Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Icons

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Can someone explain to me why we have this guideline?

Ok, I'm aware of the various prior discussions, and the recent closure/archiving on some discussions. But, there are so many exceptions to this guideline that are not noted anywhere, ambivalently applied, knee-jerk reverted, and general vagueness the guideline isn't a guideline. It's empty fluff that has no meaning. And I haven't even gotten to the various problems with wording within the guideline and related guidance all over the place.

I dare say no one can come up with an argument why we allow flag icons for tennis players, but don't allow them for plenty of other athletes who compete internationally and represent their country. Usain Bolt anyone? Michael Jordan anyone? Oh wait, maybe they're not important enough. How about Pelé? No?

Barring some strong argument that we should retain this guideline (other than that it'll generate an argument), I think it needs to be abolished. Please don't tell me it will result in too many flags in infoboxes. We already have tons of examples where infoboxes are overflowing with flag icons. A guideline that isn't enforceable isn't a guideline at all. --Hammersoft (talk) 19:39, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Actually both Usain Bolt and Michael Jordan have the flags... they are just down lower. Fyunck(click) (talk) 20:00, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Fyunck; yes, but only in their competitor boxes. In plenty of other articles (ex: Missy Franklin) the flags exist in both places. Dare to remove it from the higher location, and you will be instantly reverted...even though there's no exception written into the guideline for swimmers (yet another of those unwritten rules). --Hammersoft (talk) 23:00, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
I agree that there are currently too many flags in infoboxes, but removing provisions against that will certainly not improve the situation. If there are "unwritten" exceptions, they should either be discarded or codified. This guideline should be amended, but not abolished. Nikkimaria (talk) 20:36, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Amended to what? More confusion? There's so many exceptions to this guideline it is useless. Nobody can follow it all. I've followed this guideline for years, thought I knew it, and once again ran into even more exceptions. It's absurd on the face of it. Nobody can properly enforce the guideline because nobody knows all the exceptions to it. If it's unenforceable, it's no guideline at all. I'm curious about the genesis of this guideline, and if no centralized discussion occurred prior to its inclusion I may just WP:IAR and gut it, forcing an RfC to include it...which would never pass. --Hammersoft (talk) 23:00, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

@Hammersoft, I quite agree that there are so many exceptions that the quideline is useless. Even in the same projects, such as WP:MILHIST, flags are explicitly excluded from Template:Infobox weapon, but are regularly used in several military unit and organizational infoboxes. IIRC, one of the main original objections to flag icons was that text reading software had difficulty with the icons, and there may have been some other technical objections too. But now there are so many infoboxes with flags, that if there were still major technical issues with the flag icons, we ought to be seeing fallout from it, but we apparently don't. For that reason, I don't think the original technical issues are still a problem, if they ever really were one. - BilCat (talk) 23:21, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

FYI, citing this guideline clearly appears to work, even if some disgruntled or confused people are prone to revert at first. Missy Franklin presently only has one flag in her infobox, for her sporting competition nationality, which is permissible under MOS:ICONS (whether some of us like that or not. >;-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  09:44, 24 May 2015 (UTC)

This is curious. The section was initially added in December of 2010 [1]. It appears it was controversial from the get go [2]. The base discussion involved just _six_ editors. See Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Icons/Archive 8#Are we totally eliminating the flags entirely now.3F. No centralized discussion. Now, there was a later RfC that ran six months afterwards. See Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Icons/Archive 8#RFC on the use of flagicons in infoboxes. Rather hysterically, it essentially codified the vagueness of the guideline, requiring it to state that the use of flags in infoboxes is sometimes appropriate and sometimes not (see #3). Well, I'm glad we cleared that up <rolls eyes>. This just further reinforces my point; this is no guideline at all. And worse, there was no centralized discussion to put it in place in the first place. It should be removed. The only reason it isn't being removed right now is because it's been in there for years, and despite many controversies over it it has remained in there. --Hammersoft (talk) 23:44, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

  • P.S. One of the comments at that RfC noted the use of flags in the infobox at Napoleonic Wars was quite helpful. See, there's well over 100 flag icons used in that infobox. World War II killed more than ten times the number that the Napoleonic Wars did...and it gets a lowly 7 flags. Boy am I glad I'm not confused about who lead who in the Napoleonic Wars <faceplam>. --Hammersoft (talk) 23:54, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Support – As there seems to be no interest in making a coherent guideline (see: here), INFOBOXFLAG should instead be abolished. Note, however, this will have a cascading effect on other guidelines such as WP:ICONDECORATION. But if there's no interest in making a coherent policy here, that outcome is unavoidable. --IJBall (talk) 03:02, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I thought we were just discussing removing that one section. I oppose changes to the rest of the guideline, which has longstanding consensus and a rationale: icons should serve a purpose other than prettiness. DrKiernan (talk) 08:10, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
  • If I understand Hammersoft's proposal correctly, he is saying that the current WP:INFOBOXFLAG guideline has so many exceptions that it is rendered nigh on meaningless, and that it should just instead be abolished. My definite preference would be to just basically "nuke" its last paragraph (paragraph #5), as it's that paragraph that renders the guideline pretty much useless; but there was no consensus for that proposal. In light of that, I agree with Hammersoft – if the community isn't interested in fixing the guideline, then it needs to be abolished. --IJBall (talk) 17:11, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

The guideline starts off poorly and gets worse. Paragraph by paragraph...

  1. Generally, flag icons should not be used in infoboxes, even when there is a "country", "nationality" or equivalent field; there are a considerable number of exceptions to this.
  2. Several problems in this paragraph;
    1. Flag icons should only be inserted in infoboxes in those cases where they convey information in addition to the text; This is so meaningless as to be void. Don't they always convey information?
    2. Examples of acceptable exceptions include military conflict infobox... which results in visual atrocities like Napoleonic Wars and World War I. Oh, but you can't allow flags at {{Infobox weapon}}, which identify the weapons used in the conflicts <facepalm>.
    3. There's {{Infobox weapon}} which is cited as a case where flags are not allowed, yet have a look at WP:MILMOS#FLAGS: "the use of flag icons is not recommended; neither, however, is it prohibited" Any ever see the definition of "vague"? This predictably results in things like M15/42 tank and Matilda II.
    4. Then there's the exemption for sport infoboxes that include international competitions, resulting in 2014 FIFA World Cup, 2007 FIBA Americas Championship and many others.
    5. Then we get a statement that says that Template:Infobox company [has] long explicitly deprecated the use of flag icons, yet the very similar {{Infobox organization}} contains no such prohibition (and it's transcluded over 16k times), resulting in things like Warsaw Pact and United Nations Trusteeship Council. Why should organizations be allowed but companies not? This is confusing.
  3. The use of ship registry flags ... in infoboxes of ship articles is appropriate; There's an initial comparison that can be made against {{Infobox aircraft occurrence}}, where flags are not explicitly permitted or banned, yet planes carry national registration just like ships. That's confusing. But, the single sentence is more problematic from an abstract perspective; why are we explicitly listing a place where they are ok? Should the guideline list all places where they are ok and where they are not? Or, should we just be left to guess or dig extensively to find prior debates before taking any enforcement action?
  4. flags are discouraged in sportspeople's individual infoboxes even when there is a "country", "nationality", "sport nationality" or equivalent field: they may give undue prominence to one field over others. However, the infobox may contain the national flag icon of an athlete who competes in competitions where national flags are commonly used as representations of sporting nationality in the particular sport. OK, huh??? That's like saying flags are discouraged but they're not discouraged. What? This confusion has resulted in specific sporting areas of the project adamantly defending their use of flags (witness swimming; Stephanie Rice, Katie Ledecky; witness golf Sergio García, Pádraig Harrington) and others explicitly banning their use (witness verbiage to that effect on {{Infobox football biography}}, transcluded 120k times); witness verbiage "Do not use a flag template" several times on {{Infobox sportsperson}}, transcluded 28k times).

And the fifth paragraph has previously been mentioned as problematic. This entire guideline is poorly written, confusing, vague, and unenforceable. If there ever was a reason to not allow flags for visual aesthetics, that reason is laughably denied by the visual atrocities noted above. Yet, the underpinnings of this guideline are just that; flag icons they are unnecessarily distracting and give undue prominence to one field among many. How can we look ourselves in the mirror and say the use of one flag at Bruno Conti can't be permitted, but do allow over 100 at Napoleonic Wars? We can't. The middle road this guideline is attempting to take has utterly failed. It either needs to be dramatically rewritten and enforced or removed entirely. --Hammersoft (talk) 17:48, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

The biggest argument against flag icons is that the bulk of the readership will not recognize them at all outside of those probably a dozen-some countries. All of our accessibility guidance is against using colors and shapes for key identification, and this is a case where I think simply removing flag icons from infoboxes is the best solution. --MASEM (t) 18:02, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • ...which will require a major rewrite of the guideline, and heavy arguments with a number of projects which are extensively using flags in infoboxes. --Hammersoft (talk) 18:18, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Which is an utterly unfounded argument. These flagicons are not present through pasting their images on the articles in question. They are created through TEMPLATES. Templates which allow even the blind to find out their meaning. Thus the lack of accessibility is simply nonexistent. By the way, while littering articles with color is not a good practice, limited use to bring in some structure is. Do some study on the functioning of the human brain. Why do you even think students bring some structure in their textbooks using markers instead of just memorizing the bare slabs of text. Tvx1 18:39, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • That analogy is fine when you are talking about a book that you alone use and read. But we're talking about a page that everyone else in the world sees, and so we should be considering how it impacts all readers, not just a portion. --MASEM (t) 18:43, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I do. Did you even read my statement that even the BLIND are catered to? Tvx1 21:24, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Masem's argument is also undermined by the fact that our accessibility guidance is against using colors for key identification absent something that a sight-impaired reader could parse. There is a reason why the overwhelming majority of infobox flag use the flag and country link in combination (e.g.:  Australia). Likewise, the usage also defeats the argument about how nobody understands what country most flags represents. (And that argument is itself ironic given we are a bloody encyclopedia - click on a link and learn!). What these so-called guidelines really boil down to is the fact that a small group of people have a serious dislike for flag icons and colour. And much as they rail against their use, a much larger portion of the project simply ignores them. This guideline is utterly worthless as it does not reflect the wider consensus that exists. Resolute 21:57, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Sadly enough, I think you are completely right. I wholeheartedly believe that a serious RFC advertised to the WHOLE wikipedia project should be initiated to find out if this whole guideline is indeed supported by the community as claimed. And I think you're dead on with your learning comment. I myself happily learned the meaning of dozens and dozens of flags thanks to their use in international sports coverage, and in that context for a large part thanks to wikipedia. Of course you can overuse them, but that shouldn't mean we should prohibit them all together. They are not symbols we have invented for our articles. They exist in real life. Tvx1 22:43, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Just wondering. Advertised to the whole Wikipedia Project? Has any of MOS "ever" been advertised to the whole project? Most of what's in MOS has been determined by maybe 10-20 people at a time. Some of the stuff on banning icons had no discussion at all... it was just slipped in when no one was looking based on one or two editor's whims. Fyunck(click) (talk) 23:10, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Well, just because it wasn't done right in the past doesn't mean we can't set it straight. That's why suggested instigated a RFC or a centralized discussion thus correctly advertised to the whole community. And if the community rejects it, demote to essay, rewrite and repromote only when it's supported by community. Tvx1 00:04, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I understand that. How do you advertise to the whole community? Do you ask wikipedia to put it up on everyone's page during sign-in, right at the top? Fyunck(click) (talk) 00:12, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Personally, I don't think it is even necessary. Nationality is a major component of sports - even in domestic play - that is not necessarily relevant to other aspects of life. Unnecessary project-wide standardization just because is counterproductive and generally a waste of time in my view. The status quo is fine. Resolute 00:18, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
  • There are a couple of mechanisms. See WP:Publicising discussions. Tvx1 01:27, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
I suggest reverting the guidelines back to my original version :P Kaldari (talk) 05:08, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
<smile> I think that ship has sailed so far, the most powerful telescope couldn't see it. Fyunck(click) (talk) 06:10, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
If we did, then you could illustrate in mid-sentence what pennant the ship was flying when it sailed.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:22, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
Kaldari, that's flippin' brilliant :) --Hammersoft (talk) 14:49, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

Ok so I was thinking today (those of you with a poor opinion of me can just stop reading now :)) about how to proceed with this. Perhaps an RfC should be conducted asking to have the guideline modified to state that flag icons are not permitted in main infoboxes. That will undoubtedly create an insane (or inane if you prefer) amount of acrimony. Following that failure, we conduct another RfC. This time, we ask to have the guideline removed entirely. The latter RfC will have a greater chance of success since we can point to the failure of the former RfC to be strict and we can point to the failure of the status quo middle ground. If that fails, then I recommend we hire an agency to tell us how great we are and tell the whole world someone said we're great. Oh wait, the Foundation already did that. --Hammersoft (talk) 14:49, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

  • Comment - Why do we need a working MOS:ICON, you ask? Well, let me give you two examples I've found in the last two years: [3] and [4]. Unless you believe that flag icons are necessary or appropriate to designate the (1) geographic locations of the annual NCAA swimming championships and (2) dinosaur-bearing rock formations around the world, then we clearly need some form of MOS:ICON. Look, I'm a supporter of the appropriate and limited use of flag icons, including a single flag icon to designate national athletic team members who compete internationally, but I also recognize that flag icons, like any graphic device, work best when they are not over-used. I do believe that MOS:ICON should represent a "middle ground" that acknowledges the widespread and legitimate infobox uses of flag icons for national sports team members, military units and personnel, naval vessels, countries, government units, etc., but also recognizes limits and curtails their over-use. That middle ground requires compromise, however, and a recognition that flag icons are part of the world as it is, but also that over-used flag icon graphics are tacky and represent bad layout and design. There is room for rational compromise if both sides in this controversy will reach out and embrace it, but that will require that MOS:ICON be substantially re-written. Bottom line: swimming pools and dinosaur bones don't need flag icons, but Olympic athletes do. Why can't we have a guideline that says as much? Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 18:07, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
    Realistically, though, that "middle ground" is likely not achievable, and once you start carving out exceptions for sports, military topics, and (IMO most laughably) cities, then everyone is going to want their own "carve-out exception for cute lil' flag icons!!1!" too. That's why I've come around to the idea that it's probably just better to junk MOS:INFOBOXFLAG. Then every "flag icon" battle will simple revert to being a consensus discussion at every article where it comes up. Frankly, I'd rather have that than what we have now when these discussions will inevitably devolve to Editor A invoking "No flags according to MOS:INFOBOXFLAG!!" and Editor B retorting "But MOS:INFOBOXFLAG has exceptions for 'A', and 'B', and 'C'... and 'Z'!!" which gets nobody anywhere. As currently written, this guideline is made out of Swiss cheese, and not the useful kind... Face-sad.svg --IJBall (talk) 06:20, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
Exactly what I think as well. The belief that there can be a one rule fits all on wikipedia is just a mistake because there's no conistent relevance of them across all subject areas in real life. Tvx1 06:33, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
FTR, this is not what I think. I agree with Hammersoft, et al. that MOS:INFOBOXFLAG should be rewritten to ban all uses of flag icons in Infoboxes – if flag icons belong anywhere, it's elsewhere in an article, not in the Infobox itself. But if this guideline is not going to be simplified to a total ban, then it should just be eliminated, because the current version is completely unworkable, and is actually less than helpful in these discussions. But guidelines generally are "one size fits all" solutions, and if this project is going to have a "Margin of Style" that's neither unavoidable nor undesirable. --IJBall (talk) 14:58, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
And I vehemently disagree with that. Give me one good reason why they all should be unilaterally banned from all infoboxes. What's so holy about an infobox that makes it such a drama to even include one of them? As long as it is done in an appropriate manner it's not unacceptable. Of course there are examples, like Napoleonic Wars of absurd overuse. But there other examples were their current application isn't problematic at all. For instance in an article like Andy Murray the flag is used in a perfect appropriate manner and the claim that in such a case it is unnecessarily distracting and gives undue prominence to one field among many is ridiculous. Tvx1 21:22, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
Then, logically, you should want to see MOS:INFOBOXFLAG abolished as well. --IJBall (talk) 01:47, 11 March 2015 (UTC)
Well if there is no willingness by the community to fix it, yes. And for case like Napoleonic Wars there is an easy solution: raise the issue of overuse on the relevant project. In that case what's currently in the infobox really belongs in the body of the article. I actually think is much more efficient to deal with such matter at WikiProject level than imposing site-wide enforcement. Tvx1 03:26, 11 March 2015 (UTC)
  • A slippery slope fallacy does not a convincing argument make. Resolute 15:23, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

Representative nationality[edit]

Our guideline refers, repeatedly, to "Representative nationality" - and says that if sportspeople are labelled with flagicons, it should be for their representative rather than actual nationality. What is the basis for this? Is the term made up? I haven't seen it off-wiki, Representative nationality is a redlink, and a Google book search draws a blank. If it's a real thing, what's the definition - how do we decide a person's "representative nationality"? bobrayner (talk) 21:46, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

In general it's what nation an athlete represents in international competitions. For some sports (I'm thinking in particular about team sports - soccer, rugby etc.) it's more of a grey area. GiantSnowman 21:49, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
Even in team sports it has a clear meaning. The national team they play for. So for instance for Wayne Rooney (soccer) and Lawrence Dallaglio (rugby) that's England. This is not necessarily limited to one. Ryan Giggs, for instance, has represented both Wales and Great Britain during his career. Tvx1 22:23, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
What I meant by "grey area" is that flagicons are still used (correctly IMO) to represent a nationality for players who have not represented a nation. GiantSnowman 22:41, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
"Flagicons are still used (correctly IMO) to represent a nationality for players who have not represented a nation": that's a problem that needs to be resolved. The articles for athletes who have never competed in international events, as a member of their national team or otherwise, should not be using flag icons. No national team, no international competition, no "representation," then there should be no national flag. Dirtlawyer1 (talk)
I disagree. Even if an athlete hasn't competed on a national team or in international competition, they still have a representative nationality (and should have flagons usage) - if they have dual citizenship they generally have to declare for which country they are attempting to make national team, etc. (And this can change over time as you've noted below). Tewapack (talk) 23:43, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
@Tewapack: In my estimation, professional golf -- like professional tennis and Formula One racing -- is an inherently international sport at its highest level of competition. The competition within the PGA, LPGA, European PGA, etc., is very much multi-national in character. I think that qualifies as "representational," even when national teams are not involved per se. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 02:10, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
Dirtlawyer, I agree with Tewapack - this is a perennial discussion and you just have to accept that flagicons will be used for athletes. GiantSnowman 08:05, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
Nationality and citizenship can be complicated. It is possible for an athlete to be a citizen of two or more countries (e.g., Missy Franklin is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States, but competes for the U.S. national swim team). It is possible for an athlete to change citizenship during the course of the athlete's career (e.g., Martina Navratilova was a Czech but became an American during her tennis career). It is also possible that an athlete was a citizen of a different country -- either before or after their active sports career -- than the one they represented as an athlete in international competition. There are also special circumstances where an athlete may represent one national entity in some events and a larger national entity in others, such as English, Scottish and Welsh athletes representing England, Scotland and Wales in the Commonwealth Games, but representing Great Britain/United Kingdom in the Olympics, etc.). In some sports, it is even possible to be a citizen of one country, but represent another by choice. In all of these circumstances, we are not concerned with the athlete's legal citizenship, dual citizenship, legal residence, etc.; for "sporting nationality" and flag icon purposes, we only care what nation they represented while they were an athlete in active competition. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 22:27, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
I agree that nationality and citizenship can be complicated. That's one of the main problems with putting one - and only one - flagicon next to each person's name. So why do we have a rule which compels us to put a "representative nationality" on BLP coverage of people who haven't even "represented"? Also, why must representation take precedence over actual nationality? Most sportspeople (by our current sense of notability) haven't represented a country, and won't. bobrayner (talk) 11:20, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
In lieu of representative nationality, actual nationality should be used. That is what we do with soccer-related articles. GiantSnowman 11:29, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
It should be what we do with soccer-related articles. Alas, there are many failures. For instance: East Belfast F.C. Every single player on that team has a Northern Ireland flag next to their name. None of those people - zero - have Northern Ireland passports. Their nationality isn't Northern Irish; this is an obvious BLP failure. But, hey, somebody thought that the team plays in a league in NI so we've got to put an NI flag next to each person. The rules for "Representative nationality" seem to be made up on the spot. If we don't have a source for the actual nationality of a person, we shouldn't make up our own rules for picking flags. bobrayner (talk) 11:41, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
Um in soccer, there is no such thing as 'British' nationality - Northern Irish is completely correct (though, of course, the list is unreferenced so flags shouldn't be used). GiantSnowman 11:47, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
I'm amazed by the notion that "in soccer, there is no such thing as 'British' nationality". You'd better have an exceptionally strong source to support such an exceptional claim. But back to the other side of the "representative nationality" problem: We have teams like Guernsey F.C.. People living in Guernsey are generally British citizens, or failing that I might understand putting a Guernsey flag next to their name, but instead somebody put an (unsourced) English flag next to their names just because the team played in an English league. The rules for "Representative nationality" seem to be made up on the spot. If we don't have a source for the actual nationality of a person, we shouldn't make up our own rules for picking flags. bobrayner (talk) 12:22, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
Well players represent England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, not Great Britain. British citizens not from the home nations can elect to represent any of their choosing e.g. Maik Taylor or Steve Lomas. People from the Channel Islands should have the relevant Island's flag, not English. GiantSnowman 12:30, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
Tennis does it like the olympics...Great Britain nationality or Irish nationality. Citizenship is not taken into account as players can have multiple citizenships. It generally works quite well. Fyunck(click) (talk) 19:04, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
GiantSnowman, you are wrong there. Great Britain nationality does exist in soccer (albeit very limited). Ryan Giggs, just to name one, has represented both Wales and Great Britain during his career. Most often though, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales field separate teams for the international competitions. Although Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Jersey have a national football team of their own, they only compete in friendly games or tournaments and none of them is affiliated with the FIFA or the UEFA. Player's stremming from there are only eligible to play for England in competitive international matches, simply because they are part of the English FA's territory. That's why they have an English flag in our articles. The flag is always the flag of the national team they currently play for, or which they are eligible for. That eligibility being determined by the FIFA. Tvx1 13:29, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
For "British" nationality in association football, see List of fully sovereign states without FIFA membership and Great Britain Olympic football team. A similar set of rules govern other British non-football athletes when they participate in the Commonwealth Games for England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, but compete for Great Britain in the Olympics and most other non-football international sports tournaments. British professional golfers, by tradition, represent the four UK constituent countries, not Great Britain. I think that covers it. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 16:08, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @Tvx1: - nope, I remain correct - the GB team was a one-off at the 2012 Olympics (as it was held on home soil) - it's already been confirmed it won't re-appear in 2016. Regardless, representing GB is not the highest international level (World Cup), representing England/Scotland/Wales/N Ireland is. GiantSnowman 17:45, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

No, it was not a one-off. It has played in many olympics in the past and although there are no concrete plans to continue fielding it for the first upcoming olympics, it has not been ruled out forever and we simply can't claim it will never again appear. Who knows how the opinions will be a hundred years from know? Furthermore I'm pretty sure Great Britain will earn the right to host the olympics once again in the distant future, at which point the team will earn the automatic right to compete yet again. To sum up, a Great Britain team does exist in soccer, but it is very, very, very, very, very rarely used. Most importantly soccer players from that independent state represent England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales. Tvx1 18:06, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes, it was used in the past - but we're not talking about flagicons 40 years ago, we are talking about them now. It was discontinued in 1974 and there is no indication it will ever be reformed. You can't claim it will do so. GiantSnowman 18:08, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
Never a good thing to use the word ever and the crystal ball guideline in the same sentence. It is patently wrong to claim it will not ever be reformed. We just don't know. And you know I have said right from the start that English, Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh nationalities are the more important ones in soccer. Tvx1 18:14, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
We're moving dangerously off-topic here, but I didn't "claim it will not ever be reformed" - I said "there is no indication it will ever be reformed" - quite different. GiantSnowman 18:40, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

Animated GIFs in infoboxes[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere

Please see Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 120#Animated GIFs in infoboxes, in which this guideline (or an edit to it) is referenced as a possible solution to the alleged issue.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  09:41, 24 May 2015 (UTC)


Another user is insisting that we need not one but two little flag salads to show the twin towns of this Ukrainian town. The two lists differ, and one contains an unreferenced item. I prefer a version with just one version of the list, and per WP:PROSE such a short list does not need flags at all. What do others think? --John (talk) 06:18, 9 June 2015 (UTC)

  • Look, flag icons work best when they are used least. "Sister cities" are trivia, and including flag icons for twin cities in the infobox for a city, among major datapoints like population, government, national and regional affiliation, etc., is distracting. Frankly, I questions whether "sister cities" should even be included in a city infobox, but that's a question for the article talk page or WikiProject Cities, not MOS. As for the sister city flag icons in the infobox, put me down as unnecessary over-use of flag icons. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 13:43, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
  • I agree that their use in the infobox is unnecessary, but their use in the list in the article body is quite helpful and neater than prose. Number 57 14:40, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Well, at least we agree on the fact they don't belong in the infobox because they do not represent core data about the subject city. Can you explain the direct relevance of British, Polish, Hungarian and Chinese to the City of Luhansk, and how these flags represent Luhansk in a meaningful way? Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 16:04, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
They aren't meant to be representing Luhansk; the point of a list of sister cities is to list the other cities and where they are. Number 57 16:12, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
Can you explain why it is necessary to use national flag icons to represent the cities of Cardiff, Lublin, Székesfehérvár, and Daqing? Do you believe they somehow represent Wales/United Kingdom, Poland, Hungary and the People's Republic of China in their honorary "sister cities" relationship with Luhansk? Personally, I think honorary sister cities are trivia, rarely meaningful, and the national flags of the parent countries of the sister cities of no direct relevance to city of Luhansk. We can argue about whether the city of Luhansk should have a Ukrainian flag in its infobox, but sister city flag icons are an obvious overuse of flag icons with no direct relevance to Luhansk, in my considered opinion. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 16:24, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
It's a shorthand way of showing which nations the sister cities are in, and personally I find it helps readability (the flags are all the same width, so easier to scan than text). The fact that the flags have no relevance to Luhansk is irrelevant, as they aren't representing the city. Number 57 17:19, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
Of course the use of flag icons in an article about Luhansk should be relevant to the city of Luhansk, why else should they be included? We don't include the flag icons in country articles for those nations with which the subject country has official diplomatic relations, and diplomatic relations are several orders of magnitude more important than honorary "sister cities" relationships, which are, as I stated above, relatively meaningless. Why would we want to draw attention to low-importance trivia with the colorful eye candy of flag icons? Shoot, we could remove the discussion of sister cities from these articles entirely, and the text would never be missed -- why draw attention to these meaningless relationships? FYI, I have invited members of WikiProject Cities to participate in this discussion. The initial reaction on the WikiProject talk page is that there is no consensus to insert sister cities into infoboxes, let alone use flag icons. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 17:40, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
Sigh. This has been discussed before and city articles are free to use them if they wish. (But I have never seen them used in an infobox, I would not want them there either but I would discuss it with someone else if they did - that is what DR is for.) Sister City relationships vary with some being very active in economic development and cultural exchange. Of course, it tells you something about that city by what relationships it fosters and forms. And yes, it generally involves an international agreement entered into by the cities - with their respective national governments being involved. I certainly wish there was a way for those who do not want to see the tiny icons (or pictures of muhammad, etc) to suppress them, so they would not have to worry over them. Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:26, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
Sigh, indeed. Alan, very few "sister city" relationships involve anything substantial, and usually are little more than an excuse for the mayor and/or city council members to engage in junket travel. That said, the cities certainly do not represent their country in any meaningful way as implied by the use of national flags; if anything, in the more meaningful relationships they represent their own parochial economic interests in trying to attract investment and trade opportunities. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 18:44, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
(e/c)" . . .economic interests in trying to attract investment and trade opportunities . . ." So, now you argue it does inform about the city its article is in. That some people always seem to be interested in arguing for the tying up every minor decision of article editors is just bad for the project. Leave it to the article editors. Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:57, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
Alan, an editor sought an opinion regarding flag icons for sister cities in city infoboxes, and I offered one. According to one WP Cities participant, there is no WikiProject consensus to insert sister cities into info, with or without flag icons. If you read my answer again, together with the thread above, you will see that there is a common idea: sister cities do not represent their parent countries. My comment and your response above do not contradict that. Flag icons are eye candy decorations in the context of sister city relationships, drawing attention to relatively meaningless content that in this example the editors adding them could not be bothered to add a complete sentence about them. The irony of this discussion is that I have been and will continue to be a consistent advocate for the use of meaningful, but limited use of flag icons. I am not an anti-flagger. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 19:24, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
I've seen these sister city flag discussions - and it always has resulted in local editor choice - that's consensus - real consensus. If you stand against that with your blanket arguments about your aesthetics and your blanket arguments about how you know the activities of every sister city relationship than you are just wanting to dictate your aesthetics with your over broad claims - you are not only against consensus you are actively harming Wikipedia with your centralized dictatorial stance. Alanscottwalker (talk) 19:38, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
And I have often participated in those flag discussions: on the other side. And you're missing the point: an editor inserted these flags without article-level consensus or that of WikiProject Cities. A WP Cities editor came here to ask if MOS:ICON somehow sanctions that use; MOS:ICON does not. To repeat: there is no article-level or WikiProject-level consensus for this use of flag icons, and there is nothing in MOS:ICON that sanctions or over-rides consensus at the article or WikiProject levels. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 19:46, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
An editor inserted against consensus? Well, than that is easily overturned by the consensus at the article. Wikiproject Cities is where some discussions have occurred that say leave it up to the articles and also nation projects. You have had three editors now dispute your aesthetic or overbroad claims - so doesn't that say, 'leave it to the article'. Alanscottwalker (talk) 19:59, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict)Firstly. Whether or not a list of sister cities merits inclusion in the article of any city is not, by any means, in the scope of this project. If you want to discuss that open a new thread at WT:CITIES. MOS:Icons deals with ,well , .... icons. Secondly whether or not those sister cities' nationalities need to be mentioned in such lists, be that with the country written out or a country code or a flag, is not even remotely in this project's scope either. MOS:Icons only deals with icons. Again that is to be discussed at WT:CITIES. That being said, I agree with Number 57 that the flags have their merit in such list as they directly add information for our readers. Without those flags I would have no idea whatsoever where in the world the cities of Lublin, Székesfehérvár or Daqing are. Having those flags there is clearly useful. Tvx1 19:10, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
Actually, Tvx1, there is no WikiProject-level or article-level consensus to use flag icons for sister cities and they have already been removed by other WP Cities editors. BTW, could you describe in a single sentence what information national flags add about a city-to-city relationship? These sister city relationships are so important that the editors could not be bothered to insert a complete sentence of text about them, and yet we draw attention to them with flag icons. Frankly, it's kind of weird that the flags of the United Kingdom, Poland, Hungary and China are featured yet the national flag of Ukraine does not appear in the article. BTW, I think you know already that I have been a strong and consistent advocate for proper use of flag icons. This ain't it.
You said, "Without those flags I would have no idea whatsoever where in the world the cities of Lublin, Székesfehérvár or Daqing are." Actually, the name of the countries listed tells you that. The flags add nothing else in this context. BTW, I think you know already that I have been a strong and consistent advocate for proper use of flag icons. This ain't it, my friend. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 19:27, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
They don't add information of the relationships per se, they add information about these sister cities. Where they are situated, that is. That they "draw attention" is just an opinion. The names of those countries aren't in the article, so what do you even refer to. Ukraine is in the infobox however. It could be replaced by a flag if that is preferred. Tvx1 20:18, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
Tvx1, the first instance of a flag icon within an article is always supposed to be accompanied by the written name of the country represented by the flag. See MOS:ICON, "The name of a flag's political entity should appear adjacent to the first use of the flag, as no reader is familiar with every flag, and many flags differ only in minor details. Nearby uses of the flag need not repeat the name, especially in a list or table." Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 20:24, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
You're right of course. I do however have my questions about that guideline. I mean, it does render the flags redundant, doesn't it. Because if you put both the flags and the name of the country, you're presenting the exact same information twice. Furthermore in many cases this is purely impractical to do. Please tell we how can put that guideline in sensible practice in an article like this? Thirdly the guideline is an example of being over concerned, since the flagicon templates have been made in such a way that what the guideline claims can't been found out, can be found out quite easily. Just put your mouse (or your finger if you're using a touch screen device) on the flag if you don't know what it stands for. Those flagicon templates will even tell the blind what they stand for thanks to screenreaders. Number 57 has already provided arguments why these icons are better than prose and I feel the guideline negates that somewhat. I think is is case where we have to invoke WP:IAR, since it's for the betterment of the article. Tvx1 20:41, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
I think practically, you can't put it into practice at the Roger Federer article. Some of those guidelines were written without taking into account mouseovers, which give far more info than a simple 3 letter code. Screen readers of the past had trouble I think, but no longer seem to have issues with the icons. A mouseover gives the full country name where if all you do is write in a country code those are almost as hard to decipher as just flags. And writing the entire country name each time is pretty much unworkable from a space standpoint. Fyunck(click) (talk) 21:24, 9 June 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Tvx1, you rhetorically asked whether the presence of the country name "does render the flags redundant, doesn't it." No, the presence of the country name does not necessarily render flag icons redundant. The most common example is where the article subject actually represents the country in international sports; the flag is symbolic of that representation. In the context of the Luhansk article, the United Kingdom's Union flag adjacent to the listing of Luhansk's sister city of Cardiff, Wales is relatively meaningless; Cardiff does not represent the United Kingdom, or even Wales, in Cardiff's city-to-city relationship with Luhansk. The irony of this thread is that I have a strong advocate for the proper use of flag icons on this very talk page; I am not one of the usual delete-all-flags-on-sight people with an agenda to delete them all, whenever and wherever possible. Bottom line: Cardiff represents Cardiff in its sister city relationship with Luhansk, and the Union flag really adds nothing to the words Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom that should also be present when identifying Cardiff. If we insert a national flag icon every time a country's name appears in a list, table or infobox, we are over-using flags to the detriment of more meaningful uses. It's the difference between writing that Dan Marino is "an American football player" in the lead of his article (with no flag in his infobox), and stating that Mark Spitz was a member of the United States national team and a U.S. flag in his article's infobox. If there is no "representational" element, and the flag is used for simple geographic location or citizenship/nationality, then the flag icon usually is redundant. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 21:53, 9 June 2015 (UTC)

Fyunck, if you want to do it properly, you have a separate column for the nationality of the opponent, and another column the flag icon and country name, rather than putting the opponent's name and the flag icon in the same field. Also the Roger Federer stats article has a layout and design problem because the stats table is sandwiched next to a lengthy infobox. But that's a problem best discussed elsewhere. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 21:53, 9 June 2015 (UTC)

When I asked whether it renders them redundant, I meant in this particular city example. The only reasoning for having flags there is to tell our readers which country they are in. But if you add the country name, you are essentially telling the same information twice and of them becomes redundant. My problem with opting for prose then is that Number 57 has provided some convincing arguments why flags are preferable. That's what made me question the guideline to state flags and names together. What the guideline doesn't convince me of is why this combination of flag and the country name is vital and why the mouseovers are insufficient. Don't forget guidelines are not set in stone laws and can be mended if something turns out to be wrong with them. Furthermore some guidelines can become outdated through the years through the development of new technologies, hence why some need revision every few years.
Regarding the example tennis player I referred to. Don't you think having two columns to denote the players nationality is a bit overkill? Furthermore, the guideline tells us only to put the country name with the first occurrence of a particular flag in an article. So, in your solution we would have an entire column containing some flags and some flag-country names combos. Tvx1 22:32, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
Regarding the possibility of suppressing flag icons, users can add
.flagicon {display:none;}

to their personal CSS to hide those with the "flagicon" class (which is used by most flag templates). SiBr4 (talk) 18:51, 9 June 2015 (UTC)

RfC on a flag-icon-using talkpage banner[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere

Please comment pro or con at WT:Manual of Style#Proposal to deprecate Template:English variant notice.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:09, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

And what does this have to do with icons?Tvx1 12:24, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

Usage of free image in templates[edit]

I ask if that conversation regards this page. They referred me here. --IM-yb (talk) 00:37, 20 June 2015 (UTC)

Icon-like templates at TfD[edit]

FYI: Link to relevant discussion elsewhere.

While more the purview of MOS:TM, this multi-template TfD is liable to be of interest to those who care, pro or con, about inline use of graphical and typographical effects: Wikipedia:Templates for discussion/Log/2015 June 25#Templates: TeX, LaTeX, LaTeX2e.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  14:22, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

More decoration worth considering: Military insignia in infoboxes[edit]

So, does it really help the reader to have things like shoulder insignia in infoboxes of military biographical subjects? See, e.g., Vasili Arkhipov. We have much smaller icons for US ranks, e.g. at Douglas MacArthur and Colin Powell, though I'm skeptical these are useful either. I'm sure WP:MILHIST loves them, but I'm skeptical there's any reader-level utility. These are articles on individual human beings, not ranks; we have Vice admiral#Gallery, etc., for a reason. No comment on the military flags used in these infoboxes; that's a worm can that's been opened repeatedly already.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:17, 26 June 2015 (UTC)