Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 35

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Edits which just unwikify stuff

[comment moved from talk:Bobblewik] Hi, can you stop making edits which just unwikify stuff such as dates, having the dates linked is very useful and I can't see how the articles are improving by removing the date wikilinks. Thanks, Talrias (t | e | c) 22:01, 26 December 2005 (UTC)

This issue is being debated in several places at once. You may wish to look at how the community is responding to questions just like the one you asked. Bobblewik 01:15, 27 December 2005 (UTC)
I'd just like to utter my support of Bobblewik here. He's only unlinking meaningless links. Words on Wikipedia should not be linked wantonly, nor should dates or years. Removing the date links is improving the articles because it is clearing up the clutter. An overlinked page is simply not aesthetically pleasing. --Cyde Weys votetalk 16:58, 27 December 2005 (UTC)
I don't disagree that linking like you suggested is bad - but the edits being made aren't like that! Have a look, for example, at the recently featured list List of Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom. Some of the terms of office don't yet have the full date, and recently the edit by Bobblewik was to remove the wikilinks around the various incomplete dates. Tell me, is that clearing up clutter? I've also seen cases where there are captions underneath images with the years of the person's life wikilinked. After clearing up, the dates have been removed! It is therefore immensely frustrating to see that it's not even a person behind the edits, but some automated script which seems to frequently get it wrong. Removing excess links is fine. But do it by hand and take care not to remove useful links in the process. Talrias (t | e | c) 18:42, 27 December 2005 (UTC)
Talrias, please don't remove entire sections just because you personally don't like them. There's no reason to link 2005, just as there's no reason to link the. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:01, 28 December 2005 (UTC)
There is every reason to link it if it is relevant. Usually, 2000 will be relevant and the word "the" won't be. Talrias (t | e | c) 03:35, 28 December 2005 (UTC)
Notwithstanding your personal views, please do not remove entire sections from a guideline just because you personally disagree. This is not a new addition but something that has been here for awhile, and seems to have support. By all means discuss it here, but until your position has support, please leave the section alone. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:48, 28 December 2005 (UTC)
I think you misunderstand. The way it is done is "don't add it until it has support". It doesn't have support, as you can see by opposition here, on Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard#Yet Another Pointless Style Crusade, on Wikipedia talk:Bots/Archive/2#Bot permission please?, to name some places. Talrias (t | e | c) 03:57, 28 December 2005 (UTC)
No, I think you misunderstand. It had support, it was added, it continues to have support, so it shouldn't be removed without discussion. The discussion on WP:AN indicates to me that it has support. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:07, 28 December 2005 (UTC)
When exactly is a link to 2000 going to be relevant? I can think of one time: in millennium. --Cyde Weys votetalk 03:58, 28 December 2005 (UTC)
How about in a image caption showing when someone was in political office for? There's an example for you. Talrias (t | e | c) 04:02, 28 December 2005 (UTC)
What does that mean exactly: "showing when someone was in political office for?" And how would linking to a stand-alone year add any information? SlimVirgin (talk) 04:08, 28 December 2005 (UTC)
Ugh, this is like pulling teeth. For example, "Mr. X was Prime Minister from 1822 until 1984." Linking the dates allows me to click on it to see other events which happened in that year. I would have thought both of those were incredibly obvious. Evidently not. Talrias (t | e | c) 15:44, 28 December 2005 (UTC)
But how does that help explain the article to you? If what else happened in those years is relevant to the article, the material should be referenced in the article. And not ever single thing that happens in those years will have something to do with Prime Minister X. And stop your rudeness, please. SlimVirgin (talk) 09:57, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
Of course not everything in a linked article will be relevant to the article it is linked from. A trivial example - today's featured article is blues, which has a link to slavery in the opening paragraph. Not all of slavery is going to be about the blues, but if the article mentions the culture of African slaves, it would mention music and the influences it had. Talrias (t | e | c) 10:44, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
I'm not sure this is relevent to the argument. Slavery has a direct connection with the blues. A list of events from a year has nothing to do with when a political figure retires from, or starts in office. And if there were some major event that happened to hasten the retirement it would certainly be discussed in the article itself. Really, who would use such links? They seem to be a huge distraction to me. David D. (Talk) 21:05, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
    • Overlinking IS a legitimate concern (see intro to Thomas Jefferson & imagine it had years linked too - as it once did). The info found at 2000 is not relevant to millennium. The info on a year link in an image cannot be expected to be relevant - though SOME could be interesting. If the info at a year is relevant, then that info should be in the article. I think the best solution is to NOT have dates show as links until they are mouse-overed - this is probably technically do-able & a special syntax could take care of this --JimWae 04:12, 28 December 2005 (UTC)
Exactly how is linking dates for context in Thomas Jefferson "overlinking? J. D. Redding 04:46, 28 December 2005 (UTC)
Did you look at the lead? If the years were linked too, about 85% of the first 2 paragraphs would be blue & underlined (or whatever, depending on skin)--JimWae 04:54, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

The trouble I'm having with all of this is that "overlinking" is so very obviously in the eye of the beholder, and is thus such a very nebulous justification for removing every wikilinked year in every article on Wikipedia. We're talking about going through every article on Wikipedia and enforcing an aesthetic preference. Does that not strike anyone else as being just a smidge over the top? Especially given that recent ArbCom precdents make it quite plain that the Manual of Style is not "policy" and editors may deviate from it with good reason? And given that Template:Mos4 is up for deletion because it claims that the Manual of Style is mandatory, in contravention of both recent ArbCom precdents and the introductory text of the Manual of Style itself?

I have found wikilinked years (and related items, like "18th century", "1980s," et al) within articles to be enjoyable, useful, and edifying in my time here at Wikipedia, both as a casual reader and as an active editor. The year articles are often fun to read purely for the sake of learning trivia, and can be quite useful in putting history in context. The usefulness provided to me by wikilinked years is therefore a "good reason" to deviate from the Manual of Style, as provided for by the recent ArbCom precdents.

Given these facts, I propose that the drive to mass-purge Wikipedia of all wikilinked years be abandoned. If individual articles such as Thomas Jefferson become problematic, then address those articles individually.

All the best.
Ξxtreme Unction|yakkity yak 09:27, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

Nobody is disagreeing with the presence of articles like "18th century", "1980s", "1988", "Tuesday", "April" etc. There are plenty of articles that are enjoyable, useful, edifying, trivial, historical. The proportional benefit of links to them in many articles is the debate. Bobblewik 12:02, 28 December 2005 (UTC)
My comments above speak entirely to the benefit of linking those articles, and not at all to their mere existence (except peripherially). It's why I cited the recent ArbCom precedent which very strongly states that the Manual of Style is neither mandatory nor policy, rather than citing the Wikipedia Deletion Policy. Ξxtreme Unction|yakkity yak 14:58, 28 December 2005 (UTC)
You are mis-interpreting the arbcom decision. Editors are expected to follow the Manual of Style, although it is not policy and editors may deviate from it with good reason. The whole point is that you have to follow the MoS unless you have a "good reason", and what you are implicitly saying is that "good reason" can be your personal preference, which is exactly the opposite of the intention of the arbcom decision. Of course some dates should remain linked, as it is sometimes useful, no one doubts that, but the point here is that linking all dates is bad. Martin 15:46, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

I think the entire argument boils down to whether having a link is more useful than not having a link. The core argument for having a link is that context can be gotten from the link (for example, you can see what else happened in that year), and the argument for removing them seems to be "it's for aesthetical reasons". It should be crystal clear to everyone that aesthetical reasons are subjective to the individual, but providing contextual links is going to useful to everyone. Why should someone's personal style crusade get in the way of the readers' desire for context? Talrias (t | e | c) 15:52, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

No, it also boils down to whether linking to years makes Wikipedia look silly. I submit that it does. Then there's the issue of overlinking, which is a separate issue, but an important one. Overlinking makes pages hard to read. Anything that puts people off reading our pages is a bad thing. SlimVirgin (talk) 10:00, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
That is exactly what I said in the above paragraph - "it's for aesthetical reasons" means "does it look silly or not". How do you find having a link makes it harder to read? Consider changing your style preferences rather than making articles less useful to other readers who find the date links useful. Talrias (t | e | c) 10:44, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
No, that's not what the word "aesthetic" means. By making us look silly, I mean making our articles seem childish and uneducated. It's annoying for new readers to click on a link to the year 2005, where they assume they're going to be taken deeper into something relevant to the article, only to find that it's just a list of things that happened in that year. SlimVirgin (talk) 10:53, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
SlimVirgin makes exactly the right point here. These year links add nothing to the article. Once burned twice shy, by adding these links you are teaching users not to use them. Then all date links become worthless whether they are relevent or not. Linking for the sake of it detracts from the article and appears sloppy, as if editors are thoughtless. Linking to articles that add context makes wikipedia look thoughtful and useful. In good faith I assume that people think these lists of events add context to an article when they link a date. However, I am struggling to see this context, it really looks as if people are just doing it because they can. David D. (Talk) 21:17, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
"Good reason" refers to an exceptional case; a good example is the dab page Congo where there is a map to help the dab page even though the MoS has no provision for it (and could be interpreted to advise against it). Cases that occur often should be on the manual anyway; there is a specific provision here to avoid linking lone years (and lone months), hence that ArbCom decision is irrelevant.
Links are intended to be relevant to the topic, not for exploration nor interest. A year is very rarely relevant to the topic at hand; the exceptions will be few and far apart. Someone that intends to learn about, say, Johann Sebastian Bach's life is not interested in "the Lao empire of Lan Xang unofficially ends" in 1694 even if Bach's mother did die in the same year. A basketball enthusiast doesn't care about the "paying of old age pensions in Germany" in 1891. Interesting, perhaps, but not relevant. The article is about basketball, not historical events.
This can be compared to linking the word "restrictions" or "contraction" in the lead paragraph of football (soccer). Interesting, but not relevant. Neonumbers 23:27, 28 December 2005 (UTC)
The further links on the year page to "X in music" in your example will be helpful though. Of course not all the material in an article will be relevant to the material in an article which links to it. It's not supposed to be. But the year article will of course have related information and it also has related information categorised by topic. The year articles are very helpful indeed and removing links to them is removing useful context from articles. Talrias (t | e | c) 23:49, 28 December 2005 (UTC)
But how will they be helpful? What you seem to be arguing is that every word in a sentence might be helpfully linked. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:21, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
Not at all, what he is arguing and I also support is linking important years in the context of an article to articles which discuss important events that occurred in those years in a broader context. This is helpful. Some people may read the article and not click any links, others will want to learn about other related topics or the general background. Rmhermen 02:41, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
Could you give a concrete example, Rmhermen, from an actual page? SlimVirgin (talk) 02:44, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
Your absurd comments, rude remarks, and argumentative nature not to mention your previous stalking are hardly convincing me that your viewpoint on this issue is a good one. If you have to resort to the way you have been acting on this, I am doubtful that your opinion has merit. Talrias (t | e | c) 03:26, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
Please review WP:NPA and WP:CIV. SlimVirgin (talk) 09:54, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
Please don't edit my comments in future, SlimVirgin. Talrias (t | e | c) 10:32, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
Then please don't make personal attacks. Concentrate on content. SlimVirgin (talk) 10:50, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

I would say that the discussion is boiled down to 0%---50%---100% scale, where some say that minimal amount of wikilinked dates is OK (= MoS), or on the other end all dates to be wikified. People seem to argue that something in between should be accepted (personal preference), not a categorical acceptance of the Manual of Style (i.e. Mos=OK; personal preference = ~OK, but not preferable). But not one is proposing (seriously) to wikify all words or all dates in an article. Some people are also opposing the idea of letting a bot to do these changes. feydey 03:13, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

You may want to add that the current version doesn't read "don't link years" as some seem to be reading it and none suggests to link "Thursday" in Thursday, December 29, 2005. It just depends on the context. -- User:Docu
Here is a comment that I just received on my talk page:
Please don't unlink Thursday from United Kingdom general election, 1931 again. It would be good if you kept track of when you got reverted and actually looked at explanations of why. In this case Thursday the article contains information about the practice of the tradition of holding elections on a Thursday, and the link is definitely relevant. Morwen - Talk 21:14, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
It really seems silly to me link plain English words in quite unremarkable use. Bobblewik 21:31, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
Did you even read Thursday? It contains a section which couldn't be more relevant to general elections. Talrias (t | e | c) 21:35, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
I think that's an important thing to keep in mind here. I personally agree that it's a good thing to only link to relevant pages, but without knowledge of the topic itself it's often hard to determine whether a link to a lone month, year, etc. is relevant or not. I would prefer that someone who takes on the task of unwikifying stuff in an article takes the time to read the article and the linked pages in detail to ensure that the links really are superfluous. JYolkowski // talk 23:02, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
Concur with JYolkowski - things need to be taken on a case by case basis, and I think having our MoS having an "absolute" should be modified. Since there is considerable debate over this issue spanning several pages (WP:BOT, WP:ANI, etc.), how about a good ol' straw poll to gauge community views on this? Yes, I know that polls are evil, but I feel a poll will be a good opportunity to see how we truly feel about this. Thoughts? Thanks! Flcelloguy (A note?) 03:18, 30 December 2005 (UTC)
I disagree. Forgive me for making a side note here, but I do question if that section on elections on Thursday is relevant to "Thursday". It seems to me it is more relevant to "United Kingdom general elections". My point is that it is, or should be if the article was written appropriately, clear what an article is about. Realistically, would an election enthusiast want to dive into the history of Thursdays (as opposed to random trivia facts)? It is undoubtedly what one — reader or editor alike — would expect the article to be about.
I don't say that there are never exceptions, just that they are very very few and this is not one of them. I will, however, consider for a moment that this might be an exception and that my side-note is completely irrelevant. In this case, the link would be more appropriately placed elsewhere, perhaps in a sentence such as "Like all general elections since 1935, this election was held on a Thursday." In this case, in this sentence, perhaps, it would be worthy of exception. At least there is some forecast of what might be on the page in this sentence (i.e. context). Neonumbers 07:26, 30 December 2005 (UTC)
In descriptions about events that always happen on Thursdays, I would wikify the word (e.g. Election Thursday, newspapers published on Thursdays, Ascension, etc.). On the other side, if it just happens to happen on a Thursday, I would not (e.g. as my post of yesterday or dates of birth), but then again there isn't much of a point in writing "Thursday" in these cases. - Friday, December 30, 2005 - User:Docu

One of the issues is that part of the point of linking is to be able to find events by period (date, year, century, at least) for overview articles on those subjects. I have expanded year articles using this method. It seems clear that not all years should be linked, but using "scare words" like "This is an important point:" (a ghastly rhetorical construct in its own right) and requiring a "strong reason" is out of scale with the tiny benefit afforded by not linking dates. I suggest revising the language to soften it--let's still ask for a reason but it need not be a "prohibition". And no more mass-unwikifying. Demi T/C 19:41, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

If you have a suggestion for how the text should be, please propose it. Others have also said what they want but not yet made proposals. I have started a new section for positive proposals. Bobblewik 19:48, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

Split off "page naming" topics in Wikipedia:Naming conventions (numbers and dates)

This hasn't been mentioned on this page before, but it was listed at wikipedia:current surveys, village pump, etc... some months ago. In the mean while several suggestions were incorporated, and others answered at Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (numbers and dates).

So, proposing the updated Wikipedia:Naming conventions (numbers and dates), to be accepted as guideline in a week or so - unless there are still fundamental alterations required.

Note that this guideline proposal absorbs wikipedia:naming conventions (years in titles) (which would become a redirect). Also this is about the last wikipedia:naming conventions topic that doesn't have a "naming conventions" guideline yet, separate from the more general MoS, which doesn't discuss many "page naming" specifics. --Francis Schonken 21:35, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

Linking to numbers

Just like some people insert links to solitary years and dates, as discussed above, the same happens to numbers. What could possibly be the value of linking a number like 89. It clutters up the appearance of the article, and even more its edit view. −Woodstone 10:59, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

Which one of the links to 89 (number) do you think excessive? -- User:Docu

All of them (and the ones to most other numbers). −[User:Woodstone|Woodstone]] 12:24, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

Ok. Not sure if you were told, but in Wikipedia it's common to link to pages. -- User:Docu

No need to be condescending. Linking is encouraged only in cases it adds value to the article. I fail to see how linking just an arbitrary number that appears in an article adds value for the reader. How would a user profit from a link in, say, highway 89 to the number 89? −Woodstone 12:35, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

What's arbitrary or cluttering about linking the page at 88 (number)?
"88 is the natural number following 87 and preceding 89."
Did you look at the (currently) 35 pages at Special:Whatlinkshere/89 (number) before writing "all"? -- User:Docu

I concede that "all" was written too rashly, I should have said "most". But you are sidestepping. I'm not talking about number 89, but numbers in general. In many articles a number occurs (as an amount, a count, a value, a name) and is linked to the number. Those cases are irrelevant for the user. Even in the example you give, 88 linking to 89 might be defensible, but also each of 81-87 link to 89 (just because they are in a range of ten from it); that I call excessive. −Woodstone 13:00, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

Ok, now I understand. If you had picked 88 (number), I would have conceded that the link on "Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic" is likely to be considered excessive. The links from 81-87 are due to a navigational template, similar to other fields, e.g. all US Presidents link to George W. Bush, though he succeeded only to one (maybe two) of them. -- User:Docu


The style of Eras should be changed to distictly prefer BCE and CE considering they are the more appropriate abbreviations for an encyclopedia. Scholarly works have long since changed to the Common Era format as well as many other publications. If Wikipedia wishes to be concidered more than an slightly reliable webpage then it should act the part. David618 20:33, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

This is a very controversial issue, and there are many Wikipedians who strongly oppose BCE/CE on the grounds that it is little used outside of US academia. See Wikipedia talk:Eras for a tiny sampling of the controversy. Essentially, there is no hope of achieving consensus for what you say, however correct you may be. -GTBacchus(talk) 20:35, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

Proposed discussion on update to the Manual of Style

Recent discussions about date links makes it clear that some editors believe that the Manual of Style is not sufficiently clear.

Disputes have been quite intense and unproductive. I propose that we debate updates to the Manual of Style. For example:

  • image caption. This image shows an explosion in 2004.
  • birth/death. Joe Bloggs (1960-2005) wrote a book in 1998.
  • weekly events (newspaper published on Thursday

etc. As I understand it, these are the sort of examples where some editors think linking is essential. I do not fully understand the guidelines that they want (which is why I am calling for the update). Please correct this if I am wrong. Bobblewik 19:37, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

International wiki numbers (without linking)

I have been told Wikipedia does not support locale number formatting. Although I can understand why (english wiki ~ english user, <language X> wiki ~ <language X> user), I believe it could be useful to add a markup to use locale formatting on numbers. Do you think it's a real issue? MaxDZ8 18:32, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

Please excuse my lack of knowledge — do you mean, like, dots versus commas (1,000 vs. 1.000 for a thousand)? If so, then me, no, not really. Neonumbers 11:50, 31 December 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, I figure that's what MaxDZ8 means. It makes sense because there are people in different locales who, despite their locale differences, all speak English. Canadians, Americans, and Brits, for example, use (almost) the same language, but prefer different representations for numbers and dates. I think providing a template to implement date preferences would make the overlinking of date problem go away. The dates in the time ine in metre, for example, look completely backward to me — but getting them to adhere to my date preference means linking them, and linking them violates the style guide. Correct style should be independent of correct locale support. -- Mikeblas 22:22, 1 January 2006 (UTC)
What part of the style guide does it violate? Talrias (t | e | c) 14:46, 2 January 2006 (UTC)
The overlinking part. Authors must link dates in order to get user preferences to apply. If their article has dates which are important to the article but not historically interesting, they'll link all the dates. That's overlinking, as explained by the style guide. I see there are some grassroots efforts to remove links from dates, which I think is premature because we should could be switching the dates directly to some representation that enables preferences if we got this problem solved first. -- Mikeblas 19:34, 2 January 2006 (UTC)
I don't understand why the software can't just recognize dates anywhere, regardless of links. — Omegatron 06:09, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I am referring to commas for numbers only. For example 20,000 meaning "twenty thousands" is really read as 20.00 (round twenty) in my locale (a correct tag could be 20 000, 20°000 or 20000). Although I understand everyone understanding english will probably jump thuru this problem, I believe it was interesting (if not useful) to point this out. As Mikeblas noticed, this is even more important for all the languages which "look like english" but uses different number notation. MaxDZ8 19:22, 2 January 2006 (UTC)
What languages are there that have "look like English" but use different number notation? The only variation in English numbers I know of is "30 000" versus "30,000" for thirty thousand, but there's nothing confusing. I *prefer* to see 30 000, but I wouldn't care if I saw "30,000", which is probably more common. (Officially I think metric measurements in Britain are meant to use Euro-style numbers, but does anyone ever do that?) Or do you just mean other languages written in the Roman alphabet? —Felix the Cassowary 05:05, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
I'm against 20°000 not just because the degree sign isn't on my keyboard (meaning I have to fiddle around to cut and paste the symbol from the bottom of the page or use some other awkward method), but also because it looks like it should be something else - is it actually degrees, perhaps, the reader asks. And 20000 is hard to read, to say nothing of 12345567 (whereas 12,345,567 is instantly readable).

Kdammers 03:47, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

Proposed solution:

  • Original sentence in which a large number like 1,234,567.891 is used.
  • Wikified sentence in which a '''large number''' like ##1234567.891## is used.

Local settings in preferences for number display determines whether the user sees,

  • Wikified sentence in which a large number like 1234567.891 is used.
  • Wikified sentence in which a large number like 1,234,567.891 is used.
  • Wikified sentence in which a large number like 1.234.567,891 is used.
  • Wikified sentence in which a large number like 1°234°567.891 is used.
  • Wikified sentence in which a large number like 1.2345x106 is used.
  • Wikified sentence in which a large number like 1.2345E+6 is used.

-SM 13:00, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

The last two should of course not change the precision and read:

  • Wikified sentence in which a large number like 1.234567891x106 is used.
  • Wikified sentence in which a large number like 1.234567891E+6 is used.

Woodstone 13:38, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

But SM's proposal has also has the decimal point poorly placed, and thus doesn't show all the options (space thousands separator before decimal point, or both before and after, and engineering notation rather than scientific notation, for example).
Also, 1'234'567.891 is more common than 1°234°567.891 (I've actually changed at least one Wikipedia article using the former).
Furthermore, as it is now, we can use scientific notation (1.234500×105) or engineering notation (123.4500×103) or computer science notation (1.234500E+05) to show that those final two zeros are significant. There is no provision in the proposal for doing this. Furthermore, in some cases (such as this particular example), this can also be shown just with an ordinary decimal point, since using 123,450.0 or 123 450.0 or European 123.450,0 would also show the last two digits should be considered significant. Gene Nygaard 16:46, 31 January 2006 (UTC)