Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers/Archive 133

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Archive 130 Archive 131 Archive 132 Archive 133

Units in 1910 London to Manchester air race

Editors have tried to provide unit conversions in 1910 London to Manchester air race. These keep being removed by the most frequent editor of the article. Edit summaries for removal include "if people can't figure it out themselves then tough". Some editors raised the issue on his talk page which says "If you're coming here to lecture, patronise, troll or otherwise fuck me about, then you definitely won't get the response you expect.". See the discussion.

Would anyone else like to try to improve the article? Lightmouse (talk) 11:49, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

Seems like the currently-empty discussion page for the article (rather than of an editor) might be the best place to raise this. At least over time, more editors are likely to see it, and—now that the benefits of an individual approach seem to be exhausted—it might be less personalized than the tit-for-tats on the edit history and user page. At first blush, I can see arguments on both sides, but this Featured Article should really come to its own consensus. Does the Aviation WikiGroup have a policy about units of distance? Since the race was a century ago, some of this year's commemorative stories might use km as a primary unit and be easier to correlate with a few more conversions after the first one.—— Shakescene (talk) 20:11, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

Lightmouse, User:Parrot of Doom’s edit was clearly improper and s/he has no leg to stand on. Roughly 45% of en.Wikipedia’s readership is American. Most of the rest thinks in metric terms. To make the articles as clear as possible for our readership, we provide conversions. Also, Parrot of Doom’s edit summary was patent nonsense. Providing conversions for our metric-thinking readership isn’t “pandering”; it’s making the article more accessible for a large segment of our readership. MOSNUM could not be any clearer on this principle. Greg L (talk) 21:31, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

  • America's Franken-sizes: The U.S. handling of metric units is a divided mindset: gasoline and motor oil is in gallons and quarts, but soda is bundled in 2 or 3-liter bottles, yet has 16-ounce and 20-ounce servings. Many scientists use metric units (based on thousands: 1 km = 1,000 m) almost entirely, but computer experts rarely need metric units, while thinking in kilobytes (1,024 bytes) and megabytes (1024x1024 bytes), and cups or quarts of milk and orange juice. Meanwhile, miserly packaging is shrinking the American portions: 18-oz peanut butter shrank to 17.3 ounces per jar, while half-gallon ice cream shrank to 1.75 liters, and such. America has become a culture of "Franken-sizes" twisting and warping the metric and other units. Hence, chemistry articles rarely need non-metric units, but beverages need liters and ounces, while automobiles need U.S. gallons, quarts and liters. The units depend on the subject, not the nation. -Wikid77 (talk) 07:56, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

I see that this article is a 'Featured article':

  • "Featured content represents the best that Wikipedia has to offer. These are the articles, pictures, and other contributions that showcase the polished result of the collaborative efforts that drive Wikipedia. All featured content undergoes a thorough review process to ensure that it meets the highest standards and can serve as an example of our end goals.".

It is beginning to look to me like the article falls short of that description. I don't want an edit war so can somebody else try to add units to save it from losing featured article status? Lightmouse (talk) 16:23, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

The article can say no more than the sources do; the sources say miles. Without knowing whether or not they are nautical miles (I suspect not), then how can a conversion be added? Malleus Fatuorum 17:44, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia is full of approximate and/or ambiguous values with conversions that help make WP accessible to ordinary readers. The question of nautical versus statute is a secondary issue. By default, ordinary people will read a distance in 'miles' and assess it against their experience of distances in statute miles. Similarly, conversions of the unqualified term 'mile' will default to statute miles. The use of parentheses shows that the conversion is just that: a conversion that relies on the original value being what it appears to be. It's likely to be near enough to give an idea and that's better than nothing for metric readers. Lightmouse (talk) 20:33, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

As it happens I see no harm in adding the conversions, but neither do I see it as anything worth making a big song and dance about. Malleus Fatuorum 20:40, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

Quite. Lightmouse (talk) 21:30, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

Conventions for multiple quantities used to express a single logical measurement?

I'm not sure if this is the correct place to ask/discuss this, but...I can't find any conventions for the case when multiple quantities of disparate units are used to represent a single logical measurement. (I'm guessing that this is probably only an issue with non-metric units.) The CMS seems to suggest the following:

  • He is 6 feet 6 inches tall, not He is 6 feet, 6 inches tall or He is 6 feet and 6 inches tall
  • The race was won in 3 minutes 47 seconds, not The race was won in 3 minutes, 47 seconds or The race was won in 3 minutes and 47 seconds

If there are three or more units, there are even more options:

  • The derby is run over 1 mile 4 furlongs 10 feet
  • The derby is run over 1 mile, 4 furlongs, 10 feet
  • The derby is run over 1 mile, 4 furlongs, and 10 feet

SixSix (talk) 19:26, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

Symbols for short and long tons

moved from Template_talk:Convert: begin

Mosnum says: "Use long ton or short ton and not just ton; these units have no symbol or abbreviation and are always spelled out.".

However, the template says:

  • 10 tonnes (9.8 long tons; 11 short tons)
  • 10 tonnes (9.8 long tons)
  • 10 tonnes (11 short tons)

As you can see, even the template itself is inconsistent. Lightmouse (talk) 17:35, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

  • Because the abbreviation "LT" has been used for "long ton" for more than 100 years, people have been finding it in thousands of source documents. This usage might require a change to WP:MOSNUM, and for now, "WP:RWA" ("Reality Wins Again"), so we need to determine the risk of allowing "LT" & "ST" to remain in articles. See 1916 book "A Community Arithmetic" (at Google Books webpage link ACA-p108): which states, "1 long ton or gross ton (LT)". Check discussions under Wikipedia_talk:MOSNUM. -Wikid77 (talk) 16:57, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

I see two distinct issues, both important:
1. As we can see above, the format in parentheses is inconsistent. In one case it's 'long tons', in another it's 'LT'. We should choose one format and use it throughout.
2. Mosnum and the convert template output are inconsistent. I looked up mosnum talk and found the abbreviations 'LT' and 'ST' mentioned and as far as I could see, the prohibition still has mosnum consensus. There are dozens of other threads where tons have been discussed and I'm sure there will be plenty of input if we raise it again.

As far as I know, this is the only case where the template fails to comply with mosnum. I thought compliance was an objective, it certainly is one of the things that I assume. If we make the template compliant with mosnum, we don't have to raise the issue on mosnum. If we want to make the template consistent by using 'ST' and 'LT', then we need to raise it on mosnum. Is that a fair summary of the situation? Lightmouse (talk) 14:39, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

moved from Template_talk:Convert: end

Calendars: Scotland 1600 to 1751

The project page contains "Dates of events in countries using the Gregorian calendar are given in the Gregorian calendar. This includes some of the Continent of Europe from 1582, the British Empire from 14 September 1752" While England did change to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, Scotland, as noted in the Gregorian calendar article, changed on January 1 1600[1].

Would there be any problems rewording this as "Dates of events in countries using the Gregorian calendar are given in the Gregorian calendar. This includes some of the Continent of Europe from 1582, Scotland from 1600, the rest of the British Empire from 14 September 1752"? Kiore (talk) 08:29, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

Scotland did not change to the Gregorian calendar in 1600. What they changed was the date of the legal start of the year. In Scotland from 1600-1751, the year legally started on January 1, whereas in England the year did not legally start until 25 March. So, for example, Charles I was executed on 30 January 1648 in English dating, but 30 January 1649 in Scottish dating (and 9 February 1649 in the Gregorian calendar)
It is common practice nowadays to use the year starting 1 January, even when the year at the time legally started on some other date, to save confusion. Wikipedia should (naturally) follow this convention. Pfainuk talk 10:13, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
OK, I understand now. Thanks Kiore (talk) 17:48, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

Using coordinates for powerlines and cables

There is a discussion how to use coordinates for powerlines and cables. Your input is appreciated. Beagel (talk) 17:30, 25 December 2010 (UTC)

Unicode fractions?

Okay, I've been trying to find the original justification for this line, but the history is just too convoluted: The use of the few Unicode symbols available for fractions (such as ½) is discouraged entirely, for accessibility reasons among others. This strikes me as outdated. We use unicode characters everywhere, why not fractions? Can this be revisited? (And "½" is a bad example, as that's not a Unicode addition; it's part of ISO-8859-1.)—Chowbok 15:53, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

But screen readers handle these few badly - and the unimpaired will generally prefer {{frac}}: 12, like 227, not ½: more legible and more uniform. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:28, 26 December 2010 (UTC)
  • I agree. The {frac} template produces superior results. Moreover, the Unicode fractions (Fractions list, here) provide poor support for the 7ths and zip for support beyond the 9ths. For those pages featuring a variety of fractions, one wouldn’t want to see the Unicode ⅚ and the {frac}-based 57 juxtaposed in the same paragraph. Wikipedia’s rendering engine for at least a couple of years now has provided sophisticated leading (line spacing) to accommodate superscripts and subscripts without gross overcompensation; it’s best to use {frac} exclusively, let the rendering engine handle the leading, and make all fractions all easier to read. Greg L (talk) 22:48, 26 December 2010 (UTC)

Symbol for mile

Mosnum contains the text: "15 sq mi" does that mean 'mi' is the symbol for mile? Lightmouse (talk) 11:58, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

Imperial units, by their nature, do not tend to have such cut-and-dried unit symbols as metric ones - the rules tend to be more context-dependent and aren't necessarily particularly consistent or formally unambiguous.
For the mile, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology prefers mi. That's likely to be understood, but is not universal: British road signs (for example) generally use m. Abbreviations such as mph and mpg are practically universally preferred over mi/h or mi/gal. Pfainuk talk 12:44, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
The British use of "m" for mile of course conflicts with the standard use of "m" for metre. Since both are valid in Britain they really should use "mi" for mile. Of course the rest of the Commonwealth countries just switched to "km" for long distances, and usually don't bother to put units on the speed limit signs at all - people are expected to know they are in km/h. It was much simpler that way. RockyMtnGuy (talk) 15:24, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
The British don't put units on speed limit signs either - see this example of a typical British speed limit sign. Distance signs also tend to just use a number without a unit. You're expected to know that it's referring to miles and mph, rather than kilometres and km/h. In Ireland, OTOH, they do put units on these kinds of signs, because they converted from miles to kilometres relatively recently.
The place where the m is used is on junction signs on motorways and dual carriageways. They give a bit of a diagram of the junction, along with major destinations, and at the bottom say something like "2m" or "1m". Unfortunately, we don't appear to have an example on Commons.
The thing is, while (as you say) both units are used in the UK, there is no ambiguity in usage because of context: with a few exceptions that aren't exactly well-known, distances on British road signs are always measured in miles or yards. And if in doubt, it's generally obvious that the distance between a sign marked "2m" and the junction it's referring to is rather more than two metres.
From a Wikipedia perspective, I see no reason why the fact that some British road signs use m should mean that we should follow suit. mi is less ambiguous, so if anything it is probably more likely to be understood. mph on the other hand is unambiguous and nigh-on universal, so as per the current template (as demonstrated by Lightmouse below), we should use it. Pfainuk talk 16:28, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

Mosnum already mentions mph but not mpg. It's worth mentioning that the convert template displays 'mi' and 'nmi' for the unit on its own. It displays 'mpg' and 'mph' for the unit in combinations. See:

  • 50 L/100 km (5.6 mpg‑imp; 4.7 mpg‑US)
  • 50 km/h (31 mph)
  • 50 km (31 mi)
  • 50 nmi (93 km)

That's in line with existing mosnum text and seems reasonable to me. Lightmouse (talk) 13:45, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) require a fuel economy window sticker posted on all new cars and light-duty trucks sold in the U.S. The units used are MPG (miles per gallon).[1] -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 05:58, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes, but in the international context you need to specify that it is in miles per US gallon, not miles per Imperial gallon, e.g. 10 L/100 km (28 mpg‑imp; 24 mpg‑US). Even in Canada, it is still common to specify fuel economy in miles per gallon, but legally speaking, it has to be miles per Imperial gallon since Canada never used the US gallon and therefore it is not legal to use it now. The Canadian mpg numbers will therefore be higher than the US mpg numbers.RockyMtnGuy (talk) 15:14, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
Indeed, the same applies to the UK: we use mpg or MPG meaning miles per Imperial gallon. But we do make the distinction in the templates, and this seems a sensible way of doing it. Pfainuk talk 16:43, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

Back to the comment that started this thread: The convert template uses mi as the symbol for mile on its own. For over two years, mosnum has used it within the text for mile on its own. I propose to update the table of specific units to make it the explicit symbol for mile on its own. Any objections? Lightmouse (talk) 10:28, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

Symbol for revolutions per minute

I've seen two symbols on Wikipedia for revolutions per minute:

  • rpm
  • RPM

The MOSNUM symbol for pounds per square inch is lower case 'psi'. Although MOSNUM doesn't yet state the symbol for miles per gallon, the convert template does show it in lower case. I propose that the table in MOSNUM is updated to show lower case 'rpm'. Any comments? Lightmouse (talk) 10:29, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

Agree Roger (talk) 12:03, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Agree (unless ISO 80000 dictates otherwise). This would be in keeping with the SI convention of using upper case letters where people's names are concerned and lower case elsewhere except where there could be confusion (eg "T" for "teslas", but "t" for "tonnes", but litres may be "L" or "l" as "l" and "1" are easily confused). Martinvl (talk) 12:54, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Agree, it's better if things are consistent. psi & mpg, thus rpm. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 01:57, 15 January 2011 (UTC)
My caveat (which doesn't apply to three consecutive consonants like mpg or rpm) is that if you take away both full-stops/periods and capitalization or italicization, the abbreviation can sometimes look too much like a common English word, e.g. the Greek letter psi, the musical note mi, the exclamation ha [hectare is never so abbreviated in non-specialist US prose, which means American readers have absolutely no idea what ha might be] or the informal pa (one's father) for per annum. [Some commoner examples, which I can't recall off-hand, do throw me momentarily in reading British periodicals.] This is one of those many areas where a convention that is universal, familiar and perfectly-sensible in a scientific, engineering or technical article can confuse the reader of a non-technical page.—— Shakescene (talk) 18:57, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

"Mid" or "mid-"

The page doesn't specify a preference for the use of a hyphen when the adjective "mid" is added in front of years or decades. From what I can tell, "mid-1990s" is preferable to "mid 1990s". Is that correct? (See also Hyphen#Prefixes and suffixes, which isn't very helpful.)   Will Beback  talk  21:27, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Some dictionaries mention this sense of "mid" as a word and not a prefix, but some don't. A Google Books search prefers "mid-1990s" by about 10 to 1, and Google Scholar by about 3 to 1. So I would say "mid-1990s" is preferable. Art LaPella (talk) 00:54, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

AD Vs CE Discussion

Discussion moved from Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Military history/Coordinators/Strategy think tank#AD Vs CE by Macarenses. Note that there were a few comments there that were not moved with the rest of the discussion. Dana boomer (talk) 15:32, 21 December 2010 (UTC)

I believe that the date style in the article within the scope of the project should be changed from the Christian centered AD-BC system to the BCE ireligious system. Since both systems denote the same years it is just a matter of changing the acronyms in every article. A small change in practice but a very important one in that this way the article doesn't take a religious stance. I mean can you imagine if instead of the seemingly harmless "AD" we would actually write the true meaning of the acronym- "the battle was fought in the year of OUR LORD 1627"- I think not! and yet we seem satisfied to keep this religious note in copious amounts, littering even articles regarding wars fought hundreds of years before "the anointed one".Thx for hearing me out--Macarenses (talk) 14:27, 21 December 2010 (UTC)

WP:ERA states:
  • AD and BC are the traditional ways of referring to these eras. CE and BCE are becoming more common in academic and some religious writing. No preference is given to either style.
  • Do not use CE or AD unless the date would be ambiguous without it (e.g. "The Norman Conquest took place in 1066" not 1066 CE or AD 1066).
  • BCE and CE or BC and AD are written in upper case, unspaced, without periods (full stops), and separated from the year number by a space or non-breaking space (5 BC, not 5BC).
  • Use either the BC-AD or the BCE-CE notation, but not both in the same article. AD may appear before or after a year (AD 106, 106 AD); the other abbreviations appear after (106 CE, 3700 BCE, 3700 BC).
  • Do not change from one style to another unless there is substantial reason for the change, and consensus for the change with other editors.
The reason it opts for whatever the status quo is for that article as opposed to choosing one system for the whole of Wikipedia is that there's no consensus on which to use. I don't think WP:MILHIST should be used to usurp that. Years ago there was an enormous debate on the issue which didn't lead really anywhere. As this project is one of Wikipedia's largest, I think we have a responsibility to tread carefully. If this project adopts one over the other it will be pointed to by whichever side is chosen as giving them legitimacy. Both AD/BC and CE/BCE are used in academic literature; usage should be decided on a case-by-case basis and I feel that an attempt to enforce one style over another universally would be a waste of time at best. Nev1 (talk) 14:38, 21 December 2010 (UTC)

I get your point but the thing is that the current situation isn't neutral, not in the least. The fact that AD is used in academic literature doesn't seem to me to add that much weight to the argument as I've read academic publishings of Israeli scholars who write (translation) " the 1943 year of the Christian count.." and " the year 1245 according to their count.."- "their" being obviously Christians. Should we then allow for that format as well?. I believe a single non-religious format should be used. And if not then why shouldn't instead of "AD" to use the complete "Anno Domini" from time to time, it is what is means. "AD" in my mind cannot be viewed as anything but a Christian way and wikipedia should not be conscribed to the religious notion that every passing year is the year of jesus.--Macarenses (talk) 15:04, 21 December 2010 (UTC)

(via Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Military_history/Coordinators/Strategy_think_tank#AD_Vs_CE). I'm very suspicious of changes that seem to be motivated by a belief that it's not enough that we try to be a high-quality source of verifiable information but that we should also present that information in a way that conforms to some group or other's concept of "correctness"—whether that's because a common and widely-understood dating convention happens to have an archaic religious origin or because an article about the male reproductive organ has a picture of said organ. Realistically, even if we tried we'd be setting ourselves up to fail. While some might find BC/AD problematic, I'd be willing to bet an equal number would say the same of BCE/CE.
I also think perhaps you misunderstand what "neutrality" means in Wikipedia terms. In essence it means Wikipedia doesn't have an opinion... that is, we accurately reflect the sources used without imposing our own views on them. Your suggestion would seem to me to be violating WP:NPOV by changing dates that use BC/AD in the sources to CE/BCE precisely because of your personal interpretation. EyeSerenetalk 15:50, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
I have no personal preference in this regard, but I think that maintaining the system whereby articles choose a style on a case-by-case basis (using the current MOS guidance) is probably the best solution. I don't think a project-wide consensus is possible in regards to this issue, however, as per how we deal with the English variation issue, if editors use common sense and work together the goal of consistency within individual articles should be able to be achieved. AustralianRupert (talk) 21:29, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
Recent previous discussion Art LaPella (talk) 23:11, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
  • While we're at it, I'm extremely offended by the use of Wednesday on Wikipedia, so I recommend we rename that to Third day (not "Fourth day", of course, because that would be basing things on the Judeo-Christian week sequence). But seriously, this has been discussed ad infinitum, and I myself brought it up less than 2 months ago, and the discussion went nowhere. The current compromise is the best we're going to get. The opinion that "CE/BCE" are neutral is laughable. The era is still based on a 6th-century monk's estimate of Jesus' birth year. Until we make a new calendar with a more secular epoch, this one will have a Christian bias. And what's wrong with that? As I've pointed out, our days of the week and months are named after Roman deities, so what's the blasted difference? It baffles me how some atheists (I myself am an atheist, but I see you're one as well) can be offended by such harmless mythology, and seemingly only when it's Christian mythology. Do you have a problem with Christianity specifically? If so, that bias is not Wikipedia's concern. As has been noted, AD/BC are just as much if not more notable than BCE/CE, so we are absolutely justified in using both systems, or even just AD/BC. — CIS (talk | stalk) 23:17, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
I propose that Wikipedia adopts the French Republican Calendar as a secular alternative. Nev1 (talk) 00:31, 22 December 2010 (UTC)
Tempting though it might be to prescribe consistency across Wikipedia about BC-AD/BCE-CE, there just isn't the consensus for it. As consensus is impossible, compromise is essential. I think the present guidelines are sensible. Michael Glass (talk) 00:11, 22 December 2010 (UTC)
  • I’m not advocating a change to MOSNUM in this regard since editors will dig in their feet if anyone but God herself tries to tell them what to do in this regard. Since there is no central, all-powerful overseer of our style guides, Wikipedia is pretty much a state of regular chaos where one article uses *this* practice and another uses *that*.

    But, personally, I encourage editors to not be tempted to use Wikipedia as a platform in the vain hope of promoting the adoption of new-age ways of doing things; not until the practices become most common in the real world. Some wide-eyed wikipedians specializing in computer-releated articles tried in vain for three long years to promote the adoption of the IEC prefixes (mebibytes instead of megabytes) by flitting about and changing hundreds of articles nearly overnight. The result was some articles that spoke of “256 MiB of RAM” and still others that spoke of “256 MB of RAM”. It was pretty much an advertisement for how Wikipedia can do dumb things at times. Unfortunately, the naive effort didn’t help the world adopt the IEC prefixes one iota. All the IEC proponents accomplished was the inconsistent use of a writing style that drew untoward attention to itself and caused unnecessary confusion for our readership (both being highly verboten in all good technical writing).

    With very rare exception, you will only see “BCE” in writing; it is very seldom used in narrated form in TV, radio, and movies. Next time you see a TV documentary on Egyptian pyramids, note whether you hear the narrator speak of “Bee See” or “Bee See Eee”. I personally think is superior to use a writing style that reflects what people are accustomed to hearing. For those here who think that several dozen wikipedians can Make A Difference®™© in whether a new writing style catches on and attains widespread acceptance, think again; the IEC prefixes showed that notion to be fallacious. Wikipedia does best when it simply goes with the flow. Greg L (talk) 01:54, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

    • Chicago 9.35 uses the rare words (for Chicago) "personal preference"; AP Stylebook says to use AD/BC. (Chicago tries to keep academics happy when possible; AP doesn't.) I agree with pretty much all the replies, and well put. I just want to add that the trend is not to say "AD" at all, and the religious connotation probably has something to do with that. Some academics write BC but sprinkle their lectures with "before the common era" to make it clear that that's how they interpret the letters. - Dank (push to talk) 14:30, 29 December 2010 (UTC)
      • Absolutely right Sir! The whole thing is an amusing insight into political correctness, but it is Wikipedia's duty to follow rather than lead in these matters, and while a consistent and clear choice would be preferable, since we can't achieve it to date, the "leave well alone" principle applies almost as well. Rich Farmbrough, 15:03, 29 December 2010 (UTC).

Confederate banknotes

I just passed this subject article from idle interest, and am unfamiliar with the fractional templates, so if there's a consensus, perhaps someone here might be interested in fixing (or at least harmonising) the tenths and halves at Confederate States of America dollar#Banknotes —— Shakescene (talk) 21:24, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

On examining images of some fractional Confederate dollars, I saw that they were denominated in cents, rather than fractions of a dollar, so I just changed them to "10-cent" and "50-cent". The question is now moot.
—— Shakescene (talk) 00:17, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

MOS vs. MOSNUM on centuries

At the moment, MOSNUM says "Centuries are given in figures or words using adjectival hyphenation where appropriate: the 5th century BCE; nineteenth-century painting." The same section in MOS (WP:MOS#Numbers as figures or words) says "Show centuries in figures". Who wins? - Dank (push to talk) 02:21, 22 January 2011 (UTC)

Chaos wins. Art LaPella (talk) 04:40, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
Better chaos than Newspeak. MOSNUM (uncharacteristically) describes what English actually does; MOS prescribes what some editor thinks we all ought to do; while endemic, this is contrary to policy. I prefer the former, and intend to ignore the latter; but it would be better to copy the longer and more accurate text to WP:MOS. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:58, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
It needs to be made consistent. Consensus needs to be generated for either version, and used in both. Tony (talk) 15:01, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
Since they have been inconsistent for a considerable time (and nobody has noticed), the necessity is unclear; but since one is preferable to the other, I would agree to change MOS. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:03, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
And I have; comments? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:33, 29 January 2011 (UTC)
And been reverted on autopilot. Is there any reason at all to suppose anybody actually supports the MOS text? Let inconsistency reign, as it has for months. Nobody noticed before; nobody cares what these texts say now. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:50, 29 January 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for pointing out the inconsistency between the pages. It needs to be discussed, widely, since ordinals and centuries are widely used. Alas, some articles have them written out. I think the best place to work out what should be done is at WT:MOS. Tony (talk) 05:07, 29 January 2011 (UTC)
The inconsistency isn't just between pages. After the so-called "autopilot" edit linked above, there is now inconsistency within the same sentence. "*Show centuries in figures: (the 5th century BCE; nineteenth-century painting)." In other words, it doesn't matter whether Wikipedians "Show centuries in figures" or write "nineteenth-century painting" instead; do we play this game just so Manual of Style regulars will know whose side we're on? If we can't keep MOS from contradicting MOSNUM, can't we at least be consistent within the same sentence? Art LaPella (talk) 05:44, 29 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Instead of wrangling about the above procedural issues, why not get to heart of the matter? Should the MOS and MOSNUM both state that 'only numbers are to be used for century' or should they both state that either 'numbers or words can be used for century'. The latter results in what I have found thoughout WP articles: in the same article (or even the same paragraph or sentence) a back and forth mixture of century numbers and and century words. One editor even stated he was deliberately writing articles in this way so his readers would not get bored just seeing century numbers and not words. So what should be written here? Hmains (talk) 06:38, 29 January 2011 (UTC)
    THe solution to inconsistency within an article is simple. Often it doesn't matterl if the two centurys are at opposite ends, it would take a search engine to notice. If it jars, apply WP:CONSISTENCY, using whichever is most suitable to the places where it occurs; since 19 is a small number; nineteenth is usually best by our general principles on figures and words. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:56, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
    • Because for me at least, the "procedural" issue is the heart of the matter. Even for a partisan of the "sixth sentry but 6th century" rule, the heart of the matter should be what happens in the rest of Wikipedia, not here, and Wikipedians can't possibly obey "Show centuries in figures: ... nineteenth-century". One editor doesn't want his readers to get bored? Sounds like a good reason to me, but then I don't write the Manual of Style guidelines other than "procedural" issues. If you don't like "nineteenth-century", please change the whole sentence or none of it, and change MOSNUM to match. There's no reason to change part of the rule but not all of it. Art LaPella (talk) 17:06, 29 January 2011 (UTC)
  • No. We certainly should not prescribe that centuries should always be in figures; for one simple reason: It's not English; 19th century is enormously less common than nineteenth century, even in the twenty-first century. I am extremely tired of MOS provisions which cause bots to go out and make Wikipedia look stupid. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:41, 29 January 2011 (UTC)
    • "It's not English"? "19th century" makes WP look "stupid"? Tony (talk) 14:06, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
      • Yes, precisely. Never to use "nineteenth century", even where it is idiomatic, is as odd-looking as George Bernard Shaw's omission of apostrophes: dont, cant, wont. To forbid the normal and prevalent usage with no rationale is also another of the Manual of Style's innumerable pieces of Original Research. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:35, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
      • I see no reason not to tolerate 19th century as occasional usage; it does appear to be used - now - about 15% of the time, and it will occasionally be actually preferable (infoboxes, six 19th-century paintings and so on), but the MOSNUM text does that. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:46, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
I think MoS:Numbers and MOSNUM should be looked at like "==Numbers==" and "{{Main|MOSNUM}}". In other words MoS should be a short section summary of the main points in MOSNUM.
My point is that MoS is a general editing guide which has general rules on style etc., and MOSNUM is the place where that style is further defined. If we consider how each separate entity (such as projects) treat MoS, having their own guidelines specific to their project needs, MOSNUM is simply another "project" dealing with numbers as opposed to MilHist, Countries, BLP or Television which deal with those specific topics and produce their own MoS'.
I, for one, have a great deal of interest in the fact that MoS and MOSNUM say two different things, and in getting the matter clarified, as I have to copy-edit articles. While there is the obvious matter of consistency, the problem delves into the realms of English English v. American English and all the extra rules that brings, "Whichever was first the rest shall be the same" etc.
If one considers the styles in which people edit it seems to me that most editors will write "5th–7th century" and "17th–19th century" rather than "Fifth to seventh century" or "seventeenth to nineteenth century" as it is easier to write and to read. When quoting single periods it seems that the general trend is to mix and match, and certainly the articles I have edited seem to follow those trends.
In conclusion I think it would be wrong to force one or the other and that MoS should take the lead from MOSNUM. There could be an argument made that consensus should be given to a larger group than simply those involved in MOSNUM, yet the case is that the Jigsaw method works—as in the Calorie/kcalorie/kj where only a few people are really interested in discussing it: Similarly the majority of editors are not going to go into each corner of Wikiworld to enter discussions on every point of style for each of the projects, MoS groups or discussions as the time taken to catch up reading 50 conversations a day would stop them from editing and Wiki would be left to the hands of the vandals, unsourced-text dumpers and OR-mongers.
I also think that using C15th is best left out of the picture :¬) Chaosdruid (talk) 19:37, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Really? There's this much debate about taking a sentence that contradicts itself and at least fixing it so that the sentence has internal logical consistency? WP:MOS now says "Show centuries in figures: (the 5th century BCE; nineteenth-century painting)" Now, according to my copy of The New Oxford Dictionary, a figure is "a numerical symbol, esp. any of the ten in Arabic notation : the figure 7"—at least, that's the only of the five meanings remotely applicable to a century. "Nineteenth" is a word, not a figure, by the dictionary definition of figure. Therefore, as currently written, this guideline tells editors in clear language to do one thing... and then, by example, directs them to do just the opposite. When someone tries to correct this obvious, glaring, and incontrovertible logical error, the change is reverted because "that's the way it's always been". While it's fine to debate whether or not the rule should be changed, the fact stands that the example given flatly contradicts the explicit instruction of the text. There's no reason not to fix that right now by altering or removing the faulty example... yet doing so seems to be anathema here. Instead, there's debate about changing the rule to fit the example. Am I the only one that's questioning the sanity of this whole process? Maybe we should fix the error, then debate changing the rule? // ⌘macwhiz (talk) 23:15, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
  • (Like Sioux indians sitting around the campfire on ‘Dances With Wolves’): User:⌘macwhiz speaks strong words. Greg L (talk) 00:14, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
  • IMO, numerals are much easier to read than spelled-out words when acting as numerators for centuries. A few examples above show nicely how this is especially the case in expressing ranges. Macwhiz, I reverted the change because the whole phrase needs to gain consensus. I know it was a glaring illogicality, and that it should have been addressed long ago. Tony (talk) 02:24, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
  • A good and proper move. Greg L (talk) 02:43, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
  • In other words,. if that were so, this guideline (and MOS) is based on Tony's opinion. No wonder he's always concerned about its status.;} We have a term for that: {{essay}}. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:52, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Maybe I’m confused then, PMA. Please provide the disputed diff. Greg L (talk) 03:06, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
  • So am I. Tony doesn't seem to have actually reverted anything. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:17, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

I have restored from this this revert on MOS because the edit summary This is how MOS has read for many years, prior to any of us being involved. Discuss changes, don't push) is a falsehood; Art LaPella is also correct that the text is incoherent. That section, as it stands, is no older than its last serious rewriting, two or three years ago, in which both Tony and I were involved. I presume, since both of us missed it, the present garble is younger still. (The revert-warrior was also editing then; whether he was involved with MOS I do not recall.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:13, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

  • I tried to get this actually discussed instead of raids on the text. Alas, no success. The examples do not match guideline text: fix the examples is the obvious conclusion. Instead, the raids change the guideline. But I wanted to first decide on the guideline; the examples will follow in turn. However, instead of discussion, we get insults. I take that to mean that there is no foundation to the arguments. Insults cannot be taken seriously, nor the insulter. Do better. Hmains (talk) 03:18, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
    • We have discussed it, here and briefly on WT:MOS. You are the only person who actually supports this piece of Original research, contrary to English usage. Your reasoning is "in the same article (or even the same paragraph or sentence) a back and forth mixture of century numbers and and century words." That is a fallacy; by the same reasoning, we could justify a rule always use favour because ENGVAR could lead to in-article inconsistency. So it could; the answer is not to impose a straitjacket, but to be consistent. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:31, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
    • "How MOS has read for many years"? Hmains might make some sense if that were true, but it isn't. Which year? 2010? That says "19th" not "nineteenth". 2009? "19th".2008? "nineteenth" only in a special case, and not self-contradictory at all. 2007? "19th". 2006? No century rule at all. Art LaPella (talk) 03:57, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Very well. I see that PMA’s edit addresses macwhiz’s spot-on observation that the example given flatly contradicts the explicit instruction of the text. And I don’t have a problem with what’s there now; neither figures nor words confuses me one twit. Sometime, depending on adjacent text, one form might be preferred over the other. Oh, Tony’s got a Ph.D. and makes a living as a professional technical writer so he’s not exactly a lightweight around here. As one of ‘them edumacated types,’ I find that he is typically *keen* on the general rule and is also readily able to detect the exceptions to the rule that are usually only appreciated by the *finer* sources on the subject. That doesn’t mean he floats when he meditates, but it does mean one would be wise to double-check the books on the subject, PMA, before suggesting he’s pulling any of this stuff out of his butt. Greg L (talk) 03:26, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
    • I didn't say he had; but his post claims the right to do so. I prefer evidence. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:31, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
      • Oh, pardon me. I had loosely translated {{essay}} as “pulling stuff out of one’s butt.” Too much of a leap? Greg L (talk) 03:38, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
        • Yes. essay means "somebody's opinion" and no more. Some essays are very worth reading, but this is a guideline.
        • And if we're going to rely on opinion, I find the numerals too visible, indeed glaring; they make text harder to read. Why forbid 5 pigs and demand 5th century? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:41, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
          • I tend to agree with you (and macwhiz, who conveniently quoted the Chicago Manual of Style, below). But I also know that there are those who will speak about “tables” and other areas where “space is at a premium” (yadda yadda yadda ad nauseam). This issue isn’t important enough, IMO, to put up with all the Turkish butt-stabbings and amputations of body parts by ArbCom. The current version you reverted to is no longer internally inconsistent and is good enough. There are simply too many contributors on Wikipedia with different ideas and the faux pax is a grey area with nuances. Greg L (talk) 03:47, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
    • (EC) Speaking of which, I just pulled out Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition to see what guidance it might give. Section 9.33 is unequivocal on the subject: "Particular centuries are spelled out and lowercased." While CMoS isn't controlling on the MoS or Wikipedia, it's extremely compelling evidence for "this is the proper way to do it in American English". I'm also glad to see that we seem to be building consensus that sentences in the Manual of Style should not be schizophrenic, whether they be dogma or heresy. I was worried that we might need to call an RfC on that one for a while... // ⌘macwhiz (talk) 03:35, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
      • Would that be Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition or Sixteenth Edition? :) TechnoSymbiosis (talk) 04:24, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
        • Since you mention it... 16th Edition. Section 9.6: "The general rule applies to ordinal as well as cardinal numbers." The "general rule" for Wikipedia being CMoS's "alternative rule" 9.3, that zero through nine are spelled out, and all other numbers use numerals. (Chicago prefers spelling out zero through 100. I find that a bit bizarre, personally.) However, that's under the heading General Principles; section 9.33 overrides 9.6 when it comes to centuries. // ⌘macwhiz (talk) 04:44, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
            • Presumably like Volume numbers (9.28): " Arabic numerals". Septentrionalis PMAnderson 07:17, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Why 5th century but not 5 pigs? Well, 5 pigs and 12 horses, apparently, is what is mandated to avoid clash between numbers and words, although I've never thought much of that. And as Greg points out, in tables (and captions, where we see a lot of "19th-century this and that"), the numerals are much neater and easier to identify. They do not seem to stick out in the longer unit that arises from the ordinal suffix plus "century", and are much used in this context. Tony (talk) 08:15, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
    Both forms are useful. Which to use in any given context is editorial judgment. Don't let's jog editorial elbows. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:51, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
  • EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: I agree more with Tony here. I find that numeric centuries look more natural. And it might be that the reason for this ‘naturalness’ is that numeric centuries is a far more common writing style in the real world (by a factor of nearly 30). If we were to change the guideline, I would propose that we say either is acceptable, but to suggest a preference for editors to simply follow the writing style used by a majority of most-reliable sources cited in a given article.

    If I had only been exposed to examples of real-world practices and had no knowledge of how various manuals of style addressed this issue, I might write 19th-century engine refrigerates without CFCs, as did this New Scientist article. New Scientist, as I recall, is written using British English if that matters at all. I find that expressions like Galileo Galilei was a famous seventeenth-century inventor is a tediously long. The tediousness of the ‘teen’ centuries might underlie why we have Category:17th-century astronomers. At least, numeric centuries work in titles (as it did in New Scientist). Clearly though, numbered expressions like …theory of the 16th-century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus… are used also in body text by seemingly professional looking publications like this article from The New York Observer.

    I don’t know why, exactly, but I think I prefer the numeric centuries myself—as does Tony. Perhaps our eyes are simply more used to that form: Witness this Google search on "Sixteenth-century astronomer" (in quotes). That one returns 15,300 results. But "16th-century astronomer" returns 445,000 reults; 29 times more frequent.

    If I had to throw out a proposal to change the guideline, it would be to follow the practices of the majority of most-reliable sources used in a given article. Practices might vary depending upon whether it is an archeology-based article, or an astronomy-based one, etc. This approach would best leverage the mission of any good encyclopedia: to properly prepare its readership for their continuing studies on the subject—writing conventions (writing style) and all. The outcome of such a guideline change would be that most articles would probably use numeric centuries. Greg L (talk) 20:25, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

Possibly subject matter. But also the writing style of the web; Google Books is two to one the other way. If our editors want to avoid typing seven characters, why force them? but that way lies l33tspeak.Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:02, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
  • I see that you provided a link wherein you unintentionally did a Googlebook search that was a lowercase “L” as part of the “16”, as in l6th-century. When done properly without the lowercase L, so the number 16 is an actual 16, one gets the results you cited; a 2:1 preference for "sixteenth-century astronomer", which returns 426 results, vs. "16th-century astronomer", which returns 199 results.

    I agree with your point; that venue (Internet vs. actual books) account for a humungous difference in the outcome, with a 2:1 preference for “nineteenth-century” in books and a 29:1 preference for “19th-century” on the Web. I also note that this string "in the 19th century" yields 749,000 results whereas "in the nineteenth century" returns 7,820,000 results.

    This may be as simple as book writers tend to be professionals who have actual manuals of style, vs. the Internet, where everyone’s an expert simply because they have an X-chromosome, a pulse, and an opinion. It would be a phenomenon similar to “gigawatts” (before computers got to giga-anything); it was properly jiga (as in “gigantic”). But because the the prefix “giga-” worked its way down the food chain into consumer-grade products and all the way into the Wal‑Mart crowd buying $549 Dell computers, it became—due to simple cluelessness—“giga as in biga which is gooder”.

    I must be from the Wal‑Mart set, since I prefer the look of numeric centuries notwithstanding the fact that grammar-school teachers would whack my knuckles with their rulers. Maybe it’s funner that way. Greg L (talk) 00:29, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

  • (edit conflict) Google hit counts for multi-word searches are only estimates, and when they are larger than a few thousands they are often off by several orders of magnitude.[2] A. di M. (talk) 01:00, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

(edit conflict) My two cents: the current guideline (‘Centuries are given in figures or words&nsbp;...’) is no more informative than having no guideline at all. (Of course they are given in figures or words; how else could they be given? Egyptian hieroglyphs? IPA transcriptions of their names?) So I'd propose just removing it. (The consequence would be that the generic guideline would also apply for centuries: prefer words up to the ninth century, don't use words for some centuries and figures for other ones in the same context, etc.) A. di M. (talk) 01:00, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

Reason: to stop editors fighting about it ... so they know. But Greg L's research above strongly suggests that centuries should be qualified by numerals, not words. I see numerals all over the place in WP articles. Tony (talk) 01:11, 1 February 2011 (UTC)


  • in the British National Corpus, excluding the "spoken" and "fiction" sections, "first century" etc. are more than 10 times as common as "1st century" for centuries up to the 9th, between 2.5 and 6.4 times as common for centuries from the 10th to the 20th, and about 30% less common for the 21st century;
  • in the Corpus of Contemporary American English, excluding the "spoken" and "fiction" sections and only including the "2005–2010" part, "first century" is about 16 times more common than "1st century", then this ratio gradually gets smaller for later centuries, being between 1.2 and 1.9 for all centuries from the 10th to the 19th, it is about 1.1 for the 20th century and about 0.5 for the 21st century. A. di M. (talk) 02:20, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Nice research. Thanks. Is anyone proposing that the current guideline be changed? It seems both “fifth century” and “19th century” are here to stay. Should we adopt the recommended practice as shown in The Chicago Manual of Style because spelled-out centuries are clearly preferred by choosey writers? Or, in acknowledgement of the ubiquity of the numeric centuries when it comes to on-line internet use, shouldn’t we allow both? Greg L (talk) 03:46, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
    I'd be happy with not having any rule specifically for centuries at all (so the general rule of preferring words for smallish numbers and figures for largish ones, but not at the cost of using words for some centuries and numbers for others in the same context, would apply); but if we really must have one ‘to stop editors fighting about it’, it should be allowing both. A. di M. (talk) 09:58, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

User:Noetica has been watching this thread and emailed me the following message, for posting here:

Here is one of the covert and dishonest edits accepting words for centuries, leading to the present disarray: [3]
Here is the archived discussion (at that time 12 months old) linked to in the summary for that edit, and ostensibly justifying it: [4]
At the time of that edit, you [Noetica is referring to me] challenged it: [5]
The perpetrator made a good solid answer to you. But while he did mention a need for consistency, nowhere in his enumerated points or in the many guides he cites is there any rebuttal of our salient point: every publication sets ONE standard for naming centuries, not two. This is what I urged in the 2009 discussion that is linked above. Why the bejesus should Wikipedia be the sole exception, permitting both? In fact, WP practice where it matters is solidly in favour of figures, not words. For example: List_of_centuries, Category:Centuries, Mid-nineteenth_century_Spain.
(That last one redirects to Mid-19th-century Spain. So it damn well should, if we are to have any evenness at all in our style.)
Many publications choose one way of spelling nineteenth century (experience casts some doubt on whether they get it). Most publications also require one specific way of spelling flavour; we expressly refuse to have one, in one of the few actually widely accepted MOS provisions. We are a new thing, a massive international collaboration; we are dealing with a question in which English usage varies, and preference may reasonably depend on context. We should not exclude the greatly more common usage without clear argument of benefit to the encyclopedia, and "evenness of style" (when we have not attained it, or reject it, in far more obvious matters) is buncombe. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:45, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

I see that Andy Walsh, at the first link-target, asked who wants "twenty-first-century music". A very reasonable question. Tony (talk) 12:08, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

Good point, but that's no good reason to forbid spelling out the numbers (e.g.) in an article about ancient history which never mentions any century later than the seventh. (If we had to have an iron-clad rule, I'd propose that articles mentioning at least one century equal to or later than the 21st must use figures, articles which never mention any century later than the 20th and mention at least one century equal to or earlier than the 9th must use words, and articles which only mention centuries between the 10th and the 20th must use WP:RETAIN.) --A. di M. (talk) 14:02, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
I am still convinced that the two word rule is imperative also.
I think that ranges should be numeric: 15th - 17th centuries. They are more than four words to express the range and, as we do not write fifteenth November eighteen-hundred, this is more in keeping with the guidelines on Other date ranges
MoS also states "As a general rule, in the body of an article, single-digit whole numbers from zero to nine are spelled out in words; numbers greater than nine are commonly rendered in numerals, or in words if they are expressed in one or two words" Numbers as figures or words
The whole thing is a massive confusing set of "rules" that state "do it either way".
A second (and I hear someone groaning at the back) point is that eighteenth century is 6 characters longer than it needs to be. Consider if we were to remove an average of one entry per page in the encyclopaedia as a whole - that would be a lot of space saved - wouldn't it? Well we would have to do that to 4,820 articles just to free up the same space as this discussion lol - not a convincing argument for that then :¬) Chaosdruid (talk) 16:08, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
No space is saved if any instance of "eighteenth" is replaced with "18th", as the old revisions of the article are stored as well. --A. di M. (talk) 08:54, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
DOH! I completely forgot about that lol - thanks for pointing it out :¬) But then, after thinking about it, wouldn't each subsequent revision have 6 less, so after 20 changes the saving would be 20x6 ? Chaosdruid (talk) 16:37, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
Even in a 6-kilobyte article (a pretty short one) you'd need one thousand more edits before having a net saving in space. :-) Also, I believe that the Wikipedia servers have tens times as much disk space available than is currently used (though I can't find the relevant statistics right now), making such arguments pretty much irrelevant. --A. di M. (talk) 17:30, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

What implies what, what?

Talk:Speaker of the New York State Assembly

Legislative terms use - (short dash) , life spans use – (long dash). Besides, 1820-21 is a one-year term which had sessions in two calendar years. 1820-1821 would be a two-year tenure. Besides, the dashes and numbers were messing up page references. Please check carefully what you are editing, the correct info should be preserved. Please avoid unnecessary edits. Kraxler (talk) 21:42, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

I guess I didn’t get that memo? ―cobaltcigs 01:48, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

Actually, that's a reasonable differentiation, between a session in both of two years (often only a small part of each) and a term which extends over a period of time. Since it will not convey the message to most readers, it should be amblified by saying session and term. Punctation is a tool, not an endurance test. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:22, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

This strikes me as an artificial and counter-intuitive distinction. An imprecise time-span is indicated by the year in which it begins and the year in which it ends, without regard to calendar month/day. That is, if an individual holds office from “January 3, 2004 to December 31, 2005” or from “August 8, 2004 to August 8, 2005” we should use the abbreviation “2004–2005” in either case. Anything more specific would and should require displaying the months for comparison. ―cobaltcigs 01:39, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

Currency - always have country in front of dollar sign

Shouldn't the country sign always be in front of the dollar sign (US$, S$, A$ etc.). If it's just the first instance, people starting to read at a later section won't know for sure what currency they are reading about. It will also help highlight any mistakes. Certainly if you look at the style guides of serious financial publications - FT, Reuters, Economist etc., I'm pretty sure that would be the case, and surely wiki should be trying to keep to the same high standards. Mattun0211 (talk) 07:48, 2 February 2011 (UTC)

MOS:CURRENCY says, "Use the full abbreviation of a currency on its first appearance (e.g. AU$52); subsequent occurrences can use just the symbol of the currency (e.g. $88), unless this would be unclear." If the whole article only uses one currency then there would be no problems. It's a judgement call as to whether it would be unclear or not. McLerristarr | Mclay1 08:28, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
IMHO it's very much dependent on the context, for example in a discussion of the budget of a city or state/province it would be irrational to assume that anything other than their own currency is meant. For example the budget of the city of Sydney, Australia, would be discussed in terms of AU$, while the Ohio Department of Education's expenditure would be expressed in US$. It shouldn't be necessary to constantly specify which dollar is meant. International trade or comparisons between different countries are often expressed in terms of US$, although in some contexts other currencies such as Euros would be used. Roger (talk) 08:57, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
The issue is whether the reader will also assume the same. Someone might well have no idea that the Australian currency is also called a dollar, or even that there's any other currency than the US one using the dollar sign, so on reading "$10,000" in an article about Australia they might well think that US dollars are meant. --A. di M. (talk) 12:09, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
Per MOS:CURRENCY, the first instance must specify which dollar (AU$, US$, etc.) so that solves the problem. I don't agree that the prefix is needed at every instance in an article - unless the article is specifically using multiple currencies. Roger (talk) 13:24, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
I think you're missing the point I was making Dodger. While we all like to assume that the reader is reading every word of our elegant prose ; in reality, most people skim read. As such, there is a fair chance they will miss the first instance, and will even make a wrong assumption or be confused when they come across the later instances - I know I've been there myself on Wikipedia. This is why respectable financial publications such as the Economist, FT and Reuters have a rule of always making this clear - even when it may seem obvious, as otherwise there would be a grey area of when to and when not to apply the rule - and what's obvious to one person may not be obvious to someone from another country or someone not familiar with the subject. This is not done for anacronyms as it would be too cumbersome, but asking someone to put an A in front of the $ sign, for instance, is hardly too taxing. Wiki style guidelines are generally spot on, but this one stands out like a sore thumb.Mattun0211 (talk) 01:50, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
  • I've just criticised an article on Iran for using "US" before $, first time. I was under the impression the style guides said $ and ₤ needed no national tag, unless the currency of the country in question in the topic also uses "dollars". Even then, it's irritating to have A$ (or worse, AUD) repeatedly through an Australia-related article if there is no doubt (after the first occurrence) that all of the currency references are to Australian dollars. Tony (talk) 07:18, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
    I wouldn't assume any reader to know off the top of their head whether or not the Iranian currency is called a dollar, so I guess the first occurrence does need "US". (I'd also possibly use it for the first occurrence of it in any section directly linked to from another article or redirect, and for the first occurrence of it in each section if there's no occurrence of it in the lead – as I expect the reader, after reading the lead, might use the TOC to skip to another section.) --A. di M. (talk) 08:52, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
I think you're missing the point Tony. Reuters, The Economist and the FT, and I would suspect pretty much all financial publications with an international audience always specify the country before the dollar. As I've said twice, this is partly because people tend to skim read and you can't second guess where they're going to start skim reading from. It isn't annoying - if you read serious international financial publications you'll be reading this all the time (AUD isn't annoying by the way - it's just wrong from a style point of view). I suspect the current style came from people who were used to more parochial publications, probably in the US. Wiki is clearly a medium that is very much international. While there are times this may seem and even be relatively unnecessary, the rules that would govern that would be complex - one reason why the serious financial heavyweights don't try it. If it's good enough for the leading financial publications then we really should be following them rather than pretending we know best and trying to reinvent the wheel. That's my final word on the subject. You can lead a camel to water ... Mattun0211 (talk) 18:48, 4 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia is unlike Reuters or The Economist because we have articles that often make the type of current exceedingly obvious because of the nature of a given article. (From “Brooklyn Bridge”): The bridge cost $15.5 million to build and approximately 27 people died during its construction. It’s perfectly clear what the type of dollar is without the use of the prefix clarifier. That is something that is impossible with a Reuters article distributed across the globe, which tells of the recent increase in the price of a barrel of oil to a new record level. They clearly must specify what type of dollar is used for an international audience to understand a generic news bit. But, as can be seen from the Brooklyn Bridge example, Wikipedia often suffers no such ambiguity. If it isn’t clear from the topic and/or context, then clarify with the prefix. Otherwise, keep it *clean* (without) because most people read local (city, state, national-level) publications in daily life where no clarifier is used and the use of it here is unnatural and tends to distract by drawing the reader’s attention to the writing style rather than the message point. Greg L (talk) 05:53, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
    • Reuters could just as easily have a story where it was as obvious what the currency was as the Brooklyn Bridge example, but that's not the point. You say, "That is something that is impossible with a Reuters article distributed across the globe..." - but Wikipedia is distributed across the globe as well, is it not!? (And in the example you gave of a barrel of oil - oil is always priced in US$.) I agree, not having the country prefix is fine for publications that don't transcend national boundaries, but Wiki does - in spades. Do people find the country prefix unnatural when reading The Economist? I doubt it. They wouldn't even notice it. That standard, surely, must be what wiki is aiming for, rather than the Oklahoma Gazette. I live in the Asia-Pacific region where this problem is probably more acute as you have the Singapore Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar and Aussie Dollar, so there's probably more room for confusion than elsewhere. But I know I 've read wiki articles where I've been unsure what currency is being specified and recently a Chinese colleague was reading a wiki article and asked me what type of dollar was being referred to. Surely Wiki needs a proper style guide, not one that talks about the fact that is "often" exceedingly obvious, or asks writers to make judgement calls. There should be a style guide that is unambiguous and caters for the global readership whether they're in Singapore, London or West Virginia. Mattun0211 (talk) 02:34, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
      • I guess your Chinese friend will be left in the dust if he can’t figure out what The Brooklyn Bridge cost $15.5 million to build… means. We write MOS and MOSNUM rules for two or three standard deviations on each side of the bell curve. If someone has galactic-grade cluelessness and is outside of the 99.5th percentile, they are at risk of being left behind so we can have a writing style that is clear, crisp, and doesn’t draw undo attention to itself for the vast majority of our English-speaking readership. (Yeah, I know, “En.Wikipedia is *special* and is read by yak herders in Mongolia.”) I read about someone who adopted some Hmong refugees. Found them out crapping in the garden one evening. You know, even after just a day or two, they got the concept of “toilet” and we don’t have to link it. Greg L (talk) 03:32, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
        • It's plain annoying when The Economist insists on repeating ad-infinitum A$ or S$ when it's perfectly clear which dollar is intended. Tony (talk) 03:34, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
          • The only articles in which I would mention dollars without specifying which kind of dollars I mean (at least in the first occurrence of it in the lead and possibly in each section) are those using US dollars only and dealing with no other country than the US. Oh, wait: that's what MOSNUM already suggests. A. di M. (talk) 11:43, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
          • Agreed. If the writing style draws attention to itself to the point it’s annoying, it’s the wrong writing style—even if a yak herder for whom English is a second language might find it helpful. MOS:Currency seems to have had some rational thought behind what’s there and I don’t have a problem with it either. Greg L (talk) 03:39, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
            • Hi Tony. The vast majority of people wouldn't notice it. The reason (fourth time lucky!) is to take account of the fact that most people skim read, so you can't assume they will catch the first instance. I think you misread my post Greg - I didn't say my Chinese friend was reading an article about Brooklyn Bridge! To be honest, I'm beginning to tire of wikipedia due to exchanges like this. As we're talking about the Economist, perhaps you might find these articles [6] [7] interesting.
"It is the third worry—that Wikipedia has become ossified and bureaucratic, discouraging new users from contributing—that is the greatest cause for concern. In recent years its most active contributors have become obsessed with obscure questions of doctrine and have developed their own curious jargon to describe the editing process. The number of regular contributors to Wikipedia’s English edition peaked in March 2007 and has since declined by a third; the number of new contributors per month has fallen by half. Growth in the number of articles and edits has also levelled off. ... To ensure its long-term health, it needs to rediscover the flexibility of its early years."
"some evidence suggests that neophytes are being put off by Wikipedia’s clique of elite editors. One study by researchers at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Centre looked at the number of times editorial changes were subsequently reversed. It found that roughly a quarter of the edits posted by occasional contributors were undone in late 2008, compared with less than 2% of those posted by the most active editors. And it noted that this gap had widened considerably over time." Mattun0211 (talk) 07:30, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
  • I agree with Roger's first point above. As to Mattun's last point, it would be more interesting if Xerox and Mattun reported on "like" edits ... e.g., edits with refs. My guess is that regular editors much more often use refs than do occasional editors. Similarly, stats on vandalism in the two groups would be of interest -- again, I expect that overt vandalism reverts are a much greater ocurrence w/occasional editors. Nice numbers .... but without more, they tell me little.--Epeefleche (talk) 09:31, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
I really will call it a day on this one this time; All I'd say is that if you're going to be a serious international publication then you should have international standards. The key point I keep making about skim reading keeps being ignored. I didn't quite understand the edits with refs point, to be honest - I use references all the time when editing if that's what you mean.Mattun0211 (talk) 10:23, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
My point is that I expect that occasional editors are more likely to add text bereft of refs. In general -- that was not a comment on Mattun's editing at all. If that is the case, which I think likely, it is no surprise that text additions that lack refs are reverted with greater frequency than those that have refs. Which would explain some (if not all) of the difference in reversion rates. Best.--Epeefleche (talk) 18:00, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Community input invited on a request for bot approval to automatically delink dates

A request for bot approval has been filed for a task that will, among other things, "delinks full dates (but not lone day-month strings or years), days, months, decades, centuries", "removes direct links to full dates, whether ISO8601, dd mmm yyyy or mmm dd, yyyy, including piped links of same to chronological articles in almost any imaginable form" (per WP:UNLINKDATES) and ensure articles uses a consistent date format throughout.

A member of the Bot Approvals Group has requested community input to determine if community consensus exists for an automated process of this nature.

Editors are invited to comment on the feasibility and desirability of the automated task here. –xenotalk 16:23, 15 February 2011 (UTC)


A calorie (symbol cal) refers to a gram calorie while the kilocalorie (symbol kcal) refers to the kilogram calorie (also known as small calorie and large calorie respectively). When used in a nutrition related article, use the kilocalorie as the primary unit. In US-related articles, use the synonym dietary calorie with a one-time link to kilogram calorie.

  • No, "kilocalorie" refers to 1,000 calories. Of course, 1,000 gram calories is equivalent to one kilogram calorie but semantically this is different statement.
  • Watch the use of articles (a, an & the). We're talking about words here not units.
  • Taken literally MOSNUM says we should prefer the kilocalorie over the kilojoule in nutrition-related articles (note the hyphen). Surely we should prefer the SI unit where practical. I think the intention was to prefer the (gram) kilocalorie over the (gram) calorie or the (kilogram) calorie (i.e. omitting the "gram"/"kilogram").

JIMp talk·cont 21:27, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

That's because we should indeed prefer the kilocalorie - should we consider spelling it Calorie? - we should follow the usage of reliable sources, because as here, calories are what the reader is likely to understand and have seen before in this context. Imposing our own conversion, with a factor of 4.184, is also likely to play hob with precision. Saying that a given quanitity of food has about 200 calories (as sources are likely to), is not the range of values as "about 836.8 kJ". Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:52, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
I believe that UK food labels now give kJ. I thus have to wonder if kilocalories should only be listed first in US-related articles and that UK-related articles or general articles should give kilojoules first. Jc3s5h (talk) 11:29, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
Calorie (food)#Nutrition labels. In the U.S., kilocalories, kilojoules, and even bothering to capitalize "Calorie" is a discussion found only in physics books, and non-scientific people will never encounter it. Thus our dieting article says "Low-calorie diets usually produce an energy deficit of 500–1,000 calories per day", which is what you call "kilocalories", but any dieting book or nutritional information I know of calls simply "calories". Uncapitalized. I'm not saying that's ideal; I'm saying that's the problem. Art LaPella (talk) 15:07, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
Countries where kilojoules are the default unit outnumber those where the (kilo)calorie - however it is spelled - is used by about 100 to 1. There is no way that preferring (kilo)calories over kilojoules by default makes any sense at all. Roger (talk) 19:00, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
Dodger67, what is your source for this information? Also, this is an English-language encyclopedia, so it would be interesting to try to estimate how many readers of the English Wikipedia would be more comfortable with kilojoules vs. Calories. This isn't easy to estimate because some people who live where English isn't the first language might feel the English Wikipedia is better for some subjects, or just prefer to read about some topics in English. In any case, the number of people is more relevant than the number of countries. Jc3s5h (talk) 19:19, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
If the source gives calories, it may make sense to use that as primary & convert to kilojoules, but I'm opposed to a blanket statement that (kilo)calories are to be the default preference. Default to the SI unit. Let's not assume that readers would be more likely to understand the ill-defined calorie. In Australia, for example, food is labelled in kilojoules. The conversion factor should rarely if ever be a problem since any decent conversion should be rounded apropriately. 200 4°C calories = 840.8 kJ whilst 200 20°C calories = 836.4 kJ but round them off & you get 840 kJ either way. I wouldn't bother with the "calorie"/"Calorie" thing. No everyone knows this absurd convention so we'd have to explain it anyway, so, why not just state that in this article we mean this by this? Though, if we've got a conversion, we might not really need any clarification. P.S. they use joules and electron-volts in physics. JIMp talk·cont 21:59, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
I opppose the dogmatism that says we should default to SI - whether our readers will understand us or not. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:00, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── In the UK the style used to be Calories (for kcal) and began to shift towards kcal around ten years ago, the kcal now being the most used. The reason was that the general public, and indeed manufacturers/media, were having difficulty differentiating between 100 calories and 100 Calories - often saying things such as "One slice of bread is 140 calories" as opposed to the correct version which would be "one slice of bread is 140 Calories". Chaosdruid (talk) 17:09, 28 January 2011 (UTC) NB Having just examined three food items, bread, biscuits and fish fingers I can confirm that they are all given as "XXX kJ/XXX kcal".

  • I agree 100% with PMAnderson, above. Just because kilocalories are—as Sarah Palin might say—“All scientificy” is no reason to push for the exclusive use of kilocalories in place of plain-speak. It should depend on the article.

    As a medical researcher specializing in metabolism and weight loss, I know a bit about this subject and can relate to writing white papers for a general-interest readership as well as for an expert readership; they are two different things. If one were writing an article on Metabolic energy requirement, which we don’t have although we do have Energy balance (biology), then writing “kilocalories” might be appropriate. But even still, the principal always applies that Wikipedia is directed to a general-interest readership and is not a scientific journal. So “kilocalories” in a more scientifically toned article would, IMO, be properly introduced with a parenthetical like A daily expenditure of 2200 kilocalories (2200 dietary calories). Conversely, for an article that will receive a high proportion of a non-expert readership, such as Morbid obesity, the use of “dietary calorie” should, IMO, come first with the “kilocalorie” being the parenthetical.

    This all falls under the same principal that for an article like Obesity, we write 2200 dietary calories per day and not the 2200 kcal·day–1 that some editors must think makes them seem like “They must be from the big city.” Wikipedia does best when it uses appropriate plain-speak for the most likely readership and doesn’t try to promote the adoption of way-cool ideas—even if it’s the SI. Greg L (talk) 01:08, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

    P.S. FWIW, editors need to make an extra effort to not think of Wikipedia as a single entity requiring perfect internal consistency amongst its 5,347,101 articles. There are oodles of inconsistencies where non-SI units of measure typically have symbols that do not follow the rule of the SI one twit. No one interested in nautical technology will ever run off thinking that U.S.S. Enterprise can travel 35 nanometers in an hour. “Yes, but the real world is fu**ing retarded” you might say. Fine; follow the real world—and it’s retarded too. The job of any good encyclopedia is to follow the real world and use the conventions used by modern, most-reliable sources so our readers are properly primed for their continuing studies elsewhere on the subject. When it comes to diet & exercise and metabolic energy requirements and whatnot, no one uses the gram-calorie. The phrase consume 2100 calories per day is perfectly clear to our novice and expert readers alike. Whether it is “calorie” with a capital “C” or lowercase doesn’t matter; just look to the sources cited in particular article and follow the convention used by the majority of the best ones. Greg L (talk) 02:58, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

My two cents
  1. No-one actually uses the small calorie of ~4 J or the kilolarge calorie of ~4 MJ in the context of nutrition, making calorie (Cal) and kilocalorie (kcal) effectively perfect synonyms at ~4 kJ in that context. The choice between the two should be governed by WP:RETAIN. (In my experience “calorie” prevails as the full name especially in spoken language, whereas “kcal” prevails as the symbol, much like many if not most people still call the micrometre a “micron” even if they don't use a lone “µ” as the symbol any more.)
  2. While in many countries the kilojoule is ‘officially’ the standard unit for food energy, people still ‘think’ in calories. For example, in the EU food labels give both kilojoules (because they have to) and kilocalories (because they are the unit the costumers will actually read), and I don't think I have seen any book or any magazine article about nutrition using kilojoules. But I've heard that the situation is different in Australia. So, whether kilojoules or kilocalories are used in a WP article, there should always be a conversion to the other unit. A. di M. (talk) 11:06, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
... and if there is a conversion to the other unit, it will be obvious whether it's a kilo-gramcalorie or a kilogram-calorie. JIMp talk·cont 21:43, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
In the context of nutrition, then, the "calorie" or "dietary calorie" ("Cal") is the large one and the "kilocalorie" ("kcal") is a thousand small ones. I'd say pick one and use it throughout the article be it the unit you're converting to or from. There should be conversions to/from SI. Is the unit used outside of these contexts? If so, it should still be converted to SI. Make an attempt to follow the definition of "calorie" used in the sources. JIMp talk·cont 22:05, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
After a breif search of a few hundred articles it seems that "calorie" is much more commonly used than "kilocalorie". The number of WP hits are listed below.
  • 91 for kilocalories
  • 51 for kilocalorie
  • 3,049 for calories
  • 3,049 for calorie
Almost all uses of "calorie" appear in the context of nutrition. In this context the word generally (if not always) either refers to the large calorie or is used as a synonym for "food energy". The use of capitalisation to distinguish the large calorie from the small is rarely seen.
None of this is surprising when you consider that the calorie is essentially obsolete outside of nutritional contexts and that the small calorie is not of an appropriate size in these contexts.
Thus on thousands of pages (it seems) "calorie" does not refer to a gram-calorie as specified here. The word is ambiguous but we're not helping by insisting on conventions which will never be followed out there in the encyclopædia. And it's not likely that they ever will be followed out there in the encyclopædia whilst they aren't followed out out there in the World.
In the end, though, the solution is simple. Provide a conversion to SI and it will be clear enough which calorie is meant. JIMp talk·cont 22:35, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
I propose the following wording.

The use of the calorie is dependant on context. When used in scientific contexts such as chemistry the calorie refers to the gram calorie (~4.2 J, symbol cal, also known as the small calorie). However, in nutritional contexts the calorie refers to the kilogram calorie (1000 cal, ~4.2 kJ, symbol Cal, also known as the large calorie, food calorie or dietary calorie).
Metric prefixes may be applied to the gram-calorie to form units such as the kilocalorie (symbol kcal). Do not apply metric prefixes to the kilogram-calorie. In all contexts the kilocalorie refers to one thousand gram-calories (1000 cal, ~4.2 kJ).
∘Don't use the large calorie and the kilocalorie in the same article except when comparing the units themselves.
∘Conversions to SI units (joules, kilojoules, etc.) should be provided.

Note that I've removed the links to "gram calorie", "large calorie", "kilocalorie", etc. & removed any suggestion that they be made in articles. They're all redirects to the main article, which doesn't even have a section devoted to the distinction. Also conversions to SI are enough to distinguish the big from the small. I've also added that the large calorie and the kilocalorie shouldn't be used in the same article, that would just be confusing. JIMp talk·cont 01:57, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

The calorie, depending on context, may refer to the gram calorie or the kilogram calorie.
  ∘ The gram calorie (symbol cal, also known as the small calorie) is approximately 4.2 J. Metric prefixes may be applied to the gram calorie to form units such as the kilocalorie.
  ∘ The kilogram calorie (symbol Cal, also known as the large calorie, food calorie or dietary calorie) is equal to one thousand gram calories (1000 cal, ~4.2 kJ). Do not apply metric prefixes to the kilogram calorie.
  ∘ The kilocalorie (symbol kcal) always refers to one thousand gram calories (1000 cal, ~4.2 kJ).
  ∘ In scientific or technological contexts (such as chemistry or nuclear energy) the calorie (cal) refers to the gram calorie.
  ∘ In nutritional contexts the calorie (Cal) refers to the kilogram calorie. The equilavent kilocalorie (kcal) may be used instead but not both in the same article.
  ∘ Conversions to SI units (joules, kilojoules, etc.) should be provided.

New version. JIMp talk·cont 13:42, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

Euro plural

Why does the MOS recommend using the incorrect plurals "euros" and "cents" over the ECB's offically-defined plurals "euro" and "cent"? Stifle (talk) 15:57, 3 February 2011 (UTC) A. di M. (talk) 16:17, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
And google's language tags are not reliable. Some of those 50 euro results are probably in other languages. If the EU insists on 50 cent (as a quantity, not an adjective) it is fighting idiom. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:23, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
Just like the BIPM insisting that a space separates the percent symbol and the numeric value (like 75 %): they’re being idealistic purists and are fighting an uphill battle against the entire inhabitants of this pale blue dot. Wikipedia follows the way the real world works. Greg L (talk) 04:19, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
The inhabitants of this pale blue dot speak a variety of languages and plurals differ, including amongst the various European nations using the Euro. However, this is the English-language Wikipedia, and it sounds odd to say "Euro are used by several nations as a common currency". --Pete (talk) 21:16, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps because one should say "The euro is used by several nations as a common currency". −Woodstone (talk) 09:31, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

Massive automated delinking by User:Hmains

Note concerning the wording of the title: is there a risk that "Massive" is POV? Tony (talk) 05:47, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

The word accurately describes the actions of Hmains. Dolovis (talk) 05:05, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

I need a second opinion. User:Hmains is using the automated AWB tool to remove wikilinks to all “Century” articles (20th century, 19th century, 5th century BC, etc.[8],[9],[10] as recent examples of the delinking). I first became aware of his delinking here, which I reverted here with the edit comment “This is not an uncontroversial edit - possible misuse of AWB” which was ignored as Hmains's next edit was to restore his de-linking here. I am aware that there has been some debate about the linking of dates, but a “century” is not a date, and wikilinks to such “century” articles are useful navigational tools for our readers. He's edited/delinked thousands of articles, and he refused to stop when I warned him and tried to discuss it. [11], and Hmains' similar editing behaviour has also been previously discussed here, here, and here, but his use of AWB has not abated. I would appreciate your comments on whether or not Hmains use of AWB is contrary to its “Rules of Use” [12], and if so, can anything be done to stop his disruptive editing. Thank you for your attention. Dolovis (talk) 22:58, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

Thank heavens Hmain is doing the project a service like this. The community came out so heavily against the vague, low-value linking of chronological units in a huge RfC in 2009 that I wonder why anyone is launching a counter-offensive. The style guides reflect this, and also say to make links specific. Tony (talk) 01:12, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
Er, that was for year and date links. Century links are far different judging by the quality of the articles. This is not saying that every century term should be linked, but the 2009 RFC can't be directly applied here. --MASEM (t) 01:17, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
Concur with Tony. I see no 'useful navigational tool' in linking to a century article that is normally nothing more than a random list of unconnected events over a 100 year period. It would never even cross my mind to wikilink a century and I would always delete any such deprocated links that I tripped over. 21st CENTURY GREENSTUFF 01:20, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
  • To be of best service to the reader, links should be specific, leading to topics which will aid the reader to a deeper understanding of the subject of the article. Generic links to centuries fails, IMHO, to impart such understanding. When the subject is Ashland, Alabama, which goes through the centuries just like any other locality, it is questionable indeed to divert the reader to 19th century or 21st century. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 02:44, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

P.S. (Oh… by the way…) Links are supposed to be germane and topical to the subject matter so they are something that has a half-way decent chance of being clicked upon by a reader studying “Ashland, Alabama.” The idea is not to link every fathomable word just because Wikipedia has an article on the subject and it can be linked to. In your differences, above, the subject matter of one of them was Ashland, Alabama, and one of the affected sentences was this:

Clay County was formed by an act of the Alabama General Assembly on December 7, 1866. Less than a year later, Ashland was established as the county seat on land donated by Hollingsworth Watts for the construction of a courthouse. Ashland was incorporated in 1871 and was named for 19th century statesman Henry Clay's Kentucky estate home.

How many of those links are really half-way well associated with Ashland? It’s interesting that our article, “19th century”, doesn’t mention “Clay County”—or even all of “Alabama” for that matter. The same goes for December 7 and for 1866. It’s safe to assume that someone reading up on “Ashland, Alabama” doesn’t need to be forked to an article that mentions the attack on Pearl Harbor. Normally, if one were to actually go read “1866”, one would *expect* to find that it has a bullet point mentioning how Clay County was formed that year—which would be pretty self-referential since the reader just read that much when the clicked the link. In this particular instance, the “1866” article doesn’t even mention that.

The linking principal to abide by is if it is a link that can help the reader better understand that particular subject and better prepare them for their future studies on the subject, then we provide a link. The reaction of the reader should be “Cool, it’s nice to know there is related reading on this subject!” Beyond that, we let the reader type things into the search field that are unrelated to Ashland, such as up and down, so as to not clutter up the article and turn it into a sea of mind-dumbing blue that obscures the truly valuable links that could assist with a better understanding of the study material at hand.

If the desire is to just ensure that readers are knowledgeable that “19th century” exists for further reading on the whole tangential subject of “old”, adding it to the See also section is a better way to accomplish that. Greg L (talk) 03:35, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

If they had deleted "Athletes of the 20th century" (which would be relevant), or they were putting "World conflict I" then you might have had a case - If you read the MilHist MoS you can clearly see that all references to that war are written "World War I"
Secondly I would have thought that starting discussions here first would have been the correct way to go.
Thirdly have you considered removing the links to [[1871]], [[1899]], and [[1930s]] yourself? That would negate the need for anyone else doing it for you and so stop any chance of a problem arising in the first place.
(I have also mentioned this on the MilHist talk for clarification that the ENGVAR violation is still a current issue) Chaosdruid (talk) 06:44, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

I am not trying to suggest that every incident of 13th century and 5th century BC should be linked, but the massive automated delinking of all Century links by User:Hmains will result in these articles being orphans. My concern is not the delinking over-linked articles. My concern is that such delinking should be done in a careful way to avoid mistakes, and it appears to me that [Hmains is not being selective or careful when using AWB to perform such delinkings on the massive scale as he is continuing to do. His misuse of AWB results in some controversial edits, which is an abuse of AWB. I am asking him to slow down, and to stop using the automated tools for such delinking edits. Dolovis (talk) 14:44, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

People scratched their heads for examples of these chronological items that were relevant and useful enough to bother linking. The numbers are tiny, and those that should remain should be piped to something specific, and better still, link to something more specific than a century. That will avoid the bot. Let's remember than chronological articles all link massively to each other, so will never be orphans. And then there's the main-page exposure they get. I'm not feeling sorry for them such that the emotive word "orphan" would suggest. Tony (talk) 15:00, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
I disagree with this statement, at least in as all-encompassing as it is for years or the like. Centuries are de facto "eras" of recorded human knowledge, on part with terms like "Dark ages" and "Industrial era". Certainly some links to these are effectively the same as if linking years ("SomePerson lived during the 4th and 5th Century", are bad links), but I would think when we start talking about events and the like that are attributed to specific centuries, links back to those centuries can be useful. Of course, this is based on the presumption that the century articles are written out like 20th century and less like 19th century.
But the point is this: while I can agree we should never link years or more specific dates, and that the majority of century links aren't likely necessary, there's more cases where century or even decade links in non-calender articles can be more useful and germane, and automatic delinking of these is not warranted. --MASEM (t) 15:20, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Let’s keep focused, can we? The broad principal for linking is to link only those articles that have a fairly reasonable prayer of being of value in understanding the subject matter at hand in its broad—but reasonably focused—context. A few years ago, we had some editors who, (apparently after shouting “Down, down clear writing” somewhere in Egypt), came here under the banner of “Build the Web®™©”. That slogan clearly was interpreted as a mandate to cross-link every conceivable word and phrase merely because articles existed to which one could generate a link. The result was articles that were seas of blue turd. Editors just need to use some common sense.

    If the subject matter is Ancient Egypt, I’m sure there are contexts where linking to a century makes sense since the readers coming to that article are clearly interested in ancient civilization. Moreover, it’s fair to say that 3rd century BC actually mentions Egypt (three times, I see). As I stated above, if the article is Ashland, Alabama, linking to 19th century leads the reader to something that doesn’t mention all of Alabama once, let alone Ashland. We’re not here to “build the Web” by adding links merely because technology gives us the power to do so.

    I note this useless link in Ashland, Alabama: There were 854 households out of which 27.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.0% were married couples living together. Really? “Married couples”?? That resolves to our “Marriage” article. Now, that’s just stupid. Besides the fact that it is a link to totally generic information wholly unrelated to the topic of “Ashland, Alabama,” such a term is beyond-obvious to the type of readership coming to this article; we write for the middle of the bell curve of the intended or likely readership; if we wrote for 1st graders, we’d have a icon of of Barney the dinosaur at the top of all our articles with a little dialog balloon coming out of his mouth saying “Say kids, do you know where babies come from?” I’m deleting that link right now… Greg L (talk) 22:26, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

    • "Common knowledge" terms, most agree, shouldn't be linked every occurrence. But that said, they should be linked in immediately relevant topics; the term marriage probably should be linked in articles dealing with faith and marriage, divorce, homosexual couples, and so forth. We cannot flat-out say that these terms should never be linked. Same with the centuries. I agree they are common knowledge terms, but at the same time, they are historical eras. Articles that deal with events that are linked to these centuries or eras should not omit the links to these just because they are common. There's also need of encouragement to link to articles that are structured like a hypothetical "Wars of the 14th century" instead of the actual century article if one can be that more specific. And that comes back to the problem: it is not the value of the links here, but the use of automated tools to delink them should not be used since the value of the link and possible replacement requires human evaluation. If the article starts being processed through quality control towards FA, then the relevance and appropriateness of each link can be pointed out as being excessive or not, but all those steps are human controlled.
    • Or, more to wit: overlinking in non-GA/FA articles harms nothing - it is a problem, but so is proper reference formatting, consistency of sections, copyediting, image use, and so on. They are problems dealt with by human editors in time. The use of bots to seemingly address the apparent immediacy of the issue is overexaggerating the problem. I can see it being done with years only because there's less human input, but centuries or other types of links are less obvious. If it must be done with bots or automated tools (I don't believe is the case), there then must be a way to block a bot/tool at the per-page or per-link level from making the change based on the editors' consensus on the page in question, otherwise, we are going to be right back at Arbcom like with the date-delinking issue from 2 years ago. --MASEM (t) 03:31, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
      • Yeah, I pretty much agree with your premiss of your first bullet point. Of course “Marriage” needs to be linked if it is in a relevant article. The above example wasn’t relevant (not even close) so I de‑linked it. As to your second bullet point (bots), I’ll stay out of that public square while the anti-bot dudes come riding through the on horses and camels whipping the poor slobs down below. Greg L (talk) 03:35, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
        • WP:AWB is "semi-automated"; it is not an automated WP:bot. That is, AWB allows HMains, or any user, to manually review each edit before accepting it. If HMains were to use AWB to unlink "marriage" in the Ashland article, and didn't unlink it in a faith and marriage article, then he would be using AWB appropriately. Potential unlinkings that haven't been done are an argument against automated bots, but not against AWB which is semi-automated. HMains' edit to "Ancient maritime history" is much more questionable than the hypothetical edits he didn't perform. Art LaPella (talk) 03:57, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
          • 'Marriage' is certainly overlinked. I come across it time and again in articles about places, in sections about demographics, where it is almost systematically linked to married couples. This is just an abuse of the wikilinking as 'marriage' would never conceivably have any role in deepening the understanding of any single article about a location, unless perhaps it was the place with the lowest or highest marriage rate in the world, or some such fact which the marriage article would go in depth to discuss. I'm not hooked on AWB, and would be much less inclined to use it if not for the endemic overlinking which pervades this encyclopaedia. Ohconfucius ¡digame! 00:55, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
          • (Oh…) Well, then this is just a minor edit dispute that doesn’t even belong here. It belongs only on the talk pages of User:Dolovis and User:HMains. I’m done here on this one, I find it to be a bunch of “Waaah”. User: Dolovis certain has received his or her “second opinion.” Greg L (talk) 04:02, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
            • Yes, AWB is semi-automated. But I've used it, and when working on my own articles, I know how easy it is to think "Oh, I trust all changes AWB makes, I'll let it do it", and bam, something bad happened (which I was then able to correct). And agree that the specific issue here is between the AWB-using editor, and the one that wants the links in the article. But the general issue comparing the century links to year links, is where my concern is. I fully agree with how dates were delinked then for years - and thus reasonable that AWB can be included to trim them - but people are jumping to the conclusion that century links were covered by the same decision, which is not true. And why editors using AWB or other semi-automated tools to link-strip need to be aware what they are actually doing. The fact that the AWB user here repeated the actions after being reverted suggests that possibly they weren't checking each edit manually. That's the start of the same issues that created the first problem. --MASEM (t) 04:14, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
              • If "the use of automated tools to delink them should not be used since the value of the link and possible replacement requires human evaluation", then AWB should not be used for almost any purpose, because nearly all AWB edits require human evaluation (that's why they aren't fully automated). But evidently you didn't mean that. Good, I can go back to my AWB. Art LaPella (talk) 00:33, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
  • I don't think anything is solved. The complaining editor still thinks he is correct in asserting that xx century in articles should be linked and that I am 'abusing AWB' by having AWB assist in my removal of such purposeless, unjustifiable links. I expect he will just continue to complain and obstruct. Hmains (talk) 03:30, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
I'm sure Hmains operates AWB with care and skill. If only I could use it. When is the Windows-only mafia going to fix AWB so it can be used on a real computer? Tony (talk) 05:43, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Speaking of which, does anyone know whether, if I procure a copy of OEM WIndows 95, would it run on a Mac, or does it have to be a proper bought-off-the-shelf version? --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 05:54, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
If the editor is reverting your changes, then maybe its best not to try to fix them. Again, there's a lot more time and energy to be spent on other matters when the evaluation of linking only really matters when the article is at FA/GA. --MASEM (t) 05:48, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
That's good advice (unless it's a high-traffic article and the reversion patently silly). There are plenty more fields to plough. I do encourage bot-operators to engage with reverters, though; it's important at least to communicate with those who have issues. Tony (talk) 05:51, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
The Rf's were not just for single dates - they also included centuries as far as I remember. The summary is here Chaosdruid (talk) 05:52, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Checking the result of that (just to verify), its clear that centuries and other date-type things have a lot more link allowances than plain year/date links, which even more so points to the fact that unless you're sure it's a wasted link, fighting over their delinking is a waste of time. Ultimately, FA/GA is where every link and lack of link should be validated, and nowhere else is the time and effort to fight that really valuable. Only in specific cases that we've been IDing over the last few months (common geography terms, bare dates and years, etc.) does it make sense to ensure that they are properly removed if not part of the accepted uses. --MASEM (t) 06:00, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
I briefly watch articles after I use AWB. I choose many of those articles because they are heavily read, not because they are FA/GA, and I have often communicated with reverters. My user space even has pre-written pages for that purpose. Of course communication doesn't have to be aggressive enough to make me the object of an investigation like this one. In particular, re-reverting doesn't communicate much that can't be said in words. Art LaPella (talk) 06:17, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
(ec) And conversely why not do it when AWB opens the page and makes other changes, it is just a tiny fraction of a second longer to load, two extra seconds to check it and it's done. Are you seriously suggesting leaving rubbish lying around until an article goes to GA/FA? I understand "if its not broken..." but if you are there and you have your tools out and it is not going to take more than a few seconds extra, why not ? Chaosdruid (talk) 06:19, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Is there even a mote of this discussion thread that pertains to changing the guidelines of MOSNUM? Greg L (talk) 04:08, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

This discussion was brought here because Hmains has been using AWB in violation of its Rules of Use. I am seeking a consensus that will ask him to slow down, and to stop using the automated tools for making so many quick and hurried delinking edits. Dolovis (talk) 05:16, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Could you explicitly refer to this "rule" and explain how it is being breached? Tony (talk) 11:47, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
I too would be interested in this explaination, as the removal of these links has been requested by the community through a very large Rfc and as such is not a controversial use of AWB. -DJSasso (talk) 14:12, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
See Rules of Use for AWB:
Rule#2: Don't edit too quickly - Hmains is making thousands of edits with AWB, often making hundreds of edits in an hours with 10 or more edits a minute. (See Hmains' edits history)
Rule #3: Don't do anything controversial with it - In addition to my ignored warning of controversial use here, Hmains has also been warned here, and has been the subject of other discussions concerning his misuse of AWB.
Rule #4: Avoid making insignificant or inconsequential edits - Most of Hmains edits are of a trivial nature. Dolovis (talk) 16:57, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
After studying this, this, and this, I conclude that the consensus interprets Rule 4 as applying to edits that don't change the appearance of a page, not to removing a visible link. Art LaPella (talk) 02:55, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
So even if he has not broken Rule 4, Hmains has still broken Rules 2 and 3. Dolovis (talk) 06:16, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Dolovis, I can't help sensing that you're extremely angry. You're certainly assuming bad faith in Hmains (whom I've had almost nothing to do with, so I can't be accused of bias on that count). Just because you don't agree with the community's decision in 2009 not to link chronological units doesn't mean you should be conducting a vendetta against this editor. I think these "rules" you cite are open to interpretation. IMO, Hmains hasn't broken any rules at all. Tony (talk) 10:35, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

I haven't read the whole thread but that's my opinion:

  • Edits don't violate rule number 4. They are not trivial.
  • Since there was a big discussion in unlinking dates (which I agree) there should be some warning by Hmains to some page before going and massively unlinking. The reason is that maybe there were some nice ideas of which pages to avoid etc. Something like the thing we do now in the wrong place.
  • Since there are many edits a bot approval should be asked even if the edits were manual and supervised. BAG tries to supervise this kind of edits even if they aren't strictly done by bots (automated processes, etc.) -- Magioladitis (talk) 10:50, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
The pages to avoid are those that are explicitly on chronological topics: year articles, century articles, etc. I trust that Hmains has white-listed these. Um ... I'm pretty sure it's not the number of edits, but their speed, that influences how interested BAG is. Even then, I've come to learn that there's no hard-and-fast guideline about this. Now, why are we still discussing the linking of centuries in normal articles? The community has said "no". Several times, actually. Century articles are widely linked into a strong network of chronological articles (although I can't say they're all strong articles, sadly). In addition, one features on the main page of WP every day. Can't ask for more than that. Tony (talk) 13:11, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
No, there is no assurance that the community has said no to this; this is your assumption, the same type assumption that started the previous problems. The RFC/Arbcom case was about years and day/month links, nothing else, and strictly because of the ties to autoformatting. You cannot assume it applies to centuries or other day periods. It may be that the community is of your opinion on this, but you have no measuring stick to know that (and no, just because the regulars here agree does not mean it extends to everyone else). I personally see more value in the century link at certain times than bare year and day links, and recognize that most instances of century terms likely shouldn't be linked, but nowhere close to the scrubbing and removal that has been done for year and day. --MASEM (t) 14:06, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
I won't hold a mirror up to your rhetorical bolding technique. That decades, centuries and millennia should not generally be linked has been common practice, and as far as I see was the assumption in the community's judgements on the matter of linking chronological terms. Your attempts to wikilawyer are not working: even you go along with it independently, above: "while I can agree we should never link years or more specific dates, and that the majority of century links aren't likely necessary", although you provide your own opinion that there are cases "where century or even decade links in non-calender articles can be more useful and germane, and automatic delinking of these is not warranted". And just why would we want to privilege vague link-targets over specific years, months, days, and dates? The style guides are insistent that links should be focused. Tony (talk) 14:26, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
You're missing the point I'm saying. You are saying consensus exists when there is no evidence of such. You may be right, but you or others cannot enforce that without showing that exists. Without that evidence there's no consensus to edit-war (particularly with semi-auto tools like AWB) to remove those links. I may personally agree with their removal more of the time but not at the same frequency as years or day links, but I strongly disagree with the vigilante approach that regulars here seem to be suggesting to use for their removal. --MASEM (t) 15:06, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
There's plenty of consensus for the text of WP:CONTEXT which suggests we not link to irrelevant articles. Are there any of these delinkings that would not stand up to the spirit of that guideline? JIMp talk·cont 01:16, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

Full date format section dodges issue

The WP:MOSNUM#Full date formatting section avoids an issue with month-day-year dates that other style manuals address. We find on the Chicago Manual of Style (14th ed., p. 176) the example "On October 6, 1924, Longo arrived in Bologna" together with the instruction "In the alternative style [month-day-year], however, commas must be used before and after the year". Similar requirements for commas before and after may be found in the Associated Press Style Book (2007) under the "Months" entry, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed., p. 89), and the U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual section 8.49. Since all of the style manuals I have consulted agree there should be a comma following the year (unless some other punctuation makes it unnecessary) I believe we should change our examples so that the date occurs in the middle of the sentence, and the comma after the year be shown. Jc3s5h (talk) 03:06, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

When I add a comma after an mdy year, I cite the 7th bullet point of WP:COPYEDIT#Common edits. It was almost deleted here. A shortcut would be nice because I cite it so often. Art LaPella (talk) 03:46, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
I had missed that. It says the comma after the year "is often written". What I'm finding in the style manuals is that the absence of the comma should be regarded as an error. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:15, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Then you disagree with this edit. I let others debate what stylebooks say, but I wish our rules were consistent and easier to find. Art LaPella (talk) 18:01, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Not only do I disagree with that edit, but in light of other edits by Tony1, I infer that the edit was made so that bots could convert date formats without necessarily violate the MOS. I abhor the concept of changing English usage so that bots can process the language more easily. Jc3s5h (talk) 18:47, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Actually, Tony1 doesn't use bots and I do. As you might expect, my philosophy on bots is a little different – it doesn't matter how perfect one's grammar is, if millions of articles go unaffected by that knowledge. My AWB does add the comma after a country or an mdy year. Tony1's edit made me wonder if that is correct often enough to be appropriate for AWB (though I did it anyway), so if anything it tended to make bots less likely, not more likely. Art LaPella (talk) 03:30, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
I would think adding a comma after an mdy year would be relatively safe; I wouldn't be surprised if adequate safeguards could be programmed. But converting from mdy to dmy is beyond the ability of a bot, because the bot can't tell if the comma is there just because of the date, and it can be dropped, or there is some other reason for it, and it must be retained. A person who was much more fond of bots than style guides (which I hope reflect usage in high quality sources) might decide to never put a comma after a year in an mdy date unless it was required for some other grammatical reason; such a style would make mdy to dmy conversion no more difficult than the reverse. Jc3s5h (talk) 04:23, 22 February 2011 (UTC)

In the example "On October 6, 1924, Longo arrived in Bologna", the comma is placed after "1924", because "On October 6, 1924" in an introductory phrase. The same example is given in WP:COPYEDIT -- "On January 15, 1947, she began tertiary study." Neither are actually directly applicable to the year surrounding commas, better example of which is: "This was reflected in the June 13, 2007, report." (from USGPOSM) I have a feeling that the former examples give the wrong impression of what is meant by comma after year. Personally, though not having paid attention to this, I do not recall seeing this used too often. Anyway, no speculation, here's a rough list of 500 FA articles using mdy dates outside references (it's not tidy). —  HELLKNOWZ  ▎TALK 10:51, 22 February 2011 (UTC)

I think the example H3llknOwz found is a better example, but when you read the Chicago Manual of Style it is clear the authors placed the trailing comma just because it is the mdy format. If they thought the comma was called for because it's an introductory phrase, they would have put one after the year in "On 6 October 1924 Longo arrived in Bologna" too, but they didn't. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:17, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
Ah, that explains why people have added this extra comma. I find that it looks wrong to me, since, if, one, uses, many, commas, in, a sentence, I find, that it tends to, break up, its flow. Reminds me of Eats, Shoots & Leaves. Perhaps it makes perfect sense when used in newspaper writing, since dates are usually given without years; by definition "news" is about events in the recent past or near future. But encyclopedic writing could be given a different style since many events are in the more distant past so years are more often used. At least I would vote for keeping the second comma optional. W Nowicki (talk) 00:32, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
Indeed that is one reason some people prefer dmy, since it avoids between one and two commas. The parenthetical commas around the year break the flow where no phrasal comma would be used, and, where a phrasal comma would be used, disguise the phrasal break. Rich Farmbrough, 16:19, 23 February 2011 (UTC).

Linking baseball seasons

People with interest in this subject may wish to be aware of the related discussion here.--Epeefleche (talk) 01:23, 22 February 2011 (UTC)

superscripts on ordinals with a variable in them

I'm not too thrilled in general with the guideline not to superscript "th", "rd", "st", but surely it's completely wrong in cases like nth, which is just about unreadable without the superscript. The workaround n-th strikes me as nonstandard. I think we should at least put in an exception to the guide for this case. --Trovatore (talk) 00:33, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

  • In cases like nth, ignore MOSNUM then. MOSNUM can’t be all-seeing / all-knowing and have answers for everything. Wikipedia:Ignore all rules (If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it) was written for a reason. Greg L (talk) 01:11, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
What about "If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, change it."? JIMp talk·cont 01:23, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
I certainly agree that the MoS should not try to cover everything. However, this was brought to my attention by an edit at Kolmogorov complexity where someone changed nth to n-th based on WP:ORDINAL. Constructions like nth are common enough that I would expect the issue to recur unless clarified.
In fact I'm not certain I have an ideal solution. nth looks less good to me on the screen than I had expected. But I definitely don't like nth. The problem (or at least a problem) with n-th is that the hyphen looks like a minus sign. I think nth is least bad, but maybe not by as much as I had first thought. --Trovatore (talk) 01:24, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
  • (responding to Jimp:) If it’s not too much of a holy-war subject like date formats or rewriting the Koran, changing MOSNUM can be a solution too. Often, too much time is wasted here on WT:MOSNUM doing the Wikipedia-equivalent of Turkish-prison butt-stabbings.

    On more than one occasion, I’ve had editors do a drive-by on an article I was shepherding and doing all the heavy lifting on (translation: I acted like *owned* it). After I reverted them, they claimed “But… MOS or MOSNUM said this ‘n’ that.” If the rule amounted to trying to cram a square peg into a round hole, my response was “Yeah, and the rule is retarded, here’s why, so I’m ignoring it.” It helps if you actually have a clue of what you’re talking about if you take a stand like that, but it can at least be therapeutic in that crazy world that is the collaborative writing environment of Wikipedia.

    But it’s nice, Jimp, that you are willing to devote the time necessary to actually get anything accomplished here. Greg L (talk) 01:31, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

nth dimension, etc: that's a good example of where "common sense" should be used WRT the style guides. But all the same, the exception might be best written in.
It's an interesting issue, though. What do you do with, say, ? As written there it looks like "en plus one to the power st". But looks like "en plus one minus st", and looks like "en plus one times st". To say nothing of the barbarians who prefer . Honestly it would be nice to get a good answer to these; I don't have one myself. --Trovatore (talk) 09:30, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
If you put the hyphen outside the math tags, it doesn't get converted to a minus sign: -st.
It still looks like a minus sign. --Trovatore (talk) 19:55, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
"n-plus-one-th" (seriously th) ? Rich Farmbrough, 16:59, 23 February 2011 (UTC). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:49, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

Crew list: quantities?

A WP:ORDINAL question. In the following list in a sentence: "The Fitzgerald's crew of 29 on its final voyage consisted of the captain, the first, second and third mates, 5 engineers, 3 oilers, a cook, a wiper, 2 maintenance men, 3 watchmen, 3 deckhands, 3 wheelsmen, 2 porters, a cadet and a steward. " should numbers be written out as words or can they stay as figures? --Rontombontom (talk) 23:22, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

Point of order on dates

Recently, User:Dl2000 changed [13] the section on date consistency withing articles and references.

  • Dates in article body text should all have the same format.
  • Dates in article references should all have the same format.

These requirements apply to dates in general prose and reference citations, but not to dates in quotations or titles.


Dates in the article's body text and references should all have the same format. These requirements do not apply to dates in in quotations or in titles of works.

At priori, this seems like a minimal change, but as far as I know the bullets were intentionally separate, as articles text could read "25 September 2007" while references use "25 Sep 2007". The intention of the bullets were to prevent prose mixing (Julia ate a poisoned apple on 25 June 2005. She died three days later on June 28.) and reference mixing (Jones, J. (20 September 2008)... Smith, J. (March 20, 2005)., but to allow for differences between citation and prose.

I reverted the edit and gave more detailed (and hopefully clear) explanations, along with examples, for the current version. I also added the thing about accessdates, which had somehow been omitted. If things changed since the last date-delinking drama, (or that I'm simply wrong about some things), we should have an RFC on it. Otherwise, I doubt anyone will have much success in making anything stick, and it'll be a drama-fest all over again.

Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 20:30, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

The thing about dates in references is that they are not part of written text, and we can therefore use the ISO format of YYYY-MM-DD, which has no national ties and is widely used in Asia. I think it best if all dates (apart from quotations) in an article have the same format, but sometimes there are non-text items, such as tables and infoboxes where ISO is the standard. It's all a bit of a muddle, really, and I think no good can come out of trying to make everything the same. --Pete (talk) 21:08, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
I strenuously object to calling the format YYYY-MM-DD the ISO format. The ISO 8601 format is not suitable for Wikipedia articles because it requires all dates to be expressed in the Gregorian calendar. Wikipedia sometimes uses sources that were written before the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in the country of publication. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:16, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
I'd rather see YYYY-MM-DD avoided and dates throughout the article to be consistant but with allowances for abbreviations (e.g. 12 Sep 2003). JIMp talk·cont 21:30, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
Jc3s5h, I explained my edits and their reason. Some people agreed that the YYYY-MM-DD format was fine in references/accessdates, others disagreed, but they were neither banned nor deprecated. Removing this from the section will have bots and people edit war on the format of accessdates. If this changed since the date-delinking drama, or you claim that YYYY-MM-DD is in fact banned and/or depreated, hold the RFC, or link to one establishing exactly that, rather than revert war and create drama. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 21:55, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
The status quo, as I understand it before the failed proposal Wikipedia:Mosnum/proposal on YYYY-MM-DD numerical dates, was that YYYY-MM-DD format dates were allowed when space was limited, and that date formats should be consistent. It could be, and often was, argued, that space should be conserved in citations and thus the YYYY-MM-DD format was legitimate there, provided all the dates in the references section were in the Gregorian calendar. However, no consensus has ever been achieved about whether it is legitimate to use a date such as February 15, 2011 for the publication date of a newspaper, while using the YYYY-MM-DD format for the accessdate parameter. Jc3s5h (talk) 22:05, 15 February 2011 (UTC) struck out Jc3s5h (talk) 22:16, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
Or phrased differently, there was no consensus that it is illegitimate to use February 15, 2011 for the publication date, and YYYY-MM-DD format for the accessdate. What is not forbidden is allowed. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 22:09, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
On review of versions of the MOSNUM before the Wikipedia:Mosnum/proposal on YYYY-MM-DD numerical dates I see that the examples do indeed show a mixture of non-all-numeric publication dates with YYYY-MM-DD access dates, so I withdraw my objection to Headbomb's change. Jc3s5h (talk) 22:16, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
  • As I've said before, those gobbledy telephone-number dates are bad bad bad for our readership, wherever they appear. I'd be banning them altogether. Tony (talk) 23:35, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
  • This isn’t intended as a personal attack and it flat isn’t. But the protestation of User:Jc3s5h (I strenuously object to calling the format YYYY-MM-DD the ISO format) belies the simple fact that it is. Jc3s5h’s activity on the “ISO 8601” article betrays his or her interest in the format.

    Wikipedia does best when the writing style chosen for a given article does not draw undo attention to itself. No matter how well intentioned the ISO’s proposal is to ensure that another “Y2K bug” never happens, “2011-02-17T00:32Z” is a writing style that does draw attention to itself and causes *!* brain-interrupts that interfere with the transparent communication of thought.

    There is no one-size-fits-all solution because articles closely associated with European issues will read most naturally in one format whereas still other articles have different needs. Maritime-related articles directed to an expert maritime readership might be best written in Zulu time; I don’t know and I don’t care. Astronomy and other specialty subjects should be left to the specialists of those articles and the denizens of WP:MOSNUM shouldn’t have to become 15-minute experts in everything. We should simply have some broad-brushed, global principals that ensures each article uses the most natural, human-readable dates that best serve the likely readership.

    I agree with Tony: Setting aside special circumstances such as tables, where space is at a premium, articles should generally express dates with the month written out in English; lose the telephone numbers.

    I’m also concerned about this text: Dates in article body text should all have the same format. That is overly prescriptive. Once it has been written that something occurred at a Boston Red Sox game on “February 13, 2011” or that so-n-so was beheaded in France on “2 February, 1799”, there is no need to keep repeating the year (I’m addressing the prescription for the “*all* have the same format” here) if the text in the next sentence says “and they beheaded his wife on “7 March”; the year is clear enough without belaboring the text with more numerals (although the ISO would be displeased because such an expression would cause problems with data exchange if you tried to buy a plane ticket with such sketchy information).

    We’re here to write fluid, most-natural-reading, clear prose; not promote some Star Trek-style star‑date format or some standard organization’s all-numeric expression of temporal measures (for corpuscular beings caught in linear time in this universe). Greg L (talk) 01:04, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

How about all dates in day-before-month format or month-before-day format including variations on each (no day, no year, abbreviated month names, etc.)? No telephone-number dates. JIMp talk·cont 01:31, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
Good, Jimp: I’m pleased to see that we might have a developing consensus to bury, once and for all, dates that look like ham radio frequencies. Can you provide some examples of what date expressions would be prescribed and those that would be proscribed? Greg L (talk) 01:34, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
I'd group formats like this:
  • Group A: day only or no day at all:
    • the 7th or 7 (day only)
    • September, Sep or Sept. (month only)
    • 2011 (year only)
    • September 2011, Sep 2011 or Sept. 2011 (month and year)
  • Group B: day before month
    • 7 September 2011, 7 Sep 2011 or 7 Sept. 2011 (day, month and year)
    • 7 September, 7 Sep or 7 Sept. (day and month)
  • Group C: month before day
    • September 7, 2011, Sep 7, 2011 or Sept. 7, 2011 (month, day and year)
    • September 7, Sep 7 or Sept. 7 (month and day)
plus various adaptations of these for ranges. Don't combine formats from Groups B and C on the one article. If you use the "Sep" style abbreviation, stick to it. Same for the "Sept." style (what was that called again?). JIMp talk·cont 07:04, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Out of you out of your mind, Jimp??? I can actually read them all! (Ouch; ice cream brain freeze!). Greg L (talk) 18:35, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Sorry, does this mandate "7th September" and such? Please no. Tony (talk) 07:47, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

I still don't see any reason to ban or deprecated the YYYY-MM-DD format in footnotes, tables, infoboxes, accessdates, etc.. As much as some very vocal people hate them with a passion, consensus did not favour deprecating them last time anyone bothered asking the community for their feelings on the issue, and I don't see what has changed since then. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 08:01, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

Fully agree seeing no reason to ban or deprecate the YYYY-MM-DD date format. No consensus about such a measure was ever reached, and I do not see it approaching here. −Woodstone (talk) 09:25, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
No, "7th September" would be out. "The 7th" would be used with no month e.g. "They made camp on 5 September but were attacked by lions on the 7th." JIMp talk·cont 13:56, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
Previous RfC showed an overwhelming consensus against depreciating YYY-MM-DD for certain uses. As Headbomb says, nothing has changed since then. wjematherbigissue 17:54, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
  • As I wrote above in my 2011-02-17T01:34Z post: Setting aside special circumstances such as tables, where space is at a premium… I’m sure there are are plenty of circumstances where ISO-advocates can express dates and times that look like telephone numbers and ham radio frequencies so we can make the communication of thought less natural for nearly everyone on the planet who doesn’t use that format in their personal daily lives.

    I once saw a “table” somewhere on Wikipedia listing a series of earthquakes—in California, I think. That had presented an opportunity for some ISO-advocate to use cryptic “You’re clear to land 1047 alpha tango charley 627 zulu on runway R24” for the time/date field. I can’t find that same list now. Maybe it’s been *downgraded* into the old-fashioned readable stuff that is wholly unsuitable for preparing Earth for its adoption into the United Federation of Planets (which is a waste, because too many humans still pursue the accumulation of personal wealth). Perhaps someone who fancies making stuff *readable* weighed in on that list of earthquakes and nearly got himself the Wikipedia-equivalent of an atomic wedgie for his trouble. Greg L (talk) 18:32, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

    • There is a vast vast difference of throwing something like "1979-05-23" at a reader without context, and putting "1979-05-25" in a column clearly marked "Date". --MASEM (t) 18:38, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
      • Oh… sure. Clearly. Runway 24R or 24L. Your choice. How many tables have so much information it can’t be made to fit into the 1024-pixel width that modern webpages assume as the minimum for English-speaking websites? Unless space is really and truly at a premium, just make room for columns with natural-language dates and time, like they did here at “List of earthquakes in California”. It’s not hard. Greg L (talk) 18:42, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
        • Of course, for accessibility we must consider much lower resolutions than a standard 1024px wide dispay. wjematherbigissue 19:03, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
          • No. You don’t understand what I mean. Below 1024 pixels (for accessibility) the computer throws up horizontal scroll bars). See to see what I mean. Try shrinking the window below ~1018 pixels and see what happens. People with 640 × 480 monitors can see all content, but they scroll. No one optimizes for 800 pixel-width windows. Greg L (talk) 21:07, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
            • And people with printers--- no they can't, unless you do some trickier before you print (which most people aren't skilled enough to do). Table compactness is an important issue, and just because you can scroll in one situation doesn't mean it works for all. --MASEM (t) 21:44, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
              • I’m not buying your argument. Most tables can afford to have several extra millimeters added so dates can have spelled-out months. And those extra few millimeters will very rarely make the difference as to whether or not a table will fit onto a printed page without requiring the user figure out how to scale a print job using Microcrap’s abstruse O.S. Check out “List of earthquakes in California”. Without scaling a printout, the whole table isn’t going to fit onto a single sheet of paper and no amount of horsing around making dates less readable to save a few millimeters will avoid the need to either scale the print job or print on multiple pages. Frankly, such an argument (the use of all-numeric dates in tables will make printing easier) has a one-in-a-thousand chance of actually being the straw that breaks the camel’s back on this issue so there was no point to your even brining it up. Greg L (talk) 00:07, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
                • (ec) Not all browsers present with scroll bars – some (like the one on my phone, for example) wrap, badly. And yes, some people do indeed still optimise for 800x600 – it is fairly common actually. Optimisation for 640x480 and even lower resolutions is not uncommon and for some applications it is absolutely imperative due to the technology being used. wjematherbigissue 00:29, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
                  • And that observation that iPhones exist means… what exactly? If the dates in a table look like ham radio frequencies and nothing else in the table changes, the two or three pixels saved in an entire table somehow makes the scroll bars on iPhone work better? uhhhhhmmmm I seriously doubt that. Greg L (talk) 06:24, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
                    • Who said anything about iPhones? You mus know that I was merely countering your assertion that "no one optimizes for 800 pixel-width windows", which is plainly untrue. Whilst we may optimise for 1024px width, we absolutely do not disregard the fact that a huge number of readers will be viewing on resolutions well below that.

P.S. Oh, BTW. There’s no need to circle the wagons about “deprecating” anything. I see now that some of what Tony and I wrote above looked like there was a scheme afoot to change MOSNUM to rid Wikipedia of time/date ciphers. I suspect Tony was just advocating minimizing the use of date cryptography; I know *I* certainly was. Neither of us would be foolish enough to seriously think we could pry 256-bit RSA cypher blocks out of MOSNUM. Greg L (talk) 18:53, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

Your above comment about "...bury(ing), once and for all, dates that look like radio frequencies" certainly gave the impression you were looking for complete depreciation of the format. Glad to see that is not the case. wjematherbigissue 19:03, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
I meant in body text. As I wrote in my 2011-02-17T01:34Z Runway 24L-555-1212 post, above: Setting aside special circumstances such as tables, where space is at a premium, articles should generally express dates with the month written out in English; lose the telephone numbers. Greg L (talk) 21:02, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
I fear we are wandering off the original point a little. Greg, you have my feelings on the matter in a nutshell, and this is pretty much the way experienced editors work - we put dates in 13 December 1914 or December 12, 1914 in the body text, unless it's a direct quote from some quaint document; "On Sandalmas Eve, the 13teenth of Decem in this year of our grace 1914, we sat down to sup on hart's heart and dodo doodoo on the open veldt, followed by a mulled sodomy." We'd lose some of the piquancy if we converted it to a standard format. Typically, dates immediately following the first mention of a year drop the year. This is fine and nobody is confused. Ideally, references follow the same format, but they come right at the end of the article, they aren't in flowing English, they are really just a collection of dates and page numbers and names. Tables, who really cares? Often times they are lists of events, where ISOI format is handy for sorting order. --Pete (talk) 00:05, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
(ec) The current wording (allied to some common sense) seems to take care of the body text perfectly adequately as far as I can tell; i.e. spell dates out in full within prose. And it also covers dropping the year when it is obvious from the context. wjematherbigissue 00:29, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

Much is said about compactness. Compare "2011-09-07" to "7 Sep 2011"; they're the same (ten characters each including hyphens and spaces). "17 Sep 2011" is only one character more than "2011-09-17". Put the month first & you have to add a comma, just a little comma. So, there's no significant space saving with YYYY-MM-DD. Also the template {{dts}} makes YYYY-MM-DD unnecessary for sorting. Let's use YYYY-MM-DD in the references, where it's all a jumble of data anyway ... why? The more readable the data, the better, right? No, we'd need more momentum than this to bury the telephone-number dates but what's the harm in making it known that there's still opposition to them and asking again what point they serve. JIMp talk·cont 01:08, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

In tables it's not only about size, but even more about alignment. The written-out forms make a ragged column, whereas the all-numeric format aligns perfectly, making it easier to scan the column. −Woodstone (talk) 06:03, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
Indeed. Perfectly aligned crypto. Rain Man would be proud: “Those dates add up to 86,589—definitely”. Greg L (talk) 06:25, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
Characterise the format with as many colourful metaphors as you like, it won't change the fact that ISO formatted dates are clear, concise, logical and intuitive. There is no major brain work required to scan them. Some people just don't like it and never will. wjematherbigissue 08:18, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
Your indignation at my colorful style of making a point does not make your arguments true, Wjemather. Your argument are, in fact, utterly fallacious; pure and simple. You missed an critical virtue: that the ISO format must be a familiar one for Wikipedia to use it. It is not Wikipedia’s role to promote—through our own *Oh… didn’t-cha know?* fashion—a method of expressing dates that many English-speaking readers don’t use in real life.

There is nothing at all that is *intuitive* about 2011-02-08 because many people are accustomed to days going before the month. So only through *experience* can anyone know that it is year-month-day and not day-month. 2011-02-08 can easily mean August 2nd. Only a *rule* that must be learned stipulates the order.

That’s why it is always better to write out the month, for that is the only “clear and logical” way to unambiguously convey dates to all readers. Like Pete wrote above, what I am describing (spell out the month everywhere unless there is a *legitimate and real* situation where space is truly at a premium) “this is pretty much the way experienced editors work”. Jimp too has the obvious figured out and reduced to practice, above. And Tony, who makes a living as a writer, also has the wisdom to understand how it is important to just write clearly so the writing style doesn’t cause unnecessary confusion nor draw undo attention to itself.

Now, please get with the game plan and follow the way the real world works and write out months, which is clear as glass and absolutely unambiguous and stop grasping for absurd reasons like *there’s no room* as an excuse to code months as numbers. And please stop trying to use Wikipedia as a platform to Change The World To A New And More Logical, All-Numeric Order®™©. I’m done here dealing with you because what you write is simply false and, IMO, borne out of extreme bias. In short: I don’t agree with you. At all. Nor do I care to weigh in on this thread anymore since it’s clear you like ISO format and always will. Greg L (talk) 21:34, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

I have not claimed space issues as a reason for using it, although others have. My only comments here related to space were to refute your absolutely false claims that everyone on the web optimises for 1024px width displays.

Yes, I do like the format for certain applications, but those uses are few, and I only occasionally (but not always) use it for reference accessdates on here. Some people use it more often both on here and in the real world, where it is used a hell of a lot more than you seem to think. I see no need for legislating against in on the basis of claims that are dubious at best. You just don't like it and it would be a lot better if you simply stated that rather than resorting to sarcasm, false assertions and ad hominem remarks. wjematherbigissue 18:08, 19 February 2011 (UTC)

Experience has shown that Greg L is not capable (or maybe is just unwilling) to argue without sarcasm, false assertions and ad hominem. Quale (talk) 10:17, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
  • I know Greg's style, which is colourful and larger than life. I wish he would tone down his comments sometimes, but at least you know now to take his style in context. He doesn't mean to offend. Tony (talk) 11:12, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
  • I have always said that YYYY-MM-DD format is the best for references. It's the least ambiguous, it is concise, standard, international and it helps interwiki translations and work. I find it annoying that there are repeated attempts to remove this format from WP (and thus, people repeatedly forced to make the same comments over and over again), although the RFC soundly rejected any banning of this format. Nanobear (talk) 10:20, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Are you planning to burn everything written before 15 October 1582 (and everything written in England before 14 September 1752) so there will never be any need to cite then in Wikipedia? Jc3s5h (talk) 12:20, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
The vast majority of cited dates on WP are in the past twenty years. Why should the tail wag the dog? In any case, the use of spelled-out forms such as 15 October 1582 do not identify the calendar being used, that is still left to context or explicit declaration. Its sole advantage is that of easy reading for those of us who still remember getting their news (and funnies) on paper. LeadSongDog come howl! 14:36, 1 March 2011 (UTC)


  • I agree with LeadSongDog. His argument amounts to “Let Wikipedia follow the natural way people read and write dates in the real world.” Wikipedia has too many young kids (or adults with boat-loads of idealism) who like turning Wikipedia into a tool to speed Earth’s adoption into Star Trek’s United Federation of Planets.

    This hijacking of Wikipedia to adopt spiffy ideas before the rest of the world caught on en masse first happened (to my knowledge—there may be still others out there) with the IEC prefixes, where a standard body that is unimpressed with how “megabyte” can mean two slightly different values depending upon context (for instance, random access memory vs. hard drives), came up with a New and Better©™® way of doing things and proposed “mebibytes (MiB)” for the world to line up behind them. Of course, the computer manufacturers didn’t have “Now with 256 MiB of RAM so it can run the soooo easy-to-use Windows 95” on their packaging or in their advertisements, nor did computer magazines directed to such a general-interest readership use such language. But readers would come here, to Wikipedia, where some George Jetsons had hijacked hundreds of articles overnight. With the help of an admin, who claimed there had to be a consensus to revert articles back to the real world, the idiotic practice stuck for three long years. I lead the battle that deprecated that practice… What fun… (*sigh*).

    So now we have the ISO 8601 pushing this standard body’s 2011-03-01 and 2011-03-01 15:52Z. As the ISO’s own FAQ page states, the standard is a standard data-exchange protocol for IT systems to prevent another “Y2K bug.”

    Of course, this being the not-so-reliable Wikipedia that anyone can edit, back in February 2008 (note my readable date there), User:Richardrw made this ∆ editentirely uncited—stating that the ISO 8601’s scope was for pretty much all expressions of time and date, including “hand written” notes. That whopper read It applies to all written communications that contain dates, times, and time intervals regardless of the communication medium (printed, electronic, or hand written) or the location of the sender and receiver (either within an organization, between organizations, or across international boundaries). See that jewel in all its Star Trek glory here at “Scope and application of the standard”.

    That was back in Feb. 2008 and persisted for 19 months when, in Sept. 2009, I added some {citation needed} tags to the nonsense. I was new then, and User:A. di M. added tags to the section the following day. Finally, on Sept. 19, I deleted (∆ edit) the fairy tale of POV-pushing.

    Again, Wikipedia had the pure fabrication (complete nonsense) for 19 months! No wonder teachers across the land counsel their students against actually using Wikipedia in their research.

    Now, the part I am concerned about is User:Jc3s5h twice edited the ISO 8601 article (here and here), when it had that outrageous fabrication and POV-pushing to hijack Wikipedia to promote a *good idea* that for obvious reasons (humans aren’t IT machines) hadn’t caught on. The article stated that the ISO standard was for all written communications, including printed, electronic, or hand written, whether within an organization, between organizations, or across international boundaries. So…

    To User:Jc3s5h: I ask you to repudiate that now-deleted text (that I had to flag and A. di M. had to tag and I had to delete). You made two edits to the article in that sad state and didn’t seem to have a problem with the fabrications in it. Please affirm that you either never noticed that, or that you did notice it but that you now no longer believe it. Your answer will help me to understand your continued promotion of something intended for IT managers to ensure another “Y2K” problem doesn’t occur and why all-numeric dates (with leading zeros that machines are fond of) are such cool-beans in your book. Greg L (talk) 2011-03-01T17:06Z

The change Greg L asks about is essentially true, so long as you notice that it describes areas where ISO 8601 could be applied, and does not claim that the ISO wants to eliminate all other forms of writing dates. The ISO’s own FAQ page makes it clear the ISO envisions wide application for the format. I do not support it's use in the English Wikipedia because we have a need to represent dates in other than the Gregorian calendar, and because the complexity of Wikipedia articles requires that our readers have reasonable English-language reading skills, so they probably won't have trouble with English month names. This differs from, for example, travel documents, where the traveler might speak any conceivable language, and an all numeric format (that is less ambiguous than 03/01/11), whether machine-printed or handwritten, could be helpful. Also, in forms of all kinds, a natural flow of running text is not an issue. I find all-numeric dates to be aesthetically unappealing in running text. Jc3s5h (talk) 17:39, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
Seriously? The text was “essentially true” because ISO 8601 “could” be more widely applied? Well, let’s add User:Greg L to Forbes list of billionaires since I could someday be one. The text I deleted had three words that it started with: It applies to… That’s why I deleted it: ISO said no such thing (Wikipedia requires an element of *truthiness*). But, thank you very much for your expansive and clear account of your current views as to the suitability of all-numeric dates on Wikipedia; that helps. Greg L (talk) 2011-03-01T17:58Z
Why on Earth you would ever have to express the date on which you accessed an online source in any other calendar than the Gregorian one? (talk) 22:50, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
There is no need to express a retrieval date in a non-Gregorian calendar. But why would you want to use a different format for the retrieval date than the other dates that are present in the reference section? Jc3s5h (talk) 22:54, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
  • No one gives a dump whether a computer-generated retrieval date is in one format or another. The human-writen stuff should be as easy to read as possible (spelled out months) and should simply follow the guidelines applicable to any other date in the article. Greg L (talk) 2011-03-02T01:52Z
  • I don't care who or what writes the date, I care about who reads the date. Both the publication date and the retrieval date are read by careful readers who wish to check, or get further information from, a citation. So I would prefer both of them to be in the same format. I am aware there is no consensus to deprecate the YYYY-MM-DD format in citations, and no consensus to require retrieval dates to match the format of other dates within citations, but I wish such consensus existed. As for what is or isn't Gregorian, spelled-out months may or may not be Gregorian; one must judge from context. ISO-8601 dates are always Gregorian. YYYY-MM-DD dates in Wikipedia are required to be both Gregorian and no earlier than the year 1583. Jc3s5h (talk) 02:02, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Now look what you did, Jc3s5h. You made an I.P. from Ireland come out of the woodwork with a ‘WTF?!?’ Our behind-the-scenes programmers don’t enjoy a de facto ability to dictate MOSNUM guidelines through means such as fetch data; that amounts to the tail wagging the dog. Your above attempt to support the veracity of the nonsense that used to be in the ISO 8601 article and had to be removed ( It applies to all written communications .... (printed, electronic, or hand written) ), where you wrote how all that hogwash was “essentially true” so long as you notice that it describes areas where ISO 8601 could be applied, demonstrates to me that your support for using ISO 8601-style dates outside of IT systems is wholly out of the mainstream of proper technical writing practices. Greg L (talk) 2011-03-02T02:25Z
  • Agree with Jc3 above – that it causes me a brain-interrupt to parse same mixed formats, and in addition creates the impression of sloppiness. I have just bee embroiled in a dispute with Headbomb over his recent change to add back toleration for '|date=dmy/mdy |accessdate=yyyy-mm-dd' instead of the consensus which has existed for many many months to have a simpler 'single format rule' for dates within citations. Just to make clear that I have no bones with the yyyy-mm-dd format so long as the style is used consistently within ref sections. However, anecdotally based on many articles I have come across and worked on, date formats are not consistent within the refs sections of, nor within accessdates field taken alone. Like many above, I would prefer to see all date formats within an article in complete alignment (with certain exceptions already discussed and consensus exists), but I can accept use of the yyyy-mm-dd format in references because they are read differently.

    Let me dispel the ill-conceived notion that my fighting him on the change was driven by the use/configuration of my script. He has got the fact arse about face: the configuration of the tool was driven by my understanding of the guideline for as long as I have known it; it does not (I emphasise NOT) drive my conversion of same into dmy or mdy formats.--Ohconfucius ¡digame! 02:34, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

  • Isn’t it possible then (if one can stomach the arrogance one gets from some of the programmers) that the default date format used at the end of our autosignatures would be be better than the all-numeric gibberish? And, now that I’ve just written that sentence, why in the world would all-numeric dates in citations ever be a good idea just because some auto-generated ones are all-numeric? This notion still makes no sense to me because it amounts to “Darn, if I’m gonna read one 2011-03-02T02:25Z, I wanna see all of them that way ‘cause all-gibberish is way better.” Greg L (talk) 2011-03-02T03:03Z
  • Again, please do not characterise a well defined and widely understood date (and time) format as gibberish. It is obviously not gibberish, and it does the argument for your point of view no good to keep repeating such false statements. You just don't like it – message received. wjematherbigissue 08:35, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
  • My goodness WJE, you sure *work* this “leader”-thing, don’t you? Again, please stop asserting than an all-numeric date format is unambiguous and clear, for none of them are. There is no obvious way to know that 2011-04-05 is May 4th or April 5th other than to look for a nearby date that has a day greater than 12 or to intuit that the likely order is from greatest to least. The job of parsing the the order of the ISO foramt is made easier when the time is also added. But when the time is missing, it is especially non-intuitive for readers who routinely write dates with the day first, such as 16 April. Now, to adopt your transparent effort to ride in atop your tall steed of Unbiased Conclusion & Truth®™©: You like all-numeric dates; message received. Greg L (talk) 16:39, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
The inconsistency is an issue only in articles which use at least one non-Gregorian date in the references section, which I'd quess to be less than 1% of the total.

Some stats

Here are some statistics from 500 featured articles (with marginal error due to parsing/formatting errors):

field YYYY-MM-DD
(i.e. 2011-03-02)
(i.e. March 2, 2011)
(i.e. 2 March 2011)
total 18673 6354 6267
|date= 5565 3673 2446
|accessdate= 13098 2674 3799
2010–2011 1397 1245 1320
2000–2009 16334 4404 4459
1990–1999 456 209 170
1980–1989 111 128 47
1970–1979 30 16 18
1960–1969 127 26 15
1950–1959 76 7 107
1900–1949 118 209 106
1800–1899 23 7 19
1000–1799 0 1 (July 29, 1797) 6 (all 13 January 1797)
0–999 0 0 5 (3x 5 March 200; 2x 1 January 988)

Other formats:

  • YYYY – 102 (98 from 1900+; others: 1880, 1881, 1883, 1894)
  • MMMM YYYY – 425 (all 1800+ except August 1770)
  • YYYY-DD – 73 (all 1800+)

—  HELLKNOWZ  ▎TALK 14:10, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

Thank you, that helps. LeadSongDog come howl! 14:19, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Number of articles on Wikipedia in 2008 that used “mebibyte (MiB)” and its IEC-prefix brethren: Hundreds. Greg L (talk) 16:45, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
    How many of those were featured? --Rontombontom (talk) 13:23, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

Time zone clarification

Having read the TIMEZONE section of this manual I think I need more clarification. The reason that I went to the section is to find out how to format a time zone for a live stream of podcast recording. The event I assume is local to place it's being recorded but to include the city seems to be too much information. That leaves writing 7:00 pm PT or (UTC-8)/(UTC-7)-daylight saving time. The problem I see with the PT is that outside of the North America I am not sure that means a lot to other English speakers. The UTC is problematic because of daylight saving time.

I am not just writing to get an answer but to see if the time zone section could use some clarity on how to specify local time. If I can't find something in the MOS I will go with common practice, but I have seen time zones written a number of different ways, hence the above. Thanks. Rɑːlɑːjərtalk² 05:11, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

On this topic, I do wish the proper minus sign were used with time zones. I see hyphens everywhere, against the directions of MOSNUM. Tony (talk) 12:34, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
An expression such as Ralager's "UTC-8" is not normal English, and TIMEZONE does not specify how to describe a time zone relative to time at 0° longitude. Therefore, whatever standard (if any) an editor is following when giving a time zone as a numerical offset time at 0° longitude would govern the character used to express the sign of the number. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:12, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

Pound Mass v. Pound Force

This slug is less than a pound. Slugs are often found in freshman physics classes.

Reading a lot of articles on NASA related articles, it is apparent that these two numbers don't equate once gravity is not equal to the 32.2 ft/s^2. So, for clarification

1) Assume pound-mass = pound-force = 0.454 kgm as on Earth gravity 2) Add mass in slugs (this would clarify a lot as Newtons clarify kgm from kgf) 3) When writing pounds, specify force or mass in subscript

Any thoughts?

Senior Trend (talk) 04:31, 10 March 2011 (UTC)

Of course you mean in science articles, not "Popeye ate his spinach and lifted 1,000 pounds (gravimetric corrections unspecified)". Art LaPella (talk) 05:09, 10 March 2011 (UTC)
I'd go with 3), except I'd assume it's a pound mass as the default and only mark the pound force as such. In any event, there should almost always be a conversion to metric units, and in "19.2 lb (8.7 kg)" or "19.2 lbf (85 N)" there's no possibility of confusion. --A. di M. (talk) 11:07, 10 March 2011 (UTC)
I agree with A. di M.; everyone able to understand the difference between a pound-force and a pound-mass will be able to figure out which it is by which SI unit it is converted to or from. Also, the only place I have encountered a slug is freshman physics. I am not convinced there are any practicing physicists or engineers who actually use that unit. Jc3s5h (talk) 11:50, 10 March 2011 (UTC)
A slug is 32.17 lbs :). Also it does appear often in engineering (I'm in chem eng) and I find that expressing mass in slugs has many useful purposes (talk) 06:31, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

Style questions...

A couple of things:

First, how does one define major contributor? For example, for date formats;

Where in doubt, defer to the style used by the first major contributor.

Second (and this question may belong somewhere else), when it comes to pages where there isn't a clear indication of what form (American/British/Regional Dialect) of English is used (for example, on pages with primarily German, Italian, Japanese or French subject matter), what is the default spelling pattern in such instances?

I'll try to make this last question a little clearer:

Which of the following would be correct for a page about a village in Russia;
The town hall is located in the city centre.
The town hall is located in the city center.
Magus732 (talk) 22:17, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

Surely the best response would be to leave well alone. If the article uses American spelling, well and good; if it uses British spelling, no problem. If it's not clear, then the decision would lie with the first person who uses a word that is spelt differently. It may interest you to know that Salt appears to use American spelling but Iodised_salt uses British spelling. And no-one is any the worse. Michael Glass (talk) 22:38, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
The editor is asking because he's been mass-changing dates in military articles, and I pointed out WP:DATE to him and asked him to stop. Beyond My Ken (talk) 23:59, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
The editor is asking because he wants an unbiased third person to express an opinion... that's all... Magus732 (talk) 17:23, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
Is he mass changing dates in a way that complies with MOSNUM, or just arbitrarily? The only mass changes should be on the basis of making a call as to which format predominates where there's within-article inconsistency, or another rule applies. The same thing applies to date formats as varieties of spelling: if there's no clear relationship between the topic and an ancestral anglophone country (there are seven of them ... yes, it's racist), don't mess with the choice of the first major editor of the article. It's a system that has served us very well. Tony (talk) 07:38, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
What's that about "ancestral"? Does that mean that articles about Ireland needn't be in Irish English (whose formal written standard is practically the same as that of British English) only because historically Irish was spoken, even though (according to the 2006 census) less than 2% of the people claim they speak it everyday and about 60% of the people claim to be unable to speak it at all? --A. di M. (talk) 13:03, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
Articles on Jamaica or Guyana (err ... the anglophone one in South America), or on Singapore, in which English is either the only official language or one official language, do not have to follow an engvar rule on the basis of country-relatedness. Articles on the so-called ancestral group of anglophone countries do. If you require these countries to be enumerated, please ask. Tony (talk) 13:43, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
More than in a list of the countries, I'm interested in the criterion to decide whether or not a particular country is “in”. Depending on what it's meant by “ancestral” (many – probably most – Americans have ancestries from non-English-speaking European countries, if you trace them back far enough) and by “anglophone” (is Scots a dialect of English or not?), the “ancestral anglophone countries” could include anything from just England (obviously not what it's meant) to several dozen countries. (BTW, you're talking about your own opinions rather than about what the MOS currently says. WP:STRONGNAT and WP:TIES just say “a particular English-speaking country”, and the latter even includes Jamaica as an example.) --A. di M. (talk) 14:30, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
  • It's about keeping the peace on the English WP: it's cultural, it's national identity, it's more to do with the establishment in each country than the levels of non-anglophone immigration. And it conerns the way "standard English" is defined. Answer this: are article on India in en.WP acceptable if written in Indian English? Are they written in Indian English? Take a look at India. It's a fascinating phenomenon, engvar on en.WP, and is probably worth a PhD dissertation. Tony (talk) 14:38, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
    I agree about India (though apparently most people disagree with you and me), but on what grounds would you exclude e.g. Jamaica, where English is the only language used on a daily basis by the population outside informal contexts? (AFAIK the local vernacular has only had a standardized orthography for a couple of decades, with which most people are not familiar with it, and its Wikipedia is still in the incubator.) --A. di M. (talk) 16:52, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

date format (redundant wording)

These two bullets seem to be saying almost the same thing. Can't we combine them?

  • If an article has evolved using predominantly one format, the whole article should conform to it, unless there are reasons for changing it based on strong national ties to the topic.
  • The date format chosen by the first major contributor in the early stages of an article should continue to be used, unless there is reason to change it based on strong national ties to the topic. Where an article has shown no clear sign of which format is used, the first person to insert a date is equivalent to "the first major contributor".

TCO (talk) 07:49, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Imperial ≠ US customary

The allowability of vulgar fractions with Imperial units is equally applicable to United States customary units, so I've added the latter and linked both terms. --Thnidu (talk) 17:55, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

On looking back at the Imperial units page I saw that it also references English units and Avoirdupois, which follow the same logic, so I added mentions and links to those as well. --Thnidu (talk) 18:33, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

2000s decade

This question must have been raised many times before but oddly I can't find a good answer in the archive. What's the correct way to refer to the decade between 2000 and 2009 to avoid confusion, is it "the 2000s decade"? I saw a recommendation to use "the first decade of the 21st century", but as the 21st century starts at 2001 this seems wrong. This is also what was said in another discussion. Whatever the consensus may be, I think it should be added to the page itself as well, not just be discussed at the talk page (it might be there somewhere, but not where I expected it to be). --Muhandes (talk) 10:53, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

I used the 2000s to refer to the naughts and the 2010s to refer to the teens, and it went over fine in U.S. state reptiles, now featured.TCO (talk) 07:51, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm afraid that's not a very good example, as the sentence reads "seven states in the 1980s, eight states in the 1990s, and eight states in the 2000s" so it's clear from the context it's a decade. The question would be what to use when there is a possibility of ambiguity. --Muhandes (talk) 11:20, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
You're right that it's been discussed here. Short answer: when we did an extensive gsearch of "1700s" and "1800s" a couple of years ago, those expressions were almost never used to mean "1700-1709" and "1800-1809", except where people got that meaning from Wikipedia. "1900s" was different; from memory, maybe 10% of the relevant hits meant "1900-1909", and I'm just taking a wild guess that usage dates from roughly 1910 ... after all, in 1910, what else is "1900s" likely to mean? I see that the same is true now; some people use "2000s" to mean 2000-2009. Whether that's what it will still mean 100 years from now, I don't know. Not my problem (hopefully :) - Dank (push to talk) 15:07, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

Colons in times?

It's been asserted recently that WP:MOSTIME requires colons in times (i.e. 5:00 p.m., not 5 p.m.). What it actually says is: "... colons separate hours, minutes and seconds (e.g. 1:38:09 pm or 13:38:09)." Does anyone else read this to require colons? I don't see this in any style guide, and my take is that 5 p.m isn't the same as 5:00 p.m., just as 1 meter isn't the same as 1.00 meters. - Dank (push to talk) 17:58, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

I certainly wouldn't "correct" 5 p.m. (except to make it  ). For one thing, WP:MOSTIME also says "Use noon and midnight rather than 12 pm and 12 am", when it could have said "rather than 12:00 pm and 12:00 am", which would be the alternative under the no-5-pm interpretation. I assume you mean 12-hour times only (as far as I know, military time would be 17:00 or "seventeen hundred hours"). Art LaPella (talk) 20:40, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't read it that way. To me it reads "... colons (as opposed to full stops, hyphens, etc.) separate hours, minutes and seconds (where necessary) ..." Otherwise "5:00 pm" would also be banned in favour of "5:00:00 pm". Should it be made clearer? JIMp talk·cont 15:50, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
IMO it's reasonably clear as written. Your feedback was helpful, thanks. - Dank (push to talk) 15:02, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

AWB date question

Wikipedia talk:AutoWikiBrowser#Removing spaces from a year range after "c." Art LaPella (talk) 20:58, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

An AWB developer wants the discussion moved here. I brought it up on the AWB talk page, worded this way: "AWB (general fixes) tried to change "(c. 1475 – 1542)" to "(c. 1475–1542)" in the article Giacomo Fogliano, but that introduces imprecision to the year of death."
Does the removal of spaces around the en dash change the understanding of the death date? Even if it does not, does the inclusion of a space in the birth date ("c. 1475") still call for the style requirement of spaces on either side of the en dash? Chris the speller (talk) 14:16, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
Due to lack of interest here, I have suggested that the AWB developers drop the investigation. Chris the speller (talk) 23:33, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
I do think this is important, but possibly not AWB-able. I would even favour "(c.1475 – 1542)" or "(born c.1475, died 1542)" to make the binding of the circa clearer. We do mandate "(c. 1475 – c. 1542)" for when both dates are unknown, however readers cannot be assumed to be familiar with the MoS. Rich Farmbrough, 09:49, 24 March 2011 (UTC).

Damn nbsp's

I don't see any mention of non-breaking space insertion over at the AWB documentation (and I'd rather use a script, anyway). Anyone got one? I hate inserting them by hand. (I'm not a fan of nbsp's if it's not obvious, I just need them for FAC.) - Dank (push to talk) 15:14, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

I'm not a fan of nbsp as a method of controlling spaces either. Can you provide a link to the FAC comments please? Lightmouse (talk) 15:23, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
The question is, can I provide links without getting in trouble :) One of our favorite FAC delegates left the comment that an WP:NBSP review was needed in edit summaries, and has done so in several recent FACs. I want to add ... my guess is that a really smart script could get the nbsp's right at least 95% of the time, and I have no objection to running a script to insert nbsp's. When WP is running slowly, in a long article, it can take 30 minutes to do each one by hand, and I generally try to help out with history articles at FAC, so it's not an insignificant burden. - Dank (push to talk) 15:29, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
I hope that came across as light-hearted and not snide.- Dank (push to talk) 16:13, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
Seriously, no one has a script? It looks like it wouldn't be that hard; I'll collaborate on one if no one's done it before. Have people been doing these by hand, or not doing them? - Dank (push to talk) 13:19, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
I worry that the plusnbspsemicolon gobbledy makes the text that bit more impenetrable to visitors and newbies in edit-mode. That's why I don't add them myself. What we need is a short-cut keystroke. Noetica tried to gather momentum for it a while ago, but it seemed difficult. I would like this to be a priority, along with an easy way of inputting a non-breaking hyphen. Tony (talk) 13:26, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
I haven't been doing them unless someone asks for them at FAC, for exactly the same reasons ... especially since Sue Gardner and the Foundation are making a push to make the edit screen more user-friendly. But my main goal is just to get articles through FAC without spending a lot of time on tedious work. - Dank (push to talk) 13:32, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict) After the umpteenth time such a proposal was ignored, I lost any hope that such a thing will ever be implemented. --A. di M. (talk) 13:34, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
Again, I'll offer the idea that we could use templates to make it both easy to remember and visually identifiable in the edit box, but we would need to alter the behavior of at least one existing template to make the equivalent emdash template. The obvious choice, {{ndash}} (and endash) and {{mdash}} (and emdash) introduce a space character in addition to the proper markup, which seems like something these scripts should not be doing. I will also point out that {{nbsp}} exists as well. If there are standard combinations, for example: nbsp, ndash, nbsp; we can figure out a new template for that combo as well to simplify further. --MASEM (t) 13:51, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict) {{nbsp}} is two keystrokes more than  , and the latter is already familiar to whoever knows HTML. An actual improvement would need a one- or two-character shortcut, such as my proposal _ or Noetica's ,,. (Oh God, why did I go into this again?) --A. di M. (talk) 14:40, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
The "_" won't work as the Wikimedia software interprets the underscore as an implicit space when resolving names (WP:Manual_of_Style is the same as WP:Manual of Style). {{, ,}} is available (and thus can simply be a redirect to {{nbsp}}. But again, remember we're talking mnemonic value and easy of editing. I would think: January 1, 2001{{nbsp}}{{spaced ndash}}{{nbsp}}December 31, 2001 would be easier to parse to a novice editor than January 1, 2001 – December 31, 2011 even though there's brevity of character use there. Of course, there's multiple ways of doing this, we just want the solution(s) that produce the minimal havoc on the rest of the work but offer the most benefit. --MASEM (t) 15:50, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
Of course, the Occum's Razor, simplest answer is to commendeer {{-}} for ndash ({{--}} is mdash already), having a bot convert all current {{-}} uses (used as the "clear" HTML/CSS markup) to {{clr}} or something similar (after getting consensus to do so) and then we have nice simple, visually accurate templates for all of our ndash and mdash needs. --MASEM (t) 15:59, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
For backward compatibility (see Headbomb below), I'd prefer re-purposing {{--}} to be an en dash and use {{---}} for the em dash. --A. di M. (talk) 28 March 2011 (UTC)
The non-breaking space is also considered the same in page titles (WP:Manual of Style is also the same page), so that's not actually an issue. As for visual appearance, January_1, 2001_-- December_31, 2001 would be even easier on the eye. :-) --A. di M. (talk) 17:46, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
Now, there's a possible idea: I wonder if it would be easier on mediawiki to create a new tag, say <wikify> which can be used to wrap text in the same manner as the inline table format to part it to handle nbsp, ndash, and mdash in a visually applying and simple way. Say: <wikify>January_1, 2001_-- December_31, 2001</wikify>; once to that version, it can then always be template wrapped: {{wikify|January_1, 2001_-- December_31, 2001}}. Maybe we could repurpose the "~" character in prose to do this: ~January_1, 2001_-- December_31, 2001~. --MASEM (t) 17:55, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
I think the tilde is used too frequently in articles (e.g. when giving approximate values) for that to be practical. By comparison, I've searched a few random articles and a few featured articles for underscores (in the rendered text, not the wikitext source) and they appear to be used almost exclusively in URLs (which I guess would be relatively easy to single out) and in snippets of computer code (and my proposal for turning underscores to hard spaces could be disabled within <code> and --A. di M. (talk) 01:36, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Dank, I will raise this matter at FAC. Is someone pushing? I think we need a shortcut before insisting. If we get one, all of your good work will need to be unravelled. Tony (talk) 14:26, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
    • The only person who's asked for nbsp's that I'm aware of was one of the delegates, and only in edit summaries in several cases where we were getting close to the end of the FAC. I can't fault them for asking since nbsp's are still required per this page (it's the first thing on the page, even!). I was assuming that they had to be added to pass FAC, but now it seems there's some question. For over 3 years now, I've been wishing that the devs would implement our choices for where not to break lines in the renderer, as most publishers do; I've never heard of a copy editor worrying about nbsp's before (although of course if they've got hard copy, they usually fix line breaks, more or less in line with our nbsp rules). But what can you do, it's not like the devs are twiddling their thumbs. - Dank (push to talk) 14:37, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
      • Did we ever work out why two commas in a row is unacceptable? Tony (talk) 14:55, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
      • And why a plain -- can't be displayed as an en dash, and --- as an em dash (as LaTeX does)? Tony (talk) 16:05, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
        Because ,, looks like a mistake and no one uses that for a non-breaking space, while &nbsp; is deliberate, and both recognizable and unmistakable for anything other than a non-breaking space. Likewise switching {{-}} to produce an endash will break several old revisions, and is also undesirable. Seriously, what is wrong with &nbsp; and &ndash;? If the & and the ; are so horrible, go with {{nbsp}} and {{ndash}}. Headbomb (16:33, 28 March 2011 (UTC)), — (continues after insertion below.)
        {{Ndash}} is currently used for spaced en dashes, though I wouldn't object to moving that to e.g. {{_ndash_}} as someone once suggested, replacing all transclusions of the former with transclusions of the latter, and then changing the former to a ‘plain’ en dash. --A. di M. (talk) 17:52, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
        However, I can't think of any real reason to not render -- as – and --- as —. There are some people use -- for — out there, but I guess that could be fixed manually and isn't that big a problem... Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 16:36, 28 March 2011 (UTC) Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 16:33, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
Question: if we can figure out where the line shouldn't wrap, and the websites of large publishers can figure out where the line shouldn't wrap, why can't the WMF servers figure it out? Why should we need to type anything, apart from a few cases where we want a human to make a judgment call? - Dank (push to talk) 18:01, 28 March 2011 (UTC)

"We Have All Been Here Before"

  • See archived discussion of the hard space, reporting on many weeks of work by several MOS editors, MOSNUM editors, and others: here.
  • See the proposal that ensued:
  • See the page where all that development work happened: Noetica/ActionMOSVP.
  • See where it could be taken further (if you're really interested in this problem): WT:NOWRAP.
  • Learn from history, or repeat it. Your choice, colleagues.

¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 23:25, 28 March 2011 (UTC)

I am disappointed that the style guide appears to mandate the insertion of a non-breaking space between a value and the abbreviation of the unit, e.g. 35 mm or 50 Hz rather than the clearer and easier to read 35mm or 50Hz. I've been writing technical articles and papers for 40 years and until I started contributing to Wikipedia I've never had anyone comment on my non-use of spaces. Looking at a random selection of technical journals and books I see that both forms are used in about equal measure; so why can this not be made an area where both are acceptable?

Davidlooser (talk) 15:41, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

The SI brouchure, published by the BIPM is the authoritative source for standards relating to SI. The standards in that document are echoed by NIST. Section 5.3.3 requires that spaces be inserted. See "International Bureau of Weights and Measures (2006), The International System of Units (SI) (PDF) (8th ed.), ISBN 92-822-2213-6 "

Well that's as maybe. I was taught, 40 years ago, that when an abreviation for a unit is used then it's incorrect to include a space, and that's what I've always done. In the world of film (which I'm particularly interested in) it's rare indeed for a space to be included between the film size and "mm" (thus 35mm NOT 35 mm). The later just looks plain wrong, it's less clear and takes more typing. I've also just looked at various containers of household items (food stuffs, cleaners etc.) in my house, without exception they omit a space.

I'd say that the SI are wrong about this. They chose the wrong style, which is probably why it's so widely ignored.

Davidlooser (talk) 17:43, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

If I am writing in UK English, I abide by the Oxford English Dictionary, if it is US English, I would suggest using Websters. By the same token, if I am writing SI units, I regard the SI brouchure as the authoritative source. Martinvl (talk) 03:45, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
This is discussed too often, in my opinion, independently of the type-face involved. The fact is that while numbers distinguish themselves very readily (jump out) from alphabetic letters in many fonts (historically, some typefaces were only cut for 26 roman letters, leaving printers to borrow compatible numerals, symbols, punctuation and italics as needed from other typefaces), while other type designers carefully designed their numbers to match the letters in style and weight. There's a whole technical distinction, in fact, between (1) "old-style" numbers, such as those in Georgia, which resemble letters closely: the tail of the 3, 4, 5, 7 and 9 drops below the base line in the same way that the descender of g, p, q and y do, the tail of 6 and the top loop of 8 rises above the top of e, o and x (the "x-line") and some numbers (often 0, 1 and 2) are the same height as e, o and x; and (2) "New Style" or "modern" numbers, such as those in Wikipedia's default font, where every number is of the same height, usually that of l (not to be confused with 1). [0123456789] Thus while no apostrophe is really needed to read 1960s without hesitation or pause in some fonts, an apostrophe (against the MoS's dictum) is really needed in others to make it not look too much like 19605. Similarly for units; 3mm/3mm is less readable to me than 3 mm/3 mm [noun form] or 3-mm/3-mm [adjectival form]. Wikipedia doesn't really control the typeface used on every reader's screen, let alone a saved or printed version, so one needs to think of the ones where letters and numbers just blend into each other. —— Shakescene (talk) 05:17, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

What articles should be tagged with geographical coordinates?

The Geographical coordinates section goes into agonizing detail about how to tag articles with geo coordinates, but it doesn't explain at all which articles should be tagged. This section should be expanded to explain which of the following types of articles should be geotagged and which shouldn't:

  1. businesses:
    • businesses with a single location
    • businesses with multiple locations
    • defunct businesses/organizations
  2. buildings/structures:
    • demolished buildings/structures
    • buildings/structures that have been proposed, but not yet built
  3. people:
    • deceased people (gravesites)
    • living people (current place of residence)
  4. ships:
    • permanently docked ships (Brazos Belle for example)
    • non-permanently docked ships (home port)
    • shipwrecks
  5. miscellaneous:
    • sports teams
    • works of art (other than statues)
    • archeological artifacts (place of discovery or place of exhibit?)
    • location-specific events (past, present, future)
    • others?

These are all cases that are unclear. Without guidance we end up with inconsistent application across articles, or worse, edit wars. Kaldari (talk) 20:52, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Living people is creepy. We don't need to do this. There's very few people on here who need their addresses, mainly because their addresses are independently notable, and already have articles. (1600 Pennsylvania Avenue). See no point in home port for non-permanently docked ships, coordinates should only be for generally stationary things. Sports teams, no, because there will be a link to their stadium, and it's better handled there. Same deal for works of art - can be handled in the article on its museum. (and if its museum doesn't have an article, then maybe. But not if it's a private residence...) --Golbez (talk) 21:32, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
IMO, which articles are geo-tagged is not a manual of style issue. On that basis, if you want to discuss the which question, you might want to select a better venue, including Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Geographical coordinates which at least has the benefit of an audience of people interested in geo-tagging, and which has hosted discussions on the appropriateness or lack thereof, of geo-tagging this or that. I know you've flagged this discussion there, but I still think this discussion is in the wrong place. I agree that we are missing a single page dealing with the which question, but, equally, I know there is no consensus that coordinates are a good thing; I've seen many objections, not least applied to coordinates for area or linear features. Sometimes the difficulty and likely impasse arising out of trying to have the discussion makes the discussion not worth the candle. There are, too, many many more categories of things we'd have to consider than are in your list. --Tagishsimon (talk) 21:20, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
I don't think it matters that much where the discussion is, so long as there is a discussion and the results are posted somewhere. Can we please not discuss the discussion venue, but instead discuss the question? And yes, there are lots more categories of things that are not listed above. Do you have any opinions on any of the ones listed though? Feel free to add more if you wish. Kaldari (talk) 22:16, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
A discussion in an inappropriate venue is unlikely to come up with results that are seen as credible by the wider community. WP:VP/P would clearly be more appropriate for a discussion of policy with respect to content than a forum discussing style. But YMMV, of course. I tend, too, to think that we should be heading towards principles, rather than going category by category; but they're not easily framed. Yes, I have an opinion on all in your list. I'll make the presumption that we're talking about coords appearing in infoboxes or on the title line rather than inline coords (which would normally be associated with content explaining exactly what the coord alludes to):
  1. businesses:
    • businesses with a single location - yes. A single location tends to be easily geolocatable. Why not.
    • businesses with multiple locations - doesn't work for me, so no. Others might argue for the head office, but I don't buy it
    • defunct businesses/organizations - if the location is in some way notable. The business being defunct is not realy a consideration for me.
  2. buildings/structures:
    • demolished buildings/structures - yes. Why would we not wish to say here is where it was.
    • buildings/structures that have been proposed, but not yet built - yes, if there's WP:RS.
  3. people:
    • deceased people (gravesites) - No. Equally, no objection to an inline coord in the vicinity of details of the burial place. But I'm prepared to make other exceptions, such as for Blair Peach, since where he was killed is central to the reason he is in the encyclopedia.
    • living people (current place of residence) - No, for all the obvious reasons.
  4. ships:
    • permanently docked ships (Brazos Belle for example) - Yes - though BB is a poor example, as it seems to have sunk in 2008, and is probably razor blades by now.
    • non-permanently docked ships (home port) - No. There's a principle akin to subsidiarity here: the coord belongs to the port, not the ship, and should be found on the port article.
    • shipwrecks - Yes, subject to WP:RS Ditto the point at which they sunk, if the precise wreck site is not known, such as the SS Atlantic Conveyor
  5. miscellaneous:
    • sports teams - No. As you note, the stadium is the thing without legs, and the subsidiarity principle applies
    • works of art (other than statues) - i.e. no coords for the Mona Lisa. Tend to agree, and would go with the subsidiarity principle again.
    • archeological artifacts (place of discovery or place of exhibit?) - certainly not the latter, under the subsidiarity principle. I think I'd want to avoid labelling the artifact article with a coord, but would ideally like to point to the place of discovery, perhaps with an inline coord.
    • location-specific events (past, present, future) - yes, as they're location specific. Why not provide users with a means to see the location.
    • others?
The obvious others for me would be confirmation that it is appropriate to coord areas - I know some think, for instance, that parliamentary constituencies should not be coorded because their boundaries change from time to time, or for other reasons I don't understand. Much the same presumably pertains to other abstract areas - counties, &c. Radio stations is another good 'un - there are many marked with {{coord missing}} and IIRC the prevailing wisdom is to try to denote the area throughout which they can be heard, perhaps with reference to thier main transmitter. That doesn't really work for me.
Interesting as all this is, I'm yet to be convinced that there is a problem which requires the solution hoped for from this discussion. You worry about "inconsistent application across articles, or worse, edit wars". I worry about interminable policy wars as we try to reconcile the differing views of the US Highways project with the European highways project (I've read in the past diametrically opposed views on coording these linear features), or US versus UK cavers, where the prevailing ethos on publishing coordinates is completely out of phase. --Tagishsimon (talk) 22:55, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Obviously, there are lots of areas where we may not be able to reach consensus, that's fine. We don't have to cover every possible scenario in our guidelines. Right now, however, we don't even cover the most basic cases for which there is clear consensus. For example, if a new editor wants to know whether it is appropriate to add coordinates for a building that was demolished, we don't offer any advice to them. Kaldari (talk) 19:39, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
The question remains, is there a problem of sufficient scale to warrant guidelines? I'm not aware that lack of guidelines is a real practical problem; and the most obvious other way of finding out whether coordinates are appropriate is to look at the treatment of other articles on similar subject matter. --Tagishsimon (talk) 21:01, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes, this is definitely a problem. I don't want to spend half an hour trying to figure out if I should or shouldn't add geo coordinates to every article I create. I especially don't want to take the time to look up and add the coordinates and then have someone come along and delete them because they say they are not appropriate. Do you really want to keep answering the same questions for the rest of time? If we can save people time and grief, why would we not want to list some suggestions for problematic cases? I don't care where it is listed: here, Wikiproject Geo Coord, even on an obscure subpage somewhere. But we should list the consensus somewhere so we can point people to it when they ask, instead of just letting them flounder in the same edit wars over and over. Kaldari (talk) 21:29, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
Nice try, but the hyperbole seeps through. Assuming you're working on an article on the borderline of "should I, should I not", I doubt it would reasonably take a half hour to figure out. If your article is in a category, you can view five other articles in 30 seconds to work out what happens elsewhere. And the problem does not arise with every article that you create, but rather a very very small minority (unless you specialise in "should I, should I not"type articles.) I'm not against us offering advice, but we lack consensus on which to develop that advice - as evidenced by the rush by the community to respond to this thread. --Tagishsimon (talk) 21:56, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
I'm actually not working on any articles related to this currently, but it's been an issue that has aggravated me numerous times over the years. What do you think of first pass here? I tried to keep it simple. Kaldari (talk) 22:19, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── The question of whether to supply coordinates is content question, not a style question. Content guidance belongs elsewhere, not in the Manual of Style.—Stepheng3 (talk) 11:47, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

Avoiding confusing IEC prefixes

I don't think IEC prefixes should be used in this table. Please advise. (talk) 16:37, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

The table is comparing the binary prefixes with the decimal prefixes. That's the point of the table. Since at least one hard drive manufacturer was sued over a misunderstanding of the difference, it is apt and relevant to Hard drive as has been repeatedly explained to multiple IPs from your part of the world. --Wtshymanski (talk) 18:05, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
The IEC prefixes are not required and I will explain why on the article talk page. Glider87 (talk) 00:38, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────User Glider87 is entirely correct. The IEC prefixes (both the written-out unit names, prefixes, and their symbols) are not used in the real world. No computer manufacturer in materials directed to a general-interest customer base—not in their advertising, brochures, packaging, or instruction manuals. Because of this fact, no computer-related magazines that are directed to a general-interest readership use such terminology. So we don’t use them in Wikipedia’s computer-related articles to describe computer or hard drive capacity.

In Quantities of bytes and bits, the permissible uses of those units of measure are limited to the following:

  • when the article is on a topic where the majority of cited sources use the IEC prefixes,
  • when directly quoting a source that uses the IEC prefixes,
  • in articles specifically about or explicitly discussing the IEC prefixes

The argument over on Talk:Hard disk drive that goes This table compares SI and binary prefixes. That counts as "explicitly discussing" it amounts to saying “we’re discussing the IEC prefixes now because I just now got through adding them to a table”. Nice try. But that is precisely the sort of argument the current guidelines are intended to shoot down. So, forget it. Such an argument employs mental subterfuge and circuitous logic.

At the top of this page is the archive box containing 18 archives under the rubric of “Binary prefixes.” Indeed, we debated and battled over this practice of using the IEC prefixes on Wikipedia for three long years. After it became clear that Wikipedia has to follow the way the real world works because it doesn’t go the other way around, we abandoned use of those units of measure except as narrowly permitted per the above three bullet points. It doesn’t matter if the standards body who made the proposal has three letters in their acronym or four. Nor does it matter if the IEC’s proposal sorely addresses an ambiguity or is way-cool and Wesley Crusher would most certainly be using them 300 years from now. Today, anyway, the computing world has so-far soundly said “Meh” to the IEC prefixes and they are virtually unknown to our readership.

The argument that our readership will learn them here and the idea will catch on like wild fire was soundly proven specious after trying that very stunt over a three-year period on Wikipedia (again, see the Binary prefixes archives, above). The two editors heavily responsible for that three-year-long jihad fell onto their Wikipedia swords after we decided to jettison routine use of the IEC prefixes to describe the magnitude of binary quantities in our articles. They’ve moved onto real life and will one-day meet their Wikipedia God (Jimbo?)—I suppose—as a reward for their efforts to grease Earth’s adoption into the United Federation of Planets.

We aren’t going to use units of measure in a table of hard drive capacity on Wikipedia if this is the only place the reader will ever likely encounter such terminology; our readership will A) simply be initially confused, and B) forget what they learned anyway since they won’t encounter such terminology in the real world again.

Someone, please be sure to archive this thread to the B17 archive (it’s closed but just add it to the bottom as the separate thread it is), or (*sigh*) create a whole new thread for when this sort of thing crops up. Greg L (talk) 02:03, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

That's a nice speech. Most of it's completely irrelevant though so I will just address your first paragraph:
"This table compares SI and binary prefixes. That counts as "explicitly discussing" it}} amounts to saying “we’re discussing the IEC prefixes now because I just now got through adding them to a table”." - That is exactly the reason we are using binary prefixes for one column of the table. There rules provide a specific exception for it. I don't know how you decided that this is "circuitous logic" or "mental subterfuge", but as per WP:COMMON this is obviously the clearest way of explaining the difference to the readers of the article.
We're not running around the pedia replacing every GB with a GiB. Just explaining the difference in a table. Relax--RaptorHunter (talk) 02:10, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
No it does not count as "explicitly discussing" because it does not follow the meaning of the guideline. The exception you cite is not relevant to the article. The point is it does not need to explicitly discuss it in that article when it is already discussed by a relevant article. The table I edited on the talk page makes sense, more sense, by not using the IEC prefixes. Using IEC prefixes is not the clearest way because as WP:MOSNUM says they "are not familiar to most Wikipedia readers". It is also against WP:SOAP and WP:NPOV to use IEC prefixes when they are not used by the sources used for the article subject. Glider87 (talk) 02:21, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
Please keep the debate to one talk page please: Talk:Hard_disk_drive--RaptorHunter (talk) 02:28, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
You just posted a comment here so "keep the debate to one talk page please" applies to your post. If you don't want the issue discussed here then don't post here in the first place.Glider87 (talk) 02:37, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
I’m not going to argue with you any further RaptorHunter. The IEC prefixes are verboten for use on Wikipedia as you are trying to do. Capacities can be explained in the table without using units of measure with which our readership is unfamiliar. You don’t have to agree with that vote to which I just linked. You will merely accede that this is the finding of a widely and vigorously debated issue and your edits will conform to the consensus views as embodied on MOSNUM on this matter; either that, or more draconian remedies will be found to deal with you. That article should not have to have been locked down over this; MOSNUM is clear as glass and I find that your argument that MOSNUM allows you to use the IEC prefixes in a table so they are self-referentially being “discussed” is shear nonsense.

And if you don’t want this issue discussed here too, then I suggest that you don’t respond here. Just that simple. But since what you are trying to do is 180 degrees contrary to the clear guidance of MOSNUM, then the matter may be touched upon here too.

Your argument that the consensus view when MOSNUM adopted its guideline somehow supports logic of yours that goes… This table compares SI and binary prefixes. That counts as "explicitly discussing" it (∆ edit here), is just about the oddest thing I think I have ever seen written on Wikipedia’s talk pages. Wow… By your logic, MOSNUM says it’s OK to use the IEC prefixes in that article because you just then discussed them when you used them!! (Wooow…) So just pardon me all over the place if I don’t buy into that one. Greg L (talk) 02:31, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

Greg is correct IEC prefixes are "generally not to be used" for use on Wikipedia and for the table that RaptorHunter wants to include in the article. The table should use "bytes or bits, with clear indication of whether in binary or decimal base". I prefer the style "64 × 10242 bytes" but any notation style can be used as long as IEC prefixes are not used. Fnagaton 08:58, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── See RFC on the use of IEC prefixes to describe binary quantities, below. Greg L (talk) 15:26, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

RFC on the use of IEC prefixes to describe binary quantities

Notice: An RFC is being conducted here at Talk:Hard diskdrive#RFC on the use of the IEC prefixes. The debate under consideration is the use in this table of the “Hard disk drive” article of nomenclature such as “KiB”, “MiB”, and “GiB” to describe capacities. The governing guideline on MOSNUM is Quantities of bytes and bits. Greg L (talk) 15:25, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

Request: It seems to me that our “Hard disk drive” article has a table with a glaring error in it that was the product of purposeful disregard for an explicit guideline on MOSNUM. We need greater participation on this RfC by experienced members of the MOSNUM. The quality of the discussion can be improved (too many personal attacks) by broadening participation of the discussion. This will hopefully more fully achieve a consensus. Greg L (talk) 17:41, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

NOTE: Concluded The RfC concluded. Thanks to those who helped out by thinking through the issues and weighing in. Greg L (talk) 16:18, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

Superscripted text in quotes

Coming from Wikipedia:Bots/Requests_for_approval/Yobot_20 related to The ordinal suffix (e.g., th) is not superscripted (23rd and 496th, not 23rd and 496th).

Question: does this apply to quoted text? That is, do we remove the superscripted ordinals in quotations? —  HELLKNOWZ  ▎TALK 17:38, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

I would say yes. If the quoted text comes from something that was firstly spoken and not written it's clear I think. We choose the style we want. Even if the quotes text is from something written I think we should adjust it to tour style unless it's something very special where the style plays role but I don't have any examples where the superscripted text would suffice this requirement. -- Magioladitis (talk) 17:48, 14 April 2011 (UTC)
  • I agree. These are typestyle issues. If the quoted text was in Times New Roman, we are not required to use that typestyle either in the quote. Greg L (talk) 16:20, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

Units of measurement

Wikipedia is an international institution and as such should conform to international conventions as much as possible. This is particularly true for the English language Wikipedia, which is read by users from all over the world. This means that units of measures should prefer the SI system over any other nonstandard or regional system. Legacy units (e.g. feet, miles, cubits, leagues, etc) are fine and may be used in certain contexts, but absolutely not without expressing the values in conventional units as well. Most people in this world have no idea of how many stones they weigh or how many square feet their house measures, so please let's not be provincial and let's allow people from other countries to understand what we're talking about. Cheers —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:11, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

How is this different from existing guidance? Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 22:28, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
MOSNUM’s current guidelines are the product of ten-thousand debates on this issue and strike the proper balance, where the primary unit of measure depends on a variety of issues, including—but certainly not limited to—whether there is a strong national tie to a particular article (e.g. American football will be primarily in yards) as well as what units of measure are used by the sources that are cited in the article (e.g. distances to other galaxies are often in light years, not petameters). Plus, MOSNUM requires that appropriate conversions are made available. If you, I.P., saw an article that is not satisfactory, it may well not be in compliance with MOSNUM and needs to be improved. You are welcome to do so. Just please be sure to read and understand the applicable sections of MOSNUM before correcting the articles. Greg L (talk) 04:41, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
The advice to read and understand MOSNUM is good. However, MOSNUM's advice does pull in two directions:
  • Generally follow the sources
  • For topics strongly associated with a given place, put the most appropriate units first.
However, British information can be at variance with the MOSNUM guidelines. For example, "Feet/inches and stones/pounds for personal height and weight measurements" is at variance with the British Premier League soccer, which uses metric measurements. See [14] or English Rugby Union, which puts the metric measurements first. See [15]. For that reason I believe that the source information should generally take precedence but that conversions should be supplied, because when it comes to weights and measures, we don't all speak the same language! Michael Glass (talk) 03:11, 10 March 2011 (UTC)
Another problem with MOSNUM is that it refers to the Times Style Guide. This has several problems:
  1. It gives undue emphasis to the Times style guide compared with other style guides.
  2. The Times style guide is inconsistent with MOSNUM. In fact I think it is more inconsistent with MOSNUM than the Guardian style guide.
  3. Referring specifically to the Times style guides is redundant, because it and other style guides are compared and contrasted in the article on metrication in the UK, and this is linked to MOSNUM.
I believe that a specific reference to any one style guide in MOSNUM gives that guide undue emphasis, that the Times guide is in inconsistent with some of MOSNUM's recommendations, and as several style guides are compared and contrasted in the article on metrication in the United Kingdom, one reference to this article in MOSNUM is sufficient. Michael Glass (talk) 02:17, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Is there not a case that the units of measure should follow the units used in the sources with preference being given to the primary source? Martinvl (talk) 06:32, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
  • That's all very well if there's some monolithic "primary source". In practice, the very issues that come up here are typically a mess out there in such sources. That is why every decent publication has a style guide in the first place. So you can't just dispose of it simplistically like this. Often a call is going to have to be made by WP's style guides. Tony (talk) 07:59, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Objections to source-based units have been expressed on numerous occasions, and notably include the fact that there are editors here who have a record of picking the sources to match the units they prefer rather than vice versa. I still oppose them on these grounds and on the other grounds that have been expressed on dozens of occasions.

Articles primarily about the United Kingdom should take as primary the system of measures in general use in the United Kingdom, just as articles primarily about the United States take as primary the system of measures in general use in the United States. This system is best described by the Times style guide. Pfainuk talk 17:03, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Pfainuk's argument could be applied to those situations where there is a system of measures in general use in the United Kingdom. However, this argument should not apply when usage is divided. The Times style guide is at variance with the Guardian style guide in some details. I don't think it is the job of MOSNUM to recommend one British style guide over another. When the style guides agree, it is evidence of general use; however, when they are at variance it shows that usage is divided. In cases where British usage is divided, such as in -ise vs -ize spellings, or in those details where style guides differ on weights and measures, it is better not to be dogmatic.
The specific proposal was to refer to several style guides rather than just one. This specific proposal does not change MOSNUM's detailed recommendations. What it does is to deal with the style guides more even-handedly. Michael Glass (talk) 02:48, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
So, you're saying that if you can find one style guide that uses kilometres, then that might be more important in our decision of what units to take as primary than the common usage of almost the entire UK population?
The exceptions currently noted in the text, and the Times style guide, are precisely the cases where usage isn't significantly divided. People in the UK do not measure themselves in kilograms or metres. They do not drink beer in litres. And they do not measure distances in kilometres. Anybody can look at a British set of bathroom scales, a British beer glass or a British road sign and see that for themselves. The fact that you might not like this does not change it. Pfainuk talk 19:35, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
I'll give you one thing Michael you're remarkably persistent in a manner that is almost admirable. This proposal has been rejected so many times but you still keep trying. Pfainuk is correct, we should follow local usage not source usage, as too often sources are selected for their units rather than their reliability. Now I am off to a beer festival to drink beer in pints and whisky in 1/6 gill. Slàinte mhòr. Wee Curry Monster talk 19:56, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
May I take issue with User:Pfainuk regarding bathroom scales - over the past few months, scales in UK doctors surgeries have been converted to metric-only. Also, in the army, backpacks are weighed in kilograms and the ratio of backpack weight to the soldier's weight are of concern. As regards road signs, may I suggest that he reads the article Driver location signs - he might realise that both miles and kilometres are in use on British motorways and if he uses British motorways, a knowledge of how they work might help him in an emergency. In response to User:Wee Curry Monster, are you sure that whiskey is being served in 1/6 gill(23.67 ml) glasses ? The prescribed measure in under UK law is 25 ml.
May I also take issue with User:Wee Curry Monster regarding "local usage" - if it is not verifiable, then it smells of WP:OR. Martinvl (talk) 20:24, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
What proportion of British motorists, do you think, are aware even that the numbers on driver location signs are distances, let alone where they are measured from and what units there are in? I would imagine that the number is very small - especially when compared to the proportion who could give similar details about this sign, for example. Every distance indication that drivers are actually likely to find useful on a British road is measured in either miles or yards. Perhaps it is worth considering the possibility that this is not done purely for the confusion of foreigners.
Neither the point that the Army measures its backpacks in kilograms, nor the point that doctors use metric scales, changes the fact that the overwhelming majority people in the UK measure their personal weight in stones and pounds - indeed, that most wouldn't have the first clue as to their weight in kilograms. The point about the Army is particularly bizarre, given that we are not generally attempting to determine suitable backpack weights for the subjects of our articles. Perhaps you similarly feel that the fact that the US Army uses "klicks" means that all Americans use kilometres really, and that US-related articles should therefore be kilometre-first? Pfainuk talk 20:56, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
The problem with using sources is that you tend to cherry pick the sources to get the units into metric first. UK articles should use the system used in the UK which by and large is imperial, distances for example are almost exclusively miles. Keith D (talk) 23:08, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
Martin, I really don't know how to respond to you, I just checked the highway code, the very latest edition, a reliable source and I'm astonished to find that road signs are in mph and that distances are given in yards. I just checked my bathroom scales, I'm 15 stone 6 lbs, would a picture help with that? This is not some conspiracy to deny metrication, we really do things that way, this is local usage.
If you wish wikipedia to go metric, then convince people of the merits of such a policy. Don't continuously lecture people that they don't know what the situation is in their own country, because this is ultimately counter productive. The military use metric because of the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system as it makes fire control orders a helluva lot easier (I spent most of military career in fire support). UK civilians have somewhat stubbornly stuck to metric, its just the way it is, the Government keep trying, the EU keep trying and the Brits remain awkward and wedded to imperial. Trying to lecture me that I don't know what the road signs I see every day mean, well come on if anyone is conducting WP:OR its you, claiming its different because the army is metric. Mmm, okay? Wee Curry Monster talk 23:06, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

The responses to my proposal have been strong on emotion but short on relevance. This is not a question of saying what British usage is, but in dealing with style guides more even-handedly. The comment about finding style guides misses the mark. The style guides (Times, Guardian and Economist) have already been found and compared, and they differ slightly on details [16]. My present proposal is to refer to these three style guides instead of just one of them. The proposal does not even touch on the specific prescriptions of MOSNUM. All the talk about British practice, American practice, Army rucksacks, driver location signs, doctors' scales, bathroom scales, my persistence, someone else's alcohol intake and the use of miles or kilometres on roads are red herrings.

The question at issue is really quite simple. Do we have wording that pretends to be even-handed but favours one style guide over others, or do we have wording that refers quite even-handedly to three prominent style guides. Here is the difference:

The second passage could then be linked to the three style guides directly or linked to the analysis of the style guides in Metrication in the United Kingdom. Any comments or concerns? Michael Glass (talk) 23:19, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

My only comment is that what you're proposing is unclear, which has nothing to do with alcohol intake. What exactly do you propose? Wee Curry Monster talk 23:28, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

Wow. That was quick! The wording of my proposal is as follows:

This links directly to the discussion of the style guides in Metrication in the United Kingdom. The relevant passage reads as follows:

Newspapers styles vary. While both The Guardian'[1] and The Times[2] prefer metric units in most circumstances, and both provide exceptions where imperial units are preferred, they differ on some details.
The Times specifies that heights and weights put Imperial measures first while the Guardian's examples are from metric to Imperial. Similarly, while both give first place to hectares, the Guardian prefers square kilometres (with square miles in brackets) while the Times prefers square miles. Both retain the preference for the mile in expressing distances. In contrast, The Economist prefers metric units for "most non-American contexts," except for the United States section where "you may use the more familiar measurements." However, The Economist also specifies "you should give an equivalent, on first use, in the other units".[3]

That's what I propose. Any comments or concerns? Michael Glass (talk) 23:55, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

It appears to be metrication by the back door Michael to be honest, selecting The Economist style guide is effectively that. Current practise suggests using the Times style guide which largely reflects British usage and so I would suggest we don't change. I prefer clear guide lines and your proposal seems to be allowing editors to choose whichever one of three they like. That will lead to patchy and inconsistent application of units. Sorry but I have serious reservations. Wee Curry Monster talk 00:39, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

But that's not what I proposed. I proposed a way of linking to all three of these style guides instead of choosing just one. Choosing the most conservative of the style guides and passing that off as representative is just as bad as selecting the most radical and trying to run with that. As I said, I was trying to do something more even-handed by referring to all three policies. So if there are problems in only linking to the most radical of the style guides and there are exactly the same problems in linking to the most conservative of them, as the policy does at the moment, then what is to be done?

I believe that the solution to this conundrum is either linking to all of these policies, or linking to none of them. It is the cherry-picking that is objectionable. Michael Glass (talk) 07:34, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

As I believe I mentioned before, there is a reason why the Times Style guide is chosen, and that is that it is the one that most accurately reflects modern usage and hence what we are supposed to be doing here. What you are pushing for is more interarticle inconsistency and (as per normal) metric units in contexts where imperial units are overwhelmingly more common in British usage. Pfainuk talk 08:49, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

That's easy to assert, but where is your evidence? When the style guides agree, that is certainly evidence that this is British usage. However, when the Times style guide is not the same as, for instance The Guardian, this is evidence that usage may be divided. At the moment what I see is several style guides that agree on certain things but differ on details, and I see editors picking the style guide that suits them best. Show me the evidence that your preference is more than cherry-picking. Michael Glass (talk) 11:33, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

So you really are claiming that the British all use kilometres really and just put miles on the road signs to confuse foreigners? That we all use kilograms to measure our weights and that the fact that bathroom scales use stones is some perverse kind of masochism? That we sell beer in pints just because we like to listen to the EU whining about why we haven't decided to use litres?
If you do not like the fact that imperial units are nigh-on universal in certain contexts in British usage, then ultimately that's your problem. The fact that you like certain units and dislike others does not mean that Wikipedia has to follow your preferences. Pfainuk talk 12:35, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

Pfainuk, you are not answering the question I asked. The style guides are united in saying that miles should be used and also that hectares should be used. The fact that you have even raised the question of miles versus kilometres is a straw man argument. I was discussing instances where the style guides differ, such as in the treatment of square miles versus square kilometres, and in whether feet and inches and stones and pounds should be used instead of metric measures (The Times) or whether metric measures should be used, with the older measures in parentheses (The Guardian). This is not about what you do with the scales in your bathroom, but how an editor may report on the area of Dorset or what an editor might do when Premier League gives the height of players in centimetres only [17]. If you follow the sources and The Guardian Style Guide you will get one answer, but if you follow the Times Style Guide you will get another.

So the question is not whether editors should follow your preferences or my preferences, but whether they should have the freedom to decide what to do when style guides are at variance. I state that they should have the freedom to decide these issues; you appear to be one on the side of compulsion.

So please stop using straw man arguments and ridiculous misrepresentations. I was asking you to provide evidence of usage in the areas where the style guides differ. If you cannot or will not do that then why should I take your assertions seriously? Michael Glass (talk) 14:02, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

Empirically Brits almost universally use imperial measures, despite a number of journals wanting to portray themselves avant garde by adopting metric – as continental Europe has embraced it. WIkipedia has its own style guideline, and consensus is that we should adopt these unless there is specification derogation. So far, there is none. The Pound is here to stay and so are the square mile and the acre, as far as the Brits are concerned. We have already seen the arguments used in some quarters how we should defer to 'reliable sources' on matters of endashes. Such an approach is just more likely to result in a huge mess drawn along lines of individual preferences of editors, because there are entropic individual preference spulling us in different directions. My guess is that the endash battleground was chosen because such non-unified practice has been observed in sources by some, and calculated to weaken MOS by setting a proverbial cat among the pigeons, but I digress. Lets not go there. I do not see the freedom, when it comes to allowing a proliferation of styles, as being at all undesirable. Whilst I tend to agree that we should abandon genuine "legacy" units, like perhaps stone and hundredweight, usage of imperial units in articles is best linked to WP:TIES. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 14:12, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
This is precisely the case here. My argument is that, at least in contexts where British usage is uniformly imperial, we should follow that rule unless there's a good reasons not to (that not including the fact that a particular source happens to use a different unit). I don't think that unreasonable. Michael's argument is that, because the Economist prefers that its authors use kilometres, the rest of us also use kilometres (and, as I say, presumably put miles on the road signs out of masochism). For those of us who have had literally years of experience dealing with Michael on the subject of units, it is clear that any opening will be used to force metrication on to as many articles as possible regardless of British usage. Shoot, even today he has been going through Premier League footballers applying source-based units ([18][19][20][21]) against MOSNUM's recommendation for imperial units in these contexts (articles with strong national ties to the United Kingdom). If anything the current wording needs strengthening to prevent abuse. Pfainuk talk 14:41, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
"Brits almost universally use imperial measures" – You may have meant something that is correct, but it's not correct as stated. For instance, usage of Celsius and Fahrenheit is divided, with Celsius more common than Fahrenheit. Metrication in the UK is progressing slowly, and as one would expect it is most successful where it replaces units that most people are rarely if ever exposed to with metric units that they are rarely if ever exposed to. It has notably not succeeded at all in replacing the mile with the kilometre, and has had only very partial success in replacing the inch and foot with the centimetre. But the more obscure units such as the grain are essentially gone and have been successfully replaced by the corresponding metric units.
For our purposes in most articles this can be summarised in the way that you did without doing much harm, but in a small number of technical articles it's important to understand that the current system of units in the UK is a hodgepodge. Hans Adler 14:53, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

Pfainuk is right that there is a genuine split of usage when it comes to temperatures, and the same split in usage applies in other areas. That is what is causing an increasing gap between the sources and the style guide. It is British usage when an Englishman describes his height in feet and inches; it is also British usage when Premier League (and the BBC) describes the height of players in centimetres. Similarly, it is British usage both when the Times expresses a preference for square miles and when The Guardian expresses a preference for square kilometres and when both express a preference for hectares over acres. Usage is more divided than the anti-metricationists are willing to admit. Michael Glass (talk) 22:58, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

I don't believe I have ever expressed by opinions on what units the British should use, since it is irrelevant to the subject at hand. The significant point is the units that the British actually use.
You say that the Premier League mentions heights in metres. Good for them - but bear in mind that the Premier League is broadcast to 600 million people in 202 countries and that these kinds of pages are more likely to be used by those who are less familiar with the players concerned (who are thus more likely not to be British). Their usage cannot reasonably be taken a measure of what units the British themselves use, which is the basis on which we determine primary unit choice on Wikipedia. Even so, as has been pointed out to you, those same biographies give player body weights to the nearest ten grams - apparently the result of an overprecise conversion from imperial units.
I understand that you do not like the fact that imperial units are used by people in the UK. But that does not mean that they are not used. Wikipedia should reflect reality, not what Michael Glass would like reality to be. Pfainuk talk 16:05, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

Premier League uses metric units but so do the Premier League clubs of Fulham, Liverpool and Sunderland. Other teams provide information in Imperial units and yet others provide no such information. This demonstrates that British usage in written information is divided, and that's where it counts for Wikipedia documentation.

A rigid rule about British usage clashes with actual written usage, reasonable consistency and plain common sense. Follow a rigid rule and you get inconsistencies like this:

  • The Falklands Islands Government states that it has a road network of 786 km[22]. The Wikipedia article Instead of stating the Government information directly and giving the mile equivalent in brackets, flips the display so that the miles come first [23] Why reverse the order of units from a the Falkland Islands Government website?
  • Bleaker Island is described in a mixture of units: square miles for area, miles for land distances and metres for the height of the hills even though the major source uses metric units only. An article of less than 600 words has an inconsistent use of units inflicted on it by the rigid application of an inconsistent formula.
  • The Hummock Island article has the same formula applied even more fanatically. The source describes the area of the island as 303 hectares. This would be acceptable even to the Times Style Guide but this is flipped to 1.17 square miles. It was deemed that hectares would clash with distances in miles, which, similarly, were flipped from kilometres in the source document. Does this achieve consistency? Not at all. Heights are in metres, as per the guidelines, so instead of the article being consistent with the source and consistently metric, it is inconsistent with the source and inconsistent in its use of units. Worse than that, information about the area of the smaller islands in the Hummock Island group has been cut so that hectares don't appear. All this in an article of less than 200 words.

The rules of Wikipedia should not be set by the British Weights and Measures Society. If these are examples of what Pfainuk wants to inflict on editors more widely, Heaven help us! Michael Glass (talk) 01:38, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

This is no decisive argument on a major point, but I haven't the foggiest idea of what a hectare (or for that matter an acre) or 303 hectares covers. 1.17 square miles (or 1 1/6 square miles), however, gives me a strong idea, as apart from knowing what a linear mile is, a square mile is the approximate area of some towns I've seen: in my case, the City of London, Albany, California and Central Falls, Rhode Island. (And Manhattan, as many people know, covers about 24 square miles. Purely by coincidence, New York City covers 303 square miles, so if you know how many hectares fill a square mile, you can tell how many Hummock Islands would fit into the Five Boroughs.) This of course is idiosyncratic OR that wouldn't apply precisely to other readers, and doesn't answer the question of when metric should come first or second. But there should be conversions either way, and in my case something would be lost if the square mileage were to disappear in favour of either hectares or acres. In general, I'm against rigid rules. —— Shakescene (talk) 04:24, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

Regarding the original point by, I would say that I don't agree. This is the English Wikipedia, and our main pool of readers is going to be native English speakers, just as the main pool for the Russian Wikipedia is going to be native Russian speakers and so forth. People who speak English as a second language do of course use the English Wikipedia and are welcome and more than welcome. But people who choose to operate in English ought, to some extent, to recognize that in doing so they are entering into the English-speaking world, with all its idiosyncracies.

When I use the Russian Wikipedia, I certainly don't expect them to express distances in miles for my benefit. Even for articles dealing with the United States. Consequently, I think that it is perfectly acceptable for the English Wikipedia to use miles first when dealing with articles about France or anywhere else, let alone articles about Britain or the United States. Of course, template:convert or hand conversion should be used always, so I don't really see the problem. It doesn't much matter much if a value is described as "X meters (Y feet)" or "Y feet (X meters)". If this is all about which value goes "first", that is quibbling in my opinion. If it's a situation where only kilometers or only miles (or whatever) is given, I would would say that this should not be done, it is an error and should be fixed on sight, in my view, Herostratus (talk) 07:25, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

I couldn't agree more with Shakescene! Of course we need the conversions to enable the greatest number of people to understand the measurements. That's not at issue. What is at issue is whether we put the source units first as a general rule, or whether we follow some other arrangement. A proposal for following the sources is not opposed to the need for conversions. Indeed, by putting the two policies together I believe we can better cater for the needs of all our readers.
We need to remember that speaking English and using the traditional measurements no longer go together. A whole generation of native English speakers has now grown up in Australasia, South Africa and other countries who use the metric system and are largely unfamiliar with the older measures. My proposal to follow the sources simply means following the sources used in the source document to determine which unit, metric or Imperial/customary, should come first. If the document uses miles, by all means use that; however, if it uses kilometres, put that first and put the miles second.
I hope this helps to clarify what I have proposed. Michael Glass (talk) 09:19, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
User:Herostratus asserted that "our main pool of readers is going to be native English speakers, just as the main pool for the Russian Wikipedia is going to be native Russian speakers ..." Why then is the Times of India the world's largest circulation English-language newspaper. Its circulation is 3.14 million, while India only has 0.22 million people for whom English as a first language? The situation, as I see it, is that many non-English speakers resort to English if the information that they want is not in their native tounge - 53% of people in the EU can read English - more than any other country and unlike German or French, non-native speakers outnumber native-speakers 2:1. Moreover, a significant number of people who use English as a first language come from metric countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand.
In addition,English is the lingua franca in many parts of the world (India, Pakistan, South Africa, Nigeria) and is also the lingua franca of the scientific world. I therefore support User:Michael Glass's comments. Martinvl (talk) 09:33, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
The last time I saw any statistics, the great bulk of en.Wikipedia's current (as opposed to theoretically potential) readership was concentrated in North America, the British Isles and Australasia. Of course, we should always keep in mind that Wikipedia has many readers in many other places, and make sure that things like U.S. state abbreviations (quick! what are AL, AR, MI, NE and MS? are you sure?) don't make things unnecessarily obscure. But in considering what's clearest to the most readers, consider where they are. [And if you look at The Times of India or Dawn (Pakistan), their pages are full of lakhs and crores.] —— Shakescene (talk) 11:18, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes, we need to cater for the needs of non-native speakers of English as well as those whose first language is English, for those in the USA and England as well as Australia and India and Nigeria. That's why we need both metric and Imperial/customary measures. We also know that the question of metrication has become a political hot potato, especially in the UK, and it is only natural that the strong feelings of people, both for and against metric measures should carry over into their views on what is right and proper in Wikipedia. Many English and American editors feel irked or affronted that metric measures are spreading like a rash in English Wikipedia while others see that it is a necessity. This second view has prevailed, and most editors accept the need for conversions, even though it can be cumbersome.
The sticking point comes when deciding which units should come first, metric or Imperial/customary. A partial solution is that we should have metrics first in most of the world, except in the United States, where customary units should generally have first place. And then comes the UK. Here we have a real division of usage and strong opinions both ways. In fact, the dispute has been so great over Falkland Island articles that there is a separate policy on units for these articles. I believe that a better way of handling these questions is generally to follow the sources.
My proposal has come under fire from those who support using the older measures. They fear that this policy will result in wholesale metrication of articles, that it will result in unbearable inconsistencies, that it will result in source shopping, where sources are referenced, not because they are best, but because they are metric. It is obvious that the fears come almost completely from those who support the older measures, but these are real concerns that should be addressed.
  1. The fear of wholesale metrication of articles. Certainly there is a tendency for some who favour one kind of measures to put them first. I believe that this should stop. If the source is metric, then by and large, the metric measures should be put first; if the source uses the older measures, by all means put them first. This rule, far from favouring metrication, would cut both ways.
  2. Unbearable inconsistencies. Are the sources so much in conflict? If they are then it may be necessary to smooth them out. However, I think the fear of this is overstated. Let's say there was a historical reference to an older measure, then this should not be a problem. Usually, however, this fear is not borne out in practice. This issue comes up with the area of the United States where there are several figures and the one from the CIA is expressed in square kilometres! Should you put the CIA figure with the square kilometres first? This can be decided between editors.
  3. Source shopping. Let's say I found the height of a footballer was listed as 1.80 metres and another editor found that the footballer said he was 6 feet tall. Well, a man should know his own height best, so that may well the better evidence. Of course, if there were different heights in equally authoritative sources, the best solution may be to remove all references for height, as the information is so contradictory.
My final point is that sources cut both ways. In fact, this is their great advantage: it largely takes the decision-making away from the prejudices of individual editors, who may be one-eyed in their support or their hostility to certain weights and measures, and puts it into finding reliable sources for the information. And that is all to the good.
I hope that this answers people's concerns about my proposal. Michael Glass (talk) 12:15, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
Not really Michael, source choice determining units is simply avoiding the MoS. On one hand it allows for metrication by judicious choice of sources and that really is a best case scenario. More likely it will be a muddle, with units inconsistently applied and this is why it has been rejected every time it has been suggested. Your final point alludes to this but I'm sure you realise that. We have a MoS that is at least consistent and works, I don't see a need to change for something that promises anarchy. So I would disagree that what you're proposing is for the good, it can't possibly be. Wee Curry Monster talk 12:37, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for this comment, Wee Curry Monster. I will answer your points one by one.
  • Avoiding the MOS?
Not so! MOSNUM says: "Apply these guidelines when choosing the units for the measurements that come first:
When the source uses one set of units, generally put that one first; if editors cannot agree, put the source's units first. If they are not first, this should be stated in the citation." Yes, I realise that MOSNUM can be quoted to support a different approach. When usage is fairly clear, the two approaches are complementary; when usage is divided, the two approaches are in conflict. My proposal is designed to resolve this conflict.
  • Metrication by judicious choice of sources
I support a judicious choice of sources! If it results in metrication or demetrication, so be it!
  • More likely it will be a muddle with units inconsistently applied...
Really? Could you give me examples where this would be the case? I have found that when there are inconsistencies they usually are not too much of a problem, and that if problems arise, they can be resolved. If you have evidence to the contrary, please reveal it.
  • It has been rejected every time it has been suggested.
Yes, source based unit choice has been opposed because it has been seen as an engine for wholesale metrication. Different approaches are often rejected out of hand at first. It isn't easy to argue the case for something different. Remember that even if a change in policy changed articles, a huge amount of information is still only available in the older units. This will remain the case for a long time in the future and articles will reflect this for a long time to come.
  • We have a MoS that is at least consistent and works...
MOSNUM works because the less workable parts are largely ignored. My proposal is not to attack MOSNUM or to replace it, but to make it more consistent and easier to apply.
  • Something that promises anarchy
Really? How would a proposal to follow the sources result in anarchy? Could you show me an article that would be hurt by following the sources?
  • It can't possibly be for the good.
No proposal can promise perfection. However, it is possible to do better that we are doing at the moment. In most cases my proposal would make little or no difference. Articles from most of the world, and scientific articles would remain metric first. Articles about the USA would remain US Customary units first. British articles where the sources were Imperial would remain imperial and those that were metric would remain metric. The only change would be in articles where the sources were inconsistent with the units used in the article. But here again, this would apply both ways.
I have tried to answer all the concerns you have raised. Please get back to me if you have further concerns about this proposal. Michael Glass (talk) 13:48, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
  • Just the sort of patronising and straw man argument I had thought we would be able to avoid. Let's be clear, there is nothing "historic" about using pounds and ounces, miles and yards, pints and quarts –these are national preferences in the largest English-speaking countries. Their usages there are current for the most part, and not obsolete, as you seem to suggest. ANd what of "fear that this policy will result in wholesale metrication of articles, that it will result in unbearable inconsistencies". The only agreed upon enemy here in WP is inconsistencies within any given article. I don't feel those presently assembled are "afraid" of what you suggest they may be afraid of, and I don't think anyone really gives a fuck about the absolute correctness if someone's height is stated as 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) or 1.94 metres (6 ft 4 in), provided there are reliable sources to back it up? Even if people were afraid, so WTF?? It will not matter one jot to a continental European reading the article, provided we preserve accessibility by giving conversions for the units. WP is sufficiently mature to tolerate national variants of English, so why are we being forced by someone who chooses to systematically and unilaterally replace all footballers' heights with metric units, in obvious defiance of WP:RETAIN and WP:TIES. The real answer to consistency is to seek to apply this across the whole of Wikipedia. For the record, I would no oppose going universally for pounds and ounces over Kilograms and grams (or vice versa) if consensus is reached to do so, then fine. Right now, there is none. Ditto for miles versus kilometers. The best of luck to you should you want to fight that Battle. Now go and build that consensus if you must; in the meantime, you ought to just leave pounds alone, because it's clearly contentious. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 14:48, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

Ohconfucius, I'm sorry you have taken offence because I described Imperial/customary units as the older units. It just so happens that they are - except for the Imperial pint and gallon. If I refer to the older units and you accuse me of implying that Imperial/customary units are historic and obsolete, isn't there more than a little straw in your argument? We agree that it is more important to have accurate information than whether it is expressed in metres or feet and inches. We agree on the need for conversions. We agree on respecting different varieties of English, including different preferences for weights and measures. In fact, I explicitly stated that a variety in usage would remain. All I am saying is that as a general rule, articles should follow the sources in their choice of which unit should come first. This is not a declaration of war against the pound weight. Ohconfucius, I'm afraid there is even more straw in your argument than there is swearing. Michael Glass (talk) 22:30, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

In other words, you want to be able to pick the sources to match your own unit preferences - regardless of local custom or any notion of consistency, or indeed basic points such as WP:RETAIN. For these and all the other points that have been raised against this point over the last two years that you have brought this up over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over - I remain opposed. Pfainuk talk 20:00, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
Michael, I responded politely to your suggestion, whilst I appreciate this is a topic about you which you are clearly passionate you do yourself no favours with resorting to what is little more than an ad hominem attack. Your proposal of using source based units has been repeatedly rejected, the reasons remain equally valid and I do not support or endorse this as a proposal. I reject it for the reasons stated, namely that it would result in inconsistent application of units that would have a negative impact on articles. So unless you have a new argument I would politely suggest you drop it as an idea. Regards. Wee Curry Monster talk 20:46, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

Wee Curry Monster, I acknowledge and appreciate your politeness, and I believe that my response to you was equally polite. You have stated that my proposal would result in an inconsistent application of units. All I have asked is that you demonstrate this assertion with a concrete example. If you are not prepared to do that, so be it. There is nothing more to be said. By all means let the matter rest.

Pfainuk, I raised the idea of following the sources as a way of defusing arguments about which unit should be preferred. Following local sources is a good way of ascertaining what the local preferences really are. But let's say that I or someone else chooses sources on the ground of the units used. This is easily overturned when someone comes up with a better source. So a battle about which unit to use is changed into a struggle to find the best source of information for the article. It's a win-win situation.

The present proposal was one that was limited to areas where British style guides were at variance but this seems to have been lost on you. So let's leave it at that and not waste any more of each other's time. Michael Glass (talk) 02:04, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

  • [Excerpt from my talk page response to Michael Glass]Oh, how I would dearly love for a single style to apply throughout WIkipedia. But having lived the scars of the date delinking case, I have come to realise that that single style isn't going to happen. There are the occasional skirmishes in different areas exactly because of conflicting standards and style guides in use. We live in a cobbled-together world where toes are trod upon as little as possible. WP:RETAIN, WP:TIES have succeeded in keeping the peace in the fractious world in which we edit. Although I have no strong personal preference for any unit of measure kg/cm vs lb/in, as I said, I strongly identify these as fairly prominent national symbols in the US, UK and Australia. A 'source-based' throws an additional layer of complication into the style arena which opens the door to a disintegration of the MOS. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 02:56, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

I understand your concern that 'source based' throws an additional layer of complication into the style area. However, another danger can be seen from the application of WP:FALKLANDSUNITS to the Falkland Island articles. Take West Falkland and Hummock Island. If the sources were followed the articles would be consistent and metric first. However, by following "Falklands Units" the articles are inconsistent in their use of units and partly inconsistent with the sources. The application of "Falklands Units" to Jason Islands had a far more serious result. Information about the length, width and height of several islands was cut from the article because of this clash.

"Falklands Units," rigidly applied, results in the very problems that are attributed to following the sources. No one has taken up my challenge to provide an example of where following the sources would cause problems. As no one else has backed up their assertions with concrete examples, further discussion is pointless. Michael Glass (talk) 06:34, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

  • I do not support the proliferation of different permutations as could be imagined, especially as the falklands islands cannot claim to be a nation state, and ought to follow the British system. I would not be opposed if all are consistently imperial or consistently metric. If the units of measure are a mixed big of imperial and metric, it sounds like nonsense to me. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 06:51, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
No, let us be clear here, WP:FALKLANDSUNITS (which reflects British usage) only came into being because two editors who espouse a metric agenda attached themselves to an article improvement drive by the Falkland Islands Working Group suggesting metrication of all Falklands articles and ignored the pre-existing consensus of following British convention. This was justified by claiming the Falkland Islands used predominanly metric units unlike the UK, based on primarily WP:OR The same "source based" convention was pushed there, despite being rejected repeatedly. It became necessary to establish a convention as a certain editor edited against consensus, in his own words, "to test the consensus", resulting in a lot of unnecessary clean up and accompanied by some unnecessarily personal and heated exchanges on the talk pages of the working group. It does not result in inconsistent articles, it provides structure.
Source based selection has been rejected repeatedly, it cannot and will not work. And if you want concrete example as to why, there are plenty in the Falkland Islands task group where sources were selected for supporting "metric first" rather than their reliability (the classic would be the WP:SPS wool site).
I too would not oppose a consistently metric or consistently imperial approach, if there was a community consensus for it. But we are in a state where a mixed bag of units is in general use and a convention exists to follow the Times style guide. Wee Curry Monster talk 13:02, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
Indeed. One might point out that the reason why WP:FALKLANDSUNITS had to be written rather strictly, is precisely because it was known that we needed to do our best to avoid loopholes in the wording. After 18 months of people trying to force their way through technicalities, this is the sort of thing that becomes necessary.
And it is worth mentioning in the specific case of the Jason Islands that the version of the article included a whole section that was little more than a list of figures (added as metric-first by Michael in defiance of the prevailing consensus for imperial-first measurements on Falklands articles at the time, as part of his 18-month campaign to metricate the Falklands by means of Wikipedia). In many cases, there were so many numbers that what was supposed to be a prose discussion of the geography of those islands wasn't even written in sentences. The "serious result", as he terms it, was very much needed and would have been even if consensus had gone for.
Incidentally, I see that someone added something on source-based units, which means that WP:UNITS now directly contradicts itself. It cannot use both the source-based unit and the most widespread unit in the world an article without strong national ties if the source is US- or UK-based. I will remove that sentence. Pfainuk talk 17:02, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

My responses to the above two postings:

  1. The Falklands Units policy has resulted in inconsistencies in numerous Falkland Island articles. This has to be so because the policy is itself inconsistent. You cannot get consistency from an inconsistent policy that is rigidly enforced.
  2. The Jason Islands article contained a lot of basic information on the area, length, width and highest points of several of the islands. Pfainuk made a point of removing much of the information on the length, width and highest points of several islands. Under the Falklands Units policy, the length and width of the islands had to be in feet or miles and the high points had to be given in metres. By removing this information, this inconsistency was sidestepped, but at the cost of removing basic geographical information about the islands.
  3. The Falklands Units policy is in contrast with the Falkland Island Government website, which is clearly metric first. Even information about roads is given in kilometres. Metric measures are good enough to be used by the Falklands Island Government but not for some Wikipedia editors!
  4. There is no evidence that there ever was a clear consensus on units to be used. When I began to edit these articles, they were inconsistent. Some were predominantly metric first, others were mixed and yet others were predominantly Imperial first. When I changed one detail I was told that there was a consensus for Imperial, but when I later added material that was metric first this was not challenged. Then when I suggested a similar change near the beginning of the Falklands Island article I was told once again that it should be Imperial first. I challenged this in the Falklands work group and the result was a divided vote. When I pressed the issue again, there was a clear vote in favour of metric measures, especially for the weather data. Two editors made an offer, the Falklands Unit compromise but the Imperial warriors insisted on applying it so rigidly that they made a mess of the stubs by applying the policy rigidly.
  5. No evidence has been given to show that applying a source based approach would cause inconsistencies in any article.

Michael Glass (talk) 12:23, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

Do you really not think that eighteen months of the same thing over and over again was long enough? Let's not pretend that WP:FALKLANDSUNITS does not contain a provision to deal with significant inconsistency when it arises. I think we've all got it by now that you're not going to be happy with anything less than full metrication, regardless of local usage, the MOS and rules such as WP:RETAIN and WP:TIES. The disruption that your continually restarting this discussion caused to Falklands-related articles was extreme - it was far more disruptive than anything we have ever had from the sovereignty dispute. Please do not restart it again. Pfainuk talk 09:14, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
  • My view is that WP:FALKLANDSUNITS is utter WP:BOLLOCKS. Firstly, quite contrary to close national ties, the guideline deliberately embraces metres, and strays from feet and inches; imperial measures are only adopted "by exception". That really is quite a mixed bag of measures, and I congratulate you guys for tripping yourselves up so right royally. All this is without mentioning that it is not what WP:TIES was meant to achieve – Falkland Islands have no claim to nation status, and thus the premise for creating its own measurement system is fallacious. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 09:35, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
It's not perfect, certainly. It is essentially the limit of what those preferring British-style measures were willing to accept - a compromise between metric and imperial systems that we were willing to accept, and (we hoped) a means of stopping Michael from preventing article development by trying to force metrication on us every three weeks. After eighteen months, it was worth a go. I, for one, am open to changes - provided that it does not give us a position that is more metric than it already is (and provided that it gives enough safeguard against Michael's habit of creatively interpreting the rules). Trouble is, I very much don't want to have to spend the next eighteen months pissing into the wind like we did before. Pfainuk talk 09:58, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
Oh god, please no, not another 18 months of tendentious argument about metrication by the back door. I prefer to spend my time creating content, not cleaning up up after other editors who refuse to accept a consensus exists. Wee Curry Monster talk 11:36, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
Right. Probably better just not to go there. Pfainuk talk 12:06, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

The constant criticism is that my proposals would metricate Wikipedia by the back door. In answer to this I would just like to state the following points:

  1. Abusive postings and foul language do not impress me and will not deter me.
  2. Metrication is not a disease to be resisted, but a factor that needs to be accommodated.
  3. A proposal to follow the local sources is not a proposal to metricate Wikipedia by the back door, but a way to delink the choice of units from the prejudices of editors and concentrate on the best sources for the articles.
  4. No evidence has yet been supplied to substantiate the claim that following local sources would cause significant inconsistencies in articles.
  5. I raised the example of WP:FALKLANDSUNITS as an example of an inconsistent policy that results in an inconsistent display of measurements in articles. If you would rather not go there, please don't raise the idea of tightening MOSNUM in that direction.
  6. Following local sources, whether they come from the Falkland Islands Government website or the Premier League or other clubs, is not going to bring down the end of the world on us.
  7. Two or three stonewalling editors don't constitute a consensus, especially when they lost a vote.

The question of which unit to use in UK related articles needs a flexibility in approach, not rigidity. UK usage about weights and measures varies. Dogmatism about which unit to use is out of place in such a context. Michael Glass (talk) 14:55, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

  • Once again, I seem to read language that implies metrication is inevitable and must be accommodated and cannot be resisted. But we need a guideline that says a certain football player is 1.82m in height and weighs 197lbs like a proverbial hole in the head. That would be the ultimate cockamamie bullshit. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 15:10, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
Wee Curry Monster, Pfainuk, Narson, Ryan4314, Apcbg et al all objected to your proposal Michael. I'll admit mathematics isn't my strongest suit but that is more than 2 and I don't recall any vote where you achieved a majority. On the other hand, there were 2 editors who indulged in tendentious argument for 18 months that utterly paralysed a drive to improve articles for 18 months. 18 months of wasted, useless effort that would have been better directed towards improving articles. You can deny it till you're blue in the face but consensus was and remains against your proposal.
Source based unit convention has been rejected so many times, that it is not the case of flogging a dead horse so much as flagellating the windswept dust where the corpse once lay. No one is abusing you Michael, so playing the martyr does not impress anyone and again it is more than counter productive as it simply hardens attitudes against your proposal.
Now can we please avoid another 18 months of this, please. Wee Curry Monster talk 18:12, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
  • Wee Curry Monster, the reason I brought up the matter of WP:FALKLANDSUNITS is because Pfainuk suggested that MOSNUM be tightened in that direction. I don't see that the Issues I pointed out about Falklands Units being resolved at any time soon and would prefer to keep away from that issue. I respect the way that you have put your point of view, but if Pfainuk becomes abusive, then he deserves to be called out on his behaviour.
  • Pfainuk, remember that I got a clear majority for changing the weather data, and there has always been support for metric measures. In one discussion last year I counted 3 editors for metric, two for generally metric as per sources and one for generally metric with some exceptions.
  • Ohconfucius, far from believing that metric conversion is inevitable, I believe that we are stuck with metric/Imperial/Customary units for the forseeable future. In the case of the UK there is a split in usage, and this is reflected in the sources. I agree we don't need a guideline to order us to put footballers' weights and heights in any unit, Imperial or metric. What we need to do is to leave it to the good sense of editors to find and make use of the best sources, whether metric or Imperial. The policy should be neutral. Michael Glass (talk) 00:44, 18 April 2011 (UTC).
    • Most people won't be aware of WP:FALKLANDSUNITS, or care about that remote part of the South Atlantic. Those who are aware of it, certainly thanks to that discussion, are likely to think of it as a dog's breakfast.

      As my closing remark to this discussion, I cite you a parallel: while dd mmm yyyy date format is by no means universally British – the mmm dd, yyyy format is used by some important British newspapers, the consensus is that British articles should universally use dd mmm yyyy, despite the sources. This is the Wikipedia Manual of Style, it may be influenced by other external style guidelines, but remains "ours". --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 02:45, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

Ohconfucious, yes we are aware, point of fact it should never have been necessary. Sadly it was. As to Michael, ah yes the great Celsius vs Fahrenheit victory, crack open the champagne but sourced based units no thanks. Wee Curry Monster talk 13:35, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

On the question of dd mmm yyyy versus mmm dd yyyy, this is a matter of style. 18 April is the same date as April 18. However, when it comes to units of measure there is the question of rounding errors. Though such errors are usually very small it is preferable not to make them. (I also hope that this will be my last remark in this discussion.) Michael Glass (talk) 11:41, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

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  2. ^ "Online Style Guide - M". London: Times Newspapers Ltd. accessdate = 8 April 2010. 10 July 2009. Retrieved 12 May 2010.  line feed character in |publisher= at position 22 (help)
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