Wikipedia talk:Wikipedia is not a dictionary/Draft RfC on words

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Discussion[edit]

You need to decide whether this is an RFC/U or a policy RFC. It makes a huge difference. Gigs (talk) 00:06, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
I believe it should be a policy RfC. I have no interest in researching or discussing his incivility - he isn't likely to change, and he generally manages to avoid bannable offenses. It's his content-editing that I/we have major concerns with. Plus, there seem to be a few other editors who (partially/wholly?) share his perspective, possibly based on a similar misunderstanding of what NOTDIC intends. -- Quiddity (talk) 02:13, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, policy RfC. Wolfkeeper has been and will no doubt continue to be a factor in nudging the policy in a specific direction, but what's important here is just to make sure that the policy matches the community's stance as closely as possible.--Father Goose (talk) 19:03, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Agree. Let's clearly align policy with what the community says are acceptable articles and these recurring flare-ups should go away. --NeilN talk to me 01:20, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
I hope [1]. --NeilN talk to me 02:16, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
I would prefer this was an RFC/U on Wolfkeeper rather than a policy RFC. Wolfkeeper is the fly in the vaseline here; without his disruptive behavior I have no doubt the rest of the community would work out the underlying policies issues in the normal way. Any resolution that doesn't result in him getting topic banned from word articles and prevented from editing the policy pages will not solve this problem.--Cúchullain t/c 13:20, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

(In response to the issues above, about what this should be:) Personally, I think this would be better as an RfC/U on Wolfkeeper's behavior, rather than a policy RfC. The policy is already abundantly clear to the vast majority of editors, and the real issue has been Wolfkeeper's behavior in trying to push his misguided understanding of that policy. Trying to change or clarify the policy is not likely to get us anywhere since, as I said, it already works fine for just about everyone. What's more likely to be productive is getting some editing restrictions put on Wolfkeeper (for instance, ban from editing DICDEF-related policy pages and maybe DICDEF-related AfDs, maybe rules for blocking if he rewrites article intros to conform to his view). rʨanaɢ (talk) 00:10, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

When I have rewritten introductions in ways that are consistent with WP:NAD and not used that part of WP:ISNOT, they are nearly always considered acceptable by the people that edit those pages, and are hardly ever reverted. I'm quite sure that the style of introduction that I edit towards is much more consistently and generally considered acceptable and encyclopedic than a word or term-based introduction.- Wolfkeeper 02:02, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
When the article is about a thing/place/etc, then there is no problem with the rewrites that replace the phrase "refers to", eg Football. However, when the article is about a term or word or phrase, then, per use-mention distinction, it is incorrect for the that phrasing to be replaced, eg Apples and oranges. -- Quiddity (talk) 02:21, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
You might claim that, but nobody has reverted that either. I do not think that that edit is incorrect or violates any policy at all. As I say, I'm finding very low levels of reverts on these kinds of edits to introductions, and they are edits consistent with instructions given in both WP:NAD and WP:LEAD about how leads should be written; and these are instructions that I did not write.- Wolfkeeper 02:42, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
Another, from today, which I've reverted. Magic smoke. That article is about the term. -- Quiddity (talk) 20:53, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
Wikistalk much? The question is, could this be translated into a foreign language. It seems to me, it translates just fine, so it's not about the term, it's about the idea of a magic smoke. Whatever you might think about articles on terms, it is still highly desirable to write encyclopedia articles in encyclopedic style wherever possible. Deliberately rewriting stuff in dictionary style is really not on.- Wolfkeeper 22:26, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
Following people around and deliberately edit warring is not acceptable, particularly when it deliberately violates the policies and guidelines.- Wolfkeeper 22:26, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

I'd agree to any of the suggestions given above. Policy rfc or User rfc. As I've said, I don't wish to take the lead in deciding how this proceeds - partially because I have very little experience with RfCs, partially because I've already put many hours into compiling and sorting the raw diffs, and find the whole endeavor increasingly exhausting. -- Quiddity (talk) 02:21, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

Yes, wikistalking can be tiring, I bet.- Wolfkeeper 22:26, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
Compiling transparent information for an RfC case is not wikistalking/WP:wikihounding, as that policy page specifically states. -- Quiddity (talk) 23:40, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

I think this is clearly an RFC/U. It's problem with one user, not a problem with policy or anyone else's edits or misuse of policy. Quiddity, I hate to put you on the spot since you've already done so much work, but as the one most familiar with the evidence, please type up a statement of the dispute per the Wikipedia:Requests for comment/User conduct format, and we'll get it going from there.--Cúchullain t/c 14:23, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

It won't achieve anything. Such an RFC is unlikely to succeed, and I'm not the one wikistalking anyway; this is clearly just a personal attack on me, your intentions are clearly not aligned with the good faith that you are expected to observe here, and you are going out of your ways to create articles that are banned by most of the policies, and deliberately writing them to violate the policies, and then trying to get people banned that go up against you.- Wolfkeeper 15:26, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
Fundamentally, you're trying to edit war your point of view through, and trying to change the wikipedia from an encyclopedia into an encyclopedic dictionary, but in the long run simply ganging up on other editors to avoid 3RR (which is what you've been doing) doesn't work nearly as well as you think it does.- Wolfkeeper 15:26, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
This RfC is brought about for no other purpose than to try and resolve a cross-Wikipedia dispute in which you are the one common factor. You will get a chance to voice your opinion and everyone who participates will be under close scrutiny. The bottom line is, your behavior has been found problematic by a wide range of unrelated editors, and should you choose not to address that problem at this level, you may end up getting topic banned altogether.--Cúchullain t/c 15:58, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
The key phrase here is 'unrelated editors', and I'm sure that some editors found my behaviour 'problematic'. The people who found me 'problematic' mostly are either banned, left or finally agreed that actually I had a good point; and that's not because of any political bullshit, that's because they were proved wrong, or proved to be acting in very bad faith. I make absolutely no claims to be perfect, but some editors are genuinely up to no good or are misguided; and in this, I'm genuinely seeing little evidence of good faith on your part Cuchullain, you're engaging repeatedly in personal attacks, and for that reason I doubt that you would enjoy the RFC-U experience.- Wolfkeeper 19:17, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
As a somewhat uninvolved editor, I have to say, an RFC/U doesn't really have a chance in hell. Wolfkeeper seems to be acting more or less in good faith, and I don't think his views are so incredibly out of line with consensus that it's disruptive. I suggest that this be reduced to a policy question and all the "personal evidence" be purged from the other page, unless it's definitely relevant to a policy issue, and sanitized of all personal connotation. These kind of pages are often deleted at MFD if they don't promptly evolve into an RFC/U. If you don't want this to die on the vine, this needs to happen, soon. Gigs (talk) 15:35, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
Wolfkeeper's views are not disruptive, nor are many of his edits. It's the edit warring on article pages and, especially, on policy pages that are disruptive. This is frustrating attempts to build consensus on the policy issue, and he doesn't even seem to believe that he's doing it. The hope was, that by getting a wider spectrum of views on the situation, we could get him to stop doing that without requiring a stronger remedy. If others disagree with my changes as of yesterday, feel free to revert and shift the direction. But considering that it's been several days and little productive has been done here, perhaps it's better to just scrap it and come back when we can focus better.--Cúchullain t/c 16:00, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

Etymology in lead[edit]

I see that the current scope of the dispute described here is so wide that I would have to list myself as partially agreeing with Wolfkeeper: In my opinion etymology should only rarely appear at the beginning of an article. It's important to keep the different issues separate. At the moment this page is formatted as if it was intended to become an RfC/U on Wolfkeeper. I will try to transform the beginning to something more like a policy RfC. If that's really what we want, we should probably try to get Wolfkeeper, LtPowers and TenPoundHammer on board as well. Hans Adler 07:54, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Regarding etymology in leads: As I pointed out in the diffs above, I have no major problem with edits like this to Regolith. I'd say that the way Hippopotamus is currently structured - with a brief few words about it in the lead, and a detailed etymology section further down - is ideal, and I think most editors would agree that this is the consensus position ("the advised style"). The only way this is relevant to this RfC, is that Wolfkeeper has previously expressed the opinion that we should completely-remove etymological information from article leads, eg Octopus - which is fine as an opinion to have, but from the discussions it is not the consensus.
For example, the lead sentences of Tyrannosaurus could definitely be more clearly written (and IPA pronunciations bug me and many other editors), but if he (or anyone) were to completely-remove the translation of "Tyrant lizard king" from the lead, that would be detrimental. Ditto for Homo sapiens.
That's why I thought it a pertinent topic for inclusion in these notes (ie it's another area where Wolfkeeper advocates an extreme position concerning "words"), and possibly it is something we should explicitly cover in the hypothetical revision of the NOTDIC policy. -- Quiddity (talk) 02:46, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Actually, I disagree with you about Tyrannosaurus. I can see that we can't get rid of the pronunciation information because it's irritating for people who read out loud if they learn about the correct pronunciation after using an incorrect one for many paragraphs. But the etymology isn't important enough to appear in the first sentence. This would be ideal:
Tyrannosaurus was a genus of theropod dinosaur.
This is at least somewhat readable:
Tyrannosaurus (pronounced /tɨˌrænɵˈsɔrəs/ (deprecated template) or /taɪˌrænɵˈsɔrəs/, meaning 'tyrant lizard') was a genus of theropod dinosaur.
This isn't:
Tyrannosaurus (pronounced /tɨˌrænɵˈsɔrəs/ (deprecated template) or /taɪˌrænɵˈsɔrəs/, meaning 'tyrant lizard') from the Greek words τυραννος (tyrannos, meaning "tyrant") and σαυρος (sauros, meaning "lizard") , was a genus of theropod dinosaur.
Hans Adler 06:54, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Your second example, I'd consider close to ideal, and I believe would be considered a good consensus version. Including the definition is both informative and interesting (to some readers, at least). Ditto for Homo sapiens. (Do you think we should remove the explanation that it means "wise man" from the lead there?)
Regarding "if they learn about the correct pronunciation after using an incorrect one for many paragraphs", I used the same basic argument to explain why the definition of Herpetology should be left in the initial paragraph. It provides a "hook" for mental understanding, as opposed to just being a greek/latin-sounding-technical-word for many paragraphs. To quote: "Herpetology. ... At Herpetology, someone now has to read through 8 mentions of the letters Herp… before finding out that herpeton meant "creeping animal".
-- Quiddity (talk) 17:47, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Moved because[edit]

I moved the page to the WP: namespace so that we'd have a place to talk.

Specifically, I wanted a place to address the current little edit war between NeilN and Wolfkeeper (e.g., this, in which we revert over whether Wikipedia has "quite a few articles" that are wholly or partially about words or phrases, or "very few articles".

Here's my view: They're both right. The vast majority of articles are not about words or phrases, but "quite a few" certainly are. Even if you (incorrectly) assume that every article about a word or phrase is listed at Category:Words (disregarding things like Category:Medical terms), there are clearly more than a thousand such articles -- which usually qualifies as at least "quite a few" according to the common language conventions, even if it's a tiny fraction of Wikipedia articles. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:09, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Hi, one of the reasons I was reverting is that Wolfkeeper's version, "In practice, very few articles are wholly or partially about words or phrases. Is that basically OK or not? The dispute about this has gone on for years, and we hope to settle it with this RfC." made little sense when taken as a whole. There's no dispute that there's very few articles (i.e., no one is advocating creating word articles just to get the article count up). The dispute is about letting these articles exist. Hope I've expressed my point clearly. --NeilN talk to me 04:31, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
It is okay for Wolfkeeper to believe that less than 1% of Wikipedia's articles is "very few", and it is okay for you to believe that more than one thousand articles is "quite a few". Neither of these is a factually inaccurate statement. IMO you two need to decide what the point of this paragraph is, and find a way of expressing it that doesn't result in an edit war. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:11, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
I hope the edit war is over anyway. [2] Hans Adler 22:01, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Actually, so far as i can tell, it's probably under 0.03% as it seems to be under a thousand articles (as best I can tell, from adding up articles in various categories, and I tried to err on the pessimistic side) out of 3.25 million article. It may even be just be a few hundred.- Wolfkeeper 23:29, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
To sanity check that, I pressed the random button about a couple of hundred times or more and couldn't find any at all, so statistically that proves that it's very comfortably under 1%.- Wolfkeeper 23:27, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
The fact that you guys are willfully misrepresenting the situation while seeking various sanctions really says it all.- Wolfkeeper 23:27, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Is not Hans' version accurate? Besides, I could hit the random button a hundred times and not encounter an article mentioning Spain. This does not mean stating that we have quite a few articles on Spain is a misrepresentation. --NeilN talk to me 23:48, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
It's just weasel words intended to give the impression that's there's a lot, whereas in the context of the Wikipedia and the Wikipedia's policies, it's a drop in the bucket.- Wolfkeeper 00:26, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
It's not important whether or not they're "rare"; all that's important is determining when they're acceptable. Because they are, at least sometimes, acceptable. And the fact that they're acceptable in those cases is not a violation of the policy -- it is an indication that the policy is failing to identify when they are acceptable, and when they aren't.--Father Goose (talk) 01:45, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
Or is it a failure of the editors? I certainly can't think of any usefully applicable rules or guidelines (other than running an AFD) that can separate the current word-articles that some people claim are acceptable from those that are not considered acceptable, and I have very good reasons to think that there are no such rules possible. Editors do, in fact, regularly make mistakes about what is and isn't acceptable.- Wolfkeeper 02:47, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
But my point that these are just weasel words in the RFC that try to normalize something that is highly abnormal (less than 0.03%) remains.- Wolfkeeper 02:47, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
There appear to be a similar number of articles in Category:Planets; shall we worry about whether saying that we have several hundred articles about planets "normalizes" an article subject that is "highly abnormal" on Wikipedia? WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:58, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
And Pluto is even more abnormal. :) Maurreen (talk) 04:23, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
No, there's over a million possible word articles due to the large number of words or terms in the English language (and even more from other languages), but there's extremely few articles on words and terms in the Wikipedia relative to that.- Wolfkeeper 02:32, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
Most words aren't notable. There will never ever be an encyclopedic article on the vast majority of words, eg wikt:vituperative, wikt:resolute, etc etc etc. We've said this many times before. -- Quiddity (talk) 02:42, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes, anything you say multiple times is of course true. Point of fact, we actually already have a phrase article where the word is synonymous with 'resolute' kia kaha!- Wolfkeeper 01:37, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
You keep bringing up the slipperyslope argument, so we keep refuting it. -- Quiddity (talk) 22:58, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
Your idea of 'refuting' always seems to involve rewriting the policies down the slippery slope, and then denying that it's really down.- Wolfkeeper 00:45, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

Another notable word[edit]

Might be a useful example, as it's clearly notable but not a "bad word" (which seems to have been one of Wolfkeeper's complaints about examples cited before). I was thinking of this a couple months ago and then forgot it, took me until today to remember that this was the word I had in mind. rʨanaɢ (talk) 15:29, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

Personally, I would move that to Wiktionary along with words like Canuck. If Wiktionary wouldn't accept the material as a dictionary entry, you could add it as an appendix there.- Wolfkeeper 15:43, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
That is precisely my point. A word whose usage is so disputed it has spawned significant coverage in numerous journals, and you are still arguing for its deletion based on a distorted understanding of Wikipedia's policy. rʨanaɢ (talk) 20:43, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
That example is already listed at the top of the "Specific words" section. (I added it to that list because: Wolfkeeper has it listed at User:Wolfkeeper/todo, and it was mentioned in this archived thread from WT:NOTDIC.) -- Quiddity (talk) 23:02, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
FWIW at least one of those words is in there simply to wind you up because I knew you were spying on my edits. No, I'm not telling you which ;-)- Wolfkeeper 00:51, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
That list in your userspace consists entirely of articles about words, or articles that you've specifically complained about word-information being within. For one of the items to not be included, would be counter to the stance you are advocating. Regardless, they're all fine examples for discussion purposes. -- Quiddity (talk) 02:03, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
Actually, it's you that has a 'distorted' idea of what an encyclopedia is. The most basic principle of all is that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia.- Wolfkeeper 00:51, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
It's an encyclopedia that "incorporates elements of general and specialized encyclopedias, almanacs, and gazetteers" - WP:5P.
This seems to go back at least as far as Wikipedia:Featured article review/Macedonia (terminology)/archive1, where even Peter disagrees with your stance that encyclopedias should never cover words.
That's the core of the issue. Everybody else agrees that "where to draw the line" for what is "more than a dicdef", is a fuzzy question that should be examined closely, and the policy refined. I'm fairly sure that everyone also agrees that Git (British slang) was correctly softredirected to Wiktionary - it's not a notable word, it doesn't pass WP:GNG. However, you seem to be completely alone in believing that Wikipedia should not cover notable words. -- Quiddity (talk) 02:03, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

Notification[edit]

Was there some reason for a delay in notifying me of an RfC that concerns me? Powers T 23:29, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

No RfC has started as far as I'm aware. --NeilN javascript:dismissNotice();talk to me 01:07, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
What's this then? Powers T 01:33, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
It's an incomplete draft of a possible RfC. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:42, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
(ec) Discussion on if to start an RfC and what type of RfC should be opened. For an RfC to be opened, the steps outlined on Wikipedia:Requests for comment have to be followed. --NeilN talk to me 01:43, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
Still, it would have been nice to be notified since I'm mentioned so prominently. Powers T 13:15, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
"If that's really what we want, we should probably try to get Wolfkeeper, LtPowers and TenPoundHammer on board as well." is prominent? --NeilN talk to me 15:27, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
I was referring to the section on the project page. Powers T 21:51, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

This is simply an attack page[edit]

It contains the phrase "Wolfkeeper should be stopped", it lists votes at AFD, it lists edits that apparently were not reverted by anyone (such in War on terror), it lists peoples votes at AFDs, and it's being shopped around to try to get people to join a bandwagon of hatred.

This is not an RFC, it's an attack page.- Wolfkeeper 04:00, 1 August 2010 (UTC)

  1. Many people above, agree that an RfC is necessary. 2 admins in the first thread, suggest that it should be about your behaviour.
  2. I've participated in RfC/UCs before, and they had no effect on the individuals. Hence, I've always stated that this should be primarily about how you and a few others disagree on how to interpret WP:NOTDIC, with everyone else. You are the most active debater, and current-practice-disputer, hence your edits make up the majority of examples.
  3. This draft is a summation of multiple years of disputed editing practices, comprising examples and diffs and quotes. Problem + evidence. That fits any form of dispute resolution that Wikipedia suggests. I'll rephrase the introductory line, If you'll allow me. As I said in our current discussion at User talk:David Levy#Slam dunk, "I hope an RfC on words (not on you, but using your edits as the main and most prolific examples) will eventually come out of [this]". I will edit the prose and structure in the next few days, to make that clear. (Observer's, see also current discussion at the very end of Talk:Slam dunk#Use as a colloquial term) -- Quiddity (talk) 04:15, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
I've restructured it as much as I can, for the time I have tonight. I have removed all mention of user conduct. (If anyone wishes to start a separate RfC of Wolfkeeper's userconduct, they're welcome to, per Feeeshboy's comment below.). I'll look at this more tomorrow, and try to clarify it further. I'd appreciate any assistance. -- Quiddity (talk) 06:32, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
I see no reason to call this an attack page or to suspect that it is motivated by malice. Wolfkeeper has a long history of disruptive edits (apparently on numerous pages) which are intended to push a very narrow interpretation of Wikipolicy, one with which the vast majority of editors seem to disagree. Furthermore, Wolfkeeper has shown blatant disregard for the standards of civility set forth as one of the 5 pillars, with many abusive comments and edit summaries and a consistent failure to assume good faith (which have drawn the negative attention of numerous editors and admins whom Wolfkeeper now accusing of stalking or Wikihounding him). Not only should this be turned to an RFC, but it should be turned into two: one devoted to a policy debate that Wolfkeeper should, theoretically, welcome if he is convinced that his interpretation of policy is correct, and the other devoted to Wolfkeeper's abusive behavior, which really shouldn't come as a surprise to him, considering how many times he's been called out on it. What this should not be, however, is a debate on the policy that is colored by a negative focus on any of the people involved. I expect that Quiddity's proposed edits will help to make that clear. Feeeshboy (talk) 04:44, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
I continue to believe that Wolfkeeper's behavior is the main problem here, and the first thing that needs to be dealt with. Ideally this should have been a user RFC, and focused entirely on the edit warring, incivility, and related problems. However, I welcome any attempt to resolve the ongoing issues Wikipedia faces regarding articles about words.--Cúchullain t/c 17:49, 1 August 2010 (UTC)

words/ideas vs. things[edit]

It seems to me that a central part of this dispute regards the difference between an encyclopedia being about "actual things" and it being about words, concepts, and, more broadly, "our collective understanding of things." I suggest that the reason that both we and Wolfkeeper are so convinced that all of wikipolicy favors our own viewpoints is that these are epistemological concerns, related to our understanding of truth and the limits of human knowledge. I was heading in this direction with my comments about semiotics on Talk:Slam dunk (and I have even flirted with the idea of writing an essay on that subject), although I don't know if that helped to clarify the issue. I'll try to keep this simple.

According to basic Kantian epistemology, the world is divided into two types of concepts:

  1. Truths, pure and simple, unaffected by and independent of observation
  2. Our perceptions of truths, which, no matter hard we try to be objective, will always be imperfect and subject to different interpretations

Because we are only capable of perceiving the world as the second of these types, our language necessarily describes only that. We lack the language to describe things as they actually are. An encyclopedia, as the sum of HUMAN knowledge, is thus restricted to describing human understandings of things. It is my contention that the very subject of an encyclopedia article is not a thing itself (type 1), but the human understanding of that thing (type 2).

This contention is consistent with the following facts:

-Countless articles feature etymology sections, explaining the origin of the word that represents the idea or things being discussed
-Countless articles describe the difference between common understandings of words and expert understandings of words, such as why a strawberry is not considered a berry by botanists but a grape is, or why a buffalo is not really a buffalo
-Countless articles describe the difference between one culture's understanding of a term and another's (as seen on Central America)
-Countless articles cover broad concepts that cannot be described without acknowledging that they mean different things to different people, are the source of longstanding disputes, have been understood differently over time (see Homosexuality), and cannot really be considered "things" without acknowledging that they are really a grab-bag of associations that people have with a word or phrase (such as Peace or Vegetable or Feudalism)
-Numerous articles about physical objects contain large amounts of detail on the various associations that humans have had with their subjects throughout history (such as Mars and many other astronomy articles)
-Numerous articles exist to describe significant cultural phenomena that are bound up in and inextricable from a word or phrase (see NIMBY)

Many of Wolfkeeper's edits fit a pattern of insisting that not only are words not suitable for encyclopedia coverage but also that the discussion of verbal associations in general is unencyclopedic. This appears to be predicated on a supposition that the words that are used to express ideas are not actually parts of those ideas. If we are writing an article about a Slam dunk, we should not discuss other understandings that are closely related to Slam dunk, according to Wolfkeeper, because only dictionaries discuss words (apologies if this is an incorrect assessment of Wolfkeeper's arguments; this is merely my understanding of them), whereas encyclopedias discuss things. But many of us share an understanding that the words that we use to refer to things, and the associations we have with those words, are very much a part of the way we understand things, and thus are very much a part of human knowledge, ergo eligible for encyclopedia inclusion (if they meet other criteria for inclusion, of course).

I do not believe that Wolfkeeper is alone in his opinions, nor that taking action against Wolfkeeper for disruptive edits would be enough to settle this dispute for Wikipedia once and for all. I believe that a guideline should exist to explain that WP:NOTDIC does not mean that words are not important to the concepts they describe, or even, more broadly, it could state that language is an important (often encyclopedic) part of our understanding of things. I would be willing to contribute to an effort to put together such a guideline. Feeeshboy (talk) 18:48, 1 August 2010 (UTC)

That is a clear and informative explanation. Thank you.
Regarding outcome, it would be better to clearly update the NOTDIC policy itself, rather than creating a new supplemental guideline - and those changes should be discussed and drafted at the policy's talkpage directly - Aside from that, I agree with everything above. -- Quiddity (talk) 20:53, 1 August 2010 (UTC)

Table of evidence[edit]

Well, Wolfkeeper appears to have retired, but a few editors share some of his views, and WP:NAD might still be considered confusing, and all of Wolfkeeper's old edits still remain, so this issue is unfortunately still not finished. I built a table of evidence a few nights ago, which may or may not be useful. Feel free to add arguments/examples to either side.

Articles on words
  For Against
Precedent At wikisource:1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/
Abated and Act and Ablatitious and Abettor, etc
Your Examples here
Practice
  • Long articles on notable words are kept
  • Short stubs on non-notable words are transwikied/softredirected/merged
  • Anything in between is discussed, until a consensus emerges.
Your Examples here
References

from Encyclopedia#Characteristics:

  • Béjoint, Henri (2000). Modern Lexicography. p. 31.
    "The two types, as we have seen, are not easily differentiated; encyclopedias contain information that is also to be found in dictionaries, and vice versa."
  • Hartmann, R. R. K.; Gregory James (1998). Dictionary of Lexicography (Routledge): 48–49.
    "Usually these these two aspects overlap - encyclopedic information being difficult to distinguish from linguistic information - and dictionaries attempt to capture both in the explanation of a meaning...".
  • Hartmann, R. R. K.; Gregory James (1998). Dictionary of Lexicography. Routledge. p. 49.
    "In contrast with linguistic information, encyclopedia material is more concerned with the description of objective realities than the words or phrases that refer to them. In practice, however, there is no hard and fast boundary between factual and lexical knowledge."
  • Cowie, Anthony Paul (2009). The Oxford History of English Lexicography, Volume I. Oxford University Press. p. 22.
    "An 'encyclopedia' (encyclopaedia) usually gives more information than a dictionary; it explains not only the words but also the things and concepts referred to by the words."
  • "Encyclopaedia". Encyclopaedia Brittanica.
    "An English lexicographer, H.W. Fowler, wrote in the preface to the first edition (1911) of The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English that a dictionary is concerned with the uses of words and phrases and with giving information about the things for which they stand only so far as current use of the words depends upon knowledge of those things. The emphasis in an encyclopaedia is much more on the nature of the things for which the words and phrases stand."

from Encyclopedia#Characteristics:

  • Béjoint, Henri (2000). Modern Lexicography. p. 30.
    "That is why an encyclopedia can be translated, but a dictionary cannot."
Principles/policy/guideline/essay.

Interpretation thereof.

[we need something like: a statement from one of the original authors of WP:NAD, explaining that the intended purpose was:
  • To prevent newcomers from writing a tiny definition-stub for every redlinked "word" (as opposed to "topic") that they came across
  • Not to prevent the creation of encyclopedic-articles on notable words

ie. as long as sufficient secondary source material exists (not just a handful of dictionaries) to write a verbose article, then an article is viable. WP:N + WP:V = article.]

[need a statement from Wolfkeeper, explaining how he interprets WP:NAD's purpose]

HTH. -- Quiddity (talk) 22:54, 26 August 2010 (UTC)