Wikipedia talk:Writing better articles

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Offensive material hatnote[edit]

Re: [1]

I'm reverting this per WP:BRD, a few weeks months after the fact. Not because I'm particularly attached to this hatnote, but because I disagree with Codename Lisa's rationale for removing it. It's a matter of principle, something that affects all hatnotes of this type.

The link provides a convenient pointer to further relevant information and, to my knowledge, this is the only (or best) mechanism we have for doing that. If the wording of parameter 1 can be improved to make it seem less awkward or cumbersome, then by all means improve it. ―Mandruss  08:16, 11 May 2016 (UTC)

Hello, Mandruss
I don't really mind, though I think an effort can be made to improve the wording. Sure, it affects all hatnotes; but I myself would mind my own wording.
Best regards,
Codename Lisa (talk) 08:19, 11 May 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Done [2] by CL, thank you. ―Mandruss  08:35, 11 May 2016 (UTC)

Protect It![edit]

This page is important, so it should be fully protected! Thx! (P.S, The protect request box is at the top.) Carlitos Carrisoza (talk) 02:53, 1 December 2016 (UTC)

It's already permanently semi-protected, which is sufficient.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:13, 5 September 2017 (UTC)

Writing Digital Copy for Domain Experts[edit]

Hello, I'm not a contributor of the MOS, and I'm not really qualified as English isn't my first language, but I went through Nielsen Norman's Writing Digital Copy for Domain Experts and I found it highly relevant for Wikipedia contributors :

  • "like general web readers, [experts] want content that is digestible, concise, and scannable" + "substance of the content (topics covered and the level of detail) and the importance of credibility"
  • "Provide Facts, Avoid Interpretation"
  • "Citations and Supporting Evidence Are Critical"
  • "Experts Care About Recency" (stay updated)
  • "[Jargon] Change the Rules for Plain Language" (less so, but as wikilinking demystifies technical terms, useful specialised terms can be used)
  • "Grammar and Spelling Count" (of course, and wiki editing allows immediate correction)
  • "Experts don’t read text linearly or completely" + "Experts don’t like fluffy content" + "Experts aren’t necessarily tech savvy" + "Experts appreciate shortcuts in content"

I contribute mainly to technical articles so I found those spot-on, but they can be applied to scientific articles and even cultural ones. I don't know if it could be used as a reference and where? --Marc Lacoste (talk) 08:02, 25 April 2017 (UTC) (Note: moved from Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style)

Contradiction tag[edit]


Widefox, regarding this and this, it seems that you have an issue with the page's wording. I recommend fixing it instead of adding that tag since this is not a Wikipedia article. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 19:08, 8 August 2017 (UTC)

It's difficult to reconcile grammatically correct vs best practice. Someone else agrees with it being bad Talk:Flux (disambiguation)#Primary topic definition. I saw the tag wasn't ideal for WP space, but it does mention WP so it seems OK. Widefox; talk 21:02, 8 August 2017 (UTC)
Widefox, I'm a bit confused on what you mean. I'm asking if you have an issue with the wording on the page. If so, how should we best word it so that we can remove the tag? Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 21:08, 8 August 2017 (UTC)
If I knew this minute I'd do it or say. Maybe we can just keep it as is, but explain that we don't use that wording, and link to the correct style at WP:DABINT (WP:MOSDAB) ? I'm working on the link I just gave above next, so I'm not doing this now. Widefox; talk 21:12, 8 August 2017 (UTC)
User:Flyer22 Reborn is the tag not clear what the issue is? It's obviously contradictory advice compared to WP:DABINT / WP:MOSDAB, as linked, so this is incorrect style advice here as it should follow the MOS. The MOS is arguably grammatically incorrect, but as dabs aren't articles, maybe it's offtopic here anyhow. Widefox; talk 09:16, 14 August 2017 (UTC)
I'm just stating that whatever issue caused the tag addition should be remedied. Otherwise, the tag is likely to stay there for years. I have not yet thoroughly looked into what the issue is on this matter. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 17:15, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
This is a WP:JUSTFIXIT matter, so I just fixed it. If old essay text here with a disambiguation example no longer matches what the disambiguation guidelines say to do, then obviously change the example to match the guideline. The essay cannot overrule the guidelines on how to do disambiguations.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  10:10, 5 September 2017 (UTC)

"Information style and tone" overhaul[edit]

I just did a bit of an overhaul on WP:BETTER#Information style and tone, to:

  • Cover persuasive writing (PR/marketing/debate/activism/propaganda) tone.
  • Identify some additional tone and presentation problems that are common, including an example from a prominent article.
  • Stop the essay from directly contradicting WP:NOT#NEWS policy (fixed by distinguishing news style in general from the inverted pyramid in particular).
  • Make the WP:Brevity shortcut actually have a reason to point to that section, which never mentioned brevity (it still barely does; see below).
  • Explain summary style on its own terms not just as something to compare to the inverted pyramid.
  • Put standard practice before iffy practice.
  • Move all the tone stuff in that section into the Tone subsection.
  • Remove a patently false statement (that WP mimics the style of topical RSes, which would mean that our articles on rock stars would be written like those in Rolling Stone); replaced it with real advice (follow the style of FAs and GAs in the same category).
  • Make it clear that lead sections are used regardless of summary vs. pyramid style.
  • Do general clarification and copyediting.

Some further cleanup to do:

  1. Move more tone material from other sections of the page to Tone. WP:TONE should be a one-stop shop for that issue, but some tone bits are scattered around in other sections.
  2. Retarget the WP:Brevity shortcut to the WP:BETTER#Be concise section, since the "Information style and tone" section really has barely anything on the concept, and only mentions it at all because I just added it. We already have a whole section on it, which points to a whole main page on it.

 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  10:29, 5 September 2017 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 16 September 2017[edit]

STEFFENM82 (talk) 10:55, 16 September 2017 (UTC)
Not done: it's not clear what changes you want to be made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format. Emir of Wikipedia (talk) 11:21, 16 September 2017 (UTC)

"Refers to"[edit]

The explanation about avoiding the use of "refers to" is non-sensical and completely at odds with customary practice. The following examples from reputable encyclopedias suggest that the phrase "refers to" is widely used.

  • "In a restricted sense, the term [grammar] refers only to the study of sentence and word structure (syntax and morphology), excluding vocabulary and pronunciation." (Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • "The expression particle density refers to the number of particles per unit volume, not to the density of a single particle, and it is usually expressed as n." (Encyclopedia Britannica,
  • "Specifically, symmetry refers to a correspondence of body parts, in size, shape, and relative position, on opposite sides of a dividing line or distributed around a central point or axis." (Encyclopedia Britannica,
  • The term "hedonism," from the Greek word ἡδονή (hēdonē) for pleasure, refers to several related theories about what is good for us, how we should behave, and what motivates us to behave in the way that we do. (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy,
  • "The term "community health" refers to the health status of a defined group of people, or community, and the actions and conditions that protect and improve the health of the community." (
  • "The term biodiversity refers to the variety of life forms in a habitat." (Encyclopedia of Life,
  • "The term migrant worker refers to a person who is to be engaged, is engaged or has been engaged in work in a remunerated activity in a state in which he or she is not a national." (Edmund Jan Osmańczyk, Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements, p. 1429)
  • "Ideology refers to participation as a search for meaning." (Charles Donald Spielberger (ed.), Encyclopedia of Applied Psychology: A-E, Volume 1, p.404)

Just thinking about the previous discussion which suggest that the phrase "Dog is a domesticated canine ..." is somehow an improvement on "A dog refers to a domesticated canine..." I am sorry to say that I cannot agree. The word, dog is no more than three letters D - O - G which we have learned to associate with a specific type of animal. It is easier to write the word than to go and get an actual animal to illustrate our meaning. But the word is NOT the same as the animal. Words are referents - that is to day that they are symbols that refer to something else; they stand in the place of something else. I simply cannot see how it is a problem to remind readers of the fact that words refer to an object or a concept or a process or something else. If we do away with this handy phrase, then we will be creating all manner of problems with grammar, expression and meaning. Why are we trying to problematise something that was never a problem in the first instance? BronHiggs (talk) 08:36, 26 September 2017 (UTC)

The majority of the examples above are in the form "the word/term/expression **** refers to...". Our section WP:REFERS doesn't reject using this form when appropriate, it tells us that the form is "sometimes used inappropriately" when the primary topic of an article is being defined in the introduction. Pace the OP, our opening The domestic dog ... is a member of genus Canis... is clearly a better opening than "The term "domestic dog" refers to ...".
Having said which, our article Temperament also opens with In psychology, temperament refers to those aspects of an individual's personality..., where it would not be good to replace "refers to" with "is". The section in question does not command "never use "refers to"", it points out that "refers to" and the like is sometimes used inappropriately in the introduction to an article, suggesting that we think before choosing such a formulation: Noyster (talk), 10:15, 26 September 2017 (UTC)
I accept that the phrase may sometimes be used inappropriately. However, simply based on this article - which is not yet policy- there are well-meaning editors who are searching out every mention of "refers to", regardless of where it appears in the article, and replacing it with "is." In the process, they are introducing all manner of awkward expressions and grammatical problems. If challenged, these editors refer to this article for support, despite the fact that it clearly states that it is not policy in the preamble at the top of the page. I would hope that all editors think carefully about word choices, but at issue, is whether we need a policy statement to achieve that end. There is already too much policy creep on Wikipedia. BronHiggs (talk) 20:48, 26 September 2017 (UTC)
Those editors are using this essay (currently supplement) wrongly. It should be clear to them that we mean first sentence instances that define the topic as though the topic is about the word. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 05:14, 28 September 2017 (UTC)
In a printed Encyclopedia, the topic is a word! BronHiggs (talk) 11:19, 2 October 2017 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 8 November 2017[edit]

Jomontscb (talk) 13:15, 8 November 2017 (UTC)
Not done: it's not clear what changes you want to be made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format. DRAGON BOOSTER 16:11, 8 November 2017 (UTC)