Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive B14

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Consensus, what consensus?

Re Arthur Rubin’s comment of 7 October

  • See also the new consensus on KiB / MiB / GiB, where we state that the recognized international convention is not used.

A vote in April 2008 went 11-0 against the present wording. A vote in June, with different editors, went 7-3 the other way. And the last time this was discussed there was a roughly equal number of editors arguing for and against. Greg_L’s tactic of ridicule towards those arguing against the wording, including myself, resulted in a mediation request. Mediation was initially offered by Doug but later turned down at the request of Greg_L and Fnagaton. [1] There is no consensus on this (either way). Nor can there be until such time as a reasoned discussion takes place instead of a shouting match. Thunderbird2 (talk) 22:07, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Hmm… Well, all I can say to you T-bird, is it is clear what your and Jeh’s motives were all along. I quote Jeh (∆ here,) where he was responding to something you posted on his talk page after you two seemed rather disillusioned:
That’s not what we do as volunteer, contributing editors to an encyclopedia: try to promote change. Like Ben Arnold first wrote in 2005 when the use of the IEC prefixes was pushed through here without a consensus: “we should reflect in the encyclopedia what the world is like, not what we think it should be.” Our readers simply didn’t understand any of that “mebibyte” (MiB) terminology. Even after we had been using that terminology for three years here on Wikipedia, you advocates conceded that the IEC prefixes were still not widely recognized by the typical Wikipedia reader. Yet you wanted to keep on with the practice, as if somehow, Wikipedia would one day *show the world the road to a new and brighter and more logical future*. That’s not our role here. We’re now using the terminology used by all computer manufacturers when they communicate to their customer base: “megabyte” and “gigabyte”, etc. Notwithstanding all its ambiguous shortcomings, this is the same terminology used by all general-interest computer magazines.
We’re done with this for now. When the computer manufacturers actually start using the IEC prefixes to communicate to their customer base, that’s when most computer magazines will start using them. At that point, Wikipedia can hop onto the band wagon too. Until then, please drop this issue. Greg L (talk) 00:01, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
It's not a vote, it's the weight of the arguments. Apperently, no one outside the MOSNUM regulars knew about the discussion the first time. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 00:14, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
Exactly. MOSNUM regulars: a shortcoming we need to be sensitive to. Omegatron (a lead proponent of the IEC prefixes) himself admitted (∆ here), that “there was no consensus” to begin using the IEC prefixes in the first place. The only reason the use of the IEC prefixes became so ubiquitous on Wikipedia is a single editor (Sarenne) changed hundreds of articles… until getting banned for life. And when the other editors who had been trampled on by Sarenne came here to complain, they were stonewalled from being able to change the articles back. Greg L (talk) 00:22, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
Thunderbird2 the consensus is linked in the guideline text. The "11-0 against the present wording" you cite is actually very old and is deprecated by the much newer stronger arguments in the consensus linked in the guideline. I draw attention to the fact that you have not provided any valid arguments to refute the very strong arguments made in the linked consensus. I also warn you that your recent edit history includes page titles that are obvious misrepresentation against other editors and as such you must have those pages deleted at once. Your talk page edits are counter productive misrepresentation. If you do not comply then you leave no choice but to conclude that you are deliberately writing misrepresentation and I will report you to the administrators. Your claim about there "being a roughly equal" number of editors is misrepresenting the situation because as shown in the talk archive the content and strength and validity of arguments matters most when building consensus. As shown in the talk archive you Thunderbird2 failed to provide substantive arguments despite being repeatedly challenged to do so by multiple editors. User:Headbomb's actions in this regard prove that you Thunderbird2 repeatedly refused to debate on the topic. Anyone reading this can contact User:Headbomb to find out exactly how many times he asked Thunderbird2 to answer questions and how many times Thunderbird2 refused, I lost count of the number of times it was that many. Looking through the comments related to Thunderbird2's refusal to debate the topic and refusal to answer questions it is about [2] twenty times by now. Also Thunderbird2 your statement above is nothing but ad hominem because you try to misrepresent other editors, including myself and Greg, instead of providing valid arguments to counter the substanive strong arguments presented in the talk archives. The fact that you are using ad hominem and then in the same post write "a reasoned discussion" only draws attention to how fallacious your post actually is. Just so you Thunderbird2 are in no doubt, "reasoned discussion" can only take place when you stop trying to misrepresent other editors, stop trying to use ad hominem and start making valid substantive arguments. Fnagaton 16:04, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Hah! That’s it! Hold it right there!Pronoun Truth trouble”: T-bird began this whole thing with this premiss: “…where we state that the recognized international convention is not used.”  Well there’s your problem. That internationally recognized convention (the IEC’s proposal) that T-bird referred to flew like a wet noodle. It flew about as far in the real world as I can drool in my sleep. That’s why our readers don’t recognize the terminology. And that’s why we don’t use it here.

    Let’s try it again T-bird: *You keep outta this, he doesn't have to shoot the IEC prefixes now.*

    Greg L (talk) 23:48, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Indeed. The IEC proposal is not used by the majority of reliable sources we cite in articles, therefore the IEC proposal is not to be used in the majority of articles, hence the wording of the guideline to leave no doubt as to what is the acceptable method. This is all archived in the discussions leading up to the consensus. Fnagaton 06:23, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Some final thoughts T-bird:

    Ignoring the BIPM on %
    With regard to your “recognized international convention” and how we flout it here on Wikipedia (as does virtually everyone else in the real world), this isn’t a new phenomenon; there are other rules of the SI promulgated by the BIPM that the real world and Wikipedia has ignored. Wikipedia is not in compliance with the SI regarding the percent symbol (%). Why? Well…

    According to the BIPM’s SI brochure: Subsection 5.3.3, Formatting the value of a quantity, a space is always used to separate the unit symbol from the numeric value. Notable exceptions are the unit symbols for degree, minute, and second for plane angle, °, ′, and ″ (e.g., a latitude of 47° 38′ 8.8″). However, according to 5.3.7 Stating values of dimensionless quantities, or quantities of dimension one, the exception does not apply to the “%” symbol; it states as follows:

As this advice has not seen traction in the real world (we all write 75%, not 75 %), our MONUM guideline on percentages says editors should follow the real-world practice. The people at the BIPM are physicists and mathematicians; they tend to be purists who value logical consistency. You can’t fault them too much for wanting to adhere to consistent rules. But no one seems to be heeding their advise on the percent symbol.

Entire failed proposals, like the uno
Nor is the wholesale failure of an entire proposal, such as the binary prefixes, an unprecedented phenomenon. The very same year the IEC made their binary prefix proposal, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) also proposed the “uno”, to replace parts-per expressions like ppm, ppb, and even “percent”. Unlike the IEC however, the guy behind the IUPAP proposal at least had the wisdom to see that his uno proposal had flown like a wet noodle in the real world so he withdrew it five years later.

Ignoring the BIPM: named big numbers
The SI also says that no one should write the word “billion” because it has different meanings in different countries. Latin American countries, to name a notable area, take “billion” to be much larger than modern English usage takes it to mean. Well, as this is en.Wikipedia and all modern English-speaking uses—including those in the UK—today observe only one meaning for the big named numbers like “billion,” we ignore the BIPM and have standardized on the short scale for the large named numbers.

Ignoring the BIPM: delimiting numbers
The rule of SI also says numbers shouldn’t be delimited with commas, like 12,420 (the number of times you’ve objected to the IEC prefixes being deprecated {joke} ). But we ignore that admonition too in order to elicit the least confusion in the greatest portion of our readership. And that’s what this is all about: minimizing confusion to the greatest possible extent. We can’t be using conventions just because they’re a great idea if they won’t achieve any real-world ubiquity until the age of George Jetson.

Unlike what IUPAP did (withdrawing their proposal when it was clear it wasn’t going to be well received), perhaps the IEC is sticking to their guns and is still holding out hope—even after ten long years—because they know they have you, T‑bird, promoting their cause {that’s another joke}. Notwithstanding your tenacious support on this issue, I give the IEC’s proposal on the binary prefixes less than a “3 centiuno” chance of ever succeeding.  ;-) We need to find more productive uses here on Wikipedia on which you can focus your abundant, single-minded energies. Greg L (talk) 04:10, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

Oh, and THIS is the consensus

Figure of Merit—Binary prefixes (Purplebox)
Degree of support
User 5 4 3 2 1 0
Headbomb (ταλκ · κοντριβς) 05:30, 2 June 2008 (UTC) X[1]
Greg L (talk) 15:16, 30 May 2008 (UTC) X[2]
Fnagaton 19:08, 25 May 2008 (UTC) X[3]
Woodstone (talk) 20:42, 2 June 2008 (UTC) X[4]
SWTPC6800 (talk) 18:01, 30 May 2008 (UTC) X
Seraphimblade Talk to me 05:42, 26 May 2008 (UTC) X[5]
MJCdetroit 19:50, 27 May 2008 (UTC) X [6]
Thunderbird2 (talk) 07:28, 6 June 2008 (UTC) X[7]
Dfmclean 19:00, 28 May 2008 X[8]
Pyrotec 22:35 05 June 2008 X[9]
New user

The above was after three solid months of debate. No rule of conduct in a decent and civilized society requires that a single holdout can keep on disrupting a system for so long. T-bird: your objections were heard but your persistent silence, when Headbomb asked you (repeatedly) to explain your reasoning, was deafening. You have no one to blame but yourself for failing to persuade others to your way of thinking. As I stated above, we are done with this issue for now. When there is a change in the reality of the situation and there is actually a fair amount of real-world usage of the IEC prefixes, let us know. Until then, please accept with grace that the consensus is that Wikipedia will communicate to its readership the same way all other encyclopedias and computer magazines do: with terminology and symbols that readers actually recognize. Greg L (talk) 02:00, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

Reply by Thunderbird2

  • I replied to Arthur Rubin on his talk page.
  • To Headbomb: Dead horse might apply if there had ever been a debate on the subject that was not tainted by abusive remarks from Greg_L or Fnagaton or both. (Some things never change) Can you point to such a discussion?

Thunderbird2 (talk) 17:10, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Thunderbird2, dead horse does apply here because there has been extensive debate on the subject and you actually refused to debate the topic when you refused multiple times to give valid answers to the stronger arguments that refuted your statements. Your failure to debate the actual point actually "tainted" the debate. The "abusive remarks" actually come from you because your continued misrepresentation of other editors, your continued violations of WP:POINT and ad hominem instead of tackling the real substantive issues is demonstrative of disruptive editing. Here is a challenge to you, instead of using ad hominem by trying to claim other editors are "bad people" what you should do is only post substantive valid arguments. The question "Can you point to such a discussion?" is misrepresenting the actual situation because the talk archive to the huge discussion is actually linked in the guideline text and is also linked on this page. Now Thunderbird2, I will be archiving this section and so a warning to you, do not unarchive this section to add yet more misrepresentation of other editors and if you do so then you will be reported to the administrators. Also, do not unarchive this section to repeat already refuted statements from you from earlier posts on this subject. The only valid option for you to unarchive this section would be to post completely new valid substantive arguments on the subject andjust so you are clear, do not post anything about other editors or how you think there has been a lack of discussion or any other baseless misrepresentative statements. And just so you are completely clear do not continue to violate WP:POINT. Fnagaton 01:16, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Nothing more can be said to you that hasn’t already been said ten to a hundred times. You arguments and tactics remind me of a stuck record. Your views were heard by all and rejected as unwise. As for “abusive” remarks, and your implication that such alleged abuse somehow undermined the validity of the entire proceedings: nice try, but you obviously stayed in the thick of it to the bitter end (note your above vote)—even in the face of your perceived slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune. You have no one to blame but yourself for failing to persuade others to your way of thinking.

    Actually, you had an insurmountable objective: arguing a case to make Wikipedia do something foolish and use terminology that no other encyclopedia in the world uses, nor any computer magazine directed to a general-interest audience, nor which any computer manufacturer uses in marketing communications to their customer bases. Further, you were advocating Wikipedia use terminology that you conceded our readership didn’t even recognize (the fifth entry down is your signature). Further, your silence here for six days on this thread and then, after I archived it, your deciding to drag it back here to keep on flogging this dead horse, is just more of the same old stuff from you. Your actions here are tedious at best, and disruptive at the worst, and I will no longer dignify your tactics with any further responses. Goodbye. Forever. Greg L (talk) 23:26, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

Something to take under advisement

Wikipedia:Drop the stick and back slowly away from the horse carcass

Greg L (talk) 00:52, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

  1. ^ This version of things gets a 4 vote from me (disambiguation in bytes and bits unstruck to avoid edit wars over disambiguation techniques) - Headbomb
  2. ^ I support this.
  3. ^ I'm not able to edit regularly at the moment so I will support this version. Greg has my permission to change my vote on my behalf if a later revision is substantially changed regarding IEC prefixes. Restored 15:16, 30 May 2008 (UTC) by Greg L proxy
  4. ^ Revised vote; since the explicit ban of IEC has returned.
  5. ^ The solution is workable, though not optimal, but a stronger focus should be placed on disambiguation. I also don't like well the outright ban on IEC prefixes, as these are an excellent way to disambiguate. The main thrust should be "KB/MB/etc. are ambiguous terms and must be disambiguated either by the use of IEC prefixes or exact numbers. Exponential notation is acceptable for providing an exact number."
  6. ^ Makes sense to me. I can live with it.
  7. ^ There are good arguments both for and against the use of IEC units. They have been written out countless times so I will not repeat them here. The important point is that there is no consensus either for their promotion or for their deprecation. Therefore MOSNUM should do neither. The current wording is a clear deprecation that I cannot support.
  8. ^ I have never seen any discussion of the IEC units outside Wikipedia.
  9. ^ I support this.