Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Lead section/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3



This part is dubious: offer the topic's most interesting points, including a mention of the topic's most prominent controversies. The lead section should offer the most relevant uncontroversial points, it's no battleground. Templates (or their substituted output) indicating problems like "hoax", "stub", "mergeto", etc. are okay, but hopefully no permanent part of a lead section. -- Omniplex 16:45, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

A newspaper will grab the attention of a reader by mention of the topic's most prominent controversies. As an extreme example, some editors, in an article about how perfectly sphereical the earth is, the editors would have the lead section should include a reference to how Flat Earth it is, too. It is, perhaps, a way of thinking, a following of advertising's philosophy of "Quickly Catch the Attention of the Reader". I find myself in agreement with Omniplex. Wikipedia is a platform to present the knowledge Mankind has created. As Law and Choas are opposites, knowledge and controversy are often opposite. Presenting knowledge in terms of its contoversy might be effective once in a while. But it would be a bad guideline. Terryeo 18:41, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

Linking in article titles

Do we have a guideline about linking words in the bolded titles, (for example, in the Khattab ibn Nufayl article)? If not, we should, I think it looks really ugly. --Cúchullain t/c 05:16, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

Expanding the lead

Is there any template to be placed in the articles asking for someone to expand the lead? Afonso Silva 17:18, 4 July 2006 (UTC)


I've removed that references shouldn't be added to the intro, because they very definitely should be. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:20, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

And when I have a bit more time, I'll revert, as you didn't follow the consensus reached above! Unfortunately, you made many edits today, instead of previewing before saving, so it's very difficult to find and fix your mistakes. I suppose I should just revert the entire thing....
--William Allen Simpson 21:23, 4 July 2006 (UTC)
No consensus can override policy, William. All edits that are challenged or likely to be challenged must be sourced. All negative material about living persons, whether challenged or not, must be sourced. It makes no difference whether those claims are in the intro or elsewhere. See WP:V. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:29, 4 July 2006 (UTC)
Also, is it appropriate to mention "lede"? The intros of our articles aren't known as the "lede." SlimVirgin (talk) 21:42, 4 July 2006 (UTC)
Slim, I must say I disagree. The claims do not need a reference in the lead if they are properly referenced later in the article, which was the consensus. The claims can be factchecked with the references on the main body of the article, so by no means it would be a violation of WP:V. Titoxd(?!?) 17:06, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Claims should be referenced the first time they're made, and anyway, not everything in the intro will necessarily be repeated. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:40, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
No, they should be referenced where they are explained in the most detail; if something is mentioned in the lead, then it should be mentioned at greater detail further down the article (assuming that the article has several sections, of course). Otherwise, those details should not be in the lead section at all. Titoxd(?!?) 23:55, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
That might be a point. When a person's name is first used, the full name is used and after that, last name only (barring difficulties with 2 common names). Generally, the concensus of editors has been to supply a reference at the first mention of a subject. But I too have seen lead paragraphs which would read more smoothly without several footnotes cluttering their smoothness, where the paragraph makes passing mention of a datum which is later expanded. Perhaps the problem is one of style. By using common english and common knowledge in the lead paragraphs, the need for references might be minimized. Terryeo 14:04, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
It's shorter now, I missed three "lede", good riddance. I think it's better readable now. First I missed some details, but later I saw that they were only at different places. More KISS and less instruction creep is good. Maybe the question of references or not deserves its own section. -- Omniplex 14:15, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, Omniplex. Tito, here are some examples of intros I've written. If you look at Ernest Gellner, according to your thesis, all these points and quotes would have to be included again in the text, so that we could supply the references. First, that would be unnecessarily repetitive, but worse, it would leave us with quotations in the intro that had no source, which isn't acceptable. Same with Bernard Williams, and Night (book). None of the material in those intros (as I recall) is repeated in the body of the articles, and there's no reason it should be. SlimVirgin (talk) 14:40, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
Moved from below

Should the lead be referenced if the material in it is mentioned in the core of the article? -- Samir धर्म 03:57, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

The question is for scientific articles specifically, where tradition in review articles in the literature IS to cite in the review. I view the perfect medical article for example to emulate the style of a review article, but still be accessible to all -- Samir धर्म 05:51, 30 July 2006 (UTC)


I stumbled on this while trying to find out whether the whole lead needs to be a summary of later sections. The lead on this project page implied no, and that is the common practice, but that was not clear in the later sections so I added it. In doing so, I believe I found a compromise consistent with SlimVirgin's objections to the consensus about references, after viewing her examples:

"Appropriate supporting references should be provided for introductory definitions, but citations of sources for statements detailed in later sections should occur in those sections, rather than in the lead."

I hope this helps. LossIsNotMore 00:26, 23 July 2006 (UTC)

Hi Loss, I couldn't work out what your sentence meant, so I removed it, and I have no objection to the consensus about references, which is that we have to follow WP:V and WP:RS. Can you say what the following sentence means? "Statements defining the subject of the article in the first paragraph are not required to be summaries of sections after the lead, as the other paragraphs of the lead should be." SlimVirgin (talk) 00:29, 23 July 2006 (UTC)
Sure; in the first paragraph, there is no need for defining or context-providing statements to be summaries of other parts of the article, like the remainder of the lead section should be. For example, in Ernest Gellner, your first paragraph of the lead section defines him as "cited as one of the world's 'most vigorous intellectuals' [1] and a 'one-man crusade for critical rationalism,' [2]." That is an appropriate definition, so those statements do not need to be summaries of things in subsequent sections. (The non-summary statement in the third paragraph of your lead does not conform to this style guide, though.)
Sorry, I still don't follow. Can you show me an example of what it is (rather than what it's not)? SlimVirgin (talk) 00:42, 23 July 2006 (UTC)
Intro/lead section
statement location
Does it need to be
a summary of something
later in the article?
Should it be sourced
with cited references?
First paragraph,
providing context
or defining terms:
No Maybe (see WP:CITE)
Yes No, those should occur
where the details are.
LossIsNotMore 00:55, 23 July 2006 (UTC)
And, the references are appropriate there. For the remaining paragraphs of the lead, which should be entirely comprised of summaries of later sections, references should not appear, per the consensus on this talk page above, which does not violate WP:V. Do you think there is something in WP:V or WP:RS which implies that intro summaries should be cited when the summarized statements are already? If not, please replace my proposed compromise. LossIsNotMore 00:37, 23 July 2006 (UTC)
References belong in the lead just as they do anywhere else, if they are needed. I'm sorry, I'm not following you: "Do you think there is something in WP:V or WP:RS which implies that intro summaries should be cited when the summarized statements are already?" No idea what you mean. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:42, 23 July 2006 (UTC)
Can you find anything in WP:V or WP:RS which implies that statements need to be sourced the first time they appear in summary form, as well as or instead of where they appear in detail? LossIsNotMore 00:55, 23 July 2006 (UTC)
Okay, now I see. Thank you. :-) WP:V and WP:RS say that any contentious point, or anything that is challenged, has to be sourced, and of course any quote. It doesn't matter which part of the article they're in. Where did this idea come from that the intro is different in that regard? SlimVirgin (talk) 03:44, 23 July 2006 (UTC)
Well, I'm not opposed to adding citations to challenged points, but in the portion of the intro/lead which is supposed to be a summary, the point occurs in detail later in the article. Since this guideline suggests that significant controversies should be mentioned in the intro, that means some contentions statements might get there too. For example, in Battery electric vehicle, the point that US auto maufacturers have been accused of sabotaging their EV efforts is recited in the intro, but it's only sourced in the controversy section (and not very well at that -- which is one of the two reasons why I was wondering about this today.) If you look above, there are many opinions on the subject. LossIsNotMore 04:03, 23 July 2006 (UTC)
The main motivation I think is to make sure the citations occur for the detailed statements instead of their abstract, which may be assumed to come after the summary in the intro is read, however, after re-reading some of those comments above, I can't say that there really was a consensus (after the change was made there were a lot of objections.) I'll revise accordingly. LossIsNotMore 04:17, 23 July 2006 (UTC)
Loss, your edits are very confusing. This: "Statements providing context or defining the subject of the article in the first paragraph are not required to be summaries of sections after the lead, as the other paragraphs of the lead should be," is meaningless, and your additions about references are unnecessary. The policy dealing with references is WP:V. The guideline is WP:RS. This page doesn't have to say anything about references. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:48, 23 July 2006 (UTC)
What happened to "Okay, now I see"? You reverted your own change of "needs to" to "should". Let me try rewording. LossIsNotMore 07:04, 23 July 2006 (UTC)

If disputed, material in the lead should have a specific source provided. However I don't see why such annotation couldn't be done with {{inote}} or some other method that does not produce footnotes cluttering the text. Annotation that is necessary to clear up a dispute, but is unlikely to be of interest to readers, can always be included in a non-disruptive format. Christopher Parham (talk) 06:25, 1 August 2006 (UTC)


<<< Sorry, but this whole conversation evades me. Policy cannot be bypassed by a guideline or, as in this case, a style guide. Consensus of editors cannot bypass policy either. References should be provided in article's lead, and the rationale is quite simple: Many readers do not explore the article itself, but are content to read just the lead. That is why a lead needs to summarize the main points, and where necessary provide references. The need to comply with WP:V and apply WP:CITE includes all material in the article, including the lead. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 23:09, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

To the extent the lead summarizes material contained in the article, there is no need to duplicate references in the lead. Rjensen 17:07, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
Anything contentious or likely to be challenged (or anything that actually is challenged), and any quotes, have to be referenced, whether they are in the lead or not. WP:V doesn't make any exceptions for the introduction. Where did this idea come from that the lead section is different? SlimVirgin (talk) 17:10, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
If you read the discussion above, Rjensen, you'll see there was no consensus to add that references aren't necessary in the lead section, and the change was proposed by Joshbuddy, who is not a regular editor. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:13, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
I don't think it matters who proposed the change, Slim. That said, this is a style guideline; the page sets down what should happen, unless there's a good reason to argue otherwise. The examples you put above are good arguments of a lede that needs citations; however, I can see other places (e.g. Hurricane Katrina) that need to be summarized extensively in order to have a decent lead, and in which references for everything aren't the best idea. I don't think anyone is arguing about contentious points being referenced, but rather about having superfluous references. Titoxd(?!?) 19:27, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
The lead section will have information that is covered in more detail in later paragraphs. We have markup capability to jump to any subheading if we link the subheading to a word in the lead with a pipe. Then the jumped to subheading should contain the references which substantiate any statement the lead makes. On the subject of references within the lead, I have seen strong objections to external links in the lead. Perhaps external links in the lead is the kind of reference the discussion revolves around? Terryeo 19:35, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
I think it does make a difference who proposed it, Tito, because an experienced editor would know that no proposal here can supercede WP:V. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:41, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
But that's where we disagree: having references in the lead or outside the lead does not affect WP:V. As long as we have the references, we've satisfied that requirement. Titoxd(?!?) 20:48, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
Any claim that is challenged needs a reference; it doesn't matter where it is in the article. It could be repeated a thousand times, if someone challenges an example of it in the intro, you have to add a reference. Also, you forget that articles aren't written by just one editor. Something could be unreferenced in the intro, but referenced elsewhere in the text; then someone removes the later one, and you're left with the unreferenced material in the lead. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:52, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
In that we'll have to agree to disagree. If the text is challenged, you can just say "scroll down" and that will solve the issue. If the reference is removed, then you just readd it, as it will be available in the history anyways. Titoxd(?!?) 22:13, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
Indeed. But why not just have it in the intro in the first place? ;-D SlimVirgin (talk) 22:16, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
Indeed, indeed... We do not need to specify "do not add references to the lead", neither we have to say "you must add references to the lead". In contentious topics, we should expect editors to add references to the lead, as readers do not always go beyond the article's lead. The new ref format allows for named refs, so there is no problem in adding several refs links to to same reference. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 23:23, 25 July 2006 (UTC)


Say to use the STRONG html tag and not B, for Bold title. Same for many others of these advice pages. --User:Jidanni 2006-07-26

html directly in articles is frowned upon. We already have a wiki format to do that anyway, and it would still be semantically not very appropriate. Circeus 21:56, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
Semantically the ideal would probably be <strong class="leadname"> or something. But wiki format is definitely preferred, yes, because it's easier to read. It's not good semantics, but I say this in a nested definition list used for indentation, so . . . —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 23:37, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

My revert

Stevertigo, I reverted your changes because I don't feel they were improvements. (1) It's not clear what any of your bulleted points would mean in practice; (2) there is no particular "order" that things have to be written in; (3) it is known as the "lede" in journalism (for a particular reason), but not here; (4) it's not true that it should "never" be limited to one or two sentences, because it depends on the length of the article; (5) there were grammatical errors e.g. "in proportion with" and unclear phrases like "cited references" (what's an uncited reference?). The previous version was straightforward and clear. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:16, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

I have restored the original wording and also question the usefulness of the bullet points:

1. Context - describing the category or field in which the topic belongs.
2. Definition - what the term refers to as it is used in the given context.
3. Explanation - deeper meaning and background.
4. Overview - how the topical context relates to other topics.
5. Contrast - related, similar, or opposite terms, to disambiguate from the topic

I have not seen any articles that follow these, and would argue that imposing this to 1.2 million articles a posteriori may be unnatainable. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 18:11, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

I've removed it again, because articles do not follow these, and there's no need to. Can Steve, or whoever wants to add it, show some examples of leads that do this? I can't even work out what it means exactly. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:27, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
I am not so sure about the limitation of "up to four paragraphs". Some articles may need more to be summarized properly. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 23:30, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
Fair point. I can put back "several". SlimVirgin (talk) 00:48, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

Stevertigo, rather than continuing to revert, could you please say what the above would mean in practise, or give an example of a lead section that does this? SlimVirgin (talk) 09:07, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

I dont have a lot of time to comment, except to say these are not rules per se, but a heirarchy of requirements with the last ones being less necessary as the first. I dont understand how much more clear I could talk about a listing of 5 (count them, FIVE) bullet points. You can change or fine tune them if you like, but those points are basic requirements for a lede. These represent a simple methodology which Ive been using (with some success) for years in forming a description of articles. It also represents my own understanding of browse-reading, where in the context of reading a large article people will scan other articles. This requires that those scanned articles be to the point, and not mugglesome in their readability. You seem to be reverting based on several nitpicking several points, and then politely request that I talk "instead of reverting." Make whatever corrections are necessary to improve it, rather than trying to slim everything down to anorexia. -Ste|vertigo 19:36, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree that these suggestions are not helpful in practice, wheras the suggestion to summarize the body is extremely useful and simple and effective. Among other things, it's not really clear what is meant by "how the topical context relates to other topics." Wouldn't the topical context itself be the article's relation to other topics? Christopher Parham (talk) 20:28, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I also don't understand what that means. It's not a question of nit-picking, just a failure to understand, and we can't edit something if we don't know what it's trying to say. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:45, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Stevertigo, please provide some examples of leads that more or less follow this advice. If we have firm examples, we may be able to find other ways to word your edit. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:48, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I like my version just fine. I take issue of course with Jossi's notion of what "original" means. You can call other friends to back you up if you like, but the usage of a few basic bullet points is so basically useful I regard it as beyond your business to decide unilaterally. Take it to Medcom or Arbcom if you have problems. I can cite hundreds of examples - particularly from the sciences. Applying this modal approach to controversial articles is a useful tool whether you can see it or not. Its obvious that we arent going to agree on much of anything. -Ste|vertigo 12:00, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
Can you give us a couple of examples, so we can see what you mean? SlimVirgin (talk) 12:10, 5 August 2006 (UTC)


Example 1

Baal teshuva (Hebrew: בעל תשובה; for a woman: בעלת תשובה, baalat teshuva; plural: בעלי תשובה, baalei teshuva) is a Hebrew term refering to a person who has repented. Baal teshuva may be translated literally as "possessor of repentance", or translated idiomatically as "one who has done repentance." The term has historically referred to a Jew who had transgressed the Halakha ("Jewish law") and completed a process of introspection and "repentance". Modern day usage usually refers to a formerly non-Orthodox Jew who has adopted observance of Orthodox Judaism, although outside Orthodoxy some use this term to refer to an adoption of Conservative or Reform Judaism by one who was previously not observant at all. To connote the modern usage exclusively, some use the term hozer bi'teshuva, or "one who returns in repentance".

Thank you. That's clearer now, and I can see your bullet points would fit certain topics very well. But how do they fit in with, for example, the introduction of George_W._Bush? SlimVirgin (talk) 00:40, 6 August 2006 (UTC)
1. Context - describing the category or field in which the topic belongs.
2. Definition - what the term refers to as it is used in the given context.
3. Explanation - deeper meaning and background.
4. Overview - how the topical context relates to other topics.
5. Contrast - related, similar, or opposite terms, to disambiguate from the topic
They dont, and thats a good point. Bios are an entirely different mode of writing. Perhaps we need to outline the modes we deal with here. Obviously encyclopedic writing is expository, but there are sub-modes like WP:BIO for particular types of articles. -Ste|vertigo 01:09, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

Example 2

Example 2

In geopolitics, geostrategy refers to foreign policy motivated by a desire for the control of foreign geographic resources. "Oil geostrategy" and "global energy policy", for example, are largely synonymous with "petroleum politics." Geostrategists advocate proactive action, such as use of diplomacy, economic leveraging, threats and usage of military force, to approach geopolitical situations from a nationalist point-of-view. Hence their ideas are relevant principally to certain national contexts—the nationality of the strategist, the strength of their native country's resources, the scope of their country's goals, the political environment of the time, and the technological factors that affect military, political, economic, and cultural engagement.

As such, geostrategy is related to globalization, and represents a way nations or agencies plan to increase their control of marketable resources within foreign markets, and thereby profit from transactions in supplying (ie. "matching") large scale economic "demands". Because relative national strength and dominance (economic and military) are intrinsic to any operable concepts of "strategy," anti-globalisation critics of geostrategy assert that "geostrategy" is a pseudoscientific gloss for used by dominant nations to justify imperialist or hegemonic aspirations.

Your proposal may apply to certain type of articles, such as topical articles that explores the use of a term as per the examples above. But it would not work on biographies, geographical articles, and many others. An excercise would be to check 10 random articles and see if the proposed treatment works. From my own test, 9 out of 10 did not (He Knows You Know, Troy H. Middleton, Autopsy (band), Os du Randt, Nature study, Revolutionary Socialist League (UK), Ernest Callenbach, Kentucky General Assembly, Foreign direct investment, and Two-node cluster (the latter ws the only one that could benefit from such lead treatment). Nevertheless, we may be able to add some wording to the style guide and propose a specific treatment to the lead for such articles in which it may be useful. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 02:38, 6 August 2006 (UTC)
You both make a good point in this regard - if a methodology applies mostly to one type of article then it should be stated so. I often work on articles where the term is subjective and therefore controversial: Truth, Theology, Palestinian refugee, etc. We can (as I said above) take a look at the basic modalities that these fall under - in my view, the most important typology is the distiction between subjective and objective topics. Articles about concepts trancend articles about nouns, and need rigorous explanation. Noun topics ("nounics") have their ambiguities handled by differentiation in title, and the lede can just get to the meat. Concept articles which fail to have deep disambiguating explanations on the other hand tend to be difficult to read and uninteresting - as the material below is not likely to be any better written. Regards to both of you, -Ste|vertigo 08:50, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

It seems to me that Stevertigo's 5 point program for introductions might fit well in some contexts, such as scholarly introduction. But Wikipedia has many editors of many educational levels, some of whom speak English as a second language. I would prefer the guideline present very easy to follow, but specific guide. In reading through the kind of complicated discussion, I don't see much gain has been introduced. In general, as simple as possible seems to work here. Perhaps it is not the most substial method, but in the grit and sweat of many editors, simple is stronger. (I think) Terryeo 02:47, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. SlimVirgin (talk) 06:48, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
Whatever. If people are having trouble with reading English, they can use Simple Wikipedia. For the rest of us, our encyclopedia must not cater to a very low (or even very "easy") standard of writing. We can find compromises of course in terms of readability, but writing "simple" ledes for complex topics is often just a way to make them difficult. This works of course if you dont want people to understand whats going on (note, for example, how disjuncted the various articles about "Palestine" and "Palestinian" have nominally been), but this is an obstructive or obfuscative and agenda-driven manner of editing which contradicts our mandate to explain things. I attempt to write plainly, but plain writing does not preclude an advanced explanation or justify the tag-team removal therof. -Ste|vertigo 16:19, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
I have no trouble at all reading English, but I don't understand your writing. Rather than issuing insults, you could try explaining it. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:23, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
I of course wasnt talking about you per se, but people in general. We write for a general audience, not for teenagers nor for experts. I can tone things down a bit, of course - thats part of the editing process -- but that does not justify your MO of removing the material just because you dont understand or comprehend it. -Ste|vertigo 16:28, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
It doesn't mean anything as written. Please explain it rather than arguing. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:30, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
Regarding Stevertigo's comment starting "Whatever": The elitism of the comment itself is valuable; the attempt to intimidate readers using language that nobody would believe was intended to be clear is quite good also. It is, I believe, a fine example of how not to contribute to Wikipedia.
Below is a talk thread from the article Three-phase electric power in which I explain my perception (or perhaps vision) of Wikipedia as a reader-friendly, equal-opportunity resource. A prize for the first 100 people who read it through to the end.
peterr 11:49, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
First I want to say that this article was obviously written and contributed to by people who really know what they’re talking about. The depth of the technical detail is impressive.
However, coming in as a layman rather than an electrical engineer, electrician or mathematician, I was lost almost from the beginning, looking for a simple explanation of what three-phase as compared to a ‘normal’ electrical supply was. I have seen this issue before in Wikipedia articles—experts provide great in-depth detail without realizing that the average user may be looking for a concise, high-level explanation of the subject that can be quickly read and understood to a limited degree (drive-by users I call them). I doubt most people have more than a minimal understanding of AC power generation and transmission to begin with, so by immediately jumping into pretty technical details, a majority of readers may be left behind without gleaning even a basic understanding of the subject. For this article, I think it would be great to have a short introduction that in simple language explains, for example, why a three-phase supply is better suited to motors for industrial duty, while most household appliance motors can get by with single-phase that's usually supplied. peterr 02:55, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
It's in there, but maybe it should be moved to the top. The whole point of having a 3-phase system is to run AC induction motors. Or stated more clearly: the whole point of the Tesla Polyphase System installed by Westinghouse Corp is to operate Tesla's polyphase AC motors. These are brushless motors which require two or more AC circuits with differing phase to create a rotating magnetic field that drags a copper/iron cylinder into rotation. No other reasons for having multiple AC phases make much sense, since other types of loads don't require 3-phase, and smoother DC rectification is a historically later benefit (Rectifiers didn't even exist in 1896 when Westinghouse Corp first started installing the Tesla Polyphase System.) --Wjbeaty 02:24, 21 October 2006 (UTC)
I realize it’s all in there and well-explained, and the introductory sentence does mention AC induction motors. But the very next sentence is “Three-phase systems have at least three conductors carrying voltage waveforms that are 2π/3 radians (120°,1/3 of a cycle) offset in time. In this article angles will be measured in radians except where otherwise stated”. This reads like a textbook, and in my opinion could scare away a reader with no concept of waveforms that measure 2π/3 radians, or those not prepared to use units other that radians for angle measurements (when specifically told to do so).
The article titled “Three-phase” has as its introductory sentence the second sentence of this article. The other article too jumps straight into technical concepts and mathematics, rather than providing a quick overview of AC power, or at least a link to a layman’s article on the subject. (BTW I think these two articles should be combined—there is redundancy, and I’m not convinced of the usefulness of the shorter one that provides strictly a definition without touching upon application. For example if I wanted to find out what a bolt was, I would be pleased to have the same article that describes it as cylindrical and threaded go on to explain its primary use as a fastener.)
A waterfall that from the top down moves from high-level, easy to comprehend concepts for the layman, down to hard-core technical details for the initiated, is the structure I’m advocating. There may exist already guidelines on this, and certainly there are a multitude of other articles that would benefit from friendly introductions to their complex topics. I’m not picking on this article in particular; rather, because of its quality and wealth of information, I think it makes a good example of what a great Wikipedia article could be. Writers on technical topics should consider the possibility that much of their audience is being directed to their articles from mainstream searches, not from footnoted references in scholarly publications. Wikipedia should be not only accurate and comprehensive, but accessible to users of all educational backgrounds and fields of expertise. Introducing an article by supplying a useful, high-level definition in a non-intimidating manner may interest and encourage a user to read on to the nitty-gritty if he chooses. If he is satisfied with only the high-level definition, then the article has still served its purpose. Nothing is gained by anyone when a reader is scared away by immediate immersion into complex or esoteric discussion, and I don’t think it is in the spirit of Wikipedia to be, or appear to be, elitist.
From laymen looking for one-minute definitions to professionals seeking in-depth answers, people of all backgrounds should find Wikipedia the best all-around encyclopedic resource on the Web. Contributors of the highest caliber, however, must assume that many readers of their articles may be completely new to the topics. Detailed, technical information drawn from accumulation of knowledge and wealth of experience is of course invaluable to other professionals and students, those readers of the ability to comprehend such. However, there is should exist the responsibility to provide for the most casual of information seekers as well, those who enter having no knowledge of the topic whatsoever. These users deserve the best the contributor can provide in the manner of a concise, easily-understood definition or overview of the topic, and the contributor may take as much pride in creating this as in the sharing the detailed information that follows. It may well be that a great majority of readers require that high-level explanation, and the ability of an expert to distill the complexity of their topic into this concise, layman-friendly introduction speaks to his professionalism and generosity.
To conclude this overlong “comment”, although an introduction of sorts may be in there somewhere, it’s not what I envision for the layman who just wants to know if his toaster runs on three-phase current
peterr 11:49, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

Modes of writing

Stevertigo, I'm unclear about what most of your new section means. For example, can you say what this means? "Object articles deal with particular objects, and this definition is accomplished largely through disambiguation guidelines ..." SlimVirgin (talk) 07:15, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

There are a few articles, directing articles, listing articles containing the term, such as Space Opera and Engram, that do nothing but disambiguate. Myself, I would prefer these "lists of articles on Wikipedia, each specialized" be kept as simple as possible. But generally, at least as of late, I've seen more disambiguation in articles than is really necessary. I really object to a reader first having to read a 2 sentence disambiguation notice in order to understand the obvious, that he has found what he wanted to read. Terryeo 07:27, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I agree. But I'm still very unclear what "this definition is accomplished largely through disambiguation guidelines ..." could mean. What definition? How can a definition be "accomplished"?
Anyway, we can't write general WP:LEAD guidelines with only a small number of pages in mind, and as you said above, best to keep it simple. SlimVirgin (talk) 06:51, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
Stevertigo, please don't keep adding it without explaining what it means. It's possible we can make it clearer if we know what you intend to say. SlimVirgin (talk) 15:59, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
I understand that you may be having the trouble with understanding the English language. Perhaps you and I could work on a modes of writing article as a way to establish a basis for that section, as well as a way for you and I to work on our collaboration skills. You might need to do some research, but I can supply a quick overview. -Ste|vertigo 16:22, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
Stevertigo, when you open your statement with "I understand that you may be having the trouble with understanding the English language", do you imagine that it falls within the framework of the Wikipedia's civility policy? Do you think it will induce anyone to read further, or take your suggestions seriously? Jayjg (talk) 18:07, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
That alleged lack of seriousness naturally follows from the incivil and uncooperative usage of reverts. See Golden Rule. -Ste|vertigo 19:59, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
The encyclopedia is intended to be accessible to readers, and incomprehensible language is a hindrance to that goal; therefore it should be removed from articles. Furthermore, major guideline changes should be done with some sort of consensus, to ensure that they don't reflect one single editor's idiosyncratic views. Finally, attempts to claim that reverting bad edits is a violation of WP:CIVIL are a broad and unwarranted expansion of that policy; reverts are not given as an example in WP:CIVIL, for good reason. Jayjg (talk) 21:24, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
This argument appears to be behavioural in nature and thus trancends the current topics. As youre on the Arbcom and should know better, Ive taken the issue to wikien-l. Please respond either here or there. Regards, -Ste|vertigo 21:38, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
Discussion of article content belongs on article Talk: pages. Jayjg (talk) 22:18, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

What is going on here, Stelvertigo? Why don't you address the concerns raised? ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 22:36, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

Whats going on here is a classic case of wikistalking in tandem. Ive responded to all relevant concerns and have been met with nothing but incivility disguised as politeness and revert-ownership disguised as policy. Wikien appears to agree with my general view of things. -Ste|vertigo 03:53, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
I'll just go ahead and say it. Stevertigo, your behaviour is non-productive, accusatory and short-nosed. Editors have gone to lengths to understand and work with you. Your editing this guideline has produced difficulty in several ways. You really should not become accusatory in that manner. Terryeo 19:58, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
You assessment is ungrounded. You are most welcome to write an essay on how you think the structure the leads of artices about concepts should be made. But to shove your ideas down other throats when there is an obvious lack of consensus for these, is not acceptable. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 14:43, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Wikien does not agree with your general view of things, and if people knew about the particular cases, you'd get no support at all. You're trying to add your own opinions about several issues, not just on this page, and not only are the views idiosyncratic, but they're also phrased in a way that makes them impossible to understand e.g. your description of God: "God is a Germanic name for deified reference ("reverence") to the unitary concept of deity ..." Please edit within the policies. SlimVirgin (talk) 14:48, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Your absence on that open thread is sadly noted. What conclusions about your position and tactics may we draw from it? -Ste|vertigo 20:44, 17 August 2006 (UTC)


Writing about concepts Explanation

Encyclopedias are, by most definitions, limited to using an expository writing style —similar to most "news style" writing —where the main idea is that the material should be written objectively and descriptively. Within that framework, there are some important distinctions for how one should approach numerous different article "types" —all of which fall into the two basic classes of objects (ie. "people, places, or things") and concepts (ie. ideas, views, ideologies). These differ substantively in a way that requires them to be presented according to (slightly) different modes:

  • Object articles deal with particular objects, and this definition is accomplished largely through disambiguation guidelines, to distinguish different objects with similar names.
  • Concept articles, in order to properly define the topic in an unambiguous way, must "define" the concept by way of relative description (ie. "shaping" the concept) by reference to other concepts. This is because a "concept" (by definition) is an abstraction which has meaning only in reference to other concept-abstractions.

Hence it is often quite simple and straightforward to describe objects, and writing ledes for object articles is likewise straightforward. On the other hand, it is often quite difficult to describe concepts, because doing so depends on reference to other concepts —which can be controversial both in terms of their reference as well as their very definition.

This is most clearly seen in articles about philosophical topics, were ideas such as "truth", "goodness," and even philosophy itself (!) are hugely debated in accordance with various notions about both the meaning of the term, as well as how this meaning should be described and presented. Political concepts are often even more difficult, as such concepts, by nature, are ones for which different sides attempt to redefine (or "spin") in ways which promote their particular claim or agenda.

Below are some basic guidelines for ledes within concept articles. (Note that 2 applies to object articles as well, as do 3 and 4, though these would typically be placed in "history" or "background" sections.)

  1. Context - describing the category or field in which the topic belongs.
  2. Definition - what the term refers to as it is used in the given context.
  3. Explanation - deeper meaning and background.
  4. Overview - how the topical context relates to other topics.
  5. Contrast - related, similar, or opposite terms, to disambiguate from the topic.
Wikipedia, like other encyclopedias and newspapers, uses the expository writing mode. We have found that articles about objects (ie. "people, places, or things") are different from articles about concepts (ie. ideas, views) in terms of their mode of writing, and that this difference affects how their first sections should be written.

So while is often quite simple and straightforward to write articles which describe particular objects, it is often quite difficult to describe inclusive general concepts, because concepts are largely defined by reference to other concepts —which often can be controversial in both their definition and relevance to the topic.

Below are some basic guidelines for writing ledes within concept articles. Note that 2 applies to object articles as well, as do 3 and 4, though these would typically be placed in "history" or "background" sections.

  1. Context - describing the category or field in which the topic belongs.
  2. Definition - what the term refers to as it is used in the given context.
  3. Explanation - deeper meaning and background.
  4. Overview - how the topical context relates to other topics.
  5. Contrast - related, similar, or opposite terms, to disambiguate from the topic.

Examples of commonly problematic "concept topics" are found in all areas of philosophy, science, religion, and sociology, including mathematics (philosophy) and politics (sociology). For example, in mathematics, high level concepts may be written in a way which attempts to be succinct and descriptive by using only specialized language, rather than giving a more general overview. Political concepts are often even more difficult, as different sides attempt to redefine (or "spin") these in ways which promote their particular claim or agenda.

Encyclopedias are, by most definitions, limited to using an expository writing style —similar to most "news style" writing. No, I don't think so. You have stated that encyclopedic writing is quite similar, indeed, even of the same style as news writing. I don't think so. In fact, the two differ greatly. But that is a question of philosophy. If your interest is in that area, then the person you would need to contact is the founder of Wikipedia, Jimbo. He could then, were you influential enough, could rewrite and change the foundation which all Wikipedia articles are based on and rooted in. Thus, your newscast reporting sort of writing could be used freely. Unfortunately, right now, today, that is not the sitution. Instead, right now, if you wish to continue to effect guidelines, it would behoove all of us for you to understand the 3 policies on which our guidelines are based. Terryeo 02:47, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

You obviously didnt read the article, or maybe its completely wrong and you need to rewrite it for us: "Expository writing is a mode of writing in which the purpose of the author is to inform, explain, describe or define his or her subject to the reader." Thanks for your informed comments though. :[ -Ste|vertigo 17:56, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
I'll be blunt with you Stevertigo. I am not going to rewrite an article for you. An enclyclopedia is not a newspaper article. They serve different publics and they have, therefore, different purposes. Happy Ho Ho's. Terryeo 03:26, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks again for youre informed comments. I wonder though if you understand the meaning of the word "like" to indicate a comparison or relation between one thing and another. So, within the umbrella of expository writing, news and encyclopedic form are examples thereof which are "like" each other but not each other. Hence the different names. And there was no claim that they are equivalent in the writing. Neither fits entirely into the other three basic writing categories, but maybe your defintion of news and encyclopedia writing contains elements of persuation, narrative, and literal description, in which case you could write to Jimbo and tell him how to rewrite the rules. Thanks again, again. -Ste|vertigo 05:07, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
Frankly, I rather like Jimbo's involvement and statement as appears in NPOV and that is, in the main, why I edit here. Terryeo 07:20, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

References in the lead section

OK. I've read the archived discussions on whether and how references should be dealt with in the lead section. My opinion is: (a) that references should only be used in the lead section for controversial statements where someone requests a reference; and (b) that due to the lead section acting as a stand-alone summary of the rest of the article, any superscript links in the lead should take you not to the reference, but to the relevant part of the article where the controversial topic summarised in the lead section is discussed in more detail (maybe have such links marked as "more"). That detailed section will then have the required references. An alternative is to link directly to the reference, or even to link to selected references appearing at the bottom of the lead section. But at the moment, confusion reigns. Can we try and agree on something that deals with the fact that the lead section will (by design) repeat stuff said elsewhere, and how to handle references for repeated material. Carcharoth 11:48, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree completely. -Ste|vertigo 17:01, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
Confusion doesn't reign, Carcharoth. WP:V, WP:NOR, WP:BLP, WP:RS, and WP:CITE are very clear that any contentious edit; any quote; any edit challenged or likely to be challenged; and any material about living persons, particularly negative material, needs a reference, whether it's in the lead or any other section. If you want to start a discussion about exceptions for the lead, the best place is Wikipedia talk:Verifiability, as that's the relevant policy page, and this page must be consistent with it. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:11, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
It is very simple, really, Carcharoth. If there is an edit that you want in the lead, and an editor asks you for a reference for your edit, you will need to oblige. There are no exceptions: all text needs to be referenced if challenged. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 20:14, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
Forgive me for missing something here, but you are making it sound like an edit is something of itself, a thing independent from the article. It is not an edit that needs to be referenced, but rather a sentence, paragraph or statement in an article that needs to be referenced. Anyway, now I've got that pedantic quibble out of the way, I'll expand on the other points. Carcharoth 22:07, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
Imagine that you had an article without a lead section. A well-written article that is split up into several sections, and that has lots of well-sourced references, but lacks a short summary and introduction (ie. lead section). Now imagine that you are writing a lead section for this article, a few paragraphs to both introduce and summarise the article. You carefully go through the article, picking out the major points to summarise, and craft a well-written lead section, according to the guidelines laid out here. But what is not clear is what to do with the references. Some of the points you have chosen to include in the summary were referenced in the main text. Maybe these guidelines tell you what to do? Oops! No they don't. All I can find is a bit saying that the lead section "should be carefully sourced like the rest of the text". Now that appears in the summary of this guideline, so I'd expected this point about "carefully sourced" to be expanded upon later in the guidelines. Sadly not. Ironic really, as this is a classic case of a lead section summarising something that doesn't appear in the main text.
To get more specific, I will emphasise that (contrary to what I may have said in the past) I accept that a lead section often does require references. But the point is that it is not clear whether the response should be to link to the reference used to cover point A later in the article, to use a different reference, or to link to the expanded coverage of point A later in the article.
Another point I want to make is that this issue is, for me, one of getting the house style to be consistent. I am not trying to sneak unreferenced stuff into lead sections. I am genuinely confused over the seeming redundancy of duplicating references in two places in an article, and if this is what is needed, there being no guidelines here on how to do this.
Maybe I can best put this by offering this draft guideline of how to deal with references for material that appears in both the lead section and the main text:
"(1) If the lead section summarises a point from the main text, and that point is referenced in the main text, then the lead section should link to this reference as well. (2) Conversely, if the lead section summarises a point that does not need to be referenced, the lead section should not reference it either. (3) If a point in the lead section is disputed, edited, or has a reference added, and there is a corresponding paragraph in the main text, then the main text should be similarly changed. (4) If a point in the main text is disputed, edited, or has a reference added, and this point is covered in the lead section, then the lead section should be similarly changed.".
Is that clear enough? Carcharoth 22:07, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
References are often duplicated throughout an article. Why do you see that as a problem? Also, bear in mind that this is a wiki. Something might be referenced in the body of an article and that text might be removed, leaving no refs for the lead. Far better to have the reference directly there so the reader can read the sentence/paragraph and immediately see where it came from. But, as I said before, this isn't the page to have this discussion on, as this isn't a policy page. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:11, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
You think I should take this to WP:V? I might do that in just a minute. But first, how about making the lead section even more self-contained than it is at the moment? One of the ideas seems to be to have the lead section be able to act as a self-contained summary of the article (though sadly many don't), and to act as a version of the article for a "micropedia" or a paper version of Wikipedia, or something. If that is the case, then it would make sense for the references in the lead section to appear below the lead section, rather than right down at the bottom of the article. Visually, that makes it clear that the lead section is a distinct summary of the article. Carcharoth 22:19, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
I don't see what the benefit of that would be. The only reason I say you should take it to V is that you're proposing quite a radical change to the verifiability policy, and so it's not a decision that could be made by only the editors on this page. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:25, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

OK. I've raised this at WP:V. Thanks for the comments here. One more thing. You say that "references are often duplicated thoughout an article". In my experience, that tends to be poor referencing. It is often more appropriate to find more specific references for the different points raised. If the same point is being raised again, the first reference should suffice - similar to the guideline not to wikilink something every time it appears in an article. Could you point me to some examples of duplicated references please? Thanks. Carcharoth 22:45, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

see [1], reference appearing [2] which has superscripts a,b,c,d. Terryeo 23:45, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
If you look at any well-referenced article you'll see examples of duplicated references. Any article that uses the new ref system will show the duplicated references as a,b,c,d, which indeed is part of what makes the system popular. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:28, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
Of course it is possible that one of you means, "several quotations from a single referenced book" while the other means, "Several cites to the same quoted line". I do see articles quoting different chapters and pages of a book or other extensive source. But few articles which cite a single quotation multiple times within an article. Terryeo 23:41, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

Further discussion of references in the lead section

Further discussion of references in the lead section, and also general issues for references in summary-style articles versus references in detailed daughter articles of summary-style articles, is taking place at Wikipedia_talk:Verifiability#References_in_the_lead_section. One promising idea from that discussion came when I was directed to this guideline Wikipedia:Summary_style#Citations_and_external_links. The idea is that summary-style sections, of which the lead section is a particular type, need only contain general references (eg. to a biography of a famous person), rather than the specific chapter-by-chapter and page-by-page references that may be found in the main body of the article. Of course, controversial statements, which should be included in the lead section if they are central to the subject of the article, still need a detailed supporting reference. However, I submit that if the controversial statement is about an obscure detail, then the statement should be dropped from the lead section because it is going into too much detail for a summary of the article. ie. Relevance to a summary trumps controversiality, and statements (controversial or not) should only appear in the lead section if they concern key aspects of the subject of the article.


  • When referencing information-dense lead sections, it is best to use references to similarly information-dense sources covering the topic as a whole (eg. an authoritative biography of a famous person), rather than detailed references for each specific detail. Detailed references for the corresponding specific details should be provided in the main body of the article.
  • Controversial statements in the lead section should have a detailed reference to support them. For example, statements in the lead section of articles covering current events, or statements in the lead section of articles about a controversy.
  • In general, lead sections should not have excessive, or over-detailed referencing, as this will spoil the flow of the text and reduce readability. One way to approach this is to provide a reference at the end of each paragraph of the lead section, or a note to the references for that paragraph.
  • If the lead section of an article has excessive referencing, or requests for more extensive referencing, this may be a sign that the lead section has become too detailed. A rewrite may be needed to summarise the information, provide a general reference, and move details and their references down to the main body of the article and merge with the existing details.

Do these four points sound reasonable, and can they be incorporated somehow into the guidelines here at Wikipedia:Lead section? Carcharoth 11:30, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

My opinion - Our product is a readable article which communicates the subject to the reader. A scholarly article might reference differently than a Wikipedia article. Here, our reader is the common person. Certainly we want to reference our statements. My feeling is, let us neither deny cites in the lead section, nor encourage excessive cites in the lead section. That would be enough. Terryeo 15:25, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree. Unfortunately none of this is made clear in the guidelines at Wikipedia:Lead section. Can you suggest a way to say this in the guidelines? Carcharoth 22:34, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
Carcharoth, I disagree. As someone said on the other page, one size doesn't fit all. Lead sections have to be referenced just like any other section: how many references depends on the content, and the content depends on the topic. It's best to discuss referencing issues on Wikipedia talk:Verifiability, which is the relevant policy page. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:36, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
We do agree on something actually. I now agree that lead sections do need to be referenced, just like any other section (for the record, I only ever wanted to avoid duplicating references already present further down in an article, or having excessive references in what is meant to be a summary section - I have never suggested not referencing anything). I just think that the style in which they are referenced should be described in the guidelines to (a) guide people (there is confusion about this, as the many different styles show - some articles have no references at all in the lead section, some have a few, and some have so many that it interferes with the readability of what should be an accessible part of the article) and (b) to promote an accessible and readable style of referencing in the lead section to avoid excessive referencing of every single point raised in what is usually a section packed with information. My suggestions above may be a bit over-prescriptive, and I agree that one size doesn't fit all, but can we try and agree on some sort of guidelines? I'll start a new section below with a new suggestion. As for the correct location for this discussion, you are sending me to Wikipedia talk:Verifiability, and at least one editor over there is saying these issues need to be discussed here instead. So forgive me if that leaves me confused over whether to follow that editor's suggestion or your one. Carcharoth 22:34, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
If you're discussing whether certain points, issues, or sections ought to be referenced, discuss it at WP:V. If you're discussing how to write references, go to WP:CITE. If you're discussing other issues about the lead, here is good. SlimVirgin (talk) 09:50, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

How to reference summary style sections such as the lead section

The best guidelines I have seen so far over how to reference summary style sections such as the lead section is at Wikipedia:Summary_style#Citations_and_external_links. I would like these guidelines to be added to this page. Is this acceptable? Carcharoth 22:34, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't think so, myself. I think we need to work out the most essential elements of a lead and present that. We get involved in these technical issues about citing and we lose sight of the broad, open plain before us. We want leads to be readable. Maybe that is the single most important element of a lead, that it is readable. Just getting the basics in, that's what we need to communicate. Inspire creativity, guide gently, state obvious out points later in the guideline. Terryeo 02:02, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
It would be a very good idea, I think, to present 3 links to articles which are pretty stable and have good lead sections. Because it is a creative thing, not a dogmatic thing. Terryeo 02:03, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree totally about readability. That is what started me off on this. I had read many lead sections that had no references but were readable. When something in the lead section piqued my interest, I would follow it up in the main body of the article. Further, if I found something that I was unsure of and could be bothered to check, I would look for a reference in the main body of the article. I then began to notice that lead sections were sometimes out of synch with the main body of the article - sometimes something would be mentioned in the lead section, but not mentioned again later in the article. Hence if that item in the lead section wasn't referenced, there would be no reference at all. I then began to come across articles that had a few references in the lead section, and I found this a bit inconsistent - there seemed no rhyme or reason to what was being referenced. In general, I saw that some references in the lead section were being added in response to passing editors who slapped "citation needed" tags on some sentences in the lead section. But the approach was not consistent - many other sentences should have been labelled thus, but were not. Thus a seemingly random selection of references sprang up in some lead sections due to other editors requesting them, rather than a lead section being carefully, methodically and comprehensively referenced in great detail, or an editor taking the trouble to find a few key references that would cover the whole of the lead section. This was when I began to think that it would be better to either keep references in the main body of the article, and let the lead section just be a summary, or there needed to be a proper way to reference the lead section.
I am not trying to be dogmatic here. I just want to avoid other readers encountering the confusion that I did. Carcharoth 09:39, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, but I still don't know what you were confused about. SlimVirgin (talk) 09:52, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Have a look at Wikipedia_talk:Verifiability#Inconsistent_referencing_location. Carcharoth 11:30, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I read it, but I still don't see where the confusion stems from. If you write something that you feel needs a reference, add one. It doesn't matter if the same ref is in another section. Sorry if I'm being dense, but I don't see anything confusing about this. SlimVirgin (talk) 12:53, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps you could show us an example of an article you find confusing in the way you describe. SlimVirgin (talk) 12:54, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Examples would do us a world of good. I suspect we all are agreed on certain basic things (not too much clutter, etc) but are uncertain how to communicate the finer points. Terryeo 14:27, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
OK, taking a dartboard selection of 5 from the 53 articles promoted to featured status in July 2006 (Wikipedia:Featured_article_candidates/Featured_log/July_2006), and adding comments (article accessed in the afternoon of 20/08/2006 - I'll provide version links later if needed). Reindenting below for ease of readability. Carcharoth 15:30, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Looking just at the examples where there are references in the lead sections:

  • The Philadelphia Inquirer: (a) the infobox reference (more a footnote) gives more detail about the status of the person (Joseph Natoli) who held the title of publisher. Bizarrely, the information appears only in the infobox and not in the article. Another bugbear of mine. I would personally not use references in an infobox, but would treat the infobox as a summary of key information from the article, and I would add a sentence to the article and then add a footnote to that sentence to keep this information in the article, but not in the distracting place where it is at the moment. (b) The two references in the lead section seem to be used to support the "third oldest surviving daily newspaper in the United States" and "eighth largest weekly U.S. newspaper circulation" assertions. These are definitely assertions that need references to support them, but I don't understand why these two have been singled out. Why isn't a reference needed to support the "18 Pulitzer Prizes" fact, or something supporting the date of founding of the newspaper? (c) If we look down to the main body of the article, we see that the "third oldest" bit came from the history section, but it is not referenced there. In any case, the expanded section shows that the lead section has over-simplified the history (see the claim that it is the oldest paper). I have failed to find any mention in the main article that the paper is the eighth largest by circulation - an example of failed synchronisation between lead section and main article. The Pulitzer Prize details in the article don't actually say 18, but instead say that 17 were won from 1970-1985, and 1 in 1997. The figure of 18 appears only in the lead section, and there is no list of the Pulitzers (I would have thought that would be fairly easy to add and reference). The main article, like the lead, fails to give a reference supporting the "18 Pulitzers" bit. Also, there is no reference supporting the date of founding of the newspaper.
  • Muhammad Iqbal - one reference in the lead section, supporting the "greatest in modern times" assertion. I would say that the reference should actually quote from the source, rather than just link to it. This sentence from the lead section is not found in the main article. I would say that it should be repeated at the start of the "Criticism" section. Again, no clear reason why this statement in the lead section has been singled out for referencing above all the others.
  • Duke University - seven references in the lead section, and one in the info box. The infobox reference supports the endowment figure, and this fact and its reference are repeated later in the article (click 'b' on the reference to find it). What confuses me here is that there is other stuff in the infobox that could warrant a reference (eg. What source was used for the number of undergraduates and postgraduates, and the size of the campus?). ie. why has only one bit in the infobox been singled out for a reference? The references in the lead section support: the founding date and history; the minority program; the 2007 rankings; the research program expenditure; the athletic achievements; the cost of the rebuilding program; and the dates of the rebuilding program. All these references are repeated or paraphrased later in the article, usually with a different reference (this is a style different from the "repeat the references" style). This was the most impressive of the articles I looked at, when considered in terms of references.

Do these examples help show what I am talking about? How the standard of referencing varies greatly across articles, and that clearer guidelines and examples would help drive up standards? Carcharoth 15:30, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for providing those. I honestly don't see it as an issue. Editors have to be allowed to use their own editorial judgment, and I don't think we can, or would want to, legislate for everything. It's hard enough sometimes getting people to provide references of any kind. SlimVirgin (talk) 15:41, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Right, so we can conclude that it is OK if an editor writes, or rewrites, a lead section without adding or copying references from the text that he or she is summarising. But if another editor asks for a supporting reference, the original editor (or another editor) needs to provide one. My only concern here is that this promotes piecemeal referencing. Ideally, someone will sit down and carefully reference an entire article, including the lead section. But hey, this is Wikipedia! Thanks for your patience, and for helping to answer my concerns. I'll hang around a bit longer to see if others add any more comments, but need to do other stuff over the next few weeks. Carcharoth 15:54, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
It's true that there's an enormous variation in quality across the encyclopedia, and not just with references. Not sure we can do anything about it. :-) SlimVirgin (talk) 16:00, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, just to clue you in on something, that's exactly what we're trying to do here Slim --by outlining a methodology (based on our experiences) for how to write a balanced lead section -- even in controversial cases. Assuming you got that point, I dont see why it has taken you this long to understand it. -Ste|vertigo 03:04, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Was that comment really necessary, Stevertigo? ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 04:43, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Hey, I'm sure we can all get along if we try. How about we all find an article that doesn't have a very good lead section, rewrite it according to these guidelines, and report back here to discuss the different ways this can be done? If you don't have time to polish up or rewrite a lead section, find an example of a good lead section and use it as an example to illustrate these guidelines. I agree that there probably are many different ways of doing things, but examples really can help make things clearer, as long as we make clear that the examples are not proscriptive. Carcharoth 10:21, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

"Lead section" article should be clear on citations in lead sections

On June 3rd 2006, admin Joshbuddy added "References should not be included in the lead" to the (Lead section) article, under "Requirements", "Provide overview". On July 1st 2006, the lead section of the (Lead section) article stated that "points should be expanded upon later in the article, and the appropriate references added at that point, rather than in the lead section". On July 4th 2006, admin SlimVirgin made an edit described as "removed strange point about references". She made a related deletion some days later. Now (August 28th 2006) the (Lead section) article merely says the lead section "should be carefully sourced".

I've written lead sections for two different articles. At the time I wrote those sections, the (Lead section) article very clearly indicated that contributors should put NO REFERENCES in a lead section. So I followed the "directions". But now, the (Lead section) article SEEMS to direct that references/citations are REQUIRED in a lead section. But it's NOT CLEAR, because the phrase "should be carefully sourced" is TOO VAGUE to be helpful.

Logically, there are three possibilities:

  1. Lead sections need to INCLUDE supporting citations to references.
  2. Lead sections need to EXCLUDE supporting citations to references.
  3. The use of supporting citations to references, in lead sections, is OPTIONAL.

As long as this point remains vague, as it is now, lead sections in Wikipedia articles will remain CHAOTIC as regards the usage of citations. Two months ago, it was NO CITATIONS in lead. Now, it SEEMS to be USE CITATIONS in lead. Why should any contributor not expect that it will change again next month? Will it be a "ping pong" situation? Are contributors expected to alternately include and exclude citations in lead sections, every other month? Here's a suggestion for improvement --- Wikipedia "policies", or "guides", or whatever else they are called, should be "elected", and should have a "term of office" of one calendar year (starting January 1st and ending December 31st). That way, revision of articles due solely to changes in such "policies"/"guides" will need to be done only once per year, at a pre-set time known in advance to anyone who participates. And Wikipedia can have year-correlated versions, with respect to the "policies"/"guides". Once-a-year arguments over style will be much easier on the soul than constant arguments and ping-pong revisions.

Agent X 15:42, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

The relevant policy is WP:V, so that's the page to follow when it comes to references. Related policies are WP:NOR and WP:BLP and a related guideline is WP:RS. No one should have added the no-references-in-the-lead point to this page in the first place, and that's what caused the confusion. It has now been returned to be in line with the policies, which means that anything challenged or likely to be challenged (and, of course, any quotes) should be referenced, whether in the lead or anywhere else. And in biographies of living persons, all negative material must be referenced or removed. Hope that helps. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:08, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Except that iff the "contentionus" material in the lead section is just a brief one-sentence summary of a well-referenced and expanded section further down in the article, there's no need to have a redundant citation in the lead. Titoxd(?!?) 16:11, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
There is. Lead sections are referenced just like any other. They're no different. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:12, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Lead Section: definitions or descriptions?

There is guidance on the Lead Section in at least three different Help pages.

1) The Help page Wikipedia:Lead section reads: The lead section should provide a clear and concise introduction to an article's topic, establish context, and define the terms.

2) The Help page Wikipedia:Guide to writing better articles reads: should establish significances, large implications and why we should care. If the subject is amenable to definition, the first sentence should give a concise, conceptually sound definition that puts the article in context. Then proceed with a description. The definition should be as clear to the nonspecialist as the subject matter allows.

3) The Help page Wikipedia:Guide to layout reads: Lead section Normally, the first paragraph summarizes the most important points of the article. It should clearly explain the subject so that the reader is prepared for the greater level of detail and the qualifications and nuances that follow.

1) mentions “define the terms”; 2) mentions “definition that puts the article in context. Then proceed with a description. The definition should be as clear”; 3) mentions “summarizes the most important points of the article. It should clearly explain the subject”.

Some articles like Marketing, Advertising and others, at least in this area, have a very short Lead Section, just an assertive definition, clearly from the industry. I think there is very little room for assertive definitions in a encyclopedia, particularly in cases when the articles subsequently mention several definitions. I wouldn’t be surprised if whoever wrote the article (in particular the Lead Section) was at least a little bit misled by the above mentioned Help pages or interpreted it according to own intentions.

I suggest the term definition be removed from the guidance to the Lead Section in the different Help pages and be replaced by some other like description, for instance, and further emphasis be put on mentioning the most important points of the article and on the explanation of the subject in the Lead Section. DavidMarciano 14:53, 10 September 2006 (UTC)

In a number of articles it really makes a good deal of sense to define the main term of the article. I have no idea what words are new to the reading public, but certainly some of our articles present brand new words which the reader has not encountered before. I think it is useful to a reader to be reading an article, find a new term which is linked, click to that article and find a definition of it in the lead section. But yes, in some articles a definition would be distracting and perhaps, redundant. Terryeo 17:36, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

Three rules addition

I've added a small section off the top with three (I hope) commonsensical rules. Talk can stretch out indefintely, so I thought I'd just add it. But of course, if anyone has a comment, we can talk about it here. Marskell 23:02, 7 October 2006 (UTC)

I noticed in moving the suggestions down Slim removed the third. I reinserted, changing "If a something is not mentioned..." to "If a significant argument is not mentioned...". Marskell 11:26, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

I don't agree with these three rules.

  • "In the lead try to have a sentence, clause, or at least a word devoted to each of the main headlines in the article."
  • That's very hard to do, and somewhat contrived. It also won't always be possible or desirable.
  • "The relative weight given to points in the lead should reflect the relative weight given to each in the remainder of the article."
  • Again, very hard to do and not always possible or desirable.
  • "If a significant argument is not mentioned after the lead it should not be mentioned in the lead."
  • I definitely don't agree with this. It isn't always necessary to repeat points and it depends what you mean by significant.

This looks like an attempt to produce an algorithm for good writing, which can't be done. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:39, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

  1. I changed to "try to" as I realize it won't always be possible. Yes it's contrived, but contrived guidelines can have a use—the best LEADs I've read do this already.
  2. This one strikes me as basically inarguable. When is it "desirable" to have a LEAD emphasize things that the body does not? If your LEAD and body differ in their emphasis then one of the two should be changed. Often fairweather editors only stop-by to pick at the LEAD to an article—"this does not belong in the intro until you can expand it in, or eliminate contradiction with, the body" is always a fair argument.
  3. Well, yes, it depends what you mean by significant. I think I people should be able to work it out commonsensically—it's just a guideline after all.
As for algorithms, I think these all follow from "The lead section should briefly summarize the most important points covered in an article in such a way that it could stand on its own as a concise version of the article." We have this sentence but didn't offer suggestions in regards to it. Marskell 08:40, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
Marskell, it may well be that "three simple rules" apply in the areas you edit in. But have a look at Scientology and tell me how it would be possible to apply them in that article, will you? The idea of helping an editor write a good lead is important. And those three really aren't bad. But I can't envision them applying to every article, though I can envision them being helpful, as guidelines or suggestions, to editors in a wide variety of articles. Terryeo 09:37, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
Well, that intro isn't too far off, is it? "It claims to offer an exact methodology..." covers "Beliefs and practices". The end of the second para and the one sentence third para (that should be avoided) cover controversy. "Origins" is in the first sentence. So, you apply the suggestions and what appears to be absent is a sentence or two on membership. You could segue into it right after the "Church spokesmen and practitioners attest..." sentence. The one beginning "However,..." could be reformulated and bumped to its own paragraph, with the one sentence at the end incorporated into it. How's that sound? Marskell 17:55, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
No, it is not too, too far off. But there are 20 (or thereabouts) sections and subsections. To attempt to squeeze mention of them all into the introducary paragraphs wouldn't make sense, I don't think. That is the basis on which I'm suggesting "rule of thumb" or "guideline" rather than the term, "rule". Terryeo 22:03, 26 October 2006 (UTC)
Terry, by "main headlines" I meant level two headlines not every subsection! Marskell 11:08, 27 October 2006 (UTC)
Okay. Terryeo 11:28, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

Removed passive voice from the lead paragraphs

This is a guideline so people come to this article to obtain direction. Writing in the passive voice in the first paragraph does our editors a disservice, I think. I think we should have active voice with words like "should contain" and "one to four paragraphs", stated cleanly. I've changed the first paragraph but have not removed any of its meaning, or any of its points (I think). Discussion welcome. Terryeo 17:40, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

I've tweaked it a bit more because there was some repetition (not anything you did, but from before you edited it). SlimVirgin (talk) 17:49, 24 October 2006 (UTC)
As they say in Hollywood, "looks good to me". Terryeo 07:52, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

Links in the intro

Does this guideline advocate changes like this one? Seems really weird to me. Even the example given in the guide to writing better articles has a significant number of links. It would be a major style change to remove all of the links from all of our opening paragraphs, and I'm not sure that's really supported by consensus. I've worked on a lot of FAs and GAs and I've never seen anything like it. Anyone? Kafziel Talk 20:36, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

It's not advocated on this page, Kafziel, but it was probably done because there was a lot of blue in the lead, which makes it hard to read, and which is often unnecessary. People who want to look up Spain will know how to do so. Just my opinion, of course. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:38, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
Nicer to look at, sure. But by that logic, we shouldn't need to link to anything at all, since readers should just know how to look it up on their own. Articles would look much nicer without any blue links. De-linking things like "state" and "United States" (which are very much related to the article on California) doesn't seem to be supported by any precedents I've seen; in fact, just for simple comparison the articles on the other 49 states have those links. I'd be surprised to see a single Featured Article that didn't have links in the intro. Kafziel Talk 20:50, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
I don't think anyone's saying there should be none, just not too many. Linking the names of every country and every state, when several are mentioned in a row, and then even the word "state" would be regarded as overkill by many editors. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:27, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
According to the edit summary in that diff, that editor is saying that there should be no links in the intro of any article. I mean, if you can't link to U.S. state in an article about a U.S. state, what can you link to? Besides - guidelines are descriptive, not prescriptive. 1,154 Featured Articles can't all be wrong. (Well, they can... but they're not.) Anyway, he seems to have stopped with just this one, so I'll wait and see how things go from here. Kafziel Talk 23:55, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

Link in bolded subject

In an intro like

"The Cascadia Earthquake was a big earthquake in the Pacific Northwest."

is it recommended to add a link to one of the bold words, in this case, Cascadia, or is it recommended to avoid this by adding an explicit sentence like "C. here refers to ..."? I'm always in favor of sweat and short intros, so I'm gonna do this, but I haven't seen it in many other cases where I find it would make sense. — Sebastian (talk) 06:48, 10 November 2006 (UTC)


"A significant argument not mentioned after the lead should not be mentioned in the lead."—Should the last word be "subsequent text" or perhaps "body of the article"? Tony 22:46, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

Names in multiple languages in lead

So, I'd like to ask for a few third opinions regarding a rather bizarre dispute brewing in Singapore Changi Airport. The article's lead currently looks like this:

Singapore Changi Airport (Chinese: 新加坡樟宜机场; pinyin: Xīnjiāpō Zhāngyí Jīchǎng; Malay: Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Changi Singapura; Tamil: சிங்கப்பூர் சாங்கி அனைத்துலக விமானநிலையம்), or simply Changi Airport (IATA: SIN, ICAO: WSSS) is a major aviation hub in Asia, particularly in the Southeast Asian region, and is the main stop-over point for the kangaroo route with over 3.6 million passengers per annum on the Singapore-Australia sector alone.

My contention is that the lengthy list of names makes the first sentence completely illegible and they should be shunted off into the infobox on the side. User:Huaiwei contends equally loudly that these are all official languages in Singapore and thus they must be listed in the first p for the sake of "NPOV". Any comments at Talk:Singapore Changi Airport would be welcome. Jpatokal 04:09, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

How about keeping them in a separate section with extra comments material? Circeus 15:48, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
There's very little extra to say about the names though, they're all just direct translations. Jpatokal 16:21, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
I recommend boxing them, as described in Box format. — Sebastian (talk) 16:45, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
May I just point out the basic fact that Singapore is not in China, so in what way are the presentation of Singaporean articles governed by Wikipedia:Manual of Style (China-related articles)?--Huaiwei 11:44, 14 November 2006 (UTC)
They're not, he's just suggesting that we use a box like the China articles. (Which, of course, is what I've been saying all along.) Jpatokal 14:40, 14 November 2006 (UTC)
The word like is your insertion, not his, and your interpretation of that sentence is just that. Yours. I see it as a direct implication that Singapore is somehow "China-related". This would be regarded as a very politically-incorrect statement in the Singaporean least.--Huaiwei 12:39, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
Of course we want to respect Singaporean sensitivities here. But that's only an argument for changing the name of the guidelines, not their intent. Their intent is clearly finding a solution for the overcrowded introduction often found in articles that contain several transliterations. As such, I propose that that guideline be directly included in this Lead Section guideline without limiting it to a certain set of transliterations. — Sebastian (talk) 02:37, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Is Chinese China-related? — Instantnood 10:16, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
Decode the term "Chinese".--Huaiwei 10:28, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
The language. — Instantnood 10:43, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
I dont know. What do you think?--Huaiwei 11:12, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
WP:LEAD does not address how names in languages other than English should be presented, does it? — Instantnood 10:15, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
Box, please. These translations inline with the first sentence are getting out of hand. SchmuckyTheCat 21:59, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
WP:UE already tells how native names and transcription should be mentioned. — Instantnood 19:38, 28 November 2006 (UTC)
Actually WP:UE could be argued to support either:
However, any non-Latin-alphabet native name should be given within the first line of the article (with a Latin-alphabet transliteration if the English name does not correspond to a transliteration of the native name) ...
If there is a significant number of alternative names or forms it may be helpful to keep only the most common two or three in the first paragraph and a list of them in a separate section or footnote to avoid cluttering the lead; see Freyr for an example of this. Jpatokal 06:26, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
As a matter of fact WP:UE does not provide for infobox. It suggests separate section or footnote. — Instantnood 16:20, 30 December 2006 (UTC)


My fellow wikipedians: I have recently created an essay entitled Wikipedia:You Are Probably Not a Lexicologist or a Lexicographer that I believe should be improved and eventually become part of wikipedia guidelines/policy. Not sure how to do this but I would appreciate if you would shepherd this essay into "goodness." I think it applies to WP:LEAD since it is about whether/how to dispute a dictionary definition in the lead graf. MPS 18:27, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

'The Lead paragraph of this article may be too long, please...' Tag

Hi, I would like to make a template to attach to articles with very long lead paragraphs, if there isn't one already. Please discuss. FrummerThanThou 23:30, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Hi Frummer, thanks for your note about this. How long are you thinking the lead would have to be to warrant the template? SlimVirgin (talk) 00:11, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
I think this is a great idea myself. I have often seen very bad examples. Anything past about 20 lines I think might be too long, but others might have different ideas.--Filll 01:33, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
I have no objection in principle to a template, but the problem with it is that an appropriate lead length depends very much on context. The lead should be an overview of the article. If the article is long and complex, touching on different points, and where those points are central to a good understanding of the issues, it's appropriate to summarize them in the lead. So I would worry that this template will become yet another stick to beat editors with. Also, where are you thinking of placing the template? SlimVirgin (talk) 02:06, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the response. Here is the template {{LEAD}}. SlimVirgin made a very important point since slapping this tag on an article can scare new editors, and I think we should discuss the issue of the terms of its use fully. Articles tagged with this template fall into the Category:Wikipedia introduction cleanup. So far none of the articles I have tagged have recieved a negative reponse though some have been reverted. I propose to start a wikiproject to deal with the problem on the whole, please sign your support here [2]. I would also like to propose a comprehensive rewrite of WP:LEAD since the present draft is not very instructional the way it is organised now. Clear guidelines should be set out in the body. FrummerThanThou 15:34, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

I think this is a great idea. I added my name to your project proposal.--Filll 16:12, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Hi Frummer, thanks for your note about this.
I think this is a good idea in principle, because I encounter far too many articles with completely inappropriate lead paras (some contain no links, some are full of trivia, and far too many launch forth into narrative rather than summarising). However, I have a few doubts:
  • The proposed project into says the lead "must be at least three sentences long so as to meet quality standards". AS per SlimVirgin above, I dispue that: it's not what WP:LEAD says (it defines appropriate length as depending on context). I wonder whether such a basic misunderstanding bodes well for the proposed project. (I hope that doesn't come too harshly: I am just concerned that a project should not start off on a misaken premise).
  • Does this really need a separate wikiproject? Does it overlap with other wikiprojects? I can see that writing concise summaries is a particular editorial skill, and it may be that here are editors who want to focus on the work needed here ... but I tend to regard this as simply one of the tasks I do in the course of my normal editing (but maybe it comes more easily to me, having once had to make my living foir a while writing concise summaries of hundreds of articles per day).
In summary, I think that it's an idea with potential, but I'm not sure whether it's a runner, and I don't think that I would have the energy to get involved. Hope this helps! --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 16:37, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. I've changed the wording on the article. Thanks for your point. I must say the wording in WP:LEAD needs to be looked into itself. This project does overlapp on others but the main purpose of it is to bring awareness to this unique problem, which is why it should be a runner. FrummerThanThou 17:17, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

As far as I can see, there's nothing inherently wrong with {{LEAD}} – which has existed for a long while. However, I feel that this new zealousness to apply it is unwarranted and not particularly useful. I am especially confounded to see that it is being misapplied (by FrummerThanThou (talk · contribs)) to several articles with perfectly appropriate leads, such as Australia. It would be helpful if those who are looking to enforce this guideline were actually familiar with is recommendations.--cj | talk 17:26, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Frummer, can you say what you felt was wrong with the lead in Australia? Also, I don't support this tag being added to articles; to talk pages, maybe, so long as there are clear guidelines for its use. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:11, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
Despite pleadings by multiple editors, Frummer continues to tag articles with perfectly fine leads with {{LEAD}}, insisting that they be shorter (see here and here). This is reaching the point of disruption. Gzkn 07:46, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

Here is an idea/suggestion that might be worth considering. :Actually, although this is not the right place to bring this up, in PROFESSIONAL level publications, it is very common to have multiple introduction-like things such as an:

  • abstract
  • introduction
  • summary
  • executive summary
etc. The present long baggy introductions of many articles just looks intimidating and of no value. If a reader just knows that they have 3 or 4 sentences to read in the first section (lead or whatever), and that tells them what the subject is about and what is roughly in the article, the article will be far more accessible and welcoming.--Filll 00:40, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

MOS for tutorials, primers, etc links in lead section

In some articles, particularly science articles, the material is so dense that it is a bit difficult for nonspecialists to approach the article. One article where this debate has resurfaced a few times is evolution. The article's introduction is becoming inaccessible. Of course, one could simplify it, but a lot of editors are afraid of losing the technical precision if they do that. It has been suggested to link to Simple Wikipedia might be useful as a primer or starting place. Some have suggested an evolution (basic) page, possibly with a link, or a blue box with basic information in it. However, it is not clear what style a link to a simpler version should be. It would be nice to have a uniform link to basic articles as part of an MOS. For example, at the top of the article, a note, possibly in another color just below the disambiguation links to a basic version of the article or a tutorial version of the article. Comments?--Filll 20:41, 6 December 2006 (UTC)


Now that I have been on Wikipedia for a while, I have noticed one striking "problem" or feature. Many articles have almost unreadable introductory paragraphs. Some of this is because of the Wikipedia Manual of Style itself (for example, see WP:MOSBIO). In short order, following the Manual of Style and carrying the policies to extremes, the introductory paragraphs become clogged up with details such as:

  • multiple names (sometimes 3 or 4 or 5 or more), all in bold face
  • alternative spellings, all in bold face
  • very detailed date information, and sometimes alternate date information when the dates are disputed
  • names in multiple languages and scripts (sometimes just one other script like Arabic or Chinese, but other times in 2 or 3 or more other scripts)
  • translitterations of foreign words
  • parenthetic information
  • semicolons and dashes
  • sentence fragments with no verbs
  • long lists of material separated by commas
  • multiple topics and caveats all strung together into one long sentence
  • pronunciation guides, sometimes with links to audio versions

If just one or two of these is present, things are not too bad. However, in some cases, it makes the articles completely inaccessible. A reader cannot read the first 3 or 4 sentences of the article and have any idea what the article is about. Many editors try to shove as much information as possible towards the front of the article and into the introduction, and this compounds the problem. I am afraid that the Wikipedia style policies exacerbate this problem. Comments?--Filll 01:13, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

I do not have any great examples to offer, but a couple that I have tried to make a little cleaner, with mixed success are the articles about the Forbidden City, Nurhaci, Hung Taiji, Merlin and Yasser Arafat. I am showing their state before I put some work into trying to simplify the introductions. Not all of my changes were accepted, however. I have seen some worse examples, but these give the general idea of what I was referring to. It is my opinion that they are starting to get to be a bit dense for someone who just wants to find out what the subject is about, before digging into a lot of details.--Filll 01:13, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Forbidden City, before editing

The Forbidden City or Forbidden Palace (Chinese: 紫禁城; pinyin: Zǐjinchéng; literally: 'Purple Forbidden City'; Manchu: Dabkūri dorgi hoton, literally "Layered Inner City"), located at the exact center of the ancient city of Beijing, China was the imperial palace during the mid-Ming and the Qing Dynasties. Known now as the Palace Museum (Chinese: 故宫博物院; pinyin: Gùgōng Bówùyùan), its extensive grounds cover 720,000 square meters, 800 buildings and more than 8,000 rooms. As such, it is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world, and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1977 as the "Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties". The Imperial Palace Grounds are located directly to the north of Tiananmen Square and are accessible from the square via Tiananmen Gate. It is surrounded by a large area called the Imperial City.

Although no longer occupied by royalty, the Forbidden City remains a symbol of Chinese aristocracy and the image of Tiananmen, the entrance to the Imperial City, appears on the seal of the People's Republic of China. The Palace Museum is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. Recently, the site has been under much renovation which has limited visitors to the main courtyards and a few gardens.

Nurhaci, before editing

Nurhaci, also known as the Taizu Emperor, Nurhachi, or Nuerhachi (Chinese: 努爾哈齊; pinyin: Nǔ'ěrhāchì]; Manchu: Nurhaci1.png) (1558-September 30, 1626; r. 1616-September 30, 1626) was the last chieftain of the Jianzhou Jurchens and first Khan of Later Jin. He is considered to be the founding father of the Manchu state and is also credited with ordering the creation of a written script for the Manchu language. Nurhaci's organization of the Manchu people, his attacks on the Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty Korea, and his conquest of China's northeastern Liaodong province, laid the groundwork for the conquest of China by the Qing Dynasty.

Hung Taiji, before editing

Hung Taiji (Manchu: Hong Taiji name.png; Chinese: 皇太極 Huáng Tàijí; also known as 洪太極 Hóng Tàijí or 黃台吉 Huáng Táijí; sometimes referred erroneously to as Abahai in Western literature), (November 28, 1592-September 21, 1643), was first Khan of the Later Jin and then Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, after he changed its name, reigning from 1626 to 1643. He was responsible for consolidating the empire that his father, Nurhaci, had founded and for laying the groundwork for its eventual success in conquering Ming dynasty China, although he died before accomplishing that great achievement himself. He was responsible for changing the name of his people from Jurchen to Manchu in 1635 as well as that of the dynasty to Qing in 1636. The Qing dynasty would last until 1912.

Hung Taiji was the eighth son of Nurhaci and succeeded him as the second ruler of the Later Jin dynasty in 1626. Although it was always thought as a gossip, he was said to be involved in the suicide of Prince Dorgon's mother, Lady Abahai in order to block the succession of his younger brother.

Merlin, before editing

Merlin Ambrosius (Welsh: Myrddin Emrys) - also known in Welsh as Myrddin Wyllt (Merlin the Wild), and besides as Merlin Caledonensis (Merlin of Scotland), Merlinus, and Merlyn - is best known as the mighty wizard featured in Arthurian legends, starting with Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae.

Other accounts distinguish two different figures named Merlin. For example, the Welsh Triads state there were three baptisimal bards: Taliesin, Chief of Bards, Myrddin Wyllt, and Myrddin Emrys. It is believed that these two bards called Myrddin were originally variants of the same figure; their stories have become different in the earliest texts that they are treated as separate characters, even though similar incidents are ascribed to both.

Yasser Arafat, before editing

Yassir Arafat (Arabic: ياسر عرفات‎) August 24 or August 4, 1929November 11, 2004), born in Cairo[1] to Palestinian parents Mohammed Abdel-Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini (محمد عبد الرؤوف القدوة الحسيني) and also known by the kunya Abu `Ammar (أبو عمّار), was Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) (1969–2004); President[2] of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) (1993–2004); and a co-recipient of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize alongside Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin, for the successful negotiations of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Arafat, however, was a controversial and polarizing figure throughout his lengthy career. While his supporters viewed him as a heroic freedom fighter who symbolized the national aspirations of the Palestinian people, his opponents often described him as an unrepentant terrorist with a long legacy of promoting violence. Still others accused him of being a deeply corrupt politician or a weak and devious leader. Arab nationalists believe that he made too many concessions to the Israeli government during the 1993 Oslo Accords. However, Arafat has been widely recognized for leading the Fatah movement, which he founded in 1957.

I agree with you that the first paragraph, and particularly the first sentence, is often unreadable; this is a serious problem, seemingly unique to Wikipedia, which needs urgently addressing, since everyone knows that the opening sentence or two are crucial to reader interest and it makes us look a bit silly. On the other hand, I can see some of your changes being reverted on the reasonable grounds that the ethnicity of these subjects is crucial to their notability—for example, if these were the first Manchurian emperors, then arguably (I don't necessarily agree) their names in Manchurian are relevant at the beginning.
Some future solutions occur to me—for example that all the different names, scripts etc. should be shifted to a caption under a top-right picture, in a specially designed box (as here: Tongzhi Emperor); or that ethnic details and name versions be hideable (Palestinians, for instance, could then see their script if they had it enabled). For the time being, I think we must get away from the idea that all such information has to be stuffed into an article as soon as possible. I particularly dislike seeing parentheses lined up after the subject name like coaches in a traffic jam, and so I changed the opening of Anton Chekhov from
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (Russian: Анто́н Па́влович Че́хов, Anton Pavlovič Čehov) (29 January [O.S. 17 January] 1860 – 15 July [O.S. 2 July] 1904) was a physician, major Russian short story writer and playwright.
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (Russian: Анто́н Па́влович Че́хов, Anton Pavlovič Čehov) was a Russian physician, short story writer, and playwright. He was born in Taganrog, southern Russia, on 29 January [O.S. 17 January] 1860, and died of tuberculosis at the health spa of Badenweiler, Germany, on 15 July [O.S. 2 July] 1904.
which I think makes it less of an obstacle course (I would like to make those old-style dates full size, but I expect that would offend some agreed convention that old-style dates should be written in distracting miniature type).
--qp10qp 17:35, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

I like the box idea. However, without a policy to stop this sort of creeping inclusion of details in the first sentence, one risks the problem of having a situation like Singapore Changi Airport. In the case of the Singapore airport article, the box is there, but various forces still want to include all that material in the first sentence, decreasing readability and accessibility. And this is a progressive disease, which starts out small and gets worse, as more and more gets shoved into the first sentence or two. One could have 5 names, each in 5 languages, with 5 different scripts and transliterations and pronunciation guides and a link to an audio pronunciation for each and multiple dates and titles and all manner of other material in the first line. And if it is not against the MOS, then people will push for it since they think the manual of style mandates it. They also want their contribution as close to the start of the article as possible, since they believe it confers importance on the information instead of relegating it to some ignominious position and status lower in the article. So, this is something to ponder.--Filll 21:48, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

The fears as expressed by Filll on the introduction of non-English details threatening to become an epidemic is slightly exaggerated in my opinion. A simple look at the vast majority of these applications show moderation on the part of contributors who add these details only where they are relevant. Hence, articles related to certain nationalities tend to add details related to official languages in use in these territories. Rarely do we find multiple languages being added arbitrarily, and threaten to overwhelm the lead.
In the globalised world we live in today, we cannot assume that the majority of users are merely content with reading about the world purely from their native languages without at least understanding how the same term is written or presented in their respective countries of origin. These information can sometimes even become crucial disambiguation information, such as in Chinese names, where seemingly similar-spelled anglicised names actually refer to different Chinese characters. This information may be useful not just to English speakers, but also to non-English native speakers who are still grasping the language and need confirmation in the form of native characters.--Huaiwei 03:58, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
WP:UE provides for putting non-English native names and romanisations in the leading paragraph. — Instantnood 18:06, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

Bold title and links

I know there is a rule against links in the header. I though there was also a convention against links in the bold title. Did I make it up in my head? Kevlar67 04:45, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

That recommandation is actually found at WP:GTL: "Avoid links in the bold title words". Maybe that intro section needs to be thoroughly trimmed down and content from it transferred here.Circeus 04:59, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Could use your help with an article U.S. Navy slang

Sharkface217 suggested that you might be helpful with U.S. Navy slang. It was recently on the WP:AfD list. Fortunately, it was saved but the article needs work to prevent another prod which lead to the AfD. I am a relatively new editor to Wikipedia and have called for discussion on its talkpage. Any ideas you might have or edits you could make, would be appreciated. Ronbo76 05:59, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

Lead template

Is there a template to suggest that a page should revise its introduction or add one in accordance with WP:LEAD. Please respond to my talk page. TonyTheTiger 16:52, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Regarding "Introduction" headings

Is it proper Wiki policy to have, following your lead section, a section called "Introduction"? Serendipodous 19:44, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Many articles do it. I do not see what the problem is. In real professional documents, there are multiple sections that appear at the start of a document, such as a summary, executive summary, introduction, overview, abstract, etc. And sometimes one document might have 2 or 3 or more of these, for different purposes. In fact, in many circles, such as academia or government, it is standard to have at least 2 beginning sections. I see no problem with WP articles having two beginning sections, a LEAD and an Introduction.--Filll 19:58, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
I believe that "introduction" is not a good header title, though: it's an encyclopedia article, not an essay or a science journal article! "Overview" is far better.Circeus 13:45, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

Mozambican War of Independence

Hey, I'm having soem trouble writing the lead paragraphs for Mozambican War of Independence, and I would appreciate it if someone could perhaps take a look and make any changes they might think will improve the lead? Thanks, SGGH 15:57, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

Context includes the country, right?

See Wikipedia:Community noticeboard#User removing context. --NE2 16:56, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

EVP intro length

You tagged Electronic voice phenomenon for intro length. Could you comment on the talk page to be more specific about why you think it is too long or violates WP intro guidelines? We're not sure what the problem is, it seems to meet the guidelines. Thanks. --Milo H Minderbinder 14:24, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

MHM posted the above on my talk page—I had tagged the article with {{introlength}}, because the introduction seemed to me to be longer than it needs to be. I see this has been discussed in at least six previous sections on this talk page as well. You are free to remove the tag if you feel it doesn't apply. — Athænara 20:36, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

POV in first sentence?

Is it proper form to begin an article with something like "Jennifer Hudson is an Academy Award winning American actress and singer"? As it reads to me, opening sentences such as this imply a bias, and proper tone would be. --FuriousFreddy 12:38, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Lede terminology is now standard

No need for Wiki to be old fashioned and reject new words in common use. The term "lede" (as in lede paragraph) began in journalism and is now widely accepted in the how-to-write and how-to edit world . See for example: Bill Walsh, The Elephants of Style: A Trunkload of Tips on the Big Issues and Gray Areas of Contemporary American English (2004) p 150: Any sentence or lede beginning with "Pity the poor" is going to be trouble, ...'; Steve Peha and Margot Carmichael Lester, Be a Writer: Your Guide to the Writing Life (2006) p 130: "- page 130: "... It might be a lede, a sentence, a way...."; Philip Gerard, Creative Nonfiction: Researching and Crafting Stories of Real Life (1998): "- page 166: "... In this structure, the "lead" (or "lede") sentence answers the most important mystery". Barbara G., Ellis, The Copy Editing and Headline Handbook (2007): "lede, The first paragraph of a story"; Linda Jorgensen, Real-World Newsletters (1999) p 219; Bryan A. Garner, The Winning Brief: 100 Tips for Persuasive Briefing in Trial and Appellate Court (1999) p 290; And so on. Rjensen 03:14, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

There's no indication how reliable your sources are. This is a better one, and it indicates the term is used in journalism only. [3] Can you show a reliable source actually using it outside journalism; not a source talking about it, but one actually using it? SlimVirgin (talk) 03:36, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes, lede is used in real writing, such as novels, Here are some actual recent novels. 1)Squeeze Play: A Novel by Jane Leavy (2003) page 35: "... made sure to read his story before mine. I couldn't help noticing he had the poem in his lede. But my story was on ..."; 2) Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose by Constance Hale (1999) page 159: "... Then there's her lede in a story about a lovers' spat"; 3) another novel: The Nominee by Brian McGrory (2003) page 389: "The lede of the story went on to explain how a young narcotics officer was shot ..."; 4) another novel: A Soldier's Duty: A Novel by Thomas E. Ricks (2002) page 125: "... It wouldn't make the lede in their stories, but it did provide a ..."; 5) another novel: Thief of Words by John Jaffe (2004) page 232: "... you might find in the lede of a feature story by J. R. Thelman. ..."; From other genres, nonfiction: 6) Wrestling with Behavioral Genetics: science, ethics, and public conversation by by Audrey R. Chapman, Erik Parens, Nancy Press (2006) - Page 318: "The perhaps in that lede was bold, almost cheeky. And the second paragraph is quick with the caveats: "The results have yet to be confirmed by other ..."; 7) political writing [Washington Monthly Dec 2003]: "Roman's story on the eventual defeat of the Alternative led with the intriguing news that Senator Daschle "said he is willing to reintroduce a version of the bill that might appeal to Republicans," a move that Daschle had previously refused to take. The lede no doubt came as a surprise to Daschle because it was simply not true. ... Simply put, the quote was fabricated and the lede was a lie."; Rjensen 04:16, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
Rjensen, I bow to your excellent research. Thank you for all the examples. Sorry to have made you dig them up. :-) SlimVirgin (talk) 04:19, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
thanks--i find words fascinating. Rjensen 04:33, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Regarding "Establish context"

I would be happy to see the chapter about context extended. To my opinion the context of an article is previous to the article overview and limited to define the subject and its most important characteristic elements. Those elements are to be sourced separately but unified by the main subject only, without dependencies one between the other (such dependencies would be at risk of WP:OR). Thus the context of a subject would be clarified without being limited by the quality of the article itself. Only next to the context being established, the introduction could continue to expose the article overview and supply constraints about what and what not. Rokus01 20:50, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Suggestion that we modify "Suggestions"

I would like to add just a little text to the "Suggestions" section clarifying that these are suggestions, and may not be applicable to all articles. In particular, the suggestions seem to well-suited for articles about political philosophies or religions, but poorly suited for biographical or geographic articles. -- Antaeus Feldspar 18:19, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

More on introductions

I've just read Wikipedia talk:Lead section#Introductions, and I agree that the first few sentences of a Wikipedia article can get overloaded with information. My suggestion would be to move a lot of this information to footnotes. Does this sound like a good idea and can it be added to the guideline? Carcharoth 04:20, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Disputed definition: more details needed

In view of the recent issues about the lead of article Intelligent design, I think this guideline should give some clear criteria on how to write the lead in case of dispute, particularly on how to write the article definition in the very first sentences (where most disputes rise). This to avoid that an organized minority with an agenda can disrupt a featured article, waste time of other editors with endless and bad faith discussion, and eventually making them quit the editing for frustration.

Possible criteria to be added: In case of dispute on the definition at the article start, the first sentence should quote a definition from the most reliable source gathered. Citation of other definitions may follow, ordered by the reliability of their sources. After this first paragraph, an overview/summary of the whole article follows.

--BMF81 13:13, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

Lead Controversies

It appears to me that a big problem with the lead article is the inclusion of politically charged statments introduced as controversies on scores of articles, examples CNN FOX NEWS. It would appear that some people are adament on making sure that criticisms of bias are tagged to these articles because they don't like the entity in question resulting in considerable edit wars and arguements over these articles. This process has resulted in the FOX NEWS article denegrating into a pile of POV where references are used to back up a claim that is not held by the reference, BUT, concensus was reached to placate all parties. What is the point of concensus in such discussion when the concensus is wrong, but no rememdy exists to fix it? This is not an arguement of concensus, but more of a plea for restrictions on criticism within articles. It is becoming more and more clear that many articles are flush with criticism from opposite sides when dealing with anything remotely viewed to be policitally charged. This is a serious problem, and unless delt with WP will further lose respect within the acadmenic world as articles begin to look more and more POV because one side yells the loudest and the longest. WP was viewed to be NPOV once, that view is dissapearing. Arzel 14:09, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Describe the thing, not the term

I'm sure that I've seen a guideline somewhere that the subject of the lead sentence should be the topic of the article, rather than the word used to refer to the topic of the article. That is,

A mug is a kind of cup, blablabla

rather than

The word mug means a certain type of cup, blablabla

This would be the natural place to look for such a guideline, but it doesn't seem to be here. Shouldn't it? And where is it actually? –Henning Makholm 08:56, 5 May 2007 (UTC)

It was in here the last time I looked. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:28, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
I'm open to the suggestion that it's there but that I simply persistently fail to see it, but I really cannot find it. Could you quote the key sentence from the discussion in the guideline, such that I can have my browser highlight it for me? –Henning Makholm 21:25, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

Finding out number of characters

It says so-and-so number of characters is so-and-so paragraphs but how do you find out the number of characters in an article? Does it include everything or just readable prose? Christopher Connor 01:16, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

I wouldn't take that too literally, Christopher. If you want to find the number of characters, you can get them via the word-count function on any word-processing program, but the best thing is to use common sense about the relationship between the text and the size of the lead. The rule of thumb about length in here is in case of disputes. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:28, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

Do editors need to follow WP:LEAD?

For a current discussion in which an editor is claiming that articles do not need to follow WP:LEAD, see Talk:New Girl in Town. Please comment there. -- Ssilvers 20:05, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

This is a guideline, not a policy. At the root the only rule articles have to follow is that they should form the best possible encyclopedia we can write. Policies define what we consider the "best possible encyclopedia" to mean, so they need to be followed by extension. Guidelines document techniques and conventions that have been found to usually increase the encyclopedic quality of an article, but they have no authoritative status of their own. You should often do what the guideline says, not because the guideline says it, but because advice in the guideline often happens to be good advice.
In Talk:New Girl in Town, I am sorry to say that the existing discussion does make it very clear what the actual content or formatting dispute is. One party says "my version is the right one because the guideline says so!", and another party says "my version is the right one because I don't need to follow the guidelines". Both arguments are flawed, because they are both about rules rather than about which version of the article will be most helpful for a reader.
I would recommend that both of you start out afresh by presenting their basic argument why each of the warring editors think his version of the article has better quality than the alternative. Note that "it follows the guideline" is not in itself an argument for high quality, but arguments that may apply to one's favorite version may be borrowed from the guideline. –Henning Makholm 21:56, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

Notable controversies

Sometime a few months ago, I think in the course of attempting to eliminate the passive voice from the entire encyclopaedia, someone changed the policy's reference to controversies in the lead from "include a mention" to "briefly describe". This is more than a cosmetic change; I assume it was an unintended byproduct of editing for grammar and readability. I have changed it back. Hornplease 21:20, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

First of all "It's been like this since October" is not a reasonable argument. My preferred phrasing was in place for considerably longer, and was definitely not changed following discussion. I am not going to plod through histories to discover who changed it and as part of what effort, but I definitely saw nothing as an edit comment or on this talkpage that seems to explain it. I don't think that major changes like this should take place under the radar, as it were.
Given that, perhaps you should suggest why you wish the newer form.
However, since you seem to think it is required, my thinking is clear: "describing" controversies leaves the lead open to trolling of one sort or another. The lead is to serve as a summary of the subject's notability; controversies have been specifically indicated to ensure that the lead does not consist of whitewashing; but I fail to see why we should be specifically enjoined to 'describe' those controversies in detail.
I trust you will respond with your arguments in favour of the recently changed version. Hornplease 00:09, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
The current version (not recently changed; it's been like this for seven months) says "briefly describe" not describe in detail. The danger with changing it to "mention" is that it'll be used as an excuse to keep criticism out of the lead, other than perhaps "see also" or something. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:40, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
Criticism would have to stay in the lead per WP:UNDUE. This goes beyond that, indicating that s brief description is necessary even when the controversy itself is not central to the subject's notability.
It specifically says the "most notable controversies, if there are any." SlimVirgin (talk) 01:04, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
You appear to have missed the point. Please read my statement again. I am not suggesting that the new wording permits the mention of non-notable controversies; that, indeed, was a danger even in the old wording. I have pointed out that this exacerbates the departure from WP:NPOV, by suggesting that a brief description is necessary.
In addition, what is the definition of brief? of description? This is not only badly written, which is an acceptable flaw for a guideline, but it is imprecise, which is unacceptable. It causes people to discuss in general terms what 'brief' might mean, whereas if it were suggested merely that it should "include a mention" there is absolutely no doubt what is suggested; anything further will merely require the application of better-understood policies like WP:NPOV. Hornplease
For example, the lead of the Gujarat article may or may not mention the riots of 2002, but that would require the application of the undue weight principle. The lead as it stands now would require it to be discussed - and a brief description would be a nightmare, as well as a troll-magnet. Simply put, this goes beyond policy, and indeed common sense.
I don't know anything about it, so I can't judge. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:04, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
You do not need to know the specific details to understand what I am driving at, I trust? Hornplease
Finally, seven months is all very well, but consider this a delayed reaction. Policy can't be changed without discussion, and this was; it certainly does not deserve to be considered the status quo, given that it was changed under the radar. Hornplease 00:49, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
It's not policy. We can't notify every single person on Wikipedia every single time an edit to a guideline is made. You have to watch the page. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:04, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
A major change to a guideline of this sort should have some discussion on the talkpage. Please don't set up straw men here - I clearly am not suggesting that a warning is transcluded on every talkpage for each edit, merely that guidelines should not be changed without any discussion. There's no need to get personal about it. Hornplease 03:36, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
I'm not getting personal about it. It wasn't a "major change," and you can't turn up to guidelines and policies seven months after they've changed and revert to the status quo ante simply because you weren't informed. SlimVirgin (talk) 19:55, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
I have explained why I think it was a major change. You have not replied.
The change was made without discussion, and without even an informative edit summary.
Since you say it is minor, I fail to see why you would revert it again. Hornplease
I've looked through your contribs and now I see that you're fighting at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to keep his antisemitism and his statement that he'd "wipe Israel off the map" out of the lead, or at least minimized. Please don't turn up to change policies and guidelines you've shown no previous interest in in order to win content disputes. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:04, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
This isn't personal?
Your ability to judge my previous interest is grievously flawed. If I see nothing wrong with a policy, I am not likely to tinker with it. If I speak up when I have not done so, that I am previously uninvolved is indicative of the fact that the problem with the guideline has compelled me to.
Oh, and incidentally, your reading of my contributions is severly flawed: I noticed this change first when discussing the lead section there, but my discussion there does not depend on changing the lead here. I said as much on that page. Please do not impugn my motives, as I have carefully not impugned yours in any way; I do not think that you will find productive collaborators if you do so. Hornplease
Finally, I notice that you have not replied to a single one of my substantive points above, relying instead on a wholly inaccurate statement that is based on attempting to read my attempt and might well be considered by the sort of hyper-sensitive editor one runs across now and then as an infraction of civility guidelines.
Given that, I am reverting again to the status quo; please discuss rather than revert while imputing disruptive motives. This is the best way to get things done. Hornplease 20:15, 12 May 2007 (UTC)

(edit conflict)

Also, 'its notable controversies' is open to misuse by those who wish to keep controversy out of the lead. It might be argued that involvement in a controversy might nevertheless not lead to that controversy being "its". I've replaced it with 'related',
I await a reply on my points above. Hornplease 20:22, 12 May 2007 (UTC)

I'm glad you reverted yourself as you'd violated 3RR.
I have responded to your points. You want to change the guideline to help you win a content dispute. That will be strongly resisted. I said above that the "mention" language will be used by POV pushers to keep criticism out of leads, and here you are, trying to do exactly that. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:19, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
Your estimation of my motives is a matter of sublime indifference to me, at least for the moment. I await a response to my points above, which I will quote, as your ease and comfort while reading this is my first concern: "The lead is to serve as a summary of the subject's notability; controversies have been specifically indicated to ensure that the lead does not consist of whitewashing; but I fail to see why we should be specifically enjoined to 'describe' those controversies in detail." and "I am not suggesting that the new wording permits the mention of non-notable controversies; that, indeed, was a danger even in the old wording. I have pointed out that this exacerbates the departure from WP:NPOV, by suggesting that a brief description is necessary. In addition, what is the definition of brief? of description? This is not only badly written, which is an acceptable flaw for a guideline, but it is imprecise, which is unacceptable. It causes people to discuss in general terms what 'brief' might mean, whereas if it were suggested merely that it should "include a mention" there is absolutely no doubt what is suggested; anything further will merely require the application of better-understood policies like WP:NPOV." Hornplease 20:25, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
Now you've made a change that is just bad writing. [4] Why might we introduce controversies that are unrelated to the subject of the article? SlimVirgin (talk) 20:21, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
See above. The writing is impeccable.Hornplease 20:22, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
  • Note that you guys are now on your third revert. Leave it as it is for a while or you both could be blocked.--Wizardman 20:23, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
You're ignoring my responses then saying I didn't respond. Please read the following carefully: the lead does not say "describe in detail." It says "briefly describe." Your writing is far from impeccable; that is now a very unclear sentence, because there's no indication why the word "related" is there. I can only repeat, and this is my last response to you, that your changes will be resisted because you're making them in order to win a content dispute. You have shown no previous interest in this guideline or its talk page. We see this all the time in the various content policies: editors who can't win disputes turning up trying to change policies they barely knew existed before, and such changes are always resisted, for obvious reasons. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:32, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
Thank you for your response, though I hasten to point out that I have already answered that paricular statement ("Criticism would have to stay in the lead per WP:UNDUE. This goes beyond that, indicating that s brief description is necessary even when the controversy itself is not central to the subject's notability.") Indeed, you seem to have forgotten that I have made the point that the word 'brief', while clearly wonderful writing, is open to differing interpretation; unlike, say, the word 'mention'. One man's brief is another man's detail. I had already made this point, but I repeat it at no extra charge.
Finally, I remind you that I do not require this guideline to be altered in order to 'win' a content dispute anywhere. (My arguments on that page stand independently of WP:LEAD, and are doing quite nicely, thank you.) I have said so once on this page and once on that. I have no dastardly ulterior motive here; I simply want an explanation and reversal of a change made without discussion. Please take that on board and move on.
Note that if this is your last response to me, I am sorry to hear that you will no longer be editing this page. Surely you do not intend to edit war without discussion? Hornplease 20:52, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
Oh, by the way, the word 'related' is there in order to convey a sense of relatedness, rather than proprietarial connectedness. Would you care to expand on your objection.? Hornplease 20:57, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
I have not as yet received a reply. Can I assume that consensus has been achieved, following my last remarks? Hornplease 19:22, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
Consensus has been achieved, as it was before you turned up here, that the version that has been there for seven months is better than your alternative. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:20, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
Consensus was achieved until it was changed. Now that the change is finally being discussed, it will have to be defended.
In particular, please respond to my comments of 20:52, which is the state of the discussion as of now. Stating flatly that consensus has been achieved in the complete and utter absence of any evidence to that effect is admirable but perhaps slows us down just a bit. Hornplease 20:25, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
Still waiting...Hornplease 05:34, 14 May 2007 (UTC)
You've reverted again without discussing the points I've made. "Previous version is better is not an argument. Please engage with the issues or you edit will be undone. Hornplease 21:16, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Could the two of you (a) please stop both describing your favorite version of the guideline as "the old one" (or similar descriptions), which makes it impossible for outsiders to follow discussion, (b) start by negotiating a common neutral statement of what you disagree about, and (c) start arguing about what is the better guideline rather than procedures and the specifics of the guideline's edit history? Otherwise it is unlikely that there is going to be any consensus except the two of you disagreeing with each other. Thanks. –Henning Makholm 20:32, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

Sometime in October last year, the article had the following line: "and including a mention of its notable controversies, if there are any." This was altered without discussion to "and describing its notable controversies, if there are any." There is disagreement on this. Slim's statement in defence of the current version is "...danger with changing it to "mention" is that it'll be used as an excuse to keep criticism out of the lead, other than perhaps "see also" or something." I have said "..criticism would have to stay in the lead per WP:UNDUE. This goes beyond that, indicating that s brief description is necessary even when the controversy itself is not central to the subject's notability..." and ..."the word 'brief' ... is open to differing interpretation; unlike, say, the word 'mention'"; additional argument here [5]The rest of the conversation is frankly irrelevant. Hornplease 20:39, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

You seem to have gotten to the point where you're repeating arguments. There's no indication that the word "brief" is going to create more uncertainty than "mention", and the risk with the ancient passive formulation was that controversy would be omitted from the lead, as is so often attempted - there's no reason to think WP:UNDUE would preserve controversy. It's a terrible idea to try to re-write policies and procedures to win content disputes (in this case the content dispute you are having at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad). Jayjg (talk) 19:59, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
Jay, thank you for your input, however off-the-point it might be. I have said several times that this is irrelevant to Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. For the third and last time, there is no question that controversies about him are notable and require a brief description, disagreement there is about what form the description shall take, and thus irrelevant to the point at hand. Please do not continue to mischaracterise this point, as that is plainly mendacious.
Moving on to issues that are actually relevant, and do not randomly impugn my motives (I can equally well claim that the rewriting is being done by someone else in order to win content disputes elsewhere, as I certainly am not the one continually involved in them) - you claim there is 'no indication' that brief is going to create more uncertainty than 'mention'. This is in wilful disregard of the points I mentioned above, to the extent that I must assume you have not read them. :::You claim I am repeating myself. Yes, I am, in different words, as SV and now you seem unable to respond. So, again: 'brief' can be interpreted in one of several different ways. How much can be described? Does more than one view get a look-in? Do we need to go with the participant's characterisation, or, let's say, the Daily Telegraph's? (My example is taken from the RfC I followed a few days ago to Political Views of Lyndon LaRouche, where SV is in a disagreement about the lead - though of course, I'm sure its unrelated to the rewriting of policy on this page.)
Clearly different interpretations of what a 'brief description' is will be chosen by different participants. This is the very essence of abysmally written policy.
In the original wording, a brief mention was required. As I say again, there is no doubt at all what this implies - it means that notable controversies cannot be left out. Nothing more, nothing less. Can you not understand that there is a clear difference in the level of certainty here?
Finally, for your last, brilliant remark - that there is no reason that WP:UNDUE would preserve controversy in the lead. Yes, there isn't. Which is why the original formulation insisted that there be a mention of it! Please don't set up straw men.
In future, I will trust that you will feel enough responsibility to the fact that this is a guideline page to please read my arguments for more than seven seconds and think about it. It might make a pleasant change to note that I am not in fact arguing for any particular 'side', or to win a content battle. (You in particular have already made that error once recently.) Hornplease 20:28, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
I think the nub of the issue is your concern regarding the word "brief"; however, given that the size of the lead relative to the size of the article is small, and in any event cannot exceed four paragraphs, it's hard to imagine anyone thinking "brief" could be more than a paragraph or so. Jayjg (talk) 20:52, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
  1. ^ Most sources indicate Cairo as Arafats place of birth, but Arafat at least sometimes listed his birthplace as Jerusalem. See here and here for more information.
  2. ^ Some sources use the term Chairman rather than President; the Arabic word for both titles is the same. See President of the Palestinian Authority for further information.