Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Lead section

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WikiProject Manual of Style
WikiProject iconThis page falls within the scope of WikiProject Manual of Style, a drive to identify and address contradictions and redundancies, improve language, and coordinate the pages that form the MoS guidelines.

Systematic suppression[edit]

"When a common (vernacular) name is used as the article title, the boldfaced common name is followed by the italic un-boldfaced scientific name in round parentheses …"

Why is that so precisely constrained? cygnis insignis 14:20, 10 January 2019 (UTC)

How is that "systematic suppression"? --Izno (talk) 14:45, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
I haven't found the discussion in the old MOS talk pages yet, but it was discussed almost a decade ago at WP:TOL here and again here. I dimly recall a !vote on the subject as well, where I opposed the current consensus. I'll see if I can find it. As to why, well it has at least prevented many arguments about the start of these articles in the last decade. Sabine's Sunbird talk 04:32, 11 January 2019 (UTC)
How does it prevent disputes? The item was inserted without discussion, because any previous discussion was met with a consensus not to do this. cygnis insignis 13:23, 3 March 2019 (UTC)
I guess you weren't around for the years and years of strife over how to title and open organism articles. It's hard to tell what this hyperbolic topic is supposed to be about. If the "suppression" is that you want to start with the scientific name at an article titled for the vernacular one, that's contraindicated by our general MOS:LEADSENTENCE principles: if a subject has multiple names, lead with the one that matches the title. If you're "suppressed" by not boldfacing the sci. name in such a circumstance, it's because it's already emphasized by being italic, so the bolding isn't helpful, it's just excessive, doubled emphasis. These leads are also formulaic; we're not going have a case where it starts out something like "The frumious bandersnatch is a species of bandsnatch found in Elbonia and Kerblachistan. [Insert serveral more sentences here]. Its binomial is Bandersnatius frumiosa." The bi- or tri-nomial will always be immediately after the vernacular name, so there is no need to call it out with boldfacing, even if we were not italicizing them anyway. If this about the viciously suppressive parentheses regime (LOL), that's under discussion for actual, explained, practical reasons two threads below this.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:36, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
You were already aware of the issue of non-issue below? let me put it another way: You were already aware of the issue of non-issue below?. Suppressing science is quite openly expressed by editors here, immersed in the idea is only tolerated like a religious freedom. Much of the argument is against bold itself, supposedly, but the leads are rivers of bold as every man's favoured name vies for the title. cygnis insignis 22:10, 12 March 2019 (UTC)

Unify alternative names for articles with spelling differences[edit]

Moved here from Wikipedia:Village_pump_(policy)#Unify_alternative_names_for_articles_with_spelling_differences

The article American and British English spelling differences includes a lot of words that are Wikipedia articles themselves. Reading through them I noticed that there is no uniform way in which the alternative names are presented. See below a small sample of the first sentence of some articles (references also copied from the articles):


  1. ^ "licence Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary". Retrieved 15 April 2018.

As you can see, there are too many different ways in which the spelling differences are presented.

The proposal is to update the first sentence so that it is uniform and just contains the alternative names in bold, with no links or references, like caliber in the example above. Since the main topic has nothing to do with American or British spelling, I think it only serves as a distraction to mention it and should be removed. Vpab15 (talk) 14:15, 1 March 2019 (UTC)

  • Support as proposer Vpab15 Vpab15 (talk) 14:15, 1 March 2019 (UTC)
    Sometimes editors include the links because we get people changing the wording to what they think is correct or prefer. They then have to be pointed to MOS:ENGVAR. But the link(s) for the spelling differences can be placed in a note . Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 01:19, 3 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Leaning oppose per WP:CREEP. None of these are confusing or broken, in a reader-facing sense, and editors are not internally fighting about it frequently, so there's no actual problem to address. There is no requirement that our articles be worded exactly the same over and over again, and going that direction is likely to make our content seem more boring/repetitious. If we did end up having a rule about this, the "or" pipe trick is a useful approach, as it saves a lot of space and isn't distracting.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  17:37, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
    @SMcCandlish: I wouldn't say it is confusing, but it is definitely distracting and inconsistent. If possible, the same rule should apply to all cases. I think the proposed rule is simple and well defined in the cases it covers, so I don't think WP:CREEP applies here. Regarding the pipe trick, that is a case of WP:EASTEREGG, so it would be better to not have any link in my opinion. Vpab15 (talk) 15:33, 13 March 2019 (UTC)
    If we don't like the pipe trick, then having a footnote would probably be practical. We don't want to lose the information or (worse) imply that the spelling can be randomized at whim and isn't dialectal.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  21:11, 13 March 2019 (UTC)

Parentheses in the lead affecting Knowledge Graph and Page Previews[edit]

The section on organisms gives the example:

Vitis vinifera (common grape vine) is a species of Vitis, native to the Mediterranean region, central Europe, and southwestern Asia ...

I've been doing it differently lately and I think we should reconsider this example. I think we should not use parentheses for the common name because in Google's Knowledge Graph and Wikipedia's own Page Previews the material in parentheses is invisible to the reader. I've been writing in the style:

Vitis vinifera, the common grape vine, is a species of Vitis, native to the Mediterranean region, central Europe, and southwestern Asia ...

as that way, the common name is visible through those tools. What do others think?  SchreiberBike | ⌨  03:14, 5 March 2019 (UTC)

That's a good idea. The other thing this causes is that dates of birth and death aren't visible when you hover, which is a nuisance. As I recall, this was done deliberately to avoid clutter, but it affects good information too. See Page Previews/API Specification. SarahSV (talk) 05:00, 5 March 2019 (UTC)
But the basic problem here is surely simple: it is kitchen sinkery, the indiscriminate inclusion of parenthesised material in the lede. I came across a good one yesterday: Om mani padme hum has the name of Avalokiteshvara in Tibetan, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Mongolian. This is absurd, but I don't know how the problem could really be solved. Imaginatorium (talk) 05:43, 5 March 2019 (UTC)

But for the accepted, verifiable and meaningful name this is a good thing? #Systematic_suppression cygnis insignis 06:52, 5 March 2019 (UTC)

I haven't been able to find any previous discussion that supports putting common names in parentheses when an article is titled by the scientific name. The most common practice with plant articles is to put common names between commmas, as suggested by SchreiberBike. Commas also appear to be the most common practice with fishes. I'd previously discussed this with SchreiberBike with regards to insects. The MOS shouldn't be demanding a format that wasn't discussed and isn't being followed in practice. SMcCandlish is responsible for adding the recommendation to put common names in parentheses, but he has already changed WP:MOSORGANISMS to recommend commas. I don't see any reason for MOS to recommend parentheses in this case. Plantdrew (talk) 16:41, 12 March 2019 (UTC)

I agree, both regarding common practice and playing nice with previews. --Elmidae (talk · contribs) 17:04, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
While I don't think we have to care what Google is doing (something we have no control over and which may change at any time), if there's not any will to get our own preview tool changed to stop dumbing-down (and I agree with SarahSV that what it does often isn't really helpful), we might as well avoid the parenthetical. I also have no objection to using commas when it's in the other order, as long as we note that when there are competing taxonomies, second and subsequent ones should be parenthetical, or moved to another sentence, so that the preview version isn't bogged down in details: "The cat, Felis catus (alternatively classified as Felis lybica catus), is ...".  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  17:30, 12 March 2019 (UTC)

Based on the discussion above and the partially related discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Tree of Life#Edit warring about common & scientific name format in lede - can we please come to some current consensus here?, I've made the change suggested above. Thank you,  SchreiberBike | ⌨  21:36, 13 March 2019 (UTC)

Multiple images in the lead[edit]

Is there a policy on how many images a lead section should have? From reading this section of the MoS and MOS:LEADIMAGE, the lead only having one image to illustrate the subject seems implied but not explicitly stated. However, I've run into multiple articles (this one being the latest example) that place multiple images into the lead section. If I had to guess, it's because an editor wants to illustrate various possible styles of a subject and one image isn't enough. But IMO this is a bad practice because it can clutter the lead and shove images and other flowing elements out of the lead images' way when the table of contents is closed. In extreme cases this can happen when there are a large number of images in the lead and/or when the table of contents is short.

If there's already a policy regarding this, could it be spelled out explicitly in MoS? 21:48, 5 April 2019 (UTC)

Multiple images in the lead are fine (at least on desktop). I don't see a real problem here. --Izno (talk) 21:57, 5 April 2019 (UTC)
Multiple images for the lead was recently discussed at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Images; see Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Images/Archive 9#Warn against lead images stacking on mobile?. They can be a problem. Per MOS:LEADIMAGE, I prefer one lead image. But I don't think we should advise editors to always only use one. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 03:54, 6 April 2019 (UTC)

Questions about Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Lead_section#Foreign_language[edit]

Firstly would it be okay if I change the heading "Foreign_language" to "Non-English language"? In many cases English is co-official with one of more languages in a country or region, (such as Irish in Ireland) so those other languages are not "foreign".

Secondly in regards to historical language usage, and considering this paragraph:

  • "If the subject of the article is closely associated with a non-English language, a single foreign language equivalent name can be included in the lead sentence, usually in parentheses."

Would it be advised to have foreign language names of a government division or government agency/institution in another language which is not official to a country/territory and is not today used as a primary medium of education nor in government, but was used historically? The Parishes of Louisiana have French names indicated in their leads; French historically was dominant in South Louisiana, though today English is clearly the dominant language in government and education.

In addition I added Spanish names to government agencies of New Mexico because Spanish historically was omnipresent in New Mexico society: for example, upon statehood all laws in New Mexico were to be published in Spanish (but nowadays many laws are only in English), and the New Mexico legislature allowed the usage of Spanish until 1935 (see New_Mexico#Languages). Re: New Mexico, there is a discussion at Talk:New Mexico State University#Use of bilingual title. From my research into New Mexico State University (NM state agency) it was established by an Anglo White person from another state and used English as the instructional language from the start, but that there were several Spanish language newspapers in operation in its city (Las Cruces) around that period. WhisperToMe (talk) 15:40, 31 May 2019 (UTC)

Lede tolerance[edit]

I've been editing since October 2008. I have just been criticised for using Lede. I see that this criticism has been inserted at the end of the first paragraph of the article. " It is not a news-style lead or "lede" paragraph.". This apparently represents the culmination of a long battle against "lede" by grammarians. It looks silly and adds nothing to the article. If it wanted to be helpful it would explain how it should differ, rather than give an alternate spelling.♥ L'Origine du monde ♥ Talk 23:58, 11 July 2019 (UTC)

Lede is pretentious and stupid. EEng 00:03, 12 July 2019 (UTC)
Changed the first para to " The lead section (also known as the lead or introduction) of a Wikipedia article is the section before the table of contents and the first heading. It is not a journalistic lead or "lede" paragraph, but serves as a neutral introduction to the article providing a summary of its most important contents.". I guess the neutrality is the useful difference from the oed definition of Lead/Lede "The opening sentence or paragraph of a news article, summarizing the most important aspects of the story." and it's opposite "introduction to the article providing a summary of its most important contents."♥ L'Origine du monde ♥ Talk 00:10, 12 July 2019 (UTC)
And changed the em not to normal not.♥ L'Origine du monde ♥ Talk 00:21, 12 July 2019 (UTC)
Length and neutrality seem the important differences, and better than negativity. Substituted "It is longer than a journalistic lead or "lede" paragraph and serves as a neutral introduction to the article providing a summary of its most important contents". No teasers is section 9.1. ♥ L'Origine du monde ♥ Talk 00:47, 12 July 2019 (UTC)
The introduction was fine before. Reverted. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 17:15, 12 July 2019 (UTC)
The original wording was good and these edits are not desirable because the point is to explain that the term is Wikipedia jargon—it is not a journalistic lead/lede. Johnuniq (talk) 00:17, 13 July 2019 (UTC)
Why do we need the emphatic not? That is a very small part of the article. It is overemphasised in the lede, and it's silly. Obviously a multiple paragraph wikipedia lead/lede is not a journalistic single paragraph. At the same time, it is obvious where the name comes from. ♥ L'Origine du monde ♥ Talk 19:40, 14 July 2019 (UTC)