capitalizing personal names) suggests that it's common for this guideline to make recommendations of that strength. Since the guideline was changed, it had language that specifically said we should use lowercased form if the individual prefers it and it exists in reliable sources. Could someone who prefers the weaker language point out to me where it was that the discussion coalesced around a consensus for very weak, "may" language? Croctotheface (talk) 20:35, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

If this short guideline uses should fifteen times, it is unwise. If Croc means Talk:Danah Boyd#Requested move, it shows 4 supports to 3 opposes, and one of those supports is Unwilling because T. J. Spyke is following this page against his personal judgment. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:44, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
I mean the discussion on this talk page, after which this guideline was changed from "always capitalize" to what existed before today. Croctotheface (talk) 20:47, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
That would be #Capitalisation, above and its subsection. There are a lot of comments to that effect; but all of them seem to be made by three users. There are at least as many that support something weaker than yesterday's text: Elonka would never use lower case, and two users, at the beginning of the subsection, oppose all reference to subject preference. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:56, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
I wouldn't say "never", but I do set the bar rather high. For example, I am in agreement that "bell hooks" is in wide enough usage to justify a lowercased name there. The key for me, is third-party sources over subject preference. If some author somewhere routinely spelled their name "iAmGOdanDtheReIsNOThingYoUCanDOAboutIT", but newspapers routinely referred to them as IGY, then I'd say that the Wikipedia article should be titled "IGY", with the subject's own preferential spelling included somewhere in the lead paragraph. --Elonka 21:17, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
Right, you said, "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." It seems that your issue was with something like a single independent weekly using lowercase. (Incidentally, crazy AbcdEFgHiJ kind of stuff is not what this guideline addresses.) Your issue was not with whether the guideline should make a strong recommendation. Croctotheface (talk) 21:22, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm speaking of the consensus, though. It seems to me that the consensus formed around using some variation on "if both capitalized and all-lowercase exist in reliable sources, use the form preferred by the individual." That's why that language went into the guideline in the first place and stayed there. I'm not saying that different people did not express different preferences at different times; I'm saying that at the end of the discussion I see a consensus for a strong form. The reservations being expressed at that point are over language unrelated to the strength of the recommendation. It may very well be that that discussion did not attract as much participation as perhaps it should have, but the way to rectify that is to have the discussion a second time with greater participation, not change the guideline so that it no longer reflects the most current discussion's consensus. Croctotheface (talk) 21:04, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
Well said. If we need to revisit this issue then by all means let's do so. But we shouldn't change the meaning of the guideline through small edits intended only to clarify and tighten the existing guideline, particularly if the meaning was the result of significant work, discussion, and compromise. --ElKevbo (talk) 21:08, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Not what I see. Crocface and Irn agreed on that, but that was the position they came in with, and plainly still hold. The rest of us did not; Dank55's effort to sum up was 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. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:15, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
I think that you may not be reading the conversation very carefully. First and foremost, I did NOT "come in" with that position; I expressed at least once that I was on the fence when I came in, but I was brought around to the position I hold now by the course of the discussion. Within the last five or six posts in the subsection, I see a consensus on how to modify the guideline. The reservations expressed at this stage were NOT about whether to use strong language; it was agreed that there would be some form of "use the form preferred by the individual if," and the disagreement was about what follows the "if." Croctotheface (talk) 21:27, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
Dan's formulation says if (or rather not unless, which is weaker) "the non-standard form has been widely adopted by reliable sources independent of the subject". I would use a form "widely adopted by reliable sources independent of the subject" virtually whether it was adopted by the subject or not. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:01, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
Just in general, I think the you have a difficult task in arguing that the version that was in the article for the last six or so months, until you removed it today, did not represent the consensus achieved at the time. You're still responding to my question about how it is that the general consensus did not favor that version by pointing to comments from individual editors from disparate points in the discussion. The comments after Irn's at 19:54, 12 July 2008 (UTC) all point to a consensus for the version that was in the article for the past six months. Again, how is it that the version could've stuck around for that long if it were not supported by consensus. It would've been reverted right away. I've put that version back, as I see no evidence that it does not represent the consensus achieved in the last discussion. Croctotheface (talk) 23:18, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
I see no necessity for a version supported by a minority at the previous discussion, at this discussion, and at Talk:Danah Boyd. I shall be inserting Dan's version instead. Whatever may be consensus (silence may be), the version of yesterday is not. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:31, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
Croc, by definition, when multiple editors are objecting to something, there is not a consensus. Also, speaking as someone who was involved in the prior discussions, I am extremely uncomfortable that people are trying to twist my words into meaning something different than what I actually said. It's called "wikilawyering" to get all wrapped up in the wording of something, but to ignore the spirit of what was intended. The best way to proceed here is to try and find wording that we can all agree with, rather than trying to push through something over objections. --Elonka 23:45, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
I don't see multiple editors objecting here; I see one editor objecting. If you're speaking of six months ago, I don't see any "objections" to the final version, the one that ended up in the article. PMAnderson seemed to be referring to earlier comments, before the consensus was reached, or to disagreements about other language than the language at issue here. Again, my question is why, if no consensus emerged, was the guideline changed? Why did it remain the same from then until earlier today? More generally, I don't appreciate the accusation that I "twisted" your words; I did my best to interpret them accurately. If my interpretation was flawed, I apologize, but I approached them in good faith and I'd appreciate if you could approach me in good faith as well. Croctotheface (talk) 23:56, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
Is it me or Elonka that you count as not objecting? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:10, 10 January 2009 (UTC)
If the version that was in the article for six months was not the consensus version, why wasn't it changed? Why has no editor objected until today? Your assertion that it is the "minority version" is highly dubious, for all the reasons I've articulated that you've generally declined to respond to. I'm honestly puzzled about why you are so strident about editing the guideline NOW; if nothing else, it should be clear that edit warring or inserting this or that different version is not a long-term solution here. More discussion is needed, so let's have that discussion rather than bounce different text in and out of the guideline. Croctotheface (talk) 23:38, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
Why wasn't it changed? For the usual reason WP:MOSTRASH sticks around; nobody knows it's here until it shows up in article space, at which point it generally proves not to command consensus (which is not surprising, for something a handful of users came up with). Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:52, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
It may very well be that a consensus of editors does not support that version. However, the consensus reached on this page six months ago DID support it, and there is no evidence whatsoever that ANY version you've inserted today commands any kind of consensus anywhere. The solution here, as I've said, is to have the discussion again and involve more editors. Changing the guideline to reflect a version you personally like better does not help anybody here. Croctotheface (talk) 00:03, 10 January 2009 (UTC)
I wish I could be kinder to this statement; but the discussion six months ago is visible to all at /Archive 2#Capitalisation. If there was a consensus reached, it was the version I have just inserted, as a cut-and-paste from that section, which a majority supported. If there were no consensus, we should say nothing, which will be my response to any further reversion. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:09, 10 January 2009 (UTC)
I wish I could look more kindly on your actions today, too. The version that you removed also references the discussion, particularly the last five posts, which discuss Irn's proposal. The wording is not identical, but it resembles the version you removed more than the version you added. Honestly, this is not worth elevating your blood pressure. It's clear that this needs to be discussed again, so it will be. Croctotheface (talk) 00:31, 10 January 2009 (UTC)

Just a note that the wording of the guideline has been tweaked enough times that it now it says something very different than what it said before the tweaking occurred and I don't know if any of the editors that made the small tweaks intended for the guideline to be substantively changed. --ElKevbo (talk) 21:03, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

What, this net change? It removes a single sentence which I certainly intended to remove, as explained above.Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:07, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
I don't object to your change as it was indeed a change only in style and not in substance. But the change that followed, a very minor edit to your change, did indeed change the meaning of the guideline. I'm not accusing anyone of malicious intent or action; it's quite easy to see how a series of small changes can lead to such a mistake. --ElKevbo (talk) 03:28, 10 January 2009 (UTC)

Mixed capitalization

We seem to be tangling up multiple threads in the above section, so I thought I'd start a new one to try and bring clarity here.

As I understand it, here's what happened:

  • There has been a simmering dispute for a couple years now at the Danah Boyd article, about whether it should be titled "Danah Boyd" or "danah boyd".
  • A few months ago, some of the editors from the "lowercase" camp decided to come here to the MoS, to try and get it reworded to help bolster their case for a name change at Boyd's article
  • After a long discussion, a change was made to the guideline, and though it may not have accurately reflected the desires of the people at the talkpage, no one seemed to care enough to change it anymore
  • Recently, a new push started at the Boyd article, citing the "new" MoS as justification for a page move. In the discussion, at least one editor has spoken up saying that they disagree with the move, but they'll support it because it's what the MoS says
  • With more eyes turning to the "new" MoS, it's being realized (at least by Septentrionalis and myself) that the wording is not holding up to what the intent of the discussions were.
  • In this latest discussion, we seem to have four editors: Elkevbo, Croctotheface, Pmanderson/Septentrionalis, and myself (Elonka). The former two are of the "lowercase" camp, and like the newer wording of the MoS. The latter two are of the "uppercase" camp (at least on the Danah Boyd article), and are expressing concerns.

Because of the above, it's clear that we don't have a current consensus on how the MoS should be worded. As for why there wasn't a problem in the few months since it was changed, I think people just got tired of talking about it, and it didn't matter that much since it's a very rare occurrence for when there's even going to be a dispute that might hinge on this particular clause of the MoS. But as is clear from the discussions (so far) at Talk:Danah Boyd#Requested move, we have neither a consensus for how the page should be titled, nor how the MoS should be worded. So, let's try again, and see if we can find consensus wording? In my experience, when things are controversial like this, the best way to word the guideline is to make it clear that there's a controversy. So instead of saying, "It should be A or B", to word it like, "There is no clear guideline on how this should be handled, but existing examples have used the following solutions, some using 'A', and some using 'B'," etc. Would that work here? Writing the guideline so that we don't necessarily "decide" the dispute, but we do at least "describe" it? --Elonka 00:14, 10 January 2009 (UTC)

    • I like the final proposal. As a matter of history, I think the issue a few months ago was bell hooks, now resolved; other than that, Elonka's analysis seems sound. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:18, 10 January 2009 (UTC)
      • I have attempted to edit accordingly. If anyone objects, please tweak rather than reverting, or tag and explain here. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:07, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
I can say for myself that I don't really care much at all about the Danah Boyd/danah boyd article, and I did not come here because of it. I don't favor changing the guideline based on four editors here and a handful of others at an article talk page; generally, I think that we should open this discussion up, run it for a while, and gather a lot of opinions. If no consensus emerges, then it may be appropriate to reflect that in the guideline. As far as my own opinion: a person's name, and the formatting it takes, is a personal matter. We should be reluctant to decide for someone else that their name should be formatted one way or another. Considering that any standard involving "most" or some other percentage of sources would be impossible to tally without a massive amount of work, the easiest thing to do is just say "if multiple styles exist in reliable sources, use the one preferred by the individual." Croctotheface (talk) 00:45, 10 January 2009 (UTC)
I am terribly annoyed and frustrated that you warned me earlier to remain civil and cool down when you've not only accused me of having a non-existent COI but you continue to imply that I am part of a coordinated group of editors conspiring to change this guideline for the sake of this one article. Stop insinuating things that simply aren't true.
I've cited this guideline in support of my requested move as this guideline, as revised several months ago, finally got things right. The change to this guideline was a signal to me that there were finally enough editors with the right idea to make a change that should have been made long ago; to put it simply, this was a sign that consensus had changed. That doesn't make this or any other guideline a crowbar but it should be a good sign of consensus and where we collectively stand on certain issues.
I don't know if there was consensus to make the change to this guideline that was made 6 months ago. It's clear that there are some who vehemently disagree with the change and implications from the change but I don't know if that is merely the disagreement of a vocal minority or a true sign of large-scale discontent and lack of consensus. I hope others can chime in to help us figure out which is the case.
Finally, I continue to find it abhorrent and ridiculous in the extreme that we bend over backwards to protect the content in biographies but we'll take the word of (questionably-informed) authors and editors over the word of the subjects themselves when it comes to the most public and personally-identifiable piece of information about them: their name. This is inexplicable and I don't understand how the project benefits from actively insulting these persons. --ElKevbo (talk) 00:59, 10 January 2009 (UTC)
For some reason, article titles are one of more common disputes on Wikipedia. I deal with this stuff constantly in the Eastern European naming battles, as any little town or river doubtless has multiple names in a variety of languages, depending on where the location of the border was in any given decade. As for Ms. Boyd, we're not deciding for her (or anyone) how their name should be spelled, we are deciding which title of our Wikipedia article best reflects the common mainstream usage. This is not unusual, and in fact, throughout Wikipedia policies, especially WP:V and WP:NPOV, is a common thread that we follow outside sources, we don't lead the pack. A Wikipedia article title should be at the most common name that our readers will expect. Now, if there are alternate versions of the title (such as the subject's own preferential spelling), and that spelling is also verifiable, then we absolutely can and should use that spelling in the lead section of the article. If there are multiple spellings, then we can even include an entire section (see Ladislaus Hengelmüller von Hengervár#Alternate name spellings) or in a truly extreme case, we can write an entire article on the various names and titles used (Jogaila (Władysław II Jagiello): names and titles). But for the article title itself, we should endeavor to use the most common spelling as used in mainstream English-language sources. --Elonka 01:39, 10 January 2009 (UTC)

Regarding PMAnderson's recent change, I don't believe that there is ANY consensus whatsoever to treat personal names and trademarks the same way. I certainly do not believe we should; personal identity should receive more deference than corporate branding. Combining and conflating the two is a huge change that introduces a conflict with MOSTM. More generally, four or five editors opinions here does not represent consensus to change the guideline. It may be that the version in place before this conflict is not supported by consensus either, but the solution to that is not to make wholesale changes that bring this guideline into conflict with longstanding practice and other guidelines. Croctotheface (talk) 03:19, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

There is certainly widespread consensus, not just at this page, generally to follow the usage of reliable sources. Beyond that general principle, this does not suggest, and is not intended to suggest, treating them exactly alike.
I don't see the conflict with WP:MOSTM; I've added a sentence which should make clear there isn't any.
Croc claims five voices here were the cause of the wording he defends, so I don't see why five should not revise it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:24, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
Setting aside Wikilawyering about "the previous consensus", does Croc have any substantive disagreements with the assertions of fact in the present text? It asserts, after all, that we do what we actually do, and that we disagree where the four of us disagree. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:35, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm not comfortable with changing the guideline based a discussion involving only a small handful of editors precisely because the first discussion involving a small handful of editors has apparently failed to settle the issue. I have a serious substantive disagreement with your version, as I've described more than once on this very page. I've described the standard I prefer for personal names, and I feel they should be treated very differently from trademarks. More generally, I really think you'd benefit from taking a break from this issue for a bit. You are correct that guidelines emerge from a broad consensus; you taking it upon yourself to change the guideline when it's being discussed does not help anyone. Croctotheface (talk) 05:03, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
Croc, I'm with Pmanderson on this... If you dislike Pmanderson's wording, what would you like better? It seems like you just keep repeating, "We can't change it, we don't have enough people," but you're not being entirely clear on what your concerns are. --Elonka 05:11, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
I thought that it was clear that I preferred the version that was stable in the article for six months. If it were up to me, I'd switch back to that. Croctotheface (talk) 05:26, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
Or, alternately, the version I introduced earlier on might be a more concise way to go. I think they say basically the same thing. Croctotheface (talk) 05:31, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
I recommend taking active measures to involve additional editors outside of the group that has already discussed this and established their positions. I don't think any of us are convincing the others already involved so let's get some fresh blood and additional eyes. RFC, maybe? --ElKevbo (talk) 05:22, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

Keeping stable version until any new consensus is established

Note, I agree with Croctotheface that the version that has been stable for 6 months should be retained until any new consensus can be established. Discuss before making a major change to the guideline. --ZimZalaBim talk 02:29, 10 January 2009 (UTC)

ZimZalaBim, of course you agree with Croc, because you're also engaged in the dispute at Talk:Danah Boyd#Requested move. Further, there is no record of you ever participating in the discussions here at the guideline, yet suddenly you showed up to engage in the revert war. You're an admin, Zim, you should know better than to do this kind of thing. What's next, using tools to protect pages and block opponents? --Elonka 03:03, 10 January 2009 (UTC)
Elonka , those comments appear to be way out of line and I urge you to reconsider them. There's been quite a bit of talk at that article's Talk page of this guideline and it's completely natural that editors of that article would not begin following along here, too. That's how I ended up here. --ElKevbo (talk) 03:34, 10 January 2009 (UTC)
"suddenly you show up to engage in a revert war" - wow. I wasn't aware there was some kind of requirement to put in a certain number of edits before one can attempt to reasonably apply policy: "The change may be implemented if no objection is made to it or if discussion shows that there is consensus for the change", meaning, the existing policy/guideline shouldn't be altered until a new consensus is established. What's so wrong with that? --ZimZalaBim talk
I apologize, and you are correct, my language was sharper than necessary. My expectations for admin behavior are high, in that it is incumbent on administrators to understand dispute resolution procedures. In the case of a dispute, especially at a guideline page, this means that it's better to engage in discussion first, rather than jumping into the middle of a revert war, reverting without discussion, and then turning around and chastising people to "discuss before making a change". My good faith is also being stretched to the breaking point because of concerns about off-wiki coordination. There have been previous occasions when Boyd has encouraged her fans to come in and try to "fix" her bio, and the way that multiple editors (including yourself) all showed up within minutes of each other to promote a new move, raises concerns that there's some agenda-pushing again, especially as it's clear that some of the editors seem to know her personally.[2] And the tactics have been unpleasant. Despite months of relative quiet, suddenly today we're seeing edit-warring, incivility, personal attacks, single-purpose editing, and revert wars at a guideline page. All for one borderline notable academic, who doesn't deserve this much attention. I'm still not entirely sure what's going on here, but something definitely doesn't smell right. --Elonka 04:25, 10 January 2009 (UTC)
From my perspective, dispute resolution procedures suggest that consensus be formed before any significant changes are made to a policy/guideline. That's why I reverted the page to the stable version that had consensus for 6 months. Further, I immediately placed a note on the talk page regarding my edit. And FWIW, I didn't just suddenly show up there, as I've participated in similar discussions as far back as May 2008. Finally, please leave your "borderline notable academic" comments to her talk page. Thanks. --ZimZalaBim talk 05:57, 10 January 2009 (UTC)
Damnit Elonka how many times are you going to assume bad faith without any shred of evidence? Get it together and cease your baseless suspicion and accusations. --ElKevbo (talk) 06:11, 10 January 2009 (UTC)
I have reverted the section to its October 2, 2008 revision, given that there still seems to be substantial controversy about the matter and a strong consensus for any substantially altered version has yet to emerge. – Cyrus XIII (talk) 19:24, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
For the record, the revised version at the point of reversion was:\
For proper names and trademarks that are given in mixed or non-capitalization by their owners (such as k.d. lang, adidas and others), Wikipedia generally follows standard English text formatting and capitalization rules, unless the non-standard form has been widely adopted by reliable sources independent of the subject. There is disagreement on how much weight to give the owner's preference for non-standard capitalization of personal names; and whether it is always determinable; non-standard spellings are not used for trade names, unless (as with iPod) they have become customary in independent sources; see WP:MOSTRADE. Publicity departments may change their advertising gimmicks tomorrow; English usage is more stable.

The above seems to be a series of statements of fact about what we actually do, except for the last sentence, which is a statement of fact about the universe; it is the actual justification for MOSTRADE's postion on funny names, and I have often seen it used in naming discussions; but if we need something stuffier for the dignity of MOSCAP, I'll see what I can do. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:12, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Since the discussion on Talk:Danah Boyd has been closed no consensus - and it includes everybody here, plus some others- the claim that there is a wider consensus for the present text seems doubtful. Our guidelines should describe what we actually do; or, at least, not describe what we don't do. I propose to remove If multiple styles have regular and established use in reliable sources, use the orthography preferred by the individual. as not supported by consensus. If the RfC were bringing in a heap of new editors, I'd wait for them, but it isn't. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:42, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
I agree that the guideline should reflect what we actually do, though it's also worth including some wording to indicate when something is under dispute. Perhaps, "When there are multiple styles in regular and established use, there is no clear consensus on how these articles should be handled, so the decision should be made by the editors on that particular article on a case by case basis. For examples, see the talkpages at: bell hooks, K. D. Lang, E. E. Cummings, Danah Boyd, (etc.)." --Elonka 06:05, 18 January 2009 (UTC)

Request for comment

How should the Manual of Style handle mixed and non-capitalization in personal names?

Multiple editors have asked to draw more attention to the above discussion, in order for a wider consensus to form, hence this RFC. Respective notes have also been left at the talk pages of WP:MOS, WP:MOSTM and WP:NAME. – Cyrus XIII (talk) 20:21, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

  • Having missed the dana b and the bell hooks discussions, I was here earlier in 2008 for a k d lang discussion which is where I think the page landed on the Some individuals do not want their personal names capitalized. In such cases, Wikipedia articles may use lower case variants of personal names if they have regular and established use in reliable third-party sources. If multiple styles have regular and established use in reliable sources, use the orthography preferred by the individual. language, which I support. I think the exception for 'eBay' and 'iPod' in For trademarks that are given in mixed or non-capitalization by their owners (such as adidas), follow standard English text formatting and capitalization rules. 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). is an exception made with no logical basis and think it is silly and particularly arbitrary. -- The Red Pen of Doom 22:30, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
I agree it's a silly way to phrase the iPod exception, which should be broadened to a general mandate to follow usage. It may be that k. d. lang is also common usage; I would think so, but would have to see evidence. But personal preference is not enough in general; for example, we should use Arthur Orton when talking about the impostor, not Roger Tichbourne. In general, we should use the spelling most redognizable to our audience, which will often, but not always, be the one the subject prefers. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:32, 17 January 2009 (UTC)
The first part's done. We do not agree on what balance there should be between preference for lower case and common usage, where (as rarely) they differ. I propose to say that they usually are the same; bell hooks prefers to spell herself that way, and most people do; but that we do not agree about the relative weight when they differ, and it depends on the individual case. Comments? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:42, 17 January 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, I had to revert there again. You edit, though undoubtedly well-intended pretty much negated the core of WP:MOSTM, which is to use standard formatting, if there are reputable third-party sources that use it. Yes, in practice this can be as little as two or three, but this is lot easier to quantify than "common" usage (which often ends up in either side of a move discussion to stumble around the web, in order come up with more sources than the other, along with regular arguments of what counts and what doesn't). Plus this approach conforms nicely to WP:SOAP and WP:NPOV, respectively, along the lines of "standard formatting for everything, as long as we're not inventing a new format" (WP:NOR).
Again, please refrain from implementing any changes to the guideline, until this discussion (at the very least, this RFC) has properly played out. Judging from your earlier "WP:MOSTRASH" comment, it appears, that you do not hold our style guide in very high regard, but please keep in mind that a lot of your fellow editors consider the MOS a valuable tool to make Wikipedia more consistent and thereby professional. Hence, kindly hold your horses and do not rush to decisions, it will save us a lot of headaches further down the road (e.g. cross-guideline inconsistencies). – Cyrus XIII (talk) 06:14, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
But please read WP:MOSTM. It says we should not use non-standard spelling without reason, but also that we do use it when it has become normal usage (iPod is one example of several, and bell hooks is very likely to be another). Please do not revert, but edit; at the moment this page endorses non-standard usage at the whim of the subject. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:29, 18 January 2009 (UTC)

E. E. Cummings, K. D. Lang, Bell Hooks, and so forth. Less gimmickry, less risk of problems later when fans of Joe Nonentity Bloggs insist that he's JOE NONENTITY BLOGGS, ease of parsing of sentences in which these names appear, and all in all much simpler for all. If some readers aren't used to "Bell Hooks" and look for "bell hooks", a redirect will come to their aid. -- Hoary (talk) 04:39, 18 January 2009 (UTC)

My own feeling is that Wikipedia should follow the most common usage in third-party mainstream sources, per Wikipedia:Use common names#Examples. --Elonka 06:08, 18 January 2009 (UTC)

i find it hard to believe this discussion is still ongoing when the basics are as simple as they are...

on the one hand there's a group of people who, regarding non standard capitalised names, says "this is the name, that's how it is written, and that's how it should be written" on the other hand there's a group whose main (read only) argument for re-capitalisation is an internal wiki guideline... to me that indicates a fault in the guideline

a nAme is a nAme and should be written as intended by the name-giver. if a name does not conform to standard rules of capitalisation (in english) that name cannot and should not be re-capitalised as such. the cases where a name falls in that category are in my experience fairly straightforward and evident so there is little to no room for discussion really. --L!nus (talk) 10:51, 18 January 2009 (UTC)

Ah, so shall we rename the pop groups from Ellegarden to "ELLEGARDEN" and from Exile (Japanese band) to "EXILE"? (Fans of both groups would dearly love that.) When using roman letters, Sanyo consistently writes itself up as "SANYO"; shall we do that too?
But actually my arguments for writing "Bell Hooks" have little to do with any "internal wiki guideline". I alluded to the arguments shortly above; of course you're perfectly within your right to ignore them or to counter them, but I do rather wish you didn't pretend I hadn't mentioned them. -- Hoary (talk) 13:02, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
if the names of those bands are actually intended to be written in all caps, then yes, that's how they should be written. i leave it to others who know these bands to make a judgement on it, but as i said it probably will prove a rather straightforward case. sanyo is a company and the treatment of its name has little relevance in a discussion on personal names. as for your arguments above, i read them and i can say the following about them:
-less gimmickry: that's a dangerous line of argument you thread there... no doubt there are non standard capitalised names out there that are mainly intended as a gimmick, but equally there are such names that have a real significance in the way they are capitalised. by treating them all as gimmicks you pass a judgement and so step away from the neutral point of view. lets leave the judgement of whether or not a name is a gimmick to the reader and not the editor.
-ease of parsing: the same argument can be used to write Ipod and Ebay, yet it isn't... so why would it apply for personal names?
-simpler for all: also... wrong for all and ultimately misleading and thus confusing and actually making things more complicated instead of simpler.
in short: if some readers aren't used to "bell hooks" and look for "Bell Hooks", a redirect will come to their aid. --L!nus (talk) 13:28, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
The bands' promoters, album designers, fans, etc all agree that their names should be ALL CAPS. This probably has something to do with a belief about the upper/lowercase distinction that is unique to Japan (namely, that it's analogous to the katakana/hiragana distinction) or anyway not held in the anglosphere (other than by anglophone fans of the bands and a few others). No style guide for English that I know of would countenance such silliness, which, whatever the motivation, comes off as vanity, gimmickry, or both. Likewise, no style guide I know of would countenance ALL-CAPPING "Sanyo", whose capitalization has no effect on pronunciation, does not indicate etymology (which is 三洋), and is most likely merely a matter of graphic design.
I'm perfectly happy to write Ipod and Ebay; indeed, this is what I usually do.
simpler for all: also... wrong for all and ultimately misleading and thus confusing and actually making things more complicated instead of simpler. Any reasoning for this assertion?
Sure, anyone looking for "Bell Hooks" can be redirected to "bell hooks", whereupon the reader will have to put up with the vanity/gimmickry of the orthography, the minor irritation of slightly increased parsing difficulty, etc. -- Hoary (talk) 14:56, 18 January 2009 (UTC)

a belief about the upper/lowercase distinction that is unique to Japan (namely, that it's analogous to the katakana/hiragana distinction): well than, that would indicate that the name in all caps clearly isn't the same as the name in standard english capitalisation...
to you such non standard names might come off as vanity/gimmickry, but that is simply your own personal opinion on the matter and although you are perfectly entitled to have that opinion it can hardly be considered as a neutral point of view. and to take the vanity/gimmickry argument further... someone might be of the opinion that the use of a pseudonym/pen name is a sign of vanity/gimmickry, but that would hardly be considered a valid argument to move say the bell hooks page to gloria jean watkins.
you might write Ipod, but that is not what is done in wikipedia.
Bell Hooks, and similar re-capitalised names are misleading and confusing because they are wrong and incorrect. people who use wikipedia should be able to rely on the correctness of the information given... when you are going to render bell hooks as Bell Hooks you are spreading wrong information.
whereupon the reader will have to put up with the vanity/gimmickry of the orthography, the minor irritation of slightly increased parsing difficulty, etc.: again, that is your personal opinion, i don't think it is vanity/gimmickry nor does it irritate me... reading an article on Bell Hooks on the other hand would annoy me to a very great extent because the name Bell Hooks is not the name of the author in question. --L!nus (talk) 16:00, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
Pseudonyms have been used for centuries if not millennia, sometimes for very good reason. Anyone who's at all educated is very familiar with them. Within English prose, the great majority of pseudonyms (e.g. "John Wayne") look like people's names, and the great majority of the rest (e.g. "Sting") are capitalized as names. The conventions of capitalization constitute a useful orthographic device; and for at least a century typographers have enjoyed bending and breaking them for visual effect in small doses; I'm not aware of any warmly received attempt to do this in larger doses, although generation after generation of preteens has deluded itself that all majuscules or all minuscules is daring, original or artistic. Poets, poetasters and others are most welcome to play with the conventions even for their own names and to have their fans and authorized biographers do so. However, this is not a collection of fansites but an encyclopedia, and so can remain above this, just as it would ignore any demand that a given person's name should always be presented in this or that color.
What mystifies me is the contrast between (a) your great interest in this matter and (b) the lack of a single contribution by you to any article since October of the year before last. -- Hoary (talk) 23:46, 18 January 2009 (UTC)

The conventions of capitalization: anyone who is at all educated will know that these conventions are a fairly recent development... however, be that as it may and no matter how convenient a standard set of rules are, some things simply fall outside such rules.
this is ... an encyclopedia: exactly! and therefore it should strive to be correct regardless of personal preferences or opinions of specific editors... and therefore, if a name falls outside the standard capitalisation rules and it is clear that this is intentionally so, this name should be represented as such and not be re-capitalised to make it conform to something it intentionally does not conform to. --L!nus (talk) 07:12, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

There appear to be three groups here:

  • Those who would always use standard capitalization, even Bell Hooks.
  • Those who would always use non-standard capitalization when the article subject prefers it, even when nobody else does.
  • Those of us who would decide between these warring positions by following WP:COMMONNAME and other case-by-case indicators.

Under these circumstances, there can be no consensus, unless one of these claims of right outnumbers the other two into fringe positions. So let us state that there is a disagreement, and leave it at that. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:48, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

Yes, that sounds sensible. -- hOaɾɥ 02:20, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

Just a side note, because someone brought up Cummings. Cummings never endorsed the form e. e. cummings; that was someone else's invention. See his bio for details. --Trovatore (talk) 09:12, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

but but... when you agree to disagree and leave it at that nothing will change and you end up in an endless stalemate back and forth (both on pages of a specific topic and in general discussions like this one)... surely that's not desirable?

@trovatore: the case of e.e. cummings is indeed a fairly straightforward example where the name does follow regular standardised capitalisation. there's no room for debate there (as is made clear in the article). --!linus (talk) —Preceding undated comment was added at 21:49, 20 January 2009 (UTC).

On the contrary, if you decide each case (and there aren't that many) on its merits instead of repeating predetermined positions at each other, the result tends to be stable. For example, I was persuaded to support bell hooks by substantial evidence that that is common usage, not just a quirk of herself and her publisher. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:56, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

I know I'm coming here a little late. In general, I actually like Pmanderson's "most recognizable" standard for personal names. I very intently believe that we should distinguish between individual names (which have a tie to personal identity) and names such as band names or corporate trademarks whose uses are largely commercial. However, formatting a name in lowercase in a case where it would be a wholly unfamiliar style to most readers...I'm not sure that I'm convinced there are a lot of cases like that, but when it happens it probably makes more sense to capitalize. Having said that, I still believe that style guides exist to make recommendations, not to dodge them and say do whatever you want. I envision that, without a guideline that says something meaningful, there will be a lot of arguments very similar to this one on lots of article talk pages, and a lot of "no consensus" results. I'm concerned that an editor coming here will be left with no guidance whatsoever, and that makes me question the value of the guideline in the first place. Croctotheface (talk) 23:50, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

i agree with your last point, there are in fact several cases where such an argument is ongoing or where it ran into a no consensus result. also, the way things stand now there is a very real danger of getting inconsistent treatment of such names with some being re-capitalised and others not, in fact, that is already the case... we have bell hooks on the one hand but Danah Boyd on the other.
the way i see it the vagueness of the guideline can result in various interpretations... in my opinion the guideline as it is now will validate the use of non-standard names at all instances because it is almost certain that there will be disagreement in reliable sources (some sources will make regular and established usage of the non-standard name, others will use the re-capitalised name). but no doubt other editors will disagree with such a reading of the guideline.
i have to disagree with the distinction you make between individual names and band names however. in my opinion what we are dealing with here are a set of names which are best termed as artist names.
personal names always follow the standard rules of capitalisation. and although it often is the case, the name by which an artist (say a writer, musician, architect, sculptor, painter...) is known (or if you like the name under which he/she/they operates) is not necessarily this personal name.. so bell hooks is a pen name, the personal name of the author is gloria jean watkins, and likewise, k.d. lang is the artist name and kathryn dawn lang the personal name.
a distinction between individual artist names and group artist names (with the latter being treated as trademarks (with a largely commercial use)) is hard to maintain... by that logic, for example, bell hooks would be an individual name while nicci french would be a trademark, while in reality there is no real difference between the two names. --!linus (talk) 09:12, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
There may be some close cases where it's not entirely clear whether a stage name identifies an individual person or some other entity. Such close decisions should be handled on a case-by-case basis. For me, i's very important to distinguish between uses that are primarily commercial in nature and those that deal with personal identity. I feel that we should be inclined to give some deference to the way a person chooses to identify himself, but I think that commercial entities that use unconventional typography should not have independent entities do the work of their branding department. For me, it comes down to the notion that individual identity is the trump for a large number of personal names, while not calling more attention to a product/brand/band name just because they choose some kind of nonstandard style is the trump for commercial cases. Croctotheface (talk) 15:36, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
again, i am not sure how you can maintain a distinction between say leonard cohen, bob dylan and the beatles (note: none of those have anything to do with the issue of capitalisation, but i am too lazy to think of good example that fit that discussion as well). they all fall in the same category of names and as far as commercial intent is concerned are exactly the same even if all three cases share a different relation to the personal name of the individual(s) involved. essentially they are all alike, the fact that two refer to a single individual and one to a group of individuals doesn't really matter...
these names should all be treated in the same way and the guideline should reflect that and that guideline should be a clear statement...
so it should either say something like this
some individuals or groups do not want their names capitalised or insist on a mixed capitalisation. in such cases, wikipedia articles should use those variants if they have regular and established use in reliable third-party sources.
or this
some individuals or groups do not want their names capitalised or insist on a mixed capitalisation, but wikipedia articles should always use normal capitalisation, even if those variants have regular and established use in reliable third-party sources.
and needless to say i prefer the former of the two --!linus (talk) 17:21, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
It's not exactly a bizarre distinction to draw: Leonard Cohen is a person's name; there is no person (that I know of) named The Beatles. Cases where someone's stage name is not the name they use in other dealings are a tougher (and rarer) case, and we can handle those case-by-case. If I were forced to choose between "always do what the subject wants, even if it's a band or corporate brand name" and "always use standard English," I would go for standard English without hesitation. Croctotheface (talk) 17:51, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
oh come now, the fact that there are four people behind the name doesn't make the beatles more of a commercial enterprise than leonard cohen... both create/created music and that's it.
let's distinguish between those that create something (either as an individual or as a group) on the one hand and commercial entities on the other. the treatment of the names of the former group is what is (or what should) be dealt with here, the latter do not have anything to do with this discussion. --!linus (talk) 19:27, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
My main distinguisher, as I've said about three times now, is personal identity versus non-personal identity. The Beatles is not a person's name. Leonard Cohen is. I'm just going to repeat my argument, as you have not chosen to respond to it: readability is usually the most important thing, so it breaks strongly toward standard English. However, personal names, as far as that name is a person's identity, deserve some more consideration for non-standard styles, at least relatively unobtrusive ones like all lowercase. Things other than personal names, including band names, do not deserve that degree of consideration because they do not belong to that same category. Croctotheface (talk) 21:32, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
yes, they do belong to exactly the same category, as i have said before. they serve exactly the same purpose and they operate in exactly the same way.
as for readability: a name caries meaning, sometimes it is a more general meaning, sometimes a more specific one. if and when a name is specifically written in a way that does not conform to standard spelling then that way of writing the name also caries meaning, if that name is written other than intended that hampers that meaning and the readability of the name.
to give an example: when i read Deus i think of god, when i read dEUS i think of the band. when i read about the band and its name is rendered Deus that hampers the readability... likewise, when i read about bell hooks and her name is rendered as Bell Hooks that hampers readability... because the way those names are intended to be written is part of the meaning those names convey --!linus (talk) 23:02, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
If you believe that a person's name is in "exactly the same category" as band, corporate, and product names, then I don't think we're ever going to come around to agree about the issue. I'll just reiterate that if I were forced to treat them the same, I'd say we should standardize everything, including personal names. Croctotheface (talk) 23:27, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

If you believe that a person's name is in "exactly the same category" as band, corporate, and product names: i believe no such thing, nor have i said that... re-read my comments above --!linus (talk) 07:13, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
I said, " Things other than personal names, including band names, do not deserve that degree of consideration because they do not belong to that same category," to which you replied, "yes, they do belong to exactly the same category, as i have said before." I'm not sure what you're trying to say, but that's what you said. More generally, I don't think either of us will convince the other of much of anything. I think I've stated my position clearly enough at this point, so I don't expect to continue with some kind of back-and-forth here, as it benefits no one. Croctotheface (talk) 08:22, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
Suggest Considering Emerging Standard in Some Contexts -- There is an emerging editorial standard for naming persons in English language media which is meant to disambiguate family name from personal name without re-ordering its parts. Chinese names, for instance, order family name first and as time passes fewer Chinese-named residents of English speaking countries choose to Anglicize this. The new standard arose in sport where ambiguous naming standards unacceptably confuse stats. It capitalizes the entire family name, and either initial caps or no caps the personal name(s). It imposes this regardless of personal preference or practice. Conforming examples: michael PHELPS, Michael PHELPS, GO Evelyn, XIE luann. (talk) 08:54, 14 February 2009 (UTC)
Though it appears I've arrived too late for the party, nevertheless, I opine. Capitalization of a proper noun is the sole purview of the creator of said noun; it is exempt from capitalization rules exactly the same as from every other language rule. Regardless of whether it be a pen name, stage name, group name, product name, or company name, it is a proper noun; and it is not within our jurisdiction to change it, whether in respect to capitalization, punctuation, spelling, or grammar. If we can change eBay to Ebay, then we can change the Beatles to the Beetles, Ludacris to Ludicrous, and Toys "R" Us to Toys Are We. Naturally, if the creator/owner/entity is inconsistent, then the matter is open to discussion.
The issue of whether to use a proper noun that is an alias for a person's legal name as the title of an article about the person (rather than about the alias itself) is an issue (one that appears to have been already decided - incorrectly, in my opinion; amazingly so, in light of redirects) entirely separate from capitalization: if you are using the proper noun, you must capitalize/punctuate/spell/etc. it as created.

Adding literary genres and architectural styles

After I asked about capitalization of literary genres on the Reference desk I was referred to this page, section "Musical genres".

I thought it might be a good idea to generalize that section and make it include literary genres and architectural styles. So that's what I would like to suggest. Debresser (talk) 11:47, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

Proper nouns

What does the MOS say regarding proper nouns? Shouldn't proper nouns always be capitalized? The MOS seems to say that proper nouns should sometimes be in lower case. If this is correct, then I believe the MOS needs to be amended to provide for the capitalization of all proper nouns. SMP0328. (talk) 23:44, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

Actually it should require capitalization only for those proper nouns commonly capitalized - "e e cummings" is a notable exception, for example, as are many Arab place names where "al" may not be capitalized, etc. While we are at it, acronyms in American English are generally given as all caps, while British English seems only to capitalize the first letter. Collect (talk) 12:46, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
The MOS appears to say the use of the definite article results in a political office being capitalized, when referring to a particular political office ("the Prime Minister," "the President," "the King"); otherwise, lower case is used. Am I interpreting the MOS correctly? SMP0328. (talk) 22:50, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
I hope not. "ongoing absence of Senator Edward Kennedy" has no the, and is correctly capitalized. The question is whether you are referring to a specific Senator or to senators in general. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:11, 14 February 2009 (UTC)
I agree with you on the capitalization, certainly. However I think locutions like Senator Edward Kennedy, and indeed prenominal titles in general, should be avoided by preference. Better is Edward Kennedy, senator from Massachusetts. --Trovatore (talk) 07:24, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

... (see Article)

Here is a minor style question that I don't find answered in WP:MOS. If another Wikipedia article serves as a reference, and the other article title is a common noun, what is the proper capitalization of the link? This question concerns an article at FAC: diff. --Una Smith (talk) 05:23, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

WP:MOS has an example:

Italics are used when mentioning a word or letter (see Use–mention distinction)

--Una Smith (talk) 05:50, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

the (see article) construction as it is used in the article you link is something that should be avoided. it is easily solvable by using piped links... in the case at hand i would say do this:

a joint disorder in which an area of articular cartilage and the underlying subchondral bone --!linus (talk) 08:43, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

I agree that the construction should be avoided. My question though concerns when it is used. Should the first letter of the linked article title be a capital? I have now found many examples of this construction in WP:MOS. Is this point of style stated anywhere? --Una Smith (talk) 13:55, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

well... keep in mind that the mos is not an article but a guideline. i see no reason why it should ever be used in an article, except when the see also template is used. and then it would make sense that you capitalise the link according to the capitalisation on the article that is linked --!linus (talk) 18:02, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

Allcaps for emphasis in titles

The title of a book as well as a chapter of that book are written on the cover as "OK, Let's STAND UP!". Should I "avoid writing in all capitals" and make it "OK, Let's Stand Up!"? What about the emphasis? Should I italicize the relevant words like "OK, Let's Stand Up!"? I can't really tell from the guidelines. -- Goodraise (talk) 01:18, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

What do secondary sources call it? Otherwise, see WP:MOSTM on publisher's gimmicks. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:23, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

Saint Foo

As far as I can see, the guideline is quiet on the use of a capital letter for "saint" when used with a particular name, e.g. Saint George. The lead of the article Saint makes a distinction. I would instinctively use a capital S for the word when used with a particular name.

I would be grateful for advice in this matter and for the subsequent amendment of MOS:CAPS. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 14:24, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

Your instinct is right. Saint is a title. There is no need for an amendment. -- Goodraise (talk) 15:05, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

act (statute)

Due to the confusion caused by two proposals presented at Wikipedia_talk:Naming_conventions#act (statute), the main problem has not been resolved. We need to know whether to use lowercase or uppercase in articles when referring to the common noun. The discussion linked to above was not able to find consensus, so the pages will be moved back to where they were with uppercase spelling, but that does not mean that there was consensus to use only uppercase in the articles. I had copyedited several articles dealing with acts of Congress and acts of Parliament and removed the inconsistent use of both upper- and lowercase. I based lowercase on the reasoning in the following proposal:

I propose we adopt an official policy on the lowercase or uppercase spelling of act in the sense of "law" to avoid edit wars and huge amounts of time and effort wasted in numerous and repeated discussions of the same thing on numerous pages.

The terms "act of Congress", "act of Parliament", and "act" in that sense are common, not proper nouns. In accordance with MOS:CAPS (Wikipedia's house style avoids unnecessary capitalization; most capitalization is for proper names, acronyms, and initialisms) and the most widespread use in reputable sources as recorded (not prescribed) by all major UK and US dictionaries and at least 2 major encyclopedias (Cambridge, Oxford, Collins, Longman, American HeritageRandom House, Cambridge American, Merriam-WebsterColumbialBritannica), the term "act (of Congress/Parliament)" is best spelled lowercase when it's a common noun and not part of the name of a specific act.

We should add a note that many legislatures and many members of the legal profession and at least some encyclopedias (Halsbury's Laws, Butterworth's Concise Australian Legal Dictionary) do not follow this most widespread usage in reputable sources recorded by dictionaries and encyclopedias and instead often uppercase "act" (and other terms) even when used as a common noun. Nevertheless, for example the drafting rules of the (US) National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws specifically say

  • Use lower case letters for internal references within the same act, article, part, or section.
    • Examples: “An individual who violates a provision of this [act] . . .”. “The procedures set forth in this [article] . . .”. “Except as otherwise provided in this section, . . . ”.
  • Do not capitalize the word “act” when used to refer to the act being drafted.

And the U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual says

  • In the short or popular titles of acts (Federal, State, or foreign) the first word and all important words are

capitalized. Revenue Act; Walsh-Healey Act; Freedom of Information Act; Classification Act; but the act...

We should add a hidden note (<!-- -->) explaining that Wikipedia is primarily and according to one of its main policies based on secondary sources, not primary sources, and does not have to follow usage in primary sources. We also need to add a note that modern dictionaries and encyclopedia do not impose rules and instead describe current usage in reputable sources based on huge databases of quotations (and themselves use the most common usage). --Espoo (talk) 17:34, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

Latin (language) and all-capitals

I have just added a section at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (text formatting)#Latin (language) and all-capitals where readers here may wish to add their opinions. — OwenBlacker (Talk) 20:15, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

Organisms and Objects

What is to be capitalized as a noun? Although it is, in the view of the national curriculum, all and only those expressions that refer to a person, place, thing, event, substance, quality, or idea, what is the actual position of the experts who regulate the application of capitals in the English language. For example, in a recent dispute, I claimed that a Rat, as as organism, is to be capitalized, whereas the 'teacher' argued that the correct version of the phrase should be 'the rat'. I was somewhat under the impression that both versions were acceptable, as is the case with the noun 'Ship', another ambiguous noun which renders me hopelessly perplexed with regards to the need to capitalize. Any advice on the subject would be greatly appreciated, as this particular aspect of the language is often far too complex and elaborate for me to grasp. Also, should the word Mother be capitalized? —Preceding unsigned comment added by JusLB (talkcontribs) 18:18, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

Who ever told you that ship takes a capital??? No, none of these words is ordinarily capitalized. You can capitalize Mother when you're using it as a substitute for a proper name, as in Why ever did you do that? I am certain that Mother will not approve. (To utter this locution it helps to be wearing a white tea dress and sunglasses that turn up at the corners, especially if you're male.)
There is a running argument about whether to capitalize more-specific species names; some editors prefer the capitalization American Robin, for example, on the grounds that this disambiguates the species from a robin that just happens to be American. But I have not seen anyone argue for Rat. --Trovatore (talk) 21:11, 9 May 2009 (UTC)
WP used to do that. The standard changed. Rich Farmbrough, 11:24 13 May 2009 (UTC).

Holy Spirit?

Wikipedia's MoS should specify capitalization rules for "Holy Spirit" and "holy spirit". My thought is that when "Holy Spirit" is a figure or person, the term must be capitalized; when "holy spirit" is a mindset or impersonal force, then it need not be capitalized, but may be when quoting references which capitalize it.

It seems preferable for the matter to be resolved by those experienced at formalizing rules for a manual of style; the opinions of religionists are less useful. Here are some pivotal questions:

1. Must "holy spirit" be capitalized if it's pointedly not referring to religion? For example, "The spirit of competition between opponents is an unholy mindset, while the holy spirit among collaborators is an admirable mindset."

2. Must "holy spirit" be capitalized in a religious context even if it's not being discussed as if it were a Deity? For example, "Some nontrinitarians believe 'holy spirit' is an impersonal force rather than a person; other nontrinitarians believe 'holy spirit' is simply an attitude."

3.a. Of the capitalization grounds already listed in Wikipedia's MoS, which currently apply(ies) to capitalizing "Holy Spirit"?
3.b. Does requiring that "Holy Spirit" must be capitalized constitute a nonneutral POV, in light of the term's nonreligious and nondeity usage? Why or why not?

Please post most reasoning here:
MOS:CAPS#Holy Spirit?

After consensus, rules for capitalizing "holy spirit" should be explicitly enumerated both here, at
Wikipedia's MoS for Capitalization, and there at
Wikipedia's MoS.

This discussion may or may not benefit from the unrelated but perhaps parallel debate about capitalizing "God":
Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style_(capital_letters)/Archive_2#Specific_examples ...Soc8675309 (talk) 17:31, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

Actually, we don't need more rules; we may need to introduce some dogmatist to dispute resolution. When "Holy Spirit" refers to the third person of the Trinity, it's a proper name - and capitalized, just like Flying Spaghetti Monster; if it refers to sacred numina in general, it isn't. (Other words in the preceeding sentence can be capitalized by idiom; but that's a different question.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:13, 8 May 2009 (UTC)
It would be very useful for the MoS to more-explictly state what you've stated, namely,
"When "Holy Spirit" refers to the third person of the Trinity, it is a proper name and capitalized; when "holy spirit" refers to sacred numina, it is not capitalized."
It may seem simple, but a rule such as this has not been explicitly stated yet. Has it?
Please consider adding this rule explicitly. ...--Soc8675309 (talk) 19:42, 8 May 2009 (UTC)
Why? --Trovatore (talk) 23:49, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

This just follows from ordinary capitilisation rules. Do we need to specifically mention Holy Spirit/holy spirit? Can you point to a problem that this is causing ... can you even point to an instance of these words used on WP in a non-proper-noun way? JIMp talk·cont 01:05, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

We manage to avoid saying Capitalize proper names; this should be fixed (carefully, to allow for exceptional cases like k. d. lang, which is idiom now). At that point, Holy Spirit will be a trivial corollary. 05:31, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
It already is a trivial corollary of English grammar. JIMp talk·cont 11:25, 11 May 2009 (UTC)
This whole page is a set of trivial corollaries; we might as well add the central lemma, precisely to have something to point to for questions like this. So I have. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:10, 11 May 2009 (UTC)


The reference to the Chicago Manual of Style in the "Titles" section does not in fact support the recommendations given. The CMOS actually advises lowercase in most cases. The main exception seems to be when the title is usually preceding a personal name, such as "King George" and "President Obama". In contrast to our current guideline, "king of France", "prime minister of Canada", "senator of Wisconsin", etc. (but not "Earl of Elgin"), are all lowercase. I believe this is also the style of the New York Times (not sure). I personally prefer this style as well; the capitalized Kings and Presidents make it look too much like diplomatese to me. Opinions? (At any rate, we shouldn't cite the CMOS for what it doesn't say, so I'll remove the reference.) Here are some extracts from the CMOS:[3]

  • "Civil, military, religious, and professional titles are capitalized when they immediately precede a personal name and are thus used as part of the name ... Titles are normally lowercased when following a name or used in place of a name." Ex.: President Lincoln; the president.
    • exceptions: "In formal contexts ... such as a displayed list of donors in the front matter of a book ... titles are usually capitalized even when following a personal name", "A title used alone, in place of a personal name, is capitalized only in such contexts as a toast or a formal introduction"
  • "When a title is used in apposition before a personal name, not as part of the name but as a descriptive tag, and often with the, it is lowercased." Ex.:the empress Elizabeth of Austria"
  • "Queen Elizabeth; Elizabeth II; the queen (in a British Commonwealth context, the Queen)" "the shah of Iran"
  • "the general; General Ulysses S. Grant"
  • "the pope; Pope John Paul II", "the archbishop; the archbishop of Canterbury"
  • "the marquess; the Marquess of Bath; Lord Bath" —Preceding unsigned comment added by Lesgles (talkcontribs) 06:07, 9 May 2009
This is my preference as well. Capitalizing titles when they're really being used as common nouns seems wrong, and looks overly deferential towards officialdom. --Trovatore (talk) 07:07, 9 May 2009 (UTC)
Not in the least. I would argue that we must abide inerrantly by Debrett's Etiquette. Governmental positions like president need not be capitalised, but genuine positions of authority, not officialdom, must be spelled correctly. Leaving Empress, Shah, Archbishop, and worst of all, Pope in the lower case is simply incorrect. If American publishers do follow these curious guidelines, I fear what similar foreign ideas formerly-reputable institutions may have imported recently.— Kan8eDie (talk) 08:34, 9 May 2009 (UTC)
Well, that combination is even worse — now you look overly respectful towards the evil institution of royalty. --Trovatore (talk) 09:04, 9 May 2009 (UTC)
Ha! You have to be a bit careful around here, this being Wikipedia, as there are probably people who actually think that!— Kan8eDie (talk) 13:13, 9 May 2009 (UTC)
The Economist's style guide also advises the opposite of MOS's current "King of France" recommendation. My research so far seems to indicate that MOS's recommendation is deprecated not only by CMOS but by most US style guides and by probably more UK style guides than the Economist's. Here are some online US style guides: [4][5][6] --Espoo (talk) 14:23, 13 August 2009 (UTC)


"Transcendent ideas in the Platonic sense also begin with a capital letter: Good and Truth. " hmm.. comments? Rich Farmbrough, 11:27 13 May 2009 (UTC).

That is pretty standard (unless you are asking about the difference between transcendent and transcendental).— Kan8eDie (talk) 17:59, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

"Indigenous Australian" / "indigenous Australian"

A came across some irregular spelling of the term "indigenous Australian" within the articles Indigenous Australians and Indigenous peoples. It seems the former article prefers to spell this term with a capital "I", although there is at least one exception in that article. The latter article doesn't seem to have any consistency at all. I can't find any appropriate guidance in MOS:CAPS, although I would instinctively use a lower case "i". What should it be? -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 12:33, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

The 'General Principles' section notes that we use capitalisation for proper nouns and often proper adjectives, and that in this we follow common usage. Looking to common usage, there are plenty of example of both usages out there, but most organisations with a specific Indigenous focus seem to capitalise.
I don't have a copy of the government manual of style handy, but the Australian Bureau of Statistics' "Publishing: Standards and Guidelines : Subsection 11-03-05" states: Always capitalise 'Indigenous' when it refers to the original inhabitants of Australia - as in 'Indigenous Australians' and 'Indigenous communities'. It needs no capitals when used in a general sense to refer to the original inhabitants of other countries. AFAICT, other government departments generally handle it the same way. See also usage at e.g. AIATSIS, ABC Indigenous coverage, National Indigenous Times etc. --GenericBob (talk) 02:36, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
While I'm confused by the logic ("Indigenous communities" when it refers to Australians, but "indigenous communities" when it refers to others; if the word is to be capitalised, it would in my opinion be clearer if that's restricted to "Indigenous Australian/s"), I can accept the Australian Government's usage rules. Unfortunately, my Pocket Macquarie is silent on that question. The remaining question still is, whether the Wikipedia Manual of Style will accept it. If so, it should be shown there explicitly, as well as in some style guide at WikiProject Ethnic groups & WikiProject Australia. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 08:16, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

How about something like this?

In modern usage, the terms "Australian Aboriginal" and "Indigenous Australians" (sometimes abbreviated to "Aboriginal"/"Indigenous" when context allows) refer to specific, unique groups of people. When used in this sense they should be capitalised as proper nouns, in the same way as "Native American". Where 'indigenous' is used in a general sense to refer to the original inhabitants of an area without specifying a unique group, lower case should be used.

(I would say the same thing for 'aboriginal', but as a general-purpose adjective it doesn't seem to be used much any more.) Looking around, similar issues seem to arise with Irish Travellers, Creole peoples, etc etc. --GenericBob (talk) 03:37, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

I'm afraid that doesn't seem to cover the issue in the articles Indigenous Australians and Indigenous peoples which brought me here. The former article in particular uses the capitalised form "Aboriginal" almost exclusively and without distinction (there are three concurrences of lower case usage, one of them in a quoted title); while the same article uses "indigenous" 16 times, including once for "indigenous Australians", it also uses the upper case version for terms like "Indigenous communities", "Indigenous languages", "Indigenous organisations", "Indigenous radio stations". On the other hand, the article Native Americans in the United States seems to be much more considered in the use of upper and lower case for Native (>100) vs. native (35).
I had hoped that raising this matter here instead of just at Talk:Indigenous Australians#Spelling "Indigenous" / "indigenous" would have widened the debate and provided some Wikipedia-specific guidance — that's apparently not going to happen and my interest in the matter is fading fast. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 06:09, 15 June 2009 (UTC)
Oh, I agree that the current usage in these articles is inconsistent - if the proposed text is accepted, I'll go through them and try to standardise them. I don't see a problem with "Indigenous communities" etc. because context makes it clear that "Indigenous" is here being used as shorthand for the proper noun "Indigenous Australian" - we're clearly not attempting to encompass indigenous peoples from other lands. --GenericBob (talk) 06:42, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

Capitalisation within this page

"Use sentence-style capitalization, not title-style capitalization: Capitalize the first letter of the first word..."

- should 'Capitalize' be in lower case here? --GenericBob (talk) 23:35, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

Interestingly enough it seems that ':' is interpreted as "as strong as a '.'" by most WP authors, hence what comes after is capitalised. Not really to my liking but it seems widely accepted, unless you know otherwise. Rich Farmbrough, 19:11, 31 May 2009 (UTC).
I don't like it either but I can't cite an authority to back me :-) --GenericBob (talk) 23:39, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

Capitalization of the definite article that is part of a royal style

I need help from experts. Should the definite article the be capitalized when it's used as part of a royal style? For example, should we write HM The Queen or HM the Queen, HRH The Prince of Asturias or HRH the Prince of Asturias? The definite article is usually capitalized, but is it correct? The dispute started here. All the other templates, such as Template:British Royal Family and Template:Danish Royal Family, use the definite article capitalized. What is correct? Surtsicna (talk) 19:31, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Well, this is my opinion: when a royal style (HM, HRH, HH, etc.) is not included "the" should be capitalized, when it is included then "the" is not capitalized. The fact that "the" is part or not part of the royal addressing doesn't matter, "of" is also part but neither capitalized. So it is "HRH the Prince of the Netherlands", not "HRH The Prince Of The Netherlands". At least, this is the English style in the Netherlands, maybe in other countries this is different. But I know that the English style of the Spanish royal family is also for example HRH the Prince of Asturias. Demophon (talk) 20:17, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
We should not be capitalizing queen except when used prenominally. It's a common noun and should follow the rules for common nouns. When used prenominally (as in Queen Elizabeth) it's no longer a common noun, but part of a proper name.
When discussing, say, the king of England in the abstract, rather than with reference to a particular one, we should always treat king as a common noun. --Trovatore (talk) 06:40, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
Demophon, the Dutch Royal Family (or any other royal family) cannot create their own orthography rules, so their opinion is irrelevant. I understand when queen is capitalized, but what about the article the that stands next to the capitalized word Queen as part of royal style? Either way, some templates are wrong: either the Template:Dutch Royal Family or every other template of that kind. Surtsicna (talk) 10:32, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
Well, why should it by this "or" that, why couldn't both be right? By the way, I took a short look on several websites of royal families, and found several indications/findings that other families also write "the" with small letters. I'm really thinking know that the rule, that it should be capitalized for any family, was taken for granted too easy on Wikipdia, without any proper investigation. Demophon (talk) 12:23, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
I use "The" always, but that's mainly in British royal and peerly contexts. I would bow to contrary usage in other contexts. Best just search for official sources, like this DBD 15:59, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
It is The when referring to a specific and singular title, and the for other unspecific titles that may be held by many persons at one time. So George VI was The King of the United Kingdom, while his wife was the Queen of the United Kingdom as his consort. When George VI died, his daughter Elizabeth II became The Queen of the United Kingdom, but his wife was still alive and still the Queen of the United Kingdom. It is easier to think of The as meaning "the one and only."
From what I understand, the same can be said for noble titles. It is The Count of Flanders and not the Count of Flanders, as titles are often mistakenly represented. Writing it is as the Count of Flanders implies that it is the man's wife (which would make her The Countess of Flanders) that actually holds the title and that he is simply married in. Noble titles in Britain use numbers instead of the article, as in Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. I believe if you wish to omit the numbering system, it should correctly be written as Arthur Wellesley, The Duke of Wellington and not Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington. [tk] XANDERLIPTAK 22:19, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
The British Royal website shows examples of such use, <>. [tk] XANDERLIPTAK 22:39, 5 January 2010 (UTC)