Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (royalty and nobility)

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Use of baronetcy as disambiguation in article titles[edit]

Comments would be welcome at Talk:Sir Robert Douglas, 3rd Baronet#Requested move 12 March 2016. Opera hat (talk) 17:01, 12 March 2016 (UTC)

Disambiguation of Dukes (title)[edit]

Just stopping by to point out the page moves of the new editor Barbudo Barbudo.

e.g. (Barbudo Barbudo moved page Duke of Medinaceli to Duke of Medinaceli (title): specify the fact that this article is the actual title itself.)

to try to get a consensus on this. Is it unnecessary disambiguation? wbm1058 (talk) 01:18, 24 April 2016 (UTC)

Looks to me unnecessary and also not accurate, since the article covers not only the title itself but also the various Dukes. W. P. Uzer (talk) 06:49, 24 April 2016 (UTC)
I've undone these moves per Wikipedia:Requested moves#Undiscussed moves. DrKay (talk) 07:38, 24 April 2016 (UTC)

RfC: "Sir"[edit]

Currently, biographical articles of knights and baronets begin with "Sir Firstname Lastname". Wikipedia convention dictates that the person's name at the beginning of a biographical article should be in bold. Most such articles (around 95%) bold "Sir" as well, but a minority of such articles do not bold the "Sir". It goes something like this:

Sir John Major (born 29 March 1943... vs.

Sir John Major (born 29 March 1943...

I want to make it clear that this is not about renaming articles, but about the first mention of the subject's name in the body of the article.

I have been editing certain articles to bold "Sir" as part of the name. I do so for the following reasons:

1) This is the style prescribed by Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biographies. The relevant section reads as follows: "The honorific titles Sir, Dame, Lord and Lady are included in the initial reference and infobox heading for the subject of a biographical article, but are optional after that. The title is placed in bold in the first use of the name." (Emphasis added).

2) This is the logical style. "Sir" is part of a person's legal name: it is used not only socially, but in official documents as well. To not bold "Sir" is to imply that is is not part of the subject's name.

3) It is long-standing Wikipedia practice. As previously indicated, 95% of the articles surveyed so far bold "Sir".

I would also like to quote from the MOS, where it is stated that its purpose is to "achieving visual and textual consistency in biographical articles and in biographical information in other articles; such consistency allows Wikipedia to be used more easily". Hence, this is not a case of (say) preferring 'colour' over 'color', but is part of keeping a basic degree of consistency across articles so as to improve usability.

User:PBS is against the bolding of the prefix in articles' body and asked that I refrain from editing them until a consensus emerges. He will no doubt wish to set out his arguments below. We would be grateful for any comments editors might have on the subject.

Atchom (talk) 19:24, 20 June 2016 (UTC)

  • Bold Your reasons (1) and (2) explain why we have (3) as common practice. Schwede66 19:57, 20 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Not bold My view is that (in the real world) if "Mr Joseph Bloggs" becomes "Sir Joseph Bloggs", then all references to "Mr Bloggs" should be changed to "Sir Joseph", and all other references ("Bloggs", "Joseph", "Joseph Bloggs") should be left unchanged. I may well be incorrect; the article Sir ought to provide the real-world information; it's not currently a very high-quality article. jnestorius(talk) 11:42, 21 June 2016 (UTC)
    • I have added "Not bold" to my previous comment to conform to the emergent standard for this section. I am willing to be convinced otherwise, but I find the assertion "Sir" is part of a person's legal name dubious; see Legal name#England and Wales. jnestorius(talk) 15:26, 21 June 2016 (UTC)
      • Home Office guidance states that "Titles of nobility are part of a person's name and identity"; knighthoods and damehoods are specifically included in the definition of 'titles of nobility. Atchom (talk) 01:00, 22 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Not bold. The short version: "Sir", "Dame", etc., are only "part of the name" to some people, in some contexts, not everyone in an encyclopedic context. All the "it can be used as part of the legal name" arguments also adhere to post-name initials, and to other prefixed titles like "Dr" and "Rev.", but we do not boldface them in leads. The more detailed version: Jnestorius's points are valid, and there are more such considerations. What's happening here is a confusion, an operator overloading, of two entirely different concepts of what the word "name" means, and an unsustainable commingling of different contexts. For WP lead purposes it means the WP:COMMONNAME of the subject, and any close competitors to it that we include in the lead (e.g. a stage name or other alias by which the subject is commonly known, like "Buster Poindexter" for David Johansen), and the expanded full name when someone's common name is their first and last name and we're also giving their middle name (as at David Johansen again), and may also include generational/patronymic elements ("Jr.", "III", etc.). And that's it. It does not include academic, ecclesiastical, governmental, or peerage titles prepended to the name, nor academic, peerage, honorary, or other suffixes. Those in favor of bolding the "Sir" or "Dame" in front of names are instead taking the broadest possible view of how a name could be defined, in any context, not the WP context. One of many problems with doing so, and one with which we're constantly engaged in cleanup against, is that it implies to new (and even not-so-new) editors that neutral academic style should be dropped when referring to such people, and that royalist British subjects' deferential, honorary style should instead be used (i.e., that Dame Judith Andrews should, in short form in later references, be referred to as "Dame Judith" instead of as "Andrews"). This may be acceptable in a London (perhaps even a Melbourne or Toronto) newspaper, but it is not appropriate in an encyclopedia, used by billions of people to whom someone's knighthood is no more (and possibly less) impressive than someone else's Congressional Medal of Honor, Hero of the Russian Federation medal, Nobel Prize, AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, or Hockey Hall of Fame induction. This is before we get into the fact even in the UK the titles Lord and Lady can be bought and sold (with a brisk trade in them since at least the 1980s [1], plus indications that some small independent principalities and such have been selling knighthoods since at least that long (I think Palladin Press has a book on how to buy your way into a knighthood from Malta, Monaco, or another of those European microstates; I remember seeing something of this sort in their catalog, around the same time the afore-cited Los Angeles Times article originally came out).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:23, 21 June 2016 (UTC)
    • A few observations.
1) We are not talking about further references but the first mention. The first mention occupies a different position from the rest of the article. As the Manuel of Style currently states, the subject's full name should be given at the beginning of an article. Thus we list the four first names of a subject whereas in daily life he only uses one of them. And of course all the first names are bolded.
2) Whereas peerages or knighthoods are bought or not (or are more or less impressive than other non-titular honours) is irrelevant; what is relevant is that people are referred to by them in mainstream sources. A 'republican' naming philosophy such as the one you suggest would lead to patent absurdities. Are we then to have Henry John Temple instead of Lord Palmerston, to point to an obvious howler? Neutral academic style, in the British context, is to count "Sir" and titles of nobility as part of a subject's name. As User:Choess pointed out below, the main UK academic reference works inevitably include 'Sir' as part of the subject's name. It would be extraordinary indeed if Wikipedia took upon itself to unilaterally strip people of parts of their name. Atchom (talk) 22:01, 21 June 2016 (UTC)
    • Another quick observation. You said WP:COMMONNAME controls for the format of the lead as well. This is not the case. WP:COMMONNAME only controls for article titles. As I have already pointed out above WP:MOS already specifies that "Sir" should be bolded. Atchom (talk) 22:26, 21 June 2016 (UTC)
      • To respond in series: 1) Already addressed this. The subject's full name, in the WP context, means their name in the narrow, encyclopedic sense, not the broadest possible sense all festooned with titles. Did you read what I wrote the first time? 2) No, isn't irrelevant, per WP:NPOV policy. Your point about Palmerston is isn't valid, because a) the conventions differ (jnestorious fills you in on that in a subjection below, the summary of which is that the name of the lordship can optionally be used as a surname, a situation that has nothing to do with Sir/Dame titles), and b) our article is in fact not at "Lord Palmerston", but at Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (the second half of which is a comma disambiguation). "The main UK academic reference works" of which you speak follow British royalist customs and are thus exemplary of an insular, culturally specific practice not an global encyclopedic one, so you're just making my point for me. "Strip people of parts of their names" is hyperbolic and off-topic; the discussion is about "Sir John Major" vs. "Sir John Major", and is not entertaining just "John Major" in the lead. 3) I did not say what you claim I said. PS: "inevitably" doesn't mean what you seem to think it means.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  16:34, 2 July 2016 (UTC)
        • As best I can make out from fragments on the web, Encarta treated "Sir" in the same unique way, differently from other titles. This usage is not "royalist", it's simply the norm for general works of biographical reference. The questions of what invididuals are legally "entitled" to or what their legal name is, whether this is logical, fair, culturally narrow, or just, are entirely beside the point. Treating "Sir" as part of the bolded or capitalized name in the first line or abstract of an article is standard among comparable works of general reference and is what is expected by readers. If you have evidence for works of similar authority and scope following the practice you favor, please post it. Choess (talk) 17:22, 2 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Leaning toward Not bold. The legal entitlement to use is not the same as 'legal name', any more than Professor, Doctor etc. I wouldn't get upset if I saw it in an article, but wouldn't want it to be policy to use it, especially since so many modern recipients choose to not use it in everyday circumstances. I also note SMcCandlish's point that if we start saying this is 'legal name', we drift towards the convention of referring to 'Sir Paul', 'Sir Sean' etc. Pincrete (talk) 19:48, 21 June 2016 (UTC)
    • It is already Wikipedia policy to list, in biographical articles, a person's full name at the beginning, even though he may not use part of it. Joe Biden is never referred to as Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. but we still list it at the beginning of his article, with an indication that he is always known as "Joe Biden". Similarly, whether someone uses "Sir" or not it is part of his name and it should be listed, and treated on the same basis as the rest of the name, whether it is used or not. Finally, I'd like to note that nowadays people are invariably asked by the Cabinet Office whether they wish to accept a knighthood or not; some decline because they object to titles, but most accept, and it should be taken that having accepted it they will use or, or at least are not adverse to be referred to by it. Atchom (talk) 22:12, 21 June 2016 (UTC)
      • I don't feel strongly either way about boldening 'Sir', but I do object to the suggestion that it is part of someone's legal name. I see no evidence for that and am not even sure what it means. The individual is granted an entitlement to use it and formal 'state' situations would therafter use it. Pincrete (talk) 23:56, 21 June 2016 (UTC)
        • On the 'legal name' point, the Home Office passport guidance states that "Titles of nobility are part of a person's name and identity, and for holders who use their title as part of their name for all purposes, the title should be entered in the surname field of the personal details page of their passport"; 'holders of knighthoods' and dames are specifically included in its scope. By way of contrast, professional titles such as Professor are only to be entered in the Observations field. The terminology might be somewhat vague but the point I was making is that "Sir" cannot be compared with professional titles, as the former is considered to be part of the name in UK official documents while the latter are not. Atchom (talk) 00:58, 22 June 2016 (UTC)
    I think the question of whether "Sir" is part of the "legal name" is a bit of a red herring. (This would introduce complications related to British courtesy titles, for instance.) If North Korean law mandated that Kim Jong-un's name be preceded by 83 emojis, I don't think we'd feel bound to follow it. The key point is that reference sources comparable to us use "Sir" as if it were an additional forename (except for alphabetization, of course). Choess (talk) 01:09, 22 June 2016 (UTC)
    for holders who use their title as part of their name for all purposes, the title should be entered in the surname field of the personal details page of their passport, so 'Sir Paul' and 'Sir Sean' are able to have the title in their passports if they so wish. I agree Choess, that the 'legal name' issue is a bit irrelevant. Pincrete (talk) 21:53, 22 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Bold: The most obvious comparable encyclopedias (the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and Encyclopedia Britannica) treat "Sir" as an integral component of the extended name, e.g., "Croft, Sir Richard (1429/30–1509)" from the ODNB, or "Sir John Chandos, (died Jan. 1, 1370, Mortemer, France)" from Britannica (formatting in original). This is also done for hereditary peerages, but not for academic degrees, ecclesiastical titles, military ranks, and other miscellaneous honorifics ("Mr.", "Esq.", "Rt. Hon", etc.) "Sir" is almost sui generis in that, unlike the other things mentioned above, it regularly gets attached to the forename as well as the surname. ("Sir John" is common, but not "Dr. John", "Lt.-Col. John", "Bishop John", etc.) Whether it's good style to use the forename extensively in running text, with or without "Sir", or whether knighthoods are "impressive" are separate issues from the question under discussion. Choess (talk) 20:15, 21 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Bold - I find Atchom's arguments compelling, and besides, it is not just the Wikipedia standard, but it tends to be the English language standard as well. The title is part of the name. You don't split off the title from the name in any way. Any formatting done to the name is done to the title, unless you are specifically trying to emphasize something. To top it off, as a native speaker/reader/writer of English, it simply looks WRONG to split the formatting, and that's gotta count for something. Fieari (talk) 07:05, 22 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Not always bold. The reason I asked Atchom to seek other opinions is that Atchom was using AWB to change hundreds of articles, some of which show up on my watch-list. I to not think it is appropriate to use AWB to make such style changes, particularly as the guideline quoted Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biographies is not a widely read one, and some of it is contradictory. For example Atchom quotes it as saying it is to "achieving visual and textual consistency in biographical articles and in biographical information in other articles; such consistency allows Wikipedia to be used more easily" yet that is contradicted by the much better know lead in the main MOS article "Style and formatting should be consistent within an article, though not necessarily throughout Wikipedia". This naming convention suggests that the Sir in Baronet ought to be in bold. This was added because it was never considered appropriate to always place Sir in bold. I think that this is something to be decided case by case not one to be automated using bots or AWB. To answer specific comments by others "It is long-standing Wikipedia practice" (Atchom) yes it is but it is also long standing Wikipedia practice not to do so, as you said you have changed 500 odd articles before being asked to gain a consensus. Did you not ask yourself whether it was appropriate to use AWB to make so many style changes basing it on a minor guideline without checking the consensus on the MOS talk page or this one to see if that had wide support? "a native speaker/reader/writer of English, it simply looks WRONG to split the formatting, and that's gotta count for something" (Fieari). I presume that as you use "gotta" you are not a native British English speaker. I am and I can not say that I consider it odd, but I do not think that one ought to base ones justification of mass changes to article style on what one considers be "simply looking wrong". Take for example Sir Walter Scott and Winston Churchill. Scott was and is usually called Sir Walter Scott as he held the knighthood when he was famous. Churchill on the other hand was knighted late in life and is usually referred to as Winston Churchill. Personally if I saw a reference to Sir Winston Churchill without context I would assume it meant the Cavalier (and father of the John, Duke of Marlborough) after whom the more famous Winston Churchill was named, because the cavalier is usually refereed to as Sir Winston [Churchill]). So in my opinion the bolding of the "Sir" at the start of an article should not be automatic. -- PBS (talk) 19:12, 22 June 2016 (UTC)
  • The 'little-read' MOS:HONORIFIC you denigrate returns 180 search results on Wikipedia, whereas the section of the Naming Conventions you quote returns 157 results, and it's worth remembering that the vast majority of the 157 results returned have to do with disputes over article titles. I don't see how that supports the case you're making in the slightest. Moreover, the issue is one of formatting: to quote the naming convention is a non sequitur. And you can't draw out the inference you did simply from an omission in a guideline which isn't actually germane to the issue at hand, when a more widely used AND more relevant guideline provides for specific instructions to the contrary.
Also, you have failed to make a case against bolding. Even accepting, arguendo, that there is no need to have consistency across articles as to the bolding, what is your criteria for bolding it in some articles and not in others? Are baronets' nominal prefixes any different from knights' prefixes? How do we know which knight's prefix to bold and which not to bold?
Finally, your assertion re: Sir Winston Churchill is puzzling to say the least. A quick Google search for "Sir Winston Churchill" reveals that the vast majority of the results are for the PM not his ancestor. I am a professional historian, and I have difficulty believing anyone would think of the relative obscure Sir Winston instead of the PM. Might I also note that the redirect for Sir Winston Churchill is to the PM? Atchom (talk) 19:14, 24 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Bold. This is longstanding practice across thousands of articles. It is part of the legal name, and is fundamentally different to other social titles. Mr John Smith's legal name is "John Henry Smith", not "Mr John Henry Smith", but Sir John Smith's legal name is "Sir John Henry Smith", and he would always be listed as such in a legal document. Comparisons to "Mr", "Dr", "Professor", etc., are therefore misconceived. Proteus (Talk) 20:21, 2 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Bold but Not by AWB. One point of being a collaborative enterprise is to gather the views of many. Therefore one industrious person should not simply sweep away such diversity as there is.
But that being said, yes, the title is part of the name - and helps tell the reader they have come to the right article. For sensible reasons, we use Arthur Conan Doyle as the header of that article. But the subject's full name, when he was most prominent, was Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, and it's a good thing to say that too. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:05, 3 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Bold - The majority of pages already bold "Sir" so we should maintain consistency. We shouldn't treat "Sir" the same as Dr, Mr, Mrs, etc. because it is part of the name. Meatsgains (talk) 23:06, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
    • But we do not include or bold those terms in the lead. And they are not part of the name, they are prefixed to it. If I am Eusebius Xerxes Smith, you are not presenting my name "more completely" by calling me "Mr. Eusebius Xerxes Smith", nor abbreviating it when you call me "Eusebius Xerxes Smith".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:08, 13 July 2016 (UTC)
      • I think you are failing to understand the difference between an honorific and a title (although it is true that the two terms are often used interchangeably). One is simply polite in formal circumstances; the other is always used. It is polite to call John Smith "Mr Smith" if you don't know him, but it's not incorrect to call him John or John Smith. It is incorrect to call Sir John Smith "John Smith" if you don't know him. It's also incorrect to call him Mr Smith. He is Sir John Smith or Sir John. The only time this may not be applied is if the individual is a well-known popular cultural figure (e.g. we do not always refer to Sir Elton John or Sir Michael Caine, although you will often still see them referred to in this way). -- Necrothesp (talk) 12:41, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
        • That seems like a highly idiosyncratic interpretation to me. I do agree with you that "Sir" ≠ "Mr." for all purposes, but the suggestion that there is a default implication of impropriety attached with not using Sir does not really carry water with me. It's really a matter of context (where they are, what their relationship is) and pretty significant variation between individuals (adressor and adressee). So, although the actual formatting issue here seems to trivial to justify this level of editorial debate, if I'm to be frank, my perspective is that if "Sir" is utilized, it seems most consistent with formatting of the lead sentence in general to bold it. But, I don't make any judgement here as to whether "Sir" should be used to begin with, in any particular case. Snow let's rap 05:32, 25 July 2016 (UTC)

Home office document[edit]

@Atchom: has quoted a Home Office document in several places above. I disagree with the interpretation given. The relevant sections of the document are as follows:

Titles of nobility

Titles of nobility are part of a person's name and identity, and for holders who use their title as part of their name for all purposes, the title should be entered in the surname field of the personal details page of their passport with an observation recorded on page 32 of the document.

Titles are recorded for:

  • All members of the House of Lords (including Archbishops and Bishops), their wives and families
  • Holders of knighthoods and baronetcies and their wives
  • Dames of the Realm

Where the title of a peer is different from the family name, he should be able to choose whether to show the title or the family name, on the personal details page. This will avoid any problems at frontiers, hotels and banks where a peer signs with a title rather than a family name.

Honours and decorations

Honours and military decorations may be accepted as an observation where the applicant has recorded them on the application form or requests their inclusion in a letter accompanying the application. NOTE 1: Some honours are prefixed with a title (e.g. Sir John Smith KBE)

Knighthoods and dames are discussed in the "Titles of nobility" section of the document but are not in any "definition of 'titles of nobility'": no such definition is given. Passports have "surname", "given names", and "observation" fields; there is no "title" field for Mr, Sir, or Dr. The Home Office guidance says that "Sir" is added as an observation whereas a title of nobility is both an observation and, optionally, a surname. See also Observations in Passports: Annex B - Observations for titles: Baronets, Knights, and their wives; Dames

Title Surname Given Names Observations
Knight McCartney James Paul The holder is Sir James Paul McCartney KBE
Duke (family-name style) Grosvenor Gerald Cavendish The holder is His Grace Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor Duke of Westminster KG
Duke (dukedom style) Duke of Westminster Gerald Cavendish The holder is His Grace Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor Duke of Westminster KG

jnestorius(talk) 14:32, 1 July 2016 (UTC)

  • Bold. Utterly obvious. This is longstanding practice on Wikipedia and there is absolutely no reason to change it. The title does become part of an individual's name. Why are we even discussing this when we always do it and have always done it? Any failure to do it is a mistake, pure and simple, and will be changed by any of us experienced editors who spot it. -- Necrothesp (talk) 12:58, 6 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Bold without AWB: To begin with AWB #3 states: "Seek consensus for changes that could be controversial at the appropriate venue; village pump, WikiProject, etc. "Being bold" is not a justification for mass editing lacking demonstrable consensus. If challenged, the onus is on the AWB operator to demonstrate or achieve consensus for changes they wish to make on a large scale.". In light of the many comments here I am sure that the editor using AWB is now aware of this. I will add some comments about this in another place. We bold such usage for more than one reason, to include policy that the common name (What is commonly used in references) is not always used as the article title. As an "alternate name" we bold the use in first instance because "alternative names" can be used in article text in contexts where they are more appropriate than the name used as the title of the article.. I admit that by very common Wikipedia practice the "policy" is not strictly followed. Many many articles such as John F. Kennedy, not John F. Kennedy (John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy), deviate from the use of parenthesis and I am glad. We have policy that we are not suppose to try to change other forms of English to "American style". As an "American" I use the spelling "color" but am directed to use "colour". Undue weight goes both ways, especially in Biographies of living persons, where what is notable, that includes common usage, certainly that is referenced, should be used. In the British custom Sir, Lady, or Dame, is part of the name and not some occupation like doctor, to be separated out by lack of bolding, or parenthetical use. Google Sir Sean Connery, Sir Roger George Moore KBE, Douglas Elton Fairbanks Jr., KBE, DSC (oops AWB missed that one) and any number of others. Mainstream media and references, overwhelmingly use the title and if in bold, so are the titles of Sir, Lady, or Dame. Let's not come to a consensus to change something that common editing practices will fight against, either creating an ignored policy, or one that will be a battle for a long time. Otr500 (talk) 06:16, 8 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Not bold. The proposer gave three reasons for bolding which I'll argue against:
1)This is the style prescribed by Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biographies: "The title is placed in bold in the first use of the name."
This is circular, since this RfC is about whether the passage is operative. If the "not bold" camp wins then I assume the person closing will remove "The title is placed in bold in the first use of the name" from the rule. You can't invoke the existence of a disputed passage to argue for the continued existence of that passage.
2)"Sir" is part of a person's legal name: it is used not only socially, but in official documents as well. To not bold "Sir" is to imply that is is not part of the subject's name.
But there are other parts of a person's legal name -- their middle name, for instance -- which we often don't even include let alone bold. Legal names are not that important, we go by common names.
3)It is long-standing Wikipedia practice. As previously indicated, 95% of the articles surveyed so far bold "Sir".
But this RfC is to see whether or not this situation which we have drifted into by default is what the larger community wants and intends. So it is also circular to invoke this -- at least arguably. (Although you could also make the counter-argument that rules exist to codify existing practice.)
Honorifics are appendages. (It's not at all clear to me why we are using them in article titles, as various rules of WP:AT militate against that form). "Sir" is noxious aristocratic poofery and inherently a NPOV weasel word. It should be be used as little as possible, only when it serves the reader such as differentiating the subject from other other people or to otherwise better understand the subject, and there's no need to emphasize them. Herostratus (talk) 16:33, 10 July 2016 (UTC)
Rebuttal: I will interject an objection to the comments from Herostratus. We are "not" debating the title name. It seems to me that any such diverging would need to be addressed in a different RFC.
This RFC specifically states "I want to make it clear that this is not about renaming articles, but about the first mention of the subject's name in the body of the article.".
With this boundary I position my comments to logically follow certain criteria. It is not only common practice but follows policy and guidelines to place alternate names, in bold at first use, at the beginning of the lead. We are debating not bolding the word "Sir", treating it as "Mr" or "Mrs.", regardless of common usage, but treating the word as it is presented in references and according to such policies and guidelines, as an alternate name. I have looked at many hits involving the title "Sir" and it is overwhelming found in references. I followed many of the links and read the content and there is clear evidence that the use of the titles "Sir", Lady, and Dame, especially in anything British, the title becomes part of the name.
I suppose because some of us might think using bold to include usage as part of the rest of the name is "noxious aristocratic poofery and inherently a NPOV weasel word.", but this does NOT mean we are suppose to toss common usage in the trash. This is an English Wikipedia and there is NO DOUBT clear community-wide consensus has supported using British words, terms, etc... in articles. I am an American, living in America, and as far as I know I do not have any royalty blood in my veins, however, right is right, and wrong is a disservice to Wikipedia. As I stated, I have seen, even in American publications without using "Sir" in the title, using bold to include "Sir", and many includes the word repeatedly as part of the name in the body of such publications.
I think that, considering the US view of honorary titles, American subjects should continue as with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. with Douglas Elton Fairbanks Jr., KBE, DSC.
The title "Sir" should be used in the lead in bold, as an alternative name, especially when commonly used in reliable sources, regardless of how biased non-British editors may feel on British subjects.
  • Note: Unless there is some drive to push a change to British style articles, like Isaac Newton, then I can not imagine not continuing with Sir Isaac Newton PRS in the lead. If we are going to debate making changes that will effect good articles we should notify the relevant projects because that one is covered by several. Twelve projects in fact rate the article as GA-class as well as the Wikipedia:Version 1.0 Editorial Team (listing as Vital). Eight projects list the article as top-importance, two as mid-importance, one as high-importance and one doesn't rate it. I can look but I am just guessing one or two editors belonging to all those projects didn't work it up that high without a lot of consensus, collaboration, and even peer review, so all bias aside, this is not a cut-and-dried case. Otr500 (talk) 03:03, 11 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment. ""Sir" is noxious aristocratic poofery and inherently a NPOV weasel word." With an appalling attitude like that it's not worth even taking note of the comment. How POV and insulting can you get? If someone has been knighted by the British state, how on earth is it "weasel words" to use that title? If you personally don't agree with titles, fine, but that doesn't make them in any way POV or your attitude NPOV. They are a fact and Wikipedia reports facts, not your point of view. Get over it. -- Necrothesp (talk) 16:02, 11 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Unbold Under the formal class system, male gentry were either baronets, knights, esquires or gentleman and the titles Sir, Esquire or Mr. were added to their names. Beginning in the 19th century, the term Mr. has increasingly been added to men's names, regardless of social status. As SMcCandlish points out, some Toronto newspapers do use noble titles when referring to people but they are consistent. In the first instance, all people are referred to by their full names without titles. Subsequent references use their title and name. For example. "The UK ambassador John Smith met with Robert Roe, this newspaper's editor. Sir John told Mr. Roe...." It might even make sense to eliminate "Sir" entirely (except where it really is part of the name such as "Sir Galahad," and keep the postnominal Kt, GCMG, etc. TFD (talk) 20:30, 13 July 2016 (UTC)
    • I can assure you that the British media pretty much always add titles to knights' and dames' names. What foreign media ignorant of the rules do is not really relevant. It is simply incorrect to call Sir John Smith simply John Smith or Mr Smith. He is not. The only time this may not be applied is if the individual is a well-known popular cultural figure (e.g. we do not always refer to Sir Elton John or Sir Michael Caine, although you will often still see them referred to in this way). -- Necrothesp (talk) 12:37, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
      • English style guides do not recommend titles in the sports and entertainment pages for sports and entertainment figures. However, Wikipedia is not obligated to provide any special respect for UK titles. Mr. John Smith and Sir John Smith enjoy the same rights and privileges outside England and no distinction should be made between their honorifics. Incidentally, most titles in England are used by courtesy for wives and children of people who have substantive titles. And when peers, baronets and knights appear in court or other legal documents, their titles are omitted. TFD (talk) 20:25, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
        • What English style guides recommend for the running text of an article is not germane to the point under discussion, which is the style of the name in the first line of the article. I agree that regularly referring to "Sir Elton" in running text about Elton John would be silly. Whether English-language sources independent of us should treat the two John Smiths the same, and whether that grants unfair privilege to the English honours system as opposed to that of, say, Botswana, is irrelevant. Those sources do treat Sir John differently, in the context under discussion, and it's none of our business to invent our own, more "equitable" convention when one already exists (see my comments above). Please strike your last two sentences or provide a citation: it's trivial to show that they're untrue (see, e.g., the legal document here re. the Earl of Onslow) and this RfC is sufficiently confused without authoritatively stating falsehoods. Choess (talk) 00:14, 16 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Not bold, as the arguments in favor of Sir being an essential part of the name seem to have been debunked. Dicklyon (talk) 00:23, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Not bold per Dicklyon, etc. Ealdgyth - Talk 02:02, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Not bold per SMcClandlish. Tony (talk) 04:17, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment. Note that both the standard reference works on British biography, the Dictionary of National Biography and Who's Who, bold titles in the first line. I think we may have a bit of a problem here with non-British editors not realising quite how significant or commonly used they are in Britain (plus, given some of the comments there's definitely a bit of anti-title POV going on which is discounting the facts that they exist and are commonly used in favour of a completely biased opinion that titles are nasty royalist things that should be disposed of and not "propagated" on Wikipedia; note to these people, republicanism is not an NPOV!). To me, a non-bolded title with a bolded name would just look bizarre. -- Necrothesp (talk) 12:59, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
    • I'm British and don't find anything bizarre about doing that at all (nor do I find anything bizarre about doing it the other way). I can't agree that the British media "almost always" add the titles. For example, try looking up someone like John Major or Winston Churchill on Google News. You will find many entries from respectable media that include the title with the name, and many that don't. I have no sense that either form is in any way considered incorrect. W. P. Uzer (talk) 14:00, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Not bold, per all of the above, particularly SMc Clandlish and Dicklyon. Joefromrandb (talk) 15:44, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Do not mandate bold. The arguments by the proposer are unconvincing for the reasons given previously by the other opponents: the first and third arguments in the opening statement are circular: just because something has been done doesn't mean we should carry on doing it if there's no good reason to do so. The second argument is wrong. There is no such thing as a "legal name" in England and Wales. Your name is whatever you are known as. And TFD is correct, the titles are not used in legal proceedings: either in Britain e.g. "The Duke, who was named in Northallerton Magistrates' Court as David Charles Rutland" or abroad e.g. Black v. United States. Note also Debrett's guide to use of titles and styles in legal documents: no-one can surely suggest that "Knight Bachelor" or "The Most Noble" is part of a name. These are styles and titles not names. The sentence The title is placed in bold in the first use of the name should be removed from the style guide; leave it up to individual editors to decide the format of the name. DrKay (talk) 08:09, 16 July 2016 (UTC)
    Duke of Westminster v Guild, 1985. Also, Rutland's surname is "Manners", so the title is partly incorporated in his name as well and not "omitted". That said, I agree with you that ferreting after the "legal name" is completely pointless in this case, and probably WP:OR, which is why we should look to other major English-language encyclopedias for guidance and maintain conformity with them in how we style our opening line. Choess (talk) 15:18, 16 July 2016 (UTC)
    Your point about titles not being used in court proceedings is incorrect: see e.g. McAlpine v Bercow, whose full title is 'The Lord McAlpine of West Green v Sally Bercow'. But quite apart from the 'legal name' argument (which has been misinterpreted but I will grant the point) the other arguments stand Atchom (talk) 17:16, 16 July 2016 (UTC)


    • The plaintiffs in Westminster v. Guild were the "trustees of the will of the second Duke of Westminster."[2] This is an unusual example. The estates held by the family are entailed and the landlord is known as the Duke of Westminister. I suppose it is similar to being sued by the Attorney-General. That's the name that would appear on the summons but it is not part of the name of the person who holds that office. In McAlpine v Bercow it should be noted that under common law a person may call oneself whatever one wishes, so long as it is not for fraudulent purposes. So if you normally call yourself Dr. Smith or Miss Smith, Lady Gaga or Cher, Postman Pat, you can file suit under that name. But plaintiffs and especially prosecutors are more likely to use the name on one's birth certificate or marriage license. 00:05, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
      • Earl of Lonsdale v Attorney General (1982), then. I apologize for being snappish, but given that there's a specialized apparatus, in the form of the Roll of the Peerage and Roll of the Baronetage, to ensure that only the proper persons "shall be addressed or mentioned by that title in any civil or military Commission, Letters Patent or other official document", I was a bit gobsmacked by the bland assertion that "their titles are omitted" in legal documents. But certainly no one is compelled to have their title used in official documents, either. In any case, I would agree that the "legal name" standard is not actually one we would wish to adopt for the purposes of our first line. Choess (talk) 01:23, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
I partially agree with Choess. I am against AWB being used to mass change entries in the lead. The lead is a summary of what is contained in the body of the article. By policy and guidelines we do not generally have to reference already sourced content (in the lead and in the body of an article) however, if someone is commonly known by a name that includes a title, and referenced as such, it is wrong to treat such a title differently than any other alternate name. Phil McGraw (from the article) is also well known as Dr. Phil and is in bold as it should be. This does not matter the "legal name", but is simply covered under alternate names. Such alternate names is to be in bold as early as possible, on first instance of use, in the lead. The correct answer is, like it or not: NO, do not use AWB to indiscriminately effect changes to the lead that may not be referenced in the body of the article. This will be using AWB to potentially advance OR. The answer is also yes to using bold for Sir if this is a known thus referenced alternative name of a subject. I am sure a closing admin will not be ignorant of the policies and guidelines, nor the spirit of this RFC, nor implications of what Do not bold Sir will make concerning what someone may be commonly known as and used as an alternative name according to current policy. Otr500 (talk) 18:53, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Bold unless consensus exists otherwise in the case at hand I note that most biographical articles currently do use bold, but I do not suggest that exceptions might occur. Collect (talk) 19:19, 18 July 2016 (UTC)