Wikipedia talk:Persondata

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Are partial dates acceptable?[edit]

I have found a few templates that say "DATE OF BIRTH= November 17" i.e. It is known when they celebrate their birthday, but they keep their age secret. I am raising the question as someone who has programmed an extract from Persondata and these day/months caused me a problem. The functions I used assumed the year was the current year and I ended up with celebrities a few months old!

I think a year only or a month/year should be acceptable, but I am not sure about day/month. Is there any consensus? Periglio (talk) 12:49, 10 January 2014 (UTC)

Yes, you have to program defensively. Wikipedia is crowd sourced, there can be any old junk in these fields. Of course you should deal with those that you can, but, for example "November 17" can mean November of the year 17 AD. (So 17 November would be better, as it is unambiguous.) But you should also find words there like "unknown" "approx" "reputed" "After" "Fl." "Circa" and ranges.
The entry you describe can reasonably be "corrected" to "unknown" or "unknown - 17 November", but you cannot rely on the format or data type, despite the efforts of the Wikipedia:Committee for getting things done. All the best, Rich Farmbrough, 06:18, 13 April 2014 (UTC).

Short Description length[edit]

A suggestion for the instructions for Short Description: Keep the description under 30? characters.

My interpretation of Short Description is that it is equivalent to "Occupation". For example, German politician. Any additional information is not wanted - German politician who introduced parking tickets.

I have seen a lot of long descriptions such as Angela Donald. Editors seem to be inclined to elaborate on exactly why the person is notable. There are also extreme cases Kleber Romero whose short description is longer than the article. I think a character limit statement would help keep the descriptions brief. Periglio (talk) 11:38, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

  1. First, I believe our unquantified guideline is sufficient to discourage the Angela Donald instance and that is certainly true of the Kleber Romero. (Those links are not stable.)
  2. It may be useful to align with WikiData.
See WikiData Help:Description.
By the way, WikiData labels and descriptions[1] are not considered to be 'properties'[2].
--P64 (talk) 19:27, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
  1. Routinely our short descriptions nationalize their subjects: 'German politician' = nationality German; occupation politician. I do nationalize whenever that is missing. None of our current illustrations do so, which is a bad misfit with practice.
  2. 'Australian illustrator and writer' is succinct but 32 characters. One of our illustrations is 'Baseball manager and team owner' (31) where I presume we would now prescribe 'American baseball manager and team owner' (40). So we cannot prescribe 30. We might say that we expect most descriptions to be shorter than 30 or perhaps 25 characters, as a guideline.
But see point 1. --P64 (talk) 19:14, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

Protected edit request on 18 February 2014[edit]

--Madlady6103 (talk) 05:31, 18 February 2014 (UTC) Items of general interest are missing, such as her marriage to Albert Amato (SP); literary friendships, such as with Ursula Le Guin; and political affiliations (certain Trotskyist parties). I was and am a close friend, and helped with biographical material for one of her books, etc. Please advise. I believe these to be important facts about my closest friend. Madlady6103 (talk) 05:31, 18 February 2014 (UTC) Melody Annaed [pseud: Madelyn Arnold] 21:28 18 February, 2014 Madlady6103 (talk) 05:31, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

Not done: According to the page's protection level and your user rights, you should currently be able to edit the page yourself. If you still seem to be unable to, please reopen the request with further details. — {{U|Technical 13}} (tec) 05:46, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
Er, Technical 13 - you seem to have used {{subst:EP|hr}} here - but the request as worded is clearly not for Wikipedia:Persondata at all, but some unrelated page (probably an article about a person); this is what {{subst:EP|mis}} was created for. --Redrose64 (talk) 13:55, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Yes, Redrose64, you may be correct. I couldn't make heads or tails of the request and since there is no protection on this page here, I just went with that. I've struck my earlier response and put the new response in just below. — {{U|Technical 13}} (tec) 14:52, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Not done: this is the talk page for discussing improvements to the page Wikipedia:Persondata. Please make your request at the talk page for the article concerned. — {{U|Technical 13}} (tec) 14:52, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

Occupation gender[edit]

I have noticed lots of actresses have actor in the Short Description. I found something in the talk pages that suggests that this may be because an automated script picks it up from an infobox, ignoring gender. I just want to ask is there some form of precedent set for using "actor" or should I be changing these to actress if appropriate? Periglio (talk) 16:21, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Surname always first?[edit]

Would "Gunnar Gunnarsson" (not other way) around be ok? This is Icelandic name-standard. I guess not as you would follow "English/global standard". Then Halldór Laxness is incorrect. And "Halldór Kiljan Laxness" should be added somehow. comp.arch (talk) 11:28, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Persondata#Name and titles doesn't mention Icelandic names, but it does say "format the name according to how you would expect it to be alphabetized" also "Names that do not include a family name should be given as-is". See for example Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir#persondata which I believe to be correctly-formatted; personally, I don't think that Björk Guðmundsdóttir#persondata has been formatted properly. --Redrose64 (talk) 12:10, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
Redrose, you are correct. I fixed both Gunnar Gunnarsson and Halldór Laxness. How to deal with Icelandic names when it comes to sort value and categories is covered under WP:SUR. Bgwhite (talk) 18:06, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
I disagree that NAME=Gunnar Gunnarsson (as it currently stands) is correct. It should follow DEFAULTSORT:Gunnarsson, Gunnar. WP:SUR states that only Icelandic specific categories/lists should be sorted by "forename". Someone extracting Persondata information would not know the name is Icelandic. Periglio (talk) 02:26, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
WP:SUR *only* covers DEFAULTSORT and category sorting. WP:SUR only deals with sorting. An exception was made when sorting Icelandic names and it is the only patronymic exception. It does not cover Persondata. Persondata data says, "... in the following format: Family Name, Given Name Middle Names, title. For most cases this will be straightforward." Icelandic names have no "Family Name". This has also been talked before. Persondata also contains an example of this in the examples section. "NAME=Gunnar Gunnarsson" is the standard way for Icelandic, Malaysian, Burmese, Ethiopian, and older patronymic systems for several years now. Bgwhite (talk) 05:47, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
'Icelandic names have no "Family Name"' is not true in general. Most Icelandic names are patronymic (or matronymic). Many Icelanders have an Icelandic (or foreign-origin) family-name. Some even use them with a patronymic such as Einar Hjörleifsson Kvaran. Some use a patronymic and a matronymic (without a hyphen I think, can't remember with). That is rare, never seen those and a family-name. Then there are other options. What are the arguments for not treating them all the same? comp.arch (talk) 14:46, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

Whitespace problem[edit]

Just documenting an oddity I found. I was attempting to remove the last three articles from Category:Persondata templates without name parameter but they all had NAME parameters set. I noticed that the names were not showing in my visible persondata box. To fix this, you need to delete all the whitespace in the template ie | NAME = Dave becomes |NAME=Dave If you want to maintain the aesthetic appearance, you can put the whitespace back. Finally save your edit.

It would seem that occasionally a rogue unicode character gets used within the template instead of ASCII 32, corrupting the parameter name. Deleting the whitespace and replacing with good old 32 cures the problem.

For example, my fix to Andrew Gray (actor) which shows that some unknown characters have been replaced with a space. Periglio (talk) 04:10, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

The unknown characters are non-breaking spaces. Their presence meant that the first parameter wasn't |NAME = but something like |NAME              = which is not at all the same. The MediaWiki template parser can (and does) strip plain spaces around both parameter names and their values, but it leaves non-breaking spaces alone. So as far as the template parser was concerned, the |NAME= parameter simply wasn't there. Problems like this can affect any template, not just {{persondata}}: it is very important not to use non-breaking spaces unless they are necessary. --Redrose64 (talk) 09:16, 25 February 2014 (UTC)


Does anyone else see a problem with adding this to BLPs? I wince every time I see someone add it (with date and place of death), as though we're waiting breathlessly to fill in the details. I'm wondering what the benefit is of adding it to BLPs (or to any article). SlimVirgin (talk) 15:42, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

I can't remember where this has been talked about before. If I remember correctly, which is doubtful, reason for keeping it in is because the reader does not see it. Same reason you see blank death parameters in infoboxes. It's also in over a million articles, so making a change now won't do much. Bgwhite (talk) 19:33, 14 March 2014 (UTC)
This came up six months ago. My stance has not changed. 1ForTheMoney (talk) 15:05, 17 March 2014 (UTC)


One of the problems that Wikipedia has is the building of unsourced ancestry trees in what are otherwise well sourced articles. Some some of these go back five generations and it only takes one mistake early in the tree to invalidate large parts of it.

If {{Persondata}} was to include mother and father fields then it would be relatively easy to check an ancestry tree (or to build one). It would also allow network analysis tools to easily check for family connections which have been missed by historians and could be a useful additional source of information for them when explaining a subjects reasons for supporting or opposing notable events. -- PBS (talk) 17:27, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

PBS, Persondata is dead as Wikidata is taken over its function. Wikidata does handle family trees and has an interesting tool. The example is taken from data found on Johann Sebastian Bach's Wikidata page. Bgwhite (talk) 21:26, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
@Bgwhite: If Persondata is dead, does that mean that Waacstats (talk · contribs) is wasting their time? --Redrose64 (talk) 21:48, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
A bot was supposed to take the info in Persondata, add it to Wikidata and then Persondata could be removed. I want to say Lego was going to do that, but I'm not sure. This is also being talked about on dewiki. It's down to somebody on Wikidata to get the ball rolling in some direction. Bgwhite (talk) 22:17, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
OK then I see that my suggestion is going to have any traction as this is now an obsolete process, particularly as what I had in mind was only placing information into the fields if it could be validated by a reliable source. I can see that the database is extremely useful for answering all sorts of questions which can be teased out of the data contained within Wikiepedia pages which is not easily accessible any other way.
However although the database approach it is a useful tool checking for genealogical errors in Wikipedia both because it will throw up inconsistencies between pages (such as the mother not matching on father and child pages etc), and because such a tree can be checked against independent data sources (such as Burke), unfortunately I suspect that it is not asymmetrical, because of the old issue of "garbage in garbage out", as it appears that the database does not have the means to take into account, whether the family data is reliably sourced. I looked at at the entry in the example to which Bgwhite linked and the biography on Gottfried Heinrich Bach (a leaf) has no sources for his parentage (his entry in his mothers biography likewise is unsourced (see Anna Magdalena Bach). The biography page on his father does have a source and it is reliable, but I doubt if the database checks against that has a (list/algorithm of reliable and unreliable sources against which to check). In other words the database it is not necessarily any more accurate than an unsourced ancestry tree that appears on a page. In the short term as editors have almost certainly used other sources to draw up the tree the data extracted from Wikipedia is a useful cross check but as soon as someone draws up a tree using the tool it is of little use for validation of such trees. Perhaps longer term a tool can be produced that includes the sources (if any) when creating these types of graphs. -- PBS (talk) 10:20, 19 March 2014 (UTC)
Slightly off the original topic, but I want to say that Persondata is alive and kicking. I wanted an extract of birth and death dates for my own personal use and after investigating I went for Persondata. It is the one that is widely applied and consistently updated, in particular with the less notable articles. I have made the comparison previously - Wikidata = Betamax / Persondata = VHS. I would like to see Wikidata being used but there does seem to be anything in place to keep birth/death information updated. In answer to the original question - please no more fields in Persondata - Wikidata is the way forward. Periglio (talk) 16:27, 19 March 2014 (UTC)