Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Spelling/Archive 3

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Spelling: collections of articles

I would like to see a small change in the following rule. Instead of "Each article should have uniform spelling and not a haphazard mix of different spellings..." I would like to see an emphasis that collections of articles be required to maintain spelling, so that categories (particularly Category:Colors) do not contain a mish-mash of different spellings. Darrien 14:08, 2004 Nov 20 (UTC)

I disagree. Too hard to settle. Maurreen 14:16, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)
By the looks of it - to obtain consistency (which is required by the MOS already), you just need to change Buff (colour), Cream (colour) and Orange (colour) so that American spelling are used. Not hard to settle at all (and no need for a revision to the MOS either). jguk 15:57, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Yes, but we brits will complain... Color just looks too ugly to our eyes ;). --NeilTarrant 18:02, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Consistency within one article is hard enough to achieve; spelling consistency across multiple articles seems pointless and unlikely to be achieved. Make a redirect from Orange (color) if you like (there is one already), but please don't move Orange (colour). —AlanBarrett 20:56, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think it's perfectly accetable to attempt to attain standard disambiguation within a certain subject. It is not at all unreasonable to move Orange (colour) to Orange (color), if the latter format was in use by other articles first. But one cannot expect the editor of one article to have necessarily read and discovered the conventions of every single article in the same subject area. -[[User:Aranel|Aranel ("Sarah")]] 21:20, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I do not find any rule about spelling consistancy being demanded by the MoS within a collection of series of aricles, despite jguk's claims. What is a collection of articles: all articles on parrots, all articles on the Jurassic era, all articles on sailboats, all articles on Egyptian gods? The meaning of collection would have to be defined very clearly first. I don't think it worth the trouble. I notice that Darrien is mentioned at Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration#Current requests for Arbitration#Arminius and Darrien as attempting to "Americanise the project". I have just reverted an edit by Darrien at White guilt, in which he had removed occurrences of the word colour and replaced them by references to blacks, a term discouraged by Wikipedia MoS. He justfied this as being "neutral English", even though it changed the meaning of what was being discussed. As I've stated before on this page, removing words because they happen to have two spellings is not neutral. It is an attempt to lay down on Wikipedia a unique and original dialect of English used nowhere else. In Wikipedia one accepts that many articles will contain divergent spellings. Such inconsistancy across articles is invited by the MoS.

Jallan 01:07, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
That request was filed by a disgruntled user with a history of inserting anti-American bias into articles. He was blocked by an admin shortly after for incessant personal attacks. According to his user page, he no longer contributes here.
Darrien 01:31, 2004 Nov 21 (UTC)
I absolutely disagree with this notion, unless we switch to having a default of English (i.e. the standard international form) for all articles not specifically pertaining to the US (or other countries where American spelling is standard).
I also would not regard removing US bias as "anti-American".

zoney talk 02:00, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Neither would I. I was refering edits such as these [1]
Darrien 03:09, 2004 Nov 21 (UTC)
A reasonably accurate edit, although certainly leaving much to be desired in its tone (not particularly anti-American, but certainly inclined to elicit strong reactions from people such as yourself). While careful wording is often needed in Wikipedia policy, it does no justice to us to pretend that US influence on the English language is anything but quite dominant. It's pertinant to ensure that Wikipedians (and particularly those from the US) are aware of this. In the case of "billion", it's quite sensible to explain the history involved - thus preparing a user for those who will indeed fight vehemently against the assumed "standard" usage for 1,000,000,000. zoney talk 16:29, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Darrien's POV on this is very one-sided.

That's to be expected in any conflict.
That does not justify it.

Though user:Chameleon was blocked, the block was quickly reverted by Theresa Knott. See User talk:Theresa knott#Bias. Theresa and three other admins reprimanded Arminius (who kept reblocking) on his misuse of blocking power. See [[2].

What does that have to do with me?
It has to do with setting your statements in a more revealing context. Jallan 16:45, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Nor do I see any anti-American bias in [3] which seems to be a straighforward and true explanation of how the difference in the meaning of billion came to be. Probably it didn't belong there, but instead in the [billion]] article. But it was not removed for that reason, but supposedly because it was POV. I don't see the POV.

You think that "Nowadays the English-speaking world has almost entirely succumbed to American influence on the matter" is not biased?
It is not biased, if it is true. There are contradictory meanings of the world billion. One has mostly triumphed over the other. What produced the triumph of one meaning over the other if not American influence? (It wasn't British influence and it wasn't innate superiority of one usage over the other.)
So does that mean that you wouldn't have a problem with: "Nowadays, the English speaking world follows the American reform of "billion" meaning 1,000,000,000 despite heavy resistance from conservative British nationalists."? As you said, it's not biased if it's true.
Neither version belongs on a policy page. Maybe a more neutral version would fit at Billion, put policy pages aren't the place for things like this.
Darrien 12:15, 2004 Nov 23 (UTC)

I'm becoming very sympathetic to user:Chameleon who left Wikipedia in disgust after the unwarranted blocks. Jallan 21:03, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Don't worry, he'll be back. I think this is the third time he was "leaving for good". On a side note, I'm glad that you've publically admitted to being sympathetic to a user that calls people liars, bigots, chauvanists, vandals, dickheads, and "wiccan freaks"; it has prevented me from ever asking you for a neutral opinion.
Darrien 09:59, 2004 Nov 22 (UTC)
A user can be rude and obnoxious but entirely correct in particular cases. A users can be polite and soft-spoken but entirely wrong in particular cases. Anyone who wishes can view your edit history and easily make up his or her own mind whether all of your pushes for U.S. spelling in articles are justified and whether attempting to remove a word entirely when you can't get your way in the matter of spelling is justified. Jallan 16:45, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
What is the motivation for uniformity within an article? Right! So does that extend across multiple articles, of any grouping? No. Only one article is shown at a time. Simple. Lets leave our baggage on the porch. --Wetman 02:05, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)


Um, some of this conversation seems to be diverting from the topic of the style guide. Maybe it should be moved elsewhere? Maurreen 16:58, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Proposal to remove consistent synonym recommendation.

Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Usage and spelling contains a recommendation about words with variant spellings where their spellings are typical of different forms of English:

If the spelling appears within the article text, also consider a consistent synonym such as focus or middle rather than center/centre.

The sentence fist appeared on June 29 of this year, added by Adamsan.[4] There is no related discussion on the talk pages of that period. I myself first noticed it on October 18 when looking through Maureen's draft trim. I was surprised that I had not noticed it before. My comment was:

This advice is horrendous! Is there another style guide in the world that would suggest one should reconsider using normal, everyday English words because they have more than one common spelling? The result of this, if people paid any attention, would be a non-standard Wikipedia dialect of English, limited to spelling-neutral vocabulary. Better to go with a fixed spelling, whether US or Britsh or whatever, than this![5]

Maureen suggested, quite rightly, that we not deal with substantive changes when considering the draft trim, and I let the matter pass at that time.

I believe the sentence should be removed because:

1 Advice of this kind almost certainly does not appear in any other English style guide or style manual.
Generally Wikipedia follows the standard styles recommended by other manuals, sometimes choosing one recommendation over another.
2 Following this recommendation to any great extent, that is doing more than simply considering, would produce a non-standard English within Wikipedia.
Common, ordinary words used widely in English would be discouraged in Wikipedia alone. The deprecation rules would be seen as a joke to any reader who knew of this policy, who would giggle to see hue used so widely in place of semi-banned color/colour, taste instead of flavor/flavour, brimstone instead of sulphur/sulphur. The result of this bias against normal words would not be a neutral English but a bogus, neutered English.
Actually it's seasoning rather than flavor/flavour in the case of potato chip. There was a protracted (lame) edit war on this, and although silly, changing this one word did end it. zoney talk 18:50, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
3 This recommendation has no consensus.
I do not believe this new recommendation is widely known. On the Village Pump jguk attempted to gain support for a stronger implementation of this rule, without mentioning the weaker version on the MoS. He got no support. Maurreen recently brought up the matter on this page, asking if anyone supported jguk's proposal. There was no response. I believe this indicates no interest in the spirit of this rule.
4 This recommendation is a dangerous tool for spelling conflict.
There many debates now about whether particular spellings should be used in particular articles without this in addition. The article White guilt, contained British spellings from its creation on February 4 of this year, until a revision by Spleeman's August 20 reduced three occurrences of the word colour into two occurrences of the form color. At that time these occurrences of colour were the only remaining specifically British forms, though some subsequently appeared. On November 18, Iota, who had previously done a major overhall on the article, made some further changes and, in particular, changed to the occurrences of color to colour and mentioned in the edit summary: "restandardised to BE which has been in article since early on". The following day Darrien changed the references to people of colour to blacks, a change he explained by the edit summary: "Use neutral English". When I suggested on the talk page that the change was an incorrect one, Darrien cited the rule here being discussed. Darrien has previously been vigorous in pushing American spelling ... not always wrongly in my view. But a rule encouraging a change of this kind seems questionable, a method of forcing out spellings one does not like. I suppose someone could now fight back back by forcing similar "neutral" English on articles Darrien has written, citing this same rule. I do not think this was the intended purpose of the rule and I do think that the neutered English that would result is what most people want here.

Is there any support for retaining this rule?

Jallan 04:34, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)


For any and all of those reason, I agree with deleting it. Besides that, it's not written very clearly. Maurreen 06:17, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Oh dear, I added that in the hope that it would be used sensibly to avoid conflict rather than cause it. I'm all for a debate though and apologise for not running it through a consultation beforehand.

I disagree that it encourages the use of 'bogus, neutered English' as surely all words in a Wikipedian's standard lexicon are as 'authentic' as each other? It is up to the editor's personal choice as to the vocabulary he uses so whether or not people 'giggle' at it is a subjective decision. Is 'hue' really an intrinsicly funny word or does it have a valid role to play in certain sentences? Additionally I stressed that only consideration should be given as the advice can work in certain cases. I am not suggesting that Sulphur/Sulfur be moved to Brimstone but I note that Railroad and Railway redirect to Rail Transport. Some may giggle at the choice, but the practice of choosing consistent synonyms clearly exists and should be managed in some way.

Nor am I suggesting that all articles be rewritten in neutrally-spelt English, merely that the use of this system may in some cases reduce conflict in already contentious topics.

Is there any style guide that has to cope with numerous different regional orthographies? The wiki MoS has evolved in the face of differring styles from around the world whilst the style guides I have used in the past have been targeted at users of British or American English only. If we are breaking new ground in the subject by producing a style guide for all then past examples are invalid on this subject.

I think the example of the conflicts at White Guilt has more to do with the editor's choice of a poor synonym rather than a fault with the whole concept of choosing different words to make the text easier on the reader's eye. If colored/coloured is really the best word to choose then it should be used and spelt consistently.

As I say, I worded this as advice, that consideration should be given to the idea. No more than that. If the implementation needs tightening then I would be pleased to join in any effort to do this but I feel the idea has merit and although the style guide didn't mention it, this practice is occurring and needs to be acknowledged or things really will start happening in the manner of the Doomsday scenario Jallan describes. adamsan 09:07, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Because it says "consider", I see your point. But I've also seen "neuterization" of the language. I don't know what the solution is to the overall problem. That is, how we could get people not to get so excited about the issue of spelling and other national preferences. Maurreen 17:47, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
But then how is 'hue' more neutered than 'colour/color'? I can't understand this premise that some words are blander than others. If you mean that the advice contributes to the impoverishment of the language, I would disagree. If an editor is encouraged to give more consideration to the vocabulary he is using then surely it will contribute to a more varied and diverse use of English?

I agree that there are wider issues here though. adamsan 18:10, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

This is one situation where I think a Google test is appropriate.
Hue: 2.9 million
Colour: 143 million
Color: 179 million
This indicates to me that people are more likely to use the word “colour” than “hue” by a factor of about 50 to 1. “Hue” in at least general contexts has no other possible merit over either spelling of the word. It would sound stilted and awkward if all instances of “color” or “colour” were changed to “hue.” Maurreen 18:31, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Incidentally, "Rail transport" isn't neutral. The U.S. version would be "Rail transportation". "Trains" might be better all around. Maurreen 18:47, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
"Trains" would not be acceptable to me - it's quite simply incorrect as a general form in British English. Contrast "train station" and "railway station" (the latter is the correct title in the British Isles and elsewhere). I should also point out, that it is simply not possible to acheive consensus on many topics. See rail terminology. The vocabulary for rail topics evolved almost completely separately in the US and UK (and even separate elsewhere). So topics (such as railroad tie vs. sleeper) simply have to be named one or the other. zoney talk 18:56, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I agree with getting rid of this rule. I have only ever seen it cited by spelling partisans who use it as a justification for replacing spellings they dislike. - SimonP 19:04, Nov 23, 2004 (UTC)

I agree that when it comes to things that need their own page titles then any attempt to regularise orthography fails horribly. And I am not suggesting that we do a Wiki-wide Find and Replace, like globally changing 'colour' to 'hue'; that would indeed be ridiculous. What I was hoping to achieve was to avoid low-level spelling conflicts when less important words like 'center' get needlessly changed to 'centre' in articles on..I don't know... Grasshoppers or something. By encouraging use of consistent synonyms (and lists about 30 for centre as a noun alone) I hope that the wiki can produce articles where editing time is not wasted arguing about spelling. A possible side benefit is that editors will use more varied language, thereby widening everyone's vocabulary! Hooray! :-) adamsan 19:31, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

A recommendation only to "consider" is hardly a recommendation. It could just as well be replaced by its opposite:

But if the spelling appears within the article text, normally it is not necessary to consider a consistent synonym such as focus or middle rather than center/centre.

This strongly implies that in some cases such consideration might have value (which is true) and appears to be closer to adamsan's intent as stated than what was written. I would find this far more acceptable.

But is there use in stating something so obvious when the number of times when it can be valuably employed are few and specialized and probably obvious.

"Railway" and "railroad" are different words, which is another issue, though in such cases forced attempts to find neutral synonyms are sometimes worth a giggle at tightrope attempts to balance two opposed usages. But such articles will normally use both terms in their respective enviroments, speaking of railroads in Britain and railways when talking of the United States, rather than banning the words altogether.

But that some few find color and center intolerable and some few find colour and centre intolerable should not influence most people's choice of words at all. Why should I consider using middle over centre or center only to placate spelling bigots, those who dispise one or the other of the spellings, who think a particular spelling is correct rather than merely conventional? And who else but spelling bigots care about the matter? Books appear world wide with words spelled variously and most people don't particularly notice the spelling in most of what they read. If the U.S. converted totally to British spelling, what real difference would it make? If Britain converted totally to U.S. spelling, what real difference would it make? People would still be writing and reading exactly the same words. Choice of a word should very rarely have to do with avoiding words that have more than one spelling. How many writers anywhere have ever normally avoided a word because it has more than one spelling?

Jallan 19:16, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Good points. I agree that this cannot be enforced in a hard-and-fast way but disagree that it can only be employed on rare occasions; there are lots of examples of centre, labor, grey, licence and practise cropping up in article texts. I realise that the MoS prefers rules rather than recommendations however and if we can only put comments in it that refer to contextual things then this would be better off elsewhere. As to the spelling bigots, using a non-controversial spelling will keep them off your watchlist! I am not spelling bigot and like to respect the hard-fought conventions so far thought up. I am concerned at the time, effort and vitriol spent chopping and changing and I suppose my addition to the MoS looking for a way out of this problem. As for books, they have one author who can write what he wants, the wiki has lots of us jostling to edit away, all with our different Englishes. adamsan 19:31, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think there are incidences where using a synonym (or some other explanation of terms that are used) is particularly desirable. I'm thinking of words and phrases that are so peculiarly British or American or Australian, or whatever, that they have not entered into general International usage. (See List of British English words not used in American English; List of American English words not used in British English; List of words having different meanings in British and American English; Britishism.) Using words on these lists (without further explanation) will just confuse international readers - entirely if terms like "public school" are bandied about liberally.
Clearly this doesn't apply to "colour". Anyone understanding the word "colour" will also understand the word "color" and vice versa. So may I just that we change policy so that we advise either to avoid using words peculiar to a particular type of English or, failing that, to require explanation? jguk 22:01, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I don't think this very good piece of advice should be abandoned entirely. It's a good tool for compromise. Over at Wikipedia:Categories for deletion, we recently dealt with the athletes/sportspeople/sportspersons/whatever confusion by choosing "Olympic competitors" instead. Not only is the intended meaning conveyed unambiguously, but the new terminology has the potential of including Olympic teams, making it more useful.
Words like center/centre and colour/color are not good examples. Communication is not impeded by choice of one or the other. Your average American has no trouble with (and in fact may not notice) an occurence of colour. This technique is more useful with words like athletes, where the same word conveys very different information. Our goal should be mutual understanding. Spelling variations do not hinder understanding (usually), but other usage variations can.
jguk's reference to the lists of words specific to one variety of English was very appropriate. Those are the kinds of words that may require a compromise. Minor spelling variations do not. -[[User:Aranel|Aranel ("Sarah")]] 22:14, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
This part of the style guide should be kept. It is a useful way to resolve edit conflicts over spelling. Lowellian (talk)[[]] 03:45, Nov 24, 2004 (UTC)

I can see some value in resolving edit wars, and that might be worth a compromise in the style guide. But why can't edit wars be resolved using the general guidance on national preferences? Maurreen 04:39, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I agree with Maureen. This recommendation says nothing about words with different meanings, or different words with the same meaning. Those are entirely different issues.

The sentence, unlike the previous sentence, talks only about spellings and nothing else. Recommendations about the other issues are a different matter entirely and probably unnecessary.

But a bias against words which by accident of history have multiple spellings is objectively as arbitrary as a bias against words with double consonants or against words with the letter r. Attempting to write a passage avoiding words that have multiple spellings, or which have double consonants, or which contain the letter r are good writing exercises to encourage thinking about words and meanings and to encourage the discovery of new ways to put things. That is what such arbitrariness is good for. (And it can be very good for it.) But it should be left for such exercises.

Being concerned about words with multiple spellings is only an issue within Wikipedia because 1) Wikipedia allows different spellings for the same word within its compass and 2) because some users are at some times bothered by this inconsistancy when they notice it. Often they don't.

Yet adamsan has made clear he does not intend strong use of this rule. He is only inviting editors to consider the rule. Well, I consider what follows the word consider and reject it totally, which by that interpretation is total obedience to the rule. But that strictly literal interpretation is not adamsan's intent in creating the rule and surely not what most would consider to be following the rule. "Consider accepting Jesus as your Savior!" "Consider using sock puppets to win the argument!" "Consider giving to the Heart Fund!" "Consider writing in capital letters!". In such expressions consider is an rhetorical (and somewhat slippery) politeness, a way of alleviating the impact, but not the force, of the following recommendation. But the following recommendation still stands. And I don't feel that it lessens a harmful recommendation by preceding it with consider. One is not asking the editor only to consider. One is recommending.

Instead I rewrite radically without the rhetorical consider, taking into account adamsan's explanations:

In choosing words or expressions, where there are alternatives that are otherwise equally suitable, select one without multiple spellings.

I still disagree. This is a unique and unnatural constraint. We enter the realm of very silly political correctness, favoring preferring the spelling-neutral, even if we can only do so slightly. Why this bias?

If Wikipedia imposed a single system of spelling, we would be free of all fighting on the issue. That's one reason publishing houses and academic journals and individual publications usually do this. The difference between organization and organisation is an arbitrary, historic accident, and usually isn't worth the trouble of arguing. Far easier and convenient for almost everyone to arbitrarily impose one spelling or another and by that arbitrary and irrational and fascist restriction gain the unfettered freedom to not be concerned with debating about something as relatively unimportant and often unnoticed as the spelling.

We don't do this in Wikipedia. Wikipedia instead encourages multiple spelling systems with a bias towards a spelling systen used in the country about which an article is written (when the article is particuarly related to a single country) and otherwise generally following the spelling of the first main author of an article. There are other subtleties. But the philosophy is that multiple spellings are generally encouraged.

So conflict arises which would not arise under a system standardized on a single spelling. And had Wikipedia begun with a single spelling imposed, regardless of which one, I suspect most would accept whichever system was in place with little complaint and there would be no consensus to change. Worrying about spelling is not what most are here for and it might be much nicer to just gripe about not being able to spell the way we want instead of again and again and again having to spend time and energy defending our preferred spellings. But we do encourage multiple systems of spelling and so must accept the quarreling that goes with it. Individuals can, if they choose, simply ignore the matter, not caring about any spelling changes that might be made to their writing by others.

But suddenly, a unique rule appears, with a different philosopy, presumably to minimize the visual clashes of the different spelling systems and minimizing the arguing. The method is simple. Don't use words that have multiple spellings and then everyone will spell the same and there will be no clash of spelling systems and no arguments. Of course, in fact, nothing so drastic is possible. We don't have exact synonyms for many multiple spelling words. Some of those words are very common ones that we can't drop almost universally without seeming very stilted and artificial. But since every little bit helps, perhaps going some small way in that direction would be an improvement.


A small way which would be hardly noticeable is not an improvement, if in fact we can very seldom unarguably find proper synonyms and synonymous expressions. And who wants to go a large way in that direction. (I will get into that later.)

But the price to pay, in either case, is another level of complexity to argue over.

Instead of accepting that the spellings color and cozy might appear in an article on the American west and the spellings colour and cosy in an article on modern Winchester, the editors are now supposed to also consider whether the words colo(u)r or co<s/z>y themselves should appear in either article, a consideration that goes against any previous recommended practice in Wikipedia and any recommended practice anywhere outside of Wikipedia.

Those who don't care much about spelling either way would now find the words they wrote being replaced by other words to pacify the potential spelling-warriors. Good English words like co<s/z>y would be banned from Wikipedia because one could always use something like comfortable and homely instead. Helpful lists of deprecated words would appear with appropriate synonyms and synonymous expressions beside them. Don't use color or colour unless absolutely necessary: use hue, tint, shade, chroma, glow, radiance, sheen, pallor. Never use center or center, use middle, central point, mid-point. Never use travel(l)ed, always journeyed. Never use flavo(u)r, always taste, or seasoning. Can you write a recommendation that would not reasonably be extended to this? Is this a good thing? This is what the current rule actually recommends, even as rewritten by me, without the oratorical consider. And I will not consider doing this. Do you think that others would not fight against anyone trying to impose such a general bias against normal English words? But that is what the rule calls for, replacement of word after word of standard English if synoynms can be found. That such substitutions might solve an individual spelling dispute here or there does not indicate a need for a rule encouraging such subsitutions as general practice. If two editors are so intent on forcing one or another spelling system on a particular article that the only compromise they can come to is banning words of mixed spelling from the article, I can think of another solution that would be less harmful to standard English use. Ban the editors. (Or flip a coin.) Otherwise this will spread like a virus. Article after article in this neutralized spelling with no words allowed which would break the forced neutrality that few editors have agreed on. An editor comes upon one of these articles, sees something that could be improved or should be added, unwitting actually uses a word that has more than one spelling (Horror!), and is jumped on. We now have have articles that are written using American spellings, using Canadian spellings favoring colour, using Canadian spellings favouring color, using British English spelling -ize, using British/Australian spelling -ise, and also now another set of articles in artificial word-biased spelling-neutral English in which most -o(u)r words, -l(l)- words, -re/er words, -i<s/z>e -n<s/c>e words, and (a)e words are forbidden. Word after word after word, forbidden to be used in Potato chips and in how many other articles?

In fact, differences in spelling are mostly hardly noticed. When adamsan added the new rule, did he notice that at that time the MoS already contained a mixture of spellings? How many others read the MoS and did not notice (or just grinned with amusement). I recently emended the MoS to impose a single spelling, more from a feeling that a style guide should follow its own rules than from any personal feeling that it was really necessary. Multiple spellings in a single article, despite being universally deprecated, generally don't do any harm, and are likely not to be noticed. It is notorious how difficult it is for many to notice differences in spellings within the same work, even when searching for them. How many can you spot?[6] In the current cleaned-up version only one remains, a purposeful one.

Jallan 04:58, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)

This rule contributes nothing. It is one of the charms of the Wikipedia and one of the founding principles of the style guide (more at "notorious quote" below) that either "British" or "American" spelling is acceptable. The rule imagines that a synonym for a word is better, somehow, than including or not including a U in a spelling. Ortolan88 00:22, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)

This rule does not have my support because it actively deprecates best practice. In the preceding sentence, for instance, the recommendation would be to consider using an alternative to the word "practice" simply because it is sometimes spelt differently . The best practice here would be to write redirects from variant spellings. Whilst synonyms contribute to the richness of the English language, they should never be used simply to harmonise spelling. --[[User:Tony Sidaway|Tony Sidaway Talk ]] 13:35, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Synonym rule rewording

I think I have read most of the above. Good points on all sides. Something optional for editors to consider is never obvious to everyone and is therefore worth including if it will add to the number of people who become aware of the idea. In principle I agree with adamsan on this one, but I prefer the less recommendatory alternative suggested near the end, with a further reduction in "instruction", ie rearranging to produce something like this:
"Words with multiple spellings: in choosing words or expressions, there may be value in selecting one that does not have multiple spellings where there are synonyms that are otherwise equally suitable."
Robin Patterson 23:34, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Robin Patterson makes a sound recommendation. I have tweaked it slightly below.

"Words with multiple spellings: In choosing words or expressions, there may be value in selecting one that does not have multiple spellings, if there are synonyms that are otherwise equally suitable."
Even though we might not all see this as perfect, I think it's a good compromise, because of the way it has been worded and the fact that there is close division.
Does anyone object? Maurreen 16:43, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)