Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 94

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Single versus double quotes

Is there any agreement when single quotation marks should be used (other than quotes within quotes)? There are several articles, even some Wikipedia guidelines, that use single quotes. They seem to occur more often in short phrases (no more than a couple words), usually to denote an idea other than an actual quotation. I've seem them used to mean so-called, to convey sarcasm (example: Company X has 'good' intentions.), or to signify presumed sayings or idioms that don't have a reference-able source. In these cases, I still think that the use of double quotation marks is standard. Wikky Horse 19:18, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Standard in the US. I believe single is standard in the UK, with double only used in inside quotes? In any case, a lot of typographers prefer single, as punctuation shouldn't be too obvious, or it overwhelms the text visually. If you're used to single, double looks really garish. kwami 19:53, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
It's unambiguous: "Quotations are enclosed within "double quotes". Quotations within quotations are enclosed within 'single quotes'." See also "Words as words" under Italics in MOS. Tony (talk) 06:23, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
What Wikky Horse is getting at is that in some articles, 'single quotes' like that are being abused as "scare quotes" (and " vs. ' vice-versa). It's a good objection to raise. Scare quotes use the quotation marks of the idiom in which they occur; there is no magic that makes them better or worse by being single or double, and hereby a mistake is being made in the articles in question, in which by jumping to single from double or vice versa, some editors believe they are making a distinction that is not in fact being made. The short version is: Don't use "scare quotes" unless you are very certain what you are doing (very-double-plus-extra-special certain, in the context of an encyclopedia), and then use them as if normal quotation marks; don't jump continents for no reason. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 16:15, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Punctuation for titles in quotation marks

  1. The Billboard Hot 100's current number one is "Kiss Kiss."
  2. The Billboard Hot 100's current number one is "Kiss Kiss".

Which one is correct? Thanks, –thedemonhog talkedits 06:24, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

I believe the second one is correct. See Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Quotation marks for more information. --Silver Edge 08:37, 15 November 2007 (UTC)
Both are "correct": that is to say that different careful writers will use each of them after considering the question. We should, but are never likely to, explain the merits of both. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:31, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
It's explained at [[1]]. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) 19:15, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
It is certainly the second one, per WP:PUNC. violet/riga (t) 19:35, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
It depends on the question. If one cares what a handful of revert-warriors have insisted on, there is one answer. If one wants to write English, there are several. If it doesn't improve the encyclopedia, ignore it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:05, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
It doesn't really matter. I've seen it both ways and I always go with #1 because it looks neater. –thedemonhog talkedits 21:09, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
I certainly agree that it doesn't matter: both systems are formalities, with different inconveniences. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:12, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
All featured articles are required to adhere to our MOS, WP:PUNC inclusive, and where possible we should apply it to all our articles. You might say "it doesn't matter" but others disagree. violet/riga (t) 23:03, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes, some editors insist on making GA and FA be about irrelevant, arbitrary, and trivial points, having nothing to do with the meaning, clarity, or verifiability of articles; this is one chief reason they are so widely despised, rejected, and ignored. (GA is already no assistance to the encyclopedia; FA has been degrading steadily. But this is only one aspect of the general scantiness and incompetence of review.) I am sorry to see an editor I had hitherto respected join in this folly. WP:IAR remains policy; it is what happens to failing processes. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:12, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
I hate FAC and avoid the place - something like this is not worth failing a nomination for. I've never even looked at GA. I fix such things when I find them because it's the standard we have agreed on and I like to have our articles have an element of consistency. Personally I feel it is a more logically correct formation and less ambiguous and should be used in all professional writing. violet/riga (t) 23:24, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
I came here because it does come up on FAC. It is either not mentioned at all (fortunately most usual), or it is used as a reason to reject; and this is why I would mention both systems here. Which seems more natural and useful to a given editor depends on which they were brought up on, and how contrary they are; there is a case that "typographical punctation" is more logical and less prone to error (being a purely conventional system, which makes no assertion about the presence or absence of punctuation in the original). There are cases where accurate quotation using "logical punctuation" is impossible to guarantee without the clumsiness of double quotation marks; one can be found in the recent archives. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:59, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
This is your pet peeve, Anderson, and your entries here seem to be part of a strategy to raise it about ... let me see ... once every three weeks, as though we'll get tired of it and agree with you. We're tired of it, certainly, but that won't change our view. WP decided some time ago that logical punctuation should be used, for reasons concerning the overriding need not to tamper with quoted material inside the quotation marks. Numerous American publications use it, and so should you. Tony (talk) 00:18, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Is this a deliberate falsehood, or merely more of Tony's carelessness? I have refrained from raising the issue; I have agreed with others who have raised it, so that the other falsehood, that no-one does, will be harder to maintain.
  • In fact, I do use logical punctuation, contrary to my education. I do not see a moral imperative in the matter; and may yet change back, since it does have disadvantages, and is bringing me into bad company. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:34, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
…both are correct; however they are different styles of written English. #1 is U.S. English while #2 is British English. Wikipedia tends to prefer the British English style since it's, well, logical. What is present in the punctuation guideline right now is the consensus of users who use all varieties of written English. 哦, 是吗?(User:O) 02:52, 24 November 2007 (GMT)
To the original poster, thedemonhog: Just go with what the Manual of Style says; the punctuation goes outside. A small number of editors argue against this, but consensus has not changed The problem with interior punctuation is that it tells almost every reader in the world but most Americans "this punctuation is, certainly part of the quoted material", while all it tells Americans is "this punctuation may or may not be, we don't know and don't care, too bad for you, part of the quoted material". It is sloppy, imprecise, and for many readers directly misleading, expecially when used with actual quotations of passages that have been truncated before they ended in the original. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:02, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
And just in case anyone still argues that it's a North American versus everyone else issue, I note with disappointment that my daily newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald, uses interior punctuation. Tony (talk) 13:56, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, the observation that British novels do it too make it pretty clear that the distinction is really informal and (mostly Americanly, but sometimes Britishly, Australianly) semi-formal (as in pop journalism), versus formal, with a vague preference among North Americans in their personal writing (regardless of register) to prefer the in- and quasi-formal style, and vague preference among everyone else to use the formal style, with a lot of individual variation. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 18:14, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
Hogwash. In the U.S., most punctuation goes inside the quotation marks. If you can't figure out that a comma is used in a series, then it wouldn't matter if it was inside or outside the quotes. If you can't figure out that the sentence ends in a period, then the same. BUT DON'T EXPECT U.S. PERSONS WHO KNOW WHAT STANDARD U.S. ENGLISH GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION RULES COMMAND AND WHO WENT TO SCHOOL FOR THIRTEEN YEARS (PLUS FOUR YEARS OF COLLEGE), WHERE THOSE PERSONS HAD TO WRITE CORRECTLY, TO WRITE DIFFERENTLY HERE. Just write each article the correct way, use British for British articles, English for English, and maintain consistency within each article. But unless the casual user knows that there is a difference, he or she will write the way he or she was taught (assuming the person was taught correctly and is proficient in applying what was supposed to have been learned). For the average person who has gone to school, learned how to write correct, standard English, and then has found and wants to use Wikipedia, being forced to write English incorrectly does NOT seem LOGICAL! Bobopaedia 15:17, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
Oh ... deary me ... so shouting wins the argument: loudest voice wins, does it? It's nothing to do with grammar, as you seem to assume. Have you read the detailed debate above and in the archives concerning how the issue is not nation against nation, but is rather more closely aligned with the need for precision in a particular linguistic register? There's no absolute truth or correctness about either system: it serves the overriding purposes of WP to use logical style. Please don't shout. Tony (talk) 15:32, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
Well, YOU have missed the point again. FIRST, I WAS EMPHASIZING. So sorry it wan't in midnight blue to suit you. Do you honestly think the average person is going to read all those archives. _ (Although I have.) _ "Precision in a particularly linguistic register?" WTF! Isn't grammar and puctuation linguistic precision? You are an editor? How do you edit when something is perceived as incorrect? You baffle me.Bobopaedia 15:51, 30 November 2007 (UTC) _ So now it is not about grammar? Just make up something else. Perhaps we should also condone misspelling. What do you think people will do they see periods, commas, etc. in the wrong place? Think to themselves: "Oh. This has nothing to do with grammar, or punctuation, or spelling. It's Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia. But isn't an encyclopedia supposed to use English correctly?" Yes, if it is going to be taken seriously. I know for a fact that in the U.S., teachers and school districts do not let their students use Wikipedia for research projects. One wonders why? INACCURACY! INACCURACY! INACCURACY! Bobopaedia 17:19, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia's accuracy problems have nothing at all to do with puctuation style. And please lay off the screeching invective. WP:NOT#BATTLEGROUND. Appeal to emotion is a fallacy. If you want to emphasize something, use italics instead of ASCII SCREAMING. Anyway, this issue has been hashed to death and beyond. The fact that most but not all informal US publications like newspapers and novels (and some non-US ones) prefer interior punctuation of quotations is of no particular consequence. The fact that even US-based formal publications that require precision and lack of ambiguity, such as medical and scientific journals, use exterior, logical puntuation tells us we are doing the right thing by also using that in the encyclopedia. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:04, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Quotes and punctuation in references

I know that whether punctuation should be inside or out of quotes has been discussed before here, but not in relation to references. I completely understand the concept of 'logical quotation,' but nowhere do I see anything mentioning what applies to references. In wikipedia the cite template and sources page recommend having punctuation outside quotes such as in this example:

  1. Brandybuck, Meriadoc (1955). "Herb lore of the Shire". Journal of the Royal Institute of Chemistry 10 (2), 234–351.

However, apart from this one guide PDF (131 KiB) linked from the Harvard referencing pages (which does not make clear which style it is using), all of the major style guides such as MLA, Turabian PDF (131 KiB) and Chicago put the punctuation inside the quotes like this:

  1. Brandybuck, Meriadoc (1955). "Herb lore of the Shire." Journal of the Royal Institute of Chemistry 10 (2), 234–351.

APA doesn't seem to use quotes in its titling. I'm not sure why wikipedia style seems to go against three of the most widely used styles and put the punctuation outside of the quotation in references. Therefore, I propose that the style guide me modified to reflect the most common usage. This could be done by adding in a new section to the quotation marks section of the punctuation section noting that referencing follows different rules from text used in the body, and then modifying the cite template as well as the various examples littered around the help sections on referencing in wikipedia.Zeus1234 16:51, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Punctuation after the closing quotation marks would be consistent and logical in references too. But here, we're less concerned about not tampering with quoted material. So I find any reasonable formatting system for reference lists will do, provided it's consistent. Tony (talk) 00:40, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Strongly oppose, on the basis of consistency. If we make an exception for this, then soon we'll have clamoring for 14 other exceptions. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 00:57, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Past tense/present tense

Hopefully a simple question. I am writing an article on a motorcycle that is long out of production so I have written the introduction is 'xxx was a motorcycle' but find myself using the present text for the details i.e. 'the xxx uses a flange valve, the xxx has a top speed of...' This is because many of these machines are still running I think. Please help! Might be useful if you replied on my talk page although I will watch this one, cheers Nimbus227 03:36, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Sounds like a reason to use each tense strategically. The deal-breaker is if past and present occur too close to each other and jar the reader. Tony (talk) 06:19, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
Concur with Tony on general point, but in this case say go with present tense. They still exist, so that is that. Celtic war chariots and Roman ballistae do not exist any longer, except as archaeological fragments, so past tense. canceled TV shows are past tense, because they only exist as records. Movies are past tense because they are released and that's that. Chevrolet Corvairs are or should be (I haven't actually looked) present tense because many of them are still on the road; my three-doors-down neighbor drives one, in immaculate condition. It's probably worth more than his house, "unsafe at any speed" or not. Just an off the cuff impression. I think I'd find it jarring to go to the "xxx" motorcycle (what? Indian?) and see "xxx was a motorcycle", as if all of them had been hunted down and melted for scrap, to erase them from human memory. But I sometimes think rather dramatically.  :-) As Tony suggests, it seems like judgement call. I'll go further and suggest the criterion that if it still exists in a form cognizantly like the original incarnation it should be present tense. E.g. "The Model T is a Ford automobile..." (many Model Ts still roll around even today); but, "The Spanish Galleon was..." (there may well be a restored galleon somewhere as a tourist trap in Spain or the Caribbean, but it almost surely cannot be more than a tiny percentage of the original vessel, and is certainly not existing anything like it was. Even so, some might prefer the present tense if there is one still around in some form. An instructive case in point are the ships HMS Queen Mary' (sunk: past tense) vs. RMS Queen Mary (salvaged and turned ignominously into a California tourist trap, cemented into place as a hotel and no longer a ship at all in any meaningful sense: present tense). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 13:57, 12 November 2007 (UTC)
An interesting attempt at a distinction, S, but neither workable nor consistent. If we write in present tense so long as an example of the subject exists because it still exists, you would have us constantly monitor when the very last Corvair, for example, is interred and then rewrite all WP references to it from present tense to past. Does a surviving example in a museum suffice for present tense? A photo? "The Corvair has four wheels" is not offensive, but present tense is simply wrong in "GM installs inadequate suspension in these death traps". Not workable. Nor is your proposal consistent. A movie still exists long after it is released just as much as a Corvair still exists after it is manufactured. New prints of successful movies may be made for several years after initial release, and may be revived in original or (more likely) modified form decades later. What about a cancelled TV show that years later is later revived in syndication? Or that continues to exist in publicly available recorded form? Accuracy of the sentence often dictates the tense, and that can depend on how the writer casts the sentence, but in some instances only one tense will be correct. Narratives can work well if cast in past or present tense, and the writer should work toward using a single tense in a single narrative, but be on the lookout for something that sounds odd. It is a matter of style and judgment, and simple formulas (formulae?) do not really help. Finell (Talk) 18:03, 26 November 2007 (UTC)
For fiction, there is kind of a special rule; the standard is to write in the present tense (known as the perpetual present), as described in Wikipedia:Guide to writing better articles and Wikipedia:Manual of Style (writing about fiction). There are various justifications and explanations for why we should do this, but the bottom line is that present tense is a standardized convention, and writing about the contents of works of fiction in the past tense is generally considered wrong by the likes of English professors and so forth, and so is already recommended against in the aforementioned pages.
For manufactured items which are not currently being manufactured but still exist, it just seems wrong to me to write about them in the past tense as though they don't exist. Obviously, writing about events related to those items ("GM installed inadequate suspension") should be in the past tense, but general descriptions of their characteristics ought to be in the present. For older items like the Model T where using the present tense seems a bit odd, the descriptive text can be framed in terms of events, enabling the use of the past tense: "The Model T is a model of automobile that the Ford Motor Company manufactured from 1908 to 1927". When talking about parts for really old things like the Model T, I think an argument could be made for use of the past tense. I doubt there are any Model Ts outside of a museum that still have their original tires, for example. I recognize that the current Model T article doesn't follow this guideline, but I think it would be improved if it did. Nohat (talk) 05:43, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
Can we get something in the MOS about this? I appreciate the fact that keeping tabs on whether certain things still exist could be problematic, but in the vast majority of cases this is not a case. That examples of the English Electric Lightning still exist is not in doubt (the article even mentions airworthy survivors), so to read that it "was" a supersonic fighter aircraft just doesn't sound right. This is a widespread problem too - pretty much every article on planes, trains and automobiles uses the wrong tense in the opening sentence. Miremare 20:02, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
There is little point in making rules; they will break down in the face of natural languages' complexity and ambiguity.
Human beings are not compilers, and English is not COBOL.
If you're a native speaker of English, just use some common sense; if you're not, ask one.
Robert Greer (talk) 23:33, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Straight vs. curly quotation marks and apostrophes

For all the reasons explained here, I prefer real curly quotes instead of the pseudo-quotes from ancient ASCII. But, as you might see, that link is a Google cache link, since the page, with the long discussions and many arguments for allowing and preferring curly quotes, was recently deleted. Then, without any discussion on the topic, this change was made to change all the curly to straight quotes, and two days later this addition was made, more-or-less proscribing curly quotes. I would like to have an actual discussion on this; especially some rebuttals to the arguments on the old (now deleted) page. (No, I do not count the words as words thing; that was on another topic.) --193.11.177.69 13:21, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Log in, then? Tony (talk) 14:13, 12 November 2007 (UTC)
Why would this need to be rehashed? Again? The only cognizable argument advanced so far in favor of curly quotes is "it looks pretty to me" (with some non-arguments added on like "the characters exist in Unicode so 'therefore' we should use them"), while the arguments against are numerous, beginning with "they look pretty to you but look like pretentious b.s. to others" and proceeding much more substantially to "they're not on the keyboard so the average editor can't do it", "putting them in the 'Insert:' character box below the editing window won't fix this since they'll just be several more characters among many that no one can find"; "they cause usability problems, because legacy browsers don't recognize or render them properly, and they just show up as weird little boxes or worse yet as recognizable but totally incorrect characters", and "this means they cause reproducibility problems in which intended content is misrepresented as something else", and relatedly, "they don't always print correctly", and further relatedly, "there are accessibility issues"; "they screw up search results"; etc., etc., etc. We've been over this again and again since MOS has existed, and the reasoning for it has never outweighted the reasoning against it. Yes, it looks nice. When it works. Oh well. This is an world-wide encycopedia, not a testbed for Web typographic effects that might be globally plausible some time around 2015. The fact that you characterize this as "Curly Wars" (emphasis added) is precisely why this should be closed as "Resolved". There is no consensus to favor curly quotes, there is no lack of consensus against simple, easy straight quotes, and there is no reason to disrupt the status quo simply so someone can make a point or engage in typographic advocacy or engage in a "war". You've really dug your own hole with this one, "curly warrior". — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 15:02, 12 November 2007 (UTC)
There are no browsers in serious use with Wikipedia that don’t support curly quotes, because one would experience problems much worse with those.
We use typographically correct hyphens and dashes which have exactly the same advantages and disadvantages, except that one has to choose the correct one, whereas quotation marks and apostrophes are pretty much always “” ans . I won’t mention the many other characters that really will potentially fail to render correctly. Everything in Windows 1252 and almost everything in WGL4 is “web-safe”.
Search is realy a non-issue because you’ll never search for terms including quote signs and almost never for apostrophes. (That WP’s search capability sucks is a related but different issue.)
Nice to see you agree that it looks nice, because it does, especially if you’re not using Arial or Verdana.
There is no consensus to favour either style. (I haven’t followed the latest reincarnation of the discussion, though.)
PS: No, I’m not the anonymous initial poster. Christoph Päper 19:48, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Some answers to specific questions: I do not have an account, therefore I can not log in. This issue needs to be rehashed because there was initial consensus on using curly quotes (see the cached link), and the later changes came without any discussion. The last discussion was on that now-deleted page (available on Google cache), and all contemporary policies and documents agreed that curly quotes was at least allowed and some of them said they were preferred. All later changes to so-called ASCII quotes has, what I can see, been done without any discussion or consensus. That is why this needs to be rehashed; it has never been hashed in the first place. If there is some old debate that I missed, please link to it. Also, technology moves, and curly quotes becomes more feasible every day. If not today, then some future day will be the day to reopen this issue, so some summary of all arguments for and against should be made and made available for the future. --193.11.177.69 02:16, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

If someone updates the MediaWiki software to automatically render straight quotes as appropriate curly quotes, that's great. Until then, manually inserting curly quotes is a waste of time and will lead to ugly inconsistencies when some editors carry on with straight quotes in articles. Strad 23:39, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
Well summarised, SMcCandlish. This curly question of curly quotes has been discussed many times, no doubt, sometimes with different immediate outcomes. But it should be clear by now that Wikipedia is simply not ready for them, for the reasons you list. It should also be clear that the voices against curly quotes greatly outnumber the voices for them. If the matter must be revisited, let it be: but let's be swift and definite this time, since the cautious detail has already been gone through again and again.
There are more pressing matters to deal with, like some better arrangement for the hard space (see discussion above). Why in the name of Jimbo and all that's holy do we need symbols like these under the edit box – ₪ ₯ ₢ Ħ ৳ – more than we need the hard space there? Or better (as discussed above) some keyboard-friendly markup for this essential requisite (again, see argument for this above)?
Focus on what's needed, dear colleagues, instead of endlessly twiddling your proverbials on old issues.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:46, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
Agreed on hard space - no everyone can be expected to remember a geeky code like &nbsp;. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 06:02, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
The only remotely valid argument against typographic quotation marks and apostrophe is the ease of input for many authors. I will also admit – although not understand – that there is a number of people claiming they liked the look of straight marks better (without qualifying the font, though). The rest is void. In particular there are no relevant technical problems with displaying the glyphs. I also very much doubt your oversimplified assumpion that “the voices against curly quotes greatly outnumber the voices for them”.
Therefore we can conclude that typographic marks are nice to have, but not a must have. We thusly can’t require anyone to use them, but we can’t forbid them either.
That said, an article using typographic quotation marks and apostrophes throughout and consistently should never be changed to typewriter compromise glyphs. This is, however, exactly what happened to the MoS – done by you! Christoph Päper 14:12, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
Actually I've outlined above a large number of reasons to forbid them, the most serious of which, as you agree, is difficulty of editor input, but the second, which you inaccurately pooh-pooh below, is the search problem, which is a real one. A great number of personal, animal/plant, book/movie/etc., and even company names, as well as other terms (Godwin's law, etc.) do in fact contain apostrophes. Typographic quotes would be "nice to have" to some (perhaps a majority of) but not all editors and readers, if these problems were soluble, which right now they are not. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 06:02, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
Christoph, this should be way down on anyone's worry-list. The status quo is just fine by me. And option-[ and option-shift-[ are just too fiddly. Tony (talk) 14:47, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
Christoph, we should indeed have a policy against them, and support changing them to the straight version. I think it is pretty clear: more people support this position than any other particular position. Until Wikipedia evolves to accommodate curly quotes better (for ease of input, as in Word) and browsers evolve also (so that these characters can be searched for easily), and people are educated about their use, it is plainly better to leave them out. Some time ago I altered MOS to the default straight quotes. This was simply a reversion to how MOS had been, quite stably, before someone high-handedly imposed curly ones. Can you tell us who that editor was, and what consultation was involved? Incidentally, how exactly do you propose that editors using Windows input ‘’ and “”? How do you propose that the casual user searching a long page for Bush’s term input the apostrophe? I do not recall that you have answered these questions for us.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 21:58, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I copyedited MoS regarding quote marks and apostrophes months ago, because the tenor was that typographic ones are preferable, just hard to enter for many. (And where if not in the Manual of Style would you strive for the preferred style?) I don’t want to force anyone to enter them, but as they are visually desirable in general there shouldn’t be artifical restrictions put up hindering the work of copyeditors (human or automatic).
Concerning search you pretty much never will search for strings containing quotation marks, but sometimes for ones with apostrophes. (The same applies to terms with en dash, though.) Using incremental search you often – like in your example – won’t have to input the apostrophe, because it would have succeeded already. That’s no solution to every conveivable problem, but neither is prohibiting typographic marks altogether. Christoph Päper (talk) 21:30, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Responses to your points, Christoph:
  • When you copyedited MOS some months ago, changing quotes and apostrophes from straight to curly (and not saying in your edit summaries that you were doing so, generally), you did so in stages and incompletely. That is the only way this can be managed, unless one uses an external editing tool, and checks the results carefully. It is, however, much easier to maintain consistency in an article if all quotes and apostrophes should be straight (except where that difference is itself under discussion). Since ease of wholesale editing for consistency actually inclines people to do it, this is yet another reason for preferring the straight versions.
  • You write ...as they are visually desirable in general there shouldn’t be artifical restrictions put up hindering the work of copyeditors... . But this has been well covered, surely. Let's allow that they look better. I agree, for one. But the weight of reasons is against them. Do you also think we should allow ligatures, like "fi" (which will not be found, searching on "fi"), rather than the two characters "fi"? They look better, where the typeface and the browser show the difference. That's why they were invented. No one wants to hinder the work of editors! The simplifying and realistic proposal to prohibit the curly versions can only make their work easier.
  • I agree that similar difficulties arise for the en dash. But that is much more rare, as an element in the composition of phrases (as opposed to its spaced use in sentence punctuation). This does weigh slightly against en dashes substituting for certain hyphens; but there the distinction is not merely typographical: it is textual and semantic. Not so for the mere form of apostrophes and quotes.
  • You concede that users will sometimes need to search for a word with an apostrophe, but say that the search will succeed before the apostrophe is typed, in incremental searching. Succeed? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I asked about searching a long page, in which often the part of the phrase without the apostrophe will be mere noise to the user. And then, editors need to search pages for words with apostrophes, and words with quotes also.
Christoph, dialogue is obstructed if you refuse to answer direct questions. Once more I give you an opportunity to respond: How exactly do you propose that editors using Windows input ‘’ and “”? Answer, please. And then let's all turn instead to other matters, which are more likely to move things forward.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 23:59, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Quite right about the em-dash/en-dash vs. curly quotes distinction; curly quotes are not semantic. It should also be noted than many editors don't bother with that distinction, but other editors will fix it for them; the proposal at issue here is again dissimilar to the dashes situation, because it would leave either style of quotation mark acceptable, and thus no one would bother "fixing" them, and we'd end up with articles that intermingle the styles inconsistently. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 06:02, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
First of all, I believe Wikipedia is primarily intended for the readers, not the authors. Its style guide should reflect that.
Hard-coded ligatures were a bad idea from the start, nobody proposes their use on WP.
I never proposed that anyone had to input certain characters, so why should I be the one answering the question how they should do it? There’s more than one way, though, even for Windows users, but those either require a little bit of computer knowledge and sufficient administrative privileges (e.g. for selecting or installing or creating a better keyboard layout) or are not quite ergonomic (i.e. Alt codes, Insert box, copy and paste). But why not leave the icing to (possibly bot-assisted) editors who do manage to input them?
Let’s imagine a WP where some bots and editors did the job of converting straight to curly marks – do I conclude correctly, that the only lasting argument for discouraging typographic quotation marks (or rather just apostrophes) would be the ease of entering them in search fields? (Maybe articles containing mixed usage temporarily would be another one.) Christoph Päper (talk) 02:13, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Christoph, your new points:
  • Yes, Wikipedia is primarily for its enormous number of users: the readers. The editors, who volunteer their services to give those users what they want, should be helped in all sorts of ways. Their task should be made manageable and straightforward, and Wikipedia's manual of style is a big part of that effort. Readers are perfectly accustomed to reading and typing apostrophes and quotes with the keys provided for this purpose on their keyboards. They are in no way inconvenienced if the job of those who serve their needs is kept easy and uncomplicated.
  • The matter of ligatures is closely analogous to the present question. That's why I raised it. The reason no one (at least here) suggests their use is that they are not necessary for clarity, not convenient to type, not convenient to search for, and very likely to lead to inconsistencies. The case against them is isomorphic to the case against curly quotes and apostrophes.
  • You write: I never proposed that anyone had to input certain characters, so why should I be the one answering the question how they should do it? Excuse me: I think you have advocated the use of certain characters. And at least you have sought to allow such an inconvenience to be imposed. Certainly, when you edit an article and make some quotes curly, you impose an unwanted obligation on others to complete the job you have started (since consistency would demand that). Or when others add material to an article after you, they have to find a way to match your practice. You have, therefore, made the job of all those volunteer editors harder. And then, far from answering my repeated direct question, you say that there are many ways to input these things. Everyone here knows that! I ask yet again: Which of them is easy enough for it to be recommended for general use? How do you, as the main advocate for this practice, recommend that it be implemented? You suggest, it seems, that the "proper" arrangements for quotes and apostrophes be left to administrators and bots! I think this is a ridiculous suggestion. Sure: we all want the editing system and the underlying machinery to be improved. A couple of us have been calling for reforms so that the hard space could be input easily: but this proposal empowers editors, rather than alienating them.
  • Well, perhaps it is fair to conclude that the main problem would be solved if the underlying system were improved. Searching would indeed remain a problem – and that is serious for some users and some editors. We just can't predict how users might choose to use and editors might choose to edit. I'm all for the general sort of reform that you'd like to see. But in practice, there is no prospect of the necessary consensus that must precede such a reform. Let's take the push for a proper implementation of the hard space as an example: there is little insight or will here on this simple question, so far; there is little understanding even of whom to approach, or what forum this tiny but momentous reform should be taken to. Surely something so complex as you envisage is not on the agenda of anyone with the vision or competence to agitate for it, or to see it acted upon. We have to live with the living, and within the limits of the practical. Yes, we all want improvement: so try small changes that are universally accepted as valuable first! Only tilt at windmills when these easy things are accomplished.
So can we drop this for now, and work instead on what is possible?
Do answer the question that I repeat above, though! I and others have spent far too much time on this already, in closely articulated argument against your proposal, and in responding to every point that you raise.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 06:53, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
I still don’t see the problem, except for the one concerning search which I acknowledge but consider negligible. If it’s okay for editors to enter straight marks, because someone – I never said administrators – will change them later to typographic ones, nobody is forced to learn Alt codes or install a custom keyboard layout – except for search. For this to happen we need to encourage typographic instead of typewriter style, otherwise we’ll never get a professional looking encyclopaedia.
However, I’ve made some minor edits to the section, which should not be controversial. Christoph Päper (talk) 22:43, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Christoph, you did say this: "... those either require a little bit of computer knowledge and sufficient administrative privileges ... [my underlining]". I don't want to quibble, but I think that administrator is an adequate paraphrase of one with sufficient administrative privileges. I find it remarkable that you "still don't see the problem"; but in the end, and despite the fact that I and others have worked hard to explain, it's your business whether you see it or not. You have still not answered my direct question: How exactly do you propose that editors using Windows input ‘’ and “”? I can only assume that you have no satisfactory answer to give.
Anyway, I for one think that your latest edits in MOS are no problem. I have just changed something about alif and ayin, for clarity. I look forward to our moving on to other matters, now. Many of us agree that we want a better-looking encyclopedia; but we disagree on the priorities and the practicalities.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:50, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
You might need administrative privileges for the computer you work on to install a new keyboard layout, which some users lack. I was not talking about WP admins, unlike you seem to have done. I thought I made clear enough already that I do not have – infact that nobody except perhaps Microsot has – a one-fits-all solution for the problem, but there are solutions for those who really want to. Christoph Päper (talk) 14:45, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
And I have just now put in what I regard as a better example than McDonald's. My edit summary:

Korsakoff's syndrome" better: 1) McDonalds is a redirect with the curly apostrophe; 2) user might think "Korsakoff's is not in WP", but not "McDonald's is not in WP"

I meant "McDonald’s", but slipped up as I was trying to insert that ’!
Quite seriously, not only might a user miss the article searched for: an editor might originate a complete new article, after a search that fails simply because of using the "wrong" form of the apostrophe. And the duplication might go undiagnosed for a long time.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 01:23, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Raising this issue again and again every few weeks while garnering little if any support for recommending curly quotes does not change consensus; see "asking the other parent" at WP:CONSENSUS. The notion that people "rarely" search for anything containing an apostrophe is ridiculous; innumerable titles of works, names of individuals, common names of animals and plants, etc., etc. contain apostrophes. The suggestion that the editor hardship problem can be solved with installation of a non-standard keyboard layout similarly fails to produce any cognizable reason to change the MOS on this point, and is self-defeating. "It's hard to do this, so let's instead do something even harder and more geeky, requiring all individual editors to do it themselves, on machines they may not even have the administrative power to do it on." Um, no. The "need" to make Wikipedia look prettier is nowhere near the overriding priority of making it easy to use and edit. And it is entirely subjective and debatable to begin with; not everyone prefers curly quotes (I myself find them detestable in many fonts, namely those that turn half of the glyphs upside down). A large number of reasons have been given to stick with straight quotes, and a migration to curly quotes is something that would need to be handled on the MediaWiki developer side, after much deliberation about the consenquences. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:39, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
Just when exactly was this consensus arrived at? Last time I visited the MOS, which was admittedly several months ago, it seemed much less set-in-stone, suggesting that either type of quotation mark was acceptable, and presenting valid reasons for each choice. Many editors, including myself, prefer typographically-correct punctuation, including “curly” quotation marks, and proper ellipses (…)—all of which show up in the glyph insertion box on every edit page—and the arguments in favor of poor typography seem as flimsy as ever (indeed flimsier, as technology and technological understanding continue to improve, and as proper typography is increasingly adopted by the rest of the web). I don’t mean to continue any flame wars, but is there some clear date which can be put on this “consensus”? —jacobolus (t) 17:58, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
You have to look in the archives; MOS moves very quickly. When there is a big debate, this talk page can fill up so fast it starts causing browser crashes in only a couple of days. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 23:53, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
If search problems are the main concern, it strikes me that this is a bug in Wikipedia’s search which should be fixed, rather than an indictment of proper typography. —jacobolus (t) 18:00, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
That is not the main concern. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 23:53, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
Jacobulus, I appreciate that you don't want to continue a fruitless dispute here. Nor, I think, does SMcCandlish; and nor, most assuredly, do I. But when you declare to us that you "prefer typographically-correct [sic; normally there would be no hyphen] punctuation, including “curly” quotation marks, and proper ellipses (…)", how can we think that you are unprejudiced? As I have said a couple of times, of course I prefer and use curly quotes and apostrophes in wordprocessing; and of course we should use them in preparing text for hardcopy publication. We might even prefer them in web documents that are not subject to continual re-editing by many hands. But none of this is what our MOS is about!
Who, in the name of JW and all the saints, decides that sound web typography demands curly quotes and your so-called "proper" ellipses? Let it be known that CMOS and many other authorities (most, I think) are against the preformed ellipsis, or if they mention it at all, this is only as a second choice. Even in print! CMOS decrees that "ellipsis points are three spaced periods (. . .)"; or sometimes (in a triumph of Byzantine obfuscation over logic and usability) "four [dots] mark the omission of one or more sentences [...] When three are used, space occurs both before the first dot and after the final dot. When four are used, the first dot is a true period—that is, there is no space between it and the preceding word." ("Another and another cup to drown the memory of this impertinence!") So now: what is "proper" typography, and on what authority is it "proper"? More importantly, what is "proper" typography for dynamic, democratic, Wikipedia text? And then, most importantly, why do you insult experienced and cautious editors here with your assumption that you know the answer to this, and they don't? They, on the other hand, make a well-reasoned claim for a workable system, not a "proper" one.
The reasons have been canvassed before, and I have recently added yet another – but I might as well not have bothered, since you completely ignored it.
Can we, finally, move on to something productive? Like reforming that precious array of glyphs so that it serves the real needs of real editors, and dispenses with such absurdities as ₫, ₯, ₣, ₴, ₭, ℳ, ₰, ₥, ₦, ₧, ₰, ₪, and of course the ever-popular ৳. What's the estimate? Together these must satisfy a need for about 0.00001% of editors, I'd say. But how about a rational means for inserting a hard space, hmmm? If we are adept at typography, and understand what resources implementing sound web typography really demands, don't we think that would be a good idea? Let's put some weight behind that, if we want truly valuable reform.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 11:02, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
The old discussion is archived at the web archive. The so called “straight” quotes aren’t quotes at all. They are an invention made for the typewriter—before there was no '-symbol. Then in the 20th century the ASCII guys weren’t typographically sensible enough to get rid of this young tradition. Now we live in the age of Unicode should behave like that. Please don’t make Wikipedia worse in reverting our edits where we correct your not-quotes to decent quotation marks. --mms (talk) 16:58, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
Mms, your recent editing was disruptive. First of all, you applied curly quotes and apostrophes inconsistently in the article. I am not surprised! It is quite a task to apply them uniformly throughout, and you clearly couldn't be bothered to do the complete job. The practical difficulty of achieving uniformity using curly quotes is one of the many compelling reasons for preferring straight quotes. Those reasons are reviewed in this section above, for the benefit of those without memory.
There is, despite what you say, a clear consensus here that straight quotes are to be recommended exclusively. You give a reference (through a resource outside of Wikipedia) to old discussion. But nowhere is the whole thing brought together into a consensus in favour of the curly forms – at least, not a consensus that should bind us now. Unfortunately we have no obvious means of achieving and recording such a consensus here at MOS: otherwise we could more readily undo the ill-considered and partisan changes with which people from time to time destabilise MOS. The effects of such editing are quite malign, and I would ask you to discuss here before reverting to any spurious consensus from earlier talk. The only guide we have to current consensus is current discussion, inefficient and ruinously wasteful of editors' time and effort that may be.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 19:44, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
The old discussion is archived from Wikipedia. There will be inconsistency either way. So why don’t we allow to use the only true quotation marks (besides Guillemets)? --mms (talk) 02:04, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, Mms: I know that you pointed to discussion within Wikipedia, though using a facility external to Wikipedia. You pointed to a mélange of ill-formatted discussion, but you cannot point to a consensus that merits our respect, simply because there wasn't one: and there is no mechanism for registering such a consensus. All we have, really, is the loose but pretty unambiguous weight of current considered opinion, and that is against curly quotes. That is the best approximation to "consensus" that we have.
You could theoretically try to persuade the majority to your minority opinion, and so waste the time and energy of fellow editors as others do from time to time. Some advice, if you choose to attempt that:
  • Spare us this fundamentalist rhetoric that denies the straight alternative the status of "true" quote marks. That is pure, partisan, POV. No one except a fellow fundamentalist will be at all impressed.
  • Address, one by one and in detail, all of the many points made against curly quotes and apostrophes at Wikipedia.
  • Once more (and pay attention, please): those who are against curly quotes are not against them in print, where they were evolved. I, for example, use them and insist on them all the time. Note and learn from that flexibility, and that responsiveness to the environment and conditions under which we work here.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 03:39, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
In the old discussion was no consensus to force all Wikipedians to use typographic quotes but it was (quite) consensus to allow the curly fundamentalists to correct the straight ones of others. It is due to my mental flexibility and tolerance that I didn’t write, one must use curly quotes. The proposal I made here is already a policy in the German speaking Wikipedia. --mms (talk) 14:57, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
No one can "force" editors to do anything, Mms; and decisions made at German Wikipedia may help in our deliberations, but they are not authoritative for us. WP:MOS makes its recommendations based on current discussion by editors ready to evaluate all sides of an issue. That is what we do here; and it is in no way fundamentalism. Those advocating straight quotes acknowledge the role of other styles, but on the weight of evidence most of us find that Wikipedia has no comfortable role for them. Experience and analysis show that they just don't work.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 20:09, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

Help create a manual of style for maps and diagrams

Right now it seems that Wikipedia provides no guidance on the best practices for creating maps and diagrams. These types of images are rapidly proliferating on Wikipedia. In fact, the Wikimedia Foundation has just started a grant program to pay illustrators to add new diagrams to articles in need. It would be nice if most of these additions followed similar styles and conventions instead of continually reinventing the wheel (with various degrees of success). Although I don't believe Wikipedia needs to enforce one particular style on all maps and diagram, there are some helpful conventions that I think we should put into writing somewhere. Wikipedia:Image use policy doesn't seem like the appropriate place for this, so I've decided to be bold and create a proposed Manual of Style page for maps and diagrams. Right now it is mostly blank as I would like to know what suggestions the Wikipedia community has to offer. Feel free to hop over there and edit it to your heart's content or add ideas to the talk page. Thanks! Kaldari 01:13, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

I've worked on it a little. Has potential. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 12:18, 24 November 2007 (UTC)


Pop ups

In the following sentence you can scroll over the word albedo and a pop up with this word's definition comes up. Is this encouraged by the manual of style?

No, we just link to albedo. I can think of number of serious reasons to not do what you are demonstrating here, the most obvious of which are that this layer of metadata is another, less obvious-to-detect, venue for vandalism. It is also another channel for pushing a particular viewpoint: Condensing an entire topic to a one-liner tooltip is very challenging to do in terms that everyone will agree with. It also encourages sloppy or obfuscatory prose, by reducing the inclination to write clearly ("I can just explain what I mean in a tooltip"), but tooltips/popups do not work consistently in all browsers, do not work at all in some browsers, and require a mouse-over hover delay to activate, and are not visually distinct from other links to indicate that anyone should bother trying to hover over them. Further, this is a layer of far more complexity than the average editor can handle; only HTML geeks are going to know how to do this (or fix it if something is wrong with it). The code in question appear to be redundant, to override the coloration of already-visited links, and to use "id=" unnecessarily which is likely to result in overlapping IDs and thus invalid code. And using span for tooltips has been shown not work in some browsers at all, even if other methods do (I believe there is discussion of this in the archives at Template talk:Fact or one of the other major inline templates). Also, WP:NOT#DICT. Finally, it would encourage other sorts of footnote usages to switch to out-of-band tooltips like this, while we already have a well-developed footnoting system (which, notably, also prints; anything done in the manner you present here would be missing content when the article was printed out). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:13, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the thorough answer. I appreciate this. There are some things I would like to point out.
  • Ideally, this tool would attach to the wikidictionary where a set definition would be used. Down the road I see this as a possibility. Maybe it doesn't work now but wikipedia is just getting started... hopefully...
  • I've been editing wikipedia heavily for several months. I suspected, but didn't positively know I was editing in HTML until yesterday. I've been using the monkey see monkey do method. I don't think this technique requires any serious HTML experience because I've managed it.
  • I've got a 200+ page dictionary of energy terminology and data I've written in a word document connected with these sorts of hyperlink footnotes. The document is definitely more readable using these popups. Definitions are definitions. They lend themselves to these sorts of popups.
I understand what you've said. I'm not disagreeing entirely. I don't see the coding angle like you do. I just know this tool has worked well in my own writing. The only problem I've had using word is that I can't get the footnoted definitions to automatically update when the original definition is changed. I figured HTML could do this. If it could I think this is still a doable idea. Just thoughts though... Thanks for the answer. I won't push it. Mrshaba (talk) 07:27, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
These sorts of definitions also lend themselves, in an encyclopedia, to linkage to encyclopedia articles or entries in encyclopedic glossaries. See for example {{Cuegloss}} and its heavy use in articles like nine-ball to link to entries in the Glossary of cue sports terms. I understand your point about your word document, but most Web users do not expect link hovering to do something similar, and in fact it only works in some browsers, and only when the hovering is for a substantial amount of time. It is conceivable that the Wikipedia community at large would ultimately agree with you, but I think this is something that would have to be discussed at the Village Pump in detail and over time, as to its pros and cons, not something MOS editors can put into play, since this really isn't a style issue, but a functionality one, though certainly with style implications/aspects. PS: There isn't ANYTHING automatical about HTML, unfortunately. A consequence of this would be that if the consensus was at a term defined this way at the article about it should instead be defined that way, then any tooltip popup definitions based on the original wording of the article would have to be manually hunted down and changed; this problem does happen with {{Cuegloss}}-style linking. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 08:13, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
One other thing... I've been contemplating the thought of having a terminology page that groups all the important terms that pertain to a topic on one page. The HVAC article solidified this idea for me. On the HVAC page they have a major terms section on the page itself. I think having a major terms list is a good idea but it shouldn't be on the article page itself. I think these types of subdictionaries should be on a dedicated "terms page". The idea of using the popup definitions I mentioned above works especially well in the context of a terminology page because you can link back and forth between related terms. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mrshaba (talkcontribs) 07:50, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
See "Glossaries" under WP:LIST#Types of lists, and tread carefully. To keep your glossary from being AfD'd, the safest bet is to provide a reliable source for every single entry, and have the entries be of an encyclopedic not dictionary character; i.e. not just a term and its definition, but also information about the term and its applicability, history, and so forth and so on. Even WP:CUEGLOSS is not up to this standard yet, though it is slowly getting there. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 08:17, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
Thank you very much... I'll review the instructions... Mrshaba (talk) 18:38, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
Left you a note on your talk page about {{rp}} and its usefulness. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:39, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

Italicize self-refs

The MOS needs to say this explicitly. All of the relevant templates ( {{Main}}, {{Seealso}}, {{Further}}, {{Details}}, {{Catmore}}, DAB hatnotes like {{For}}, etc., etc., etc.) already do it. The MOS should state specifically that when making a cross-reference or other instructive-to-the-reader ("see..." "for...", "compare...", etc.) and therefore (permissibly) self-referential note in article prose, it should be italicized, and that like these templates it should be indented with ":" if it is not inline in a sentence (e.g. "The dates were established by dendrochronology. See diagram of tree-ring data collected. These dates indicate...") In-prose, non-templated usage is wildly inconsistent all over Wikipedia, even in MOS pages themselves, but the template usages are remarkably uniform, and have been for years. Thus they are guiding, and strongly indicate consensus – a consensus that is hard to "enforce" because no one has bothered to write it down yet. Writing down what consensus already is, is the principal purpose of Wikipedia guidelines. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 12:33, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

This looks like a good proposal. Tony (talk) 13:53, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I agree! By the way, I would refer to these as cross-references, rather than the banned self-references. In usage, however, capitalization should follow that of the article to which reference is made; this is a cross-reference to the article, not wikilinking a word. Finell (Talk) 05:16, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

I.e., e.g., etc.

Currently the MOS leans slightly against these abbreviations, preferring rather more longwinded simple English phrases like "in other words" and "for example". At WT:MOSABB both Tony1 and I came to the conclusion that these abbreviations are so endemic in English that avoiding them is a bit pointless. I'd like to revisit this, then, and suggest that the MOS be even more moderate about the issue. An outgrowth of doing so would be to at least tacitly not deprecate very standard Latin abbreviations in the contexts they belong in (or "the contexts in which they belong", for those who detest discrete clauses ending with prepositions) E.g. (no pun intended), things like cf., ibid., and the like would also be expressly permitted in their proper contexts, which is reference citations primarily, while still eschewed in main article prose. Worth further discussion.

The upshot is that I do not believe one should have to avoid "i.e." in main article prose, nor avoid "id." or "qvv." in reference citation text, since these abbreviations are standard usages in such contexts (and yes, I am purposefully using non-comparable examples; some of them are grokkable across the board, like "e.g." or "etc.", and some of them are only appropriate in narrow contexts, like "pp." or "ibid.") I would further propose that MoS proper not go too deep into this, and leave the guts of it to WP:MOSABB which remains a marginally above a proposal but which is well on the way to being a useful guideline (see its recent talk page entries more than its current text). I bring it up here because resolution of the issue at MOSABB is stymied by the current wording of MOS itself. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:37, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

The MoS currently words its recommendation this way: "Abbreviations of Latin terms such as i.e. and e.g., or the use of the Latin terms in full, such as nota bene, or vide infra, should be left as the original author wrote them. When used in the main text, the abbreviations should normally be in roman rather than italic face." Why does the MoS text italicize i.e. and e.g. and then say "don't italicize them"? Robert K S (talk) 23:56, 27 November 2007 (UTC)
Yeah the "Roman" thing should go; try, "should normally not be italicized". They are italicized here because, despite MoS now permitting either italics or quotes for examples it is using italics throughout, even though it is rather massively using italics for other purposes. I think we should convert most of the examples to quotes, and only use italicization of examples in the sections on quotations and quotation mark characters (where using quotes for examples would be even more confusing that using italics for that purpose is in all the other sections.) — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:15, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
Italics are pressed into service in a number of roles: "words as words" (as an alternative to quotation marks), emphasis (a resource that should be rationed IMO), and in certain circumstances for foreign words (needs debate, that one). The italicisation of i.e. and e.g. here is used for the first of these functions: words as words. I can see that it's likely to confuse some readers into thinking that because they stand for Latin items, they should always be italicised. That would be regrettable, since these common abbreviations stick out in an ungainly way when italicised; nowadays, very few styleguides recommend this. I'm unsure whether Noetica's changing of the words-as-words markings in MOS to a consistent italicisation should be reversed. I think good reasons were given for this at the time. Tony (talk) 03:03, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
I am unpersuaded by the example of i.e. and e.g. It's easy to present things differently to keep things clear in their case. The advice needs amending anyway, since "mechanical" text-styling such as italics for Latin need not be preserved in quotation. This is my proposal, using quote marks for consistency in the whole paragraph:

Abbreviations of Latin terms such as "i.e." and "e.g.", or unabbreviated Latin terms such as "nota bene" or "vide infra", should be left as the original author wrote them; but they should be not be in italics, even if the original has them in italics. Apart from such quotations, articles intended for a general audience will be more widely understood if English terms such as "that is" and "for example" are used instead.

But again, so much needs reforming at the larger level, before we can fix such details effectively.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 03:35, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
I respectfully disagree with your proposal, as it subtly alters the meaning. The actual paragraph in MOS was inserted at a time when some people were actively going through wikipedia articles replacing i.e. and e.g. with that is and for example, and in danger of causing edit wars. It struck me that the preference for that is over i.e. was akin to the preferences for American or English spelling variants, so a suitable policy was to allow original authors of articles to choose whether they preferred the i.e. or that is style. In other words, it was not simply re-iterating the sensible policy of not making editorial adjustments to quotations. If you look back in the MOS talk page history (I don't have the reference to hand) you'll see the debate that took place, and the paragraph as currently written was what was acceptable to those who cared in that particular debate. I firmly believe there is a place for Latin abbreviations in this encyclopædia, and would strongly contend that full stops (periods) should be used in the abbreviations. ie and eg are abominations. WLDtalk|edits 17:11, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
Previous debates on this topic are:
and for punctuation of abbreviations:
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of style/Archive 67
WLDtalk|edits 17:21, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
Oh, and for reference, the Wikipedia article on Latin abbreviations "List of Latin abbreviations"is quite a useful resource. WLDtalk|edits 17:25, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, just FYI, you're referring to use–mention distinction, but I agree with SMcCandlish that quotes serve this purpose better than italics in nine cases out of ten. Robert K S (talk) 03:28, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
Everyone in the immediate vicinity knows about the distinction between use and mention, Robert. Why do you favour quotes over italics, by the way? Many style guides disagree with you, for what that may be worth. Many agree, also. Still others set their examples off in separate lines – a good idea; they may also use a distinctive font for all examples, which is also a good idea. We could do that too.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 03:41, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
I was simply giving the name (and wikilink) to the concept Tony1 was laboriously describing. (It's not as easy to tell that, now, though, since your message interrupted the thread flow.) FWIW, I favor always putting i.e. and e.g. in italics because I favor always using italics for foreign-language terms for consistency's sake (we don't haphazardly forsake italics in book and film titles just because we assume people to be familiar with those titles), and I favor using quotes over italics for unstressed use-mention distinction for the purpose of distinguishing such usage from the italics used in stressed words and major work titles. Cheers, Robert K S (talk) 06:48, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
Fair enough, Robert. (Please don't think that I set out to interrupt the flow, by the way. I don't quite follow how times are stamped on these messages: you get different times in different views. We posted close together, and certainly your posting was not visible when I made mine.)
Yes, Tony said words as words. I don't think that's "laborious", myself. Strictly, it may be better than mention, because of the distinction between making an utterance concerning X and merely mentioning X. For example, in uttering The war is over! or "War" is a word I like to avoid, I am saying something first about the war, and second about the word "war" – and thereby also mentioning the war and "war". But in Ah, the war! and O, that word "war"! I am merely mentioning. It is only by convention that we have settled on the phrase use and mention to mark the distinction of interest. (Note the way I have departed from my preferred practice for mentioning, by sometimes using quotes. Such flexibility is often necessary when mentioning is itself the topic! And it is also necessary – or at least highly desirable – when italics or punctuation are the topic.)
– Noetica♬♩Talk 07:57, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
Didn't someone say "Don't mention the war"? Tony (talk) 08:00, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
In most situation, I think i.e. and e.g. look terrible in an encyclopedia, and should be replaced with prose, so I'm not in favor of softening the wording. If anything, I'd discourage the use of ie, eg and etc even stronger. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:55, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
May I make further suggestions?
  1. I strongly agree with Noetica's suggestion that italics be proscribed for the abbreviations, including their occurrence within quoted text.
  2. Although I'm unsure that I agree with Sandy's wish to retain the preference for spelling out "for example" and "that is" (I'd rather make it neutral, allowing editors to decide on the basis of the context), I do think they should be proscribed at the start of a sentence. There's nothing worse than seeing "I.e.," and E.g.,". The abbreviations can be useful when the items occur frequently in a text.
  3. I was hounded down by other professional editors a few years ago for not inserting the dots ("eg" and "ie"). No, egghead, they said, it has to be "ee dot gee dot comma". Since then, I've taken that line in my own editing; but perhaps I should loosen up on this point. Comments?
  4. Sandy's mention of "etc." is timely, since I was about to propose that the word and its abbreviation be deprecated in MOS under our "Usage" section. There are two issues: first, "etc" looks bad in any register that takes precision seriously, including an encyclopedic one. It says to me "I've given you an incomplete list, and I can't be bothered completing it". A more formal way of signalling that a list is partial—before, not after the reader digests it—is "such as" or "including". These are all what I call subset markers. In FACs, I see a lot of doubling up, in which people write "including ... etc". While on the topic of subset markers, there's widespread use of "including" instead of "comprising", when the list is complete; might be worth adding a little point in "Usage"? Tony (talk) 07:52, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
  1. Here is an example of what I object to; if the "experts" here disagree, that's fine. That sentence has one of everything: diacritics, an emdash, italics, i.e., question mark and explanation mark. I think it looks horrible, but the MOS says I can't replace the ie because the original author added them. Silly. I reworked the sentence after discussing it on talk; he reverted and hasn't discussed. But if the MOS says I can't replace the ie, I spose I can rework to replace the emdashes. I just need to lower the bombardment on my brain of so many different fonts and punctuation marks. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:34, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes, clearly e.g., is awful here. But I don't think the example supports its proscription; just that editors should be made aware of the need to avoid the abbreviations where they're ugly or confusing, or if they just don't like them. Tony (talk) 02:52, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
Since the original editor resisted removal of the latin abbreviations, I reworked the sentence to remove the emdashes; it's just strange that the MOS would forbid removal of anything. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:10, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
I prefer dotted ("i.e." etc.) to ("ie"). It takes only a moment to type the dot, and (more importantly) is much easier to read. Thunderbird2 (talk) 09:01, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
I can't agree on proscribing italics in quoted material. Wikipedia doesn't mess with quotes. On the other points I'm going to try hard to remain neutral on most of this, and just say: I see no problem with using i.e. and e.g. in an encyclopedia. This is not the Simple English Wikipedia. The dots do need to be used, otherwise they look like random typographical errors; leaving the dot out of "Mrs Smith" does not raise this problem. Etc. should be deprecated as a substitute for completing a list where a complete list would be useful, and not deprecated where a complete list would not be useful (e.g., we do not need a complete list of every every possible domesticated animal, Chevrolet vehicle, occupation, country, etc., in examples and other short lists in which is useful to mention a few of them). Noetica makes a couple of good points about flexibility, and that was the point of my first post on this; MoS is being so inflexible in its own usage of italics instead of quotes around mentions and examples that it is confusing in places. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 14:06, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
OK, let's see now:
  • Sandy, that is a very strange piece of work at ¿Por qué no te callas?. For the record, I'd do it this way (with my changes underlined):

...should be written with exclamation marks instead of question marks: ¡Por qué no te callas! Alternatively, it could be written using both exclamation and question marks: ¡¿Por qué no te callas?! or ¿¡Por qué no te callas!?

  • On whether the Latin abbreviations ought to have the dots, I agree with the majority of style guides. They ought to, even though in general text is cleaner-looking and more readable when abbreviations lack dots (especially since this avoids momentary confusion with sentence-ending full stops). These Latin widgets are in a category of their own, and are so entrenched with their dots, and so short and unassuming in lower case, that we should stay with well-established tradition.
  • On whether we should advocate use of natural English, I differ from Tony in this way: etc., e.g., i.e, and perhaps one or two others are natural English – especially as it is used in reference texts even of modest standing. These are not mere fads – like as per, whose proliferation portends the end of Western Civilisation, as far as I'm concerned. Go for natural English, but don't be fetishistic about it. (Yes, I know I dance extended baroque tropes myself; that's just my way, though. Indulge me: I know how to do it without stumbling. Usually.)
  • On standardising what I have called "mechanical" text-styling of in quotes (above, this topic), both CMOS and OGS have something to say. Neither addresses altering the style of Latin abbreviations specifically, but we can get some useful authority and guidance from them all the same. For a start, let's note that both prefer not to italicise them. (CMOS says with typical folly, at 15.45, that "abbreviations and symbols such as those listed in the following two paragraphs rarely appear in running text", and then proceeds to use e.g. in running text!) Now, consider this, from CMOS:

11.9 Typographic style

Elements of typography that were imposed not by the original author but by the original publisher or typesetter need not, and often should not, be reproduced exactly, as long as the intent and emphasis of the original style are maintained. For example, the typeface or font should be changed to agree with the surrounding text. Words in full capitals in the original may be set in small caps. [...]

Since styling of Latin abbreviations is not imposed by authors but by typesetters on instructions from publishers, CMOS clearly permits or even requires changing the style in the quoted material to conform with the surrounding text. There are similar rulings in OGS (at 8.1.1, for the zealous); and while it is slightly harder to extract a specific judgement for Latin abbreviations from OGS, the spirit of 8.1.1 is in accord with the CMOS section quoted above.
  • Given these considerations, I would want our guideline to require that quoted Latin abbreviations be "normalised". Comments on this? If no one counters the suggestion (with argument, or citation of sources in the league of CMOS and OGS), I'll adjust our guideline accordingly.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 12:15, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the help, Noetica. I just don't want the MOS to tell me I can't remove ie and eg in a sentence with as much convoluted punctuation as that one had. It's much better now (except that it's not based on reliable sources, but that's not a MOS issue :-). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:58, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
Fine, Sandy. I see that there is still a small infelicity in that passage: and where or might be preferable. But the punctuation is clean, now.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 22:02, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
Noetica, please refer to the points I made above at 17:25, 28 November 2007 (UTC). My understanding of the intent of that part of the MOS is to prevent edit wars between people who prefer for example and that is over e.g. and i.e. and vice versa: hence sticking to the original article author's preference, in much the same way as the policy of dealing with English spelling variants. As far as I'm aware, it did not attempt to make policy on the treatment of abbreviations occurring within quotations, which is a separate issue. WLDtalk|edits 14:55, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
WLD, those points you are asking me to look at: I assume you mean all of the points you made in your three posts around the same time, yes? Well, I have addressed everything that I thought was on-topic, in a very large posting! But OK, here we go. I made this suggestion, which I would still endorse, with some alteration:

Abbreviations of Latin terms such as "i.e." and "e.g.", or unabbreviated Latin terms such as "nota bene" or "vide infra", should be left as the original author wrote them; but they should be not be in italics, even if the original has them in italics. Apart from such quotations, articles intended for a general audience will be more widely understood if English terms such as "that is" and "for example" are used instead.

Now, my comments on your comments:
I respectfully disagree with your proposal, as it subtly alters the meaning.
I don't know what you mean by it, exactly. All I'm proposing that is new is that italics in certain restricted cases (Latin abbreviations) be silently altered to conform to WP style. How can that alter meaning, even subtly? Such italics are imposed automatically according to the publisher's policy, and have nothing to do with meaning. If you mean something other than this, I can't see what it might be. If you are addressing some other proposal than what I have thought you meant, I don't know what that is, either.
[WLD] The text in the current article is now:
Abbreviations of Latin terms such as i.e. and e.g., or the use of the Latin terms in full, such as nota bene, or vide infra, should be left as the original author wrote them. When used in the main text, the abbreviations should normally be in roman rather than italic face. However, articles intended for a general audience will be more widely understood if English terms such as that is and for example are used instead.
[WLD] I think this text is more clear than the text of your proposal, which appears ambiguous to me. The ambiguity as it appeared to me was such that it could be interpreted to apply only to quotations and not to general text.


The actual paragraph in MOS was inserted at a time when some people were actively going through wikipedia articles replacing i.e. and e.g. with that is and for example, and in danger of causing edit wars.
Again, I can't see how this engages with my proposed small changes to the paragraph in MOS. I do not propose giving a licence to substitute for editors' use of i.e., and the rest. I only say that English terms are more readily understood. Since then (in my recent long post, to which you have not responded), I have allowed that some of these Latin abbreviations are themselves naturalised into English.
[WLD]Since you "do not propose giving a licence to substitute for editors' use of i.e., and the rest.", I'm happy.
It struck me that the preference for that is over i.e. was akin to the preferences for American or English spelling variants, so a suitable policy was to allow original authors of articles to choose whether they preferred the i.e. or that is style.
Fine by me! Do I say otherwise? I use these myself. Nevertheless, it remains true in general that natural English is better than imports inelegantly grafted into a text.
[WLD] Ah, well, we are in violent agreement then. As for "natural English is better than imports inelegantly grafted into a text", I would say that natural English does vary from person to person, as does what people might regard as elegant. I think we would agree that there is no 'one true English', so being overly prescriptive (or even proscriptive) will tend to alienate authors.
In other words, it was not simply re-iterating the sensible policy of not making editorial adjustments to quotations.
No. Should it have? That is an overarching guideline, to be made elsewhere. All the same, we do (yes, even you do) and should make certain slight "editorial adjustments", as CMOS and OGS and everyone else permits. The only question concerns the extent of such adjustments. I have argued at length, with citations, concerning this. And you have not addressed my argument.
[WLD] Actually, now that I believe I understand what your proposal actually intended, I have no general objection to it. There may of course be exceptional cases where your recommendation should not apply (I can't identify one now, but it would be relatively easy to construct a pathological example). I apologise for misunderstanding.
If you look back in the MOS talk page history (I don't have the reference to hand) you'll see the debate that took place, and the paragraph as currently written was what was acceptable to those who cared in that particular debate. I firmly believe there is a place for Latin abbreviations in this encyclopædia, and would strongly contend that full stops (periods) should be used in the abbreviations. ie and eg are abominations.
Do you think I disagree? I don't! Have you read and understood the points I have made? I can't tell! I am making a new points, see?
[WLD] Is that "see" at the end indication of a Welsh connection? I think I have read and understood now. Mea culpa.
If I have missed your intention entirely, and you are not addressing my proposal, please note: it is best first to address an editor by name, so that in the complicated and seething threads of discussion we generate one can still find what is referred to.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 22:46, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
[WLD] Point taken. The practice of indenting quoted text, and indenting comments seems to clash here. You solved it by ex-denting [<-neologism alert], but it made subsequent comments difficult. I hope I've made my answers sufficiently clear. WLDtalk|edits 20:38, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
Fine, WLD. That's all clear. You might like to look at how others have marked up their contributions, and positioned their comments. It can get a bit tricky: but there are ways of keeping things orderly. Note that we don't use such tags as <i>, and that ligatures like your æ in encyclopædia are best avoided, so that content can be picked up easily in a search. Discuss more at my talk page, if you like.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 22:57, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
Apologies Noetica, I had forgotten the use of '' to italicise. I contribute to many web discussion forums, and most of them allow such markup. I usually remember Wikipedia is different, so this was a slip up on my part. Our views on the use of ligatures differ. WLDtalk|edits 00:06, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Diminutives and nicknames

A small-beans matter, but a perpetual (if barely perceptual) thorn in my side is that we don't yet have consistent way of handling diminutives and nicknames. The issue in a nutshell: Should it be:

Both styles are in wide evidence. My take (I don't have guideline-worthy language yet; dead tired, and have a lot to do tomorrow, well technically later today) is that the diminutive (or derived nickname, e.g. "Jack" from "John") should follow the name segment to which it applies, and be in parentheses, while unrelated nicknames ("Shark", "Hotlips", etc.) should come immediately before the surname, and that such pure nicknames should be in "scare quotes", while. If the nickname also relates to the real name, it goes immediately after the real name. Thus:

I don't want to address anything beyond this just yet; there are variances that need to be accounted for. I just want to seek consensus on this basic convention. I have been using it intuitively here for over two years, with maybe 10-15 reverts, usually to something like "Jane Parkins (Janey) Unkshuss" from "Jane (Janey) Parkins Unkshuss" (i.e., diminutive at end, regardless of relation to name; sometimes vice versa in that an editor always wants it after first given name, even if related to a later one), or to "Carlos (Mariposa) Rodriguez" from "Carlos 'Mariposa' Rodriguez" (i.e., always parens not quotes; sometimes vice versa). NB: I'm happy that we should come to a tentative consensus on this quickly, but we should not put whatever it ends up being into MOS without seeking input from WikiProject Biography, since it will impact them more than anyone else. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 17:07, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

Wouldn’t that be Angus J. MacHeath ‘Mack the Knife’? That to show it’s not always easy to decide even if you got specific rules (same for Angus ‘Angry’ J. vs. Angus (Angry) J. vs. Angus J. ‘Angry’). Other than that I think your style is reasonable, because it often is hard to decide – especially with US Americans – whether the middle part belongs to the first or the last, e.g. in George Walker Bush the middle part is taken from he mother’s family name, but some boys have it as their regular first name, so one could argue for both George (Dubya) Walker Bush (nickname after firstname) and George Walker ‘Dubya’ Bush (nickname after the part it’s derived from).
I prefer single quote marks for this purpose, as you may have noticed, but I can live with double quotes either. Christoph Päper 12:30, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm in favour of a well defined style, assuming there is not one already. I have no particular preference as to what that style should be. I hope it will be clearly documented, so people are able to decode the rendition of names.WLDtalk|edits 21:02, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
By the way, I'm a little concerned by your threat in your penultimate example. While it is obviously not meant to be taken seriously, it could be taken out of context, and some people professionally have no sense of humour (or perhaps I should say 'humor'). I'm thinking of the U.S. Secret Service and their predilection to investigate any threat against the President of the United States, no matter how trivial seeming e.g. [2], [3]. Should we warn POTUS not to call you 'Stanley'? WLDtalk|edits 21:02, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

Wikilinks

This is odd:

Initial capitalization: The MediaWiki software automatically renders wikilinks with an upper-case initial character; therefore, a linked item should not be rendered with an initial capital letter in article text solely because it is linked. Linked items that begin sentences or are proper nouns should be capitalized as normal.

It is not exactly that the software renders the link with an initial capital: it interprets it that way. Our text currently suggests that the software converts the appearance of the link, which it does not. Guidelines elsewhere are permissive about capping these links; but I think this is a mistake. There is a difference between an incidental link, as when one wishes to gloss a word or a phrase (in the course of discussing diatonic harmony, say) and when one wants to link explicitly to an article by its name:

See Diatonic and chromatic.

Does anyone really think it makes no difference in this case whether or not we capitalise? I propose this guideline instead:

Initial capitalization: The MediaWiki software automatically interprets wikilinks with an upper-case initial character, so there is no need to capitalize the first letter simply to make a successful link. Only capitalize the first letter where this is naturally called for, or when specifically referring to the linked article by its name:

Snakes are often venomous, but lizards only rarely. (See Poison.)

– Noetica♬♩Talk 04:17, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

My fault, earlier today. Do you want to do the honours? Tony (talk) 07:34, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
Agreed on all points, but "The MediaWiki software automatically interprets wikilinks with an upper-case initial character" is still likely to be confusing to people who are not computer scientists. Maybe "Wikipedia's MediaWiki software does not require that wikilinks begin with an upper-case character, so..." — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 14:10, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

Total mess apparent in the "Style guide" template on the right-hand side

This template displays the list we're used to on the right-hand side of MOS. Perhaps this entry should appear at the template talk page, but it involves much more than the template.

There are three categories listed in the template: Supplementary manuals, Special article styles, and Other guidance.

All pages in the first category announce that they're part of MOS.

All pages in the second category are part of MOS, except that some are only proposed as being part of MOS.

The third category contains a mish-mash of pages that announce variously that they're part of MOS, style guidelines, editing guidelines, or appear to belong to none of these categories.

Apart from demonstrating what a mess the macro-organisation of MOS, guidelines and help pages is in, I think at the very least, these three categories should be properly organised on the styleguide template that appears on the right-hand side of MOS pages.

I'm very confused about why there are so many categories, why they're mixed up in the list, and why they don't consistently use the same list themselves. What it must be like for newbies doesn't bear thinking about.

These pages announce that they're part of MOS:

These pages define themselves as "style guidelines":

These pages define themselves as "editing guidelines" and use a "Wikipedia guidelines" list that includes lots of pages that aren't listed on the style-guide template that MOS uses:

These are neither part of MOS nor style nor editing guidelines:

Tony (talk) 15:38, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

Wow. This is going to take a while to sort out and clean up. My initial take is that anything that is still a proposal should be immediately removed from this template, as it gives undue gravity to ideas that may be a long way from consensus. Beyond that, no specific comments for now; I'm working on something (not WP), so I can't spare any wetware CPU cycles on this; hopefully some other regulars here can. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 16:17, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

Rename

Proposal

I seek consensus here that Template:Style-guideline be renamed Template:Manual of Style.

This would reflect the function of the template (redirect to be added to deal with back-compatibility). At the moment, we have a profusion of similar template names: the others are via Template:Subcat_guideline, where editors fill in "editing guideline" or "style guideline" at their whim. This itself is an uneasy distinction. (See the list above for the lack of logic in these categorisations. Stub is a style guideline, and Categorization is an editing guideline. But this can be dealt with later.) Tony (talk) 03:27, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

Support



Oppose


Overhaul of the so-called Style Template

I've acted on the organisational mess detailed above, at least on the surface, by re-organising the list we see at the top-right of MOS and (most of) the submanuals.

Here's the diff. Tony (talk) 04:40, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

I believe the reason the {{Style}} template was so messy, is that it was originally just a list of the most commonly needed submanuals/guidelines (Similar to how {{guideline list}} and {{policy list}} only include a small handful of each, and as discussed at their respective talkpages). Erratic additions/maintenance, and no instructions, led to the Style template's bad state. See earlier diff: [4] which is exactly half the size of the current.
It might be a good idea to resurrect this intent, trim down the list, and just have Category:Wikipedia guidelines/Wikipedia:List of guidelines as the complete listings. ? -- Quiddity (talk) 06:48, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
Or remove all but MOS pages from it? Tony (talk) 08:36, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

MOS and NCA

[Forking this into a separate thread, though it relates to the discussion immediately above in part.] The WP:MOS (and subpages) versus WP:NCA (and related naming conventions) disjuncture not only needs to be resolved, but is at multiple levels. Two minor examples are the IUPAC-related article naming stuff in WP:MOS itself (arguably misplaced) and a {{Unresolved}}-flagged US/U.S. naming issue at WT:MOSABBR. The short version is that for now MOS should defer to and refer to NCA on article naming, while NCA should do vice versa with regard to article prose, and neither should even bother to summarize what the other says, but instead cross-reference, or the two documents will inevitably become more and more out-of-synch. In the longer term, and inter-guideline meeting of minds has to happen so that what MOS recommends for prose and NCA recommends for article names are consistent. I suggest that we first resolve the "cross-advising" problem, by replacing all naming advice in MOS with cross-references to NCA's appropriate sections (add span link targets if necessary), and do the opposite with NCA, replacing any prose advice in it with cross-ref links to the proper Manual of Style parts. I have a strong suspicion that the second part, getting NCA and MOS to agree across-the-board, will take much more effort and time, though I think it is plausible to actually do it eventually and mostly keep it that way. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 16:37, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

So I guess the first step would be to identify the sections at issue on both pages, ponder it, then post a note at NCA talk. Tony (talk) 03:50, 29 November 2007 (UTC)


Commonwealth English ligatures

Okay, so the British (and Australians, etc.) prefer the more-Greeky spelling of a whole lot of words (foetus, paedophile, etc.), and we're all fine with that. Should these be done as I've given them, or with the ligatures that appear in many articles (œ, æ)? My initial take on this is that they should not be done with the ligatures, unless speakers of dialects would be likely to misinterpret them, as would be the case of "ae" after "c", as in "septicaemia" (which looks like "septikaemia" to North Americans, and probably some others like Liberians, Jamaicans, Trinidadians, etc.), but making an inverse exception for "cae" words that are spelled that way in all dialects (Caesar, caecilian, etc.):

I.e. do no use the ligature except when geuinely needed, but do use it in that case. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 16:20, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

I don't understand why you wish to proscribe the use of ligatures other than for the exceptions you note. My personal view is that they should be allowable, and if anything, gently encouraged, as they give a visual link back into the etymology of the words in question. My personal view would be to vastly prefer mediæval, encyclopædia, -rhœa, œstrus over renditions that do not include the ligatures. They are easily available from the picklist under the edit-box after all. There is no proscription in written English against ligatures as far as I know - in fact, many people use the ampersand without realising it is (or was) a ligature. In typographical usages, there are many ligatures used to replace letter combinations that have an initial 'f'. We may wish to consider gently encouraging such use as well, on the basis that as time progresses, Wikipedia is likely to be viewed on higher resolution devices than existing screens where typographical considerations will become more noticeable.
At the very least, I would hope the decision to use, or not use ligatures can be left to individual author preference. "When it is not necessary to make a decision/rule it is necessary not to make a decision/rule". Regards, WLDtalk|edits 20:13, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

I agree with the use of the ligature, for precisely the reason that SMcCandlish gave. It's distressing to see "medieval" in articles on British/English subjects. --Malleus Fatuorum 23:07, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

But not as distessing as "Mediæval æra", or would aphæresis be excepted? --ROGER DAVIES talk 23:25, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
I strongly agree with SMcCandlish on this matter. When I first started at Wikipedia I think I once spelt encyclopædia with a ligature, and I wake in fright at 3:00 am thinking it may still be lurking somewhere. I have since reformed.
Ligatures are a typographical variation; many of them are fine for printed text, but all are a complete nuisance in web documents – especially dynamic HTML documents like our articles, which moreover are intended to be easily searched. Ligatures disable all of that. Major guides (including the very British OGS, which recommends undoing them even in bibliographic work) are against these diphthong ligatures, with rare exceptions like æ in Anglo-saxon text (where they would be used along with đ and þ, and the like). I will resist any effort to permit any ligatures at all in Wikipedia, other than in those exceptional cases; and I recommend that MOS specifically exclude them. Do it, SMcCandlish.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 23:46, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
Typography will become increasingly important for Wikipedia as the text of articles is displayed on increasingly higher resolution screens. It is appropriate (in my opinion) to allow for that future occurrence. Google quite happily returns results for variant spellings giving a spelling using a ligature, so it is not beyond the wit of Wiki search to do the same - we should not be solving technical problems by altering the text of articles - let the cpu do the work, not the editors. Again, I feel this is an area where individual contributor preference should be given full sway, rather than trying to be overly prescriptive. WLDtalk|edits 00:25, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Quite.:) --Malleus Fatuorum 00:38, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Many North American writers also use the rather ugly -ize form of words such as "patronize". Whether that's "seeing the light" or not is a matter of opinionization. :) --Malleus Fatuorum 04:48, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree on the ize issue: so many exceptions to learn, too. But some US innovations are damned good (single, not doubled L in traveling, for example). I try to see it in a non-POV way. Tony (talk) 05:02, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
I wouldn't disagree; but what I was suggesting was that "seeing the light" is hardly "non-POV". --Malleus Fatuorum 05:37, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
I am in favo[u]r of a single ruleset for spelling on Wikipedia, but as long as we do not have that, there is no need to disallow æ and œ, although they are not necessary in English. There is a need to disallow purely stylistic ligatures, e.g. of fi. These should be done automatically by the text renderer (using a smart font) and not hardcoded by authors; those included in Unicode are merely there for compatibility with previous standards.
Some used the search argument against typographic quotes, but for some reason it seems not to be a reason against variant spellings. (The search problem actually has several aspects of which only some apply to each field.)
It’s a little strange to read Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia or Wikipedia is an encyclopædia, though.
PS: Isn’t a pedophile a feet-lover? Christoph Päper 17:35, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
That would be "podophile"—Greek root.--Curtis Clark 17:55, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Christoph, forgive me a harsh-sounding observation. You write that "there is no need to disallow æ and œ", but when you do so you are simply not responding to the sound points that others have made: here and in discussions to which you were party earlier. There are reasons to disallow them: they impede searching (and may therefore even result in inadvertent duplication of whole articles!); they are very difficult for subsequent editors of an article to match for uniformity; they are archaic, and never required in rendering any modern English word. The question that does remain is this: Which reasons should prevail as more weighty, resulting in what policy? If we oversimplify, we prolong discussion needlessly, and reach no satisfactory end.
Quite right, Curtis: podophile. And poderast, for the more advanced fetishists. But let's not take podantics too far.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 20:29, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
I won’t fight hard for them, but if every variant of modern English is okay for use on Wikipedia – which really affects searching –, this includes not only styles using e or ae/oe but also æ/œ. If we wanted to settle on one of them I’d vote for ae/oe, because of etymology (except for fetus).
I just did a small test of automatic ligation by AAT with the Apple Chancery font in Text Edit: set to use normal ligatures (the default), fi is converted but ae is not; set to use all ligatures, ae is displayed like æ (and st, ll etc. are changed too). I expect Open Type to deliver similar results. Hardcoding avoids false positives in automatic ligation, of course, which otherwise probably would require the use of zero-width non-joiner.
So, although browsers – to my knowledge – don’t support smart font techniques yet, it seems better not to encourage the use of æ and œ, but as long as we do not prefer ae/oe over e or vice versa I don’t support disallowing æ/œ. That means let’s file it under instruction creep. Christoph Päper 14:20, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Christoph wrote "There is a need to disallow purely stylistic ligatures, e.g. of fi. These should be done automatically by the text renderer (using a smart font) and not hardcoded by authors; those included in Unicode are merely there for compatibility with previous standards." - I was not aware they are included in Unicode merely for compatibility. I therefore withdraw my suggestion we should gently encourage their use. WLDtalk|edits 20:55, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Noetica wrote "...they [ligatures] impede searching...": I contend again that they do not if the search engine is doing its job properly. Google gets it right, there is no reason Wikipedia cannot also. I still strongly believe we should not make changes to articles merely to accommodate technical deficiencies in the MediaWiki software. WLDtalk|edits 20:55, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
WLD, you wrote that I wrote: "...they [ligatures] impede searching..."; and you commented: "I contend again that they do not if the search engine is doing its job properly". To this I reply as the Spartan ephors did: "If." We live in a world in which neither Wikipedia's search facility nor most browsers' search facilities will find encyclopaedia when you search for encyclopædia, or vice versa. Should this be fixed? Yes. Is there a reasonable way to raise this for discussion and reform at Wikipedia? No, only incredibly arduous ways. Is there much understanding of this and similar issues here among MOS editors? Some, but not much. Is there a will to work together to argue for reform of the search system? No: no more than there is a will to work for the most modest improvements to the geeky and unfriendly editing system and markup system in Wikipedia.
Ligatures may be useful in stable display text in web documents, but they have no place in dynamic, democratic editing environments like Wikipedia. The case against them is similar to, but even stronger than, the case against curly quote marks and apostrophes. And these cases are laid out in generous detail above. Finally, the use of ligatures is independent of spelling qua catenation of letters to make up a word; so the issue of generally British diphthongs versus generally American single vowels is not affected at all by any consideration concerning ligatures.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 01:01, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, I have to admit that even though from an aesthetic view point I do prefer encyclopaedia (with or without the ligature), I am persuaded by your argument. --Malleus Fatuorum 01:08, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, Malleus Fatuorum. (Nice Latin handle: don't ever italicise it!) Myself, I use British forms like encyclopaedia in talk, but conform to American usage in articles that cleave to it, so I find myself typing in encyclopedia, color, and period a lot. Not so hard, after the teeth-gritting first few times. But if I ever start writing as per, overly, whilst, or thusly, you can take me outside and shoot me.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 01:20, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
You noticed. I have no problem admitting when I might, just possibly, be wrong. :) --Malleus Fatuorum 01:27, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Noetica, you wrote "We live in a world in which neither Wikipedia's search facility nor most browsers' search facilities will find encyclopaedia when you search for encyclopædia, or vice versa.". That is factually, and demonstrably incorrect. I have just executed searches for encyclopædia and encyclopaedia in Firefox 2.0.0.11 and Internet Explorer 6.0.<lots of detail> using the default, built in search, which in the case of Firefox is Google, and in the case of Internet Explorer is Microsoft Live Search. In both cases, searching for encyclopædia retrieved results matching encyclopaedia. Live Search enquired whether I meant encyclopedia. The reverse was also true, searching for encyclopaedia produce result including encyclopædia. I beleive that covers the majority of browsers with their default search mechanisms. It is Wikipedia's search engine that fails. AS for "Is there a reasonable way to raise this for discussion and reform at Wikipedia?", the answer most definitely is yes. The failing can be regarded as a bug, and a bug can be raised against the MediaWiki software. The use of ligatures is distinctly separate to the discussion over the use or non-use of curly quote marks: that is typography; whereas the use of the æ and œ ligatures is variant spelling, if not pronunciation. Wikipedia accommodates variant spellings, these are simple additional variants to be accommodated. No additional rules are necessary in this case. Note that any case you make against them is also usable against the letters ä,ë,ö, and ü which are more easily formed by many of our authors as ae, ee, oe and ue as they do not have the appropriate letters easily available on their keyboards: should we be mandating the digraphs in those cases as well? Recommending against the use of the ligatures æ and œ is bazarre and and example of excissve rule making. WLDtalk|edits 18:13, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Just to clarify: The point of this proposal is that the ligature versions are simply redundant and obsolete, for the same reasons that we no longer write "to-morrow", "rôle" or "coöperate", or "Congreſs" – but with the sole exception of "ae"/"æ" before "c" when "c" is pronounced "s" and the word is (unlike Caesar, caecilian, etc.) sometimes spelled without the "e" (or the e-half of the ligature), which is the case with "septicæmia". I want to reiterate that I am not militating against "ae"/"oe" spellings in general; this is not an US vs. UK English issue, but a issue of typography that is archaic and doesn't serve any particular purpose in Modern English. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 20:22, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Exactly, SMcCandlish.
WLD, you wrote this: Noetica, you wrote "We live in a world in which neither Wikipedia's search facility nor most browsers' search facilities will find encyclopaedia when you search for encyclopædia, or vice versa.". That is factually, and demonstrably incorrect.
But you have misunderstood, in such a way that your subsequent remarks become largely irrelevant.
A browser's search facility is its inbuilt system for finding text in the displayed page. The web-searching facilities that you mention are not tied to the browser – at least not so commonly that they deserve the description a browser's search facility. For example, Firefox may have Google grafted into it, or it may have others instead, at the user's choice.
If you use CONTROL-F in a browser to search the displayed document for encyclopædia, your search will not retrieve encyclopaedia, and vice versa. The same is true in Word, and other major applications. This is not trivial! I, for example, sometimes have the complete text of a novel displayed, and need to search it for a particular phrase or word. If ligatures are used, the task is hugely more difficult. But I, unlike some of the users whose needs we serve, am at least aware of the problem and can usually work around it.
It is true that Google and other web-search facilities overcome this problem, and of course I did not dispute this when you raised it earlier. To be effective and competitive they have had to overcome it: the coding and setting of text on the web is very diverse, and no one can rein it in to a single standard. But we can keep things orderly and friendly to users and editors, in the more limited domain of Wikipedia. It would be irresponsible not to do so.
You write: The use of ligatures is distinctly separate to the discussion over the use or non-use of curly quote marks: that is typography; whereas the use of the æ and œ ligatures is variant spelling, if not pronunciation. This is plain wrong. Must I give chapter and verse of major style guides to show it? Except in highly specialised cases (one of which I have mentioned – the Anglo-saxon æ), use of ligatures is a typographical choice. It may be undone or redone as required, in accord with the styling decisions for the entire work. Even then, in bibliographic records publishers typically do not use the æ ligature in a work's title, even if the title has that ligature elsewhere in the same text. Some guides are still more restrictive. This is from CMOS:
7.48 Use of ligatures
The ligatures æ (a+e) and œ (o+e) should not be used in Latin or transliterated Greek words. Nor should they be used in words adopted into English from Latin, Greek, or French (and thus to be found in English dictionaries).
[...]
The ligature æ (along with other special characters) is, however, needed for spelling Old English words in an Old English context. And the ligature œ is needed for spelling French words in a French context (see 10.41). (Underlining is mine.)
You write: Note that any case you make against them is also usable against the letters ä,ë,ö, and ü which are more easily formed by many of our authors as ae, ee, oe and ue as they do not have the appropriate letters easily available on their keyboards: should we be mandating the digraphs in those cases as well? Well indeed, style guides do make recommendations about these; we might have to look at them also. A good convention is to use the common two-letter form for names like Arnold Schoenberg, but have a redirect from Arnold Schönberg. We do that; and we should do it more consistently. Though we can't allow for every contingency, we can do a lot; and we minimise the difficulties if we set up sound principles to start with.
The principles that already have general acceptance here, for ligatures, are no more "bizarre" than the sound principles developed in the major guides. And we have to be even more restrictive than they are, because unlike them we are concerned with web style, and with democratically edited text.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 20:49, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Sigh. I'm tired, I'm on a punishing schedule, and a long way from home. I'm tired of arguing, so I give up. I don't agree with you, but I'm worn down. The Chicago Manual of Style is by no means the ne plus ultra of style guides. Whether οἱ πολλοί will be grateful for the, to my mind, relentless choosing of uncultured and often inelegant styles of expression in articles, I do not know. For me, it makes Wikipedia less like an encyclopædia and more like a child's instruction book, earnest and over-simple. Elegant, apposite, well-structured prose is difficult to write, and I know I do it badly. It looks like the audience that the Wikipedia δῆμος is aiming for does not include me, which I regret. You apparently consider yourself more in tune with the wishes of the crowd and do not appear to be open to compromise, so let it be. WLDtalk|edits 21:44, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
WLD, if you want to withdraw from the discussion, do so. But do so graciously and without asperity. For the record:
  • I have never said, and do not think, and have often and strenuously denied, that CMOS is the final arbiter of anything at all. I often hold it up to ridicule, in fact. It is, though, an important point of reference.
  • Again and again I have said, in this forum and elsewhere, that ligatures, curly quotes, and their sophisticated associates are elegant and valuable. But I have argued – cogently and systematically, as I think – that they are simply a nuisance at Wikipedia.
  • I do not consider myself normally "in tune with the wishes of the crowd", and very often fight on an unpopular side in Wikipedia forums. But it so happens that in this case most editors, once the facts and the pros and cons are laid before them, dismiss these features that belong in well-made books but travel badly when imported here.
  • I am open to compromise. We all have to be! But not just any compromise. The fact that I am tough on ligatures does not brand me as one not open to compromise.
  • My arguing well should not count against me, any more than your arguing well should count against you. I respect your competence – and your deep and broad knowledge. You can see, I think, that I am equipped to recognise it.
Finally, I am continuing to evaluate my own commitment to the improvement of MOS, and of Wikipedia as a whole. It is extremely hard to make durable and systematic improvements, and I am tired of chipping away at particulars. So are many others. Meanwhile, it's all extremely interesting: psychologically, sociologically, politically, and of course... νοητικῶς!
All best wishes to you.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 01:32, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Highways MOS

There is currently a discussion at WT:HWY#Manual of Style to [first] see if a word usage guideline is needed. 哦, 是吗?(User:O) 20:27, 01 December 2007 (GMT)

Changes concerning treatment of Latin terms

Latin abbreviations were discussed above. A great deal was said, and I announced that I would make certain changes if no one objected. I have now done so, with this result:

Latin terms and abbreviations

Articles on popular, non-scholarly topics may be more widely understood if English indications such as "that is" and "for example" are used instead of their Latin equivalents.

Latin terms (such as "etc.", "nota bene", "vide infra") should not be in italics. Abbreviations of Latin terms should have all of their conventional periods ("i.e." and "e.g."; not "ie" or "eg", and not "ie." or "eg.").

In quotations, the conventional use of periods may be imposed for uniformity, and italicizing should be removed. (These "silent" editorial changes of styling are standard practice, and almost always purely editorial. But where such textual detail is relevant, or in the very rare cases where meaning would somehow be affected, original styling should be retained.)

I have gone further than I had proposed, and I expect some objections. Let me pre-empt some of them:

– Noetica♬♩Talk 23:26, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

Noetica, I have reverted your changes, not because I disagree outright with the entirety, but because I think all changes to the MOS should be discussed. I suggest:
  1. "...popular, non-scholarly..." is replaced simply by "non-scholarly"
  2. I believe we discussed whether Latin abbreviations should be in italics or not, not entire words or phrases. I believe current consensus on Wikipedia is to italicise foreign terms, and understand Latin is regarded as a foreign term. I don't think you have agreement and/or consensus for that particular recommendation. I have reread the discussions on the talk page, so if I missed where that was agreed, I shall reach into my increasingly depleted store of apologies.
WLDtalk|edits 00:15, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
WLD, the specific text that I earlier proposed made mention of more than Latin abbreviations: it also covered unabbreviated Latin like "vide infra". Anyway, you have reverted the whole. Now I call for discussion of the text that you have reverted:

Latin terms and abbreviations

Articles on popular, non-scholarly topics may be more widely understood if English indications such as "that is" and "for example" are used instead of their Latin equivalents.

Latin terms (such as "etc.", "nota bene", "vide infra") should not be in italics. Abbreviations of Latin terms should have all of their conventional periods ("i.e." and "e.g."; not "ie" or "eg", and not "ie." or "eg.").

In quotations, the conventional use of periods may be imposed for uniformity, and italicizing should be removed. (These "silent" editorial changes of styling are standard practice, and almost always purely editorial. But where such textual detail is relevant, or in the very rare cases where meaning would somehow be affected, original styling should be retained.)

There it is. I now put exactly this same text up for discussion. I call for editors to show where it is unreasonable, exactly how, and what specific changes of wording they prepose instead. Let's work it out here, before posting. I accept that happily! To kick things off, and to keep things in good order, I post again the points I made in support of my changes, but with labels this time:
  • NA. [The label stands for Noetica A] The heading is now accurate, since we don't only deal with abbreviations.
  • NB. The order of points is now logical, so the intention is unlikely to be misunderstood.
  • NC. "Indications" is a good word to use at least once, since that is what these terms are. We don't want to encompass just any Latin phrase, like "jus primae noctis".
  • ND. It is wise to make points separately about punctuation and italics, choosing examples that correctly show the scope of each point.
  • NE. Best to omit specific links like i.e., since they are not needed and they obscure the message in this case.
  • NF. The truly pernicious forms are "eg." and "ie.", which in my experience have quite some currency. Given that such forms are substandard, and that major style guides normally recommend silently correcting such things in quotations, there is no reason for us not to do the same.
  • NG. Taking this further, style guides normally call for silent alteration of merely editorial styling. Clearly italicising of Latin indications is in that category, as covered in detail in the earlier discussion. But the punctuation of these Latin abbreviations is also merely editorial. Logically, then, we should at least permit alteration of that for conformity, also. After all, the forms "e.g." and "i.e." are overwhelmingly accepted as the only correct forms by most publishers and guides, and the whole four-character structure "e.g." is best taken as a unitary entity, subject to editorial variation and control. Why depart from sound practice adopted by professionals? Only for a good reason; and I think there is no good reason, in this case.
And I now respond to some points made by WLD:

[suggestion that] "...popular, non-scholarly..." [be] replaced simply by "non-scholarly"

Your reason for this? Popular, non-scholarly delimits a range clearly and unambiguously. Why do you prefer some other range? Do you seek to omit text that is both popular and non-scholarly from the range? Why?
[WLD]Because I see no need to dumb down scholarly articles if they are popular. WLDtalk|edits 21:10, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

I believe we discussed whether Latin abbreviations should be in italics or not, not entire words or phrases. I believe current consensus on Wikipedia is to italicise foreign terms, and understand Latin is regarded as a foreign term.

As I say, I proposed for discussion text that included non-abbreviated Latin indicators indications also. See also my points NC and NG. Your arguments, then, for italicising in the special case of Latin indicators indications that are on a par with i.e. and e.g., as opposed to Latin phrases such as mea culpa, which are in quite a different category? (No, I've no Welsh connexion [sic], since you ask. Try Irish.)
[WLD] Well, I reread again, and obviously misinterpreted what you wrote. I am in favour of italicising non-English text - not least because it indicates to the reader that the typesetter has not made a mistake. In addition, it also serves to remove ambiguity: for example, if the word 'vice' is written, italicising it indicates that it is not the English 'vice' (and I don't mean flagellation) but the Latin ' vice '. We may well also get into trouble quoting from and discussing legal articles, where the fairly strictly prescribed format includes italicisation of many, if not most Latin terms. I say again that I don't think is it necessary to make a rule, but simply to require consistency within any particular article. WLDtalk|edits 21:10, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

I have reread the discussions on the talk page, so if I missed where that was agreed, I shall reach into my increasingly depleted store of apologies.

No need to apologise! Let's just have a discussion where points made are indeed noted, the discussion is kept orderly, and we achieve durable, reasoned guidelines – based on established sound practice, but modified by analysis that is sensitive to the needs of the Wikipedia environment. You have not answered points I made earlier, nor those that I have laid out clearly more recently. Please do, and I'll respond to yours. Others will join in too, I'm sure.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 05:22, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
[WLD continues:]

NA. [The label stands for Noetica A] The heading is now accurate, since we don't only deal with abbreviations.

[WLD] OK. Accepted.

NB. The order of points is now logical, so the intention is unlikely to be misunderstood.

[WLD] No objection.

NC. "Indications" is a good word to use at least once, since that is what these terms are. We don't want to encompass just any Latin phrase, like "jus primae noctis".

[WLD]I profess ignorance here. Can you point to a good (preferably online) reference to the definition of an indication? I'm in a different country to my reference library right now.

ND. It is wise to make points separately about punctuation and italics, choosing examples that correctly show the scope of each point.

[WLD] Agreed

NE. Best to omit specific links like i.e., since they are not needed and they obscure the message in this case.

[WLD] Don't agree. Links cost little and aid the unknowledgeable reader.

NF. The truly pernicious forms are "eg." and "ie.", which in my experience have quite some currency. Given that such forms are substandard, and that major style guides normally recommend silently correcting such things in quotations, there is no reason for us not to do the same.

[WLD] I profess unease here. I would add a caveat along the lines of "...so long as it does not change the sense or meaning of the quotation."

NG. Taking this further, style guides normally call for silent alteration of merely editorial styling. Clearly italicising of Latin indications is in that category, as covered in detail in the earlier discussion. But the punctuation of these Latin abbreviations is also merely editorial. Logically, then, we should at least permit alteration of that for conformity, also. After all, the forms "e.g." and "i.e." are overwhelmingly accepted as the only correct forms by most publishers and guides, and the whole four-character structure "e.g." is best taken as a unitary entity, subject to editorial variation and control. Why depart from sound practice adopted by professionals? Only for a good reason; and I think there is no good reason, in this case.

[WLD]I disagree with 'clearly' here. If I understand your use of 'indications' correctly, it is a portmanteau term encompassing both abbreviations and 'stock' Latin phrases. I believe they can, and should, be handled separately. I agree that it is unnecessary to italicise initialisms, but abbreviations formed by curtation or other word-mangling, and whole words, in my view, should be italicised. The reason is that it aids legibility by indicating to the reader that he or she should not attempt to parse the word as English. Legibility is important: we use seriffed minuscule (lower case) text in the vast majority of documents because it is easier to read than majuscule and/or unseriffed text. Punctuation and capitalisation of sentences' inital letters also serve to enhance legibility, as does the clear delineation of words that should be taken out of normal English context. By not italicising foreign terms (including Latin), one would make the text less legible, and less easy to understand at first reading. Such an action would be detrimental to Wikipedia.
WLDtalk|edits 21:41, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Tony, it is not just CMOS that advises such changes in quotations that do not affect meaning or the integrity of the text qua conveyor of meaning. So does OGS. You have the two dominant style guides in the world (American and British, what's more) in agreement, and others agreeing with them. I have asked for good reasons to go against sound established principles; and I have pointed out what others have been (forgive me!) at best dimly aware of: that we all change quotations, in small ways – often without thinking, or recognising that we are doing so. The only real question, as I have also stridently articulated, is what boundaries to set. Fonts? Text-styling? Spaces? All punctuation (including manifestly faulty punctuation)? Ligatures? What is sacrosanct, what is not, and why? Why?
I am calling for new thinking here, and responses to careful analysis that is supported by citations from prime sources. So what if Wikipedia has wanted quotations to be inviolate? We all want that! But we all bend that principle, too. It is impossible to do otherwise; and there is no reason to set the limits in some arbitrary or weak-hearted way, just because we are sqeamish about reform, and tentative in the new environment in which we write and edit. We have to be pioneers here, right? That's what Wikipedia is all about.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 08:43, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, Mr Wales does advocate ignoring all rules [Wikipedia:Ignore all rules]. I also believe we should be able to formulate our own rules rather than simply rehashing ones from 'prime sources'. Wikipedia is different and there are times when convention is probably better ignored. WLDtalk|edits 21:41, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
So what, WLD? You have misrepresented my remarks, despite my articulating things very lucidly. Of course we should not rehash rules from prime sources. I say that too! You are simply not responding to what is before your eyes on your screen. I said:

I have asked for good reasons to go against sound established principles; and I have pointed out what others have been (forgive me!) at best dimly aware of: that we all change quotations, in small ways – often without thinking, or recognising that we are doing so. The only real question, as I have also stridently articulated, is what boundaries to set. Fonts? Text-styling? Spaces? All punctuation (including manifestly faulty punctuation)? Ligatures? What is sacrosanct, what is not, and why? Why?

Plead read with care, and respond to what you read, rather than misrepresenting and responding to some straw man.
I have to go now, but will adress your other points later. Please in future assemble your responses in one place, so that we can keep the discussion orderly – a sine qua non of progress.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:00, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Now, WLD:

[On removing the word popular:] Because I see no need to dumb down scholarly articles if they are popular.

First, it isn't a question of dumbing down at all. It's a question of register. But I still can't make sense of your explanation. The proposal was this:

Articles on popular, non-scholarly topics may be more widely understood if English indications such as "that is" and "for example" are used instead of their Latin equivalents.

So this was about articles whose topics are both popular and non-scholarly. Your removal of popular would have no effect on our treatment of scholarly topics – popular or otherwise!

[WLD's obiter dicta concerning italics for general foreign terms, for Latin, and in the special case of legal writing:] I am in favour of italicising non-English text - not least because it indicates to the reader that the typesetter has not made a mistake.

Fine. I can agree with that, so long as the foreign term is not naturalised as English: a rather hazy matter. In addition, it also serves to remove ambiguity: for example, if the word 'vice' is written, italicising it indicates that it is not the English 'vice' (and I don't mean flagellation) but the Latin ' vice '. But even apart from context disambiguating these sense, Latin vice does not turn up in English text in isolation: it is almost always a part of vice versa, which is – like most Latin tags that have an adverbial role in English – quite naturalised. SOED accordingly gives it no italics. Nor does MW Collegiate. These are two dictionaries that dominate in Britain and the US respectively, and that are appealed to in OGS and CMOS respectively. Sure: don't follow these slavishly, but give cogent arguments for departing from the common practice they enshrine, not just spurious examples like the fragmentary vice. We may well also get into trouble quoting from and discussing legal articles, where the fairly strictly prescribed format includes italicisation of many, if not most Latin terms. Perhaps: legal writing is a special case. The Wikipedia legal articles, though, have many more serious issues than that! I have had to fix basic grammar.

[WLD's More recent remarks:] If I understand your use of 'indications' correctly, it is a portmanteau term encompassing both abbreviations and 'stock' Latin phrases. I believe they can, and should, be handled separately.

Yes, except that I explicitly have excluded general stock phrases (like mea culpa) that do not indicate (point the way) or clarify in a text. (I accidentally typed indicators in one paragraph above. Fixed now.) ::::

...abbreviations formed by curtation or other word-mangling, and whole words, in my view, should be italicised. The reason is that it aids legibility by indicating to the reader that he or she should not attempt to parse the word as English.

But, as I have argued just now, in real cases this is unlikely to occur; in unitalicised but conventionally dotted "i.e." and its mates it is most unlikely to occur. "I.e." has a standard, commonly accepted meaning.

By not italicising foreign terms (including Latin), one would make the text less legible, and less easy to understand at first reading.

Not so, because the items in question – according to standard dictionaries and standard style guides – are phrases that have become part of the stock of ordinary English. If you think otherwise, argue otherwise. Don't just declare it. Your associated remarks about punctuation in general, capitals at the beginnings of sentence, and serifed main text are hardly relevant. We all agree that legibility is important, but you have not shown that italicising these special-category naturalised Latin phrases and abbreviations enhances a text's legibility, per se. It may just as easily encumber the text with superfluous styling, and distract from nearby semantically significant styling.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 12:22, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Noetica, thank-you for your considered and helpful reply. Re: "articles whose topics are both popular and non-scholarly", I see the problem. My habitual reading of "popular, non-scholarly articles" would be that the suggested action would apply to either popular, or non-scholarly, or both popular and non-scholarly articles. This may be because I deal with a lot of comma separated lists where the items are mutually exclusive, for example: For trucks, cars, and motorcycles the toll is $5, for pedestrians, free. It is difficult for something to be a truck and a motorcycle simultaneously. This could be my own individual weirdness, but in case it is not, I would suggest replacing the phrase "popular, non-scholarly" with "both popular and non-scholarly". If a consensus is that this is not necessary, I'm not about to man the battlements.
[Italics] - I think we are edging towards agreement. Many style guides request that foreign terms (including Latin) are italicised, except where "likely to be unfamiliar to the reader", or "have passed into common (as opposed to specifically legal) usage in English", or "Commonly used Latin words should be in plain type", or "If the term is found in Webster's, use roman type. If not in common usage (i.e., not found in Webster’s), place the foreign term in italics the first time it is used. Once the term has appeared in italics and has been defined, it should be placed in roman type thereafter.". Where a Latin phrase or abbreviation has passed into common usage, I'm happy for it not to be italicised. The List of Latin abbreviations attempts to divide abbreviations in more and less common usages (not altogether successfully, I fear). That article may possibly be developed into a reference for which should or should not be italicised. However, there will always be room for discussion about how common a phrase or abbreviation is, so I'd suggest requiring it to be listed as 'common' in several reference works, not solely Webster's and/or OED/SOED. The reason for this is that this is the English language Wikipedia, and the aforesaid reference works have slightly different views which do not always reflect usage globally.
[Legibility, readability, comprehension] "It may just as easily encumber the text with superfluous styling, and distract from nearby semantically significant styling" - that is true. Excessive use of emphasis, whether italics, boldface, underline, or capitalisation is generally regarded as a bad thing, so there is a fine line to be trodden. If we keep the use of italics to the less common phrases and abbreviations (possibly as defined in the List of Latin Abbreviations?), with the possible exception of sic, which some guides claim should always be in italic face due to its unique usage, then we can probably agree on a guideline here. We would probably also need to note the exception for legal topics. If an abbreviation, initialism, acronym, or foreign word or phrase has become part of the 'common' English corpus, then I agree that the use of italic face not necessary. Is your position still that they should all be in plain face?
Regards, WLDtalk|edits 13:22, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
In a nutshell: Keep the use of italics to the less common phrases and abbreviations (possibly as defined in the List of Latin Abbreviations?). Common phrases and abbreviations should be in plain face. Common is as defined by a representative global sample of reference works - that is to say, not just British or Commonwealth biased. WLDtalk|edits 18:21, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Longer version:
  1. NA. The heading is now accurate, since we don't only deal with abbreviations: Right.
  2. NB. The order of points is now logical, so the intention is unlikely to be misunderstood: Right.
  3. NC. "Indications" is a good word to use at least once, since that is what these terms are. We don't want to encompass just any Latin phrase, like "jus primae noctis": Sounds reasonable to me, but will probably want to think on it more.
  4. ND. It is wise to make points separately about punctuation and italics, choosing examples that correctly show the scope of each point: Right.
  5. NE. Best to omit specific links like i.e., since they are not needed and they obscure the message in this case: Yeah, they are just "noise" in this case. In an article, some terms should be linked, others not, on the exact same basis as whether to italicize them or not. I.e. do not link with "i.e." or "versus", do link with quo vadis? or exeunt.
  6. NF/NG. (Permit "silent" corrections of "eg." ⇒ "e.g." punctuation, and un-italicization): WP doesn't need to care very much what CMOS, etc. say on the matter. We just don't mess with quotations. (Mostly - there's an exception, which I get to below.) In the case of quoted instances of "eg." or "ie.", there doesn't seem to be any reason not to just use &#91[sic]] just like we would with any misspelling, instance of bad grammar, or obsolete usage like "to-day", "stonied", "a-riding" or "&c." But, because we already permit case changes (i.e. lowercasing a sentence-initial capital in a quotation, if the quoted sentence is in middle of quoting sentence and is part of the natural flow of that surrounding sentence), I could be swayed on this point. However, because any leeway on making "silent" changes to quotations is highly likely to be a slippery slope, and WP does not have a centralized editorial board, but is instead subject to literally millions of whims, some of them pushing a p.o.v. or even intentionally misrepresenting material, it would be better to remove the silent case-change permissiveness than to expand upon it with additional exceptions At very least on this last point, I think that we should make it clearer that this lower-casing is optional and should not be done if there is any chance of misrepresentation of the original material or any other sort of confusion (but I'm mixing and matching topics here; sorry for the digression).
That's all for now. I'm a bit busy-like, so I have not had time to fully digest all of this thread, and probably won't because as Tony observed it seemed to devolve into a two-editor debate about details, instead of the bigger picture. (No haughty criticism intended; I've had plenty of my own discussions go in that direction!) I'll probably be quiet on this one for a while. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:59, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
There is much useful material in this section; I hope that the sheer volume of it will not consign it to oblivion. I have held off summarising things here, though this is generally a good idea, since I was waiting for one or two other voices to be heard.
Anyway, I now find the slippery slope that SMcCandlish mentions immediately above quite compelling. It is one thing to settle good practice for oneself, or for a captive audience (if you are a traditional publisher), or for editors and writers who voluntarily come under your "tutelage". It is another to make guidelines here at Wikipedia. Pragmatically, if editors respect MOS at all, many will still misread anything that is too subtle, and at best retain only the general tendency of the recommendation. With that in mind, I now favour a guideline that bluntly tends to restrict alterations in quotes. Practically, that will have the best effect. It would be crass and infuriating at CMOS (already crass and infuriating enough!), and contrary to all major style guides, in fact; but for Wikipedia as it now works, this practical way is the best.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 22:28, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

First sentence: two questions

Here are two questions about how to begin an article.

Should the first sentence be a grammatically complete sentence? Some articles start with a fragment that is not a complete sentence. For example, an article might begin "A country in western Europe." (I made that example up to illustrate the idea.) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Fg2 (talkcontribs)

Complete sentence, please. Tony (talk) 10:58, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

When defining a term, should the opening sentence use the term "refers to"? For example, an article might begin "Pine refers to several species of conifers." (Again, I made up that example.) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Fg2 (talkcontribs) 01:10, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

That's one way of doing it. Tony (talk) 10:58, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Abbreviations of English words

Resolved: Wrong forum; see WT:MOSABBR.

There has been much discussion of abbreviations of Latin words, and the MoS lists specific terms, suggesting that they should not be abbreviated. Some abbreviations of English terms appear often enough to merit discussion too. Examples include "lit." (for "literally"), "d/b/a" (for "doing business as") and "AKA" or "A.K.A." (for "also known as"). Are these acceptable? Should the MoS mention them? Fg2 01:27, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

I agree in principle, Fg2: these things should be looked at together. There is a time-wasting and inefficient practice around here of focusing on details rather than first addressing the broader questions – or the overall policies and mechanisms – on which the little questions are dependent. It's no one's fault in particular: just the way the system here encourages people to think and work. That, and human nature.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 20:52, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
This sort of stuff is already covered at Wikipedia:Manual of Style (abbreviations). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 00:50, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

See also section lists a mere discussion

Meta:Reading level (discussion)

Any point in retaining it? It seems out of place, since it contains only personal opinions. Tony (talk) 03:50, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Does seem out of place. I wouldn't mind it if the MOS explicitly stated that en.wikipedia is written for the intended audience of adult, educated, fluent English speakers, and that simple.wikipedia exists as a separate project for a readership with lower English-language skills. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:04, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
I think it's intended for non-fluent speakers of the language, too. (Doesn't mean that it should be written non-fluently, of course.) Tony (talk) 00:09, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

Clarification of style, ENGVAR

I propose to add the following sentence at the end of the paragraph "Consistency within articles" in WP:ENGVAR.

"Consistency with other articles is not necessarily grounds for change. For examples, see the mismatch between Orange (colour) and Color, or between Equaliser (mathematics) and Coequalizer."

At the end of the paragraph "Strong national ties to a topic", I propose to add

"One spelling may be predominantly used in published work, but this is not necessarily grounds for change. For example, some academic publishers may enforce American English spellings, but this need not reflect the day-to-day usage of the academic community."

I have recently had discussions about these points when trying (unsuccessfully) to move the page Equaliser (mathematics). These clarifications would have saved me quite some time. But I'd like to discuss them before making any changes to the style manual. Sam Staton 10:54, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Naming conventions issues are different from MoS issues. We aren't necessarily limited to one slot in the text of the article. The proposal is too much addressed to naming conventions--and probably instruction creep in any case. Gene Nygaard 06:15, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

Incongruous MOS section on chemistry articles

On advice from User:Itub at the MOS subpage on technical terms and definitions, I've removed this section, which doesn't belong at MOS, and have offered it up for use at Wikipedia:WikiProject_Chemicals/Style_guidelines. It's probably all there anyway. Tony (talk) 09:55, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

Several editors at WP:CHEM are looking at it: the current solution would seem to be a page like Wikipedia:Manual of Style (mathematics), possibly with links to other MoS-related pages such as Wikipedia:Chemical infobox. The idea would be that everyone cane find information more easily, and that chemical style guidelines would also be subject to greater scrutiny from the community as a whole. Can you give us a week or two on this one? It's quite a big job… Physchim62 (talk) 17:05, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Sounds good. Tony (talk) 09:16, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
If anyone wants to give input on early drafts, the page is being created at Wikipedia:WikiProject Chemistry/MOSCHEM: as I say, it will probably take us a good couple of weeks to get it into shape for wider community approval. Physchim62 (talk) 13:05, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Tense part 2

(Copying from way up the page where I think it got lost)

Can we get something in the MOS about this? I appreciate the fact that keeping tabs on whether certain things still exist could be problematic, but in the vast majority of cases this is not a case. That examples of the English Electric Lightning still exist is not in doubt (the article even mentions airworthy survivors), so to read that it "was" a supersonic fighter aircraft just doesn't sound right. This is a widespread problem too - pretty much every article on planes, trains and automobiles uses the wrong tense in the opening sentence. Miremare 14:22, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

If you want to get some traction on this issue, you should make a tentative proposal. Nohat (talk) 08:27, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, I'd just like for it to say something along the lines of that we should use the present tense when describing an object, unless we know that no instances of it now exist (or that it's fairly obvious that none exist), or when describing a specific example of the object that no longer exists, or when describing the object in relation to a past event. Using the English Electric Lightning article as an example (that's where I first noticed the problem) it says "The English Electric Lightning was a supersonic fighter aircraft of the Cold War era" when it should read "The Lightning is a supersonic fighter aircraft of the Cold War era". The tense there seems to be because of the mention of when it was in production and service, but that shouldn't take precedence over whether the thing actually still exists or not (and imply that it doesn't), and of course it is still of the cold war era despite existing in the present. I'm sure someone can put it more coherently and concisely than that - I'm certainly no guideline writer. :) Miremare 10:12, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
Makes sense to me. Now that you mention it, I reflexively fix this sort of error all the time. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 10:23, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, so did I on the article mentioned above, and another one, and was reverted both times with a vague comment about "reading the rest of the sentence for context"... Anyway, I'm sure this isn't a widely contentious issue - at least two Wikiprojects that I know of (Wikipedia:WikiProject Automobiles and Wikipedia:WikiProject Video games) have had discussions on this issue with a very clear consensus towards the usage I've suggested above. It's been entered into WP:VG's article guidelines but it would be nice to have it more visible and relevant to the whole of Wikipedia. Miremare 19:02, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
Suggested language? — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 22:18, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Minor "Quotations" section dispute

I have to dispute this:

...attribution is unnecessary for well-known quotations (e.g., from Shakespeare)...

I don't see any rationale for such an exception (though I agree with the one that follows this snippet in the guideline). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:41, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

Going once... — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:57, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
Going twice... Any dispute about removing this? — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:32, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Agreed; a lot of "well known" quotations are actually misquotations. "Beam me up, Scotty," etc. <eleland/talkedits> 22:13, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

MOS shortcuts all nominated for deletion

Wikipedia:Redirects for discussion/Log/2007 December 8#MOS: and related non-standard shortcuts

No one bothered to mention here that all of the "MOS:" shortcuts have been nominated for deletion at RfD. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 18:21, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

Commas

I have a possibly new idea on the serial comma issue (which issue seemingly all substantial style manuals address, presumably in an effort to e.g. produce polished text and avoid distracting readers). To use or omit the serial comma is covered extensively in this linked Archive, in which there seem to be two large Wikipedia camps. As a result of the split there seems to be no broad clear Wikipedia rule. A resulting problem is that one sees what i'll call both a Use It Habit and an Omit It Habit in Wikipedia, even within a given article i think. (The Use It Habit seems to be: use the final comma, except in the relatively-rare case that such use adds material ambiguity. The Omit It Habit seems to be: omit the final comma, except in the relatively-rare case that such omitting adds material ambiguity.) A resolution might be this: have a trusted user flip a coin. The result would have the support of a near consensus, and the other camp might not mind ceding its preference to the coin's decision, at least for a while. Posted by Bo99 (talk) 23:41, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

No, because many people, including me, think that the best use of serial ("Oxford") commas is alone to disambiguate, and that they should be omitted elsewhere given the number of functional commas in text already. Inconsistency, on a superficial level, is desirable in this case. Tony (talk) 00:04, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Concur with Tony; it's not really a "stylistic choice", like whether to spell something "color" or "colour", it is a "functional distinction". Whether to remove serial commas inserted where they are not serving a function, disambiguatory purpose, on the other hand is a stylistic choice, but not of the character that MOS needs to address, any more than MOS tells people what sorts of parentheticals to use. It's up to editorial discretion. If anyone actually gets in a flaming revertwar over a purely stylistic serial comma issue, they both need to be WP:TROUTed. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:02, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Nice to meet you SMcCandlish and Tony. You put a lot of work into Wikipedia, which work is great (as is Wikipedia generally). Tony, you may be advocating exactly the Omit It Habit, which is violated randomly and repeatedly in Wikipedia and probably in a given article; so the proposed coin toss decider could tend to give effect to your view (and the contrary landing of the coin would not be bad either). SMcCandlish, you add that the issue need not be addressed in a style manual. That might be factually a very-nonconsensus view, according to the above-linked Archive in which dozens of Wiki participants and style manuals see the need to address the issue. I stand by my first posting's reasoning and usefulness. But i defer to your personal preference, because of civility generally, and because specifically you seem to do a lot of work here and it would be useful not to have your time distracted by this lesser issue. (No true need for either to reply.) Posted by Bo99 (talk) 23:49, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
If it is possible to reject your deference, I do so. The fact that I edit MOS a lot and have been around on WP a while is of no consequence at all, really. I can be as wrong as the worst of them. On the argument's own merits, I contend that serial commas should be used to disambiguate, and whether to use them or not after that is a editorial decision like near-synonym word usage distinctions or when to emphasize, and not a WP:MOS matter (please do distinguish the WP:MOS, which is a WP guideline on what to do and not do in Wikipedia for the sake of our readers, from style guides like the Chicago Manual of Style, which is a general advice volume for writing in English, especially for print journalism, research papers and other offline materials). MOS tried to provided (fairly strict) guidance that only applies to WP, while "real world" style guides are generalist endeavors that do not account for particular media or editing cultures. Like other matters addressed at MOS, when it comes down to just a style choice matter, the MOS rule is "be consistent within the article". — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 10:26, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
Okay, you reject. I accept. The seeming reality remains: that you may have an extreme-nonconsensus point-of-view i.e. that Wikipedia is so different from all other authors/editors/compilers/publishers/etc. of articles that Wiki need not have a commas guideline (that is more uniform across articles than at present), because Wiki is more Web-centric than the others; that seems to disagree with seemingly 100% of the nine or so style manuals of various types cited in this linked Archive (some of which cover text-disseminating on the Web i gather). (I'd be very open to looking at any first support for your POV.) I defer to your seemingly extreme-minority POV. (No true need to reply) Bo99 (talk) 17:55, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
I think you are misunderstanding my argument (perhaps because I'm making it poorly). If you read more of the archives here you'll see that "WP's MoS does not have to do exactly what CMoS says" is a very common meme here; this isn't just my "extreme" point of view, it's just normal for MoS. That said, the point I was trying to make (poorly, evidently) was that at WP, we take way more pains to avoid ambiguity than most publications do. And, due to the very broad nature of our readership and editorship (i.e. lots of different dialects, idioms, pedagogically absorbed "rules", etc.), MoS also mostly avoids giving nitpicky advice about editorial matters that are not likely to be genuinely problematic, and I argue that this would be the case here. My personal take on the matter would be that if you really like CMoS (as one example of a well-known and mostly well-received general style guide), and you are fixing serial comma use to conform to what CMoS says, if you get in argument about it with someone else who prefers a different style advocated by a different major style manual, then that is a matter for the two of you to discuss, and all WP:MOS needs to say about it is "use serial commas for disambiguation reasons, otherwise there's no Wikipedia rule about it". I.e., it wouldn't be any different than a dispute over whether to use "sea shore" versus "coast", or to use two separate sentences versus a properly-constructed semicolon-divided run-on, or to offset a parenthetical with actual (parentheses) like that versus—dashes like that—if you see what I mean. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 22:11, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
Thank you for your thought-full, civil reply.
1. I value your time, so again i emphasize that i defer to the current Wiki status, and you might not need to reply.
2. Here are some things that i think you allude to but which i have not said: 2a. That you have an "extreme" POV. 2b. That any given manual's position on the matter should be forced on Wikipedia. 2c. That i am advocating either of the two recognized approaches to commas. 2d. That we are postulating me or someone editing serial comma appearances in an article or arguing heatedly with another editor over the article. 2e. That i am offering any non-factual judgment of you or anyone.
3. I am merely describing reality, which remains: seemingly 100% of the nine or so cited style manuals that have studied the matter (with great reputational care i presume) observe sufficient reader-importance in the commas issue to advocate (for all word handlers in the world i gather) one of the two recognized approaches. But Wikipedia does not adopt one of such two approaches. So, the reality is that Wiki has the extreme-minority POV (and i think you endorse that POV). Bo99 (talk) 23:03, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
The problem is precisely that offline style guides do not agree with each other as to which usage is better, so WP:MOS isn't really in a position to choose one of them over the other (see WP:ENGVAR) absent a compelling reason to do so. I thik MOS is in a good position to demand that serial commas be used or not used, as the case may, when the difference is important for clarity and disambiguation (i.e. a compelling reason), but otherwise it's just a dialectal style preference, like the spelling of "alumin[i]um" or "neighbo[u]r". It's not that MOS has a "point of view" on the matter, but rather that it isn't taking a position on the matter where it does not have to, because it is not a style guide in the Chicago Manual of Style sense, offering general English usage advice to the world, but rather a Wikipedia guideline that exerts some control over what editors do here – it needs a solid basis on which to call for any such restriction, the principal one being the accuracy and comprehensibility of the encyclopedia. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:22, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
You may be mentioning various things, on my quick skim. But i'm stopped short by not seeing straightforward agreement on the core fact:
1. 100% of the 9 or so recognized style manuals cited in this linked Archive (and they are not limited to one country) seem to urge one of the two recognized approaches (either the seemingly generally-agreed approach of 7 cited manuals, and of poster Noetica's roughly third para. below, or the small-minority approach of 2 cited newspaper-centric orgs, or flip a coin).
2. Wikipedia/you currently seem to have the view that Wiki need not adopt either approach.
3. So Wiki/you stand as 1 distinguished from 9 and have the extreme-minority view. (Maybe people are okay with that fact. No need to reply) Bo99 (talk) 22:32, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, here's my view:
  • Established style guides typically do give rulings on serial commas, but most of those rulings are founded more on the precedents that they respect (their own, mostly!) than on fresh, deep analysis, or on usage beyond their sphere of influence.
  • Like SMcCandlish, I think we can give a prescriptive guideline at MOS. But unlike SMcC, I think that the best idealised MOS ruling (ignoring the real world) would be this: Use the serial comma by default; omit it only for a compelling reason of style. I advocate this for the same reason as OGS does (bold is added):

The Oxford Style Manual [includes OGS as its first part], 2002, Chapter 5, section 5.3 Comma:

"For a century it has been part of OUP style to retain [the serial comma] consistently, [...] but it is commonly used by many other publishers both here and abroad, and forms a routine part of style in US and Canadian English. [...] Given that the final comma is sometimes necessary to prevent ambiguity, it is logical to impose it uniformly, so as to obviate the need to pause and gauge each enumeration on the likelihood of its being misunderstood – especially since that likelihood is often more obvious to the reader than the writer." (pp. 121–122)

See Serial comma, where I added this excerpt; there are other similar excerpts there also. I would add only one amplification: while usually the true meaning can be determined without the demarcation that the serial comma would provide, very often the need to do that extra work is an annoying distraction for readers, and their avoiding that extra task will lead to misreadings.
  • The best idealised MOS ruling is not the best tout court, since the real world presses in. People will not agree!
  • Therefore, the best practical ruling we can make has three elements:
  • A summary in three really crisp sentences of the main options: use it by default; avoid it by default; work case by case, on whatever principles you choose.
  • Two crucial caveats: respect style established in the article; be consistent in the article.
  • A wikilink to Serial comma, explicitly noting that it covers all of the issues that might guide one's practice.
I propose that we re-work the guideline accordingly, to give what I have argued is the best practical ruling. The current guideline is not optimal.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 22:09, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Tony, my "proposed default" – the same as that of OGS and CMOS (see 6.19): a rare case of convergence towards rationality – is of abstract interest only. As I say, my practical proposal is quite different. But for what it's worth, OGS and I address this matter of ambiguity quite directly and penetratingly, don't we? Your example of an exceptional use of the serial comma does not address the points that OGS and I make.
It's fruitless to pursue this here, though. There will never be agreement, as you can see by looking through Talk:Serial comma and its archive. That's why I make my practical suggestion.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 01:51, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Simple solution to WikiProject wanna-be MOSes

I can't believe I never noticed this before.

Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines#WikiProjects. And that's policy not a guideline.

We don't have to get into longwinded debates at all whether this or that project's topical stylistic quasi-guideline that no one but the 8 members of the project has ever read can be forcibly labeled part of the MOS. They can't, period.

I don't think this means that every sub-page of MOS that is currently inside a WikiProject needs to be stripped of its style guide tag, but it does put us (i.e. editors with a strong will to clean up the sprawling MOS mess) in a strong position to either have each MOS pretender page moved to a Wikipedia:Manual of Style (x) location, and subject to less project control (I mean WP:OWNership; there is no sanctioning in policy of projects over-controlling project documents; they just do it anyway), or have the page redesignated as an essay and stay in projectland; up to the project.

I have a lingering proposal at Wikipedia Council to create a "project guideline" category/designation, and if that flies, then policy might actually change to recognize that as a distinct type of guideline entity.

SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 00:57, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

So tell me what I've been wondering: how do these pages go about formally becoming part of MOS? Do they simply self-declare? Tony (talk) 13:44, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Good question, Tony. SMcCandlish, nice work in tracking down the obscure lines of "authority" and policy supposed to underwrite the current tangle of style guidelines. Something really needs to be done to rein it all in, if WP:MOS is ever to get clarity and compliance so that it can serve the Wikipedia community as a central reference point.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 19:57, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Given the extremely small number of cases to which this would apply (two pages at last count, if I recall correctly?), this strikes me as a solution looking for a problem. Determining whether some material enjoys community support to be a guideline shouldn't become a question of where precisely in Wikipedia:-space that material is located. Kirill 20:05, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
OMG, the tangled web gets worse. Following SMcCandlish's trail, I came across the "category" list of WP style guidelines, a list that doesn't match the Template:Styleguideline (which inserts the long list down the right-side of MOS and most of its submanuals—itself a list that includes more than just MOS subpages, confusingly). To make matters worse, the "category" list of WP style guidelines says to use {{style-guideline}} to add pages to all pages in that category, which, of course, includes non-MOS pages.
MOS and its subpages are—as far as I can work out—definitively distinguished by their use of the erroneously named Template:Style, which currently announces that a page is part of MOS in the box at the top, centred. There was a move yesterday to remove the words "Manual of Style" from this template, which has been reverted, since that will extinguish the only notification that some pages are part of MOS. The problem is that some subpages of MOS encode this in their title (e.g., Wikipedia:Manual of Style (biographies)) and some don't (e.g., Wikipedia:Proper names). I suggest that the style template be renamed the MOS template, and that the Template:Subcat guideline continue to be used for style guidelines that are not part of MOS.
We really do need to establish (1) how pages become part of MOS, and how they become a style guideline, and (2) consistent naming and templating rules for MOSs, including the box at the top and the list of sibling manuals down the side.
To this end, I propose three things:
  1. A renamed MOS Template containing the current wording of the Style Template, which must be used on MOS pages.
  2. MOS subpages must use "Manual of Style (x)" as their name.
  3. MOS subpages should use a template down the right-side that lists only sibling MOS pages, not a plethora of arbitrarily selected style/policy/MOS pages.
  4. A proper procedure for making a page part of MOS.

Tony (talk) 00:55, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

At best, this is a distortion of that section of policy. --Rschen7754 (T C) 01:41, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
I would say that (4), plus some variation of (1)—but focusing on {{style-guideline}} rather than {{style}}—is the only thing that's needed here. While a demarcation of which pages are part of the "Manual of Style" may be useful (although, to be quite honest, I'm not sure I see the benefit of drawing sharp lines here), this should ideally be done at the level of page-tagging, not through navigation templates or page names.
For most editors, it's more useful to have a template (or several templates) that provides navigation among the extant style guidelines regardless of their precise status; the relative weight of a recommendation only comes into play in cases of dispute, while most readers are merely looking for some guidance. Ending up in a situation where second-level guidelines cannot easily be found is only going to make life needlessly difficult for the average editor. Kirill 04:34, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm a bit puzzled why WP:MILMOS hasn't moved to Wikipedia: namespace like WP:MEDMOS. We don't have other "official" guidelines in Project space, do we? This view also has (current/recent) support from the above-quoted policy page. Project "guidelines" like WP:MEDRS that haven't (yet) achieved wider community support are second tier and have much less weight in any dispute. Could we have a template/banner for them, to highlight that they have at least Project-support?
When I clicked on the MILMOS Discussion tab, I get redirected to Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Military history rather than the style-guide's own talk page. I'm sure you guys have practical reasons for that, but to an outsider it does give an impression of OWNership. Colin°Talk 09:49, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Two separate issues here, but on guideline that no one but the 8 members of the project has ever read can be forcibly labeled part of the MOS. They can't, period; that description concerns me, since the Medicine project jumped through all the hoops, posted to several dozen other WikiProjects and to the Village Pump to seek approval to become part of MOS. I believe MilHist later went through same? Of course, no WikiProject can attach themselves to the MOS without going through such a process. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 05:05, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Maybe you never noticed it because Radiant only added it in September.[5] SandyGeorgia (Talk) 05:19, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
I often disagree with Radiant on this matter or that, but sometimes he is quite brilliant and nails an unspoken consensus right on the head. I think this is such a case, and the fact that he's edited a policy (i.e. heavily watched and very heavily resistant to alteration) page and had it stick strongly suggests he got it right here. Anyway, I didn't bring this up to say "fooey on WP:MILMOS". I don't have any doubt that it does represent consensus within its scope. What I'm saying and what I think Tony is echoing in part is that without a consistent nomenclature, templating structure, and process, that there really is no way at all to distinguish between a WP:MILMOS, with a lot of buy-in and community input, and a WP:MOSPOKÉMON written by two editors and never even read much less agreed to by anyone outside of a narrowly-focused WikiProject, and probably never examined for conflict with long-standing MOS pages. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 10:37, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Colin's entry above. I wanted to suggest an addition to the MoS but got confused about the MILMOS redirect, so I ended up here. I'd like to suggest that the MoS include something regarding proper referencing of military ranks (ex. Lt. Col. or LtCol or LTCOL?). Also, "military history" seems too specific for the MoS, it really should be "military" in general. I'd suggest moving/renaming the military history MoS to its own location as a generic military MoS, and it should also have its own talk page. And please add the ranks! Thanks... 70.144.120.177 (talk) 15:31, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
We're working on that issue; but, as most such things tend to be, it's more comlicated than it seems at first glance. ;-)
(As far as "military" is concerned: moreso than "military history", "military" may mean different things depending on several linguistic factors; in some usage [mosly BrE], it refers only to armies, and so forth. Thus the reason why we've avoided using it as the title of choice in project-space pages.) Kirill 15:53, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
I see, thanks for the response. I guess I'd add that things that don't seem complicated on the surface tend to be quite complicated on Wikipedia. :)
To clarify, I was talking more about abbreviations than the full titles/ranks, but since you are still working on the latter I can see why you haven't gotten to the former. After looking a bit more, I found that there are some pages in the main space that contain such information (ex. United States Army officer rank insignia. Maybe the MoS should just refer to these pages...though I'd guess the MoS should be independent from the main pages.
As for military vs. military history...military history makes sense for a project, and since there is no specific section in the MoS right now, I can see how the military history style guide ended up as part of the MoS. But I'd suggest that another term, maybe "armed services" or "uniformed services", would be more appropriate for the MoS, which should be separate from the project itself (at least, that is what I interpreted Colin as saying above). Although somewhere in the world there is probably an unarmed military. :) Anyway, just a few suggestions from an "outsider"... 70.144.120.177 (talk) 20:18, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

Links in section titles

Does wiki have a policy on this? I think they should be avoided. Shniken1 (talk) 11:32, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, see Article titles at the top of MOS. Tony (talk) 13:43, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

Quotations, subsection Block Quotations

Resolved: Good typo catch, repaired.

In the Block Quotations subsection of Quotations, the first example given of a quote from Taras Bulba appears incorrect. The "code" shows "-Taras Bulba, by Nicolai Gogol", but then shows the resultant text as "-Nicolai Gogol, Taras Bubla". I'm not feeling quite bold enough to fix the MoS, so perhaps someone else would, or otherwise might explain my error in thinking.Pete Jacobsen (talk) 03:37, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

That was pretty silly. Either style would work. I edited it to be self-consistent by changing the code to match the rendered example, though if someone prefers the "title by author" versus "author, title" format they are free to reverse both occurrences of course. I just decided the code should match the example, on the basis that the example was intended to be exemplary (obviously), and the code snippet was therefore necessarily intended to accurately represent how that example was coded. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 10:47, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Animal capitalization

"Official common names of birds are normally capitalized" seems to be wrong as stated, Wikipedia articles on birds say for instance "a property of mockingbirds" not "Mockingbirds". Perhaps this was meant more as a link than as a fact, but it's easy to see how someone could draws the wrong conclusion. Archive 59 of the MOS had a note on animal capitalization but it doesn't seem relevant. The capitalization archive doesn't mention it.

Dan Dank55 (talk) 12:54, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

That's because mockingbirds, in the way you've used it, above, is not an official common name. Mockingbirds, as you've used it, refers to a group of species. Official common names are applied to species. So check, for example, the article on the Northern Mockingbird or the Tropical Mockingbird, both of which capitalise the official common name. Note, also, that this does not apply to animals in a general sense but only to birds since the Ornithological Union maintains a list of official common names. Most other disciplines do not have such a list. There is a huge archived discussion at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 87Dave (Talk | contribs) 14:45, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the link, and I get it now. — Dan Dank55 (talk) 16:35, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
Just for the record, there is not a widespread consensus that this should be done with the "official" common names of birds or anything else. Quite a number of Wikipedians (self included, obviously) completely detest this practice, and only the birders project insists upon it, because they are used to seeing it in field guides and other bird-related publications. The usage is grossly inappropriate and inconsistent in a general-use encyclopedia. The current MOS language on the topic is an uneasy and probably temporary compromise because consensus was not really reached either way. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:47, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree entirely with this. I sometimes feel like a lone voice in the wilderness when preaching on this point so it's good to be reminded that there are allies in my camp. Check out the recent discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Tree of life#Capitalisation of Common Names - Komodo Dragon vs. Komodo dragon. — Dave (Talk | contribs) 02:07, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
There's never been a consensus on this issue, which is why WP:NC makes it clear that individual WikiProjects can decide the best format. That being said, I feel that multiple word common names should have both words capitalized, just as we do with every other proper noun. The most reasonable argument I've heard for the alternative viewpoint, is that the taxonomic naming system has the species in lowercase, the genus in uppercase. Of course, that doesn't hold water, given that the Komodo Dragon's scientific name is Varanus komodoensis, so if we use the scientific format in the common name, the common name of the Komodo Dragon should be the "komodo Monitor-Lizard".
Ignoring that, SMcCandlish makes the argument that this consensus extends to Orthinology as well. However, that is incorrect, as there is a consensus among the Ornithological Union. A consensus among the scientific community > a consensus (or lack thereof) among Wikipedia editors. Furthermore, WP:BIRDS did have a very firm consensus on this issue, which is the proper method per WP:NC.
Finally, there is a bit of a disagreement between the Manual of Style and the Fauna naming conventions. The former is a guideline, the latter a naming convention. I think the former should read more like the latter, because I fail to see any consensus on the issue. WP:ANIMALS takes the same stance of WP:MAMMAL: don't fix it if it ain't broken. Given that the Komodo dragon is a Good Article and the Cane Toad is a Featured Article I can't understand why people feel the need to move them. If it's remained one way for some time, leave it and make a redirect.
Per WP:ANIMALS: Respect the original or primary authors; do not up and change something without notification, as you may be reverted. See Wikipedia:Requested moves for the proper procedure and use the {{move}} template on the talk page prior to moving it. Justin chat 03:30, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
Actually, the wording at WP:MOS#Animals, plants and other organisms, WP:NC#Animals, plants and other organisms and at WP:NC (fauna)#Capitalization of common names of species are all pretty much identical. The only real difference is that the latter two say that Wikiprojects can decide their convention but, further down, suggests that what is chosen should be informed by "current and historic usage among those who study the organisms" (which wording also exists in the MoS text). I also think it's important to point out that both WP:NC, which is policy, and WP:NC (fauna), which is a convention, refer exclusively to naming articles. These are article naming directions. The MoS is seeking to provide guidance more in terms of within-article-text usage although it does also help to inform WP:NC and, by extension, WP:NC (fauna). In any case, I'd respectfully ask that you go back and read Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 87 if for no other reason than that you will be apprised of the various points made by both sides in the discussion and will no longer be saddled with "The most reasonable argument" being "that the taxonomic naming system has the species in lowercase, the genus in uppercase".
Finally, I'll take the Cane Toad bait you've thrown out. Despite its being a featured article, the article title is in violation of the policy at WP:NC#Animals, plants and other organisms. Here's how I reach that conclusion. The article has two parent Wikiprojects, so, in the spirit of letting projects decide, let's go see what they say about how to name articles. Check out the parent Wikiprojects at WP:AAR and WP:AUS. Both of those projects, essentially, defer the article naming considerations to WP:TOL. Now check out WP:TOL. WP:TOL, despite being somewhat verbose about it all, basically defers to WP:NC. So in summary, the policy at WP:NC says wikiprojects can decide and then provides a general policy to apply when Wikiprojects don't wish to, don't bother to, or choose not to decide differently. So, in the end of the analysis, the naming of the Cane Toad article should follow the policy at WP:NC which says that the article is incorrectly named. We may or may not like the result of that analysis but I do believe it is factual. Cheers! — Dave (Talk) 15:44, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
Apparently I'm not quite as good at reading between the lines. The only time WP:TOL differs to WP:NC is for Wikipedia:Naming conventions (flora), and WP:PLANTS has an entirely different naming convention altogether. To quote WP:TOL#Article titles, "Many of the WikiProjects listed above have defined standards for the capitalization of common names, which should be used when discussing the groups they focus on. There is currently no common standard, so no particular system should be enforced over-all." (my emphasis added). In essence, your analysis is fallacious. By differing to WP:TOL any standard is acceptable, and WP:ANIMAL continues that by stating any article that has already been created with a specific format should retain that format unless a consensus is reached to move. Justin chat 18:27, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
WP:NC is policy, not a guideline. As it says at the top of the policy page, it "is considered a standard that all users should follow." Now, the policy allows a Wikiproject to "decide on its own rules for capitalization." It then goes on to give the "general case rules", as it were, and to describe examples of when those general rules don't apply. I imagine you're with me so far. So, by my reading, the rules at WP:NC apply unless a project selects its own rules. Now, what sort of reasons might a project use to select different rules? Well, the policy says that exceptions should be limited and gives four examples of good reasons to not follow the general case. One of these is when "specific rules of capitalization based on current and historic usage among those who study the organisms" are identified. Now, let's move on to WP:TOL. Firstly, it says that "there is currently no common standard" which is obviously and trivially wrong. There is a standard set in policy; a standard that permits certain (limited) exceptions. But let's set that error aside and look further. Clearly, WP:TOL says nothing about deciding alternate rules for capitalisation. What it does say is that, where a daughter project has made a such a decision, that WP:TOL supports that. Beyond that it says nothing of consequence other than some hand-waving about not enforcing anything in particular. But the policy doesn't say "this policy applies unless a project decides not to enforce anything in particular". It says that the policy applies unless a project selects a different standard. So, one might want to ask, is deciding that there is no standard not, in itself, choosing a different standard? If we were to interpret it that way, however, the policy would be completely robbed of its effect. The stated purpose of the policy is to standardise the naming of articles. How is that intent addressed if a project says "we choose to enforce no standard"? Although a project certainly can say that, that is clearly insufficient to negate the force and provisions of the policy. So, basically, what the WP:TOL says is exactly equivalent to: "If daughter projects want to set a standard, we support them and ask everyone to adhere to that standard. If they don't, we're not going to tell anyone what to do." So, that leaves the policy, which does tell people what to do. See what I mean? In summary, the policy requires that article naming be standardised within Wikipedia generally. Toward that end, it permits projects to select their own standard of consistency. What the policy clearly does not say is that projects are free to choose no standard at all (i.e., are free to choose inconsistency). The policy is designed so that, where projects have not, will not or do not care to seek the consensus to set their own standard, the policy's rules apply. See what I mean? — Dave (Talk) 20:15, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
I believe you are taking your interpretation of the policy quite a bit further than necessary. It is my humble belief that policy interpretations should follow Occam's Razor, the least assumption required is the appropriate course. To quote WP:NC:
'Insofar as there is any consensus among Wikipedia editors about capitalization of common names of species, it is that each WikiProject can decide on its own rules for capitalization. In general, common (vernacular) names of flora and fauna should be written in lower case — for example, "oak" or "lion". There are a limited number of exceptions to this:'
Clearly, the "list" of qualifications you refer to is qualifying the "In general..." sentence, and not the sentence prior to it. In other words, the policy implies capitalization policies by individual projects supersede the list of examples (I think limitations or qualifications are improper, given that the entire list is qualified by a "In general" a the beginning of the sentence.
You seem to imply that the recommended reasons to deviate from policy are the only reasons, which is a qualification the text does not support. The first sentence is very clear in its meaning: "it is that each WikiProject can decide on its own rules for capitalization." There is no qualification for this sentence, with exception that such implementations require a consensus (which is true of all guidelines and policies at Wikipedia). As such, the policy clearly indicates a decision to deviate to the policy by any WikiProject is acceptable as long as a consensus is reached for such a deviation. WP:BIRDS is a PERFECT example of this policy.
All that said, you really deviate from the point when you discuss "having no standard". WP:ANIMALS has a standard. WP:BIRDS deviates from that standard. The former's standard is consistency among individual articles. The latter has very specific rules for article naming conventions. The primary reason for the "open ended standard" by WP:ANIMALS, is the approach was the path of least resistance. WP:TOL's standard is almost identical to WP:ANIMALS, in that the standard is that both approaches are acceptable. Where I feel you are entirely incorrect, is your interpretation of WP:NC. No where does it require WikiProjects to set specific requirements. It simply says, (I paraphrase), "If an individual WikiProject has a consensus, it may choose it's own policies for capitalization." It does not say, "the individual WikiProject must set a specific standard," nor does it say, "the WikiProject can have only a single standard." Does that rob the policy of its effect? You bet it does. But using that as an argument to invent restrictions to the policy is without standing. WP:IAR robs every policy, guideline, rule etc of its effect. So should we forever fail to recognize WP:IAR?
With all that said, your argument that Cane Toad violates policy is incorrect. WP:AAR differs to WP:TOL which clearly states that there is no specific standard. Does that mean WP:NC is effectively useless (specific to WP:TOL articles)? Yep. The only alternative is to find a consensus at WP:NC to remove that specific qualifier. However, it won't happen, as the individual animal-related WikiProjects won't have it. However, I plan on working a major revision of WP:NC (fauna) over the next several months, hoping that I can manage to make the policy at WP:ANIMALS the official policy for all fauna-related articles. I do intend to keep the WikiProject qualifier intact, however, you have pointed out a current loophole that I will address when I start working towards a new naming convention policy. Justin chat 04:56, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
There's a whole bunch of "if this then that" and "I don't agree with where this is taking me" in your submission. The simple fact is this: the policy is designed to ensure consistency. The policy contemplates allowing consistency within a project that may differ from the broader consensus. Aside from that, the policy sets its own standard. Surely, you must admit that the policy is designed, expressly, to prevent an "anything goes" standard. That is its overall intent. You are free to propose any sort of re-write you choose but the fact remains that the policy strives for consistency. A project is free to propose its own standard for consistency, within its own project. But you seem to suggest that a project is free to suggest that consistency be broken. I maintain that the policy is very much against that. Can you show me the wording in the policy that says that consistency may be broken and that we don't care about that fact? You cite WP:IAR but that's no more than a convenient "out". Please point me to a justification, in keeping with policy, that says a Wikiproject can ignore consistency and say "anything goes". I can cite WP:IAR for just about anything. — Dave (Talk) 06:10, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps your right, but in your submission, you willingly ignored the fact that the policy clearly states it's up to individual projects. It is you who argued that the policy doesn't give the right to not have a specific guideline (which, the policy does not state).
The policy may be there to ensure consistancy, but not across all of Wikipedia. Obviously, if that were the intent, then the policy wouldn't give such control to individual WikiProjects. Several of the WikiProjects have this two option standard. The consistancy must be maintained within the article, but not across all articles it covers. Now, care to show me where the policy says that the individual Wikiprojects can set their own standards, but those standards must meet certain criteria (ie, only one specific standard instead of two standards are acceptable)?
You keep asking me to cite this and that, but I don't need to. The first sentence in the policy is clear, if there is a consensus, the WikiProjects can make their own rules. You don't have to like it, but you are literally inventing aspects of the policy that don't exist. However, this discussion may be more appropriate at WP:Naming conventions (fauna) where I'm proposing a change. Justin chat 00:50, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
After reviewing WP:MOS and WP:NC there is still one notable difference between the two. WP:MOS does not explicitly state that individual WikiProjects can determine suitable naming conventions. WP:NC does make that statement. Given that WP:MOS is a guideline, and WP:NC is a policy, the manual should be changed to reflect actual policy, as it stands now it conviently seems to be missing one of the first points made in the policy. I'll wait a bit before I make the change myself, as there might be a solid point I'm missing. Justin chat 18:56, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
Please don't make that change. I believe that you've been confused by a similarity in wording. The section you're referring to in the MoS, presumably WP:MOS#Animals, plants and other organisms, is not about naming articles. That's covered at WP:MOS#Article titles which, you'll note, clearly defers to, and points explicitly to, WP:NC. Although WP:MOS#Animals, plants and other organisms shares a good deal of wording with WP:NC, it's solely about within-text usage, which WP:NC does not address in any way. You're right that the policy trumps the guideline but I believe you'll also find that there's nothing in the guideline that doesn't respect the policy. If there is, that would be something to point out right away. — Dave (Talk) 20:46, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
I knew there had to be a reason it for the difference. You were correct, I misread that and initially thought it was talking about article titles. After re-reading the sections you pointed out, I don't see any problems. Thanks for pointing it out. Justin chat 04:56, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

"Linking...which requires italics"

Also, it would be easy for someone to read "Linking a term provides sufficient indication that you are using a term as a term, which requires italics" quickly to mean that linking requires italics, perhaps better would be "...which would otherwise require italics", or "Italicize a term used as a term, unless it is also a link." (Perhaps this should be in the Italics subsection?)

And yes, I'm aware it's arrogant to suggest changes to the MOS when I haven't been here long :) Feel free to shoot me down, but I already feel pretty comfortable with the MOS, you guys did a good job of keeping the learning curve small for folks who are already familiar with other MOS's.

Dan Dank55 (talk) 12:54, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Anyone see what I'm saying about "linking a term"? — Dan Dank55 (talk) 16:35, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
Ah, yes. I'd missed that part of your question the first time. I like your suggestion. Mine would be "Although using a term as a term is normally signalled by setting the text in italics, in the case of a link to a term, the link itself provides sufficient indication that you are using a term and the addition of italics is unnecessary." — Dave (Talk | contribs) 17:35, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
I concur...I was too timid to add a lot of words to the MOS, but your sentence is very clear-cut. If no one objects, I'll wait a day for comments and then "make it so". — Dan Dank55 (talk) 20:31, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
This would produce a lot of consistency problems. If some terms are italicized (or put in quotation marks, another valid option) but not linked, then linked ones should also be italicized (or quoted). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:47, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
This is not new. This is the current direction for heads and sub-heads given at Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Section headings so, presumably, any consistency problems are already amply evident. We were merely discussing a way to clarify the current wording, which is:

"Italicize the section name only if it otherwise requires italics (such as the title of a book). Linking a term provides sufficient indication that you are using a term as a term, which requires italics."

Note that the second sentence is a bit unclear. — Dave (Talk | contribs) 02:40, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
This may or may not be helpful, but it's my experience that academics (and maybe others too) vary in what they italicize more than in any other orthographic conventions, so I wasn't criticizing the intent of the MOS, I just thought it was easily misunderstood. I thought you guys had come up with a solution that lacked purity but had great efficacy, reducing the number of times you had to make the call. — Dan Dank55 (talk) 02:32, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
I took the liberty of making the change. Let me know if there is anything untoward in the result. — Dave (Talk) 02:16, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

Opinions sought

Can I draw your attention to a proposal at Wikipedia talk:Writing better articles#Proposed addition. I would like to know what people's views are, but I think that page gets little traffic. Please comment there rather than here. Thanks, Matt 19:43, 10 December 2007 (UTC).

Icky small-caps template

Template:Sc is really problematic. Aside from the fact that it's a very grotesque kluge that has major accessibility and content-reuse problems, for MoS it is also problematic, because it is recommending itself for all sorts of usages of small-caps font styling that are not recognized by MoS. I'm about 50/50 on whether this should be cleaned up in some way, or simply taken to WP:TFD. It's Template:Smallcaps counterpart does not present as many problems, and should not be TfD'd, but it does require cleanup, I think, since it too suggests uses of small-caps that MoS does not recommend and almost certainly would deprecate if it addressed the issue. (Hint: I think MoS should address small-caps.) — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:53, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Quotations

Can we adopt Wikipedia:Quotations into the manual of style? What needs to be done to fix it up? It would be useful to have a separate page for quotations, and the MOS seems the best place for it. Hiding T 12:19, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

User:TijhofGraphics/Sig}} 12:40, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Manual of Style (operating system(versions))

Hi there,

The wikipedia-pages of operating systems(for example: Mac OS X v10.5, Mac OS X, Windows XP, Ubuntu and so on) are all very different and totally not following one line. It may be usefull to have a MoS for operating system-pages and their versions, just like there is for films for example.

For example the way of viewing the version history(table layout), System requirements(table, list or text), content of infobox. Order of content(version history at bottom, or prices at bottom) etc. etc.

If there's going to come one, I suggest using the layout en style of Mac OS X v10.5. But other layout's may be better

User:TijhofGraphics/Sig}} 12:40, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

First sentence

MOS says: "If possible, an article title should be the subject of the first sentence of the article; for example, "The Manual of Style is a style guide" instead of "This style guide is known as ...". Um ... what does it mean? It's the subject in both examples. Tony (talk) 15:09, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

The phrase "Manual of Style" is not the subject in the second sentence. Strad (talk) 01:59, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes it is. Tony (talk) 12:24, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Here's the way I parse the second sentence. I'd be interested in seeing your version. "This style guide [guide is the subject of the sentence.] is known [is is the verb, part of the verb phrase is known. Alternatively, one can consider is to be the auxiliary to the verb known. Both analyses, for practical purposes, get you to the same point.] as The Manual of Style. [The Manual of Style is a complement to the predicate, sometimes called a predicate completion or a subjective predicate complement]" The sentence structure is identical to the sentence "Dave is (known as) a buffoon." In that case, Dave is the subject of the sentence, not buffoon which, again, is the complement. Note that I'm but a dilletante as a grammarian so someone who really knows this stuff will quickly correct me, I'm sure. — Dave (Talk | contribs) 14:48, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

[Note: Please see details of the new hard-space discussion page, above.– Noetica♬♩Talk 12:44, 12 December 2007 (UTC)]

a new Manual of Style for Music

Hi there,

The Wikipedia-pages of discography's(like Stones Disco. and DP Disco.) albumlist(like Achim Reichel) and album-individual(like Blue Guitars) pages are a bit mested up over the wikipedia, at least, they're not following one layout/style.

For exampe the way of viewing the tracks, Order of content etc. etc.

We could creatie 3 different layout's (discography, album list, album-individual) or 1 fitting for all.

Since it's gonna be a big change(IF there's going to come a"MOS-Music") I rather not do it on my own.

User:TijhofGraphics/Sig}} 15:08, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Hi again, I also found Led Zeppelin Albums wich also has a nice layout.
What do you guys(read: Wikipedians and Mods) think of the idea ? What layout should we use for this use ?
User:TijhofGraphics/Sig}} 14:11, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

The

I've been citing WP:HEAD as the convention which outlines we do not (generally) use the word "The" at the beginning of headings and subheadings. However, I've come to find that WP:HEAD no longer mentions this. Has the position changed or has this been overlooked as part of a rejig of the material? -- Jza84 · (talk) 13:30, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Please read the first bullet of "Section headings". Does it need to be highlighted further, I wonder? Tony (talk) 14:40, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
I think so. For someone like myself who didn't get fantastic education in the subtleties of the English language, this section is not as explicitly clear as it once was. -- Jza84 · (talk) 12:57, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

Dates and Numbers query

I have one which I am at a bit of a loss on - the best way to write:

The Sirius system is around 2–300 million years old

to me this looks a little odd but I can't think of anything better. 200-300? cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) —Preceding comment was added at 20:37, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

I agree with 200–300 million. Might you also consider 250±50 million? — Dave (Talk) 21:00, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
Har har, don't be gettin' all mathematical-like on me now....cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 01:26, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Around 2–300 million years old.
Poor. For one thing, the range is uncertain (is the bottom of the range 2 million, or 200 million?).
Around 200–300 million years old.
Good. Quite acceptable, with one small reservation. How would you read it aloud? MOS says "he served from 1939 to 1941, not he served from 1939–1941"; other style guides agree. Distinguish the present case from the Shanghai–Beijing flight, which you could read aloud as "the Shanghai to Beijing flight", but plain "the Shanghai Beijing flight" would be normal.
Around 200 or 300 million years old.
Better.
Between 200 and 300 million years old.
Best. Conveys with perfect accuracy what is almost certainly intended.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 21:37, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
(slaps hand on forehead) - d'oh! Well spotted...now why didn't I think of that last one...cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 01:26, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

Vietnamese MOS

Are there any editors who want to create an MOS specific to Vietnamese articles? WhisperToMe (talk) 23:08, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Convention outside Wikipedia

In this edit, I tried to elucidate the policy. It was corrected, but with a misunderstanding: I was not trying to make clear that WP doesn't use caps for emphasis, but rather trying to decide whether when the general convention outside WP is to use caps WP corrects that standard usage. The specific case: In the EVP article, the usual convention is to capitalize Electronic Voice Phenomena. Does WP reject that use of caps, and were the outside sources totally consistent, would WP still do it differently? ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 00:19, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

In the absence of a response here, I'll take the logical position that WP does not modify outside standard convention. That is, if something is generally capitalized by the sources, then WP will follow that convention. I'll edit the guideline accordingly, unless someone has an objection. ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 05:01, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
Martinphi, I made an objection on that article's talk page already. There wasn't a lack of response there. Changing the guideline to support your argument, when others have disagreed with your argument, is probably not the way to go about it. Using a lack of response here to support your argument over there is probably not the way to go about it.
Here you're saying the issue is that Wikipedia "corrects that standard usage". Over there I already pointed out that Wikipedia is not correcting their usage but rather maintaining the integrity of our usage. If it were their usage, it'd be in quotes.
Here you're saying "outside sources [are] totally consistent". Over there I already pointed out that there isn't a "standard" to use capitalization and gave some examples of where writers have used lower case.
You'll have to explain why such a change in the guideline is necessary. Wikipedia follows normal grammar rules which are typically in accord with sources that likewise follow normal grammar rules. In other words, grammar is the standard convention, both inside and outside of Wikipedia. When you happen upon a source that capitalizes words and it seems strange that they did, you should question why are they contrary to convention rather than simply adopting their style. For example, some writers do capitalize to show emphasis. In Wikipedia's neutral-style, no emphasis is necessary, so it would be appropriate to not adopt their style.
1. The lack of response that you're saying justifies the change is not supported by several responses you got over there. 2. It's an unnecessary addition to the guideline because typically "standard usage" in reliable sources is already in accord with this guideline that calls for proper grammer. 3. The particular case scenario you're using to illustrate the need for the addition is demonstrably shown not to have the "general convention" you say it has.
Examples of lower case just off the first page at Google [6] [7] [8] 5 sec verifiablity test. --Nealparr (talk to me) 06:21, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

There are several reasons why a term might have been capitalized outside the English-language Wikipedia:

So it is important to question why a particular term has been capitalized outside Wikipedia. In the case of electronic voice phenomena, the fact that the term ends in a plural without there being a fixed number of such phenomena (i.e., unlike The Spice Girls) pretty much killed the possibility that it might be a proper noun. A proper noun is the name of a single unique well-identified object and this is clearly not the case here. Markus Kuhn (talk) 10:44, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

Seriously, Nealparr, I don't care about it on EVP, I just wanted to know whether I was right. Tom Butler cares. AGF

And there is no need for a change, only to make the current policy clear: if we change outside convention, say so, if we don't, say so.

There is little logic to English. There is little logic to english. So, if it were the case that the sources outside WP were consistent, would we change it at WP?

Thanks, Kuhn. It might be helpful to make that more clear in the MOS, since people for absolutely no apparent reason will form conventions outside WP, consistent or not, and then that confuses editors. ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 05:28, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Regarding national varieties of English

Wikipedia:Manual of Style#National varieties of English states that articles that are linked to a specific English-speaking country should use the English variety of that particular country. An article about an American subject, for instance, should use American English. But how far does that extend? The reason I'm asking this, is this edit to Interpol (band), in which the spelling of a word in the disambiguation header was changed from "organisation" (British English) to "organization" (American English). Are such tags covered by Wikipedia:Manual of Style#National varieties of English as well, or does the guideline only cover the content of the article itself? AecisBrievenbus 01:32, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

The way this has been "solved", if you will, is by using the topic of origin's spelling. Therefore, an American subject would have American English spelling throughout and consequently a British topic would use British English. Hope this helps. NSR77 TC 04:19, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
I knew that. That's why I wrote: "Wikipedia:Manual of Style#National varieties of English states that articles that are linked to a specific English-speaking country should use the English variety of that particular country. An article about an American subject, for instance, should use American English." My question was if that guideline covers the entire text of the page, so including disambiguation headers, possible stub tags, etcetera, or just to the body of the article? AecisBrievenbus 16:15, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
I think it's safe to say that it covers everything. Otherwise it's only going to cause mass confusion. Grim (talk) 23:38, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
I've always interpreted it as covering everything. It makes most sense this way. Of course, categories create problems here since you can't change the displayed spelling. Jɪmp 19:47, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Proposed naming convention change

There is a current proposal to change a naming convention, which directly effects the the Manual of Style guideline, and the naming conventions policy. If you are interested, your input would be appreciated. Justin chat 06:32, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

YEAR in TOPIC wikilinks

There is a discussion going on at the talk page of the numbers manual of style (oldid) that would change all piped wikilinks like "[[2007 in film|2007]]" to "2007". Those kinds of wikilinks are being referred to as surprise links. Wikilinks like [[2007 in literature|2007]], [[2007 in video gaming|2007]], etc (basically any wikilink to any of the articles at List of '2007 in' articles (and every other year) that has a pipe and then just the year would be replaced with just the plaintext year, with no wikilink. Input from the community would be appreciated. --Pixelface (talk) 13:59, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

ISO format dates in citation templates

There is also a discussion going on at the the talk page of the numbers manual of style (oldid) where it's been proposed that editors stop using ISO-format dates (such as 2007-12-16) in citation templates like {{cite web}}. When an ISO format date is placed in the date field and wikilinked, (like [[2007-12-16]]), it will be shown according to a user's date preferences. Some editors are saying we should stop doing this. Input from the community would be appreciated. --Pixelface (talk) 13:59, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

Square brackets surrounding a linked word

Resolved: Answered, and not a MoS issue anyway.

How do you make a word into a link AND have a set of square brackets around it for the reader? I can't find the answer anywhere - and even if it is included somewhere else, it probably ought to be here too.

Example: "[Nickelback is] probably the most over-hyped garbage ever." where 'Nickelback' is a link

Nialsh (talk) 03:22, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

This generally shouldn't be done, since we do not wikilink inside quotations (except in the rare case that Wikitext itself is being quoted, and did originally contain a link). If there is some case in which this is needed, use the HTML character entities for square-brackets: &#91; ( "[" ) and &#93; ( "]" ). I also assume that you understand that the example text you used would not be permissible in an article, per WP:NPOV. :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 23:00, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

MOS dispute holding up a FA discussion

I'm posting here to see if MOS experts will respond. Aircraft articles routinely have a "Related Content" section listing similar aircraft. This appendix is at the end of the article. A user seems unhappy at this arrangement and has brought this up in several aircraft articles citing MOS prohibiting this style.

I seek guidance. The article in question follows WikiProject guidelines. Here's an example of an aircraft article that I don't edit but has the same section (at the bottom, shown here only for illustration not to prove that other articles have it). [9]

The discussion is here. To avoid having a discussion spread over several areas, please address any comments here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Aviation#Manual_of_Style_dispute Archtransit (talk) 00:36, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

RfC: Should bio infoboxes distinguish between nationality and citizenship?

I opened an RfC on an issue of some relevance to the WP:MOS. It is at Wikipedia talk:Citizenship and nationality#RfC: Should bio infoboxes distinguish between nationality and citizenship?. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 22:44, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

Capitalisation of dog breed names

Hello! About a week ago, I decapitalised most capitalised occurrences of Pug in that article. It seems the MOS (and specifically the subsection on animals) agrees with this, but the capitalisation was restored soon after, citing consensus on WP:DOGS and Wikipedia:WikiProject Dog breeds (I've left a pointer to this discussion on talk pages there).

What do people feel? Should dog breed names be capitalised? Note also that MOS:CAPS mentions a few special cases that are not made explicit. Phaunt (talk) 10:28, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

The Kennel Club in the UK, which is the organisation which defines breed standards in the country, capitalises dog names in its publications. e.g. KC news article. The American Kennel Club, similar to the UKC, also capitalises breed names e.g. Welsh Springer Spaniel article. I would argue that we should follow the example of these organisations and use capital letters for actual breed names. I think that they shouldn't be used when referring to groups of dogs e.g. terriers, hounds, gundogs etc. --Cheesy Mike (talk) 10:42, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
Sounds right to me. Consider that a lot of dog breeds ("Labrador", "Rottweiler", "German Shepherd") are derived from demonyms, and would be capitalized anyway. Capitalizing all dog breeds seems like the most consistent approach. Zetawoof(ζ) 11:00, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
I had a dog as a little kid. My teacher said that if I was referring to a specific, AKC recognized purebreed, to capitalise. However, if one is referring to the generic breed then it is not capitalised. Technically, that means when describing ancient history before the breeds' establishment with AKC or equivalent, it would not be capitalised. This may confuse the matter as the word would be capitalised in some places of the article. Archtransit (talk) 16:52, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
I can see the logic of that approach but, as you suggest, it would be confusing - and also difficult to standardise, given that KCs in different countries register breeds under different names. I think Cheesy Mike's approach may be the best: capitalise specific breeds, but not generics (a Cocker Spaniel, but a spaniel). Having said that...the only style guide I have immediately to hand (AP's) disagrees, and it would be useful to know if there is a general consensus among style guides. (The AP suggestion is to follow Webster's (!) and if the breed is not therein to capitalise only proper nouns - it gives the example "Boston terrier".) Barnabypage (talk) 00:30, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Addition

Someone told me to be bold and put this in. Then someone reverted it and told me to discuss it. What do you all think of this?

Academic titles and honorifics

——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 21:55, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

The edit description you added said there wasn't a guideline on this already, but the "Academic titles" guideline already covers this. It says "Academic and professional titles (such as 'Doctor' or 'Professor') should not be used before the name in the initial sentence or in other uses of the person's name. Verifiable facts about how the person attained such titles should be included in the article text instead. Other encyclopedias and biographies follow a similar format. It's a better format because some folks are jack of all trades. Listing off their credentials gives more information than the nondescript "Doctor" or "Professor". Often professors are doctors as well. Number of other reasons. --Nealparr (talk to me) 05:07, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
No, that is for biographies. It also makes sense only for biographies. ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 05:29, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
Why would it be any different in other articles? Using examples included in that guideline, how is "Professor Stephen Hawkings" any more informative than "Stephen Hawking, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge" or "Dr. David Pinsky" versus "David Pinsky, a board-certified physician and addiction medicine specialist"? --Nealparr (talk to me) 06:25, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree with you in principle of course- because that is more good information. But can editors always reasonably get that information? Also, we need special dispensation for things such as lists, where some of the people on it might have been mentioned in the article, and some haven't. Suggest? ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 06:28, 23 December 2007 (UTC)
I have to say I disagree. Insertions of that nature are likely to become a magnet for appeals to authority in contentious articles. Encyclopaedia Britannica, for one, does not seem to adopt such a policy. Its article on Hawking Radiation, for example, simply declares that "Stephen W. Hawking proposed in 1974 that... ", without the use of academic honorifics, and its article on ionosphere that "An English mathematician, Oliver Heaviside, and... ", without adding FRS after his name. — BillC talk 23:05, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

Non-breaking spaces

The MOS section on Non-breaking spaces make no preference between using &nbsp; and the {{nowrap|}} template.

From the point of view of clarity, especially for novice editors, I would have thought that the nowrap template is much to be prefered - should the MOS say so? Gaius Cornelius (talk) 18:01, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

They strike me as better for different uses. The template is good for long strings, but a bit superfluous when only one nbsp is needed. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:43, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
Even when there is only one space, isn't {{nowrap|22 km}} very much clearer than 22&nbsp;km? The template says what it is for whereas the non-breaking space can look like a string of gibberish. Gaius Cornelius (talk) 08:19, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
Given that there are orders of magnitude more people who understand HTML than MediaWiki's particular brand of wikimarkup, and given that HTML character entities are also part of that wikimarkup as well as of HTML, and given that the template name is run-together and just as easily interpreted as having something to do with rap music, then, obviously, "no". And really, who cares? MOS mentions both techniques, and is the Wikipedia Manual of Style, not the "Wikipedia Manual of Arbitrary Coding Standards That Make No Functional Difference At All". Heh. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 10:22, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, SMcCandlish. And of course once more I must point out these plain facts:
  • Hard spaces are essential to sound markup.
  • The options for markup of hard spaces at Wikipedia are inadequate.
  • There is no provision for the hard space in the arrays under the edit box, despite its being orders of magnitude more useful than dozens of the recherché characters that currently do clutter the screen. (₥, ₦, ₰, ₪, ৳, ₮ ??? Give us a break!)
  • Provision for the hard space was not foreseen by developers, but it is abundantly evident now. Therefore:
A specific proposal (please respond!)
I say there should be a push for reform, so that the hard space can be used efficiently in editing at Wikipedia. It seems that the appropriate forum for this is Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)‎: in the first instance, in any case. Anyone interested in a joint approach there? We'd need to work for reform as a group, and demonstrate consensus for change.
My own idea is that we need custom markup for the hard space, a bit like the special markup we have for italics or bold. Use a pair of less-used standard qwerty-keyboard characters to stand for the hard space.
Until we get such a change, advocating use of the hard space is futile. You won't get compliance, because the markup is a nuisance to input, difficult to read on the screen, and meaningless to most newcomers.
Comments? Expressions of solidarity? Interest in doing something?
– Noetica♬♩Talk 20:12, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
One problem with entering the NBSP character directly into a form field is an annoying bug/feature in Firefox that automatically converts any such NBSP character (U+00A0) into a normal space (U+0020). This bug in a very popular browser currently prevents us entering the no-break space as we do with any other UTF-8 character (remapping keyboard such that AltGr+Space inserts NBSP, JavaScript buttons, etc.). Markus Kuhn (talk) 14:32, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
That's interesting, Marcus. But it does not affect what we are currently considering at User:Noetica/ActionMOSVP, does it? (Don't forget to vote!)
We are working out a proposal for markup that will be replaced by &nbsp; in the same way as '' is currently replaced by <i> or </i>.
Please join the discussion at that other location! Your input would be useful.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 21:00, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
Would &; be suitable for markup? I just did a search in the current HTML spec and that doesn't appear to be used, it's in some sense the closest thing to what people use already, and HTML-savvy people probably have not carelessly thrown around &; characters in articles already written. — Dan Dank55 (talk) 03:27, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
(See suggestion below, Dank55. We'll get to the details soon enough.)– Noetica♬♩Talk 10:22, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

How to proceed?

added heading Phaunt (talk) 10:37, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Motion carried, I think.
As I write we have seven editors supporting a change in the editing system for the hard space:
Tony
Gaius Cornelius
SMcCandlish
Phaunt
Dank55
Dave
Noetica
(Any more? Never too late to sign up.)
This is very encouraging! No one has spoken against the idea. In fact, probably all that has held people back is this: we MOS editors are not used to thinking such changes possible. Arguably, though, we appreciate more than many others what the system really needs, to promote sound editing practices at the coal-face.
How to proceed? Here's my plan, subject to your suggestions and amendments:
1. We meet at some designated location to thrash out the details of a joint proposal. We don't want to clutter this talk page. Following Tony's precedent, I could make a subpage at User:Noetica, and act as secretary for the group there. Anyone could join us to work on this. Shouldn't take too long; but there are matters of tactics and strategy to sort out, along with the technical details.
2. We make a strong submission at Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals) (shortcut: WP:VPR).
3. We all alert other editors we know, who may be interested and have skills relevant to this push.
4. We work together to answer queries and objections at WP:VPR, and to maintain momentum, reporting back here as necessary.
5. We succeed!
How's that? Your quick comments, please.
If there are no objections or significant alterations, I'd like to take the next steps very soon.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 10:22, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

New page for discussion of the hard space: User:Noetica/ActionMOSVP

As proposed above, I have established a page for the hard-space campaign.

Please conduct discussion there, now. All interested editors are welcome, of course.

The page is User:Noetica/ActionMOSVP. I look forward to seeing you there!

– Noetica♬♩Talk 07:06, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

[NOTE: A shortcut to the page has been deleted. It is probably in breach of some policy. I have amended the text above to direct people immediately to the page, instead.]– Noetica♬♩Talk 05:11, 17 December 2007 (UTC)


Hard order for bottom sections (see also, references, further reading, external links)

I've been noticing on pretty much every article that is at least GA is that the order of the bottom sections are always see also, references/notes/footnotes, further reading, and external links. However, whenever I see an article that does not follow that order, and run it through the automated peer reviewer, it always says to reorder those sections. In addition, this FAR also addresses the order of those sections. Should there be a hard order of those sections? 哦,是吗?(oxygen) 21:55, 22 December 2007 (GMT)

I would say that there is no reason to add additional mandatory instructions on this - such changes would do nothing to improve the content or readability of articles, and would seem to be instructions for instructions sake. Just because the automatic peer reviewer has been set up with this in my mind un-necessary additional instruction, is not a reason why it should be made compulsoryNigel Ish (talk) 22:48, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
I don't think anything really needs to be added. The main MoS page states the External links to be "at the end". Except the Layout guide says Navboxes (succession boxes and navigational footers) "go at the very end of the article, following the last appendix section". Maybe get this clarified a bit. -Fnlayson (talk) 23:24, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
Really a GTL issue, but anyway: The MoS currently specifically avoids prescribing any order here and I see no reason why it should. --Rlandmann (talk) 02:20, 23 December 2007 (UTC)
  • As the one who suggested this issue be taken to WP:MOS, my bad for not realizing it should go to WP:GTL. Oops! - BillCJ (talk) 02:47, 23 December 2007 (UTC)
    • No problem - GTL is part of the MoS, so your suggestion was just fine. --Rlandmann (talk) 03:13, 23 December 2007 (UTC)
I've just had a look at the automated peer reviewer. Is this where the rot stems from? Let me get this straight: an automatic script generates a warning to flag a "breach" of a non-existent rule, and you're suggesting that we create a rule to match what the script says? Surely the sane solution is to fix the script... --Rlandmann (talk) 02:31, 23 December 2007 (UTC)
If anything, any and all suggestions from the automated script came from past reviews of articles. 哦,是吗?(O-person) 23:37, 24 December 2007 (GMT)
Yes, WP:MOS specifies that external links should go last because we prefer Wikified content over external content, to keep readers within Wiki and to encourage wikified content. WP:GTL should be brought into line to clarify that External links should always be the last place we send readers. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:18, 25 December 2007 (UTC)

Deletion of my addition of "Eats, Shoots & Leaves," by Lynne Truss

Noetica, I am not enormously fussed either way, but I disagree with you that the book "gives almost no guidance for on-line work." Wikipedia suffers as much from misunderstandings due to absent or faulty punctuation as does any other form of writing, and Truss' book presents a lively, clear and engaging (if not always undebatable) view of this neglected topic. I think many editors would benefit from a read. Incidentally, the unusual, and I believe entirely correct, use of semi-colons in your edit summary alerts me to the fact that you value such tools yourself: why not share them? Rumiton (talk) 13:08, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

I must say that I was disappointed in Truss's book. I didn't learn much from it, and it's not set out in a way that allows the kind of focused reference that the other external sources do. Too discursive. Tony (talk) 13:18, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
I can see that, but would suggest that for the general reader the narrative style and quirkiness might be a plus. Editors who hang out here at the Manual of Style are probably already converted to linguistic pedantry, and might expect to learn little, but general editors might gain quite a lot. Rumiton (talk) 14:02, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
I hope that Truss's book contains more than pedantry. Tony (talk) 14:40, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
I believe it does. I was being gently ironic. Please try to catch my drift. Rumiton (talk) 14:58, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
Rumiton, perhaps it is good that Truss's work attracted many readers. If a typical WP editor has heard of a book on punctuation, it is likely to be hers. While she gives some advice that might guide practice, though, the advice is not systematic; and she explicitly disavows any intention to provide it.
But the worst is that she gives no guidance about computer-based (let alone HTML-based) practice, apart from reporting the revelation she underwent as she wrote the book: a "dash" could be got by some combination of keystrokes. Which dash she doesn't say; nor which combination of keystrokes.
There's the rub. She is so very old-fashioned; and while that may in itself not be a bad thing, our editors need to know new things that she can't tell them. Good for some to feel the force of her authorial rage, and to share in it. But that indulgence distracts from what is important in any manual of style for the web, or for Wikipedia.
As you gather, I do value such guides myself. I have dozens in my collection; but Truss is not the best of them. I am against promoting her work simply because she is already popular and well-promoted! (Note the absence of a comma after work in that sentence, which would have changed the meaning.)
– Noetica♬♩Talk 21:25, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
I think the point emerging here is that this Talkpage is rather like some grammarian's Mount Olympus where the linguistic pantheon chat amongst themselves. Noetica, I will assume in you not only good faith but a sophisticated literary sense of humour when you use the sentence "There's the rub" whilst accusing someone else of being old fashioned. :-) And I did notice your carefully crafted sentence, which, had I not noticed the missing comma, I would have entirely misunderstood. But you are making my point for me. Truss' book is not for the likes of us, but good, honest editors may find good, honest advice in it. And it is entertaining enough to stay in the memory. Rumiton (talk) 06:20, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
There's nothing elitist or Olympian about it, Rumiton. No one wants more than I do to offer genuine and realistic help to editors through MOS, so that Wikipedia will be more consistently well-written.
Truss is fine in her way, and she speaks to the common run of humanity, which includes you and me. It's just that there are much better guides to punctuation. Truss's [sic] book is a reflective and opinionated dilatation on certain selected aspects of punctuation; and as such it is occasionally entertaining, and occasionally informative. But it is not a resource for those wanting guidance, or rulings on tricky points. She doesn't set out to do that! Let us all be "good, honest editors". But those of us who contribute to MOS have a further responsibility: to give more acute and focused direction than just "read this best-seller". That's all putting Truss in our list would amount to. I don't mean to discourage you; I know you want the best for everyone. I just happen to disagree strongly that this is the best. We're trying to trim MOS down; that's going to be hard if we have a long list of extra resources, and if Truss is there then so should a dozen genuine punctuation guides be there also.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 07:49, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
I feel there should be at least one punctuation guide listed. Perhaps you would like to suggest one? Rumiton (talk) 13:31, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
I understand that feeling, Rumiton. I could suggest several that are better than Truss's, but I am reluctant to add any of them. We don't want to open the floodgates. As I say, there is a push to make things trim, taut, readable, and useful at MOS. What we include in that section is a broad question which I (and other MOS I know) would like to discuss. Perhaps we can broach that general question, yes? It belongs with a whole suite of questions about the status of MOS and of its satellites like WP:MOSNUM, and the relations among all of these far-from-heavenly bodies.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 12:16, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
How would you phrase that broad question, Noetica? And who are the "we" of whom you have now twice spoken? I sniff royalty again, if perhaps not deity. Rumiton (talk) 12:32, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
Go sniff elsewhere, Rumiton, if you can't be civil. "We" refers to "you, me, and other editors". Got that? In particular, it refers to those of us who have diligently make hundreds of thoughtful edits at WP:MOS and here at WT:MOS, and who are interested in the big picture, not just the odd detail. The broad question concerns these matters: the content and scope of MOS; the content, scope, and number of subsidiary MOS-type pages; the nature of the relations among all of these pages; how consensus is to reached on matters of style; and where and how discussion towards consensus should be conducted.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 12:56, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
I don't believe I was being uncivil, or certainly not deliberately so, but thank you for including "me" in the "we". I think the more help we can give to people whose school classes failed and misled them, who believe correct spelling and punctuation have no uses, who cannot understand why their daily online lives are marked by misunderstandings and howling acrimony, the better it will be, and they will need material pitched to their needs. I believe Truss is a pretty good, if old-fashioned, incomplete and flawed, start. I would also like to become involved in the broad question. Thank you for responding. Rumiton (talk) 11:39, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Reasoning for unique section titles

In the Section headings section it is said that:

  • Section names should preferably be unique within a page; this applies even for the names of subsections. The disadvantages of duplication are that:
    • after editing, the display can arrive at the wrong section; see also below; and
    • the automatic edit summary on editing a section with a non-unique name is ambiguous.

There is yet another problem with duplicate headings, and I should like to know whether it is admissable. It is this:

Opinions? Waltham, The Duke of 14:54, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

Sounds fine to include. Tony (talk) 14:59, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
I thought it would be interesting (and accurate—I conducted a couple of relevant experiments some time ago). However, I shall wait for a couple of days before I make the edit, in case there are any objections. Waltham, The Duke of 15:09, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

You can link to them: an underscore and number are appended to duplicate section names. E.g. for three sections named "Example", the names (for section linking) will be "Example", "Example_2" and "Example_3".--Patrick (talk) 18:46, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

This is indeed a good reason not to include my idea. Although it ought to be said that, even with the impediment removed, the duplication of section titles does complicate matters. Quite unnecessarily so.
So, lesson learned: I had better take some time off and read more of the documentation. The only problem is that there is so much of it. I suppose I shall require some sort of plan... Waltham, The Duke of 00:05, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Question about an article title

I'm reading the manual of style for the first time, and I'm working on an article at the same time. I noticed I'm going to have to change the name of NEE (which is Dutch for no, not an acronym but written in all caps, and is the name of a political party) to the translated English name without all capitals, "No", right?

A problem that will rise then is that the name of the party will be confusing if used in a sentence (confusion with the English word no). How do I make it clear that I'm using No as a name. Italics? Key to the city (talk) 17:51, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

I'd retain the caps when NEE refers to the political group, and use our "words as words" italics when referring to nee and no as words in, respectively, Dutch and English. Tony (talk) 00:44, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the response. Personally, I'm fine with keeping the all caps, but I'm confused. This suggest to always avoid all caps, and this suggests the same even when the organisation, NEE in this case, has the habbit of writing its own name in all caps: Follow standard English text formatting and capitalization rules even if the trademark owner considers nonstandard formatting "official": avoid: REALTOR®, TIME, KISS; instead, use: Realtor, Time, Kiss. Key to the city (talk) 01:31, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Proposal: permit non-hyphen form with units in full form, to match guidance for symbolic form

Until recently, AKS Continental said: "ladder frames of 7 foot 6 inch wheelbase could be used". That is unambiguous and looks right to me, just as "40 mm gun" and "40 millimetre gun" do. I edited it using the convert template and found that hyphens had been added in order to comply with guidance here. It now says: "ladder frames of 7-foot-6-inch wheelbase could be used". I agree with the format used by the previous editor and think the hyphens make it look worse.

I do have the option of changing it to symbolic form: "ladder frames of 7 ft 6 in wheelbase could be used" because there is an inconsistency in the guidance i.e. hyphens are not mandatory for symbolic forms.

The hyphen it is not required for resolving an ambiguity. It is inconsistent to mandate a hyphen in the full form but not in the symbolic form. I would like to deregulate this guidance so that editors that write: "7 foot 6 inch wheelbase" and "40 millimetre gun" are not in conflict the the MOS.

My proposal is to change the guidance as follow:

The examples would also have to be updated to match the guidance. Lightmouse (talk)

I think that the hyphenated usage is more proper. I don't think the guideline should be changed. TomTheHand (talk) 20:57, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
Very much agree. 7-foot-six-inches just looks weird. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 01:28, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. Please support the proposal, or offer an alternative proposal that will permit "7 foot 6 inch" without hyphens. Lightmouse (talk) 09:39, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Note that for SI units, there is an explicit international standard rule (e.g., NIST SP811 section 7.2, ISO 31-0, ...) not to use a hyphen between a number and a unit symbol, and there seems to be a tradition in Wikipedia to apply the same SI style rules also to the non-SI unit symbols listed in the appendices of ISO 31, including in, ft, yd, etc. In that sense, it should clearly be “a 7 ft 6 in wheelbase” and “a 9 mm gun”. The SI style rules only apply to numbers followed by unit symbols, so you can still write “a nine-millimeter gun” or “a 9-millimeter gun” if you prefer. In any case, it is important to remember that the purpose of the hyphen is to simplify reading/parsing and to avoid ambiguity, and there is usually no ambiguity when a singular noun is prefixed by a number and a unit symbol. That's because unit symbols are never used as nouns (you wouldn't write “He really fought for the last mm.”). Some people argue that a phrase like “the samples were placed in 22 mL vials” might be ambiguous, because it could be referring to 22 one-milliliter vials, but I think in that case the sentence should have been written as “the samples were placed in 22 vials of 1 mL each”. Markus Kuhn (talk) 10:20, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Values and units used as compound adjectives are hyphenated only where the unit is given as a whole word, except where the effect would be ungainly ("a 7 foot 5 inch wooden plank" rather than "a 7-foot-5-inch wooden plank").

I think Markus has said it very well. SI rules only apply to symbolic forms but are interesting and relevant. The form Oerlikon 20 mm cannon and the form "refitted with a 20 millimetre Phalanx CIWS" are consistent and unambiguous. If you prefer you can be consistent or inconsistent. There are plenty of things that the MoS should address but this stylistic preference should not be mandatory. We would then not have a problem with the editors that wrote: "7 foot 6 inch wheelbase" and "20 millimetre Phalanx". Lightmouse (talk) 11:09, 29 December 2007 (UTC)


Hyphens must still be allowed where they are needed to confirm that a word denotes a unit: 2-foot pumps (not a pair of pumps to go on my feet), 2-yard brushes (not a couple of brushes for cleaning my yard), etc. This ambiguity is less common with SI units. Certes (talk) 15:07, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Indeed. The hyphen is a tool that can resolve a reasonable ambiguity. The Guardian style guide says:
Quote: use hyphens where not using one would be ambiguous, eg to distinguish "black-cab drivers come under attack" from "black cab-drivers come under attack". Lightmouse (talk) 21:20, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Your wording is no improvement, Lightmouse. All that really needs to be changed is the middle example, from

Incorrect:9-mm gap
Correct:9 mm gap (rendered as 9&nbsp;mm gap)
Incorrect:   9 millimetre gap
Correct:9-millimetre gap
Correct:12-hour shift
Correct:12 h shift

to something like this

. . .
Acceptable:9 millimetre gap
Acceptable:9-millimetre gap
. . .

Gene Nygaard (talk) 09:13, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Crossposted from Talk:Serial comma

Punctuation, particularly in the US, was standardized quite recently (i.e. the last 150 years) and mandatory use of the serial comma arose as a consquence of foolish consistency more than the accurate notation of spoken language, the Oxford style manual not withstanding.

As a reference work Wikipedia must evenhandedly put forth the opposing positions, but in its own recommnded usage may do as it (i.e. its Wikipedians) prefer, and the ultimate test is ambiguity and lack thereof.

Further, en.wikipedia.org is the English language Wikipedia, not Wiki USA, and should reflect worldwide use, which runs against the serial comma. Proposed, then, to use a serial comma when doing so eliminates ambiguity and not when it does not.

NB I am advocating not using the serial comma under most circumstances; in many cases it makes no difference whether it's there or not, and I say, "When in doubt, leave it out!" Robert Greer (talk) 03:39, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

[Also crossposted:]

Some good points, and thank you - though perhaps you should take your suggestions to Wikipedia talk:Manual of style rather than here, which is meant to be a discussion about the article rather than about the serial comm as such. I hope you notice that our article on the serial comma does as you say, and uses a serial comma only where necessary to avoid ambiguity. Or at least I hope it does - I am forever deleting one from the list of languages that do not use a serial comma! Snalwibma (talk) 08:54, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

[Also crossposted:]

Thank you, I'll do so! Robert Greer (talk) 21:03, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Robertgreer, this topic will come up again and again. An MOS consensus policy on the serial comma is not, however, feasible. I, for example, support New Hart's Rules (NHR) and the current Oxford Guide to Style (OGS) on which NHR is based. Both more or less say that the serial comma often helps the reader, even when by an effort of concentration the logical divisions can be worked out. OGS is more compelling on this than NHR (bold added for emphasis):

For a century it has been part of OUP style to retain [the serial comma] consistently, [...] but it is commonly used by many other publishers both here and abroad, and forms a routine part of style in US and Canadian English. [...] Given that the final comma is sometimes necessary to prevent ambiguity, it is logical to impose it uniformly, so as to obviate the need to pause and gauge each enumeration on the likelihood of its being misunderstood – especially since that likelihood is often more obvious to the reader than the writer." (OGS, 5.3, "Comma")

I put it to you that the portion I have emphasised in bold deserves a close and careful reading. It is not "foolish consistency" (as you say without support; and check your link, which doesn't take us anywhere useful). Nor does the serial comma conflict with "accurate notation of the spoken language" (again, no support). Those who say that we do not pause before the relevant conjunction need to listen, with scrupulous attention.
So you see? A case can be made the other way. And trust me: it will be made the other way, it necessary.
But experience here shows that such a clash would be a hand-wringing waste of time. I suggest we address other things instead, like markup for the hard space: an urgent matter which consistently escapes editors' attention because it is by its very nature elusive.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 23:54, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Quotation mark

A source said that period and commas should be written within the quotation marks. Only the exclamation and question mark do have exemptions. BritandBeyonce (talk) 12:33, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

An exclamation mark or question mark goes inside the quotes if and only if it is part of the quotation. Robert Greer (talk) 18:35, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Question marks and exclamation points are easy to understand whether they're included in the quoted material or not. What about comma and period? A lot of FAs are having problems with that. BritandBeyonce (talk) 08:36, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Stuff inside quote marks belongs to the quote. Stuff outside does not. Thus I would write:
  • User BritandBeyonce asked the question "What about comma and period?" because there appeared to be some confusion.
Similarly, the capital at the beginning and the period at the end of a sentence both belong to the quote. Thus I would write:
  • He then added the sentence "A lot of FAs are having problems with that.".
I do not know if that is what the guidelines require, but that is what I do. Lightmouse (talk) 09:56, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Do not add period at the end. Also, I am very much familiar with the usage of quotation marks with regards to question marks and exclamation points. What is my very concern is the period and comma.

..."Let Me Blow Ya Mind".
but
..."Let Me Blow Ya Mind."

These are some errors in FA articles. Confusing and inconsistent right?

Take a look at this:

Double quotation marks " "

1. Enclose direct quotations but not indirect quotation.
• She said, "I am leaving."
• She said that she was leaving.

2. Enclose words or phrases borrowed from others, words used in a special way, and words of marked informality when introduced into formal writing.
• Much of the population in the hellish future he envisions is addicted to "derms," patches that deliver potent drug doses instantaneously through the skin.
• He called himself "emperor," but he was really just a dictator.
• He was arrested for smuggling "smack."

3. Enclose titles of poems, short stories, articles, lectures, chapters of books, short musical compositions, and radio and TV programs.
• Robert Frost's "After Apple-Picking"
• Cynthia Ozick's "Rosa"
• The third chapter of Treasure Island is entitled "The Black Spot."
• "All the Things You Are"
• Debussy's "Clair de lune"
• NBC’s "Today Show"

4. Are used with other punctuation marks in the following way:
4a. The period and the comma fall within the quotation marks.
• "I am leaving," she said.
• It was unclear how she maintained such an estate on "a small annuity."
4b. The colon and semicolon fall outside the quotation marks.
• There was only one thing to do when he said, "I may not run": promise him a large campaign contribution.
• He spoke of his "little cottage in the country": he might better have called it a mansion.
4c. The dash, the quotation mark, and the exclamation point fall within the quotation marks when they refer to the quoted matter only; they fall outside when they refer to the whole sentence.
• "I can't see how—" he started to say.
• He asked, "When did she leave?"
• What is the meaning of "the open door"?
• The sergeant shouted "Halt!"
• Save us from his "mercy"!

5. Are not used with yes or no except in direct discourse.
• She said yes to all our requests.

6. Are not used with lengthy quotations set off from the text.

Source: The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 1998

Note that the period and comma should be written inside the quotation marks. BritandBeyonce (talk) 10:10, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

That's the opinion of Merriam-Webster. I think that this has been discussed many times before. Wikipedia, after much discussion, prefers "logical quotation" - that is, to include punctuation within the quotation marks only when it comes from the quotation; to put it another way, Wikipedia believes that nothing should be put in a quote that is not part of it. So I would say: 'BritandBeyonce said, "Note that the period and comma should be written inside the quotation marks."' But: '"Note that the period and comma should be written inside the quotation marks", said BritandBeyonce.' Because the original source has a full stop at the end, if I change this to a comma that needs to go outside the quotation marks, to show that it isn't part of the quote. This is also usual (though not universal) British style; most US sources, such as the one you have quoted, say otherwise, although logical quotation has a growing following in the US, particularly in technical writing (see, for example, Hacker Writing Style in the Jargon File). TSP (talk) 11:45, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
I do believe that logical quotation looks proper but don't you know that FAs are having problems with that? Its confusing and articles tends to be inconsistent and incoherent with our guides. BritandBeyonce (talk) 06:37, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Which FAs in particular? Strad (talk) 03:08, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
Gwen Stefani songs that have already gained FA statuses. BritandBeyonce (talk) 08:03, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

'Logical quotation'

I've been challenged when I put periods and commas inside quotation marks, based on Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Quotation marks, that Wikipedia uses "logical quotation." I've never heard of this. I understand that putting periods and commas inside or outside of quotation marks is basically American vs. British usage. I would like to challenge this idea of "logical quotation": what is the source for it? It looks like it's either from technical writing or something made up. What outside source is Wikipedia basing its style on? InkQuill (talk) 18:32, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

Basing from news articles from websites, they do not use logical quotations. --BritandBeyonce (talk) 02:04, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
As well you should be challenged. It's not a transatlantic issue, since many US publications forbid internal punctuation, and many publications in the UK and elsewhere use the discredited internal system. WP does not have to follow external sources in determining its rules of style. See archives here for more. Tony (talk) 04:07, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
I am not forcing anyway to change the policy. I am more concerned with FAs having inconsistency issues. --BritandBeyonce (talk) 04:18, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

This is a god-damned thing that Wikipedia has made up. (And Tony seems to be stubborn as hell in trying to enforce it.) It's in the guidelines (which only means that it is suggested) but it is not absolute. It is wrong. You can't make up your own grammar rules. This has been discussed at length. What I and most do is follow the American English v. Brit/Euro English differences: If it is an American-specific article, follow American grammar; if Brit, follow Brit/Euro or whatever is correct for that language. Most importantly is to be consistent within articles. But I hardly ever find consistency. Tony will say it not U.S. (notice the periods) v. Brit. That's his opinion. The evidence speaks for itself. Type the way you know is grammatically correct. ---- Bobopaedia (talk) 05:09, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

Bobo, you've had several sprays here about your notion of what is correct grammar (it's not a grammatical issue, anyway) and your hunches as to some transatlantic conspiracy; you've been howled down by others for your troubles. Give it away. Tony (talk) 05:32, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

If you are going to refer to me, at least use my correct user name. I am not "Bobo." And you, Tony, seem to be the predominant one howling. I have no trans-Atlantic "conspiracy"; where is this so-called "conspiracy"?; who am I conspiring with? Geez. The fact is Americans and Brits punctuate differently--which I have simply stated--and that does not make a conspiracy. Yes, IT IS a grammatical issue. This "logical" puncutation does not follow American rules. And if it doesn't follow British rules, then it is not following TWO systems of punctuation. Why learn years and years of English (British or American) and then not use it correctly? Bobopaedia (talk) 10:11, 18 January 2008 (UTC) P.S. Thanks to those below who spoke up and to the typesetting history. I didn't know any of the details as to why the American system was as such.

Why are you so inflexibly married to certain rules—the ones you first learnt, it seems. WP is an international project, so you can't expect that everything they taught you at grade school will do. It's online and not on paper, and is aimed at its own particular readership, which are further reasons for being flexible. Similarly, if you wrote for a particular US publication, you'd have to follow their house rules, which will never be entirely the same as others. Loosen up. Tony (talk) 11:24, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I have a college degree, have both written and edited technical and nontechnical writing, and have more than just grade-school courses in English. By the way, I just read all the mean, arrogant things you said to people at the discussion for featured article consideration for the article Analytical Review (Featured article candidates). Bobopaedia (talk) 14:15, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
You have a college degree? Wow. It shouldn't be hard for you, then, to comprehend the issue. As far as the personal attack goes, I don't mind it; others react badly, but I see no point in that. Speak your mind if it makes you feel better, and move on. Tony (talk) 14:59, 18 January 2008 (UTC) (B's personal attack was removed soon after this entry.) Tony (talk) 15:05, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
That was done after messaging with someone on Wikipedia and before I saw your response. Whatever timing was there was purely coincidental. I am not warring with you anymore on this issue. Bobopaedia (talk) 22:40, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Bobopaedia, you didn’t know anything about the reasons for some rule, yet defend it with claws and teeth? Wow! I’m stunned.
OTOH, it happens a lot around here at MoS, but most editors don’t confess their bias as frankly as you did. Christoph Päper (talk) 13:22, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I didn't know the part about the baseline. And what does OTOH mean? Bobopaedia (talk) 14:59, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

I feel I must weigh in on this. I understand the reasoning behind "logical quotation," and I agree that it has merit in coding and in technical writing, both of which have historical basis for using nonproportional typefaces, in which the spacing between letters does not vary and thus does not figure into readability considerations. As a typesetter, I also know that punctuation is not a "logical" process; it has entirely to do with readability. For typesetters, the rule is to put punctuation within quotes that does not rise above the baseline, such as periods and commas; and other punctuation, such as question marks, exclamation marks, semicolons, etc., outside unless the punctuation is part of the quoted string. As a typesetter, I see violations of this rule as jarring errors, and hard to ignore. Putting baseline punctuation outside quotemarks upsets the visual rhythm of the typesetting, thus affecting readability. While some argue that so-called "logical quotation" removes ambiguity, in reality a reader gets the sense of the sentence almost entirely from context. Placement of baseline punctuation is a letter-spacing issue, having to do with how marks are made and how we use our eyes. Exceptions can (and should) be made in technical writing (which Wikipedia isn't), legal writing, and coding, all of which employ recursive reading practices that have little else to do with "why we read." rowley (talk) 20:39, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Rowley claims that Wikipedia isn't technical writing, but some articles are. Also, with the pervasive use of the Internet in all fields, with the associated requirement that URLs be written perfectly, some of the requirements of technical writing are invading all writing. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:53, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Hear, hear, rowley!! You have said so well what I have understood instinctively as a journalist and printophile. Wikipedia is not even consistent in its style, as above comments have shown. While it's not worth getting into editing wars, I'm definitely going to stick with good old American punctuation rules in U.S.-based subjects, despite snarky retorts about how I should be challenged (as if I'm not entitled to an opinion) and how others are insulted for professing their point of view. "Several sprays"? As we punctuate in the U.S., "Give me a break." InkQuill (talk) 22:20, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Setting aside the question of whether Wikipedia is technical writing, there is still no conflict here. If an article is written so much in the style of technical writing that the same considerations apply, then, by all means, punctuate according to the requirements of technical writing. For the vast majority of Wikipedia writing, the readability will be improved by following the conventions of proportionally-based type, i.e., typesetting. When I say "rule," above, I mean something to be faithfully but not rigidly followed. Wikipedia should desire consistency, but consistency, itself, has to fall within considerations of applicability. rowley (talk) 16:59, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
Support rowley. Wikipedia is inconsistent because of this "logical quotation." --BritandBeyonce (talk) 07:22, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
Um ... so just because there's grammatical inconsistency on WP—and plenty of MOS breaches—we should throw MOS and English grammar to the wind? And I completely disagree that internal punctuation is somehow "nicer" to read, which is a line peddled above. Tony (talk) 08:04, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
Definitely. We don't want to pursue on things that might harm Wiki. Wikipedia is still on the verge of establishing credibility. On the grammar, why throw to the wind? Its just a matter of adopting easy guidelines. --BritandBeyonce (talk) 08:12, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
Research on conventional vs. logical punctuation

Throw English grammar to the wind? Where I learned English, or rather punctuation, the rule was to put periods and commas inside quotation marks. So we're not advocating against proper rules, but for them. And rather than "peddling" the idea that internal punctuation is nicer to read, I think rowley was basing what he said on readability studies and/or years of printing tradition. It's the idea that he is "peddling" something that is itself simply opinion. But this is clearly not a new question. Here's what Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage, a British source, says:

"Questions of order between inverted commas [quotation marks] and stops [commas, periods, colons, semi-colons] are much debated and a writer's personal preference often conflicts with the style rules of editors and publishers. There are two schools of thought, which might be called the conventional and the logical. The conventional prefers to put stops within the inverted commas, if it can be done without ambiguity, on the ground that this has a more pleasing appearance. The logical punctuates according to sense, and puts them outside except when they actually form part of the quotation, thus: (examples snipped) ...
"The conventional system is more favoured by editors' and publishers' rules. But there are important exceptions, and it is to be hoped that these will make their influence felt. The conventional system flouts common sense, and it is not easy for the plain man to see what merit it is supposed to have to outweigh that defect; even the more pleasing appearance claimed for it is not likely to go unquestioned." (A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Second Edition, H.W. Fowler, revised and edited by Sir Ernest Gowers (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965).

How prescient is that? My point is not that conventional punctuation should be adopted, but that we shouldn't insult those who disagree. The Chicago Manual of Style calls for conventional punctuation: "When the context calls for a comma at the end of material enclosed in quotation marks, parentheses, or brackets, the comma should be placed inside the quotation marks but outside the parentheses or brackets" (13th edition, page 146). The Careful Writer by Theodore M. Bernstein does not appear to deal with the question explicitly but uses conventional punctuation throughout. So those of us who advocated conventional punctuation are doing so based on solid editing and publishing ground. I'm interested in seeing sources that call explicitly for logical punctuation. I don't know of any myself, and in fact have never seen it widely used, which is why Wikipedia's use of it baffles me. Maybe in some countries it is the norm. It is not in the United States. — InkQuill 00:52, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

InkQuill, please see the archives of this talk page for copious debates, some of them quite recent. Tony (talk) 11:42, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
Why do we have to go back their? That's why editors kept discussing on this for this guideline is not yet over. Why don't you go over on this Tony: "Smells Like Teen Spirit." --BritandBeyonce (talk) 07:21, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Action on markup for the hard space

This is an update for the discussion above concerning the hard space (or non-breaking space). We set up a page to consider some convenient markup for this essential but neglected character (currently the awkward and intrusive "&nbsp;", with a couple of work-around alternatives). I urge interested editors to take a look at the options we have assembled, and to join the discussion. We'll be voting soon on which to choose, and how to proceed. Just click here.

– Noetica♬♩Talk 22:31, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

PS The shortlist and place for providing your feedback on it are here. Tony (talk) 00:11, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Opportunity to vote now

We have finalised a reasonable shortlist of options for the hard space. You can register your vote now! Just click HERE.

– Noetica♬♩Talk 03:51, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

Correct name: "no-break space"

The character of interest here has been called in all the coded character-set standards for the last quarter century the "no-break space" and is commonly abbreviated as NBSP (refs: ISO 8859, ISO 10646, Unicode, all the ECMA character-set standards, and two decades of literature on the subject). Can we please stick exactly to this well-established well-defined unambiguous technical term, and not muddy the waters by introducing lots of new fantasy terminology, such as "non-breaking space" or "hard space"? Thanks! Markus Kuhn (talk) 10:00, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

"No-break" is better than "non-breaking". If you're referring to my recent edit to the section in MOS, in which I used the term "hard space" a few times, I'm quite willing to change it to "no-break", especially as it says exactly what it is, where "hard" has to be unpacked in the context. Tony (talk) 10:10, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
Short answer to Marcus: no. Language changes. In fact, no precision is lost by using the very convenient term hard space, provided we define our terms early on. Nothing is gained by putting down those people who use a convenient term that is used in much style-guide literature, and well understood.
Accurate naming is important, I agree! But Marcus: why not address the far more pressing matter of substance, here? Your contribution to reforming markup for the space in question would be most welcome!
Not enough action at this page. Too much talk with too little outcome.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 16:37, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
This does not surprise me much; it is one of the least busy periods of the year in Wikipedia. You should see how slowly business progresses in SBS; to be accurate, everything has stopped! Waltham, The Duke of 17:18, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
Ah, Waltham. I mean usually, not just now. :)
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:12, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

"Because" and "since"

What is Wikipedia's style on the usage of these words? I've seen "since" used interchangably with "because", but I do not think that usage is correct. Opinions, judgements, etc. are much anticipated. Thanks Fdssdf (talk) 06:25, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

You might have included "as", too—apparently favoured in this role in North America. I discourage its use, since it's often ambiguous ("Can't do it as the machine stops"—as = while or because?). "Because" and "since" are interchangeable, I think, but I may be corrected by Hoary on this point. Where is he? Tony (talk) 06:36, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
You rang? -- Hoary (talk) 07:29, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
Oh I see. Clearly since and because aren't interchangable: *I've been waiting for you because 8:30. But can since be used for causation (Since he broke it, he'll have to pay for it)? Well, why the hell not? Ah, somebody may say, the reason not is that it's potentially ambiguous: his obligation to pay for it may be read as having a merely temporal and not causal relationship to his having broken it. To which my reply would be that that person either (a) is overly worried about imagined comprehension problems of people for whom English is a second language, or (b) has been reading the wrong kind of writings on language. Same for as. Let's take Tony's example: Can't do it as the machine stops. Even without context, I'll venture that it's something like I can't do what you suggest, since/because/as the machine stops when somebody does it. There's no risk of the sense of while, because the simple present would then be unidiomatic at best; cf the idiomatic Can't do it as/while the machine is stopping. (Come to think of it, even the machine is stopping is a unlikely. But let's avoid that digression.) So: since and as are perfectly good and indeed shorter alternatives to because; they're unpretentious, idiomatic, and almost never ambiguous (or anyway almost never problematically so) as long as you're the careful writer that your interest in these matters suggests you are. But don't let your interest turn into an obsession; and if you've already acquired any books on the avoidance of alleged "errors" in English (infer for imply, etc.), toss them into the trash. -- Hoary (talk) 07:54, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
Hoary, I've numbered my responses. (1) I meant interchangeable in the causal context, anyway.
(2) "Since he broke it, he'll have to pay for it" can't be anything but causal ("Since the day on which he broke it, he'll have to pay for it" just doesn't work in tense/mood terms).
(3) I don't agree that "Can't do it as the machine stops" has no potential for ambiguity. The machine starts and stops continually, and you can't press the self-oiling button as it stops, only while it's operating. Or you can't press that button because it stops. Perhaps that wasn't an ideal example; I'm motivated to press this issue because I have had to change "as" into "since" or "because" to avoid serious ambiguity‚ by which I mean that I seriously couldn't work out which meaning was intended. Wish I'd recorded some as examples. Tony (talk) 10:22, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
Then all right, I'll concede that on occasion there are ambiguities. But most of the time there aren't, and as and since are then perfectly good choices. -- Hoary (talk) 10:28, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
My concern is that it is incorrect, the "because"/"since" fiasco. AP Style is that "since" can only be used when referring to time-related events, especially events in the past. "Because", the AP manual says, is used only for causation. It goes on to explain that "since" cannot act as substitute for "because". That is, of course, AP Style, though. I just wanted to shed some light on what another MoS had to say. Thanks for the responses, though. Fdssdf (talk) 18:22, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for telling me this about the AP manual. I'd only been vaguely aware of its existence; now I know that, in common with many other "style manuals", its right place is the garbage can. ¶ Alternatively, you are of course free to disagree not only with me (hardly a good writer, let alone any kind of arbiter of usage) but also with the author of a novel that I surely do not need to name and from which I quote the following. ¶ For her the streets that lay around her had no squalor, since she paced them always in the gold nimbus of her fascinations. Her bedroom seemed not mean nor lonely to her, since the little square of glass, nailed above the wash-stand, was ever there to reflect her face."You want to be rid of me?" asked Zuleika, when the girl was gone. / "I have no wish to be rude; but — since you force me to say it — yes."You think you can drive me out of your life. You cannot, darling — since you won't kill me.Since there was nothing to do but sit and think, he wished he could recapture that mood in which at luncheon he had been able to see Zuleika as an object for pity.Since he was not immortal, as he had supposed, it were as well he should die now as fifty years hence. -- Hoary (talk) 03:45, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
I do not accept that since and because are interchangeable, or that fragments such as Since he broke it, he'll have to pay for it are for all practical purposes unambiguous. The choice of future tense in he'll have to pay for it suggests causality, but the choice of past tense as in Since he broke it, he's had to pay for it could be suggesting causality, a temporal relationship, or both. The context would perhaps help a reader to decide, but why pose the question in their mind by mixing the two ideas? We should probably leave the separate discussion about infer vs imply for another day. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 18:58, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
If an instance of since is ambiguous, change it. If an instance of since is unambiguous, don't change it. No need to lay down blanket prescriptions. Strad (talk) 00:16, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
That's a generally good rule, but I don't think it'll ever catch on. :-)
What most people want from a manual of style is "blanket prescriptions". You don't have to look through many FACs to see what confusion the present discrepancies in the MOS are causing. And you don't have to look through many non-FACs to see how widely the MOS is ignored. Simple rules are simple to follow, and the simple rule is that since implies a temporal relationship, not a causal one. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 00:26, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
That's a simplistic rule of the kind that simple-headed schoolmarms (of all sexes and ages) may wish to teach to people they consider simpletons. When en:WP's MoS strays from being en:WP's equivalent of the older Chicago Manual of Style to something even more schoolmarmish and ostrichy than Chicago (15th ed), I say that the simple rule is to scrap all these musty myths about usage and instead to encourage people to use English words as they are defined in recent dictionaries, informed by systematic and open-minded lexicography. -- Hoary (talk) 03:45, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
Your way means that we only need to to know one word; D'oh. That, as Humpty Dumpty said, can mean whatever it is that you want it to mean. But it doesn't help me to understand what it was that you meant to say. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 03:49, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
No, it means that when people write English they should endeavor to use words as recent, well-informed dictionaries say those words are used, and that they should endeavor to be understood. Yes, since can on occasion be ambiguous. Writers may profitably be nudged to ask themselves if a particular use of since is indeed ambiguous. If it is indeed ambiguous, and only then, they would be well advised to use an alternative. In many contexts, however, since is a perfectly good and perfectly unambiguous alternative to because; and then people should be entirely free to use it, as good writers (e.g. Max Beerbohm) have long done to excellent effect. If some ninny in the pay of AP really wrote something to the contrary, then the AP book may have a certain unintended amusement value but otherwise sounds as if it should be pulped. -- Hoary (talk) 12:36, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

Sorry I'm late on this, but the points made here are important enough that I'd like to condense them, or my sense of them:

  1. "Since/because" has been one of those rules where the schoolmarms and style manuals have tended to be a little harsh, and even wrong, and
  2. Chicago (15th ed), available online by subscription, can be very useful if you're trying to educate yourself or come up with support for a particular usage, but it should not be used to answer questions about whether someone else's usage that sounds a little off should be allowed in Wikipedia. As intimidating as style manuals are, they don't in general even attempt to answer the question "I know this isn't what I'd say, but can we allow it?". They are prescriptive, not community-building. Unfortunately, even greater experience with current usage is needed to answer these kinds of questions, but fortunately, there are plenty of people at Wikipedia with just such experience. - Dan Dank55 (talk) 15:30, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

Typeface for unit symbols in this guideline

The WP:MOSNUM#Unit symbols and abbreviations states "In accordance with the rules of CGPM, NIST, National Physical Laboratory (UK), unit symbols are never italicized, but always in upright type." NIST Special Publication 811 states:

The typeface in which a symbol appears helps to define what the symbol represents. For example, irrespective of the typeface used in the surrounding text, ‘‘A’’ would be typed or typeset in
— italic type for the scalar quantity area: A;
— roman type for the unit ampere: A;
— italic boldface for the vector quantity vector potential: A .

I take "never" to mean "never" and "irrespective" to mean "irrespective", no mater what any style guide says. So I'm changing italicized units to roman type. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 23:30, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

Gerry, everywhere at WP:MOSNUM#Unit symbols and abbreviations (which you cite), unit symbols are italicised when they are mentioned rather than used. This is standard practice, and is required by MOS: "Italics are used when mentioning a word or letter (see Use–mention distinction) or a string of words up to a full sentence...". So unit symbols are also italicised when the text in which they are embedded is italicised, for whatever reason (like quotation, emphasis, or style applied for design reasons).[See my new comment below.– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:56, 3 January 2008 (UTC)]
We often see rulings like this: "The word biblical is never capitalised, though Bible usually is." But obviously biblical is capitalised if it starts a sentence. The ruling you invoke is clearly to be interpreted in the same practical way.
Accordingly, I am again undoing your reversion of Tony's work. I call on other editors to monitor this situation also.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:07, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
WP:MOSNUM#Unit symbols and abbreviations was in error in that respect, and I have corrected it. Note that NIST Special Publication 811 on page 34 contains this passage:
The above rules also imply, for example, that μ, the symbol for the SI prefix micro (10-6), that Ω, the symbol for the SI derived unit ohm, and that F, the symbol for the SI derived unit farad, are in roman type...
Notice that although these symbols are being mentioned, not used, they are nevertheless in roman type. I infer the reason NIST does this is because the danger of becoming confused about whether a character is a symbol or a variable is greater than the danger of becoming confused about whether a unit is being used or mentioned. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 00:22, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
Gerry, I withdraw one part of what I wrote above, since NIST Special Publication 811's wording is this: "The typeface in which a symbol appears helps to define what the symbol represents. For example, irrespective of the typeface used in the surrounding text,..." (p. 33). This applies to distinctions in only a few cases. Does it affect anything at all, for MOS or MOSNUM? It certainly does not affect the practice we should use for clarity in the section on non-breaking spaces. I stand by the rest of what I have said.
In any case, our explicit practice is different from that used in the document you cite. We explicitly call for italics in mentioning. Perhaps there should be exceptions for cases like this; but there are not. They would need to be discussed.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 01:15, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm somewhat with User:Gerry Ashton in this case, although not for any of the reasons that he's given. I think that in this specific case it's misleading to see a template used, followed by what is claimed to be the output from that template, when it actually isn't, in the sense that the template would not have italicised the output as suggested. I don't think that removing the italics, or adding quotes solves the problem either, so I'd maybe suggest using some kind of code box, as one would when writing an article on programming for instance. Which is, after all, almost what's being discussed in that section. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 01:04, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
Malleus, I agree that there are subtleties and difficulties in presenting such things at MOS. These exercise us a lot. They require discussion. Myself, I favour wholesale revision to put all examples in a distinct font; and set all longer examples off in separate lines. As with most matters here, the larger more general issue needs to be taken on, not just innumerable subordinate instances.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 01:15, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
I quite agree. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 03:30, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

The underlying problem is that there are different reasons for putting something into italics. The SI brochure and its clones (ISO 31-0, NIST SP811, etc.) really mean to say that you should not put unit symbols into italics where italics is already used for quantity symbols or variables, as in “vmax = 12 m/s”, in order to avoid confusion between quantities and units. Unfortunately, discussions about style guides quickly become dogmatic rather than pragmatic, the original practical reason for a rule is forgotten, and the rule starts to become a fact on its own. There is surely nothing wrong with writing an SI unit in italics if – for example – the entire sentence is in italics, as in “He reached a top speed of 12 m/s.” Given that many readers of style manuals seem to have problems with carefully differentiating why something has been put into italics, bold, capitalization, etc., it might indeed be wise to highlight examples via quotation marks, which is far less confusing in the context of font-style related rules than using italics. So in this example of unit symbol font style, I would write “kg” rather than kg in the MOS. The same probably applies to other parts of the MOS that discuss font style. Markus Kuhn (talk) 10:40, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

The reason for a typographic choice should always be kept in mind, and the style manual should be ignored in cases where following it does more harm than good. In the case of using italics for quantity symbols and variables, and roman type for unit symbols, I think the context of the entire article should be considered, not just one sentence or one paragraph.
Most writing discusses the quantities represented by variables, or the measurements that are labeled with units of measure, and in that context, variables should be in italics and unit symbols should be in roman type. To avoid confusion, the MOS should be written so that unit symbols can be presented in roman type, to reinforce the message that this is the normal way to write unit symbols, even if it is ultimately decided that unit symbols may be written in italics when discussing the symbols themselves rather than the units they represent. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 12:32, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
For what it’s worth I agree with Markus. I’d just prefer semantic markup over hardcoding either quotation marks or italics. Christoph Päper (talk) 12:41, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

Another reason (besides the useful distinction between quantities and units) for stressing that units should not be in italics is that some mathematical typesetting software (most notably LaTeX, which Wikipedia uses for formula typesetting) unfortunately very much encourages inexperienced users to typeset every letter in a formula in italics (presumably because such software was written for mathematics, where units and subscript-qualifiers are rare, and not in the physical and biological sciences, where both are very common). That requires a bit of counter-pressure from style-guide authors. Markus Kuhn (talk) 12:54, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

RfC: Should unit symbols ever be italicized?

The preceeding section discusses whether unit symbols should be italicized when being discussed as a term, rather than actually used to specify a unit of measure. The quoted NIST publication seems to indicate that unit symbols are never italicized under any circumstances. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 00:51, 3 January 2008 (UTC)


Very hasty, Gerry! We could simply work through a few issues collegially here, and see how that goes. Still, if you insist...
– Noetica♬♩Talk 01:16, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
This is rather a waste of everyone's time. I thought Noetica's point about bible above was the end of the matter. If it really makes you tremble, why not propose that the units be specified as normally appearing in roman face. Tony (talk) 01:23, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
It is not my intent to be uncollegial; it is my intention to attract the attention of editors who have had experience discussing unit symbols as terms, rather than just using them to indicate units of measure. I have had countless occasions to use SI units of measure, and even discuss the introduction of them into a company that used to use inches for horizontal measurements, but angstroms for vertical measurements, but I have seldom had occasion to discuss unit symbols as terms. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 01:25, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

To me, SI unit symbols are just words (well, abbreviations of words) and I don't think they should be treated any differently from other words. Like ordinary words, they are not ordinarily italicized by themselves merely for being SI unit symbols, but if the context they are used in is italics, then they should be italicized too. This includes use/mention, book titles, etc.

I think the current advice on Wikipedia:Manual of Style (text formatting) that says "Some things remain in upright regardless of the surrounding text... Symbols for units of measure such as kg, ft/s", besides being an unnecessary exception to the normal rules of italicization, results in ugly text that unnecessarily hides or calls attention to units:

Nohat (talk) 23:09, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

The scientific manuals that say units are never italicized are clearly talking about the use of such units, not their mention. Never, ever italicizing units leads to stylistic absurdities, as Nohat has demonstrated. Strad (talk) 00:57, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
Absolutely right. This is just a storm in a teacup about how units are represented in the style guide when giving examples, not how they ought to be represented in articles. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 01:10, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
Nohat's first example is a good illustration of the problem of wanting to emphasize that one is discussing the symbol itself, rather than the unit of measure represented by the symbol. The second example is less useful, however. Both the Wikipedia MOS and the SP 811 from NIST cleary indicate that Life at 200 kg and other collected stories is the correct typography, because what is being discussed is life when one is massive, not the symbol "kg". Furthermore, it is quite unusual for a unit symbol to occur in a title; ordinarily units are spelled out in titles. More common uses of italics would be for emphasis, or for phrases from a foreign language. In both cases, it is often helpful to distinguish between quantities versus the unit symbol. For example,
Take care that the output, V, never exceeds 100 V!
If editors automatically follow the MOS, rather than deciding what to do on a case by case basis, Wikipedia may be less aesthetically pleasing, but I believe there will be cases where editors enhance clarity without even realizing it. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 03:11, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps a useful guideline is that "being a unit never causes a word or abbreviation to be italicized". In other words, a unit is italicized only where ordinary text would also be italicized. As Nohat pointed out, it is correct to italicize kg in Life at 200 kg, but only because Main Street would be correspondingly italicized when referring to another book Life at 200 Main Street. Certes (talk) 22:52, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

 x = {1 \over n} \text{ m/s }
Note how x and n are in italics, while m and s are not. This form is a steadfast rule, and has been for centuries. There is no reason that it should not be part of the MoS. If the variable name is in roman characters, the units should still be as well. If the variable name and the surrounding text is in italics, then it is okay for the units to be in italics too, but that should be rare. MilesAgain (talk) 06:54, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Spelling in articles

I've proposed a method for making the spelling adopted by a particular article clear at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (spelling), please comment. Richard001 (talk) 23:09, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

Some users use British instead of American style (like center --> to centre). Isn't it confusing to readers? Here, we are in English Wiki, so using British styles should not be permitted. They can probably use that in the British Wiki. --BritandBeyonce (talk) 02:07, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Ha ha... no wait, he's serious!
Are you serious, BB?
– Noetica♬♩Talk 02:52, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Some FAs do use British style though we are in WP English (not to say bad about the other style). --BritandBeyonce (talk) 04:16, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Ermmm... I think BB is labouring under a basic misconception, here. Would someone like to draw him aside discreetly and explain?
– Noetica♬♩Talk 05:41, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
My head is spinning having just read this. Tony (talk) 06:25, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
What I'm trying to point out is when using English style, use it throughout the article or even throughout the English Wikipedia. --BritandBeyonce (talk) 07:27, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Are you saying that each article should stick to one style (be it British, American, Canadian, etc.) or are you saying that all articles should stick to American style? Jɪmp 07:44, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
On a particular article. Actually, I would love to say every editor should stick to one style (as I pointed out above) to have the best consistency measures but its hard, i think, since we have English and British editors here. --BritandBeyonce (talk) 07:49, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
An English person is British but how does their presence make it difficult to maintain a consistant style in an article? Jɪmp 07:53, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, what i wanted to say is American, not English. --BritandBeyonce (talk) 07:56, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
We've got New Zealanders and Canadians here too. Yes, with so many different nationalities it can get difficult to maintain one style throughout an article. However, good writing styles entails this kind of consistency. Therefore, our Manual of Style says that this is what we should do. There is no over-all preference though. Each article conforms to its style. Check out WP:ENGVAR (if you haven't already). Jɪmp 08:04, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Ok, you answered me already. I haven't read that yet, thanks for the link. After a minute of posting this, I just realized that we have diverse editors from a variety of nationalities. But what kept on nagging me is the inconsistency of quotation marks (see discussion above). --BritandBeyonce (talk) 08:18, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, we even have editors from the Philippines ;-) Inverted commas (i.e. quotation marks) are an issue about which there has been a lot of debate. Through this debate concensus has come down in favour of logical quotation which is not inconsistant with US English (as far as I'm aware). Jɪmp 08:39, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
And that's me. I'm from Philippines. (Sorry for making uncleared statements lately.) You have said, "not inconsistent," or "not inconsistent", (compare the two usage of quotation marks) but why there are some FAs here (though tagged as best articles) have inconsistencies? --BritandBeyonce (talk) 09:10, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
All is forgiven, BB. (Adopts Yoda-style voice:) You are young; but you will learn.
 :)
– Noetica♬♩Talk 09:41, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Ahem. Forgiven all is. Young you are but learn you will. Point is there none in the walk walking without the talk talking :) --ROGER DAVIES talk 17:42, 8 January 2008 (UTC) k
Why do some FA have inconsistencies? Good question, well, we're all from different countries but we are still all human. Maybe you'll get a better answer at WT:FA or WT:FAC but what you often see is a huge concentration of editing the day that the article hits the Main Page this tends to iron those inconsistencies out. Jɪmp 16:47, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, they elude a lot. There were even articles featured in the main page bearing this tag: [citation needed]. --BritandBeyonce (talk) 07:28, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

Indians or Native Americans?

HI. Please, I am having a little "dispute" (not really a dispute, because the editor involved is very courteous) regarding the use of Native American or Indian in William Cooley. Native American has been used in the past and changed to Indian during article reviews, now the editor wants to use Native American. I do not have any preference for one or other, I just could not find what is the MOS recommendation.--Legionarius (talk) 17:51, 5 January 2008 (UTC)

In Canada, the term "First Nations people" is also used. In the US, "Indians" was unpopular for a long time, but now many Native Americans are working to reclaim the word, and refer to themselves as Indians. There is even a bit of folk etymology that says that "Indian" comes from en diós, meaning "with God", because the Spanish supposedly found the native inhabitants to be spiritual and blessed (but see this.--Curtis Clark (talk) 19:49, 5 January 2008 (UTC)
Thank you. So either way can be used in Wikipedia?--Legionarius (talk) 01:44, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
I guess the point I was making is that there's little agreement, and it tends to be controversial.--Curtis Clark (talk) 04:32, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
Indian doesn't bother me, but I can't speak for the whole Cherokee Nation. —MJCdetroit (talk) 02:44, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

I’m the other editor in this “dispute”. First let me say I’m not Native American. I’m of mixed Jewish and other descent. I feel sympathetic towards Native Americans because their ancestors suffered genocide as did people closely connected with me. I personally don’t oppose the use of the word “Indian” in historical articles as the term was in common usage during William Cooley’s time. I feel there should be short section explaining that “Indian” is a controversial term and a link to the Native American name controversy. The opinions of Native Americans should carry more weight than my opinion here. I feel there is slight bias in the article. A massacre of white people by Native Americans is described in detail. There is no mention of worse massacres of Native Americans by whites. I feel there should be a short section explaining the context of the massacres.Barbara Shack (talk) 04:42, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

Yes, this has been discussed(look for "massacre")... it is called massacre in the article for historical purposes. Anyway, I think we are deviating from the point here. Looks like there is nothing against or pro "Indians" in the MOS. In this case, I think it can stay like it is; important as the question is, I do not think this article is the stage it should be discussed. This article is just a biography of the life of William Cooley, nothing else. --Legionarius (talk) 04:53, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
The latest APA style guideline on Unbiased language - Racial and Ethnic Identity, says "American Indian and Native American are both accepted terms for referring to indigenous peoples of North America, although Native Americans is a broader designation because the U.S. government includes Hawaiians and Samoans in this category. There are close to 450 Native groups, and authors are encouraged to name the participants' specific groups."(p.68) Which to me would mean specifying Seminoles or whatever specific group Cooley was interacting with, although either of the preferred terms would work in the broader sense.- Optigan13 (talk) 05:06, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
Hawaiians and Samoans, really? News to me. I would have thought the "American" in "Native American" referred to the Americas, not to the United States of America--the "native" part refers to ancestry rather than to the individual (otherwise I'm a native American), and in the era from which the ancestry is being considered, the United States didn't exist. And for the benefit of the geographically challenged, neither the Hawaiian Islands nor Samoa is in the Americas. Though I do admit I don't have an alternative suggestion for "peoples indigenous to lands currently making up the territory and possessions of the United States", which I suppose must be what the USG is getting at here. --Trovatore (talk) 06:37, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
Yeah really. When the census bureau refers to Native American they would be referring to territorial distinctions. I believe areas designated as Hawaiian and Samoan homelands have similar legal protections/restrictions as areas designated as American Indian reservations.[10] So the US territory and possessions is in fact the distinction there. In terms of defining race the census bureau uses "American Indian and Alaska Native alone" and "Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone"[11]. I had always understood Native American to refer to the indigenous people of North America, and Samoans and Hawaiians would be part of what is sometimes referred to as the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) group. In the article being referred to here either of the broad terms would work. -Optigan13 (talk) 07:31, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
Keep in mind that Yupik (Eskimos) and Aleuts are indigenous to the Americas, are also indigenous to areas now part of the US, and are not Indians.--Curtis Clark (talk) 15:04, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
Sensible suggestion. In this particular article, a bit complicated, since it was a mix of different tribes (mostly Seminoles, though).--Legionarius (talk) 05:58, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

Markup for hard space: voting ends soon!

There is discussion here about improved markup for the hard space (non-breaking space, non-break space, &nbsp;, etc.). Some of us are working towards an important proposal for this essential element in good editing, which escapes attention because spaces are invisible. See some of the earlier discussion above.

Editors still have the opportunity to vote for their preferred markup for the hard space. But voting ends soon: about 24 hours from the time of this posting, at 00:03, 7 January 2008 (UTC). [Voting has finished. See later section reporting the result.– Noetica♬♩Talk 09:03, 7 January 2008 (UTC)]

Let's all work on this one together.

– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:23, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

Voting has now ended.

– Noetica♬♩Talk 02:33, 7 January 2008 (UTC)


Do we use nbsp in an address?

I am having a minor edit skirmish, should an address have a non break space. For example, 23 Railway Cuttings. Should I do {{nowrap|23 Railway}} Cuttings? The MOS does not have an example of this type. MortimerCat (talk) 17:51, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

In careful work it is a good idea to use a hard space there, yes. Some style guides advocate it, though many do not because it is taken to be a matter of typesetting and therefore not even addressed. Arguably, our current guideline covers the present case:

In compound items in which numerical and non-numerical elements are separated by a space, a non-breaking space (or hard space) is recommended to avoid the displacement of those elements at the end of a line. A hard space can be produced with the HTML code &nbsp; instead of the space bar: 19&nbsp;kg yields a non-breaking 19 kg.

Why should we not think that 23 Railway Cuttings is such a "compound item"?
Same for the non-numeric George Bush Sr, in which most guides do not want a break after Bush. Consider H. W. Smith Jr. Two hard spaces are needed:

H.&nbsp;W. Smith&nbsp;Jr

The {{nowrap|}} template is also ugly here:

{{nowrap|H. W.}} {{nowrap|Smith Jr}}

See the preceding section, which points to discussion of how to make things better.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 22:26, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
Is it not more common to have no spaces between initials? So it would simply become:
{{nowrap|H.W. Smith Jr}}
You would not want the initials or the Jr to break off from the name, making it effectively one block.−Woodstone (talk) 22:47, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
Woodstone:
The question of spaces between initials is a separate one, as is the use of stops with initials. There are four possibilities (even without considering the variant Jr., and perhaps jr, jnr., and so on):

1. HW Smith Jr

2. H.W. Smith Jr

3. H. W. Smith Jr

4. H W Smith Jr

The first three of these have support from some or other style guide. Myself, I strongly prefer the first option.
But about your coding:

{{nowrap|H.W. Smith Jr}}

This would make the space before Smith non-breaking also, which is not prescribed by any style guide. That's part of the problem with such a template solution: you have to analyse too much, and often you do in fact have to apply the cumbersome template more than once. That said, in some cases it is a fine solution, where the editor can't or won't use special mathematical templates. I might want to present the following, in an article about possible worlds:

W1, 2, 4, 6–11, 17

Yes, the subscript can break! And it's a mess if it does.
So this is best:

{{nowrap|W<sub><small>1, 2, 4, 6–11, 17</small></sub>}}

As opposed to this:

W<sub><small>1, 2,&nbsp;4,&nbsp;6–11,&nbsp;</small>17</sub>

Tony:
Fair enough about abbreviations, but in fact it is common enough practice (and commonly prescribed in more comprehensive style guides) to include full words: chapters&nbsp;3–12, for example. Again, there are several interconnected issues here. Of course hard spaces can cause problems if used to excess. As things stand at Wikipedia, that is the least of our worries!
Reform is needed on many fronts. But I favour not addressing all these issues fully, until we have solved the problem of suitable markup for the hard space.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 03:34, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

Preferred way to add endash

What is the preferred way to add an endash, as you can either type out &_n_d_a_s_h_; (without the underscores), or add it directly as a single character (–). The former helps distinguish it from a hyphen in the page source (which is fixed font), while the latter takes up less space. Thoughts? --Jameboy (talk) 18:28, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

As far as I know, Wikipedia has deprecated pretty much all HTML entities. If you enter it from the toolbox it shows up as a single character. Strad (talk) 21:34, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
First, Jameboy, a good way to show the code &ndash; is to type &amp;ndash;. That's how it's done in MOS itself.
As things stand there is no guidance in MOS about how to enter the en dash or the em dash. There is advice about the hard space: "A hard space can be produced with the HTML code &nbsp; instead of the space bar: 19&nbsp;kg yields a non-breaking 19 kg." (See just above for current action concerning the hard space.)
Dashes are problematic, as you point out. Display depends on the user's system and preferences. It may be hard to distinguish between all three standard dash-like characters, especially when there's an isolated instance in the edit box, with a different font from the one you see right here:
- (hyphen)
– (en dash; ALT-0150)
— (em dash; ALT-0151)
Myself, I enter the dashes with the numpad codes as shown here.
Here is the input for some text using a properly spaced en dash, if you do it the other way:
"Spaced en dashes&nbsp;&ndash; like these ones&nbsp;&ndash; may replace em dashes."
So awkward! Improved markup for the hard space to replace &nbsp; would help a lot. Hence the current hard-space push.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 22:09, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
No doubt there are some few things to be said in favour of the Mac. But I happen to prefer computers. <*Ahem, blink, blink*>.
Seriously, we need to meet the needs of editors and readers with all manner of platforms and all levels of skill. That's the task, and it is not trivial at all.
As for the minus sign, in my opinion the en dash is acceptable, or even best, for isolated uses in non-scientific articles.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 03:41, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
If you've always driven a crappy old car, you don't know what a Rolls Royce is like, do you. Tony (talk) 14:00, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
Not everyone can afford a Rolls Royce, or else Toyota would have gone bankrupt long ago. In any case, I can lend you mine if any important occasion comes up. ;-) Mind you, it's a little old.
Now, does anyone know whether there is a bot substituting HTML dashes with their Unicode (sorry, almost wrote Unicorn there) counterparts? It would seem that there is not, but some users definitely do this very thing, and very bot-like, too. Waltham, The Duke of 10:38, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Combining with the proposed way of entering hard spaces, I would like to consider including some more special characters, for example we might define:
  • ,, converts to hard space (prevents line break)
  • ,., converts to hard line break (<br />)
  • ,-, converts to soft-hyphen (only shows if line break occurs)
  • ,--, converts to n-dash (&ndash;)
  • ,---, converts to m-dash (&mdash;)
  • ,x, what else?
Woodstone (talk) 11:17, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

Hard space: results of the vote on preferred markup

The hard-space working group has voted on preferred markup. See the results and join the discussion HERE. All editors are welcome, of course. The page has been trimmed and archived. Get oriented by reading at the top. The current agenda item is highlighted in yellow.

These discussions and votes do not aim at "official" status, but they will feed into a big proposal that we will make to the whole Wikipedia community.

– Noetica♬♩Talk 08:55, 7 January 2008 (UTC)


If you write ugly English you have no business writing a Manual Of Style

Had someone point me to WP:Gender-neutral language as justification for having gone though an article replacing "spokesman" with "spokesperson". Apparently the inmates have taken charge of the asylum, here. My comments, on the discussion page, there, were as follows:

First, thanks to Tobogganoggin for bringing this idiocy to my attention. I have looked into this, however, and any impression he may have had that the language police have the backing of policy is premature. It seems that WP:Gender-neutral language, is a how-to essay, not a mandate or even a guideline. The MOS, which itself is merely a guideline, now reads (and has for some months) "Please consider using gender-neutral language where this can be achieved in tidy wording and without loss of precision." This is itself such a poor example of written English ("...achieved in tidy wording"??? Wtf is that supposed to mean? Sure is ugly, though!) that anyone interested in good writing is surely free to ignore the opinions of the monkeys responsible for it. They clearly don't know how to write and have no business telling you. And the bottom line is that no policy requires you to put up with ugly neologisms like "chairperson"! If it's not a quote, blast it on sight!

Andyvphil (talk) 12:06, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

Please note that MOS requires a space after your ellipsis dots. Tony (talk) 13:49, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
My understanding is that the MOS doesn't require anything. That's the difference between a guideline and a policy. Andyvphil (talk) 14:49, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
"It is a generally accepted standard that all editors should follow." Clear enuff? Tony (talk) 15:07, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
It's clear you seem to be quoting something. Something I'm free to ignore? Andyvphil (talk) 14:51, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
"...achieved in tidy wording"??? Wtf is that supposed to mean? Sure is ugly, though! Sure is! "Achieved tidily" is what the fuck I suppose it's supposed to mean. (What do you suppose?) Actually monkeys weren't responsible for it; naked apes were. I hope that everything is now clear. Happy editing! -- Hoary (talk) 14:26, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
Clear as mud. "...achieved tidily" wouldn't be as ugly, but its uselessness as a guideline would be unchanged. If I change "chairman" to "chairperson" is the change "tidy" or not? The word "tidy" appears nowhere else on the page, so you're not going to get a clue from parallel usage. And I think you're wrong about the "naked apes"; the crew responsible for "...achieved in tidy wording" may have shaved, but they haven't evolved beyond gibbering. Andyvphil (talk) 14:49, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

MoS is effectively written by committee (at least with respect to the parts that are at all controversial), and writing by committee tends naturally toward the ugly. The section on gender-neutral language is merely one end of the distribution (as befits its controversial nature). A little perusing of "history" and the talk page will show that some of the suggested wordings were much "prettier", and much less agreed upon.--Curtis Clark (talk) 14:33, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

"...achieved in tidy wording"??? Wtf is that supposed to mean? Well, I can understand it, and I assume the dozens of editors who drafted the page can as well. Perhaps you should look into taking some classes. Strad (talk) 23:27, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
What it means is that those of "the dozens of editors who drafted the page" responsible for the atrocity shouldn't have passed their English Composition classes until they learned to recognize awful writing. Andyvphil (talk) 14:49, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
I am glad to hear that a lacking educational system is not just our country's problem. Well, this is obviously not good for you fellows, but this is life... Waltham, The Duke of 15:39, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Stirring comments, Andy! Let's take a look at one sample:
Examples of non-neutral language that can easily be avoided are:
  • male and female pronouns to refer to a generic person
  • man to stand for both genders, either as a separate item (man’s journey into the unknown) or a suffix (fireman)
  • grammatically marked items to represent one gender (actress, conductress, career woman and male nurse), with the possible implication that the participation of the other gender is the norm
I find all of that very easy to understand. Do you?
When we get to the expression, it's odd indeed: its use of gender to refer to real-world phenomena, and its extension of the "grammatical" to encompass derivational morphology. So I'd start by changing it to:
Examples of non-neutral language that can easily be avoided are:
  • male and female pronouns to refer to a generic person
  • man to stand for both sexes, as either a word (man’s journey into the unknown) or a suffix (fireman)
  • use of sex-specific suffixes and adjectives (actress, conductress, career woman and male nurse), perhaps suggesting that the participation of the other sex is the norm
But clearly you're the expert. Do you think I should have passed my English Composition class? Should I continue to type, or would I be well advised to spend my time swinging among the limbs of trees, screeching and lobbing the occasional coconut? -- Hoary (talk) 16:08, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
You're changing the subject, from the guideline (which is useless and badly written) to the essay which is wrongheaded but could be largely harmless if accurately and prominently labelled as such. Firefighters mostly fight forest fires, the folks down at the firehouse are often better referred to as firemen, and never as firepersons. Choosing which word to use is not a matter of "easy avoidance". Andyvphil (talk) 23:39, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
As neither MWU or OED agree with your restricted defintion of firefighter, perhaps straw man would be a better example? --ROGER DAVIES talk 00:31, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Dictionaries are exceedingly blunt instruments when the task at hand is choosing the right word. And, again, Choosing which word to use is not a matter of "easy avoidance". Andyvphil (talk) 14:32, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Oh, this little paragraph? Here it is:
Please consider using gender-neutral language where this can be achieved in tidy wording and without loss of precision. This recommendation does not apply to direct quotations, the titles of works (The Ascent of Man), or where all referents are of one gender, such as in an all-female school (if any student broke that rule, she was severely punished).
It certainly could be improved. Here's a first effort:
Use gender-neutral language where this can be done tidily and without loss of precision. However, do not tamper with direct quotations or the titles of works (The Ascent of Man), and don't worry about gender-neutrality when all referents are of one sex, such as in a girls' school (if any student broke that rule, she was severely punished).
Your turn. -- Hoary (talk) 00:12, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
As writing, greatly improved. As policy, a large step in the direction of naked aggression. Andyvphil (talk) 14:32, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
There's a world of difference in meaning between "Please consider using" and "Use". Jɪmp 01:07, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
That strikes me as rather an exaggeration but you do have a point. Well, it's a guideline and it clearly announces itself as a guideline. I see no need for it then to keep pointing out that it's only a guideline. -- Hoary (talk) 01:15, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
"Please consider" leaves the reader free to reject on any grounds he wishes. "'Spokesperson'? Yechh! Consideration complete." "Use", on the other hand, means, I am informed above, "all editors should follow". So, adopting your wording would mean that, with a few exceptions (in quotes, known preferences,...?), all "spokesmen" should become "spokespersons". Unless doing so would in some undefined way be "untidy". Andyvphil (talk) 14:51, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Andy, if "Yechh!" means what I think it means, you have an alarming tendency to lose your lunch. I'm sure that nobody here wants to exacerbate this. I've just searched for "spokesman". It appears as part of a newspaper title, but it also appears as a plain word. An example is in David Oreck: He is the founder of the Oreck Corporation, makers of vacuum cleaners and air purifiers, and is known through his spokesman appearance in Oreck television commercials and infomercials. (To which my first reponse is that he's not known to me at all.) Suggestion: He is the founder of the Oreck Corporation, makers of vacuum cleaners and air purifiers, and has appeared in Oreck television commercials and infomercials. There's also Brendan McKenna, but I can't make head or tail of dreary northern Irish tribal warfare so I'll leave that alone. Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil (born circa 1971) was the last Foreign Minister in the Taliban government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Prior to this he served as spokesman and secretary to Mullah Mohammed Omar, leader of the Taliban. Make the second sentence Before that he was secretary to Mullah Mohammed Omar and the public face of the Taliban. Et cetera. And now I must get back to my tree and eat a banana or three. -- Hoary (talk) 02:45, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
Your Oreck suggestion is not equivalent. Appearing in commercials is not the same as being the spokesman for the company. Thus, you have illustrated the fact that unnecessary attempts to comply with the MOS are likely to result in unnecessary disimprovements. Andyvphil (talk) 00:49, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
Okay, there's a dwarf planet of difference between the two. The MoS as a whole may clearly announce itself as guideline but what weighting do we give this suggestion within that guideline? Note also that there are those who take this guideline quite seriously ... and if you're fond of exaggerations, compare "the MoS is only a guideline" to "evolution by natural selection is only a theory" (quite tongue-in-cheek here ... but ...). Jɪmp 01:35, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Demonyms / Toponyms / Wikipedia:Citizenship and nationality

Would like to see something on the Wikipedia MOS page on good Wikipedia practice re specific demonyms and toponyms, as these are frequently troublesome and indeed, frequently contentious. (I see various past and ongoing discussions on these issues here on Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style.)
(Or please point me to this info if it's on the page and I've somehow missed it.)
For that matter, IMHO page should also have a link in the main text to Wikipedia:Citizenship and nationality, as these issues are also a frequent cause of edit wars.
-- Writtenonsand (talk) 12:49, 10 January 2008 (UTC)

"Or" ambiguity?

This is the third paragraph of the section pertaining to "and/or":

Sometimes or is ambiguous in another way: "Wild dogs, or dingos, inhabit this stretch of land". Are wild dogs and dingos the same or different? For one case write: "wild dogs (dingos) inhabit ..." (dingos are wild dogs); for the other case write: "either wild dogs or dingos inhabit ..." (I don't know which).

Is this really necessary? Apart from the fact that it is not very relevant to and/or, I believe that the ambiguity it describes does not exist. As a matter of fact, the usage of commas makes it perfectly clear that in "Wild dogs, or dingos, inhabit this stretch of land" we are talking about the same species, while in "Wild dogs or dingos inhabit this stretch of land" it is not specified which of two different species occupy the particular piece of real estate.

The sentence of which the usage this paragraph discourages is perfectly good English, and I suggest that the paragraph in question should be removed altogether. Waltham, The Duke of 14:58, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

The sentence in question does conveniently fall under the heading "and/or", because it involves the same general question of marking disjunction and conjunction clearly.
Tony added the sentence, and I modified it and endorse it. Perhaps the example is more salient to us, since in Australia the terms wild dog and dingo have been used sometimes synonymously and sometimes not; and sometimes with wild dogs being a superset of dingos, and sometimes not. But you don't need that knowledge to make sense of the point being made. Consider: "Hereford bulls, or livestock escaped from some local farm, have passed this way." On your principles, the animals spoken of are both Hereford bulls and escaped from a local farm, yes? But I don't think this is implied at all.
The general question that exercises me here is, once more, how much detail of this sort do we want in MOS? Even more generally:

What content of what specificity should be at MOS, and what at which subsidiaries, with what cross-relations, what duplication, and what process for maintaining the whole juggernaut?

(Of course, Waltham, you remain a hero of the revolution for coming up with ,, at our page for reforming markup of the hard space.)
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:49, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I know where it is. ;-)
In any case, I suppose you are right. The problem with me is that I am not a native speaker of English, something that, perhaps counter-intuitively, means that I speak the language much better (or at least more "properly"). Indeed, I cannot be expected to make accurate judgements on whether a sentence is confusing or not; especially since there are so many different dialects. But I do think that there is a distinction in this case, and perhaps it merits a simple mention.
Anyway, something has come out of this matter: I now know that you are from "down under". Seriously, I find established editors with no user pages somewhat... I don't know, it just looks strange to me. No offense. Waltham, The Duke of 12:34, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

quick query

"*If a complete sentence occurs in a caption, it and also any sentence fragments should end with a period."

Forgive me if I missed the discussion, but I can't imagine a full sentence followed by just a sentence fragement. Does someone have an example? Tony (talk) 11:18, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Would a sentence followed by a date count? E.g. "This dog bit that man. January 12, 2008." Fg2 (talk) 12:27, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
That date looks like a complete sentence to me. "When did that man bite the dog? January 12, 2008." But also "When did that man bite the dog? ...2008." Directly applicable only if the caption is a quotation, of course. But I too am having a hard time understanding why a caption should include a sentence fragment if it's not actually a fragment of something.Andyvphil (talk) 13:55, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Fg2, yes, thanks, you're right, so it is worth retaining that point in MOS. Andy, I think the date is not a "complete sentence", which would normally have at least a clause (i.e., containing a verb on the highest rank). A date by itself is just a nominal group. Indeed, "before my deadline of 12 January 2008" is still just a nominal group (no verb on the top rank). "12 January 2008, the first day on which I'll rest" still lacks a verb on the top rank—it's all just a single, modified thing, and " 'll rest", although a verb group, is downranked. "I look forward to 12 January 2008, the first day on which I'll rest"—there you have it, a complete sentence with a verb on the top rank ("look forward"). Tony (talk) 14:19, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Tony, it was I who added the provision that you queried and now accept. But I want to take things further, as I now do in a new section, below.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 22:34, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Full stop at the end of all captions?

Here is a guideline in New Hart's Rules (at 16.5.1):

Captions traditionally end with a full point, whether they are full sentences or not.

In 16.5.1 Hart's gives a couple of examples that conform to this ruling, and none that do not. (Nevertheless, Hart's does not itself follow the practice elsewhere.) Here is the relevant guideline from CMOS (Chicago Manual of Style), with my emphasis:

12.32 Syntax, punctuation, and capitalization

A caption may consist of a word or two, an incomplete or a complete sentence, several sentences, or a combination (see 12.8). No punctuation is needed after a caption consisting solely of an incomplete sentence. If one or more full sentences follow it, each (including the opening phrase) has closing punctuation. In a work in which most captions consist of full sentences, even incomplete ones may be followed by a period for consistency. Sentence capitalization (see 8.166) is recommended in all cases except for the formal titles of works of art (see 12.33).

I see nothing wrong with captions ending with a full stop by default. They are not the same as titles and headings, which are rarely sentences, and in which text longer than one sentence is almost unheard of.

A guideline calling for every caption to end with a full stop would have strong precedent in traditional usage; it would be rational, simple, and comprehensible; it would therefore be easy to comply with, and result in greater consistency throughout Wikipedia. What you others think?

[Later addition: I now see that there was inconclusive discussion at the WP:CAP talkpage. I'm making a shortcut for that talkpage now.– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:19, 13 January 2008 (UTC)]

– Noetica♬♩Talk 22:34, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

I agree with this as it makes the caption section consistent with the Bulleted and numbered lists section of MoS, which it precedes, and is easier for editors to understand. The more we can do to reduce MoS guidelines to simple mechanical functions the better. --ROGER DAVIES talk 23:09, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
I very much agree with this proposal. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 23:15, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

These kinds of reversals are what frustrate people about trying to keep up with MOS. If this change is effected, please let WT:FAC know. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:31, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

Absolutely, Sandy. But I think there should rather be a central log of MOS changes, for all editors to monitor as a matter of course. There's so else that cries out for clarity and reform for MOS pages along the way: in content, structure, process, and status. Incidentally, since I got involved at WP:FAC I have become even more acutely aware of how chaotic the present arrangements are.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:55, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
Another inconsistency. Captions usually end period when they are full sentences (as far as I know). --BritandBeyonce (talk) 07:31, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
Exactly. (Unsure what inconsistency you're referring to, though.) Tony (talk) 08:07, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
Sorry. What I mean is inconsistency on what to adhere about punctuating captions. --BritandBeyonce (talk) 08:13, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Tony: full stops are for ending sentences. Fragments and phrases need no full stop. Nor is the rule hard to follow. Jɪmp 19:52, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
Full stops are for ending sentences. ? A mere slogan, and only a partial truth, like all slogans. In running text, a full stop ends a sentence fragment as consistently as it ends a sentence. In a caption, a full stop ends a sentence fragment if there is a sentence in the vicinity. There is no "natural" or uniquely rational solution here. If you value consistency highly, you tend to favour the proposal I put forward above. If you value certain other principles more highly, then you tend another way. Myself, I favour consistency, simplicity, and stability in our articles. Hence my suggestion, which is best evaluated with fresh eyes and an open mind. And so for all innovations mooted here.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 23:59, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
So we need to put a final period after every article and section title (to be consistent)? And after caption stubs such as:
The Eiffel Tower.
Surely not. What makes these texts different from running prose is their visual distinction—ending with a carriage return, of different font/size/typeface, and located distinctively in relation to the surround white space. I'm of the school that says to use minimal formatting: one device is enough, so not title case and boldface, for example. A final period can look odd, and frankly, the textual world is full of redundant dots already. Included in this world is the urge that some foreign-language cinema subtitlers have to stick a dot at the end of every subtitle, as though we spoke in sentences (as odd as it may seem, we typically don't speak in sentences, which are largely artefacts of written mode. Sentences are not even an important grammatical phenomenon; some authorities refer to them as clause complexes. Tony (talk) 11:32, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
So we need to put a final period after every article and section title (to be consistent)?
No. Who's suggesting that?
What is a "caption stub"? I think that is a term invented on the fly for rhetorical purposes. The Eiffel tower would be a typical caption; the suggestion in New Hart's is that all captions, including short ones, traditionally take a full stop. And CMOS allows this for consistency. Don't you want consistency, and a rule that is easy to follow? I am proposing a practice that will be consistent, and robust in the face of removal and revision of some captions: so that when in an article some are edited and become full sentences, or revert to mere fragments, the whole suite of captions in the article need not be revised (as CMOS might require).
Once more, let's remember a salient fact: Wikipedia is dynamic, not a final product in print, whose style can be settled once and for all once its fixed contents are known. And another salient fact: Wikipedia is written by a loose aggregation of amateurs (yes, we are all amateurs, in the relevant senses, when we edit at Wikipedia), acting without final editorial oversight. The task is different and new; let the rules be different and new: and simple and appropriate to the task and the writers.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 11:53, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
Not no full stops here.
There are many examples of texts that do not break down into sentences - and therefore do not require full stops. David Crystal goes into this in quite a lot of detail in the rather splendid Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Gaius Cornelius (talkcontribs) 11:55, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
Noetica, article and section titles are not dotted because they're almost never formal, complete sentences, and the dot is not aesthetically pleasing after a short text. Let's be consistent and continue not to dot captions that aren't complete sentences—that's all I'm saying. WRT amateur/professional, I don't think the distinction appears to be very meaningful in the WP environment, with good reason; "without final editorial oversight", yes, but that is replaced with what might be characterised as a seething cauldron of continuous, mutual editorial oversight, and why not? Tony (talk) 12:01, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
As mentioned in a section below, there are moves to make printable content from Wikipedia. The flagship example can be seen [here]. Some captions from that exemplary piece of work:

Major features of the Solar System; sizes and distances not to scale. From left to right): [sic, for that bracket] Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, the asteroid belt, the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth and its Moon, and Mars. A comet is also seen on the left.

[The first two elements are sentence fragments. We know that: but do they? And do you think those should not have full stops? How about if the concluding full sentence were missing? Should the sentence fragments then have full stops? The first only, or both?]

The ecliptic viewed in sunlight from behind the Moon in this Clementine image. From left to right: Mercury, Mars, Saturn.

[Two sentence fragments. How many full stops should there be, hmm?]

The orbits of the bodies in the Solar System to scale (clockwise from top left)

[Fragment: no full stop.]

Hubble image of protoplanetary disks in the Orion Nebula, a light-years-wide "stellar nursery" likely very similar to the primordial nebula from which our Sun formed.

[Fragment: and a full stop!]

The Hertzsprung-Russell diagram; the main sequence is from bottom right to top left.

[Fragment: and a full stop.]

Aurora australis seen from orbit.

[Fragment: and a full stop.]

The inner planets. From left to right: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars (sizes to scale)

[Two fragments: a full stop, then no full stop.]

Well! Go figure. Even those elite editors who have worked up this dazzling example can't get consistency. What hope have the rest got?
We have to live with the living, and we have to make liveable, workable guidelines. In short: get real. (And I mean that in the nicest possible way, as you know.)
– Noetica♬♩Talk 12:34, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
I've BOLDly changed the image caption above and to me it looks just fine with the full stop. Isn't it a simpler rule to just say "always use a full stop"? Outside style guides may differ but isn't it always best to use the simplest solution, when that solution will do no harm? Franamax (talk) 00:02, 16 January 2008 (UTC)