Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Dinosaurs

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Automated taxonomy system errors[edit]

See #Update – the examples of excessive expansion depth below are out-of-date.

In some articles, such as Abavornis and Enantiornithes, the automated taxoboxes (whether Speciesbox or Automatic taxobox) do not display correctly. This shows up at the corresponding "Template:Taxonomy/..." templates, i.e. Template:Taxonomy/Abavornis and Template:Taxonomy/Enantiornithes. If you move up the taxonomic hierarchy, e.g. to Ornithothoraces and Template:Taxonomy/Ornithothoraces, then all is well.

The underlying reason is that there is a limit on the depth of expansion of templates allowed in Wikipedia pages. Various fixes have been implemented to get round this limit in the automated taxobox system (see the comments by the expert editor Wikid77 at User talk:Peter coxhead#Automated taxonomy system errors) but in the end if editors keep adding intermediate levels to the taxonomic hierarchy stored in the "Template:Taxonomy/..." templates, the problem re-appears.

The real solution, in my view, is to cut out levels in the taxonomic hierarchy, since the technical people that run the Wikimedia software aren't going to allow more template expansion depth. If you look at Template:Taxonomy/Ornithothoraces there simply can't be almost 40 levels before you reach Dinosauria. I would urge that 5–10 levels be cut out. The levels mostly seem to concern dinosaurs, which is why I've posted here. I'm no expert in this area, so I have no idea of the best levels to remove.

The alternative is that articles about "deep" levels will have to use manual taxoboxes. Peter coxhead (talk) 08:54, 11 September 2016 (UTC)

The number of levels is of course getting out of control. As you say, there is no prospect of the software coping with 50 or more levels any time soon. It is also not convenient for taxoboxes to be loaded with so much information. Effectively all the surplus levels are either unranked groupings, or clades which have not been adopted as traditional ranks (Phyla, Classes, etc). The obvious suggestion would be to leave all such clades out of the hierarchy. This would leave dinosaurs with the hierarchy
Animalia/Eumetazoa/Deuterostomia /Chordata/Vertebrata/Gnathostomata /Tetrapoda/Reptilia
which ought really to be enough detail. Cladograms within articles can give more detail as appropriate. Chiswick Chap (talk) 11:20, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
I'm not a huge fan of that system, very hard to find the broken chains etc., and even to just add a taxobox to a new article... But well, guess we have to live with it. Maybe some levels could be commented out or something, if that even works, because it may be relevant to show different higher levels in different articles, etc. FunkMonk (talk) 14:43, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
Different higher levels can be (and indeed are) shown in different articles, typically via |display_parents=. Unfortunately, even if the intermediate levels aren't shown (by default only "major ranks" are), the system still has to check each level, if only to find the next one. Hence so as long as the taxonomy templates are present in the taxonomic hierarchy, there's a problem. Peter coxhead (talk) 16:46, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
But why is there even a limit? As I said earlier, I don't think it is a good idea to simply remove some ranks, as some might be relevant to show in some articles, and some in others. FunkMonk (talk) 17:03, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
The limit seems to be a purely practical one - the amount of processing which is required, or maybe the stack depth (let's guess there's some recursion in there...); but from the point of view of an article, it's awful having an enormous long taxobox. I've taken a look at the hierarchy, and editing it would be, ah, interesting. We could (if agreed) easily short-circuit some of the levels (by pointing from one to whatever is several levels above it), but the intermediate levels would still be there, and could be used by other taxa. So it's already possible for some articles to show one thing, some another, even using the auto-taxobox mechanism. Actually slimming down the hierarchy would, it seems, involve AfD-ing a whole lot of taxo-pages - presumably, quite a "challenge". That doesn't mean that cutting it down isn't desirable or possible. Chiswick Chap (talk) 18:08, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
@FunkMonk and Chiswick Chap: there's a limit because it's built into the software which runs Wikipedia and other wikis. Recursion is actually forbidden in the template language, but there's still a depth limit: one template can call a different one which then calls another and so on (necessary to move up the taxonomic hierarchy), but this can only happen 40 times and then it just stops.
@Chiswick Chap: It's not necessary to actually delete the taxonomy templates. Suppose there was a taxonomic hierarchy like the following (shown sideways for convenience):
A ← B ← C ← D ← E ← F ← G ← H ← I
and we decided that only those in bold should be able to be shown for levels below I. Then the upwards links (|parent= in the "Template:Taxonomy/..." templates) could be changed to produce hierarchies like this:
A ← B ← C
D ← E ← F
G ← H
All that's happened is that the links upwards from the "bold" levels are changed to go to another "bold" level. The rest are left alone. Then an article about B, C, E, F or H, or about a taxon whose parent is one of these, can still use the automated taxobox system. It's just that all the five "non-bold" levels will be skipped once a "bold" level is reached.
This is the approach that I personally favour, but as I noted above, it's not for me to say for dinosaurs which levels should be treated as the "bold" ones in my example. Peter coxhead (talk) 19:37, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
That short-circuiting is exactly what I suggested above. Chiswick Chap (talk) 19:39, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
Um, yes, but you said that AfD'ing would be needed, and my point above is that it isn't. All that's needed is to change the values of |parent= in some templates. Consensus here will be enough for that, if there are more participants. Peter coxhead (talk) 19:44, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
No I didn't, I said it would be needed if we wanted actually to clean up the mess. We agree we can short out the long lists, and that it would be enough for our immediate purposes, but it isn't great leaving heaps of shorted-out trash behind, is it? Even if some do wish to use it in other places - they'll only want to put it back again if it's all still lying about, and AfDing would be needed to prevent that. Still, we can try what you suggest first, and see what happens. Chiswick Chap (talk) 19:56, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
What does the "mess" refer to, errors? Some errors also seem to simply be due to vandalism on a specific taxon template, which then gets inherited all the way down the hierarchy... Perhaps they should all be protected from IP address edits... Though I think this would never be done, due to the "everyone cna edit" policy. FunkMonk (talk) 20:47, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
Perhaps, but more likely simply over-enthusiasm for putting in every suggestion of a clade from anyone's cladistic analysis supported by goodness knows what evidence; even if they're correct, we don't necessarily want them all here. And once someone has put in Peter's B, C, E, F, and H clades, it's remarkably difficult to get them all out again. Chiswick Chap (talk) 21:00, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
Personally I think we have too many dinosaur clade articles as well (every three or four genera seem to have their own clade name), but it is kind of impossible to know where to draw "the line" for inclusion. Same for these taxobox hierarchies. FunkMonk (talk) 21:21, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
I think we all agree that this needs fixing, and I think the best thing to do would be what Peter coxhead described above, with different levels that collapse when a major clade is found. I also agree with FunkMonk that we probably have too many clades at this momment, but I do think finding a fix takes priority over making sure every article has the hierarchy it specifically needs. If all the people involved in this discussion agree, then I think we should start a project-wide discussion on which clades become "bold", and which we are okay with being not shown in taxoboxes. IJReid discuss 23:37, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
  • Need new parameter majorparent=xxx: Although the recent {taxobox_colour} template-depth errors have been fixed, for now, by listing intermediate taxon levels in {{Taxonomy/Dinosauromorpha}}, a long-term solution is needed to hide the minor clades. Because the numerous clades are cluttering the overall table of taxon levels, there should be a new optional parameter "majorparent=xxx" to skip higher above the current "parent=yyy" and avoid the template nesting limit in some pages. Previously, the {taxobox} templates have been re-structured to allow 54 taxon levels, but now need to handle 70 or more taxon levels with class Reptilia, which might be possible by further re-structuring this month. -Wikid77 (talk) 10:51, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
I'm against allowing more taxon levels (as it seems are the other editors that have commented here). The |majorparent= solution seems better to me. How would the system determine when to skip, given that it works upwards and so doesn't know how many levels are above? Or would it always skip to the major parent? Peter coxhead (talk) 11:08, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
If possible, I would recommend that the taxon box shows the immediate parent of a taxon, and then the lowest majorparent. As such, if we had a genus, eg. Tyrannosaurus, it would display the parent Tyrannosaurinae, and then the next majorparent, which will probably be agreed to be Tyrannosauridae. Then we can work our way up the tree skipping the unimportant clades but displaying every subsequent majorparent. IJReid discuss 17:13, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
The |display_parents= parameter should continue to be obeyed; normally it defaults to 1, achieving the effect IJReid points out. Peter coxhead (talk) 19:27, 17 September 2016 (UTC)

Updating templates to list non-nested taxon-ranks[edit]

After waiting years for the wp:developers to (not) increase the 40-level limit to process more taxon levels, instead I will modify the {Taxonomy/xxx} templates to list some 20 taxon sub-levels as 20 taxon parameters rather than 20 nested taxon templates. By that method, a level such as {{Taxonomy/Ornithothoraces}} could be modified to show the same taxon list but run 20 levels fewer of the 40-level depth limit, and then all {Taxonomy/xxx} templates which list "Ornithothoraces" would also run 20 levels less deep. Overall, a similar modification of a few key {Taxonomy/xxx} templates would fix numerous pages which currently exceed the "wp:expansion depth limit". -Wikid77 (talk) 04:09, 13 September 2016 (UTC)

Um... If I understand your proposal, the danger is that "Taxonomy/..." templates which cover the same part of the taxonomic hierarchy could then show inconsistent taxonomies. If this is the case, I don't think this is the way forward. I would prefer the system to respond better to excessive depth, e.g. simply stopping the display with a message like "taxon display truncated due to excessive depth". As noted by others above, ridiculous numbers of minor clades are the real problem. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:44, 13 September 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── We could start by listing just 5 non-nested levels show the same display, perhaps in {{Taxonomy/Archosauromorpha}} to have "parent=Reptilia" but also list the 5 intermediate clades (Eureptilia, Romeriida, Diapsida, Neodiapsida and Sauria) to show the same taxo hierarchy but run 5 fewer levels less deep. However if that is not enough, then long term, list more non-nested levels, up to 20 taxon levels if needed some day. The strategy would be to list the clades/ranks which are unlikely to change, but also allow for different clades in the nested taxons. If not above Archosauromorpha, then perhaps listed above another taxon. The goal would be to list up to 75 levels of taxons, where the readers would not see any nest errors in a taxonomy display. Later, debate which clades to omit totally. -Wikid77 (talk) 16:58, 15 September 2016 (UTC)

I'm still not enthusiastic about this "solution". It messes up the proper structure of the classification tree, and has the potential to create duplications. Suppose there's the hierarchy AB ← C ← D ← E ← F, with A, B and F agreed to be "major" and the others "minor". So we set up "Taxonomy/F" with |parent=B and then "Taxonomy/B" with |parent=A and new "intermediate" parameters with values C, D and E. We delete "Taxonomy/C", "Taxonomy/D" and "Taxonomy/E" along with the articles on C, D and E – assuming there's a consensus for the deletions.
What happens now if an editor creates an article on D, regardless of the prior deletion – perhaps because there are now several more papers using this clade. They find there's no "Taxonomy/D" template and create one. Nothing prevents this, but now we have duplication and potential differences – e.g. "Taxonomy/D" might be given |parent=B.
It's a clever workaround for the problem, but like all workarounds, doesn't actually solve it. Peter coxhead (talk) 19:36, 15 September 2016 (UTC)
Indeed, this current fix is just a workaround, until the taxobox templates can be changed to have a new parameter "majorparent=xxx" to skip the minor taxons, when needed, and avoid template-nesting limits. -Wikid77 (talk) 10:51, 17 September 2016 (UTC)

Taxoboxes with an invalid color[edit]

Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Ornithothoraces
Clade: Enantiornithes
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Ornithothoraces
Clade: Enantiornithes

The reported examples Abavornis and Enantiornithes are currently not in Category:Pages where expansion depth is exceeded. They show exposed table formatting code in the infoboxes, so the error must be something other than expansion depth. I investigated Enantiornithes after Wikipedia:Village pump (technical)#Error in Enantiornithes template(s). There appears to be two issues. 1) It produces Category:Taxoboxes with an invalid color. 2) The category code is produced in a place which breaks the table formatting.

{{Automatic taxobox|name = Enantiornitheans|taxon = Enantiornithes}} produces the first infobox to the right. It currently displays this twice: colspan=2 style="text-align: center; background-color: transparent; text-align:center; border: 1px solid red; |. It's possible to remove the category from the output by using {{Replace}} to replace it with emtpy. I did that in the second infobox. It currently displays no code but has a red border and no background color for "Enantiornitheans" and "Scientific classification".

Special:ExpandTemplates shows that {{taxobox colour|taxon=Enantiornithes}} produces: transparent; text-align:center; border: 1px solid red;[[Category:Taxoboxes with an invalid color]]. For comparison with working code in Tyrannosaurus, {{taxobox colour|taxon=Tyrannosaurus}} produces: rgb(235,235,210). PrimeHunter (talk) 11:43, 16 September 2016 (UTC)

Whether or not it gets into Category:Pages where expansion depth is exceeded, the problem is caused by the excessive depth of the taxonomic hierarchy. You can easily see that if you look at these pages:
The first two fail to show the full taxonomic hierarchy in the table to the right; the last does, because the hierarchy is one shorter. If you temporarily cut out a level, e.g. set |parent=Ornithothoraces in Template:Taxonomy/Euenantiornithes and then preview, you'll see the problem disappear. Peter coxhead (talk) 14:51, 16 September 2016 (UTC)


The examples above of excessive expansion depth are now out of date.

  1. I have altered the code that displays the taxonomic hierarchy when viewing a "Template:Taxonomy/..." page so that it shows clearly where minor taxa have been hard-coded in the template below, or where a "skip" template has been used to skip minor taxa. See, e.g., Template:Taxonomy/Tyrannosaurus, where the downward arrows show hard-coding and the ... lines show skips.
  2. Mainly by introducing "skip" templates (I prefer these to Wikid77's solution of hard-coding) and also through some small changes to the templates driving the automated taxobox system, I have managed to empty Category:Pages where expansion depth is exceeded of articles – at least as of today!

Hard-coding and skip templates are necessary for the present, but not the best solution, which is, in my view, Wikid77's suggestion of introducing |majorparent=. My idea would be to follow |parent= for, say, the first five ancestors of a taxon, so that |display_parents= could force them to be displayed, but after that always follow |majorparent=, which would lead to a major rank or an important clade. However, changing the automated taxobox system is very tricky, since it's right on the edge of exceeding the allowed expansion depth, even when it does work, and even apparently innocuous changes can cause it to fail.

Currently, there are some fixes needed to the taxobox colour determining system, which I have working in sandbox versions, but need some more testing before being made live. Peter coxhead (talk) 23:19, 13 November 2016 (UTC)

Further update See Template talk:Automatic taxobox/Archive 13#Lua coding. I believe that all of the problems discussed above will disappear in the next few days. Peter coxhead (talk) 11:29, 10 December 2016 (UTC)

2016 Community Wishlist Survey Proposal to Revive Popular Pages[edit]

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Greetings WikiProject Dinosaurs Members!

This is a one-time-only message to inform you about a technical proposal to revive your Popular Pages list in the 2016 Community Wishlist Survey that I think you may be interested in reviewing and perhaps even voting for:

If the above proposal gets in the Top 10 based on the votes, there is a high likelihood of this bot being restored so your project will again see monthly updates of popular pages.

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Best regards, SteviethemanDelivered: 17:58, 7 December 2016 (UTC)

Many skip templates can now be removed[edit]

Now that I have finished re-coding the "traversal" part of the automated taxobox system in Lua (a few very small parts need a bit more work), skip taxonomy templates introduced solely to reduce the depth of the taxonomic hierarchy can be removed, and I've started cautiously removing them. Thus Template:Taxonomy/Tyrannosaurus now has no skips and the article Tyrannosaurus has an expansion depth of only 24 compared to the maximum allowed of 40.

Important: this only applies to skip taxonomy templates previously used to reduce depth. Skip templates are still needed in the taxonomic hierarchies for taxa like Mammalia or Aves because editors in wikiprojects concerned with those taxa want to treat them as Linnaean classes, which is not compatible with treating the clade Reptilia as a class. All skip taxa used to avoid incorrect ordering of Linnaean ranks must be retained. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:02, 12 December 2016 (UTC)

I have now removed more skip templates in the "dinosaur" part of the taxonomic hierarchy; see e.g. Template:Taxonomy/Ornithurae which now has 61 levels, impossible to process correctly before. I can't see any problems which this caused, but please let me know if you spot any. Peter coxhead (talk) 07:33, 15 December 2016 (UTC)

Inconsistent taxonomies for extinct birds[edit]

Please see Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Birds#Inconsistent taxonomies; many bird and bird-related taxoboxes still show inconsistent ranks, and this needs fixing. Peter coxhead (talk) 08:00, 17 December 2016 (UTC)

Scope of the project[edit]

A definition of the project's scope was added without any discussion[1], and states the project covers avian dinosaurs too. This is problematic, since so far avian dinosaurs are not tagged as part of this project. So how should we phylogeneticically define the project? Are dinosauromorphs included? Are birds included? Or is it specifically about non-avian dinosaurs? Avians are covered by Wikiproject birds anyway, so covering them here would be redundant.

Another issue is popular media: do things like Dinosaur (movie) belong here? And if that case, why not Jurassic Park or Dinotopia? Should all dinosaur related media be tagged by this project, or should we only cover taxa and palaeontological subjects that relate to dinosaurs? I think it would be best to restrict it to scientific subjects, the editors here rarely edit dinosaur pop media articles anyway. FunkMonk (talk) 11:49, 28 December 2016 (UTC)

Hmm, seems this got a bit overshadowed by the discussion below, but the scope still needs some kind of definition. FunkMonk (talk) 21:53, 8 January 2017 (UTC)

Following naming conventions[edit]

I've noticed that our project doesn't follow Wikipedia:Naming conventions (fauna). More specifically, here, we use the IMO ugly format of "genus name (dinosaur)" where the genus name is in use elsewhere, instead of the "binomial name" for our taxa. However, this is the exact opposite of what we should be doing if we follow Wikipedia:Naming conventions (fauna)#Monotypic taxa, where it says to have the binomial as the article name and the other format redirecting to that name. I do think that format should be used here because is looks better, and with monotypic taxa, does not have nearly any impact on the article otherwise. IJReid discuss 19:06, 28 December 2016 (UTC)

Hmmm, I wonder whether it has changed at some point. I think it's a bit weird that we should be so inconsistent. Maybe this discussion should be kept at the paleo project, where it is already begun, to centralise comments. And because we shouldn't do anything different here than in other taxon articles. Or perhaps this should even be discussed at the Tree of Life project. FunkMonk (talk) 22:56, 28 December 2016 (UTC)
Looks as though this rule was added in February. Firsfron of Ronchester 07:40, 29 December 2016 (UTC)
Yeah, I was confused too, because above that, it says "should go under the scientific name of lowest rank, but no lower than the monotypic genus", which would appear to be contradictory. Seems there was no discussion of this change. Maybe Peter coxhead has some insight? FunkMonk (talk) 12:08, 29 December 2016 (UTC)
It's important to read the part that is quoted above in context: it's in a section about monotypic taxa and it says, correctly, that policy is, and has been for a long time, that articles on monotypic taxa should be at the lowest level but not lower than genus. In context I don't think it's at all contradictory, although it has the one exception. See WP:MONOTYPICFLORA, which may be clearer.
The bit I added about monotypic genera that need disambiguation was already clearly stated at Wikipedia:WikiProject Tree of Life#Article titles: in the event that the name of a monotypic genus is shared with another topic, it is usually more appropriate to use a binomial as a natural disambiguation rather than creating an article with a parenthetical disambiguating term for the genus (and indeed was already clearly stated at WP:NCFLORA). It is based on long-standing practice derived from WP:NCDAB, namely that natural disambiguation should be considered before parenthetical. For a monotypic genus the natural disambiguation is the species name. Peter coxhead (talk) 17:24, 29 December 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for the response, PC. You state above that these are long-standing policies, but they are actually guidelines, and it's not clear to me that they are long-standing at all. WP:NCDAB gives the example of using mechanical fan over fan (mechanical) because these would be the natural search terms. It doesn't say anything about disambiguating taxa names. You cite Wikipedia:WikiProject Tree of Life#Article titles, but this was added in March 2016. And as I already observed, you added the content in WP:NCFAUNA in February 2016. WP:NCFLORA doesn't pertain to this project. It seems as though the guideline was added in contravention to actual editing practice. Firsfron of Ronchester 18:51, 29 December 2016 (UTC)
@Firsfron: you wouldn't expect WP:NCDAB to cover every kind of article; I cited it to show that parenthesized disambiguation is recommended only when natural disambiguation fails. Are you saying that the species name for a monotypic genus is less natural than "genus_name (disambiguator)"? See also WP:NATURALDIS: parenthetical disambiguation... Wikipedia's standard disambiguation technique when none of the other solutions lead to an optimal article title; here the solution of using the species name clearly leads to a better, if not optimal, title.
Let me be clear that I have no particular axe to grind. Like Plantdrew, I'm sure, I was just trying to clarify what is apparently the main practice in regard to monotypic genera in most groups, fauna or flora. Look through Category:Monotypic animal genera and see how many entries of the form "genus_name (disambiguator)" are articles and how many are redirects, either to English names or species. Peter coxhead (talk) 22:13, 29 December 2016 (UTC)
(As an aside, Category:Monotypic fish genera shows up a different issue – the genus redirect should be categorized as being monotypic, not the species article. Peter coxhead (talk) 22:13, 29 December 2016 (UTC)
Hi Peter, I didn't think you had an axe to grind; didn't even enter my mind. No worries there. Yes, I am saying the species name for a monotypic dinosaur genus is less natural than "genus_name (disambiguator)". This is because dinosaurs and some other prehistoric reptiles are not known by their specific names; can you even identify the specific names for the (currently monotypic) Styracosaurus, Hadrosaurus, or Brachiosaurus without looking them up? Outside of T. rex, I can't think of a single dinosaur known to the general public by its binomial. A one size fits all approach won't work across all Tree of Life projects. I ask you to consider the reader. It's been long known on this project that the majority of readers of dinosaur articles are children. I pity the child asked by his or her teacher to do a report on Saturnalia and getting the wrong article because s/he doesn't know whether to go to Saturnalia tupiniquim, Saturnalia (Macrobius), or Saturnalia Fossa. You know, because you have edited articles; but we're writing for readers. Saturnalia (dinosaur) is certainly more natural to the end user than forcing that end user to try to guess what the specific name is.
@Firsfrons: of course readers should never have to guess what the specific name is, nor whether to look for "Saturnalia" or "Saturnalia (dinosaur)", and they won't have to. There will always be redirects and hatnotes to make sure that the correct article is easily found. It's a mistake to think that the article title is the key for searching. It's there to provide a consistent and unambiguous identifier for an article. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:49, 30 December 2016 (UTC)
Hi Peter, redirects and hatnotes don't show up in the search bar. The reader would be confronted with the following options: Saturnalia tupiniquim, Saturnalia (Macrobius), or Saturnalia Fossa. That's not helpful for the end user, and that's only one example. You are asking the reader to guess what the specific name is, and many prehistoric animals simply are not known to the general public by their binomial names. That's one reason this project (and some others) have used disambiguators like Saturnalia (dinosaur). It's a naming convention that was worked well, and which has been followed since at least 2004 (maybe earlier): see the editing histories at Gastonia (plant) Gastonia (dinosaur), Saturnalia (dinosaur), etc. The edit you made in 2016, without discussion, and then reverted to when it was removed by @FunkMonk:, goes against long-standing editing practice. Will you revert your addition until this can be properly discussed, either here or at another venue? Firsfron of Ronchester 19:51, 31 December 2016 (UTC)
Sorry, I don't understand your argument. If I type "Saturnalia" in the search bar, I get to Saturnalia, whose hatnote leads me to Saturnalia (disambiguation) and hence Saturnalia (dinosaur). If it's clear that the dinosaur sense of "Saturnalia" is a very common search, it can be included directly in the hatnote. You are of course free to revert any of my edits. This one simply reflects actual majority practice across fauna articles. I've suggested a revision below which could apply to extinct taxa. It would be useful to discuss that, but my edit and Plantdrew's are correct for extant taxa. Peter coxhead (talk) 20:21, 31 December 2016 (UTC)
Finally, I don't know what to make of the assertions, made repeatedly and now by multiple users, and still uncorrected, that WP:NCDAB is a "long-standing policy". Firsfron of Ronchester 23:39, 29 December 2016 (UTC)
@Firsfron: my use of the word "policy" was not intended to make any point about "policy" vs. "guidelines". Template:Wikipedia policies and guidelines puts WP:Disambiguation under "guidelines". I'm never sure about (and not very interested in) some of the distinctions between "policy" and "guidelines", so I asked SMcCandlish to comment, since he's been much more involved in these issues. Regardless of its status, WP:Disambiguation is clear that parenthetical disambiguation is not the first choice. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:42, 30 December 2016 (UTC)
Yes, I added some text to Wikipedia:WikiProject Tree of Life#Article titles relatively recently. But some monotypic genera with ambiguous names have been placed at the naturally disambiguated binomial title at least as far back as 2010. And this issue has come up multiple times at WP:TOL; e.g. here, here and here. There's a lot more discussion than that, and I'm too lazy to dig for the threads where the decision for having monotypic taxa at the lowest rank (but no lower than genus!!!) was hashed out in the first place (I'll look for them if anybody insists though). My impression of those threads is that stopping at genus was heavily influenced by paleontology focused editors, and I agree that it makes a great deal of sense not to create articles for paleontological species in most cases. My impression of the most recent discussion about using binomials to disambiguate ambiguous dinosaur genera (here) is that people who were opposed to doing so were concerned about conflict with NCFAUNA and TOL article title advice. If you look through Category:Monotypic animal genera as Peter suggested, using the binomial to disambiguate ambiguous monotypic genera is not a fringe solution, although it's far from universal. Plants are mostly standardized to the binomial in this situation. Arthropods have a strong lean to the binomial. Birds and mammals are at common names, so the issue comes up less. Fishes usually have monotypic genera at the binomial, contrary to practice with other organisms.
If dinosaur folks agree that it's best to consistently have everything at genus (with parenthetical disambiguators when needed), I have no objection. But I don't think that's necessarily the best solution for non-paleontological genera, nor do I think that the words of TOL and NCFAUNA were handed down from on high in 2007 and can't be modified to reflect practices that have developed more recently. Plantdrew (talk) 04:08, 30 December 2016 (UTC)
Agreed that consistency is needed between the NCFAUNA and NCFLORA guidelines, and WP:DINO's "Dinosaur taxa naming conventions" wikiproject advice. The last time there was a PoV-fork between some of these guidelines (and some project pages) it lead to a whole lot of drama. Also agree that the NCDAB policy (yes, a policy, not a guideline) favors natural disambiguation over parenthetic. Also agreed that forking the discussion onto multiple pages isn't helpful. I would suggest an RfC at WT:NCFAUNA proposing a clarification, and notices at all the above-mentioned places, including ToL, and perhaps also WP:VPPOL, just to be on the safe side (even projects you may not be thinking of like WP:FELIDS may care, since they also cover extinct taxa). Whatever the result is, it should be worked into MOS:ORGANISMS, too. Finally, who added what, when, is really of no consequence; everything on WP was added by someone, at some point. "You added this yourself, so it can't be right" isn't valid reasoning. If it's been around a while it probably resolves to some level of consensus or it would have been reverted. The issue before us is to reconcile conflicts between local consensuses and each other, and more importantly between them and the site-wide guidelines and policies. NCFAUNA appears to not have evolved (pun kinda intended) with extinct taxa very clearly in mind, and can probably be adjusted easily, if there's agreement between wikiprojects who most often deal with extinct taxa.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:46, 29 December 2016 (UTC)
I agree entirely with the need for consistency. If the choice for monotypic genera needing disambiguation is between
  1. using the binomial in all cases
  2. using the disambiguated genus name in all cases
  3. using the binomial in all cases except extinct dinosaurs (and perhaps some other extinct animals)
then the worst option is surely (3). I actually have a slight personal preference for (2) over (1), but this would go against established practice and require hundreds (if not more) moves to produce consistency.
— Preceding unsigned comment added by Peter coxhead (talkcontribs) 09:56, 30 December 2016 (UTC)
PS: I don't even mean that there should be total titling consistency (after all, we are mostly using binomials for plants, but not for animals), but rather that the guidelines and other documentation should not be in conflict, whatever the desired naming convention turns out to be. I agree that there probably isn't a good rationale to treat dinosaurs differently. I could see there being an argument to treat extinct life forms a particular way, and monotypic genera a particular way, and for these to be in conflict, so I would hope that we'd come up with a solution that avoided such conflict.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  05:07, 31 December 2016 (UTC)
Yes, to clarify I mean consistency in the guidelines (as far as is sensible) so that editors working in more than one area of of the tree of life don't have to remember to switch conventions, and readers can learn what to expect.
Proposal The disagreement only seems to be over a very small subset of cases, namely extinct monotypic genera needing disambiguation. It would be possible to write a guideline allowing a choice in such cases, e.g. that the binomial should be used when it would be appropriate to have an article on the species, otherwise the disambiguated genus should be used. This is consistent with the treatment of extinct organisms, where separate species articles rarely make sense because of the lack of information. Peter coxhead (talk) 08:29, 31 December 2016 (UTC)
Since there is already major inconsistency in whether common names are used in titles of living taxa or not (reptiles, fungi, plants seem to use binomials), it appears there is some room for flexibility. FunkMonk (talk) 14:39, 31 December 2016 (UTC)
I'm all for flexibility, so long as its purpose is to serve readers, and not just to meet the preferences of different groups of editors. I don't think the mixture of English and scientific names is a good comparison. There will always be a mixture, except perhaps in small, very well known groups, since most taxa don't have English names, and where they do exist, they are frequently ambiguous, being used for different taxa, particularly in different countries. By contrast, we don't have to have a mixture of disambiguated genus names and binomials for monotypic genera needing disambiguation. We have a real choice to make. Peter coxhead (talk) 17:39, 31 December 2016 (UTC)