Wikipedia talk:Article titles

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Subtitles naming conventions location[edit]

Why is the subtitles naming convention in the books guideline rather than the main guideline? My understanding is that it applies to all forms of media with subtitles, as it follows from the five naming criteria points. czar 16:59, 6 February 2016 (UTC)

  • Re. "why" – because I put it there many, many years ago. As far as I can remember WP:CRITERIA wasn't even developed at the time ("common name" being the single ruling paradigm before the five criteria). Then when other naming conventions on other types of creative works started (or continued) developing, instead of developing something parallel to the book subtitles guidance, they simply referred to it. Note that at the time WP:AT (under a different name: it was then called "naming conventions") was guideline, not policy. So there are some questions if we're thinking about importing subtitles guidance to WP:AT:
    • is this something that needs to be mentioned at policy level, or does guideline level work fine?
    • how much of this guidance that is tied to specific media (e.g. book-related examples) would we keep in subsidiary naming conventions guidelines?
    • where do we need pointers to the "root" guidance on subtitles? E.g. currently WP:AT contains two pointers to WP:SUBTITLES: that situation might need to be reviewed when the "root" guidance on subtitles is in WP:AT itself.
    • which other subsidiary naming conventions are affected by this, and how (e.g. pointers would need to be directed elsewhere, are examples specific for that type of works needed?)? --Francis Schonken (talk) 17:34, 6 February 2016 (UTC)
My concern is mainly that editors might think it only applies to books. I was more interested in adding a sentence or two to AT about subtitles vis-à-vis "common name" (this can be linked to the books NC). czar 17:47, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
As written it only applies to books. It doesn't apply to, for instance, embroideries, otherwise we'd reformat the parenthetical subtitle of Magna Carta (An Embroidery) to Magna Carta: An Embroidery, because for books the guideline is to separate the title from the subtitle by a colon and a space. So I'd keep it at guideline level and leave it to the authors of the topic-specific naming conventions guidelines whether they write a specific subtitles guideline, adopt something similar to what is in WP:SUBTITLES, or just refer to it from the other naming convention (when subtitles are an issue in the field of that topic, which would not be the case for most topics). Nothing to be done here at policy level I'm afraid, and as said there are already two places in the policy that link to the WP:SUBTITLES guideline (so people can surely find it). I don't think we need a third link from yet another section of the policy to the same guidance, that surely isn't applicable over-all to all kinds of topics. --Francis Schonken (talk) 22:04, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
As written it only applies to books. That's not what the first sentence says:

Usually, a Wikipedia article on a book (or other medium, such as a movie, TV special or video game) does not include its subtitle in the Wikipedia page name, per WP:CONCISE.

czar 23:07, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
As repeated (for the third time now), some authors of related naming conventions chose to simply refer to the guidance on subtitles in the Books naming convention. I'm OK with that. That doesn't mean that AT (a policy, thus about universally applicable principles) should posit it as applying everywhere, and even less should start naming domains where it applies and where it doesn't apply (while it only applies to a limited set of domains). Yes we could forever continue to ram everything that can be said about article titling in one page again (as it was in prehistoric days), then come to the realisation it is unworkable and start spinning out in topic-specific guidelines again. There are only three naming conventions affected: that on film & TV, and the one on video games. So I assume, e.g., that the naming conventions governing video games make a link to WP:SUBTITLES somewhere. If it doesn't, WP:AT isn't the place to solve that, but the video games naming conventions. We can't put everything that only applies to a handful of topic-specific naming conventions, or less, in the main policy, and even less in three different places in that policy. --Francis Schonken (talk) 23:36, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

Clarifying WP:COMMONNAME[edit]

We need to do something to make it even clearer that WP:COMMONNAME (WP:UCRN) applies to article titles only, and names (e.g. it's Alien 3, not Alien Three or Alien III), and does not cover typographic stylization (Alien3 vs. Alien 3), which is a MOS:TM matter. It is not enough that this page is called "Article titles". Virtually every discussion about in-paragraph usage of stylized trademarks has multiple respondents citing WP:COMMONNAME in favor of things like Alien3, because they don't remember that it's part of WP:AT and that AT is a titles policy. Day in, day out, year after year, all of these discussions get bogged down in trying to get editors to understand that the two documents cover different things, and have different rationales, and in particular that COMMONNAME does not apply to typography in running prose. And many simply will not believe COMMONNAME doesn't regulate article content, simply because COMMONNAME itself doesn't spell that out, right there in its section, and they believe "policy trumps guidelines", which translates into "my misunderstanding of policy trumps your explanation of the relationship between that policy and these guidelines because yours has something to do with guidelines to shut up". I cannot even begin to estimate the amount of editorial productivity flushed down the toilet because of circular "debates" of this sort.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  18:40, 6 February 2016 (UTC)

If you look into the history of UCRN you will discover that (historically) the concept has never been limited to just article titles. The idea of deferring to the most commonly used name is a concept that dates back to when the page was our general Naming Convention guideline... ie before we "narrowed" the scope to titles.
Given this history... I don't think it is WP:AT that needs amendment... I think MOS:TM does. It needs to better acknowledge that the concept behind COMMONNAME has strong concensus... and tell editors that when there is a dispute over style choices, the text should use the style formatting most commonly used in sources (when possible). Call it COMMONSTYLE if you want.
That said, if we do adopt a style analog to COMMONNAME, we should also include a style analog to WP:OFFICIALNAME (call that OFFICIALSTYLE). It does not matter how "official" a style might be... we don't use it unless the majority of sources that write about the topic do so as well. Blueboar (talk) 23:50, 6 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Agree with Blueboar, and suggest that the concept of WP:COMMONNAME, referring to things as they are referred to in reliable sources, is in excellent keeping with the principles of Wikipedia, particularly in that Wikipedia follows its sources. The MOS:TM, where it sets rules that are at odds with reflecting sources, needs softening. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:58, 6 February 2016 (UTC)

Let's try this again. John Doe is a name. COMMONNAME tells us whether that's the correct name, vs. J. M. Doe, or Janet Doe, or John Florbelheimer-Sanchez. Once in a blue moon, we even accept something with simple, transparent substitutions, e.g. J0hn Do3, or simple case changes, e.g. john doe, or (really rarely) extraneous punctuation, as in John Doe!, as a name, iff the whole rest of the world does (i.e. the stylization has transitioned from style on a name to a actual, unitary proper name in the philosophy sense, with the style an intrinsic part of virtually all public perception of the name. J0hN d•3!!! is not a name, it is a stylization of a name, and even if John Doe spends $57 billion promoting that as his real name, down to every style detail, no one in the world, much less WP, should take that seriously for five seconds, other than the designers paid to work on his logo. If this seems like a silly example, strip out every stylization except one, other than the non-confusing substitutions – pick one of: super script, italics, jumbling the case inconsistently, font face, color, use of dingbats, excessive extraneous punctuation, or underlining – and you'll see that the result would still be the same: WP would never and should not accept that as part of the name, as such, except we'd entertain some normal non-alphanumerics that are conventional in typography if they appeared in the title of a published work and RS accepted them as part of the formal title. We'd also accept superscripting or subscripting if it were semantic and not decorative (e.g. a company pronounced "Ideas Squared" iff they were virtually always referred to as "Ideas3" even in their corporate documentation, in press, etc., called "Ideas Squared" in rudimentary ASCII, and never called "Ideas Three"). All the rest of the stylized John Doe example is not part of the name, in any conceptualization anyone care about outside a philosophy class.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:46, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

  • Note: The supermajority required at MOS:TM and MOS:CAPS is actually the same standard as that required by WP:COMMONNAME, anyway: "When there is no single obvious term that is obviously the most frequently used for the topic, as used by a significant majority of reliable English language sources, editors should reach a consensus as to which title is best by considering the criteria listed above." People just tend not to notice that part because of where it's placed in the section. I'm also going to fix the "obvious term that is obviously" redundancy.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:01, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
    I fixed those and some other problems in that section [1] (e.g. WP:BEANS encouragement of dispute, and some additional redundancies, as well as cherry-picking two of the criteria to highlight in that section for no reason.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:22, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

Question about various "naming conventions" pages[edit]

This page was renamed to "Article titles" from "Naming conventions" years ago, but we've still got a bunch of pages titled "Naming conventions (xxxx)". I think this situation is unnecessarily confusing, and that it is about time that the naming conventions pages were brought into line with the main policy. Would anyone be opposed to moving all the pages in the relevant category to either Wikipedia:Article titles/xxxx or Wikipedia:Article titles (xxxx)? As it stands, the link between this policy and its subpages is not clear unless one knows the history of the page move, which I don't think is appropriate. RGloucester 06:14, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

We discussed this idea back when we renamed this page, but rejected it. The problem is that the various Naming Conventions are not really "sub-pages" of WP:AT. While they do discuss article titles, most of them discuss a lot more than article titles. Most of them also discuss which names to use in the body of an article's text (and in which contexts to use which names). They discuss issues such as the presentation of alternative names; the use of names in historical contexts; and a host of other "name related issues". If we were to rename all these guidelines, a more accurate (but less concise) title would be: WP:Conventions regarding names (xxx).
That said, I would agree that the various Naming Conventions do need to be periodically reviewed - and if a NC page actually contradicts something that is said at WP:AT, then we would need to discuss the contradiction and bring the two pages back into sync (guideline pages should augment policy pages, not contradict them). Blueboar (talk) 13:46, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
They are indeed subpages of AT. There is no doubt that the pages emerged as subpages of this page, and served to clarify how to name articles on Wikipedia. Regardless, I can understand that some of these pages have been expanded because of the stupidity of not defining the link to AT post-move. Regardless, as a compromise, I would proposed that we move only those that deal only with broad matters regarding article titles. These would be the following:
As of now, the locations of these pages are not intuitive. They are clearly subpages of this page, but got left behind because of a poorly thought out move of this page. RGloucester 16:11, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
Hmmm... now that you point to the specific NC pages you are concerned with, I do have to say that we have not been talking about the same thing. I have been talking of pages like WP:Naming conventions (people) and WP:Naming conventions (comics) and WP:Naming conventions (music)... ie topic focused guidelines dealing with the presentation of names (in both titles and text). I have to agree that the four pages you link to above don't fit that (normal) mold. They are really alternative style guidelines (focused on article titles) and not "conventions regarding names."
As such, I would suggest that they be merged with appropriate MOS pages that deal with similar issues (for example, NCCAPS should be merged with MOS:CAPS). Blueboar (talk) 17:33, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
Thinking further on this, I think we need a community wide consensus on what to do with these pages. It isn't a good idea to have two competing guidelines dealing with the same issues (such as MOS:CAPS and NCCAPS)... that just ends up causing conflicts. I am going to raise them at the Village Pump. Blueboar (talk) 17:52, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
I disagree. First of all, the pages I've linked have always dealt with article titles, and have always been subsidiaries of this page. The only reason they are not marked as such is because of a failure to move them when the move of this page happened. A move to align them with this page would be mere housekeeping, and would not change the status quo in any way. It would simply make the relationship between these pages more clear. The fact that you were not aware of these pages is a good example of why the present situation does not work. These are in no way "alternative" style guidelines. They are merely expansions on individual sections at WP:AT, formerly WP:NC, and continue to be linked from in the relevant WP:AT sections. MOS:CAPS does not deal with article titles, and the MoS in general is not the place to turn to for guidelines on article titles, though some specific pieces of guidance there might apply. Notice that at the top of MOS:CAPS there is a hatnote that says "For the style guideline on capitalization in article titles, see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (capitalization)". RGloucester 18:24, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
Woops, sorry if I acted too quickly, but I have already raised the issue at the pump (see: WP:VPP#Guideline duplication (the potential for conflict)). I have focused that discussion on the most obvious potential for conflict (the two capitalization pages)... suggest we continue the discussion there for now. We can always resume here once we see what the community at the pump thinks. Blueboar (talk) 19:01, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
I've closed that thread and provided a link here, as it is a duplicate of an already existing discussion. It is wrong to discuss the same thing in multiple places. Regardless, if you consider WP:NCCAPS to be a duplicate of MOS:CAPS, then WP:AT is a duplicate of WP:MOS. it is clear that you don't understand the division between these two. AT and NC pages deal with article titles only, whereas the MoS deals with content. This division has always existed, and should be retained. If it is to be removed, then the AT series of pages needs to merged into the MoS. RGloucester 19:12, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
No problem with the close at VPP... I only opened a discussion there because my concern involved more than one guideline page and I figured that was a more appropriate venue to discuss multiple guidelines at the same time. We can discuss here instead. That comment out of the way... It will probably help to discuss each of these NC pages on their own... I will start with NCCaps
— Preceding unsigned comment added by Blueboar (talkcontribs) 20:48, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
The main reasons we have all these problematic page conflicts are:
  1. Wikiprojects pushing their WP:PROJPAGEs as "guidelines" without a detailed analysis by the community of where they are liable to introduce conflicts and other unnecessary problems. There is often a lot of WP:SSF at work in them. Many if not most should probably be classified as PROJPAGE essays again (same goes for some topical MoS subpages).
  2. Territorialism between AT and MOS. The main vector of this appears to be people who hate this or that nitpick in MOS, and are convinced they can use AT's {{Policy}} label to overthrow their MOS nitpick, if only they can dig up enough sources. (They're wrong, because WP:COMMONNAME and its simple-majority-use-in-reliable-sources pertains to the content of the name (what it is vs. other names, not how its styled). The barrier for entry of a weird stylization at MoS much higher – overwhelming use in reliable sources (though it's phrased different ways and needs to be normalized, at MOS:TM, MOS:CAPS and probably elsewhere). The different: WP:COMMONNAME tells whether a certain personage's common name in "Deadmaus" (stylized "Deadmau5") or "Dead Mouse" or "Deceased Rodent", whether it's "Pink" (stylized "P!nk") or "Pynk" or "LightRed". These are content facts. MOS tells us whether to accept an unusual stylization or not, and the answer is almost always "no"; "Deadmau5" and "iPod" are rare exceptions (based on nearly zero sources using the plan-English style), as Pink (singer) and Time (magazine) and a zillion other articles without silly stylizations in title or prose clearly demonstrate.
  3. Just the palimpsestuous nature of the medium. Because anyone can edit, and there's lots of pages, and plenty of room for conceptual overlap, scope creep is inevitable and has to be pruned from time to time. I did a whole bunch of that in 2014, after discovering that the various NC and MOS and wikiproject pages on various organisms were all contradicting each other on even really basic things, like whether to capitalize the common names of species. It took a long time and lot of drama to resolve it, but we did (aside from the domestic breeds question), and life goes on. There need not be any conflict between AT and MOS, some just arises now and again because of these factors (and maybe some additional ones).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  21:44, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
  • I violently disagree with the idea that the NC pages should be moved to be subpages of the AT policy. That would directly import various guidelines, and various faux guidelines (wikiproject WP:PROJPAGE essays someone slapped a {{Guideline}} onto when no was looking) into policy itself. It would be bedlam. Policies exist to codify as fairly strict rules core matters of Wikipedia values, stability, and fundamental operating procedures. Guidelines exists to recommend what the community consensus is (among editors who care about whatever the guideline is about) on best practices in various applied situations, with plenty of wiggle room in most cases. There are real reasons that things like even WP:MOS, WP:N, WP:BOLD, WP:BRD, and WP:AADD, upon which we rely day in and day out, are not policies, and some are not even guidelines because their applicability is too variable or subjective. All the NC pages (and topical MOS sub-pages on Japan or a sport or whatever) are guidelines (at best) for the same reasons. AT is a policy because it governs a core, WP-universal process, and it does not delve into topical rule-making and other nitpicks for the very reason that it is an overarching policy structure vs. a contextual application. It would "merge the cart with the horse", as it were, to have policy be its own applications at the same time. To use a governance metaphor: Policies are like a constitution and its amendments, plus other founding documents and principles, including (in the case of policies we "inherited" from WP:OFFICE for external legal reasons) ratified treaties; guidelines are like statutes and regulations built upon and interpreting that overall rule-system framework; the consensus decisions we make, on the fly or in formal venues, are our caselaw; and essays are akin to dicta, court procedures, law review articles, party platforms, and other influences upon the system. — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:02, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

WP:NCCaps (and MOS:CAPS)[edit]

OK... let me start this discussion by noting the first sentence of the second paragraph of NCCaps... "This convention often also applies within the article body"... I think that sentence refutes RGloucester's argument that NCCaps is only about article titles (while MOS:CAPS is about article text). It is fairly clear to me that we do actually have two guidelines dealing with capitalization... and that both deal with the issue in both title and text. I think that is a ridiculous situation.
Now... a question... does NCCaps currently conflict with MOS:CAPS? I think there is a potential for it, but I would like to know if that potential has been realized or not. Blueboar (talk) 20:48, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

NCCAPS deals with article titles. Some of what is contained within may apply to the article body, but that doesn't mean that the guideline itself isn't about article titles. It has always done, since it was first created. RGloucester 21:01, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

It seems clear that all NCCaps needs to say is to use sentence case for titles. The MOS covers the details about when to capitalize in a sentence, and titles should do the same. But then a lot of topic-specific guidelines came about under naming conventions, probably because the discussions that get advertised are the requested moves, which are about titles. Pretty silly that is has gone on this way for so long. Should we fix it? Step one would be for everyone to agree to stop calling these conventions "policy". Dicklyon (talk) 05:21, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

The subsidiary pages of the former WP:Naming conventions, i.e. WP:AT, have always been guidelines, not policies. Either way, something needs to be done here. Either we have a ton of duplicate guidance, or we have pages under strange titles that were made obsolete years ago, or we have useful information hidden away where no one can find it, but in any case we have a mess. RGloucester 06:06, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
The obvious solution is tho move the style-related matters into MOS where they belong. PS: The reason that NC guildeline end up affecting article content ("applies within" is activistic, territorialist nonsense, and wording like this is the main reason anyone is ever confused about this stuff) is because MoS encourages using the same style in the body as in the the title, and – when this is all done properly, and people don't try to apply style rules to content or vice versa – the named arrived at by AT/NC will already comply with MOS to begin with.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  21:29, 8 February 2016 (UTC)


Simple question on this one... Why isn't it an MOS guideline? Blueboar (talk) 20:56, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

Because it deals with article titles only, and has always been a subsidiary of WP:AT. MoS does not deal with article titles. RGloucester 21:00, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
That's not really accurate in a particular sense, though. WP:AT and the various NC pages frequently cross-reference MOS. MOS doesn't set anything that is particularly and peculiarly about article titles, and sometimes title policy concerns can override an MOS one, because of the policy vs. guideline natures of the documents, but this is rare. (Most of the time someone thinks they detect a conflict between AT/NC and MOS, they're not reasoning through the WP:POLICY material properly, and either trying impose a content rule on style or a style rule on content. But most of MOS that could be applied to titles is. As someone noted above, AT does sometimes affect the names in the content, but it's not because AT is dictating the content style, it's because MOS avoid conflicting with the title style (cause and effect run the opposite of how some have been perceiving it).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  21:26, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

The idea of merging AT into MOS[edit]

RGloucester above mentioned this, but responding to it where he posted it would disrupt the ongoing thread there, so I'll break it off.

It would be feasible to merge AT and certain core aspects of MOS into a WP style policy with a broader scope than title. It would need a distinct name (perhaps Manual of Style itself) that distinguished it from MoS sub-guidelines (which could be renamed, e.g. "style sheets") and the NC guidelines. There are very few MoS items that I think would rise to policy level; those that might are broad principles, not nit-picky line items. WP:PMC (principle of minimal change, i.e. don't monkey with quotations any more than necessary) is an obvious one. Some of them are in MoS subpages: We have (in regular prose) two and only two acceptable date formats (30 January 2016, and January 30, 2016), per MOS:NUM; history has demonstrated that people are more apt to get into style conflict over date formatting than anything else, if allowed to do so. Certain article sections go in a particular order, per MOS:LAYOUT, and we do in fact enforce this. Leads should be summaries not teasers or one-liner defnitions, per MOS:LEAD, and we try to enforce that as well. There's probably only 10-20 MOS principles that are truly policy-level. All the rest is applied best practices that produce a consistent and (when the content is good) professional quality product, but have little to do with whether the project will function well, which is where policy territory is.

Historically, people have flipped out at the mention of such an idea of merging AT into MoS or making any of MoS into a policy, but who knows. Consensus can change, as we say.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:23, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

Let's start with the relevant naming conventions pages, specifically the ones I mentioned above that are not the type of wikiproject essays that you've talked about. These are:
If we start here, is there anything preventing us from merging them into the MoS? RGloucester 22:56, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Not that I can see. And the last of those is obviously not policy material, but just descriptive of limitations.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  17:23, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose, seems too much a solution in search of a problem to me. --Francis Schonken (talk) 23:05, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
It's not a vote, it's a discussion. Someone may propose something specific later.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  17:23, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
The problem is clear. At present, the above mentioned pages have been orphaned from WP:AT, the former WP:NC, and hence are not accessible. This is not an ideal situation. Do you have a proposed solution? RGloucester 23:08, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
? None of them have been orphaned from WP:AT. There is no problem, at least not the one you describe, so running to a solution without providing a problem that needs to be solved. --Francis Schonken (talk) 23:14, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
They have indeed been orphaned from AT. They were formerly subpages of this page, but were left behind when this page was moved to Wikipedia:Article titles from Wikipedia:Naming conventions. They are presently in limbo, making their guidance inaccessible. RGloucester 23:22, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Inaccessible? I just tried 'What links here' on WP:THE and there are 700+ pages linking to it, so editors have no trouble finding it and adding a link to it when needed. I don’t see how there location makes any difference to this; there is no easy way to list the subpages of a page, so such pages will primarily be found by links, in discussions, from related pages, in indexes. With many editors linking to and presumably remembering them at their current address moving them will just cause problems for no real benefit. So oppose--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 23:34, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Again, "orphaned from AT" is nonsense. There is no problem to solve. Really, certainly not the one you mention. --Francis Schonken (talk) 23:43, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Repeating that problems don't exist when people are clearly identifying problems isn't an argument. Whether RG used the best phrasing in addressing one particular problem has little to do with whether there's a real problem there, and nothing at all to do with the distinct problems identified by others.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  17:27, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Knee jerk reaction is to flip out. However, agree that there is a strong case that something needs doing. There is a lot of good stuff in the MOS, a lot of merit to agreeing to its application, but getting there is somewhat complex. It is hard to put my finger on what exactly is the problem.
One problem with the MOS is its style of asserting rules by fiat. In that respect, it is incompatible with Wikipedia Policies and Guidelines. It also has some bumps that undermine its credibility. Some examples: The insistence on a hard line for capitalisation between 3 letter prepositions and 4 letter prepositions, an invented insistence that regularly leads to morally affronted battles when the MOS says to do something at odds with both sources and the generally understood principle that in composition title case, important words are capitalised. Another is the insistence that verbs are capitalised in titles, without reference to the exceptions for unimportant verbs, Copula (linguistics) or linking verbs. A Boy Was Born, for example. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 01:07, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
SmokeyJoe's comment above has been responded to at #"Asserting rules by fiat".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  18:39, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
Again, 99% of the percieved conflicts between MOS and other policies and guidelines could be resolved if the MOS simply adopted a "COMMON STYLE" type "exception clause" (ie a clause that states: if a topic is routinely presented with a given stylization in the majority of sources that discuss the topic... EDitors should make an exception to MOS guidance and use that common stylization). Blueboar (talk) 03:52, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
Blueboar's comment above has been responded to at #COMMONNAME and "common style".
Blueboar, while I agree with parts of what you've posted above, you're persisting with this self-interested anti-MOS agenda (AT/NC trumps MOS, because it's ... wait ... it's policy, not guideline). We can't afford poorly conceived distinctions. There is utterly no reason that AT/NC should be so-called policy, up there with verification and neutrality, which are overarching, deep commonalities that are not grounded in such need for dense technicality as NC/AT and MOS). NC/AT should be a guideline, and there should be an audit of both, including their subpages, to ensure harmonisation. Tony (talk) 06:24, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
For the record... I don't have any "self-interested anti-MOS agenda"... I actually support the MOS. In most situations, the advice it gives is excellent. However, there are rare occasions when it clashes with other policies and guidelines... and I simply feel that it needs to be amended so it better aligns with those other policies and guidelines. If I have any "agenda" it is to make the MOS even better than it is. Blueboar (talk) 14:14, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
I concur, Tony1. About 80% of AT itself is clearly style advice: ""Explicit conventions", "When a spelling variant indicates a distinct topic", "Conciseness", "Foreign names and anglicization", "National varieties of English", "Treatment of alternative names", "Article title format" ("Special characters", "Italics and other formatting", ...), "Titles containing and", etc. – all of that is style. Part of what I didn't get into above about the "could there be a merged, narrow style-and-titles policy?" was that while very little of MoS is policy-worthy, very little of AT is, either. The principal reasons for something being a policy are to prevent systemic conflict and disruption, and to steer the project towards functionally achieving its goals. What exactly in AT rises to this level?

The actual naming criteria (i.e. WP:CRITERIA + WP:COMMONNAME) could be a separate guideline at WP:Naming conventions (and it really is guideline material, since it's all a judgment call about how to balance these conflicting factors, and we routinely make exceptions to each and every one of those "rules"). Another of AT's pointless content-forks from other WP:POLICY, the WP:AT#Disambiguation material, could be merged back into WP:DISAMBIGUATION.

The remaining AT material would be very concise, with a nutshell like "Do not name or rename articles in ways that conflict with WP:NPOV, or other policies and guidelines. For how to determine an appropriate name, see WP:NC. For all style matters regarding the name, see the "Article titles" sections at MOS and its subpages. For topical conventions, see the various topical NC pages. If a title is ambiguous, see WP:DAB. Avoid move-warring and other disruption over article titles (see WP:DE); use proper procedures like WP:RM to resolve disputes. A wikiproject cannot randomly assert new 'naming conventions' without the community accepting them via a WP:PROPOSAL." Short, sweet, and not commingling policy-level material with a bunch of redundant and sometimes conflicting style material.

If this were done, the conflict level at WP:RM should drop significantly, because it would totally eliminate the confused "rename this to Foo because it's the most common name and that's policy, and all guidelines can just [expletive] off, because no other concern in the world could possibly trump that one line in a policy I over-rely on" nonsense. It would also remove various other negative effects of pretending that guidelines apply to everything except titles because they're off in their own little magical universe. To the extent there is a distinction between guidelines and policy, it was never intended to be WP:GAMEd this way.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:37, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

I agree with you, and would support such an action. Perhaps an RfC should be drafted to that effect? RGloucester 18:23, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
It should probably be drafted in a subpage here, with time for people to work on it. For things like this, objections to the neutrality or particular nitpicks in an RfC have a tendency to derail it and necessitate multiple RfCs.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  18:47, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
Such an RfC should start in the userspace, I imagine, and can then be put to community approval at the VP. I'd support such a move, as I said before. RGloucester 19:05, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

"Asserting rules by fiat"[edit]

Moved from #The idea of merging AT into MO

SmokeyJoe wrote, in the thread above: "One problem with the MOS is its style of asserting rules by fiat." But all of WP:POLICY asserts rules by fiat (that of the consensus of editors who care enough over time to participate in shaping the policy/guideline). That's how policy works; these are internal decisions for how to run Wikipedia, based on WP editors' crowd wisdom on how to best do something here, and these often have little to do with how someone else in a different context might insist it should be done. All of policy is an internal, consensus-based compromise between different goals, values, and needs/desires, multiple of which may be valid and (except for WP:OFFICE legal matters) are not imposed on WP from outside. When compromise is not practical but we need to decide on something, an arbitrary decision is made so we can move on. That's true of everything here, from what to do about sockpuppets to what the cut-off % is for an unsuccessful RfA, to how to format initials in people's names. There's a reason we're not governed by Robert's Rules of Order and we don't do everything by an ayes-and-nays vote. The nature of both compromise and, when that fails, an arbitrary rule to stop the conflict and get back to work, is that some parties will not be 100% satisfied with the result. This is true of life in general, and has nothing to do with WP or with MOS especially. And consensus is not fiat; it's a guideline, not a dictated law. If MoS is "fiat" so is all of WP:POLICY. (If the objection is just to its often imperative do-or-do-not wording, that was mostly changed from earlier wishy-washy wording by a single editor, who is now topic-banned for MOS-related disruption; however, that particular series of changes has actually had a positive effect, resulting in fewer disputes and more work getting done.)

An actual threat to WP's wellbeing is the amount of conflict generated by people on a WP:SOAPBOX mission to force things like the overcapitalization of "Do It Like A Dude", on a faulty policy analysis that, since that spelling is common in the music press, it must be used on WP as a matter of AT policy. Another example was the 8-year campaign to force capitalization of the common names of species, on the basis of some external "standard" in one field that isn't even actually a standard. I can rattle off 20 other examples if you want. All of this disruption, which sucks away editorial energy, and actually drives editors off the system, is directly generated by AT being incrementally WP:POVFORKed from MoS in a "long game" as a conflicting anti-MoS style guide with a {{Policy}} tag on it, so certain WP:CIVILPOV, slow-editwar agendas can WP:WIN at RM on particular pet peeves.

Finally, stating that one of our longest-standing WP:POLICY pages is incompatible with WP:POLICY does not compute. What I can detect in that sentiment is the same old "MoS should be sourced like an article because the core content policies must somehow apply to it" meme. But they don't apply to projectpage content, only to article content. And it wouldn't matter anyway, since MoS is written in consultation with sources. There are nearly zero style matters about which there are not conflicting views in reliable sources. MoS may say nothing on a matter, if it's not important, or say to defer to national dialect style if there is one and there's no compelling reason not to. But if there's consensus that we need a rule on it, MoS just has to pick one, based on what we think serves our needs best not on what is "most common" (see next thread). Picking one is not the same as making one up. Some of these will never change, just as a matter of common sense, like "do not use capitalization for emphasis"; some may, like what the cut-off is for preposition capitalization in titles of works. The fact that style perceptions (sourceable ones) differ right now, as well as change over time on the whole, and so our rules adjust, is a simple reality. It's not a "credibility" problem that our house style guide simply advises "do this here, not that", choosing between one of multiple available ways to approach something, when a consistent result is desirable and/or conflict keeps erupting about a matter. That's what house style guides exist for, and they're all prescriptive (in the sense of actually advising something; when it comes to what to advise, ours is probably the most linguistically descriptive not prescriptive style guide of any seriousness that exists). Part of why people probably get confused and worked up about this and keep trying to treat MoS like an article is the failure to remember that it's a house style guide for WP editors; it is not a general-public work of style advice for how to write papers or business correspondence, and efforts to "source the MoS" to be more like such a work are both WP:NOTHERE and WP:NOT#HOWTO problems. Every dispute people start about MoS line-items and MoS's "authority" as a guideline is time stolen, from multiple other editors, away from writing the encyclopedia. So is every pointless "my fetishized COMMONNAME policy trumps every guideline you can cite" junk-waving display at WP:RM.
 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  18:39, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

  • User:SMcCandlish, you are pinging me. That was long, but OK. I think you must have a different view of policy. Policy is for documenting best practice, not for setting rules. The bumps in the MOS exist, and they place the MOS aficionados at odds with the community. Star Trek Into Darkness. A Boy Was Born. The MOSers do not respond to community rejection of their documentation, and so they don't have credibility. Yes, the MOS is copied from external MOSs. That is not sourcing. There is a systematic bias towards adopting the most complex/detail MOSs. These create barriers to new editors in engaging with the project. Alternatives, such as "follow the styling of the most reliable sources", is more appropriate for a low-barrier anyone-can-edit project. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:25, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
I don't understand the issue here. I don't agree that the MOS assert rules "by fiat", whatever that means. It documents best practice. New editors don't have to know or care what it says. They will pick up part of WP style as they go (like when they see their first article get moved to a sentence-case title, and al the headers get fixed). The part they don't pick up, like an understanding of trademark and dash guidelines, will be taken care of by someone else who cares. Yes, sometimes there is conflict between those who prefer to follow central style guidance and those who prefer to copy the style of their favored sources; so we work it out. Dicklyon (talk) 23:52, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
It means, for example, that some editors (MOS aficionados) are attempting to capitalize (or have done) four letter prepositions because the MOS says to, and the decision for the MOS to prescribe this was written in without evidence of consensus support or evidence that doing so is best practice.
That the text of the MOS was taken from an external MOS is not satisfying. There are other MOSs, some much easier to work with without training. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:06, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
  • "The linking verbs thing is the same kind of case. We capitalize them because most style guides do, most real-world usage does, ... Should an exception be made for "A Boy was Born?". Well yes. Wikipedia capitalizes linking verbs because most real world sources do. But then with A Boy was Born, most real world sources don't. There is a logical hole in the foundation of the MOS. It answers to no one, having become a beast in its own right. Maybe that is hyperbole, and there is a answer to the paradox, I suggest that SMcCandlish, and editors in general, don't know a linking verb when they see one. Probably because of the confounding complexity of the MOS. A linking verb is, according to an excellent working definition, an unimportant word. You know it is an unimportant word if when deleted, the meaning is clear and unchanged.
  • Previously an ArbCom ruling declared that the MOS doesn't effect content. That is not true. "A Boy was Born" does not mean the same thing as "A Boy Was Born". "Star Trek Into Darkness" does not mean the same thing as "Star Trek into Darkness". The MOS is not suitable to be tagged as policy, not until it allows for exceptions. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:39, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
Actually the MOS does allow exceptions. It says so in the opening paragraph. The problem is that no one ever pays attention to that paragraph.
Yes, Blueboar. I think the reason no one pays attention to it is because the MOS is so large, divided into many sections, each with its own LinkBox shortcut that serves as separate title of a pseudo stand alone page. Follow a shortcut, and you get the section positioned at the top of the screen. It is not normal to see the opening paragraph. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 01:13, 11 February 2016 (UTC)

COMMONNAME and "common style"[edit]

Moved from #The idea of merging AT into MO

SmokeyJoe wrote, in the thread above: "99% of the percieved conflicts between MOS and other policies and guidelines could be resolved if the MOS simply adopted a "COMMON STYLE" type "exception clause". There are no "other policies and guidelines" involved. The perceived conflicts is only between MOS and AT (plus its spin-off NC pages, the majority of which are actually wikiproject WP:PROJPAGE {{Essay}}s that have wrongly been tagged with {{Guideline}}) – and even these conflicts only arise because the AT and NC pages have been usurping MOS's role, and are trying to be competing, contrary style guidance (more detail on this at #"Asserting rules by fiat", above).

However, MOS:TM and MOS:CAPS already use the same standard as WP:COMMONNAME: They all want to see a strong super-majority of independent, reliable, English-language sources. Most people just missed this in COMMONNAME because it was at the bottom of the section. I've merged this into the top of it to reduce confusion on the issue [2]. . But this does not automatically mean that something that passes overwhelming commonness tests for what the name is also passes MOS tests for the overwhelming commonness of a particular stylization of it; different analyses. There is nothing but the most superficial similarity between the concepts of "common name" and "common style". I use all kinds of style on my sig here. If I change it all, or delete it, my username has not changed. See? The notion of them being comparable is a Korzybski fallacy. Style is not a name, it's something applied to a name. Are you your suit? Is your house the paint job you applied to it? Style is not substance. The proposal that WP be forced to accept a style quibble used in the simple "majority" of sources attempts to apply a rule – that doesn't even exist! – about a title (substance) to an area of abstract style. The proposition ignores everything else important in the policy when it's convenient to do so ...

At any rate, the broader WP:NPOV policy is also pretty clear that we should not be favoring promotionalism.

If MOS followed the "most common style" (assuming this could be determined in an accurate, objective way, which it usually can't), even when it wasn't overwhelmingly consistent across the sources, WP would be written like marginally professional journalism, and our article titles would look like newspaper headline. If it followed the most common style in academic publishing, it would be impenetrable to most anyone without a masters degree. If we followed the topical journalism that surrounds subjects like movie stars, albums, tech companies and products, and other areas where over-stylization is rampant, the result would be the acceptance of virtually all stylizations as official and required, from [insert Prince symbol here] to LaTeX. There are compelling reasons we do not accept style wankery like this (except perhaps once per article, in a "stylized as" lead statement), except for the rarest exceptions like "k.d. lang" and "iPhone". Accepting all stylization demands would be a WP:NOT#INDISCRIMINATE problem, and we already know from experience that it's unworkable in other ways (cf. the species capitalization war that went on for 8 years. Style is trivia, but some individuals' "never give up, never surrender" attitude about their peeves is not, and can have serious anti-collaborative consequences on the project). This is all an MoS matter, not an AT matter. It's style (typographic effects, etc.) applied to names, not what the names are ("Macy's" and "Alien 3", versus "Maycees'" and "Alien: Part III"). We only, really rarely, treat style as an integral part of the name when pretty much the entire world has assimilated it that way, through the exact same linguistic process that turned the acronym "LASER" into the word "laser" and the French word "rôle" into the English word "role". Guess what the criterion is, on WP and off, for whether that has happened? Overwhelming super-majority acceptance in reliable sources, across registers, including the most formal. This is descriptive linguistics, not something MoS just made up one day.

We don't consider it indiscriminate to include limited stylization info in some places, but even the top of the eBay article reads: eBay Inc. (stylized as "ebay" since late 2012) is..."; it does not say: ebay (stylized as ebaY prior to late 2012) is...". There are many stylization points we would not accept no matter how many external sources did (cf LaTeX example), because they're superfluous attention-hogging, inappropriately dumped into an encyclopedic register and context. (See also MOS:ICONS.)
 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:51, 9 February 2016 (UTC)


  • Walls of text. I started reading one of them, somebody writing about soapboxing. Halfway through the wall I realise the writer thinks it applies to someone else but not to themselves. TL;DR, but for clarity: oppose all of it. Normally when there is a real problem it can be explained concisely. Until further notice I don't see the problem, nobody seems to care to explain an actual problem, but is running around with purported solutions and/or thinks blaming others (for soapboxing or whatever) is the same as explaining a problem or providing a solution for it. --Francis Schonken (talk) 20:30, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
    • Thanks for indicating that you decline to participate. This is another of your pointless exercises is "shout NO against everything I don't understand and didn't come up with myself" (e.g. at WT:MOS against the drafted closure of the "winningest" thread, an Oppose you never adjusted in any way even after your concerns were addressed by changes, in considerable detail, and you were pinged about it). Your response here doesn't even make sense, Francis. Several people (who are not even usually on the same sides in these sorts of discussions) have clearly outlined what the problems are, some quite concisely. You declare it all a text wall (thought the long parts were intentionally broken out into subthreads so they can be ignored by anyone not interested in these side topics), and complain that they have not done what they have in fact done, then complain further that you refuse to engage until they post more, doing what you want them to do that they've already done, but this of course just feeds right back into your claim that there's just too much to read. It's complete nonsense. If you can't parse a few paragraphs of WP policy analysis and come up with an actually meaningful response, then please, for everyone's sake, retire from WP policy discussions, instead of playing silly games like this.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:00, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
      • You never know when to stop talking do you? I do, for instance in the winningest debate. --Francis Schonken (talk) 23:05, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

Requested move notice[edit]

Greetings! I have recently relisted a requested move discussion at Talk:43rd Canadian federal election#Requested move 9 February 2016, regarding a page relating to this WikiProject. Discussion and opinions are invited. Thanks, AusLondonder (talk) 04:52, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

@AusLondonder: This isn't a wikiproject, and Canadian federal elections aren't relevant to this policypage. Is there something particular about this RM that raises AT interpretation problems?  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:39, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
I think the question for this page is whether WP:COMMONNAME applies or not... I don't think it does. Both of the choices are descriptive in nature .. and neither has the routine level of usage in sources to indicate that the description has evolved into a proper name for the event). Blueboar (talk) 16:42, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
The issue that is raised here is application of naming conventions and precedent. AusLondonder (talk) 05:25, 10 February 2016 (UTC)