Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/quotation and punctuation

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Punctuation Style[edit]

When punctuating quoted passages, I believe punctuation can belong inside or outside the quotation marks, depending on the meaning, even though the British style calls for them to be always within the quotation marks.

As an American, I have never quite accepted the idea that punctuation should go inside the quotes as often as style manuals seems to insist. I'm not clear what the British alternative is, however. Are there any links here, or could someone provide a brief set of examples? --Ryguasu

Example added. Ortolan88

Thanks. How about punctuation for As John Doe points out, "The man with the most cheese molds the least." Americans would obsessively put the period inside the quotation marks. Is this true for British folks as well? --Ryguasu

Um, there's no obsession about it. If it is a complete sentence, the punctuation goes inside in both countries. The MOS has always said that. Ortolan88

Ortolan88 is right. If you were to be perfectly logical about it, you would write

As John Doe points out, "The man with the most cheese molds the least.".

because there the quotation is a complete sentence (requiring a period) while it sits at the end of another complete sentence (requiring its own period). I will often use just this style, since I'm a hyperlogical person, but most people regard it as too ugly, so the usual style convention is to keep only the period inside the quotation marks. (It might just as easily have gone the other way, however.) What distinguishes the two countries' systems is:

John Doe called him "the man with the most cheese".

Here the quotation is not a complete sentence (thus requiring no period), so the style above is the one demanded by pedantic logic. Since this style is not ugly, we can use it in ordinary writing, and the British do; the Americans, however, move the period inside the quotation marks, because ... I dunno why, they just do. — Toby 09:14 Nov 3, 2002 (UTC)

As I understand it, it is a prejudice of American printers that little bits like periods look "bad" hanging outside the "quotes". I don't agree and I have to catch myself when I'm writing commercially to do it the American way, but in everything I write for myself I do it British style and I was delighted to note when I was working up the Manual of Style that British was already the convention in Wikipedia. Ortolan88

On quotations and punctuation marks[edit]

Right now our official policy is to put punctuation marks inside quotation marks if it is a full quotation, but outside the quotation marks if it is a partial quotation. I've been looking at many encyclopedias and found that this is uncommon even in British publications. does anybody else feel that the current policy is needlessly confusing... or am I simply being an Ugly American here? I'd like to change it to have a uniform "punctuation goes inside quotation marks" style, but I really don't want to step on anyone's toes – just looking for a few comments on the issue. ;) [[User:Neutrality|Neutrality (talk)]] 16:52, Sep 19, 2004 (UTC)

The present official policy is in agreement with what is done in many (most? all?) other languages. You should consider the fact that many contributors here do not have English as their first language and have in fact learnt in school/university that the punctuation only goes inside the quotation marks if it actually belongs there in the first place. The only reason to do otherwise is, I guess, typographical, and I don't really find it much of an aesthetic improvement to get the empty space in one place rather than in an other./Tupsharru 17:19, 19 Sep 2004 (UTC)
The rule has been in there since the first draft. I believe it is clearer that way. There were many examples of this usage in the Wikipedia already. I tried to make the first draft reflect what was already "best practice" in Wikipedia. Ortolan88 22:21, 19 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Personally, I can never remember what the policy is, so I generally just fake it. (I've read enough British authors over the years that my sense of such things is confused. In other words, my gut instinct is unreliable.) There would be something to be said for a system that is entirely consistent (and therefore easier to remember).
However, at the moment there is so much inconsistency with regard to punctuation that I almost wonder if it is worth the effort to have a rule. (Trying to enforce any change would be very difficult. Not that the current "rule" is enforced.)--[[User:Aranel|Aranel

("Sarah")]] 22:30, 19 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Like the rest of the Manual of Style, none of the rules here are enforced, but when someone who loves copy-editing comes along to tend to an article, maybe quite an old one, they can look in the Manual of Style for guidance on consistency. Not that the rule is all that hard to remember: If the punctuation is part of what is being quoted, put it inside the quotes, and if it is not part of what is being quoted, leave it out. That is, the quotation marks contain only what is being quoted. Ortolan88 22:57, 19 Sep 2004 (UTC)


The current Wikipedia policy is often called "logical quotation". I far prefer it, despite what I was taught in school, and always use it when not prevented. Proponents of "typographical quotation" claimed it "looks better". Too often, I believed, it did not look better. It looked stupid. This is especially so in lists of words and meanings. For example, using logical punctuation:

Three French words with related meanings are maison 'house', domaine 'estate, property', and château 'castle'.

This seems to be me to be more understandable and better looking than:

Three French words with related meanings are maison 'house,' domaine, 'estate, property,' and château 'castle.'

(The use of single quotation marks here rather than double quotation marks is standard linguistics usage when indicating a meaning of a previous word or phrase regardless of whether in the article as a whole double quotation marks or singlular quotation marks are used for top level quoting. I use it in Wikipedia since I prefer it and guideliness currently don't specify and the convention has spread to technical writing outside of linguistics. But using double quotation marks wouldn't change the point.)
Now if you aren't at all concerned with meaning, it is possible that at some level of abstract design that always putting a small base-line punctuation mark before a small high punctuation mark is aesthetically better, if there is an absolute in asethetics. But in parsing a sentence we are concerned with meaning.
This is only my personal feeling, not binding on anyone. If the Wikipedia Style Guide specifications had specified typographical quotation, I would bend to its whims. But considering that logical punctuation is specified in prestigious British style guides and in some general technical style guides, it is doubtful that such a rule would have stayed fixed in Wikipedia. The only reasonable choices are between letting the editor choose and logical quotation everywhere.
From The Canadian Web Magazine for the Writing Trade: Placement of Punctuation and Quotation Marks:

In a literary work, we recommend the American style of always placing periods and commas inside the quotation marks. In a technical or legal work, where accuracy is essential, we recommend the British practice of placing periods and commas within quotation marks only when they are part of the quoted material.

I take Wikipedia as more technical than literary and this recommendation to come from noting increased use of logical punctuation in academic and technical writing outside of Britain.
Jallan 00:17, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Various observations: The comma and period inside the quotes "look better" only when true typography is used to place the quote over the punctuation, so that's not really an argument for doing it. My arguments for doing it come from Chicago and many other American style guides, but most acknowledge the historic reasons for the punctuation order. In technical style guides here, it is not the general case for punctuation to go outside the quotes, only when what's inside the quotes is an exact value (as in: type this URL into the field: "".). However, I have no problem using the Wikipedia style guide and editing according to that. Elf | Talk 15:52, 21 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Quotation marks: New policy proposal[edit]

  • With quotation marks, we have no rigid rule. Some users prefer using one style (punctuation goes outside the quotation marks when quoting only part of a sentence, but inside when quoting a compete sentence), while other prefer another style (punctuation always goes inside quotation marks).
I prefer the "rigid rule" that is presently in place, not because it is a rigid rule, but because it gives guidance to editors, that is, if the punctuation is part of the quote, quote it, if not part of the quote, don't quote it. Keep in mind, that which is frequently forgotten in these discussions, the purpose of any manual of style is consistency. This proposal will result in inconsistency and gives no guidance to editors. Contributors in general don't pay much attention to the Manual of Style so far as I can tell. This is good, because a lot of the Manual of Style is intimidating to people not accustomed to editorial markup.
If I am reading correctly, this "no rigid rule" paragraph is the only part of this proposed policy that is actually new, the rest is pretty much as it already is in the Manual of Style. Ortolan88 03:24, 22 Sep 2004 (UTC) PS -- I should state my bias. I wrote the first draft of the Manual of Style, basing it on what I found in the Wikipedia at that time, and the rule about "logical quotes" was in that first draft because many carefully written articles, including mine, already used it. Ortolan88
Have to agree. Seems like we should just pick one system and move on. (Also, it seems like we already have, so lets.) Chuck 04:17, 22 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Punctuation should go inside quotes because every legit style manual says to do it this way. It makes Wikipedia look unprofessional to allow otherwise. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:13, 25 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Keep in mind that if you're quoting several paragraphs, there should be quotes at the beginning of each paragraph, but only at the end of the last paragraph. For longer quotations, an indented style may be better. Since quotations are already marked by quotation marks or indentations, they need not be italicized.
  • It is probably best to use the "double quotes" for most quotations, as they are easier to read on the screen. Use 'single quotes' for "quotations 'within' quotations," or to mark words for attribution.
  • Note that if a word appears in an article with single quotes, such as 'abcd', the Wikipedia:Searching facility will find it only if you search for the word with quotes (when trying this out with the example mentioned, remember that this article is in the Wikipedia namespace). Since this is rarely desirable, this problem is an additional reason to use double quotes, for which this problem does not arise. It may even be a reason to use double quotes for quotations within quotations as well.
  • For uniformity and to avoid complications use straight quotation marks and apostrophes, not curved (smart) ones or grave accents:
    • Correct: ' "
    • Incorrect: ‘ ’ “ ” `
  • If you are pasting text from Microsoft Word, remember to turn off the smart quotes feature by unmarking this feature in AutoEdit and "AutoEdit during typing"! [1]. Many other modern word processors have a smart quotes setting - please read the appropriate documentation for your editor.
  • The grave accent (`) is also used as a diacritical mark to indicate a glottal stop; however, the straight quote should be used for this purpose instead (e.g., Hawai'i, not Hawai`i).

I'm planning on adding this revised policy in a week if there are no objections. Comments? [[User:Neutrality|Neutrality (talk)]] 03:07, Sep 22, 2004 (UTC)

Except for the punctuation issue (addressed above) I'm fine except for the Hawaii example. Why are we even addressing a rare character here. My understanding of that character, also used for other Hawaiian words, is that the preference of character use is (i) the Unicode character (there is a specific unicode character defined), (ii) opening left apostrophe, (iii) grave accent, (iv) straight apostrophe. Straight apostrophe might be the most cross-platform, but is the least accurate. Anyway, is this really the right way to open up the rare character can-of-worms. There are plenty of other characters and diacritic marks we would need to address as well. We can start a section to address such characters, but it doesn't belong with quotes. Chuck 04:17, 22 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I don't see what this change would improve. Maurreen 04:33, 22 Sep 2004 (UTC)
The only real change here is removal of long-standing Wikipedia preference for logical quotation. But editors have long time been writing articles by this standard and correcting articles to fit this standard. As with any change here, consensus is needed. And I don't see that occurring.
I agree with Chuck on the Hawai'i issue, which is controversial and not clear and also not altogether folllowed. Does this mean that when referring to Hawaiian names in an English context one should use the straight quotation rather than the grave, or that even when quoting Hawai'ian forms natively one should do the same? I don't think the latter is intended, or at least would not be understood now as being a reasonable rule. That should be made clear. There is an increasing tendency in general for use of rarer Unicode characters to appear throughout Wikipedia as fonts increasingly support them. I have seen use of the ‘ character in Hawaiian names and the only objector I've seen to it backed down at once when the user made an issue of it, even saying that if the editor wanted to persist in using it against the standard, he'd support the user. It is hard to remember that even as short a time as three years is was considered rather daring on the web to display even common characters outside of ISO Latin-1 without special downloadable fonts and how a few cranks were still raving away on usenet claiming that Unicode couldn't work and that no-one was using it. That no-one is generally addressing the matter of rare characters may indicate that there is no problem to be addressed, that is, that those using rare characters are largely doing so with reasonable restraint and issues raised are being solved reasonably by individual discussions.
Jallan 17:32, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

The manual recommends British-style punctuation on US topics??!?![edit]

Where on Earth did people writing the style manual come up with the idea that all articles should use British-standards of punctuation, even on explicitly U.S. topics? I refer here to the sections on quotation marks and serial commas. We follow the spellings of the country of the topic, but not the punctuation? That makes no sense at all. I would strongly encourage that we standardize on the rules used by the appropriate country for topics about that country, both for fairness reasons and for not teaching our readers bad habits. OH,and not to mention that following these rules would mean every US-article would always have major errors for anyone reading it: US readers would see screwed up punctuation and International English readers would see nonstandard spelling. A style decision that guarantees an article is going to be wrong for everyone who reads it is just plain useless. DreamGuy 22:50, Mar 13, 2005 (UTC)

DreamGuy, please see my proposal above, which, if implemented, would get rid of this problem in its most general form. Perhaps you would like to add your support/constructive comments, jguk 23:22, 13 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Consider these my supportive/constructive comments. But then if the above says that articles about US topics written erroneously using British rules because someone British first started the article, or vice versa with a British topic using US rules, that part is nonsense. It should conform to the country of that topic when thetopic is clear. I did a lot of edits to Jack the Ripper, for instance, and when someone came and said that that's not how they use certain words and punctuation there, I said, fine, I don't know how you were taught, change it to that. If I had insisted that it stay with American rules I would be imposing my rules on another country, which is wrong. DreamGuy 23:41, Mar 13, 2005 (UTC)
jguk, I don't follow how it addresses this. the MoS has only one set of punctuation rules. It has two (or so) sets of spelling rules (US and British/International ones), and a set of "meta-rules" (topics specifics to a given country, generally acceptable usages, first major contributor, etc) as to which to use. Aren't you proposing to change the latter set of (meta-)rules? If you plan on expanding the scope to include things, that there's a unitary rule for at the moment, you should say so explicitly. (I suppose these are all strictly speaking "guidelines", if none of the MoS is policy as such.) Alai 00:01, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Punctuation and quoting style is just that: style. There are common conventions that are often followed in the US or UK, but they're not universal, and using a different convention isn't an error. I don't feel strongly about it, but it seems to me that the UK convention is more explicit, requires fewer exceptions for special cases, and is closer to how programmers and computer people often write, anyway. Michael Z. 2005-03-14 00:44 Z
Ugh, the US punctuation rules are rules, not mild suggestions that people feel free to violate. If you write a paper for school or write a book, like, say, an encyclopedia, and you do it any other way, it's wrong. It is an error. The fact that computer programmers are notoriously bad at grammar and spelling should not be used as an indication that an encyclopedia should start following their style. If that were the case we should just give up and require everyone to make plurals out of everything by adding an apostrophe and an s and go with L33tspeak spellings. The "computer people" can make contributions all they want, but they ought to let the people who understand spelling and grammar to clean up after them instead of arguing with them. DreamGuy 01:40, Mar 14, 2005 (UTC)
Far be it for the likes of us to argue with you and your dreadfully impressive understanding. It's just too bad that some incompetent rule-breakers like George Orwell, George Bernard Shaw, and Gertrude Stein didn't have you to clean up after them, too. Michael Z. 2005-03-14 06:27 Z
Non-contemporary UK authors using non-contemporary British rules wouldn't be breaking their rules, so that argument makes no sense. I'm sorry, you aren't even trying to support your side with logical reasons, you are just assuming British rules are better than the US ones in general and being rude about it on top of it. That's not support for your side, that's evidence that your opinion is based solely on bias. DreamGuy 06:49, Mar 14, 2005 (UTC)
Those are examples of famous British and American authors who broke a lot of their their contemporaries' "rules" of punctuation, including ones that are still conventional. I'm not assuming any rules are better than others; I'm saying your assertion that they must be followed slavishly is wrong, and I'm sure most writers would disagree with you.
Sorry for my tone, but I thought your highbrowed implication that computer programmers and technical writers were illiterate was rude. In many contexts there are good stylistic and practical reasons to diverge from convention. To do so is not automatically an error. For example, from Quotation mark:
In some subject areas (such as software documentation and chemistry), it is conventional to include only what is part of the quoted phrase within the quotes, for clarity:
Enter the URL as “”, the name as “Wikipedia”, and click "OK".
Publishers adopt style guides that are appropriate to their publications. It makes sense for Wikipedia to do so, and there's nothing wrong with using essentially British punctuation conventions when they are easy for volunteer editors to apply and will avoid confusion in thousands of technical articles. Michael Z. 2005-03-17 19:37 Z

Re "British-style punctuation". Up until 28 December of last year, the MoS described its guideline as "splitting the difference" between UK and US usages: punctuation inside or outside according to sense (per British rules), but preferring "double" quotation marks to 'single' ones (per American practice). Sounds like the original framers were trying to strike a compromise between the two, and it's a shame that language was lost from the Manual. Hajor 04:15, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The WP-mandated serial comma is also something of an Americanism, if we're keeping score. (Though also popular with Lynne Truss, Oxfordians, and other pedants. Well, some pedants, as I don't personally care for it...) Alai 05:51, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Two points: first, the current MoS says that spelling and "usage" of a country should be used in articles "specific to" that country. That ought to include punctuation. The MoS is just a bit inconsistent here. Second, the MoS is a guideline, not policy, so no one should be changing people's commas or quotation marks. Even though when I last looked the MoS advocated the use of the serial comma, I never add serial commas to British-related articles (although the serial comma is used in the UK, there are lots of British writers who don't like them). It's best to use commonsense and be sensitive to the views of the editors who've spent most time on the page, as well as to the topic. SlimVirgin 06:58, Mar 14, 2005 (UTC)
I don't think "usage" covers punctuation. It may not be terribly consistent per se, but it says what it says, and says it fairly clearly. Your interpretation of "not policy" seems to be in essence to ignore it entirely. Aren't the guidelines guidance for among other things, copy-editting? If it's not a good idea to edit text to make it conform better (well, more, at least) to the MoS, why have it at all? Bin the whole thing and just have "holding the ring" policies for the on-going edit-warring between US and non-US copy? (I suppose that the latter is probably a practical necessity anyway, on the evidence.) Sensitivity to both of those things is certainly a good idea, but some clarity about what's an ultimately desirable goal would be very useful. Alai 07:41, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Further to the comment above by Hajor, I agree that the "splitting the difference" explanation should be retained. Was it removed on substantive grounds, or simply to make the passage shorter? JamesMLane 09:18, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I'm not sure why it was removed. Statement of intent: I plan to put it back shortly, unless I'm loudly shouted at and convinced otherwise in this thread. Hajor 14:57, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Alai, I do follow the MoS. It says: "Writers are not required to follow all or any of these rules ..." SlimVirgin 09:23, Mar 14, 2005 (UTC)
Yes, but it does not say: "don't copy-edit to conform to this style", as you suggest. Nor does it say "vigorously revert such edits if they displease you", which seems to be a practice that gets justified by this same "it's not policy" argument. (On occasion justifying this in terms of the "first major contributor" or the "national variety of English" rules... to be found in the very same non-policy document.) Alai 09:28, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)
That's right. It's not policy. People shouldn't be going around changing commas from one style to another. It leads to revert wars over trivia. We shouldn't be pedants and I assume you're not arguing in favor of pedantry. All that has happened because of the pedantry of a very small number is that the MoS has fallen into disrepute. Someone lost an adminship nomination recently in part because of his habit of going around changing articles to conform with the MoS, which he was doing on a large scale and insensitively. Sensitivity and commonsense are the keys here. SlimVirgin 09:42, Mar 14, 2005 (UTC)
Over the past twenty-odd years I've taught countless students from around the world, including hundreds of visiting U.S. students from different universities. The only constant with regard to punctuation and style is theat there's no constant. Some of the more pugnacious ones insist that they're using 'U.S. punctuation' because that's what they were taught at school, but they're at odds with others, equally pugnacious, who were taught differently at different schools. For example, I've recently had a rash of U.S. students putting footnote numbers inside quotation marks — because that's what they were told to do at High School; some of them would be prepare to argue the case (on 'U.S.–U.K.' grounds), but their U.S. fellow-students are able to point out that it's not in fact a matter of geography or culture, but some ill-educated High-School teachers. (I might add that I don't have that problem with British students, because they're not taught anything at school any more.)
The point is that there are three issues regarding punctuation: tradition/rules, matching to speech patterns, and logic. Some variations are irrelevant to the last two, in which case they rarely matter at all. Because speech patterns (especially the places where people pause in sentences) vary widely, there's little point arguing about that either. Logic's a different matter. For example, putting the footnote number inside quotation marks is daft, because the number isn't part of the quotation. The same goes for other punctuation marks: if the original text didn't end with a full stop, then it can be misleading to put one inside the quotation marks. The serial comma is the same; some people seem to have an emotional response to it (which I don't understand), but its omission can and often does lead to momentary puzzlement or worse, whereas creating examples where its inclusion causes problems is an exercise in surrealism. Why not forget this silly (and mostly bogus) business about U.S. versus U.K. punctuation, and concentrate on clear and unambiguous communication? Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 10:58, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Hear, hear!
Clarity is this Manual's purpose, not nationalistic chest-beating.
James F. (talk) 11:56, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Seconded. SlimVirgin 12:04, Mar 14, 2005 (UTC)
OMG ME TOO!!! Seriously, I agree. The way the MOS deals with punctuation and quotes just makes sense. --SPUI (talk) 12:29, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)
And I agree also. Maurreen 02:22, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The manual recommends US style headers Start the first word and any proper nouns in headings with a capital letter, but leave the rest of the heading lower case. Personally I have no problem with this because it is within the range of what is acceptable in Commonwealth/International English and although it is not a universal rule in C/I. E., it helps to give Wikipedia a more standard look. I would hope that A.E. practitioners can accept that the looser C/I English punctuation if they come across it in an article. Spelling is another matter because spelling color and colour does not really lend its self to a literate compromise. Angels dancing on a pinheads come to mind over this discussion. Philip Baird Shearer 13:35, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)

But in what sense is this U.S. style for headings? Any publishing house or journal has a house style, and the variety of such styles is dizzying. I'd be very surprised if the Wikipedia style of headings weren't at least as common in the U.K. as in the U.S. (I've done a quick and unscientific bit of research, and in fact the Wikipedia style proved to be by far the most common in the U.K.-published books at which I looked, including those from C.U.P., Routledge, Blackwell, and Pan; only O.U.P. used all initial capitals, though that style was used by many U.S.-published books, including those from Open Court, Duke U.P., Prentice-Hall, and Paragon House.) Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 14:01, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Quotation marks[edit]

This section is all messed up, IMO.

here called the "logical" style and the "aesthetic" style

Why don't you just come out and declare the one you don't like "illogical"?

The aesthetic style, which is only really now used in North America, was developed as early typesetters thought it was more aesthetic to present punctuation that way.

Modern typesetters say that too. Commas and periods go inside or else you normally get a horrible gap on the bottom of the line, unless you are going to a press that adjusts those things. Website text soes not adjust those things.

In the aesthetic style, the punctuation goes within the quotation marks

Not always true. In fact, the example you give earlier for "logical" style (putting the exclamation mark inside of the quotation mark only if it relates to the item inside the quotes) is the standard for North America too for things like exclamation marks and, especially, question marks.

This section needs to be updated to be less POVvy and more accurate. DreamGuy 01:02, Mar 18, 2005 (UTC)

I have to agree here. I had to read the section three times to figure out what the difference was. The etymology of the terms is irrelevant (and their global dispersion is secondary); focus on describing what the two styles are. —Wahoofive | Talk 06:01, 16 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Quotation marks, splitting the difference[edit]

My understanding is that no one objected when Hajor stated an intention to reinsert into the style guide the material on splitting the difference for style on quotation marks. My understanding is also that there was no discussion to remove that material, either originally or recently.

Hajor's reinsertion was reverted. I am going to restore it. If anyone disagrees, I ask that you discuss it here and get consensus first. Maurreen 04:43, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Personally, I agree with it, and with the "compromise style" it rationalises. Indeed, one might make a similar comment about the entire punctuation issue. However right at the moment, re-introducing it might be seen as advocacy against Jguk's "vive la difference" proposal, so I'd personally be cautious about doing so unless there was some evidence of a consensus to do so. Alai 23:54, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I disagree with the current phrasing. As a foreigner I read "we split the difference between American and British usage" and had no clue what it meant. I had to read the discussion to understand. First, the fact: "Wikipedia uses the American quotation symbol (") and the British punctuation rules." Second, the rationale: "These are the best choices for reasons of symbol visibility and sentence logic." So finally the "split the difference" comment is not the fact, not the rationale, just a happy consequence. If you want it, then it should come third after the fact and rationale which are more important.-- 21:51, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I just found out about the reinsertion of that crazy "splitting the difference" rule because I first read the Manual of Style in February and had no idea it had changed until right now (because a BE contributor reverted changes I had made to the Supreme Court of the United States) page to bring it into proper AE style. Just for the record, I preferred the previous rule (which I understood as where contributors simply keyed in their additions in their native dialect and generally refrained from editing each other's dialect peculiarities). The current compromise rule is simply insane, because as some people have pointed out in the archived talk pages, the result looks equally ridiculous to English writers everywhere. --Coolcaesar 00:10, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

As I understand it, the actual rule was at no point deleted, at no point reinserted. What I was keen to see reinstated was the description of that rule as "splitting the difference" (which was deleted). Why? Basically, to head off further threads of the The manual recommends British-style punctuation on US topics??!?! kind. Hajor 01:53, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

This manual of style requires some British English usage on pages which are dominated by American English, and some American English usage on pages which are dominated by British English. This is but one example of this. This does give a ridiculous result, as Coolcaesar notes - and the Manual regularly gets ignored (for obvious reasons) by many WPians.

Unfortunately all attempts to permit articles to be fully consistent with one standard form of English have met with rebuffs by those unwilling to give up their pet likes. It's a shame, and it means this Manual does not reflect WP practice - but until those users decide to stop dictate their individual preferred styles to others, it's not going to change, jguk 07:22, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Quotation Mark Rule - A Hopeless Muddle?[edit]

I'm of the opinion that the Wikirule on quotation marks is a hopeless muddle. Does anyone else share this opinion? In sum, it starts out by saying "we'll generally follow the American rule, but then we'll really follow something more of the English rule but with some American bits thrown in." So the rule is no rule. I can understand either: 1) entirely following the British rule or 2) entirely following the American rule. But this messy hybrid means it's not right to anyone. I've read quite a few articles here on Wiki that are not following any rule -- Brit, Amer, or Wiki -- and it's just a muddle. Some parts are following one, and then other parts follow the other, while still others follow nothing or are a jumble of everything. What think ye others? David Hoag 03:43, 23 July 2005 (UTC)

I think our style on quotation marks is OK. Any muddling in articles is not necessarily because of the style guide. Maurreen 03:58, 23 July 2005 (UTC)
Maureen, what are your thoughts about making usage consistent within a single article itself, e.g. either "all English" or "all American"? I see this done somewhat in articles with the consistency of spelling, e.g. "color" and "colour" are not used within the same article. David Hoag 04:32, 23 July 2005 (UTC)
I think consistency within an article is both more important and more achievable than consistency throughout the entirety of Wikipedia. I believe the debate about UK versus American spellings reached the same conclusion. —HorsePunchKid 04:46, July 23, 2005 (UTC)
Making text more consistent within an article is usually a good idea and supported by the style guide. But just in case you haven't run into this yet, some people are very sensitive, for lack of better words, about their national version of English ... or maybe just whatever they are used to, even in the same country. Maurreen 04:54, 23 July 2005 (UTC)
It's more the fact that many seem to have had "correct" English drummed into them by their teachers, and don't realise that English really has many, many different forms and usages throughout the world, or even that English is a dynamic changing language. We are the victims of dogmatic and misguided teachers:( jguk 07:21, 23 July 2005 (UTC)
I think the current guideline's fine. I can see your concern, but in my opinion this kind of middle point will work fine for an encyclopedia that is neither British nor American.
Though having said that, the style on the manual now is (for the msot part) the one I always use in all my writing (before I came to Wikipedia). Neonumbers 11:42, 23 July 2005 (UTC)

Quotation marks and punctuation[edit]

Concerning the following from this style guide:

When punctuating quoted passages include the mark of punctuation inside the quotation marks only if the sense of the mark of punctuation is part of the quotation. This is the style used in Australia, New Zealand, and Britain, for example. (A fuller treatment of the recommendations given here can be found in Fowler's Modern English Usage and other style guides for these countries, some of which vary in fine details.) "Stop!", for example, has the punctuation inside the quotation marks because the word "stop" is said with emphasis. When using "scare quotes", however, the comma goes outside.
Other examples:
Arthur said the situation was "deplorable". (The full stop (period) is not part of the quotation.)
Arthur said, "The situation is deplorable." (The full sentence is quoted; the period is part of the quotation.)
Arthur said that the situation "was the most deplorable he had seen in years." (Although the full sentence is not quoted, the sense of finality conveyed by the period is part of the quotation.)

Please note that the above rules reflect British conventions and are generally not followed by American publishers. For example, the Associated Press Stylebook has the following under its guidelines about "quotation marks":

PLACEMENT WITH OTHER PUNCTUATION: Follow these long-established printers' rules:
  • The period and the comma always within the quotation marks.
  • The dash, the semicolon, the question mark and the exclamation point go within the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter only. They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence.

Using commas and periods with Quotations, Song Titles, Article Titles, including in a Series[edit]

I have recently noticed a British contributor going on a punctuation crusade through articles, including some I have edited and researched, to change all commas or periods placed inside quotation marks to be outside the quotation marks. He cites "logical quotation" and points to our Manual of Style: Quotation as though that is an authority on the subject of punctuating a sentence listing several song titles, as in the sentence he changed. (I wish he had been as interested in content research, but some people mostly care about going in to articles just to change the locations of commas. At least his fixation on this topic has brought it to my attention so I can ask here about it.)

Please explain how "logical quoting" relates to a list of song titles that are punctuated with quotation marks. I understand a quotation to be something different from a list of song titles that use quotation marks for punctuation. Listing four song titles in a sentence and placing the commas outside the quotation marks punctuating the song titles makes the resulting changed text appear to my eyes like some sort of programming language, rather than English. My reaction may be caused by my eyes becoming used to American editing style manuals from my work outside Wikipedia for the past 20 years. Trying to edit differently here than I do elsewhere, as though Wikipedia began as a British publication (which it did not), is going to become confusing for me.

I'm also trying to understand if Wikipedia style has settled without dispute on using British logical quoting for quotations, when that happened, and why British style should dominate Wikipedia. (I had visited the style manual many times before and did not notice this before.) No American style guide that I know of used by professional editors adopts the placing of commas and periods outside quotation marks. Here is the only archive I've found so far of Wikipedia discussions on the subject, merely noting a small handful of contributor attitudes on the subject: Quotes talk archive. I didn't find that discussion to have clearly come to a conclusion.

I want to get everything straight about what's correct form so that I can be consistent, correct any errors I have made myself, and so that I won't, worse yet, accidentally mis-edit someone else's work in the future. Until now, I had been adhering to styles I thought Wikipedia's style guide was based on (particularly for References citation style), such as Chicago Manual of Style, APA, and AP. I had thought at one point in the past some part of the Wikipedia style guide had said to use American style on American topics and British style on British topics, but I now doubt that memory was true (or it might have been in a citation style discussion, but I don't remember). Once I'm clear on how to handle this in the future, I will consistently apply whatever is the approved style to use, assuming it doesn't keep changing. --Emerman 18:14, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

The logical quoting style is preferred because it preserves exactly what is quoted; there is no ambiguity as to whether the punctuation is as in the original. This does tend to be pretty consistantly followed, even in AE style articles by editors from the U.S., as I am. --Jonathunder 18:43, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
No, it is not "preferred" in the U.S. On the contrary, I just listed for you a number of style manuals commonly followed, including in arts and entertainment fields if that is what you mean by "AE style," that don't put commas outside the quotation marks, so it couldn't be "consistently" followed in the United States. As for arts and entertainment, a simple look at any and all articles in All Music Guide ( — random example: [2]) and Rolling Stone magazine ( — random example of song titles with commas/periods inside quote marks: [3] and [4]) reveals they follow Associated Press style, not "logical quotation" style for song titles in a series or for quotations, for that matter. Please provide specific and precise examples of other U.S. publications that place commas and periods inside quotation marks, particularly with song titles as in the case of the UK person who erroneously adjusted an article I worked on, if you are going to make claims of that nature in the future without citing your sources.
I continue to hope someone will explain the relationship of "logical quoting" style to a series of song titles separated by commas and using quotation marks, which is what led me to write this question, rather than have this part of the question be confused with punctuation of a quoted passage. A series of song titles listed in a sentence is not a "quotation." (Was the immediately preceding sentence supposed to end with the period outside the quotation marks in "logical quotation" style, by the way? Same with the comma I put with the phrase "AE style" in the above paragraph? Changing either to have the punctuation outside the quote mark would be awkward looking.) Why did a person changing the commas in a Wikipedia article I'd written separating song titles with commas refer to his edit as "logical quoting"? There is nothing being "quoted" in the case of a series of song titles punctuated with quotation marks. Also, as to your quotation logic comment, I have never had any ambiguity about when to use the comma or period inside a quotation; it is simply not an issue. The logical quoting style tries to make it an issue, but it is not one necessary to consider if you simply always put the period or comma inside the quotation. Whether the punctuation was in the original or not is irrelevant. --Emerman 19:45, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
My comment above is in the context of Wikipedia, where logical quoting does tend to be the general practice and has been for a long time, even for Wikipedia articles in AE style. I think this reflects the influence of computer culture, where, due to the importance of giving a string of text literally, this has become more common, even in the U.S. --Jonathunder 20:15, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for your reply. Could you please clarify if you mean "arts and entertainment" by your use of the term "AE"? Yes, I did mention the style looked like a programming language rather than English, re: your comment about computer culture. I have not been using the logical quote style you mention as being widespread in Wikipedia in my editing. I notice it in some articles but didn't think it was widespread in Wikipedia. I think it looks horrible. It makes perfect sense in computer text strings though. My work background includes both technical editing and journalism, by the way, so I'm familiar with computer and internet-oriented styles too. The journals and magazines I read online are not using the style someone has convinced people is fine for Wikipedia. I don't understand how this happened; you seem to indicate it's a techie trend, perhaps among bloggers, but it's not the trend in online magazines. --Emerman 21:01, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
I think Jonathunder's explanation is probably more-or-less correct. Most Britishisms make me cringe and it takes a good deal of willpower not to correct them, but for whatever reason "logical quoting" seems perfectly natural and correct to me, and that sentiment seems to be fairly widespread on Wikipedia. This is in fact one of the oldest parts of the MoS and it has rarely been questioned. For your particular example, anything that appears in quote marks is ipso facto a quotation, so the rule applies to them. The following has standard Wikipedia punctuation for a sentence containing a list of song titles:
"Some of Burt Bacharach's most famous songs are "The Look Of Love", "(They Long To Be) Close To You", "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head", and "I Say A Little Prayer"."
--Nohat 20:39, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
I appreciate your reply. Yet I find that example looks horrid. The fact someone got their opinion to scoot past everyone, not considering other style guides, doesn't mean it ought to necessarily stay that way, hence this talk page. You're indicating it's an old style here, but a year ago, I did not think that was in the style guide or else I just missed it. Now I've got a year of editing one way behind me that I have to go back and change in edits under this name and my IPs, if I'm to assume all my edits using common American style book style were wrong. --Emerman 21:01, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
OK, I went to a British arts and entertainment publication, NME, to see their way of doing this, although "AE" isn't the issue here — I come from a tech writer background, not just an AE background and am interested in editing other topics than music sometimes. NME appears to use this style you mention (example: third sentence of [5] and third to last sentence of [6], although they use single quote marks and the standard is double quote marks for song titles — I wonder why they used single ones?). If "logical quotation" style is definitively what I'm always supposed to do, and I'm always supposed to put commas and periods outside song titles, then I'll try to go back and correct my past mistakes in the future. Will use double quotation marks for signifying a song title or article title unless I learn even that old punctuation rule has changed. --Emerman 21:35, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
I think it's not that someone scooted their opinion past anyone— it's just that probably the majority of people on Wikipedia so far who care about the issue agree with the style. This is the first time I've seen it questioned. I don't mean to deflate your balloon too much and I'm sorry you think this style looks "horrid", but I think this style is pretty universally well-liked on Wikipedia, even by anti-consistency chaos hawks such as myself.
However, given that, you have no obligation to go back and fix your previous edits. You are of course welcomed and encouraged to, but you should definitely not feel like you have to. You should contribute in whatever way brings you the most pleasure. If "fixing" punctuation to a format that you don't personally like that much is something that doesn't interest you, you should definitely work on something else instead. Someone else will fix it. On the other hand, if the thought that there is content you contributed that violates the MoS makes your stomach churn and you won't be able to sleep until it's fixed, then I guess you'll have to fix it. In that case, however, you have no one to blame the unpleasantness on other than yourself for being an anally-retentive perfectionist. :-) You can, however, take solace in the fact that much of the rest of us are the same.
One could research in the history how long it's been in the Manual of Style, but I know for certain it's been there as long as I've been editing Wikipedia articles (mid-2003) because it was one of the first things I looked up. You must have overlooked it before. --Nohat 21:44, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
It was there for a long time, then it disappeared around New Year's (between 2004 and 2005) and then was reinserted in March 2005. The problem is that a lot of contributors (myself included) who started editing Wikipedia during the winter of 2004 were not aware of that crazy rule since it was not in the MoS during that period. See Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive12 for more information about the debate that resulted. Furthermore, I continue to disagree with the rule in its current state as an insane compromise that satisfies no one. I personally use American English punctuation when editing pages that are purely or almost completely about American subjects (especially American law, where proper punctuation is extremely important). Of course, as a matter of basic courtesy, when editing pages about topics that are not specific to the United States, I do preserve the British usage when I come across it.
Furthermore, I should point out that if you review the English language article, you will notice that American English speakers currently constitute a supermajority (two-thirds) of all native English speakers. --Coolcaesar 01:47, 17 October 2005 (UTC)
The "logical quote style" means that punctation goes inside the quotation marks if and only if it is part of the content being quoted. In the case of a song title, if a comma is part of a song title, it goes inside the quote marks, otherwise it does not. I have long (for years before the creation of wikipedia) used this style exclusively in my writing, adn i live and have always lived in the US. Therfore would write a list of song titles as (for example "Raindrops keep Falling on my Head", "Yesterday", "When I'm in Town, I call on You", "Reaching Out...", and "Only You". This makes it clear which punctuation is and which is not part of the title. I understand this to be the agreed and most commonly used style on wikipedia. It would have been my choice had I been polled on the issue. --DES (talk) 02:42, 17 October 2005 (UTC)
Since you mention American law, Coolcaesar--can you cite any bill-drafting style guide, for the U.S. Congress or any state legislature, which does not follow the "logical" formatting? The bills I've seen, and a couple of bill-drafting guides I've seen, are pretty much like the Wikipedia rules. Gene Nygaard 08:23, 9 November 2005 (UTC)
California, for example. If you look up California Civil Code Section 1749.60 [7], or any other code section that happens to put quote marks around something (like Financial Code section 23000), you will notice that the California Legislature consistently puts periods and commas inside quotation marks. As for judge-made law, both the California Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court continue to adhere to the American convention of placing periods and commas inside quotation marks. I just pulled slip opinions from both courts' Web sites to be absolutely sure (Powerine Oil Co. v. Superior Court, decided 8/29/05 by Cal., and IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez., decided 11/8/05 by U.S.). Also, the American style is the style implicitly prescribed by the Bluebook, as indicated by the examples for Rules 5.1 and 5.2. --Coolcaesar 03:11, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
You are missing the point completely. I'm not talking about the laws; I'm talking about bills. That's where they say we're going to amend the existing law which says "such and such", and replace that wording with something else saying "this and that". In those bills, punctuation is inside the quotation marks if the punction is contained in the original or replacement language; it is outside the quotation marks if it is not. No strange, illogical rules always placing periods and the like inside quotation marks. Gene Nygaard 05:59, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
If you had bothered to look at the California Legislative Info site [8], you would realize that California bills never indicate what text is being removed by an amendment to an existing code section. They simply state something like "Section 1654 of the Civil Code is amended to read:" and then the new section starts right away on the next line, without any quotation marks preceding or following it. There is no need to indicate the difference between the old and new sections because any lawyer who cares about a bill can look up the current version on LexisNexis or in the law library, and compare it to the new version proposed by the bill.
When West or LexisNexis modifies their annotated versions of the California Codes (West's California Codes Annotated or Deering's Annotated California Codes) after the Governor signs the bill, they will add in a note saying that the 2005 amendment deleted or added specific phrases (and these notations are always punctuated in American style).
Even where bills themselves are amended during the committee process, quotation marks are not used. Rather, the deleted text is indicated with strikethroughs and the inserted text is indicated in italics. This has always been the tradition in the printed versions published by the Legislature, and has been continued on the Legislature's Web site.
In case you're wondering, I did just look up Thomas and the United States Code, and I am now aware that Congress does use logical punctuation in both its bills and the U.S.C. But that's simply one branch of the federal government. Both the judiciary and the executive continue to use traditional American punctuation, respectively, in their opinions and in the Code of Federal Regulations. The Constitution, of course, also uses American punctuation as well — I am referring to the President's oath in Article II.
Finally, I fail to see what the point of your point is, because very few bills are so notable that they need to be parsed phrase by phrase on Wikipedia (especially before they are signed into law).--Coolcaesar 20:17, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

I think that the problem on quote marks is that the technicalities are not understood, and not appreciated as important by the average person (indeed, the fact that there are two systems which can be interpreted as ok by readers suggests that there is not a big issue here). I think that in the history of this, there are two different systems being considered, reported speech and quotations and historically they have different rules, but (like the quotation mark article itself, this subtlety is lost- its just stuff in quotes for the average reader. In my more pedantic moments I'd like to see an authoritative statement on the acedemic view of correct usage, in all dialects, I think there is too much personal experience being thrown into the pot. Anyway, trying to fix a style based on correct usage when that usage is not understood seems a lost cause. Perhaps the pragmatic approach is to state that it is a Wiki style and not based on correct usage due to the differences in usage. --Spenny 11:38, 17 October 2005 (UTC)

There is some truth to that, but i also think you will find that there is no authoritative, academicaly approved style for all dialects of english, any more than there is a fully authoritative single spelling of "color/colour". --DES (talk) 18:16, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
(smile) I think you should be shot at dawn for suggesting that there is not a correct spelling of colour, just because the upstarts on the other side of the pond choose to spell it differently! Seriously, it is a different case, there are clear, correct spellings, they just differ according to dialect. Punctuation is a different problem, in that its correct usage is not well understood, or perhaps even well defined. In Britain, there has been a popular book, Eats Shoots and Leaves, which attempts to deal with the more glaring issues, though I am not sure it managed to weave its way through the detail of punctuating quotes or the spoken word. So as far as Wiki goes, we know we will be offending some readers with wrong spelling, it is less clear whether our punctuation will cause the same offence. --Spenny 17:07, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

Let me see if I have got this straight. Some people are suggesting that instead of writing

Some of Burt Bacharach's most famous songs are "The Look Of Love", "(They Long To Be) Close To You", "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head", and "I Say A Little Prayer".

we should write

Some of Burt Bacharach's most famous songs are "The Look Of Love," "(They Long To Be) Close To You," "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," and "I Say A Little Prayer."

Is this really what is being said? The second formulation is absurd. Not only is it logically wrong (because the commas are not part of the song title), it looks completely wrong too, with the quotes separated only by spaces. Possibly I have got confused about what is being said. Matt 11:54, 6 November 2005 (UTC)

No, Matt, that's about the size of it and I'll agree with you it does look completely wrong too ... to me ... but I'm biased. The thing is that one can't help but be biased. Emerman says this style is "awkward looking" and that it "looks horrible" but admits that his "reaction may be caused by [his] eyes becoming used to American editing style manuals ..." (P.S. it should be "... eyes' becoming ...").
Well, Emerman, the American style looks awkward and horrible to me so we're even. Yes, a lot of it just depends on what you're used to so raising the point of how it looks isn't going to get either side very far.
Let's therefore examine the merits of the two systems in terms of logic. The American system defies all logic ... and for what? Just to look nicer ... and in my eyes it fails at that but, as I say, this is only a matter of taste. What people are calling the British system makes perfect logical sense and is unambiguous.
Note that I write "What people are calling the British system": its use is not restricted to British English but is pretty much universal (even outside of English). And why should it be universal? Well ain't that obvious? Nobody but the Americans had that daft idea of mucking things up.
Americans would do well, in my opinion, to adopt this logical system of quotation. Its looks can't take that much getting used to. However, I guess that would be hoping for too much. At least here at Wikipedia logic prevails in this respect. Long let it.
Emerman, I understand your desire to have things changed to the style to which you are accustomed but judging from the responses here I don't think this desire is about to be fulfilled. Jimp 9Nov05
<< it should be "... eyes' becoming ..." >> You mean genitive? Wow, I guess you never stop learning... PizzaMargherita 07:35, 9 November 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, I was just being pedantic since we're in a pedantic mood. Another point: I'm Australian but I don't ever recall learning this logical punctuation style at school. In fact I don't think I'd ever been aware of the issue until I read about it at Wikipedia. I've always used logical punctuation simply because it's logical. Never really gave the issue any thought. Now, though, I notice the American style and, as I say, it grates on me like I guess the logical style grates on Emerman.
Emerman, you say you continue to use American style in artilces about US law where "proper punctuation is extremely important." The logical style is not improper. Also it's an article about law, it's not a legal document. That asside wouldn't you think that in articles about law or any topic for that matter unambiguous punctuation would be best? How do law makers in the US get around this ambiguity I wonder. Jimp 11Nov05
You got confused. Emerman didn't raise that point, I did. To respond to Jimp's point: The issue of punctuation is a non-issue for American judges or legislators, because in nearly all cases it's not that important to show in the final text where a certain period or comma came from. There are a few reported contract cases where parties have fought over the meaning of the placement of punctuation, but if I recall correctly, the solution in those cases was to simply quote the entire relevant portion of the contract verbatim as a blockquote (in which case quotation marks are not used because the indentation and context are sufficient to show that the text is a quote from somewhere else). --Coolcaesar 03:11, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

Punctuating quoted passages: why British usage exclusively?[edit]

When punctuating quoted passages, include the mark of punctuation inside the quotation marks only if the sense of the mark of punctuation is part of the quotation. This is the style used in Australia, New Zealand, and Britain, for example.

I don't get it. With respect to U. S. versus British usage, everywhere else, we say that usage should follows either the nationality of the subject, or whichever convention was established when the article was started.

Why should we prescribe British punctuation style for an article that otherwise follows U. S. usage? Dpbsmith (talk) 19:50, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

...but obviously that maybe must roughly depend usually on the exact approximate order of the rules. PizzaMargherita 21:00, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
It's somewhat misleading to call it "British punctuation" as it's used by everyone but the Americans. There are good reasons to favour what is better referred to as "international punctuation". Firstly, it's logical: punctuation marks go where they belong. Secondly, it's unambiguous: with the American style you might not be able to determine whether the punctuation was part of the quote or not. A third reason specific to Wikipedia is that this topic has been done to death and the general consensus it to stick with logical punctuation. Jimp 00:21, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
The British system is more logical, but aesthetically gross. Quotes look better outside commas and periods, which I guess is why North Americans put them there. Felicity4711 03:22, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
It's gross if you are not used to it. Also I thought that (most) Americans put punctuation inside quotes, for example a question mark even if it's not part of the quotation, but it's part of an interrogative sentence that ends with a quotation. Anyway, I've changed to a more neutral wording, which is widely accepted, as you can see in the archives. I've also neatened up a bit, removing a poor example and removing a reference that is way too much for the scope of the MoS. Hopefully this is the last time we have to discuss this. PizzaMargherita 07:38, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
In AmE commas and periods precede closing quotation marks. Some punctuation examples:
  • Did John really say "I quit"?
  • Mary saw the flames and shouted, "Fire!"
  • Susan sang the song "Tommorow." —Wayward Talk 07:58, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Oh, and to answer the original question, because we reached a consensus that "logical" quotations are better. Check the archives. PizzaMargherita 07:44, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
As PizzaMargherita indicates grossness is in the eye of the beholder. It all depends on what you're used to. To me the US style looks ugly. The arguement from æsthetics sufferes from the fact that we've all got different taste. Jimp 07:13, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
An aside—is "arguement" misspelt? Or is "argument" a US spelling? Just curious. --TreyHarris 03:33, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
Chambers Dictionary, 9th ed., argument. So, apparently, a misspelling. —Wayward Talk 03:48, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

Getting in here a little late. Quoted passages should have the same punctuation as in the original passage, with quotes outside everything, to indicate what exactly is being quoted. Is this not clear? User talk:Wayward says punctuation precedes quotes, but in his first example it doesn't -- though it's a correct example of how U.S. typography is the same as British.


"Did he really say that?" is the line Harry utters as Barbara enters the scene in "A Very Funny Play" by A. Playwright. (Because there's a question mark in the play's text.)
Is it true that Einstein said "God does not play dice with the universe"?
(Because the quote certainly didn't contain a question mark; why put it inside the quote? Some might include a period too.)
Patrick Henry said "Give me liberty or give me death!" when he faced execution for treason.
(His declaration could have ended with a period, which would be omitted in a fragmentary quote--but when the sentence is hanging, the exclamation point seems apt.)

This would be correct anywhere, I thought. Some U.S. publishing conventions seem incorrect to UK readers. But our practice of putting punctuation inside quotation marks in dialog is not the same as placing punctuation in quoted printed matter. The convention is that quotes go outside everything from the source text. Fragmented conversational quotes are the only time one punctuation mark, the comma, goes before the closing quote mark. Very few Wikipedia articles are going to contain quoted speech that was never printed, I would think.

Quoted text rarely ends in a comma, or no punctuation (a line of poetry, perhaps), so that weird Americanism should come up not at all.

Also, "just adopt the U.K. convention, world, it's more logical" is the one tiresome thing about the style guide. There's 200 million more potential readers that are used to U.S. conventions (or, punnily, "US" conventions). Besides, conventions are arbitary; the most common denominator makes as much sense as anything. It's bullyish, but just as true as "our way is really rather better!" (or, if you prefer, "really rather better"! -- tell me that looks more logical.)

(Really no offense intended. Just can't resist some punctuation banter is all. DavidH 05:29, 13 March 2006 (UTC))

Sorry for the late response. As I said in my reply above, commas and periods precede closing quotation marks in American-style punctuation. Other marks adhere to British style.
Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed., 6.8: Periods and commas. Periods and commas precede closing quotation marks, whether double or single. This is a traditional style, in use well before the first edition of this manual (1906). As nicely expressed in William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White's Elements of Style, "Typographical usage dictates that the comma be inside the [quotation] marks, though logically it often seems not to belong there." The same goes for the period. (An apostrophe at the end of a word should never be confused with a closing single quotation mark; punctuation always follows the apostrophe.) In the kind of textual studies where retaining the original placement of a comma in relation to closing quotation marks is essential to the author's argument and scholarly integrity, the alternative system described in 6.10 could be used, or rephrasing might avoid the problem.
Ibid., 6.9: Colons, semicolons, question marks, and exclamation points. Unlike periods and commas, these all follow closing quotation marks unless a question mark or an exclamation point belongs within the quoted matter. (This rule applies the logic absent in 6.8.)
Ibid., 6.10: Alternative system. According to what is sometimes called the British style (set forth in The Oxford Guide to Style [the successor to Hart's Rules]), a style also followed in other English-speaking countries, only those punctuation points that appeared in the original material should be included within the quotation marks; all others follow the closing quotation marks. This system, which requires extreme authorial precision and occasional decisions by the editor or typesetter, works best with single quotation marks.
MLA Style Manual. 2nd ed., 3.9.7: Punctuation with Quotations. By convention, commas and periods go inside the closing quotation marks, but a parenthetical reference should intervene between the quotation and the required punctuation . . . All other punctuation marks—such as semicolons, colons, question marks, and exclamation points—go outside a closing quotation mark, except when they are part of the quoted material. —Wayward Talk 04:17, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Articles with American subjects should be written in the American style, and articles with non-American subjects should be written in the British style. Problem solved.—thegreentrilby 03:12, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

This is not correct. The new rule says that all articles should follow the logical quotation style. PizzaMargherita 08:47, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

We've been over this a million times already. British usage = world usage. Even American style guides are finally starting to catch on to logical quoting. Wikipedia uses logical quoting. Let's move on. Kaldari 03:18, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

I concur with thegreentrilby's summary of the rough consensus that has been arrived at through numerous debates. Actually, Kaldari has slightly misstated the situation; most American style guides prefer the traditional American style. For example, the Bluebook, which is used by nearly all American lawyers, judges, and law professors, states at Rule 5.1(b): "Always place commas and periods inside the quotation marks; place other punctuation marks inside the quotation marks only if they are part of the matter quoted." --Coolcaesar 04:43, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

I'm an American convert to "logical quoting". I've been using the style for over ten years now, except when I've been forced to use the traditional style because I'm writing for publications that have adopted another style. It's sensible and easy to understand, and it has none of the gotchas of the traditional style. It can be stated extremely simply: "put punctuation belonging to the quote inside the quotation marks; any other punctuation goes outside". I think that the rationale for using American spelling in American articles doesn't really apply to quoting, because English spelling is largely empirical; logical quoting, on the other hand, is based on very simple rules. (If there were a widely-understood variant of English orthography that used purely phonetic spelling, I'd be in favor of Wikipedia using that consistently, too. But there isn't, so using phonetic spelling would be a barrier to readability. No such barrier exists here—people used to traditional American quoting rules can easily adapt to logical quoting.) --TreyHarris 08:42, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Aaargh! The biggest benefit of the so-called American style is that it ends bickering about whether a period (or sometimed even a comma) belongs to the quoted passage, which can be no smal blessing.
The biggest drawback of it is that it is, in my experience, probably only used by Americans with a college education. Even then, I've worked with U.S. journalists who were unfamiliar with it. ProhibitOnions 11:40, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
I think the Brits prefer the "logical quotes" style because they love arguing—in this case, arguing over whether a mark of punctuation was part of the original quote or not. ::Ducks::—thegreentrilby 04:19, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
Speaking as an American who was taught to use the American style, the British style makes much more sense and is used pretty much everywhere else. I see no reason for American bizzarness to apply to wikipedia. JoshuaZ 04:22, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
Seconded. --maru (talk) contribs 04:39, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Jr., Sr., and other suffixes[edit]

It has recently come to my attention that some articles use a comma between a person's name and suffix and others do not. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr. and William Strunk Jr. I (nor a few other people who have discussed the issue with me) have not found any guideline on Wikipedia, but I have noticed that, while commas historically have often been used, it seems that the pedulum is swinging the other way again.

Logically, they should not be used, since even though, for example, there are three MLKs, they are three people. Therefore, following comma rules, Jr./Sr. is much more restrictive (no commas) than non-restictive (commas) becuase it's determining the person. Additionally, many people forget that, when a comma is used, a comma must follow: [Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote "I Have a Dream."] is incorect, while [Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote "I Have a Dream."] is better, since it correctly uses commas.

Furthermore, both the Chicago Manual of Style and Strunk and White's Elements of Style (and probably others, but I just checked these two becuase of issues of time and access) support not using commas.

Therefore, I would like to propose that a style guideline be created stating not use commas with suffixes based on the support from major/popular manuals of style and on the appeal of logic/comma rules). //MrD9 00:23, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Chicago (FAQ, since I can't find it or Elements on Google Print)

I second your proposal. It's good to have consistancy and the non-use of commas seem more logical. Jimp 01:35, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Aren't Jr, Sr, Dr, Mr, Mrs, St, Sts, and other such personal abbreviations which include the first and last letters of the expanded word supposed to be written without a period (.)? Michael Z. 2006-03-02 02:05 Z

Ugh, British English... I totally forgot about this (btw, the "ugh" is not due to British English, it's due to my lack of remembering this difference between Britsh/US usage). I do not know what to say, since I havent seen any WP (or other) names ever written without the period in Jr/Sr, but that's because I'm from the US and chance has it I haven't stumbled across any. There are probably others who are better aware of this issue (and the whole Brit/Amer English policies in general) who could better answer, but my logical guess would be that the period could be used in names that tie with Britsh English-speaking countries, while the opposite with the US? Regardless, though, I still think we have to standardize the comma usage (rather, a lack of comma usage), and hoepfulyl someone can comment on the period/nonperiod issue with a good solution. //MrD9 02:15, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
I disagree - we have no right or need to alter people's names. Use what they used. For many that will be with a comma. Like "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr."[9]. There is no need to impose a false consistency. Rmhermen 03:00, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
I seriously doubt that most articles are written by the people they are about. Therefore, the article titles are most likely commaed or not based on the author's preferences, and to people unaware of the style issues regarding them, they will most likely use a comma becuase it is what has been used up until recent years. While still used widely today, like I said, the lack of a comma is growing and becoming more preferable due to the logic behind it. //MrD9 00:01, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc. only lack a period in British punctuation. To North American readers, it looks wrong. Felicity4711 03:26, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Not true: Dr Pepper doesn't have a period! (talk) 02:07, 7 June 2011 (UTC)

Isn't the comma or lack thereof part of the person's name? My birth certificate includes it, and when I use my full birth name, I include it. If someone else doesn't use the comma, then we shouldn't either. Standardizing would seem to me to be like standardizing on hyphenation or spacing within a name. We don't standardize all Vandebergs, Van de Bergs, and VandeBergs, why would we standardize this? --TreyHarris 03:05, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

It's not, though. It's most likely there due to the gramatically illogical use of it by most people in the past. Your last name is still your last name; your first, your first; your middle, your middle; and your suffix, if you have one, your suffix. The last names you mentioned are official (or are used as if they were official, in some cases). They are their last names. But junior/senior are suffixes, and it depends on the writer's style to determine the punctuation with it. For example, the U.S. government varies between use of "Martin Luther King Jr." and "Martin Luther King, Jr." when talking about the national holiday, his national memorials, documents, and various other topics (I googled it before). And in a regular enecylopedia, the usage would be standardized, so why should it not be standardized here (preferably without the comma, as it is becoming more preferred, is logical, and looks better). //MrD9 03:43, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
Birth certificates are also issued by many different agencies in many different places, so by their very nature they are going to be (and are) inconsistent, since people in different places, even if there are standardized rules in one office, are going to create different standard styles for their documents (or if there are no standards, then there's even less consistency. //MrD9 03:46, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
I don't believe that without a comma is more logical, nor that suffixes are not part of a legal name. Whatever is on the certificate is the name. Rmhermen 00:25, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
Nonsense. In the United States, typopgraphy and orthography and even spelling on some birth certificate has little or nothing to do with it. What you use is what matters, and even then, the presence or absence of a comma has no legal significance and no real bearing on whether or not we include it here. Gene Nygaard 06:42, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
This is an encyclopedia. There are plenty of people indexed by names other than their birth names. Certainly a suffix can be (and almost always is) part of a legal name; my interpretation of MrD9's point is that people (generally) have a first, middle, and last name (of course there can be multiple or no middle name – and, frankly, I can only speak for most of the United States), and possibly a suffix. The former president's birth certificate may list "James Earl Carter, Jr.", but it is accurate to say that his first name is James, his middle name is Earl, his last name is Carter, and his suffix is Jr. Wikipedia could choose to index names as <first> <middle> <last> <suffix> (thus indexing the president as "James Earl Carter Jr."). We could also index him as Carter, James Earl, Jr. (though I definitely vote for the former). The point is that this question is about indexing not what's on their birth certificate. Needless to say, I third (or whatever we're at) the nomination for such a style guideline. (If some special note as to how their birth certificate appears is necessary, it can always be added; it needn't be in the page title.) How does this process work, anyway? Something tells me that it's not as simple as three people agreeing and then voilà, it's in. Alan smithee 07:59, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

BTW there is a convention on the question at Wikipedia:Naming conventions (people)#Senior and junior. -- User:Docu

Quotation marks[edit]

Why is it that my English grammar book says that commas and periods always go within the quotation marks, but the MoS says to "include the punctuation mark inside the quotation marks only if the sense of the punctuation mark is part of the quotation"? My grammar book says that rule applies to question marks, but never to periods or commas. JarlaxleArtemis 06:43, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

Your "English grammar book" is actually an "American grammar book". Wikipedia follows its own compromise position between American usage and British usage. This has already been debated at length and decided upon. -Will Beback 06:51, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
To make it clearer: The compromise is that we allow American English usage in articles purely about American subjects (for example, U.S. state or San Francisco), where it would look odd, especially to Americans (about 2/3 of all native English speakers), to use non-American punctuation---but then use the Commonwealth English/British English usage everywhere else. --Coolcaesar 19:11, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
Uh, really? Where are you getting that? I thought Wikipedia had a uniform style of commas outside the quotes. In fact, I just checked San Francisco, and it does its commas outside the quotes. —Bunchofgrapes (talk) 19:32, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
Well, in the case of San Francisco, that's because we get British/Commonwealth newbies all the time who keep introducing Britishisms like "practise", "lorry", or "petrol" into American articles where "practice," "truck," and "gasoline" are more appropriate. Please see Section 13 of the main MoS article, "National varieties," which states: "If an article's subject has a strong tie to a specific region/dialect, it should use that dialect." If you trace back through the article history, you'll see that this statement has been in the MoS in one form or another for about a year, and directly evolved out of a much older statement in the "Usage and spelling" section. --Coolcaesar 20:06, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
WP always adopts the logical quotation style, which is not British, and not even non-American, but logical. It is not a compromise. It is not dependent on the nature of the article. It has nothing to do with the botched rules for national varieties.
This has been discussed so many times it should be considered vandalism to discuss it any further (joking). The last one was less than one month ago. Thanks. PizzaMargherita 20:13, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

It seems somewhat disingenuous for us to describe the decision about quotation marks as a "compromise" or a "splitting of the difference" (and not just for the reasons cited by PizzaMargherita). British usage hardly demands single quotation marks where American usage would demand double. More importantly, I don't see why this can't be another matter that is decided the way spelling is decided: be consistent with whatever the first nonstub version used was, and use the style of quoting favored by the region about which one is writing. Maybe this has been discussed a lot, but that doesn't mean the decision didn't manifest anti-US bias, and thus can never be reviewed. A true compromise would allow people to use the style that makes sense for them (unless they're writing about a topic whose "region-ness" would demand something else). --Cultural Freedom talk 2006-06-29 14:35 (UTC) P.S. And why is the default date format produced by ~~~~ British? Why not a more "logical" form (see one line up), combined with the default of UTC (which is European, if widely accepted elsewhere)? That would be some sort of "compromise," oui?

British punctuation in articles written in American English[edit]

I'm dismayed that WP policy is to use British-style punctuation (punctuation outside quotation marks) in articles that are written in American English. Sorry, but it's just wrong. WP might as well set a policy that "through" is to be spelled "thru." It doesn't make sense for WP to make up new rules of punctuation that are not used anywhere else, in any publication, anywhere in the English-speaking world. It also doesn't make sense to set a rule that will be violated by any literate person who hasn't read WP's Manual of Style. Anyone who understands the mechanics of punctuation in American English will naturally correct these mistakes --- and they are mistakes, regardless of whether the MoS tries to decree that they're not.-- 20:16, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

Where does it say that? — Omegatron 21:16, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
It's a house style, not a mistake. Nothing to get tied up in knots about. Michael Z. 2006-08-11 23:04 Z
It's correct that, according to the MoS, Hart's Rules should be used. But that doesn't apply to US-specific articles, I think. Since US-specific articles should use US spelling "and style," it is acceptable to use punctuation like "this." SpNeo 11:40, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
No, this is an exception to the convention. Likewise, British articles don't use quote marks 'like "this"'. —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 19:08, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

On the one hand, house styles can indeed be as arbitrary as the proprietors can get away with. And on the other, readers familiar with established conventions are free to find oddities of usage odd (or even semi-literate). I understand that in matters such as the serial comma, different organizations favor different practices, but in the matter of punctuating quotation marks, it makes sense to follow the flag rather than "splitting the difference." Is WP a US or UK enterprise? RLetson 05:49, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

It's an international enterprise, operated by an organization whose official place of registration happens to be in the United States. The problem with "following the flag" is that it results in inconsistent treatment, and it's fortunate that a compromise could be arrived upon in this matter at least. —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 19:08, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
As far as I know, the standard on WP has always been to use British spelling, punctuation, and vocabulary consistently in articles on specifically British subjects, and similarly for American style on American subjects. I don't see how it could reasonably be done any other way, since Americans don't know British spelling, vocabulary, and punctuation and vice versa -- and it looks ridiculous to mix them. If I'm understanding SpNeo's comment correctly, it seems to match what people actually do on WP. The only reason I was motivated to post here was that someone came along and officiously changed all the punctuation in Robert A. Heinlein to British style, refusing to take no for an answer from the Americans who had been working on this article about an American. It would be nice if the manual of style would just say a little more explicitly that there's nothing wrong with using consistently American style on a specifically American subject.-- 01:56, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

not a standard widely followed, however, and fortunately so[edit]

Every publisher in the English speaking world uses the conventions of his location. If a UK edition is published, and then a US, all the quotation marks and all the spelling will be changed. Some books with UK conventions are sold in the US, as not all works have a separate US edition. In addition, some works intending to have a "UK flavour" will retain the UK conventions. But the intent of this policy is apparently that all articles about English monarchs should be in UK style, including both the spelling and the use of punctuation. But look at them: US spelling is used, and US style quotation marks. We can't have a Wiki with style considered acceptable by publishers and educators in both countries, because there isn't any. The only way we could achieve that-- eventually--is to have UK and US versions with all the punctuation etc. automatically changed. Our goal for now ought to be a style which the readers of both countries will accept, which is fairly flexible, as readers do at least occasionally encounter both outside WP. An additional consideration is the ease of writing and editing. I want to write in the way I find easiest--there is quite enough problems without using an alien style. I do not want to go around changing other people's national style, or have them waste time changing mine. Let them look to my errors, instead. I'm not going to go through the English monarchs and change every quotation mark. I don't think anybody should. In the meanwhile, the best we can have is consistency. Certainly within an article: anyone editing an article ought to follow the style of the article, and it would be right to change inadvertent difference as one finds them. Possibly within a series of articles, possibly within a type of article, such as pop culture figures specific to one or another country, or which deliberately maintain such specificity. DGG 08:25, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

I concur with you on this issue. For American topics, I see no reason why Wikipedia should adhere to an unsightly punctuation style for which many English teachers in the United States would give a student only half credit (a C grade) or worse. --Coolcaesar 02:27, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Wow, what happens if they misspell "its" as "it's" then? Do they amputate their right hand? Anyway, as was said in the archives, unsightliness is in the eye of the beholder... PizzaMargherita 10:36, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Right, but there are a lot of beholders in the U.S. We have a huge publishing industry unequalled anywhere else which overwhelmingly prefers the practice of consistently placing commas and periods inside quotation marks because it is more aesthetically pleasing. Also, we don't amputate, we simply flunk people out of school. Eventually they end up in prison. See three-strikes laws for information on what happens then. --Coolcaesar 22:47, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
Quite a few of them, however, seem to slip through the net and end up in reputable jobs.
I bow to the magnitude of "your" publishing industry, but don't forget about the scores of beholders and publishers everywhere else in the world (including America) that adopt the other convention. PizzaMargherita 05:28, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
At present, the convention is to put punctuation marks outside of quotes if they aren't part of the quote, whatever the topic of the article. If you would like to change it, discuss it here, do not revert someone who tries to edit an article to conform to our style guidelines. —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 20:41, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
You might want to try avoiding imperatives like "do not." It comes off as rude and pushy. There are other ways to phrase a suggestion than by giving an order. You might also want to try other techniques rather than charging into an article and making a change against the consensus of editors who actually have a history of substantial contributions to the article.-- 03:59, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
The principle that Wikipedia guidelines should generally be followed deserves imperatives, and general consensus trumps local consensus. Whether we have general consensus is up for debate, but something that's been on one of our biggest guideline pages for a couple of years needs to be considered prima facie to have consensus. —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 03:35, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Æsthetics is in the eye of the beholder as was mentioned. There may be a lot of beholders in the US but there are more outside. As for me, I don't find logical punctuation unsightly. Quite the contrary for me it's American punctuation which is the eye-sore. --Jimp 00:42, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

disagreement about WP style guidelines, and imperatives[edit]

In my particular field, scholarly publishing , the overwhelming majority of publishing is outside the US, as it has always been. Most scholarly journals use one style or another, because in conventional publication, one looks through an issue and it is unsettling if the successive ones do not look the same. In e-journals and other contemporary forms, people read each article by itself. They are as likely to go from an article of publisher A to one of publisher B, and, although they may notice the style difference, they don't much care. There's no real precedent for a work like this one. The structure invites people to go from one article to another, but the overall consistency in the makeup of the page is enough. If we keep that, its sufficient.

  • the effort devoted by publishers to house style is probably non-productive--it makes them feel important.
  • the effort devoted here to house style serves a similar purpose--it makes the copyeditors among us feel important.
  • much more to the point would be effort expended in fact checking, in clarifying the structure of WP, in ensuring articles are understandable and correct, and inconsistencies with other articles are found, and either adjusted or explained.
  • And that the number of references and the sourcing of material and the other important guidelines that affect usefulness and content are followed.
  • the need for a MOS in WP is to help the editor/authors. There are many matters where people need help with problems they have ever encountered; where their is a customary style, but non-specialists will not know it.

It's a reference, not a textbook

  • The discussion below about quotation style illustrates my point. It is perfectly possible to follow any of the contradictory set of WP conventions and end up with useful citations; it is also possible to follow them and produce the opposite.
  • We need to be prescriptive about the results, readability and accuracy.
  • We need style guidelines for problems that were not obvious at first--adding dates to quotations and data so they can be updated, saying the same thing twice over, trying to get too much into the lead--especially details which really belong much lower down.

We do indeed need to worry about style, but we are worrying about the wrong half--the "accidentals", not the "substantatives". The punctuation, not the ideas. DGG 08:25, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

Are we discussing quotation style? Again? It's not the "British" way, nor the "American" way. It's called logical quotation style. Wikipedia adopts it. End of story. Shall we put a comment in the MoS with a reference to the archives? PizzaMargherita 07:40, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Of course it is the British way and the American way, and those who call one of these the "logical" style confuse their own familiarity with "logicality". Redefining the language may fool some people, but it doesn't constitute an argument. If Wikipedia wants to adopt British style, that's fine, but it shouldn't misrepresent facts as it does so. - Nunh-huh 08:04, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Please check the archives. PizzaMargherita 08:51, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for the advice, but one would be stupid to believe that adopting the name "logical" for a style of punctuation actually makes it logical, no matter what people have said to the contrary in the archives. - Nunh-huh 08:53, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
What's illogical about it? Only the punctuation that is part of the actual quotation goes inside the quotation marks. This makes it logical. Conversely, how is the other convention logical?
Being not logical, it is ambiguous. Consider this.
Did Jane say "really?"
What am I asking, if she said "really?" or "really"? Or, using the confusing convention, what am I asking, if she said "really?" or "really?"
Finally, it's inconsistent, or anyway the rules are more complicated. Consider this.
Did Jane say "Shut up!"?
Why does the question mark stay outside in this case? PizzaMargherita 09:13, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Positioning of punctuation is a matter of convention, not logic. This should surprise no one: it is so with most matters of style. - Nunh-huh 10:09, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Very good then, Wikipedia adopts the logical convention. Which incidentally, as discussed in the archives, it's not correct to call "British", nor it's entirely correct to call the other one "American". PizzaMargherita 10:29, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Conventions are conventions. They are not intrisically logical or illogical; they are conventional, and one is not better than another because you call it "the logical convention", just as you can't make someone "pro-death" by calling their opponents "pro-life". And we call things by the names by which they are known, whether or not you think they are entirely correctly so called or not. - Nunh-huh 11:29, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Conventions may not be "intrinsically" logical or illogical, but they can be demonstrated to be so. Your argument has failed to convince me that the convention adopted by Wikipedia after a long debate (and I can't see any new elements being brought forward here) is not logical and that the other one is not illogical, inconsistent (or more complicated) and ambiguous. Feel free to propose a better name for the logical convention. PizzaMargherita 12:12, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
I suppose that were you to become arbiter of what things are called, it would be important to convince you. In the meantime, I suggest you call it "the current Wikipedia style suggestion" rather than trying to enforce your perceptions of what is logical by a feat of naming. - Nunh-huh 12:38, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
It is very important to convince me as well as everybody else who agreed to adopt this convention. That of being logical is an objective property and has nothing to do with my perception, or anybody else's. Do you agree or do you not agree that one convention is logical and the other one is not? If you don't, are you able to explain why? Also calling it a suggestion when in fact it is an adopted convention would be negating the discussions that led to its adoption. PizzaMargherita 13:04, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
It seems to be you, rather than "everybody else who agreed to adopt this convention", who is campaigning to call it the "logical" one. Placement of punctuation is not a matter of logic, but a matter of convention. If logic were involved, and one convention were clearly more logical than all others, there wouldn't be different conventions, would there? Therefore trying to "convince" you that one convention is more logical or less logical would be a silly task, because "logic" simply isn't involved. - Nunh-huh 13:55, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
If logic were involved, and one convention were clearly more logical than all others, there wouldn't be different conventions, would there?—Yes there would. They would be illogical and ambiguous, and demonstrably so. PizzaMargherita 14:07, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, thanks for proving that opinion rather than logic is your strong point. - Nunh-huh 21:00, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
"Demonstrably so"? Then go ahead and demonstrate. Please note that you can't postulate anything that we don't all agree to fully; that's begging the question. I expect a proof in formal logical notation, please, if the convention is in fact more logical.

The truth of the matter is, it's not more logical. It's occasionally less ambiguous than the American style, but only by a small degree, and that still only makes it more logical if you accept the axiom that style rules should be geared to minimize ambiguity, which clearly not everyone here does (I largely do). It's certainly not any more logical than the British style. —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 19:00, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

I have provided at least one instance that shows that the convention that you call "American" is ambiguous, and one instance that shows that it's inconsistent. Can you provide one counterexample? The current rule is more logical at least in the loose sense of the word, in that it's rational. You put in the quotes what is part of the quotes. I strongly believe that this is less logical than a rule that says "you put in the quotes the quotation itself, and other random stuff that has nothing to do with the quotation".
Anyway, if you are suggesting that the style should not be called "logical" but "unambiguous", or "consistent", or "clear", or "simple", or "rational" I have no problems with that, although I would still prefer "logical". Other suggestions are welcome. PizzaMargherita 21:42, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
The style is less ambiguous. I wouldn't object to calling them "unambiguous quotations", although obviously that sacrifices precision for concision. The point is that preferring less ambiguous constructions to more traditional ones is not inherently "logical". —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 03:35, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
If that were true you would be able to disprove that the one convention is logical and the other one is not. Sadly, you are trying to use irrational denial to do that. PizzaMargherita 05:30, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
PizzaMargherita, thanks for the pointer to the numerous past discussions on this issue. The fact that this gets brought up over and over again indicates several things: (1) Lots of people think the MoS is wrong as written. (2) Lots of people think it's ambiguous as written. (3) It's completely out of step with the way WP actually works. (4) It's causing lots of problems and conflicts between editors. Since the discussion indicates that there's a massive problem with the current policy (interpreted literally and without allowing for exceptions), the logical thing to do would be to change the broken part of the policy so that it works the same as the other policies, which aren't broken: articles should use US style or British style consistently, and the choice should be based on the topic, or on the style in which the article was originally written.-- 20:13, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
I would have said this, but the anonymous user said it better. There is no logical style for details; no one has ever found a perfect way of handling quotations, or references, There is a pattern and a explanation for how various point of English grammar arose, but that does not make them "logical." Similarly with typography--there is knowledge of how our conventions arose and why they differ: that does not make them logical.

PizzaMargherita, you were not appointed head grammarian. If the MOS were intended to be enforced rigorously, then I would think it worth demonstrating how you have gotten amost of what you discuss confused. I advise you not to try enforcement. Anyone who makes large scale changes to express their stubbornness about the one right way to do punctuation should be looked for, and reverted. I'd say this even if I thought your "logical" style had any logic. This is not a question of what style is right, its a question of how to do coperative work. DGG 08:25, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

All of those points are a matter of opinion. My opinion is that the current system is better than one page uses one style, another uses another. This is how things work on Wikipedia, it's a widely-accepted convention even if some people disagree with it. I don't think it should be changed. If you would like to propose it be changed, by all means you can try, but don't unilaterally pretend it doesn't exist. —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 20:41, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

You might want to try avoiding imperatives like "...don't unilaterally pretend..." It comes off as rude and pushy. There are other ways to phrase a suggestion than by giving an order.-- 03:59, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

If you think that the current policy on national spellings is working, you are mistaken. The policy on punctuation and quotes was changed to put an end to edit wars. Note that the same cannot be done with spelling because in that case it's not true that one variety is clearly superior to others, and the different styles do reflect geography. PizzaMargherita 05:30, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

But even there, it's important to note that in many cases one spelling is preferred. Aluminium uses the British name, and sulfur the American, because that's the IUPAC standard (I don't know if changing all instances of one to the other is a good idea, though, outside of chemistry articles). —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 19:00, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
The quotation style has been in place for I think at least couple of years, probably longer. I expect that it is a compromise. I see no need to change it. Maurreen 06:48, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Very early in this discussion, somebody said "It also doesn't make sense to set a rule that will be violated by any literate person who hasn't read WP's Manual of Style." I agree with this statement completely. It's very frustrating for me to have to learn a whole new set of rules for Wikipedia that don't apply any where else. I, an American, should be free to use American conventions when writing for/about Americans, and it's rather silly of Wikipedia to ask me to do otherwise. As for Convention vs. Logic, when I read the talk above about the "logical" approach, it seems that some of the people arguing don't even know the rules that they are arguing for or against. For example, the rule of placing punctuation inside or outside of quotation marks refers chiefly to periods and commas. The rule for question marks is this: The question mark goes inside the quote if and only if it is part of the quote. Perfectly logical, and (I believe) the same on both sides of the Atlantic, so irrelevent to this discussion. -- MiguelMunoz 11:47, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

why, Maurreen[edit]

do you think you have accomplished anything positive? The total inconsistency within articles remains. The articles completely ignoring the need for clarity remain. The number of articles that ignore the UK/US convention probably increases. There is no way to enforce the details except by being a dictator, which i believe is not the WP intent. The MOS is for the purposes of saying: here are a few good ways to do things. Look at them, look at similar articles, and see what works and what doesn't. And if you have to do something you never imagined, like decide whether to capitalize transliterated Japanese, most of our people who have encountered it have been doing it thus and so. The rules that need attention in WP are the basic ones about content. DGG 08:25, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

"I, an American, should be free to use American conventions when writing for/about Americans?" You are free to use the style you desire. To think otherwise is to misunderstand the purpose of the MoS. Others are free "edit mercilessly" and if that brings your writing (which is yours now only in the sense of having been written by you) in line with the MoS, all well and good. Rich Farmbrough 09:16 29 August 2006 (GMT).
and of course this implies that others are free to re-edit. And if the editors and the re-editors pay attention to this sort of nonsensical detail, the quality and objectivity of the content will not get the proper attention. I have a suggestion for those who like detail: go verifying internal and external links and addding themany needed redirects. Don't try to teach your colleagues how to punctuate. DGG 08:25, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

?? period inside quotes if full sentence is quoted ??[edit]

I never heard of this rule, that the article advocates:

  • Arthur said, "The situation is deplorable." (The full sentence is quoted; the period is part of the quotation.)

Most American guidebooks say that the comma or period is always inside the quotation marks. I thought that British guidebooks say that the comma or period is always outside. Is that right?

The (contrary) rule in this article seems unworkable to me. What if I put the period outside the quotes --

  • Arthur said, "The situation is deplorable".

and then I tell you "sure, the sentence that Arthur spoke was the four-word sentence. But I chose to quote only the four words, I chose to terminate my quote just before Arthur's period. Then of course per British custom and Wikipedia rules, I put my period outside the quotes"?

Also, I have changed "the situation" to "The situation". If we're quoting the full sentence, then it must begin with a capital. But I really don't know the rules (US/UK) for capitalizing the initial letter of a quoted sentence --

She said, "Don't do that!"


She said, "don't do that!"

-- which is correct?

TH 05:36, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

If I recall correctly, British style guides prefer the "logical placement" of punctuation, where (a) a period inside the quotes indicates that there is a period there in the original, and (b) no period inside the quotes indicates that there isn't one there in the original. In other words,
  • Arthur said, "The situation is deplorable".
implies that Arthur did not end the sentence after "deplorable", while
  • Arthur said, "The situation is deplorable."
means that he did end it there. As far as the capitalization, I'm not entirely sure; I've seen the initil capital dropped when the sentence being quoted functions as a clause of the quoting one. For example:
  • According to Arthur, "the elephant population has tripled."
It may be something that varies depending on the exact style guide being followed. Kirill Lokshin 05:20, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. Can you suggest a highly regarded online British style guide I could check?
TH 05:36, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
The Oxford Style Manual, maybe? (I generally use the Chicago, so I'm not particularly familiar with British guides.) Kirill Lokshin 05:44, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
The punctuation topic has been discussed to death already. House style is house style. Please see the dicussion titled #British punctuation in articles written in American English on this very page. --Rob Kennedy 17:14, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
It's been archived. Jimp 08:21, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

A good guide to British English is Fowler's Modern English Usage (3rd edition). If you want an online guide, try that of The Times, jguk 12:10, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

Well, it may have been discussed to death already, but I certainly never thought I should check and see if Wikipedia invented new grammar rules for me to use. I bet I'm not alone there. Are there other cases where I should be checking Wikipedia's Manual of Style and finding out how Wikipedia amalgamated to create something brand new? How could anyone possible keep track of this? KP Botany 01:05, 7 December 2006 (UTC)


The examples on this page are not precisely clear: What should be done in the following case:

George writes that it "gives the impression that it is actively speciating to fill the many ecological niches through its range".


George writes that it "gives the impression that it is actively speciating to fill the many ecological niches through its range."

Is this a "fragment" or a "full sentence" that carries the meaning of the full stop? Either way, could an example such as this be added to clarify this problem? --Spangineerws (háblame) 06:05, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

I doubt we will ever get agreement on this. Nor is it really important: either should be acceptable, it's a borderline case. - Jmabel | Talk 00:01, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

Comma inside or outside quotation marks: can we clarify at WP:MoS?[edit]

Could we add an explicit statement at Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Punctuation specifically stating whether commas should go inside or outside quotation marks? Or is there not enough consensus to do so? (I don't want to restart the debate over which way is better; I merely want to know whether a consensus has been reached at the English Wikipedia on this point.) --Lph 04:49, 17 February 2007 (UTC)

For some time it's been (more or less) stable as "put the punctuation mark inside the quotation marks only if the sense of the punctuation mark is part of the quotation". That's not quite the same as "always outside", but no style guide actually uses "always outside". Does that help? Alai 01:13, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
There are always the descenters but general consensus has for some time been in favour of logical quotation. Alai gives a good summary what this means. The Punctuation section on this page goes into more detail. Do you feel that it's either not clear or not explicite enough? Jimp 00:05, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for your responses. Looking at it a second time, it is pretty clear. I guess I was unsure because the examples used a period and a question mark, i.e. sentence-ending punctuation marks, and not a comma. --Lph 17:05, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

Commas inside quotes[edit]

wow I'm kinda shocked about WP:PUNC's commas & quotes stuff. I distinctly remember reading a Barron's grammar guide that said precisely the opposite. What authority was referred to when coming to this conclusion? Thanks Ling.Nut 11:06, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

You're referring the so-called logical style of placing punctuation outside quotes if it's structurally part of the external sentence in which the quote exists. Have a read of it again. We don't need outside authorities for justification, although they play a role in the policy we make here. WP's MOS serves its unique mode, readership and function. Tony 11:35, 29 July 2007 (UTC)
I understood that the "non-logical" style was based on the typographical aesthetics of the printed page, which are of less relevance to Wikipedia. The logical style is normal in British English and is also preferred in IT circles, where punctuation can be critical. Even though the Chicago University Press continue to use the "American style", they also say (in the Chicago Manual of Style) that the logical style is used in linguistic and philosophical works; textual criticism is another field named as presenting problems for "American" style. The Oxford University Press use the logical style and they point out (in the Oxford Guide to Style) that the ambiguity of the "US practice" can lead to problems when material from US and British sources are mixed. This could be an issue for Wikipedia. --Boson 19:17, 29 July 2007 (UTC)
Indeed it could, and is precisely why WP settled on logical style; quotations using US-style that are themselves inside quotations can be handled with [sic] in the rare case that they actually introduce an ambiguity. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 20:47, 6 August 2007 (UTC)
I understood that the “non-logical” style was based on the typographical aesthetics of the printed page, which are of less relevance to Wikipedia.
Like hell they are! Wikipedia should look as aesthetically nice as a printed page. Felicity4711 03:38, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
but the same graphical considerations do not apply. For html, both ways look equally clunkyDGG (talk) 03:52, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

As a writer myself, commas outside quotation marks look wrong and actually make me stop while I'm reading. I am SURE other professional writers feel the same way about it. Can we discuss changing this one? Even the Associated Press Stylebook agrees and AP Style is to help make written material as easy as possible to comprehend. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dmbandnut (talkcontribs) 09:00, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
I find the complete opposite; commas inside quotes look all wrong to me and make me stop. I have copy edited and written professionally too. DrKiernan (talk) 15:35, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

Logical and typesetters' punctuation[edit]

NB: the proposal here is to acknowledge that Wikipedians in fact use both, as English-speakers in general do. What we recommend is secondary. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:59, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
I would view it the other way around. Editors should strive to conform to policy. What is recommended here is primary. Departures from this need correcting rather than acknoledgement on this page. Jɪmp 07:17, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
Indeed. We don't bother acknowledging that many people use "ain't", say "aks" for "ask", use apostrophes in constructions like "apple's on sale, $1/doz.", and so forth. From a purely descriptive linguistic point of view there is nothing wrong with these usages; they simply are. But it is not the purpose of the MoS to provide a linguistic description of usages that are not helpful to the encyclopedia. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:58, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
My view is that this is part of a tenacious and gradual strategy by Anderson to weaken the status of MOS. It has been going on for more than a month—first at MOSNUM, and now at MOS—and fortunately has been resisted for the most part. One of the tenets of this strategy is to assert that MOS is an unreasonable impost, an incursion on the writer's freedom. The latest flag-flying in this campaign is an image of a light-bulb, presumably to attract the troops to the front line.
I agree entirely with SMcCandlish, Jimp and others here whose expertise and linguistic authority helps to knit together what could be a chaotic project: MOS should not be reconceived as a mere description of what people do, but should remain, as it has evolved until the present, a document that encourages linguistic cohesion, unafraid to prescribe where this is seen as appropriate by speakers from the several main varieties of English who know and care about the language and the project. Otherwise, WP will lose some of the edge it has over the other yields of a Google search, which are disparate in linguistic style and formatting. Such cohesion is part of the reason that WP has gained authority on the jungle that is the Internet.
To take the bull by the horns, my experience at FAC, FAR/C and elsewhere has indicated to me that our editors, on the whole, quite like centralised guidance in matters of style, and that many are pleased to have an in-house resource on which to rely as they undertake the complex process of creating and improving articles. I myself have improved my writing through consulting MOS.
Please take this into consideration when assessing the arguments of those who would cast MOS as a tool with which zealots bludgeon others on the brow, to borrow the wording and tenor of more than a few edit summaries during this extended discourse. Tony 05:10, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
Well, Tony, I have to say I can't exactly see you as a disinterested party in the question of how "strong" the MOS should be. You obviously have a lot of influence here, and it seems in fact to be your main interest. So your personal influence over WP as a whole is almost directly proportional to the authority granted to the MOS. I see the same dynamic going on in the issue of the "submanuals" and the position you have taken vis a vis those.
On the narrow punctuation issue, as I've said, I prefer "logical" punctuation. But on the broader issue I'm not happy with an intrusive MOS. Yes, I do think the MOS should be prescriptive to some extent, and I probably don't go as far as Septentrionalis in trying to keep it contained. But I think the MOS should stick to basics and not descend into minutiae. An experienced editor should pretty much be able to know the whole MOS just more or less by osmosis. --Trovatore 07:21, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
"your personal influence over WP as a whole is almost directly proportional to the authority granted to the MOS. I see the same dynamic going on in the issue of the "submanuals" and the position you have taken vis a vis those." I'm certainly not a disinterested party, but I'd like to know what evidence or logical consideration you have for these assertions that I somehow have a conflict of interest in taking a side here. I hate big-noting, power seeking, celebrity and display: that much should be clear from my user page; but I suspect that no one is at all interested; why should they be? As far as your feelings about "minutiae", I can't agree that MOS shouldn't deal with small yet commonly occurring details, where necessary. And what are these "basics" you talk of? Where would the boundary be drawn? Tony 08:05, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you mean by a conflict of interest in "taking a side here". If "here" is punctuation, I don't think that. But you have a clear personal interest in making the MOS more authoritative in general, because it increases your personal influence over WP. I think this is pretty obvious.
I don't have an enumerated list of what the "basics" are (if I did, it would be my outline for the whole ideal MOS, and I don't have such an outline). I am nevertheless stating my preference that the MOS should stick to basics, and hoping some people will agree. Which items are basic is case by case. --Trovatore 17:56, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
If "the basics" cannot be ("case by case") or simply haven't been ("don't have") objectively defined, then logically the MoS cannot stick to them. Re: "An experienced editor should pretty much be able to know the whole MOS just more or less by osmosis", that appears to actually be the case at present, with the situation improving all the time (other than that when it changes, people have to catch up and absorb the changes); I find myself making fewer and fewer MoS corrections as time goes on, because more and more other editors make them long before I arrive on the scene of formerly-offending copy. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 11:31, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm not quite sure that it's fair to paint Tony as a power-grabber. At least give the bloke the benifit of the doubt: might it not be that he simply cares about creating a well-written encyclopædia? Either way, though, his motives aren't really what's at issue here. "MoS should stick to 'the basics' but what these are is case-by-case." boils down to "What MoS should stick to is case-by-case." Okay, what of this case then? Seems to me that logical vs. illogical* punctuation is something that MoS should have something to say about.
(*Excuse my naming it so but calling it American punctuation is not quite right since many Americans don't use it and calling it æsthetic punctuation isn't right either since ... well, it doesn't look pretty to me.) Jɪmp 01:44, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
I never called Tony a power-grabber. All I'm doing is pointing out that, with respect to the question "how important should the MoS be?", he has a personal interest in the answer.
Two things are important to note here: First, I didn't say "conflict of interest", the term Tony used. You can't have a conflict of interest unless you have a fiduciary responsibility, which Tony doesn't; he's an advocate for his views, and that's fine. But others evaluating his arguments ought to consider the extent to which those views align with what's best for Tony.
Second, I'm not suggesting any hipocrisy or insincerity. He probably truly believes that an assertive and comprehensive MoS is the best thing for Wikipedia. But what we sincerely believe does often have a strong correlation with what's good for us; that's just how we're built. Others evaluating the proposition "Tony's a smart guy so what he thinks is best for WP probably really is", need to take that effect into account. --Trovatore 18:14, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

Yep. This was pointed out earlier, but its worth doing so again. I favor the term "illogical punctuation", heh, but the only accurate neutral term for it I've encountered is "typesetters' punctuation", since it is fact a typesetting convention that has held over long after the days of manually-placed little bits of metal type were in (regular, non-artisanal) use. Changed section heading to that term. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:57, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Punctuation and quotation marks[edit]

The Quotation marks section is inconsistent with the Chicago manual of style's recommendation of American English grammar. The Chicago MOS says to put all commas and periods inside the quotation marks and colons and semicolons outside (example: correct: “sentence.” incorrect: “sentence”.). While I realize British English usage requires all commas, periods, and semicolons go on the outside of quotes, this is not true for American English usage. The WP:MOS recommendation fails to mention American English grammar and recommends against proper grammar usage; this results in users changing the punctuation on American related articles to the style recommended on WP:MOS, even though it is inconsistent with proper grammar usage of American English. Does anyone object to re-wording part of this section to explain American English usage, or have any input, comments, or suggestions to how to address this. My main concern is that proper grammar is not being followed, which makes the article seem less encyclopedic. Thanks. —Christopher Mann McKaytalk 01:08, 23 August 2007 (UTC)

The section seems correct to me. The way to quote described there is how I always learned it. See Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive (quotes and quote marks),[10],[11], [12], and Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style_archive_(quotes_and_quote_marks_2). i said 01:16, 23 August 2007 (UTC)
This has been a long-standing requirement. Many people think that Chicago should get real and use the so-called logical system. It's not a grammatical issue, BTW. Tony 14:30, 23 August 2007 (UTC)
But we should allow both; not to do so would be Anglo-American warring, which is contrary to policy. When we differ on something, we should say so. The alternative is to mark the entire section disputed. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:38, 23 August 2007 (UTC)
Total red herring. The "illogical quoting" is neither limited to Americans, nor practiced by all Americans, nor consistently practiced by the American publishing industries. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 09:29, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
I concur with Septentrionalis.--Coolcaesar 03:23, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
As others have pointed out previously on this page (archived, too), it's not about throwing cream buns across the Atlantic; this cuts across the varieties: all English-speakers, for example, use the "non-logical" format at the end of direct quotes, particularly in works of fiction. Many North Americans retain the distinction between punctuation that logically belongs in the underlying sentence, and punctuation that is in the quoted source. It's WP's strong desire not to touch original quotes that won the day here. Tony 05:44, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
Some Americans punctuate logically, but most do not, and are taught not to. To present arguments for both is reasonable; to forbid one is not. The CMS does in fact allow both, but warns against logical punctuation, on the grounds that it requires extraordinary care and some judgment on the part of the proofreader; this may be more care and judgment than Wikipedia may be exprected to supply. As Tony said, this is not a grammatical issue; and insofar as it is an accuracy issue, it is trivial. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:42, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
It is not trivial at all, or it wouldn't have come out this way and the logical style would not be being defended by a (recently growing, I note) majority here. It is not reasonable to present both options (that just leads to inconsistency, and gives equal weight to both reason and emotion); to recommend against (guidelines can't "forbid" anything at all) illogical quotation style is emminently sensible. As others have pointed out, CMS is not the MoS, and really their argument is simply one of laziness. The CMS, BTW, is intended for mass-market writers/editors such as fiction writers and journalists, and its recommendations on this particular matter (among many others) are directly countermanded by the style guidelines of scientific and other technical fields/publications. Argument to authority is especially fallacious when the authority is not particularly authoritative, which CMS is not outside of its target market, and especially not when it comes to Wikipedia, which has its own standards, generally more stringent in many ways, though looser in others (in that it is less prescriptive grammatically, to account for various dialects of English, while CMS only addresses one. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 09:29, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps a recommendation to use blockquotes in those rare cases where the terminal punctuation on quoted matter could affect the meaning? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:47, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
Blockquotes are for long passages, and are not a 1:1 alternative to the use of quotation marks; you are mixing apples and oranges. It's bit like responding to "using this sharp, thin knife to spread butter doesn't work very well", with "perhaps use a Ferarri instead". — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 09:29, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
I see no reason to change the current rule. Tony 16:00, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
The one on blockquotes? If so, fine - the suggestion was made to meet your objection. The insistence on logical quotation? Others do. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:56, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
And others don't, too. Tony 02:13, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
I find it not only illogical but unaesthetic e.g. to treat commas as part of book titles, thus: "The Wind in the Willows," "Alice in Wonderland," "Tarzan of the Apes," and "The Secret Garden." Lima 08:05, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
Indeed; it's totally absurd. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 09:29, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
  • (Outdent) This has been the subject of substantial debate on a number of occasions, the last one only a month or two ago. Please research those debates and give enough time for people here to notice this section and respond before you plunge in unilaterally to change the policy text. Manderson, you never learn, do you. It's not that your expertise is not respected or that we believe you have nothing to offer: it's a matter of complying with the consensus-generating culture on WP. In many cases, you change policy unilaterally and prematurely in a controversial way; in some cases, you introduce sloppy language to the policy text. Please cooperate and collaborate, as you've been asked to do on more than one occasion. I note that this behaviour was at issue in your RfA last ... January, was it? Tony 08:12, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
And this is emphatically not a UK vs. US English issue. Interior punctuation is already on its way out in the US, and all technical publications in the US use logical quoting. It is called logical quoting for a reason: Interior punctuation adds factual errors, including misquotation, the inclusion of characters that do not belong in the literal string being quoted (very, very serious issue for things like computer code), implying that a statement may be partially quoted when it was not, etc., etc. The punctuation goes on the inside only if it was part of the original. Wikipedia is not a magazine or newspaper, it is a precise publication that cannot afford to use irrational journalistic style preferences that are based on 1700s typesetting needs, just because they happen to still be traditionally preferred by imprecise publications in one country. Undisclaimer: I am an American, so I have no UK bias in this matter whatsoever. This as a trawl through the archives shows that this issue has been hashed over more times that anyone would bother counting, I'm taking the liberty of marking this topic "Resolved". — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 16:11, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
There's no need to be so emphatic. The risk of misquotation is, as far as I can tell, almost completely hypothetical, unless "misquotation" is stretched to the farthest limits of interpretation. As far as I can tell there is no strong argument either way, which is why both continue to exist. — Carl (CBM · talk) 16:24, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
I wasn't emphatic about that, I was emphatic about it not being a Yankeeland vs. Limeyland issue, which the proponent of the change has made it out to be. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:57, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
It's a slippery slope, misquotation. Treat a final comma as part of the quotation and it's easier to start tampering, unnoticed, with other aspects within the quote marks. Same for linking within a quote. Tony 01:04, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
I can't see how anyone can misquote someone because of the use of punctuation. Also, SMcCandlish states "Wikipedia is not a magazine or newspaper, it is a precise publication that cannot afford to use irrational journalistic style preferences that are based on 1700s typesetting needs"; however, popular encyclopedias such as Encarta and Britannica also use this punctuation, so it is not only "journalistic style." Why are American oriented Wikipedia articles not following the same punctuation as American encyclopedias? Wikipedia says to use American English for American oriented articles and I believe we should do that. This guideline fails to address this issue and makes articles seem less encyclopedic by using style guidelines in contrary to the Chicago MOS and other encyclopedias. Some users seem determined not to address this issue, even stating this issues has been "resolved by consensus," when not all parties agree. Just to remind editors, "consensus" is "a neutral point of view which everybody can agree upon." (WP:CON) —Christopher Mann McKaytalk 05:54, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
Um, no. That's a blantant misquote. The actual passage is: "Where there are disagreements, they are resolved through polite discussion and negotiation on talk pages in an attempt to develop a neutral point of view" which everybody can agree upon." (Emphasis added.) Please read WP:CONSENSUS more deeply, as well as quote it more accurately. 100% unanimity is not required for there to be consensus, otherwise virtually every single decision every made or needing to be made on Wikipedia could be undone or fillibustered by lone trolls. Please also try to be less literal. When I referred to journalist style, I clearly did not really mean "journalists, all journalists and no one but journalists". To clarify: Britannica like the local newspaper is written for a mass-market audience, almost entirely American, and follows vernacular American mass-market style "rules". Wikipedia's aim is to greatly exceed works like Britannica in every relevant respect. While WP is intended to be useful to a mass-market audience, we collectively hold ourselves to higher standards such that WP will be of use to everyone from a head of state to a Nobel laureate as well. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 09:41, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
While I can't deny that the majority of American publications do use the "illogical" style (and while I think the point about "misquotation" is a bit hyperbolic), I think I'm one of quite a large fraction of Americans who prefer the "logical" style. Almost anyone who is or has been a programmer will prefer this style, I think, and that's a big chunk of American Wikipedians right there. I don't know if we need rigid prescription in the MOS, but I think the rough de facto consensus is for the "logical" style, and I hope it continues to be so. (It's a double-edged sword, though -- the rough de facto consensus also seems to be for the spelling aluminium, which makes my skin crawl.) --Trovatore 07:11, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
FYI, the "aluminium" spelling is preferred here because that is the spelling that has been adopted by international science journals, international standards bodies, etc. As with logical quoting, it is a consistency and standards matter, not a US vs. UK English matter. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 09:41, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
I have a deep antipathy to "international standards bodies" in general. But it should be noted that even IUPAC (one of the ones I find most offensive -- I mean, "ethene"? Please) was forced to modify its position on "aluminum"/"aluminium", admitting they were acceptable variants. --Trovatore 17:49, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
Christopher—no, WP doesn't say to use American English; it's American spelling that must be used for US-related articles, and for non-country-related articles that were started in AmEng. Other aspects of AmEng are fine, unless proscribed by MOS. In any case, internal punctuation cuts across the varieties: everyone uses it for direct quotations in fictional prose; and, as pointed out above, many Americans don't favour it elsewhere. WP's decision is largely swayed by its principle of not touching quotations, rather than internecine rivalry. Tony 10:03, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • This is plainly not resolved; the majority here clearly prefers to permit both, as is our general practice; the late tag, with its disruptive denial that WP:Consensus can change is mistaken. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:06, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
    • I see absolutely no consensus to change the existing long-standing policy, which is derived from WP's overarching policy on leavning quoted material untouched. Tony 01:21, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
      • I see a consensus of everybody but Tony. A majority of this discussion disputes this; so you know what I will have to do. I also see no coherent argument against mentioning that many editors do not use logical punctuation; it is, after all, true. Since this is fundamentally all I want, I'll go as strong as normally for now, and see what happens in three months. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:15, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
        • Not even. The thing is that most of us simply don't bother to respond to this tired old topic any longer. Every 4-8 months someone who just loves the wildly irrational and dying out "American system" rekindles some variant of this thread, and it gets very eye-roll and yawn inducing. The issue was settled long, long ago, and no one objects other than 2-4 people who come and complain about it periodically at WP:MOS. I think that's quite remarkable (and quite remarkably clear that there is absolutely, positively no consensus to change something that basic or we'd be seeing dozens of complainants per week). Making a change like that would have utterly awful results, with people editwarring constantly over what is or isn't "right", more US vs. UK English fights, innumerable instances of user confusion over whether a quoted passage actually did or did not contain the punctuation we say it did, code samples wrecked by editors insisting that punctuation must go inside, etc., etc., etc. Having one rule and sticking to it avoids all of that mess, at no cost other than minor annoyance of some prescriptive grammarians who think that their archaic regional punctuation variant is "correct" despite all the problems it leads to. WP does not have to follow the CMS. While it is pretty good, it has its flaws, and it is hardly the only style guide on the planet, just probably the most long-winded one. As with any prescriptive (i.e. faith and righteous belief) work about something that can really only be understood descriptively (i.e. science), like language, following any style guide blindly will lead one off a cliff eventually. This periodic rancor over wanting "this," instead of "this", for no explicable reason other than "I like it", and in the face of actually rational reasons to absolutely not go there, really gets to be tedious. The funny thing is, the only reason (some but by no means all) Americans use "this," is because it was a typesetting convention from the 1700s, intended to protect "." and "," (the smallest and most fragile pieces of type - " is twice as thick). That's the complete and full extent of the "logic" behind inside puctuation in quotations by default. Logical quotation is called that for very good reasons. PS: The perrenial argument that this is just UK imperialism over US English is nonsense because the convention really only exists in the US in mainstream journalism (which is very traditionalist and conservative in its adoption of language change) and in school rooms run by US-centric prescriptivists. If you turn in a university term paper or thesis, in any dept. other than English or some other hidebound liberal artsy course, with interior quoting you'll get it back with red all over it. The practice has been utterly unacceptable in ever discipline that requires accuracy and precision, for many years now (i.e. all disciplines but liberal artsy stuff like Survey of Modern Irish Literature or Topics in German Philosophers). So, one and all, please stop kicking this tired old dog. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 04:42, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
          • My apologies for overlooking SMcCandlish's arguments; are they in this section, as well as the next [this section was moved down; the original follow-up is higher on this page]? I do not happen to use "aesthetic punctuation" myself, but I do not believe McCandlish's last claim; I was not a liberal arts major, and I did use it as an undergraduate. Nevertheless, I will have to {{dispute}} the omission of the fact of the existence of two systems; I am willing let others recommend the use of one of them fairly strongly, but suppression of fact is regrettable. (And the existence of a recurrent protest is evidence that the statement that Wikipedia only uses one method is simply false; recurrent protests ignored by regulars are one of the hallmarks of bad process.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:47, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
"The omission of the fact"? Huh? It is not the job of the MoS to act as a descriptive linguistics treatise on usage variances around the world. If we "{{dispute}}d" every such "omission" there would be thousands of dispute tags all through the MoS; more dispute tags than actual content. The MoS is here to make specific recommendations about what to do in Wikipedia for our readers' benefit, not list every known usage in the world. There is no "suppression"; please, enough with the histrionic hyperbole. Cf. Godwin's Law before tossing out "suppression" or similar terms that imply fascistic regimes, please. The recurrent "protest" about this is largely because some people don't read archives and/or are in denial that for years this has been a settled issue, and doesn't indicate anything other than that some people get bent out of shape about things that really shouldn't bother them so much. There is no "statement that Wikipedia" or Wikipedians as a group for that matter "only uses one method", so there is no falsehood. The MoS recommends, as a guideline, one method. This is a good thing. It's called consistency. That some Wikipedians will ignore this recommendation is of no concern. There is no recommendation in any guideline (or even rule in any policy) here that is not ignored by some editors. So what? Other editors won't ignore it and (like me) will bring text into conformity with MoS when encountering material that isn't. Hardly a big deal. And certainly does not militate against a strong recommendation here. The "some people will ignore it" reasoning doesn't mean anything. Lastly, as this sprawling now-merged metathread indicates, the "protests" are hardly being ignored, so your comparison to bad process if off-base. Just because you are not getting your way does not mean that something isn't working right. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 09:15, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
There are two rational solutions to the question of quoting computer code. One is to recommend logical punctuation for those articles, which would make sense; I would support this, as always. The other is not to use quotation marks at all, and always use blockquotes, preferably indented to format as typescript; which would avoid the possibility of quotation marks being read as code. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:35, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
Have to strongly disagree on four grounds 1) This would simply lead to disputes about whether a particular article is technical/scientific/whatever "enough". 2) It will do nothing whatsoever to dissuade well-meaning (mostly-)American editors from changing it to so-called aesthetic punctuation anyway, simply because it is what they are used to. While editors more aware of the situation at that article could revert this ( if they happened to be watching, in too many cases no one aware enough of either the MoS's details, the nature of the article and its content, or both, would be watching, and the change would go in silently and just stay there, outright wrong, for an indefinite period of time. 3) Blockquoting is for large passages; it would be completely inappropriate to use it for shorter code examples (see my "rm" example from the other day). 4) This doesn't just affect computer code, but any and all use of quotation marks in which accurancy, lack of ambiguity, and precision are required.
In an era where protecting the tiny . and , metal type pieces from damage by hiding them inside the twice-as-large-and-robust " character, is no longer an issue, quotation-interior punctuation just for the heck of it is downright irrational. I can't think of anything more daft-looking than things like 'Jim Smith's third Top-40 single, "Yo Mama's Kitchen," was...' It's just ridiculous. (NB: Before this heats up again, please note that I'm not opining that defending this usage is irrational or ridiculous; I don't agree with you, but I'm not calling you names. I'm labeling the practice as illogical and farcical). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 11:47, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Consensus, or not, for changing the policy on "logical" punctuation in quotations[edit]

Anderson and some new ring-in with a red-linked user-page have been busy making unilateral changes to the policy without, to my eyes, a proper assessment of consensus on this page. In addition, the changes they have made were inconsistent with the point below: "Punctuation marks are placed inside the quote marks only if the sense of the punctuation is part of the quotation (this system is referred to as logical quotation)."

Unilateral is a falsehood. Tony really should have waited until #Punctuation and quotation marks was archived before so decribing it; he might even have convinced me to check my memory. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:28, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

I call for a debate here on whether the policy should be changed, before jumping in and changing the text. Personally, I'm not in favour of the change, since the logical format is consistent with WP's overarching policy on leaving directly quoted material untouched. I have a number of objections to the wording, and I'm very uneasy about the citing of other style manuals in the body of the MOS. Tony 03:55, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

"I'm not in favour of the change" << irony intended? :) — xDanielx T/C 10:52, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
I support their change. The position of the marks is not a question of leaving the original quotation untouched, but a mere typographical convention. I think either rule is acceptable, and that the rule should be not to change whatever is in WP, but perhaps to try for consistency within an article. Tony is unduly prescriptive. The Chicago manual remains the basis of our MOS, and is appropriately quoted. DGG (talk) 04:25, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Yes and no. It is a mere typographical convention in the case of (some but not all) Americans' preference for putting some but not all punctuation inside the quotation marks. I.e., insisting on it is making a mountain out of a molehill. The opposite, however, is not true. There are strongly defensible reasons (I've given a least 5 of them up above) to stick with logical quotation, and one of them is in fact quoting accurately. You don't seem to care about accurate quotations, but many of us do. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:12, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Then we should mention those reasons; that may actually persuade someone to try the logical method. But MOS is not the place to impose something because a handful of our editors have decided it's "better". Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:25, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
That seems rather hyperbolic. The MoS is precisely the place that an overall consensus recommends particular style usages, and it is inevitable that some editors will feel some of them to be "impositions". That's just the way of the world. You can't make everyone happy all the time, and it is not MoS's job to even try. MoS's job is to recommend style limits and best practices that help make the encyclopedia useful and reliable. And that's pretty much it. "I like it" reasoning simply doesn't play any legitimate role at all, pro or con. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:30, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
Where on earth did you dredge up that idea that Chicago is the basis of WP's MOS? Hello, it's not an American project, but international. Please point to some evidence. Tony 04:38, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Indeed. I'm even an American, and I find numerous things in CMS that are just plain off the wall; despite it being in the 15th ed., there are all sorts of irrational inconsistencies and just plain logicfarts in there, "conventions" that even most Americans abandoned 2 generations ago, curiously unAmerican Briticisms here and there, etc., etc. Like Wikipedia itself, the CMS is very palimpsestuous. And it's hardly the only style guide out there, much less a particularly authoritative one. It is intended for journalism and English majors, and was not written with an eye to precision, accuracy and avoiding ambiguity. And I can't think of anything more in need of those qualities than an encyclopedia, except maybe things like nuclear reactor specs or space shuttle operating manuals. PS: I haven't found it particularly fruitful quoting he CMS myself. I'd estimate that for every 10 times I do that I get what I want here maybe once if I'm lucky. Caveat prescriptor. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:12, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

There's absolutely no consensus for such a radical alteration (see long explanation in same basic topic farther up the page of just a handful of the bad things that would happen if this change were made). A tiny handful of loud but incessant complainants who cannot offer a more logical front than "I like it", "it's what I'm used to", "some prescriptive book I like better than the MoS says so" or "I haven't thought of any potential fallout, so there must be no potential fallout", do not magically make a new consensus for undoing something that has had very broad consensus for years. This is one of our most important guidelines, and making incautious changes to it (aside from being likely to get immediately reverted) stands a good chance of wreaking a lot of havoc, because every article in Wikipedia looks to this document and its subpages for guidance. I'm not on a high horse here either. There are lots of things I would change in MoS to suit my personal preferences (I've even, slowly, gotten a few minor but substantive changes), but oh well, too bad. The vast bulk of the changes I've proposed (or in my wikiyouth just gone and boldly made here) have been rejected, and rejected more than once. This guideline and its child guidelines are very, very resistant to willy-nilly changes, with good reason. If you find yourself getting frustrated that you are not getting your way, just drop it for a while and go do something else. It works (I know from exerience; after a week you'll hardly even remember why you spent so much time arguing with people in MOS instead of working on articles you care about, nuking vandals, or whatever floats your wikiboat.) PS: Some (allegedly) random anon noob joining the fray hardly lends much credence to the "new consensus" idea. When I see Centrx, SlimVirgin, Radiant, Gracenotes, and 20 other hardcore, long-term major contributors all saying "we should change this", I might believe change was in the air, but the fact of the matter is that no one wants this change but a small handful. Now. And 6 month ago. And last year. And the year before that. The numbers never increase, and curiously those who felt strongly about it 18 months ago don't rejoin the debate (which suggests to me that they realize over time the benefits of logical quoting once they get used to it and stop seeing it as "wrong"). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 04:50, 14 September 2007 (UTC) PS: And, yeah, we don't cite other style manuals in the text of the MOS. MOS is not an article. It is a slowly-built-by-consensus set of community decisions about how to best write the encyclopedia (that means for the end user's benefit, not our own personal convenience or pecadilloes. Logical quotation is a major part of that user-helpfulness, in its elimination of doubts and ambiguities as to the reliability of the quoted passage's accuracy, reliability of code or other technical data's to-the-last-character correctness, inter-article consistency, etc., etc. This is nothing at all like "colour" vs. "color", which is parseable by any English speaker in either spelling (UK vs. US spelling truly is just a harmless preference matter, unlike quotation punctuation.)— SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:12, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

Oy Vey! Why can't you people decide one way or or the other? Logical format makes more sense to me but I, and most editors probably, would be happy to learn and follow any punctuation convention as long as it's clearly described. It would be a big help if it's project-wide and not just article by article. Sometimes choosing the red one or the blue one doesn't need consensus, it just needs a decision. Why not flip a coin or something? Wikidemo 05:21, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Um, we already did long ago. This is all just noise. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:30, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
Totally in agreement with Tony and SMcCandlish on this one (see excellent points made in sections further up too). In addition to the "keep the quote untouched" argument, I'd like to add a point that makes Wikipedia special in this regard. Not all editors have access to the source. An editor should be able to rephrase a sentence containing a quote without fear that they are changing the quote by adding or removing punctuation. The logical style is the only one that maintains that property. Going for a mixed per-article style is even worse than a wholesale change. Wikidemo—flipping a coin to radically change the quotation style of a project with 2 million articles isn't wise. Colin°Talk 08:10, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

I also oppose the change. "Logical" quotations make more sense on every, well, logical basis. Assured accuracy in quotations seems vital in such a work as an encyclopedia. SamBC(talk) 10:04, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

  • I agree with Sambc - the "logical" style is just more, well, uh logical. Seems the most sensible way. WLDtalk|edits 10:18, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

For all the reasons given, I support the logical style. Although fine typography sometimes calls for deviations, neither Wikipedia nor any other HTML document can be fine typography, lacking control of typeface (it is only a suggestion), page size, physical and optical margins, hyphenation, microspacing, and all the other things that typographers do to fully optimize text on paper.--Curtis Clark 13:00, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

The denial of the fact that are in fact two accepted styles is disingenuous and dishonest; as I have said elsewhere, I use "logical punctuation" myself, but it is a relative novelty; our article suggests that Fowler invented it, and we may well be right. I have no objection to recommending it; although I think it would be one of our more pointless recommendations. Many Americans have this drilled into them, and they are unlikely to change at a paragraph here. This has all the disadvantages of the Anglo-American wars, and none of the advantages.
As for CMS, Tony should really try reading this page occasionally: it's the first and most prominent source mentioned: The Chicago Manual of Style and Fowler’s Modern English Usage are well-known style guides;... Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:16, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Huh? The MoS making a specific recommendation for specific reasons is not "denial of the fact" that there are other possible recommendations we are not making! Sheesh. That's like saying that a MoS recommendation for formal language is a "denial" that a lot of my fellow New Mexicans like to use "ain't" a lot. Please. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:30, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
And does SMcCandlish realize that he bit a newbie before he was even welcomed? ) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:19, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Honestly hadn't noticed (had too many windows open, too much forking of attention). But really, noobs do not edit policy, generally. The odds of that being a real noob are near-zero; it's just someone who's got a new/secondary account in all likelihood. All that said, I do not feel 100% obligated to leave a Welcome template before warning against disruptive behavior. I usually do, often even with IP addresses, but there is no policy that this must be done. A small "nip" that is short of a full-on "bite" is often a Good Thing in online communities, inspiring people to lurk and learn before being overly bold. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:16, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
Is the MoS the place to document usage outside Wikipedia? Anyone interested in the fact that another system exists can follow the links to appropriate articles. Aren't they the place for such documentation? I thought the MoS was a place to prescribe usage here not describe usage elsewhere.
As far as I can see the use of logical quoting has a heap of advantages these have been described at length above.
CMS may be mentioned but surely we're writing our own MoS based on concensus here. Jɪmp 17:28, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Yes, actually; it's why we begin by citing other style guides in the first place. MOS should describe English; not, as Tony repeatedly proposed, reinvent it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:30, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
That is not at all what MoS is for; it is to recommend best practices within Wikipedia for Wikipedian (i.e. encyclopedic) purposes (and while this concept relates to observed, described general usage out in the world, the two are not 1:1 identical). You appear to be confusing an internal Wikipedia document with a generally applicable style manual. Get your namespaces straight. :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:30, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

We are discussing the following statement:

Most Americans and Canadians, and some Australian [13] and British publications (for example, The Guardian[14]), place periods and commas inside quotation marks; they place colons and semi-colons, question marks, and exclamation points outside, unless they are part of the material quoted. This is the system the Chicago Manual of Style recommends (§6.8f.); it is sometimes referred to as "aesthetic style." Be consistent, whichever system is used.

I do not insist on the citation of CMS, which is a relic of an old note. The CMS does in fact permit the logical style but warns against it as requiring extraordinary precision; frankly, this is a problem with it: Wikipedians are not, on average, careful. I would agree to a compromise which introduces this by sayign that Wikipedia normally uses, and recommends the logical style. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:39, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

The MOS does not "cite" CMS or Fowler as a "prominent source", as PMAnderson claims (while simultaneously attacking Tony). They are merely mentioned as "well-known style guides" and noted to be among the "reliable guides" one may wish to consult "if this page does not specify a preferred usage". As other have said, detailed commentary on external styles is a distraction to this MOS page, which should focus on WP's in-house style. There are not "two accepted styles" on Wikipedia. There has only been one style, which was established when, in August 2002, User:Ortolan88 kicked off this MOS with the edit summary, "Beginning "A Manual of Style", copy-editing, consistency and markup fiends please all jump in at once." It would be hard to find a more stable guideline on Wikipedia. Colin°Talk 18:13, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

if this page is indeed a place for reinventing English to the whims of a handful, then it is an essay. It is stable because it is guarded by revert warriors, and because most competent editors ignore it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:25, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
[citation needed]. It's my experience that the MoS is heavily relied upon by most serious editors. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:30, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
The American Heritage Dictionary defines "whim" as "A sudden or capricious idea; a fancy." or an "Arbitrary thought or impulse". One of these "whims", as you call them, has remained on wiki for five years. I'd say that's pretty firmly established by consensus. Colin°Talk 18:36, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
... most competent editors ignore it ... Hmmm. Raul doesn't ignore the Manual of Style; what does that make him? If the goal here is to destabilize long-standing guidelines enough that we all begin to ignore it, that's another matter. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:40, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Nice toad-eating, Sandy; but it makes Raul an exception. No, the goal is to make the MOS a practical manual, describing the actual consensus of Wikipedian practice, much broader than this talk page; to have it a less useful tool for the disruptive; and to keep it from saying anything actually silly, like the proposal to require Socrates's, further up on this talk page. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:52, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Oh, so you mean all the rest of us (the majority here) who also pay attention to the Manual of Style are also incompetent exceptions, along with Raul? Cool beans. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:56, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
No, it means that this discussion has a dozen participants; Wikipedia has thousands of competent editors, Raul among them. Most of those thousands ignore this page; Raul doesn't. Do you have anything more useful to say than inventing personal attacks, again? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:03, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Again: [citation needed]. I see no evidence whatsoever that "most competent editors ignore the MOS". If this were true, none of us, on either side, would be bothering. I believe your wiggly insult is basically a handwave. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:30, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
Don't wear the shoe if it doesn't fit. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:06, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Altering your comments after my reply, hmmmm. Thanks for the useful link :-) SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:15, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Well, I suppose making a great pother out of an edit conflict is more useful than your previous remark; but do let us know when you find something substantive to say. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:37, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
An edit conflict nine minutes later; Bishonen and I have twice been involved in edit conflicts on edits that occurred simultaneously but weren't caught by Wiki software. We must do something about Wiki's software if we're getting 9-minute lags now. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:00, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
It took me some time to make the edit - I had a link to find; and more time to fix the conflict. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:04, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
I accept that; but when another editor has already responded, nine minutes later, you might consider making a new post rather than altering your prior post. SandyGeorgia(Talk) 20:12, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
I usually do; but not after searching for the link, and fighting the ec. If I fiddled further, I would probably have gotten another ec. In any case, I didn't alter the edit you were talking about.Septentrionalis PMAnderson
Matters of style like this that are solely syntax, format, and other language mechanics do have to follow a "winner takes all" approach, and more than most other policy/guideline issues ought to be decided centrally among those who know and care about the issue rather than a mere description of current practice among editors. Leaving it up to editors to make an article-by-article choice is no good; we need to go one way or another, and it looks like the "logical" quotation style has the upper hand here. We can talk about this a while longer to see if American style gets a consensus but if not we should leave the page as-is and remove the disputed tag because a editors opposing a decision already reached is not a valid dispute.Wikidemo 19:48, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
No, several editors (see above section) agreed to change this; and several do now dispute this position. I don't see why there has to be a winner-takes-all position. Learn to leave articles alone.. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:09, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Agreed; the destabilization of this page by a minority viewpoint is achieving a self-fulfilling prophecy as far as the usefulness of this page. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:00, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Bosh. These are the changes in the last month and a half; most of them are small, and none interfere with the use of the page. There are two large additions, the one with horilka and the one about citation template. Neither appears to have been discussed; and neither is mine. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:30, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
  • This is a demonstration of what I am talking about. No one has proposed mandating aesthetic punctuation. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:21, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
    • What do you mean by "Learn to leave things alone."? Do you mean things like five-year-old-established-by-consensus-guidelines? Consensus can change of course, but it will take more than two or three editors to achieve that here. You have been repeatedly asked to establish consensus prior to significantly changing the guidelines. Your own admission that you don't use "aesthetic style" makes me think you are merely trying to make a POINT. Colin°Talk 21:06, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
      • I don't use British English either; but I oppose changing colour. Either system works, and this guideline should be whatever will make the articles, which are what matters, work better. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:52, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Don't confuse avoiding US/UK conflict when there is no logical difference, and demanding that regional (and non-universal within that region!) colloquial variation be encouraged when it potentially introduces factual errors, ambiguities, uncertainty, etc. Two different monkeys. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:30, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
"Logical" punctuation has a much more serious risk of introducing false commas (if that matters); this is one reason why aesthetic punctuation has been retained, and the reason the CMS warns against logical punctuation: when a logical punctuator errs, there's no error-correction. Since the comma and quote in aesthetic punctuation are purely formal, and do not assert the condition of the original, occasional slips don't matter, and can be easily fixed. But if a logical punctatuator ever says ," when she means ", there is a positive error, and no way to catch it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:54, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
That's a very trivial "risk"! "If that matters" = false, generally, and non-problematic from a MoS/editorial perspective when rarely true. It would be perfectly appropriate to simply move or remove the comma in most cases. For example:
X said, "this is a quote, blah blah blah," and yak yak yak.
X said, "this is a quote, blah blah blah", and yak yak yak.
Let's not be silly. "No way to catch it"? Huh? Everything has to be verifiable or it is subject to deletion, remember? In cases where removal/moving would not be appropriate (e.g. "the command 'rm * .' is used to...", one would look at the cited sources to verify that the period really did belong there if uncertain. This is precisely why logical quoting needs to be advanced as the standard here instead of encouraging chaos in this matter, much less going for so-called "aesthetic" (I find it ugly as sin, myself) punctuation, which will inevitably lead many (mostly American) editors to actually change technical quotes in ways that render them FUBAR. Finally, if there were any actual "serious risk", most of the world would not be using logical quotation. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 12:28, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

This section of the MOS was tagged as disputed. Between then and now, this talk page has received no additional support of the "allow both styles, but be consistent within an article" guideline. The disputed tag was then cleared, along with modifications to the guideline that do not have consensus approval. It appears this MOS is only disputed while the text does not meet with PMAnderson's personal approval. I've reverted back to the consensus version. Colin°Talk 23:39, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

Hear hear! — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:30, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, hear, hear! And hear, hear this: "this guideline should be whatever will make the articles, which are what matters, work better." No, it's simply not true that "Either system works," What some are labelling aethetic punctuation (beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this looks like a misnomer to me) introduces ambiguity: it does not work. If the guideline should be whatever makes articles work better, then it should remain as it has been for the past five years. Nor is this the place to document usage outside of Wikipedia. Certianly our guidlines should be constructed with such usage in mind but they aren't simply reflexions of it. Nor is our MoS simply a regurgitation of other style guides—sure let's consider what they have to say but we're writing our MoS. There are other considerations which go into it, like consensus and this is pretty clearly against American punctuation. Jɪmp 07:01, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
And it's not American punctuation. I keep stressing this because some people would like to make this look like a US vs. UK English pissing match, which it emphatically is not. Internal punctuation is an old typesetting convention from the 1700s. It is preferred by most non-technical US and Canadian, and some British, etc., publications and styleguides; it has been rejected completely in scientific, technical and other writing in which precision, accuracy and lack of ambiguity are important (which is the case with an encyclopedia, whether Britannica editors acknowledge that or not); and it is not favored strongly even in mass-market publications much of anywhere outside of North America. The "Americanness" of it is entirely incidental, really, and a recurrent red herring here, other than inasmuch as it demonstrates that it is simply a colloquial preference that doesn't have a logic/clarity/specificity basis behind it that can compete with the basis behind logical quotation. That's pretty much the end of the matter right there. There simply isn't a defensible rationale for the proposed change. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 08:09, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

A salient quote from Wikipedia:Consensus:

My, doesn't that sound familiar? Everything just described is precisely what has been happening here, including the periodic "shopping" for a new more and sympathetic batch of MoS editors, and stubborn refusal to acknowledge the reasons behind the extant consensus. Concensus can change but it doesn't do so willy-nilly or because of tenanacity and argumentativeness. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 10:31, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

No, what this sounds like is one of the hallmarks of bad process:"Outsiders frequently complain of exclusionary process or ill treatment by regulars in the process; regulars are dismissive of these concerns." If this issue comes up every four months, and is routinely dismissed, it's a sign that real concerns, of many independent editors, are not being addressed. A compromise is in order; a single sentence will satisfy me, and may satisfy others. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:46, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
I can't for the life of me understand what that quote has to do with an "issue comes up every four months". Complaints about "exclusionary process or ill treatment" are quite different from repeatedly raising an issue. Please keep this separate and don't muddy the waters. That this issue recurs says little about whether it is currently wrong. Most of WP's policies are frequently questioned (page protection, anonymous users) but the consensus remains against change and those pages are not permanently tagged as disputed. Colin°Talk 08:52, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
Furthermore, it isn't "routinely dismissed", but debated at great length; the entire point PMAnderson/Septentrionalis is trying to make here is a form of straw man fallacy. It's really easy to bash a scarecrow that represents an imagined censorious oligarchic hegemony conspiring to keep one person out of the limelight, and quite another to actually engage in a constructive discourse with fellow editors collaborating to make and maintain a useful style guideline for Wikipedia. The latter takes some actual effort. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 12:38, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
PS: Having used {{Disputedtag}} myself, when left no other apparent choice, I'd be hypocritical if I got upset over PMAnderson using it. I think it is a constructive template when used properly, since it garners attention to a debate and speeds up consensus-building. Agree with Colin that it's not something that becomes a permanent fixture. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 12:38, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
Forgive me for not wading through the entire discussion above and elsewhere, because I want to make one simple observation. I think the usefulness of logical quoting depends on the context. In cases where commas make a big difference, such as semantics or computer programming, logical quotes are a must. In other cases, such as when quoting romanized translations of Lao Tzu's Tao te Ching, logical quotes are less useful. The decision to use or not use logical quotes should rest with the editors who introduce content into articles, not with a MOS that lays down a preference for everyone. I see some cases where logical quotes would look out of place and disgusting, and I also see examples where authors sensibly use logical quotes to eliminate equivocation (Saul Kripke comes to mind). Perhaps we should simply specify the benefits and drawbacks of both the styles and say that editors will have to agree on individual cases. Besides, if editors are debating over a particular use of logical/nonlogical quotes, they are paying greater attention to detail than the majority of editors at Wikipedia! —Kanodin 17:39, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
One of the symptoms of not wading through this lengthy morass is that you missed this already being addressed. :-) The problem with not being prescriptively against typesetters' quotation traditions is that some editors will change logical ones to to the typesetters' "aesthetic" ones willy-nilly, even in articles where this would have a very, very deleterious effect, and not all of these instances will be caught and reverted, leaving articles indefinitely hosed. There are plenty of places where the MoS lays down a very strongly recommendation for everyone, and this is broadly tolerated, even welcomed, because it produces predictable, stable consistency where needed. There is no such problem with things like "neighbor" vs. "neighbour" and other genuinely preferential/cultural issues that don't have an effect on the accuracy or even logical parseability of the content. As said earlies, this is not a UK vs. US English fight, for something like 5 different reasons; it has just been mistaken as one by a few people. PS: Your "would look out of place and disgusting" reaction is entirely subjective and colloquial; the vast majority of English speakers (well, readers, really) in most of the English-speaking places on the planet already have this reaction with regard to illogical quotation, and many Americans do as well. "Some won't like it" isn't a very strong argument in the face of the more objective ones advanced by proponents of leaving the logical quotation prescription in place. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 11:58, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
Kanodin writes "the usefulness of logical quoting depends on the context." Yep, that's a fair call. "The decision to use or not use logical quotes should rest with the editors who introduce content into articles," I would disagree, there's a great advantage in having consistancy rather than allowing editors to judge for themselves. "I see some cases where logical quotes would look out of place and disgusting," I don't. It's a matter of taste, to me it's illogical quotes which look out of place and disgusting. So let's "specify the benefits and drawbacks of both the styles". I can't see a single benifit of typesetter's (illogical) quotation the drawbacks have been specified at length. The usefulness of logical quotation may vary but typesetter's quotation is never more useful. JIMp 06:52, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
Comment from a previously uninvolved editor: I have read through the entire discussion, as well as parts of the achived discussions about this question, and it does appear that the consensus is, and has been for a long time, for the MoS to recommend logical quotation. SMcCandlish in particular has argued convincingly why it should remain so. Speaking as someone who does much WikiGnome-like work on articles that are nowhere close to FA-class, I have come to rely on a stable, prescriptive-where-possible Manual of Style. A manual that describes multiple ways of dealing with a style question is less useful, in my opinion. --Paul Erik 19:15, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
SMcCandlish, you say that the vast majority of English speakers in most of the English-speaking places on the planet already have this reaction with regard to illogical quotation, and many Americans do as well. Well, according to this page, most English speakers are Americans. So why not use (or at least allow to be used) the American style if the majority are taught it?
Agreed (with the majority opinion). It's about more than quotes; Wiki is large enough to have its own style guide that should be unambiguous about our in-house preferences. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:24, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
I agree with SandyGeorgia and the many other similar comments. PMAnderson wrote that "the goal is to make the MOS a practical manual, describing the actual consensus of Wikipedian practice...." Well, that's not my goal. If you wanted to describe actual practice, you'd note that many people continue to italicize quotations, some people can't get over their (British) habit of using single quotation marks instead of doubles, etc. The MoS is prescriptive, not descriptive. It prescribes logical style for quotation marks, " instead of ', and unitalicized quotations. Those points should not be changed. JamesMLane t c 19:44, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
Thanks Paul, for taking the time to wade through this and previous discussions. I'm glad to read some confirmation that MoS is not just important (or not) to articles at FAC. I also appreciate a stable MoS and find that conforming to a house style is no big deal. Change through building consensus is vital here. Colin°Talk 20:16, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
Just wondering whether there's an analogous practice for parentheses to (the typesetter's punctuation.) Tony 06:05, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
I just saw this discussion for the first time tonight, after I have modified a number of pages to punctuate as advocated in Chicago Manual of Style. This is how I learned to punctuate in school, and I never even bothered to check Wikipedia for a policy. I'm sure many others were also taught this way and use "illogical style" quotation marks without realizing it is against Wikipedia style guidelines (for example, I just found this user talk page). I, for one, think that Wikipedia should allow the Chicago style. It isn't just opinion, it is an accepted way of writing. TK421 06:24, 30 September 2007 (UTC)
It should also be noted that over the last few months, I have edited a number of pages to make them follow CMOS. Some of these pages were even featured articles (such as Harry S. Truman). In looking over them, most of my edits still stand. Is this not a form of consensus? This suggests to me that many others find the Chicago style acceptable, and it should be incorporated as an acceptable style in Wikipedia. TK421 07:09, 30 September 2007 (UTC)
It most certainly does not represent consensus, and you should desist immediately from this practice. In fact, you should go back and revert the damage that you've done. Tony (talk) 09:33, 30 September 2007 (UTC)
Relax. I didn't even know about this style guide when I made those changes, and I won't make any more unless I see a change in policy. As far as representing "a form of consensus", look at the flow chart on Wikipedia:Consensus. Make an edit - Wait - Was the article edited further? - No - New consensus. Consensus does not only arise from discussions like this, but from actual practice. My point that some were featured articles indicates that these were not obscure articles, either. I think it is a compelling argument. TK421 17:41, 30 September 2007 (UTC)
Then that represents a local consensus that no-one who edits that article objects. However, editing to conform to the CMOS does not have wikipedia-wide consensus, and the fact that your edits happened to make text conform to CMOS, and had local consensus, doesn't mean that there's even local consensus to follow CMOS generally. We explicitly don't follow CMOS, and that has been established to have general consensus. That consensus can change, but there's been no demonstration of that. Limited objections don't mean that consensus is no longer valid. SamBC(talk) 20:39, 30 September 2007 (UTC)
I do think that MOS could/should be clearer: its examples are easily misunderstood. I see many well-informed editors believing that it's a purely mechanical function of whether quoted text ended with a [."] or not. If clearly explained, logical punctuation is easy to use and a better explanation would remove many minor arguments. --ROGER DAVIES TALK 11:47, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

Punctuation inside or outside this quote?[edit]

This article (Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style) contains the following example in the Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Quotations section:

For example, the following quotation: “She disputed his statement that ‘Voltaire never said “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” ’ ”.

I realize this is trivial, but the subsequent Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Quotation_marks section states that punctuation should go inside quotes when it's part of the quotation. So it seems to me that period in the example should be moved to right after the final word, it. I'm not sure enough to make the change, so I'm asking about it here. -Agyle 17:10, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

This is a characteristic example of the difficulties of "logical" quotation: which of the sources involved here do we follow: His statement, her quotation and denial of it, or the original quote which attributed it to Voltaire? All three of them may punctuate differently. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:16, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
Anderson, your very own Fowler says to avoid double periods, doesn't he? You have to choose, and WP has chosen the outside position. Tony 02:37, 18 September 2007 (UTC)
It's not a "characterisitic example" of anything other than that human beings make typographical errors (and this is clearly a typo). I fixed it in the projectpage text. Also fixed the entire passage, as it referred to being "an exception to the previous rule", but the previous rules no longer have anything to do with that segment, due (apparently) to many changes over time but no one noticing that previous material there had a later reference to it. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:40, 18 September 2007 (UTC)
There are never consecutive periods (or commas) at the end, always only one, but exclamation or question marks may add up. Therefore there are one or two questions to answer: Are periods collapsed to the final or to the first one? If it is the final one, does the sentence beginning with For example end with the colon already?
it.” ’ ” 
collapse to first period
it” ’.” 
collapse to final period, colon ends sentence
it” ’ ”. 
collapse to final period, colon does not end sentence
All choices are reasonable, I would not choose the third one. That is just how I would see it however, without rechecking any English style guides. (I also would remove the non-breaking spaces and leave this up to font hinting.) — Christoph Päper 15:42, 18 September 2007 (UTC)
It can't end with the colon, otherwise this would be valid English punctuation:
I like four sorts of beans: pinto, garbanzo, lima, and black
(Note no period.)
As for the larger question, I don't think it matters much between the first and third options you show (the 2nd is potentially confusing, though), when all of the nested quotations are complete sentences that ended in the original where we end them in quotation. The original (MOS) constructed example is weird, because the exterior-most quotation marks are really there just to set the material off as an example and do not provide any additional material. I might edit it to fix that problem. In real article prose, you'd have something more like Mumble mumble mumble, according to Smith, who wrote "Johnson's statement that 'yack yack yack' is blah blah blah". The period could go just inside (after last "blah"), yet would not be required to, if (and only if) Smith's statement was a complete sentence and ended with a period there in the original, and the overall passage, from "Mumble" to the end, ended after that last "blah". The period wouldn't go deep inside (after last "yack") at all, since that would leave the rest of the passage unterminated. In cases (as in the MOS example), where the quotations are ending mutually, not followed by any other material in the overall passage, there isn't any particular reason not to put it deep inside (Foo "Bar 'Baz.' "), but only if all of the relevant parts are full sentences and we know for a fact that the various quoted bits did terminate with periods in the originals where we terminate them in our quotations. But there isn't a rationale against putting it outside the quotes altogether (Foo "Bar 'Baz' ".); terminal punctuation inside when known to be part of the original is appropriate but not required in logical quotation (and would be inappropriate if we do not know that the quoted sentence originally ended where we are putting a period, so putting it outside is safest. We wouldn't use Foo "Bar 'Baz'." at all, as it does not add anything useful to do this, and is visually confusing.
It's much more difficult to talk about than it is to just do it, by the simple logic of "Did they actually say that (i.e. actually end their statement, which we are quoting, where we are ending it in our quotation)?" if you see what I mean.
I offer no opinion on the non-breaking space vs. font hinting issue. I find it much easier to read with the spacing, but the logician in me says that the spacing is an extraneous interpolation, so my left and right brain have a conflict of interest.
SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:30, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
PS: The "unless we know for certain" stuff is more important than it may at first seem. If an editor is quoting Smith from Smith's book, Mumble mumble mumble, according to Smith, who wrote "Johnson has stated that 'yack yack yack'" (period as yet unplaced), and we are looking at Smith's book, and it says Johnson has stated that "yack yack yack." (note the period placement), quoting Johnson from Johnson's 1987 paper in Proceedings of the International Society for Nocturnal Underwater Basketweaving; then, our only way of knowing for certain whether Johnson's quote in Smith ended where Smith seems to indicate it did in Johnson's original, is by reading a copy of the Johnson PISNUB paper, because the only source we have at hand is Smith's book, and we don't necessarily know whether Smith uses logical quotation, or pays any attention to such matters. I.e., default to exterior punctuation when uncertain (in this case by doing a partial quote of Smith quoting Johnson, namely be declining to import Smith's terminal punctuation): Mumble mumble mumble, according to Smith, who wrote "Johnson has stated that 'yack yack yack'". (period outside). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:45, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Quotations and punctuation[edit]

After a lengthy disagreement today I would like to see a definitive example in the manual of style for the following problem:

"Satellite" was also featured on an episode of the television show Miami Vice titled "Amen...Send Money," which first aired on October 2, 1987.

IMO the comma is a part of the sentence and not a part ot the program's title. For this reason, the comma should be after the quote. Comments anyone? TinyMark 09:42, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

It should definitely be after the quote, otherwise we have the totally absurd result of asserting that the episode title was "Amen...Send Money," rather than "Amen...Send Money", an obvious problem. NB: Miami Vice should be italicized up there (in the article; if you just didn't bother to italicize it here because that wasn't the point, I don't mean to nitpick. :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:00, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
There have been wikiwars over this issue, in case you want to read through the archive. I think the outcome (or rather non-outcome) is that you can use either, but be consistent within a page. Wikidemo 10:55, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
There was no doubt about the outcome. Wikipedia consensus to abandon logical quotation just because a handful of people don't like it was not reached. At all. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:00, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
I agree with TinyMark here. The comma is an inherent part of the logical thrust of the entire sentence. --ROGER DAVIES TALK 11:32, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
The example provided here is indeed wrong. WP uses logical punctuation at the end of a quotation; i.e., keep the comma/period outside the quotation unless it belongs as part of the quotation. It's clearly set out in the guidelines, isn't it? Tony (talk) 11:35, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
If it is I couldn't find it! TinyMark 13:53, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
It's under "Inside or outside" at Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Quotation_marks. Tony (talk) 14:31, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
It's not clearly enough explained there. Too many people are focusing on the physical presence of punctuation in the quoted element rather looking at the dynamics. Better examples would emphasise the difference between unquoted text as scene-setting and as a crucial part of the sentence's thrust, for instance, He wrote, "Brighton was dreadful." and He disagreed that "Brighton was dreadful". I suppose a simple test would be that if you can put the unquoted text in brackets without changing the meaning of the sentence the point or comma goes inside the quotes. --ROGER DAVIES TALK 14:40, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
The "dynamics" of the sentence are not effected in any way in the quoted example; the comma still follows the episode title, just as intended. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:00, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
I don't know if it's not clear enough (it made sense to me), but the defining point isn't how it fits into the structure, it's whether or not the source the quote is from contains the punctuation. In the unlinkely event that the official title of the episode ended with a comma, then that would be correct, but under logical punctuation the comma goes outside the quote marks simply because it's not there in the source being quoted. SamBC(talk) 14:46, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
It's whether or not the source the quote is from contains the punctuation AND how that punctuation impacts on the sentence as a whole. The second example illustrates this but is overlooked:
Correct:    Martha asked, “Are you coming?”
(When quoting a question, the question mark belongs inside because the quoted text itself was a question.)
Correct: Did Martha say, “Come with me”?
(The very quote is being questioned, so here, the question mark is correctly outside; the period in the original quote is omitted.)
--ROGER DAVIES TALK 15:31, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Ah, you're talking about the seperate but related issue of whether to include the punctuation from the original, which I wasn't thinking to address. Perhaps the two points should be addressed seperately, but as I see it it's quite simple. The punctuation in the original, at the end of the quote, is only included if it fits the sentence structure or is integral to the meaning as quoted. Punctuation marks are only inside the quotation marks of that punctuation is present in the material being quoted. Between the two, I think that tells you everything. SamBC(talk) 16:36, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Quotation_mark#Punctuation states that this is (another) British vs. American English discrepancy. Apparently the punctuation is always inside the quotes in American English. I suppose it will be a case of first come, first served! What annoys me is the "my way or the higheay" attitude some people have. "That's the way I learnt it and that's the only way to do it." Maybe I have no tolerance, but its only towards people with zero tolerance ;-) TinyMark 16:33, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Interesting. The discussion here recently about logical vs aesthetic punctuation has demonstrated that that isn't true in practice - many americans learned and/or prefer logical punctuation, and I believe that some brits prefer aesthetic. It's complicated by the fact that, when the quotation marks represent dialogue, there should always be terminating punctuation. SamBC(talk) 16:39, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Indeed, the Quotation mark article is simply wrong; typesetters' quotes have been abandoned in US publishing except for very general audiences who still prefer it as a "tradition"; your average American novel and newspaper still use it, but it is virtually unknown in technical and scientific writing any longer. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:00, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
Even if I believed this claim, so what? We should be writing American for the general reader, not for the followers of "technical and scientific writing." Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:57, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

I see this is back, much sooner than I predicted. Can we, this time, deal with the matter soberly, and admit that there are two systems; both are used; and the important thing is to be consistent within an article? Then we can stop discussing this every month. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:42, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Yes, there are two systems and both are used, however the use of typesetter's punctuation here goes against policy. Change policy so we can stop discussing this every month? Such a change would only turn the heat up. It's not really "back" though, this time it's a call for further examples not for change in policy. What is the important thing, however? Is it to be consistent within an article ... or is it more important not to change a quotation willy-nilly just to fit one's own idea of æsthetics? Jɪmp 22:07, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Not policy; just the whim of this guideline. Please note that insisting on logical punctuation when taking a quotation from a source that uses aesthetic punctuation will often involve changing the quotation; and quite often involve guesswork as to how the source's source was punctuated. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:43, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Well, no, because you punctuate exactly how your source punctuates, so quotes within the quote get left alone. SamBC(talk) 23:08, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Exactly. A whim—"a sudden desire or idea, especially one that cannot be reasonably explained" says one dictionary. It's hardly sudden & has been explained in minute and very reasonable detail. Jɪmp 23:29, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Stop trying to muddy the waters, Anderson: you know very well that if illogical punctuation (there's nothing aesthetic about it) is used in a quote within a quote here, it's not tampered with. That's the point behind WP's insistence on logical quotation in the first place: don't tamper with quoted material. This is quite apart from and in addition to the analogy with brackets (where no one would put the dot inside.) Tony (talk) 00:07, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
How curious. In an article now at FAC, the original source says:
At one point during Tool's set, Keenan acknowledged his debt to the long-running art rockers: "For me, being on stage with King Crimson is like Lenny Kravitz playing with Led Zeppelin, or Britney Spears onstage with Debbie Gibson."
Our article used the quoted sentence, precisely as given, including the quotation marks. A certain editor objected to this, as not being logical punctuation. That would seem to me to depend on whether Keenan, in the original interview, ended a sentence after Gibson or not; it is one of the difficulties of logical punctuation that we cannot be sure from the evidence at hand. But we can postpone discussing this further until Tony manages to agree with himself exactly what logical punctuation is. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:18, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
Not difficult at all. If WP quoted the entire passage you just did, it would remain unchanged. If it quoted only Keenan (which is the case here; I just looked at the diff and compared it to what you quoted above), it would end with the period outside the punctuation, since WP has no basis on which to know whether the original source quoted Keenan entirely or in truncated form. I think you are trying to make this sound difficult because that suits your argument, but really, how hard do you think anyone else is going to find this? It's trivially simple, just like whether to put the period inside or ouside a parenthetical at the end of a sentence. Why on earth is hard about asking "Do I know that this is the end of the original, primary-source sentence? If no, outside, if yes, inside." Compare "Does this parenthetical form a complete sentence by itself (or end with an exclamation point, question mark or elipsis)? If no, outside, if yes, inside." — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:00, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
It is not trivially simple; neither is determining whether a form of words forms a complete sentence. But we do the latter all the time: every time we punctuate unquoted prose. You are, however, in the name of accuracy, recommending that we change a quoted sentence from the punctuation of the source; allowing aesthetic punctuation would avoid the nedessity of thin, and the necessity of making the decision. Aesthetic punctuation is purely formal, and it has survived precisely because it makes no assertion about the original position of the comma in question. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:00, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
Again, you just seem to be making this hard for yourself. If it were really hard, the rest of the world and plenty of Americans would not be using logical quotation, and WP would have an e-riot on its hands about this, and yet it doesn't, unless (sorry, my bad) two editors somehow marks an overwhelming trend. If the source is not reliable on a particular thing, then do not rely upon the source for that thing; that's simple and reasonable as well. There's nothing wrong with making some simple decisions; as you say, we do this every time we punctuate. I understand that you do not see the potential difference between what the primary source actually said and what the secondary source chose to report of what was said, in a manner that leave us by definition uncertain as to the primary's actual statement, or that you think the distinction is trivial if you do recognize it. Either way, you are clearly someone who has never been misquoted-by-truncation in the press. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 03:12, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
I don't see any "disagreement" on Tony's part with himself. What I do see is you lurking like a vulture waiting for any opportunity to dredge up this debate because it is your personal pet peve and you just won't let it go. I would like to observe that this current topic began as a request for advice on interpretation which diverged, reasonably and rather constructively, into a suggestion that that guideline's wording could be improved to make the matter clearer. You, and from my read only you, are trying to turn it into yet another redundant debate about whether the guideline's underlying advise should change, an idea you never get even close to consensus on, no matter how many times you bring it up. Give it a rest, huh? A really long one for a change. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 20:39, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
In fact, TinyMark disagrees with the present wording; it is not consensus among Wikipedians, far less among the users of English as a whole. That SMcCandlish still wants to get back at the professors of his elective courses is a pity; but it should not determine our guidance on the matter. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:57, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
Strange characterizations of my alleged movites doesn't make an actual argument. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 03:12, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
So when are you planning on holding your next public flogging of this dead horse, PMA? Tony (talk) 05:09, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Hello. I'm new here, but I am not going to abandon everything I learned in school and college on where to put the period and other punctuation marks when quotation marks are involved. You want umpteen students to learn one way in school and another here. That ain't gonna fly. Students do not get it correct all the time in school; now they will see examples of what is taught as incorrect and think it is correct. I will put a period inside the quotation marks if it is an American-related topic. British people, I assume, will put in on the outside. Don't take one argument and turn it into something else. — Bobopaedia 20:43, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

We generally expect you, as a WPian, to be more flexible than to insist that everything you were taught about formatting/punctuation at grade school should be automatically used in an international English-language project (it's not an American project). WP is a set of compromises that largely works, given the big bagginess of the English language. Here, the issue is that the Chicago MoS is pronouncing for many tenors and modes, whereas our mission is rather more specific; critically, it involves an unwavering respect for not tampering with quoted material. The illogical method is problematic in inserting into quoted material punctuation that arises from the structure of our sentence, not that of the original author. SImple as that.
So if you go about changing WP's established practice, you deserve to be reverted. It would be better to spend your time doing the opposite. Tony (talk) 00:34, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Tony, this is exactly the same issue as U.S. above: you don't have to abandon the way you spell US (except in strongly American articles, where we should use American English); but neither method gets imposed on other people. So here; Bobopaedia, and his kids, should not be required to abandon aesthetic punctuation; we should note the existence of both methods, and discuss advantages and disadvantages. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:03, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
- - - -
Tony, you turned the discussion into something else. I know there are American and British differences; I had already allowed for that. Tony, and other users, I'm not talking about changing the punctuation from the source of a quote; I'm talking about, as an example to illustrate my point, how the terminal punctuation is written when something is in quotation marks. Thus:
The character of Peter is introduced in the chapter "Sunrise." (American English)
The character of Peter is introduced in the chapter "Sunrise". (British English, I assume)
There are other instances when something is written as dialogue that has not yet appeared in print. If an American reporter is covering what, say, a person said aloud, he would puncutate it according to American custom when writing for his newspaper; a British reporter would punctuate it according to his respective custom and newspaper. Thus:
Today the ambassador of Kookooland said "We will not intervene." (American)
An educated American who found the period outside of the ending quote mark would say that it is incorrect, just as he would if the writer had spelled the last word interveen.
Now, if I am quoting an article from The Times, I would punctuate it however it appeared in that newspaper.
I hope this clarifies what I said. Bobopaedia 16:51, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

According to CMOS (Chicago), APA, MLA, Merriam-Webster, Associated Press Stylebook, OWL (Purdue U.) and every other style guide I could find, in North America (not just US) periods and commas always (without exception) go inside the closing quotation marks. A Survey of Modern English By Stephan Gramley, Kurt-Michael Pätzold. Routledge, 2004. ISBN 0415300355, explains:

  • "American English (AmE) opts for simplification whenever closing quotation marks occur together with a period or comma. The period or comma always comes inside the quotation marks whether or not it 'belongs' to the material quoted or not.
  • British English (BrE) places its full stops and commas inside if they belong to what is quoted and outside if they do not."(p. 282, para. 12.2.2)

No educator on either side of the Atlantic should ever have to tell a student: "This is the way it is except in Wikipedia." Wikipedia has never been about changing the generally-accepted standards of anything. Where there are two generally-accepted ways to do something, the Wiki rule of thumb is to allow either method, so long as it is consistent within an article. We should show respect for both traditions and ask only for within-article consistency. Highly recommend amending MoS to this effect. Afaprof01 03:17, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

I absolutely agree 100% with you, Afaprof01! Wikipedia should allow standard, widely-used forms of punctuation in its articles. TK421 23:05, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

I'm very new to editing, but I find that this sentence should settle the argument: "scientific and technical publications, even in the U.S., almost universally use logical quotation (punctuation outside unless part of the source material), due to its precision". I find that the goal of Wikipedia should be the same to that of scientific and technical publications in regards to precision, eventhough I was taught the typesetter rule in school. My question though, is what system most encyclopedias use?Resu ecrof 21:07, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

You've basically negated your own question by effectively deeming it meaningless, but to answer it anyway, you'll find that some encyclopedias do one style and others do the other. American ones like the modern Britannica (despite its name, it is today a US publication) use the typographic style, while others use logical punctuation. I want to to stress again that this is not actually a transatlantic issue, and further that WP does not have to do what Britannica does, just "because"; WP is setting its own standard. WP for example, prefers SI and metric units over US units. I.e., give hectares, not acres. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 15:52, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Punctuation with quotation marks[edit]

Resolved: Rehash of discussion already held many times, most recently less than a month ago.

On page 278 of "The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage" in the section "PUNCTUATION WITH QUOTATION MARKS," it states: "Periods and commas, in American usage, always go inside the closing quotation marks, regardless of grammatical logic." Now if Wikipedia states that the opposite is true and disregards this common usage, it leads me to understand why teachers and professors refuse to let students reference Wikipedia; it promotes illiteracy.

- 02:32, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

Nice try, Safely Anonymous! But in fact that manual you cite is just one of very many. It is certainly not one of the main players (look to Chicago Manual of Style and Oxford Guide to Style, if you want those). And the guides are not unanimous on these matters by any means. Much of what you see here at MOS and in the articles concerning punctuation, etc., is well ahead of many of the old-fashioned guides, which for one thing simply do not address the needs of a dynamic and democratic online environment such as we're working in here. There is much to improve here still, but you have not, in your comment, identified an area that needs improvement.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 02:42, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
The New York Times would also be more involved with grammar in a newspaper entry, and not for an encyclopedic article or research paper. There is actually some difference between the two. The359 03:10, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
This is not a transatlantic issue. As SMcCandlish has already pointed out at length, many US publications—especially those that are concerned to maintain the privilege of unchanged sources, use logical punctuation, with good reason. And WP has its own, unique environment, which is different from those of the sources cited above (and I'm unsure that the information they all provide is accurate); primary among those WPian concerns is not to tamper with sources. Have a good read of the discussion above, and similar discussions in the archives. Tony (talk) 02:44, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
No, it's a civility issue: a handful of self-appointed "reformers" think they can use this page to make English into what they would like. Since aesthetic punctuation is purely formal, it tampers with sources no more, perhaps less, than "logical" punctation. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:21, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
No PMA, it's question of moving on – towards a stable consensus that leaves bickering and small-minded national allegiances behind, along with merely sentimental attachment to one body of practice or another. On this and other matters, we simply have to consider what can be changed and what can't be, and to form the best guidelines we can with those ineluctable limits in mind. The self-appointed obstructors of such work would be well advised to go away and do something else. Something productive, perhaps. What should Wikipedia be, if not essentially reformist, in the best sense? Where should discussion focused on rational reform in the service of excellence occur, if not exactly here? (Answer only if you support such efforts here, please. Otherwise take no part in a process you deprecate.)
– Noetica♬♩Talk 21:00, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
The only possible stable consensus, as the history of this section demonstrates, includes the admission that there exist two systems. It may then be possible to have a stable, unprotested, text that recommends one of them; although it would be better to treat our editors like adults by giving the reasons to prefer one system (including the number of editors who prefer it) and letting editors make up their minds accordingly. 02:12, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia is not a language reform movement; nor should we be. Even if this were a matter of thoughtless linguistic chauvinism (and Tony disagrees that it is a national difference at all), it is not the business of Wikipedia to compel our editors to the broad sunlit uplands of positive freedom which supposedly lie beyond "small-minded linguistic differences". Some readers and writers of English use logical punctuation; some use aesthetic punctuation. We may be able to persuade some editors to reconsider their choices in this matter; we cannot, and should not attempt to, do more. We should treat this as we treat color/colour, and move on. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:19, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

With national spellings, it is easy to tell the difference at a glance, one either knows that "centre" is a spelling mistake or Commonwealth English. The trouble with punctuation and quotes is that it can be difficult to tell which style is being used. Indeed as Wikipedia is optimised for readers, the chances are that many will get it wrong even if there is an in house style, unless they take the trouble to read the MOS, which is unlikely unless they are Wikipedia editors. --Philip Baird Shearer 07:58, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

See WP:CONSENSUS#"Asking the other parent": "It is very easy to create the appearance of a changing consensus simply by asking again and hoping that a different and more sympathetic group of people will discuss the issue. This, however, is a poor example of changing consensus, and is antithetical to the way that Wikipedia works. Wikipedia's decisions are not based on the number of people who showed up and voted a particular way on a particular day. It is based on a system of good reasons." PS: MOS does not deny that two systems "exist", it simply prefers one over the other for precisely the same reasons that technical, scientific and other publications do so: logical punctuation is more precise. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 20:48, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Punctuation for titles in quotation marks[edit]

  1. The Billboard Hot 100's current number one is "Kiss Kiss."
  2. The Billboard Hot 100's current number one is "Kiss Kiss".

Which one is correct? Thanks, –thedemonhog talkedits 06:24, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

I believe the second one is correct. See Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Quotation marks for more information. --Silver Edge 08:37, 15 November 2007 (UTC)
Both are "correct": that is to say that different careful writers will use each of them after considering the question. We should, but are never likely to, explain the merits of both. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:31, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
It's explained at [[15]]. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) 19:15, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
It is certainly the second one, per WP:PUNC. violet/riga (t) 19:35, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
It depends on the question. If one cares what a handful of revert-warriors have insisted on, there is one answer. If one wants to write English, there are several. If it doesn't improve the encyclopedia, ignore it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:05, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
It doesn't really matter. I've seen it both ways and I always go with #1 because it looks neater. –thedemonhog talkedits 21:09, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
I certainly agree that it doesn't matter: both systems are formalities, with different inconveniences. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:12, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
All featured articles are required to adhere to our MOS, WP:PUNC inclusive, and where possible we should apply it to all our articles. You might say "it doesn't matter" but others disagree. violet/riga (t) 23:03, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes, some editors insist on making GA and FA be about irrelevant, arbitrary, and trivial points, having nothing to do with the meaning, clarity, or verifiability of articles; this is one chief reason they are so widely despised, rejected, and ignored. (GA is already no assistance to the encyclopedia; FA has been degrading steadily. But this is only one aspect of the general scantiness and incompetence of review.) I am sorry to see an editor I had hitherto respected join in this folly. WP:IAR remains policy; it is what happens to failing processes. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:12, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
I hate FAC and avoid the place - something like this is not worth failing a nomination for. I've never even looked at GA. I fix such things when I find them because it's the standard we have agreed on and I like to have our articles have an element of consistency. Personally I feel it is a more logically correct formation and less ambiguous and should be used in all professional writing. violet/riga (t) 23:24, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
I came here because it does come up on FAC. It is either not mentioned at all (fortunately most usual), or it is used as a reason to reject; and this is why I would mention both systems here. Which seems more natural and useful to a given editor depends on which they were brought up on, and how contrary they are; there is a case that "typographical punctation" is more logical and less prone to error (being a purely conventional system, which makes no assertion about the presence or absence of punctuation in the original). There are cases where accurate quotation using "logical punctuation" is impossible to guarantee without the clumsiness of double quotation marks; one can be found in the recent archives. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:59, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
This is your pet peeve, Anderson, and your entries here seem to be part of a strategy to raise it about ... let me see ... once every three weeks, as though we'll get tired of it and agree with you. We're tired of it, certainly, but that won't change our view. WP decided some time ago that logical punctuation should be used, for reasons concerning the overriding need not to tamper with quoted material inside the quotation marks. Numerous American publications use it, and so should you. Tony (talk) 00:18, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Is this a deliberate falsehood, or merely more of Tony's carelessness? I have refrained from raising the issue; I have agreed with others who have raised it, so that the other falsehood, that no-one does, will be harder to maintain.
  • In fact, I do use logical punctuation, contrary to my education. I do not see a moral imperative in the matter; and may yet change back, since it does have disadvantages, and is bringing me into bad company. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:34, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
…both are correct; however they are different styles of written English. #1 is U.S. English while #2 is British English. Wikipedia tends to prefer the British English style since it's, well, logical. What is present in the punctuation guideline right now is the consensus of users who use all varieties of written English. 哦, 是吗?(User:O) 02:52, 24 November 2007 (GMT)
To the original poster, thedemonhog: Just go with what the Manual of Style says; the punctuation goes outside. A small number of editors argue against this, but consensus has not changed The problem with interior punctuation is that it tells almost every reader in the world but most Americans "this punctuation is, certainly part of the quoted material", while all it tells Americans is "this punctuation may or may not be, we don't know and don't care, too bad for you, part of the quoted material". It is sloppy, imprecise, and for many readers directly misleading, expecially when used with actual quotations of passages that have been truncated before they ended in the original. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:02, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
And just in case anyone still argues that it's a North American versus everyone else issue, I note with disappointment that my daily newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald, uses interior punctuation. Tony (talk) 13:56, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, the observation that British novels do it too make it pretty clear that the distinction is really informal and (mostly Americanly, but sometimes Britishly, Australianly) semi-formal (as in pop journalism), versus formal, with a vague preference among North Americans in their personal writing (regardless of register) to prefer the in- and quasi-formal style, and vague preference among everyone else to use the formal style, with a lot of individual variation. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 18:14, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
Hogwash. In the U.S., most punctuation goes inside the quotation marks. If you can't figure out that a comma is used in a series, then it wouldn't matter if it was inside or outside the quotes. If you can't figure out that the sentence ends in a period, then the same. BUT DON'T EXPECT U.S. PERSONS WHO KNOW WHAT STANDARD U.S. ENGLISH GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION RULES COMMAND AND WHO WENT TO SCHOOL FOR THIRTEEN YEARS (PLUS FOUR YEARS OF COLLEGE), WHERE THOSE PERSONS HAD TO WRITE CORRECTLY, TO WRITE DIFFERENTLY HERE. Just write each article the correct way, use British for British articles, English for English, and maintain consistency within each article. But unless the casual user knows that there is a difference, he or she will write the way he or she was taught (assuming the person was taught correctly and is proficient in applying what was supposed to have been learned). For the average person who has gone to school, learned how to write correct, standard English, and then has found and wants to use Wikipedia, being forced to write English incorrectly does NOT seem LOGICAL! Bobopaedia 15:17, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
Oh ... deary me ... so shouting wins the argument: loudest voice wins, does it? It's nothing to do with grammar, as you seem to assume. Have you read the detailed debate above and in the archives concerning how the issue is not nation against nation, but is rather more closely aligned with the need for precision in a particular linguistic register? There's no absolute truth or correctness about either system: it serves the overriding purposes of WP to use logical style. Please don't shout. Tony (talk) 15:32, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
Well, YOU have missed the point again. FIRST, I WAS EMPHASIZING. So sorry it wan't in midnight blue to suit you. Do you honestly think the average person is going to read all those archives. _ (Although I have.) _ "Precision in a particularly linguistic register?" WTF! Isn't grammar and puctuation linguistic precision? You are an editor? How do you edit when something is perceived as incorrect? You baffle me.Bobopaedia 15:51, 30 November 2007 (UTC) _ So now it is not about grammar? Just make up something else. Perhaps we should also condone misspelling. What do you think people will do they see periods, commas, etc. in the wrong place? Think to themselves: "Oh. This has nothing to do with grammar, or punctuation, or spelling. It's Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia. But isn't an encyclopedia supposed to use English correctly?" Yes, if it is going to be taken seriously. I know for a fact that in the U.S., teachers and school districts do not let their students use Wikipedia for research projects. One wonders why? INACCURACY! INACCURACY! INACCURACY! Bobopaedia 17:19, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia's accuracy problems have nothing at all to do with puctuation style. And please lay off the screeching invective. WP:NOT#BATTLEGROUND. Appeal to emotion is a fallacy. If you want to emphasize something, use italics instead of ASCII SCREAMING. Anyway, this issue has been hashed to death and beyond. The fact that most but not all informal US publications like newspapers and novels (and some non-US ones) prefer interior punctuation of quotations is of no particular consequence. The fact that even US-based formal publications that require precision and lack of ambiguity, such as medical and scientific journals, use exterior, logical puntuation tells us we are doing the right thing by also using that in the encyclopedia. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:04, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Quotes and punctuation in references[edit]

I know that whether punctuation should be inside or out of quotes has been discussed before here, but not in relation to references. I completely understand the concept of 'logical quotation,' but nowhere do I see anything mentioning what applies to references. In wikipedia the cite template and sources page recommend having punctuation outside quotes such as in this example:

  1. Brandybuck, Meriadoc (1955). "Herb lore of the Shire". Journal of the Royal Institute of Chemistry 10 (2), 234–351.

However, apart from this one "guide" (PDF).  (131 KiB) linked from the Harvard referencing pages (which does not make clear which style it is using), all of the major style guides such as MLA, "Turabian".  (131 KiB) and Chicago put the punctuation inside the quotes like this:

  1. Brandybuck, Meriadoc (1955). "Herb lore of the Shire." Journal of the Royal Institute of Chemistry 10 (2), 234–351.

APA doesn't seem to use quotes in its titling. I'm not sure why wikipedia style seems to go against three of the most widely used styles and put the punctuation outside of the quotation in references. Therefore, I propose that the style guide me modified to reflect the most common usage. This could be done by adding in a new section to the quotation marks section of the punctuation section noting that referencing follows different rules from text used in the body, and then modifying the cite template as well as the various examples littered around the help sections on referencing in wikipedia.Zeus1234 16:51, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Punctuation after the closing quotation marks would be consistent and logical in references too. But here, we're less concerned about not tampering with quoted material. So I find any reasonable formatting system for reference lists will do, provided it's consistent. Tony (talk) 00:40, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Strongly oppose, on the basis of consistency. If we make an exception for this, then soon we'll have clamoring for 14 other exceptions. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 00:57, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Quotation mark[edit]

A source said that period and commas should be written within the quotation marks. Only the exclamation and question mark do have exemptions. BritandBeyonce (talk) 12:33, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

An exclamation mark or question mark goes inside the quotes if and only if it is part of the quotation. Robert Greer (talk) 18:35, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Question marks and exclamation points are easy to understand whether they're included in the quoted material or not. What about comma and period? A lot of FAs are having problems with that. BritandBeyonce (talk) 08:36, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Stuff inside quote marks belongs to the quote. Stuff outside does not. Thus I would write:
  • User BritandBeyonce asked the question "What about comma and period?" because there appeared to be some confusion.
Similarly, the capital at the beginning and the period at the end of a sentence both belong to the quote. Thus I would write:
  • He then added the sentence "A lot of FAs are having problems with that.".
I do not know if that is what the guidelines require, but that is what I do. Lightmouse (talk) 09:56, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Do not add period at the end. Also, I am very much familiar with the usage of quotation marks with regards to question marks and exclamation points. What is my very concern is the period and comma.

..."Let Me Blow Ya Mind".
..."Let Me Blow Ya Mind."

These are some errors in FA articles. Confusing and inconsistent right?

Take a look at this:

Double quotation marks " "

1. Enclose direct quotations but not indirect quotation.
• She said, "I am leaving."
• She said that she was leaving.

2. Enclose words or phrases borrowed from others, words used in a special way, and words of marked informality when introduced into formal writing.
• Much of the population in the hellish future he envisions is addicted to "derms," patches that deliver potent drug doses instantaneously through the skin.
• He called himself "emperor," but he was really just a dictator.
• He was arrested for smuggling "smack."

3. Enclose titles of poems, short stories, articles, lectures, chapters of books, short musical compositions, and radio and TV programs.
• Robert Frost's "After Apple-Picking"
• Cynthia Ozick's "Rosa"
• The third chapter of Treasure Island is entitled "The Black Spot."
• "All the Things You Are"
• Debussy's "Clair de lune"
• NBC’s "Today Show"

4. Are used with other punctuation marks in the following way:
4a. The period and the comma fall within the quotation marks.
• "I am leaving," she said.
• It was unclear how she maintained such an estate on "a small annuity."
4b. The colon and semicolon fall outside the quotation marks.
• There was only one thing to do when he said, "I may not run": promise him a large campaign contribution.
• He spoke of his "little cottage in the country": he might better have called it a mansion.
4c. The dash, the quotation mark, and the exclamation point fall within the quotation marks when they refer to the quoted matter only; they fall outside when they refer to the whole sentence.
• "I can't see how—" he started to say.
• He asked, "When did she leave?"
• What is the meaning of "the open door"?
• The sergeant shouted "Halt!"
• Save us from his "mercy"!

5. Are not used with yes or no except in direct discourse.
• She said yes to all our requests.

6. Are not used with lengthy quotations set off from the text.

Source: The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 1998

Note that the period and comma should be written inside the quotation marks. BritandBeyonce (talk) 10:10, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

That's the opinion of Merriam-Webster. I think that this has been discussed many times before. Wikipedia, after much discussion, prefers "logical quotation" - that is, to include punctuation within the quotation marks only when it comes from the quotation; to put it another way, Wikipedia believes that nothing should be put in a quote that is not part of it. So I would say: 'BritandBeyonce said, "Note that the period and comma should be written inside the quotation marks."' But: '"Note that the period and comma should be written inside the quotation marks", said BritandBeyonce.' Because the original source has a full stop at the end, if I change this to a comma that needs to go outside the quotation marks, to show that it isn't part of the quote. This is also usual (though not universal) British style; most US sources, such as the one you have quoted, say otherwise, although logical quotation has a growing following in the US, particularly in technical writing (see, for example, Hacker Writing Style in the Jargon File). TSP (talk) 11:45, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
I do believe that logical quotation looks proper but don't you know that FAs are having problems with that? Its confusing and articles tends to be inconsistent and incoherent with our guides. BritandBeyonce (talk) 06:37, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Which FAs in particular? Strad (talk) 03:08, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
Gwen Stefani songs that have already gained FA statuses. BritandBeyonce (talk) 08:03, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

'Logical quotation'[edit]

I've been challenged when I put periods and commas inside quotation marks, based on Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Quotation marks, that Wikipedia uses "logical quotation." I've never heard of this. I understand that putting periods and commas inside or outside of quotation marks is basically American vs. British usage. I would like to challenge this idea of "logical quotation": what is the source for it? It looks like it's either from technical writing or something made up. What outside source is Wikipedia basing its style on? InkQuill (talk) 18:32, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

Basing from news articles from websites, they do not use logical quotations. --BritandBeyonce (talk) 02:04, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
As well you should be challenged. It's not a transatlantic issue, since many US publications forbid internal punctuation, and many publications in the UK and elsewhere use the discredited internal system. WP does not have to follow external sources in determining its rules of style. See archives here for more. Tony (talk) 04:07, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
I am not forcing anyway to change the policy. I am more concerned with FAs having inconsistency issues. --BritandBeyonce (talk) 04:18, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

This is a god-damned thing that Wikipedia has made up. (And Tony seems to be stubborn as hell in trying to enforce it.) It's in the guidelines (which only means that it is suggested) but it is not absolute. It is wrong. You can't make up your own grammar rules. This has been discussed at length. What I and most do is follow the American English v. Brit/Euro English differences: If it is an American-specific article, follow American grammar; if Brit, follow Brit/Euro or whatever is correct for that language. Most importantly is to be consistent within articles. But I hardly ever find consistency. Tony will say it not U.S. (notice the periods) v. Brit. That's his opinion. The evidence speaks for itself. Type the way you know is grammatically correct. ---- Bobopaedia (talk) 05:09, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

Bobo, you've had several sprays here about your notion of what is correct grammar (it's not a grammatical issue, anyway) and your hunches as to some transatlantic conspiracy; you've been howled down by others for your troubles. Give it away. Tony (talk) 05:32, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

If you are going to refer to me, at least use my correct user name. I am not "Bobo." And you, Tony, seem to be the predominant one howling. I have no trans-Atlantic "conspiracy"; where is this so-called "conspiracy"?; who am I conspiring with? Geez. The fact is Americans and Brits punctuate differently--which I have simply stated--and that does not make a conspiracy. Yes, IT IS a grammatical issue. This "logical" puncutation does not follow American rules. And if it doesn't follow British rules, then it is not following TWO systems of punctuation. Why learn years and years of English (British or American) and then not use it correctly? Bobopaedia (talk) 10:11, 18 January 2008 (UTC) P.S. Thanks to those below who spoke up and to the typesetting history. I didn't know any of the details as to why the American system was as such.

Why are you so inflexibly married to certain rules—the ones you first learnt, it seems. WP is an international project, so you can't expect that everything they taught you at grade school will do. It's online and not on paper, and is aimed at its own particular readership, which are further reasons for being flexible. Similarly, if you wrote for a particular US publication, you'd have to follow their house rules, which will never be entirely the same as others. Loosen up. Tony (talk) 11:24, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I have a college degree, have both written and edited technical and nontechnical writing, and have more than just grade-school courses in English. By the way, I just read all the mean, arrogant things you said to people at the discussion for featured article consideration for the article Analytical Review (Featured article candidates). Bobopaedia (talk) 14:15, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
You have a college degree? Wow. It shouldn't be hard for you, then, to comprehend the issue. As far as the personal attack goes, I don't mind it; others react badly, but I see no point in that. Speak your mind if it makes you feel better, and move on. Tony (talk) 14:59, 18 January 2008 (UTC) (B's personal attack was removed soon after this entry.) Tony (talk) 15:05, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
That was done after messaging with someone on Wikipedia and before I saw your response. Whatever timing was there was purely coincidental. I am not warring with you anymore on this issue. Bobopaedia (talk) 22:40, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Bobopaedia, you didn’t know anything about the reasons for some rule, yet defend it with claws and teeth? Wow! I’m stunned.
OTOH, it happens a lot around here at MoS, but most editors don’t confess their bias as frankly as you did. Christoph Päper (talk) 13:22, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I didn't know the part about the baseline. And what does OTOH mean? Bobopaedia (talk) 14:59, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

I feel I must weigh in on this. I understand the reasoning behind "logical quotation," and I agree that it has merit in coding and in technical writing, both of which have historical basis for using nonproportional typefaces, in which the spacing between letters does not vary and thus does not figure into readability considerations. As a typesetter, I also know that punctuation is not a "logical" process; it has entirely to do with readability. For typesetters, the rule is to put punctuation within quotes that does not rise above the baseline, such as periods and commas; and other punctuation, such as question marks, exclamation marks, semicolons, etc., outside unless the punctuation is part of the quoted string. As a typesetter, I see violations of this rule as jarring errors, and hard to ignore. Putting baseline punctuation outside quotemarks upsets the visual rhythm of the typesetting, thus affecting readability. While some argue that so-called "logical quotation" removes ambiguity, in reality a reader gets the sense of the sentence almost entirely from context. Placement of baseline punctuation is a letter-spacing issue, having to do with how marks are made and how we use our eyes. Exceptions can (and should) be made in technical writing (which Wikipedia isn't), legal writing, and coding, all of which employ recursive reading practices that have little else to do with "why we read." rowley (talk) 20:39, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Rowley claims that Wikipedia isn't technical writing, but some articles are. Also, with the pervasive use of the Internet in all fields, with the associated requirement that URLs be written perfectly, some of the requirements of technical writing are invading all writing. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:53, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Hear, hear, rowley!! You have said so well what I have understood instinctively as a journalist and printophile. Wikipedia is not even consistent in its style, as above comments have shown. While it's not worth getting into editing wars, I'm definitely going to stick with good old American punctuation rules in U.S.-based subjects, despite snarky retorts about how I should be challenged (as if I'm not entitled to an opinion) and how others are insulted for professing their point of view. "Several sprays"? As we punctuate in the U.S., "Give me a break." InkQuill (talk) 22:20, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Setting aside the question of whether Wikipedia is technical writing, there is still no conflict here. If an article is written so much in the style of technical writing that the same considerations apply, then, by all means, punctuate according to the requirements of technical writing. For the vast majority of Wikipedia writing, the readability will be improved by following the conventions of proportionally-based type, i.e., typesetting. When I say "rule," above, I mean something to be faithfully but not rigidly followed. Wikipedia should desire consistency, but consistency, itself, has to fall within considerations of applicability. rowley (talk) 16:59, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
Support rowley. Wikipedia is inconsistent because of this "logical quotation." --BritandBeyonce (talk) 07:22, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
Um ... so just because there's grammatical inconsistency on WP—and plenty of MOS breaches—we should throw MOS and English grammar to the wind? And I completely disagree that internal punctuation is somehow "nicer" to read, which is a line peddled above. Tony (talk) 08:04, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
Definitely. We don't want to pursue on things that might harm Wiki. Wikipedia is still on the verge of establishing credibility. On the grammar, why throw to the wind? Its just a matter of adopting easy guidelines. --BritandBeyonce (talk) 08:12, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
Research on conventional vs. logical punctuation[edit]

Throw English grammar to the wind? Where I learned English, or rather punctuation, the rule was to put periods and commas inside quotation marks. So we're not advocating against proper rules, but for them. And rather than "peddling" the idea that internal punctuation is nicer to read, I think rowley was basing what he said on readability studies and/or years of printing tradition. It's the idea that he is "peddling" something that is itself simply opinion. But this is clearly not a new question. Here's what Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage, a British source, says:

"Questions of order between inverted commas [quotation marks] and stops [commas, periods, colons, semi-colons] are much debated and a writer's personal preference often conflicts with the style rules of editors and publishers. There are two schools of thought, which might be called the conventional and the logical. The conventional prefers to put stops within the inverted commas, if it can be done without ambiguity, on the ground that this has a more pleasing appearance. The logical punctuates according to sense, and puts them outside except when they actually form part of the quotation, thus: (examples snipped) ...
"The conventional system is more favoured by editors' and publishers' rules. But there are important exceptions, and it is to be hoped that these will make their influence felt. The conventional system flouts common sense, and it is not easy for the plain man to see what merit it is supposed to have to outweigh that defect; even the more pleasing appearance claimed for it is not likely to go unquestioned." (A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Second Edition, H.W. Fowler, revised and edited by Sir Ernest Gowers (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965).

How prescient is that? My point is not that conventional punctuation should be adopted, but that we shouldn't insult those who disagree. The Chicago Manual of Style calls for conventional punctuation: "When the context calls for a comma at the end of material enclosed in quotation marks, parentheses, or brackets, the comma should be placed inside the quotation marks but outside the parentheses or brackets" (13th edition, page 146). The Careful Writer by Theodore M. Bernstein does not appear to deal with the question explicitly but uses conventional punctuation throughout. So those of us who advocated conventional punctuation are doing so based on solid editing and publishing ground. I'm interested in seeing sources that call explicitly for logical punctuation. I don't know of any myself, and in fact have never seen it widely used, which is why Wikipedia's use of it baffles me. Maybe in some countries it is the norm. It is not in the United States. — InkQuill 00:52, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

InkQuill, please see the archives of this talk page for copious debates, some of them quite recent. Tony (talk) 11:42, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
Why do we have to go back their? That's why editors kept discussing on this for this guideline is not yet over. Why don't you go over on this Tony: "Smells Like Teen Spirit." --BritandBeyonce (talk) 07:21, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Changing punctuation in direct quotes[edit]

I have seen editors making changes to direct quotes citing the MoS. For example I saw someone modify quoted text using a double-dash cut-and-pasted from the original, changing it to an em-dash with a comment citing WP:MOSDASH. Although this specific case is not a major issue, I think we need to remind people not to be editing direct quotes, regardless of good intentions. I have seen similar issues with people editing items from the 'quote=' field in {{cite}} templates as well. I have added preserving punctuation to the WP:MOSQUOTE section to cover this. Dhaluza (talk) 00:10, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

While I agree with not changing punctuation in direct quotes (unless the change is marked with square brackets), I'm not sure the same reasoning applies to mere changes in typography. A double-hyphen is not a different punctuation mark from a dash; they are different typographic representations of the same symbol.--Srleffler (talk) 04:28, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Changing a double-hyphen to an em-dash is sort of like changing the font, or turning straight quotes into curly quotes. Strad (talk) 05:16, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
I agree regarding typographic changes (that they're fine), and I think we ought to make it clear in MOS that it is okay to make such changes, for example changing a hyphen (or double-hyphen) used as a dash into an actual dash. I'm sure there are other such examples, probably including simple spacing issues and so on. Otherwise, we'd have to argue that the quote appear in the same font (or at least font family), with line breaks in the same places, and so on. SamBC(talk) 15:05, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
The difference between "logical" and "aesthetic" punctuation of quotes is also typographic. Aesthetic punctuation treats ," in Smith wrote that "the Foolanders ran away," but Jones replied that this was a Barlander smear. as a single purely formal mark, which denotes both the end of the quote and a comma in the larger sentence. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:54, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
I'm not familiar with all the options on various search engines. If the order of a comma and quotation mark are reversed, or if two hyphens become a dash, how likely is it that someone will search for a quotation in Wikipedia and get no hits as a result of the fact that we changed the punctuation? Certainly "not usually" ... but will it happen? - Dan Dank55 (talk) 17:21, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
The reverse is apt to be a problem: if someone goes to a long source, cuts a quote from Wikipedia, and pastes it into the browser's search feature, any variation in punctuation will prevent the quote from being found. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 17:24, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I have no idea what the answer to Dank's question is; but changing double-hyphens to emdashes will probably have the same problem. A searcher who finds no results really should trim the quotation anyway, or (for Gerry's problem) consult our listed source. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:28, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
If there is a source, that is.
I did have the same question however, and I was rather hesitant to make any changes, although I wanted to. In my opinion, simple edits to quotation marks and dashes should be considered acceptable. Waltham, The Duke of 20:11, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
I believe most search engines ignore punctuation. I tried searching for the specific text with both the double hyphens and the em-dash and got the same results in Google. So that is probably not an issue. The issue is that if they are typographocally equivilant, then that is reason not to change, rather than reason to excuse the change. Making stylistic changes to direct quotes can do more harm than good, because what seems like a benign change, may not be. This is less like changing fonts, and more like changing spelling between British/American versions. We should respect the original author's choice of punctuation marks in quotes, and leave them alone. Dhaluza (talk) 09:03, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
The more I think about it, the more I agree with Dhaluza. Sure, I tend to try to fix punctuation to reflect what I think is the author's true intent, even in a quotation, and I will try to exercise enough self-awareness to keep my own biases from affecting my choices, and enough awareness of different punctuation practices to help me understand what was meant in the original and what might be understood in an alteration. But changing punctuation can easily change the meaning, and changing the meaning is unacceptable when you use quotation marks to attribute the words to someone else. Will every editor know the whole range of options in punctuation, not just the punctuation that they tend to use? I could see some limited exceptions if necessary, but in general, it seems to me it would be better to leave punctuation inside a quotation alone. If an editor thinks that the quotation might be misunderstood, because of punctuation or otherwise, they can explain that outside the quotation marks. - Dan Dank55 (talk) 20:32, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

Logical quotation[edit]

Arthur said that "the situation is deplorable." – in this sentence, does the period belong in or outside the quotes if the period was part of the quoted text? WP:MOS#Quotation marks seems contradictary as it states that the period should be inside when it "is part of the quoted text" and outside when "a sentence fragment is quoted". Epbr123 (talk) 00:07, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

If it's stated or implied that Arthur put a period after deplorable, or would have if he had written down what he said, then the period comes first; otherwise not. I dredged the WT:MoS archives on this recently, so if you're unconvinced, see WT:How_to_copy-edit#Logical_quotation. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 00:13, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
Nothing about implied. If the dot is there in the original and the quote starts a WP sentence, yes, inside. If the quote starts within a WP sentence, outside. If the quote ends without punctuation in the original —in the middle of the quoted sentence—ellipsis dots are required. TONY (talk) 01:26, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
The distinction between starting a WP sentence or not isn't so clear cut in my reading of the guidelines. For example, isn't this example OK? Trevor said, "I hate it when goats come into my yard." — Dulcem (talk) 01:36, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
No. TONY (talk) 01:38, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
If Arthur was speaking rather than writing, then an "implied" period is the only kind of period Arthur could give us. But the way Tony is framing it is right. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 02:05, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
OK, what about, Arthur said, "I hate it when goats come into my yard. They are so smelly." Here we've got two sentences quoted. Does it make a difference? — Dulcem (talk) 02:12, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Tony knows quite a lot about Wikipedian usage, and I do remember seeing that in FAs, although that's not what I'm used to seeing. For instance, the Guardian's online style guide says:

quotation marks

Use double quotes at the start and end of a quoted section, with single quotes for quoted words within that section. Place full points and commas inside the quotes for a complete quoted sentence; otherwise the point comes outside:

"Anna said, 'Your style guide needs updating,' and I said, 'I agree.' "

- Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 02:18, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

That seems much more logical than the "logical" style we have now. — Dulcem (talk) 04:54, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
I strongly disagree. There is no reason to inject a comma into quotespace when it can just as easily sit outside. Ilkali (talk) 06:37, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Arthur said something.
  • Arthur said "I hate it when goats come into my yard; they are so smelly".

I don't mind the preceding comma—said,—but it's fine without, isn't it? The thing about the final period is that if you want to highlight that "smelly" isn't the end of the quoted sentence, do this:

  • Arthur said "I hate it when goats come into my yard; they are so smelly ...".

Otherwise, the default is the assumption that it is the end of a sentence, or it simply doesn't matter in the context. TONY (talk) 10:40, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Is the example at WP:MOS#Quotation marks wrong? – Arthur said, "The situation is deplorable." Epbr123 (talk) 11:43, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
Agreed that different people seem to do different things, but I have to sit this one out, because I suck at Commonwealth English. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 14:12, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
What is this "Commonwealth English" that you claim people "follow" (supernatural religion?)? Canada is a Commonwealth country: do Canadians use CE? India is, too. TONY (talk) 14:15, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, am I saying something offensive? What term do you use for what is sometimes abbreviated "AmEng" and "BrEng" around here? - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 14:40, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
No Dank, there's not a molecule of you that could be offensive (leave that up to me). Sorry if my comment came over as brusque. CE has been bandied about as a blanket term for all varieties of English that are not North American or British. I know it's convenient, but I question its meaning. TONY (talk) 14:47, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
Last time this term came up, somebody (as I recall, Tony) had objected to BrEng as a slight to the independent Englishes of the Dominions; Commonwealth was preferred as covering all of them and English English too. I don't mind being politically correct on this point, but it would be nice if there were consensus on what correctitude would be. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:05, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
Both of you are right, I think; there's no such thing as Commonwealth English or BrEng, and I just hadn't caught on yet. Both American English and North American English (AmEng seems to mean the latter around here, but I generally avoid it as ambiguous) do mean something, and not because we're dealing with just one or two countries, but because writers over here have largely decided that they want it to mean something, that is, the forces that congeal consensus on the kinds of things that show up in Chicago and AP Stylebook have been winning over the forces of individualism for several decades now. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 17:12, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Those who value external Manuals of Style may wish to consider CMOS §6.10:

According to what is sometimes called the British style (set forth in The Oxford Guide to Style [the successor to Hart’s Rules; see bibliog. 1.1]), a style also followed in other English-speaking countries, only those punctuation points that appeared in the original material should be included within the quotation marks; all others follow the closing quotation marks. This system, which requires extreme authorial precision and occasional decisions by the editor or typesetter, works best with single quotation marks. (The British tend to use double quotation marks only for quotations within quotations.)

This is no evidence for the refinement presently under discussion; is there a source for it? (And the general advice is sound; WP editors are not known for "extreme authorial precision". We also recomend double quotation marks.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:17, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

WP:MOS#Quotation marks[edit]

[Just noticed this (re: "inside or outside"), which I point out in an article talk page and am copying here, for others' information, if useful:] An example called a "sentence fragment" in the section linked on "Quotation marks" ("Come with me."--mispunctuated as "Come with me") is actually not a "fragment" of a sentence; it is a full sentence: an imperative command ("Come with me." is a sentence based on the imperative usage of the verb "to come"; "Come." signifies "I am telling you to come," just as "Come with me." signifies "I am telling you to come with me." (It may appear elliptical ["a fragment"] to some, but it is an imperative.) --NYScholar (talk) 00:47, 26 May 2009 (UTC) [Also added to section above: #Punctuation: Quotation marks: Inside or outside. --NYScholar (talk) 00:57, 26 May 2009 (UTC)]

[Please see Imperative mood#Usage: in the above example ("Come with me." v. "Come with me") in the current version of this project page re: "inside or outside" quotation marks, what is labeled as "correct" is actually incorrect, and vice versa. (I added Wikified link above too.)--NYScholar (talk) 03:08, 27 May 2009 (UTC)]

Quotation Marks misconception[edit]

I’m about to make a change to: Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Quotation_marks; just warning here (and will note change after doing), since this is a high-visibility page.

The prior revision states:

“this system is referred to as typesetters' quotation because many typographers favor it for aesthetic reasons.”

This contradicts Quotation mark#Punctuation (for reference, this revision), which states:

“The printing press required that the easily damaged smallest pieces of type for the comma and period be protected behind the more robust quotation marks.” (AUE: FAQ excerpt: ", vs ,")

I will thus change the MoS to reflect this, with citation.

Nbarth (email) (talk) 00:03, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

Done! Here is the diff, and new revision.
Nbarth (email) (talk) 00:07, 9 July 2008 (UTC)
I would revert this; aesthetic punctation may have originated in technical necessity, but it has been retained long after the technical necessity ceased to exist. I might add the CMS comment that it is preferred because "logical" punctuation is harder to do with the precision expected of a professional publication; copyediting it requires collation with the original text being quoted. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:35, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
The text in question describes the reasons behind the name 'typesetters' quotation'. Whether and why the quotation convention has been retained is irrelevant.
"I might add the CMS comment that it is preferred because "logical" punctuation is [...]". Preferred by CMS does not mean preferred by Wikipedia. Ilkali (talk) 19:50, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
But it is not the reason for the name, because it is not the reason typesetters use it. Nor is it Wikipedia's preference beyond a small group of provincial language-reformers. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:20, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
"use it" is present tense. The name was coined in the past. Ilkali (talk) 20:22, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
If typesetters had ceased to use the system, the name would also have gone out of use, and we would have no need to discuss it. It is called "typesetters' punctuation" because typesetters do use it, and they do not use it because of nineteenth-century practicalities. (In fact, we have no need to discuss the reason anyway; both names belong in the article, and may be mentioned here, but we have an encyclopedia for matters of fact.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:32, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
"It is called "typesetters' punctuation" because typesetters do use it". Do all typesetters use it? Do they use it more than other people? I think you are talking nonsense. It is referred to by that name because it has always been referred to by that name. Ilkali (talk) 20:36, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
Do they use it more than other people? Yes, of course they do; until the advent of desktop publication, very few other people worried about it at all. And those that did called it aesthetic punctuation. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:43, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

Quotation query[edit]

I am aware that as a result of frequent and endless debate, MoS favours so-called "logical quotation". However, the guidelines don't seem to be very clear on what this means. At the moment they say that punctuation marks "are placed inside the quotation marks only if the sense of the punctuation is part of the quotation". According to the MoS, when a sentence fragment is quoted, "the period is outside." However, in this case, am I not allowed to put the period inside, because it is part of the text (MoS) that I am quoting? Or does "sense of the punctuation" carry some more subtle meaning? I note that the MoS itself has, later on

"She said that she 'would not allow this.' "

with the period inside a sentence fragment where the original statement was "I would not allow this." (Period inside again.) Either the first "deplorable" example is misleading (because it appears to be quoting an example where "deplorable" is at the end of the quoted sentence), or the rest is confusing. What gives? Geometry guy 09:09, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

I think the latter case (which is in an unrelated section on brackets) is probably a case of the MoS not observing itself. I would use that she "would not allow this". . Ilkali (talk) 09:35, 9 July 2008 (UTC)
This doesn't make sense to me. The whole principle of logical quotation is to remain true to the source, so if the source ends in a period, why not include it in the quote? This tells readers that the quotee's sentence did not continue. It should at least be permitted, if not required.
The issue is more stark if one compares with quoted questions. Geometry guy rarely copyedits his talk page contributions, so he can be verbose, hence it is best to quote him in fragments. For instance as part of a long post he asks "if the source ends in a period, why not include it in the quote?" The question mark has to go inside – despite the fact that it's a sentence fragment! Questions are not the only issue either: did you notice Geometry guy exclaiming "it's a sentence fragment!"? The shock is his; we remain calm, but we certainly don't want to quote "despite the fact that". Geometry guy 19:35, 9 July 2008 (UTC)
My understanding of logical quoting is that any meaningful elements are retained - exclamation and question marks fall under this category. I think the sentence fragment clause is a little poorly motivated and would personally prefer a system where all non-meaningful terminal punctuation is omitted. In the current system, for example, would we use the following?
Ilkali said "I like kittens." and "I hate badgers."
The period in that first sentence is awful, because without looking ahead it's not clear if it ends the entire sentence or just the nested one. Does it really matter where the quoted sentence ends? Whether's there's more text in the sentence or not, a diligent reader always has to assume there might be more text somewhere in the source that retracts or recontextualises the quote. What's wrong with the following?
Ilkali said "I like kittens" and "I hate badgers".
Ilkali (talk) 20:40, 9 July 2008 (UTC)
Nothing, in my view, but there is also nothing wrong with
Ilkali said "I like kittens" and "I hate badgers."
I think we have to permit both and let editors decide which best conveys the "sense" of the quotations. Whatever we do, the guidelines need to be clarified, because they are causing unnecessary disputes between editors at the moment. Geometry guy 21:09, 9 July 2008 (UTC)
"there is also nothing wrong with [...]". Well, with the exception that it's not particularly logical. I think there's some value to consistency, so I am usually against policies of "let editors decide". Can you indicate exactly what part of the current wording is unclear? Ilkali (talk) 23:48, 9 July 2008 (UTC)
Why is it not logical? Suppose the full quotation were "I like kittens. I hate badgers." Then, according to MoS, the final period would have to go inside the quotation because it is not a sentence fragment but a full sentence. On the other hand, one might punctuation your quotation as "I like kittens; I hate badgers." Now "I hate badgers" is a sentence fragment, and the MoS seems to require that the punctuation goes outside. I fail to see any logic going on here. A period can be a meaningful element too and some human judgement is evidently required to punctuate well. Geometry guy 07:43, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
"Why is it not logical?" Because the punctuation in question operates on the nesting sentence, not the nested one. To put it inside the quotation is to put it in the wrong scope. If it weren't for the limitations of mechanical printing presses, nobody would ever have started doing it. Ilkali (talk) 09:07, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
In GGuy's hypothesis, the period is both in the nesting sentence and in the nested one. If the quoted text were (as it often is) a full sentence or a full paragraph, would Ilkali insist on moving the final period only outside the quotation marks? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:02, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
It's not about 'moving'. We have two separate sentences (one nested, one nesting), each of which can be given a terminating period. We could include both of them, like so:
Ilkali said "This is a sentence.".
But that looks pretty ugly. In this situation, logical and typesetters' quoting would omit the external period. In typesetters' quoting (but not logical quoting), this makes it impossible to tell if a terminal internal period actually terminates the nested sentence, since it would be there either way. My own personal preference (which I do not exercise in Wikipedia article space) is to omit the internal one. I argued for this policy above.
The only policy that involves moving punctuation is typesetters' quoting, in the case where the quoted text does not end in a punctuation symbol but one from the nesting sentence is inserted into it. Ilkali (talk) 18:29, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
But if the passage were:
Ilkali said, "I like kittens but I hate badgers".
"Badger is the common name for any animal of three subfamilies, which belong to the family Mustelidae: the same mammal family as the ferrets, the weasels, the otters, and several other types of carnivore. I think ferrets stink and will not put up with their relatives."
Ilkali's preference would result either in inconsistency between the two paragraphs, or in a violation of invariable idiom in the second. I would not prohibit either, but I do not see that one is more logical than the other. He is correct in saying that
Ilkali said "This is a sentence.".
would be clumsy; indeed, it is incorrect. But either period may be removed without impairing the accuracy of the quotation or the clarity of the sentence. If the presence of the period after sentence were the point at issue, omitting the internal period would be unfair quotation, but that is a different, and rare, issue. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:24, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
Your example makes no sense to me. How is the first part (Ilkali said [...]) supposed to be related to the second ("Badger is the [...]")? Ilkali (talk) 19:42, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
So? I did put in a connection, the bit about ferrets, but I was just looking for enough text to make a paragraph. I could have (and probably should have) used Lorem ipsum; the point about punctuation would remain. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:13, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

Make it therefore:

Ilkali said: "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua".
"Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum."

The first paragraph quotes a sentence; the second is a quoted paragraph. One ends, by Ilkali's rule, with a period; the second with a quote mark. Where's the logic? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:13, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

My words: "I [...] would personally prefer a system where all non-meaningful terminal punctuation is omitted". By my 'rule', the second paragraph would end with is est laborum"., not is est laborum.". Note that expressing my personal preferences does not mean I am petitioning for a change to the MoS. Ilkali (talk) 20:30, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
Good. This personal preference is so unusual (and does any style guide support it?) that it may be worth, for once, recommending against it. It is as illogical as aesthetic punctuation, without the aesthetic and practical advantages of wrapping whole paragraphs in quotes. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:37, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
I would explain how you are wrong, but it doesn't matter anyway and you've shown remarkable resistance to understanding things that I say. Let's revive this later, when you've started editing your own POV into the section against consensus. Ilkali (talk) 20:44, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
I apologise for the above incivility. There's no point getting snippy over something that doesn't even affect the MoS. Ilkali (talk) 22:31, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
The second example is correct. It is so easy. Look if the quoted material starts with a capital letter or not. If the former, the period should be inside; if the latter, use otherwise. However, there are some examples that omit beginning part of a sentence. For example, "... would explain how you are wrong, but it doesn't matter anyway and you've shown remarkable resistance to understanding things that I say." The period is inside because the quoted material is still complete, emphasized by the use of the comma before the quotation as well the ellipsis. --Efe (talk) 12:01, 11 July 2008 (UTC)
There is no such thing as "correct" here. My use of a different convention is not a consequence of not understanding logical quoting, it is a consequence of thinking logical quoting is stupid. All either of us have is preferences. But as I already said, I follow Wikipedia's preference when editing articles. Ilkali (talk) 12:14, 11 July 2008 (UTC)
Anyway, Im just helping others clear out this discussion. So if your now following Wiki's preference, then, this issue is "resolved". Cheers. --Efe (talk) 12:42, 11 July 2008 (UTC)
What issue? I'm "now" following the MoS? I always have. I said so at the very start of my discussion with PManderson. This section wasn't made to discuss my preferences - they were just described in passing - but to question whether the manual violates its own quotation convention. Ilkali (talk) 12:53, 11 July 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, Ilkali. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:26, 11 July 2008 (UTC)

I intend to clarify this part of the MoS, drawing on the discussion here. Also, I think the whole "Note" on the rationale for MoS policy is out-of-date and largely redundant. The MoS should present clear guidelines to editors, not complicated rationales on how those guidelines were arrived at. However, the key reason for logical quotation (faithfulness to the source) should still be mentioned. Geometry guy 19:27, 12 July 2008 (UTC)

Okay, done. It may need tweaking. Geometry guy 16:29, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
Looks good to me, G-Guy. For the record, the previous language also had some logic to it that hasn't been mentioned yet: the idea was to throw the period or comma outside the quotation marks whenever you could come up with a reasonable excuse to do so, because a period or comma inside is sometimes misinterpreted, especially in American English, but the period or comma outside never is. But your language is fine, won't hurt anything, and will seem less officious to some, IMO. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 03:28, 14 July 2008 (UTC)

Punctuation inside/outside quotation marks[edit]

Pardon me for bringing up something you've no doubt covered before. Here's a quote from MoS at present: "Punctuation marks are placed inside the quotation marks only if the sense of the punctuation is part of the quotation". Up till very recently I took this to mean: "only put the punctuation inside the quotation marks if it would be nonsensical to have it outside, ok?" But now I examine the examples given, I reach the conclusion that the punctuation should be outside the quotation marks only if "a clause or phase is quoted", but "If a whole sentence is quoted then the fullstop should be inside the quotation marks." This means that a perfectly innocuous passage of text could have a visually inconsistent appearance. Firstly, can I double-check that this is what is intended by the rule? (The wording as it is at the moment has confused at least one person!) Secondly, it would be good if someone could reword that sentence to remove the touch of ambiguity. Thank you! almost-instinct 22:33, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

That is confusing, and it didn't use to be worded that way, but much more clearly, saying basically: Include the punctuation inside the quotation marks only if the punctuation was part of the original quotation, otherwise always put the punctuation outside the quotation marks. This is known as "logical quotation" (also called by some "British quotation", though that is a misnomer; some major British newspapers use interior or "typographic" quotation as do most US ones). Logical quotation is favored in technical and other exacting disciplines, because it is more precise and less likely to lead to quotation errors.
Example: I said "It's really hot today" in a neutral tone. Someone can't believe I said that, because they feel cold, and they quote me saying this, with incredulity. In "typographic" quotation, this must be rendered "I can't believe SMcCandlish just said 'it's really hot today!'". This is both a misquotation, strictly speaking, and (for those familiar with this quotation style) a fatal ambiguity - readers who (like most Americans) are used to being uncertain whether terminal punctuation really belongs to the original quotation or not will also be uncertain whether I shouted or whether the quoter of my expression is astounded. WP, like most non-US publications, just avoids this mess entirely. In logical quotation "I can't believe SMcCandlish just said 'it's really hot today'!" and "I can't believe SMcCandlish just said 'it's really hot today!' are very distinct and unambiguous.
Anyway, the text in the guideline on this needs to be improved (e.g. by reverting to what it used to say, or by fixing what it says now to be clearer, like what it used to say). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 11:15, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for the depth of your answer ... unfortunately my confusion exists on a far, far more banal level. Because the opening line says

Punctuation marks are placed inside the quotation marks only if the sense of the punctuation is part of the quotation

I took this to imply that fullstops shold be always outside the the quotation marks, whether the quote was a phrase or a sentence. So, since reading that, every time I've tidied up a page I changed something that looks thus:

Many people agree that "people who tidy punctuation in wikipedia articles need to get out more."[1]

to something like this:

Most people think that "spending hours fiddling around with punctuation—and then getting it wrong—is truly tragic".[2]

If this was wrong, then I've an awful lot of clearing up to do. Yours, crestfallen, almost-instinct 22:58, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
This is fine. Tony (talk) 01:40, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, that looks fine to me, too. It's not even problematic to quote a full sentence but put the period outside; the problematic part is insertion of punctuation that does not belong to the quoted passage into the quotation, as this falsifies the quoted material. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:13, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Logical quotation merge proposed[edit]

The weird page at Wikipedia:Logical quotation is a prime candidate for an immediate merge. It is written like a stub article, but tagged as an essay. It is quite short, and the language in it is better on its microtopic than the wording presently in WP:MOS#Quotation marks. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:30, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Yep, but shouldn't there be a short article on this topic? It needs a little tweaking and citations if it's to stay as a separate article, though; I have no problem if we borrow from it, whether it's retained as an article or not. Tony (talk) 07:41, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
Arguably there should be, but this ain't it. :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:56, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
I suggest merging anything useful in the article and then deleting it. I moved it out of article space because there aren't any reliable secondary sources on the subject: as far as I can tell the terminology is mostly internal to Wikipedia. Geometry guy 22:15, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
Right. Obviously not good article material. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:56, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Punctuation, inside or outside[edit]

The MoS advocates placing punctuation outside quotation marks. I'd like to change that, because it's advocating something that most Wikipedians don't do.

  • Inside (see placement of period/full stop): John said, "I hope the period's inside, not out."
  • Outside: John said, "Nope, wrong again".

The MoS currently says:

On Wikipedia, place all punctuation marks inside the quotation marks if they are part of the quoted material and outside if they are not. This practice is referred to as logical quotation. It is used by Wikipedia both because of the principle of minimal change, and also because the method is less prone to misquotation, ambiguity, and the introduction of errors in subsequent editing.

Most North American editors place punctuation inside. I don't know what Australia/New Zealand does. Some British editors place it outside, but I'm British and I've always placed it inside. Most publications place it inside, including those outside north America. Just to pull one example up at random from today, The Times of London quoting the prime minister, "Growth is the best antidote to debt." [16]

I frequently find articles I write being changed from inside to outside, especially if they're connected to the UK, but even when they're not. I feel that this violates the spirit of the MoS, which is not to go around making style changes for no good reason. But so long as the punctuation advice is in the MoS, it's bound to happen.

Instead of recommending one over the other, can we not simply describe both practices, say the article must be internally consistent, and that we should stick to the style of the first major contributor? SlimVirgin talk|contribs 16:19, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Logical punctuation seems more, well, logical. The place where it makes a difference would be where inserting punctuation inside the qutation marks suggests an ambiguous or misleading interpretation that was not part of the original quotation. For example, if a person says "I was not hurt so much as deeply offended", we are misleading the reader if we report that the person said "I was not hurt." Inserting the period in that location gives the misleading impression that this was the end of the sentence. Conversely, suppose an artist is asked who influenced him in his life responds "There is only one -- my dear mother." But when asked whose art he emulates, mentions Klee and Giacometti. For us to say he credits as influences his "dear mother," Klee, and Giacometti incorrectly suggests that his mother was part of a list. I know these examples are a little forced but I do run into this in editing. In any case, if we do decide to leave the matter entirely up to editors' discretion I don't think we should have a "first major contributor" rule - that's too rigid. Perhaps we just say it's up to the editors, note that people should not be revising entire articles to shift style choices, and leave it up to them after that. Wikidemon (talk) 16:32, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure I really follow your examples, WD. How could inside/outside punctuation affect the meaning of, "I was not hurt so much as deeply offended"?
But the point here is not what we personally like or don't like, but what most people do. Most Wikipedians use inside punctuation, and so do most publications (north American and otherwise) that I am aware of. Given that it's a preference issue, I think we should recommend internal consistency, and deferring to the first major contributor. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 17:17, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
In my example, the person quoted was hurt. Without the period the statement refines and makes precise the nature of the offense taken. With the period it looks like a simple denial. Again, this may not be the best example. One would also best distinguish between problems caused by American-style punctuation from the more general issue of taking quotations out of context. My overall point is that punctuation or lack thereof sometimes changes the meaning of a statement. By blurring the distinction over whether the punctuation is that of the speaker's versos that of the the editor's, inserting or removing punctuation within a quotation runs the risk of misleading the reader and changing the meaning of the statement. It's hard to know from my personal experience which version is common. I read the logical punctuation section early in my stay here and began to follow it, and because I work on lots of stub and start articles I tend to be the only major contributor to most of them. I would think we want to look at most A / GA / featured articles for guidance, not all the new and messy ones. I agree that consistency within articles is important, although I think the "first major contributor" rule is unduly formulaic where a more flexible common sense courtesy approach might apply more generally. I do like rules where they work, though. Are there examples where "first major contributor" has been codified in any other matters of stylistic choice? Wikidemon (talk) 18:41, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
Regarding your last point, yes, where there are style conflicts, the first major contributor's approach should be respected, per WP:CITE, a couple of ArbCom rulings, and per the MoS itself (#1.2 Stability of articles). But adding a courtesy clause to the punctuation section would be fine with me too. What I would like to avoid is people turning up only to change punctuation.
Regarding how many articles use what, it would be difficult to judge by FAs, because when something is submitted for FA, it's invariably changed from inside to outside punctuation, particularly if it concerns anything British. I suppose all we can do is keep an eye open, and perhaps try some random articles.
I still don't get your "hurt" example. Sorry if I'm being dense. :) SlimVirgin talk|contribs 19:55, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

(outdent) i'm real sorry to see this issue rear its head again so soon - SlimVirgin, do you need a link to the very recent and lengthy discussion where consensus was established once again for the so-called "logical" style? i disagree completely that that style is "something that most Wikipedians don't do" - all the articles i frequent use it, and i'm all for it. Sssoul (talk) 18:00, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Yes, please, that link would be very helpful. I don't know how we can judge for sure what most articles use. All I know is that I've made 80,000 edits over five years, and the overwhelming majority of articles I edit use inside punctuation. But then so do most publications in general, both in North America and Europe, so I'm a bit mystified as to how outside punctuation managed to get into the MoS as a rule.
That's why I'm suggesting we simply describe the different forms, and allow editors to choose for themselves. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 18:04, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

I don't see why the examples above are relevant to a proposal to change the MoS. All the examples conform to the current MoS. The first example given in this thread, which is of "inside" punctuation:

John said, "I hope the period's inside, not out."

exactly mimicks the style given in the first "correct" example in WP:LQ:

Arthur said, "The situation is deplorable and unacceptable."

Since "inside" punctuation is just fine in all the examples given in this thread, no reason has been given to change the MoS. Eubulides (talk) 20:02, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

true, the question is not "inside or outside" - it's "is the punctuation part of the quote or not". the most recent discussion of this is in Archive 111 of this page.
re "I don't know how we can judge for sure what most articles use": smile: so please don't use the argument that the style you prefer is "what most Wikipedians/people do". Sssoul (talk) 20:10, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
This is a job for ENGVAR. Articles that use American spelling should also use American punctuation and articles that use British English should use British punctuation.
The main argument in favor of logical/technical punctuation is the idea that putting commas and periods inside the quotation marks can cause confusion. However, this doesn't happen in practice. In American English, it is understood that periods and commas may be changed as part of the quotation process. What is the point of solving "problems caused by American punctuation" if it doesn't cause any problems?
American punctuation already makes exceptions for those few cases in which it might cause confusion. For example, we'd say, that the song performed by Jefferson Airplane is called "White Rabbit," but we'd say that to put a long dash on Wikipedia, type in "&mdash;". No one is actually going to think that the comma is part of the name of the song, so there is no reason to put the comma outside in any article written in American English. However, the character-by-character instructions could be misunderstood, so American English makes an exception. The system is fine.
With regard to quoting dialogue, it is understood that commas and periods may be changed in American English. Wikidemon's example is misleading not because it uses correct American punctuation but because the second half of the sentence is chopped off. Look at it this way: 1. He said, "I was not hurt." 2. "I was not hurt," he said. They are equally misleading, in both cases because the words "so much as deeply offended" are not included. (Please note that 3. "I was not hurt," he said, "so much as deeply offended," is not misleading at all, despite the fact that I have added a comma and changed a period to a comma as well.)
HOWEVER I do not feel that we should impose American punctuation on British English articles. That would be an insult to British English Wikipedians, as bad as forcing Americans to spell "center" with a "t-r-e." Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:34, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
I agree with everything you say, Darkfrog, except the last sentence. I'm British, and was educated in the UK, and I'm constantly bemused by an MoS that tells me British English doesn't say September 15, when I do, or British English doesn't write "organized," when I do, or British English doesn't use inside punctuation, when I do. These things are a matter of preference and of individual style guides that publishers use. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 20:41, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
Then whatever form of English is American and not British, that is the form that should not be imposed upon British English articles. If "organize" and tucked-in commas are acceptable in correct British English, then they should be acceptable on British English Wikipedia articles unless there is some serious reason not to. (We use double quotes instead of single because of the limitations of search features.) However, I personally would want to see confirmation of this in at least one reliable British style guide. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:48, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Sssoul, thanks for the link to the Archive 11 discussion. I've not read it yet, but the fact that it has to start with a caution about feelings running high suggests there's no consensus for this advice to be in the MoS. Why do we need it? What's wrong with articles simply being internally consistent? SlimVirgin talk|contribs 20:45, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

SlimVirgin, when you read the archived discussion you'll see that the emotions were on the part of two or three editors. i know you know that just because someone has strong feelings that doesn't mean they're right, or that they have consensus. Sssoul (talk) 08:16, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
It seemed to me that almost everyone who participated in that discussion had strong feelings about it. Let's not mischaracterize people. In this case, the people who had the strong feelings toward keeping American style banned were the ones who had consensus. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:10, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
1. It's not that there's no consensus so much as that there are lots of people who like technical quotation a lot more than American quotation and believe, incorrectly in my assessment, that American quotation causes problems. This particular part of the guideline gets challenged a couple of times each year. The discussion in archive 111 resulted in the current wording but didn't result in any change to the rule itself. 2. We don't need it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:48, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
I think American should not be imposed on British, and British should not be imposed on American, but also that people shouldn't be telling other people what is and isn't British or American, and the preference of Mr X should not be imposed on Ms Y, and so on. :) In other words, let's go for internal consistency and otherwise not advise. If it's being challenged regularly by established editors, it really shouldn't stay as it is. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 21:06, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
NOT AGAIN, please. We just went through this a couple of months ago, at length. This is one long-stable guideline in the MOS. Some people, mostly in the U.S., who are more familiar with the "trailing periods and commas always inside" style, as I am, object when they see the MOS guideline or examples of it, which I don't. (For what it's worth, I use and prefer the punctuation inside style in all my own writing; it is the convention where I write, and it is the convention in most printed material in the U.S.) The reasons why it was adopted for Wikipedia are explained in the MOS section, and have nothing to do with U.S. versus UK (i.e., ENGVAR). Despite MANY lengthy arguments, the result is always the same: no consensus to change the guideline. So I repeat, NOT AGAIN, please. Thank you. —Finell (Talk) 21:20, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
Just because this part of the guideline has been discussed before doesn't mean that new people like SV shouldn't state their opinions and no one should badger or bully them into shutting up before they've had their say, so please no one start. SlimVirgin has provided a new look at this issue.
Finell, if you are tired of this discussion, then, if you want, I can message you on your talk page if it looks like we're about to change the guideline. That way, you won't have to bother watching the discussion and you will get your $0.02/vote/contribution to consensus in regardless. Would you like me to do this? Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:43, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
Darkfrog, please. I haven't badgered or bullied anyone, and I resent that characterization. I expressed weariness at going through this again (I've been through it a couple times before you arrived on this page, and then the last time, when you were the lead protagonist) and the wish that we wouldn't have to so. —Finell (Talk) 22:05, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
I am not accusing you, Finell. You will see that I said, "...before they've had their say, so please no one start." There was a lot of that sort of thing last time and I want to head it off. On another note, I can appreciate that you're tired of talking about it, but the bottom line is that you do not have to. There is no reason to tell SlimVirgin not to start a new discussion because you are under no obligation to participate if you don't want to. SV's comments put no burden of any kind on you. My offer is serious, by the way. Just message me if you want to take me up on it, but I won't bring it up again. Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:21, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
If anything, the fact that this part of the guideline is questioned so often should be a big clue that it may not be ideal.
Either the current system is British, in which case it's inappropriate for use in American English articles or it is logical/technical, in which case it's unnecessary throughout almost all of Wikipedia. Either way, it should not be imposed upon American English articles in which it is incorrect and unnecessary.
SlimVirgin, I wouldn't go that far. Even if 300,000 people make a mistake, it's still a mistake. We shouldn't force one group of people to forego their own traditions and use a foreign set of rules, but neither should we allow Mssrs. X and Y to make things up willy-nilly. It's not about what most people are doing. It's about what's correct. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:43, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
(ec) Hang on, Finell, if it keeps being raised, there is no consensus for it. It isn't explained at all in the MoS, which says, "[Logical quotation] ... is used by Wikipedia both because of the principle of minimal change, and also because the method is less prone to misquotation, ambiguity, and the introduction of errors in subsequent editing."
1. What is "the principle of minimal change"?
2. There is no ambiguity, or misquotation issue. If you think there is, can you give a clear example?
3. What is meant by "the introduction of errors in subsequent editing"?
Finell, what do you see as the advantage of recommending this, rather than recommending internal consistency and leaving it at that? Because that would finally put the issue to rest, which is what you seem to want. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 21:46, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
(interjecting, after edit conflict, since SlimVirgin asked me specifically)
I'll try to answer your questions briefly. However, if you want to see every possible argument that can possbily be uttered on the subject, please consult the archives of this talk page (and I don't just mean the last go-round).
1. From Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Quotations, under the sub-heading Minimal change: "Preserve the original text, spelling, and punctuation." Suppose a Wikipedia page legitmately quotes part of that in the following passage: The MOS succinctly prohibits altering the spelling of quoted text: "Preserve the original text [and] spelling". The period follows the closing quotation mark because it is not part of the original text. The so-called typographical or American style would render the same passage as follows: The MOS succinctly prohibits altering the spelling of quoted text: "Preserve the original text [and] spelling." The period, although not part of the quoted material, is placed inside the closing quotation mark because that is more aesthetically pleasing (the aesthetic difference is more pronounced in formally printed work, using a seriffed, proportional typeface and so-called typographical quotation marks). But, this version of the page violates the principle that it is stating: it inserts a punction mark that was not part of the quoted text.
2. Suppose source material reads: The judge demanded, "Bring the prisoner to the bench, and button your jacket before you address the court. The prosecutor silently, very slowly, fastened the four buttons of his jacket, one by one. Then he escorted the prisoner, handcuffed, to the bench, the judge towering over both of them. A Wikipedia article says, following the MOS guideline: The judge said, "Bring the prisoner to the bench".[3] Prosecutor Stone complied. The reader, and also a subsequent editor, knows that the quotation is not a complete sentence because the period is outside. Using the other system, the article reads: The judge said, "Bring the prisoner to the bench."[4] Prosecutor Stone complied. Is the quotation a sentence or a fragment?
3. If Wikipedia switched to the other system, a subsequent editor might erroneously revise this material as follows: The climax of the courtroom drama begins with this sentence: "Bring the prisoner to the bench."[5] The prosecutor complies, but the judge's scolding, uninterrupted, fill the next eight pages. (The editor added the scolding bit by combining the next sentence in the imaginary article.) The article misrepresents the fragment as a sentence.
The reasons stated in the guideline persuaded me, contrary to my aesthetic prevference and the punctuation that I learned, that the guideline is the better choice for Wikipedia. In my opinion, the underlying objection of most objecting editors really reduces to WP:IDONTLIKEIT, most likely because WP:THATISNTHOWILERNEDIT. I disagree with the proposition that, "if it keeps being raised, there is no consensus for it". Consensus does not imply unanimity. Some Wikipedians (and I sincerely do not not include SlimVirgin in this category) will argue about anything. —Finell (Talk) 00:46, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
One could just as easily say that WP:IDONTLIKEIT is how this policy got here in the first place. The question of not being able to tell whether a quotation is only part of a sentence is not a real problem. That is why almost every academic discipline in the U.S., no matter how strict, uses U.S. punctuation. Again, the problem in the examples provided is that the information itself is left out, not that the punctuation causes confusion. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:08, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
Then I did not explain properly. This does count as consensus even though not everyone agrees. Whenever a Wikipedia guideline is to be changed, there must be consensus for the change. It's sort of like the burden of proof being on the prosecution. If the two sides can't agree, then the change doesn't happen. It is more a case of people who want to include American punctuation being outnumbered. The burden of forming a new consensus is on the people who want to make the change.
1. The principle of minimal change is the idea that, in direct quotations, the text from the source should be changed as little as possible. Some Wikipedians believe that American punctuation violates this, but it does not.
2. Correct.
3. Some people believe that if one editor uses American punctuation, and then six months later another editor rewords the passage, that this will introduce errors. However, this is a risk regardless of which style of punctuation is used. The editor must be conscientious and look at the original text. Period.
The bottom line is that in order to know exactly how the original text was punctuated, one must look at the original text. This is just as true of British and logical/technical styles as it is of American style. Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:01, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

My main concern[edit]

Just to clarify, I don't mind how most articles tend to be punctuated. It's not a big deal. I do mind editors arriving at articles I'm writing, and changing the punctuation, which means I have to try to remember to write differently, or else the article will end up inconsistent. Or I have to change it all back again. I think that's discourteous, and it violates CITE and the MoS itself. So I am proposing one of two things:

1. We change that part of the MoS to describe the two different punctuation methods, and let people choose which to use, without the MoS recommending one or the other (this would be my preference); or

2. We add a note to that section reminding people not to change the style in stable articles i.e. a courtesy provision.

I don't mind which we do. But I would like to see an end to people imposing this on articles they're otherwise not involved in writing. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 21:56, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

See, most of us do think that punctuation is a big deal. I support 1. with the exception that I would have the punctuation tied to the spelling style. It doesn't matter who's involved and who isn't. It's about what's correct. If I'm reading an article out of the blue and I see a typo, then it's perfectly all right for me to jump in and fix it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:01, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
Yes, if it's a typo, but there is no right or wrong here, just preference. I don't like to have spent months writing an article, and have someone arrive for three minutes to change my punctuation. It's very annoying. :) Especially because it means I have to keep remembering to write in the same way from that point on, and I never can remember.
I really would not want to see this tied to spelling style. That reinforces, "This is British and therefore must be written this way," even if you, as a British editor, have never done it. I am tired of feeling disenfranchised by that absolutism. :) SlimVirgin talk|contribs 22:17, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
See, people shouldn't be making style changes for no reason regardless of whether they've been involved in the article before or not. It would have been just as wrong for that person to come in and change one acceptable style to another even if he or she had made a major contribution to that article in the past. That's what I'm talking about.
I happen to be an American, actually, just a rather stuffy one. Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:27, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

(outdent) for the record, the point about not changing styles in stable articles only applies when the MoS accepts more than one style. so unless consensus is demonstrated for adopting another punctuation style in addition to the so-called "logical style", that kind of "courtesy provision" wouldn't be appropriate. Sssoul (talk) 08:16, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

Since this issue keeps coming up, and since a consensus hasn't been reached on this page, would it be worthwhile to open a community RfC? While I understand the reasons why the guidance is there, I suspect that this is one of the most widely-ignored instructions in the MOS, and I doubt that most readers even recognize its significance. It may be useful to get more opinions. Karanacs (talk) 01:07, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

Common misconception: There was a consensus according to Wikipedia's operational definition of the term, just not a universal one. I don't know that we need an RfC on this one. Yes, this part of the MoS is frequently challenged, and yes, I feel that that should be a big fat clue, but challenging and changing things is part of the Wikipedia consensus process. New people come in with new ideas, then the issue is discussed again and then the community either forms a new consensus or keeps the old one. This particular issue may bring out strong feelings, but this is how it's supposed to work. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:39, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
In other words, yes I think that this rule should be changed, but not because there wasn't a consensus for it in the first place. There was. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:40, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
I see no consensus for change. Tony (talk) 04:51, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

A relevant observation (out of the previous round of discussions ad nauseum on logical quotation): Logical quotation isn't a matter of style, it's a matter of content. Regional spelling variations don't change the information content of articles, but the British and American quotation "styles" convey less information about the source than does logical quotation. That's essentially the definition of logical quotation, that it consistently uses placement of final punctuation inside or outside the quotation marks to convey information about the source, rather than subordinating conveyance of information to regional stylistic convention. --Pi zero (talk) 13:35, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

(1) Your statement would be true if Wikipedia used logical quotation consistently, but that's not the case and unlikely to become the case in the near term. When you see "This means war." on Wikipedia you get no information about the source. That might be logical quotation or US style. The only way to know is to look at the original source.
(2) Adjusting US-style quoted text to logical quotation is quite difficult and requires access to all the original sources. This seems like a large burden of work to place on copyeditors. Assuming that at the very least a large minority of contributions continue to be made using the common US method, do we have enough editors interested in doing this research to accomplish the work of fixing those articles? If not, Wikipedia is unlikely ever to adhere substantially to this aspect of the MOS and it may be more useful to adjust the MOS to reflect a perhaps less ideal, but more achieveable standard. Christopher Parham (talk) 14:17, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

Consensus in favour of logical quotation was reached long ago. Though challenged from time to time there has never been consensus to change this guideline. I doubt there ever will be. JIMp talk·cont 14:27, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

My position on this is the same as my position on all other style issues: if an article is internally consistent, and if it uses styles recognized by mainstream style guides, and if it is stable, and if the writers of the article are happy with it, then editors shouldn't arrive at the article simply to change from one style to another citing the MoS. That is, in effect, what the MoS itself says at section 1.2: Stability of articles.
Does anyone mind if I add a very brief point about that to the section about punctuation? SlimVirgin talk|contribs 16:03, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
"Does anyone mind ... ?" yes. as noted above: section 1.2 refers to situations when there's more than one guideline-defined style. so doesn't apply to this issue unless/until consensus is demonstrated for the MoS to recommend more than one punctuation style. Sssoul (talk) 17:35, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
While Wikipedia's rules do not require that changes, even major changes (such as this would be), be discussed on the talk page ahead of time, that's probably best for this case. If you made that change, then someone would just change it back. In other words, I don't mind, but in this case it is necessary to establish a consensus for the change before that change is made. I personally believe that Wikipedia should not forbid editors to use correct styles so long as they are consistent or unless there is a very clear and unambiguous reason not to (case in point: use of single quotes can mess with search features, so Wikipedia prefers double). I would support such a change, though I would prefer to tie it to ENGVAR. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:43, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
To be clear, nobody is forbidding users from employing US style quotes. But I agree with your general view. Modifying articles that already consistently employ a widely used and understood style is probably not a good use of time in any case. Especially in this one where such modification is likely to be unusually burdensome. Christopher Parham (talk) 19:05, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
Actually, Parham, the MoS does ban the use of American-style punctuation. Darkfrog24 (talk)
No, the MOS says that American-style punctuation does not represent Wikipedia's best style; it doesn't have the authority to "ban" anything. Quality content contributions using American-style punctuation, or otherwise ignoring MOS formatting details, are generally encouraged. (e.g. the premise of SV's comment is that she is writing an article using American style quotes and nobody in this discussion has suggested she should stop doing so.) That's part of the problem with the current wording: regardless of what MOS says, we will have many people adding content using American style punctuation, because they are accustomed to that style having grown up in an environment where it is overwhelmingly standard. It is then very difficult to convert that text to conform to the guideline. This is quite different from say, the dash rules where an article using hyphens takes seconds to reform using automated tools.Christopher Parham (talk) 22:06, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
I really wish that were how it worked, but it isn't. I got called up for an AN/I for tucking in stray commas in articles that already used American punctuation as their prevailing style. If that's not a ban, then I don't know what is. Ergo, we may call them guidelines, but they're rules. Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:36, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
Tucking in stray commas (i.e., making purely stylistic changes to existing text) is just about the opposite of the "quality content contributions" I was talking about. You were not rebuked for use of American style quotes but for altering existing formatting from conforming to non-conforming, as I understand it. I can assure you that I have written quite a few articles, including FAs, using American-style quotations exclusively, and had no issues with it. Christopher Parham (talk) 15:40, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
No Chris, I was tucking in the strays while making other changes. These changes would count as gnoming rather than content, fixing awkward phrases and the like. The point that I was trying to make, though, was that if the MoS did not constitute a ban on American punctuation, then no one would have objected to my making such changes, as they improved each article's internal consistency. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:15, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
re: "Does anyone mind". Yes. If your position is "don't change what is stable/reasonable/not-broken" on all style issues, then why are you arguing for a specific reminder/get-out-clause for this style issue. We can't have our guideline pages littered with "use common sense", "don't be disruptive", etc. reminders next to each of the slightly contentious issues. Colin°Talk 20:18, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
I understand that consensus on this was reach a long time ago. I question whether the consensus has changed, and whether the opinions of the editors who frequently comment here accurately reflect a Wiki-wide consensus on this issue. As Christopher Parnum pointed out, many, many editors do not use logical quotation, and it is not easy to tell when looking at an article which practice was intended. Karanacs (talk) 16:09, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
I don't frequently comment here, but I support the logical quotation system for the simple reason that it doesn't alter the quotation. That many editors are ignorant of this guideline, or that the style in-use is hard to spot, doesn't change the reasons for preferring this guideline, which is nearly as old as the MoS itself. I'm also worried about the tone of WP:OWNership about folk fiddling with "articles I'm writing". Colin°Talk 20:18, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
That would hold weight, except American style doesn't alter the quotation either. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:10, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
Yes it does, and that is the point. So-called typographic or American punctuation puts ending commas and periods in the quotation when the quoted text did not have them. And this has always (or at least for a very long time) been explained in the MOS as the reason for the guideline. Finell (Talk) 17:04, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
It does not alter or disrespect the quotation any more than the quotation marks themselves do. The terminal period or comma is understood to be part of the process. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:17, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

Never understood[edit]

Re Finell: I have long wondered about this idea of "not changing the punctuation". If I take the examples in the present MOS too literally, I will go from:

Arthur said, "The situation is deplorable and unacceptable." (The period is part of the quoted text.)
Arthur said that the situation was "deplorable". (The period is not part of the quoted text.)


Arthur said that the situation was "unacceptable." (The period is part of the quoted text.)

But that is certainly not the intention of the MOS.

Now we all know that if I wanted to cut off the first quotation after "deplorable", I would need an ellipsis:

Arthur said, "The situation is deplorable ...".

But the principle explicated by the present MOS suggests that the ellipsis can be omitted, leading to

Arthur said, "The situation is deplorable". (The period is not part of the quoted text.)

That is clearly not what we want. So what conclusions do I draw when I reflect on best practice?

(1) If you quote a single word, you will probably ignore any puncuation in the original text anyway.
(2) If you quote a phrase from the original, you will need an ellipsis if you cut off a sentence.

In either case, there is no possibility of confusion with the American system tat is not also present in the current MOS recommendations. — Carl (CBM · talk) 18:00, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

Finell is not on trial here. Surely you mean to address the entire board so that anyone may answer. I agree that the logical/technical style has no application in the quotation of words as words. (The word "gender," unlike "sex," does not have lascivious connotations.) Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:31, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
Actually, a change in the guideline (made in connection for the last dispute, if I recall correctly) is responsible for the problem you raise. Given the contentiousness of this guideline, I decided not to fix it. I believe the guideline previously said to include the end punctuation if it is part of the sense of the quoted text (please forgive me for not taking the time to look up the diff). I construed that to mean that you do not include a period (full stop) just because it follows the last word of the quotation (e.g., if you are only quoting a word or phrase at the end of the sentence); this is the practice that I still follow under the current guideline. Further, the punctuation guideline does not override the use of ellipses (which, like square brackets, are understood to indicate something omitted or changed). If the logical quotation system is followed correctly, there are fewer opportunities for ambiguity, and therefore errors by subsequent editors, and even those can be eliminated with careful writing—such as by quoting more or less). The second example from the MOS eliminates ambiguity and the need for ellipses by paraphrasing and quoting less. And I do hope that a citation, with the page number, will follow the quotation! Finell (Talk) 19:40, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
Thing thing that I don't see is how the American system actually introduces ambiguity. For example, consider the sentence
Jones: All cars are fast, but some are faster than others.
Apparently one argument for "logical punctuation" is that
(1) According to Jones, "All cars are fast."
is bad. Yes, it is bad, but
(2) According to Jones, "All cars are fast".
is equally bad. Both require an ellipsis, because both cut off the quote in mid-sentence. I am not a frequent participant in these discussions, and so it may be that there are better examples that actually show ambiguity reduced by correct use of logical quotation over correct use of American quotation. But replacing (1) with (2) is hardly in improvement in clarity and accuracy. — Carl (CBM · talk) 21:16, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
In case someone asks, I am referring to what the Chicago Manual calls the "rigorous method"; see e.g. section 11.65. — Carl (CBM · talk) 21:31, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
Anyone? I'd like to understand this issue, since the present MOS language has always seemed like a distinction without a difference. — Carl (CBM · talk) 13:13, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

(outdent) the examples in the MoS don't make the point very well, i agree. maybe it becomes clearer when one considers that the so-called "American style" wants all end punctuation inside the quote marks, not just periods and commas, and it wants them there within titles as well as quotations:

  • Who wrote "You Can't Always Get What You Want?"

is an example where the so-called "American style" is misleading in a way that so-called "logical style" is not:

  • Who wrote "You Can't Always Get What You Want"?

there's not as much potential for ambiguity when periods and commas are involved, but it is more accurate not to misrepresent titles by making it look as if they end with punctuation that they don't in fact include. Sssoul (talk) 05:59, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

That is not a correct assessment of American-style punctuation. Here is an example verbatim from section 6.9 of the Chicago Manual:
Which of Shakespeare’s characters said, “All the world’s a stage”?
Indeed, the rule is:
6.9: Colons, semicolons, question marks, and exclamation points  Unlike periods and commas, these all follow closing quotation marks unless a question mark or an exclamation point belongs within the quoted matter.
So it is only with periods and commas that punctuation might be moved inside the quotation marks, unless that punctuation is part of the quoted material. — Carl (CBM · talk) 10:56, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
okay, i'm glad to hear it and i'll strike my misconception (which matches the common misconception that either "British style" or "logical style" always puts the punctuation outside the quote marks). what's left is: i agree that it's difficult to think up an ambiguous example with just periods or commas, but it is still more accurate not to misrepresent titles (or quotes) as including punctuation when they don't. Sssoul (talk) 12:10, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
I'm asking specifically about quotations from prose, since this is the justification the MOS gives for the logical quotation system. The issue of periods in the titles of artistic works is a much less significant issue than the alleged loss of accuracy in quotations. — Carl (CBM · talk) 13:29, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
smile: there are different points of view - to me the proper representation of titles is a much more significant issue. but anyway: i'm not sure what you mean by "the alleged loss of accuracy in quotations" - are you talking about my allegation above, that it's more accurate to represent titles (and quotes) without additional punctuation, or something in the MoS? Sssoul (talk) 14:21, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
The MOS itself says that logical quotation "is less prone to misquotation, ambiguity, and the introduction of errors in subsequent editing." I am asking for an actual example of that in which both the American-style quotation and the logical-style one are properly formatted, including ellipses for omitted material as required by WP:MOSQUOTE. — Carl (CBM · talk) 14:26, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
  • It is not "the American system". Many publications and sites outside North America use internal. Wikipedia simply has sound reasons for being very fussy about leaving quotations be, where possible. Tony (talk) 14:00, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
    • I am asking, what are those sound reasons? There are claims about accuracy of quoted material being improved by logical quotation, but the examples in the MOS do not appear to support such claims. — Carl (CBM · talk) 14:26, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
I understand that not many publications outside the U.S. use American punctuation, but many of them use American English as well and that doesn't make it any less American English. (Hey, if I have to call Wikipedia's system "logical" for people to know what I mean, then calling the American style "American" isn't too much of a jump.) Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:08, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
(ec) here's what i reckon the MoS means by proneness to ambiguity and misquotation:
  • She stated: "I have no objection to anything he said." if that's punctuated in the so-called American-style, the reader can't tell whether or not that was her full statement, whether the editor who punctuated it has read WP:MOSQUOTE, used ellipsis properly, etc.; but if it's in the so-called logical style, the reader can rest assured that that was indeed the end of her sentence.
and when i recycle that same quote in my own publication, which uses so-called logical style, the so-called American-style is more prone to misquotation because i have to guess whether or not that was the end of her statement. (smile: i know i know – obviously i should look her statement up elsewhere instead of relying on Wikipedia! but there are loads of journalists who don't bother have time for that.) Sssoul (talk) 15:12, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
Actually, in American style (e.g. "rigorous" Chicago style), you do know that it was the end of her statement, because otherwise there would have to be an ellipsis. You can't use an example where someone didn't follow American style as an example of problems with American style, because that agument applies equally well to logical style: how do I know the author followed logical style correctly, just because the MOS requires it? So we have to assume that the writer did follow the appropriate style as it requires. I am becoming more and more convinced that there is no example where correctly-written quotes actually have a problem, as I will explain below. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:24, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
(ec) smile: somehow i had a feeling you were going to reject that example of ambiguity, CBM - but it's what i believe the MoS means anyway. (i could point out that using so-called logical style does imply that someone has at least looked at the MoS, since it's what the MoS recommends - but ... go ahead with the explanation you want to give us.) Sssoul (talk) 15:34, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

After thinking about this more and looking at the MOS, I am becoming more and more convinced there is no example involving quotations (not titles of works) where the American/logical style distinction makes a difference. Here is why:

(1) For short quotes that could not be confused with a whole sentence, I have been assured that we ignore the punctuation of the original anyway. Thus we write,

She said he was "boring".

rather than

She said he was "boring,".

(2) For longer quotes, WP:MOSQUOTE already requires an ellipsis for omitted material, as does the "rigorous style" in the Chicago Manual. Thus we already cannot write,

She said, "I am coming to the ball".

because either that quote is a whole sentence, in which logical style would say to use

She said, "I am coming to the ball."

or the quote is not a whole sentence, in which case MOSQUOTE requires

She said, "I am coming to the ball...".

This seems to only leave the issue of titles of works. Now, I don't really care one bit about which style we pick on Wikipedia, but we should be more upfront that the issue is one of style rather than somehow an issue of accuracy with quotations. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:32, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

Can we all concede that taking a one-sentence quotation such as "I was not hurt but rather deeply offended" or "I have no objection to anything he said" and cutting it down to "I was not hurt" or "I have no objection" would constitute a misquotation regardless of which system of punctuation is used? Neither logical/technical nor British nor American punctuation would be able to turn "I was not hurt" into something that could reasonably imply the original quotation's true meaning.
So far, I haven't seen any sound reasons for banning American punctuation, only imaginary reasons. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:08, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

Page of frequently made challenges[edit]

It appears that the Manual of Style is receiving so many challenges on a repetitive basis (as other parts of Wikipedia are doing) that it must be difficult for some editors to keep from tiring out (burning out?) from answering the same challenges over and over again. Some challengers are probably new to Wikipedia, and some challengers evidently fail to read or to understand or to accept responses which have already been given above their own challenges. Therefore, I suggest, for the benefit of everyone concerned, that there be a page Wikipedia: Frequent challenges against the Manual of Style, with a list of frequent challenges and carefully prepared responses to them. There can be a notice at the top of the page Wikipedia:Manual of Style, saying: "If you wish to challenge the Manual of Style, please see this page first."
-- Wavelength (talk) 03:34, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

Wavelength, you've really stepped it up, and you're learning fast. I have been deliberating whether to reinstate monthly changes to style guidelines at WP:Update, and have decided that it will be a net positive (especially if you help!) There's one thing we have to be careful about: when we're sharing information about style guidelines, it's important to do it for the right reason ... to support the community of copyeditors, and people who are familiar with books, magazines and newspapers generally, and Wikipedian editors generally who are more comfortable when they're operating in a world that looks familiar to them. We need these people; they need our help. What you're saying sounds great, but the proof is in the pudding: if it attracts and supports people with high levels of clue, we're succeeding, and if it puts them off, then we need to adjust what we're doing. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 16:22, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
With the note that, per WP:CONSENSUS, that frequent challenges to the same point by independent editors strongly suggest that the consensus of self-appointed "regulars" may not represent a consensus of Wikipedia as a whole. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:10, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
...and that pre-emptive non-collegial tampering with guidelines tagged as under discussion is unacceptable. And that editors who do not even support MOS offering genuine guidelines should be advised to reconsider their involvement here. And that we desperately need to tackle the whole matter of prescription (the common stance of all style guides) versus passive description (the common stance of dictionaries and entertainments like Fowler's). If these things are not attended to fast, no other work here counts.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 00:38, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
Feel free to tell me whenever I'm wrong, I love collegial feedback. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 00:06, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
Do I detect a reference to the first and last sentences of the third paragraph of Collegial#Definition_of_collegiality? --Philcha (talk) 01:43, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
I didn't know that meaning, I meant "genial" and "as among colleagues". I've got something going on that would make it very unwise for me to get in any big fights at the moment; I can come back to this topic in about a week. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 03:15, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
PMAnderson, which is more important, the quantity of editors supporting a position, or their qualifications and expertise? If a thousand editors were to challenge the article "Pig" with the claim that pigs can fly, and ten editors were to refute their claim with solid evidence, should Wikipedia state that pigs can fly? What would Doctor Google say?
-- Wavelength (talk) 05:54, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
As you're stating it, that's more of a policy discussion, Wavelength (WP:OR, WT:OR, WP:RSN, etc.), but I take your point that you're talking about how to arrive at useful content in WP-space, which is not covered by those pages. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 15:07, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
@Wavelength: The quality of the editors' arguments. We cannot judge expertise; indeed, we've already had scandals where Wikipedians have claimed expertise they don't have. The numbers of editors can be a proxy for this; but this page should only make assertions which have general consensus among Wikipedians - see WP:POL. It doesn't match that standard, because there's always a language crank or two who want to lend tinsel "authority" to their pet notions. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:36, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Which is more important to Anderson? Neither. His monocampaign is to dilute the authority of the MoS, pure and simple. Tony (talk) 15:24, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
    • If my learned and gallant colleague has really never noticed the tag at the top of the page, I invite him to consider it. MOS is a guideline; it has no "authority" other than representing the consensus of Wikipedians, which it does not, as to the the actual or desirable usage in English, which it does not. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:55, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
So what are we talking about for starting off here? Curly quotes and lede image sizing are two which spring to mind which are constantly quarrelled by people other than the usual suspects. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 15:35, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
Unless curly quotes have popped up again, we actually got consensus on avoiding them; I think I talked with everyone who weighed in. I wouldn't put lead image sizing in the category of issues that cause trouble, at least not yet; there are a variety of legitimate concerns on both sides of the table, and it will probably work itself out. Stay tuned. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 17:44, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
I presumed Dan meant such things as the insistence on "logical" quotation. As it is, we get objections every other month or so, by someone who was taught differently, and the same half-dozen voices insist on its manifold virtues. It would be worth seeing if stating those virtues convinced everybody; on the other hand, it would be useful to keep a running record of those it does not convince. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:55, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
Curly quotation marks (as to shape) are discussed at Quotation mark glyphs.
Logical quotation marks (as to position) are discussed at Quotation mark#Punctuation.
The same marks can be curly or logical or neither or both.
-- Wavelength (talk) 22:21, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
But logical quotation is the entirely different issue: when does punctuation go inside the quotation marks? MOS present adheres to the position that punctuation in inside only when it occurs in the original; there is an another form, aesthetic punctuation, which always places periods and commas inside; this treats ," as a single conventional mark. The CMOS prefers the latter, as more practical, and it is widely taught, especially in the United States; it is certainly easier to proof. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:29, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
  • It's illogical and, in terms of WP's critical respect for keeping faithful to the original, can be very misleading. It looks gawky. Why is it "easy to proof" (if that was ever an important consideration here)? Tony (talk) 04:09, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
    • Most of this is WP:IDONTLIKEIT. "Gawky" is in the eye of the observer.
    • Checking whether "logical" punctuation has been done correctly requires checking the punctuation in the original text (which can, in some cases, be impossible to define). This is much harder than checking the mechanical requirements of aesthetic punctuation. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:36, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
    • CMOS warns against "logical" punctuation because it is easy to get it wrong. I see no advantage whatever to erroneous "logical" punctuation; plainly Tony does. Perhaps he could explain. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:49, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
The first paragraph of Quotation mark#Punctuation says:
The traditional convention in American English is for commas and periods to be included inside the quotation marks, regardless of whether they are part of the quoted sentence, whereas the British style places them inside or outside the quotation marks according to whether or not the punctuation is part of the quoted phrase. The American rule is derived from typesetting while the British rule is grammatical (see below for more explanation). Although the terms “American style” and “British style” are used, it is not as clear cut as that because at least one major British newspaper prefers typesetters' quotation (punctuation inside) and BBC News uses both styles, while scientific and technical publications, even in the U.S., almost universally use logical quotation (punctuation outside unless part of the source material), due to its precision.
-- Wavelength (talk) 21:40, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Grafting national sentiments onto an issue?[edit]

I agree with Finell's reversion of the quite inappropriate national branding of internal/external quotation-final punctuation. Some US publications, particularly scientific, forbid the use of the illogical and intrusive "internal," punctuation, particularly as a slavish formula. Many British writers use internal punctuation, particularly in the writing out of dialogue. And forgive my arrogance, but aren't there anglophone countries aside from the US and the UK? Tony (talk) 07:27, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

A wagish response (not mine) to Tony's question (rhetorical?) would be, None that matter. (BIG grin to the folks Down Under) Finell (Talk) 08:03, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
The short paragraph in question provides context to the guideline in very neutral and minimalist language. It lets readers know that there are differences in style, and Wikipedia has chosen a style which is slightly different then the ones readers are accustomed to. If they are instructed to use an unfamiliar style, such as logical quotation, they should be informed that the MoS is aware of these differences, and has chosen a different rout. Furthermore, the paragraph does not frame the issue as a national issue so much as a geographic issue (as America comprises many nations). You are welcome to change the language for the sake of clarity. However deleting it would be a gross breach of numerous Wikipedia policies. Lastly, very few US publications, especially scientific ones, use a style remotely resembling British quotation. Care to name them? And lastly, inside quotation is neither illogical or intrusive. It's just different. You're really stretching it on this one. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 08:06, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
The problem is that it is not context. To the contrary, it is misleading because national variations of English are not the basis of Wikipedia's guideline. Further, the two national varieties you cite are tendencies, but not uniform. Counterexamples are cited above on this Talk page, but that isn't the main point. This is Wikipedia's MOS, not a survey of punctuation in Great Britain and the U.S. Further, you are watering down Wikipedia's long-standing consensus guideline, with no consensus for that change. Please do not change the MOS without consensus for that change. Thank you. Finell (Talk) 12:08, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
First, it does provide context as it demonstrates that logical quotation is very different from both American and British styles, which are generally perceived as geographic customs (even among scholarly reviewed style guides). Second, the paragraph never made illusions to the idea that punctuation styles were geographically universal, as I was conscious enough to use the qualifying word "most." Third to call that minimalist paragraph a "survey" is a desperate and egregious abuse of the English language. Miguel Chavez (talk) 12:49, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
This edit war is getting oh so childish. The new paragraph does not change Wikipedia's quotation policy one iota. It merely provides readers with context and explanation. If I had seen such an explanation on the MoS it would have immediately remedied my initial confusion over Wikipedia policy. It is not only helpful in that respect, but it is also instructive to those who do not understand the varying rules of punctuation. There is no sensible reason fore deleting it, other than to hide the existence of alternatives. The fact that some editors here cannot even tolerate a contextual explanation of their policy speaks volumes about their overzealous commitments. Miguel Chavez (talk) 12:21, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
I agree that the edit war is childish. Please stop edit warring on this issue. Also, the watering down of the guideline is not the English varieties paragraph, but the actual change in the first sentence of the guideline itself. I changed it back to the way it was, and you reverted me on that, too. Finell (Talk) 12:45, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
It doesn't water the MoS down. It explains why Wikipedia adopted a system that is considered flat-out wrong by almost the entire English-speaking world. I know of no other Wikipedia guideline for which this is true. Yes, that merits an explanation. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:49, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
No, the paragraph on English varieties does not explain why Wikipedia made logical quotation the guideline. English varieties had nothing to do with Wikipedia's choice, which makes the paragraph misleading. Finell (Talk) 13:24, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Yes, but without context the passage makes it sound as though logical quotation were delivered to us at Mount Sinai, de novo. Furthermore, it can lead to the (wrong) impression that logical quotation is the standard way English speakers use punctuation, when just the opposite is the case. Miguel Chavez (talk) 14:54, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
There is nothing wrong with the paragraphs inclusion. It is not POV. It is not misinformative. It is not terribly written. If you were the sole author, I imagine you or Ilkali would not have included it. But this is a public encyclopedia and sometimes you have to let others contribute too. I was careful not to step on toes. All I wanted to do is provide context and explanation. What you are doing is not editing, you are suppressing. This is a violation of all the self-proclaimed pillars of Wikipedia. Miguel Chavez (talk) 13:14, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
You are confusing article space policies with guidelines for editors. Further, please stop trying to hide your edits on a matter in controversy by marking them as "minor". That is contrary to policy. Finell (Talk) 13:24, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
My opinions of Wikipedia's policy have not remotely transgressed into the paragraph on the varying styles of punctuation. It serves only to provide context and does not merit deletion. This is a red herring. Miguel Chavez (talk) 14:54, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

I'm sure we can come to a compromise here - it's only a matter of presentation. Can we agree on a short (one-sentence?) indication that the Wikipedia style is not the universally recommended one in the outside world (particularly the US), with a link to the relevant Wikipedia article for fuller information? --Kotniski (talk) 13:36, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Agree with MChavez that added section did not add a POV. It was just the fact. Agree with Finell that the addition of this much text does not constitute a minor change. Kotniski's idea is good but, shorter sentences tend to pack more punch in this case. We can come out and say, "This style is considered incorrect in by most British and American style guides. Wikipedia has adopted it because [reasons]"? or we can show how the styles differ. More is, in this case, less in a good way because it's less inflammatory. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:45, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Could I remind all parties (1) that it's important for MoS to retain its stability, and (2) to try to keep their edit summaries civil? Kotniski, did you have a proposal for that wording? Thanks. I'm sure we can work something out on this page, without using the style guide as a sandbox. ArbCom has recently expressed its concern about instability in style guides. Tony (talk) 13:50, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
As a first try, something like this: "The placement of periods and commas inside or outside quotation marks is a matter on which style guides differ, particularly between the U.S. and the UK. For details, see Quotation mark#Punctuation." (Discuss among yourselves; I'll be away till Monday.)--Kotniski (talk) 14:12, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Too vague. It makes it sound as though Wikipedia was selecting from among many roughly equal options when the truth is that there are two arguably equal options and Wikipedia picked a third extremely rare option, one considered flat-out wrong by almost the entire English-speaking world. If we use a one-line description, then it does need to include a word like "incorrect." IMHO, we're better off just briefly relating the facts and letting the viewers make the value judgments themselves. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:30, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
In matters of style such as this, there is no such thing as "flat-out wrong", except (maybe) within the context of an accepted style. That is, a particular usage, no matter how rare, is only wrong in a work that has adopted a different style. I know, as you argue, that there are other issues involved in adopting a rare style, but there's a huge and important distinction, often missed in discussions on this page, between correctness and propriety. /Ninly (talk) 14:56, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
You may notice that I did mention the "by whom" with "considered flat-out wrong." Considering that the "by whom" is "almost every accepted style in the English-speaking world" then yes, Wikipedia's policy on this matter does require more explanation than other policies. With regard to your comment, I posit that it is neither correct nor proper to use a system designed for technical documents on articles to which it does not apply. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:01, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
"Wikipedia picked a third extremely rare option, one considered flat-out wrong by almost the entire English-speaking world". This claim has been made before, and it's still utterly wrong. Our choice of quotation glyphs and our choice of inside-vs-outside are two distinct issues. For each distinct issue, Wikipedia has chosen a style that has significant support, both geographically and in published writing. Ilkali (talk) 15:19, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
I'm not talking about single-quotes-vs.-double, Ilkali. So-called logical style is considered incorrect in the U.S. because of its treatment of commas and periods and in the U.K. because of its treatment of colons and semicolons. In both American and British English, the logical system is wrong, just not for the same reasons. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:39, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Again with the colons thing? There's no difference, or at least practically none.
Also, can I suggest that you not talk about styles as "right" or "wrong"? A given piece of text can be wrong with respect to a given style, but it's incoherent to describe styles themselves in that way. The most they can be is adopted or not adopted. Ilkali (talk) 16:39, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Ilkali, I have already been doing that. When I say "wrong," I also say "in American English" or "according to almost every English-language style manual." Still, saying that punctuation is adopted or not adopted is like saying that a spelling is adopted or not adopted. Spelling "rock" "r-o-k" isn't "not adopted" so much as it is "wrong." Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:23, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
A spelling can be wrong relative to a given spelling system. A styling can be wrong relative to a given stylistic convention. A pronunciation can be wrong relative to a given accent. But spelling systems, stylistic conventions and accents cannot be "wrong". Apples and oranges, guy. This is basic linguistics. Ilkali (talk) 17:51, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
That being said, would "incorrect" bother you less? Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:44, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Correct and incorrect aren't applicable terms. Familiar and unfamiliar works, or conventional and unconventional, or adopted and not adopted, or common and uncommon, or prescribed and proscribed. Take your pick. Ilkali (talk) 17:51, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
You are mistaken, Ilkali. It is just as possible for punctuation to be wrong as it is for spelling to be wrong. That's what "wrong" means. I'll use what words I think best, as you've said, because I have none that would please us both but I ask that you remember that I don't mean to offend you, only to describe things as accurately as possible. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:16, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
You still don't understand the difference between an instance of spelling and a spelling convention. Don't worry, I wasn't really expecting you to. Ilkali (talk) 19:50, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
There are times when one way of doing things is just as good as another and it's solely a matter of taste, but this isn't one of them. Ilkali, with regard to the understanding of the words "correct" and "incorrect" relevant to the maintenance and improvement of a Wikipedia page, yes, there is such a thing as correct and incorrect spelling and punctuation. It's like a microscope: If your magnification is so high that you can't tell what you're looking at any more, then dial it down a bit. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:42, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
How about this? I think we had something like it up a few fiascoes ago: "This practice, which differs from both standard American English and standard British English is referred to as logical quotation" or "This practice is called logical quotation. Please be advised that it can be considered incorrect in both standard American English and standard British English, though in different ways." Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:15, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
This has already been addressed, repeatedly. The "British colons issue" is a red herring, and MOS does not need to go into it. WP uses logical quotation because it is precise and unambiguous. Period. There is nothing else to the matter at all, and any US vs. British discussion is simply noise. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 17:43, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
The ways in which the so-called logical system does and does not differ from the British system are not the issue at the moment. I will gladly discuss them with you in a new section if you wish. The issue is whether an explanation paragraph belongs in the MoS and what any such paragraph should say. I've proposed a few ideas above. What do you think of them? Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:46, 7 June 2009 (UTC)

What the explanation paragraph really does[edit]

The presence of the paragraph explaining American and British style serves an additional purpose: It prevents people from assuming that "logical style" is another name for "British style" in a way that the previous, brief passage did not. This talk page will get fewer, "Why are we doing it the British way?" questions if it stays. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:45, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
What the paragraph really does—and, I put it to you, intentionally so—is water down the MoS. The MoS is not the place to discuss various different styles. The purpose of the MoS is to set out Wikipedia style. Other styles are discussed in articles such as Quotation mark. The text links to the discussion noting that it is a particular style that WP has chosen as it did before this paragraph was, without consensus, shoved into the MoS. I would suggest that this is enough. If we want more explanation, though, perhaps another sentence or two (within the one paragraph) are in order but we don't need a whole paragraph. JIMp talk·cont 16:01, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Jimp, this paragraph doesn't water down Wikipedia's instructions. It still instructs users to use the so-called logical style. The paragraph prevents confusion, will probably prevent unnecessary discussions on this talk page and warns users that Wikipedia's style is not commonly accepted outside of Wikipedia. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:23, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Logical quotation is used quite broadly outside of Wikipedia, it is simply not what most Americans are used to, to the extent that the average reader pays any attention at all to such matters, which is very close to none. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 17:39, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Broadly on the Internet, but erroneously. Ironically, because so many bloggers copy Wikipedia. In things like books and newspapers, it is not commonly used; British and American systems are. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:14, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
The origins and ties of Internet culture make it natural to think of a quoted passage as a string of characters, and that way of thinking makes it natural to include between the quotation marks exactly those characters that are actually part of the quoted material. I see no cause to assume that widespread Internet use of logical quotation is widely caused by either error or (unconsidered) copying. Pi zero (talk) 16:54, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
Maybe that would have been true a few years ago, but now Wikipedia comes up first for almost every Google search of everything. It's not just pro and hobbyist programmers who see it anymore. Wikipedia needs to take some responsibility for that. While it is right and proper for Wikipedia to reflect changes in language, it is in this case creating one, and that is not what encyclopedias are for. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:40, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
I do think you may be underestimating the extent to which the Internet is a culture, and therefore current practice is shaped by past practice (and therefore I probably should have qualified "copying" as "copying of Wikipedia"). As may be, encyclopedias are not for creating language change. They are for delivering information to the reader — which is why Wikipedia uses logical quotation. If people like the way Wikipedia does things and choose to do the same, that is their choice: encyclopedias are not for preventing language change, either. Pi zero (talk) 19:12, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
I agree that encyclopedias are not for creating language change, but this is why Wikipedia should not use logical quotation for all articles. Logical quotation does not help deliver information to the reader. Using a style that is almost always considered incorrect skews the reader's perception of English and how it's used, much like giving equal time to a fringe theory in journalistic coverage of the sciences. In adopting this one, rare style for use in all articles, Wikipedia is pushing change toward that style. It's miseducation. A policy of using the style most appropriate to the subject matter would be more in keeping with Wikipedia's encyclopedic mission and NPOV policy. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:27, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
We have no duty to enforce any particular perception of English in a reader's mind. You are clutching at straws here. Ilkali (talk) 23:57, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
Exactly. So why are we enforcing one? Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:16, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
...are you always like this? Do you really not see the difference between doing something because it's a goal, and doing something as an indirect consequence of chasing some other goal? Wikipedia doesn't set out to influence anybody's writing in any direction. We have no obligations in that matter. Any effect we have is incidental and irrelevant. Ilkali (talk) 01:04, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
Whether Wikipedia sets out to be so or not, it is an extremely influential website. It shows up first in almost any web search. Its reach and influence is probably greater than most newspapers. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:11, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
"Whether Wikipedia sets out to be so or not, it is an extremely influential website". Incidental and irrelevant. Ilkali (talk) 10:23, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
It's relevant to the commitment that Wikipedia has to do right by its readers and the responsibility that such influence creates. Darkfrog24 (talk) 10:27, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
There is no policy or guideline or precedent that supports you on this. All I can say is that you're entitled to an opinion. Ilkali (talk) 10:29, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
That and it directly responds to the conversation we've been having over whether or not Wikipedia influences people's writing. I do pay attention to what you say when you speak to me. As for precedent, there's always, "With great power comes great responsibility." Darkfrog24 (talk) 10:33, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
  • It's a good principle worth retaining to pursue our pillar/policy of being as faithful as possible to our sources. Just why we should tamper needlessly with them, by shifting punctuation that would normally be in our sentence into the sourced text is beyond me. Tony (talk) 07:09, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
Because adding a comma or period to the end of a quote when appropriate does not constitute tampering with a source. Hundreds of different academic disciplines agree on this point. It is a non-issue. Darkfrog24 (talk) 10:16, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
Addition is a form of change. Removal is a form of change. Under logical quotation, if you see punctuation within the quotation marks, that means it's part of the source, and if punctuation isn't within the quotation marks, that means it's not part of the source. Neither British nor American style conveys as much information. You may believe that the information preserved isn't important (and others may believe otherwise); but it simply isn't true that the other styles preserve as much information as logical quotation does. Pi zero (talk) 13:48, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
I do believe that preserving information is important. However, Wikipedia's current style is not any better at this than American or British styles. It is just as inaccurate in that it removes the original punctuation. Was this punctuated with a period or comma? Was there an exclamation point here? Did the source stop here or was there more? In any system, the reader must go to the source to find out. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:53, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
Logical quotation is not as accurate as quoting the entire source; that would be true. However, logical quotation is more accurate than American or British style, both in that it can convey more information, and that it does not destroy as much information. Certainly there are some situations in which logical quotation cannot readily preserve the original punctuation, but in those situations neither American nor British style can do so either; and there are situations in which logical quotation can — and sometimes must — preserve information about the original punctuation (either information about what is there, or information about what isn't there) when neither American nor British style is capable of preserving that information. Pi zero (talk) 21:24, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
But in encyclopedia writing, those situations--quoting web addresses and keyboard inputs--are so rare that the exceptions built into the American and (I assume) British systems are adequate. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:30, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
This particular line of discussion appears to be academic at this point. You and I don't agree. We're both repeating ourselves. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:30, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
I was referring to quoting prose, i.e. "general encyclopedia writing"; neither quoting web addresses nor quoting keyboard inputs had occurred to me (neither here nor in any earlier thread on this page; perhaps you were misled by my reference in an earlier thread to the character-oriented mindset as it applies to quoting prose?).
As far as I know, this is new substance we're getting into here. Pi zero (talk) 23:07, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Ah. I mean that the only time in which the use of the American system could create confusion or any other undesirable result is when quoting something like a web address. If I tell someone to type in "," do I want the person to type in the comma or not? In these situations, the American system permits the placement of commas and periods outside the quote marks, though most style guides advise rewording to avoid. In general encyclopedia writing, however, these cases are rare. Most of the time, we're quoting text sources, describing idioms, or words-as-words. In these cases, the American system doesn't cause any problems. Think about it: Historical societies are as or more serious about the quality of their sources as Wikipedia. If the American system caused any problems, they'd have found one by now. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:35, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
I'm hopeful that we have nearly reduced all this to elementary points on which we can agree or irreducibly disagree.

Quoting text sources is the only interesting case, so far as I can see, because it's the one case where there is an opportunity for the systems to differ in how much information they preserve; we're agreed that these other cases, like web addresses, are not interesting. You are contending, I perceive, that there is no practically significant difference between the information preserved under logical quotation versus under the other two styles. I'll assume (unless told otherwise) that we're clear on the fact that there is a difference, practically significant or not.

There are at least two problems with citing historical societies' practices as evidence that the American system doesn't cause problems.

  • Most basically, just because lots of people stubbornly follow a traditional way of doing things, and manage to achieve their purposes, that most certainly doesn't require that way to be unproblematic; it just means that people value their conformity more than whatever amount of trouble they have to go to to achieve their purposes within that tradition; witness the QWERTY keyboard.
  • Beyond that, the dynamics of Wikipedia are different from those of the working environment of a typical historical society. The work-around for preserving final punctuation under the American system is to use block quotation instead of in-line quotation; but where an historical society will always be willing to do that for the sake of accuracy, it isn't so obvious that that should be done for shortish quotations in an encyclopedia, and certainly Wikipedians won't always agree on it. In fact, over time a quotation in a Wikipedia article may be converted back and forth between block and inline; and if the American system were used for the inline form, each time this would involve loss of information in one direction and filling in of missing information in the other — often without reconsulting the source, so that actual errors would be introduced. Is this sort of switching back and forth a "rare" occurrence? Well, I've seen it happen, in the few small corners of Wikipedia that I've observed, so with almost three million articles, it should be happening rather a lot. It's worth acknowledging that we probably have an irreducible difference of opinion on the appropriate threshold of significance that would justify adopting logical quotation on Wikipedia: you have claimed (as I understand you) that this adoption does harm to readers' English skills, which I find entirely unconvincing (so that I'll always put the threshold lower than you will).

Another point regarding the dynamics of Wikipedia, bearing more broadly on adoption of logical quotation, is that if Wikipedia didn't adopt a specific style for punctuating inline quotations — leaving it up to individual articles to decide how they want to do it, which is I believe what you've advocated — then logical quotation would lose much of its value. If logical quotation is the standard, then all articles will tend over time to gravitate toward it, and information delivered is maximized, in that, even for a casual reader, the more well-developed an article is, the more likely that the treatment of final punctuation on its inline quotations is an accurate reflection of the original source. If there is no standard across all articles, then a casual reader has every reason to assume that the final punctuation on inline quotations is always uncorrelated from the original source. Pi zero (talk) 04:30, 13 June 2009 (UTC)

I'm not talking about only block quotations or only historical societies. The idea that American punctuation creates serious problems when quoting text is a myth.
With regard to whether people are doing things out of habit, I notice a lot of programmers and computer science degrees on this page. It seems to me that people tend to favor the system that they are used to. However, like with the arguments about aesthetics, this shouldn't be number one on our list.
Your comment about logical quotation losing its value interests me. It seems that it would not be bad for Wikipedia if logical quotation lost its value, only bad for logical quotation. We should support the encyclopedia, not the specific punctuation style. As I've said earlier, it is right and proper for Wikipedia to reflect changes in language but not for Wikipedia to push or create them. If Wikipedia articles "gravitate away" from logical quotation, then it will be a natural process reflecting the balance of readers and contributors on Wikipedia.
You didn't exactly bring this up, but we have already seen in the case of British and American spelling that using more than one system does not debase Wikipedia.
And yes, I find that constantly showing readers a type of punctuation that is considered incorrect in the overwhelming majority of British and American English contexts is bad for the user experience. It also makes Wikipedia look less legitimate. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:35, 13 June 2009 (UTC)
It seems there are some things not yet said, largely to do with the Big Picture of quotation styles (which figures, as I'd mainly concentrated before on making narrow points). The natural order of comment seems to follow your most recent comments in reverse.
Your position appears, on the face of it, to be that Wikipedia should not be promulgating a style that is wrong in virtually all other contexts. There are nuances to the position, but I suspect they don't really go to the heart of the matter. In its latest incarnation, you are framing it in terms of being bad for the user experience and making Wikipedia look less legitimate. I could argue (and do believe, actually) that increasing information content is in the long run the most fundamental factor in the quality of the user experience of Wikipedia, which plainly favors logical quotation over all other styles (that's pretty much the definition of the logical style); and also argue that reducing information content for the sake of regional quotation styles would in the long run make Wikipedia look less legitimate. However, all this seems to be missing the real point. You might respond with some variant of your recent remark that "The idea that American punctuation creates serious problems when quoting text is a myth", which I've always thought irrelevant — again, all missing the point. I strongly suspect that where we really differ, fundamentally, is in our views of the overall situation.
  • I believe that logical quotation is a legitimate competitor to the other styles, that did not arise from Wikipedian usage and is still not being driven by it. This was touched on in an earlier subthread, about the influence of the digitally-based traditions of the Internet; I'll add to that the effects of the global community, because of which regional idiosyncracies (like American or British quotation style) are being forced to compete on an equal footing — and on an equal footing, they tend to do poorly against logical quotation.
  • I believe that logical quotation isn't nearly as universally "incorrect" as you're claiming it is; and it's making headway all the time, because it does well when it competes on an even footing with the other styles in the global environment of the Internet.
  • I believe that when someone operates in the sort of context that requires a particular style of in-line quotation, they need to make a deliberate effort to conform to it anyway, because the default condition is informal contexts that do not so require, and the world is international so that formal contexts, when encountered, are a mishmash of different styles; just because one lives in the U.S. (for example) doesn't prevent one from having to contend with the British style.
Using both American and British spelling doesn't involve a difference in how much information is conveyed, merely in the representation by which it is conveyed, so it's not similar. BTW, I don't recall anyone using the word "debase" in this matter (until you did) — I may well have used the word "degrade", as in "degradation of information content", which is accurate and technical and objective.
Regarding the benefits of having logical quotation as a standard, rather than having no standard at all, I am of course guilty of hyperbole — and, even worse, incautious hyperbole since it really only makes sense in the presence of those fundamental assumptions I've enumerated that you presumably don't share. Having already enumerated them, I can perhaps better articulate my point on this: logical quotation is always beneficial to every individual article that adopts it, because it is inherently superior to all other styles in promoting the basic purpose of Wikipedia (to convey information); but the more pervasive it is across all articles, the more efficiently readers will receive the additional information conveyed, so that the benefit to Wikipedia as a whole increases more than linearly with the number of articles that adopt logical quotation. This reasoning is, I expect, a non-starter for you because your fundamental assumptions cause you to assign a negative benefit for each individual article in adopting logical quotation. Pi zero (talk) 15:05, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
No, logical quotation is not always beneficial to those articles that adopt it, only to those articles in which British or American punctuation would be a detriment, and those articles are rare. American punctuation in particular offers the advantage in that it is simpler, easier to use, easier to teach and more consistent. American and British punctuation both offer the advantage of making Wikipedia look professional. The American system has been around for over a hundred and fifty years without causing serious factual problems.
Outside of keyboard entries and web addresses, logical quotation does not preserve factual information in any significant way that American and British punctuation do not. If a reader wants to know how the source was punctuated, then he or she must look at the source directly regardless of which system was used to quote it.
Logical quotation is making headway not because of any true superiority but because of the effect of the Internet. The Internet increases the amount of information available and opens up venues to writers whose low or mediocre skill levels would not ordinarily permit them an audience (or who would otherwise have to go through an official organization, which would provide copy editing). The downside of this is that things like grammar, punctuation and spelling suffer. We see a similar effect in capitalization styles and the widespread use of "'s" to indicate a plural. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:17, 18 June 2009 (UTC)

The passage itself[edit]

The direct issue over which this page was blocked was the question of whether or not the passage on quotation marks should include a passage explaining that Wikipedia's style differs from standard American and standard British English and what such a paragraph should say. How about this?

"This practice, which differs from both standard American English and standard British English is referred to as logical quotation" or "This practice is called logical quotation. Please be advised that it can be considered incorrect in both standard American English and standard British English, though in different ways." Darkfrog24 (talk) 10:21, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

I do not agree that there is any meaningful difference between our quoting style and that prevalent in Britain. Also, I do not think we should be bringing regional differences into this. I wouldn't object to explicitly mentioning typesetters' quotation as a dispreferred style. Ilkali (talk) 12:21, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
The problems that the passage is to solve are 1. let users know that Wikipedia's style is not a mistake and 2. to give them fair warning that copying Wikipedia in an academic or professional piece of writing might not be advisable. Saying "typesetters" instead of "American" probably wouldn't help us accomplish this because many users will not realize that they are meant to be the same thing.
Wikipedia's style differs from British in its placement of periods after full-sentence quotes and in its use of colons and semicolons. Brits could mistake Wikipedia's style for an error just as easily as Americans, Australians, Canadians or New Zealanders could. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:59, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
Point 1 is silly. Point 2 covers something that is not our concern. Ilkali (talk) 13:14, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
Point 1 is what would prevent further conversations like this one. MChavez thought Wikipedia was being British. With the colons and semicolons, I thought that Wikipedia had made a mistake. A paragraph like this one would have prevented both those issues from clogging this talk page. Point 2 is just considerate and responsible. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:17, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
You're talking about this section? I see about a page of people explaining how you were wrong (ie, how you had mistakenly brought territorial irrelevances into it) and three pages of pointless bloating, all due to you. I don't think anything could have stopped you from clogging this talk page. Ilkali (talk) 13:29, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
That section and [this one]. With regard to the way my mind works, it seems I need to correct you: If the page itself had had a paragraph like this one (with some wikilinks to some more detailed explanations with sources), then that whole conversation would not have happened. No one would have needed to explain to me that Wikipedia's style differed from both British and American English in this way, because I would have found out on my own before bringing it up. As you can see right at the top of the section, I brought the matter up because I was sure that some previous contributor had simply made a mistake, because I believed that Wikipedia's style did not differ from American and British in this way. Before bringing the matter up, I'd checked a few British sources and found--to my surprise--that American and British styles agreed on this point. I had no reason to expect that Wikipedia's style differed from this. A paragraph explaining the matter or linking to an explanation would have given me one. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:39, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

Darkfrog24's flouting of the MoS[edit]

This isn't really the place for this, but I tried on his talk page and my message was quickly deleted, and I still want there to be a chance of discussion before anything formal is filed (especially since he apparently disagrees with my interpretation). It might be of interest to some here. Darkfrog24, since joining this discussion you have on several occasions changed an article from logical quotation to typesetters' quotation, in direct and informed contravention of both the current MoS and the version you are arguing for on this talk page.

Evidence: [17], [18], [19], [20]

Do you consider this an accurate analysis? Ilkali (talk) 10:51, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

The MoS permits changing a style to conform with that chosen by the article's original writer. It also expresses a preference for words over numerals. What's that got to do with this? Darkfrog24 (talk) 10:55, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
Can you show where the MoS advocates changing to an original author's style when that style is explicitly dispreferred? Ilkali (talk) 10:56, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
"When in doubt, follow the original author's lead" is found throughout Wikipedia. The style guide itself reads, "This guideline is a part of the English Wikipedia's Manual of Style. Use common sense in applying it; it will have occasional exceptions," right up top. Your comments here make it look like I fish through articles changing every single comma and you know very well that I don't. I happened to run across a few articles that already used American style and I fixed a few strays, especially if I was already making an edit for some other purpose. Darkfrog24 (talk) 11:04, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
""When in doubt, follow the original author's lead" is found throughout Wikipedia". You're "in doubt" here? One style is prescribed, one is proscribed. Where is the room for doubt? Nowhere does any policy or guideline say to revert to a dispreferred style just because the original author used it. That kind of advice is reserved for situations where multiple styles are accepted, and you are well aware that this is not such a situation. Ilkali (talk) 11:13, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
For the answer to your question, Ilkali, please see my previous comment. Darkfrog24 (talk) 11:19, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
Okay, so you're still purporting to be right and you're not willing to discuss it. Do you intend to continue making similar changes to articles? Ilkali (talk) 11:24, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
You can see on this page that I am willing to discuss it, just not to repeat myself. Darkfrog24 (talk) 11:35, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
Do you intend to continue making similar changes to articles? Ilkali (talk) 12:23, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Darkfrog, it seems that you've arrived here to conduct a WP:POINTY campaign against anything you have pet peeves about. This has apparently led to the protection of the page. Now you are prompting edit wars out in articles. Please calm down and take note of the way the culture has evolved. You are too confrontational and you appear to want to be disruptive. Tony (talk) 11:42, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
This discussion was under way before I got here, Tony. Darkfrog24 (talk) 11:53, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

Isn't it commendable that Darkfrog24 seems prepared to protect "the easily damaged smallest pieces of type for the comma and period [...] behind the more robust quotation marks"? (Original rationale for illogical quotation style according to the usually fairly reliable Wikipedia, see Quotation mark#punctutation.) I must say that most commentators here have exhibited a disappointing recklessness with regards to the physical well-being of the poor bits that are quietly working behind the scenes to bring punctuation on our computer screens. Not to mention the countless full stop and comma sorts in our readers' laser printers that are destroyed daily when articles in the obviously inferior quotation style dictated by MOS are printed on paper. --Hans Adler (talk) 11:52, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

Hans, do not call the American and British systems illogical and inferior. It is neither true nor courteous. Darkfrog24 (talk) 11:56, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
I am not calling the British system illogical and inferior, I am calling the American system illogical and inferior, because that's what it is for our purpose, which is producing an online encyclopedia as opposed to an old-fashioned mechanically typeset book. As I explained, the seemingly absurd convention of moving full stops and commas inside a quotation where they don't belong once had a perfectly logical technical reason that no longer applies and in fact never applied to Wikipedia. That the creators of this convention themselves weren't too happy with this workaround is readily apparent from the fact that only full stops and commas were treated in this manner, but not the larger punctuation symbols for which the problem did not arise. The problem being the well-known one that after so many printings of a book most sentences were no longer ended by a full stop and occasionally a comma was missing as well. I am sure you have seen this yourself in some of your old books. Making sure that all full stops and commas were close to a letter was a technique for containing this problem. --Hans Adler (talk) 13:35, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
You shouldn't be calling either or any system names. You've already shown that you can find better ways to express yourself. I'm fully aware of how the American system got to be there. I simply don't see anything that makes it inferior for quoting text. The idea that putting periods and commas inside the quote marks creates confusion simply doesn't hold water. Almost every academic discipline does it and time has shown that it isn't a problem. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:28, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

"What the [so-called] explanation paragraph really does" is give a false explanation (or, if you prefer, false background) of Wikipedia's guideline on punctuation within (actually, at the end of) a quotation. It is false because Wikipedia's guideline was not based on consideration of American versus British style. Therefore, discussion on how this issue is treated in American versus British usage (which, by the way, is not uniform in either variety of English), or anyone's preference of one national variety over the other (which, by the way, is usually the one you were taught) does not belong on this page. Furthermore, everyone has said all that they have to say on the subject, the repetition of the same arguments is boring, and the consensus to retain the long-standing guideline—without the misleading paragraph about American versus British—is clear. If you must continue discussing this subject, please take it elsewhere.

Darkfrog24 and Mchavez (I don't believe there is a third, is there?): Please stop trying to force this paragraph into the MOS. There is no consensus for this change, and further discussion now is really just a fillabuster. Will you two agree to stop re-inserting this American versus British material, and stop watering down the long-standing style guideline, so we can tell the admins that the war is over and get the page unprotected, so others can get back to doing constructive work on this project? Thank you. Finell (Talk) 00:23, 9 June 2009 (UTC)

I'd be cool with something like, "This style, called 'logical quotation,' can differ significantly from standard British and American English. It is used on Wikipedia because..." That would prevent more editors from mistaking Wikipedia's chosen policy for a mistake without inserting any value judgments. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:27, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
That isn't the question I asked, and there is no consensus even for this addition. The question is, will you and your ally agree to stop reintroducing this material so we can get the page unprotected and move on? Finell (Talk) 03:29, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Finell, there's no alliance. I speak for no one but myself. I've joined no camp, party, grouping or conspiracy. You're talking about an edit war in which I was not a participant; it has nothing to do with me. This is a discussion, not a filibuster, a suggested improvement, not an attempt to confuse.
Yes, I'd agree that we have not reached a consensus. Do you have any response to the suggestion I've made above? Darkfrog24 (talk)
No one said that there was a conspiracy, alliance, etc. I addressed the two of you because you two are advocating this position and made edits to MOS against consensus, which led to the page being protected twice, with the second one still in effect. Have I missed anyone? Is there anyone else who has expressed support either for revising the guideline itself or adding a discussion of American versus English usage?
As for the addition that you propose now ("I'd be cool with something like ..."), I don't believe that it is necessary, since the guideline and the reasons for its adoption are already clearly stated. Further, reference to the two varieties of English raises an issue that is not part of the rationale for the guideline, and therefore could lead to confusion. Finell (Talk) 02:53, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
You're talking about confusion that might happen. I'm talking about the confusion that did happen. We had one person who thought it was British, another person who thought the colons and semicolons were a mistake. This would head it off. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:31, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

Edit warring and protected, again[edit]

As there appears to be more too much back and forth reverting and not enough discussion (again) I've protected this, again. Please hash out what you need and want changed here on talk, and once a firm consensus exists, place an {{editprotected}} request on this page to either make the specific changes or ping any admin to unprotect, if you all decide to go that route. rootology (C)(T) 15:10, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Just leave it protected. Far too many people simply wander in here and start changing things that they don't like (usually because it doesn't perfectly match their South African or US or Australian or British or Canadian or whatever variety of prescriptive grammar). This is an untenable situation. MOS must be a compromise, since it is literally impossible to reconcile all of these English varieties, yet every other editor who stops by here wants to enforce their version of "the truth" against all others. No further changes should be made to MOS (or WP:MOSNUM, etc. for that matter) without broad consensus, including RfCs if that's what it takes. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 17:46, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
There seem to be four kinds of edits to the MOS.
  • Implementation of consensus from the talk page. These, of course, could be handled via {{editprotected}}.
  • Inherently uncontroversial fixes, like misspellings, broken or misdirected links, etc. Allowing these sows good will and Wikipedian spirit, by demonstrating belief in the good judgment of editors to seek consensus before making potentially controversial edits. However, editors willing to involve themselves in the intimidating process of developing the MOS tend to be passionate about the issues involved, and this (aided and abetted by WP:BOLD, which is also part of Wikipedian spirit) can have a strong undermining effect on editors' good judgment.
  • Edits that don't have consensus, and aren't challenged in practice, but that are not inherently uncontroversial. Some of these would have gotten consensus if they'd been brought up on the talk page, while others would not, and when someone comes along months or years later and wonders where they came from, there's no discussion that could be found in the talk archives. Building consensus, even if it's easy to do, also sows good will and Wikipedian spirit.
  • Edits that don't have consensus and get challenged. These don't always lead to edit wars, but most edit wars are probably started by these; and those edit wars sow ill will and tax everyone's Wikipedian spirit.
On balance, I'm inclined to think Wikipedia would be better off if the protection were left in place. Pi zero (talk) 14:56, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
You know what might help? If everyone stays on topic. If we're talking about an explanation paragraph, don't bring up the dispute tag. If we're talking about the dispute tag, don't bring up the policy itself. Bring something up, and people feel obligated to respond, then they do, and progress gets sidetracked. As they say in Star Wars, "STAY ON TAR-GET!" Solving this problem might seem impossible, but so did blowing up the Death Star. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:48, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
A difficulty with this plan is that ostensibly separate topics may be entangled, so that each of them is to some extent a legitimate concern in discussing the other. BTW, didn't the Star Wars character who said that get blown up? Pi zero (talk) 15:46, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
Hey, if I have to sacrifice myself to save the Rebel Alliance, then prep my X-wing! Yes it is natural for the topics to get tangled, but lately I'm seeing people respond to "We should keep the dispute tag," with "You're wrong! Semicolons have nothing to do with this." I propose this: If something new comes up or if something reminds you of something else that's worthy of discussion, start a new mini-section nearby and quote the person to whom you're responding. That way we'll be able to resolve these issues one by one. We'll also have an easier time fighting the urge to divide into camps. For example, it's possible for someone to believe that Wikipedia should keep the technical punctuation style but also believe that this page should keep the dispute tag. By mixing everything together, people are more likely to form alliances based on feelings and hostility rather than evaluating each separate issue on its merits. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:57, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
In other words, if the discussion is about the explanation paragraph--which is the issue over which this page was protected--and you feel the need to bring up the dispute tag, only do so if you also explain exactly what the dispute tag has to do with the issue at hand. If you see someone else doing that and wish to respond, respond only to the part that has to do with the explanation paragraph. If you feel the need to respond to the part about the dispute tag, then make a new section. Darkfrog24 (talk)
I find myself wondering if there is enough to this to turn into an essay. Pi zero (talk) 19:22, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
What, you mean like, "Here are some things to try when the fight goes round and round?" Sure, why not. I wouldn't propose it as a policy, though. I just think it might help in our case. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:36, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
If I were writing it I'd probably go for a narrower essay, called "Stay on target", which is why I wondered if there was enough to it. But that's just me; I definitely don't have time to write Wikipedia essays. Pi zero (talk) 20:02, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
In the interests of staying on target, I'll point out that the page was not protected over an issue at all, nor because of the character of discussion on the talk page. It was protected because decision making that should have been resolved to consensus on the talk page, and then implemented on the project page in an orderly fashion, was instead being thrashed out by intensive editing of the project page. Pi zero (talk) 20:02, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
This debate has reached the word count of a novella. I propose it be added to WP:LAME once it finally dies. —Wulf (talk) 21:55, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
Maybe the whole dispute over whether or not we should keep the dispute tag. That one's pretty freakin' funny in its way. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:48, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

Punctuation: multiple sentence-enders[edit]

I would like to raise an issue that hasn't been addressed by earlier discussions of punctuation and quotation marks.

In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet asks: "Wherefore art thou Romeo?" Suppose I want to ask someone why she said that. I would have to say: "Why did Juliet say 'Wherefore art thou Romeo?'?" It seems to me that both question marks are needed, because it’s a question about a question.

What do people think?

Occultations (talk) 17:11, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

Yes, that seems correct. However, it would be best to rephrase the sentence to avoid this odd-looking result, for instance, "In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Juliet asks, 'Wherefore art thou Romeo?' Why did she say this?". In any case, I think questions within questions are unlikely to occur often in Wikipedia articles. — Cheers, JackLee talk 19:46, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
Are you asking about a situation in which someone asks: "Why did juliet say 'Wherfore art thou Romeo?'?"?:-) --MoreThings (talk) 22:44, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
Use only one question mark, placed inside the quotation marks. It ends both sentences. Exception: MLA-style parenthetical citation, though the MLA style guide recommends just rearranging the sentence. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:21, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Hmm, the APA style also says to use just one question mark, but they put it outside instead. [21] Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:32, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Though the sources that I've found so far differ on where the mark should be placed, they all agree that there should be only one. It seems to me that the Wikipedia MoS should not advocate two quotation marks unless we can find at least one outside style guide that does so. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:20, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Jack's suggestion to reword. And I agree with Df that two question marks should be avoided at all cost. Tony (talk) 14:26, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Yep, no doubling. The only doubling of terminal punctuation I can find anywhere in pre-existing style guides is a common but not universal one to double periods with parentheticals, when a) the parenthetical ends in a period and b) the parenthetical ends the sentence containing it. E.g. "It happened on Christmas Eve (24 Dec.)." This is ugly enough, and frequently enough mistaken for an error and reverted, that I almost always rewrite to avoid it. Our articles by and large use far too many parentheticals as it is. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 17:59, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Ok, no double question marks. What about what Juliet says just before that: "O Romeo, Romeo!"? Occultations (talk) 14:56, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

Punctuation: Quotation marks: Inside or outside[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Newcomers to this debate, please read this first. Here is the matter under dispute: The Wikipedia Manual of Style has adopted a system called "logical quotation" for use in all articles. This system differs from both standard American English and from standard British English in the ways described below. The reasons for the adoption of "logical quotation" are stated on the MoS page. Arguments against this guideline, and additional arguments in favor, can be read on this and archived talk pages. Emotions run high where this matter is concerned, so please take extra care to conduct yourself in a manner befitting a Wikipedia editor.

Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:18, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

There was an inaccuracy in the above; caught between editing another editor's comment, and leaving an inaccuracy in an introductory paragraph for the section (I do like the idea of having such a paragraph, assuming everyone can agree on its phrasing), I tried to clarify the relationship between the paragraph and its original author by simply placing a paragraph break before the signature — perhaps there is a better way to mark the distinction?
The inaccuracy was the representation that logical and British never differ in practice; in fact, they rarely differ in practice. If there is dispute over the point, then the paragraph needs to be either revised to acknowledge or sidestep the disagreement (so long as it remains unresolved), or the paragraph should be struck out. Universal permission is really required for this, otherwise it isn't cricket to retroactively insert stuff at the top of the section. Pi zero (talk) 14:52, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
I am fine with "rarely." Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:08, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
British quotation also differs from logical quotation in that when a quotation is integrated into an author's sentence, the period is placed outside the quotation mark, even if the period belonged to the original quotation. This applies even if the quoted material is a complete sentence (MHRA Style Guide 2008, 43).
  • The British man said 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog'.
  • The logician said "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." As did the American.
In British English however, if the integrated quotation is separated by a punctuation mark, then the endpoint is placed logically.
  • The British man said, 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.'
  • The British man said: 'The quick brown fox', shrewdly enough, 'jumps over the lazy dog.'
Sometimes the British and American styles concur, where presumably the logical style could differ. If a partial quotation is followed by a parenthetical citation, the end point would follow the parenthetical reference, even if it belonged to the original quotation.
  • The American could not bare to tell his British friend that a truck had struck his 'lazy dog' (The Guardian 2009, A1).
Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 19:36, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
I've simplified the opening statement, reducing that part of it to the basic fact that logical quotation is different from both of the other two. I think it's extremely valuable to newcomers to let them know that at the outset. Pi zero (talk) 23:48, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

The debate over punctuation[edit]

Out of curiosity, how did this odd little community decide that periods and commas belong outside the quotation marks? This goes against traditional academic standards, rules set by MLA, the APA, Harvard and others. What books did you consult? What books have you read? Have you taken English courses recently? If you're British, then you are forgiven. That's your academic convention after all. But for all the Americans here, what the hell y'all thinking?

For example, see Quotation Marks: Teaching the Basics by Susan Collins, The McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar by Mark Lester, or The Associated Press guide to Punctuation by René J. Cappon. Better still, pick up any old book from your local library. Have you glanced at the featured articles on Wikipedia? Have you seen which style they have adopted? Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 07:23, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

I'm American, and generally prefer American usage. Some Britishisms absolutely make me itch — whilst, aluminium, dice used as singular. But on this one I'm with the Brits. In this case they just happen to be right. Quotation marks enclose that which is being quoted; if the thing you're quoting doesn't have the punctuation mark, then it shouldn't be there. --Trovatore (talk) 07:29, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
The funny part is I agree with you. It has always made logical sense to me to adopt the British style. But here's the rub, it's not up you or me to decide these things! There is a long history of precedent, and grammatical rules have already been put in place. They are being taught in schools, enforced in our universities, and are adopted by almost every English speaking scholar, editor, and publishing house. If Wikipedia is a tool of education -- which we are lead to believe -- then we do a disservice to this aim by advocating a convention that will be rejected by most learned institutions. There are practical reasons for keeping grammer and punctuation universal. But it seems that this group wants to play by their own rules. Miguel Chavez (talk) 07:50, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Some irony: those same style guides would tell you that em-dashes used in that manner should be close-set and not spaced around (and you didn't type an em-dash anyway but two hyphens). You say "...keeping grammer [sic] and punctuation universal" and don't care that spelling should also be universal. So is agreement between number ("this group" is singular, "they" is plural). So you take and choose which rules you carefully follow with documented precedent, and which you don't care about or follow. Everyone is the same way, with different peeves and blind spots. Długosz (talk) 16:25, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
This isn't the American Wikipedia. It's the English-language Wikipedia. Accordingly, the project has had to address the issue of dealing with national variations in English.
As your original post admits, the punctuation style employed here (sometimes called the "logical" style) is the one common in British English. On the other hand, we use the double quotation marks of American English. There is no perfect solution. This is the one we've adopted. One could make a sensible argument for saying that each editor uses the style that's considered academically correct in his or her home country, but that would produce jarring changes of style within a single article (sometimes within a single sentence). See Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Quotation marks. At one point that section or some other MoS provision characterized our approach as splitting the difference between AE and BE usage. We also have rules about the spelling differences between different versions of English. Sometimes "neighbour" is correct and sometimes "neighbor" is correct. JamesMLane t c 08:11, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
I understand that we should shy away from American parochialism. But that by itself is not an argument. This little group here has decided to adopt a style used by a minority of English speakers, and one which is at odds with the preponderance of English speaking academics and academic institutions. It is rejected by the Modern Language Association (the folks on the literary side), the American Psychological Association (the scientific side), as well as the good folks at Harvard. My point is this. A lot of kids read Wikipedia, and they -- for better or worse -- are going to incorporate what they see here into their writing styles. And you know what, you're going to piss their teachers off. Why, 'cause you think you know better. If this was any other subject, all we'd have to do is consult a list of authoritative texts. Evidence would be presented, and a rational consensus would ensue. I have a feeling that this would be a futile exercise in this case. As an avid and faithful reader, I can only cringe. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 09:25, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
"you're going to piss their teachers off". Their teachers should be worrying about the kids' incompetence with basic spelling and grammar, rather than which of two legitimate, established stylistic conventions they adhere to. Ilkali (talk) 10:47, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

Reading the bit about pissing the teachers off it occurred to me that these teachers really haven't that right. If teachers want students to use the US style, surely they'd have to teach it since by no means does it follow logically that something not part of the quote belongs within. If students pick up what they see here and copy it, that'll show the teachers that there's a gap to be filled and give them the opportunity to reinforce the crazy illogical system that the good folks at Harvard peddle. Better still, if enough students copy WP, US academia might swing toward logic ... But, no, WP is no tool to be used for pushing some style or other, however, we are free to adopt one and the one we've adopted by rational consensus is the logical style. Should we worry too much about WP's influence of American academia ... wouldn't we be overrating ourselves? I'm sure America has enough inertia to continue down its current illogical punctuation path in spite of us. There are worse things than logical punctuation on the net for kids to copy. JIMp talk·cont 10:21, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

This seems to be just another case of the phenomenon described above under #Too many people with too much spare time?, anyway. [22][23] --Hans Adler (talk) 10:43, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Hate to point out the obvious, but this coming from a person reading the Wikipedia Manual of Style, clicking on the discussion tab, and reading the pedantic discussion therein. Miguel Chavez (talk) 19:42, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
The teachers are right because that's the standard everyone has agreed to (minus the folks on the island). It's funny to me because you hear over and over again that Wikipedia wants to be considered a "serious encyclopedia," and it's this kind of make-your-own-rules crap that makes it look like a joke.
In science, as well as other academic disciplines, there is a process called peer review. That means if you think you have a better idea you, as a professional, submit your idea to be reviewed by a panel of experts also trained in that field of expertise. If your idea's have some semblance of merit it is published. And it is through publication and argument that one's ideas can become orthodoxy. When this happens — and the argument has been won — you start to see your ideas published in encyclopedias, textbooks, and taught in the lower grade levels. This is how the academic process is done. Not so here. If the "logical" style passes the peer review process and manages to become incorporated into most English style manuals then I will concede. But until then everyone of you who thinks that "this", is the right way to use punctuation is wrong. And of course there are worst things in the world to worry about (red herring), but anyone who has a grasp of basic grammar and punctuation can't help but get irritated. At the very least there should be a warning that the Wikipedia MoS departs from most English style guides. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 19:42, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
The internet is not America. Again: The internet is not America. Calling a stylistic convention "wrong" because it does not match what you were taught completely misses the point of this page, which is to provide guidance to editors in the face of multiple regionally or contextually prevailing conventions. Ilkali (talk) 21:14, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
The Internet may not be America, but the readers of the English language Wikipedia overwhelmingly are. If we use American spellings in articles (which we do in most), then we need to be consistent. DreamGuy (talk) 22:38, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
I'm a firm believer in the peer review process. I know I don't have a doctorate in English, and even if I did I wouldn't have the hubris to think that I could speak for my entire professional community. As it is, a preponderance of English speakers, English departments, professional writers, and publishing houses adopt American conventions of punctuation. As mentioned previously, several major British newspapers have even adopted the American style. You may believe you are in the right, but at least be humble enough to admit you are on the losing side. This whole discussion reminds me of the Intelligent Design crowed who can't win the debate in academic circles so the peddle their ideas online and try to sneak them through the back door. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 01:18, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Don't forget that the American style was originally the British style, and that the problem comes from the US and Canada (unlike Australia) not following the reform that happened in the UK. A recent change towards the logical system doesn't look like "on the losing side" to me. Also it seems to me that roughly half the native speakers of English live in the logical quotation area, and many of the others prefer logical quotation anyway. And then we have the fact that the Chicago Manual of Style, while clearly preferring the American style, admits there are precision problems and permits logical style where these matter. This affects some (admittedly few) of our articles.
Also the reason for the American system is that it looks better in conventional typography. Given the generally abysmal quality of web typography both on screen and in print, this is simply irrelevant in our context. --Hans Adler (talk) 01:52, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I'm curious as to how you arrived at your sum. I have it by at least a factor of three, possibly four. And if you sample published volumes and periodicals, as well as guidelines adopted by educational institutions and publishing houses, I would imagine the figure rises significantly higher. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 06:28, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
You still don't seem to understand the nature of the exercise here. The point isn't to decide which style convention is "correct", because that doesn't exist. The point is to select one according to our goals as a global encyclopedia, and it was decided that logical quotation best meets those goals. Ilkali (talk) 08:41, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I think I understand well enough. Some of you folks think you have come up with an improved style of punctuation. It's not quite the American system and it's not quite the British system. It's sort of a bastard child of both. So impressed with yourselves you have dubbed it the "logical system." It is not accepted by most of the world's academic institutions and used by very few if any writers, scholars and editors. But this does not dissuade you one bit. Rather than adopt a well recognized system used by universities and publishing houses, you just mandate that all users on Wikipedia must conform to the style which you happen find more intuitively pleasing or logical, at least to your mind. Never mind that most users will either reject it as sloppy punctuation, or worst still, adopt it in classrooms only to be marked down by their instructors. You say there is no correct way to use punctuation. Well not quite. There is, depending on your geographic location and the system you adopt. Most systems adopt the American style in way of punctuation. As such the Wikipedia MoS should reflect this, or at least be flexible enough to allow editors the freedom to make the decision themselves by not mandating preference. The fairest solution would be a compromise of sorts. Outline the differences in punctuation by the competing styles and let the editors decide which is more suitable for their prospective article. Best, Miguel Chavez 23:57, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
"Some of you folks think you have come up with an improved style of punctuation". ...What? You think logical quotation was invented on Wikipedia?
"you just mandate that all users on Wikipedia must conform to the style which you happen find more intuitively pleasing or logical". Oh, shut up. If you want to actually discuss the merits of different styles of quotation and how closely they match Wikipedia's core aims then I'm happy to engage you on that. I'm not interested in hissy fits. Ilkali (talk) 10:57, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
No, he means that the combination of "logical" punctuation and the use of double quotation marks (as default) is novel. I don't think we are the first instance, by any means; but British style guides do recommend single quotes, and the CMOS does say that British style should have single quotes if used, presumably to keep the comma near the preceding word. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:41, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Our choice of quotation glyphs is as unrelated to our choice of internal vs external punctuation as is our choice of color vs colour. The idea that this is about British vs American style is a persistent error. Ilkali (talk) 17:17, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Thanks Septentrionalis. I appreciate you handling my light work. You got it spot on. Miguel Chavez 08:06, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
Double quotes are preferred for technical reasons (when searching for abcd the internal search engine will find "abcd" but it won't find 'abcd'); I wouldn't object to allow single quotes in articles written in British English if/when that is fixed. --A. di M. (formerly Army1987) — Deeds, not words. 10:25, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
Confused as to how that would affect a search? Best, Miguel Chavez 00:21, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Because search engines will see single quotes as part of the words being searched for, and double quotes as string delimiters. Since the quotes can always be changed after you cut and paste into the search engine, this is a weak argument, but it should be in the quideline. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:54, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
One of Wikipedia's core aims is civility. It has been plain for years that this rule (especially as it now stands, without acknowledgment that MOS is making a choice) is not conducive to civility. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:41, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

A handful of editors established this some time ago. Some of them belong to the Dominions, where schoolmarms seem to be very fierce about "logical" punctuation; one of them was an American engineer who posted at length about his grudge against his liberal arts professors (they took off marks putting commas outside). It has the advantage of presenting quotations precisely as written; on the other hand, it is prone to error, and open to difficult cases (especially when the only source uses the other convention). A rational MOS would say this, and let editors choose - as long as each article was consistent. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:39, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

Makes sense to me. Miguel Chavez (talk) 19:53, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

In articles using American spelling we use American punctuation rules. I don't care if the MoS currently says otherwise. It won't be the first nor the last time the MoS says something silly that the vast majority of editors just ignore outright. On articles using British spellings by all mean use British punctuation rules, otherwise no. DreamGuy (talk) 22:38, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

"In articles using American spelling we use American punctuation rules". Makes no sense. The two are completely separate things. Ilkali (talk) 22:44, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
As a general rule of thumb, this seems to be the sensible position. And it's a policy I have adopted and one I think most editors here on Wikipedia have adhered to. Articles discussing British subjects, like the British ethologist Richard Dawkins for example, ought to employ British parochialisms. Articles which touch upon general subjects, however, ought to employ general rules of punctuation, as defined by groups like the MLA, APA and other reputable sources. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 00:22, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Do you really expect anyone to take your comments seriously if you use POV language like this? Johnbod (talk) 13:29, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
My only expectation is for people to address the arguments being made. However I'm a little confused as to why I should behave as though I didn't have a point of view when I clearly do? Best Miguel Chavez (talk) 02:39, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
The long-standing consensus is that articles with no obvious relation to any one place can be written in any dialect of English, provided that it is consistent and that idioms which can be easily misunderstood by speakers of other dialects are avoided. The fact that there are style guides for American English which are reputable sources doesn't make British rules "parochialisms": there also are style guides for British English which are reputable sources. --A. di M. (formerly Army1987) — Deeds, not words. 09:55, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
No, but insisting on only British format everywhere is parochialism, and impractical parochialism; too many of our editors do not use it, or have never heard of it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:41, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
"too many of our editors do not use it, or have never heard of it". I don't think you get the point of style guides. If we were just describing what our editors already do, this page wouldn't be a guideline. Ilkali (talk) 17:17, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Guidelines are what our editors generally agree on doing; see WP:Consensus (and indeed WP:Policies and guidelines). There is no point to a volunteer organization, which (by policy) accepts anyone, having anything else; nothing else is enforceableable, useful, or conducive to civiility. (There are other ends the futile effort at prescription can serve, chiefly ego-inflation, but few of them are socially useful; do any of them contribute to the encyclopedia?) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:45, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
"Guidelines are what our editors generally agree on doing [...]. There is no point to a volunteer organization, which (by policy) accepts anyone, having anything else". It doesn't seem like people can agree not to vandalise pages or edit war, either. Let's get rid of the associated policies. Ilkali (talk) 18:33, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
On the contrary, that is a perfect example. There is general agreement (including both sides of the edit war, talking about each other) that edit-warring should not be done; so we have policy against it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:41, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
No, most people have an "unless I'm right" clause in their internal WP:3RRs. Assuming I'm right about that, should we write it into the real policy?
Guidelines aren't there to predict or describe or affirm what people already do. They're supposed to guide. They're there to say "in situation X, do Y". The fact that not everybody will automatically follow the guideline, or that some might reject it, does not negate its purpose or its value. Ilkali (talk) 20:03, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Does it matter, then, what they guide or whether editors generally agree with it? Reductio ad absurdum does work, of course, on the answer No; but I don't want to leap to a conclusion. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:43, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Guidelines are supposed to show what the best current practices are. (I've read that somewhere, but I don't remember where.) --A. di M. (formerly Army1987) — Deeds, not words. 10:25, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
The problem is the consensus you mentioned is not being followed through here. The MoS is explicitly endorsing one style while rejecting the other, even though the one being rejected is far better recognized and implemented more often by most academic institutions. I described the British system as a parochialism because that's what it is: a localized phenomenon. Although many English speakers use it, its use is still in the minority. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 08:25, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
See my comments to PManderson about what a style guide is and isn't. Our job here isn't to describe what our editors already do. There are more concerns here than just who's in the majority.
I would also point out that logical quotation is not restricted to Britain. Scholars of all countries often use it for its precision, like we do here. Ilkali (talk) 08:43, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
Well this is a public encyclopedia, and decisions ought to be made by majority consensus. A cursory look at the articles seems to favor the American style. As for "logical quotation," its use in public literature is exceedingly narrow, even in the scientific literature, which prefers the APA style. Miguel Chavez 00:21, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
"decisions ought to be made by majority consensus". No, that's stupid.
"its use in public literature is exceedingly narrow, even in the scientific literature, which prefers the APA style". Are you still pretending choice of glyphs and choice of internal-vs-external are somehow the same thing? Ilkali (talk) 19:00, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
First things first. If you are under the impression that you and your cadre have ownership of this article you are terribly mistaken. This is an open project, and as long as our contributions are reasonable (and supported by mainstream academic scholarship), then they ought to be considered and decided upon by consensus. My opinion on this issue is simple. Wikipedia ought to adopt general and broadly recognized styles of punctuation. I believe this principle, although unspoken, is why we prefer American preferences of spelling. Not because the American style is superior, but that it will be recognized by a preponderance of Wikipedia users. I understand that this issue is controversial—oddly enough—so I'm willing to give in to plurality, and put up for consideration that the Wikipedia MoS allow editors the flexibility to choose for themselves which style is most appropriate for their prospective articles. To the second point. When I stated that logical quotation was "exceedingly narrow," I meant just that, and nothing more. That the practice of placing a punctuation marks outside the quotation when the punctuation mark is not part of the sentence, and inside the quotation when the punctuation mark is part of the quoted speech is disproportionately narrow as compared to the style which is generally used on the North American continent and adopted by most editors and publishing houses. This with the fact that most academic bodies adopt the American style, makes for a persuasive argument in favor of adopting inside punctuation. The type of glyph was not really an issue with me, as my argument is completely consistent with Wikipedia choice of glyph. But there is something to the fact that the odd coupling of styles reduces it further still. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 05:56, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
"as long as our contributions are reasonable (and supported by mainstream academic scholarship), then they ought to be considered and decided upon by consensus". Nobody's criticised your contributions on the basis of anything but their merit. Don't cry persecution just because people aren't agreeing with you.
"we prefer American preferences of spelling". No we don't.
"I'm willing to give in to plurality, and put up for consideration that the Wikipedia MoS allow editors the flexibility to choose for themselves". Style guides exist for a reason. Logical quotation is plainly superior for our purposes, and I've yet to see any coherent arguments that our explicit preference for it has ever caused any harm, other than to the sensitivities of stylo-dominionistic Americans. Ilkali (talk) 11:54, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
"Don't cry persecution just because people aren't agreeing with you." First, "persecution" was never at issue. This is about the possessiveness and arrogance on your part to refuse amending the guidelines in lieu of reasonable (and ongoing) dissent. Second, I think I've easily split the difference here. After all, I'm not the one getting all bothered about consensus. Third, I think our preference for American spelling is quite evident, and I'll leave it for readers to decide for themselves. Third, you've done nothing to address my arguments other than go on about how "plainly superior" logical quotation is. Never mind that most of the academic and literary world disagrees with you. But what do they know, right? In any case, my argument has nothing to do with which style is theoretically superior (the answer is none). The argument is based on four factors. 1, which style is better recognized by (English speaking) Wikipedia readers? 2, which style is in accordance with general principles of academic convention? 3, which style is backed by the preponderance of editors and publishing houses? 4, could the coupling of American and British styles confuse students on the North American continent, thus leading to the adoption of a style which will be rejected by their institutions of learning? Your arguments so far have been: so what, shut up, and this has been decided long ago -- go away. So far, not so impressed. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 20:22, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
"[R]easonable [...] dissent" – that's exactly the key problem. So far there have been no reasonable arguments from your side. And that's why you currently don't have a chance to get the MOS changed. --Hans Adler 17:21, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
Excuse my honesty, but you wouldn't know reason if it hit you in the face. Miguel Chavez (talk) 06:48, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Mchavez: please take a look at WP:CIVIL. I believe you owe Hans Adler an apology. Tony (talk) 13:49, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
If Hans was in any way hurt by my comment he has my sincerest apologies (and sympathy). It was wrong of me to imply that reason would assault him, and such an assault would thereby go unnoticed or unrecognized. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 23:19, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

Out of curiosity, is there some reason to suppose (as this thread seems mostly inclined to) that the choice of logical quotation was made arbitrarily on the basis of personal style preferences, rather than for the reasons that the page itself actually states? Pi zero (talk) 00:12, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

Here's the tirade about liberal artsy stuff, anyway.
The reasons the page states are valid, as far as they go; so are the reasons Miguel Chavez would urge on the other side; so are the cautions of the Chicago Manual of Style (§6.10) that the British style requires extreme authorial precision and occasional decisions by the editor or typesetter. We should state all of them. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:18, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
The purpose of writing (whether in English or any other human language) is to be understood. Thus clarity of communication is paramount, and should decide any issues about grammatical rules. Consequently, I put punctuation inside when it is part of what I am quoting, or outside when it is part of my sentence structure. Thus one might have a period inside the quotation and also one outside it, if the quotation is a full declarative sentence and forms the last word in one of my declarative sentences. For example, one might say
Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos said "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.".
I do not care whether we call this American, British, or logical. It is the system I use. JRSpriggs (talk) 00:51, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
That is actually logical, but it is neither of the systems under discussion. This shows the ineffectiveness of the present prohibition.
Again, who opposes acknowledging that there are at least two systems (since Wikipedia is doubtless actually using both) and describing the reasons to choose one or the other? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:37, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
What about:

In British English, punctuation marks are placed inside the quotation marks only if they are part of the quoted text:

Arthur said, "The situation is deplorable and unacceptable." (The period is part of the quoted text.)
Arthur said that the situation was "deplorable". (The period is not part of the quoted text.)

In American English, commas and periods are normally placed inside the quotation marks regardless of whether they are part of the quoted text:

Arthur said that the situation was "deplorable."

Nevertheless, the British style can also be used in American English in scientific and technical contexts where the standard American style would be misleading:

In the vi text editor, a line can be deleted from the file by typing "dd". (Putting the period inside the quotation marks would suggest that it also must be typed, but that would delete two lines.)
--A. di M. (formerly Army1987) — Deeds, not words. 09:55, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
"The British" or "American format" might be better. Americans do use the British style, sometimes; and conversely. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:41, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Sounds pretty good. Miguel Chavez (talk) 08:13, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

We have a clear guideline here. It is generally accepted, and it works. PLEASE leave it alone. See #Too many people with too much spare time? above. Thank you. Finell (Talk) 01:17, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

If it were generally accepted, this small section wouldn't attract complaints every other month. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:00, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
Not necessarily. There are plenty of Wikipedians who will argue about anything, and especially about standards. Finell (Talk) 13:01, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
Granted. But if that were all that were going on, there'd be an argument about every section, because the content wouldn't matter. But that's not the case; show me the last argument about the section on Celestial bodies, although it is open to criticism. This section, however, justifiably annoys people, and should be revised closer to WP:ENGVAR, even if we choose to express a preference for "logical" quotation. . Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:35, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
As the project page states, the standard is based on precision: "it is used by Wikipedia both because of the principle of minimal change, and also because the method is less prone to misquotation, ambiguity, and the introduction of errors in subsequent editing.". That is also why it is called logical quotation. It has nothing to do with WP:ENGVAR, and adding WP:ENGVAR to the explanation would muddle something that is now clear. Finell (Talk) 22:02, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
That is the (fairly feeble) argument for it; and editors should indeed consider it. The "imprecision" consists of the fact that some readers, faced with the other system, which uses ," as a compound sign, will be parochial enough to read the single comma as part of the quotation although it need not be. Editors should be aware of that possibility, and adopt "logical" punctuation when it will be a problem - or recast to avoid the comma; but it's a single comma. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:46, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

The reference to WP:ENGVAR does deswerve clarification: I do not mean that we should adapt quotation systems to the national variety of English used. We should, when there are two commonly used systems of typography in English, mention that there are two, and discourage switching between them save for food reasons and by consensus. Engvar does that for color/colour; we should do it more widely. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:46, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

"If it were generally accepted, this small section wouldn't attract complaints every other month." The last time an objection to logical quotation was raised was six months ago, by you (in a discussion of timewasting complaints). Prior to that there was a discussion in August 2008 (again involving you); and prior to that, there was a discussion in May 2008, again involving you. That certainly adds up to far less than a complaint "every other month", as you must be aware as a participant in the last three unsuccessful and frequently-rejected "challenges". chocolateboy (talk) 23:18, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
  • When I see this come up, I tell those who object that they are not alone, and attempt to give the reasons that this page should, like other Wikipedia pages, give both sides of the story, as I have done here. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:59, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
This debate is ridiculous. If editors want to use the most well known system of punctuation, which is adopted by most universities, books, newspapers and periodicals then they should. Miguel Chavez 00:21, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Good luck with that. [24][25] chocolateboy (talk) 01:27, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
That small edit is actually how a came to find out about this unusual policy of yours. I find it, well, odd that an article dealing exclusively with American popular culture should be so infused with British parochialisms. Miguel Chavez (talk) 02:27, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
  • I should remind those who wave WP:POINT around: it prohibits doing actions which you do not support, or which damage the encyclopedia, to make a point. Doing actions which you do support, and which help the encyclopedia, despite a guideline is WP:IAR; that is supported by policy. However, those who do this must state what benefit they see, and may be reversed unless supported by local consensus. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:50, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

¶ For whatever little it may be worth, I crossed the Atlantic thrice between the ages of 6 and 11, ending up in the U.S. with a mild chauvinistic prejudice in favour of British style & spelling. But sometimes American practice makes more sense to me on a relatively objective logical basis and sometimes British. I think American double-quotes are far better because they avoid double-takes when an apostrophe (prime, etc.) is encountered either in the middle of a quotation or closely outside one. [The bakers' son swore that ‘when I visited Goldsmiths', they didn't have the goods’ that had been described.] That's still a problem with apostrophes near an enclosed quotation, but those are less common. But I don't like introducing punctuation that isn't in the original, no matter what the aesthetic advantages might be, because it can either mislead the reader or impose on him or her the burden of trying to reconstruct what the original looked like. On the other hand, if you're quoting a whole sentence that ends with a full-stop/period (or would, if it were written down from speech) then by almost the very same logic, leave it inside the quotation marks. This rule, by the way, is almost imperative (from my point of view) for other stops such as exclamation points [!] and question/interrogation marks [?] because doing otherwise could distort the import of the original quotation; so why not follow it for periods/full-stops and commas? —— Shakescene (talk) 18:15, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

I'll admit it. I sort of hope logical punctuation is eventually adopted by the academic community -- even though it's aesthetically inferior with its lack of symmetry and uniformity -- but until that day comes I'm going to stick with "mainstream" academic convention. Maybe it's because I'm a first born, and studies show that we tend to be less rebellious. I suppose that also explains why I continue to use Windows. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 09:38, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
I do not think we should call the British system "logical." It biases people against American punctuation by implying that it is illogical. It's not more logical; it's just a different way of solving an old typographical problem. It's perfectly logical to spell "color" without a U, but if I'm writing an article about London wall paintings, I'd best use London spelling.
I propose that we instead refer to the British punctuation rule as it applies to commas and periods as "the stop rule" or "the stop system" because it relies on the location of the stop within the sentence. It's descriptive, nearly self-explanatory and, hopefully, won't tick anyone off.
If the matter of British or American punctuation is being revisited, then here are my two cents: Why not use the guideline that is already in place for spelling? Articles that are about specifically American or British topics use the spelling that more closely relates to the subject matter, and articles that don't apply to either stick with the system established by the original contributor.Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:44, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

Is it "aesthetically inferior"? Isn't that in the eye of the beholder? As for calling it "logical", this is no bias against Americans: it is logical. What is part of the quote goes inside; what is not doesn't. What could be more logical? As has been noted in this and prior discussions on the topic we have a different situation from US verses Commonwealth spelling. American punctuation changes the quote this is why it has been judged inappropriate. JIMp talk·cont 21:04, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

Calling one system "logical" implies that its alternative is illogical. For example, factions in the abortion debate imply that their opponents are "pro-death" or "anti-choice." Another way to mitigate this is to give the American system a name of its own and use both in the article, such as in an article that refers to both the pro-life and pro-choice factions by their own selected names (or an article that refers to the two systems as "British" vs. "American" or as "logical" vs. "consistent," etc.). As for what could be more logical, it can be argued that it is more logical to treat periods and commas consistently as opposed to switching back and forth. The name "logical," with regard to the stop rule, is arbitrary. Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:02, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
If a style were called by any other name, it would smell just as logical ... or consistent ... Well, the American style is illogical. To put something within inverted commas regardless of whether it is part of the quote is illogical. This is no anti-American bias nor is it arbitary. Nor do I see how logic could lead us to the idea that we should prefer the kind of "consistency" involved in putting fullstops and commas (and what about other punctuation marks?) within the quote regardless of whether they belong there. Consistency, on the other hand, it might be argued, leads us directly to logical punctuation for what could be more consistant than having everything within the inverted commas being part of the quote and everthing outside not? I'd thus argue that logical quotation is more consistant or conforms to a higher level of consistency that the alternative. So to use the term consistent to describe the American style and thus imply that the logical style is inconsistent would not be correct. The term æsthetic punctuation is sometimes used but beauty is in the eye of the beholder (and I can name you one beholder who see nothing pretty here). There is, however, another name which is often used for the American style: typesetters punctuation since it was the early typesetters who came up with this style for practical reasons, reasons which no longer apply. JIMp talk·cont 18:14, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
It is not illogical and calling it so offends me deeply. As you've just demonstrated with the word "consistent," words can apply or not apply to something depending on how the reasoning is worked out. Your argument against the logic of American punctuation would only hold water if were not understood that using a period or comma to end a quote is just part of the quoting process. It is. And in American English, full stops and commas are put there because they do belong there.
I wouldn't object to calling the stop rule "technical punctuation," because it is used in technical documents. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:32, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
Two points.
  • Logical here means "using the logical status of the punctuation as a basis for deciding where to put it", so the use of that term has nothing whatever to do with whether or not it makes sense to use that logical status as the basis for the decision. (I acutally do think it makes a lot of sense to do so in Wikipedia, because it maximizes information delivered to the reader, and delivering information to the reader is the mission of Wikipedia; but I digress.) Since logical here doesn't mean "making sense", but rather "using information about logical status", it's not at all clear that it's even meaningful to talk about what is the "opposite" of logical, and even if there were such a thing as its opposite, that opposite wouldn't be "illogical".
  • None of the other systems that have been mentioned here is "opposite" to logical quotation, so in calling it logical quotation there is no implication that any of these other systems is "the opposite of logical", even if there were such a thing as "the opposite of logical" in this situation (which there isn't).
Pi zero (talk) 00:17, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
Calling one system "logical" implies that the others are less logical or illogical entirely. It might be nice if it didn't, but it does. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:48, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
Actually, no. You have inferred such a suggestion. Inference is what you bring to it, implication is what the originator brought to it. Recognizing that you like reliable sources (whatever their limitations in a discussion such as this one), do you have any reliable sources saying that the term "logical quotation" was chosen for what you are reading into it, rather than for what I am reading into it (or for some other reason)? Pi zero (talk) 23:39, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
No, but it's a pretty reasonable assumption to make. And even if the slight was made absent-mindedly, it's still there. There are plenty of people who say insulting, insensitive or offensive things without realizing it until after the fact. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:07, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
It's not all that reasonable an assumption (even if one does entirely set aside WP:AGF, which really oughtn't be set aside here since presumably only Wikipedians patronize the MOS). The assumption would be that the name "logical quotation" was chosen in order to suggest that that style makes more sense than the British or American style. That would be a spiteful reason for choosing the name; to assume it, one would have to also assume that the proponents either defied, or served with cunning deception, their obvious motive not to offend patrons of the other styles. Moreoever, there is a straightforward rational motivation at hand for the name, and the style was apparently adopted for a rational reason, so it would be a gratuitous complication — violating Occam's Razor — to suppose that the name wasn't chosen for the available rational reason, but instead for a spiteful one. Pi zero (talk) 05:57, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
I said it was "aesthetically inferior" because under Wikipedia's current style guidelines punctuation jumps in and out of quotation marks depending on the cited source material. This gives the articles an overall lack of consistency (and makes it stubbornly difficult to copy edit—unless you're fortunate enough to have possession of the primary source material). You're quite right to point out that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," however psychologists have accumulated enormous amounts of data which show that symmetry is a fundamental factor in general perceptions of beauty. I don't want to make much of this point, but rather defend my comment as at least arguable. Secondly, I don't really care one way or another if proponents of the British style wish to call their style "logical quotation," "logical punctuation," or whatever. It seems obviously self serving, but it honestly doesn't bother me one bit. My problem is that it breaks with most academic convention,† and makes us look like we don't know what we're doing. Best, Miguel Chavez.
† [For example, encyclopedias such as Britannica, Encarta, and World Book. Style guides and language associations, such as: MLA Style Manual, APA Publication Manual, Chicago Manual of Style, APSA Style Manual, AMA Manual of Style, The Associated Press guide to Punctuation, U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual (2008, p. 217), The Canadian Style: A Guide to Writing and Editing (1997, p. 148), International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, American Institute of Physics' AIP Style Manual (1990, p. 12), and the The Gregg Reference Manual, the foremost business manual. Lastly punctuation reference volumes such as: The McGraw-Hill desk reference by K. D. Sullivan (2006, p. 52), The New Oxford guide to Writing by Thomas S. Kane (1994, p. 278), Webster's New World Punctuation by Geraldine Woods (2005, p. 68), The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation by Jane Straus, Quotation Marks: Teaching the Basics by Susan Collins, The McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar by Mark Lester, The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage by Allan M. Siegal, The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge by New York Times Staff (p. 788), Punctuation by Jennifer DeVere Brody, Better punctuation in 30 Minutes a Day by Ceil Cleveland, The Copyeditor's Handbook by Amy Einsohn (p. 111) which states: "All principal style manuals except for the CBE recommend what is called American Style."] Miguel Chavez (talk) 08:28, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
Chavez, I agree with many of the points you've made below, specifically that actual usage of punctuation in articles does vary, that the "consensus" on the stop rule could be something of a self-fulfilling prophecy and that the consensus for changing Wikipedia's policy has not yet been met. However, I don't think that Finell has "abandoned" American style so much as that he is able to accept a guideline even if he doesn't like it, a very useful ability on a site like this one. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:48, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
Sure, if the rule says to do something, it's logical to do so. The question is whether the rule itself is logical. Yes, there is beauty in symmetry (or at least for most beholders).
  • Here's your "symmetry."
  • Here's your "symmetry".
Are you telling us that the first of these is more symmetric? The second has the inverted commas neatly enclosing the word. In the first you've got this full stop in the way. JIMp talk·cont 22:22, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
I was referring to the symmetry of the article, and that with logical quotation the full stops jump in and out of the inverted commas. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 22:45, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
I do happen to find the first line more symmetric, but I don't think that aesthetics should be at the top of our list of things to consider. Try this: The so-called logical system was invented for technical documents, so it might be useful in articles that cover technical subjects, but why are we using it on articles that don't need it? The American rule is only confusing if it's not understood that using periods and commas is part of the quotation process. In American English, it is quite understood.
One of the cardinal rules of writing is "write for your audience," corollary: "write for your subject matter." We should use the system that is most appropriate to the subject matter. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:12, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
Let’s all take a step back here for a moment.

First, it looks like some people[weasel words] here are misunderstanding what “logical quotation” is. It is a constructed grammatical reform that is neither American nor British.

American style:
“At all events, the next best thing to being witty one’s self, is to be able to quote another’s wit.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that “a great man quotes bravely,” and I have no cause to disagree.

British style:
“At all events, the next best thing to being witty one’s self, is to be able to quote another’s wit.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that “a great man quotes bravely”, and I have no cause to disagree.

“Logical” style:
“At all events, the next best thing to being witty one’s self, is to be able to quote another’s wit.”.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that “a great man quotes bravely”, and I have no cause to disagree.

Second, I see talk of democracy from the side in favor of ditching the current rule, except the participants so far in this discussion currently appear to be roughly 8-5 in favor of keeping it… There’s also been some talk of there being more American Wikipedians than British ones, but a quick glance at the user categories shows there are nearly 5% fewer users in us+ca than au+sa+gb+nz+sco (I can’t seem to find any recent log statistics, which would hopefully be far more accurate). One thing that you have to remember is that outside North America, nearly everybody speaks British English or a variant thereof.

Third, I see arguments in opposition to logical quotes outside technical articles, but isn’t consistency what matters? As mentioned in the above debate on dashes, the MoS is here to unify – not divide. Otherwise, it would end up abdicating to individual WikiProjects, and everything would be in (relative) chaos. And, if we then pick just one style, shouldn’t it reflect the fact that logical style doesn’t materially hurt general articles, but that the reverse is not true?

I do think the American style is more aesthetically pleasing, however (while I feel good typography is very important) precision trumps aesthetics. If you want to consider ,” a combined glyph, submit a proposal to the Unicode Consortium. Then, assuming it’s accepted, we can take up this topic again in 20 years when the new character is widely supported… Alternatively, you could create a new properly-licensed default font for Wikipedia with a tweaked ,” kernpair and push for it to be included in all major operating systems. That would probably only take 10 years if you’re successful.  ;)

Wulf (talk) 05:42, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

Your first example of logical style shouldn't have an extra period after the closing double-quote; for that quoted complete sentence, all three styles agree. Pi zero (talk) 06:15, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
Responding to Wulf's comment, "Third, I see arguments in opposition to logical quotes outside technical articles, but isn’t consistency what matters?" the answer is no. With regard to American vs. British spelling, propriety and applicability to subject matter were considered more important than consistency over Wikipedia as a whole. Wikipedia's guidelines assert that articles should be consistent within themselves, but consistency throughout Wikipedia is not always necessary and sometimes not desirable. We've already seen that this kind of inconsistency does not cause chaos. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:33, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
With regard to ," they don't need to be a combined glyph. The argument against the American system is that it supposedly causes confusion. However, with the exception of urls and the like, the addition of a period or comma can be, within the American system, universally considered part of the process of quoting something. No confusion means no need to use a different system. I could see the case for using the technical style on articles about chemical compounds, but articles about George Washington or the American Civil War would be best served by American styles. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:36, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
The precision you speak of is actually a good reason not to consider using logical quotation at all, for you are demanding a level of precision well beyond what you can expect from amateur contributors. Most people can faithfully render the words of a quotation, but you'd be surprised by how many people stumble on simple matters like punctuation. Very few know the technical differences between styles. I see a lot of people applying punctuation as though it were only a matter of "in or out," without any regard to the original source material. The rest I'm assuming probably have no clue, and just follow general consensus. The problem with logical quotation is you need the primary source material to copy edit it, and we have no reason to expect that our contributors are using—or are even aware of—the rules and guidelines regarding logical quotation. Which will lead to errors in citation (thereby making it less accurate). Logical quotation might work well for a professional journal, but it's asking far too much from non-professional writers. The advantage of the American system is anyone can copy edit it! And as long as you understand the grammatical rule, that punctuation inside fragmented quotations cannot be considered part of the original source material—which I imagine most good readers do—then the typographical style is rendered no less accurate or inaccurate than it's competitors.
Second, I think the overwhelming consensus is that there is no consensus. In any case, it should be clear that "logical quotation" is quite controversial, and that the "higher level of consensus" needed for style guidelines has not been reached. As for user-logs, the sample size of people who categorize their geographic location is both small, selective, and nonrandom to be of any use.
Perhaps we should all take a step forward. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 21:17, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
I would agree that there is overwhelmingly no consensus for change. I would also agree that there is clear evidence that whether to put trailing punctuation inside or outside the quotation marks is quite controversial — though I see no particular reason to think that the level of controversy surrounding the convention now endorsed by the MOS is any greater than the level of controversy that would surround any other position that the MOS cound adopt on that issue (even the "no position" position). There is at least one reason, namely the history of the MOS on the issue, to suspect that any other position would be more controversial than the current one. Pi zero (talk) 22:55, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
That seems to be the only (and preferred) argument for keeping logical quotation in the MoS: it's been there for so long. I prefer to decide things based on substantive reasons. Second, I hope you have not misread my argument. "Higher level" consensus is not needed to replace an existing guideline, it's required to have a guideline at all. Given the practical concerns expressed over this issue--and it's long history of repeated controversy--logical quotation's position as a reputable guideline is dubious at best. Miguel Chavez (talk) 23:34, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
Though I have done so elsewhere, I made no argument here for or against logical quotation. I merely pointed out that there is no evidence supporting your claim about level of controversy, and that in fact there is even some reason to suspect the opposite of your claim.
It is blatantly false that that argument (which I, for one, have not made) is the only argument for keeping logical quotation in the MOS. Even I, a late comer to the discussion mainly occupied with clearing away side issues (hoping thereby to facilitate access to the substance of the matter), have mentioned a substantive advantage of logical quotation for Wikipedia.
Your claim about the reputation of the guideline is based on reasoning that successfully resisting challenges is a sign of weakness.
Pi zero (talk) 19:22, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
Okay, I was being cavalier. It was my (rhetorical) way of expressing my feelings about the quality of the arguments coming from the other side. As for our interpretations of the controversy, I suppose it's a matter of how you look at it. If the preponderance of articles are universally divided (or should I say confused) on the matter, and if the small group of participants here are fairly divided, that is enough to merit using the word controversy. Official policies regarding style should have strong and broad consensus. They should be obvious and reasonable to all (or at least most) thinking people. The simple fact is it isn't so obvious. Indeed there has been great division and much energy spent debating this subject, from many contributors, spanning the long history of its adoption. Why should Wikipedia adopt a style of punctuation rejected by most English speakers, rejected by most academics, most publishers, which remains—under its current rubric—unreferenced by a single style guide? Miguel Chavez (talk) 01:48, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
Chavez, while style guides referring to the technical quotation system are rare, it is possible to find them. I did a few days ago, though I've lost the link. Also, if the American Chemical Association has a style guide, it's probably in there. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:10, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
You can call me Miguel. Well, I've run across The ACS Style Guide, but I couldn't remember how it treated other forms of punctuation (besides periods and commas), or how it handled punctuation from quoted material. So I wasn't quite sure if it fell under the rubric of logical quotation (which seems to be the branding of the online community). But I will take a look as soon as I can. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 02:42, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
I concur that while technical quotation is not necessarily best for Wikipedia, the level of consensus required to changing the guideline has not yet been met.
However, I do believe that adopting a policy of system-best-suited-to-the-article would be less controversial than the technical-for-all position. It would probably stir up fewer bad feelings because the proponents of each system would feel as if they were being given their due, their proper domain plus original articles. We don't see people arguing over British vs. American spelling, do we? But just think about the fights there would be on this page if the MoS endorsed American spelling for all articles! It would make this debate look like a misplaced hat at bridge club. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:08, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
Given how divisive this issue is, I have staked out a more moderate position than the one I think you attribute to me. My position is that the Wikipedia MoS drop it's current policy on the issue of inside/outside punctuation, explain the advantages of each system, and let the editors decide for themselves, so long as the article remains consistent. As per the MoS: "An overriding principle is that style and formatting should be consistent within a Wikipedia article, though not necessarily throughout Wikipedia as a whole." This is also Wikipedia's policy with regard to variant forms of British/American spelling, which has worked splendidly so far. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 04:25, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

Early on in this discussion, someone asked, "What were you thinking?" I'd like to contribute by explaining why I am for such a grammar reform in this case. I'm a software engineer. In programming, there is a big difference between what is inside quotes and what isn't. Fudging the quote's contents to look prettier is simply not acceptable to an engineer who sees the meaning as-stated. If the quote doesn't contain a period, it shouldn't be tucked inside the quotes anyway. The common typesetting rules have to do with the appearance of typesetter's curved quotes and commas as well as full stops. Given that background, (1) Wikipedia was created by software engineers, and (2) the style does typically does not use curved quotes. I recall magazines adopting logical quoting as a policy twenty years ago, because their audience prefers that. So there is some precedent in that direction, too, in the print publishing industry. Długosz (talk) 16:20, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

That is why the American system makes exceptions for the types of keyboard inputs that you're describing. For the overwhelming majority of English writing, including encyclopedia-style writing, software-style punctuation is an unnecessary complication.
I've seen a lot of professional and amateur programmers and software engineers favoring this style, but Wikipedia is written for a general audience. For this reason, I believe that British-themed articles should use British punctuation and American-themed articles American punctuation. In those rare cases in which Wikipedia's current style would be beneficial, such as articles about certain chemical compounds and software concepts, I would support it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:35, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
I vote for the American style. HowardMorland (talk) 13:34, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
Would you care to explain why, too? (keep in mind that this is not really a vote. --LjL (talk) 13:37, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
LjL is correct. Wikipedia works by consensus, not vote results, as per WP:NOTDEMOCRACY. Ideally, decisions are made by weight of reasoning rather than by the number of supporters on each side. Please tell us yours, HowardMorland. (This may take some courage on your part, given how heated these discussions can get. Heh!) Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:25, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

The Dispute Tag[edit]

  • Query Would anyone mind if we remove the "disputed" tag from the project page? Anyone who cares know it's disputed, and I'm tired of referring editors to read about the subject and having them confronted by this banner. --Laser brain (talk) 20:07, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
Unequivocally, yes. First, there is a current discussion about the legitimacy of the guideline, thereby meriting the disputed tag. Second, the tag is an excellent way to bring more contributors into this discussion. As of yet, we only have a handful of participants hammering out the issue, and this policy broadly effects the entire encyclopedia. Third, there are problems associated with the current guidelines, both practical and philosophical, which have not been addressed or resolved. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 00:36, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
Sad to say, the tag still belongs there, no matter how tired of it people are. And we should never assume that people already know things just because they seem obvious to those of us who are hip-deep in it. With regard to referring new editors to source material, is there some way we could include a link to appropriate references in or near the tag or in some other reasonably obvious place? Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:07, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
Added. Think it'll help? Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:27, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
Miguel Chavez, the reason we have only a handful of participants here is that the vast majority of Wikipedians recognize that this is a longstanding rule of the project, that there are good reasons for it, and that it isn't going to be changed even though an alternative rule would also be defensible. Feel free to keep hammering if you want -- and you do seem to want -- but please recognize the context here. Don't imagine that a straw poll showing something like an 8-to-5 split in favor of your position will support a change in this guideline.
Is there a point at which you would acquiesce in the removal of the tag? or do you envision it as a permanent fixture unless and until you get your way? JamesMLane t c 01:30, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
Well ideally I would like to be persuaded, but that may be asking too much. But I can tell you this much. I would like to see one of two things happen. Good arguments coming from the other side. This would also include interesting and thoughtful counter-arguments to the points I and others have raised. I would also like to see the consensus swing in a clear direction. That would be a very good start. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 01:48, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
James--It seems more likely that the vast majority of Wikipedians simply don't know about this rule. Most of them haven't heard of the technical quotation system and simply assume that the stop-rule punctuation is either British or a mistake. In this case, silence is not a vote in favor. I cannot speak for Chavez but it seems appropriate that a dispute tag be removed when the subject is no longer in dispute. That's not the case here. It wouldn't be right to take down the tag just because a few individuals are tired of talking about it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:37, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
Darkfrog24, I agree that the vast majority of Wikipedians are completely oblivious to this entire issue. I should have been more specific -- of the Wikipedians who know about the dispute, the vast majority accept the current rule and don't get involved in each new discussion of it that someone starts. In this case, "accept" doesn't mean a vote in favor, but something closer to acquiescence.
Miguel Chavez's response amounts to saying that, in all probability, he thinks the tag should be there permanently. Our side hasn't made arguments that he, personally, considers good, so he'll go on disagreeing, so the section will be perpetually a matter of controversy. (If he ever did secure a change in the guideline, I and others would nevertheless continue to prefer the use of "logical" quotation marks unless persuaded otherwise, so if we applied his standard then the tag would still be a permanent fixture.)
I'm not saying that further discussion is foreclosed just because it's been discussed to death in the past. I do say, however, that at some point the presence of the tag becomes misleading. That some people disagree with the guideline doesn't mean that there's a currently active proposal to change it. JamesMLane t c 09:17, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
This matter keeps coming up and keeps coming up and keeps coming up. This is a persistently controversial issue. It's not that some people disagree with the guideline, it's that so many people disagree with the guideline once they see it that it's subject to nearly constant question. That's a dispute.
Don't assume that "people who don't know" means "people who wouldn't care if they did know." Most likely, there are plenty of sticklers for proper punctuation and proper guidelines who don't know that this problem is here. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:10, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
Addendum. I know about this rule and I don't get involved in every new discussion, but that doesn't mean that I accept or approve of it. When I feel like I've said my piece, I leave the field, but I check in every now and again to see if there's anything new to say--like this time--or if the matter is being seriously considered for revision. If you or anyone else is tired of talking about this, then I recommend that you take a similar tack. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:15, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
I agree the tag shouldn't be there. There are many policies and guidelines that many people strongly disagree with; we don't go around putting disputed tags on all of them. If I can't convince people that something needs changing (which regrettably is too often the case), I just let it go (as Darkfrog suggests), but without trying to leave a permanent record of my and others' dissatisfaction in the form of a misleading dispute tag. --Kotniski (talk) 12:35, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
Kotniski--I certainly don't mean that proponents of technical style should just let it go. I wasn't just letting it go when I took a break; I was taking a break. I mean that 1. there might be more people who care about this matter than the current page reflects 2. if people are tired of the debate, then it's perfectly acceptable for them to switch to lurk mode 3. being tired of the dispute is not a good reason to remove the tag. It's about whether the dispute exists, not whether people are tired of it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:45, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
If we were writing the guideline from scratch, I think there'd be no consensus for any side. There has been a ton of debate on the issue (both recently & historically) & it has drawn many people into it at different times. Because many aren't happy with the way the guideline is now, that tag should be kept. Removing it would not quash debate, but that is the only motive I see for wanting it removed. Clearly, there is room for improvement in the guideline, even if we disagree how that improvement is to be made. --Karnesky (talk) 13:29, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
Removing the tag won't quash debate (though frankly it wouldn't be a bad thing if it did - the debate just goes on in the same circles without getting anywhere new), it would just remove an obstacle to the clarity of the information about what style is currently used in Wikipedia.--Kotniski (talk) 14:24, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
Removing the tag would affect the debate by making it look less legitimate than it is. I do not feel that it interferes with the clarity of the MoS. Remember, the tag itself doesn't suggest alternative styles. The MoS itself only talks about Wikipedia's own style. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:29, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
Responding to Kotniski's comments below, are the other issues as perennial as this one? With regard to plagues, you make a decent point, but we're not talking about whether to put more tags up; we're talking about whether to keep one that's already there. Consensus to add and consensus to remove. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:01, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
My problem with the tag is that, as a content reviewer, I constantly refer everyday editors to the MoS. They do not know or care what arguments ensue on the MoS Talk page. They just want to read what to do so they can meet the Featured Article requirement for conforming to the MoS. What are they supposed to do if they come and find a stupid banner over the guideline? They won't know what to do. The guideline can be discussed ad nauseum here, but I ask that the general editing public be spared from the confusion resulting from the disputed tag. If you want to raise awareness, you can always file an RfC. I implore you—there are few enough FAC reviewers as it is. We don't need to make their job more difficult. May I remove the banner? --Laser brain (talk) 19:48, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
I took the liberty of creating a new dispute tag in order to address your concerns. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 20:24, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

(outdent)Darkfrog24 says that this question "keeps coming up". I refer to the characterization of the history, given in this thread by chocolateboy on May19, quoting and responding to a statement by Septentrionalis:

"If it were generally accepted, this small section wouldn't attract complaints every other month." The last time an objection to logical quotation was raised was six months ago, by you (in a discussion of timewasting complaints). Prior to that there was a discussion in August 2008 (again involving you); and prior to that, there was a discussion in May 2008, again involving you. That certainly adds up to far less than a complaint "every other month", as you must be aware as a participant in the last three unsuccessful and frequently-rejected "challenges". chocolateboy (talk) 23:18, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

I'll concede that the current guideline doesn't have universal support. No guideline on this point will. The absence of universal support doesn't justify a permanent tag/banner, not even if the dissidents are tireless in raising the same objection.

The specific banner newly created and added by Mchavez reads: "It has been recommended that articles seeking Featured Article status continue to follow the guideline until the issue has been resolved." My comments:

  • This isn't a recommendation. It's still the guideline, not just somebody's essay.
  • The passive voice should be avoided.
  • The guideline is of general applicability, not limited to prospective Featured Articles.
  • This banner still gives a false impression that there's a live, ongoing dispute, with a serious proposal being considered for changing the guideline, as opposed to just persistent dissidents. My earlier question still applies: Under what circumstances, if any, would Mchavez and others consent to the removal of the banner? Would it still be there a month from now if nothing momentous has happened?

Meanwhile, to address my specific points, I suggest this alternative wording: "Despite this dispute, the guideline remains in effect unless and until it is altered by consensus." JamesMLane t c 05:41, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

  • 1. Chocolateboy's characterization rather misleadingly gives the impression that the objections were raised by a single individual (Septentrionalis). This was shown to be false. They were raised by a great variety of people, as the logs demonstrate. Sometimes regulars jump in (as Septentrionalis did), and sometimes they do not. What the actual point was to highlight Septentrionalis' involvement in these disputes was and fully remains to be mystery to me.
  • 2. The question should not be "does the guideline have universal support" (this amounts to a straw man). The question is, does the policy have broad and general support (i.e. "higher level consensus"). If not, it doesn't deserve to be there at all.
  • 3. Regarding the banner, it seems now that the issue was never about helping prospective FA editors. Rather, it was about projecting a false sense of consensus and authority to a controversial policy which merits none. It's equivalent to a small (but ever vigilant) majority of editors on the homeopathy page "protecting" it from "tireless [dissidents] raising the same objection." Every topic has an interest group; this one has theirs.
  • 4. There also seems to be a sense of entitlement and arrogance on the part of those wishing to keep logical quotation. You even describe our discussion as a false debate, a pretence to a serious discussion which could ever lead to compromise or revisal. Could it be any more clear that someone has made up their mind before reviewing what their peers had to say, or watching how the discussion evolved? The general strategy among the logical quotation proponents seems to be to refrain from engaging the arguments—as this might expose the utter hollowness of their position—and wait out the enemy until he is tired and runs home. I am not entirely blind to it, but I suppose I can respect it in a way.
  • 5. Whatever results from this discussion one thing is for certain: it will die a natural death. I do not plan on staying here forever, as my interest in punctuation (though oddly passionate) is not at the top of my personal or intellectual interests.
  • 6. Guidelines, as most style guides readily admit, are nothing more than just that: recommendations. I'm curious. What sense of power do you guys actually think you have? Miguel Chavez (talk) 07:45, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
This is a live, ongoing dispute. That being said, the wording, "Despite this dispute, the guideline remains in effect unless and until it is altered by consensus," is fine with me. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:32, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
Done. Miguel Chavez (talk) 21:06, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
Regarding your #3 point above, I'm not sure if it's directed at me, but I assure you that my interest in this matter is related to the FA process. One glance at my contributions should show that FAC is my primary arena of interest and I am not an MoS edit warrior or, indeed, editor at all. At any rate, #3 is a fantastic failure of good faith and good form. --Laser brain (talk) 22:17, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
And, for my part, I have no particular interest in the FA process. Mchavez, your insinuation of duplicity or pretextual argument is unfounded -- Laser brain is being consistent, I'm being consistent, and neither of us is required to be consistent with the other just because we agree on "logical" style. There is no Quotation Mark Cabal that gives all of us our orders.
As for your #4, I'm sorry you've formed an impression of arrogance. Some of the attitudes you attribute to me would border on arrogance if I indeed held them. In fact, however, I didn't call this a false debate. I didn't deny the possibility that there might someday be a revision. I said only that the existence of disagreement didn't justify a permanent tag. As for your modification of your custom-made banner, it's an improvement by not mentioning Featured Articles, but the wording is still misleading. It's not "recommended" (by whom?) that the guideline remain in effect. The guideline does remain in effect until changed. That doesn't mean it can never be changed. That doesn't mean it's absolute (it can be violated in rare circumstance). It just means that, under Wikipedia rules, it remains in effect unless and until changed. What modification of meaning did you intend by inserting this "recommended" phrase into the wording I suggested? JamesMLane t c 23:31, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
First I would like to apologize to LB for the act of misappropriation. That was a bit of carelessness on my part. To Mr. Lane: I didn't create this discussion for the sole purposes of being disagreeable. Following my shock that Wikipedia had adopted such a policy, there was an honest attempt on my part to reach a moderate solution or compromise of sorts. To my disappointment I have been met with scoffs that there could even be room for adjustment or moderation. It's clear that the LQ people won't budge an inch. The general attitude is: stop wasting your time with arguments and just go away; we decided this long ago. If I was some sort of crank I could come to terms with this, and simply blame it on a secret cabal, as you implied. What makes this so frustrating is that my position accords with what most experts have to say, and what is considered standard by most publishers and editors. As for the tag I didn't put it up, nor do I believe it should be a permanent fixture. My position is—and has always been—to discuss the merits of each system (with editors willing to debate the issues point by point), and have a natural consensus arise out of these discussions. Ideally I would like to reach some sort of compromise (however limited) that could put an end this issue from arising again, again, and again and again. To take this tag down in the middle of our debate seems hasty and premature. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 01:34, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
I wouldn't characterize it as arrogance, but I have been getting a vibe of, "I am tired of talking, so you must stop talking." As for the case itself, if Wikipedia adopts a system that's considered flat-out wrong by almost every style guide ever written, then it's going to be disputed over and over and over. This is not something that crops up with other Wikipedia policies. The tag reflects what's going on. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:45, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
I would classify it as arrogance. Miguel Chavez (talk) 02:09, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
But perhaps it is countereffective to call it so. When Troviatore called American style "stupid," people on both sides of the quotation issue told him to find another way to express himself. You haven't gone so far as that, but in a matter like this one, it's worth going the extra mile to make people feel like they're not being disrespected. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:17, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, I missed your point about using the word "recommended." As per no. 6 on my last reply, this is what style guides do: they offer recommendations. That's why they call them guides after all and not laws or commandments. Each article has its editors, and none of them take orders from you, me, or anyone else. I've been reading quite a number of style guides lately and they are all consistent on this point. When styles differ, they explain the advantages of each system and they offer their recommendations. If this isn't enough, do a search for "recommend" on the Wikipedia MoS and see what you get. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 02:09, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
I'm glad you agree that the banner shouldn't be a permanent fixture. As for your use of "recommend", it's apples and oranges to say that published style guides use the word. They use it to make recommendations about what should be in the users' writing. You're using it to make a recommendation about what should be in the style guide itself. I still don't understand what's intended by "Until the dispute is resolved by consensus, it is recommended that the guideline remain in effect." Recommended by whom and to whom? In particular, I remain unenlightened as to whether you intended your wording to convey a meaning different from "the guideline remains in effect unless and until it is altered by consensus." The latter wording is a correct statement of Wikipedia policy about changing a guideline. JamesMLane t c 03:19, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Too biased. How about, "Until the dispute is resolved by consensus, the guideline remains in effect" or just "For the time being, the guideline remains in effect"? Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:05, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
I don't see how the meaning is changed by simply inverting the text, or by the inclusion of the word "recommended." You can switch it around all you want, it means the same thing. With regard to whom is doing the "recommending," it is recommended by us, the participants of this dispute. (Upon the request of LB.) I also remember that I specifically included the word "recommended" because I tried to find an official policy which addresses disputed guidelines, but could find none. If you are aware of one I would greatly appreciate it. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 05:13, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

{{editprotected}} I request that the dispute tag be removed from the page (under Quotation Marks, Inside or outside). The discussion has gone nowhere and there has been no consensus to change the MoS. Additionally, the tag basically tells editors that the guidelines stays in place until we change it... which goes without saying. All the banner does is confound everyday editors. --Laser brain (talk) 19:51, 9 June 2009 (UTC)

I disagree. The content is repeatedly disputed. I've seen no evidence that the tag confuses anyone--though if you have any or wish to explain, I'm here and listening. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:09, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
I do agree, however, that our discussion about whether or not to keep the tag isn't going anywhere. Everyone currently here seems to have said all they have to say about whether the tag should stay or go. There doesn't seem to be any consensus for removing it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:11, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Should we file an RfC for this? Perhaps some fresh, unbiased eyes would help. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:15, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
An RfC for the dispute tag? Absolutely not. I can't tell if you're talking about the issue in general or the tag. You've failed to gain consensus on the issue. The dispute tag never should have been there, and now that you've failed to gain consensus for your changes, its doubly inappropriate. What purpose is the tag serving? If even one person refrains from making an MoS-prescribed change because of that tag, it's causing damage. What good is it doing? Preventing people from making changes that the MoS might later disagree with if you get your way? I don't think that's kosher, do you really? I'd much rather you raise awareness with an RFC that with that banner. --Laser brain (talk) 20:49, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Seconded. We don't slap tags on everything that's not universally supported. Ilkali (talk) 21:10, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
I am talking about the tag indicating that the wording of that particular section is disputed. For the record, it was there before I got here. The good that it's doing is letting people know that the material is disputed and that editing that section will be a touchy matter. Am fine with removing edit protection. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:32, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
By "people" you mean you and Mchavez, the ones who are interested in editing it? Why do you need a banner to let yourself know that your own edits will be "a touchy matter"? I'm going to the pub to have a pint now. --Laser brain (talk) 22:04, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
PMAnderson added the tag. There have certainly been more than 2-3 people on each side of the debate. The text of the tag is accurate: there is still much ongoing discussion on this talk page regarding this topic and, in the absent of consensus to do anything else, the guideline should be followed. Seems reasonable to keep it up there.--Karnesky (talk) 22:37, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
It gives people who might otherwise say nothing because they feel their "voice" won't carry much weight, especially on a long-standing policy or guideline.Jinnai 20:49, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

Imperative vs. indicative[edit]

I think the inside or outside section of the MoS would be clearer if it were phrased in the imperative, as in "Put periods and commas inside or outside the quote marks..." rather than "Periods and commas are put." It is less likely to imply that the guideline is describing the English language rather than instructions from Wikipedia. Something similar is done with the line about subject headers: "Capitalize the first letter of the subject header but not..." rather than "Only the first letter is capitalized." This way, it doesn't imply that title-style is incorrect, only that it's not for Wikipedia. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:32, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

If you prefer; it doesn't carry that implication to me (if we want to make clear that this is specifically a WP style statement - and I think we should - then we should do that explicitly). And about the tag, I don't doubt that you think this a major and vital issue, but there are statements all over WP project and guideline space that people strongly disagree with. Probably most statements in fact - if no-one disagrees with something, quite likely no-one's ever thought to write it down. OK, one tag doesn't make much difference, but if we started putting them all over the place because people feel their dissenting views are somehow "legitimized" by them (and I don't see how they are), then they would become a plague. --Kotniski (talk) 16:11, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Kotniski. Tony (talk) 08:24, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

Kotniski is wrong. If there is an active dispute, a tag is proper. Yes, there are many statements "...'all over' WP project and guideline space that people strongly disagree with." But are they 'actively' disputing those statements with which they disagree? If they are actively disputing, then a tag is appropriate. If there is no 'active' dispute, then a tag is not appropriate. Here on this page, thousands of words have been written on this subject because it is an active dispute. A tag is proper and appropriate. If they are actively disputing, then a tag is appropriate. Joe Hepperle (talk) 21:58, 13 June 2009 (UTC)

Ambiguous phrasing in British English explanation[edit]

I love the new addition to quotation section. However, is this correct? In British English periods and commas are placed outside the quotation marks, unless the periods and commas were part of the original source material and the quotation is separated from the authors' text by some form of punctuation.

Does the "and the quotation is separated from the author's text by some form of punctuation mean" "Periods and commas are placed outside the quotation marks unless the quotation is separated" or "Periods and commas are placed outside the quotation marks unless... Also, the quotation is separated"?Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:40, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

It is correct. See the top of this discussion for examples. What the paragraph is saying is, if you quote someone's words you have to put some form of punctuation, like a comma or a colon, (dividing it and your words) in order to place the period inside the quotation. If your words aren't separated by punctuation, then the end point goes outside. For example:
  • The British man said 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog'.
  • The British man said, 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.'
  • The British man said: 'The quick brown fox', shrewdly, 'jumps over the lazy dog.'
This is also an advantage of the American system, as it does away with such nuances. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 02:33, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
It makes it look as though the British system uses double punctuation, as in, The British man said "The fox jumps.", and then I gave him a pretzel. Is this the case? Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:07, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
It didn't occur to me that anyone would read it that way. I can fix that. Miguel Chavez (talk) 04:24, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Just where is the consensus for this MAJOR change? I think it should be reverted until the consensus can be established. Tony (talk) 04:33, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Umm. Just what are you going on about? Clarification please. Miguel Chavez (talk) 05:13, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
MChavez, I'm afraid your modifications don't remove the ambiguity. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:06, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
I can quote various style guides if you wish, but in general in British English one puts the stop where it belongs, so, if it is part of the quote it goes in the quote; if not, it goes outside. Double punctuation is generally frowned on as ugly and unnecessary.
In the Quick Brown Fox example, there is no need for the stop – you can accurately quote the man up to, but not including, the stop that he didn't in any case say (since stops are only written, not said), and only an extreme pedant would say you were quoting out of context.
Very occasionally one does have a genuine problem with double puntuation. Either one lives with it, or uses an avoidance technique such as rewording the sentence (not the quote itself of course).
I don't see how "this is also an advantage of the American system, as it does away with such nuances". It does seem important, especially with questions and exclamations, to include them in the right places. Anyway that serves as a good example: I knocked the cap off and left the finishing stop outside, and yet I doubt anyone would claim that I was misquoting.
(Someone is now bound to claim I am misquoting.)
Best wishes SimonTrew (talk) 07:02, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

Quotation-mark dispute should end soon[edit]

  • Leave original wording. I think the original rule was good enough. I even wrote the Wikipedia article "Logical quotation" (years ago) and cited valid sources/footnotes, but some people hacked and later deleted that article (whatever). I'm a computer scientist, ready to change the world, so instead, I say tell Americans to change their punctuation style to become logical. Most articles are written free-hand, not copied from American texts, so punctuation is chosen manually. Anyway, when quoting old prose, the text is to be copied verbatim, even with archaic spelling (such as "Olde tyme"). However, in math and many computer languages, the quotemarks are nested (which is truly logical and simpler). Meanwhile, knowing that people would fight this issue, I have edited thousands of articles with the following tricks:
            - use "and"/"or" for commas: Specify "a" or "b" or "c" without commas.
            - use parentheses to capture an ending quotemark: Say "I agree" (not "You're right").
    The use of parentheses can often prevent the need to force a dot/period inside the quotation marks (because the nesting is specified by "( )" before the end of the phrase).
    Anyway, logically, I say it's been good enough during the past 4 years, so leave it basically as is. It has not been an ominous danger to American grammatical culture. However, I applaud the recognition of the dispute-tag, but I feel, at this time, the dispute is over. -Wikid77 (talk) 09:25, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
By your reasoning, American punctuation has been good enough for the past 150 years.
Yes, there are lots of computer programmers on this board who prefer Wikipedia's current style to standard American punctuation. I guess people favor what they're used to.
That being said, we have certainly not reached consensus for adding lines explaining that Wikipedia's style differs from standard British and American punctuation. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:15, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

Question: This discussion is actually impossible to read for a newcomer. Can someone tell whether some consensus resulted? Cheers.--  LYKANTROP  11:53, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

The consensus, violently opposed by three editors, has been from the beginning that our rules for handling punctuation in quotations are fine as they are and have been for a long time. The English-speaking world used to treat commas and full stops at the end of quotations counter-intuitively as special cases. The technical reasons for this special rule no longer apply, and the special rule is in the process of being abolished. Here we are seeing rearguard action by extreme supporters of typographic conservatism. They are spreading confusion by claiming that the term logical quotation is offensive, that logical quotation is not exactly the same as the standard style used in the UK, etc.
This explanation will no doubt cause violent protest from up to three editors. Two who prefer the eccentric system that is still the standard in the US, and one who always insists that MOS should never prefer a correct option over another correct option. Hans Adler 12:47, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Lykantrop, the issue over which the page was protected was whether or not the MoS should include a line explaining that Wikipedia's current punctuation system differs significantly from both standard American and standard British English. No consensus was reached. Much discussion of the punctuation system itself took place.
And good heavens, Hans! Just because people don't agree with you doesn't mean they're reactionaries or trying to make trouble. The American punctuation system is not "eccentric" or "in the process of being abolished." While the rule might have gotten there for typographical reasons, it is still there because it's easier to teach, easier to use, more consistent and, despite what many Wikipedians seem to believe, it does not cause confusion or factual errors when used to quote text sources and has over a hundred-year track record to prove it.
Wikipedia's system differs from British English in 1. its treatments of colons and semicolons and 2. its treatment of in-quotation periods that end complete sentences. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:59, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
The same old nonsense. All systems for English in practice treat colons, semicolons, question marks and exclamation marks in exactly the same way, which is also that used by other languages. The only practical difference between American and English/logical is that the former has a counter-intuitive special rule for commas and full stops. But of course, every additional rule that you can make people memorise makes it easier, right? Hans Adler 18:20, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Adler, we had a whole big discussion about this. British and American English both place colons and semicolons outside and the current Wikipedia system can place them outside or inside depending on whether or not they're part of what's being quoted. Furthermore, the American system is not counterintuitive to people who've been raised to it any more than spelling "memorise" with an S instead of a Z is counterintuitive to people raised on the British system. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:38, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Frog, thanks for agreeing with what I said initially. (Except for the bit about colons and semicolons, where any differences occur so rarely that it's really not worth discussing. And the claim at Punctuation that this difference even exists is still unsourced since I couldn't find a source when I tried to verify it.) Hans Adler 18:46, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Not sure what we agreed on, but you're welcome. And I did find a source about British treatment of colons and semicolons but it did take some doing to find and didn't turn up when I looked again. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:25, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Wouldn't it be more accurate to say, rather than that "no consensus was reached about whether or not to place the note", that there was no consensus for you to place the note? If you make a change that causes a dispute, and the dispute results in no consensus, the page should default back to the way it was before you made the change. --Laser brain (talk) 16:50, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
I see that as pretty much what I said, LB. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:43, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Well showing no consensus is an attempt to show their is consensus. Overall I really don't care which system is used (though calling it logical rather than modified Briitsh system seems to have been done so to bias in favor of the style after reading the long debate). The only really jarring thing for me is the double punctuation. FE: "Jack asked me to tell you "to pick up some bread?". From the phrase "Could you ask Jack to pick up some bread?"Jinnai 21:33, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Look it up with Google and Google Books. All sources talking about the British and logical systems, except for one that Darkfrog24 can't find any more, use the terms as synonyms. The double punctuation simply does not exist in any of the systems. It only ever appears in extremely technical contexts such as citing computer input, and it does not seem to have a name. In the discussion above one editor got this point wrong, made up an example with double full stop as "logical quotation", and was corrected imimediately. Hans Adler 21:48, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
The issue at hand, Jinnai, is whether the Wikipedia MoS should explain that its system differs from standard British and American English. The matter of whether or not it should use this system in the first place is another. I don't mean to be terse, but we're more likely to make progress if we can keep the two matters separate. Hans, when the question was raised, last month, of why we were using a British system on American articles, the answer came back, "It's not British at all." How do PiZero and Finell weigh in on this? Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:19, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
There were two issues, whether to change the MOS's position on quotation style, and, if logical style remains the position, whether to add an explicit statement that that style differs from both the British and American styles. I don't think either of these is an "issue" anymore. Not that there is no disagreement, that would be absurd — no matter what the MOS says or doesn't say, there will always be some people who disagree — but it seems pretty clear to me that there is no realistic prospect that there will be enough support at this time (i.e., mid-2009) for either of these changes to the MOS. The MOS will continue to recommend logical style, and will not discuss how logical style differs from other styles. Responsibility for explaining how logical style differs from other styles is delegated (rightly, IMO) to a mainspace article, explicitly by means of a link to Quotation mark#Punctuation. There was a problem with that mainspace article section, at the time that the extended discussion of quotation styles began here, in that the article section did not then explain clearly that logical quotation differs from the British style — but it explains this more clearly now than it did then, so to the extent that the unclarity there was motivating the proposal to add explanation in the MOS, that motivation does not currently exist (though a key passage about logical quotation in that article has a "citation needed" tag on it...). --Pi zero (talk) 02:02, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
The most recent edit on this matter particularly confuses me. I don't think either American or British English encourages the use of punctuation before a quotation that is used as part of a sentence like this. I move for reverting this. Dcoetzee 08:06, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
That was just a mistake, and it was fixed. Finell (Talk) 18:12, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
TL;DR. Voting is evil, my opinion is that the current system should remain the Wikipedia standard and the dispute box should be removed. Discussions as to differences in the various usages in various countries belong in mainspace articles which can be linked for reference. Hope that helps resolve this, . dave souza, talk 23:26, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

New proposal[edit]

I would like to propose a change. We should remove the text, "It is used by Wikipedia both because of the principle of minimal change, and also because the method is less prone to misquotation, ambiguity, and the introduction of errors in subsequent editing." 1. It's unsourced. 2. It claims that other styles can create misquotation and introduce errors, which is not exactly true. If we're not going to explain the matter here, then we should keep the "logical quotation" wikilink and put the explanation in a place where information on the pros and cons of this policy can be provided in full detail. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:31, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

It doesn't need to be sourced. Removing it would promote misunderstanding, and there is no reason to spend further space in the MOS belaboring a point that, so far as I can see, most people understand perfectly well — one can always fail to understand what it says if one assumes that it doesn't mean what it says, but that can't be remedied by modifying the MOS. Its less-prone-ness claims (which you have somewhat misrepresented, as "prone to" is not interchangeable with "creates") are exactly true. --Pi zero (talk) 14:15, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
How about "It is the consensus among most Wikipedia editors that this method is in keeping with the principle of minimal change and less prone to misquotation, ambiguity, and the introduction of errors in subsequent editing"? This way the statement is less likely to be mistaken for a statement of fact and yet not easily dismissed as "just an opinion." Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:36, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
This has been argued and reargued ad nauseam. The statement explains the rationale of this MOS for this guideline for Wikipedia only; that is all that this MOS is about. The consensus, after full discussion, is to leave this guideline as is. Please stop with the proposals to water it down because you disagree with the consensus. Finell (Talk) 18:09, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
Finell, this would not water down Wikipedia's instructions. The page would still say, "Do this here." It wouldn't even say, "Do this here but." Take a look at things on their merits. If this is not the place to explain Wikipedia's position, then this is not the place to explain Wikipedia's position. The text as it is asserts that Wikipedia's current style is superior to other styles, but it is not. Even if it were, that is an opinion, not a fact, and should be stated as such. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:54, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
Consensus can change. It almost seems like you're attempting to discourage discussion of this rule by telling people there there is not a snowball's chance in hell for the consensus to change. That clearly isn't true, so let's keep freely discussing. --LjL (talk) 21:54, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm pro-"logical" quotes, and I don't see a problem with Darkfrog's second proposal, the one that starts "It is the consensus among ...". It doesn't seem to me to be significantly watered down, but it's less provocative. --Trovatore (talk) 22:32, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
The main problem is that the second proposal does, de facto, express profound lack of confidence in the consensus. I really see no other way to interpret an explicit statement that "this is just a matter of consensus" in the middle of a document that is already explicitly an enumeration of consensus judgments.
(There is also something very peculiar going on with what the proposal does to the allusion to the principle of minimal change, which is, after all, essentially the definition of logical quotation...)
However, all that said, the existing phrasing does somehow manage to make it sound as if there were no possible way anyone could possibly fail to agree with the prone-ness part of the reasoning — as if anyone who disagrees with the consensus must have decided that they have nothing against misquotation, ambiguity, and introduction of errors in subsequent editing.
How about simply inserting into the existing phrasing, between the words "is less", the word "deemed", so that the sentence reads
It is used by Wikipedia both because of the principle of minimal change, and also because the method is deemed less prone to misquotation, ambiguity, and the introduction of errors in subsequent editing.
--Pi zero (talk) 03:14, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
a side issue, but Darkfrog24's proposed "consensus among most editors" is redundant - what you want is either "the consensus among editors is" or "most editors agree".
meanwhile, i've been following this discussion for a while, and although i still see no compelling reason to change the original wording, i could go along with Pi zero's proposal if it satisfies others. one bit of finetuning, though: that "also" in the second clause is extraneous (in the current wording as well); it should say: "It is used by Wikipedia both because of the principle of minimal change, and also because the method is deemed less prone to misquotation, ambiguity and the introduction of errors in subsequent editing."
The problem with Pi's suggestion is that the wording still claims that Wikipedia's current quotation style is less prone to error than the other two styles and it is not. It states a belief as if it were fact. The use of the word "deemed" isn't bad, but we would need to say by whom it was so deemed. "Consensus among Wikipedia editors" or "deemed by Wikipedia" solves these problems. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:14, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
There is no problem to solve. The sentence is plainly talking about the motives of the Wikipedians who have reached the consensus. Additional words would not clarify it, they would muddy the matter, serving to undermine the consensus. (I don't imagine that you're deliberately trying to sneak in a back-door repudiation of the consensus, but your sincere disagreement seems to be blinding you to the reality that that's what these glaringly out-of-place extra words would be doing.) --Pi zero (talk) 02:03, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
Darkfrog, you're nothing if not tenacious, I've got to hand it to you. However, I concur with the position that your proposition would water down the style guide's advice. It's implied that what's in the style guide is the current consensus—people aren't going to follow a link to go read volumes of inane discussion about the style. You don't need to state that what's there is the current consensus! Do I put on my user page "It is the consensus among most Wikipedia editors that Laser brain is an administrator"? No, obviously. It's known that what happens here is by consensus. I'm not really even sure what you're trying to accomplish any more, other than making sure people are aware that other opinions exist about logical quotation than what is stated in the style guide. Don't you think that's blindingly obvious? --Laser brain (talk) 18:35, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
That you are an administrator, LB, is a fact, not a belief. Even if it weren't, the tone and positioning of your user page would make it clear that it was voicing your own opinions and assessments. And no, I don't think it's obvious. Just look at MChavez's opening comments from May. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:01, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
Okay, let me frame my question differently. When a user arrives here looking for advice on style, for whatever reason, let's say they disagree with what's written, and they see a little note that there are other people who don't agree. What is your intent for them? That they now have an excuse to ignore the style guide? To what end? --Laser brain (talk) 20:15, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
Quite the contrary. Phrasing the MoS in this way would 1. Make it clear that Wikipedia has chosen its own standard for use on Wikipedia, in the sense of, "With regard to other styles, do what you like, but don't do it here." 2. Make it clear that this third standard was not chosen in error (When MChavez showed up in May, he demonstrated that this is a real problem). 3. Make it clear that the virtues of this standard are neither a matter of proven fact nor a matter of mere opinion but the result of a reasonable consensus among Wikipedia editors, the same principle that applies to other Wikipedia articles. 4. Stop spreading misinformation about American and British standard styles. These first three things would increase fidelity to the MoS, not decrease it. The fourth is just responsible behavior on our part. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:23, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
All right, I agree with you in principle. I suspect some of the language in the MoS has been added in an attempt to codify it with some rationale other than "because consensus dictates"; case in point, the text you want to remove. Some time in the past, someone had the idea that we need to explain on the page why we are making our recommendations. --Laser brain (talk) 20:45, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
Indeed, adding the word "deemed" as I've proposed would do all of those things (whereas the proposal before that, with the unprecedented explicit word "consensus" in it, would not do (2) or (3), and would trash the consensus to boot). --Pi zero (talk) 02:05, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
No, the word "deemed" alone would be insufficient to at the very least (2), (3) and (4) because it alone does not explain "by whom." "Deemed by Wikipedia" might do.
It is no insult to call a Wikipedia consensus a Wikipedia consensus. It does not mean that it's "only an opinion"; it means that it is a matter reached by discussion among an assumed majority of the Wikipedia editors involved, in accordance with Wikipedia's values and policies. However, it does mean that it is not necessarily a fact, which is the problem with the current wording. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:39, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Great Wikipedia Dramaout of 2009[edit]

How about we make a crossover between the two proposed systems:

The troll said “The quick brown fox shouldn't have jumped over the lazy dog”.

Just so that everyone could be happy ... stpasha » talk » 18:30, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Huh? --A. di M. – 2009 Great Wikipedia Dramaout 20:00, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
I think it's a joke. I liked it, it made me smile. But I wouldn't seriously support it. --LjL (talk) 20:01, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
No, Stpasha was trying to tell us about the Dramaout! 2009 Great Wikipedia Dramaout It starts tomorrow. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:05, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
But now that I notice it, the idea of putting periods underneath the quotation marks, while arguably impractical, does have some merit. We'd probably have to wait for the next generation of typographical systems, though (or for an apocalyptic event to blast us all back to the pen-and-paper age). Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:08, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
Ah! I hadn't noticed it... (Apparently my browser ignores negative margins.) Well, I often do something like that in casual handwriting, FWIW. (I hope this post doesn't count as drama, despite the page it's on. Anyway, this will be my only edit on this page during the Dramaout.) --A. di M. – 2009 Great Wikipedia Dramaout 09:46, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
Should Wikipedia also start using inches and feet simply because most English-speaking persons (do they?) prefer them over SI units? I say no.  dmyersturnbull talk 05:48, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Absolutely not, Dmyersturnbull, but 1. metric is an international system supported by almost the entire scientific community, while "logical quotation" is not and 2. Wikipedia supports the use of non-metric units where appropriate. Wikipedia should not put U.S. units in all articles but neither should Wikipedia adopt British spelling (or in this case, a spelling system designed for computer programming) for all articles. My take is that applying ENGVAR, replacing Wikipedia's current system with the appropriate British or American standards, would be best.Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:23, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

Logical quotation is best because it preserves the original text. The "American" habit of inserting punctuation where there was none originally, changes the quote to something that was not written in the original. Say for example, the quote is "I am in favour of executions, but I do have some reservations." Quoting that as "I am in favour of executions." indicates that that was all that was said, but quoting that as "I am in favour of executions" warns us to be on our guard that that was not the whole sentence. DrKiernan (talk) 17:24, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

The problem with that quote is not the style of punctuation used but the fact that it becomes misleading if the second half is sliced off. This is just as possible under Wikipedia's current system. If I saw the text "At the debate, Mr. Smith said 'I am in favour of executions' to Ms. Jones" on Wikipedia, I would think it right and proper to rephrase it because of its content, even if the punctuation was perfect.
In the American system, it is understood that the period is there because it ends the sentence, not necessarily because it was part of the original material. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:17, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
The point is, though, that using the American system we don't know whether the full stop or comma belongs to the quote or not. Therefore if this system is allowed, less information is conveyed. Kiernan's example may have been extreme but it does demonstrate the increased potential for misquoting, whether deliberate or not, if we use American quotation. JIMp talk·cont 21:09, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
But that has been a non-issue for almost a hundred and fifty years. In practice, the American system is not more prone to misquotation than any other system. It is understood that the period or comma is part of the quotation process. If someone wants to know how the original was punctuated, then he or she must look at the original, and that is just as true of Wikipedia's current system as it is of American and British standards. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:01, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
Practice for almost a hundred and fifty years was under non-wiki conditions.
Darkfrog, if you define "misquotation" to exclude being wrong about what if any final punctuation occurs in the original, then (a) you've got a rather strange notion of "misquotation", and (b) you aren't addressing the choice of style. If "misquotation" includes getting the final punctuation wrong, then your statement about prone-ness of the American system is patently false.
Absolute certainty about the original only comes from consulting the original, and the circumstances of Wikipedia make for a much larger discrepancy (than has existed for most of the past hundred and fifty years) between the ease of editing and the difficulty of consulting the original source — all of which makes it especially important to minimize information degradation during ongoing evolution of Wikipedia articles. --Pi zero (talk) 14:02, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
"But that has been a non-issue for almost a hundred and fifty years." Has it? In a hundred and fifty years this odd practice has never caused anyone any trouble? Can we verify that? If I'm free to add my own punctuation within the inverted commas, it's easier for me to misquote. Using this system, to which you cling to so dearly, so inexplicably, in spite of its flaws, which you would never admit, involves a loss of information. If you've got a loss of information, you've got an increase chance of misquotation. You note yourself that "If someone wants to know how the original was punctuated, then he or she must look at the original". Let's suppose the original were just a click away, it's still easier not to have to go clicking down originals. In general, of course, it's a lot more than a click. You're telling us that in one hundred and fifty years nobody has ever needed to go hunting down an original source just to find out whether a punctuation mark really belonged there or was just shoved there by a practice which has long outlived its once practical usefulness. JIMp talk·cont 15:00, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
I can't believe this is still going on and on, Darkfrog. Jimp expresses very clearly why WP's practice, indeed, is utterly necessary to treat our sources with respect. It's deeply embedded in WP's ethics. Tony (talk) 15:43, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
Can we verify that? Well I can't go through every last word written in American English, but you don't seem to be asking me to, so here's this:

"In defense of nearly a century and a half of the American style, however, it may be said that it seems to have been working fairly well and has not resulted in serious miscommunication." —Chicago Manual of Style Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:41, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

All I'm saying is that, at least here on WP, we can say better than "seems to have been working fairly well" (some euphemism for "not too badly") and strive for zero miscommunication. JIMp talk·cont 20:25, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
Except that we are not any less likely to get zero miscommunication using American and British standards than we are with technical punctuation and, in addition to accuracy, we will also get a more encyclopedic, consistent and professional tone. The fact that almost every branch of academia written in American English, including history (read: obsessed with accuracy), uses American English punctuation supports the idea that it does not detract from accuracy. Replacing standard English with technical English is a solution in search of a problem. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:50, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
The fact that we can create a wonderfully substantial list of professional academics who have laboured under this absurd system provides far less support for the idea that it does not detract from accuracy than the simple observation that wherever we have a system in place which routinely destroys information we are more likely to get miscommunication provides support for the idea that it does not. JIMp talk·cont
PS "a solution in search of a problem" ... American punctuation is the solution to a long forgotten problem. JIMp talk·cont 16:46, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
Darkfrog, enough already! There is nothing new for anyone to say about this. We all know about the other guidelines and rationales and usages elsewhere. It is clear that there is no consensus for any of your proposed changes to this section of the MOS. You don't have to agree, but there is no rational reason for you to keep arguing about the same thing, over, over, over, over, over, over, over, over, over, over, over, over, over, over, over, over, over, over, over, over, and over. Finell (Talk) 23:27, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
Actually, Finell, both Dmyersturnbull and DrK brought up new points this past week. Though I don't agree with the conclusions they drew from their metaphors, I still considered them interesting enough to merit a response. If you feel that you have nothing new to say, then you are within your rights to pass on the conversation. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:21, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
Having read all of this conversation, but only knowing about half a dozen languages and some of them not very well, having a failry astutue idea of the British/US split both in the past and the present, and times in between, having lived in the US and the UK and Canada, and seen the differences betwen all of them and having to write and speak in all of them, having sometimes difficulty in sub editing articles to decide whether they are British English or US English and hoping that someone else will correct me if I am wrong, but at least trying to prove consistency, having read several style guides in both British and American English (which is what WP calls them even if others would say e.g. International and North American English, a name is just a name), with all these things I declare this conversation incredbly boring pointless and WP:SNOWBALL.
SimonTrew (talk) 23:56, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
(and I still put the em dash next to the word and the space after, but not on WP, which says otherwise. I (try to) follow its style when I am on WP, and follow my style when I am not. What do you do? SimonTrew (talk) 23
56, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
So do I. (To me, spaced em dashes appear to be more common in Europe and unspaced ones in America — but I have no source for that; the European Union's style guide for translators tells to space them, but with the rationale "[t]o avoid errors if your dashes subsequently turn into hyphens as a result of document conversion".) WP allows to use spaced en dashes as em dashes, though, so I use that when possible. --A. di M. 10:27, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

Move to close[edit]

This discussion has been lingering on for two months now, with no consensus for adding additional explanations and rhetoric about why the WP style is what it is. The damned page is still locked, preventing any reasonable progress on the rest of the MoS. I propose that the dispute tag be removed, and the text of WP:LQ remain in its original state. Any changes that attempt to add rhetoric about American vs. British systems, or additional rhetoric rationalizing the current style, should be considered to be against consensus. Then, we can mercifully have the page unlocked and get back to work. --Andy Walsh (talk) 18:01, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

As an uninvolved observer of the discussion's progress, I second this motion. Sswonk (talk) 18:06, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
Agreed that the consensus for either adding an explanation of Wikipedia's policy or for removing the misleading wording has not been reached. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:40, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
I can't tell if that means you agree with the motion or not. --Andy Walsh (talk) 19:47, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
I feel that, considering that there is no consensus for further changes, the text should remain in its current state. No consensus was reached for 1. adding more explanation or 2. removing the misleading text, but 3. changing the indicative to the imperative was properly proposed and implemented, so it should remain.
As for the dispute tag, does Wikipedia have anything along the lines of "Caution: Dangerous waters! Consider discussing even small changes to this section before editing"? This is what I did with the change of the indicative to the imperative: WP's rules do not require that small changes be discussed ahead of time, and it looked like the sort of thing that no one would mind, but considering how contentious this part of the MoS is, I figured it might be a good idea to do it anyway. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:23, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

The subject should be closed, with the result that there is no consensus to adopt any of the changes proposed in this discussion topic (that is, under the heading "Punctuation: Quotation marks: Inside or outside") or its immediate predecessors in the archives of this Talk page. The dispute tag should be removed from this section of the MoS. There should not be any special legend for this section of the MoS. Darkfrog: Please stop trying to confuse the matter with equivocation (like your first response to the motion to close) or by trying to single out this guideline, which you don't like, with a new tag or legend of your invention. Finell (Talk) 00:21, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

Easy, Finell. You seem to be projecting onto me motives that I do not have. It is hardly equivocation to say, "I agree that there is no consensus for point one or for point two." In addition, I'm not trying to invent a new tag; I am asking if such a tag already exists. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:50, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

It is the wish of the current participants in this discussion that the above sections be archived. If you wish to discuss Wikipedia's policy on quotation marks or the text of the MoS with regard to this policy, then please start a new section, even if you are responding to something said in this thread. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:58, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

Splitting off punctuation disputes?[edit]

Currently more than half the talk page is dedicated to a single, ongoing (and seemingly endless) debate over American/British/logical punctuation. Then further down the page we have another immortal behemoth of a discussion over quotation mark glyphs. Can we please put these in a subpage (WT:MOS/Punctuation, maybe) so that the rest of the discussions have some room to breathe? Strad (talk) 22:21, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

Oppose. Punctuation is part of the MoS, so the MoS talk page is the place to discuss punctuation for Wikipedia articles. Also section 8, Punctuation, ties with section 16, Grammar, for largest subsection of the MoS, so it's not all that surprising that punctuation discussions take up a big portion of the talk page. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:22, 30 July 2009 (UTC)
Oppose. Neutral I don't necessarily have the same views as the others that have posted here, who are all intelligent and sensible. It needs to be kept in MOSTALK as per Darkfrog. SimonTrew (talk) 23:38, 30 July 2009 (UTC)
Now I think about it, I tend to more look at MOSNUM (and {{convert}}, which are siamese twins) so if you have MOSNUM I can't see why you can't have MOSPUNC. If it is large then split it off. SimonTrew (talk) 23:44, 30 July 2009 (UTC)
I agree with you there, Trew: If the punctuation portion of the MoS were its own separate page, then it would make sense for punctuation discussions to take place on a separate talk page. However, whether or not punctuation should be split off from the main MoS is another question. My take is that a separate punctuation page is not necessary at this time. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:05, 31 July 2009 (UTC)
Agree, but MOSNUM is still part of MOS — just it has its own chat page so it doesn't clutter MOS talk. It is still part of the MOS (which of course comes under WP:COMMON anyway) but it means that discussions can happen off the main page and not waste others' time.
Best wishes SimonTrew (talk) 11:08, 31 July 2009 (UTC)
For full disclosure, I dislike Wikipedia's punctuation style. But I follow it because that is the style. Consistency is most important. I am more than happy to argue whether to use this quote or that dash or whatever but consistency is what we want, I think. This is not the place to argue the details, just wanted to disclose that. SimonTrew (talk) 11:21, 31 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes, MOSNUM is part of the MoS project, but this [26] and this [27] are two separate pages, so it makes more sense that numbers would have a separate talk page than that punctuation would. Darkfrog24 (talk) 11:55, 31 July 2009 (UTC)
Slight lean towards support: Even though Wikipedia talk:MOSNUM stands alone (like Wikipedia talk:MOSICON, etc.) because it's attached to the stand-alone MOS page for dates and numbers (WP:MOSNUM), that Talk Page itself had to be split in order to allow other questions room to breathe during The Great Date Auto-Formatting War of 2008. I don't think the punctuation debates have reached that level (they're certainly far more civil), but should they grow so long that they crowd out everything else, there is a precedent. On the other hand, punctuation (unlike spelling) is harder to split cleanly from other questions of grammar and style.
What I do think we might come to agree on is that when the time comes to archive all or part of the punctuation debates, they should have a separate, clearly-marked archive of their own (rather than being buried with unrelated questions in number 110 or 111 — if I'm keeping correct count), which would make retrieval far easier for everyone. —— Shakescene (talk) 21:44, 31 July 2009 (UTC)
Oppose, based on the substance of the proposal. But even before we look at that substance, we are not ready to have this discussion.
The solution to the present disruption is for Darkfrog, and any others she or he nominates as involved, to repair the damage they have brought about. The solution is not to have the main MOS page split as a further consequence of their mischief.
Those perpetrators have no place in a discussion of this sort, until they have done that work. Why should we others, and the Wikipedia community as a whole, suffer because of their irresponsible behaviour, and their obdurate refusal to focus on what is obviously their most urgent task?
We others, who want to get on with plain housekeeping and incremental improvement of MOS, are justified if we urge them away from discussions like this. Let them go back and fix things first. Then we can accept them as participants in new discussions.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 23:13, 31 July 2009 (UTC)
Oppose. Tony (talk) 05:06, 1 August 2009 (UTC)
Oppose—Past experience has shown that moving discussions off to subpages is not very helpful. The subpage gets ignored by all but a few editors who are really into the issue and who come back with a "consensus" which really counts for nothing. Unless the page itself is split, let's not split the discussion. JIMp talk·cont 08:33, 1 August 2009 (UTC)
Oppose Reduces visibility of discussions when we actually need more opinions. Dabomb87 (talk) 17:31, 1 August 2009 (UTC)
Oppose nothing warrants splitting punctuations to it's specific subpage. Numbers and Dates are huge sections, with a million different cases to cover. Punctuation is not nearly as big as them, nor so clearly distinguishable from the rest of the MoS. Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 14:55, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

Manual of Style FAQ[edit]

Dear colleagues

I think the idea of an FAQ is sound. I do believe it should be very succinct, friendly in tone, and should deal with the issues that come up most frequently, here and in articles. Links to discussions/consensus and MoS sections could be provided within or after each "answer".

The secret to a successful FAQ is to ration both the number of issues treated and the "responses"; otherwise it would be like reading the MoS all over again. This will be frustrating, since almost all aspects of the MoS are transgressed; I think the aim should be to cover the most common/vexing issues.

I'd like to start the ball rolling by asking you to list the specific points of the MoS that editors raise most often, and the things editors most often get wrong in articles. For this, we need to draw on our combined memory of article-writing in the project, as well as possibly looking through the archives of this page.

Your thoughts?

To start, I've listed these ones (in no particular order, and all subject to removal). Please add to this list judiciously. Tony (talk) 22:40, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

  • Internal/external punctuation (quotations)
  • Title vs sentence case in article and section titles
  • Non-breaking spaces
  • Single vs double quotation marks
  • Straight vs curly glyphs
  • En dashes vs hyphens
  • En dashes vs em dashes (interrupters)
  • Ellipsis points: to space or not to space
  • Engvar: what to do if someone changes the variety in an existing article
  • Numbers as figures or words
  • Collective plurals
  • Singular they
  • "Note that ..."

The only issues that have come up more than once in the past few months are the American vs. British/datasafe punctuation with quotation marks, single vs. double quotation marks and the en dash issues. The only one of those that had a solid technical reason was single vs. double quotation marks: "Because single quotes interfere with search features on many current browsers." It's the only clearly FAQable issue that I can see on this list. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:41, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

Thanks. I believe there are technical reasons for everything that is in the MoS, whether an individual contributor agrees with them or not. Nevertheless, the purpose of an FAQ is to increase the accessibility of the MoS for editors out there we serve, and in doing so to save them and us the trouble of asking and responding to queries here and at other styleguides, such as WP:LINK and WP:MOSNUM. Tony (talk) 23:58, 1 January 2010 (UTC)
By technical, I here meant having to do with the technology, separate from opinion or interpretation. The purpose of the MoS is to provide users with Wikipedia's style rules in a clear an accessible way, but the purpose of this discussion page is to provide a place where those style rules can be discussed, questioned, improved and clarified. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:41, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

I have made a bare-bones FAQ and put it at the top of this page. Everyone is welcome to edit and expand it. You are even welcome to throw out my entire text for trivial reasons. At the moment there are no citations to past discussions, just drafts of statements of what I think consensus roughly is on a very small number of topics. Please edit away! Ozob (talk) 21:09, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

Top of what page? Darkfrog, you're still trumpeting nationalistic views on punctuation, I see. Why does my daily newspaper use internal punctuation, then? Tony (talk) 21:23, 3 January 2010 (UTC)
Who said anything about a top of a page? And I'm not "trumpeting" anything! Never having seen your local newspaper, Tony, I wouldn't know a thing about it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:35, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
Now, now. At the risk of offending everyone by stating the obvious, the three preceding posts are:
  • "I have made a bare-bones FAQ and put it at the top of this page ...", referring to the beige rectangle at the top of this Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style page; look for the blue question mark.
  • "Top of what page? ..."
  • "Who said anything about a top of a page? ..." Either I or everyone else are missing something awfully basic. Art LaPella (talk) 05:47, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
Top of this discussion page, between the two archive search boxes. Which, I must ask, do we really need two of them so close to each other? maybe we should integrate the {{round and round}} box with the archives list. Any way, I also made a slight change to Ozob's nascent FAQ, describing what an interruptive emdash actual is, as the sort of editor that is likely to need the FAQ on dashes is also likely the sort of editor less versed with the terminology. oknazevad (talk) 21:34, 3 January 2010 (UTC)
I've removed the extra search bar and relocated {{Round in circles}} so that it's near where the archive search bar used to be. The embryonic FAQ is right below the Round in circles template. Ozob (talk) 22:23, 3 January 2010 (UTC)
Looks good to me.oknazevad (talk) 23:33, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

I like that the FAQ is very concise so far, and I hope that it stays that way. However, it was way, way too kiss-a[r]s[s|e]. The urge to preemptively appease "some editors" was so weasel-wordy that it actually introduced factual errors. For example, the fact that logical quotation preserves the quoted material more precisely and the fact that using different dashes is a readability improvement are in fact facts – if I may use "fact" as many times as possible in one sentence – and are not matters of opinion that "many editors" can feel one way about and "other editors" can have a different take on. Whether these facts are important or whatever can certainly be a matter of opinion, but the two facts themselves have never been in dispute. Next, whoever added the bit about logical quotation not being "standard" US or UK style needs to knock it off. There's no "standard" style in either country, as has been established here more than once, with citation of US and UK publications using both styles. Logical quotation is extremely common in the UK, so the suggestion that it's weird to the British is off-kilter. Finally, I'm not sure that the "taught in schools" bit makes much sense, since we cannot prove that no schools teach any of these things. I'm sure a great number of non-US schools do in fact teach logical quotation, since 90%+ of the publications in those countries use it. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 10:00, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

That many Wikipedians believe that datasafe quotes/"logical" quotation is a better system is 100% true. However, it is absolutely a matter of opinion. By saying that many Wikipedians believe that LQ does a better job, the answer makes clear that it is a matter of consensus rather than a matter of facts. And no, logical quotation does not happen to be standard in either U.S. or U.K. English. However, Tony had already removed the references to U.S. and U.K. English and I find that the answer works well enough without them. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:50, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
That it is true that many Wikipedians believe X is irrelevant. The text did not say LQ "does a better job", is very specifically stated what LQ is, for an undeniable fact, better at. To date there appears to be nothing at all that typsetters' quotation is better at other than muddling what the quoted party did or did not actually say/write. In my opinion, LQ is therefore clearly "better", but I did not push any such wording. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 01:16, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
It's relevant because that's the answer to the question being posed. The question in the FAQ isn't "How is LQ different from American and British standard punctuation styles?" it's "Why does the MoS mandate logical quotation?" The answer to that question is because more Wikipedians like it than like other styles. The most complimentary and unbiased way to phrase that without entering into falsehood is, "Many Wikipedians believe that it does a better job of preserving quoted text." However, LQ is not actually more precise in practice than either American or British punctuation. Neither American nor British styles actually fail where LQ succeeds, and the FAQ must not claim otherwise.
I'd settle for something to the effect of "Wikipedia's consensus is that logical quotation does a better job of preserving quoted text" if "Many Wikipedians believe" isn't working for you. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:01, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
I wrote "taught in schools" because one argument that unfortunately seems to recur here is, "My high-school English teacher said it, and therefore it's true." (Just search for "teacher" in the archives and you'll find it over and over.) My hope was to meet that argument head-on, and I couldn't think of how else to do it. Ozob (talk) 12:32, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
Okay, but it seems to me that it should be its own point, not embedded in one particular grammatical point, since it's not relevant to that particular point but is a meta issue, no? — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 01:16, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
I believe that the references and Wikilinks to WP:Consensus should remain. Not only do they help us sidestep the issue of whether or not this consensus is factually correct but it will also direct new users to the page on consensus, making it clear that the matters were settled (or "settled," see conversations about consensus below) on Wikipedia's terms and that "consensus" here has a specific meaning. This makes it doubly informative rather than singly deceptive. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:39, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Tony and I disagree with you. I believe that it is objective truth that logical quotation preserves the speaker's words better than the traditional American system. I also believe that it is objective truth that using different glyphs for different dashes improves readability. To say that these opinions are merely consensus is an error; the FAQ should not err. I have put a link to WP:Consensus at the top of the FAQ, which I believe addresses your concern better than separate links to consensus in each answer. Ozob (talk) 22:01, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
If it were the objective truth, then it would be possible for one of you to demonstrate it. Unfortunately, 150 years of practice show that the American system preserves text just fine. Secondly, it is completely untrue that referring to this as a Wikipedia consensus causes harm. It is a Wikipedia consensus, therefore it is neither false nor an error to say so. That being said, I don't object to the link being elsewhere in the FAQ so long as the word remains. It think it would be better to put the link right where the readers will see it, but as it is, it will do. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:27, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
Here is a demonstration.
  1. By definition, the characters between the quotation marks are the same as the characters appearing in the source if and only if the quotation is logically quoted.
  2. One of the implications in the above tautology is that if the characters between the quotation marks are the same as the characters appearing in the source, then the quotation is logically quoted.
  3. Therefore by contrapositive, if the quotation is not logically quoted, then the characters between the quotation marks are not the same as the characters in the source. Q.E.D.
I agree that it is also a Wikipedia consensus that logical quotation most accurately preserves the speaker's words; all that means is that Wikipedia consensus is for the truth. Ozob (talk) 19:19, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
That isn't a demonstration of LQ. It's a series of logical proofs that make it look as though LQ ought to work in a certain way, but it doesn't show that it actually does or more relevantly, that it actually does better than American or British standards in encyclopedia-style writing. It also doesn't address the use of words-as-words, song titles, short story titles and all the other uses of quotation marks that have nothing to do with quoting sources.
On a more academic level, I totally disagree that a Wikipedia consensus determines the truth. There is one objective reality for all beings, regardless of what those beings believe. Otherwise, the Sun would have traveled around the Earth and Galileo would have been unable to observe otherwise.
As to whether the preponderance of Wikipedians are correct in their belief that LQ is better, we can certainly argue about it—and we probably will the next time someone brings it up. However, if the question is whether there is currently a Wikipedia consensus to use LQ, then yes, we are in agreement that there is. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:47, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
If it is a correct logical proof, then I don't see how you can reject it. Maybe I'm dense, but I don't see where you pointed out a flaw in my argument.
I did not claim that a Wikipedia consensus determines the truth. I claimed that as regards logical quotation, Wikipedia consensus accords with the truth. Ozob (talk) 21:20, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
What your proofs actually do is define LQ, not demonstrate its effectiveness in practice. It doesn't take mistakes into account. Your proofs indicate not that Wikipedia editors are less likely to make errors if they use LQ but rather that if an error is made, the quotation no longer counts as LQ. It may be true that when LQ is used perfectly, the text will be preserved perfectly, but that is equally true of both American and British punctuation. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:20, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
No, it is not equally true of other styles of punctuation. That is what I proved above: All other styles of punctuation insert characters into or delete characters from the original text. Perhaps I need a fourth point: The characters between the quotation marks are not the same as the characters in the source if and only if the original text has not been accurately preserved. Traditional American punctuation therefore does not preserve the original text.
I have never claimed that editors are less likely to make mistakes when using LQ or that LQ is easier to use in practice. We have not defined "effectiveness", so I certainly haven't demonstrated its effectiveness. All I have shown you is that LQ is more accurate: It preserves the original text perfectly by definition, and other systems do not by definition. Therefore it is an objective truth that LQ preserves the original text better than other systems. It is not merely consensus. Ozob (talk) 12:22, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Ozob, all three forms of punctuation do that. They all take some characters from the source and leave others behind. In American punctuation, the closing period or comma, if any, is understood to be part of the quotation process, like the quotation marks themselves, and the "original text" is what's inside. In this respect, LQ has provides no advantage over other forms. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:49, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Consider the following passages; to control for things like mistakes and misunderstandings, assume that both writer and reader are aware of what style is being used.
  • "It was the strangest experience of my life," he later wrote.
  • He later wrote, "It was the strangest experience of my life."
Under LQ, the reader knows that the punctuation was in the original, while under TQ, the reader has absolutely no idea whether the punctuation was in the original.
  • "It was the strangest experience of my life", he later wrote.
  • He later wrote, "It was the strangest experience of my life".
Under LQ, the reader knows that the punctuation probably wasn't in the original — not certain knowledge, but not zero knowledge either.
From these, it would appear that LQ always provides more information than TQ. --Pi zero (talk) 14:41, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
In all those cases, the line could have been either "It was the strangest experience of my life [period]" or "It was the strangest experience of my life [comma] [subsequent independent clause]." Neither LQ nor British or American standards (which would both put the punctuation inside on a dialogue quote like this one) show where the sentence truly stops in the original. In either case, the reader must view the original to be sure or—more likely because this is the goal of encyclopedic writing—trust that the writer who quoted the material has included the information that is relevant to the article. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:09, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
In each of the first two sentences under LQ, it is not possible that the particular original passage being quoted did not contain the punctuation — unless the quoting editor made a mistake, which I had intended to explicitly control against (though I see my words fell short of saying that) since I was trying to address the correct use of these styles. I did actually intend each of the four sentences to be considered separately; if my lazily grouping them in pairs caused confusion, I apologize. If those first two sentences both occur in an article, and are both correct, then they must be quoting two different instances, in one of which the quoted words were followed by a comma, and in the other of which they were followed by a period. --Pi zero (talk) 15:47, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
No need to apologize; these things are going to look ambiguous no matter which way they're portrayed. What happened is that it did not look as though you were using LQ during the first two lines because they are identical to British and American usage. Taking what you were actually doing into account, the precision that you describe can't be determined because it is not clear that LQ is in use. That's a problem that would go away if, after a generation or two, LQ became standard, but it isn't the case now. That being said, in those first two examples, all three styles work equally well because they have the exact same effect on the text. So what these examples really show is that LQ only does anything useful when it does the exact same thing as BQ and AQ, so there's really no reason to prefer it over BQ and AQ. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:24, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
The way to sort out the issues involved in this is to divide and conquer, carefully isolating each specific objective point and getting it straight before moving on to the next. That's why I temporarily limited my attention to a very specific situation, in which the style is known to both editor and reader and is being used correctly by the editor. You've just violated those assumptions, introducing other factors that there's no chance of getting straight if one doesn't understand the simpler case I've outlined. I'd be happy to address your assessment of the more complicated case if I had any confidence that you understand the simpler case; but, on the contrary, I've gradually come to suspect that you don't understand the basic case. It seems that when confronted with the basic case you change the assumptions, in a way that suggests you aren't being evasive but that in fact your eyes just sort of slide off it (like an SEP field) — this is central to my further suspicion that what we've got here, though it surely does involve some authentic disagreement, also involves a significant failure to communicate. --Pi zero (talk) 18:43, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
In other words, I looked at it the way it would actually be viewed by a reader of this encyclopedia. Are there situations in which LQ is preferable? Perhaps it would be in programming publications in which there are so many raw data strings that it just makes more sense to use a system designed for data strings than one that makes exceptions for data strings. This is not a programming publication. More specifically, I assumed not that the editor was making a mistake but rather that the reader could see what the editor had put on the page but not what the editor was thinking or the rationale that that editor used to make the decision. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:18, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
When there is a failure to communicate, go to the foundation. Please define "basic case" as you are using the term—if you believe that would be an appropriate use of your time, that is. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:18, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
Striving for mutual understanding is a worthy use of time, I think. (Granted, I have to timeshare WP with the rest of my life, but that's why my next comment sometimes takes a day or several to materialize.)
The simplified case I'm addressing is that the editor who writes the sentence (a.k.a. the "quoter", the person who is doing the quoting) is correctly applying the style (LQ or TQ), and the reader observing the sentence knows what style the editor is applying. Complications temporarily excluded due to these simplifications include (I hesitate to claim these are exhaustive) that the editor might not be correctly applying the style, and that the reader might not know the style or might be mistaken about the style. And yes, I do heartily agree that these simplifying assumptions are not the most common situation with Wikipedia articles (although the simplified case must surely happen sometimes). --Pi zero (talk) 20:53, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
I would argue that your assumption of the reader knowing what style has been used effectively never occurs on Wikipedia. It's similar to a broken clock: it's right twice a day, but it doesn't ever give useful information (unless of course we have another working clock on hand). You don't know whether an article uses LQ unless you have the source open next to it and are comparing quote for quote. We should be clear in this discussion that providing for the use of LQ in the MOS does not increase the information content of Wikipedia articles. (Which isn't to say it's not the best system, if we find ourselves wanting to mandate a particular style.) Christopher Parham (talk) 21:09, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
Depends on the strength of the qualifier "effectively". It isn't necessary to my point that it ever happen, as this is a gedankenexperiment, meant to provide insight into the dynamics of the phenomena under scrutiny by asking what would happen under hypothetical circumstances. That said, here's a situation in which it is tolerably likely that it might happen: a group of Wikipedians collaborate to upgrade an article, and they use the talk page of the article to mutually agree on various conventions that they're all going to follow — one of these collaborators is the quoter who writes the sentence, and another of the collaborators is the reader who observes the sentence.
There's also some difficulty with what you mean by "know": in sufficiently strict use of that word, reading a Wikipedia article cannot ever induce any kind of knowledge whatsoever, since Wikipedia is not itself a reliable source. That sense of the word "know" is useful for some purposes (notably, choosing sources for a WP article), but for this particular discussion it seems a bit too strict to be useful.
It's a truism that MOS can't "mandate" anything, of course, but, allowing a certain rhetorical license in the use of the word so that it becomes meaningful to talk about MOS mandating something, the MOS already does mandate LQ, and has for many years. --Pi zero (talk) 22:38, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
I wouldn't say that it never happens, Christopher. I certainly hope that there are at least some Wikipedia editors who care enough about proper punctuation to bother to read that part of the MoS! I would say that, given the inconsistency on Wikipedia and the acknowledgment that not all articles are written in compliance with the rule, the case would still be pretty rare.
Pi Zero, I concede that when the conditions you have described are met, LQ conveys the information in question. However, because this does not happen outside of what I'll call "laboratory conditions," it would not be true or accurate to put "LQ preserves text better" in the FAQ. In this case, I'd take "effectively" to refer to something that has an effect, which LQ does not seem to with regard to preserving the text of Wikipedia's articles and sources.
As for the MoS's role, I didn't object when Pi Zero changed "mandate" to "call for" because it is absolutely true that the MoS does call for LQ, but it does also mandate it. The MoS creates the rules for Wikipedia and there are consequences for breaking those rules. Maybe it shouldn't be that way, but, in practice, it is. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:32, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
I'm no fan of the current wording of the FAQ answer, without or without the word "consensus". I remarked somewhat on the wording further down in this section. "Better" meaning "in a more desirable manner", "more successfully", or "more accurately"? I'm not convinced that the wording is informative in a way that will help much in forestalling protracted misunderstandings. I freely admit that so far I don't know how to word it better.
Re the behavior of quotation styles under laboratory conditions (a nice turn of phrase), to be clear, what I'm saying is that LQ under laboratory conditions conveys more information about the source than any other style does under laboratory conditions. That could be taken as the "better=more accurately" sense of the answer. The next question is the nature of the relationship between that phenomenon under controlled conditions, and phenomena under field conditions (the "better=more successfully" sense). --Pi zero (talk) 14:49, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
A minuscule amount, but yes. However, what the reader is most likely to assume is "under Wikipedia conditions," under which LQ provides no concrete advantage. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:43, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

← Richard Feynman once wrote:

In order to save ourselves from inventing new words such as “wavicles,” we have chosen to call these objects “particles,” but we all know that they obey these rules for drawing and combining arrows that I have been explaining.

If we quote this sentence swapping the commas with the closing quotation marks on the ground that the name by which we call those objects doesn't include a comma (following the combination of LQ and the spirit of the "Allowable typographical changes" list), then the sequence of characters we quote does not equal the sequence of characters Feynman chose. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 13:33, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

That's an interesting point, A d M. Frankly, I think that whenever Wikipedia quotes a source, as you have done, internal styles of punctuation should be preserved. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:49, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
It is allowed make trivial typographical changes by any Manual of Style that I know. For instance if I quote "the electron-positron pair was very happy today", it is perfectly reasonable and allowable to quote it as "the electron–positron pair was very happy today". Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 15:49, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
I guess it's that I don't consider this to be trivial. I'd put this kind of comma placement on par with spelling "color vs. colour" because it shows something about the author's tastes and origin. I don't get that from hyphens vs. en dashes. Now whether Wikipedia's MoS should reflect these conclusions of mine is another question. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:18, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
A d M's comment has been kicking around in my head for a few days. If the terminal comma or period is so trivial that the MoS would permit moving it even in a direct quote, then why is it so important that we must deny ourselves the professionalism and legitimacy of correct American and British punctuation? Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:41, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Darkfrog, again, would it be possible for you to move on from this flag-waving nationalism? I have already pointed out that my daily newspaper in Sydney does not properly comply with what you would refer to as non-US external punctuation (and it uses dates like this: October 31, 2003). Why are you obsessed with the notion of etching sharp lines between the post-colonial varieties? Tony (talk) 07:43, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Tony, I am not waving the American flag or the British flag or the Australian but the correctness and professionalism flag, and have been since day one. LQ cannot provide that for Wikipedia and British and American standards can. No, I don't intend to stop. Even if my above comment—or anything else—were to convince the rest of Wikipedia to prefer standard punctuation to LQ, I would still be saying that the author's original punctuation style should not be considered trivial.
In case you doubt me, please click [here] and note item #1. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:24, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
And I actually wouldn't refer to anything as "non-U.S. external punctuation." I call British "British" and American "American." I would hope that an Austrialian newspaper would use correct Australian punctuation. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:39, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Maybe I can't convince you, but one person is not consensus. Tony agreed with me before when he reverted your change, so there are at least two people here who believe that the FAQ answer should say "This system ..." rather than "Consensus is that this system ..." How does everyone else feel? Ozob (talk) 00:19, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
Keeping the word "consensus" in the text is the most direct answer to the question and directs newcomers to the concept of Wikipedia consensus. Otherwise, people educated in the American system will just think "Well, that's wrong" and keep going. This, at least, will get them to ask "What is a Wikipedia consensus?" or "What do you mean by 'consensus that it preserves text better'?" before going ahead and "correcting" the MoS. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:25, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
The objective truth here might or might not be what is being expressed by the current wording of the LQ answer, due to ambiguous possible readings of the word better. The alternative, subjective reading of the answer might induce an allergic reaction in readers. A stopgap measure is to explicitly label the answer as "consensus", but that will not actually enhance understanding of the answer, it will only encapsulate misunderstanding of the answer within a protective shell of awareness-that-others-think-the-statement-is-true (i.e., the reader who misunderstands the answer is also mistaken about what it is that others think is true). I fear that the current LQ answer will not save argument about LQ here, but only further entrench misunderstandings that exacerbate that argument. To accomplish the goal of the FAQ, a different LQ answer is needed; I've had no joy trying to draft one myself, not for want of trying, though I am coming to believe that an effective LQ answer might not even have to try to express the objective truth that the current answer isn't unambiguously expressing. --Pi zero (talk) 04:25, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

Considering the dissatisfaction with the FAQ answer in its current state, how do you guys feel about something similar to what we have in the register? It would be longer, but perhaps that would help. "While this is a point of frequent and heated contention on the MoS, there is a current and long-standing consensus for what is called 'logical quotation' or 'datasafe quotes' over both standard American and British English punctuation. While this system more closely resembles British forms than American ones, it does have supporters in the U.S." Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:59, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

The FAQ is there to provide guidance about topics that have reached consensus. It is not necessary to state "Consensus is that...", as that is assumed. "...and directs newcomers to the concept of Wikipedia consensus"—it is not the duty of the MOS to educate editors as to WP concepts such as consensus.  HWV258.  05:41, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree that its purpose is to show editors which styles Wikipedia wants them to use. However, the type of editor who might need to look at the FAQ would probably also be the sort who could benefit from a closer look at the Wikipedia concept of consensus.
In this case, we have an added problem. The statement "Consensus is that this system preserves text better is true" but the statement "this system preserves text better" is false. LQ does not actually offer a material advantage over AQ or BQ under ordinary Wikipedia conditions. It's just more popular among Wikipedians than other systems are. We should find a way to explain why LQ is preferred without making any misleading statements. Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:58, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that the current wording works either. Would someone please show me a case in which LQ prevents ambiguity when AQ or BQ would not? So far, no one's ever been able to. There have been a few examples in which someone chopped off the second half of a sentence, but in those cases it was always the wording that did the trick. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:49, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
I'm sure that if we put our heads together, we can find something to say about LQ that is both observable and useful. In our discussions, most of LQ's supporters mention that they find LQ to be intuitive and appealing. We could say that. We could also come out and say what we've found above, "Under certain rare conditions, LQ conveys more information than BQ or AQ." Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:57, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
We seem to be struggling mightily to re-invent the wheel, here. Part of the MOS text on LQ, which has been hammered out by consensus — and should be very well-tempered by now, considering how much hammering has been involved — is a statement of motivation. That statement is not explicitly labeled "consensus" in the MOS because one doesn't label things in the MOS as consensus (everything in the MOS is there by consensus), but answers in the FAQ do not seem to have the same sort of presumption of consensus-hood about them: it is clear that opinions in such answers are those of consensus, but in some cases clarity may be well served by identifying certain statements as opinion (though the word "consensus", having been linked in the lede, need not be used in the answers). I recommend the following wording for the FAQ answer, as a full and faithful representation of the consensus motive:
Logical quotation is used by Wikipedia both because of the principle of minimal change, and because it is deemed less prone to misquotation, ambiguity, and the introduction of errors in subsequent editing.
--Pi zero (talk) 17:10, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
"Deemed" will do. It renders the sentence true rather than false. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:36, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
Regarding whether everything in the MoS is there by consensus, a lot of them have observable qualities as well. With the single vs. double quotation issue, we can switch browsers, hit CTRL-F and observe that the problem with single quotes is real. This information is not subject to anyone's preferences or interpretation and makes for a clear, direct FAQ answer. Issues such as LQ and the singular they don't have observable reasons in this way, so the FAQ question "Why is this here?" must acknowledge the role of those preferences and interpretation. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:39, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

Logical quotation - there's only one relevant argument[edit]

I'm getting a little tired of these heavy-handed attempts to obfuscate this issue as much as possible (cf. editwarring on the FAQ subpage), by making up reasons that are allegedly behind logical quotation being recommended by MoS, ignoring the real one, and then attacking the bogus ones as bad reasons. This is known as the straw man fallacy. Let's just be really clear about this. There is only one reason, only one point that has any relevance to MoS and WP policy. Not two points, not four. One.

MoS does not call for logical quotation because it "looks better" (a subjective artsy-fartsy notion of no importance here). Nor is it because LQ is "more intuitive" (which it almost certainly is for a majority of people, but this too is subjective, and people with a really, really deep-seated preference for the largely American typesetter's quotation style find that more intuitive, as someone keeps browbeating into us as if we didn't already understand this, several years ago. Nor is it because LQ is "simpler" or "easier" (typing ". when warranted is no in any way less or more complicated that ."); actually the decision is less simple, because in logical quotation the punctuation is placed inside or outside for a reason that requires thinking – because it actually belongs there – not always inside regardless of what the results of doing that might be.

We use logical quotation here for a simple, singular, factual, objective reason: It preserves quotations intact, without falsely inserting punctuation into them that wasn't there in the originals (or leaving the reader to wonder whether this has been done, on a quotation-by-quotation basis). Please Darkfrog24, stop mischaracterizing the nature of the debate and engaging in fallacious editwarring. The reason for the choice is grounded in WP:V and WP:NOR. Going with typesetters' quotation (there is no "American" or "British" quotation, as has already been proven in these recurring debates - there are US publications that use logical quotation and UK ones that use typesetter's) has no basis but subjective WP:ILIKEIT notions.

Darkfrog24, we all really, really, really understand that you really, really, really prefer typesetters' quotation. Like, there seriously isn't any way you could make that clearer, and badgering multiple MOS pages with more and more about this, day in and day out to obstruct progress is not going to get you anywhere.

PS: See in particular WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT and WP:NOTUNANIMITY. PPS: I am not questioning your surely good-faith motives, only your judgment of the situation and how to handle it. WP's usage of logical quotation is very, very stable, and is in place for a sound, rational reason. Consensus can change but it doesn't do so on something like this without a really good reason. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 18:07, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

SMC, I would be delighted if the ban on American punctuation were lifted and if someone else brings the matter up again I will support it, but that's not what I'm trying to do right now. I just don't think that the FAQ should make any false statements about what LQ is or why it's there. LQ does not actually preserve text better in practice. LQ does not actually make statements less ambiguous. I realize that most of the people on this board really like that system, but that is why it is in the MoS.
The idea that American punctuation creates ambiguity is a myth. In American English, it is understood that the closing period or comma is part of the quotation process just like the quotation marks are. It's like saying that British spelling makes it look like "center" is pronounced "senn-treh." It's been that way for over a hundred years without actually causing this kind of trouble.
I agree entirely that aesthetics should not be a factor here. People are just as likely to find one system visually appealing as the other.
While some of the arguments you present, such as it being easier to use codes with LQ, might make a case for allowing LQ on Wikipedia, they don't make the case for banning American and British standards. I am sure that some editors would not mind going to a little extra effort to use correct American or British forms.
Back to the FAQ, Pi Zero just proposed a new answer. What do you think of it? Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:28, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
Also, just because some American publications prefer LQ or British styles or some British publications prefer LQ or American doesn't mean that they aren't American and British. There are Chicago-style pizza restaurants in New York, but that doesn't make them New-York-style pizzas. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:32, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
Only for those who are obsessed with fracturing the language into flag-waving national entities. Tony (talk) 23:05, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
Tony, there is a British variation of English and an American one and an Australian one. I'm sure that you've heard people speak and read books and newspapers and seen this for yourself. The differences were there a long time before you or I got here and they're still going to be there, in some form, a long time after we're gone. I am not inventing them. I think the real difference between our views on this matter is that you believe that Wikipedia should push some artificial homogenized English and I think that it should reflect the language the way it actually is. Wikipedia respects and celebrates this diversity with regard to spelling. It should go all the way and do it with punctuation too. New York and Chicago pizzas both taste great. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:02, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

Re SMC: we use logical quotation because that is the established style. When used as recommended here, logical quotation is far from the most source-based and precise way of punctuating quotations. For example, the Chicago manual has a much stricter method which they recommend for literary studies and other situations where exact preservation of the original is intended. In Wikipedia, we do not try to achieve that level of precision. So the argument that we use logical quotations because they preserver the original best is simply bogus. The choice to use logical quotation is mostly one of taste, but we seem to have selected it in any case. We might as well be honest about that in the FAQ. — Carl (CBM · talk) 03:56, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

Needed help regarding WP:Logical quotation[edit]

An editor and I partly disagree about how to apply WP:Logical quotation, as seen at Talk:Avatar (2009 film)#Punctuation. Other editors at different parts of the site have also interpreted WP:Logical quotation differently, which makes me think that it needs a little rewrite. We need opinions about which one of us is wrong on this matter. And, as I stated, likely a little rewrite of WP:Logical that these different interpretations do not happen again. Flyer22 (talk) 02:06, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

I'm on it.—Finell 02:41, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
Took a look at your discussion. While it is relatively clear how to handle the quotation in question, I can't tell who was interpreting WP:LQ which way. Could you be clearer about how you and Cosmic were taking the instructions? Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:18, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
My two cents: The question seems to revolve around exactly what the MOS means when it says "quoted material". In this case, James Cameron said something, and our reliable source for what he said is an MTV article that uses TQ (typesetter's quotation, i.e., trailing punctuation always goes inside the quotation marks). As we're acutely aware here, TQ means that the reader (us) is given no information about any trailing punctuation that might actually be part of what was said. The quote attributed by MTV to Cameron ends with a comma before the closing quotation mark in the MTV article — but because the MTV article uses TQ, that trailing comma has nothing to do with what Cameron said. That trailing comma is mechanically part of the surrounding prose of the MTV article. We don't actually know (for sure) whether the quoted words are all of Cameron's sentence, or whether his sentence continued on with more words that MTV did not choose to include in the quote. Flyer22 seems to have construed "quoted material" to mean "material that occurs within quotes in the MTV article", in which case it would include the trailing comma. My understanding is that, because the MTV article uses TQ, the material quoted by MTV is everything between the quotation marks except the trailing comma, the trailing comma being part of the surrounding prose. This is what makes sense to me, because the purpose of LQ is to maximize the accuracy of our reporting of what was said (and in this case we are reporting what Cameron said, not reporting what MTV said). --Pi zero (talk) 23:48, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
I'm with you that, in American punctuation (AKA TQ), the final comma or period is part of the quotation process. However, the tag and citation indicate that Flyer was using a written MTV article and not an audio recording of the interview. If we're deeming the source to be a reliable one, then we're saying that we trust the writer's judgment, at least to the point where we assume that he or she is doing an adequate job of writing things down. If we assume otherwise, then we should tell the editors to find a better source.
"There could have been words left out" isn't an LQ vs AQ/BQ issue. A writer who sees no problem with cutting off half a sentence probably isn't going to see a problem with putting down a period.
With regard to the text of WP:LQ, while I don't agree with its content, but the way it's phrased is pretty darn direct. I suppose we could add examples, but I'd like to be more certain of what problem it is that we're fixing first. I'm sure Flyer can explain. I've also left a note on Cosmic's talk page. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:35, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
I am saying that we must completely trust the MTV writer's judgment on exactly how to represent what Cameron said. Set that alongside the fact that the final comma is (as you so aptly put it) part of the quotation process. The final comma is part of the machinery in the MTV article that surrounds and delimits, but is not part of, the MTV writer's representation of what Cameron said. The MTV writer judged that what Cameron said should be represented by a text string that does not have any final punctuation, and we must respect that judgment. If the MTV writer had wanted to badly enough, they could have used a block quote, which would have allowed them to include trailing punctuation in their representation of what Cameron said; it would have been a lot of trouble for them to go to, and in their shoes I'm sure I would have made the same decision they did (supposing that I was forced to use TQ :-) — but that's as may be. All that really matters for this particular case is that the MTV writer didn't do that, and as a result, the quoted material does not include any trailing punctuation.
Re the phrasing in the MOS: Even if I never had to say another word to explain my position, the number of words I've already expended on it demonstrates that the current phrasing is not a model of lucidity. --Pi zero (talk) 02:06, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that a good writer would use a block quote format on a short quote like this one.
From what I've been able to ascertain, the confusion is not coming from the LQ vs AQ/BQ issue but rather from the issue of whether to treat Cameron's words within the MTV article as a text source or as an audio source. Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:10, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Depending on the layout of the material, of course, a block quote for such a short passage would probably not be appropriate, I agree. My point was that under TQ, the fact that a block quote was in fact not used means that the MTV writer was mechanically unable to ascribe any trailing punctuation to Cameron.
As a clarification, how do you see text/audio impacting the question at hand? --Pi zero (talk) 15:47, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
How I see it affecting the issue at hand? When a Wikipedia editor uses and cites an audio source, then the reader assumes that it is the Wikipedia editor who decided how to punctuate the written version. When a Wikipedia editor uses and cites a text source, then the reader assumes that it is the author/transcriber of that text source who decided how to punctuate it. I would treat sources such as the MTV article as text sources. The most important factor seems to me to be that the interviewer is present to hear the interviewee speak and Wikipedia editor is not. The interviewer's guess is better than the editor's in such a case. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:45, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
But we can also hear/see Cameron speak about this matter. Flyer22 (talk) 23:52, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
This I did not know at the time. I tend to ignore anything that looks like it might be an ad, so I didn't see the video section and assumed you were working solely from the writeup.
I'd say that when a Wikipedia editor is working from an audio source and hears a stop within the quote, then it is right and proper to place the period inside the quotation marks even when using LQ. Removing or ignoring the "uh" is acceptable. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:14, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
As one of the two editors involved in the original dispute, I'll offer my current take on things: There does seem to be a legitimate question as to whether the goal is faithful representation of Wikipedia's source (MTV) or of MTV's own source (Cameron). If the goal is the former representation, then it would seem that a literary snapshot of the MTV source would include their (apparently) TQ-derived comma. If the goal is the latter representation, then since there's no way to tell if Cameron's original line included either an explicit (written) or an implicit (spoken) comma, the inclusion of a comma within quotes here would be speculative at best, and therefore best avoided. I'd propose that, as a compromise between these two possible goals, one simply remember that quotation always is a potential act of omission (i.e., there's always the possibility that the source--whatever "the source" ultimately is understood to be--contains characters to the left or right of where the quotation marks appear in the new material). Therefore, even if it turns out the the idea is to represent MTV (i.e., to represent the "secondary source" that WP has at hand, rather than to represent the initial speaker's speech), then even though MTV includes a TQ-consistent comma, MTV gives us license to omit that comma because A) the origins of the comma are ambiguous; perhaps they lie with Cameron, perhaps they lie with the TQ rendering of Cameron's words; and B) quotation always is a possible act of omission in the first place. So, maybe WP:LQ could use a line about how to handle ambiguous punctuation (e.g., omit it) that derives from sources-within-sources (i.e., from lines that sources themselves have quoted directly)? In a nutshell, perhaps there is a valid question about whether the Avatar article should quote the comma there. At this point, I agree that it should not. The initial question, however, was whether a period should be placed where the source had put a comma (this was Flyer22's edit to which I initially objected). That, I think, would be far too big a stretch--a copy-editor's version of WP:OR, in fact, because it would ultimately trust neither MTV nor Cameron, but rather the editor who feels that Cameron's thought comes to its conclusion in that spot. Cosmic Latte (talk) 17:26, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
I wouldn't go so far as to call placing a period there OR, but it is certainly not consistent with LQ. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:45, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Cosmic Latte, I do not get what you mean about stretch or original research. We can watch the video clip and see that Cameron does indeed end his sentence there. Sure, his thoughts about the couples are not finished there, but that sentence is. Unless you feel that his "uh" after it is also a part of that sentence. What I did has nothing to do with not trusting MTV nor Cameron, but rather what I felt WP:Logical quotation is about -- only ending sentence fragments with the punctuations outside of the quotes; this also means that even if the text presents a sentence fragment with the period within the quote, we do not because we are following "logical quotation." All I did was place the "said Cameron" part in the middle and end the sentence with a period because it is a full sentence. I figured that full sentences should always end with the period inside of the quote. But you are saying that because the sentence ended with a comma and "he explained" in the text version...that this means Cameron's sentence could have possibly not been finished? I ask, "How could we possibly know that unless we had audio commentary?" In this case, we do have audio commentary -- a clip -- and it shows that Cameron does end his sentence there. Besides, what if I were to have presented that quote the other way around, with the "Cameron said," part first, and then ended the quote with a period? Would that not be acceptable, simply because the text ends the sentence with a comma and "he explained"? Flyer22 (talk) 23:52, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
British punctuation consistently treats fragments that way, but LQ does not generally require users to remove punctuation that is present in the original. LQ has its origin for its ability to preserve what's called "literal strings" in computer programming, strings of characters, regardless of their spoken or grammatical meaning. While Pi Zero has pointed out some issues with closing punctuation, if the original quote was "It was interesting. Also, I like cheese," then it is perfectly in compliance with LQ to write "Cameron said that it was 'interesting.' " (British punctuation would have "Cameron said that it was 'interesting'." American punctuation would have "Cameron said that it was 'interesting.' ") Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:19, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
It'd be possible, but not very useful. We're not quoting a full sentence but only a piece thereof, so why would said piece contain the sentence-terminating punctuation? ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 16:25, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
Six to one, half a dozen to the other. However, if the question is whether LQ requires fragments to be treated the same way that BQ treats them, the answer is that no it doesn't. LQ does not concern itself with the grammatical stop the way British punctuation does, so the editor may decide whether to keep the period or not. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:12, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
See, I was not aware of that. I don't get that from reading WP:Logical quotation, especially with it pointing to logical quotation. To me, it is (or rather was) saying follow the British style of having all sentence fragments end with the closing punctuations outside of the quoted material (though I see you recently changed that for better reading, which is why it is likely now a "was"). That is how I would and I am sure still will see most people using WP:Logical quotation around here, and Finell (in a past discussion) said that the period should go outside of the quoted material for any type of sentence fragment. If it has not been British Style vs. American style regarding WP:Logical quotation all this time, then why does that discussion constantly come up here on this talk page? Flyer22 (talk) 03:44, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
The discussion keeps coming up on the talk page because the LQ rule confuses and annoys people. Outside of computer programming, a lot of people don't even know that LQ exists until they see the Wikipedia MoS. In addition to this, a lot of American writers don't know that any system aside from American punctuation exists until they get to Wikipedia. LQ is very different from what people are taught in schools about good writing and good punctuation. And, in at least one case that I know of (that being myself), being told that we're not allowed to use standard English is real turnoff. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:47, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
It's interesting to me that you feel that way. The punctuation I was taught in school always had the opposite effect on me: I thought that it was ridiculous on its face, and I put up with it only because I was forced to. I now use logical quotation exclusively. If Wikipedia were to change its policy and embrace something else, I would still use logical quotation in my talk page writings and my emails, because I can imagine no other way. Obviously, the MoS can't accommodate both my likes and your likes. It seems that, like so many things, there is no solution in this Earthly life. Ozob (talk) 23:33, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
Actually, it can. It could permit AQ, BQ and LQ with consistency within each article, as it does with British and American spelling, the serial comma, etc.
I guess it depends on how the subject was taught. I had one teacher who insisted on twelve-point Times New Roman for every assignment just because it was an anti-peeve of hers, and the sight of anything written in that font and size annoyed me for years. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:07, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
Darkfrog, I know why the WP:Logical quotation matter keeps coming up; I have seen what you have seen regarding that. And that is what I mean. When it does come up, people often cite it as a British vs. American style. I was asking if it has not been British vs. American style all this time, then why do people often cite it as British vs. American style in these discussions? Either way, I am not understanding the logical quotation rule in its entirety now; the reasons for that are in everything I have brought up on the matter. I thought it was as simple as having all sentence fragments end with the closing punctuations outside of the quoted material. It has not helped when some of you disagree on how WP:Logical quotation is supposed to be applied. For example, as I stated before, Finell said that the period should go outside of the quoted material for any type of sentence fragment. You disagree. Now Finell seems to disagree with that earlier statement. PS...the next person should outdent if we continue this part of the discussion further (LOL). Flyer22 (talk) 23:22, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
I used to think that the Wikipedia MoS was endorsing British punctuation too. Truthfully, in practice, British and LQ only rarely differ, so it takes some digging to see how they're different. Aside from the treatment of colons and semicolons, the biggest difference is in the theory: British punctuation treats words as words and LQ treats them as strings of characters. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:12, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
A possibly more illuminating characterization of LQ (I found it helpful, when I noticed it while trying to articulate why I didn't entirely agree with the last part of the last sentence above) is that LQ doesn't treat the words at all: it only treats the trailing punctuation, if any. That is, it doesn't care what the quoted material means; and, indeed, it doesn't care about the specific meaning of the trailing punctuation either — all it cares about is whether the meaning of the trailing punctuation is part of the meaning of the quoted material, or part of the meaning of the surrounding prose. In the case of a "string literal" in computer science, the meaning of the quoted material is, in fact, a sequence of characters; then, a trailing punctuation mark outside the quotation marks is providing structural information about the surrounding prose (that is, punctuating the surrounding prose), while a trailing puncutation mark inside the quotation marks is just another character amongst those that make up the string literal. In the case of a prose quotation, such as the one we've been discussing, a trailing punctuation mark outside the quotation marks is again providing structural information about the surrounding prose, while a a trailing punctuation mark inside the quotation marks is providing structural information about the quoted material (since it is part of the quoted material).
There is one flaw in my description above of the prose quotation case, in that if the trailing punctuation occurs inside the quotation marks, the meaning of the trailing punctuation "bleeds through" to the surrounding prose, so that (unless there is also a punctuation mark immediately outside the closing quotation mark, which would make the whole thing much more string-literal-like) the punctuation mark immediately inside the closing quotation mark is understood as applying to both the quoted material and the surrounding prose. --Pi zero (talk) 17:01, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
I have responded a little below in this section to the position you have about what you call "the trailing comma." Flyer22 (talk) 22:45, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

Section break[edit]

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── People often talk about it in terms of British vs. American style because they are ignorant of the many, many discussions about this here, they like thinking in simple terms, they like arguing, especially if it fires up a feisty Brits vs. Yanks fight, they don't pay attention, because they are hidebound and hardheaded, and many other reasons. Who cares? It's not a US vs. UK style issue, no matter how much a certain couple of editors want to make it into one. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 02:16, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

SMcCandlish, I appreciate you weighing in on that matter. Any other helpful comments you can make regarding other parts of this discussion would also be appreciated. Flyer22 (talk) 22:45, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

Pi zero, feeling that "quoted material" means "material that occurs within quotes in the MTV article" is not exactly what I meant. If I did, then I would not have objected much to the period being placed outside of the quote...since it does not appear within the text. What I meant is what I just stated above to Cosmic Latte Flyer22 (talk) 23:52, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

Pi zero, I am not getting this edit you made (which is why I undid it). From the discussion on the Avatar (2009 film) talk page and part of the discussion here, it has been stated that the comma should be inside of the quoted material. In fact, Cosmic Latte did not have a problem with this, because the text in the source also uses a comma there; this is the compromise the both of us (Cosmic Latte and I) made before I brought the matter here. Flyer22 (talk) 23:22, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
I was fine with that at first, but both here and on Avatar talk, people raised a point that I hadn't considered: There's absolutely no way to tell from the source if Cameron's sentence ends there, or if that spot contained a comma, etc. Because the source itself doesn't use LQ, it doesn't let us see what Cameron did or didn't say after the word "interesting". Perhaps his sentence ended there. Perhaps it continued--and, if so, perhaps it included a comma in that spot. We just don't know, because the TQ format that the source uses simply doesn't care: It requires a comma there, regardless. So, when we're citing the source, if we omit the comma (remember that the act of quotation always is a potential act of omission), then we can be sure that we're not adding anything to what Cameron said--we can have greater confidence that we're rendering Cameron's line with the same precision that the source intended, and which it achieved as best as it could through TQ. To be honest, I don't entirely see how this degree of precision is required by LQ; however, because quotation always is at liberty to omit material (i.e., to the left and right of the quotation marks), I certainly think that such precision couldn't hurt, and that we ought to take advantage of it when it's at our disposal. Cosmic Latte (talk) 04:47, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
I have responded to this a little below in this section. Flyer22 (talk) 22:45, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
While Pi Zero did make a good point about the comma itself, I'd like to point out that even if the MTV interview had used LQ, it wouldn't have given us any information about what Cameron did or didn't say after "interesting." None of the three major forms of punctuation let us know which words have and haven't been omitted or even whether any words have been omitted. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:23, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
If the MTV interview had used LQ, and had placed a comma just before the closing quotation mark, that would tell us that Cameron did not end his sentence there. --Pi zero (talk) 19:22, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
Unless the next words were "he said" or something, but in general, yes, you've pointed out a new possibility. In the case of this Avatar quote, though, they act the same way. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:43, 4 February 2010 (UTC)
It doesn't matter whether the next words are "he said" or something. If the comma goes inside the quotes in LQ, then that is an assertion that the sentence did not end there. If a document uses LQ, and it says
"No elephants are pink," he said.
then the document is asserting that "No elephants are pink" is not his complete sentence. It isn't just failing to assert that his sentence ended there, it is actually asserting that his sentence did not end there. That's because it is asserting that the comma is part of the description of what he said. The document could have avoided making that assertion, by saying
"No elephants are pink", he said.
which leaves us, the readers of the document, not knowing whether the sentence ended there, although we would then think it unlikely that the word "pink" was followed by a comma (because if it were, the document using LQ would probably have put the comma inside the quotation marks). --Pi zero (talk) 04:35, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Only if the reader knows that LQ is in use. Takes us back to Wikipedia conditions vs. laboratory conditions. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:06, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Real conditions versus laboratory conditions is the point at which circumstances induced me to drop that thread, leaving it woefully incomplete, as other threads demanded all of my very limited Wikipedia time. You did state your position on this; I just never stated mine (in that thread, though I believe we got a little further on this aspect of it in an earlier thread that, however, we had failed to ground in the laboratory conditions). Your position can be boiled down to "Since the reader might misunderstand the information that we provide, why bother to provide it?"; that's not exactly presenting your position in its best light, but it should make clear why I don't find your position compelling. My position is that if we were to very carefully tease out all the probabilities involved, we would find, after tedious analysis, that the reader is most likely to get the right information if we actually provide the right information. --Pi zero (talk) 18:24, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
Not quite. My position is actually, "Because, under real conditions, logical quotation provides no information or advantage over American and British forms, we should not prefer it to American and British forms." We can tease out probabilities or we can look at what's actually happened: Readers have been getting the right information from American and British standard forms for hundreds of years. The idea that American and British punctuation creates problems that LQ does not simple doesn't hold water. Words in an encyclopedia aren't literal strings; they're words. And they're not read by programs; they're read by people. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:49, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
Your basic statement about "what's actually happened" is misrepresentative, because it is ambiguous in a way that hides the distinction that you're trying to draw a conclusion about. You say "Readers have been getting the right information from American and British standard forms for hundreds of years"; but this is only true if one takes "the right information" to refer only to information that those forms actually express, which means that, in order to make the statement true, you have to first decide to ignore what makes LQ different. It seems quite fair to say that readers have been getting some right information from those forms. However, in order to use those forms it is necessary to systematically remove certain information, available to the author, that could have been expressed using LQ. (And whether or not that information would have been rightly understood, had it been expressed, is only a sensible question after the act of expression has been performed.) The information that was systematically omitted from the expression cannot have been "gotten" by any reader, human or otherwise, because the information was actually not there.
The temptation to skip over the details after a certain point, cutting the Gordian knot — and it is a great temptation, I agree — can only safely be indulged when those details really don't contribute to the bottom line. (I am tempted myself, at this point, to break down the situation into its basic parts and cases, and then discourse on the outcomes and probabilities involved... but honestly I don't have time (which I find deeply frustrating) and also lack confidence that we wouldn't turn out to be failing to communicate at some earlier point, with the result that you would not be enabled to get anything from my time-consuming expression.) --Pi zero (talk) 21:06, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
My basic statement is that AQ and BQ have served writers and readers very well for a very long time without demonstrating the kinds of problems that LQ's supporters claim that they do: They do not confuse people. They do not create factual errors. They do not violate the sanctity of the source or introduce errors in subsequent editing, at least not any more than LQ does. They might look as though they ought to, but their track record shows that they generally do not.
I get the part where someone who has spent a lot of time looking at strings literal can then look at American punctuation and say, "Hm. I can see how this could potentially confuse someone." But that same person ought to be able to look at its history and say, "Oh. But it doesn't happen in practice." It's like British spelling. "Hm. This looks like people would pronounce it 'senn-treh.'" "Oh, but almost everyone knows that it's pronounced 'center' and if they don't, they figure it out real fast." It only looks like it would be a problem. There is so, so, so much evidence showing that it isn't a problem.
Angie doesn't like it when Mark opens the window, so she says, "It's rude of Mark to open the window." Mark isn't being rude. He's just doing something that Angie doesn't like. But rather than owning up and saying that she just doesn't like it, Angie feels the need to imagine that some larger system, in this case courtesy, agrees with her. Really, her own preferences ought to be enough for her to politely ask Mark not to open the window. (But then of course, Angie would have to consider Mark's preferences as equal to her own.) That's what's going on here. AQ and BQ don't really create problems. It's just that people who prefer LQ feel the need to imagine that something bigger than themselves agrees with them. So they take the idea that AQ and BQ look like they would cause problems and they blow that up like a balloon—big and flashy, but hollow inside it skin.
Now that isn't to say that AQ and BQ are perfect. They're not. But we've seen that LQ has its problems too. What we haven't seen is AQ and BQ causing any of the sort of problems that would merit forbidding their use.
You've brought up whether or not LQ is correct, and in general I don't consider it to be so, but that does depend on we take "correct" to mean, and I can see how a case could be made either way. However, it is clear that LQ is certainly not standard. It might become so in twenty or thirty years (or turn out to be a fad and fade away), but it isn't right now. I see it as being like a Texas twang or Southern drawl, a curiosity that can suggest the flavor of the subculture that uses it, but not something that everyone should do. I don't see why we have to write Wikipedia with a programmer's accent when what we're writing isn't a programming document. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:38, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Cosmic Latte and Pi zero, do not forget the video. Cosmic Latte, you keep overlooking that. Are you able to view it? We know from the video that Cameron's sentence ends there, which is why having the quote the way I originally had it (ending with the period within the quote) was deemed fine at the Avatar (2009 film) talk page and here. This version:

"They both fall in love with each other, but they need to fight side-by-side," said Cameron, "and so there's that kind of requirement to let the other person go in order to do what you need to do, which is kind of interesting."

As for precision, you stated that you do not "entirely see how this degree of precision is required by LQ." Yes, neither do I. Cosmic Latte and Pi zero, if we start going by this type of formatting, then it should be explicit in the WP:Logical quotation section. But even if we were to start using WP:Logical quotation this way, it would mean that we would start having full quotes end with their commas outside of the quoted material. Why should we do that? Because it would tell us that Cameron's sentence was finished? Most people would not think of the comma placement that way. To them, that sentence is finished either way. They do not know of this "the comma goes outside of quoted material to indicate that the sentence is finished" tactic. Sure, a lot of people also do not know of British and logical quotation formatting having sentence fragments end with their closing punctuations outside of the quoted material, but I am sure it would make more sense to them than having full quotes end with their closing punctuations outside of the quoted material. The point you two are making is that the comma should go outside of the quoted material so that it is clear that the sentence is finished. But isn't putting the comma outside of the quoted material treating the sentence as a sentence fragment and as though the sentence may not be finished? And why should we try to present this type of sentence as "without a doubt finished," if we cannot possibly know if it is truly finished or not unless we hear an audio version of it? Thus, because of these points I have presented, why should we treat a full sentence this way? Right now, WP:Logical quotation says: "On Wikipedia, place all punctuation marks inside the quotation marks if they are part of the quoted material and outside if they are not." Are we saying that the comma is not a part of the quoted material even though it is presented as such? It is true that I would not consider it a part of the quoted material...because no sentence ends in a comma. But that still does not stop us from ending sentences in a comma followed by a "he said" or "she said" (or some variation of it). And like Ozob stated, "...the comma really doesn't give us any information; nevertheless, it's what's in our source. This is something that the MoS doesn't really address, because it assumes the source is always and completely infallible." For any type of text only interview, we cannot know for sure if someone's sentence ended exactly at the spot it is presented as having ended in the source...unless it ends with an ellipsis (such as which is kind of interesting...). To go the route you two are suggesting is basically saying that all full sentences which end with a comma should be treated the way we treat sentence fragments -- that they should end with a comma outside of the quote...unless there is an audio clip we can listen to so that we can know exactly if the sentence ended as presented. Additionally, I have to ask why this does not apply to periods. A full sentence ending with the period within the quote does not mean that Cameron's statement did not end there. Thus, why does a full sentence ending with a comma within the quote have to mean that his sentence did not end there in regards to WP:Logical quotation? I have never seen this type of logical quotation applied on Wikipedia. Flyer22 (talk) 22:45, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
LQ does not treat anything as a sentence fragment. It does not acknowledge the difference between full sentences, partial sentences or random strings of numbers, letters, punctuation and spaces. BQ would treat a sentence fragment the way you're thinking of but LQ holds no position on fragments.
Actually, Pi Zero and SmC aren't saying that putting the comma outside will make it clear that the sentence is finished but rather they are saying that putting the comma outside does nothing at all. They also believe that putting it inside would trick people into thinking that it wasn't complete—I do not share this belief. They believe that problems are created when the comma is placed inside and they do not believe that problems are created when it is placed outside, so they prefer it outside. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:43, 4 February 2010 (UTC)
Placing the comma inside would not "trick people into thinking" that the sentence isn't complete. Placing the comma inside would actually assert, unambigously, that the sentence isn't complete, because it would attribute the comma to Cameron. There's no trickery involved. This is an elementary application of LQ; it's not even a difficult case. It's easy, because there is no question about who we are quoting: we actually state in our sentence that we are quoting Cameron. That's why, as Flyer22 points out, if our sentence were rearranged so that it ended at the closing quotation mark, we could correctly put a period just before that closing quotation mark: because we are quoting Cameron. (If we were quoting MTV, then it would be incorrect for us to put a period inside the closing quotation mark, since MTV didn't.)
I have long had a lurking uncomfortable suspicion, Darkfrog, that you might honestly not understand how LQ works. I couldn't, and so far still can't, wrap my head around why that could possibly be, but the uncertainty is part of why I have been endeavoring, over time, to explore in discussions with you the detailed foundations of LQ — trying to identify exactly where we part company, in the hopes that this would either pinpoint a miscommunication, or show how some other phenomenon fully explains the anomalies that have caused the suspicion. (Even under good conditions this would be a difficult exercise in mapping the correspondences between disparate viewpoints; and it's made much more difficult by my limited and erratic time for Wikipedia). --Pi zero (talk) 05:27, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
I'd say that I have a pretty good grasp of it, Pi Zero. I simply don't believe that it gives Wikipedia any advantage over more correct forms. And I assert that "trick" is in this case a pretty close approximation of "lead people to believe something that is not the case." You're concerned that the reader would believe that Cameron did not complete the sentence when this may not have been the case. Hence, "trick." However, I do not believe that readers, under ordinary Wikipedia conditions, would make any such assumption, primarily because most of them don't know about LQ and even the ones who do are used to either AQ or BQ, both of which place closing punctuation inside the quotation marks in cases involving direct dialogue. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:16, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
This matter of the word "trick", together with comments in another branch of the discussion, suggest to me a clarification of why the word "trick" bothered me in the first place: it's placing primary emphasis on the reader. Getting the right information to the reader is our ultimate goal, but the way we go about it is to present correct information in the first place. By putting the comma inside the quotation marks we would be making an unsupported statement: we would be stating that Cameron did not end his sentence there. We don't know that, and in fact it isn't true. Therefore we have no business stating it. That's how logical quotation works. The use of the word "trick" is just placing heavy emphasis on something that should not be our primary focus when working out how to apply logical quotation.
You have not made any secret, I think, of the fact that your opposition to LQ is not based on any consideration about the correct or incorrect expression of information, nor its communication to the reader. You believe logical quotation to be inherently incorrect English (a position that, to understate the case, I don't agree with), and the rest is about addressing arguments that others find compelling although you, presumably, would not even if you agreed with those arguments. Nevertheless, as long as there is lingering disagreement on the information issues involved —which you and I discuss in such depth— there is merit in our continuing to search for mutual understanding on those issues, since none of us is trying to misrepresent anything. But slipping that "any advantage over more correct forms" crack into the midst of a discussion about information content is the sort of thing that causes some folks here (though not me) to suspect you of shady debate techniques.
(BTW, if I had to guess, I too would say that you probably do have a pretty good grasp of it — though of course you would almost certainly think so anyway; what does a misunderstanding look like from the inside? It's just that there are these odd notes that get struck from time to time, that set off warning bells in the back of my mind. I've seen mind-bogglingly messy disconnects result from misunderstandings so slippery that they're almost impossible even to recognize as misunderstandings, let alone to identify and clear. Hence my unease when I encounter any faint whiff of such an insidious hazard.) --Pi zero (talk) 19:54, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
It is LQ itself that has no bearing on providing correct vs. incorrect information. On Wikipedia, neither LQ nor AQ nor BQ convey any more or less information than the other. The belief that American punctuation provides false information is itself false. You say that, by leaving the comma or period outside, LQ provides no information, false or true, about when Cameron ended his sentence. American punctuation does the exact same thing by using a comma or period that is understood to be part of the quotation process. Neither system provides either accurate or inaccurate information, and American punctuation is easier to use.
What we communicate to the reader by using LQ is that we care more about a few Wikipedians' personal preferences—and a couple of people have mentioned displeasure with old high school English teachers—than we do about creating a professional and encyclopedic tone. And yes, AQ and BQ are more correct than LQ. They have a longer history and are more widely accepted and by more serious writers and organizations than LQ is. (ACS, for example, is serious about chemistry but not about writing.) This makes them more correct. The fact that you consider it to be a crack surprises me, because I do go to some length to try to avoid offending LQ's supporters. If I'd been trying to make a crack, I'd have left out the "more."
Concur that people who don't understand things probably don't know it. That's why the "and understood" part of the "I have read and understood the terms of this agreement" that we so often see on EULAs and websites has no place there. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:08, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Most people not knowing about logical quotation is what I was saying above, Darkfrog24. But "LQ does not treat anything as a sentence fragment"? I ask, "How can that be?" Are you speaking of logical quotation in a different sense than how it is generally used on Wikipedia? As I stated above, WP:Logical quotation currently says, "On Wikipedia, place all punctuation marks inside the quotation marks if they are part of the quoted material and outside if they are not." After that, it gives us sentence fragment examples. People have consistently used WP:Logical quotation to mean that sentence fragments should end with the period outside of the quoted material, as seen with the edit which led to the discussions at the Avatar (2009 film) article talk page and here. The editor seen in that link applied WP:Logical quotation the way I see it usually applied, and the way I apply it, except for that one line. That one line became the basis of this debate, as we know. I doubt that editor checked each of those sources to see how the sources had the sentences. I assumed/still assume that editor saw sentence fragments (and one he or she believed to be a sentence fragment), and placed the periods outside of the quotes based on WP:Logical quotation. Really, I am unsure of how WP:Logical quotation is supposed to be applied if that is not the way. If it has all these other circumstances that make it even more complicated to follow, I am wondering why this is not addressed in the WP:Logical quotation section. If WP:Logical quotation is not as simple as punctuations go outside for sentence fragments, then is this not addressed there because the logical quotation link is supposed to address all that?
As for the editor seen in that recent link I provided, I will invite him or her to this discussion. Flyer22 (talk) 23:56, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
I see that this specific interpretation (periods outside of the quoted material for sentence fragments) has now been brought up below...I think. Flyer22 (talk) 00:16, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
I think we need to make clear in the MoS what logical punctuation is, because few editors seem to understand it, and also that people shouldn't try to change articles with a stable style. What's happening is that correctly punctuated (within the system) articles that use aesthetic are being changed by editors to logical, but not changed properly, so dog's breakfast part 1 occurs. Part 2 is when the original editors return and resume editing with the original style, not realizing the article has been partly changed and/or not knowing how to do logical punctuation anyway, or not wanting to know. The result is a mish-mash of styles. We really need (a) to explain logical punctuation properly in the MoS, and (b) to make clear that a properly punctuated stable article, in either style, should be left as it is. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 00:23, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
Exactly, Slim. Flyer22 (talk) 00:26, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
Although...I'm wondering about the "letting articles go against Wikipedia formatting" part. Flyer22 (talk) 03:57, 11 February 2010 (UTC)


I'm only half following this discussion and the latest additions to the MoS, but it seems to me that we need to stop forcing logical quotation onto people, because it's way too complex. I would never try to use it myself, and I see it being used wrongly all the time. Can we not simply allow people to use the punctuation style they choose, so long as the article's internally consistent? SlimVirgin TALK contribs 04:26, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

The proposal to abandon logical quotation has often been brought up before, but turned down every time; Darkfrog24 surely can inform us on all that.
I would say that we cannot have people using any punctuation style that they choose, though, because that would result in the inconsistency formatting within articles that you were/are trying to avoid (at least judging by your earlier comments on the matter). Flyer22 (talk) 04:43, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
I mean they could choose to use aesthetic punctuation or logical, or perhaps whatever people here are calling BQ, though I have no idea what that is. The point would be simply that, as with citation styles, if they are using a recognized style, they can carry on using it, so long as they're consistent. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 04:57, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
That we had to use logical punctuation was added to the MoS on August 23, 2002, on the mistaken assumption that this was British style. [28] The idea was to split the difference between American and British—use double quotation marks, which the writers wrongly identified as American, and logical punctuation, which they wrongly identified as British.
This is an international project. We ought to be putting nationalist ideas to one side (especially when we keep getting them wrong), and use whatever people find easier. It's not something we should try to force on editors, because they do it instinctively depending on what they're used to, so there's no point trying to legislate. Despite the MoS, most of Wikipedia uses aesthetic punctuation, because that's what most Wikipedians are used to doing. So let's allow editors to use the punctuation style of their choosing, just as we allow them to use the citation style of their choice, so long as articles are internally consistent. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 05:10, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Slim, I know what you meant. But I'm saying that the inconsistency issue would remain, and perhaps be even bigger. If we do not have one style outlined in the Maual of Style, then what's to stop rampant inconsistency within just one article? One guy may prefer American style, for example, while the other guy prefers British style. If we say they can use any punctuation they want, then that means that an article can be half American style and half British style if that is what the editors want. Letting an editor use whatever style he or she wants would mean that he or she could go to an article that is mainly British style and inject his or her American style into it with new additions...because there is no rule saying that he or she must be consistent with the style already present in the aricle. Unless we add a consistentcy rule. Flyer22 (talk) 21:48, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Simple, Flyer22. We tie punctuation to ENGVAR and require consistency within each article. If the article is in American English, use American punctuation. If it's in British English, use British punctuation. That way we respect both American and British contributors. Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:54, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
(That isn't a new argument, of course.) We allow regional variations in spelling, canonically American versus British, because they are information-neutral; that is, an American reader can read an article written using British spelling, or vice versa, and not miss anything that they would have gotten if the article had been written with the spelling that reader is more familiar with. When regional variations convey equal amounts of information, but the differences would potentially interfere with communication, we try to avoid them (like "table the motion" that means opposite things on opposite sides of the Pond). But in the case of quotation, the different styles don't convey equal amounts of information; using any style other than logical quotation actually reduces the amount of information that the text is capable of trying to communicate. So quotation style is non-information-neutral, and abandoning logical quotation in favor of regional variations would actively degrade the quality of the product we are able to deliver.
Concerning complexity — logical quotation is really, really simple. Just this: put between quotes only what you know to be part of what was actually said. The only legitimately difficult part of this is that being precise is hard work, and that's no excuse not to strive for it in an encyclopedia.
That said, if you become convinced (a.k.a. indoctrinated) that it's complicated, you can talk yourself into having trouble with it. That might sound crazy (or worse, pejorative), but it's not. I've seen this bizarre-seeming but very real phenomenon at work on a large scale. In my teens I heard a meme that, even though intuitively you'd think that simple signatures would be easier to forge than complicated ones, it's actually the opposite of what you'd expect. Then in college I met a guy in administration with a near-eidetic memory, who remarked in a casual moment that it was a good thing everything he was supposed to have signed actually went through his hands, because he remembered which papers he had and hadn't signed, whereas nobody else would be able to catch forgeries because he had a very simple signature, and simple signatures are really easy to forge — although, he added with some puzzlement, he'd noticed that almost everyone thought simple signatures were harder to forge. So, he explained, it was actually the opposite of what most people expect. --Pi zero (talk) 05:50, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Pi zero, I've been writing for a long time, and I wouldn't try to use LQ. We don't always have access to the sources that others have used, for one thing. But regardless, the point is that lots of editors who go around changing people's punctuation to LQ keep getting it wrong. It's been going on for years, and it's silly. We end up with articles that are wrongly punctuated only because someone has tried to correct them. And that's happening because of the advice in the MoS, which makes it doubly silly. Let's apply common sense. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 05:59, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Slim, I just responded to you again about this a little above in this section. Flyer22 (talk) 21:48, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

Yes, sadly a very stupid choice was made long ago and the project—to date—has stupidly adhered to it. As SlimVirgin has noted, the satisfactory execution and maintenance of logical quotation requires (a) an exceptionally high degree of precision and (b) direct access to original sources. To assume either, let alone both, of a volunteer, amateur, communal project is ludicrous. I am well aware that these points have been raised before. I advocate that they contine to be raised until this stupid system is overturned.

Why have I chosen to engage at this particular point? Because the recent volley of edits drew my attention to a remarkably stupid passage in our beloved Manual of Style. I reproduce it here in its entirety for your edification, amusement, and (I trust) horror:

Copying quotations from sources-within-sources requires some judgment. Publishers often add periods and commas that are not permitted under logical quotation. Say that a magazine prints the text "I feel," wrote Arthur, "that the situation is deplorable. It's unacceptable." The period after "deplorable" is certainly Arthur's, but we do not know for sure if Arthur himself placed the comma after "I feel" or the period after "unacceptable" or whether the magazine added either or both of them later. When translating other styles into logical quotation, only include those characters that are certainly part of the material being cited.

Correct: "I feel", wrote Arthur, "that the situation is deplorable."
Correct: "I feel", wrote Arthur, "that the situation is deplorable. It's unacceptable".
Incorrect: Arthur wrote, "I feel that the situation is deplorable."

(We don't know that the comma wasn't part of what Arthur wrote himself.)

First, if Arthur is anyone worth quoting, we most certainly do know that he did not, could not, would never place a comma between "I feel" and "that". And if he did, it was obviously a typographical error that any responsible publisher would silently correct. So: our prime Incorrect example here is deeply, truly, madly stupid. And yes, there's more...

We currently claim here that the "period after 'deplorable' is certainly Arthur's". Really? Certainly? Here's something I know for certain: magazines these days frequently quote passages from emails that obey no rules of punctuation, capitalization, spelling, or grammar. Guess what, folks—magazines often clean things up! Do we really, actually, certainly know—without, you know, direct access to the original source—that Arthur didn't write, "i feel that the situation is deplorable; its unaceptable."? Hardly.

Insist on this LQ (low-quality) practice if you must, but please don't insult us further with these BS "examples".—DCGeist (talk) 07:10, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

A most interesting, and potentially illuminating, misunderstanding. Logical quotation does not require you to have greater knowledge than would otherwise be required of you, and specifically it does not require access to original sources. Logical quotation can be used to say that you don't know something, as well as being used to say that you do; it just enables you to say those things, whatever they are, with greater precision. When you don't know, don't put it inside the quotation marks. If that magazine is your reliable source of information about what Arthur wrote, then you can only report what Arthur wrote based on that information. In the extreme, if you actually doubt that Arthur wrote what the magazine claims he wrote, that's a separate matter, and not within the purview of mere mechanics; you might want to handle it by not claiming to report exactly what Arthur wrote. (If the magazine is a popular print periodical, you may doubt whether Arthur even wrote those words, let alone the punctuation; but again, that's not logical quotation's responsibility, logical quotation is just a tool that you are responsible for deciding when and how to use.)
I'm not, BTW, particularly defending the specific wording of the paragraph (though I do think invoking the "nothing can be known for certain" argument is a rather disappointingly empty sophistry to encounter in a serious discussion).
The recently added sprawl of explanatory examples seems rather unsightly, especially since it opens us up to nitpicking over things like the use of the word "certain" — although, presumably, what really matters is whether most people find it helpful, which I have no insight into since outliers on both sides (people who already grokked it before, or who still don't after) do not necessarily reveal the middle of the distribution. If there is found to be a widespread misapprehension that logical quotation requires greater knowledge in order to apply it (it may well be widespread; I wouldn't be surprised), this may suggest a way of drastically improving the current sprawl. --Pi zero (talk) 09:18, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
It appears that you're referring to my argument when you wail that "invoking the 'nothing can be known for certain' argument is a rather disappointingly empty sophistry to encounter." Well, you're just full of it. I do not claim that "nothing can be known for certain." I have simply demonstrated that our example, which should be an ideal, is very far from it. It claims that a specific something can be known for certain, when that is obviously far from the case. In other words, this example is a complete failure. Get it? I have not claimed, and would never claim, that "nothing can be known for certain." Indeed, in the very same communication, I asserted that it could be known for certain that a fairly literate writer would never place a comma between "I feel" and "that." Remember? Guess what, zero. It is you have descended into "disappointingly empty sophistry," and falsely accused me of your own sin. Care to apologize?—DCGeist (talk) 09:40, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
While I do not agree with Pi Zero's conclusions, said editor has been consistently civil and hasn't done anything to apologize for. Restating other people's arguments in other terms is one way of trying to understand them. If you feel that Pi Zero misunderstood you, then simply explain yourself further. There's no need to call people "full of it."
The idea of replacing LQ keeps coming up because the rule is causing problems. I fully support the idea that we replace LQ with standard punctuation forms. I would tie punctuation to spelling and follow ENGVAR.
However, it is not true to say that LQ is the same as British punctuation. British punctuation is more consistent in its treatment of sentence fragments, song titles, direct speech, etc. British punctuation treats words like they're words and LQ treats them no differently than if they were random strings of characters. Because our readers are people and not machines, it seems to me that they would react better to words than to strings of characters.
On Wikipedia, LQ does not actually convey any more or less information than BQ or AQ. Only when the reader 1. knows that LQ is in use and 2. understands how LQ works and 3. trusts that the writer has used LQ correctly will he or she gain any additional information, and then only about one character, not about the meaning or point of the quotation. (If I write, "Springsteen, nicknamed 'the Boss,' wrote 'Your Hometown,' " do the commas say anything about the nickname or the song title? No.) It is safe to assume that these three conditions are, at most, extremely rare on Wikipedia. And if BQ and AQ are so inadequate in their treatment of information, then why does almost every academic discipline and scholarly publication mandate their use? I worked in history, folks. Things don't get much more persnickety than that.
The idea that spelling is "information-neutral" is wrong, or at least entirely dependent on one's threshold for information. Spelling something "centre" instead of "center" conveys information about the writer. What it doesn't do is confuse people or create factual errors.
Now, as to which system is simplest, there are a couple of different ways to look at it. In theory, both LQ's "put it inside if it was part of the quote and outside if it's not" and AQ's "put periods and commas inside all the time" both look pretty simple, and BQ's "treat direct quotes this way and everything else that way" isn't so bad either. When the theory looks about the same, we should look at what happens in practice. It does look to me like LQ is harder to use, but people who like the style probably won't mind extra effort, but that is about preferences, not about any inherent superiority or inferiority.
The issue shouldn't be whether LQ is good enough to be allowed on Wikipedia; it's whether British and American standards are bad enough to get banned from Wikipedia. I've never seen anything that suggests that they are. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:22, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Darkfrog, I'll briefly (as I can) and selectively comment on one of your points above, which seems especially central to the whole matter of information transmission. The maximization of accurate information delivery by logical quotation doesn't require that the reader know LQ is in use, nor understand it, nor trust that it's being used correctly. Obliviousness to those things on the part of the reader should also cause LQ to maximize the accuracy of what the reader comes away with — not as much as stringent "laboratory conditions", of course, but that's why we describe them as laboratory conditions. (Moreover, this consequence of LQ should also be remarkably robust under misimplementation of LQ by well-meaning writers who don't understand how LQ works, making it just one more thing in the unruly mass of Wikipedia whose improved implementation could further enhance its already positive value. A positive balance emerging from a very messy situation — very Wikipedian.) --Pi zero (talk) 15:46, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Communication is almost by definition about a recipient as well as a sender. I could be speaking in perfect Russian, but if my recipient only speaks Polish, then the message isn't going to work. If I'm speaking Spanish, but my reader has been lead to believe that I'm speaking Portuguese, then it's just going to sound like I'm speaking Portuguese very badly. If the reader doesn't know about LQ, then that reader is far more likely to think, "Hm, this is punctuated a bit sloppily, isn't it?" than "So this comma really was part of the text." We need to write for our audience, and most of our audience doesn't speak LQ. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:34, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
My position on what LQ does in practice on Wikipedia embraces the assumption that most readers, most of the time, don't consciously think at all about whether or not the trailing punctuation is being attributed to the source. Readers will end up with an impression in their minds about what was said, including an impression about the structure of what was said that, if they tried to write down just what was said, would appear in the form of trailing punctuation (or lack thereof). If the reader were to actually consciously think about it, they might well consciously form a different impression in their minds, but on top of most people's natural lack of extreme rigor, even relatively rigorous people have limited time resources and may be reading the Wikipedia article at speed. When they aren't consciously thinking about it as they read the quote, the trailing punctuation that actually occurs in the Wikipedia article, either inside or outside the closing quotation mark, will have more impact on their mental impression of what was said if it's inside the closing quotation mark, and less impact on their mental impression of what was said if it's outside the closing quotation mark. This is going to be true regardless of whether they've ever heard of "logical quotation" (under that or any other name), and it's also going to be true regardless of why the author of the Wikipedia article put the trailing punctuation where they did. So the reader is more likely to have ended up with a correct mental impression of what was said if what the Wikipedia article does is what LQ says it should do. --Pi zero (talk) 17:36, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
Most people get an impression of a piece of writing as high-quality or low-quality even if they can't pick out all the precise mistakes. For people not familiar with LQ, it just looks like AQ or BQ done badly.
If you're making the point that LQ sends some beneficial subliminal message, then I'd really like to see something that actually backs that up before we forbid authors to use standard English.
The bottom line here is that proper British and American forms don't actually create a problem for our readers, so we don't have any real, non-hypothetical reason to ban them. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:51, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

Random break[edit]

LQ is a great example of why proscriptive guidelines fail on Wikipedia. Though the stated consensus for it is affirmed every time it comes up, nobody is going out there bringing articles into compliance (because it is so time-consuming), so the actual operating consensus is that we leave quotations in whatever format they were introduced, whether LQ, AQ, or BQ, ensuring that in this area we don't even achieve consistency within articles (thus undermining the #1 stylistic premise of the MOS). Christopher Parham (talk) 14:30, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

That's exactly right. People who are arguing that LQ is superior are missing the point of this talk page. We are not here to argue those points. We are here only to decide what is best for Wikipedia.

Two factors come into play in that decision. First, our policies and guidelines must be descriptive as well as prescriptive (some argue only descriptive). That means we must promote what good editors do already, and not impose things on people that they're not going to do. There's no question that most editors (including good editors) use aesthetic punctuation. Secondly, we're in a situation where multiple non-professional editors can change our articles. We therefore can't rely on a system that requires such precision. New editors don't always have access to the sources previous editors used, and even if they did, they usually wouldn't check. So LQ will cause mistakes to be made, and articles will end up punctuated according to neither system. For that reason, we ought to be recommending the simplest system. But I'm not even arguing that. I am arguing that we ought to let editors choose the punctuation style they feel most comfortable with, just as we do with citation styles, and that all that matters for MoS purposes is internal consistency. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 18:48, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

SlimVirgin, we spend all of our time here concerned exclusively with what is best for Wikipedia; it's not as if that were something novel. The way you've worded the above make it come across as if you have decided what you are going to believe, and you are here simply to force us to accede to your beliefs without any possibility that you might be mistaken or underinformed about anything. Although I trust that was not your intention, I point out as a general observation that for anyone here to take such an attitude would be bad for Wikipedia.
Setting aside less fundamental difficulties with the arguments in your above comment, the bottom line is this: you appear to be basing your entire position on the assume that logical quotation can't work for Wikipedia because it would only work if it were applied flawlessly. That is, you claim that its value to the project is insufficiently fault-tolerant. But logical quotation does not require, for its effectiveness, the great precision that you are evidently imagining it requires. Assuming unskilled readers and unskilled writers, the extent to which we end up delivering correct information will be proportional to the percentage of cases in which our quotation practice actually follows correct logical quotation, regardless of whether we are even aware of when it is and isn't doing so; this proportionality would hold even if we were following some other quotation style, and even if we were deciding whether to place each punctuation mark inside or outside the closing quotation mark by flipping a coin. The difference in recommending logical quotation is that by doing so we cause an increase in the statistical incidence of cases in which what we do actually follows correct logical quotation, and thus we cause an increase in delivery of correct information. That's not missing the point, that is the point.
Obviously, the more successfully the MOS is able to convey writers how to correctly use logical quotation (and doing so does not require any more research than using any other quotation style), the more our delivery of correct information will increase. --Pi zero (talk) 20:05, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
We've discussed this before, but I dispute your anlalsis. A reader can make one of two assumptions: that quotation punctuation has information content, or that it does not. Meanwhile the text can either actually contain such content (LQ) or it can not (AQ, BQ, or chaos); there is no way to tell from analysis of the text alone whether LQ is at work or not. If the reader assumes information content, he will get accurate information when the text contains such, and falsely discover information where there is none when non-LQ systems are in use. If a reader assumes no information content, he will get no information accurate or otherwise. You're correct to say that increasing the preponderance of LQ will increase the transmission of correct information; but you ignore the fact that prompting a reader expectation of LQ will increase the transmission of inaccurate information. At the moment, we have an MOS that promotes LQ (increasing reader expectations that it applies here) but we do nothing to actually increase its use (it's not checked at FA that I have experienced - certainly Tony didn't object to my use of American-style when he last reviewed one of my FAs - and nobody is going around converting articles to LQ style). We're not increasing the information content of our articles - we're encouraging people to look for information in what we know to be a random stream. Christopher Parham (talk) 20:22, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Pi zero, shorter responses would be greatly appreciated. My point was simply (a) that we must describe, not only prescribe, and (b) that most people don't know how to use LQ and despite many years of discussion the MoS hasn't explained it clearly, and therefore it's not going to be used properly. Can you briefly address only those points? SlimVirgin TALK contribs 20:17, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Because LQ only conveys more information than AQ and BQ when both applied and understood if not flawlessly than at least extremely well, then we can say that it needs to be applied extremely well to be worth doing.
LQ might not require more research, but it does require more instruction than AQ and BQ. This might be because it is more complicated in practice, but the fact that it is not taught in schools probably also contributes to this. People already know "treat a song title this way and direct speech that way" from years of writing lessons. Using LQ requires an entirely different attitude toward the text.
We're all trying to understand each other here, and if some of us prefer more length, then I'm fine with it. (No novels, though, please!)
I don't feel that the MoS needs to be descriptive in the linguistic sense. (By that I mean that it should of course describe what we want people to do, but it should not describe what happens in the language in general the way a linguistic study would.) This isn't an academic paper on language use; its' a set of instructions and we should own up to that. However, I do like the symbiotic relationship that the MoS has with the articles. The MoS section on quotation marks, for example, links to the article on quotation marks, which gives a good treatment of the history and origins of the styles. Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:30, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Descriptive is meant in the sense of describing what we do at WP, not what happens in the language broadly. For instance, I can tell that there is consensus for non-breaking spaces between numbers and unit abbreviations because there are people who go around adding those non-breaking spaces. This rule is not just written in a guideline, it's actively applied by both flesh and blood editors and script users. The LQ rule exists only in the MOS. Not a single soul is actively bringing articles into compliance, and even our most rigorous evaluation processes (like FAC) don't pay attention to checking that it is applied correctly to the quotes in an article. Christopher Parham (talk) 22:43, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
In fact, it's often applied wrongly at FAC. I've had articles of mine, which were correctly punctuated according to aesthetic punctuation, moved to what the editor believed was LQ, but where he in fact moved commas that were inside in the original to the outside by mistake. I don't want to give diffs because I don't want to personalize the issue. It reached the stage where I would paraphrase rather than quote, unless it was a quote I really liked, to avoid exposing articles to incorrect punctuation. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 23:11, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
While you are (most commendably) not giving diffs, I would like to understand what was being done in these incidents (as it's occurred to me this could be key in relating them to the discussion here). Were all trailing punctuation marks being moved outside the quotation marks? --Pi zero (talk) 02:34, 14 February 2010 (UTC)


I think anyone adding anything to the punctuation section needs to cite their sources, and not add their own opinion. For example, that WP recommends LQ "because the method is deemed to be less prone to misquotation, ambiguity, and the introduction of errors in subsequent editing" is false. (a) That is not why we recommend it. And (b) it is more prone to the introduction of errors because WP is edited largely by people who don't understand it. So please, if we want to say anything about LQ, let's stick to what the best style guides say about it and cite them. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 06:24, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

While I agree that LQ has not been proven to be less prone to misquotation, ambiguity, etc., the actual text claims that it is "deemed" to be so, which is true. I would prefer some phrase that makes it even clearer that this is the opinion of many Wikipedians, the result of a Wikipedia consensus, rather than an observed fact.
I certainly have been making some guesses about how LQ works. The ACS style guide would probably be the best source for LQ. Does anyone here have access to a university chemistry library? There would probably be a copy there. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:42, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Logical quotation (continued)[edit]

I've been seeing editors try to correct "aesthetic" punctuation and turn it into "logical" punctuation, but they're not doing it correctly, and it has left a few articles in a bit of a mess. They seem to think the latter means simply placing the punctuation outside the quotation marks, whereas it means staying true to the original quotation, so it requires a high degree of precision. I'm therefore going to add a sentence or two about that, with a source, to clarify the misunderstanding. I'm making a note here in advance in case anyone wonders why I'm adding it. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 16:03, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

How do you feel about "Please note that LQ does not require placing closing periods and commas outside the quotation marks all the time but rather maintaining their original position in the quoted material" with some examples? Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:19, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
... how about "Please note that logical quotation does not always entail placing end punctuation outside the quotation marks, but rather maintaining the original punctuation of quoted material"? (i don't think "LQ" is a very felicitous abbreviation; and what's the verdict on using full stop/period in the MoS?) Sssoul (talk) 22:33, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
Verdict?:S174.3.98.236 (talk) 23:18, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
174, Sssoul is asking whether we should call it a "full stop" or a "period," both if which refer to one of these: . We had a big talk about that a few months back. Whichever term we use, I think we should mention periods/full stops and commas specifically because exclamation points and question marks can also be ending punctuation. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:41, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
If the punctuation placement is about sentence fragments, this same problem has been brought up above in the #Needed help regarding WP:Logical quotation section. We need to work these problems out now, because I am unsure of how to apply WP:Logical quotation if it is not as simple as placing end punctuations outside of the quoted material for sentence fragments only (as shown with the examples). Flyer22 (talk) 00:22, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
It's a tricky system to use. You need to consult the original sources, not always online, and even then it's not always clear, so it requires a high degree of precision and sound editorial judgment. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 00:26, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
All the more reason to prefer AQ and BQ. But any publication that uses LQ should commit to doing it right. How does the ACS style guide handle this? Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:41, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
Here's an excerpt from the existing MoS language: "When quoting a sentence fragment that ends in a period, some judgment is required: if the fragment communicates a complete sentence, the period can be placed inside. The period should be omitted if the quotation is in the middle of a sentence."
From the examples beneath, the point of this passage seems to be to tell people not to do this: "She said 'Come with me.' and they did," with a confusing and inappropriate period after "me." What are we to make of it aside from that? Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:49, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
First, it should not say "is in the middle of a sentence" ("is drawn from" would be better here, anyway): the point is that the quotation finishes in the middle of a sentence (whether it starts with the start of the original sentence is irrelevant). Tony (talk) 08:46, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
... the excerpt Darkfrog24's brought up isn't about where the quoted material is drawn from, but where it appears in the new context. put a full stop/period inside the quote marks if a] it's part of the quoted material and b] it ends the sentence in which it's quoted (and there shouldn't be a second full stop/period after the quote marks): She said "Come with me." but if the same sentence is quoted in mid-sentence the full stop/period is omitted: She said "Come with me" but they ignored her.
nota bene: i'm not suggesting that wording, just agreeing with Darkfrog24 about the sense of the excerpt s/he's pointed out. (and logical quotation isn't really tricky to use; it just wants to be explained clearly.) Sssoul (talk) 14:49, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
So how do you guys feel about changing it to "Do not place a period in the middle of a sentence, even if it is part of the quoted material"? Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:50, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
I see this has already been changed. I would have interpreted the original as applying only to sentence fragments.
The new version ("When quoting material that ends in a period, some judgment is required. Do not place a period in the middle of a sentence, even if it is part of the quoted material. ") seems to defeat the purpose of logical or data-safe quotation; it would appear to disallow not only
  • One example is the "smile on the face of the tiger." in the well-known limerick
but also
  • The document is quoted as stating "The treaty was ratified by the specified date." but it in fact stated "The treaty was ratified by the specified date but not deposited."
  • "I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful." is the beginning of a well-known letter illustrating the importance of punctuation.
  • The text of the message was "Who is the president of China." but the length of the message was miscalculated as a result of a fence-post error.
--Boson (talk) 20:12, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Boson, I would imagine (and I do not at present have a source on British or LQ for this, so in their case I must imagine, but it's true of American) all three forms of punctuation permit putting the closing period or comma thus when the punctuation is what's being discussed, though in all of those cases the surrounding wording would need to point out the periods and commas to make the article's purpose clear. It might suit the MoS to state this, but it is not the point of using LQ.
But you have pointed out a strong flaw in the now-current wording. It should say that a quotation should not generally place a period in the middle of a sentence, but it should also say that it may and must do so when the closing punctuation is the point, as it is in your examples. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:32, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
I would only do that if I was discussing the string of characters itself with little or no regard for its meaning... ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 12:22, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
That's specifically when American punctuation permits non-standard placement. Such cases are very rare in ordinary prose, but they've merited a mention in almost every full style guide I've come across, so they should be mentioned here too. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:07, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
The current text is most unsatisfactory. To begin with, the "final" false comma within a quotation (or worse, within quotation marks that highlight an item) needs to be exemplified as wrong under WP's system. Tony (talk) 22:14, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
If you're referring to the commas and periods that are part of American and often British quotation processes, then they're not false. They really are commas and periods. But considering that this became an issue on the Avatar article, it would probably be appropriate for the MoS to mention them. How's this?
Copying quotations from sources-within-sources requires some judgment. Both American and British standards often add periods and commas as part of the quotation process that would not be permitted under logical quotation. Say that a magazine prints the text: "I feel," wrote Arthur, "that the situation is deplorable and unacceptable." We do not know for sure if Arthur himself placed the comma after "I feel" and the period after "unacceptable" or whether the magazine added them later. When translating other styles into logical quotation, only include those characters that were certainly part of the material being cited. "I feel", wrote Arthur, "that the situation is deplorable and unacceptable". Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:07, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

What Boson said about interpreting "the original as applying only to sentence fragments" is exactly what I stated. A lot of editors have been using WP:Logical quotation that way for a long time now. It is going to be a difficult habit to break. Most will not even know of the new format, at least not for months (considering that most editors do not check this page often for changes in Wikipedia formatting). Given its perceived trickiness, I doubt most will follow it. I predict the old sentence fragment interpretation remaining for quite some time. But I appreciate the attempts that have been made to make WP:Logical quotation easier to understand. Flyer22 (talk) 04:25, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Now I am a little confused. That may be because I have missed some of the debate here. I understand from Flyer22's statement that there has been some change to the interpretation of logical quotation before the recent change by Darkfrog24. My understanding of logical quotation, which seems to be consistent with the other statements in WP:MOS was that logical quotation preserves the text being quoted, consistently and exactly (with very few exceptions, which must be clearly indicated, for instance by omission marks or square brackets). In other words:
  • What is between quotation marks is exactly what was written in the original. Nothing is added or removed.
  • A sentence usually begins with a capital letter and ends with a punctuation mark such as a period or question mark. If you intend to quote a sentence,the ending punctuation mark must be included (but if you intend to quote a fragment you can decide whether the trailing punctuation is included in your choice of fragment).
  • Different punctuation marks are treated consistently: a period and a question mark, for instance, are not treated differently.
  • Exact quotation requires preservation of the significant attributes of the quoted text, including
    • length in characters
    • all capitalization and punctuation
    • equivalent emphasis (e.g. bold or italic style)
I understood the purpose of logical qotation to be to preserve the original text exactly. With few exceptions, I don't see the argument for treating quotations differently when they happen to be in the middle of a sentence in the "host" text.
In my earlier examples, the punctuation was important. I chose those examples for that reason, but I don't think the consideration of its importance in a particular quotation should be relevant to the application of logical quotation. What is inside the quotation marks is governed by the rules of the original text; the reader should be able to rely on that and make his own decision on whether the punctuation is important; the editor might have overlooked the significance of the punctuation. This is particularly (but not exclusively) relevant when quoting artificial languages.--Boson (talk) 23:46, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Though I think logical quotation, as I understood it, is also simpler for the editor, because it is a matter of pasting the original between the quotation marks, I think there should be one apparent exception (and this may be what is intended by the recent edit): even where a sentence is quoted in full, I would not preserve the initial capital and terminating punctuation if the text is not quoted as a sentence but has been integrated into the syntax of the host sentence as a sentence fragment would be, the quotation marks being used to indicate that the author (or another person) is using someone else's wording rather than that the author is exactly reproducing what was written or said. For instance:
  • He actually wrote "Complete bullshit!", not "I disagree." as quoted in the Daily Planet. but
  • He agreed with the the senator that this was "complete bullshit" and had no foundation in fact.
--Boson (talk) 07:30, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
Isn't the standard thing to do in these cases "[c]omplete bullshit"? ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 10:24, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

Core of the LQ guideline[edit]

I bring to the community's attention that SlimVirgin recently decided to delete the second half of the statement of why community consensus prefers logical quotation (part of the core statement that has a comment requesting and recommending that such issues be taken to the talk page first). Okay, so I reverted it, once. Perhaps I might have remarked explicitly in my edit summary on the desirability of taking changes to that core phrasing to the talk page and discussing them and achieving consensus before messing with it, but in the event my edit summary was rather more abbreviated than that. SlimVirgin re-deleted the passage, and Darkfrog has now also undercut the statement that LQ is consistent with the principle of minimal change.

Having done one revert, I'm not about to launch on a single-handed quest to Preserve the Passage (more perfect ego-lessness in service of Wikipedia is why I don't advertise my real-world identity); but if the community here does wish to retain control over the content of that section of the MOS, this would probably be a good time for the community to assert that control, and bring the issues back here to the talk page. --Pi zero (talk) 16:32, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Now that we have the FAQ, do we really need a line saying why Wikipedia uses LQ? And if we do, we must state opinions as opinions or as the Wikipedia consensuses that they are and not treat them as if they were proven facts. There is a widespread consensus in almost every academic community that AQ and BQ do not change source material in any meaningful way. Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:15, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
The community doesn't prefer LQ, Pi zero. The community almost never uses it. And it clearly isn't less prone to errors; it's more prone, because more complex. As the style manuals make clear, it requires a high degree of authorial precision. We shouldn't imply otherwise in the MoS. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 00:24, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
I wish you wouldn't say it is more "complex". It is not. It is more demanding, but that is something different. Ozob (talk) 05:05, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
I see it as a distinction without a difference, Ozob. Point is that it's more fiddly, requires more skill and thought, and requires access to the original sources, which Wikipedians often don't have for material others have added. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 05:11, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
Well we could look at either LQ or AQ as being more simple depending on the observer's point of view. "Tuck in the commas"? Super simple. "Keep 'em in if they were in and out if they weren't"? Also looks pretty simple, at least on the surface. The big issue is that they require different attitudes toward the text. BQ and AQ treat words like words and LQ treats them as strings of characters. The deal is, though, that regardless of whether LQ is more simple it does require more instruction, in part because BQ and AQ are taught in schools and LQ is not. Therefore, the instructions have to be more elaborate to get results of similar quality. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:52, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

(outdent) i've restored the longstanding previous text pending further discussion here on the talk page; i'd also favour eliminating the quote from Chicago as undue weight for one POV. i don't agree at all that "the community almost never uses it"; it's used regularly and unproblematically on the pages i frequent; and if someone makes a mistake with it it gets fixed without any brouhaha, just like other stylistic details. Sssoul (talk) 11:09, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

I would consider "There is a Wikipedia consensus that logical punctuation is more in keeping with the principal of minimal change, less prone to ambiguity [etc. etc.]" as adequately truthful. The Chicago statement is interesting, but it is not necessary here. It would make a nice addition to the Wikipedia article on quotation marks, however. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:00, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

Noetica's advice[edit]

User:Noetica is away from WP with a huge work deadline (like me, in fact). He sent me these comments on the current LQ debate. Tony (talk) 12:02, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

The facts as I see them:
  1. Few sources independent of WP call the system "logical quotation", and none in print I know of do so. "Logical punctuation" is the far more common term, though this is normally used with broader meaning than our "logical quotation". An example of this broad use (from a fine book, of which I own a copy): "Logical+punctuation"

    An instance of "logical punctuation" narrowly meaning "logical quotation": "Logical+punctuation"

    And most importantly, the relevant excerpt from the most pertinent source of all (Trask's "Penguin Guide to Punctuation", 1997): [29] (R.L. Trask was an academic linguist who wrote authoritative reference works in linguistics, and much more. That excerpt is not quite the same as the printed version.)

  2. The WP article that Logical quotation redirects to is Quotation mark, which gives no source for the term "logical quotation", nor any source that sets out the rules.
  3. Discussion of the topic at WT:MOS hardly ever gives sources. It is full of opinion on both sides.
  4. Logical quotation is decidedly more British than American. This is a real shame, since even many Americans who are willing to examine its claims dispassionately find it difficult to do so. And this British bias surely makes for poisoned politics.
  5. Rigorous logical quotation is intrinsically better than the other extreme (the "American" or "conventional" system), but its implementation would need slight adjustment for robust and stable acceptance. Trask finds that British publishers apply it with "one curious exception". Well, my research shows that not all apply it with Trask's exception, and some of the best apply it with a different exception. Anyway, there is no reason WP should not also apply it with reasonable exceptions, except for the practical difficulties in expressing these in a Manual of Style.
Tony, some of the quotation seems to have gotten mangled. The second sentence of point 4 is a fragment, and the last point, point 5, mentions a next point. Ozob (talk) 12:24, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
With regard to point four, it's my understanding (and I have repeatedly tried to find that page again) that American computer programmers came up with LQ independently, calling it "datasafe quotes," and only later found out that British writers did something similar.
With regard to point five, someone has to prove it. No one ever has. What's really going on here is that a lot of people, Wikipedians, programmers and the vehement Trask, just don't like putting the commas inside. When people dislike something a lot, they tend to imagine "Oh, it's rude/incorrect/immoral to do it that way. Do it my way instead." The MoS not only allows LQ but bans American and British standard forms. To justify this, someone has to prove not only that LQ is good enough but that American and British standards create a real problem, not a hypothetical or imaginary problem. For example, single quotation marks mess with search engines. We can hit CTRL-F and observe this. It's not someone's personal preference that he or she has imposed on the rest of Wikipedia. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:46, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
Darkfrog, have you ever programmed a computer? You say that "[n]o one ever has" proved that logical punctuation is more accurate than other styles; but if you try programming, you will see the improvement right away. The computer's blind rigor insists that you tell it precisely what you want. Logical punctuation becomes unavoidable and obviously superior. It is only a small leap to go from the strict syntax of formal languages to the casual conventions of natural languages. If you appreciate the accuracy of logical punctuation in programming, you will appreciate it in writing as well. Ozob (talk) 13:02, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
Our readers are not computers. They're human beings. Wikipedia articles aren't computer programming; they're writing. If there is one rule of English that doesn't change over time, it's "Write for your audience."
Writing is about communication. LQ does not help me communicate any better, and it's a hassle to use. It's as if someone told me that I could save on gas if I learned how to drive stick instead of use an automatic transmission. "Well, it looks harder to use than my automatic transmission. How much would I save on gas?" I ask. "Oh, a lot! But only when you drive on brick roads," the person replies. "Oh... I hardly ever drive on brick roads. I mean, I've seen a few, but I almost always drive on paved or dirt or gravel roads." "But stick shift is so much more natural of a way to drive." "Okay, great, you like it more. But I like my automatic more." "Well you're wrong for liking it more. You must be in league with my mean old driving teacher!" "Um, what?" etc. etc. If LQ only helps when I'm writing for computers, which I hardly ever do, then I have no reason not to go with AQ, which is both easier to use and more appealing to me.
I remember going to a neuroscience seminar with NYAS. The premise was that visual artists, over thousands of years, had discovered by trial and error how the human brain processes visual images. (V.S. Ramachandran spoke; the man's hilarious in person.) Logically, we shouldn't be able to look at three lines and tell that they're supposed to be a woman's back. Logically, we shouldn't be able to identify shapes if the colors don't match the lines. Logically, we shouldn't be able to understand visual or verbal metaphors. Logically, Barbie should look like a freak. We shouldn't assume that human brains and computers process input the same way. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:04, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
The neuroscience seminar story is interesting (I'm not being sarcastic), but in application to this situation... are you suggesting that long-standing practices are long-standing because they're the most natural way? Seems to me a long-standing practice is long-standing because its stability is preserved by some long-standing cause, but naturalness is not the only cause that can be long-standing. The example so classic it's just about a cliche is the QWERTY keyboard. --Pi zero (talk) 16:53, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
No, I am not suggesting that the most long-standing methods are necessarily best. Some methods get to be long-standing because they're good, but it's not always so. I am suggesting that just because something works for computers doesn't mean that it works with the human brain, which often behaves in counterintuitive ways. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:19, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
In addition to "write for your audience," we have another rule at Wikipedia, which is "write rules for your editors," often known wrongly as "descriptive not prescriptive," but the point is clear. We have to reflect what is actually being done, so long as it's not harmful, and this is where our MoS must differ from all other manuals of style. We can't have an MoS try to impose a system very few editors use or understand. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 18:54, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
I disagree with you there, Slim. Because the MoS's purpose is specifically prescriptive, we should prefer linguistic prescriptivism to linguistic descriptivism. This isn't a writeup of a linguistic study or even a Wikipedia article and we should own that. While I agree that we should choose our instructions carefully, based on the needs of our editors and readers, we should phrase those instructions as the instructions that they are. That is how they will be interpreted in any case. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:45, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
It's not a question of linguistic descriptivism; it is a question of our own policies -- an entirely different issue. It is Wikipedia policy that our policies and guidelines must describe best practice on Wikipedia, must reflect what good editors are actually doing. A discussion on this page can't change that. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 19:58, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
To me, WP:MOS#Stability of articles' emphasis on "guideline-defined style" suggests, without explicitly saying so, that a non-guideline-defined style should be prescriptively changed to a guideline-defined style. Do you consider your philosophy to be consistent with that paragraph, and do you think that paragraph should be changed? Art LaPella (talk) 21:52, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
Can't speak for Slim, but that is what I understand the MoS to mean. I've seen other editors interpret it this way as well. It isn't that it would be bad for the MoS to mean something else. It's that it would have to explicitly state this other meaning. (If only one style is allowed, say so. If one style is preferred but both are allowed, say so, etc.) Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:52, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
  • This old argument that a style guide should be either prescriptive or descriptive? Nooooo. Every style guide is both, no matter what it claims. Tony (talk) 22:32, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
I agree (I think every policy is both, no matter what it claims), but the MoS on this particular issue currently isn't—it's merely prescriptive. Most editors use aesthetic punctuation. And most editors who believe they're using LQ aren't; they're using a made-up version. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 22:50, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
Sure, but a style guide can be mostly prescriptive, mostly descriptive, or anything in between. It's hard to find things which absorb all the light which is shone on them (try pointing a laser pointer on a C# piano key or on the picture on an ace of spades; you will still be able to see its spot), but not even the most anally retentive pedant would consider that a good reason to refuse to call a C# piano key or the picture on an ace of spades "black". ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 16:43, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Here's a less allegorical explanation of what I mean. Sure, if by "prescriptive" you mean "nothing is relevant" and by "descriptive" you mean "everything is correct", there'd better be no such thing; but that's not what prescriptivists themselves mean by "prescriptive" and what descriptivists themselves mean by "descriptive". ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 19:05, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Descriptivism does not mean that if somebody somewhere says it, that makes it OK—at least, it doesn't mean that yet. Descriptivists claim that once something gains a certain amount of usage in reputable publications, that makes it OK. However, the subjectivity inherent in this so-called standard is influenced to some degree by each descriptivist's individual notion of what is simply a common mistake (based on residual prescriptivism) and what publications are reputable (likewise based on residual prescriptivism). Formerly, all authorities on language and style were prescriptivists—although what they prescribed was based on what they read in reputable publications. The not-so-clear distinction between prescriptivism and descriptivism is, in my opinion, mostly a matter of purpose. A prescriptivist believes that particular usages are right, wrong, better, or worse, and guides writers accordingly. A descriptivist claims merely to be describing the prevalence of usage, and to guide writers based on that. I favor prescriptivists because they at least try to teach you how to write better—and I certainly do believe that some writing is better than others. Descriptivists tell you how to write like the lowest "acceptable" common denominator among writers. The watershed was Webster's Third New International Dictionary; the English language has been sliding downhill ever since its publication.Finell 20:35, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Maybe; but on what grounds is splitting infinitives, ending sentences with propositions, or using accusative pronouns after the copula "bad writing"? Some of the advice by, e.g., Strunk and White, has been routinely flouted for centuries by practically all writers, including Strunk and White themselves. At least, descriptivists do have justifications for what they say. ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 21:02, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
There are occasions where splitting an infinitive is less awkward than the alternatives. Ditto ending a sentence with a preposition (although fewer occasions). Even in those instances, one usually obtains a better sentence by rewriting it to remove either temptation. On the other hand, the vast majority of split infinitives and prepositions that end sentences are the result of carelessness or lack of knowledge. Most of these sentences are improved by un-splitting the infinitive or moving the preposition—and by copy editing the rest of that author's writing. For most Wikipedians, cautioning against split infinitives, ending sentences with prepositions, and the passive voice (but with examples of good PV usage) will do much more good than harm.
I vividly remember my 5th grade teacher telling the class, "You can't start a sentence with because. I immediately rattled of proper sentences that began with because (yes, I was always like this). She took me aside and said that she announced that "rule" because most 5th grade students don't know how to do that. Her real objection was to sentence fragments, masquerading as sentences, that begin with because: e.g., Because it was pretty. I have overcompensated for this trauma by starting too many sentences with because, where it is grammatically correct, but is not the best structure for the sentence.—Finell 01:20, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Finell, there is no rule nowadays against ending sentences with prepositions. Good writers do it all the time. Ditto avoiding passive voice and starting sentences with but, and, or because. Everything depends on the context. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 02:51, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Complexity of LQ[edit]

Someone told me off above for calling LQ "complex," so I'm offering this example of LQ from the Cambridge handbook as an example of why it's suitable only for professional editors who are doing it all the time, and way too complex for Wikipedia.

When a quotation is broken by words of the main sentence, and then resumed, the punctuation before the break should follow the closing quote unless it forms part of the quotation, as in the second example below:

'Father', he said, 'is looking well today.'


'Father,' he said, 'you're looking well today.'

However, in fiction the usual convention is to place the first comma before the first closing quote:

'Father,' he said, 'is looking well today.'

It makes sense to retain this system in a non-fiction book if the author has followed it consistently.
Butcher's Copy-editing: The Cambridge Handbook for Editors, Copy-editors and Proofreaders. Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 273.

Good luck to anyone who wants to take time to understand this, but please allow the rest of us to get on with our lives. :-) SlimVirgin TALK contribs 21:12, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

It's poorly expressed, plus a blooper: the "follow" should clearly be "precede". Disappointing for a prestigious text. Tony (talk) 22:41, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
I don't see the blooper. I understand the phrase "as in the second example below " to refer only to "unless it forms part of the quotation".--Boson (talk) 23:41, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
I don't see what is supposed to be so complicated (although the explanation may be poorly expressed); this seems to be a simple case of: if the punctuation was not in the original, don't put it inside the quotation marks.
Since we are dealing with encyclopaedia articles, any conventions for fiction should seldom apply, and most quotations are probably from written text rather than spoken dialogue, so a possible problem in understanding the Cambridge handbook caused by having to equate a pause with a comma does not apply.
Some editors, above, seem to be making a distinction between "logical quotation" and British conventions. Is this distinction being retained here, or are the two being equated?--Boson (talk) 23:41, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
Boson, did you read the example? "'Father,' he said, 'is looking well today,'" is not an example of the punc being in the original. Look, no point in arguing. Point is that it's so complex even the style guides seem not to be sure of how to use it. There is no such thing as "British convention"; it's not a British/American thing. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 00:12, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I did read the example and I must still be missing something. What I read was a distinction, under "LQ", between
1. 'Father', he said, 'is looking well today.' (where there is no comma inside the quotation marks, because the original sentence is "Father is looking well today." with no comma, because Father is the subject) and
2. 'Father,' he said, 'you're looking well today.' (where there is a comma inside the quotation marks, because the original sentence is "Father, you're looking well today." with a comma, because "Father" is used to address the person concerned.
It is then explained, as I understand it, that logical quotation is conventionally not used in fiction published by Cambridge, and this is illustrated using a further example:
3. 'Father,' he said, 'is looking well today.' (where the is a comma inside the quotation marks, as explained in the preceding sentence, because Cambridge don't use strict logical quotation in fiction).
The Cambridge handbook also goes on to say that the fiction convention may be retained in non-fiction works if the author has used it consistently. The explanation is complicated because Cambridge is describing not just "logical quotation" but various styles, as well as explaining how to deal with authors who have different ideas. --Boson (talk) 10:23, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
There has been a British punctuation system separate from the American one ever since Fowler first championed the idea. He did call it "logical" at the time. However, what we're calling "logical punctuation" AKA "datasafe quotes" was developed independently by computer programmers. LQ and BQ almost always give the same results. However, LQ treats quoted material as strings of characters while BQ treats material as words. While BQ means for people to place commas and periods outside for fragments, short-form works, words-as-words, etc, it is my understanding that LQ may allow them either inside or outside depending on whether or not the source happened to place a period or comma next to the fragment, short-form work or word in question. With BQ, usage depends on the nature of the quoted material and with LQ it does not.
I don't have a source on the above; these are the impressions that I've gotten from reading about the histories of both styles.
Before I learned all this, I asked "Why do American English articles have to be written in a British style?" and received the answer "It's not British at all." Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:29, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Darkfrog, could you provide a source who uses the terms as you do (these or any other terms in future)? I have not seen anything called "British quotation." I have close to 10 style guides here on my shelves and none of them mention it. We're confused enough without introducing yet more variations unless they're recognized styles. :) SlimVirgin TALK contribs
"BQ" is my own abbreviation, SlimV. The British wouldn't call their system "British punctuation" any more than Americans call theirs "American punctuation." Most people call either "what we do with commas." What I know, from general looking around, is 1. the British standard style differed from the American one long before computers became common (Fowler's The King's English) and 2. computer programmers came up with what we've been calling "LQ" independently for the purpose of preserving literal strings. So LQ and BQ looking the same most of the time would be analogous to evolutionary convergence. If we find a solid source that trumps this, then go for it. But I would hold that the argument that LQ isn't part of a specific regional tradition holds weight. It's not standard in any major form of English. That's part of the problem. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:54, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
I think we should leave computers, British, and American out of this, because it's making things needlessly complicated. We have two systems. (1) Commas and periods precede closing quotation marks; colons, semicolons, question marks, and exclamation marks follow closing quotation marks unless they are part of the original quote. This is often called aesthetic or typesetters' punctuation. And (2) only punctuation marks that appear in the original quoted material should be included within quotation marks; everything else follows the closing quotation marks, with occasional exceptions that have to be decided by the editor. This is often called logical quotation or punctuation. Please don't introduce any other issues, or made-up names, because the conversation is already very difficult to follow. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 04:10, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
You are still fixating on the construction of nationality around style. I don't give a toss that the MoS is written entirely in AmEng, as long as consistent; nor should you start flag-waving about punctuation placement. We need to get rid of the notion of redundancy in formal "text," and migrating a WP comma or period into a one-word quotation or word as word is a bizarre "practice." Tony (talk) 00:35, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Well Tony, why do we need to give up the practice of allowing commas and periods inside word-as-word and short-form-work quotations? It does not seem to hinder the articles or impair the reader experience in any way. American punctuation annoys programmers, but why should a programmer's personal preferences be held up as more important than a writer's or editor's? Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:54, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
A few issues.
Inappropriate examples. Something easy, first. If we are to agree on changes to the current MoS text, the examples need to be rethought—they look as though they're taken from a Mills and Boon novel, not from a formal encyclopedic register. Martha asked, "Are you coming?" ... which article is that from? This is particularly troublesome because direct quotations in fiction all over the English-speaking world tend to shove in a final comma before the final quote-mark to complement the "rhythm" comma that precedes the oral quotation (Martha asked,). I suppose the preceding comma arose to assist readers to insert a pause as they read aloud (or, regrettably, if they vocalise the text internally); but I've never worked out why oral quotations in fiction need a complementary comma just before the final quote-mark, as if to "balance" the preceding one). It's a mangled compromise.
Comma as redundant clutter. It is most confusing to readers to see "precision," in the very sentence that explains LQ. This practice is referred to as logical quotation, and it requires "extreme authorial precision," according to The Chicago Manual of Style. This brings up a neglected aspect of the decision-making process in LQ if is to work properly. Why, I ask you, would a sane editor ever want to include the comma after that three-word quotation? It's from oral-speak, a 1950s Enid Blyton novel infecting a quotation from CMOS. We seem to have become stuck on a simplistic boundary: if an item of punctuation just happens to appear after the words you want to quote, shove it in irrespective of whether it's relevant in the context. This is despite the universal practice of constraining quoted material to the most relevant portion, even within the original sentence. Now, that comma clearly does come after "extreme authorial precision" in CMOS (I trust whoever inserted it), but just why we need to bother our readers by telling them this fact is beyond me. We could equally have a system of symbols that tells our readers how many words beyond the quotation the next comma is ... but ... who cares? <FLAG: in the original, a comma comes five words after the quotation, and a period eight words after.> I don't wish to know what part of a sentence or clause "extreme authorial precision" comes from in the original: it is totally redundant information. By analogy, if the quotation were positioned at the end of the MoS sentence: ... CMOS recommends "extreme authorial precision,"., no one of either bent would accept the juddering of comma and period; instead, the internal advocates would write "extreme authorial precision.", falsifying the original punctuation in defiance of the fact that the WP sentence generated the period in the first place. LQ, if logical, writes "extreme authorial precision".
Proposed text. I suggest this, with a couple of clear examples worked in: Punctuation at the end of a quotation that is incorporated into a Wikipedia sentence should be included within the quotation marks only if it is relevant to the meaning of the quotation in the context. The practice by many editors of placing a final period (full-stop) before the closing quote-mark for a quotation of at least a phrase, which itself comes at the end of a Wikipedia sentence, is usually regarded as relevant, in this sense; however, this should be done only where the final period is present in the source. [example or two] Quotation-final commas, colons and semicolons are rarely relevant and should not normally be placed before the final quote-mark. [example or two] Simple as that: default no internal, unless it's necessary to convey it from the original, with the exception that a WP period can be migrated across to complete a quotation that itself finishes a sentence. Most skillful quoting controls the exact boundaries of the quoted portion, anyway. No interlibrary loans necessary to check final punctuation—just remove it if you're unsure and it doesn't affect the sense. Tony (talk) 00:24, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Tony, including a period does not falsify anything. It is not always in keeping with LQ, but no reasonable reader will interpret "precision [period]" vs. "precision [comma]" as a change in meaning.
LQ, as phrased, would also seem to permit any punctuation inside the quotation marks if that mark would also be part of the Wikipedia sentence: "I ordered a martini," he said, "an appletini, and a beer for the three of us."
But all this is seeming. If we want to know what LQ really requires, then we should do is consult an outside source. With all of us making all these guesses, we're bound to end up making things more complicated. I might be able to get a look at an ACS style guide, but it would take a few days. I would rather just switch to AQ and BQ, both of which have many sources readily available online, but even things that aren't worth doing should be done right. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:39, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Now, let me get this right. You like this: "For example, Scott Greer (2007:183) argued that “secession seems unlikely” in the Catalan case, because ...". And you'd want this if the word order were changed: "For example, Scott Greer (2007:183) argued that in the Catalan case “secession seems unlikely,” because ...". Fake fake fake. It actually doesn't matter whether there's a comma in Greer's text: it is utterly irrelevant to the honest portrayal of his text. Tony (talk) 01:42, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
If LQ is "place a punctuation mark inside the quotation marks if it is part of the quoted material and outside if it is not," then your second example is 100% in keeping with LQ.
A comma does not become fake when it is moved. It's still a comma and still indicates the same thing, a break or pause in the sentence. There was a break in the original; there is a break on Wikipedia. A comma is needed and it has the same effect whether it is inside the quotation marks or not. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:00, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
And with regard to your actual question, I like AQ. I accept BQ as appropriate for pieces written in British English, gives them a nice authentic feel. I don't care for LQ. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:04, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Tony, what would you think of a much shorter alternative proposal?
On Wikipedia, do not place trailing punctuation marks inside the quotation marks unless they are known to be part of the quoted material. If they are known to be part of the quoted material, it is permissible to place them inside the quotation marks.
End of paragraph. If anything more has to be said, make it crystal clear that it is explanatory (or illustrative, if its example), not any sort of addendum; we need to avoid encouraging the misapprehension that LQ is complicated. --Pi zero (talk) 02:21, 14 February 2010 (UTC
I agree, Pi. Your proposed text is admirably simple (I'd go further by removing the first two words), and is almost the essence of it. However, advising against "this," in which WP's comma migrates inside the quotation, word as word, or song title, is essential to the whole point of LQ. A comma after "this", whether it is in the original or not, is utterly irrelevant to the meaning of the quotation or the overal sense of the WP sentence. The WP principle of minimal fiddle with original sources suggests that if there is no comma in the original, it should not be inserted. Plain logic suggests that even if there is a comma after "this" in the original, the ambit of the quotation should not be widened to include it if its presence in the WP sentence is redundant, or indeed misleading. To include the comma just raises doubt as to whether it does exist in the original, whereas to exclude it and place it instead in the WP part of the sentence renders such doubt irrelevant (unless, on such a rare occasion I can't even conjure it up, we really need to know that a comma follows "this" in the original. The comma is generated in all but outlier case in the WP sentence, which is where it should remain. It's stress o'clock here with RL work, so I'll try to get back to this in about 11 hours. Tony (talk) 02:51, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
I prefer to keep the "On Wikipedia" for any Wikipedia practice that is specific to Wikipedia rather than standard elsewhere. If nothing else, it will head off people who think "Oh! The MoS wrote this rule wrong. I'd better fix it."
As for tucking commas and periods inside words-as-words and short-form works, it does zero harm to the reader experience. We have no reason to ban it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:12, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
How about:
Do not place trailing punctuation marks inside the quotation marks unless they are known to be part of the quoted material (in which case it is permissible to place them inside the quotation marks).
?  HWV258.  04:23, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Because, without the second sentence, the new text would fail to address the specific issue that Slim brought up a few days ago: people changing inside punctuation to outside punctuation even when the text was already LQ-compliant. Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:21, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
I don't know about that, but I do know that the word "unless" makes the second sentence redundant.  HWV258.  05:33, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
What Darkfrog mentioned isn't what I had in mind, although certainly if anyone actually is under the misapprehension that the punctuation always goes outside, the second sentence would eliminate that. (And if we eliminate the possibility, then we can just walk away from that whole issue.)
I believe the second sentence is crucial in order to preclude, explicitly and clearly, the misapprehension that putting the punctuation inside is mandatory when allowed. Without the clear explicit second sentence, some people would fall victim to that misapprehension, even though no such mandate occurs in the first sentence and therefore theoretically the second sentence is redunant — because people are not computers. --Pi zero (talk) 05:54, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
BTW, I prefer the two-sentence form to a single more complex sentence, because I think the two-sentence form is very, very unlikely to be misunderstood. --Pi zero (talk) 06:02, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Well, I'll leave it to others, but I'll always lean towards making the MOS as (logically) concise as possible. That way, it's easier to find and read information. Don't forget that other editors (who have the time to digest the information in the MOS) can tidy-up issues that an original editor "misunderstood".  HWV258.  06:09, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

(outdent) for the record, i don't find the excerpt from the Cambridge handbook that Slim Virgin posted at all difficult to follow; it mainly addresses issues that aren't especially common on Wikipedia, but it's quite clear.
also for the record, i protest Darkfrog's assertion that adding extraneous punctuation to titles "does zero harm to the reader experience." it may not impair your experience, but that's plainly not universal; that's part of the reason we keep having this discussion.
Pi zero, the amended wording you're proposing sounds promising, but will everyone seeking guidance on this understand what "trailing punctuation" means? can that be clarified? or maybe adding examples (preferably ones that are typical of Wikipedia-style prose) would make the meaning sufficiently clear. an example or two involving titles instead of quotations would also be helpful. 09:21, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

Gosh, in Italy I don't think people are ever taught not to put commas inside quotation marks (at least, I can't recall being taught that); it just doesn't occur to us to do otherwise (unless we are also discussing the comma itself, which seldom happens unless discussing computer science or grammar). Only when quoting full sentences we include a capital letter at the beginning and a full stop at the end. How is that any more "complex" than typesetter's punctuation? With it, people need to be explicitly taught to put commas and all periods inside... (I don't think that if the punctuation which is typical in American English is used in articles written in American English the sky would fall; but saying that such punctuation is "simpler" than the "logical" one sounds bogus to me.)
And what is so mysterious about the Cambridge Handbook excerpt? I had interpreted it the very same way as Boson did before even reading his post, and I still can't see how it can be seriously interpreted any other way.
And to address the problem of implausible examples and the issue that guidelines should describe the best current practice, may I suggest that any example added to the MoS must be copied and pasted from a Featured Article which was promoted or last reviewed less than two years ago, from the revision as of when the nomination or last review was closed. (Serious. For plausible but rare issues I'd also allow Good Articles, but such specialized issues should only go to MoS subpages and not to its main page.) ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 11:33, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
The purpose of our writing is to communicate, and placing commas and periods inside in these cases does nothing to impede that purpose. That is what I mean by "zero harm." (Example: Do you think that the period is part of the term or do you think it's the closing punct for the sentence? Do you think that the term I've just used here is essentially different from the one I used above? No and no, Sssoul. You seem to have understood me perfectly.) If the argument against American usage is that it's "not universal," then why is there nothing raised about LQ not being universal?
"Put periods and commas inside adjacent quotation marks." That is pretty darn simple. "Put periods and commas inside under X circumstances and outside under Y circumstances" doesn't sound very complicated, but it is more complicated than the first one. But regardless of whether LQ is more complicated, we can see that it is more difficult to use. It's also non-standard English. Those two reasons are more important than a moderate increase in complexity.
I don't think we should stop allowing MoS editors to write examples from scratch. Requiring people to comb through the FAs potentially stretches a few minutes' work to hours. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:49, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
It is definitely not "non-standard English". It is rare-ish in American English, but not in British English. And if the problem is that it's too difficult, you can always say "when in doubt, put the punctuation outside", which is never incorrect (you can quote up to the last character before the final punctuation). ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 17:02, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
I should have said "non-standard American English." (There seems to be some question as to whether LQ and BQ are different systems or not.) However, if 99% of the American English style guides (not to mention American English writers) say "put them inside," then it is accurate to say that putting them outside is non-standard. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:10, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

A few thoughts on examples.

  • I originally admitted in my proposal the possibility of examples, despite being very leery of the danger of instruction bloat, because it seemed some illustration might indeed make crystal clear what is meant by "trailing punctuation" (and the word "trailing" was an innovation I'd introduced, not found in the current MOS wording, because I didn't want the optionality in the second sentence to make it sound as if it was permissible to omit punctuation from somewhere in the middle of the quote). Three examples should suffice for this purpose: one where the trailing punctuation has to be left out because it's not part of the quoted passage, and two where it is part of the quoted passage and the Wikipedia editor chooses to put it inside or outside.
  • Something that made me uncomfortable about the examples first put up was that they didn't explicitly show what the original source material was, and the whole point is the relationship between the source and the Wikipedia text. It seems like a good way to keep this suite of three examples from becoming complicated (and therefore confusing, and therefore defeating the purpose of having the examples at all) would be to have just one source passage and then three different Wikipedia sentences that quote it, illustrating the three cases I've named. Unfortunately, this would almost certainly preclude the otherwise excellent idea of having all the examples be cut and pasted from recent Featured Articles — thought we might at least borrow and adapt something from a recent FA in order to stave off excessive insipidity.
  • Although we can't illustrate everything that could possibly come up, and shouldn't try (instruction bloat), titles are probably a common and central enough case that they should be illustrated. That's two examples: one in which the punctuation is outside because it's not part of the title, and one in which the punctuation is inside because it is part of the title.
  • In accordance with Tony's suggestion, it seems reasonable, after those illustrations, to remark that the editor is permitted to exercise common sense in leaving punctuation outside when it does occur in the quoted material but its occurrence there isn't germane to the reason it's being quoted (or some variant on that remark), with an illustration of a case where you're quoting a single word, as he suggests.

That would make a grand total of six examples. Which seems to me probably just at the extreme upper end of the tolerable range. --Pi zero (talk) 14:19, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

Sounds prudent to me, Pi zero. Because this passage will be about how to translate other styles into LQ, the pre-Wikipedia text should be provided. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:08, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
It is actually my intention that the passage be simply an original text and examples quoting parts of that original text. The purpose of those first three examples is to illustrate, in the most perfectly clear manner possible, the basic functioning of the style — a purpose that I believe would fail miserably if the illustration weren't unremittingly straightforward.
As a separate issue, I also believe that it would be a serious mistake to bloat the set of examples for the sake of illustrating quoting an original text that we only know about from a third-party source (the situation from the Avatar article); that is just a straightforward application of the basic principles. The MOS section needs to be only about the basic principles; anything else leads to instruction bloat and the illusion of complexity. If it is truly necessary to mention that issue at all, it absolutely should not be allowed to entail more than one solitary example; there is, after all, only one very simple point that one might justify mentioning, which is that Wikipedia is attributing punctuation inside the quotation marks to the original text, reagardless of whether we got our information about that original text through a middleman. We would just show a third-party text telling us about an original text using typesetter's quotation, illustrate that we would not attribute the punctuation to the original text, and be done with it.
This also recalls an important detail to keep in mind (one that had slipped my mind for a while, in the press of events): throughout this section of the MOS, we should not refer to the party being quoted as the "source", because that confuses some people due to parallelism with the Wikipedia term of art "reliable source". Now that I've been reminded, in this post I'm carefully saying "original text", which seems to me to be working very well. --Pi zero (talk) 19:30, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

The discussion so far[edit]

I've compiled what I can find about this issue from the MoS archives, and placed it on one page at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/quotation and punctuation. It's probably not everything, but it's a fair chunk of it, over 115,000 words. I've added it to the See also box above too. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 07:39, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

Wow, thanks! Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:49, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

References needed[edit]

One thing that struck me reading through the archives is how people are adding their own opinions and using their own terms, and it's leading to a lot of confusion. I suggest that when we discuss the punctuation/quotation issue from now on, we use only terms and opinions found in reliable sources, and cite them if requested. We should do that with the MoS itself too. That will radically cut down the amount of repetitive discussion (some of it quite misleading). SlimVirgin TALK contribs 22:17, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

I've already changed quotation mark's references to "logical quotation" to "logical punctuation" as per Noetica-via-Tony's sources. However, for brevity's sake, I'm going to keep calling it LQ on the talk page.
What seems to be worth investigating here is whether LQ is another word for "British style" or whether it is a third, similar-but-separate system. Many of LQ's supporters claim vehemently that it isn't British, and I've come to believe that computer programmers invented it independently and then only later discovered that the British did something similar. However, upon finding and reexamining the source that led me to believe so, I found that that was only the story of one small group of people and not the programming community.
Here's what we know: 1. The British standard style differed from the American standard style long before computers became common, probably because of Fowler's championing of the "grammatical rule" (which I mistakenly called the "logical rule" earlier). 2. Computer programmers like LQ because of its ability to preserve literal strings. 3. Actual British style, as we've seen from the Butcher Handbook and elsewhere, differs in places from Wikipedia's "Put all punctuation inside if it is part of the quoted material and outside if it is not." However, some style books, usually the ones that only mention British styles in passing, describe British usage in a very similar way. The Copyeditor's Handbook is one: [30]
If it really is the same system, then the MoS should state clearly that it's preferred a British style and we should stop answering the question "Why are American English articles punctuated in British English?" with "They're not." However, if LQ really is a separate system, then we need to ask ourselves why we're using something that's not any kind of standard English on both British and American articles.
Also, if LQ and BQ really are the same thing, then we suddenly have Cambridge and Fowler and a host of other proven references whose impartial word we can apply to how to deal with the sentence fragments and other pitfalls under discussion above. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:18, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
3. Actual British style, as we've seen from the Butcher Handbook and elsewhere, differs in places from Wikipedia's "Put all punctuation inside if it is part of the quoted material and outside if it is not." I don't think we saw that at all, unless you count the aside on a convention for works of fiction, which does not apply to Wikipedia. The two examples of non-fiction quoted showed exactly "Put all punctuation inside if it is part of the quoted material and outside if it is not." That does not mean that Cambridge always agrees with what Wikipedia says on the subject. --Boson (talk) 06:15, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Yes I do count it as a difference because the MoS does not make a distinction between fiction and non-fiction. The question is whether this means that LQ and BQ (my abbreviations) are two different styles or whether the MoS was only oversimplifying things. Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:55, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
WP is not fiction, so why would the MoS concern with what's done in fiction? (Note that it doesn't say "when discussing fiction".) ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 12:15, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
I am simply pointing out how the instructions on WP:LQ as it existed until a week or so ago differ from the content of British style guides. This is for the purpose of exploring whether BQ and LQ are two names for the same system (meaning that the differences are the result of oversimplification), whether LQ is something that BQ includes but does not limit itself to or whether they are essentially different systems that happen to often give the same results.Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:35, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

Darkfrog, I have to ask you again to stop making up terms. There is no such thing as "British quotation" over and above logical punctuation. And no one calls it "logical quotation" that I can see. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 06:47, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

If a system has its origins in Britain and is used in Britain by the overwhelming majority of British writers while the overwhelming majority of American writers use something else, then my calling that system "British" and the other one "American" does not constitute me making things up. Or are you objecting to my calling it "punctuation" rather than "style"? Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:55, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
What system? You are claiming there is some system that is not LP and that you call BQ. Please stop making things up. :) British journalists and fiction writers use traditional punctuation. I'm British and I use it. It doesn't divide down nationalist lines the way you want it to, and why would you want it to? SlimVirgin TALK contribs 07:01, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
BQ is an abbreviation that I am using for "the British way of handling punctuation with quotation marks," which certainly overlaps with LP and may in fact be the same thing.
I'm not maintaining that British people never use the American system or that Americans never use the British system. Just because Americans also drink English Breakfast tea doesn't mean we have to change the name. However, if the Chicago Manual of Style calls one system British and the other system American, then I think it should be safe for me to do it.[31] [32] [33] Darkfrog24 (talk) 07:11, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
It is called "logical punctuation," according to the sources, and I'm asking you here to stick to the sources. There is no such thing as BQ that I'm aware of. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 07:15, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
The Chicago MoS calls it "British." You yourself made an edit to that effect in quotation mark.[34] It may be that it has more than one name. Darkfrog24 (talk) 07:20, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Are you not reading what I write? You are claiming there are three styles, BQ, LQ and traditional. But there are TWO. That's all I'm going to say here, because this is impossible. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 07:22, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
No, Slim, that is not what I am claiming. There is a general American style, a general British style, and I've been asking about the assumption that BQ and LQ are the same thing/two different things. Because if they're not, then they're both two names for the same thing. Darkfrog24 (talk) 07:41, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
  • DarkFrog, here we go again with the "us and them" theory. Both systems are used across all anglophone countries with varying emphasis. I'm tiring of the flag-waving. Tony (talk) 07:29, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Tony, the only flag I've been waving since day one is the flag of correct and standard English. If, as has been asserted, LQ and BQ are the same thing, and if, as has been cited, reputable style guides call said system "British," then we should accept that "British" is an acceptable thing to call it, even if it is not the only acceptable thing to call it. Darkfrog24 (