Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Icons/Archive 11

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Flag and sub-national flag icon usage

Should flag icons of sub national and national countries be used in sister city sections to provide understanding of the location of the city? Jacsam2 (talk) 19:20, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

  • No, they shouldn't be used. Since we can't assume they are known and easily recognizable to our readers, they simply don't do what you want them to do: "provide understanding". By the way, there is also no general need to include subnational regions etc. in the first place, even in text, because those units will often be unknown to readers too: "Erfurt, Germany" is fine; "Erfurt, Thuringia, Germany" would be more of a distraction than a help to most. Fut.Perf. 06:43, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
    Addition: please also note that many sub-national flags are non-free images and cannot under any circumstances be used in such lists. Jacsam2, please go through your previous edits and remove any non-free items that you may have inadvertently included. Fut.Perf. 08:00, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
  • No, they should not be used, because they overemphasize nationality, add no value, are distracting rather than helpful, and encourage lame edit wars (which flag to use for Edinburgh or Cardiff?) and because all the many times this has been discussed there is never a consensus for their use for these exact reasons. --John (talk) 07:53, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Yes, they should be used because they show the country and the area of the country that the sister city is in. Also, the name of the region/country is alway placed next to it, so they are recognizable. (IE Funchal) I am always careful to avoid use of non-free images, and have removed all that I formerly added. Finaly, I would not simply list the region, but would put it in the table form. The icons could not be a distraction, either, because they are so small (24px). Jacsam2 (talk) 18:04, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
  • sub-national entities: clearly no, they help nothing much: most are not recognizable by most readers and there is no point in teaching (no one is expected to know thousands of local flags). National entities, neutral leaning on no; most are recognizable by most readers, that is good, graphical information is also good, care should be taken to avoid excessive weight to some kind of information, thus the 'leaning on no' - Nabla (talk) 22:19, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
  • For national entities, in a list or table, I'm neutral, for slightly different reasons to nabla - I don't want to unduly emphasise nationality, but real-world usage sometimes (not always) includes flags on street signs that list twin cities &c. However, if a flag is to be used in the article, then it must be accompanied by the country name. For sub-national entities, no. For places mentioned in prose, no. bobrayner (talk) 14:37, 2 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Yes Many sister cities are chosen because of the 'so-called' "sub-national" country - its sovereign state irrelevant e.g. Bethlehem / Glasgow. Bethlehem Municipality note Glasgow's country as Scotland; Heidenheim / Newport Stadt Heidenheim noted as Newport (Wales) since 1981; Kutaisi / Newport twinning assn “why did they choose Newport? An important factor, I’m told, was that Newport is a Welsh city. The Georgians were very conscious of their geo/political relationship with Russia within the Soviet Union and they saw a possible parallel in Wales’ relationship with England. They perceived other similarities between Wales and Georgia. The two countries are similar in size and population, both are mountainous with their own distinctive language and culture and, furthermore, both are strongholds of rugby, a sport which has a considerable following in Kutaisi.”; Nantes / Cardiff Ville de Nantes “Les accords de jumelage et coopération, Cardiff (Pays de Galles)” uses Y ddraig goch, no Union Flag; Hordaland County / Cardiff, Orkney and Edinburgh County Council notes: Orkney, Scotland; Cardiff, Wales; Lower-Normandy, France; Thuringia, Germany; and Edinburgh, Scotland; Stuttgart / Cardiff “2005 hatte Stuttgarts walisische Partnerstadt Cardiff gleich mehrere Gründe zum Feiern: Sie beging das 50-Jahr-Jubiläum als Hauptstadt von Wales und die Stadterhebung vor 100 Jahren. Darüber feierten Cardiff und Stuttgart das 50-jährige Bestehen ihrer Städtepartnerschaft.” - “Stuttgart's Welsh twin city of Cardiff has several reasons to celebrate in 2005: the 50th anniversary as the capital of Wales and the city collection 100 years ago. Cardiff and Stuttgart also celebrated the 50th anniversary of their twinning.
    That some people do not recognise a flag should not change whether or not it is displayed. This is an encyclopaedia. Users should expect to encounter information that is new to them. That is Wikipedia's raison d'être. Daicaregos (talk) 19:28, 2 November 2011 (UTC)
Comment Sub-national refers to city ,provinces and other similar not the likes of Scotland and Wales Gnevin (talk) 11:00, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
Oh, good ... though that isn't my experience on this website (see List of national anthems, where the national anthems of Scotland and Wales are excluded). Are you implying you approve of displaying flag icons for Scotland and Wales then Gnevin? :) Daicaregos (talk) 11:58, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
This guideline deliberately remains vague about what is a state. Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Icons#Use_of_flags_for_non-sovereign_states_and_nations it depends on the local consensus Gnevin (talk) 13:23, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
It also depends on context. Statehood and nationality aren't all-or-nothing things (and many terrible problems have come from the assumption that they are, along with the assumption that a person or a piece of land must be labelled with a single nationality). Places like Scotland and Wales have some but not all of the typical attributes of a separate nationality. People might support a Welsh rugby team but they don't carry Welsh passports; they can sing a Welsh anthem but they don't pay Welsh income tax. And so on. In contexts where Wales is meaningfully separate (for instance, the rugby team or an AM) then it may be reasonable for wikipedia to use a "welsh" label; in contexts where it isn't (for instance, the nationality of a sculptress or a business) then it's more sensible for wikipedia to use a "british" label.
  • No. Flags should not be used due to the MOS. And why include country flag in sister-city info? Irrelevant, distracting, pointless. --Merbabu (talk) 11:52, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
  • No. I can't see any good reason to change the existing MoS on this, and, in the case of the non-sovereign states, I can see that it would be more likely to lead to edit-warring than anything else. If it's really relevant for some reason, it would be better to use text to say so, rather than use a flag that will only lead to confusion. Anaxial (talk) 21:53, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment, use only sovereign state flags. GoodDay (talk) 17:36, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
  • No The sister city sections are of dubious importance and no rationale has been provided to assert why they need to be emphasized. I say "no" because this is the default action. Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:59, 11 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Yes, that would be useful for those who know the flags and would not for those who don't, thus it won't harm anyone. The cluttering factor (which I would recognise as the only concern actually worth discussion here) is not that huge, as the country flags in question don't occupy much space and normally don't catch the idle eye. — Dmitrij D. Czarkoff (talk) 09:21, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
  • No. They just draw unwarranted attention to such relatively unimportant sections and encourage the lazy presentation of the information in list form rather than in full sentences that give important additional information. When you scan over a random city's article, in many cases what catches your eyes first is the list of sister cities. That makes no sense because this information is only barely noteworthy. Hans Adler 12:07, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
  • No. I've been in a few spats over which flags to use in infoboxes over the years & in retrospect the spats were of no benefit to the articles. GoodDay (talk) 04:41, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Yes, per Jacsam, Daicaregos, and Czarkoff. Whoop whoop pull up Bitching Betty | Averted crashes 20:03, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
    • Why? None of them have really provided a rationale, merely saying (falsely in my view) that they "do no harm". Is there an actual reason that you think we should adorn our articles this way? The absence of one may cause your opinion to be discounted by the closer otherwise. --John (talk) 20:11, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
  • No: It's distracting visual noise like almost all uses of such icons is. Virtually no one but locals is going to recognize the city flag of Manchester or whatever, so the flags have zero navigational purpose. Note that the "anti-subnational" rationales presented here do not apply against the flags of constituent countries (England, Scotland, Wales) of the United Kingdom, but do apply to states/provinces/counties of the US, Canada, England, etc. The UK is a weird case, because it is in many ways a supranational entity, like the United Arab Emirates or the former USSR. This debate should not be taken as any kind of sub rosa attack against using separate flags for England, etc., were flags are considered appropriate and where separate flags are typically used, as in many (not all) sporting contexts. The UK issue simply isn't relevant. But I know that absent a comment like this, someone will later dredge this discussion up out of the archives in a perennial attack on the handling of UK constituent countries again. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 03:50, 17 January 2012 (UTC)

A question

I know in international sports articles, it's customary to use flags (which I agree with); however, what is the usefulness of flags in articles like Dallas Mavericks all-time roster? The Mavericks are an NBA team, there's no international competition; all they do is place an unnecessary emphasis on the players' nationalities, which are totally meaningless because they're playing in an American league. The Blade of the Northern Lights (話して下さい) 17:22, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

Playing in an American league doesn't change the fact that different sporting nationalities are known for different skill sets. Certain countries are known for producing certain types of players. I am not as familiar with this in basketball but its definitely true for many other sports. -DJSasso (talk) 17:28, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
MOS:FLAG states "Flags should never indicate the player's nationality in a non-sporting sense; flags should only indicate the sportsperson's national squad/team or representative nationality." I see no indication in that article that all these people (especially the Americans) played for their national teams. For the players who did play for their national squads I suppose the flag could be included but there would need to be a note explaining why the flag was there. Ultimately I just don't see the necessity for including this information anyway (an interested reader can click the player's name and see if he played for the national team). SQGibbon (talk) 18:22, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
Well, I'm not trying to create a new standard with flags here, I'm just following the existing format in articles that has been thoroughly reviewed and been promoted to Featured List status, such as: Charlotte Bobcats all-time roster, List of Los Angeles Lakers first and second round draft picks, 2008 NBA Draft, all List of National Basketball Association awards articles, List of Detroit Red Wings players, List of Manchester United F.C. players, List of FC Barcelona players, etc. All of them are similar, list of players, not playing in international competition, but have flags in the nationalities column. Personally, I'm not a fan of flags either but I prefer to follow an existing format for consistency. Anyway, the MOS:FLAG does not indicates that to have a flag, a player has to represent their national team, because it states that "If a sportsperson has not competed at the international level, then the eligibility rules of the international sport governing body should be used." These American players are only eligible to play for USA, and plenty of them did play for USA, but only during college and mostly in youth levels. — MT (talk) 01:54, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
No worries, this is just the D part of BRD ;) I might just be a little hypersensitive to this, given the struggle to remove what were plainly non-compliant flags in longevity-related articles, so I leave it to others to decide what to do here. My view is already pretty clear. The Blade of the Northern Lights (話して下さい) 03:01, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
As will come as no surprise to previous participants in discussions of WP:FLAGBIO, BNL and I come to this with the same background and end up in the same place.
"Flag icons should never be used to indicate a person's place of birth, residence, or death, as flags imply citizenship and/or nationality. Many people born abroad due to traveling parents never become citizens of the countries in which they were born and do not claim such a nationality. For example, actor Bruce Willis was born on a U.S. military base in Germany, so putting a German flag in his infobox, for any reason, might lead the casual reader to assume he is or was a German citizen. Similarly, many people die on foreign soil due to war, vacation accidents, etc., and many people emigrate, without any effect on their actual citizenship or nationality."
"Well, I'm not trying to create a new standard with flags here, I'm just following the existing format in articles that has been thoroughly reviewed and been promoted to Featured List status..." seems, to me, a poor reply to the plain language of WP:FLAGBIO. It seems, to me, simply a more refined version of WP:OTHERSTUFFEXISTS, which is small beer indeed. David in DC (talk) 05:06, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
Those stuffs do exist, and those lists have been reviewed by numerous editors, and now considered as the best lists in Wikipedia. As far as I know, WP:OTHERSTUFFEXISTS argument might be valid or invalid depending on the situation, and I believe my argument above are valid, considering that I'm comparing it with some of the best contents in Wikipedia, not with some random unreviewed/unreferenced list. Furthermore, international players are often highlighted by the NBA itself (example here) and the media (example here). I'll be happy to remove the flags if there is a site-wide or project-wide consensus on removing the flags. — MT (talk) 06:23, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
There are several points to address here: 1) I believe it's better for an article to follow the guidelines than it is for that article to be consistent with articles that violate the guidelines. I think this is a pretty common view among editors. The other articles should be changed (we went through this with MMA articles removing flag icons from infoboxes and record tables). 2) That some featured content that appears to be in conflict with guidelines justifies violating those same guidelines seems to run counter to the entire Wikipedia process of building consensus. The guidelines are a result of community consensus and there's no way that the people who work on featured lists/articles should be able to change the guidelines through their actions. I know you didn't state it exactly like this but I think that is the consequence of your argument — the featured lists project, through precedents, can rewrite community consensus. 3) The names of the countries are already there so what is the purpose of the flags? They appear redundant. 4) Why is nationality even mentioned in this article? The article is a list of players who have played for the Mavs and for some tables their statistics. Nationality (or their national team representation) is not relevant to them having played for the Mavs or how many points they scored. If the article had a section on players not from America then listing the country would obviously be required but then the flag would still add nothing and point 5 (below) would still apply. 5) If the flag icons are used then they should be done as an indication of the national teams the players played for. I'm guessing that the vast majority of American players never played for the national team and so, based on this reasoning, those players should not have flag icons. Also, there should be a note stating that the flags indicate the national team played for (see the Manchester United article for an example). SQGibbon (talk) 07:06, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for a constructive and sensible comment rather than the bland comment quoting MOS:FLAG. 1) and 2) If the guidelines are barely followed by a lot of editors and reviewers who are trying to produce the best content for wikipedia, then there is something wrong. Either the editors are not aware of the guidelines or they find that guidelines are flawed. The featured lists project shouldn't rewrite community consensus, but it could if the guidelines are repeatedly violated and resulted in a belief that the guidelines need to be changed. There is a lot to be done to enforce the MOS:FLAG there. FYI, WP:NBA already took a step in removing flags from the current roster template. 3) It's just a habit in wikipedia, a column with country names often includes flags. I can barely find an article with country column that does not have flags. 4) International player in NBA are often highlighted by the league itself and the media, therefore I believe it must be at least mentioned somewhere in the article. However, I agree that there is no need to emphasize American nationality for the majority of the players. I've removed the flags and create a separate section for international players. 5) From what I interpret from MOS:FLAG#Use of flags for sportspersons is that MOS:FLAG never forbid using a flag for a sportsperson who has not represent his country. It's simply stated that the flags should always indicate what country that the sportsperson is eligible to represent. About the Manchester United example, I assume you're talking about the First-team squad section. The note "Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules" looks fine in big teams where most players have represented their country. But in smaller clubs, it looks ambiguous. Casual readers might think that these players have played for national teams. The flags on those football articles are not accompanied with country names which also violates MOS:FLAG.
Anyway, I've removed the nationality column and the flags, thanks to SQGibbon for the suggestion about a separate section. So there is nothing more to discuss here. If you guys really concerned about the excessive use of flags, there is a lot of better things to do rather than nitpicking on an article that is barely a day old and is still a work in progress. For a start, some Wikipedia:Featured list candidates could use an oppose vote if they violates MOS:FLAG. Other thing to do is to enforce MOS:FLAG on some wikiprojects, such as WP:FOOTBALL and WP:MOTOR, who use flags in plenty of articles, in players list, in managers/coaches list, in transactions list, in season articles, in the driver infobox, in the career statistics, in the champions list, and so on. — MT (talk) 17:34, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
Actually guidelines are supposed to be descriptive not prescriptive. If the majority of wikipedia isn't following the guideline that means the guideline is out of wack and needs to be changed to reflect reality. Guidelines aren't rules to be followed, they are descriptions of what the community does in certain situations which is supposed to lead you towards what you should do. So if the majority of the wiki is not following MOSFLAG as it is written, it needs to be rewritten to follow what most of the community is doing. -DJSasso (talk) 21:29, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
Nice theory, but in actual practice most of our guidelines are in fact prescriptive (even proscriptive) and are explicitly intended to provide a clear default direction on an issue, in the face of sheer "do whatever the heck you want" chaos. I frequently see arguments like this raised to support some major change to (usually outright deletion of) some MOS or other guideline point, based on the notion that "the majority" don't do what the guideline says. I have yet to ever see a single case, including this one, where such a claim has been demonstrated with actual numbers, and even if it were, WP:NOT#DEMOCRACY. A sheer head count of obeying vs. disobeying editors or edit count of conforming vs. nonconforming cases is likely to show us that a large number of editors are sloppy on various points, but that doesn't mean that MOS should stop advising standards. Many MOS points are somewhat esoteric and require some background on their formulation to fully understand, with the consequence that many editors simply ignore them, to be cleaned up after by "gnome" editors later. For example, probably a majority of editors do no use   between a measurement and its unit, as in 4 mm. Counting all of those editors plus those who don't space it at all, plus those who do not use standard unit symbols, plus those who spell out low numbers even when used in measurements, plus [misc. other cases go here], probably an overwhelming majority of editors in fact ignore WP:MOSNUM's rules about presentation of measurements. That is not reason to delete them. Various editors and bots can clean up after messy editors. It's more important to have standards and "enforce" them with cleanup editing than to have no standards and chaos, or to elevate these standards to policy and browbeat other editors about it and chase them off the system. This MOS subpage is no different. No one is going to keel over and die because some well-meaning editor who doesn't understand that flag icons are usually not actually helpful and often lead to rancorous disputes put them in a bunch of infoboxes. We just clean up after them and move on. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 03:27, 17 January 2012 (UTC)

Chinese Taipei or Taiwan/ROC for sportspersons?

  • Q: In a club/team's squad/roster template, which flag should be used to indicate players from Taiwan who compete under the name of Chinese Taipei in certain sports, Taiwan or Chinese Taipei?

Check out the examples of current situation:

  1. Basketball: Taiwan_Beer_(basketball)#2010-11_Roster(Taiwan flag) Template:Zhejiang_lions_roster(Chinese Taipei flag)
  2. Football: Tatung_F.C.#Current_squad_and_staff(Taiwan flag) KV_Mechelen#Current_squad(Chinese Taipei flag)

--阿pp (talk) 20:25, 22 November 2011 (UTC)

Do we have any evidence as to which flag they compete under? Go along with what sources say. If sources don't make it clear, or if there's some other possibility that a little flag picture would be either misleading or wrong, omit the little flag picture. bobrayner (talk) 21:12, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
As in the case of football, FIFA recognize Chinese Taipei, not Taiwan(List_of_FIFA_country_codes), then is it incorrect to use Taiwan flag to indicate players as in Tatung_F.C.#Current_squad_and_staff? --阿pp (talk) 21:18, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
if a sportsperson has represented a nation or has declared for a nation, then the national flag as determined by the sport governing body should be used (these can differ from countries' political national flags) or in other words use the flag the governing body use. See also WP:IMOS FLAGS and WP:RUFLAG Gnevin (talk) 11:15, 23 November 2011 (UTC)

Recent edits

The removal and restoration of two paragraphs of the guideline should be discussed. Primarily, there has been a claim that these two paragraphs were not initially discussed before their addition. If this is incorrect and their addition was discussed and agreed upon, can someone provide a link to that discussion please? Bretonbanquet (talk) 19:34, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

The suspect line was added on May 14, 2011 right here. The archive it "should" be located in is this one. Maybe I missed it but I can't find it. Fyunck(click) (talk) 00:45, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
That was 6 months ago. There has been plenty of time and discussions since then. If you disagree with the wording you are encouraged to make your complaint here, but you can't claim "no consensus" 6 months later.--JOJ Hutton 00:54, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Ridiculous. Maybe someone didn't see it. Editors try to sneak through lots of things in articles that get caught later. If there were discussions about adding something to this wikipedia manual of style then produce them. I know this isn't a wiki law or protocol but people look to these guidelines to help them out. Fyunck(click) (talk) 01:21, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
How convenient. Any time anyone argues against this piece of the guideline, the reply is always "per MOSFLAG", and you, Jojhutton, spend a lot of time saying things like "Whether or not one finds a flag in the infobox distracting or not, consensus has come to the conclusion that they are." When in fact, it was added by that other guy with no consensus whatsoever. Nice work. I can claim "no consensus", because no discussion creating one has been produced. In fact, we appear to have the opposite. This guideline has no teeth whatsoever. Bretonbanquet (talk) 01:34, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
If you don't like it, then make a propsoal to change it. Until then, follow the MOS as it is currently written.--JOJ Hutton 01:39, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
I am. It doesn't say flags are prohibited in the infoboxes which I am concerned about, therefore they are not prohibited. Bretonbanquet (talk) 01:46, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict)Well then take the time to read through WP:Consensus. I understand that sometimes things sneak through, but this hardly was the case here. First, this isn't some change that didn't get noticed. It was upheld again here, by PmAnderson, a user who knows this MOS front and back. Second, it isn't a change in the MOS, but a clarification, to make it more clear. Third, it is a clarification on flags in the infobox, and should be in the section on infoboxes. Also go read WP:DRNC. If you have a reason to revert, then state it in the edit summery, but don't simply revert because you feel that there was no consensus. There have also been two discussions on infobox flags since this was added and no one challenged the wording in this paragraph once, to the best of my knowledge--JOJ Hutton 01:37, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
So another editor also didn't like the sudden change and was hit with a ruler. It should have been removed right then and there and gone to debate but it didn't. The wording now is much more acidic in tone as opposed to a guideline for infoboxes. It's gone from discouraged to "unnecessarily distracting" with "undue prominence" and an additional rule of "should only be inserted in those cases where". Those things need some discussion "before" being added. I only read through this article every so often but with your multiple instances of mosflag additions to summaries I figured I better re-check what I had read at the beginning of the year. I found this bad addition and figured I must have missed the debate on putting it there. Low and behold there was none, which is fine and dandy, but if someone later disputes it I think it should be removed until talked about. Fyunck(click) (talk) 02:01, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Nobody challenged the wording? How about when I did, here [1], and you replied directly to me simply by quoting the bloody guideline back at me? Found that consensus yet? The one you used in the above argument? Bretonbanquet (talk) 01:46, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
You don't have consensus to change it, just like you didn't before. All you want to do is keep your flags in your Formula One infoboxes, which are against the spirit of this MOS. I understand your desire to have those colorful, yet needlessly distracting flags in the infobox. They say nothing that is not already stated in words, but somehow you feel that are important. Important enough to continue to come here, looking for loopholes in the MOS, and stating that this guideline has no teeth whatsoever, in order to keep them. The line had to be drawn somewhere, and that is where it was drawn. If we let this slide then whats to stop flags being in any infobox? Whats the point of having an MOS, if Formula One, or Tennis articles decide to ignore it? Wikipedia would be an anarchy with no rules whatsoever.
Yet, I'm fair, and contrary to popular opinion I am capable of compromising. If you have a proposal to make a change to this MOS, then please state it here, so it can be discussed.--JOJ Hutton 02:04, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
You do like to ignore it when someone directly challenges what you've said, leaving you with a difficult answer, don't you? You apparently don't understand why people want flags in infoboxes, because it has nothing to do with them being colourful. And there you go with the subjective and selective distraction element, which doesn't appear to have any consensus now, let alone logic. I don't have consensus to change it, just like there was no consensus to add it. I don't need to look for loopholes in the MOS, you could drive a bus through it. No, these flags don't add much beyond what is stated in words, but nor do the flags that you allow. Maybe you could tell me just what would be the problem with having flags in infoboxes, without resorting to the laughable distraction argument or the oh-so-conveniently-sidelined-when-we-feel-like-it argument that they add nothing. The world would still turn, we could still breathe the air, and Wikipedia would still function. The flags themselves aren't anywhere near as important as the principle, quite obviously: the principle being that I (and others) find it objectionable that a small number of editors (apparently a very small number) have taken it upon themselves to persistently inflict their preference regarding flags on to the entire encyclopedia, seemingly to the extent that a consensus isn't even required. Your mission against flags seems pretty bizarre from where I'm sitting, and it would be really nice to have it explained. If you don't want to do that, or actually respond to the points made, that's fine, of course. Note that the MOS is not being ignored, contrary to what you've said. Bretonbanquet (talk) 20:50, 30 November 201
I never got the feeling that you were challenging me personally, nor that anyone was challenging me. You were challenging the MOS. Nor do "I" "allow" any flag to be in a infobox. The MOS does makes exceptions, and those exceptions are written out. You should actually read it to find out what the acceptable exceptions are. There are not a small number of editors who are, how did you say it, "inflict(ing) our preference regarding flags on the entire encyclopedia".
Yet, you seem to want some form of justification as to why this MOS even exists. Here examples of some pages before this MOS was written:
Albert Einstein, Playstation 3.
The community decided that the flags were out of hand. This is obvious based on how this MOS evolved. If you don't feel that the MOS is fair because it makes exceptions for some type of articles and not for yours, then we should discuss removing the exceptions to make every article consistent.--JOJ Hutton 01:02, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
I was challenging you personally when you told me that nobody had challenged the MOS. Never mind that if it's a little convoluted. You seem to think the MOS is reasonable in making exceptions for some flags, ignoring criteria used to prohibit or dicourage other identical flags. That's what I'm trying to get at. Why do you think that's OK? Why do you say things like "You should actually read it"? Either you actually think I haven't read it at some point during this discussion, during which I have quoted bits of it at you, or you are trying to antagonise me. I'm not sure which makes you look worse. At no point when discussing these exceptions does the MOS state that the ones mentioned are the only exceptions, nor does it even imply it. It cites examples of exceptions, clearly implying that there are other exceptions besides the ones mentioned. Do you think that's clearly explained?
No, I don't need any form of justification for the existence of the MOS. You appear to have dreamt that. I have removed enough unnecessary flags in my time to deserve an end to any suggestion that I'm trying to keep all flags. Obviously the flags were out of hand, and some of them still are. But when did the community decide to try to get rid of flags altogether, which is seemingly what you want? It would help if you actually admitted that, if it's true. If there's a consensus that decided all the flags were distracting, where is it? If there's a consensus that says all infobox flags should be removed, bar these wondrous exceptions, where is it? Why would I want to remove all the exceptions just because I feel the MOS is a poorly-written bag of contradictions? That just sounds like something you might want to do. I presume the exceptions do have a consensus, so why scrap it? How about doing something really revolutionary, like just making the bloody thing clearer, giving a list of places where it's OK to have flags, and places where they are flat-out prohibited, according to a consensus which we can actually see, rather than a mythical one? Bretonbanquet (talk) 20:57, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for taking an interest in icon usage, Bretonbanquet. As Jojhutton says, this MoS has evolved over a 5-year period and was a reaction to the ugly and distracting proliferation of flags on articles. You are free to contest the consensus of course, as you are free to argue against verifiability or the neutral point of view. One tip is that it is more likely to succeed if you can give an encyclopedic reason for your challenge, rather than relying on procedural arguments. Eventually, if you are unhappy enough with our processes and guidelines here, you have the option to leave and/or start a wiki of your own. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but that's the way it is. --John (talk) 21:30, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
If you'd read all the arguments I've given on this page, you'd find more than enough encyclopedic reasoning. You join the list of people who have no interest in addressing ANY of the points I've made, rather you just tell me, "This is how it is, like it or go away." Contest what consensus? I asked for the discussion to be produced showing where the consensus was agreed, and lo and behold, it doesn't exist. So what's to contest? If I made any kind of proposal to change anything, why would anyone of you then break the habit of a lifetime and actually answer my points? The fact is that the MOS does not support everything that certain editors are using it for. That is a fact, and no amount of cheap accusations of wikilawyering are going to change it. Until any of you can dredge up a consensus, even another imaginary one, there's nothing to change it to what you'd like it to say. Bretonbanquet (talk) 21:56, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
However the lines per this original query are not consensus and not neutral. They were simply added with no talk at all and should be removed if questioned. Fyunck(click) (talk) 22:54, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
But not 6 months after the fact. Not sure why you think it shouldn't go in. All you keep saying is that it was added without consensus (Read WP:DNRC) and now you seem to think its not neutral. This is an MOS not a main space article, what is not neutral about it? --JOJ Hutton 01:10, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
It was removed very soon after for the same reasons yet someone put it back. If something gets added with a neutral tone without discussing it's one thing. When something like this gets added it's another thing. It should have been talked about. And I don't buy your 6 month stuff either. If something was done wrong it doesn't matter if it's 6 months, 6 days or 6 years, it should be corrected. Fyunck(click) (talk) 08:21, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
why do you feel that it needs to be "corrected"? What do you feel is wrong with it? Why do you say it's not neutral?JOJ Hutton 13:49, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── First off it was added without discussion and was removed. At that point it should not have been readded without talking...period. It was readded without talk and I finally caught it and corrected it but you seem not to like that. Many around here would have problems with all of the added wording and we have to assume that 99.99% of editors don't watch this page regularly. Of highest bias are the terms "unnecessarily distracting" "undue prominence to one field" and "should only be inserted in infoboxes in those cases where they convey information in addition to the text." I left in the "undue prominence" part as a compromise (though it was still never talked about) and then I see someone else smoothed over the writing to polish it. It's much better the point that while I'm not exuberant it's there at all without discussion, I wouldn't bring it up again. Fyunck(click) (talk) 19:51, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

It still hasn't been shown what the addition of a flag adds that is not already conveyed in the text. All it does is give undue prominence to the nationality field. Mo ainm~Talk 22:49, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
At least in tennis it seems to be quite important. News articles are always saying the players' name and nationality hand in hand. Where they play Davis or Fed Cup, Olympics, the Majors all say name and country. Readers may find it quite helpful to see it right in the infobox instead of just a list name that could be lost with other things. The heavy bold of the name up top helps with one aspect and a flag icon helps with the other. I wouldn't say it conveys more info, it augments and helps the info that's there so our readers can easily find what's important. But my only point here was really the addition of the text without discussion. It was quite harsh in it's wording and very important for tennis articles. Maybe after extensive talk , back and forth, give and take, it would have stayed in by heavy consensus... or maybe it would have been dumped completely. No chance was given for either outcome and that was what's unfair and wrong imho. Fyunck(click) (talk) 23:17, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
What makes you think it gives undue prominence to the nationality field? Why do you think these arguments only apply to certain flags? Bretonbanquet (talk) 22:58, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
Because beside the nationality field there is a flag so it is given prominence over other fields in the infobox. Mo ainm~Talk 23:06, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
It may give slightly more prominence over other fields... but whether it's undue is a matter of opinion. And "unnecessarily distracting" is really going too far. Whether they want them or not I don't feel most editors would find them distracting. Fyunck(click) (talk) 23:22, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
Exactly, what makes it "undue"? I think any increase in prominence for that field is minuscule; it's just something that sometimes goes with the nationality field. I don't find it in the least bit distracting. Is there any evidence that a majority of editors / readers find a flag distracting? And again, why do these arguments not apply to the other infobox flags in the cited examples of "acceptable infobox flag use"? Bretonbanquet (talk) 23:39, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
Didn't we have an RfC on this a little while ago? Personally, I argued - and still do - that many uses of flagicons put undue emphasis on nationality. However, I don't mind one in an infobox as long as it's accurate, informative, and not misleading:
  • No anachronistic flags.
  • No flags for things which don't have a meaningful nationality (ie. scientific theories, organisations) or where the national/ethnic/linguistic overlap is a source of strife and NPOV problems (ie. languages), or where some subject just happens to be within one country's boundaries in some sense but isn't particularly national (ie. no flags for train crashes, rivers, or manufactured goods). I don't understand the urge to extend national labels to so many things which didn't have them before.
  • No subnational flags or supranational flags except where it's absolutely clear that the subject represents (or has other very strong ties to) that territory rather than the usual national flag. (I could see the point in putting a saltire in the infobox of a scottish "national" sports team; but none of the players carry scottish passports, do they?)
  • In cases of dual nationals or other kinds of flag-ambiguity, no flag at all is better than any of the other solutions that wikipedians are likely to edit-war between.
  • It's easy for people tend to think overly literally about these things; we should rule out any opportunities to mislead lay readers. I've seen some people photoshop composite flags to represent a sports team comprising people with different nationalities, and others use the UN flag as a synonym for "international" or "foreign". Some editors put the flag of registry on a ship article even though it's not the state where the ship was built, owned, or operated.
Other than those objections, I don't mind a flag in an infobox. :-) bobrayner (talk) 01:02, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
Other than a relatively minor quibble with the initial "undue emphasis" point, I agree with everything Bobrayner has said. Bretonbanquet (talk) 01:10, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
So you will remove the flag from the Adam Carroll article then, as you agree that In cases of dual nationals or other kinds of flag-ambiguity, no flag at all is better than any of the other solutions that wikipedians are likely to edit-war between. Mo ainm~Talk 08:44, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
Is this still dragging on? There's no "flag ambiguity" in that particular – tedious – case. JonCTalk 17:44, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
Indeed. For those of us who knew anything about the subject, there was no flag ambiguity at Adam Carroll. Bretonbanquet (talk) 18:37, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
So to an elite chosen few there is no ambiguity but everyone else there is, so maybe you will strike your support above and say if a clique see no ambiguity then there is none. Mo ainm~Talk 18:45, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
Who is "everyone else"? Are you referring to those people, usually IPs, who regularly change the nationality of Northern Irish people to Irish? That's not ambiguity, it's just vandalism, usually proved by their other edits. Or are you claiming that the nationality of anyone born in Northern Ireland is ambiguous? Bretonbanquet (talk) 18:52, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
Aren't quite a large proportion of NI people dual nationals or at least entitled to a second passport &c? That, combined with the obvious real-world national dispute, looks like a recipe for trouble - and editwarring over little flag pictures is exactly the kind of thing I'd like to avoid. bobrayner (talk) 19:08, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
That's right, but in this particular case, we have a motor racing infobox, and in every motor racing infobox, nationality is as stipulated by the FIA, the sport's governing body. This leaves no room for ambiguity, at least for most of us. The edit warring generally centred around the nationality itself anyway, and removal of the flag would not have solved the problem. Bretonbanquet (talk) 19:28, 7 December 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── See the talk page of the article valid sources say he is Irish and raced for Ireland and the FIA regulations are also ambiguous regarding nationality. Mo ainm~Talk 22:22, 7 December 2011 (UTC)

This is what I mean when I say some people don't understand it. It has been explained to you ad nauseam on the talk page that driving for Team Ireland means nothing in terms of a driver's nationality. Drivers of all nationalities were free to race for A1 Team Ireland or any other A1GP team. It's like playing football for Liverpool - it doesn't make you English. There is no source anywhere to state that Carroll is from the Republic of Ireland. The FIA regulations are quite obviously not ambiguous in any aspect - they are a highly developed set of regulations for one of the most litigious sports in the world. Please feel free to reproduce these "ambiguous" regulations at the relevant talk page, where the discussion ground to a halt weeks ago. No need to be flogging a dead horse in an inappropriate place. Bretonbanquet (talk) 22:40, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
Not the place for this discussion but it was never claimed he was from the ROI. And they are posted on the talk page of the article.Mo ainm~Talk 22:49, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
Indeed, and since you accept he's not from the ROI, the discussion is over. Unless you are claiming he's from some other country? Bretonbanquet (talk) 22:52, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
Add both counties as far as I care, but adding a flag doesn't say it any more than simple text. It just doesn't need to be there. And why does everyone whining about their flags, keep coming here to make the argument that nationality is important in their particular sport? Add the nationality, you win that argument. Every time someone keeps bringing it up, it just shows that they have no idea what they are talking about. If nationality is important, add it. But adding a flag doesn't say it twice. It's unnecessary and not needed. The information is already presented in text.--JOJ Hutton 01:18, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
It's not possible to add both nationalities, even if he were a dual citizen, as a driver can only represent one country. Arguments have been made many times in response to your points, many of them just as valid as yours. As for your last point, do you advocate removal of all flags across the encyclopedia, since no flag adds extra information according to your argument? Bretonbanquet (talk) 01:26, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
If its going to make you happy, then remove em all, or do you think that there should be exceptions.--JOJ Hutton 01:52, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
There's no consensus to remove them all, even if I wanted to do so, which I don't. I just don't have a problem with flags in infoboxes (or anywhere else) provided they are used sparingly, and with common sense. If flagicons are to be prohibited in certain infoboxes like the company infobox, actors, films, musicians, trucks, buildings, trees, rivers etc (seems sensible to me), then I think there should be a very clear list displaying which infoboxes are OK for flags and which are not. Then the MOS would be clear and unambiguous. Bretonbanquet (talk) 20:05, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
Exactly the guideline goes out of its way to make it clear that they are not prohibited. So trying to remove them from everything like JOJ seems to like doing is ridiculous. Especially in situations where there is clearly a wiki-wide common practice of using them. Nevermind changes like this when the MOS specifically says that uses of flags to indicate sporting nationality is ok. This guideline only indicates that we shouldn't over use them, not that we should never use them. -DJSasso (talk) 21:32, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
Whether there was originally a consensus discussion, or enough of one, is now moot, since this has turned into one, and consensus is clearly in favor of the language that had been stable for 6+ months. Being loud and repetitive about it doesn't change that. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 03:13, 17 January 2012 (UTC)

Abuse of {{Cquote}} (decorative, huge quotation marks) in mainspace

The semi-perennial topic of the abuse of Template:Cquote to "prettify" block quotations, against MOS:QUOTE, MOS:ICONS and the template's own documentation (since weakened by fans of decoration), has popped up again at Template talk:Cquote (and, in a specific case, at Talk:Second Amendment to the United States Constitution#Should the Second Amendment main text use Cquote?). NB: I make no pretense that this is a neutral notice/pointer; the practice blatantly violates the guidelines and at least two policies, and that should be made clear.

A namespace switch needs to be installed in {{cquote}} so that it just uses bare <blockquote>...</blockquote> markup when used in the main namespace (as it is thousands of times!), without any of the pretty/distracting formatting; this would simply get rid of much of the problem instantly. Unfortunately, there's been some resistance to this idea, because the template talk page there is mostly populated by fans of the template and of its use in articles to decorate things. Most of them seem to not know MOS:ICONS exists or care that it does, and most [ab]users of this template have no idea what a pull quote really is or is for. (Short version: It's not simply a quotation, it's a quotation pulled for special emphasis from the extant text of the page, so it must already be in the main prose, which necessarily means that pull quotes in anything but a very long article are redundant visual "noise". Because it is a very heavy-handed form of emphasis, intentionally telling the reader what to pay attention to, putting it in an article is almost always a blatant violation of WP:NPOV policy, especially WP:UNDUE, and also raises WP:NOT#SOAPBOX issues. Pull quotes are a journalistic/editorial style that is almost never appropriate in an encyclopedia.) The relevant point here is that the template is inserting pure decoration into articles in the form of ridiculously huge, colored “ ” curly-quote glyphs.

Some have suggested that there needs to be an RfC that focuses on whether decorative quotation marks should be used in normal quotations, or at all, or whatever. But it doesn't need an RfC, because MOS:ICONS already gives us a fully developed guideline against decorative widgets like this. Editors at Template talk:Cquote simply need to hear this from more than me. They seem to feel they have a "consensus" to keep abusing pure decoration in articles (as well as violating NPOV, but that's another issue). Such a micro-consensus is invalid, per WP:LOCALCONSENSUS policy. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 03:11, 17 January 2012 (UTC)

Flags in lists

Simple question: is it ever appropriate to use flagicons in lists? I present to you December 2011 Nigeria bombings, featuring, among other monstrosities, the papal emblem of Pope Benedict XVI, a flag for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Malta, another for the Muslim Council of Britain and the emblem of USCIRF (who? what?). Jpatokal (talk) 04:38, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

That's an absurd misuse of little flag pictures. Personally, I would favour removing all flags from that list; but I expect that some other editors would be keen to retain the national flags. As a compromise, I could go along with a national-flags-only solution (considering that many entries are statements by some kind national leader or spokesperson). bobrayner (talk) 15:27, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
Its a bit unnecessary to have all those flags, but I don't think this MOS discourages this particular use, one way or the other. If they were removed, it wouldn't be a major disruption to this MOS, but if they stayed, I don't feel that it would disrupt this MOS either. In other words, do what you feel is in the best interest of the article.--JOJ Hutton 15:46, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
I don't think any of those flags are necessary, and it might constitute "over-use". But if they don't violate the MOS, then it's down to a consensus of editors on that page. In other words, it's a style preference issue, so maybe a discussion on the talk page there can sort it out. Bretonbanquet (talk) 17:24, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

So, what I'm proposing is that we amend the MOS to state that flags should not be used in lists. Are there any cases where flags in lists make sense? (Most of the MOS seems devoted to tables and infoboxes.) Jpatokal (talk) 20:08, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

That's an awful big leap and one would have a hell of a time removing flags from every list all over Wikipedia. Flags are already discouraged in infoboxes and are allowed in only rare cases. Tables and lists seem to me, to be acceptable places for certain flags in some cases. In addition, even if we do come to some understanding on whether or not flags should be in or out of lists, I found that some people simply ignore the MOS and do what they want anyway. Some editors and wikiprojects get very protective of their flags, and you might see a battle when trying to remove them, even if consensus is to not have them in lists.
That being said, how would you word this proposal? Do you have something in mind?--JOJ Hutton 20:35, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
Even if there were a consensus to remove flags from all lists, which would be needlessly draconian, it would be unworkable. I don't see a problem with taking flags in lists on a case-by-case basis and determining a local consensus. We need to be careful of trying to engineer a MOS which attempts to enforce a very wide blanket ruling, where just a few editors have constituted a disproportionately tiny consensus. Bretonbanquet (talk) 00:27, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

I'm not proposing a blanket removal from all lists, I suggest we amend the MOS to state that flags in lists are discouraged, with local exceptions allowed if they have good enough reasons. We can use precisely the same wording as we do for infoboxes: Generally, flag icons should not be used in lists: they are unnecessarily distracting. That said, I'm still waiting for any examples of a good use of flags in lists...? Jpatokal (talk) 22:24, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

We can use "Generally, flag icons should not be used in lists" but throw out the distracting part. That "distracting" portion of infoboxes was sneaked through without discussion the first time and does not represent consensus. We don't need to do it once again. Fyunck(click) (talk) 23:20, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Fyunck. There doesn't seem to be any consensus for the distraction element. Bretonbanquet (talk) 00:09, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Are you sure? The history of this page shows quite a lot of comments which treat the potential for distraction as a real, and bad, thing. One of my main concerns about flag use in articles (particularly lists) is that labelling items with little flag pictures can often diatract from the actual content of the list. bobrayner (talk) 13:53, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I've asked several times to for someone to provide the discussion which produced the consensus, but nobody ever seems to be able to find it. I'm sure some people do find them distracting, but then I often find those same people have no trouble with flags in other places, thus contradicting themselves. I find the distraction argument very weak - I can see how overuse can be distracting, like this: [[2]], but I find it hard to believe that a minimal use of flags creates a problematic distraction. Lots of people don't find them distracting of course, which is where the problem lies regarding a consensus. Bretonbanquet (talk) 15:45, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't find flag icons distracting. In fact, I often scan through a list using flags rather than text, in order to find what I'm looking for. Claims that flags are distracting should be substantiated. Daicaregos (talk) 15:51, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

The current wording seems fine to me. There are reasonable arguments pro and con use of flags in lists and tables, and which ones make more sense is often dependent on the specific context. This guideline's principal genesis (I would know, being one of its major authors) was reigning in use of flag icons all over the place, to reasonable cases, especially in lists and tables in which they are seen by a notable proportion of users as being an aid to in-article navigation. This doesn't mean every single list or table. The most common case is Olympic and other international sports tables. The "I found a bad use" case above, with icons for USCIRF (whatever that is) and the Pope, is obviously an actual case of misuse, since it doesn't aid navigation in any way (if anything it just begs the question, "what on earth is this emblem and why is it here?", so it clearly is in fact a distraction in that article). That makes it simply a case of misuse, not an argument for banning all use of all flags in all lists and tables. That's a perennial extremist position that has not found consensus since day one of this page's existence. So is the idea that it's perfectly fine to festoon articles with cutesy decoration at will, be it flags or road signs or coats of arms or giant quotation marks, whatever. This is a guideline not a policy, so there will always be exceptions to what it says, in either direction; using an unusual case as an opportunity to try to advance either of the extremist views on icons is thus logically fallacious. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 03:11, 17 January 2012 (UTC)

Oops, this discussion dropped off my radar, hope it's not too late to breathe some life into it...
So, I actually agree with pretty much everything you say. My main issue is that the guideline is currently being interpreted to mean "it's OK to use flags wherever 'the subject actually represents that country, government, or nationality'", including pointless uses like decorating lists of "official" reactions by country, even though this is pretty clearly not the intent of the guidelines.
I think we need to better highlight uses where flags are used well, and where they're used badly, and offer more concrete guidance based on that. The good case isn't hard: I think we pretty much all agree (?) that flags are great for, say, tables with results of sports matches between national teams. What I'm suggesting is that lists containing flags should, as a rule of thumb, be either a) converted into tables with flags, or b) kept as lists and have their flags stripped out. "Distraction" and "legibility" and all that aside, it's simply terrible typography to have a bullet point meaning "here's an item of text", and follow it with anything that's not an item of text (like a flag). Jpatokal (talk) 03:24, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

flagcons in settlement infoboxes

A discussion regarding the useage of flag icons in settlement infoboxes has been started at Template_talk:Infobox_settlement#flagcons_in_settlement_infoboxes. Please mosey on over.--S. Rich (talk) 01:36, 13 February 2012 (UTC)

Per the discussion and consensus at WP:GEOGRAPHY, I have included geographic to the exclusions to MOSFLAG. This conforms to the majority usage and the consensus developed at the project. Carlossuarez46 (talk) 22:00, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

  • The discussion at the Template Talk is ongoing. There was no such discussion or consensus at WP:GEOGRAPHY.--S. Rich (talk) 22:32, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

Flag usage

On Talladega County, Alabama an editor is using the Flag of Ulster to represent Scots-Irish claiming that it is widely used I have asked for a citation but I believe this is just original research and is a being used to fill an empty space, anyone else any thoughts? Should it just be removed? Mo ainm~Talk 22:57, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

  • All those flag icons were being misused, so I removed them. It's absurd that the majority of people in part of Alabama would be represented by a St George - were they born in England? They certainly don't carry English passports, because there's no such thing. And since when did the UNIA flag represent all black people?
  • The piped links are only slightly less misleading. Irish ≠ Irish-American, and so on.
  • Apart from the icons, some of the numbers appear to be compatible with what's on, but that source doesn't appear to break "white" down into "English", "irish-american", "scots-irish-american", "german-american" &c. Is there a source for those numbers? bobrayner (talk) 23:16, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
Don't know, but having a quick look around other articles Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Pike County, Kentucky and Glynn County, Georgia they all seem to be using the Flag of Ulster along with other flags. Mo ainm~Talk 23:26, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
I suspect those may have been added by the same editor.
The flags imply a nationality which those people don't actually hold. It's doubly anachronistic - there may well be a few % of people who call themselves hyphenated-americans because they had a couple of great-great-grandparents who came over from the Old Country, but many of those immigrants would have travelled before the respective flags were adopted. Equally accurate would be this:
bobrayner (talk) 23:43, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

The flags are meant to represent countries of ancestral origin, not of current nationlity, and the information is based on community surveys and census data. Primarily, but not exclusively that found in Census 2000.Thesouthernhistorian45 (talk) 05:27, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Too misleading. They are flags of nations or regions today. There is no source for the claim that people migrated from places that used those flags, because 1) many of the people currently living were born where they are living; 2) they or their ancestors all migrated at different times, and/or 3) the flags may not have existed, or the territory where they migrated from was often under a different flag. Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:47, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, that serves no encyclopedic purpose at all, and the idea that the Ulster Banner is used as a generic pseudo-flag for "Scots-Irish" is absurd. Actually the almost entirely American belief in the concept "Scots-Irish" (a.k.a. "my great-grandfather's name started with 'Mc' and we're not sure where he was from, and there's no difference anyway") is even more absurd. Misusing one of the most politically charged flags in the world to misleadingly illustrate non-encyclopedic nonsense isn't permissible (not just by MOS:ICON, but by policy at WP:NPOV, WP:V and WP:NOT#SOAPBOX). — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 03:33, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
PS: That article has other MOS:ICONS problems:
Major highways
I'm at a loss for why the roads wikiprojects cannot get it through their heads that it isn't helpful to encyclopedia readers to add redundant visual noise like this all over the place. "20 Interstate 20" is just pointless as well as annoying. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 03:41, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
Totally agree Gnevin (talk) 10:53, 31 January 2012 (UTC)
Not to take this commentary on a tangent, but I totally disagree. One does not read an icon explicitly but rather views it. I would not read the listings above as "20 Interstate 20" but rather simply as "Interstate 20". Just because the icon contains a readable portion doesn't mean that it has to be read. If that were true, we'd have lots of problems with many corporate icons these days. Take GE Healthcare's name for example. You wouldn't read that as GE GE Healthcare, would you? Dbroer (talk) 20:44, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
You mean the GE Healthcare logo, and yes I certainly do see it as redundant "GE GE Healthcare" (If I were 12, I might not - a lot of the younger generation have a hard time parsing cursive characters, especially ornate ones like that). But how you or I would read it is irrelevant. Festooning article prose with roadsign icons was about reason #2 or #3 that this guideline was written (I know; I wrote much of it, including ensuring that this roadsign visual barf was explicitly included in its remit; it's the main reason it was renamed "WP:Icons" from the original "WP:Flags" in pretty short order after its creation). — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 07:40, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
I respectfully disagree on both fronts. If you were to do a poll, I believe that most people would look at GE Healthcare's logo and simply say "GE Healthcare" just as most people would look at the highway listing above and just read the words. Really, you're not going to tell me that when presented a list like that, you would actually read the sign (or logo) and then the text when you know plain well what the writer meant? Honestly, I look at a list like the one above and instantly I know what each one is without having to read it. I've shown this to half a dozen people and they all said the same thing. The brain works visually and there's nothing wrong with helping it along, in my opinion.Dbroer (talk) 18:31, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

List of Scandinavian Academy Award winners and nominees

All of the Academy Award nominees in this list have their countries identified by their respective flags. While I don't dispute the respective country identifications (i.e. as far as I know the people with the Swedish flag really are Swedish, the people with the Norwegian flag really are Norwegian, etc.), I don't believe this is particularly useful. There are five countries involved, and all five of them use a Nordic Cross flag design. It's not like trying to distinguish among five very different flags such as, say, United States Japan United Kingdom Canada Israel. It's exactly like trying to distinguish among Finland Denmark Iceland Sweden Norway. --Metropolitan90 (talk) 05:22, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

To people from that part of the world, all those flags are very distinct. The real question here is whether it's conventional, e.g. in the TV broadcast, for the SAA's to use flags to identify people? If it is, that's an argument for the usage being okay, in tables here, because it's expected and is reliably sourceable as real-world-practice, just like the overwhelming use of " USA" in Olympics broadcasts. If it's not the case that it's an expected usage, one has to ask whether it really adds/helps (without resorting to personal opinions about whether the flags are "different enough", which is biased and subjective). — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 07:59, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
These aren't the "Scandinavian Academy Awards". They're the American-based Academy Awards (Oscars) for which all the nominees from the Scandinavian countries have been placed in a list article. And there's a big difference between Denmark alone, and  DEN, in terms of accessibility to U.S.-based readers, which many people here at the English Wikipedia are. --Metropolitan90 (talk) 05:18, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

These flags should be removed as they are being used to identify the birth place of the actors nominated against MOSFLAG. Mo ainm~Talk 08:54, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

Big graphic banner with two icons used all over U. of Pittsburgh articles

There's an odd, but ultimately clear-cut, case at Template talk:University of Pittsburgh#image banner for nav header. There's been some editwarring back and forth to de-graphicized this template, but click on the image banner and go see how many real articles it's transcluded in. The image lives on Commons, so I guess it can't even be MfD'd. The template can't be TfD'd, since it could, if people would stop WP:OWNing it, easily be fixed to stop being a gross violation of MOS:ICON (specifically WP:ICONDECORATION). NB: The image and template creator is claiming MOS:ICON doesn't apply because this is an image banner. This is a patent attempt at WP:GAMING the system, and fails anyway since, MOS:ICONS doesn't have a specific image size limit to its applicability, it generally and explicitly applies to pure-decoration image use generally, and the image is just two icons and styled text screen-capped to be an image instead of real markup, so even the icon specific stuff is actually directly applicable. A cute attempt to evade MOS, "but, not." — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 07:32, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

While you have a point (I've removed it once, along with other cosmetic frippery, and been reverted), the maxim "deletion is not cleanup" applies. Deleting this otherwise useful template would be overkill. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 10:09, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
Yes, that's why I said "The template can't be TfD'd, since it could, if people would stop WP:OWNing it, easily be fixed to stop being a gross violation of MOS:ICON." — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 10:53, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
Sorry; I completely misread your point. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 21:24, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
This is not a patent attempt at gaming the system since nowhere in the guideline is there applicability to this image, at least by strict interpretation and certainly not by mine. This was a legitimate attempt at a unifying identification with significant visual cues and improving navigation for a large number of related but often disparate articles. Therefore, your disregard of WP:ASSUME and apparent desire for WP:CREEP is disheartening, as is the fact that you lament not being able to circumvent WP:DISCUSS by being unable to TfD'ing this legitimately released image which has served the purposes of this template for four years on over 100 articles under general WP:Consensus. CrazyPaco (talk) 09:16, 29 February 2012 (UTC)
I doubt even one person other than you buys that. You're playing a WP:LAWYER game. There is nothing in MOS:ICONS that limits its applicability to images based on number of pixels. I didn't lament anything; I noted that the template isn't a TfD candidate because it would be useful when fixed. I'm not assuming anything; I'm going by your own defiant statements, and your attempts work you way around site-wide rules against decorative hooey by exploiting what you think are loopholes. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 10:53, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
Seems a clear violation of WP:ICONDECORATION. Kaldari (talk) 20:35, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

Flags in info boxes - templates

If flags are supposed to not be used within info boxes, does the template {{UK}} ( United Kingdom) fit in. This is used in a number of info boxes, quite a few inappropriate. GimliDotNet (talk) 20:22, 24 February 2012 (UTC)

It depends. In tennis it shows the country the player represents in international events, so we use it in the infobox as vital information. Fyunck(click) (talk) 20:33, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
Not all that vital to have the flag, since simply stating the name of thecountry in the infobox does the same thing. There is no confusion if the flag was left out.--JOJ Hutton 21:17, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
Vital, no, but readers and sports authorities have commented that player's name and playing nationality are very important and something they want to stand out. It might not matter so much in team sports like hockey and football where you have an intermingling of nationalities on a single team, but in Tennis it is very important. Maybe not vital, but then most of the info in the article isn't vital either. It's important that the reader sees it quickly and it's why our Project has adopted it. Fyunck(click) (talk) 01:31, 25 February 2012 (UTC)
Tennis players are rarely representing their country. They're usually playing for themselves. Why emphasise the nationality? With some team sports it's more reasonable - the Italian basketball team is, specifically, a bunch of different basketball players brought together in one team because they're all Italian; selected by an Italian basketball committee, to represent Italy against other countries' basketball teams. They might even wear some kind of national colours. But an Italian tennis player is just a tennis player, and if they acquired a different nationality it wouldn't make the slightest difference to their game. bobrayner (talk) 23:10, 25 February 2012 (UTC)
Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Hopman Cup, Wightman Cup, Olympics.... Plus the 4 Majors list the nationality of every champion. It's important. In fact Wimbledon requires (or used to) a nationality be listed to even compete. If a country's tennis federation wouldn't sponsor you, you didn't play. Records are kept at ESPN and Reuters on the number of times a particular country has won a Major. Often so do the events themselves. It is talked about in the press all the time about the last time particular countries have won. You may call him just another "Italian tennis player" but to the press and sources it's much much more. Fyunck(click) (talk) 06:51, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
Davis Cup. Bretonbanquet (talk) 23:12, 25 February 2012 (UTC)
And having the name of the nation with a wikilink would accomplish the same goal of identifying the players national team. Emphasizing with a flag is not needed.--JOJ Hutton 01:11, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
Same goes for every other flag on Wikipedia, even the ones that are allowed by the MOS. That argument is bogus. Bretonbanquet (talk) 01:20, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps, but only the ones in the infoboxes are currently discouraged, and in the case of some templates, outlawed entirely. Yet not all icons are the same. Some icons in lists do actually serve a purpose, and are not discouraged by any MOS or guideline.--JOJ Hutton 01:38, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
The sporting context is different. It's what reliable sources do. I.e., watch any Olympics broadcast. Templates like {{Flag|GBR}} -  GBR - are directly derived from real-world usage. They would not be used this way off-WP if they were not considered important. I won't address "vital", as arguing for or against something presented hyperbolically is just engaging in further hyperbole. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒〈°⌊°〉 Contribs. 02:24, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
  • WP:MOSFLAG was not adopted by consensus; in fact no one has ever demonstrated any consensus for it, not shown evidence of the supposed rationale behind it. It's a relic from someone's ideas, that some lemmings treat as divine revelation. It would be best to remove it entirely. Recently, discussions at both WP:GEOGRAPHY and {{infobox settlement}} had consensuses to permit national flags on such articles (whether to permit or prohibit subnational flags in the infobox settlement could not achieve consensus). Flags are useful shorthand in infoboxes, which are supposed to be a short summary of essential elements at a glance from the article. Carlossuarez46 (talk) 15:58, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
    • I'm amused by the suggestion that a standard refined by multiple RfCs and other discussions, on which very many editors have commented over time, can now be discarded at will. It cannot. The last time there were major discussions (including flags on ship articles, flags in lists, &c), nobody raised a "scrap this MOS page" proposal. Why is that? bobrayner (talk) 16:14, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
      • As one of those supposed "lemmings", I found that the rationale is simply to keep the infobox clean of unnecessary clutter. Infoboxes can become overburdened with too much information. Flags say nothing that cannot be said with simple text. Flags are not always identifiable by everyone, as we cannot expect readers to be able to recognize which flag belongs to each country. One single part of an infobox is no more important to the article than any other part. Infoboxes should only have as much information than is needed, and very little more. The body of the article can and should cover events in greater detail.--JOJ Hutton 16:20, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
        • If that were true, there would be no exceptions. But alas, there are and your position is not validated by others'. Alas, we don't require users to be able to recognize which flag belongs to each country- so we require the country name as well, but we don't treat readers as if they are the dumbest people around by withholding from them information from which to make quick identifications. If these are sooooooo distracting, why the OK for their (apparenlty, noncontroversial) use in military and sporting events, ship articles, etc.? These are not only tolerated but encouraged, MOSFLAG notwithstanding, as articles containing flags in infoboxes have - without even mentioning the issue - been promoted to GA & FA. It may not be time to have a RFC to decide whether there is a consensus to retain any form of MOSFLAG. Carlossuarez46 (talk) 17:45, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
The military exceptions were recent additions allowed to slip through with unclear consensus. It should not have happened. I cannot see the consensus for the recent geography exception. --Merbabu (talk) 20:18, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
PS - there is a clear preference amongst military and sports editors to use flags and there is no significant action to remove these to be inline with the MOS. it should be noted that the military context has a specific exception clause here whereas the sporting context doesn't. The insertin of such clauses only is a slippery slope that only serves to cause arguments over what is allowed and isn't. It continues to work fine without a sport mention. It should also be noted that the geography context does not have the level of unanimous support for flags that is enjoyed by the military and sports projects. Prescriptive specific includion and exception clauses don't help. A blind eye can be a useful thing and continues to serve us well in the sporting articles. --Merbabu (talk) 20:30, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
Consensus need not require unanimity. We're not the EU or the UN Security Council; WP:NOTBUREAUCRACY. There is no consensus to prohibit the flags - in the lack of consensus, rules of prohibition are not enforceable: whether they are blocks, deletions, or reversions. Since no one has been able to show specific discussion constituting consensus on MOSFLAG, we should probably see what level of consensus there is, and what exceptions achieve consensus, rather than using "because it's policy" arguments which are weak per WP:CONSENSUS. Per WP:CONSENSUS, the first way consensus is shown is by edits made and not changed; since about 200,000 geographic articles contain flag icons, including FAs, GAs; their inclusion does have some merit. There are lots without flag icons, but alas, no one is saying lack of a flag icon is prohibited, so that's a straw man argument. So consensus, both at WP:GEOGRAPHY and {{infobox settlement}} seem to indication that the guideline is a relic and no longer has consensus (if ever it had done). Carlossuarez46 (talk) 22:40, 26 February 2012 (UTC)

(outdent) Carlossuarez46 amazingly asserts "WP:MOSFLAG was not adopted by consensus; in fact no one has ever demonstrated any consensus for it, not shown evidence of the supposed rationale behind it." That's one of the most disconnected-from-reality things I've seen expressed here in a long time. If he's so sure of this, he knows where WP:MFD is, and should go list Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Icons for deletion there and see how that works out. The other rational alternative would be to quit disrupting the talk pages of guidelines just because they advise against "fun" but non-encyclopedic things he'd like to do and that he wished they didn't advise against. See also WP:NOT#SOAPBOX and WP:POINT. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 07:47, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

In fact we should consider just getting rid of all of the so-called exceptions and "discourage" flags in all info boxes. That way we can end all this edit warring over what is and is not appropriate. --JOJ Hutton 18:35, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
If something is discouraged, then that implies that it is technically allowed, and that will in no way prevent edit wars or disagreements. Personally I see no problem with including flags in infoboxes and don't buy the rationale about distraction and undue weight. I don't say that such flags are vital, but they are not without value. Omnedon (talk) 04:27, 29 February 2012 (UTC)


(ec) This change, making “geographical” articles an exception to the MOS was added without apparent consensus. The apparent reasoning, as I understand it, is that an infobox guide trumps the MOS.

Yesterday’s addition should thus be removed until it can be shown that there is a consensus for the change to the MOS. (I also refer to my comments earlier today directly above.) --Merbabu (talk) 22:45, 26 February 2012 (UTC)

I've pointed out where this was discussed ad nauseum. There is no consensus to prohibit national flags in geographical articles; it shouldn't be added back until you can demonstrate otherwise. Carlossuarez46 (talk) 00:20, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
Once again, you did not discuss changing this page. And, as for your other pages, looking at comments on talk pages it is far from clear that there is consensus there either (for example). From where I sit you are saying (a) I don't need consensus to change this page, and (b) trust me, it's consensus at the other pages. A little contradictory. --Merbabu (talk) 00:28, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
And this is a site-wide major guideline. Per WP:LOCALCONSENSUS policy, some micro-consensus at a geo wikiproject cannot trump it. If members of that project feel strongly about the matter, they need to quit trying to balkanize themselves into a pretend sovereign entity, a WP:IAR anarchy, and seek to gain broader consensus here for what they don't agree with in MOS:ICONS. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 07:50, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
I'm afraid I agree with SMcCandlish and Merbabu here. You can't have a discussion in project talk then come over here and change the guideline in MoS. If anything it should be the other way around. I've undone the change, pending a proper consensus being arrived at here. --John (talk) 18:03, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
Wait a minute... We had recently been arguing that in the section "Avoid flag icons in infoboxes" that several lines were inserted in the last year with no consensus or talk whatsoever.
I believe it was these lines:
  • "they are unnecessarily distracting and give undue prominence to one field among many"
  • "Flag icons should only be inserted in infoboxes in those cases where they convey information in addition to the text."
  • "Flag icons are visually distracting"
Someone just plopped them in and several of us complained and we were told pretty much "Tough!" But this time it happens and it gets reverted? I mean I didn't make the addition, but talk about a double standard and unfairness. We might need an admin to look at what's happening here. Fyunck(click) (talk) 20:21, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

Discussing the proposed exception for geographical articles

  • I actually don't have any strong feelings either way. I don't find the icons necessary in geographical articles, nor do I find them distracting. On that basis, I would argue for an exception for geographical articles based on the general Wikipedia policy of the less restriction on editor creativity the better. I would add the caveat that they should remain modest. --Bejnar (talk) 20:28, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
I agree. I think that a MOS should dictate no more than a reasonable use of flagicons, in the infobox and elsewhere. What is then construed as "resonable use" can be decided by WikiProject consensus, or consensus at article level. Dictatorial guidelines are unhelpful and cause endless arguments on pages such as this one. If a local consensus finds that flagicons are acceptable in geographical article infoboxes, then that consensus should stand. Bretonbanquet (talk) 00:32, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
What you are suggesting is that WP:LOCALCONSENSUS is not an applicable guideline and can be ignored at will. That is, the MOS is nothing more than a very loose guideline which different Projects can ignore. Consider this -- settlement infobox templates are pertinent to/of interest to both WP:GEOGRAPHY and WP:CITIES. Suppose one Project comes to one consensus and the other Project comes up with a different, conflicting consensus? We end up with even more edit warring because different people would point to one or another Project discussion page to support their view. (Some Projects have more members than others -- would the larger Project "guideline" overrule the smaller one? Please consult WP:NOTANARCHY.) Also, you are also suggesting that editors interested in a particular article can ignore the guidelines "at article level". Not a good idea. The LOCALCONSENSUS guideline is a good one -- it says look at the WP:GUIDELINES. What we really need is consensus for the guidelines, even if consensus is reached after much mulberry-bushing.--S. Rich (talk) 07:17, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
No, you miss the whole point. WP:LOCALCONSENSUS is exactly why this discussion is now here and not at Wikipedia:WikiProject Geography. Not ignoring guidelines is why we are trying to reach some kind of consensus for a stated exception to the general rule. After some brain-storming, maybe we can actually write such a proposal, or alternatively agree that continuing to craft such an exception would be futile as no consensus on any points can be reached. Personally, I have more faith in Wikipedia process than that. --Bejnar (talk) 19:47, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
We already have anarchy due to a poorly worded MOS which was instigated with no consensus, and because some editors want to force this MOS into places where there have been no problems. The chances of a consensus being reached to rewrite it are so small, I don't think any of us will live long enough to see the end of it. Is there even a consensus that the MOS needs to be rewritten? Bretonbanquet (talk) 17:55, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Does anyone have an example of what we're talking about? How exactly do people want to use flag icons in geography articles? Kaldari (talk) 07:26, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

There seems to be no consensus here to prohibit flag usage in geographic article infoboxes. Carlossuarez46 (talk) 23:51, 6 March 2012 (UTC)

  • There's no consensus to change the MOS. Last year's discussions about flag-usage (including the lengthy RfCs) have shown that the community is far from laissez-faire about them (and in particular, sub-national flags are widely seen to be problematic). If you'd like to get a clear ruling, perhaps an RfC would be a good idea? If somebody could come up with a concrete proposal or two, it could help clear the air - there seems to be a little confusion above.
  • Personally, I'm more sympathetic to the use of relevant flags for human geography articles; less so for physical geography articles. (In other words: Flags for province articles, not for river articles). Other people may have other nuances.
bobrayner (talk) 10:29, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
  • I think human geography is what has been the bone of contention - indeed, populated places and administrative subdivisions have been the center of the edit wars. For mountain ranges, valleys, rivers, lakes, and such - flags have no real meaning. Carlossuarez46 (talk) 17:01, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Carlossuarez makes a good point above with Detroit -- a Featured Article. Indeed, in looking at all of the FAs and GAs about communities, I found that 15% of each had flagicons in the infoboxes. This being the case, that is, because reviewers who applied the strictest standards found the flagicons acceptable, the guidelines ought to reflect this standard and actual practice and explicitly allow them to a limited extent. (National & subnational entities only.) -- S. Rich (talk) 19:12, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
I agree that for physical geography flags have no meaning, but that won't stop some editor from placing and defending an Iranian or Kurdish irredenta flag on the Lake Urmia article, unless it is prohibited. It is like the problem with the Andes: The articles are organized by Colombian, Ecuadorian, Bolivian ... instead of by mountain range within the Andes. --Bejnar (talk) 19:47, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
  • We could word the guideline to make that noncompliant; nothing will stop any editor from doing anything - but will give the community's imprimatur to sanction a revert. How about, "Human geographic articles - for example settlements and administrative subdivisions - may have flags in infoboxes; however, physical geographic articles - for example, mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, and swamps - should not. Where a single article covers both human and physical geographic subjects (e.g. Manhattan), the consensus of editors at that article will determine whether flag use in the infobox is preferred or not." Carlossuarez46 (talk) 21:18, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
I like that. But there is S. Rich's caveat about limiting it to national and subnational flags. Such articles may also want the city's flag not as an icon but as a thumb in the city's article's infobox. So maybe we should say "flag icons for national and subnational entities" rather than "flags". --Bejnar (talk) 18:56, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
That's reasonable. Any other tweaks for now? Do you want to make the change? Carlossuarez46 (talk) 20:15, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Using a hypothetical example, I wouldn't mind Randomville's flag being used in the Randomville article. However, it would probably be less appropriate in other articles such as Randomville university or Parks in Randomville or Randomsuburb. bobrayner (talk) 21:27, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
That is handled through the "|image_flag = " parameter in {{infobox settlement}}; see Detroit. Where as we would not expect to see Detoit's flag on articles on its neighborhoods, suburbs, streets, squares, etc. Carlossuarez46 (talk) 02:50, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
Well, yes and no; I'm skeptical that any policy we write here would tie itself so specifically to a single infobox parameter. image_flag may be the most common mechanism for putting a flag into a human-geography article, and I think it's a good example of what we could permit, but it's certainly not the only way that flags get into human-geography articles... bobrayner (talk) 09:21, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
How its done is less important, but for flags for lower level entities (in the US, counties and cities, say), we would expect to see those flags only on the specific article and not on everything further down below (hierarchically speaking). Which I think is agreement with your point. Carlossuarez46 (talk) 18:05, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Hearing nothing more, I'll make the change presently. Carlossuarez46 (talk) 17:47, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
Absolutely fine by me, I completely agree with the change.♦ Dr. Blofeld 21:45, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

SO why are geographical flags an exception to the rule? Can someone explain the benefit?--Merbabu (talk) 08:18, 21 March 2012 (UTC)

Presumably because geographical features often transcend national boundaries..♦ Dr. Blofeld 14:28, 21 March 2012 (UTC)

And what country they are have no real bearing on their significance. The state of Illinois didn't exist until the United States created it - Lake Michigan pre-existed the United States. Pretty simple. Carlossuarez46 (talk) 16:11, 21 March 2012 (UTC)

Does Template:Coord violate MOSICON when used in prose?

On Ontario Highway 401, an article at WP:FAC, an editor added coordinates to the article. They were removed in the next edit with an edit description of "unnecessary detail and icons interrupting text. Coords are already in the linked article." I don't wish to get into them being about unnecessary details, only that the icons interrupt text.

On the FAC page, I asked the following:

This may be a moot point since it was subsequently removed, but this edit added coordinates to the prose of the article. That in itself I'm not arguing against. According to WP:MOSICON, we cannot put icons in body of an article, but in tables, icons are fine. Thus, we are forbidden from saying " a 400-series highway in the  Canadian province of  Ontario..." Why would "East of Highway 400 is The Basketweave (43°43′03″N 79°30′11″W / 43.717613°N 79.502950°W / 43.717613; -79.502950), ..." be any different? Both have icons that interrupt the text.

The editor who originally added the coords suggested I take the matter up here, so here I am. When used in prose, I would like to know how the globe icon, which when clicked opens a WikiMiniAtlas, is different than a flag icon which does nothing. Both are icons which can interrupt text. Yes, the globe can be argued to have encyclopedic value (WP:ICONDECORATION), but WP:NOICONS says no icons in prose. Which is the stronger rule? –Fredddie 00:18, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

As the editor referred to by Fredddie, I agree with the above hatnote. Also, let me make clear that I have no strong view for or against the suggestion that {{Coord}} breaches MOS:ICON, but I'd be quite happy with a switch to disable the globe icon when the template is used in prose. Also, note that {{Coord}}'s documentation advises how logged-in users may disable its display, in their own CSS settings; and that {{Coord}}'s globe icon is functional not merely decorative. Remember, too, that we already have many thousands of instances of {{Coord}} in article prose. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 00:34, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
As far as your last point, a bot could easily take care of that. --Rschen7754 00:42, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
I mentioned it as a reflection of current consensus, not a workload concern. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 00:54, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
Discussion about this topic may soon become moot. Wikproject Geographical coordinates has come up with a mechanism which could feasibly and reasonably obsolete the need to display coordinates, but it is in the early stages of development and infancy of deployment. For example, see Mojave Desert:
  • note only standard coordinates (infobox and title line)
  • Click on the globe icon on the title line and observe that WikiMiniAtlas plots data associated with this article.
  • At the bottom of page, click on one of the KML file external links. (The data being plotted is, for now, held in the /KML subpage of the article's talk page.)
The counter example is West Side CSO Tunnel, which has inline prose giving coordinates of the five verifiable points on the tunnel (vertical shaftheads). WikiMiniAtlas, remarkably, already scrapes this off the page; hovering the mouse over one of the plotted points highlights the article text and has a popup hint giving the point name. For the article to be comprehensive, it should have this data. I suppose one solution to comply with the spirit of MOSICON would be to move the coordinates to a table so they would avoid being within inlined text. But even better is to move the coordinates off the page and into an interactive map, which is exactly what the GEO group effort aims to do. —EncMstr (talk) 01:11, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
There is no project to "obsolete the need to display coordinates". Coordinates for key points of interest are important information, which should be displayed to our readers; and note that WikiMiniAtlas isnt avaiable in print, nor on our increasingly-important mobile site. Your observation about tables is well made, though; it would certainly improve the CSO article. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 01:35, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
In principle, I think the ability to display coordinates inline, in prose, can be quite helpful - although I'm concerned that if given carte blanche, some people will then set about making a million edits adding coordinates for everything mentioned in an article which might possibly have a location (ie. every building in Wyandanch) even though one link at the top right of a page (or in an infobox) is sufficient for most articles. If we really need inline coordinates for an object then I'm not going to lose much sleep over the coord icon - it's the same for all coordinates, it's not very obtrusive/distracting, and it's not actually trying to convey encyclopædic information itself. bobrayner (talk) 01:44, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
Your link to Wyandanch is followed by a padlock icon. Is that permitted ? Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 10:06, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
There is no icon in prose. At least with my settings. What are you guys seeing? I changed that a year ago during a similar discussion. When used in prose text the coordinates do not get an icon attached, but a little pop-up on mouseing over that then displays a link to the WMA. I am thoroughly confused. --Dschwen 14:01, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
Oh gosh! I never made it the default setting! Ok, just try putting this
var wma_settings =
 flowTextTooltips : true
in your vector.js file and let me know what you think. I could make this the default setting. But I'm not sure whether it would be beneficial to the reader as the bottom line. --Dschwen 14:06, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
That worked like a charm for me. How exactly would the template know it's in prose as opposed to a table? –Fredddie 23:36, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
The template doesn't know anything. This is not just a simple image, that is inserted, it is an interactive widget. You need javascript for this to work. The script that adds the image scans the DOM tree and looks for certain parent elements. --Dschwen 23:47, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
That's not accurate. It "knows" by being told "inline", "header" or both; there's a specific parameter for it! Anyway, not every possible feature has to be implemented in every possible context. I'm not sure that we care that it's a widget and not just decoration; it either needs a non-graphical equivalent for use in running prose, or it needs to not happen in running prose at all. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 19:09, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
My point is that the template does not generate the icon. A piece of Javascript attached it to all coordinate links on the page. Have you tried the vector.js solution above? Would that be satisfactory to you? --Dschwen 20:31, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

(outdent) The blindingly obvious solution to the issue raised by this thread is to use a coord template that doesn't spit out an icon. Next. Someone should mark this topic {{Resolved}}. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 07:53, 28 February 2012 (UTC) Sounds like this may be a little more difficult to work around than I thought at first, but hardly impossible. NB: The fact that it doesn't even work without Javascript could be a further strong rationale for not having it inline in the prose. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 19:09, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Update: I raised the issue at Template talk:Coord#Make icon display optional and met with what I would characterize as hostile, dismissive resistance from Dschwen, characterizing any opposition to inlining this (functional or not) icon in mid-sentence as something only "half a handful" of editors care about, "very vocal people that mention it once every two years" and who need to "quit the 'bickering'". I do not believe that is an accurate summary of the situation at all, or MOS:ICONS would never have been written and no one would participate in discussions on this talk page. And people would not be raising concern with the globe icon in article prose, as they do on article and project talk pages (see, e.g., WT:MILHIST right now). — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 19:09, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
Oh, SMcCandlish. Let's take a step back from the personal level here. This direction is not going to be productive at all. Please check out the vector.js setting above and let's discuss from there. The MILHIST talk was not brought to my attention. I can only comment on the compaints that I get. I realize that the underbelly of the template and the javascript are hard to understand for a non-programmer (and probably even for a programmer). That may result in compainers not knowing whom to address. --Dschwen 20:31, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
Quoting you, since you are a party to the discussion in both places, and are not making the same arguments in both places, isn't "making it personal", it's addressing discrepancies in your position on the same issue in two places. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 00:37, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
Let's do it the other way around. I switched off the icon by default. Clear your caches and test. --Dschwen 20:45, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
Thank you. This should prevent a lot of future "bickering". Test: {{coord|22|54|30|S|43|14|37|W|display=inline}} gives 22°54′30″S 43°14′37″W / 22.90833°S 43.24361°W / -22.90833; -43.24361. Works fine. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 00:37, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
The "bickering" was your word, so if I get a choice I'd rather trade in your thank you for you being a little less WP:DICKish. Have a nice day. --Dschwen 02:08, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
I started the Milhist discussion unaware that there was any ongoing discussion (sorry), and yes, I'd prefer that we at least have the option of getting rid of the icon in running text ... if you'd like to turn it off by default, great. But in my experience, people tend not to care a lot unless they're a frequent visitor at FAC and sometimes at A-class. - Dank (push to talk) 21:47, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Reconstruct "Flag Icons in Infoboxes" Guideline

I am having thoughts that the Infobox film Template under the "Avoid Flag icon in Infoboxes should be reaccessed due to uncomfortable view and inadequate order. The distribution of product by country is harder to read since some words has been split and collapsed, as shown in Fairy Tail. Please think about the faults stated above and reply carefully.--Bumblezellio (talk) 12:21, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

I am not entirely sure what you are talking about. The Infobox film Template says When using the [country] field, do not use flag icons, as this places an unnecessary emphasis on nationality. It does not say anything about flag icons in other fields. But the flag icons in the Fairy Tail article have been inserted in the Infobox animanga/Print and the Infobox animanga/Video templates. There is nothing in any of those templates which inserts or encourages the insertion of flag icons. The flag icons at Fairy Tail seem to be entirely the work of the editor editing that article. --Bejnar (talk) 05:55, 21 March 2012 (UTC)

A fair number of {{Infobox language}} transclusions use flags in the 'Spoken in' field. I've seen these removed per this MOS advise, and that seems like a good idea: where a language is spoken is not inherently political. However, what about the 'Official status' section? That is inherently political. A good example is German language (historical link, in case it changes). Is that a reasonable exception? Should that be allowed, but not s.t. like Austrian German, where the flags mark simple location and not political status?

Oops, bad example - that is political, just not in a dedicated political field (which would be a bit silly in this case). Take Bambara. That box lists six countries with flags, but Bambara is only a national language in one of them (Mali). In the others it's a trade language or a minority language on the border. Or take Catalan, where there are local and provincial flags as well. Or Persian and Hungarian, where immigrant countries are flagged – Israeli, Australian, and US flags with Hungarian, for example.

We say in the guideline that flags can give undue emphasis to one field over the others. Looking at Catalan, and thinking of the political battles here on WP over giving that language as much status as possible, I suspect that was exactly the point of adding them. — kwami (talk) 06:24, 1 April 2012 (UTC)

Request for comment (RfC)

An RfC has been started on Talk:Sukhoi Superjet 100#Vote on flag removal concerning usage of flag icons on this and other aircraft/airlines articles. Beagel (talk) 21:29, 20 March 2012 (UTC)

A custom more honour'd in the breach than the observance

In myriad articles, where sporting events feature individuals who are not formally representing their country, players' names are almost invariable accompanied in results lists by their names. This can be seen throughout articles for events in motor sport, tennis, golf, cycling, boxing etc etc etc. It seems apparent that the appropriate use section of MOSFLAG simply does not enjoy popular support among those constructing and maintaining such articles. I do not for a moment believe that consensus would be forthcoming in trying to apply a strict application of that policy to such articles: indeed, someone tried it today on 2012 Tour de France, and the edit history of that article will show that he had little joy. In short, I do not believe that this element of policy has the general support of the project, and as such the relevant section should be radically revised. Thoughts? Kevin McE (talk) 19:40, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

That's a good point. However, we've had RfCs and so on. If there are editors out there who want to keep flags in "their" articles, it's quite unfortunate that they didn't contribute to one of the many discussions on the subject; or, if they did contribute, it's unfortunate that they couldn't present a case which convinced other editors of what they see as the true benefits of little flag pictures. We could hold another RfC and another, but whatever the result, there will still be thousands of reverts on individual articles. bobrayner (talk) 20:48, 30 June 2012 (UTC)
But that sounds like the intention has been to force popular opinion, as evidenced by edits and the enduring style actually present in articles, to comply with a principle, or provide an argument that impresses, a cabal defending a principle. Given that authority in Wikipedia rests with consensus, not with policy, this seems to be a clear case of "the people have spoken", and the time has come for policy to actually codify good current practice, or at least not legislate against it with no chance of getting such a policy to stick. Regardless of whether we think it ideologically proper, nationality plays a huge part in the reporting of sport even when there is no national team in play, and flags are an exceedingly popular way of communicating nationality. It is way beyond the stage of decrying the existence of such use of flags as not validated on the basis of wp:OTHERCRAPEXISTS, we are in a situation of WP:WHAT_SEEMS_CRAP_TO_ME_AND_THE_WRITERS_OF_MoS_HAS BECOME_SO_UBIQUITOUS_THAT_IT_IS_CLEAR_THAT_THAT_IS_WHERE_CONSENSUS_LIES. Eventually, it is not that those articles are using an attitude of wp:IAR, but of following general practice and being consistent with what the editors in each project clearly accept and promote. MOSFLAG's appropriate use section is at best redundant in regard to such results centred parts of sporting event articles: at worst it is a case of policy that seeks to overturn consensus. If the principle has not won support, it does not need to be argued against, it needs to be shelved. Kevin McE (talk) 21:51, 30 June 2012 (UTC)
A large proportion of new articles seem to fail WP:N. Doesn't mean we should erase WP:N just because there are lots of people who genuinely feel their garage band is notable. I could draw a similar parallel with WP:V, alas. You say that "authority in Wikipedia rests with consensus, not with policy" but there was a strong consensus for this rule. bobrayner (talk) 00:01, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
Don't insult both of our intelligences: that is the loosest possible of parallels. We are not talking about fanboys and vandalistic newbies here, we are talking about experienced editors who, over time, which much discussion, co-operation, development, compromise and agreement, either tacit or formulated, have developed a house style that is now used consistently and stably across thousands of articles. Do you believe that there would be consensus at WP:FOOTY for removing all flags here, at WP:CYC for doing so here, from WP:GOLF for doing so here, from WP:BOX if you were to do that here, from WP:MOTORSPORT for doing so here, from WP:TENNIS for such an action here? Were such projects notified of the RfCs? If those defending the MoS are not going to go to all those projects and many others and insist that they are in breach of MoS, and so must set about removing the flags, they have not allowed any meaningful test of consensus of the MoS. Is it really considered better to have legislators proudly proclaiming that the rules are logical, encyclopaedic and upheld by RfC, then to either test them against what is actually done by people making articles? Maintaining the text on a rule that no-one believes is doing its job is not wise governance. Kevin McE (talk) 14:27, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
So where is it? Every time someone asks to see the discussion that produced the consensus, nobody can find it. All we have are a few people who shout "it's the guideline, therefore we must follow it", and a lot of people who don't agree with it. Bretonbanquet (talk) 00:36, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
Simply stating that you disagree with the consensus every time, doesn't mean that there isn't a consensus. Consensus forms through discussion and bold editing. Discussions have happened. Edits to the guideline have happened. Those two things are the pillars of consensus. Just because you didn't get your chance to disagree in the discussion and the edits, doesn't mean that the MOS guideline isn't valid or shouldn't be followed. Thats why we have policies on how to form consensus. Sorry you weren't around when MOS Flag was written, but thats not our problem. You simply want to ignore the guideline because you don't agree with it. Thats not how consensus and Wikipedia policy works. If it were up to some people, there would be flag icons in every single article, because every article can have some form of justification as to why it needs a big pretty flag icon in the infobox. But that is just not going to happen because there needed to be a line drawn. There needed to be a written guideline on how to use them.--JOJ Hutton 03:16, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
I'll tell you what does mean there isn't a consensus - any time anybody asks to see the discussion that produced it, they get ignored. "Discussions have happened" - you ignore the discussions you don't like, point at discussions to which you are now unable or unwilling to link, and say 'the guideline says no...'. "Edits to the guideline have happened" - yes, without any consensus that is in plain view. You imply that MOSFLAG was written once, in the dim and distant past, and it is now unchangeable. You want to avoid any debate about changing it because you just don't want to change it. Nobody has ever said they just want "big pretty flag icons in the infobox" - people just want reasonable flag use. You want zero flags anywhere, and you have no consensus for it. These discussions prove it. Bretonbanquet (talk) 11:46, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm not asking for MOS FLAG to be changed to require zero flags anywhere, despite my personal feeling that it would be a good idea. So I don't need to have a consensus for a question I'm not asking. The previous discussions on this matter have been linked before and it's pointless to relink them here again, because no matter what the discussion says, some people will simply decide that they don't agree with the previous discussions and I am not going to waste my time relinking discussions that you have already seen and dismissed. We've been through this before.
WP:CONSENSUS isn't also about consensus through discussion, it's about consensus through editing and making bold edits. Edits that didn't just happen all at once, but occur over time. Some of what is MOS:FLAG was achieved through discussion as well. Not just a single discussion, but multiple. There have been some compromises, but just because the you don't like the compromises or how consensus is achieved, doesn't mean that its not a valued consensus or compromise.--JOJ Hutton 12:34, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm surprised by Bretonbanquet's stance, since they actually participated one of the big recent discussions here. Specifically, supporting the "Do not use flags to indicate locations of birth, residence or death" proposal. How can we be keeping discussions secret from you already participate in them? bobrayner (talk) 12:51, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
Yes - recent, last year in fact. The part of the MOS that I have a problem with was purportedly agreed upon way before I arrived, and my position now is the same as it was then. Since I discovered this MOS, I have argued for the removal of many flags, and argued for the retention of others. You might have to point out where I accused anyone of "keeping discussions secret" - what are you trying to imply? I have also argued (to little effect) that the MOS is effectively useless, because the wording is so poor that editors can run rings around it and successfully put flags where they like in many cases. It unbelievably allows for literally hundreds of flags in certain articles, and bashes anyone who wants to add one single flag to another article. If you want to create a trend of being surprised by my stance, you might also be suprised to learn that, as it stands, I am in favour of removing more flags rather than adding them. My main point of concern though is the retention of certain, sparingly used flags where they already exist. I do hope nobody will attempt to portray me as a flag-adder. By the way, there is only one of me, so no need to refer to me as "they". Bretonbanquet (talk) 13:14, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm sorry for any perceived slight; "they" is also a genderless singular pronoun. I used this because I don't know (and don't really care) whether you are male or female, and because "zie" is an ugly neologism. Avoiding the first and second person can help make controversial issues just a little bit less personal. bobrayner (talk) 14:35, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
No problem - I just didn't want anyone to think I was socking or something ;) I'm happy to be addressed as "you" or referred to as "he". Bretonbanquet (talk) 15:43, 1 July 2012 (UTC)

To rephrase the acceptable use section of MOSFLAG from Flag icons may be relevant in some subject areas, where the subject actually represents that country, government, or nationality – such as military units, government officials, or national sports teams to Flag icons may be relevant in some subject areas, where the subject is widely perceived to represent that country, government, or nationality – such as military units, government officials, national sports teams or athletes in international events in which nationality is routinely reported in the results service in wp:reliable sources. I'd be happy to consider more concise re-phrasing suggestions: that doesn't seem particularly eloquent to me. Kevin McE (talk) 21:51, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

Flag icons are way overused, way overdone, and have absolutely no encyclopedic value whatsoever. If it was up to me, there would be no flag icon use in any infobox; military, sports, or otherwise. They look pretty and their use in infoboxes have argued as important because nationality is important. Nationality can be and is used in infoboxes, but the same information is given with or without the flag icon. No additional information is given by adding flag icons in the infobox and their use in the infobox runs contrary to MOS:INFOBOX.JOJ Hutton 22:17, 30 June 2012 (UTC)
I haven't mentioned infoboxes, or proposed any change to the section that deals with infoboxes. I'm talking about the reporting of the results/standings in tournaments. Kevin McE (talk) 13:48, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
Then I'll just reiterate my previous statement and say that I am against any rewrite to the MOS that would allow for any more perceived "exceptions" than what has already been noted. Using the wording " which nationality is routinely reported in the results service in wp:reliable sources", can be overly broad and lead some people to believe that since a flag was used in a source to refer to someones nationality, it is therefore acceptable to use in Wikipedia. That is not the case and should not be the case. Flag icons are overused all over the project, in and out of info boxes, and we shouldn't create any more confusion with the wording since some people think that MOS:FLAG is poor as its written now.--JOJ Hutton 14:23, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
If you believe that, then I would have to ask whether you consider it worth trying to apply the rule: will you be willing to test the consensus behind the current text of MOSFLAG here, here, here, here, here or at least, given your professed interest in golf, here? And if a rule is not worth applying, is it worth retaining the rule? Kevin McE (talk) 14:39, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
That is the crux of some of the problem. Some very vocal tendentious editors have fought any and all attempts to have the MOS applied to the articles that they edit. They usually come to this discussion board and try and discredit the MOS by asking to see past discussions and claiming that people added lines to the MOS without consensus. There is nothing wrong with MOS:FLAG, only with how its being ignored. A few wikiprojects have decided to ignore it and decided that guidelines do not apply to them, while other wikiprojects don't use the flags at all. Despite the fact that Formula 1, Hockey, and Golf ignore the MOS by stating that nationality is important in their articles, they never give any reason for the encyclopedic value of the flag icon in the infobox, only that it's the way it's done. Some wikiprojects simply decided not to use the flag icons, including Baseball, Basketball, and yes despite the FIFA article you linked even Soccer. Several infobox templates specially prohibit flag icons, including the infobox on persons. Most of those articles you linked are currently in violation of MOS:FLAG despite the best attempts to apply the MOS as written.--JOJ Hutton 16:03, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
I don't think you can dismiss the whole of such projects as "a few tendentious editors". Frankly, not everything needs to have "encyclopaedic value": there is such a thing as clarity and aesthetic concern, of meeting the expectations of readers. Is there an encyclopaedic value in giving dates without ordinals, in having indentations and serif font on block quotes, in giving single digit numbers as words but numbers of more than two syllables in words, etc etc etc? You might wish to rethink your comments on the level of acceptance of this policy in basketball articles on the basis of this and the squad list of the majority of club articles linked on it; in the light of the 10,000 odd articles using this template and tournament reports such as this, your comment about football cannot be taken seriously at all. I cannot understand a position that maintains that a MoS has consensus when any attempt to apply that MoS on vast numbers of established and supported articles has no chance at all of gaining consensus. All that is proven is that the discussions around MoS have failed to attract the interest of those applying consensus to articles.
So faced with the choice between a MoS that respects the tacit, and sometimes explicit, consensus in huge areas of the project, or maintaining a theoretical stance that is not followed and that there is no appetite to apply, what merit is there in following the latter option? Surely the best way of preventing abuse of the MoS is to make it credible, to permit practices that are established and monitored within established consensus permissions, and then lay down a barrier that can realistically be expected to be followed to prevent drift beyond what the projects active in the field consider reasonable. To do otherwise is simply to invite well meaning editors to disregard the MoS as redundant, obsolete, unresponsive and irrelevant. Kevin McE (talk) 17:57, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm not saying that there are not the odd number of articles out there that are violating the guideline. Citing and linking them doesn't mean that they are not violating MOS:FLAG. Of course they are. It doesn't mean that those articles cannot be corrected and brought into line with the MOS, it just means that many of them currently are not. Not every single article can be patrolled all the time. So your argument is that since a small number of articles violate the guideline, then therefore the guideline is basically useless on all articles unless allowed in your favorite articles? Is that the general idea? Everyone has some favorite type of articles they feel that MOS:FLAG should not apply to. No reason is given for the inclusion of the flag icons. They just want them to be there. The fact is that flag icons, especially in the infobox, are visibly distracting. They do not portray any additional information than can be given with simple text. They give far too much undue weight to a single aspect of the infobox. And they have no encyclopedic value, as the reader gets the same information even when the flag icons are not present.--JOJ Hutton 18:48, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm "not saying that there are ...the odd number of articles out there that are violating the guideline": I'm saying there is probably something in the order of 100,000 of them. These are established articles: some of them have FA status or have appeared on the front page under ITN. They follow an established format and the consent of many experienced editors. Attempts to apply MOSFLAG to them clearly demonstrate that consensus is against it. If "everyone has some favorite type of articles they feel that MOS:FLAG should not apply to" then MOS:FLAG apparently has the full support of no-one. Where is it's consensus in that case? Is everyone encyclopaedically inadequate? If so, we'd better close the project down (hypebole yes, but hyperbole introduced by you). You have made no response about the fact that not every aesthetic feature needs to be justified by encyclopaedic purpose, nor to the suggestion that a policy that is neither accepted nor enforced undermines the principle of having MoS policies. Instead you have again dragged the discussion off topic by raising the issue of flags in infoboxes, which I have not proposed. I share your dislike of them, but while MOSFLAG holds such an out-of-touch line on other areas, it is virtually impossible to cite it in trying to curtail them. Are you willing to put the consensus behind MOSFLAG to the test by trying to apply it on some high profile articles? If not, why not? Kevin McE (talk) 19:48, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
The distraction and undue weight elements are so subjective, yet you claim them to be facts. Either prove here that they are facts or desist from claiming that they are. Bretonbanquet (talk) 18:57, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
Its a fact that color draws the eye to the element. Looking at the infobox with one those distracting Flag Icons gives far too much undue weight to that particular element of the infobox because it immediately draws the reader's eye directly toward it. People do that without thinking. It cannot be helped. It's far better to remove the distraction rather then leave it in, since the same encyclopedic information is projected without the icon.--JOJ Hutton 19:09, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
We're talking about infoboxes again, which I believe was not Kevin McE's intent. Nonetheless, what you're claiming as fact is subjective - I for one disagree with every word of it, in fact I know it is rubbish. If it were true, then the MOS would forbid all flag icons and everyone would agree with it - it does not, because the distraction argument is utter BS. The MOS allows flag-riddled articles like this, and no distraction argument is raised. Yet a single flag in an infobox is heresy. The argument is so risible as to be completely disregarded. Bretonbanquet (talk) 19:23, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
Yes I realized that the original intent of this thread was not about the infobox, after I made my original comment. Kevin seems to be referring to a discussion about a list of people and not about what is in the infobox. So I will narrow my judgment to just that simple problem. I would say that there is no particular guideline that prevents those flag icons in those lists. I disagree with the reasoning being used for their inclusion, but there is, nonetheless, no guideline within Wikipedia that prevents flag icons in "lists or tables". User:Drmies makes a valid argument at Talk:2012 Tour de France that since the riders do not represent their country, they shouldn't be represented with flag icons in the table or list. I agree with that wholeheartedly. I do not agree with Kevin's argument that since other articles have flag icons, this article should too. Thats a fallacy and should never be used as an argument to keep something that violates a style guideline.
I wil end my argument there and continue to respect the uneasy yet somewhat workable "Status Quo" that we have somehow achieved on this debate, but that does not necessarily mean that I do not think that many of those articles are in violation of the MOS:FLAG, it simply means that I will not rock the boat if no one else is going to. I will not, however, accept editors coming here and saying that "since those articles have flags, my article should have a flag too". It's much more complicated than that at the present.--JOJ Hutton 19:59, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
On that, we do agree. Somehow there exists a situation in which most people seem generally content. I work within it by reverting the addition of flags where they previously did not exist, and arguing against the removal of pre-existing flags where I feel they fall within reasonable use. Bretonbanquet (talk) 20:08, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
"I do not agree with Kevin's argument that since other articles have flag icons, this article should too." If you think that that is what I said, then I really have to wonder whether you have understood a word I have written. We have agreed all along that "many articles are in violation of MOSFLAG": we differ over whether that is due to unreasonable practice in articles or legislation at MOSFLAG that is unsupported by any practically functioning consensus. My proposal remains on the table. Kevin McE (talk) 20:25, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
Kevin, in my opinion it's the latter. Personally, I don't think it's unreasonable to use flags in some cases, and I fail to see how they do any harm. In any case, I don't know whether or not there was a consensus in the past to exclude flags; but even if there was, situations can evolve and consensus can change. The very fact that this discussion is taking place seems to be a pretty clear indication that we don't have consensus here. Omnedon (talk) 21:52, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
I wouldn't mind flags in sports articles where the team or player is routinely identified in reliable sources as representing a particular country. This is obvious in international competitions like the Olympics and recently completed UEFA soccer tournament. It is also done quite often in sports where the contenders do not really represent their country - e.g., there may be many competitors from the same country and/or there was no in-country competition to determine who would represent the country in competition: Formula-1 racing, golf, and marathon running all seem to fall in that category. What is the proposal for those? Carlossuarez46 (talk) 20:02, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
There have been lengthy discussions on this exact issue in the past. Check the archives. Regarding Formula-1, it was determined that the racers actually do represent their country, and all cars are required to display the flag of the country they are representing. For other sports such as golf and marathon, there is no sense in listing flags for players' nationalities and this leads to all sorts of conundrums, especially when players are not originally from that country or subsequently move to another country, and then you end up having pointless edit wars over the flags. The guidelines on this have been clear for about four years now I believe, and it doesn't look like the current discussion is likely to overturn that. Kaldari (talk) 18:20, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

Those other icons

Something which I raised before but can't remember where or when was the use of the flat icon, mountain icon etc. They are much like the use of a ball for a goal , red cross for a injury and red card icons. I simply don't see the need for them when the actual words are mere pixels away. Space isn't an issue we should just use words. Gnevin (talk) 11:13, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

Colored icons seem to find favor with many individuals for various reasons. In an encyclopedia, there is very little need to emphasize information with color. Yet sometimes editors feel that a certain aspect of the info box is so important, they want to add color so as to create the effect that that information is more important than the rest. The fact is that info boxes should only contain as much information as needed to identify the subject and every line in the info box should have equal importance and should not unduely draw a readers eye to that particular part of the info box. JOJ Hutton 00:17, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
What you both said. I suspect for a lot of icon adding editors it's more about "because I can" or "how nifty are these things" rather than "because it improves". --Merbabu (talk) 00:22, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
And that is the crux of the issue. Where is the underlying improvement in adding undue color to the infobox? I understand that some editors add them because they like them, and others add them because they just dont know any better. They are usually added without any explanation at all. The main argument for their inclusion is usually to attack this MOS on some kind of technical grounds. The most common being that "there was no consensus" or "Link the discussion" Yet no good reason is ever given for keeping colored icons in infoboxes.JOJ Hutton 00:38, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
At worst, articles end up like August 2010 in sports (note how the top of Special:LongPages is dominated by sports articles). It's just cargo-cult editing; people go through the motions with thousands of ritual edits adding little pictures, without moving a step closer to article quality or reader enlightenment. Doesn't the use of little pictures as text-substitutes pose an accessibility problem too? bobrayner (talk) 10:17, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
To be honest, my personal focus has always been on the use of flag icons in the infobox. Their use has been overly done, and have created a massive amount of drama here and elsewhere. Looking at those links, however, it occurs to me that the problem is much bigger than just infoboxes. The problem is rampant across the project. It's like the kid in kindergarten who loves to use his crayons to create colorful scribbles on a nice white sheet of paper. He thinks it looks pretty and creative, bit in reality its just colorful lines on a piece of paper.--JOJ Hutton 13:52, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
Let's try assuming good faith instead of comparing some editors to kindergarten kids. The fact is that not everyone agrees that bare text is the best way to represent information in infoboxes. Wikipedia has both text content and multimedia content. In an infobox, there's not an easy graphical method to represent things like elevation, population, GNIS feature IDs, and the like; but there is a graphical way to represent nations and states. Using both the flag and the text is hardly calling undue attention to that item. You refer to "adding color to an infobox" as a thing to be avoided, but then that would preclude the use of color photographs in infoboxes. The issue of what constitutes improvement is somewhat subjective, and clearly not everyone agrees. Omnedon (talk) 14:38, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
Yes, using color flag icons in the infobox does call undue attention to that particular part of the infobox. Its a fact that color draws the eye directly toward it. There's no reason for the flag icons at all. They serve no encyclopedic purpose. The infobox confers the exact same information without the flag icons. As to your reference to the infobox image or photograph; the image has an encyclopedic purpose because it identifies the subject of the article in a way that text could never do, and therefore is justifiable.--JOJ Hutton 17:39, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
What do you mean by "undue"? It's simply a graphic that conveys meaning. Omnedon (talk) 17:41, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
First, what meaning? What is the meaning of the graphic? Second, my use of the word "undue" means that the icon gives too much prominence to that section of the infobox by immediately directing the readers eye toward that particular part of the infobox. Each and every section of the infobox should carry equal importance and equal weight. Per MOS:INFOBOX, the purpose of the infobox is to contain key facts, and shouldn't contain any unnecessary information. The less is more approach. Flag icons have no encyclopedic reason in the infobox, so should be considered unnecessary.--JOJ Hutton 17:52, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
It is only your opinion that they have no encyclopedic reason to be in the infobox. A great many people have the opposite position. In many cases they have a very big reason to be there. Secondly while you keep claiming a flag icon gives too much prominence to a section, no one has ever backed that up with sources. It is again only your opinion that it does that, which does not make it a fact. -DJSasso (talk) 17:56, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
You should note that it is not just Jojhutton's opinion but also a pretty long-standing consensus here. The usual way we do things here is that the onus would be on you to demonstrate the encyclopedic benefit of adding symbols to the infobox. If such benefit cannot be demonstrated, the default would be to leave it out. --John (talk) 18:04, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
Actually if you go through most discussions on the archives of this talk page, you will find a great number of the discussions Jojhutton was involved in with this position actually ended with him being on the side opposite consensus and an equal number of people disagreeing that flag icons draw undue attention. A lot of people just assume what MOS:FLAG says but often don't read it and then many just go out and use fait accompli to try and change articles to match what they want MOS:FLAG to say and then come here trying to change it after they have removed all the flags which is of course against an arb-com ruling stating consensus can't be found via fait acompli. The actual long standing consensus is really just that too many look ugly, the MOS actually mostly just says that you should use them sparingly, not never like Jojhutton advocates. That is really the only consensus that has ever fully been agreed upon here. -DJSasso (talk) 18:09, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
Exactly. It is not a fact that flag icons are a distraction to the eye - people need to stop claiming that, or try to back it up with some sources. Nothing that subjective could ever be described as a fact, and it can never be proven in any sense. There is also patently no concrete consensus here on this matter, otherwise we would not have the regular stream of recent discussions about it, none of which have ever ended in any consensus. Yes, too many flags look terrible, but no, flags are not banned. People need to utilise a sense of what constitutes reasonable use, and stop attempting to lay down their own version of the law. Bretonbanquet (talk) 18:42, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The usual way we do things here is that the onus would be on you to demonstrate the encyclopedic benefit of adding symbols to the infobox. If such benefit cannot be demonstrated, the default would be to leave it out.--John (talk) 20:16, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

I'm not advocating adding any symbols to any infoboxes, or anywhere else. If you wanted to remove any, the onus would be upon you to demonstrate the encyclopedic benefit of removing them. Bretonbanquet (talk) 20:26, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
Some icons are ambiguous as well: take Lockheed Martin. All those arrows up, down, whatever. Surely, one would expect arrows to express change rather than red means "minus"; but aha, that's not how any of the icons are being used. Certainly if those icons were used on census data or tv ratings or newspaper circulation, one would expect a red arrow showing a loss in population from the prior period, why in corporate finance would the icons be used differently. A green arrow to show positive assets or revenue (turnover). Can one have negative assets? (not assets less liabilities), but have negative assets? perhaps, but not realistic. Similarly, negative revenue; perhaps if customers who bought stuff the prior period all returned the stuff, but again, that would be sufficiently anomalous to merit note more than a minor icon among many confusing ones. When numbers are negative use a minus sign, please. Carlossuarez46 (talk) 03:48, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
With regard to those particular up/down arrow icons, I too have trouble figuring out what they are intended to mean. Again, there's no issue for me with distraction or "undue weight" etc, but they are, as Carlossuarez46 says, ambiguous. Bretonbanquet (talk) 11:19, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
They are not distracting other than I am inquisitive and try to figure out their ambiguity. :-) So we're in agreement there. Carlossuarez46 (talk) 17:15, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

Since we are mostly in agreement here . Do we need to add additional guidance to the MOS or is it already covered? Gnevin (talk) 10:04, 13 July 2012 (UTC)

Flags in section heading

Is this specifically 'forbidden'? Couldn't find anything on a quick look through wp:Manual of Style/Icons. I can't remember coming across this before but have today here. I reverted mainly because it was the only flag the editor used after adding subtitles naming several nations. Comments please. Regards, 220 of Borg 08:14, 14 July 2012 (UTC)

In that specific diff I think it's ugly, unhelpful, and of course it duplicates the country name. More generally, I think that putting a little flag picture in a section heading is inappropriate; it's not great for accessibility/navigation and it puts too much emphasis on a purely decorative element. The actual name of a country would almost always be written in a section heading like that anyway, so why add a little picture which is supposed to imply the same thing but with less clarity? bobrayner (talk) 17:02, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
Concur. In general these icons seem to be over used, but it was only the tenth edit by newby editor, Baas93 (talk · contribs), and a little pov (I'm assuming they are American), so AGF not too much to worry about. (BTW, their 11th edit removed the duplicated country name.) I have welcomed them and will just wait to see if they hang around and give them guidance if needed. Thanks for your response Bobrayner. Regards, 220 of Borg 11:50, 16 July 2012 (UTC)
OK. Have fun! bobrayner (talk) 12:04, 16 July 2012 (UTC)
Completely unnecessary. Icons should only be used in lists and tables. That was their intended purpose. They should not be inserted into the body of an article, and subheadings are part of the body.--JOJ Hutton 12:07, 16 July 2012 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Icons#Do not emphasize nationality without good reason seems to be the applicable guideline. Thanks taking an interest in my query, Jojhutton. :-) 220 of Borg 12:21, 16 July 2012 (UTC)
Without flogging a dead horse, I would agree not a useful edit, would also likely foul up an jump redirects to the section but not sure on that acct.

Eyes on related discussion please

I tried to start discussion a month ago at Talk:FIFA_World_Rankings#Updates_on_nft_articles: obviously very few eyes on that page. Basically, it is about the desirability of the recent advent of turquoise bars and red and green triangles in the infobox of national team articles to indicate fluctuation in FIFA rankings. Kevin McE (talk) 20:34, 8 August 2012 (UTC)

South African flag issue

I have expanded the advice given to address the "other side of the coin". In my experience (as a member of WikiProject South Africa for several years and an active editor of several hundred relevant article) editors are far more likely to incorrectly use the current flag in situations where the old flag is in fact correct than the other way round. The problem is not overuse of the old flag - it is actually underused. A related issue is the incorrect use of current placenames and provinces when mentioning historic events (e.g. nobody older than 18 years could have been born in Gauteng). Roger (talk) 12:22, 14 August 2012 (UTC)

If you could provide some links, that would be helpful. Also, the scope of this MOS is not really to determine which flags to use on any particular basis, but to determine how to use them. This looks like a job for Superman the articles talk page.--JOJ Hutton 12:31, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
Agree with Joj above. If it's an issue over many articles I would suggest following the example of WP:IRISH FLAGS and WP:RUFLAG Gnevin (talk) 13:15, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
Well I beg to disagree. The advice as it stands now is highly POV. It almost amounts to a total ban on the use of the 1928-1994 flag by it's silence on exactly when it is in fact correct to use the "evil racist regime" flag. This impression of bias is further reinforced by a total absence of guidance about the Soviet Union flag and pre and post Soviet flag use. Roger (talk) 13:38, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
Is there an article or articles that this is a problem? Because without reference to a particular problem it's difficult to form an opinion on what you are asking.JOJ Hutton 13:50, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
(ec)My reading is the MOS advises care but doesn't say use or not to use any of the flags mentioned, certainly there is no ban . Is there a real problem with the Soviet flags?
If anything, I think that with most flags there is a tendency to use the more modern one in situations where a historic flag would be appropriate, rather than vice versa. (Trivial example: Bob Mathias seems to have three modern American flags, each of which represents events which happened before 1960). However, with the Soviet flags I've noticed the opposite happen in one specific case: On articles which list other countries' military equipment which was made in the USSR but may still be used today, it usually gets a little soviet flag in the country-of-origin column. (Personally, I'd rather we omit flags from lists like that, but lots of other editors seem keen to add them). bobrayner (talk) 14:48, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
On the reference to the weapons articles I whole heatedly agree. No need for flags in those situations. I've removed some in the past, but it's more of a chore than one person can handle. In reference to historical flags, it's my understanding that flags should be used in a historical context, and modern flags should not be used to reference past nationalities. JOJ Hutton 15:02, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
As for the South African flag: I realise it's contentious (along with many South African placenames which have also been changed), but we won't make a neutral encyclopædia by rewriting history. If we have to show little flag pictures in geographical/historical articles then they should, wherever possible, accurately reflect the flags which were flying in that place / at that time. Trying to shoehorn historical content into modern pigeonholes opens several very large cans of worms - half of WP:LAME involves bickering over whether a (say) Austrohungarian historical article should now be labelled as Austrian or Hungarian or Croatian or whatever. bobrayner (talk) 15:12, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
I still wish I had a point of reference to a particular dispute though. The original editor has yet to site or link any particular examples.--JOJ Hutton 17:47, 14 August 2012 (UTC)

I think we should be very careful about using the old flag to apply to people or things who were not associated with the pre-1994 government. Flag icons seem to be used in two main types of article. The first is military history: there the old flag is definitely appropriate to represent SA in articles about WWII, Korea, the Border War etc. Where I see a potential problem is the other main use of flags - to indicate nationality in articles about sport: I can well imagine that some sportspeople who competed as South Africans before 1994 might object to having the old flag next to their name. Obviously the current flag should not generally be used in contexts that solely deal with pre-1994 history, but I'd be interested to know where this has happened. - htonl (talk) 19:09, 14 August 2012 (UTC)

Well, if they competed on some kind of national sports team, association with that flag is pretty much unavoidable. If they were just competing as a random athlete and not actually representing South Africa then we shouldn't surround them with flagicons anyway. bobrayner (talk) 19:36, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
Can someone please provide some examples? I would love to see this in context. Also Wikipedia uses it's own policies to determine what goes in and out of articles, and does not cater to the wishes of the subjects of the articles, unless there is a clear WP:BLP violation, which of course is policy.--JOJ Hutton 20:00, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
I had a browse around looking for South African athletes with flagicons, and most of the pre-1994 ones seemed to have the correct little flag picture (if it's correct to have one at all; there are lots like this where it seems redundant & decorative). However, I did find occasional slipups like this. I don't know which flag would be best for the infobox of somebody who is currently alive but who gained their notability pre-1994 (ie. Ian Palmer) but that's a fairly minor concern. Is there a dispute somewhere? bobrayner (talk) 20:40, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
Actually no flag would be best in an infobox. It's exactly this reason why flags should be avoided in infoboxes, among others.--JOJ Hutton 23:52, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
That's your opinion, not a fact.♦ Dr. Blofeld 11:30, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
Yep, that's my opinion, but it's based on pretty darn good logic though.--JOJ Hutton 13:43, 16 August 2012 (UTC)

I suggest this new text: "Use, in relation to South Africa, of a flag inappropriate for the time period. In particular, the 1928-94 flag is associated with apartheid and its use on Wikipedia should be carefully considered, and avoided in matters not restricted to the time during which it was in official use." - htonl (talk) 11:26, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

Oppose If the reader cannot distinguish between an individual and the political regime prevalent in his/her country of origin, the reader should be nowhere near an encyclopadia, and should be directed to the most recent Tellytubbies annual asap. Kevin McE (talk) 14:21, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

Well like I said before, adding flags to infoboxes creates just this type of argument. It creates friction among participants, needlessly categorizes the subject, and in cases such as this, assigns loyalty to a government that may or may not be there.--JOJ Hutton 14:31, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
Not for the first time, you are assuming that use in infoboxes is what is under discussion. I see no reason to assume that in Htonl's proposal nor in my response to it. Kevin McE (talk) 17:49, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
What exactly do you oppose? The new text I proposed? I don't know if you realise that there's already a mention of the South African flag issue - "Use of the 1928-1994 South Africa Flag instead of the present-day one." under Overbroad use of flags with politicized connotations. My proposal is to replace it with new slightly broader text which also explains why there is an issue. - htonl (talk) 15:16, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
That particular section had passed by my attention, so the proposal makes more sense in that context. However, I would still be opposed: any flag should only be used in relation to the time at which it was in force, but should be used in relation to that time. Additional warnings about why anachronistic use should be avoided is superfluous. Kevin McE (talk) 17:49, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

Icons for sports

There are some articles on multi-sport events (think Olympics) where individual sports are represented, within the article body, with little icons like this:

For example, see 1930 British Empire Games. Is this use of {{GamesSport}} appropriate? bobrayner (talk) 20:47, 14 August 2012 (UTC)

I'm not really seeing what those achieve. Bretonbanquet (talk) 20:49, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
I don't personally have a problem with them, as long as the guideline doesn't prohibit them. Maybe the part of the guideline that says that icons shouldn't be added into the text of an article, but in that single example, it looks more like a list than normal prose.--JOJ Hutton 20:52, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
I know I sound like an old broken record at this stage but what additional information do they provide? In saying that for the Olympics at least the IOC use similar icons and they aren't controversial (unlike flags) but for the Empire games there is a possible case for Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Icons#Do_not_repurpose_icons_beyond_their_legitimate_scope ? Gnevin (talk) 11:35, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
If the consensus is to change this MOS to say that those icons should not be used at all, then there's no problem with that, but it needs to be made clear in the MOS page, because currently I'm not interpreting anything in the MOS that prohibits them.--JOJ Hutton 23:47, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
I don't feel very strongly about them, but thought it was worth raising for discussion as I think they're incompatible with a strict reading of WP:ICONDECORATION and... well... if those icons are based on real icons used by some specific sporting event (maybe an olympiad?) then using them on other sporting events falls foul of "Do not repurpose icons beyond their legitimate scope", but on the other hand if they were just drawn by an editor then they could stray into OR territory. If everybody else is happy with them, so be it!
Usually I'm more concerned about accuracy and accessibility problems, but accuracy's a non-issue here; and if if these icons have alt-text and a non-piped link to each sport in question, accessibility isn't a problem either. bobrayner (talk) 13:41, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
It's probably one of those situations where if you just remove them on that particularly linked article, you probably won't get much of an argument from anyone. Who knows however, this is Wikipedia and it may end up being one of the biggest edit wars in the history of the site. Or it could just blow over and really no one would ever care. --JOJ Hutton 13:47, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
Personally I agree with Gnevin, the icons don't add anything useful to the articles. They seem like they're just for decoration, which would not be in line with WP:ICONDECORATION. Plus, they look very much like the Olympic icons, so I'm concerned they may introduce confusion when used in non-Olympic articles. Kaldari (talk) 23:48, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
I disagree. The icons are there to help the reader who may be reading and does not understand the language. For example, last year when I was reading the Spanish articles for the 2011 Pan American Games I had to go by the icons because I did not speak a word of English. Moreover, all events on their website use icons to illustrate each event. They might be decorative, however that is not the only purpose they serve. Intoronto1125TalkContributions 01:32, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
I'm sorry but we can't cater for people who don't speak English. There are local wiki's and Google translate for that. If you can get rhythmic gymnastics from Gymnastics (rhythmic) pictogram.svg you're a better person than I Gnevin (talk) 11:24, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
Why are you being rude? I have first hand experience in how the icons work, because most of my work on wikipedia has been on multi-sporting events. I definitely can get that, because that is the only sport that uses a ribbon. Intoronto1125TalkContributions 18:14, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
I didn't intend to be rude. Sorry if it came across as such but I stand by my 2 points . EN wiki caters for English readers . And most wouldn't have a clue what that icon is Gnevin (talk) 10:35, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

A related debate is raging elsewhere

Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Football#WP:MOSFLAG in friendlies again is carrying on about this MOS. One side is focused on the phrase "where the subject actually represents that country" while the other is focused on "may be relevant when the nationality of different subjects is pertinent to the purpose of the list or table itself". Feel free to weigh-in. --Walter Görlitz (talk) 16:07, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

It appears that this didn't end well. With the two sides arguing that the two sentences in the paragraph contradict each other. I was focusing on "actually represents" and another editor, Kevin McE stating that "may be pertinent" is the key. It would be good to have this clarified. Under what circumstances may it be relevant and what circumstances is it irrelevant?
In a matter that began during the debate, we discussed which flag should be used when a team is playing a league not sanctioned by their national association. The examples of four teams located in Canadian cities, Montreal Impact, Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and Edmonton FC was raised as well as Wales and Monaco. The Canadian teams play in US leagues. They can never represent the US leagues internationally, but in the other cases they can. How should this be handled? --Walter Görlitz (talk) 23:45, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Just another example as to why all flags should be removed from all infoboxes. As soon as "exceptions" begin to be made, thats when the arguments begin.--JOJ Hutton 02:59, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
The "may be relevant" wording is problematic, because it's possible to construct arguments that virtually anything "may be relevant", particularly in sports articles. Meh; if a player or a team wasn't representing their country, why is a little flag picture appropriate? If we're listing sporting events, why is it appropriate to have a little flag picture alongside the name of each stadium? bobrayner (talk) 08:50, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
No, it isn't a reason to remove all flags from infoboxes. Arguments begin because the MOS is woolly and contradictory. For once in the history of this sorry saga, it would be nice to see simple instructions as to exactly what is permitted and what is forbidden. Yet certain people are not interested. The fact is that most people are OK with reasonable use of flags - no flagfests, no outright bans. Reasonable use. Bretonbanquet (talk) 11:42, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
We disagree on a lot of things but I think we could agree that the MOS is woolly and contradictory, and that this wiggle room enables lots of disputes. However, it would be difficult to get a consensus to nail it down with a much clearer boundary, because there is disagreement about what is a reasonable use of flags... bobrayner (talk) 12:11, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
This isn't about flag in infoboxes, although football (soccer) competitions do use them to represent the host nation, the winning nation, and the nationality of the winning teams. I would just as soon see all of those go, but that's a different discussion. This discussion is about setting bounds on the "may be relevant" phrase, or removing it completely. When is the flag relevant when isn't it relevant and just a pretty decoration? --Walter Görlitz (talk) 21:30, 28 July 2012 (UTC)
Suggest that a local consensus could be reached with respect to the relevance by making editors active on each article aware of the judgement call that MoS requires by alerting them to it. However, in the absence of any discussion specifically related to the relevant clause at MOSFLAG, it should be assumed that editors adding flags are doing so because they consider it relevant/appropriate/pertinent, not merey because they like brightly coloured squares or for nationalistic reasons. WP:AGF expects that of us. Kevin McE (talk) 16:14, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
Stating that they are aware of it and assuming good faith that they do is not the same thing. Even when editors of football articles are informed of consensus to not add live scores, they continue to do so because they have seen it happen before and they think the practice should continue. I would argue the same applies to the flags.
However, whatever the reason, the phrase should be clarified since certain editors prefer to rely on the "may be relevant" and "pertinent" phrase and impose their own interpretations on it rather than reading the guideline as a whole and ignore "actually represents that country". Clarity is better than vague and personal interpretations. That way we don't have to simply rely on the good faith of the editor and we maintain a uniform look on Wikipedia. --Walter Görlitz (talk) 23:10, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
These are two separate clauses, with no mutual dependence. Once nationality is judged "pertinent to the purpose of the list or table itself" (I said that a local consensus should discuss pertinence, not that we should simply inform people and leave them to it) then whether or not there is a situation of representation is irrelevant. Perhaps there should be a template making people aware of the two circumstances under which flags are permitted. In fact, template:Flag usage advice, there is now, although I would only be proposing it for discussion at this stage. Kevin McE (talk) 16:05, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Time to raise this again. There should be mutual dependence. Representation is a low-bar that has seen an unnecessary proliferation of the use of flags and used in a way that is opposed to accessibility standards. --Walter Görlitz (talk) 22:29, 10 September 2012 (UTC)

I don't know what else to tell you. There are always going to be those few, but loud, editors who insist on using the flags, even if used incorrectly.--JOJ Hutton 23:21, 10 September 2012 (UTC)
I think you enormously misjudge the situation. Those who are in favour of the widespread application of flags are far from few in number, and while discussion here might reflect a consensus of the tiny group of people who follow this page, any severe restriction on flag use that would be accompanied by any meaningful attempt to enforce it would meet with massive resistance, which would show where the real consensus of the project lies. To Walter's suggestion, representation is not the only situation in which nationality is of relevance: pertinence is not purely dependent on representation, and so creating a mutual dependence is an illogical goal. Kevin McE (talk) 00:22, 11 September 2012 (UTC)

Nobel icons

In some of the WIKIPEDIA languages (for example, Spanish), the biographies for all Nobel-laureates show a small icon of the Nobel medal, just after the name. I've seen this and thought that this is a nice way to show, at a quick glance, that the person has been awarded with such a tremendous honour. Therefore, I took the action (with the best of intentions) of adding the Nobel-prize medal icon in the English version of many Nobel laureates (for now, I did in all Physics laureates). However, I've seen that many of them have been removed, by justifying the action with several arguments: "not needed because it is already shown in the text"; "unhelpful decorative icon", etc. Moreover, I was sent a message suggesting to submit the issue for discussion, and so am I doing here.

Honestly, I couldn't imagine that this unimportant action could be an issue, but it seems it is. Thus, I put it under discussion.

From my point of view, this is a minor thing, of course, but I think that showing the icon is in some way useful. Although the Nobel prize is certainly mentioned in the text, the icon doesn't make any harm and allows to highlight such an extraordinary award at a first glance, emphasizing the relevance of the biography.

Anyway, sorry about any inconvenience.

José María López-Almansa. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:09, 20 August 2012 (UTC)

Icon looks like a cheap plastic replica of a medal: it does not tell the reader what it means. Not helpful (I can only assume that José is Cardinalem. Kevin McE (talk) 11:41, 20 August 2012 (UTC)
Agree. I always thought it looked silly when I saw it on other Wikipedias. Kaldari (talk) 06:43, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
There's no encyclopedic reason to draw attention to that one line of the infobox. Keep it Simple. Why add an icon when simple text completes the same job?--JOJ Hutton 18:57, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
  • Speaking as the editor who removed most of these, I believe there was a specific consensus not to use this image in this way some time ago. I can look for it if anyone is interested. Otherwise we have to fall back on common sense, this guideline, and the point that Jojhutton makes above. Finally, in future it would definitely be better to seek consensus before adding hundreds of tiny icons to articles. --John (talk) 19:48, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
  • Ok, then I apologize for having added the icons, I was not aware about the previous consensus. Sorry and thanks for your time. -José María. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:01, 9 September 2012 (UTC)

Flag icons in sister/twinned cities

There is a discussion taking place here: Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Cities#International_relations.2C_sister_cities_and_twin_towns_-_use_of_flag_icons that watchers of this page might be interested in.— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 22:57, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

Another question

Hi all,
What do you think of having emblems for organisations, inline, like this? (In this case, it's the badges of military units). The MOS doesn't really go into detail on this kind of icon usage. Do you think they're good? Bad? Or something else? bobrayner (talk) 02:19, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

They look ok as is and do tell us at a glance the insignia that goes with the rank. But some of the insignias are a little hard to make out on my screen so they really don't help me in those cases. They are a bit like flag icons though... fine if something like this list contains just those insignias, but possible overwhelming and messy if a list has not only the military insignias but other insignias as well. That's always tough to convey to editors with MOS. A little dab will do ya but too big a squeeze and it's all over your shirt and shoes. Fyunck(click) (talk) 05:36, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

RFC on WP:MMA use of Flag icons

There is a RfC at WT:MMA#RFC on WP:MMA's use of Flag Icons in relation to MOS:FLAG. Mtking (edits) 01:55, 3 November 2012 (UTC)

World record holders

I've also run into this same problem [flag icons used for geographic locations of events] within the lists of world record-holders in various sports, including swimming. In the case of the swimming world records, the article creator(s) embedded the flag icons into the coding of key templates used in the list, and the icons cannot be deleted without recoding the templates. If someone is a whiz kid with template code, I could use some help in addressing this problem with the swimming records. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 00:50, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

Other sports projects have templates which do that; it's a broader problem. {{Fs player}} does the same for about 11000 football players, although I have not yet seen one with a source for the nationality. bobrayner (talk) 02:36, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
Bob, apparently, there are still some football/soccer editors who defend the practice of using flag icons for every player on national team rosters (isn't it redundant to use the flag icon more than once when all of the players on the roster are representing the same country?) and every player on professional team rosters (is it relevant to use flag icons when the players include multiple nationalities and are not representing their country?). As for the lists of world records in swimming, no one is still defending the practice of putting a flag icon next to the city/country for the location where the record was set. While I believe that there remain appropriate uses for flag icons for international sports and athletes, I also believe that their overuse reduces their value as short-hand symbols for athletes and teams who have represented their countries in international competition. If someone has the coding skills to recode the templates, I am more than happy to do the grunt work to eliminate this particular problematic use of the icons in the swimming records articles. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 03:00, 7 January 2013 (UTC)


Recently, some concern has been raised that MOS:FLAG is either insufficiently clear or does not reflect actual community practice with respect to sportspeople. The specific event which is triggering this discussion is a concern for how flags are used in Mixed martial arts articles, but in the course of those discussions, it is clear that exactly when and where it applies in other sports is also potentially a problem. For example, on my talk page, an editor raised the question golf and bicycle racing, neither of which seem to have international competitions in which people represent a country as part of a national team, and yet whose articles do use flagicons (see, for example, Tour de France, 2012 Tour de France, List of golfers with most PGA Tour wins, 2011 U.S. Open (golf)). Furthermore, I would also like to add in the concern of sportspeople who, for the majority of the career, do not represent a country, yet who do on special circumstances (like the Olympics), and whose articles also use flagicons (examples here would include sports like boxing and tennis). Is there a difference between association football, which clearly has an extremely important, regular competition between countries, whose members also play for professional clubs, and baseball, which allegedly has an international competition (the World Baseball Classic) but most of whom don't take part in that competition and it has far more limited coverage than the professional leagues themselvs? And then with MMA, we reach a concern where there are no national teams or representatives, but whose organizing bodies will sometimes bill a fight as being between two "national" groups—here, is this a real "national competition", or is it marketing (or is there even a difference)?

Please note that all of the above are phrased as questions, because I am not proposing a specific solution to this ongoing problem. If I have to summarize them, the real questions are:

  1. Does MOS:FLAG need to change to meet actual practice, or are the examples raised above just cases where the articles should be changed to bring them in line with this guideline?
  2. Who should decide how exactly to apply MOS:FLAG to each sport/article? Should it be left up to WikiProjects, where there are one? If so, how far can those projects go in allowing flags in comparison to other, similar sports?

I am going to notify every active sports WikiProject that I can find, since this may potentially affect articles of interest to them. Qwyrxian (talk) 02:28, 24 December 2012 (UTC)

Hmm, given that there is no !vote or proposal on the table that would affect them, drumming up controversy in 100 WikiProjects when no real controversy exists right now, other than coming from you personally, that would appear to be both a case of WP:CANVASS and WP:POINT. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 09:57, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
I would like to add another question, if I may: Is it possible to establish a list of the definitive consensus reached for each individual sport, such that edits against consensus may be reverted as disruptive? Obviously, the consensus would be subject to future change (by RfC, say) and any editor would be free to advocate for a different position, but not to implement her or his view in article space until a new consensus is established. The archives of the Formula One WikiProject talk page show numerous and repetitive discussions, each concluding that including flags is in line with MOS guidelines, yet the discussions continue to recur and recent efforts were made to remove flags from the list of F1 drivers. These debates and edits are a waste of the community's time, and having a way to end them (subject to a defined path for changing consensus) would be helpful for (I suspect) many WikiProjects. EdChem (talk) 03:03, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
And see also WP:EDITWAR and WP:BATTLEGROUND. Expending energy to create lists the sole purpose of which is whacking people with the label "disruptive" would be itself disruptive editing. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 09:57, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
  • This issue has come up at the Snooker Project and the consensus there was to essentially limit the use of national representation and flags to purposes for which there is a demonstrated real world practice of within the sport. For instance, the International Billiards and Snooker Federation uses flags in draw sheets and result sheets, while the BBC uses country codes for their result sheets. There are still some outstanding issues but for anyone interested you can read WP:SNOOKER/NF. Basically, my view on this is that the identifification of national associations pretty much depend on the sport, the context of the competition and the independent coverage of the events, and there is no way to come up with a general guideline for that so I would encourage projects to develop their own guidelines based on these requirements, and to also try and make sure they are consistent with the general guidelines i.e. a common violation that I often come across is the use of flags without mentioning the country's name at some point in the article, so we now deploy a flag key on the snooker articles: Snooker season 2012/2013#Players. I generally feel like we are going in the right direction on it. Betty Logan (talk) 03:30, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
  • I've always wondered about this in regards to the sport of bowling. Bowling is a mixture of amateur and professional competition. In amateur competition, much of it are teams represented by their respective nations. So, I can see a bowler competing in individuals as representing his country, therefore I don't see a problem using the flag icons. On the other hand, professionals generally do not represent nations. In some cases, such as basketball where members of the NBA compete in the Olympic games, professionals do represent their nations. But, once they're back to competing in their professional capacities, they're not representing nations. In professional bowling, members of the American PBA Tour bowl for themselves, and not for his nation per-se. Therefore, in articles like the Round1 Japan Cup, I do not see the need to use the flag icons. I did at one time attempt to use a similar idea by using the professional organization's logo in-place of the flag icons, but I was told that was against guidelines on logo use. In short, I would go along the guideline that if the competition makes it clear that it is nation vs nation, then use the flag icons. If the competition makes it clear that it is purely professional, then I would not use the flag icons. Groink (talk) 03:50, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Don't forget to deal with the edge cases, where there is a dispute about what is a country, and which flag it uses (e.g. Palestine, Taiwan, Western Sahara, etc.). At ISO 3166-1, we eventually had to remove the flags altogether, ala Solomon (and it was a much clearer case than this) Face-sad.svg —[AlanM1(talk)]— 04:22, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Thank you for preparing this RfC. This is an issue that should be resolved in a straight-forward manner. When the current Wikipedia-wide MOS language regarding the use of flag icons was adopted by an apparent "consensus" of three editors, no notice was provided to the sports projects and other primary users of flag icons. Predictably, the editors who work on Olympics sports and biographies of other international athletes have resisted the MOS provision as written. In the past year, to my knowledge, there have been several dust-ups regarding golfer and swimmer articles, and I am sure that there have been others. Some review of the history of the current MOS provisions regarding the use of flag icons in sports articles is instructive. Here are the relevant excerpts from the MOS:ICON as it existed on May 13, 2008:
"They are useful in articles about international sporting events to show the representative nationality of players (which may differ from their legal nationalities)."
"The flag icons were created for use in lists and tables (especially of sporting and other statistics), and have subsequently found widespread usage in infoboxes."
"Flag icons are often overused. When added excessively, they clutter the page and become redundant, as in this sportsperson's infobox. Here, a single flag icon might be appropriate, e.g. next to the national team the article subject played for."
On June 4, 2008, the following new text section, entitled "Use of flags for sports people," was inserted:
"1. Flags should not be used on sports peoples individual infoboxes;
"2. Flags should never indicate the players nationality in a non sporting sense, flags should only indicate the sports person's players national squad or sporting nationality;
"3. Where flags are used the table, it should clearly indicate that the flag represents sporting nationality not nationality;
"4. Flags should illustrate the highest level the sports person is associated with. For example if a sports person has has represented their nation or has declared for a nation then the national sport governing body's flag should be used. Where a sports person has not played at international level then the international sport governing body's (such as IRB,FIFA) eligibility rules should be used, if these rules allow a player to represent two or more nations then, then the eligibility rule that is most apt should be applied. Most often place of birth."
A total of three editors commented on the insertion of the new text (please see here). As best I can tell, no attempt was made to notify any of the sports projects regarding the proposed change, nor was notice of the proposed language posted or comments solicited anywhere else. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 05:58, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
This does not mean that only three editors support this text; that's a fallacious implication. This page is watchlisted by a large number of people, and has been since the day I drafted the first version [technically, there was something already at the original page name, but it was basically nonsense, and I overwrote it with the original draft of what we have now]. This language has been stable for several years. Your insinuation that everyone who edits sports articles hates it is false; I'm principally a sports editor, and I very strongly support it. Please read WP:CONSENSUS; long-term stability is a strong argument that consensus exists. While consensus can change it does not do so on a whim. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 09:57, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
  • I support the use of flags for sportspeople in international competition articles, but not for infoboxes or roster templates (even for international competitions in this case because they are by definition National teams). The rationale is already above, I just want to ensure another voice is added to the consensus volume. Rikster2 (talk) 09:30, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
  • (edit conflict)I think that these flag icons are now being used in a decorative rather than informative way, two often in articles where national representation is not relevant. I would like to see there use limited to contexts where national representation is relevant for example articles on the Olympics or World Championships but not on articles that have nothing to do with national representation, an example of this inappropriate decorative use is 2012 Copa del Rey Final a Spanish domestic soccer match flags should not be used on this article as the context is not one of national representation it should be more like the MLS Cup 2012 or 2012 NRL Grand Final. Mtking (edits) 09:51, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
  • I think that MOSFLAG is relatively clear; perhaps there's room to tighten up the wording to remove ambiguity, but it doesn't need substantial change to the rules. That's not the problem. The problem is that a handful of projects or editors ignore MOSFLAG and build walled gardens of articles filled with little flag pictures. Usually the only problem is overemphasising nationality in places where nationality is irrelevant; but in some cases these involve making up new pigeonholes to put people in, guessing nationalities &c and we should have a very low tolerance threshold for that. bobrayner (talk) 09:54, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
  • First up, this is going to be long, and I apologize for that. Hopefully it will be organized well enough to follow easily and will present the issue in a useful manner.

Second, I would very much like to see a consistent usage of flag icons throughout Wikipedia. It would be nice if a flag means roughly the same kind of thing wherever it is used.

I think there are two issues at work here, one is flags used to indicate national representation in a sporting sense and relevance/pertinence. I will deal with them separately.

Flags used to indicate national representation

Currently in non-sports biographies, Wikipedia appears to limit the use of flag icons to people who have a very strong tie to a country like with government and/or military service. A citizen who does not fit either of those two criteria does not then usually have a flag icon attached to their name (again, ignoring sportspeople for the moment). I think creating an analogous usage for flag icons with respect to sportspeople would be useful. Further I think there are two ways to look at the issue that I will refer to as the strong and weak versions (these are not intended to be pejorative names and are without qualitative judgement. They are just shorthand ways to refer to the different positions. You can also think of them as conservative and liberal respectively.)

  • Strong use. I propose that if we go with the strong use for flag icons that three criteria have to be met.
1) The sporting event is promoted as country vs. country.
2) Participation in the event is based on the athletes' nationality with significant restrictions applied based on nationality as opposed to world ranking or other criteria (not that it has to be exclusively based on nationality but that it's significantly determined by nationality).
3) Points are awarded to countries based on the outcomes of events with one country eventually declared the champion.

I think the first two should be required for the strong case with the third one being optional (as with the Olympics).

  • Weak use.
1) The organizer or some other body officially connected to the event indicates graphically or with text where each athlete is from.
2) National anthems are played (at the start of events or for the winner).

The question I'm asking is which of these uses best reflects the non-sporting use of flags mentioned above? Which use is a closer analogy to a person being in the military or working as a government official? Personally I think the strong use is closer by analogy. The athlete's connection to a nation is made explicit and their performance representing/in service to that country is given high (or highest) priority.

One argument for the weak usage is that the strong version looks like original research in that we are defining flags differently than how these sports bodies are doing it. I do not think that is the case. On Wikipedia we often define things differently than is commonly done outside these pages. Anyone who works RCP or has "list of notable X" articles on their watchlist knows firsthand that many new editors define "notability" differently than we do on Wikipedia. We actually have a fairly precise and technical definition that is far more restrictive than what many people outside of Wikipedia use. This leads to all sorts of conflicts. Similarly we use the word "guideline" in a specific manner. It is not a mere suggestion that editors can choose to follow as they will but is a "rule" that all editors are expected to follow at all times with rare exception occurring as condoned by the community at large (individual projects within Wikipedia are not allowed to contradict guidelines). In fact editors can be blocked for continually violating guidelines regardless of how harmless the offense appears to be. Similarly we can define flag icon usage however we want. We do not have to define them according to how various sports bodies define them.

If we adopt the weak version I believe this will water down the meaning of flags. It's a very short slippery slope from the weak version to all biographical listings/tables using flag icons at which point the use restricted to military/government official becomes mostly meaningless. If the community consensus is that serving in the military/official government capacity is no more significant than being a citizen of a country then so be it. I'm totally fine with that. But if we think the distinction is useful then using the weak definition will compromise that usefulness.

For example, in the results tables for the Academy Awards we do not currently use flag icons but if the Academy were to start putting little icons next to the names of nominees when they are announced then by the weak definition we could start using flags in those tables. And then what if a company starts mentioning the nationality of its key employees in their "About" pages (with or without flag icons)? Again, using flag icons for list of employees could be justified using the weak definition. This isn't so slippery that we'd end up using flags in every instance where we list people but it would certainly expand the scope so much that we'd lose the military/government distinction.

Now let's look at how the strong and weak definitions might be applied to specific sports:

1) Tennis. Most tennis tournaments (Wimbledon, US Open, etc.) would fail the three criteria for the strong use. These tournaments are not promoted as country vs. country. Participation is not restricted by nationality but instead by world ranking (and who is willing to show up). And countries are not awarded points toward a championship at the end of the tournament.
These tournaments do pass at least one of the criteria for the weak definition. Flags are used by the names of players. I don't know about national anthems.
All that said, tennis does have two events that do pass the strong criteria. the Olympics and the Davis Cup. These are promoted as nation v. nation. Participation is determined by athletes' nationality. And at least with the Davis Cup points are awarded and a nation is crowned champion. Flag use for these events would thus be justified.
If we use the weak definition which will result in flags being used all the time then there will be no obvious distinction between when a tennis player represents their country at the Olympics or in the Davis Cup vs. when they do not or the players who never participate in those events but only plays regular professional tournaments. Is this loss significant? I think so.

2) Golf. This is similar to tennis. Participation in tournaments is determined by ranking (a qualification process) and not by a player's nationality. Tournaments are not promoted as country v. country. Points and championships are not awarded to countries but only to individual participants. The strong criteria are not met.

The weak criteria are met. Players are typically listed with their nationality. I do not believe national anthems are ever played.
Like tennis golf does have an event that fulfills the strong requirements, the Ryder Cup. It is the US vs. Europe (not strictly country vs. country but I think most would agree that it qualifies in spirit). Participation is restricted by the nationalities of the players. The championship is awarded to the winning country/group of countries.
And just like with tennis if we adopt the weak meaning then participation in the Ryder Cup will not be as clearly distinct as participating in regular tournaments.

3) Formula 1 racing. The three criteria for the strong usage are not met. F1 events are not promoted as country vs. country. Driver participation is not determined by nationality. Teams are allowed to hire whomever they want from any nation they want. Individual nations license drivers for these events but that's different than the drivers being chosen because of their nationality. Theoretically one season could have all drivers from England and then the next season all the drivers could come from Brazil and Canada. Finally, points are not awarded to individual countries and no country is crowned the champion at the end of the season. In F1 the drivers compete in each race and a champion is determined at the end of the season. Additionally, the constructors (teams based on what company built the cars) are also award points toward an end-of-the-season championship.

More so than the other sports listed so far, F1 passes the weak test. Flags are associated with drivers and national anthems are played (for the winner of each event).
Unlike tennis and golf there is no event in F1 that passes the strong set of criteria. This means that under the strong definition flag icons would never be used within the F1 project. There is nothing inherently bad about this as the whole point of the strong position is to limit the use flags to a pretty specific definition.

4) I was going to discuss MMA (since it's the one that started all this) but it's basically the same as golf and tennis. There has been one UFC event that was promoted as Canada v. US in which the use of flag icons can be justified in the results table but otherwise events are fighter v. fighter failing the strong criteria but passing the weak ones.

Relevance of flags in tables

This was an issue that came up during the MMA RFC. When in a table comprising the results of fights is a flag indicating the nationality of the fighters relevant? I argued then that the answer is no. Strictly speaking what is relevant is the name of the fighters (or the opponent in articles for specific fighters) and the outcome. We also add where and when the fight happened (if needed), how long it lasted, how it ended (KO, TKO, etc.), the record of the fighter (articles for specific fighters), and notes (championship fight, tested positive for drugs, etc.). These all have a pretty clear relevance to the outcome of these fights. Where a fighter is born does not. Do some people like to see that information? Sure. But I bet people would also like to see things like the weight of the fighters, righties or southpaws, reach, and fighting style. In fact I would say that those are even more relevant than where the fighter happened to be born or where they currently claim to be a citizen of. Nationality is just not relevant in a table containing the results of a fight. Nor is it relevant in a listing of the fights for an event (for the same reason).

I believe the results tables for the other sports listed here fall under this same analysis.

Football (soccer) has its own issues. Currently the articles for clubs list the players on the team along with a flag icon. Interestingly the flag is determined by FIFA eligibility (not where the player was born but for which national team the athlete may play for or does play for). Unfortunately the flag is used even if the player has never played for that nation (another way that weakens the use of flags). But the question is, is indicating FIFA eligibility actually relevant in these lists? I don't see how it is. The name of the player and the position they play is relevant, national representation is not. Again, information like goals scored, number of games played, footedness are also interesting bits of information that are more relevant than FIFA nationality but still do not belong. These tables are a list of the players not biographical lists of players (you can click on their names to find out whom they are married to, their weight, where they were born, what country they play for (if they do), other clubs they've played for, and so on). With some football teams/leagues there are restrictions on how many foreign nationals can play on a club. I believe this information could be added to these tables but instead of having a flag icon an asterisk would suffice with a note indicating something like "1 of 3 foreign nationals allowed by league rules to play with this club".

And then there are the tables for the managers. These also list the names with flag icons. In this case there are no FIFA eligibility rules for managers. Instead these flags indicate only where the manager was born (or maybe where they are a citizen). FIFA does not have any say about where a manager can work, i.e., they can be born anywhere and manage anywhere. Flag icons have a use in the football project when dealing with national squads but even then managers do not have to be from the countries they are managing. Flag icons used with managers is strictly non-sports related biographical information that fails all the criteria listed here.

In the end I believe the strong definition provides an interesting and useful distinction and be logically applied across all sports in a fairly obvious and easy to understand manner. The weak version is fine, if that's what the community wants to go with, but then the meaning of flag icons becomes a little more vague and less useful.

I did not address aesthetic issues (like flags all over an article are ugly and look like Christmas trees -- just imagine if they blinked to indicate dual-nationality!). Nor did I address issues concerning situations where with the weak definition there is the potential for conflict regarding where an athlete is really from and what nation they represent (we all know that with the rampant nationalism that plagues Wikipedia this problem can lead to years of nasty arguments, blocks, and even bans). Nor did I deal with bandwidth issues (less of a problem from most Western nations but potentially an issue in various places all over the world).

Personally I support the strong definition and that's my !vote. If the community goes with the weak definition then I'd support it and would be very happy and relieved that we would have a consistent definition that can be applied throughout Wikipedia. SQGibbon (talk) 09:59, 24 December 2012 (UTC)

You have been mislead by the inaccurate header on football squad lists. The flag chosen for each player is chosen on the following criteria: first, the national team that he has informed FIFA he wishes to transfer allegiance to having previously represented another (very rare); secondly, the most recently represented national team (although in some cases this refers back to U16 appearances, and has no bearing on eligibility as an adult); thirdly assumed nationality where birthplace was a short term relocation for parents; and finally place of birth. Only the first of these is considered definitive by FIFA: for players who have not been called up to a national team FIFA has no preference between the possible nationalities that a player could claim, or even any official awareness of the existence of the individual. The header on squad lists is wrong, and AFAIR has never been substantially defended in discussion, but discussion has always petered out before an alternative has been agreed upon. Kevin McE (talk) 11:19, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
Wow. If I'm reading you correctly then the situation is even "worse" than I portrayed. Thanks for the clarification. SQGibbon (talk) 11:53, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
  • The current text of MOS:FLAG has two main permissive clauses that are relevant: A) where the subject actually represents that country, government, or nationality – such as ... national sports teams and B) In lists or tables, flag icons may be relevant when the nationality of different subjects is pertinent to the purpose of the list or table itself. These approximately equate to SQGibbon's strong/weak crieria above, but I would argue that they are of equal validity and importance. Most use in sports articles can be read as justified under clause B: the purpose of such tables is to give information about participants/historic winners, and the pertinence of nationality can be judged by the near-ubiquitous inclusion of nationality in official results sheets and mainstream sports reporting. Any attempt to interpret MOS:FLAG as not permitting this would lead to a case of "a custom more honour'd in the breach than the observance" and would be a massive breach of the principle of consensus: the true state of consensus is amply illustrated in countless articles around the encyclopaedia, and a tiny clique at WP:MoS should not try to act contrary to it.
  • That being said, there is one area within sports articles where flag use could and should be radically reduced. In team sports, the nationality of individuals is largely irrelevant, and for the vast majority of players who have never got anywhere near selection for a national team, is largely a matter of assumption or extrapolation from birthplace. It is neither relevant to match reportage, nor a matter of national pride, nor a matter fixed in law, whether Hereford United's second choice left back is English or Welsh, and in many cases, it gives rise to a simplification of the reality of a player's identity that has neither his approval nor evidence. Nationality, at least for those who have not been part of a national team, should not be included in squad lists for club teams. Kevin McE (talk) 10:05, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
  • A couple of things I noticed as a long-time tennis project editor. We use country icons to represent international event nationalities...never birthplaces, current residence or citizenship. We use these icons in both tables and the infobox. Above I saw the Wimbledon, US Open, etc, fail certain standards but while the events are open events, each player must be represented by a country. Any Murray cannot claim he represents Scotland...he must represent Great Britain. I believe that if a player wanted no representation then they could not play. This was especially true from the 1870s to the 1970s. There are also more than two major international events country vs country events. In addition to the Olympics and Davis Cup we also have Federation Cup and the Hopman Cup. We have also had 66 years of the Wightman Cup, plus the Bonnardel Cup and Kramer Cups. I don't know about all sports but magazines, tv and newspapers write very often about how many times a US player has won a Major, or how long it's been since Great Britain has won a Major. Remember, most important tennis tournaments are international events open to all nationalities and their write ups almost always include the player and their nationality hand-in-hand. I would bet it's rarer to find a name in print without the nationality tagged on. Readers identify with that right away so as to make the icons important. I wasn't in on the original tennis icon or no icon debates but consensus is to keep them as is. Our project guidelines show how the icons are to be used and not to use them for cities and towns in tables, but only for the players or teams. Fyunck(click) (talk) 10:54, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Hello everyone. I came here after the notice was put up at WP:TENNIS. I like to correct what has been said in the intro and in the proposition of SQGibbon and express my view on flags only in cases of tennis since that is what I have quite a profound knowledge of. Note that while I typed this Fyunck(click) made his comment thus there will be some similarities between the two.
About national anthems
I wouldn't support anthems to be included as a criterion as e.g in MMA, which isn't like tennis - I will explain it later - they randomly play anthems depending on the organization / promotion that endorse the event. Dave Batista fought Vince Lucero at CES MMA: Bautista vs. Lucero on October 6, 2012. They played the United States national anthem before the bout, both fighters are Americans but I don't think we should change the event to CES MMA: United States Bautista vs. United States Lucero. Also the announcers usually tell the crowd where a fighter is billed from and flag graphics are also often shown on the screen. Also UFC likes to promote it's events when they are held outside the US (In Japan, Sweden, Brazil just to name a few) in a way that every local fighter have an opponent of other nationality in most of the times (see the links). So the crowd has someone to cheer for and it makes it somewhat a country vs. country. That being said I'd go with the use of flags within the fight card brackets only at these special UFC shows (but not at e.g. UFC 147).
About Grand Slam tennis tournament and the strong use
It isn't true that these tournaments have been always held based on the world rankings but records show that in the pre-open era where rankings didn't even exist local/national governing bodies sent their best players of their country to these events and the organizing body accepted these entries based on their past results (even trials/tryouts were held to determine who are worthy to represent a country). They also invited players of other nationality than where the tournament was held to mix up things and to make it multicultural. For "closed competitions" national tennis championships were held where only players of a certain nationality could participate. These were different things. Also there were a couple of years also in the early tennis era when the French Open was considered the World championships.
About tennis in general 
Tennis players actually represent their country throughout the season unlike boxers/MMA fighters and golfers (and isn't restricted only to the Olympics). These team events are called the Davis Cup and Fed Cup, their finals are the last official events of each season. Although some remarks should be made. First representing a country in tennis doesn't require a player to have the nationality adopted all they need is to have at least one grandparent of the said country (Novak Djokovic was offered British player license once, Dustin Brown changed his "affiliation" from Jamaican to German in his mid-career). But examining Brown's case a bit more it shows that also he hasn't played any Davis Cup matches as German (just for Jamaica) but his Davis Cup profile has him as German (with flag) and draw sheets of any individual tournament has the (GER) indication next to his name so it somewhat matters. Second only a maximum of four players can represent a nation in a Davis Cup tie (same true for the Olympics draw). Although they could be replaced for the next match it hardly happen so e.g. many Spanish players won't get a chance to ever represent their country (compared to the high number of Spanish players within the top 100, currently of 13 players 5 of them competed in the 2012 Davis Cup World Group and Rafael Nadal isn't even on the list). So these two facts in my opinion excludes the use of flag within the infoboxes of player biographies BUT allow them to be used everywhere else from Davis Cup related pages to Wimbledon and other tournament pages. Lajbi Holla @ me CP 11:18, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
Oh and before I forget the story of Ignacy Tłoczyński shows the importance of using flags (and the matter who can wear his nation's flag) within the tennis tournaments. The Polish flag next to his name was officially removed from the draw of the 1946 Wimbledon Championships after the government of Poland protested against it and requested that causing international controversy. Lajbi Holla @ me CP 11:28, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
      • (edit conflict) Re: tennis. I'm going to deal with the several tennis posts here at one time. I am not the biggest tennis fan, obviously, so I apologize for not being aware of the other obvious international events (Fed Cup, etc.), but by the criteria I used for the Davis Cup and the Olympics I assume they would qualify for flag use under the strong criteria I listed. Now for the other points. I understand that sporting magazines, newspapers, and broadcasters in all sports (not just tennis) routinely add nationality information to results. One point I made above is that we do not have to follow what they do. We already define many terms differently than is common because it is useful for us to do so. This means we are also free to define flag icons in a way that makes the most sense for Wikipedia. We are not beholden to these outside organizations. (Not saying that can't follow their lead, only that we don't have to.) That players must have some kind of national affiliation definitely adds a wrinkle to this but unless tournaments (like the French Open) promote the event as country vs country then I do not think that observation should qualify under the strong terms. Also, I do not know the answer to this, but I suspect that participation in these events while requiring national affiliation are not set up to require a certain number of participants from each country nor do they limit how many people from a country can participate (i.e., theoretically the French Open could have all Mexican tennis players one year and none the next). And then also while the nationality of the players is reported championships and/or trophies are not awarded to countries but only to the players. (Another point, specific matches are not set up according to nationalistic criteria but according to seedings as determined by rankings). So still, these tournaments would fail the strong criteria (but still pass the weak ones). As for historical events, I concede that it might be the case that some of these tournaments might pass the criteria I set forth. But I wonder, was it ever reported that, say, Mexico defeated France at the Australian Open (from 1912 or whatever) and then mentioned the names of the players? While participation might have been limited by nationalistic concerns this does not mean that the events were promoted as events pitting nation against nation. I do not know enough about those older events to answer these questions myself but like I said it is possible that they do pass the strong criteria while modern tournaments do not. It's also important to add that the strong criteria I proposed was intended to limit the use of flags except in cases where it's completely unambiguous. This might not be what the community wants but I think it has its merits. I've been typing a lot tonight so if there's something I've missed I apologize and if you let me know I'll address it. SQGibbon (talk) 11:50, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
        • I see your point and it's not that I necessarily don't agree I just wanted to make things clear. You are right about an all-Mexican line-up case scenario, it could happen anytime according to current rules I can't see why not. And I can't recall any instances I read news about "Mexico defeated France at the AO". So if we go by the strong use flags would fit only for team events (in tennis) and the Olympic competition (also a team event of some sort). I tend to accept that as it make sense. Lajbi Holla @ me CP 11:27, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
  • I just want to add some information about the use of nationality within cycle racing which has been misrepresented above. There are many competitions based upon national lines at the elite level: world championships in all disciplines except one sub-discipline, all continental championships and many world cup-level races. In addition, it is the points earned by riders in the rest of the season go to a ranking and they also determine how many riders a nation will be able to take to a championships event. So, the points earned by a particular rider in the Tour de France (for example) do contribute to a country ranking, even though they are not explicitly representing their country at the time. Severo (talk) 03:25, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
  • WP:TLDR! Please summarize this mess in a new section so people aren't scared off from the discussion by the sudden onset of horrible headaches. If you need to do a proposal or poll or whatever, then do it, please. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 09:57, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
  • A great example of why the use of flags needs to be clarified is the pile of bollocks that is our automobile and motorcycle racing articles, e.g. 2012 Formula One season. While I am mildly against the use of flags on individuals for all the reasons against that have already been discussed in this section, I am totally opposed to the use of flags for teams. In F1 for example there is a difference between where a team's licence is issued and where it is based. Red Bull Racing, for example, has an Austrian licence, yet the team's activities including manufacture & testing of the cars are 100% UK-based. Another example is last year's BMW Motorrad's World Superbike factory team, who were based in Italy - although the bikes were originally manufactured in Germany, all the tweaking and testing took place in Italy. Even if the consensus is reached that flags are retained for people, I hope you will all agree that flags for motor racing teams makes no sense. --Biker Biker (talk) 12:17, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
In the spirit of Christmas, I shall refrain from calling that a "pile of bollocks"... I don't see a qualitative difference. Red Bull compete as Austrian, the Austrian anthem is played on the podium after a Red Bull victory. Nationality of the entrant has always been the motor racing tradition. I think the existence of a real world tradition should have more bearing than internal Wikipedia rules. Ian Dalziel (talk) 12:59, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
      • I must agree with Ian Dalziel. SQGibbon's weak use option (read above) easily resolves this in F1 as the national anthem of the officially chosen "affiliation" of the constructor team is played after the driver's anthem whenever they win a race. The anthem alone is not suitable to decide nationality in all sports but in F1 it works fine. Lajbi Holla @ me CP 13:01, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
As a significant number of Olympic athletes of a huge variety of nations base themselves in the US to take advantage of the impressive facilities and coaching staff available and competition (particularly at college level) I respectfully suggest that Red Bull Racing basing themselves in the UK is not in any way a valid reason for removal of national identifying icons. And as athletes base themselves in a huge variety of locations across a wide variety of sports (for example Winter Olympic athletes from tropical nations) for eminently practical reasons I suggest this demonstrates a lack of knowledge on the subject under discussion, particularly as User:Biker Biker you use such a dismissive term as "pile of bollocks". --Falcadore (talk) 03:09, 26 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Sorry I don't have time to read all of this. I just want to say I oppose the use of flags for any sports where the competitor is not actually representing their country, in spite of the support for it at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Motorcycle racing. In Grand Prix motorcycle racing, riders are free agents. Flags are used capriciously for marketing purposes. For example, Colin Edwards usually has a Texas state flag next to his name in MotoGP marketing materials, while Valentino Rossi is an Italian national hero, so you always see the Italian flag around his name. But he's not the only Italian rider, and there is no Italian MotoGP team. Riders from the same country typically compete against each other, and are teammates with riders from any arbitrary country. MOS:FLAG says this clearly: flags are for when the country is "officially represented", not whatever country an employee of a team happens to come from. The language of the MOS is fine the way it is. We just need to stop ignoring it because we think flags are pretty. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 16:54, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
That is a reprehensible case of selective quotation. MOS:FLAG does not require that it be representative, it also states, "In lists or tables, flag icons may be relevant when the nationality of different subjects is pertinent to the purpose of the list or table itself." The purpose is to give info about the rider, pertinence can be judged from inclusion in Reliable Sources. Kevin McE (talk) 21:42, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
I rather think that reading the opposing arguments is a sine qua non of discussion... Might I suggest that you make time before pronouncing? Ian Dalziel (talk) 21:50, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
No. Trying to limit discussion to those who can spend hours poring over poorly edited arguments is not an acceptable way to win consensus. If you aren't willing to edit your point and make it concise, you should expect your proposals to be rejected without consideration.

You can inform the reader which country the rider is from without a flag. The purpose of the flag icon is to make a strong visual impression. It's the power of the flag symbolism that makes it so hard to convince Wikipedia editors to delete them. The mere name of the country just doesn't pack the same wallop. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 21:56, 25 December 2012 (UTC)

I would concede the the Grand Prix motorcyle racing articles do use a wide selection of sub-national Spanish, Italian and American flags on a basis rarely supported elsewhere. --Falcadore (talk) 03:16, 26 December 2012 (UTC)
  • The example of appropriate use in Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Icons is List of WPA World Nine-ball champions sanctioned by the World Pool-Billiard Association. When we say that Francisco Bustamante "represented" The Philippines, or Darren Appleton "represented" The United Kingdom, it needs to be understood that that word is used rather loosely. It's the nomenclature used by the WPA when announcing their events. The function of the WPA is identical to that of the UFC, to bring the best people in their sport from around the world to compete to see who's the best. Both the UFC and WPA are listed on the List of professional sports leagues (It's interesting to not that on the list there are 25 sports, with a grand total of 2 references and 1 external link. Only Association Football and Mixed martial arts are flagged for not having references or sources, and the MMA section is also flagged as disputed). An argument is often made that flags in MMA articles only show where the fighter is from not what country they represent, of the 34 people on the List of WPA World Nine-ball champions with wikipedia articles, all 34 of them are from the country they represent. It needs to be understood that this debate is about the language used when announcing events, and how that language fits with the language used in MOS:FLAG, it has nothing to do with either sports organization being more or less official. The WPA calling itself a governing body instead of a business, and announcing that The United Kingdom is playing The Philippines is simply the language the WPA uses, also note there are 4 governing bodies for pool/billiards. If another MMA organization calls itself the "MMA governing body" but were functionally identical to the UFC and the announcers said the words, "boy, Brazil sure is punching Canada hard today", they would be able to use flags... that's just silly in my eyes. Kevlar (talk) 18:06, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
Except that MOS:FLAG doesn't require us to view them as representing their country, only of their country being pertinent to the purpose of the lists. Kevin McE (talk) 19:45, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
But how is their country pertinent to the purpose of the lists if they do not represent their country? --John (talk) 19:52, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
As already stated above, the purpose of the list is to give information about the individuals involved, and pertinence can be judged from the near ubiquitous inclusion of nationality in reliable sources covering the events. Kevin McE (talk) 20:20, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
I would judge that degree of pertinence worthy of mentioning, yes, but unless the person in some way represents their country I would not judge the country worthy of emphasising with a flag. There are just too many problems associated with this, and there's little added value in the flag over just stating the person's national origin in text. Our readers know how to read. --John (talk) 20:28, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
Of course our readers can read, and agree that there can be recognition issues with flags. However, in making tables, there are also issues arising from the great variability of country name length. Obviously sportsmen's names vary in length, but not as much as the difference between Italy and Democratic Republic of Congo. I suspect that a column that has as much empty space as country names would often have would end up screaming for attention more than would a column of flags, although perception psychologists would be best qualified to comment on that. Flags are, usually, far more economic for space than country names. I suspect that these are the reasons why the response suggested in MoS to a situation when the nationality of different subjects is pertinent to the purpose of the list or table is that flag icons may be relevant. Kevin McE (talk) 21:08, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
One thing about that nine-ball chart that would be different at Tennis Project - While we use the flags for our international competitors to show the nation they represent, we "Do Not" use the flags to represent location. Examples are List of US Open men's singles champions and Rod Laver career statistics. It is also a guideline to use the "flag" term instead of "flagicon" on first usage in an article. Fyunck(click) (talk) 20:33, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
I agree with you John that the use of a flag icon is not needed to convey the information in the context of the sporting event, but that should call into question the use of flags in any sporting event table. Right now we are saying that "sports A through R" are international competitions composed of only top athletes, where the commentators refer to they by country and the organizations putting on the events are called governing bodies. "sports S through Z" are international competitions composed of only top athletes, where the commentators refer to them by their names, and the organizations putting on the events are called promotions. "sports A through R" can use flags, "sports S through Z" can't. To me it would be more important that Wikipedia remain consistent, the flags (or use of country names) add context to the article showing the scope of the athletes career or the participants of the event. Kevlar (talk) 21:03, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
  • SILLY COMMENT - I'm far too sick of this subject and have too much to deal with in real life to put in a million citations or make the sort of elegant argument I'd like to, on top of having been up for 22 hours now, but I'd like to say this much: the overriding purpose of the Manual of Style, as stated clearly in its second paragraph, is to "[present] Wikipedia's house style, to help editors produce articles with consistent, clear, and precise language, layout, and formatting." You know what? I think meeting all of those criteria within the major sets of articles in sports was being accomplished just fine until recent edit wars, at least as far as flags were concerned. If macro-group of articles have been formatted in a certain way for years by tens of thousands of editors, and an MOS:ICON decision was reached on the discussion of a couple dozen or less, and no subsequent action was taken, I think precedent almost certainly has to go with what was "consistently" done both before and for quite some time after. As it stands, thousands of articles across a huge number of sports are in violation of MOS:ICON#Use of flags for sportspersons. I do not think the onus of proving a net positive should be placed on the tens of thousands of editors who went to the trouble of creating and polishing thousands of articles. If there is a meaningful outcome to this RfC I would sincerely hope it be that MOS:ICON#Use of flags for sportspersons is amended to simply reflect the current reality of widely practiced formatting in sporting articles before this issue creates another draconian headache. For everything cited that Wikipedia is not in WP:NOT, it's funny how everyone seems to ignore the sections that state Wikipedia Is Not A Bureaucracy and Wikipedia Is Not A Battleground, yet all the evidence I've seen over the last 18 months points to a red tape battleground that would make a litigator in the real world blush. What's more, repeated requests for a non-policy-based motivation have been met with deafening silence. As it is, there are already MOS guidelines referring to ending edit wars by deferring to the first major contributor when all other things are equal, so I don't see such an amendment as being a gateway to people flooding articles with flags where no one is currently using them, or using the icons in new ways. Forgive my lack of elegance here, but amending the section in question would merely be adjusting to the way Wikipedia has evolved as an encyclopedia. As I am arguing for an policy change to reflect current practices, I believe arguments of moral and encyclopedic weight as to why it shouldn't be changed would be far more helpful to discourse than arguments linking back to official policy unless it is of a governing nature above WP:MOS, as otherwise that would seem to me to be tantamount to circular logic. Beansy (talk) 07:48, 28 December 2012 (UTC)
Nothing silly about that comment – makes a lot of sense to me. Bretonbanquet (talk) 16:40, 28 December 2012 (UTC)
Seconded. Far more cogent than many contributors above. Pyrope 17:20, 28 December 2012 (UTC)
  • I don't see that flags offer any value except in articles about flags. Any other use simply interferes with the usability of the encyclopedia for people that rely on screen-readers or similar assistive devices. Since they interfere with usability and provide no benefit, the use of flag icons should be deprecated throughout Wikipedia.—Kww(talk) 18:37, 28 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Just because you don't see value in them doesn't mean they don't offer value to others as a visual cue laid out uniformly in a data table (as opposed to embedded directly into prose, where I believe the consensus is that it's distracting and awkward). I don't see the value in a lot of practices in Wikipedia's indigenous formatting style, but if others find them useful then I'm not about to make a mountain out of a molehill. Pertinence of a formatting nature usually is –and realistically should be– defined by the users and creators of a subset of articles, not an outside group. No one is trying to liken sporting tables to taxonomy tables, and within sports, certain sports tend to be far more international in makeup than others. As such, even if a sport or league or promotion or tour or organization is not a multinational competition, if said entity tends to wear its multinationalism on its sleeve, then usage of flags should not be unreasonable and I would defer to any given consensus within that community. Beansy (talk) 22:08, 28 December 2012 (UTC)
  • If it interferes with making the encyclopedia usable by the visually impaired, it needs a fairly strong justification, not the preferences of individual Wikiprojects.—Kww(talk) 01:08, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
  • That's a fair idea, but you're going to really have to back up how flag icons in their current use make WP less usable for the visually impaired. Again, no one is suggesting embedding them into prose sections. How do flag icons embedded in tables make WP less usable for the visually impaired? Maybe, just maybe, you could make a case that it would have a very slight effect if it were flag icons versus a printed country name, but that's not what's being suggested. Beansy (talk) 13:56, 30 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Horse racing here. I'm sorry but the comments above are TLDR so I'll just chip in with my 50p each-way. Flag icons nearly always cause more bother than they are worth. We have more or less eradicated them from horse racing articles, and are none the worse for doing so. As an Anglo-Irish/British/English/United Kinglish editor I've seen endless pointless arguments on other sports articles about "nationality" and sticking a flag in the infobox is a sure-fire way to escalate the issue.  Tigerboy1966  19:18, 28 December 2012 (UTC)
It is unusual, although not unknown, for nationality to feature large in horse racing reports and results. Pertinence is much lower than in many other sports, so it was probably quite in keeping with MOS:FLAG for that sport to decide to do without. Another success for sensible application of the second clause of the policy, that does not change its application in other sports where nationality is reported as a matter of course. Kevin McE (talk) 19:38, 28 December 2012 (UTC)
And from WikiProject Equine, I read some of the TLDR above, but for horse land generally, I might add that flags make sense for Olympic competition and other events such as the WEG where people (and their horses) compete both individually and for their nation as a national team. Otherwise, it's minefield; I can only say one thing: Phar Lap. Australia or New Zealand? Earth-shattering implications! I do have one other thing to add: National anthems would not be a good criteria, lest we have to flag every high school football game in America! =:-O Montanabw(talk) 21:12, 28 December 2012 (UTC)
I'm going to have to challenge the assertion that an amendment to make flag use more optional would create a minefield. I would have to reason that it could only potentially be so for articles relating to a completely new sport, or for one that currently has no articles for it. There are already guidelines in the Manual of Style on ending editing wars when things are of an optional nature that specify deferring to the first major contributor to a set of articles. As such there would still be de facto guidelines already in place for virtually every applicable article set in place, and ones that are much more reflective of the reality of how Wikipedia has evolved as an encyclopedia. Beansy (talk) 22:17, 28 December 2012 (UTC)
    • For me, KWW and Tigerboy are making more sense here than Beansy. --John (talk) 19:23, 28 December 2012 (UTC)
I disagree – the idea of attempting to deprecate (ban) the use of something entirely throughout the project is risible. It reminds me of some people elsewhere proposing a ban on a punctuation mark because there were long arguments about its use. I agree with Beansy that a change to the MOS making flag use more optional is unlikely to cause more problems (how could it?). In terms of the F1 Wikiproject, the only users who advocate removal of flags are users who never or rarely edit articles within the sphere of motorsport, those who try to rigidly enforce the MOS wherever they can, or those who bear grudges against regular F1 editors (usually after blocks). I do not recall anyone who regularly uses those articles having a problem with the flags, probably because they are commonly used throughout F1 media. Personally, I advocate the reasonable use of flags, and we have worked on reducing flags throughout the project where we deem them by consensus to be overkill. Bretonbanquet (talk) 00:43, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
Not surprisingly, that's the same situation in the MMA project. Those who regularly edit articles want to use flags - they are widely used by the MMA organizations and the media - while people who want to enforce the MOS and don't care about the sport want to remove them. Evenfiel (talk) 16:15, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
and who decides what's reasonable? Cue endless, unproductive, time-wasting arguments and edit-wars.  Tigerboy1966  01:09, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
A consensus among interested parties. Within the F1 wikiproject, that's how we decide on what's reasonable and what isn't. A MOS should only ensure against widespread overuse, not try to enforce a guideline locally against the wishes of everyone who uses any given set of articles. Sure, we have time-wasting arguments, but they are usually productive. Trying to formulate a single, tightly regulated guideline that suits everyone that uses flags is, I think, unrealistic. Bretonbanquet (talk) 01:20, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
Which is why the simplest policy is simply not to use them. They interfere with accessibility, provide no non-decorative value, and interfere with comprehension. How many of of our users do you think can recognize over a couple dozen flags without looking them up anyway? You think that it's easier to tell the difference between Chad and Romania than it is between the words "Chad" and "Romania"? There's no significant advantage to flag pictures, and a lot of disadvantages.—Kww(talk) 01:36, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
I (and many others) don't agree that they have no non-decorative value or that they interfere with comprehension. Many readers say that they aid comprehension, as I find. I can't speak for other projects, but the F1 articles don't use more than 2 or 3 dozen of the most common flags anyway, and neither of the two you mention. I'd warrant that the word "Chad" means nothing to many users either, so what do we do, ban the mention of it? User recognition is not a valid argument – if we were to remove all content that users don't generally understand, it wouldn't be much of an encyclopedia, would it? Bretonbanquet (talk) 01:42, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
You've rendered me speechless. It's nearly impossible to respond to an argument that so completely misses the point of what writing an article is intended to accomplish.—Kww(talk) 02:07, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
I don't think I've ever seen a reply to one of my comments that constituted a greater non sequitur than this. Bretonbanquet (talk) 12:07, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
OK: "User recognition is not a valid argument" is beyond the pale. You would us write articles that are virtually illegible to colour-blind readers, confusing to those that use screen-readers, and require others to become experts in the flags of foreign nations because "user recognition is not a valid argument"? I'm sorry that you think encyclopedias aren't supposed to convey information in a form that users recognize. That's an argument that is so painfully and utterly wrong that it would have been better if you had removed it out of shame.—Kww(talk) 14:46, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
Actually, it would just have been better had you understood what I said. When I talked about "user recognition", I was not in the least bit referring to people using screen readers or being colour blind. As I understand it, people using screen readers have trouble seeing all kinds of things that we use, and colour blind readers cannot see colour in graphs, diagrams etc either, and I don't see you advocating removal of all coloured diagrams, charts and tables. A simple click on a flag leads the reader to the relevant country, the same as the country name does. But you think country names are OK – so you advocate requiring others to become experts in the names of all the countries of the world. Anyone who doesn't know what "Chad" is can click on the link, the same as he can click on Chad. Same result. If you have an argument against flag icons, you must be prepared to have that argument applied to other things and watch it fall down. If you just don't like flags, say so. Bretonbanquet (talk) 15:23, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
Ahh, but I do advocate not having any piece of information conveyed solely by color. It just doesn't come up much, because Wikipedia:ACCESS#Color already forbids it. Patterns of three-coloured bars don't suddenly pass Wikipedia:ACCESS#Color just because they are flags. Making the experience worse for the visually impaired and requiring them to do extra clicks to extract the basic information the table was supposed to convey in the first place requires pretty strong justification, and there really hasn't been one offered beyond "flags are pretty." I assume you realize that comparing English literacy to memorizing flags isn't legitimate and are doing so simply to score debating points. Please stick to defensible lines of reasoning: to do otherwise simply muddies what could be a logical and polite discussion.—Kww(talk) 16:04, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
I'm not keen on having information solely conveyed by colour either. I once suggested a key to explain flags on F1 race / season articles but nobody went for it. I'd be happy to have that. However, having the entire name of the country in race article tables, for example, is unworkable, and no complaints about flags in tables have ever been made to my knowledge. Many readers find them a quick and easy means of identifying nationality where full country names are too long, especially when repeated ad infinitum. I made no reference to English literacy let alone a comparison to memorising flags, unless you think that not knowing what Chad or Equatorial Guinea are renders someone functionally illiterate. Not all country names are common knowledge by any means, and it is naive to believe that they are – I find that perfectly defensible. Bretonbanquet (talk) 16:17, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
Regular sizing is what the ISO country codes are for. As for flag recognition vs. name recognition, name recognition is clearly the lower bar. You can know the name of a country without knowing its flag, but it would be very difficult to associate the flag with the country without knowing its name.—Kww(talk) 16:25, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
I don't believe that ISO codes are any more readily recognisable than the flags, and they are not widely used throughout F1 media, whereas flags are. I accept the logic of your latter point, but I reiterate, no complaints about flags have ever been received from people using the F1 articles, so why try to enforce something upon articles you never edit or read, totally against the wishes of all those who do? It sounds like a poor fix for something that has never been claimed to be broken. Bretonbanquet (talk) 16:32, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
ISO codes aren't widely used (except for every discography article in Wikipedia), but they can be learned by everyone, including screen reader users. The problem with flags is that many users cannot distinguish them: it isn't a matter of learning or education, it simply can't be done without requiring them to click or hover over every flag to get a written representation of the meaning. "Commonly used" isn't a strong enough argument to overcome such a glaring defect.—Kww(talk) 17:25, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
I just don't think it's a "glaring defect". I realise you think differently, but I do not believe that any minor inconvenience caused by the flags to a minority of users is a) insurmountable or b) outweighs the benefits that many users experience. As I say, I've never seen any genuine complaints that might warrant changes to thousands of articles, quite against the wishes of those who read and edit them. Bretonbanquet (talk) 18:03, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
the above posts by Bretonbanquet are very good examples of the "endless, unproductive, time-wasting arguments" I mentioned earlier. thank you for illustrating my argument. Tigerboy1966  18:23, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
Oh, how typically constructive. In other words you disagree with me, yet you thought you'd have a bit of a dig at me for emphasis. If I'd agreed with you, you'd have said nothing. Kww and I were exchanging views, a novel concept on a talk page. If you don't like it, you know what to do. Bretonbanquet (talk) 01:31, 30 December 2012 (UTC)
I apologise unreservedly for the flippant and unconstructive tone of the my comment above. Tigerboy1966  02:02, 30 December 2012 (UTC)
No worries :) Bretonbanquet (talk) 13:48, 30 December 2012 (UTC)
Two questions for Kww, i understand your opinion and actually had not considered the issue with visually impaired wikipedia readers, i think that is a very good point. Also i do agree that in some situations the same information can easily be conveyed in text, in others i think it's a little more difficult. Anyway, your stance seems to be that you would rather MOS:FLAG simply restrict the use of flag icons all together. Am i correct in reading that? Also, to the point of why this debate keeps popping up, specifically flags in tables in MMA articles. If the language of MOS:FLAG continues to permit some sports to use flags, and not others. Could you support different language for MOS:FLAG, that would permit the use of flags in MMA articles. Kevlar (talk) 03:02, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes, you are correct that I would prefer to see all uses of flag icons eliminated. I can't imagine a situation where I would support their use.—Kww(talk) 03:08, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
Do you think it's within the scope of this RfC to eliminate all use of flags? Kevlar (talk) 03:12, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes.—Kww(talk) 03:41, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
I guess i disagree with you in that i don't think the use of flag icons should be eliminated all together. That being said I genuinely do feel that if it did come to that, it would at least put an end to a very long debate and people's creative energy could be used to find an alternative instead of being sapped in nonstop bickering. Kevlar (talk) 03:51, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
@Kww: if you have an issue with widespread practices across Wikipedia including near countless biographical and historical articles, you're going to really have to make a more compelling and elaborate argument. I do not think a referendum like this that involves a few dozen editors should be able to affect the work of ~100,000 contributors. Just because you don't personally like something that's being practiced on WP doesn't mean it's "wrong" and should be stopped, but I'm rather getting that sense from you. Again, if you were recommending replacing all flag icons with printed names of countries for information tables and boxes, while that would still be an extremely contentious argument it would be far more salient, and might just fall in line within the issues of the visually impaired (who can still click on flag icons to see what country it represents or even just scroll their mouse over it on most browsers). However, I don't see how proposing the wholesale removal of flag icons, which are generally a whopping 22-23 pixels wide, helps WP in any way. When you make an argument that some flags are indistinguishable from one another, particularly to the color-blind that's an argument that they aren't helpful to those groups, not that they're hurting anything. Meanwhile it's clear that many article creators and users find them a very useful visual cue. "Decorative" or not, there are people who benefit from "decorations" because it plays to their learning strengths. This is coming from someone studying to be a professional educator. Beansy (talk) 14:22, 30 December 2012 (UTC)
There's no need for elaborate arguments, Beansy, simply a strong and compelling one. WP:ACCESS is all about making Wikipedia useful to all groups, including the 10% of males that are color-blind. 10% is an enormous percentage, and there need be no further justification. You are placing your aesthetic preferences over utility. It's not a matter of me noy liking something, it's a matter of me having applied reason and logic to a question. It's a refreshing practice, and one that I recommend more Wikipedia editors indulge in.—Kww(talk) 17:38, 31 December 2012 (UTC)
Your argument is flawed. It's not because someone is color blind that s/he cannot identify flags. They'll just see different colors than you and me. Maybe some flags are unrecognizable by people affected by certain kinds of color vision deficiency, but to say that 10% of the males in the world cannot identity flags is downright wrong. Besides, most flags can be identified even if they are shown in black and white. Also, if the user cannot identify a certain flag and uses a computer with cursor tracking, s/he can just hover over the flag and the name of the country will be shown. Evenfiel (talk) 01:24, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
But you have no real counterargument. Flags become rapidly confusable as color vision degenerates. Chad and Romania require incredibly good color vision to distinguish. Try Republic of Ireland vs Italy as your color vision deteriorates, or Austria vs Hungary. More and more pairs of flags become indistinguishable. They are a poor substitute for words. Is it 10% that can't distinguish many flags? Maybe not, maybe it's 5%, or 6%. 10% of males suffer from red/green color blindness to some degree. Making people with vision problems move their mouse all over because flag icons are prettier is a really bad judgment call. That doesn't even address the fact that you've put a substantial barrier in front of people that use screenreaders, or that print out a copy. A lot of drawbacks, and no concrete benefit.—Kww(talk) 01:45, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
The flags of Chad and Romania are an exception. There aren't many pars of flags that look so alike. As for your other pairs, you have no idea if they are difficult or not to recognize. Show me an image of how these flags look to color blind people and then I'll agree or disagree with you. I've managed to find this page which shows how country flags look like to people with color blindness, and I have to say that Italy and France are very easy to recognize. As for those who use screenreaders, you can just add a Alt attribute. Regarding those who print a black and white copy, they'll still be able to identify many flags. Evenfiel (talk) 02:30, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
You persist in missing the point: it's an obstacle, and it's an obstacle of no value. Certainly, people can get around it, but why put an obstacle in their way in the first place? "Because it's a pretty obstacle" isn't much of a justification.—Kww(talk) 03:42, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
You've mentioned on multiple occasions that flags can be confusing visually, yet when you hover the cursor over the flag up comes an explanatory box naming the flag, and for good measure the flag also links to the relevant article, so I fail to see how it is evenly vaguely relevant objection. --Falcadore (talk) 12:48, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
On mobile devices, hovering is not possible (at least not on my smartphone). --Jaellee (talk) 13:57, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
I've addressed that multiple times. It's an extra step that there's no reason to put them through. It doesn't work on printed copies of the page. It's difficult on small displays. Now, I'm hearing its impossible on smartphones. All of those are things that don't happen if you use text.—Kww(talk) 15:45, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
Why is this not being used as an argument to get rid of charts, tables, diagrams and photos, all of which cause the same problems? Bretonbanquet (talk) 16:20, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
WP:ACCESS gives us guidelines on how to design tables and charts for screen readers and the color blind to handle them properly. The guidelines aren't perfect, but they at least represent an effort to handle the problem. It's always going to be a cost/benefit ratio problem when it comes to graphics. Flags are very low on the benefit side and relatively high on the cost side (as we can't redesign them to be handicapped-accessible), so they are essentially never going to win out in an objective appraisal.—Kww(talk) 16:32, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
The thing is that what may be of low benefit to some, may be of greater benefit to others. It's too subjective. Bretonbanquet (talk) 16:38, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
I've identified groups of users that it's a substantial obstacle or complete barrier to. The pro-flag side isn't able to identify a benefit beyond aesthetics or an unsubstantiated claim that they aid some people with "different learning styles". Even those that make the latter claim don't try to claim that the use of words is a substantial obstacle for that group. It's not a difficult call if you put personal preferences aside.—Kww(talk) 17:22, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
The benefit is that it's an efficient and effective shorthand for tables, lists, and similar organizational methods for people, places, or objects in which some level of representative national affiliation is of importance or interest. The only similar tool would be ISO codes which are much less commonly known and would then be less effective. I won't try and argue that flag icons might be a problem for color blind people, but I do wonder if they are a common complaint of colorblind users, or if you are speculating. It seems strange to me to develop regulations to provide for a group of users who may not actually care about the objects being regulated. Anyway that is only a secondary point. Mostly I just wanted to respond to your claim that the pro-flag side doesn't have a benefit beyond aesthetics. The benefit is that it is an organizationally easier and more efficient way to convey information about large groups.Thaddeus Venture (talk) 21:26, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
In what way are they a more efficient shorthand than ISO codes? Certainly it takes a moment to learn them, but the knowledge of flags certainly isn't instinctive. Unlike flags, everyone that can read can learn to read and recognize ISO codes.—Kww(talk) 02:25, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
They may not be more efficient than ISO codes, but they are more effective. The argument that ISO codes are learnable underlines my point. Flags are, by and large, actually taught. Most kids grow up learning what a reasonably large number of the flags of the world look like, flags are reasonably common knowledge, which makes them an efficient and effective shorthand, unlike ISO codes. People could learn ISO codes, but they'd actually have to go learn most of them, any new user or editor would have to go learn the ISO codes to understand articles where they are used, they aren't as ubiquitous as flags and are thus not as useful as shorthand for the majority of the population. This is a clear and simple platform for flag use, you may not think it's good enough, but much like I don't argue against your idea that flags might present difficulties for colorblind users, they are both solid platforms for debate. If they weren't a particularly effective method of displaying information they would not have become a widespread editing tool on wikipedia.Thaddeus Venture (talk) 20:56, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
'The pro-flag side isn't able to identify a benefit beyond aesthetics or an unsubstantiated claim that they aid some people with "different learning styles"' Strawman much? I think many other points have been made. In relation to F1 drivers, the actual flag is used in the podium ceremony (in flagrant disregard of colourblind spectators, it seems), so the flag is useful in the driver articles. To me, at least. No doubt you can explain that I'm imagining that? Sheesh! Ian Dalziel (talk) 01:34, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
You accuse me of making strawman arguments when your argument would appear to be "racing podiums are decorated with flags, therefore flags are useful in tables"?—Kww(talk) 02:25, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Not "decorated with flags" - the national flags of the top three finishers are raised during the ceremony - there is a direct relevance. As for a strawman argument, I can only suggest you look the term up. Ian Dalziel (talk) 09:43, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry Ian, but your argument seems ridiculous to me too. The flags are decoration, add no extra information, and cause a lot of needless strife. --John (talk) 09:49, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Well, John, that depends completely on the particular context. Anyone who believes that flags are mere "decoration" in the context of Olympic sports, where individual athletes and teams are selected by national governing bodies, where both individual athletes and teams compete as representatives of particular countries, where athletes compete in uniforms of national colors, where the top three finishers' flags are raised in an official awards ceremony in which the national anthem of the winning athlete or team is played, well, obviously there is a great deal more symbolism inherent in those national flags than mere "decoration." You may dismiss such displays as nationalistic or anachronistically old-fashioned, but you cannot dismiss such use as mere "decoration." To deny the firm basis of such well-established uses of national flags and symbolism as mere "decoration" demonstrates near total ignorance of 116 years of Olympic history and precedent and borders on complete nonsense.
Furthermore, while the Olympic Games are obviously the strongest instance where national flags are granted a prominent and official role within the context of sports, similarly strong arguments may be made on behalf of world championships in swimming (FINA), track and field (IAAF), football/soccer (FIFA), etc., and continental and hemispheric international championships such as the Pan American Games, Pan Pacific Championships. Dismissing the importance of national flags as representative symbols of such national teams and other representative individual athletes does not reflect reality in the sporting world, and smacks of little more than WP:IDONTLIKEIT. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 11:00, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
"Flags are raised", so what? If they raised a doughnut, a Cornish pasty and a Big Mac, would we display little pictures of the three foodstuffs? The million-dollar question always is, what information do the flags add? Given that we are a repository of well-chosen and appropriately-displayed information, the key to this issue lies in the quality of the answer you provide to this question. --John (talk) 12:04, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
The answer is simple, John, but it's one that you appear determined to deny and belittle regardless of any response. To many of us, the powerful symbolism of using a national flag to designate national teams and representative individual athletes is undeniable. National flags have official status in the context of many, if not most, international sports competitions, just as team logos and colors provide immediate recognition in the context of many, if not most, college and professional sports teams and leagues. Your argument, taken to its logical extreme, applies not only to national flags, but sports team logos, photographs, and other graphics generally—all flags, logos, photographs and other graphics may be dismissed as "decorative" if you reduce your anti-flag argument to meaningless absurdity. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 12:28, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
The "powerful symbolism" is irrelevant to the purpose of an encyclopedia. This isn't a marketing or propaganda campaign.—Kww(talk) 15:35, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
I understand that your strong personal preference is anti-flag, KWW, but you're missing the point, sir. The primary purpose of any encyclopedia is to impart information. No symbol, whether consisting words or graphics, has the ability to impart a particular athlete's or team's representation of a given nation-state in a more succinct manner than that nation's flag. Many national flags, such as the Union Jack and Stars and Stripes, have distinct designs that are nearly universally recognized virtually everywhere on planet Earth, and the selective use of such national flags quickly and succinctly shows that relationship in a way that words alone do not. (That's why the symbolism is "powerful," and, yes, encyclopedic.) Omitting the use of such flags in Wikipedia's coverage of Olympic and other international athletes is to deny the importance and widespread real world use of such flags in the Olympics and other international sports. Your dismissal of that self-evident reality and attempts to belittle that actual real world use ultimately discredit the argument you advance. Sure, one may describe an elephant in words alone, as you appear to advocate, but most readers will recognize a photo of an elephant faster than they can read any description. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 19:45, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
It's not a strong personal preference, Dirtlaywer1, it's a logical conclusion based on the facts at hand. Perhaps you can tell me precisely why Italy conveys more information than ITA? Why presenting that information in a format that visually impaired people and colour blind people have difficulty with is so important? You are right: the primary purpose of any encyclopedia is to impart information, and flag icons impede that task.—Kww(talk) 20:27, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Uh, no. Your "conclusion" against the selective use of flag icons is certainly no more "logical" than the argument in favor of their selective use. You chose to ignore the central importance of national flags in the Olympic Games and other international sports. You choose to ignore the fact that the Stars and Stripes is a more succinct and more powerful graphic symbol of affiliation with a national sports team than simply writing "United States." You choose to ignore the powerful symbolism of national flags that mere words cannot duplicate. Your choice of arguments demonstrates your strong personal preferences, and your need to make the same arguments over and over again in this discussion simply reinforces those personal preferences and makes your arguments appear somewhat fanatical even to editors who share your policy preferences.
"The primary purpose of any encyclopedia is to impart information, and flag icons impede that task." The first clause should be self-evident; the second clause is a non sequitur and borders on nonsensical. You've made your best arguments; why don't you let other proponents and detractors make theirs without answering every comment by another editor? I would suggest that your need for repetitive argument has reached the point of diminishing returns in advancing your position. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 20:58, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
I always enjoy it when someone keeps repeating the same thing while accusing me of repeating the same thing. "Symbolism" and "information" are two different concepts. If you think that the information that "flags are generally used on the podiums of F1 racing events" is an important piece of information to convey, feel free to do so in an article about F1 racing as a sport. Maybe even create an article called National iconography in F1 motor racing if you have enough material to fill it with. Don't litter tables with things that are hard for the visually impaired to deal with because you want to convey that little bit of trivia in every article about every F1 racing event. The "central importance of national flags in the Olympic Games" has no relationship to the use of those flags in tables. They are completely distinct concepts.—Kww(talk) 21:26, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
"'Symbolism' and 'information' are two different concepts." It is certainly true that they are different concepts, but they are also intimately related concepts. Symbolism conveys information, otherwise the "symbolism" is meaningless. As for your suggestion that I have merely repeated my own arguments, I suggest you review them again. Perhaps you have heard them before, but not from me. I have made my points, regardless of whether you choose to accept them as valid or not. Please do not misconstrue my failure to answer your further repetitive arguments as acceptance or acquiescence. It is clear that you will accept nothing less than the complete removal of all flag icons from all sports article (or some other temporary truce that advances that agenda). Going forward in this discussion, I will try to engage editors who seek compromise and common ground. There is plenty of room for discussion, compromise and consensus regarding the use of flag icons in sports articles, but given the obduracy of your position, I see little room for productive discussion with you. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 21:54, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
If you are eager to attract other editors' input on your opinion, being clear out here on the right-hand margin (notice that ":::::::::::::::::::::::::::::") of a discussion thread the began "two questions for Kww" isn't the best place to be. You are right that I see no reason for compromise on this issue, but I'm willing to listen to any arguments that pertain to increasing ability of all users to extract information from articles, as opposed to muddling issues like podium presentations and table formatting.—Kww(talk) 00:57, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
@KWW: Back to making Wikipedia accessible to all groups: I believe the onus would be on making an argument as to how flags make Wikipedia less accessible in any meaningful way to those groups (in this case the colorblind). If you're seriously going to say they're distracting or that simply not conveying information is somehow enough, I would think the way hyperlinks are colored would be far more of an issue. We have them auto-italicize if they lead to a dead link instead of just turn red, but it's extremely simple to just click on the link, just like one can click on a flag, so no one is suggesting that for the same reason. Wikipedia remains accessible to all groups with or without specialized hyperlink protocol, and with or without flags. It remains more accessible to visual learners by using visual cues such as flags to help convey and categorize certain information. Also, everyone here has "applied [their own] reason and logic" to the questions at hand but that's neither here nor there. Beansy (talk) 11:56, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
I think I've made my point, but I'll repeat and illustrate. Let's take two cases that aren't quite as extreme as Chad and Romania, Austria and Hungary. Easily distinguishable to most people, but not so easy to the red/green colourblind. If you think the shape will do it, you are using a high-resolution display: it's not obvious on a small screen. Imagine a table that used those to distinguish key information. For each entry, our colourblind person is going to have to hover or click to read the table. Not once to learn the difference, but once for each and every entry. Hundreds of times to read a large table. Make that same table again with AUS and HUN, and perhaps they will have to click once to learn the difference, but they will probably be able to figure out "Austria" and "Hungary" by context. The flagicon table is frustrating and useless to one group, while the text based table is marginally less useful to the "visual learning" group. As for your redlink/bluelink hypothetical, those are adjustable in each editor's preferences so that he may set them to colors he can distinguish easily: they aren't hard-coded.—Kww(talk) 16:48, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
I don't disagree with the validity of your claim that colorblind users could have problems with flagicons, but I would like to ask, do they? Is this a common complaint among colorblind users of wikipedia? Is this an actual ongoing problem that needs addressing, that colorblind users have difficulty using wikipedia because of flag icons? Do you speak for a large group of users demanding change based on fair access, because I'm not seeing anyone else taking up this cause along with you. I also don't see any evidence that you speak from personal experience as to the depth of the problem for colorblind users. Are these all theoretical examples of problems people could have or problems that you or others actually have had? I would say that it is important to know whether instituting mass change to the formatting of wikipedia will actually markably solve any user issues or would merely be done to prevent a hypothetical problem from occurring.Thaddeus Venture (talk) 17:10, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
One of my earlier jobs involved the design of alarm panels, signalling panels, and alarm displays, with the requirement that all of them could be accurately and rapidly dealt with by the colour-blind. I'm mainly extrapolating from that experience. I'm suffering deterioration of my vision as I grow older, with a progressive loss of blue sensitivity in my left eye. That's a rarer form, and I can compensate with my healthy right eye. One thing that I am keenly aware of is that colourblind people tend not to brag about or fuss about it: they simply muddle their way through. It would be interesting to try to get an objective evaluation of how serious of a problem it is, but I think that would require the cooperation of the WMF.—Kww(talk) 17:19, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for replying so openly, I don't wish to be dismissive, and I do see your point of view.Thaddeus Venture (talk) 17:24, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
@KWW: I appreciate you reiterating your point in thist way, and I don't think your argument is entirely unfair. I still have to challenge this on two measures however, and challenge the removal of flag icons on a third. At least in the three browsers in my computer (Firefox, Chrome, and IE), simply scrolling the mouse over a flag icon reveals the country name. Also, people who are strong visual learners almost certainly outnumber the colorblind by a wide margin, which should of consideration in any argument here (as it is we are talking about learning accessibility, not accessibility to an emergency device). I will grant however that scrolling a mouse over a flag icon would not convey the information as 3-letter ISO codes for the colorblind. As for the removal of current, unless said icons are being replaced by linked country codes as the icons are removed, it's not helping those articles in anyway, it's just deteriorating their usability. If I were to go for any sort of compromise, I would argue that any removal of flag-icons must be accompanied by said replacement. Like say (in this crudely done example of a fight result): Featherweight | Chan Sung Jung KOR | def. | Dustin Poirier USA | Technical Submission (D'arce Choke) | Round 4 | 1:07 | title eliminator; awarded Fight of the Night bonus and Submission of the Night bonus |. I do not feel differently about my position on the subject as a whole, but it does seem that removing flags without replacing them with at least that much is a pure and objective detriment to any article. I do appreciate your approach to this debate here though of offering an alternative instead of the complete elimination of information. Beansy (talk) 03:19, 4 January 2013 (UTC)

(edit conflict) The use of flags is clearly decorative and distracting, take for example 2012 Australian Grand Prix, how many times do we need to be told that Lewis Hamilton is British ? I count 5 times and I question of what encyclopaedic relevance is the nationality of the driver who got the Fastest lap (to pick an example) ? There are cases where though it is distracting I can kind of see the relevance for example in 2006 FIFA World Cup#Goalscorers it is a easy way to indicate which team the player played for but in that case should not the flag link to the teams article and not the county article (for example the Australia next to Harry Kewell should wikilink to Australia national association football team and not Australia). Mtking 03:16, 29 December 2012 (UTC)

i guess i would ask you a similar question Mtking, would you rather MOS:FLAG change it's language so that all sports are prohibited from using flag icons? I realize that's not what you said, with the example of 2006 FIFA World Cup#Goalscorers, so i guess would you prefer that the language be further tightened so it is more restrictive? My understanding of the two examples you used (Formula One, and Association football) are currently acceptable use. Kevlar (talk) 03:27, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes it should be tightened, back to what I believe was the original intent of the MOS:FLAG section in the first place, IMO they should only be used where they convey contextually relevant and pertinent extra information such as results of Olympic events, world championships or international/regional versions of such events where competitors are selected by a national body to represent that nation for example in athletics or swimming; the example of 2006 FIFA World Cup#Goalscorers as the players on each team are selected by national associations. Use in articles about tennis would be fine relating to Davis Cup, Fed Cup or Hopman Cup but not for example in an article on the Australian Open. Mtking 05:03, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
If i'm reading that correctly, we agree that flag icons can add context to an article if the competition is a world championship or international/regional event (this part at least some UFC events would pass, correct?). Where UFC articles fail is that the competitors do are not chosen by a national association. So in the example of List of WPA World Nine-ball champions this is appropriate because (presumably, i'm not actually sure it works this way) Francisco Bustamante "represents" The Philippines because he won a series of local competitions then a national competition, and because of that was sent to The WPA World Nine-ball championship as the champion of and therefore representing The Philippienes. Kevlar (talk) 07:07, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
The key part was that last part about being picked by a national association to be a representative, to give another example the in the 2003 Davis Cup World Group#Final flags by the team members is IMO fine as they are representing either Australia or Spain however the same flag next to Lleyton Hewitt (on both occasions) in 2005 Australian Open is not appropriate as he was not playing as part of the Aussie team. As for other sports it would not be so much as a rule for each sport but for the context of the article, an MMA article on a event between teams drawn from two countries when there was an overall prize for the winning country and the fighters were picked on merit to compete by a body interdependent of the promoter that would be fine. Mtking 08:03, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
Is not the better question then to be delete Flagicons? The many of their arguments over their use in sporting articles apply equally to their use in other articles. If these arguements over their use are so circular, then remove the temptation and AfD the lot of them. --Falcadore (talk) 05:07, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
As for the Lleyton Hewitt example, readers of his personal biography want to see his national team flag in the infobox, which is what we use, and as a courtesy and consistency we do the same for all tennis players lest we have arguments all the time. It has worked pretty well except for Andy Murray and that's important with some wikipedians seemingly looking for a good edit war these days. Also in a chart of players winning Wimbledon it's far easier to see patterns of winning streaks and country numbers while scanning down a list of flags than it is to scan down a list of three letter abbreviations. I find it quite helpful and I know writers at ESPN find it helpful too. If they were gone I'd certainly survive just like I would if we get rid of colors in all charts. It's not that important to me, but many will say why should we have to do without when we can use them within reason, and that's one of the reason it gained consensus at tennis project. It's almost faster than finding the players names in helping to see patterns in charts like List of Grand Slam men's singles champions, and I do at times find them useful. Fyunck(click) (talk) 09:16, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
My example works in both of those cases, it would be appropriate to include in Lleyton Hewitt infobox that he has played Davis Cup for Australia and that Andy Murray has played for United Kingdom, that should solve the issues about is Andy Murray Scotland or United Kingdom. There is a clear link between the icon and the representation, if a player has not been picked at a representative level then leave the flag off. Mtking 09:30, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
I would be against that as it would be against tennis project consensus and would necessitate the removal of flags from the above mentioned singles champions chart. Even Wimbledon requires a country status to play... you can't qualify to play there and tell them you want to have no nationality. If you check the ITF website, every player has their flag icon next to them from Roger Federer to unknown Michael Shabaz. It seems to be quite important to an international sport like tennis. I would say we need more flexibility at wikipedia between it's projects, not a cookie cutter mentality. Like I said, things have gone pretty well at tennis articles and to disrupt ours and other project guidelines is not the way to go imho. Fyunck(click) (talk) 10:03, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
If the "tennis project consensus" (Got a link? How many people were involved in that discussion?) contradicts what the encyclopædia as a whole decides, then the solution is clear: One or two tennis editors will have to accept that the community disagrees with their preferences.

participants in a WikiProject cannot decide that some generally accepted policy or guideline does not apply to articles within its scope.

Sadly, sometimes small groups of editors in a particular project do make decisions which contradict broader enwiki rules. This often leads to strife - remember the diacritics wars? And then there's the AfDs where a subject clearly passes the GNG but a couple of editors say that the subject should be deleted because they didn't play in the right league, or whatever. We've had a bunch of AfDs where editors confuse wikiproject-specific notability criteria with wikiproject scope - ie. everything within the scope of a project gets an automatic keep !vote, with a nice official looking link to a project page, so anything related to a wikiproject is automatically kept regardless of how badly it fails the GNG. And then there are other quirks of style and orthography which develop in certain walled gardens... bobrayner (talk) 11:21, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
This is true. I'm just stating my objections to a particular resolution and why. Diacritics is a bad example though since it is handled by what the broader amount of wikipedians want not by wiki policy or guidelines. Right now guidelines give wide latitude for the icons and it appears many sports editors like that latitude and how it works with athletes. I think that works as is and doesn't need to be eliminated. That's all I'm saying. Fyunck(click) (talk) 19:22, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
  • I'm generally in line with Beansy here, so I'm not going to add a lot. However, and this is in reference to the MMA RfC above as well as some of the discussion here, there is a trend in dealing with this issue to dismiss editors who are for flagicon use as argumentative, repetitive, pointless, or disruptive. The theme of a few uninvested admins or editors (people who haven't worked on the projects under scrutiny) trying to institute mass project changes over the wishes and practices of a majority of editors seems to be recurring across multiple projects. The current guidelines are too broad to steer the majority of editors away from using flagicons for sports pages, any new editors will more than likely fall into the same patterns as previous ones. I am for bringing the guidelines more in line with common practice as this will cause the least amount of infighting, but Kww's comments have merit (perhaps all flagicons should be banned across wikipedia). Either way the guideline needs to be changed to be more restrictive or less inclusive, these decisions cannot be made on a project to project basis or without changing the fundamental structure of MOSflag.Thaddeus Venture (talk) 21:16, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
  • As far is football is concerned, you can take the nationality side of List of Watford F.C. players in one of two ways. You can take the pragmatic view that we could never implement the principles on that article on a project-wide scale, even if we wanted to (WP:FOOTBALL has 200,000 articles and counting under its scope), and that it is therefore not worth trying. Or, if you could take the utopian view – use that list as proof that the ideal solution is achievable, and that the benefits justify the effort.

    As for squad lists, alternatives do exist, as can be seen on MLS club articles. —WFCFL wishlist 12:26, 30 December 2012 (UTC)

    • All these articles with little flag pictures didn't suddenly appear from nowhere, fully-fledged, like Athena from Zeus' forehead. The flagicons were added by editors; they can be removed by editors, if that's what the community wants. (Although personally I have little appetite for making a million botlike edits to enforce part of the MOS, I recognise there are other editors who are more keen). bobrayner (talk) 13:49, 30 December 2012 (UTC)
      • If you're talking about a dozen or two bots removing flags that were manually added to polish articles by tens of thousands of editors, that's sort of the opposite of following a consensus. Beansy (talk) 01:58, 31 December 2012 (UTC)
        • Aren't our guidelines and policies supposed to reflect consensus? The last RfC proposal to allow flagicons in lists was unanimously opposed. If somebody were to do a very large number of edits to bring content in line with our rules, that would be in line with the consensus that our rules are based on. Although it would probably be a good idea to get further support here first. bobrayner (talk) 16:04, 31 December 2012 (UTC)
          • Our guidelines are supposed to reflect practice. They are descriptive not prescriptive. If it is regular practice that they be used then the MOS is supposed to reflect that. Therefore if they are in wide use the correct action is to modify the MOS not trying to enforce it on the articles. -DJSasso (talk) 17:15, 31 December 2012 (UTC)
            • That RfC only applied to lists, if I recall, and I was involved in removing some flags from a few lists where they were quite patently not appropriate. It didn't apply to tables of results or suchlike, and I agree that the MOS should reflect the regular practice of the majority of Wikipedians, not be a tool which the few use to harass the many. Bretonbanquet (talk) 17:37, 31 December 2012 (UTC)
          • As someone who is generally for flag use I find them useful, direct short hand, and most of the misuse fears I see from others are either for problems that haven't occurred or problems on such a small scale that they can easily and clearly be dealt with with through healthy discussion. However I think from what I've seen out of the two sides of this argument we are at a cross roads where MOSFlag needs to be amended to be more in line with practice in wikipedia (making it clear that the majority of articles using it are well within guidelines to do so), or the flags should be removed all together. I don't see any way to create guidelines that walk the line between acceptable use and common practice that would please either side. It should be unacceptable for a select few editors to wield MOSFlag as a club against the rest of the community.Thaddeus Venture (talk) 19:27, 31 December 2012 (UTC)
  • I suggest use is only appropriate when the athlete clearly represents his/her country. This is manifest when the country (or a committee deputized by the country, like its Olympic Committee) fields a team, and the athlete is a member of that team. This is clear in the Olympics and many international competitions (Asian games, World Cup, Pan American games, many cricket test matches, Rugby World Cup, etc.). It is not appropriate when the athlete competes individually - professional boxing, and MMA. In individual competitions, I would also argue that no country fields in a team in NASCAR, F1, or most horseracing competitions. Carlossuarez46 (talk) 00:00, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
That is very concise and represents an ideal middle ground. Unfortunately it does not account for sports like Tennis or Golf, and their competitions (Davis Cup/Ryder Cup). Are their international competitions not legitimate for the use of flag icons because their selection process isn't officially deputized? Essentially under that model how "official" does something have to be before it passes the bar? And if PGA/ATP selection processes are official enough to pass muster then why not UFC/WBA processes for identifying athlete representative nationality. That's essentially the path we've already gone down, and current guidelines do not adequately provide for it. And if your argument is that the PGA/ATP, etc. processes are not good enough then that needs to be more adequately specified and reasoned and will involve swaying editors for those projects as well.Thaddeus Venture (talk) 01:13, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
There has been quite a lot of talk that the flagicons should be reserved exclusively for when the are representing a nation specifically. There has also been much mention for example of the visibilty of flagicons, but that applies equally on articles of national representation or otherwise. But can someone please explain to me what the merits of using flagicons at all for any reason? Please I don't want to hear about the merits of Olympics vs individuals sports, but what is the merit of the little flagicon? If their use is so controversial and so open to confusion, why use them for any reason at all on any article at all? --Falcadore (talk) 13:09, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
Essentially because they are an effective shorthand for tables, lists, or similar layouts in which a large number of people are displayed for whom representative nationality carries some weight or interest. I don't think their use has actually caused more than a small handful of problems, but it seems to cause a lot of fear. Most actual problems I've seen have been workable through discussion, however most general arguments about use I've seen have not been, mostly because they revolve around hypotheticals, or cherry picked instances of poor use that do not represent the norm for articles in which flag icons are present. However I do think that getting rid of them all together across wikipedia is a more justifiable standpoint than trying to create increasingly narrow and complicated guidelines for their use.Thaddeus Venture (talk) 21:09, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
Well then why turn this RFC into an AfD and let the arguments play out to the point where there will be an outcome. This RFC could go on and on but it is unlikely to see a consensus form, and even if it did it would either be ignored by some Wikiprojects either immediately or within a few months. Either we accept a wider usage of flagicons, delete them, or accept that their usage will remain an ongoing argument. Any kind of stable middle ground can only work if all participants, present and future co-operate, and I just can't see that happening. --Falcadore (talk) 04:54, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Not a bad idea, except what would it be an AfD on, MOSFlag as a guideline? I suppose, but part of the problem here is that even if we keep MOSFlag it needs to be re-written. I don't think there is an actual middle ground in this honestly, because the variety of circumstances in which flags could possibly be used/banned is so broad that I don't think we could write regulations well enough to create a stable line, it honestly needs to be boldly inclusive of use as it currently stands/has been, or they need to be deleted. And I'm not sure how to get to that point.Thaddeus Venture (talk) 21:07, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
I suppose it would be a TfD on Template:Flagicon. --Falcadore (talk) 21:51, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
  • I can understand why some people see benefits of flags on lists. Although I prefer without flags there too. But in an infobox a flag really is pointless and has many downsides. Our readers really can read the name of the country. Regarding the discussion "what flag to use" is the same as "what country to use" and doesn't really belong on this MOS but on nationality MOS pages. Garion96 (talk) 10:38, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
I like flags in lists, I like them in infoboxes even better, but thats just me. --Sue Rangell 20:14, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Did you think the U2 infobox looked better when it looked like this? Can you imagine the edit wars that used to result from people saying (quite rightly) that two of the band were born in England, so why fly the Irish flag? Can you imagine how tedious that became? --John (talk) 20:29, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
John, I will not presume to speak for Sue, but, IMO, here's the difference: when an athlete or team participates in the Olympics or other international sports competition, the athlete or team represents that nation. The rock band U2, while culturally associated with Ireland (and including one or more English-born members), does not represent Ireland, nor do its individual members represent Ireland or any other nation. We do not use flags to merely indicate a geographic location, or in the case of people, a birthplace. Historically, Wikipedia has used flags to signify the nations represented by international sports competitors. The birthplace and technical citizenship status of a particular athlete are irrelevant; only the nation represented by the athlete is relevant for determining what flag to use. And just to be clear, I do not support the random use of flags to represent the birthplace, nationality, ethnicity, or citizenship of an athlete—only the nation represented in international competition. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 23:57, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
I edit a number of music-related bio articles, and I don't tolerate flags in any of them. There's a huge difference between a sportsperson representing his/her country in a sport, and a band/musician/actor being particularly identified with a country – Dirtlawyer1 has explained that perfectly. In other words, it's not a great comparison to make, and it's important to differentiate between those of us who would use a clear rationale to retain flags for certain sportspeople, and those who might be merely indiscriminate, flag-waving article decorators. Bretonbanquet (talk) 00:17, 9 January 2013 (UTC)
Historically, Wikipedia has used flags to signify the nations represented by international sports competitors has been historically true. It was also true up until early 2007 for bands, until the consensus became abundantly clear that this was not good flag use. As regards the Olympics, what about the Eurovision Song Contest? People made exactly the same arguments back then about that in regard to bands. I certainly don't miss the little Ireland flag on the U2 article, does anybody? --John (talk) 18:36, 9 January 2013 (UTC)
I guess I'll give the obvious answer here which is that any list or table of musical acts is almost certainly going to be made up of both groups and individuals, making it impossible to use the same set of criteria or determining nationality or all the subjects of that list. That alone would render the idea of flags practically meaningless as they are really only useful as secondary identifiers in lists o multiple people for whom nationality would be a pertinent identifier. For athletes, at least, each is a representative unto themselves and lists of athletes only pertain to individuals. Obviously there has been some talk of flags for teams, mostly in racing, but I have to think that their cases represent a minority of flag use on wikipedia.Thaddeus Venture (talk) 00:09, 13 January 2013 (UTC)

Arbitrary break for ease of editing

Wow there is a lot of information, and I don't know how a final decision will be reached. But I want to raise a point that is stated in the current guideline, but not really discussed so far (that I see, I admit to not reading every single word). One concern with the use of flags is that they violate WP:DUE, a part of WP:NPOV, in cases where the person is not representing a country. That is, why is nationality somehow so important to a person's identity that it is the one and only piece of "information" we provide about the person in lists of their participation in sporting events? Of course, I understand why we would put the flags there for something like the Olympics, where people obviously represent a country, but why put them in any case where the list itself is not about a competition between nationalities? Why don't we have flags for the person's religion, or sexual preference, or ethnicity? Why is it that nationality is "special"? Personally, I don't think it is, because I don't see a strong connection between, say, the nationality of a football player who never has and never will represent a national team (say they've retired). WP:UNDUE says we can't give any one fact undue weight, and it seems like flags do that in cases where nationality is not relevant to the particular event. How am I wrong? Qwyrxian (talk) 04:06, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

  • That's an argument that isn't really specific to flags. If the nationality shouldn't be mentioned, it shouldn't be mentioned.—Kww(talk) 04:33, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • The weight comes from public perception of athletes as national representatives even when they are not necessarily so. It is important to boxing (it is reported on and discussed at length) that there is not a current American heavyweight champion. It is important to tennis that a British tennis player has not won Wimbledon for 80+ years, it is important to the UFC that they promote Brazilian fighters on Brazilian cards, and Japanese fighters on Japanese cards, and Canadian fighters on Canadian cards. People root for these athletes because of where they represent. It could be argued that religion or sexuality or other identifiers could be given equal weight, but with rare exception they aren't. The number of openly gay athletes in most pro sports (some notably more inclusive women's sports aside) can be counted on one hand, placing a thousand markers on athletes to say that we know they're all straight would not be a meaningful conveyance of information because it would largely be a repetition of the same thing over and over again. And religion is almost never reported as meaningful identifier in sports. Some athletes identify strongly as christian or muslim or jewish, etc. but rarely is that a reported identifier, where as it is not uncommon across any sport for reporters, commentators, promoters, or other athletes to refer to competitors by their nationality as much as their name, position, or prowess. Because this is common information, it has gained importance that it might not otherwise carry on its own. That may not empirically make sense (one identifier doesn't actually have more value than another) but it does not make the information less relevant as a principal identifier for public figures. And as Kwww said this is a question of the relevance of nationality as information not of flags. Thaddeus Venture (talk) 04:45, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Qwyrxian, I appreciate your raising these issues that you perceive as germaine to the present discussion, and doing so in a manner that is collegial in tone and in the spirit of give and take. I'll take a stab at addressing the issues you've raised in the same spirit. How is nationality different from gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, ethnicity, and most other demographics, you ask? First, international athletes have been competing as representatives of their particular nation-state since c. 700 B.C. Second, to the best of my knowledge, there has never been a historically significant and regularly scheduled athletic competition based on the team distinctions of men vs. women, straights vs. gays vs. bisexuals, Jews vs. Catholics vs. Protestants vs. Muslims vs. Buddhists, Caucasians vs. Africans vs. Asians vs. Native Americans vs. mixed-race folks, or any of the like. Third, the nationality distinction is relevant because it is the basis upon which international sports are actually organized in the modern world; there is no such thing as major sports competitions organized on the basis of these other demographics. In short, nationality is relevant because that is the way that most world sports championships are organized. Fourth, international sports teams of most major sporting nations typically include athletes without regard to sexual orientation, religion, race or ethnicity. And even though the overwhelming majority of sports are gender-segregated, teams of women do not compete against teams of men, and most countries field teams of men and women for major international sports competitions such as the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Pan American Games. Finally, while I can appreciate the desire of some editors to downplay the more jingoistic elements of nationalism within Wikipedia, Wikipedia articles should reflect reality and the way the world is, not the world as some editors may wish it to be. And, in world sports competitions, that means acknowledging the key organization relevance of national teams and individual athletes who compete as representatives of particular countries. Using the flag of the country represented is the simplest, and often most quickly recognized way of showing that representational relationship. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 04:56, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Oh, and just to make sure that I'm being clearly understood, the use of flags as short-hand for the particular nations represented by athletes is only relevant in the context of international sports. Sports or leagues that are primarily based within a single nation (e.g., Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, National Football League), or wherein teams include athletes from multiple nations (e.g., National Hockey League), clearly have no need to have the nationality of players demonstrated graphically in such a manner. We also need to eliminate the remnants of flag usage where the location of the tournament or competition is symbolized by a flag; it still exists on many world records lists. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 05:09, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
When athletes upon winning major tournaments of many different sports will frequently parade themselves before crowds carrying national flags I would suggest that carries some weight. --Falcadore (talk) 05:03, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
Flags are used by sports for reasons other than direct national competition usually when the sport itself considers flags and/or international identity to be culturally important (and by culturally, I mean the culture of the sport). That is generally when flags have been implemented into articles. I can't comment on soccer, but in individual sports with diverse international representation, flag usage is quite common for that reason. As such, flags are used as shorthand for national identity. Their usage in articles reflects the culture of the sport. This has been reflected by editors and the sub-communities that have self-regulated flag usage in various sets of articles throughout WP:SPORTS. Most of them probably have no idea this conversation is going on. Also, @Qwyrxian: could you please cite the part of WP:DUE that holds the usage of flags in question in violation? Or even mentions flags? Because I may have missed it as its 3:30 in the morning here but I'm not seeing it. Beansy (talk) 11:39, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
Hello Qwyrxian, thanks for the comments. I think the base frustration is that along with MMA, there are other sports where the athletes would compete at the highest level, but because of how the sports are organized they would fail MOS:FLAG. Would the following sentence not describe both the World Pool-Billiard Association and the UFC? A sport where competitors are brought from the widest range of host nations to compete and determine international champions. Kevlar (talk) 17:26, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
First, for Beansy, WP:UNDUE says that we cannot give undue weight to anything: a fact, and opinion, a picture, etc., than it has in the real world. My opinion is that marking sports stars with one specific aspect of identity is undue with the exception of those sporting events (not athletes, but the events) in which the competitors are actually tied to their national identity (i.e., the Olympics, the World Cup, etc.). My opinion, thus, would say that in the example of tennis raised above, we would only include flags on results lists for those tournaments in which people compete as members of a national team, and not include them on any other list. As to the other points raised here, I'm, of course, not recommending that we add for other aspects of identity; rather, I'm suggesting we remove the one that has no connection to the subject being discussed. However, in order to better answer the question, we need to not ponder points philosophically; we need to consider this: when reliable sources (here I don't mean primary or even secondary sources like newspaper reports, but rather tertiary sources that discuss sports as a whole) regularly refer to the nationality of athletes in cases where the athletes are not representing a country? Qwyrxian (talk) 22:40, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
This one for instance, can't stop talking about how Venezuelan Luis Aparicio was. Despite the fact that as a MLB player he never represented Venezuela in a professional way (he did play for them in an Amateur world tournament). Nationality is a common identifier for athletes in all sources that discuss athletes as individuals, and this is true across all sports at all levels. A great deal of stock is placed on where an athlete is from and how people from that country identify with them and how they identify with those people. I hope this adds some clarification to your questions, because I have trouble seeing how someone who has spent a large amount of time studying or writing about athletes and athletics would think that nationality plays no part in an athletes career, even when that nationality is not instrumental to the competition itself.Thaddeus Venture (talk) 23:45, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
@Qwyrxian: I'm sorry but saying that a flag icon to represent nationality in an information table gives "undue weight" to a person's identity to the point of breaking neutrality seems like an incredibly tortured interpretation of WP:UNDUE. There is nothing in any of the WP guidelines including the MOS that prohibits simply listing a nationality and that is all a flag is shorthand for. Furthermore the prose in WP:UNDUE/WP:DUE/WP:WEIGHT is entirely concerned with allotment of viewpoints. Flag icons are not points-of-view (yes, there are some people with more than one applicable citizenship but that is absolutely a secondary point to their use in general, and still has nothing to do with the guidelines contained in WP:DUE; furthermore the proposal at hand gives leeway on multiple nationalities this as long as their is sound consistency within any macroset of sporting articles). Beansy (talk) 02:39, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
Further, a flag can be more than shorthand for a nationality. In sports where flags are used on the podium, a flag in a competitor's article shows the flag which would be raised for that competitor. For me, that's extra information. Not vital information, I admit, but information. Ian Dalziel (talk) 16:47, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
Also this encyclopedia makes sporadic but continuous reference to nationality in it's article on boxing., they may not use it for every fighter, but beyond division, skill, and name it is the only other consistent piece of descriptive identification they use (there are one or two notable mentions of mob ties, and a mention of Muhammed Ali's conversion to Islam, but those are exceptional). In general, even in encyclopedic sources, nationality is one of the most common descriptors given to athletes to identify them.Thaddeus Venture (talk) 16:31, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
That conflates two issues. "Should nationality be mentioned?" is one issue, and "When should flag icons be used to represent nationality?" is a second, and quite distinct, issue.—Kww(talk) 19:47, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
But that is the question/conflation that Qwyrxian was making, and thus what I was responding to. He is asking, why should we ever mention nationality in affiliation with athletes who do not compete directly for a nation in an official manner. He went on to question whether this was established practice for tertiary sources. It is a total and utter tangent from this discussion, but if he feels, for his own sake, that the narrower MOSFlag argument is based on this broader question, then I am certainly happy to answer that question for him. If the further argument needs to be made as to when and where tertiary sources make use of this information, then I would have to ask if it is essential to wikipedia that it mimic the formatting of other encyclopedias. If the importance of the information is not in question, then this is a matter of formatting, at which point I see no reason (and many reasons why not) that wikipedia should mirror other online encyclopedias in its formatting decisions. The examples here show that it is standard for tertiary sources to routinely put extra emphasis on nationality (rather than religion, sexuality, creed, etc.) even for athletes competing in sports that have no professional international competition.Thaddeus Venture (talk) 21:26, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
It may also be worth mentioning that the Manual of Style itself treats nationality as one of the defining characteristics of biography subjects. Per WP:OPENPARA (a subection of MOS:BIO),
"The opening paragraph should have . . . Context (location, nationality, or ethnicity)[.]
"In most modern-day cases this will mean the country of which the person is a citizen, national or permanent resident, or if notable mainly for past events, the country where the person was a citizen, national or permanent resident when the person became notable.
"Ethnicity or sexuality should not generally be emphasized in the opening unless it is relevant to the subject's notability. Similarly, previous nationalities or the country of birth should not be mentioned in the opening sentence unless they are relevant to the subject's notability."
In summary, Wikipedia already recognizes that nationality is typically one of the defining characteristics of a biographical subject worthy of being mentioned in the article's lead section (if not the lead sentence). That having been said, MOS:BIO neither requires nor forbids the use of a flag icon to define a subject's nationality. With that, it may be time to conclude this particular subthread, and return to the discussion of the particular circumstances, if any, where it may be appropriate to use a flag icon to indicate an athlete's nationality. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 22:03, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
I repeat: This is massively WP:TLDR and pointless. Someone please summarize this into a poll-format RFC and advertise it via WP:CENT.SMcCandlish  Talk⇒ ɖכþ Contrib. 20:10, 9 January 2013 (UTC)
I'm not saying that nationality isn't important, as the point that BLP recommends including it in the opening sentence is valid...but I'm asking if it is so important that we should include it in articles not about the person, and not about events where there is a "flag raised on a podium". I'm talking about MMA, and baseball (outside of WBC), and even football outside of World Cup/Olympics events. I'm trying to see the justification for why, when there's a list of 10 (current squad) or 50 (list of highly notable players from a team) or 100 (list of competitors at a single competition) or 500 athletes (list of all athletes who've won an award in a sport), why is nationality the one and only biographical characteristic we include other than name? I'm saying that while nationality is important to an individuals identity (in their own article), and important to the organization of certain sports competitions, it's not so important that outside of those contexts we list it. I'd go so far as to say that part of the reason we mention it is simply because we have convenient, easily recognized little symbols (i.e., flags), while we don't have them for other biographical facts. Why is it, for example, that when I look at Arsenal F.C.#Players, I am immediately told the country the players would theoretically represent if they ever played for a national team, maybe? If I want to know the person's age, where they live, if/where they went to college, their marital status, etc., I have to click through to the article. But the very fact that nationality as symbolized by a flag is listed on the Arsenal player's list clearly implies that nationality (in a sporting sense) is the most important aspect of the person's identity. That's what I'm trying to get the justification for. Qwyrxian (talk) 22:40, 9 January 2013 (UTC)
And you are getting justifications for it. I will try and re-state this as simply as possible. Even in Tertiary sources (like the boxing one I linked to above) nationality is the common information given with athletes as a personal identifier. This nomenclature is so standard across the variety of available sources as to be universal. Famous athletes are often described as "Their Name" an "Their Nationality" "Their Position" the only time handedness ever comes into equal play is for baseball (and probably cricket) and it is listed as part of the position (i.e. LHP for Left-Handed Pitcher). I have trouble believing that you have done a significant amount of reading about sports persons without coming across this convention. The idea of why it could then be useful for lists of athletes is an obvious one: because it is the most common information provided with an athlete in order to identify them.Thaddeus Venture (talk) 23:56, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Too long, didn't read. I'd like to see a short list of issues and arguments, so I can discuss better with you. My thoughts are:
  • Even if the competition isn't about national teams, nationality matters in many international competitions. In Formula 1, golf and tennis, flags are often showed in television graphics. Competitors' nationalities are mentioned often, as well as in football, baseball and many motorsport races.
  • SOmetimes there are too many flags in an article. Where to use them should be decided with common sense. it's fine to put them in results tables - with the Template:Flagicon, so the country name doesn't appear, and with the flag to the left, so they keep aligned. They look horrible in many infoboxes, not but sometimes they look good.
  • Keep calm and civil. Good bye! --NaBUru38 (talk) 18:33, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
Actually, on first use in an article or table, we are supposed to use template:flag. Subsequent occurrences can use the template:flagicon. Fyunck(click) (talk) 19:52, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
@NaBUru38 Why is it important from the point of view of an encyclopedia article to know the nationality of a tennis player on an article about the 1997 US Open over say are they left or right handed or their age, the argument that just because a TV graphics department shows them so should we seems illogical. Then there is the use in the soccer area (mostly related to European Soccer) where they are often inserted to indicate the national team a player may play for in the future if they are selected (WP:CRYSTALBALL), or in some cases after a player has retired to indicate which national side they might have played for if they had been good enough, I see no valid POV reason to use them outside articles relating to a sports persons actual national representation. Mtking 00:13, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Let's not get into what is "important": that is a whole different set of subjective judgements. Humanity existed and thrived without the existence of Wikipedia for tens of thousands of years, so the "importance" is of anything we do here is highly questionable.
What the MoS asks for is pertinence, and given that we should be based on reliable sources, it can be easily demonstrated that in sports like tennis, MMA, cycling, golf, Formula 1 etc (where individuals compete in a non-representational manner) that the vast majority of RSs deem nationality to be pertinent. We might share a Lennon-esque desire to be able to imagine there's no countries, but RSs don't allow us to. I agree that pertinence of nationality of team members, in discussion of the team, is far from established. Kevin McE (talk) 10:42, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Nobody is arguing that nationality is not pertinent; but I would say the onus is on the flag fans to convince the rest of us that it is not only more pertinent than someone's handedness, their marital status or their age (all data which are also often recorded by RS), but so enormously, overwhelmingly pertinent that we need to plaster little flags all over our articles, thus rendering the articles unusable by a significant proportion of our readers. That, I think, will be quite a hard sell and I see no evidence of anything approaching a good argument for it so far. --John (talk) 19:24, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Not a hard sell by any means. It is patent nonsense to suggest that handedness or marital status are frequently included in participant/results lists, and most unusual for age to be routinely included. There is valid debate over whether flags are the best way to show nationality, but a claim that marital status is treated as equally pertinent as nationality by reliable sources in presenting lists of sportsmen in tables is laughable. Kevin McE (talk) 19:49, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Glad to have given you a giggle Kevin. But why not try reading what I actually wrote. Here, I'll post again, in bold this time, and see if it helps you to understand it. The onus is on the flag fans to convince the rest of us that it is not only more pertinent than someone's handedness, their marital status or their age (all data which are also often recorded by RS), but so enormously, overwhelmingly pertinent that we need to plaster little flags all over our articles, thus rendering the articles unusable by a significant proportion of our readers. --John (talk) 20:01, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Don't be so fucking patronising and insulting: that post is a disgrace to your admin status. We are talking, per MoS, as to what is pertinent to the purpose of the list in which flags are presented. Your claim that such spurious information as handedness and marital status is deemed pertinent to such lists and included in RSs is absolutely meaningless until you verify it. So you provide me with reliable sources that describe the marital status and handedness in a results table of any major sporting event, and I will provide 10 that provide details of nationality without those details. The onus is not on those who would support the inclusion of flags to do anything: the MoS already permits it. If you want to change MoS, you need to gain a clear consensus for change. Kevin McE (talk) 23:18, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
I'm taking your profanity as meaning that you don't have a cogent answer to this point. That's fine; next time "I don't know" would do fine. --John (talk) 23:26, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
If you choose to only consider one word of my response, then you obviously have no interest in taking part in debate and discussion. I made a cogent point, which provided you with a specific challenge: the strength of your argument will be judged by your response to it. Kevin McE (talk) 10:41, 13 January 2013 (UTC)
LOL -- Yes, John, but you must admit that it's quite rare for an athlete to represent left-handers, divorcees, or 37-year-olds in international sports competitions. What makes an athlete's nationality relevant, and far more pertinent than any other demographic anyone has mentioned in this discussion, is that international athletes represent nations, not random demographic groups. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 19:52, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Nations are essentially random demographic groups though, Dirtlawyer; or do you believe in manifest destiny and the divine right of kings? Rather old-fashioned beliefs nowadays. --John (talk) 20:01, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
we're talking past each other, John. Nationality is the most relevant demographic in Wikipedia articles about international athletes, teams and events because the athletes represent nations, not other any of the other demographics you listed. Nationality is the fundamental organizational basis of international sports. Not age, not sexual orientation, not handedness, not marital status. You can mock nationality as something old-fashioned, anachronistic, or jingoistic, but the relevance of nationality is reality. Wikipedia, or any other encyclopedia worthy of the definition, is supposed to reflect reality ---- to reflect the world as it is, not as any editor wishes it to be. Personally, I think that's what's at the heart of much of this flag icon discussion: some Wikipedia editors simply do not like overt symbols of nationalism. Without pretending to read your mind, I must say that your comments above certainly lend themselves to that interpretation. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 20:31, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
(e/c) They might be random to you, John, but they happen to be the demographic groups which human beings divide themselves into in order to (among other things) participate against each other in sport. When a team of left-handed folks compete against a team of right-handed folks at anything, we can think about how to represent it on Wikipedia. Flags are the best shorthand to display these divisions – they're not simply used for decoration or a show of nationalism. And I haven't seen any evidence thet they render articles unreadable to a significant portion of our readers. This discussion is fast becoming ridiculous in parts. Bretonbanquet (talk) 20:35, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
It's disappointing to see such wilful ignorance in this discussion, Bretonbanquet. The whole reason we are even having this discussion is that there is a project consensus that in general flags are indeed "simply used for decoration or a show of nationalism". If you haven't "seen any evidence thet they render articles unreadable to a significant portion of our readers" then you haven't read the discussion about the colour blind or partially sighted just above. I know it's long but there really isn't much point in commenting on something you haven't taken the trouble to fully read. Please do so before you comment further, lest you come across as "ridiculous". --John (talk) 20:53, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
I've read it all, thanks, so maybe you can retract your inflammatory insult, which I find surprising for an admin. What I've seen is people saying that they're "unreadable to a significant portion of our readers" including the partially sighted and colourblind etc, but I haven't seen any evidence of it. As has been said, all kinds of things on Wikipedia cause trouble to colourblind users, yet we're not talking about ridding the project of pesky diagrams, charts and graphs that use colour to differentiate one group of things from another. If you could refrain from insulting me in your next comment, that would be tops. Bretonbanquet (talk) 20:59, 12 January 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Saying that that importance is "whole different set of subjective judgements" is just ignoring it, please can some one say why it is important cos to date all I see is the argument that others do it therefore we should without any analysis of why we should do it. Take the example of Lleyton Hewitt, he was not picked by Tennis Australia to represent Australia in the 2000 US Open why should the flag of the county he represented in the 2000 Davis Cup adorn articles on other events he appeared in that year. Mtking 22:28, 12 January 2013 (UTC)

Because his nationality is deemed pertinent by the vast majority of reliable sources in their summaries of the results of those events, and MoS tells us In lists or tables, flag icons may be relevant when the nationality of different subjects is pertinent to the purpose of the list or table itself. That's what we do: follow the lead of RSs, and desist from trying to forbid what MoS permits, regardless of whether individuals consider it "important".
If you really want to focus on "importance", then I would suggest that there is nothing important about Wikipedia in the overall matter of human existence, and suggest that you spend your time trying to find a cure to world hunger instead. Kevin McE (talk) 23:35, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Because nationality is almost always the information given with athletes, beyond their name, position (if they have one), and skill set (less often). Not only in primary sources, or secondary sources, but in tertiary sources as well. It is common form to describe Tiger Woods as an American golfer, or as you point out, Lleyton Hewitt as an Australian tennis player, or Vladimir Klitschko as a Ukranian Boxer. This nomenclature is so ubiquitous in it's presence in articles about sports figures that a large number of editors and users find it helpful for reference in tables or other formats in which a large number of athletes from around the world might be listed. Flagicons proved a effective and expediant method for displaying this information because they are commonly known by global users. Most people learn what many of the flags from around the world look like, making them a more efective tool than the otherwise efficient ISO codes (which many people are unfamiliar with) and a more efficient tool than the country names themselves due to the minimalistic nature of the information provided and the large difference between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Peru when used in a column/row format. All of this is very clear and logical reasoning and I don't think it's beyond anyone to see that it makes at least some sense.Thaddeus Venture (talk) 23:40, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Both of you have missed the point totally; ignoring what others do, please answer why is it relevant for an encyclopedia to pick and highlight nationality of a player in 2000 US Open – Men's Singles ? What relevance to the result was the fact that Lleyton Hewitt's quarter final opponent Arnaud Clément was French, and why should we put the French flag next to that persons name in preference to, for example his ranking at the time. Mtking 06:18, 13 January 2013 (UTC)
But we can't ignore what others do. Following RSs is what we do. You are asking us to ignore a key pillar of what wikipedia is in re-evaluating a policy. Kevin McE (talk) 10:43, 13 January 2013 (UTC)
You're confusing the inclusion of information (for which we use reliable sources to ensure verifiability), and the use of flag icons to signify and emphasise said nationality, which is another matter. It is the latter we are discussing, not the former. --John (talk) 11:40, 13 January 2013 (UTC)
No I'm not. I'm replying to MTking who is challenging the relevance (although he insists on referring to importance) of including nationality. If you bothered reading my contributions to the thread, I have already acknowledged that there is a debate to be had about the appropriateness of using flags to designate nationality, but that is not what Mtking is challenging. Kevin McE (talk) 12:34, 13 January 2013 (UTC)
Well, one of is certainly misunderstanding MTking. I fear it may be you. --John (talk) 16:26, 13 January 2013 (UTC)
Well, given that the question he asked was " please answer why is it relevant for an encyclopedia to pick and highlight nationality of a player in 2000 US Open – Men's Singles?" I'm pretty confident that it isn't me. How are you getting on with finding reliable sources that describe the marital status and handedness in a results table of a major sporting event? Or was that just a claim that you hoped people would believe because you asserted it? Kevin McE (talk) 18:46, 13 January 2013 (UTC)
If fans of a particular sport care about the nationality of its participants to a greatly extent amount and media and academic sources routinely reference these things then it is inherently relevant. Relevance = people caring about something. Inherent relevance = people who care about the subject largely caring about something as a rule. This should not need further explaining. Also, WTA rankings are far too fluid and very difficult to document for older events, and generally of far less pertinence unless someone is ranked #1 in the world. You could make a far better case for documenting tournament seedings, for instance, which are relatively easy to find (this is not always a straight ordering of the current WTA rankings at the time, since certain players are stronger on grass or clay courts, and if someone won a tournament one year or finished very highly they may have their seeding bumped up at the same tournament the next year above what their WTA ranking would indicate). Beansy (talk) 08:26, 13 January 2013 (UTC)
I have to say I think you keep missing the point. I get what you are saying and i think it is obtuse beyond reason. If this information is notable to the point that it is included and common in sources at all levels (primary, secondary, tertiary), then why is it essential that we as editors justify the importance of that information. This information is one of the very few common identifiers used for sports people, there should be no argument about that. So if you're looking for justification as to why that is so, then you are asking for justification for the entire breadth of sports journalism/history/and academia. It seems like it would be entirely more essential that you show that this information is not pertinent, or that the flagicon format is neither efficient nor effective. Repeatedly saying it's not an international competition so why should it matter is essentially asking why an explanation of boxing history describes Lennox Lewis as a British boxer, or Vijay Singh a Fijian golfer. If that is one of the first/most pertinant ways these athletes are identified then it makes perfect sense to include it as information in a list or table containing a number of athletes, because it provides helpful information that can aid recognition. If I were looking for a brazilian soccer player on Manchester United, for example, and I couldn't remember his name, only that I knew he was Brazilian, the flagicon would save me a reasonable amount of time, because it's a simple identifier that I recognize and is information commonly provided.Thaddeus Venture (talk) 08:50, 13 January 2013 (UTC)