Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Words to watch

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I like the excellent material at Editorializing and wish that reading and understanding it were a precondition for editing here at all! I wonder if the custodians of this page might consider adding "aptly" to the examples of things to avoid, or at least think about carefully. Since I became sensitized to it I've seen so many horrible uses of it. It's Year 9 report-writing style (not in a good way) and rarely has a place here when it is not in a direct quotation. "Aptly enough" is even worse, but, wow, there are plenty of Aptlys that make me want to tear out virtual pages ... Thanks and best wishes (talk) 19:18, 22 December 2016 (UTC)

Definitely an Apley that made me want to tear out pages. EEng 21:15, 22 December 2016 (UTC)
Ha, brilliant!! <g> (talk) 12:01, 23 December 2016 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done Yaris678 (talk) 17:02, 5 January 2017‎ (UTC)

You added more than "aptly" and "aptly" variations, Yaris678, which I don't think was a good idea. You added other terms as well. Your edit was altered here by Sangdeboeuf, and I agree with that edit, except for the addition of the second box. I don't think it's a good idea to highlight "but, despite, however, although" in a box since use of these words is usually fine and people can interpret this guideline strictly. In the section, we already address that use of these terms can be problematic. They, however, are not words we should always avoid. The words in the box at the beginning of the section are words we should always avoid unless they are in a quote. That is why I reverted the box. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 20:05, 9 January 2017 (UTC)
Few of the words/phrases on this page should always be avoided. They're words to watch. EEng 20:21, 9 January 2017 (UTC)
The issue is that, as has been discussed on this talk page a number of times, this guideline is commonly interpreted strictly and therefore enforced strictly. Editors commonly point to this guideline and remove a word without any valid reasoning. I've seen editors simply look at the words in whatever box is on this guideline page and insist that the words must be avoided simply because they are listed at this guideline, which, after all, is also called WP:Words to avoid. SMcCandlish was involved in one of the more thorough discussions about this issue on this very talk page. So I don't agree with this revert you made, but I'm not going to argue over it. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 20:35, 9 January 2017 (UTC)
And when looking at all the other words in boxes on this page, those should be avoided more often than not. We cannot state the same of "but, despite, however, although." And now, because of your revert, we have two boxes for one section, which is likely to lead to confusion. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 20:43, 9 January 2017 (UTC)
I guess this edit you made will help a little. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 20:49, 9 January 2017 (UTC)
Agreed aptly should be added, but the other additions reverted, pending discussion of each addition. Every single addition to this page has a great deal of potential fallout, most additions are resisted (for good reasons), and few adders of items carefully think through all of the cases they could be affecting, and are often also too steeped only in one kind of writing, and neglect to account for variation that is valid, constructions they would not use themselves but which are common, secondary and tertiary definitions and usages of a word they're only thinking about in one way, etc., etc.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  04:04, 10 January 2017 (UTC)
I don't care much about particular words being in or out, but I assume we can keep this [1]. EEng 04:20, 10 January 2017 (UTC)
It may help.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  04:57, 14 January 2017 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Regarding the material on "linking words" such as but, despite, however, and although, it's unlikely that users will think these words should be generally avoided. I think we can trust users to understand the meaning of "no forbidden words or expressions" as well as "The advice in this guideline [...] should not be applied rigidly". If people are not understanding this, then we have a bigger problem than whether words like but and although are included or or not. The existence of the redirects WP:AVOID and WP:Words to avoid notwithstanding, the name of the page is "Words to watch", not "Words to avoid", which I assume was a deliberate choice. As with any words, the context matters; in the case of using but, however, although, etc., the text is pretty clear in explaining that the issue is avoiding unsupported conclusions. —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 06:55, 10 January 2017 (UTC)

It seems that you altered your original post to account for my reply, but I still note that SMcCandlish and I are speaking from experience. I don't mind but, despite, however, and although being in the section; they were there before they were added to the box. And I think common sense should tell people that, unlike most of the other words or expressions on the page often are, these particular words usually aren't POV issues. Per what I stated above, I mind that you placed but, despite, however, and although in a box. The words in the boxes on this page constantly trigger a "must avoid" reaction from our editors (meaning newbies and experienced editors alike). WP:Words to avoid redirects to WP:Words to watch and many editors use that redirect. The history behind the title is seen with this edit. Regardless of what the page is titled, the page has repeatedly proven to be a problem when it comes to editors removing words from articles. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 06:59, 10 January 2017 (UTC)
That's why the introduction currently states, "The advice in this guideline is not limited to the examples provided and should not be applied rigidly." Editors were hoping that the "should not be applied rigidly" note would help. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 07:02, 10 January 2017 (UTC)
It generally doesn't. >;-) Anyway, I agree that the "boxing" of those conjunctions is the issue, and that Sangdeboeuf is correct that having them somewhere on the page is not a problem. We can cover why they're to be "watched" rather than "avoided" where they are introduced in the page, but we can't do that if their inset in "holy @#$*! avoid!" box. Heh.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  10:15, 10 January 2017 (UTC)
I moved the linking words into a separate box only because they didn't seem to fit with more overt editorializing words such as notably, fortunately, etc. I think the second box has a legitimate function as a visual marker for the topic of linking words as it appears in the text. I'm not convinced that these words will pose any more of a problem in a highlighted box than in the text. When exactly have these boxes caused a serious conflict between editors, not just a minor annoyance that a simple revert with adequate explanation couldn't fix? —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 01:10, 11 January 2017 (UTC)
As to covering why the words are to be 'watched' rather than 'avoided', I think putting Words to watch into each of the boxes does a pretty good job of this. —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 01:39, 11 January 2017 (UTC)
SMcCandlish, it seems you meant "is the issue," not "in the issue" above; so I changed your wording, which I assumed was a typo.
Sangdeboeuf, I clearly agreed that but, despite, however, and although should not have been added to the original box. I stated that I don't think that the second box is a good idea, and I've noted why. I don't see why you think it's a good idea to have two boxes for this section. Why must this section have two boxes, especially when this makes it seem as though "but, despite, however, and although" are as much of a concern as the clear-cut POV words? I don't think you've helped by adding that box in the least. I disagree with you seemingly thinking that this guideline is not a problem, or that the "words to avoid" aspect of it is solved. After all, you have interpreted this guideline too strictly too; I've noted this more than once to you before. You know, before you took an interest in editing it. Since it's been created, editors have interpreted this guideline too strictly. Anyone is free to read the history of it as proof (the archives, the rename aspect). And I doubt that this strict interpretation will change. Adding "Words to watch" to the boxes is unlikely to help much; the guideline's title was changed to "Words to watch," and that didn't help much. "Words to watch" is even noted in the WP:Good article criteria, and I've seen reviewers interpret the guideline too strictly.
When it comes to most of the words in the sections, I reiterate that we should generally avoid those words for the contexts mentioned. WP:SAID, for example, is completely right. When it comes to WP:LABEL telling us to "use in-text attribution," however, I disagree with this revert since in-text attribution can be misleading in cases where the term is commonly used to describe the subject. I've been over this before, as seen here, but I haven't yet revisited it. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 19:55, 13 January 2017 (UTC)
[Yes, that inis typo fix was correct.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  04:57, 14 January 2017 (UTC)]
Agreed that two boxes is overkill and that boxing but, despite, etc. implies they are of the same type and level of concern when they clearly are not. The problem with boxes [and this actually relates strongly to disputes about quotation-boxing templates used in articles] is that they serve as extremely strong emphasis. Not only does it imply that the boxed thing is the absolute most important thing on the page or in the section, multiple uses in series are quickly numbing and ineffective, like Capitalizing Everything In Sight, or using a lot of emphasis inline in a short span.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  04:57, 14 January 2017 (UTC)
Since multiple boxes in series are 'numbing and ineffective', then having two boxes instead of one should obviously reduce the 'extremely strong emphasis' that seems so problematic for some. —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 12:56, 20 January 2017 (UTC)
Eh? Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 13:46, 20 January 2017 (UTC)

Survived by[edit]

I think the material recently added under "Survivors" could easily be condensed and folded into § Euphemisms. Since Survivor has multiple meanings, it's somewhat ambiguous as a section heading. The phrase "survived by" may not strictly be a euphemism in the same sense as "passed away" for died (it's more a bit of journalistic/legalistic jargon like "deceased") but it seems intended for the same effect; namely, to create a breezy, reassuring sense of efficiency around the issue of death. And the shortcut, intuitively, is WP:SURVIVEDBY. The text should highlight the same wording, in my opinion. —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 05:40, 24 February 2017 (UTC)

I think "survived by" is standard English with no euphemistic sense. it is used for living people. Rjensen (talk) 05:46, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
Nonetheless, the general feeling in the recent RfC that led to the new guideline seemed to be that the phrase was not "encyclopedic". It seems to be mostly limited to obituaries and sources concerned with inheritance law. —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 06:28, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
According to Macmillan Dictionary, the phrase is used mostly in journalism. Obviously, journalistic writing uses many style conventions unsuitable for encyclopedia writing. —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 06:43, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
That's not a view universally observed: -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 12:18, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
a) The term is also used in law: "If the deceased is survived by children from a prior marriage..." [Encyclopedia of Aging and Public Health - Page 791]. b) it's common in bio entries in state & regional encyclopedias: 1) " He was survived by his wife' [Ency Louisiana]; 2) "He was survived by his wife and three children." [ Ency New Hampshire]; 3) "He was survived by his widow and three children." [Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography] 4) "He was survived by his grandson" [Encyclopedia of Massachusetts Indians]; 5) "and is survived by Bonnie Jean Cox, his companion of 40 years." [The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture] etc etc. Rjensen (talk) 15:41, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
Yes, I believe I mentioned that the term is used in law – that was my whole point. I'm a bit mystified with this discussion – is the suggestion being made that WP:SURVIVEDBY should be removed from this guideline? If not, I just think it would help readability to condense the overly wordy text and place it under some other heading than the ambiguous "Survivors" – and WP:EUPHEMISM simply seems like the best available spot at the moment. —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 04:00, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
The critics of the term have nor provided a substitute.... How should the living near kin be characterized? Rjensen (talk) 05:50, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
Left behind? EEng 06:21, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
What several users have said, both in in the recent RfC and in a discussion from last year on the topic, and which I agree with, is that it's not pertinent to an encyclopedia to characterize living relatives at the time of someone's death at all – that's a concern only for newspapers and other media focusing on immediate events that change daily.
The phrase "is survived by" implies an immediate condition and can quickly become outdated, while "was survived by" is ambiguous for readers of an encyclopedia – it doesn't communicate whether the "survivors" are still alive in the present or how long they lived after the event.
Since an encyclopedia takes a broad view of a subject's life, whom they are survived by at time of death is a minor point that would distract from the overall biography – if a person's relatives are noteworthy enough to appear in the article, then that information should be presented in a different format than a list of survivors, whether called by that or another name. Wikipedia is neither a memorial site ... nor a newspaper. —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 07:34, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
It's a major issue if the reader is interested in the family, or in wealth or lands or companies controlled by the family, or disposition of documents and papers. --you have to be alive to inherit and this tells a lot about that. Rjensen (talk) 20:25, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
Can you name some articles where this is a significant concern? —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 07:33, 28 February 2017 (UTC)

More contentious labels[edit]

contentious labels should include "conspiracy theory". That seems to be the go-to snarl word for dismissing any accusation of malfeasance by a politican, without argument. 2600:8801:0:1530:B48F:7DDD:69EA:34D7 (talk) 22:59, 24 February 2017 (UTC)

"Colonialism" is another snarl word that's applied inconsistently to push an anti-European POV. The Umayyad Caliphate is never called colonialism, even though it was. 2600:8801:0:1530:B48F:7DDD:69EA:34D7 (talk) 23:14, 24 February 2017 (UTC)


Are litotes against WP:MOS?--Mr. Guye (talk) 00:26, 3 April 2017 (UTC)

RfC on the WP:ANDOR guideline[edit]

Hi, all. Opinions are needed on the following: Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style#RfC: Should the WP:ANDOR guideline be softened to begin with "Avoid unless" wording or similar?. A WP:Permalink for it is here. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 23:15, 17 April 2017 (UTC)