Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style

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Wikipedia's Manual of Style contains some conventions that differ from those in some other, well-known style guides and from what is often taught in schools. Wikipedia's editors have discussed these conventions in great detail and have reached consensus that these conventions serve our purposes best. New contributors are advised to check the FAQ and the archives to see if their concern has already been discussed.

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Why does the Manual of Style recommend straight (keyboard-style) instead of curly (typographic) quotation marks and apostrophes (i.e., the characters " and ', instead of , , , and )?
Users may only know how to type in straight quotes (such as " and ') when searching for text within a page or when editing. Not all Web browsers find curly quotes when users type straight quotes in search strings.
Why does the Manual of Style recommend logical quotation?
This system is preferred because Wikipedia, as an international and electronic encyclopedia, has specific needs better addressed by logical quotation than by the other styles, despite the tendency of externally published style guides to recommend the latter. These include the distinct typesetters' style (often called American, though not limited to the US), and the various British/Commonwealth styles, which are superficially similar to logical quotation but have some characteristics of typesetters' style. Logical quotation is more in keeping with the principle of minimal change to quotations, and is less prone to misquotation, ambiguity, and the introduction of errors in subsequent editing, than the alternatives. Logical quotation was adopted in 2005, and has been the subject of perennial debate that has not changed this consensus.
Why does the Manual of Style differentiate the hyphen (-), en dash (), em dash (), and minus sign ()?
Appropriate use of hyphens and dashes is as much a part of literate, easy-to-read writing as are correct spelling and capitalization. The "Insert" editing tools directly below the Wikipedia editing window provide immediate access to all these characters.
Why doesn't the Manual of Style always follow specialized practice?
Although Wikipedia contains some highly technical content, it is written for a general audience. While specialized publications in a field, such as academic journals, are excellent sources for facts, they are not always the best sources for or examples of how to present those facts to non-experts. When adopting style recommendations from external sources, the Manual of Style incorporates a substantial number of practices from technical standards and field-specific academic style guides; however, Wikipedia defaults to preferring general-audience sources on style, especially when a specialized preference may conflict with most readers' expectations, and when different disciplines use conflicting styles.
WikiProject Manual of Style
This page falls within the scope of WikiProject Manual of Style, a drive to identify and address contradictions and redundancies, improve language, and coordinate the pages that form the MoS guidelines.

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Non-breaking spaces with written out unitsEdit

As a follow-up to topic-specific discussions at Talk:Hassium and User talk:DePiep#MOS and NBSP, it seems that the current MOS guideline on the usage of non-breaking spaces when separating numbers from written-out units (e.g. 5 kilometers (instead of 5 km); 118 elements) is open to interpretation. It advises to use non-breaking spaces when line breaks are awkward, which they seem to be in this case; however, implementing this would apparently require making heavy changes to lots of articles, as it is not strongly established as are the examples given in the MOS section.

I thus ask, should the same guideline for quantities and abbreviated units be followed for fully spelled-out units? Should non-breaking spaces be used only with abbreviations, or always with units and quantities? I would like to establish a more definite MOS guideline, in which one or the other is widely agreed upon as common practice. ComplexRational (talk) 00:46, 10 March 2020 (UTC)

  • I really, really wish people would stop jumping straight into a project-wide RfC before working with other editors to frame the questions to be posed. I urge you to withdraw this. And MOSNUM is probably the right place for this. (Main MOS vs subsidiary pages is a longstanding problem.) EEng 01:26, 10 March 2020 (UTC)
Where else would you suggest discussing this, seeing as its outcome is not specific to the articles for which this was discussed, and the question is pretty straightforward from these discussions? If it can be held elsewhere, I will withdraw; however, I don't think that place is MOSNUM because this issue pertains to MOS:NBSP, which is not its own MOS sub-page. I'm open to ideas. ComplexRational (talk) 02:02, 10 March 2020 (UTC)
I'd suggest discussing it right here (or at Talk:MOSNUM, but since ultimately it's an aesthetic, not technical, issue I guess here is fine.) There are plenty of people here who have thought a lot about formatting issues, and many have outside professional experience, and with their participation I suspect the issue can either be resolved or boiled down to a clearcut question. Open-ended RfCs like you've started, which pull random people from all over into an unstructured discussion, just end up a mess. EEng 03:28, 10 March 2020 (UTC)
Okay, I withdrew it as an RfC. Let's play it out as a regular discussion now; I apologize for being unaware of this potential complication. ComplexRational (talk) 09:53, 10 March 2020 (UTC)
Ping to prevent archiving. EEng 12:49, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
I don't see the "jumping into an RfC" that EEng is referring to here. I do see a reasonable description by ComplexRational of a MOS detail to be clarified somehow. Do I miss some invisible redacted editing? Please clarify. As it stands now, the OP is correct and relevant to me. -DePiep (talk) 00:01, 1 April 2020 (UTC)
Yes, obviously, like the OP said: he had set this up as an RfC but later withdrew it at my urging. EEng 00:28, 1 April 2020 (UTC)
Eh, that 'obvious' part is not visible then?, like in an talk edited afterwards (ouch)? Must I do homework research to see it? -DePiep (talk) 00:34, 1 April 2020 (UTC)
Jesus Christ, the OP wrote, just above here: Okay, I withdrew it as an RfC. 01:46, 1 April 2020 (UTC)
I think the point that is puzzling both DePiep and me is there seems to be no trace of the !RfC for us to see what issues had been raised. Starting an RfC and then withdrawing it should surely leave something in a history somewhere. There are no links, nor anything in contributions that I can find. What am I missing? --RexxS (talk) 14:11, 1 April 2020 (UTC)
The most recent diff before I withdrew upon EEng's suggestion was [2]. All that changed since then was removal of the RfC template; the content of my original post is the same now as it was then. ComplexRational (talk) 14:43, 1 April 2020 (UTC)

In traditional typography, typesetters would ensure that sentences didn't break onto another line at a point where the result was a new line starting with something that didn't make sense alone, or where the break would produce a semantic dissonance. So they would avoid lines starting with an abbreviation:

  • something something ... a distance of 15

as well as lines that changed meaning when the next line was read:

  • something something ... a cost of $5

In electronic document processing, when line length can change with screen resolution or window size, the non-breaking space was used to prevent those sort of breaks from happening. I don't believe there has ever been any rationale for placing a non-breaking space between numbers and normal recognisable English words, because those don't produce problems, other than in cases like the second example. There is really nothing wrong with seeing:

  • something something ... a distance of 15

and it is especially ludicrous to extend the fetish for non-breaking spaces in quantities to normal counted items. There is nothing wrong with reading:

  • something something ... a squad of 24
    football players

The examples at MOS:UNITNAMES reflect these simple principles, and I can't see what other interpretation could be made of the present guidance:

  • Use a non-breaking space ({{nbsp}} or  ) between a number and a unit symbol, or use {{nowrap}} ...
  • ... and a normal space is used between a number and a unit name.

If somebody wants to change those guidelines, then they really should be proposing what changes they want made and the reasons for them. --RexxS (talk) 19:07, 27 March 2020 (UTC)

Just for the record, I wasn't proposing a change. I was merely asking for clarification, and if any disagreement were to arise, then firmly establish one way or another. What is written here makes sense, now I only propose that it is made crystal clear for other (copy)editors in the MOS:NBSP section (to use only with abbreviations). ComplexRational (talk) 00:10, 1 April 2020 (UTC)
(ec) @RexxS:, these examples are undisputed, and are clear by WP:NBSP and WP:MOSUNIT. Minor detail: your example of 15<regularspace>kilometres is not in the MOS explicitly, but well observed, also by {{Convert}} — end of detail.
Note: for simplicity, an "_" (underscore) says NBSP.
A question arose when reading in MOS:NBSP: It is desirable to prevent line breaks where breaking across lines might be confusing or awkward. -- note the criterium "awkward". The examples given are (1) unit symbols - no problem, see before, and (2) exampes of number-in-proper-name (Boeing_747).
Some editors state that the "awkward" situation may also occur in situations with a number inline, i.e. in running text. Examples (in here): element_114, the expected magic 114_protons, ....
My (opposing) point is that such number-word combinations are not awkward, can reasionably occur in any running sentence, are part of a reading habit, and so are not 'awkward' and do not allow an NBSP. Otherwise, this whole enwiki could require a MOS-change in ~every article, or have inconsistent styles between articles re this line-breaking.
So, first question: do we recognise this is a Good MOS Question to discuss? -DePiep (talk) 00:25, 1 April 2020 (UTC)
There's long been a need for the nbsp/nobreak guidance to be improved. I've never done anything about it because I realized some cases would need a discussion. EEng 00:28, 1 April 2020 (UTC)
@DePiep: It certainly seems that something ought to be done to educate editors about when to use (and not use) non-breaking spaces. I just looked at the Island of stability article you pointed out. Over 200 non-breaking spaces. Seriously? I've just removed four that you could see at a glance occur at places where the line could never break. No doubt somebody will revert me, citing MoS instead of thinking for themselves. I'm not sure repeating the already crystal clear guidance in MoS is the solution though. Either they never read MoS or they don't understand what a line break is. Either way, tinkering with the MoS won't have any effect on them. As for your actual examples, I've long ago given up trying to convince others that there's absolutely nothing wrong with reading
  • Flerovium, with the expected magic 114
    protons, was first synthesized in 1998
Although to get a line break there, you would have to be viewing on a screen with a maximum line length of less than 40 characters. Even my 1978 vintage TRS-80 could manage that. --RexxS (talk) 03:06, 1 April 2020 (UTC)
  • If 114 protons can't be broken, then you may as well say that every number has to be followed by an nbsp, always, and that would be silly.
  • I do think Z = 112 shouldn't break, though that would be better coded as {{nobr|Z = 112}} than the current Z&nbsp;=&nbsp;112
  • I'm not sure that all the examples at MOS:NBSP belong there, and I wonder if there shouldn't be some other cases listed.
EEng 04:20, 1 April 2020 (UTC)
User:RexxS: that is my understanding of MOS:NBSP too, including its background (typography). It's just, I stopped editing because of EW, started a talk, and involved editors correctly started a wider talk here. But I see no need to admonish other editors, instead we could use a clearer MOS text and explanation here, for fellow editors. -DePiep (talk) 08:28, 1 April 2020 (UTC)
I now see that the section title here is a much narrower issue than the wide one ComplexRational and I were discussing/editing. As the Island of stability example show, it was and is about all of MOS:NBSP. This complicates/disturbs this talk flow, I must excuse. (how to proceed?). -DePiep (talk) 08:32, 1 April 2020 (UTC)
@EEng and DePiep: Apologies, I was too focused on the quantities issues and not enough on the general nbsp guidance, which does seem to be missing. IMHO, we should have a guideline that says something like
  • Numbers followed by an ordinary English word (not an abbreviation, or similar) do not require a non-breaking space between them in normal circumstances.
There are also many circumstances where a non-breaking space is unnecessary because a line break can't happen there. There are three examples in Island of stability: in the caption of the infobox (the width is fixed, regardless of window size); in reference number 5 (too close to the start of a line for a line break to be possible); and in the table caption "Most stable isotopes of superheavy elements (Z ≥ 104)" (the table can't become narrow enough to wrap the caption onto another line). I've tried pushing the zoom up to 250% and narrowing the window to its minimum, but I can't find a setting that could cause a line break where one had been placed. Nevertheless, I don't suppose that is anything we can, or should, try to give guidance about in MoS for fear of causing more confusion. --RexxS (talk) 14:06, 1 April 2020 (UTC)
In the first image, a line break appeared at 70% zoom on my computer screen, and indeed was awkward. What exactly are you suggesting would risk more confusion? The MoS is supposed to make things as clear as possible, and I wouldn't have started this thread had it been clear from the beginning (echoing EEngThere's long been a need for the nbsp/nobreak guidance to be improved.). ComplexRational (talk) 14:40, 1 April 2020 (UTC)
Thanks for explaining how you got the line break in the image caption; I hadn't considered zooming out that far. But do you think anybody actually reads Wikipedia at 70% zoom? I can't even get any of my browsers to zoom at 70% to see the effect. Still, it's possible, so best to leave in the {{nowrap}} in that case. The general point about infobox images with captions shorter than the image width is worth understanding, though.
What I am suggesting is that there are many cases where we simply don't need a non-breaking space, i.e. whenever it's not possible for the line to break at that point, but that it's difficult to try to give foolproof guidance to cover those cases, so I don't think we can come up with a form of words that would be helpful. Can you?
Do you agree with my suggested clarification above: Numbers followed by an ordinary English word (not an abbreviation, or similar) do not require a non-breaking space between them in normal circumstances. and if not, why not? --RexxS (talk) 16:33, 1 April 2020 (UTC)
Makes sense, I understand what you're saying about captions. Would it then also be better to use {{nobr|1=''Z'' = 114}} (for example) throughout the article, if this would be preferred to a pair of nbsp's? (On an unrelated note, maybe a new template should be created following whatever this discussion establishes, as this is pretty common in chemistry and physics articles.) ComplexRational (talk) 18:18, 1 April 2020 (UTC)
I agree with this wording, it addresses the elephant in the room and is easy enough to follow. I would specifically use it as an antithesis to the MOS points advising nbsp with units (70_km) or parts of the name (Airbus_A380), though I suppose saying "not an abbreviation" already addresses that. The only thing that may raise questions is "normal circumstances" – I'd rather leave that out and add an additional bullet point saying something along the lines of Non-breaking spaces are not required in fixed-with table cells or image captions, especially when the text is not long enough to wrap., or else work out through discussion what the most common exceptions would be (that would otherwise confuse editors unfamiliar or too familiar with MOS). ComplexRational (talk) 18:18, 1 April 2020 (UTC)
Most editors, in my experience, prefer {{nowrap}} over multiple consecutive non-breaking spaces in a phrase. It makes the wikitext more readable for other editors (the same reason we prefer to avoid html entities where possible).
The "normal circumstances" would be to cover exceptions like
  • ... his fee for the service was $50
where a non-breaking space between the number and the next word would avoid giving the reader the impression the fee was $50 until they read on to the next line. But I'm happy to accommodate other views such as giving examples of specific exceptions instead of stating "normal circumstances".
While I think about it, there is a good case for what I called the "semantic dissonance" to be noted as a rule in other places as well:
  • ... the great-grandnephew of Queen Mary
To anyone familiar with Tudor/Stuart history of England, it first reads as Mary I of England, then as Mary II of England when the next line is reached and obviously should be avoided. That represents one of the very few phrases where I would have no hesitation in recommending the use of a non-breaking space for cogent, rather than aesthetic reasons.--RexxS (talk) 19:26, 1 April 2020 (UTC)
This is already covered at MOS:NUM, to the extent any of this needs any rule-mongering. It advises using non-breaking spaces in strings like 5 cm, but it does not advise doing this when using spelled-out words. It doesn't advise against it, either. Like most things, it is left to editorial discretion. Nothing is broken. No, we do not need another template, since {{nobr}} and {{nbsp}} work fine. So does just using &nbsp;. Yes, it is WP:Common sense to non-breakify certain strings like "$50 thousand", and "Mary II". No, we don't need a rule about it, or we would've already had one by now. No, we do not need anyone going around inserting non-breaking spaces robotically in proximity to every number they see, per WP:MEATBOT ("ain't broke, don't 'fix' it").  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  11:29, 3 June 2020 (UTC)

NBSP for numeric followed by wordsEdit

Hi all, I recently put up Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/1985 World Snooker Championship/archive2 for FAC. SandyGeorgia commented that there should be some additional non-breaking spaces for items such as "15 seeds, 103 entrants, 32 participants". I don't really mind putting these in, but wanted to clarify our MOS, and how it effects these types of phrases. My understanding at WP:NBSP is that we should use these on names, such as World War 2, and measurements, such as 10 Miles. However, should we also use these on regular expressions, such as "20 people"? I don't mind either way, but wanted to clarify before I do wholesale changes. Best Wishes, Lee Vilenski (talkcontribs) 14:19, 10 July 2020 (UTC)

The guideline gives patchy and somewhat conflicting advice on this entire subject. I'm going to give you what I think will be useful guidance, but we must brace ourselves for people to leap out at us from all corners of the project to denounce what I say as at best the product of unfathomable ignorance, and at worst detrimental to the moral fiber of the nation.
There are two (maybe more, but two I can think of offhand) things we're trying to prevent:
  • (1) You don't want tiny fragments that look odd alone stranded on the start of a line. Thus World War{nbsp}2 and Henry{nbsp}VIII.
  • (2) You don't want two things separated by a linebreak if the reader, seeing just the first part, will be momentarily misled and have to back up and rethink when he sees the bit on the next line. Thus $2{nbsp}million, because if the million goes on the next line the reader first thinks "Two dollars", and then when he sees the million he has to back up and think "Oh, wait, Two million dollars". (This is a peculiarity of the fact that money symbols go at front of quantities rather than at the end as with other units. Can anyone think of a similar example not involving money?)
(3) Notice that the logic of (2) doesn't arise with normal quantities like 15 seeds or 2 million dollars (i.e. no nbsp used in these cases) because as the reader scans "15<linebreak>seeds" there's nothing misleading about 15 alone at the end of the line, and the same for scanning "2<linebreak>million dollars" or "2 million<linebreak>dollars". When you think about it, if you required nbsp in constructions like that, then you're pretty much saying every number anywhere must be followed by an nbsp, and that can't be right. So I would not put {nbsp} in your examples.
(4) Units of measure are a special case. By the logic of (3), there's no {nbsp} in 10 kilometers. However, I think the guideline does recommend an {nbsp} in the case of 10{nbsp}km, because at the start of a line km looks weird in a way kilometer doesn't. (km is what's called a unit symbol, whereas kilometer is what's called a unit name, and there are several other ways in which unit symbols and unit names are treated differently, so there's nothing odd about treating them differently here.)
Perhaps the principles laid out above can be the start of a revival of this thread. EEng 03:04, 12 July 2020 (UTC)
Or perhaps not. In the meantime, here are some other places I think (comment invited, of course) nbsp would be needed or not needed. Probably some or all of these are give by others in the posts above but I want to get them down while they're on my mind.
  • In DMY dates e.g. 28{nbsp}May or 28{nbsp}May 1935, because at least some readers will find separation of the day-in-month from the month odd. (Further explanation on request as to why this is different from the case of 10 kilometers.)
  • In MDY dates e.g. May{nbsp}28, 1935, because "28, 1935" looks ludicrous at the start of a line.
  • He responded, "Better you than{nbsp}I." or The smallest reading was{nbsp}5.
  • 9:30{nbsp}a.m. because I think it's somewhat analogous to a unit symbol (see above); and definitely 9:30{nbsp}am, because "am" alone and separated from the "9:30" could cause the reader to trip and fall.
  • several{nbsp}.22 shells, because starting a line with a . looks weird
  • <certain image caption situations, details to be supplied (centered captions, left-aligned captions)>
Not needed:
  • 123 Main Street
EEng 00:48, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
  • I ask people here: how often have you struck a dangling numeral at the end of a line? Me: not that I can recall. Tony (talk) 07:08, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
    By struck do you mean "run into/happened to find" or "struck out/had to get rid of"? EEng 16:14, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
  • I could see having a summary section somewhere (hopefully not in the main page, maybe in MOS:TEXT) about "Appropriate uses of non-breaking spaces" or some heading title like that, in which we could suggest these sorts of cases, without implying that they're required. People already rankle as the currently fairly-strongly-recommended ones in MOS:NUM and a few other places. So, there's opportunity to cry "WP:CREEP!" here if this discussion produces more rules, rather than optional tweaks for polishing up text for maximum usability.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:30, 15 July 2020 (UTC)
    Definitely for FA-level polishing, mostly, but there's one situation where I've found it worth the trouble to apply nbsp/nobr fairly liberally: in image captions, because their short line length means bad breaks do occur now and then unless you prevent them. EEng 03:45, 15 July 2020 (UTC)

Redundancy WordsEdit

Hi, I remember seeing in the MOS a few years ago something about redundancy words (pleonasms) like "in order", words that aren't needed. Is there a guideline somewhere that says what to do regarding these, if not in the MOS? — Yours, BᴇʀʀᴇʟʏTalkContribs 17:49, 25 March 2020 (UTC)

Not sure what you're referring to, but MOS isn't supposed to try to teach points of general good English writing, unless a particular point has been a special problem for our editors. I'll take this opportunity, however, to direct you to WP:ASTONISHME. EEng 19:17, 25 March 2020 (UTC)
Are you referring to wordy and pretentious phrases like "would go on to" as a synonym for "did"? If so, I agree they should be chopped out entirely or replaced with a shorter alternative. Reyk YO! 19:13, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
God, I hate that would shit. There's a very, very narrow appropriate use case for it, but in the main it sounds stupid in the extreme [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]. For that I could be convinced a rule might be needed. I feel an essay coming on. ("EEng would later go on to write an essay on the subject...") If someone wants to contribute especially awful examples, WT:Queen_Elizabeth_slipped_majestically_into_the_water would be a good place. EEng 19:25, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
Surely it would be "... later go on to write down an essay ..."? --RexxS (talk) 19:37, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
RexxS, don't call me Shirley]. EEng 00:39, 13 April 2020 (UTC)
No, that's just what they're expecting us to do. --RexxS (talk) 00:57, 13 April 2020 (UTC)
Here is an astonishing example that still makes my eyelid twitch to think about. There are a few cases where "would" might be acceptable:
  • Describing past habitual behaviour. For instance, "The elders of this tribe would often tell children stories of demons and evil spirits."
  • Temporarily skipping to the relative future during a narrative. For instance, "Until the age of 12 Dave Gablorsky lived next door to Derpina McBean, who would later be the first person on Mars. At sixteen, Gablorsky enrolled in the military" or some such.
But where I see all the time is in awful sports articles, where editors seem to think they're writing for a sports broadsheet and are being paid by the word. It's cringe-inducing. Reyk YO! 19:58, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
I cannot say that the example you linked is parody; I can only hope it's parody. I'm still toying with the idea of an essay, maybe Into the Woulds? EEng 01:21, 13 April 2020 (UTC)
Count me as another editor who finds themselves regularly removing "woulds"... it's just one of those things people do when they've absorbed too much bad journalism. Popcornfud (talk) 12:04, 13 April 2020 (UTC)
Your idea of an essay has me wondering if someone else might make a more appropriate author. Were he not dead, Edwould Wouldwould would, wouldn't he? Captainllama (talk) 12:45, 13 April 2020 (UTC)
Or maybe Wouldward and Bernstein? EEng 16:45, 13 April 2020 (UTC)
Give all that deadwould the wouldsman's axe!! Primergrey (talk) 21:00, 13 July 2020 (UTC) 03:31, 12 July 2020 (UTC)
  • I've started WP:INTOTHEWOULDS -- soon to be split off as its own page. Contributions invited. EEng 20:43, 31 May 2020 (UTC)

Humor in the Manual of StyleEdit

I believe that the purpose of the Manual of Style is to be useful to editors, given that it is a guideline for—let's see here—"all English Wikipedia articles". As a guideline, it exists "to document the good practices accepted in the Wikipedia community". I strongly believe that a guideline can best do this when it's easy to read and understand, hence my recent edits.

Guidelines don't normally have "entertaining the reader" as a secondary goal, or as a goal at all. I searched all over and found no traces of {{humor}} or any similar templates, no mentions of the Department of Fun, and no Wikipedia policy anywhere to suggest that guidelines should strive for humor. (Particularly when it's, you know, the freaking Manual of Style for all of English Wikipedia.)

@EEng: Judging by your edits, you seem to believe not only that humor for its own sake is okay here, but that it should be here—even when that hurts the manual's ability to function as a guideline by making it harder to understand. Your edit summaries have both been personal attacks on my sense of humor (and nothing else—not so much as an allusion to the page you were editing). I'm very confused as to the reason behind your edits. Please let me know which policies you were following, or how your edits . — Ardub23 (talk) 01:57, 2 April 2020 (UTC)

@Ardub23: it's an April Fools' thing, if April Fool's Day in Wikipedia goes by UTC, then it's no longer April 1st. I guess it should already be deleted. El Millo (talk) 02:23, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
@Facu-el Millo: I thought the same thing at first, but the disputed phrase was like that for months at least, and WP:FOOLS requires April Fools' jokes to be tagged with an appropriate template anyway. — Ardub23 (talk) 02:46, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
How odd... I thought your post here might have been your idea of an April Fools joke! Look, you said, "I like humor as much as the next guy" [9], but since I was the next guy that's obviously not true, so I said, "No, you do not 'like humor as much as the next guy'" [10]. That's not an attack.
To answer your first question: I'm helping the Manual of Style as a guideline by making its provisions more memorable (plus I'm improving the editing experience by making project space less of a deathly dull all-work-no-play purgatory). I'll turn your second question around: what policy are you following? EEng 03:03, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
It was alright joke, and if mainspace and "Help:" are the only places where we can't put April Fools' jokes, then I guess the MoS is allowed. But April 1st is over, shouldn't we remove the joke already? El Millo (talk) 03:25, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
And you can still joke everyday at talk pages, right?. El Millo (talk) 03:29, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
(ec) I find this OP by User:Ardub23 very worrysome. Not only is humor, let alone a failed attempt to, a bad form to convey a MOS guideline. Especially when not announced as such (by template e.g.), one must assume it is not understood. Not as humor, not as a guideline.
Then hiding behind an April 1 defence, mind us: not by the editor themselves but by an advocate User:Facu-el Millo here who does third-person interpretation, is inacceptible talk. This is about a MOS, ffs.
Extra troubling is that Ardub23 has to state that Your [EEng] edit summaries have both been personal attacks, which EEng does not seem to recognise. There is a pattern with this, including the advocacy. -DePiep (talk) 03:32, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style is not the place to post allegations of wrongdoing. Please stop. Take it to ANI, take it to Arbcom, or drop the stick.
Regarding your opinion that humor is not allowed in a MOS guideline, I suggest that you draft an RfC detailing exactly where you believe humor is forbidden and see what the consensus of the community is. --Guy Macon (talk) 03:43, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
@DePiep: I was just trying to solve the problem and try to get EEng to cool down a bit and maybe delete his joke himself. I was writing something serious in response to him about treating others better and how it is best to keep "play" separate from "work" in here, but I thought he might not take it well and I didn't publish it. I'm sorry if it looked like I was genuinely condoning his behaviour. El Millo (talk) 03:47, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
When you bunch figure out which way is up (and I'm not talking to G.M. here) give us a buzz. EEng 04:11, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
@EEng: I was following WP:GUIDELINE § Content:
"Be clear. ... Be plain, direct, unambiguous, and specific. ...
"Be as concise as possible ... Omit needless words. Direct, concise writing may be more clear than rambling examples."
I don't see where in this (or any) policy it says to make guidelines "memorable" or "less dull". Any other questions?
— Ardub23 (talk) 04:41, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
It doesn't say not to either. Any other answers? EEng 04:56, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
Yes, actually, it does say not to. Right under § Content. "Be clear." "Omit needless words." — Ardub23 (talk) 05:10, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
You seem to have copy-pasted the wrong text. We're looking for the parts that say "Be forgettable" and "Be dull". EEng 05:22, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
Is breaking the policy twice not enough? How many policies do you need to violate before it counts? Or do you not understand how a phrase which self-describes as both "awkward" and "lengthy" conflicts with the policy of being clear and concise? — Ardub23 (talk) 05:46, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
Ardub23, you believe that a policy is being broken. EEng, you do not. To both of you, repeating your assertion that of course your interpretation of the policy is the only correct one is clearly a waste of effort and has a 0% chance of convincing the other. There are two ways to resolve this, and neither involves more of what I am seeing above. One of you can post a clearly-worded RfC (I suggest discussing the wording first) so that the consensus of the community can decide which one of you understands the policy. Or the one who claims a violation can go to WP:ANI and report the violation and let the administrators decide which one of you understands the policy. Please note that nothing that I have written in any way takes sides or indicates what my opinion is on this. --Guy Macon (talk) 06:55, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
(ec) @Guy Macon: re your post a clearly-worded RfC: see this, which makes sense in this stage.
re nothing that I have written in any way takes sides or indicates what my opinion is: yes you did. Above, in this thread, you wrote your opinion that humor is not allowed in a MOS guideline [11], thereby putting words in my mouth as if I am claiming some "is forbidden" stuff, quod non. Then in there is another start-an-RfC diversion. All this, your approach here saying "go elsewhere" does not reflect the basic steps in WP:DISPUTE, that says: go-to-the-talkpage. In doing so, you are stifling the debate, not resolving it. That is not helpful. While instead, as a less involved party here, you could have put some grease in the flow.
Meanwhile there is an editwar going on, which I understand we can not stop & resolve on this page? -DePiep (talk) 08:26, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
Please do not attempt to stuff words into my mouth. You are heading for Yet Another Block if you continue this sort of behavior. Saying that an obviously intractable content dispute should be decided by RfC instead of going on and and on about it in a discussion that have no chance of reaching an agreements is NOT equal to taking sides in the content dispute. I advised you to take it to RfC only after you and others had a lengthy talk page discussion that failed to reach anything resembling agreement. That and I told you that your accusations against another editor (I expressed no opinion about the merits of the actual accusations) do not belong here. I advise either dropping the stick or posting an RfC. Yelling at each other some more is unlikely to have any beneficial effect. --Guy Macon (talk) 17:05, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
Disregard the argument that humour makes Wikipedia "less of a deathly dull all-work-no-play purgatory". If someone doesn't enjoy editing Wikipedia they are free to stop at any point. This isn't Kiddies First Style Guide that needs to resort to desperate unfunny attempts at humour to grab attention. Ardub23 provided a policy based reason why they made the changes (WP:GUIDELINE § Content), the reverting editor didn't put forward any policy based argument and so can best be interpreted as 'I just don't like it'. Editing with Eric (talk) 08:24, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
  • I think it would be more useful to focus on the specific disputed edit rather than on philosophy at this time. I support Ardub23's change. Fumblerules are fun in context but not in the actual manual. Regards, Newyorkbrad (talk) 10:03, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
Is there a policy to that effect? Aren't you just expressing a philosophy? (For the record, BTW, the text at issue wasn't anything I wrote.) EEng 10:29, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
  • In the WP:BRD cycle, we clearly are in the D. This also implies that the disputed edit should be reverted into the status quo ante. (note afterwards: As was done, see RexxS below. DePiep) Currently this most recent edit by EEng during this discussion, constitutes WP:EW. -DePiep (talk) 11:26, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
    The edit warring has stopped, on pain of sanction. I think you'll find that the status quo ante is the same as the current version by EEng. It has been like that for at least the past year until Ardub23 changed it on 1 April 2020. My understanding of BRD is that Ardub23 boldly changed a stable version (B), EEng reverted it (R), and the next step should have been discussion (D) – presumably initiated by the person wanting to change the stable version. IMHO, it should be relatively easy to settle the matter. --RexxS (talk) 12:08, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
    I stand corrected. Thanks for the clarification. -DePiep (talk) 17:05, 2 April 2020 (UTC)


  • A The stable version was: Avoid writing and/or unless other constructions would be lengthy and also, or alternatively, would be awkward.
  • B The changed version was : Avoid writing and/or unless other constructions would be lengthy or awkward.

So, who wants to keep A, and who wants to change to B? Reasoning would be helpful. --RexxS (talk) 12:08, 2 April 2020 (UTC)

  • I would go with B. I read through A several times, and it seems to be both lengthy and awkward, also less clear, which I consider more important.· · · Peter Southwood (talk): 13:37, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
    To clarify: I prefer B. A appears awkward, is longer and to my mind is less clear. The better clarity is my main reason for preferring B and would remain so if the other considerations did not exist. I consider clarity of meaning to be of primary importance in rules and guidance. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 19:23, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
    So on balance you think B is clearer? MapReader (talk) 20:13, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
  • B as it is more straightforward. Newyorkbrad (talk) 13:42, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
    The problem with B is that we had an editor who insisted that "or means one or the other, but not both" [12] so after some back and forth, in desperation I submitted [13] — Preceding unsigned comment added by EEng (talkcontribs)
  • C Avoid writing and/or unless other constructions would be lengthy and/or awkward.

And that's when that smartaleck MapReader jumped in [14] with A. So we have three choices. But if we go with B, sooner or later we'll have the "or means one or the other, but not both" guy back. Of course, that could be solved by

  • D. Avoid writing and/or unless other constructions would be lengthy or awkward or both.

EEng 13:55, 2 April 2020 (UTC)

  • A MoS that uses 'and/or' in the very same sentence that exhorted editors not to use such a formulation would merely be having a giraffe. At least my giraffe was more elegant. Nevertheless B is entirely sufficient: if either condition is met, it is immaterial whether the other one is, and/or is not. MapReader (talk) 14:04, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
  • B is the clearest and most straight forward. Though A does do a good job of illustrating what not to do. I for one appreciate the background EEng gave here. If the "or is always exclusive" guy shows up again, just point him to the definition of inclusive or and tell him to learn some actual grammar before commenting. We don't need to make a hash of the guideline to accommodate the hopelessly incompetent. oknazevad (talk) 15:33, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
    Better watch it or DePiep will have you at ANI for personal attacks. Personally I don't care which version we use just so long as we're past the "no humor allowed" nonsense. EEng 15:51, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
    If you want humour, you should stick with A. Really I am impressed it survived so long; clearly WP doesn’t do irony ;) MapReader (talk) 18:41, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
    @EEng: yeah, but waiting for permission by Guy Macon. Tabbed this though, and tagged 'nasty, unhelpful, possible trolling, mentioning-without-pinging'. Could be worse. -DePiep (talk) 19:15, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
  • I think it goes without saying that I support B, which follows WP:GUIDELINE § Content while A goes against it. The sentence right after it kills the "or is always exclusive" argument: "[or] would normally be interpreted to imply or both". I don't see any reason why this sentence would be an exception, which means C and D are just needlessly wordy. — Ardub23 (talk) 16:43, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
  • Neutral on which version to use, but I would note that A is purposely lengthy/awkward to illustrate the point. This is very much like the habit so many have of writing things like "you can strike out text that no longer applies" without in any way implying that the words "strike out" themselves do not apply. Again, I am neutral on whether such self-illustrating wording should be used on the page, but it was clearly done on purpose, and thus stating that A should be removed because it is lengthy/awkward is an example of begging the question. --Guy Macon (talk) 17:16, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
    See Fumblerules. I am still waiting for any evidence that Wikipedia has a general ban against Fumblerules (which is a separate issue from the question of whether we should or should not use a fumblerule in this particular case). Again, I encourage those who assert that Wikipedia has a general ban against Fumblerules (which is essentially what you are doing whenever you cite the rule as if were a settled policy-based argument forbidding the fumblerule) to post an RfC to see what the consensus of the community is). --Guy Macon (talk) 18:59, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
    But in order to be effective, the principle illustrated needs to align with the advice. "Eschew obfuscation" works because the language is so obviously overwrought. "Avoiding ending sentences with prepositions is the sort of thing up with which I will not put," demonstrates the knots that supposed rule can lead to. With Option A, the principle being illustrated is that alternatives to and/or are lengthy and convoluted. If anything, that undercuts the advice to avoid and/or.--Trystan (talk) 23:48, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
    But "Eschew obfuscation" does not, in fact, align with its own advice. To the general point: hypocrisy is at least as memorable as rectitude. EEng 23:57, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
    "Eschew obfuscation" is so obviously bad that it serves as a useful reminder to write plainly. "...would be lengthy and also, or alternatively, would be awkward," is also intentionally and obviously bad, reminding the writer to avoid such constructions... by using and/or?--Trystan (talk) 01:01, 3 April 2020 (UTC)
    If all else fails, yes -- that's what the guideline says. EEng 17:17, 3 April 2020 (UTC)
    So I guess it comes down to what you want the reader to walk away with. "Don't use and/or; it's unnecessary" vs. "Remember to use and/or; the alternatives are convoluted." If were are injecting humour to increase reader comprehension and retention, I would prefer it to reinforce the first takeaway, and not the second.--Trystan (talk) 18:21, 3 April 2020 (UTC)
  • B. (1) wrt "but 'or' does exclude one": no, only in mathematical logics and computers (where it is called XOR). In regular speech 'or' includes option 'both'. No need for hairsplitting, it does not introduce confusion. (2) Some subtle self-reference of attempt to humor: does not help when clarifying a guideline. At all. Even worse: those extra layers can and will confuse the explanation it seeks. (3) If need be for a situation not covered by this crisp B-sentence, add a second sentence (expressly subordinal somehow, and equally clear), or explain by unambigous examples. -DePiep (talk) 19:28, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
    No, or can be inclusive or exclusive. For example "or can be inclusive or exclusive" is exclusive. EEng 23:19, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
    All right, except your opening "No" is incorrect. It can be both, as you say. In spoken & written popular language, it is both options. Only when transistor logic appeared, the XOR was introduced (crucially, in there). -DePiep (talk) 23:26, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
    No, my no was not incorrect; it correctly asserted that your assertion no, only in mathematical logics and computers was incorrect. And XOR goes back to De Morgan and Boole at the very least, and probably Aristotle. EEng 23:52, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
  • B. "Avoid writing and/or unless other constructions would be lengthy or awkward." No-one would surmise a construction both lengthy and awkward is therefore fine, exposing the "or is always exclusive" argument as grammarian claptrap. Captainllama (talk) 23:37, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
  • D, especially as it closely resembles Fowler (2nd ed., s.v. and/or): The ugly device of writing x and/or y to save the trouble of writing x or y or both of them is common in some kinds of official, legal, and business documents, but should not be allowed outside them. Dhtwiki (talk) 23:44, 2 April 2020 (UTC)
    I think Wikipedia would look to its own Manual of Style first before consulting Fowler. Just below the disputed phrase, the MoS states that or is generally understood to imply or both, and it prescribes or both only when extra clarity is needed. As Captainllama pointed out, nobody reading sentence B would conclude that a lengthy and awkward construction is okay, so there's no clarity to be gained by spelling out or both; it's just extra words. — Ardub23 (talk) 02:47, 3 April 2020 (UTC)
  • B provides clear and direct advice. The added wording in Option A reinforces the notion that alternatives to and/or are convoluted, which is not the key message the section should convey. The wording in Option D suggests that "or both" is generally needed for non-exclusive "or"s, which is also not an example the MOS should set. Option B has the subtle, underrated humour of following its own advice. It invites the reader to wonder whether any clarification is needed, and then conclude that it isn't, as only the most ardent pedant would argue that "lengthy or awkward" does not clearly include "lengthy and awkward".--Trystan (talk) 18:21, 3 April 2020 (UTC)
  • B is better. Incidentally, "or" is the marked version in a positive proposition; "and" is unmarked. In a negative proposition, markedness is reversed. It causes great problems for non-native speakers, since as far as I can work out English is unique in this respect. In most languages, "or" is the default, and includes both additive and alternative meanings. It's not made easier by occasional inconsistency by native speakers. Style guides, including our own, recognise the ugly duckling that "and/or" is, and justifiably want to minimise its use (open the flood gates and we'd be writing it all over the place). Tony (talk) 10:32, 12 April 2020 (UTC)
  • B. Version A is hard to parse, C is a joke, and D is redundant. If we ever again have someone try to argue that the or in it is exclusive and that the rule thus can't apply to something that is both lengthy and awkward, just cite WP:WIKILAWYER and WP:COMMONSENSE, then otherwise ignore their inanity.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  12:35, 3 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Comment. This discussion has been open for a couple of months now. Any objections to going ahead and implementing B, based on the views expressed above?--Trystan (talk) 14:40, 3 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Comment:The obvious problem with B as a direction to editors is that it explicitly permits contributions that are lengthy, so long as they are not awkward, and/or those that are awkward, so long as they are not lengthy. MapReader (talk)…
    • @MapReader: read SMcCandlish's comment above: "If we ever again have someone try to argue that the or in it is exclusive and that the rule thus can't apply to something that is both lengthy and awkward, just cite WP:WIKILAWYER and WP:COMMONSENSE, then otherwise ignore their inanity." So that wouldn't be a problem. El Millo (talk) 17:24, 3 June 2020 (UTC)
      I should probably have also added that throughout MoS and in many other guideline and policy pages, we regularly use inclusive or, and it is virtually never misinterpreted, due to the common-sense principle. That's the natural and default interpretation of or (and its equivalent in other natural languages). If Mommy tells you that you cannot have any cookies or watch any TV until you do you homework, every child knows that ignoring their homework and eating a cookie while watching TV will not be an out but will result in twice the punishment. The application of exclusive or is a mathematical concept that is also used in other avenues of formal logic, like computer programming languages, in which it has an exclusive definition. In natural language, when an exclusive or is intended, it is generally punctuated differently, with a comma or semicolon before the or (and sometimes the or is emphasized), and you can hear a pause and stress in the spoken version. It is better to be more specific when this is the intent, e.g. by using "neither x nor y", "either x or y", "x; alternatively, y", "x or y but not both", "x, or x then y, or y alone, but not y then x", or some other construction that gets precisely at the intended exclusive conditions.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  17:49, 3 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Comment: Just saw this. The consensus wording that resulted from the 2017 RfC I started on the WP:ANDOR guideline is "Avoid writing and/or unless ambiguity would result or unless other constructions would be too lengthy or awkward." The "unless other constructions would be lengthy and also, or alternatively, would be awkward" wording is the newer wording and seems to be an example of the lengthy and awkward example it's speaking of. So I also prefer B. Flyer22 Frozen (talk) 01:33, 21 June 2020 (UTC)

WP:WAS and defunct magazinesEdit

See Talk:Famous Fantastic Mysteries; I was surprised to see that WP:WAS was being used to say that a magazine that has ceased publication takes "is" not "was". C. A. Russell (who made the change) pinged Thumperward when I asked about it, which led me to this MoS discussion. I reverted the edit, and was re-reverted, so I'm coming here to raise a discussion -- the archive link above doesn't discuss magazines, or anything sufficiently close to them to seem like a precedent.

The issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries dated August 1942 is a magazine issue, but I think the magazine, considered as a publishing enterprise, has concluded, so the rule of thumb in WP:WAS seems to apply: "A good rule of thumb is that unless a subject has a specific expiration date (such as a person's death, a company's closure, or an event's end) then the present tense is appropriate." Defunct magazines have a specific expiration date -- often the company's closure. I should add that the sources invariably use the past tense. A quick look in Frank Luther Mott's five volume History of American Magazines shows that he uses the past tense for defunct magazines and the present tense for ones still active at the time he was writing. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:12, 14 May 2020 (UTC)

I agree with your analysis. A magazine is a periodical publication, meaning it produces a new issue on a regular basis. Once that publication has ended, then the publication was a magazine. I think it comes down to how you conceptualize the thing described. For something like "x is a television series", I tend to understand that as referring to all of the episodes collectively, and so would use present tense. On the other hand, I don't interpret magazine or newspaper as referring collectively to all of the issues, but as describing an ongoing publication enterprise, which has an end date.--Trystan (talk) 13:43, 14 May 2020 (UTC)
I also agree. Moby Dick is a novel from 1851, but Famous Fantastic Mysteries was a magazine published from 1939 to 1953. The current phrasing ("is a discontinued .... magazine") is just a less direct way of saying "was a magazine". Doremo (talk) 14:14, 14 May 2020 (UTC)
Agree. Popcornfud (talk) 15:20, 14 May 2020 (UTC)
Agree. Johnbod (talk) 15:38, 14 May 2020 (UTC)
This fits pretty well with both the spirit of the original text and the examples I provided. Given that there seems to be support for that position, it might be worth expanding the examples in the relevant MoS entry. Chris Cunningham (user:thumperward) (talk) 22:28, 14 May 2020 (UTC)

I really don't see how magazines are different than TV series. MOS:TENSE says, in part, By default, write articles in the present tense, including those covering works of fiction and products or works that have been discontinued. Generally, do not use past tense except for past events and subjects that are dead or no longer meaningfully exist. Production of a magazine or TV series may have concluded, but installments (issues/episodes) still exist. Gimbels no longer exists in any form, just as Abraham Lincoln and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon no longer exist. MOS:TENSE is clear that present tense is the default and there are limited exceptions. Trystan's above interpretation of the conceptual difference between a magazine and a TV series is a stretch, and obviously subjective.

That said, I just looked at 10 random articles about defunct magazines and I'm shocked to discover that all of them use "was". I'm not sure what the overall percentage is, natch. I didn't see an MOS guideline at the semi-active WikiProject Magazines, but it seems like there must be a specific discussion or guideline somewhere for so many articles to violate what I would argue is the basic intent of MOS:TENSE. Or is it that the very active and very stringent WikiProject Television has embraced MOS:TENSE in its own WP:TVNOW guideline and just enforces it more vigorously (which they do)?— TAnthonyTalk 23:39, 14 May 2020 (UTC)

Many TV shows get syndicated which effectively means they're still available, or could become available at any time, unlike magazine issues. So I can see why WP:TV might chose to use "is" rather than "was".--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 00:11, 15 May 2020 (UTC)
I agree that present tense is the default, but you can only stretch the English language so far. Whatever the reason, "... is a magazine published from 1939 to 1953" and "... is a daily newspaper published from 1872 to 1930" are just clangers in English, in a way that "... is a television series that aired from 1957 to 1963" is not. Without going too far down the existential rabbit hole, the reason is likely, as Sturmvogel says, that TV shows tend to continue to be consumed in a regular way, while newspapers and magazines tend to be relegated to archival status. In determining whether something meaningfully continues to exist, there are naturally going to be some subjective edge cases. Drawing a line between periodicals and TV shows is one of those cases.--Trystan (talk) 00:43, 15 May 2020 (UTC)
Disagree that your examples are awkward constructions. More importantly, I think, they describe the subjects excellently. Surely your example magazine, in 1942, wasn't "a magazine published from 1939 to 1953". Primergrey (talk) 03:33, 15 May 2020 (UTC)
Your argument is based on availability, or how TV shows are viewed more than magazines in perpetuity? Even if those were valid criteria (and I don't think they are), it's personal opinion to say that an old TV series would be easier or harder to find than paper magazines. The shows exist somewhere, but may or may not be re-released; magazines might never be reprinted, but hard copies exist in various places, including libraries and eBay. As with reliable sources, these media should be reasonably available, they need not be easily available. Past tense is for things that are literally existent. And I don't hear the clang at all regarding "... is a magazine published from 1939 to 1953" sounding somehow worse than "... is a television series that aired from 1957 to 1963. I haven't seen a valid reason given for treating TV series and magazines differently.— TAnthonyTalk 04:25, 15 May 2020 (UTC)
I think the usage in sources should be given some weight. Mott, mentioned above, is an authoritative source. I also was quickly able to find uses of “X was a magazine” by searching the archives of the NY Times and the London Times, as well as Google and Google Books. Those searches also bring up a lot of false positives such as “I was a magazine editor” but looking through the results I couldn’t find any uses of “is a magazine” for defunct titles. Or try searching for “was a magazine published”; there are many examples from multiple sources. Looking through the few magazine articles listed at WP:FA that I didn’t write there’s a mixture of “is” and “was” so the “was” usage is not just my preference and has repeatedly made it through prose reviews unchanged. I have plenty of references about magazines (I wouldn’t mind betting I’m the most prolific editor on Wikipedia of magazine articles) and can go through them to check their usage if that would be useful. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 06:43, 15 May 2020 (UTC)
I think I have to agree with Mike Christie's analysis above, and the logic in keeping it as "was" for defunct magazines. (Mind you, I don't like "is" for defunct TV series either, fwiw). - SchroCat (talk) 07:35, 15 May 2020 (UTC)
Agreeing with the above regarding TV series; I would also prefer "Happy Days was an American sitcom ..." as more natural. The rest of that article uses the past tense: "the series was one of the most successful ... and starred"; "Happy Days became one of ...", etc. Doremo (talk) 10:17, 15 May 2020 (UTC)
  • The subject of the article is a magazine—a creative work. The "publication enterprise", or any other detail that led to the work's creation, is highly relevant to the article, but it is not the subject of the article.
    • "Lingua Franca is under copyright"
  • Mott is an authority—specifically, he is an authority on the subject matter. But not an authority wrt this discussion.
    • He's also 50 years dead. And yet Mike Christie twice wrote that "[he] is an authoritative source" and that "[Mott] uses the past tense for defunct magazines and the present tense for ones still active" (emphasis mine). The reason for present tense there is the same reason why present tense is correct here—even when the creative work in question is a defunct magazine.
    • Additionally I have attempted to substantiate the claim that Mott uses past tense, but have been unable to do so. This is made difficult by said five volume series not being widely available.
  • "I don't interpret magazine [...] as referring collectively to all of the issues" is simply perplexing. The notion of magazines being collections is baked in to etymology and the very definition of the word.

-- C. A. Russell (talk) 00:52, 16 May 2020 (UTC)

If a magazine is a collection of issues and not a publication enterprise, how can it be defunct ("no longer existing or operating")?--Trystan (talk) 01:26, 16 May 2020 (UTC)
Some quotes from Mott (you'll have to take my word for it that I did not omit uses of "is"):
  • "The Publications of the Southern Historical Association (1897–1907), of Atlanta, was at first a quarterly and later a bimonthly..." vol. 4, p. 139.
  • "Several magazines were published for traveling salesmen, most important of which was the Commercial Travelers' Home Magazine (1893–1902)..." vol. 4. p. 186.
  • "The Blue Grass Blade was a freethinking weekly consisting of four pages in newspaper form..." vol. 4. p. 277.
  • "Cassier's Magazine: An Engineering Monthly was published in London..." vol. 4. p. 320.
  • "The Universalist Magazine of 1819 was a four-page paper." vol. 1. p. 7.
  • "The Royal American Magazine, or Universal Repository of Instruction and Amusement was an illustrated miscellany of forty octavo pages..." vol. 1 p. 82.
I see some uses of "is" in volume 5, which is naturally about magazines that were still extant when Mott was writing. Yes, I used the present tense for talking about Mott -- he was an author, but he is an authority; he wrote books, but he says authoritative things about magazines. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:39, 16 May 2020 (UTC)

Trystan is right: "defunct" is incorrect. If these comments were a wiki article, we'd be obligated to correct it to not use that term. But "defunct" only originated within this discussion; it is not actually the descriptor I chose.

Several of the quotes provided by Mike Christie just now do not support the argument that out-of-print publications are categorically properly referred to using "was", nor are they contradictions of the argument in favor of "is". "X is a magazine that was published from [...]" in fact fits squarely with explanation offered by all who have pointed out that "is" is correct. The occurrences of "was" in examples provided don't differ from the "was" in "X [...] was published"—because *that* use of "was" is actually correct!

And I repeat myself—it wouldn't matter if Mott outright used "was" on every page of his five volume set, for the reason I mentioned before: he's a subject matter expert in magazines. That doesn't mean his perspective is authoritative on the subject of this discussion. -- C. A. Russell (talk) 03:50, 16 May 2020 (UTC)

To further demonstrate the principle in play here: just as Mike Christie writes, "[Mott] was an author, but he is an authority", "Mag-X (say) was being published in the 1960s, it is still a magazine and as such is a work of creative expression (whether it's still in publication or not)". And if not, then we say "it is no longer in publication". (Bonus points for extra credit: how do you even say that last sentence unless you use "is"?) -- C. A. Russell (talk) 03:59, 16 May 2020 (UTC)

You're right that the list of quotes from Mott includes some that don't apply to the question at hand; that was careless of me (I'm going to blame the wine I was drinking last night). But some of them do apply, and I found no counter-examples. To that you say that Mott is not an authority on the issue we're discussing; again you're right, but unless one is willing to argue that all reliable sources on magazines always get this wrong, one would expect to be able to find reliable sources that do use "is" for the simple statement of existence. Here are a couple more sources and quotes.
From Mike Ashley's The Time Machines (2000):
  • "There were two major publications in 1946...The second such anthology was Adventures in Time and Space..." (p. 197) This is about a book, not a magazine, but what's interesting is that Ashley even uses past tense here, and I think it's because the prior sentence makes it clearly we're narrating past events. That's implicitly the case for lead sentences about defunct magazines too. There are more straightforward uses of "was" too:
  • "Stirring was in fact two magazines in one." (p. 163)
  • "Avon Science Fiction and Fantasy Reader was a good magazine with some sharp stories..." (p. 224)
  • "Mexico's leading pulp magazine of the period was Los Cuentos Fantasticos." (p. 234)
From Eric Leif Davin, Partners in Wonder (2006)
  • "In March, 1937, the Gaines and Mayer team began publishing yet a third comic book for Dell, also with a simple title: The Comics. It was a mixed bag of newspaper reprints and original comics..." (p. 170)
From the online SF Encyclopedia:
  • "The new magazine was more garish and more juvenile than its predecessor." ([15]) (Mike Ashley is listed as one of the authors of this article, but this text is due to Malcolm Edwards; it appears in the 1978 print edition.)
If someone finds multiple examples of "is" being used in simple declarative sentences to describe a historical magazine, I'd still argue that "was" is correct, for some of the other reasons given above, but I'd be forced to concede that it's an acceptable usage in edited prose. As it stands I've looked through half a dozen references and can't find a single example that uses "is". Re your extra credit question: as with the Mott quotes I shouldn't have included, I think it's a red herring. It's not the specific usage we're discussing, and of course "is" is correct. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:46, 16 May 2020 (UTC)
Can you clarify your last comment? Can't parse.
Someone at the University of Rochester is doing good work to correct mistaken use of colloquial "was" that would be common from students into the correct form for formal writing. See the current intro for Vanity Fair (U.S. magazine 1913–1936), for example. -- C. A. Russell (talk) 14:12, 16 May 2020 (UTC)
I meant that "it is no longer in publication" is clearly right, but isn't an example of the usage we're debating. I'd say "Captain Future never won a Hugo Award because when the awards were first given out the magazine was no longer in publication" since that refers to the state of the magazine at a time in the past, but I'd say "as of today, Captain Future is no longer in publication" because that's a statement about the state of affairs today. I don't think it's that useful to think about how a given usage implies the speaker must be conceptualizing the magazine, but if pressed I'd say that "Captain Future was a magazine published in the 1940s" implies that I'm thinking about it as a past event, and Captain Future is a magazine that was published in the 1940s" implies I'm thinking about it as a collection of physical objects; a set of works that still exist. The reason I don't think that's helpful is because even if everyone in a MoS discussion agrees on what's logical, we don't regard ourselves as able to overrule the frequent illogicalities of standard English usage. To put it another way, I feel I have a conception of magazines that makes "was" logical, and I have usage citations to support that; counterexamples to the second point seem much more useful to me in this debate, because our internal justifications for English usage are very difficult to assign weights to.
Re Vanity Fair: I see that, but I assume we'd agree that the editor in question is no more a reliable source for usage than you and I are.
It's been a couple of days since this discussion started, and most editors commenting have agreed that "was" is OK for the usage under discussion. Would you be OK with me reverting to "was" at Famous Fantastic Mysteries? And I'd like to add an example to the MoS, perhaps of that exact article, as Thumperward suggested above, to forestall future iterations of this debate. We can leave it a few more days if you feel others may have more to say. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 14:35, 16 May 2020 (UTC)

Captain Future is a magazine that was published in the 1940s" implies I'm thinking about it as a collection of physical objects; a set of works that still exist

I think this is the disconnect. A "collection of physical objects" is very much not the conceptualization that makes "is" correct. (If that were the rule, and every issue were destroyed, then that would mean we would start using "was". But we wouldn't, because that's not the basis for "is".) In fact, it's the opposite conceptualization that leads to "is"—once again, it's because is a creator's work (whether that be a single person, or in the case of most magazines, multiple persons). It comes into being, and then it simply exists. And it is that work that is the subject of the article, and not auxiliary details about its drafting and editing process, business structures, or the manufacture of ink-on-paper and its distribution. Corporeal embodiment in a physical artifact has nothing to do with why it is "is".

Re Vanity Fair: [...] the editor in question is no more a reliable source[...]

Only relevant if my comment is an appeal to authority. But it's not.

most editors commenting have agreed that "was" is OK for the usage under discussion. Would you be OK with me reverting to "was"

No I wouldn't, and I'd especially be against the more extreme action of promoting "was" to a de jure change.
Majority is not consensus. From Wikipedia:Consensus: The quality of an argument is more important than whether it represents a minority or a majority view. And furthermore: The arguments "I just don't like it" and "I just like it" usually carry no weight whatsoever. Most of the "most editors commenting" are in the latter camp. And two of those editors "agreeing" with "was" aren't even agreeing with the argument—they're agreeing with the outcome. They're saying "was" should be used for TV shows, too.
I've just pointed to an editor who's clearly got a perspective on this, but you're calling for an end, because if we call the game now and use your preferred scoring method, too, then we can say that it puts things in your favor? I'm referring to the IP from University of Rochester—who I stumbled upon through almost no effort at all after a cursory search trying to substantiate the claim that most sources are not using "is". You've since admitted that argument to appeal is one that you yourself don't find convincing, because a dispositive finding against that claim would have you discount it—i.e., as soon as it became inconvenient to your effort to carve out a special case to MOS:TENSE for out-of-print magazines.
Meanwhile, we haven't even established a rubric. Framing this as "most editors" being in agreement is premature and maybe even disingenuous. -- C. A. Russell (talk) 16:13, 16 May 2020 (UTC)
OK, we can wait and see if we get more substantive comments — two days isn’t a long time for a discussion. I don’t think it’s worth me responding in detail to your points except to say that I’m not convinced. I agree that if you can find others interested in commenting that would be useful; I posted a note at WT:FAC asking for commenters and if you know of other relevant talk pages please post notes there too. I suspect from your tone that you’re not going to believe me, but I don’t think I’m trying to carve out a special case; I just think you’re wrong. I asked you if you felt we were done here and you said no; that’s fine. Let’s see where this conversation is in another week. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:31, 16 May 2020 (UTC)
I have followed your train of thought up until this point, where you say "I don’t think I’m trying to carve out a special case". I have thought this entire discussion, from your first message here, to be about asserting that magazines should be recognized as a special type of publication so that they can be considered to end when e.g. the company itself closes, or chooses to stop creating new issues, etc. If that's not the point of this discussion, then what is? (FWIW, I still think that's the point of this discussion, but that you misunderstood the comment or took exception with the general thrust of it or...)
This is why I mentioned the lack of a rubric so far. What are we actually discussing? For a successful, fact-based discussion, we need to (a) distill things down to a set of questions for which we are tasked with deciding the answers, and (b) in doing so, rely as much as possible on claims that can be falsified or not, in service of the arguments they are meant to support. So far, that's not been the case, and it's one big, unstructured exchange. -- C. A. Russell (talk) 17:22, 16 May 2020 (UTC)
I think I misunderstood you; I thought you meant I was using some form of special pleading. Yes, we're talking about a specific ruling for declarative statements about the existence of magazines no longer in print. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 17:26, 16 May 2020 (UTC)
I think the easiest way to see this is to understand the difference between the "container" and the "work" when it comes to describing things likes magazines and other media. For an example like Moby Dick, we're focused on the "work" which continued to exist well beyond its first printing so it gets an "is". A magazine for most people on first pass is seen as a "container" that is either currently in publication or not. When it ceases publication, it ceases to be a container and thus "was" is appropriate to describe elements related to the "container" part. But as mentioned, when it comes to the content or work within it, that content still exists (or at least should) so there are other facets that still can be presented in present tense if it specifically related to its work and content. The same would apply to TV shows - considering the difference between content-laden shows verses simple news-format type shows, for example. --Masem (t) 17:02, 16 May 2020 (UTC)
This. Very much this. --Khajidha (talk) 21:11, 16 May 2020 (UTC)
I still have a problem with "I Love Lucy is...". Whatever you want to argue about it logically, it just doesn't sound natural in the English language. I don't think it's how people talk. On the other hand, "Vertigo is..." is just fine. That's my intuition, and I think a lot of people will agree.
Now, if I wanted to justify my intuition, I would argue that I Love Lucy was an open-ended series rather than a complete work of art, and when it finished it finished, therefore past tense is appropriate. That is, I Love Lucy was a "container" in Masem's terminology. But the justification is sort of beside the point. The point is that we're using a tense that I think is just not going to sound natural to our readers, and I think that's a problem. --Trovatore (talk) 23:13, 16 May 2020 (UTC)
The TV show may make sense to use "was" under the "content vs container" logic I'm suggesting, especially if we consider the episode of a TV show to be the content, and the show to be the container. "The Man Trap" will always taken an "is", the episode exists, it is content, it is not a container; while Star Trek is that container for a bunch of episodes so we could argue that Star Trek was a show (as the container for those episodes) that ran from 1966 to 1969, since nearly every article on a TV show starts on the broadcasting factors touching only briefly on the content. The more and more I think about it as that approach, this feels really comfortable that way, though it requires a lot of reworking articles but it remains consistent with the magazine/journal idea we're talking about here (and probably would also apply to comic books and anything else of a periodical approach). Ongoing shows of course still retain "is". I'm trying to think of anything that might be odd against that, but I'm not coming up with any immediate examples that do not fit into this content vs container metaphor idea easily.
Or to restate that, we need to this how the work of media type X is broadly written about in WP and outside. If it is content focused first, then we should presume these works are persistent forever and they should be spoke to in the present tense. If the work is spoken about in how it was published or presented first, then we should consider the container as the leading part and use when the container exists or existed as guidance. I can't find a case this doesn't feel wrong, once you can designate the content from the container. --Masem (t) 21:07, 18 May 2020 (UTC)

I spent about half an hour doing an inexhaustive poke around looking for folks whose edits indicated they probably have some perspective on this and indicate they would be impacted by this decision. Here are some, whether still active on Wikipedia or not:

-- C. A. Russell (talk) 19:14, 18 May 2020 (UTC)

It sort of looks like you looked for "perspective" in just one direction; would you agree that's accurate? I don't see edits above that change present tense to past tense, and I think it's hardly credible that there aren't any. Ultimately I hope you agree that, while "impact" on editors is a consideration, impact on readers is much more so. --Trovatore (talk) 19:22, 18 May 2020 (UTC)
I wondered about that, but if these editors are implementing the common interpretation of WP:WAS then that would be more common in the edit history. C. A. Russell, how did you find these? Is there a way to filter edit histories or recent changes to spot this sort of thing? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:33, 18 May 2020 (UTC)
I'm not going to respond to Trovatore's comment—*any* facet of it—given that it comes out of the gate strawmanning the shit out of me.
These is some cursory checking I did in response to folks above complaining that "X is a magazine that was published from [...]" is an awkward/incorrect/abuse of English. I did some quick Googling that could uncover some instances of similar phrasing in existing Wikipedia articles and of the results I looked at that weren't false hits, asking, "How did the article get that way?" then I checked articles' histories. The handful of editors listed above come from the subset of those I looked at where editors were correcting existing articles to move from "was" to "is"—some of them providing edit summaries, some of them not, some of them explicitly referencing the manual of style, others (e.g. edits I saw by User:Keeper76) elaborating on the reasoning for "is" in their own words. As I said, this was just the result of basic checking and was not exhaustive. It is not all editors, it's not meant to be, and the example edits are not even all relevant edits found by that editor (cf the Rochester IP I brought up before, vs the single example provided above). It's just enough where, after we have a evidence of a handful or so, we can say, "look, these people and these types of opinions exist". -- C. A. Russell (talk) 23:29, 18 May 2020 (UTC)
  • I strongly support the use of "was" in the lede for defunct magazines. If a magazine has ceased publication, it's no different than a factory which has ceased its fabrication. It's a company which has ceased trading, which is clearly covered by WP:WAS (this would also be true if someone tries to argue a technicality if a magazine was never incorporated.) If we have articles on issues of the magazine that are still extant, that's probably but not necessarily an "is": for instance, if a particular magazine article had a major historical impact but has been superseded, that may support a "was" (event's end.) I'd also support "was" for television shows which have been cancelled, or have no longer aired, though it's a little trickier in the age of streaming. SportingFlyer T·C 20:45, 18 May 2020 (UTC)
    • With streaming it depends, but I would still say that if we are talking original shows intended to follow a television season type format, simply just not broadcasted on a typical weekly schedule, the same ideas of the "content-vs-container" apply, and in general once "cancelled" or concluded, are "was". For example, "A Series of Unfortunate Events was an American black comedy-drama[3] web television series from Netflix. The show consisted of 25 episodes over three seasons which were first broadcast from 2017 to 2019." This is not what it says now, obviously but its an example in this field. --Masem (t) 21:13, 18 May 2020 (UTC)
      • A not entirely silly position to take would be that it depends on how much the series was a single connected narrative. At the extremes, if Saturday Night Live ever stopped filming new shows, it would surely be was, but Roots, which was presumably completely filmed before a single frame was ever broadcast to the public, must be is. Somewhere in between would be the series that are plotted out in advance with a fixed ending; Babylon 5 was the pioneer of this form, but it has since become extremely popular.
        That said, I don't think slicing and dicing the logic of language is really our proper role as Wikipedia editors. The question is what is going to be useful to our readers. My take is that using the present tense for discontinued series (with the possible exception of genuine single-story ones like Roots) is such an unusual choice that it is jarring for our readers, for no sufficient countervailing benefit. --Trovatore (talk) 23:36, 18 May 2020 (UTC)
    • SportingFlyer, You're conflating the magazine with the group behind it. The subject of the New York Times article is the New York Times, not the The New York Times Company. The latter dying or otherwise choosing to end future publication of the former means that future issues are off the table, certainly. It doesn't mean that the subject of the New York Times article—a work—has expired. -- C. A. Russell (talk) 23:41, 18 May 2020 (UTC)
      • Hmm, interesting comparison. Wikipedia has a list of defunct newspapers of the United States. I spot-checked a good number of them and all the ones I checked used was in the first sentence. Presumably if the NYT were to fold (ha ha) we'd do the same for it. --Trovatore (talk) 23:52, 18 May 2020 (UTC)
        I checked some more, and I have found an exception, which let me report here for completeness: The list includes the Evansville Press, which is a redirect to Evansville Courier & Press, which uses is, but that's because the paper is still being published. Whether that means that Evansville Press should be removed from the list is a question I don't care enough about to express an opinion, but clearly the use of the present tense in this case is for the currently published paper, not for the defunct one, if it is in fact defunct. --Trovatore (talk) 00:07, 19 May 2020 (UTC)
        • I'm not actually conflating the two. You've introduced a third, irrelevant, layer: the owner of the newspaper (sometimes people, sometimes another corporation.) If a newspaper or magazine stops publishing, they're clearly former entities. It does not mean individual issues of the papers or magazines should be referred to in the past tense, especially if they're notable, but those are rarely the actual subject of the article. SportingFlyer T·C 06:20, 19 May 2020 (UTC)
        • Evansville Press is not the primary subject of that article. If it is spun out - which should not happen IMO - the lede should read "the Evansville Press was a newspaper in..." By saying "The Evansville Press is a former newspaper only serves to confuse readers, because the tense implies the newspaper is still publishing and is immediately contradicted by the next word. SportingFlyer T·C 06:22, 19 May 2020 (UTC)
          • Please lay out the three things you're seeing. One of them needs to jibe with this edit, which says If a magazine has ceased publication, it's no different than a factory which has ceased its fabrication. It's a company which has ceased trading, which is clearly covered by WP:WAS (this would also be true if someone tries to argue a technicality if a magazine was never incorporated.), and the other two need to not be that thing. -- C. A. Russell (talk) 12:42, 19 May 2020 (UTC)
            • Sure. For this example, there are three layers. Layer 1 are the owners/publishers of magazine. Layer 2 is the magazine itself. Layer 3 are the issues of the magazine. For this example, assume you, C. A. Russell, a person, publish the Wiki Magazine. My corporation, SportingFlyer Ltd., makes an offer to buy Wiki Magazine from you, and you accept. At some point in time, SportingFlyer Ltd. continues to trade, but Wiki Magazine becomes unprofitable and cannot be sold, so SportingFlyer Ltd. ceases publishing Wiki Magazine. There are three separate potential fictional articles here: C. A. Russell, SportingFlyer Ltd., and Wiki Magazine. C. A. Russell is a living person, SportingFlyer Ltd. is an active company, but Wiki Magazine has become defunct and would become eligible for defunct magazine categories, disestablished entity categories, et cetera, which lends itself to "was." Now, for level 3, which I haven't discussed yet: if Wiki Magazine produces an issue or content which is notable above and beyond that of the magazine, that would likely to be classified as "is." If Wiki Magazine published, say, Radioactive Man #1, the article for Radioactive Man #1 would likely not be referred to in the past tense. SportingFlyer T·C 02:28, 20 May 2020 (UTC)
              • I'm pretty sure I agree with this, except that I think that any specific issue of whatever magazine or comic book etc. ought to be referred to in the present tense regardless of the article it was mentioned in. Primergrey (talk) 03:00, 20 May 2020 (UTC)
              • Before, you said of a magazine that "It's a company which has ceased trading", but now you draw a distinction between the company and the magazine... but then go on to ignore that distinction... Stick to one or the other.
              • Let's stipulate that there exists a magazine, let's say Foo Magazine. That's 1. The magazine if it's in publication surely has a staff of writers and editors and an entire business apparatus behind it (a "publishing enterprise" from before). That's 2. If there is a third thing, it's not clear from your messages what that is, and I'm not sure there is a third, or whether it's even important. What is important is that if we have an article Foo Magazine, the subject of the article is (1) and not (2). There's a reason why the article would say "Foo Magazine is a magazine that was published from 1923 to 1974", and not "Foo Magazine was a company that published a magazine of the same name from 1923 to 1974." (If (2) is especially notable, then it may have an article of its own, but probably not.) If (2) shuts down, then that's fine—now (2) is dead—but the subject of the Foo Magazine article remains the collective work (1), and present tense is still correct when referring it. -- C. A. Russell (talk) 22:02, 20 May 2020 (UTC)
                • One and two of which you described are exactly the same in my mind. The magazine is not a "permanent" creation. (The issues of the magazine might be "permanent".) Using "is" to describe a magazine strongly implies that the magazine is currently publishing. SportingFlyer T·C 04:18, 21 May 2020 (UTC)

Responding to C. A. Russell's list of users who have edited "was" to "is", here's a list of users who have made the reverse edit, which turned out to be easy to find. I searched Wikipedia for "was a magazine published" and looked for the editor that introduced that language in each case. These editors have all been active in the last few days. I am not pinging them but if we decide more editors should be involved they could be pinged.

I tried using the same method to find articles which have "is" for a magazine that is no longer published, and was unable to, since the search results mostly consist of active magazines, so it's much harder to find relevant edits. If we want to involve more editors who have edited "was" to "is" then C. A. Russell's method may have to be used. I don't think it's necessary to ping more editors; I think most editors interested in the MoS already watch this page, and notices to related pages are a better way to go, but here are a few names if others disagree. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:32, 20 May 2020 (UTC)

In response to I think most editors interested in the MoS already watch this page, that seems like a bad inference. -- C. A. Russell (talk) 21:26, 20 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Listen, can you guys remember to turn out lights and lock the doors when you're done? EEng 04:53, 21 May 2020 (UTC)

Based on the above discussion, I've reverted the original edition to Famous Fantastic Mysteries, and have added an example to WP:WAS, per the suggestion to do so earlier in this thread. If we can spend this much time debating this it makes sense to have an example given to avoid having to go through this again. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:43, 24 May 2020 (UTC)

I'm not going to respond to your revert to Famous Fantastic Mysteries, but I am going revert the newest change to the MOS that backdoors the MOS:PRESENT guideline with a new de jure mandate to use past tense instead. I don't know why you thought that would be okay.
I'm also going to back out User:Thumperward's January "rule of thumb" edit for the reasons already given, which I'll resummarize here: (a) it originally went in against opposition [not mine]; (b) the original stated intent was to prevent people from using "was" instead of "is"; (c) when I noticed [two months later], I foresaw that folks would instead point to it as an excuse to do the exact opposite thing—to use "was" where "is" should be [and that is now happening]; (d) on that basis I approached Chris about backing it out and optionally reworking the wording, but I dropped that conversation when Chris more or less told me he'd take care of any issues that it causes (saying to come "[c]hew me out"), except he's had very little involvement here, and that little bit has only undermined/contradicted (b) and (d). -- C. A. Russell (talk) 15:11, 24 May 2020 (UTC)
I think the consensus from the above discussion is fairly clear, but we can always move to a formal RFC if necessary. It is worth providing some guidance in the MOS regarding defunct newspapers and magazines to quell future disputes.--Trystan (talk) 16:40, 24 May 2020 (UTC)
Honestly I think we should expand the scope to TV series as well. It's really jarring to refer to I Love Lucy in the present tense. It wouldn't even contradict the current text to put it in the past tense; as I Love Lucy is/was not a single work of art. It was rather a "container" in Masem's terminology, which contained episodes, the actual works in question. --Trovatore (talk) 17:20, 24 May 2020 (UTC)
I would ping the WP:TV project before doing that, just to make sure. I mean, I edit in the TV space but I don't know if my thoughts necessarily represent their consensus. But the "content vs. container" approach across multiple media would resolve a lot of the verb tense problems we have, but TV shows would be one area that would be directly affected. (Best to my knowledge we don't have a project like "Wikiproject Magazines" that would have a similar interest to worry about here). I will go ahead and make that ping there to this discussion to keep it centralized to here. --Masem (t) 17:26, 24 May 2020 (UTC)
If you've read through the mess above and are saying things like I think the consensus from the above discussion is fairly clear, then, yeah, I guess we're going to need to make a formal RFC. I mentioned multiple times establishing a rubric against which we can evaluate the claims/arguments people are throwing out (and then abandoning), and... nothing. Just folks heaping more (often not even self-consistent) comments into the pile. -- C. A. Russell (talk) 17:28, 24 May 2020 (UTC)
I think the consensus is clear on magazines, but not for anything beyond that, though enough opinions were expressed that an RfC might be useful on the TV shows issue. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 17:32, 24 May 2020 (UTC)
Sorry, but I'm going to insist on an RFC, for the reasons I just said. -- C. A. Russell (talk) 17:49, 24 May 2020 (UTC)
And if we are going to do an RFC, let's try to do it for any type of "periodical" work - magazines, TV shows, journals... not sure what else immediately, but to distinguish from one-off "publication" works. --Masem (t) 17:56, 24 May 2020 (UTC)
Indeed. The only consensus that this discussion made obvious is that of those who have weighed in, whether those in favor of "was" or those in favor of "is", overwhelmingly there is a agreement that magazines are not a special case to be considered any different from TV series, etc. -- C. A. Russell (talk) 18:31, 24 May 2020 (UTC)
I don't see the need for an RfC on magazines, but if you do, go ahead. If it includes other forms of periodicals it should allow for the possibility that the answer will be different for magazines and TV shows -- just because we might like to have a principle that governs the usage doesn't mean that good English usage is actually consistent. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 18:45, 24 May 2020 (UTC)
That is very true in general, but in the particular case Wikipedia has chosen a style for TV shows that is radically at variance with normal usage. That will not be difficult to show. The obvious inference is that the editors who established this style are trying to follow some sort of "principle" rather than standard "good English usage". --Trovatore (talk) 18:51, 24 May 2020 (UTC)

C. A. Russell, are you putting together an RfC or are you expecting me or someone else to do it? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:33, 25 May 2020 (UTC)

I suppose it will happen whenever the first person to do so does it. -- C. A. Russell (talk) 16:25, 26 May 2020 (UTC)
OK, just didn't want to duplicate effort. My suggested wording is below.

IMO: When referring to a newspaper or magazine as an overall entity (vs. talking about a single copy of it) in common speech it refers to an ongoing enterprise and past tense is overwhelming used when it is defunct. You would clearly be fighting common speech to argue otherwise. The term also refers to single copy of it, a completely different meaning of the term which should not confuse the discussion. "TV series" is different; common speech often treats the set of episodes produced as an entity and calls that entity "TV series". Common speech probably follow this probably because (unlike magazines and newspapers) a series can be highly succescsful, widely watched a big moneymaker and an ongoing business enterprise after production has ceased. A talk page of a Wikipedia guideline can't override common speech.North8000 (talk) 20:17, 26 May 2020 (UTC)

@North8000: Does it really strike you as natural "common speech" to start an article with I Love Lucy is...? To me it very much does not. I think if you look through the corpus you'll find that the past tense is overwhelming in this case as well. --Trovatore (talk) 20:31, 26 May 2020 (UTC)
If I said that TV series is always current tense then your example would be an argument against what I said. But I didn't say "always", I said "often". Either way, "TV show" is a different case. I only mentioned it to say that arguing that magazine/newspaper should be treated the same as "TV show" is not valid. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 21:30, 26 May 2020 (UTC)
The franchise around a TV series can go on indefinitely, though the TV series may be long dead, this is a way to account for this stance as well. "Charlie's Angels (franchise) is a franchise..." while "Charlie's Angels was a television show..." (as a first example I could come up with). --Masem (t) 20:50, 26 May 2020 (UTC)
I think the type of show is also relevant. I could go either way on how to refer to I Love Lucy or Charlie's Angels, but referring to something like The Huntley–Brinkley Report in the present tense would be truly astonishing.--Trystan (talk) 21:16, 26 May 2020 (UTC)
Yes, the don't show reruns of news reports so in that case it's more like magazine/newspaper. North8000 (talk) 21:34, 26 May 2020 (UTC)

Suggested wording for the RfCEdit

I'd make the section heading "RfC: Should "is" or "was" be used to describe magazines no longer being published and TV series no longer in production?"

WP:WAS says By default, write articles in the present tense, including those covering works of fiction...and products or works that have been discontinued. Generally, do not use past tense except for past events and subjects that are dead or no longer meaningfully exist. Should we describe magazines that are no longer being published, and TV series that are no longer in production, with "is" or "was"?

For example:

  • "Gourmet is a magazine that was published from 1941 to 2009" vs. "Gourmet was a magazine published from 1941 to 2009"
  • "I Love Lucy is a TV show that ran from 1951 to 1957" vs. "I Love Lucy was a TV show that ran from 1951 to 1957".

If you believe one should be "was" and the other should be "is", please make that clear in your response.

[Then a responses section heading and a discussion section heading.]

If there are no objections to the wording, I'll post this in a new section in a day or so. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 17:45, 26 May 2020 (UTC)

Notwithstanding the clarification at the end, I would prefer to avoid the presumption that the answer, or even the relevant considerations, are the same for both. How about running two parallel RFCs, one for magazines and newspapers, and one for TV shows?--Trystan (talk) 19:03, 26 May 2020 (UTC)
I think much of the discussion would overlap, so two RfCs might be overkill. How about two response sections, one for each? That would make it pretty clear that the choice could vary. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:31, 26 May 2020 (UTC)

If you want the result to have credibility, the RFC needs to be neutral. There will be guidelines and essays that support either side. Locating a quoting one that appears to support one side of the RFC and including it in the RFC is biased. North8000 (talk) 19:48, 26 May 2020 (UTC)

Seems to me that sometimes you need to separate the (usual) corporation from the collective lore of printed paper. That would have to be based on context, in a way that isn't easy to explain. A magazine (corporation) will (usually) have a building, printing presses, and editors. I can imagine statements that might begin with The New York Times believes ... or, more satirically, The Onion says ..., which would stay present tense, even if the corporation behind them shuts down. I believe that Shakespeare plays are described in the present tense, collectively as well as individually. They have a life of their own, separate from the author. I suspect that magazines and newspapers, in some sense, also have a life of their own, separate from the corporation producing them. You have to figure out from usage, which one is meant. Gah4 (talk) 20:47, 26 May 2020 (UTC)
(ec) Gah4, I'm just trying to get the wording neutral at this point so we can ask the question; if you do want to contribute to the discussion I'd suggest either waiting for the RfC or posting in the section above.
@North8000, I included the quote because (a) it's in the MoS now, and (b) there was no debate above about changing it -- it was all about interpreting it. Some argued that defunct magazines fall under "dead or no longer meaningfully exist"; others argued that they do not, because they are completed works that still exist. As a result I can't even tell which side you think it supports, so I don't think it's biased. I think it's going to be necessary to refer to it in the RfC, so I'd prefer to keep it, but if others agree with you we can cut it. It'll show right up again at the top of the discussion section, though. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 20:54, 26 May 2020 (UTC)
Regardless of whether one comes down on one side, the other, or in the middle, I think WP:WAS is clearly the central guideline that applies, so should be quoted in the RFC. One RFC with two response sections sounds like a good approach.--Trystan (talk) 21:04, 26 May 2020 (UTC)
A "past tense" finding would require at least an improvement in clarity in WP:WAS so IMO you should not state the status quo as a foregone conclusion. I was advising leaving it out only as advice so that your RFC resolves this rather than ending in a cloud; I won't be unhappy if you still choose to include it. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 21:47, 26 May 2020 (UTC)
  • I know we've only spoken of magazines and TV shows, but I would be as broad as possible for anything that fits the format: any periodical or routinely published work that is no longer published, including newspapers, magazines, journals, comic books, radio programs, televisions shows, podcasts, and web series. (throwing out the net to avoid an RFC in the future). I know that might end up with with "I agree with all but for X and Y" responses but at least a closer can line out the ones that don't have if the others have overwhelming. But I would hope editors see the logic why to handle these all together.
  • The other factor here is related to the neutrality question and that's basically you're not explaning why this RFC is happening, and I can understand how that's hard to present without staying neutral. So I'm wondering if you present the question is "How do we present the tenses for works no longer in publishing in the scope of WAS?" and that may lead to several "options" that appear in the response section, rather than what may have started as a simple "yes/no/discussion" breakdown, but this, for example, would give me to be able to explain the "content/container" rationale that I think justifies these out nicely and cleanly, but without that entering into the RFC rationale. --Masem (t) 21:17, 26 May 2020 (UTC)
Huh? -- C. A. Russell (talk) 01:17, 27 May 2020 (UTC)

If the RfC asks about "newspapers, magazines, journals, comic books, radio programs, televisions shows, podcasts, and web series" in order to settle the question for as broad a range of items as possible, it wouldn't make sense to have separate response sections. The original question I asked was about magazines, and the majority of the discussion in the section above was about magazines, with only a little broader discussion. I thought about having one response section for magazines, and another for "other periodical works that are no longer published, such as...", but it would seem odd to separate magazines that way just because that's where the question started. I think if we want the RfC to be about no more than TV shows and magazines then two response sections is fine; if it's about more than that we'd have to use a single response section. I'm also inclined to leave in the quote from WP:WAS, but change the order: state the question first, then say 'the MoS guideline that applies is "...". Should this be interpreted to support the use of "is" or "was"?'. One more point: I don't want to mention adding an example to WAS as part of the RfC, but I think anything that generates this much debate should be memorialized in the MoS so we don't have to go through this again, whether this goes the way I hope it does or not.

With the above in mind, here's a revised wording.

When describing periodical works such as newspapers, magazines, journals, comic books, radio programs, televisions shows, podcasts, and web series that are no longer published, should we use "is" or "was"?
For example:
  • "Gourmet is a magazine that was published from 1941 to 2009" vs. "Gourmet was a magazine published from 1941 to 2009"
  • "I Love Lucy is a TV show that ran from 1951 to 1957" vs. "I Love Lucy was a TV show that ran from 1951 to 1957".
Note that the MoS guideline that covers this question is WP:WAS, which says By default, write articles in the present tense, including those covering works of fiction...and products or works that have been discontinued. Generally, do not use past tense except for past events and subjects that are dead or no longer meaningfully exist. However, attempts to resolve the question this RfC is asking by referring to this have not agreed on whether defunct periodicals should be considered to be "dead...and no longer meaningfully exist". [With a link to this talk page discussion].
If you believe some types of periodical should use "was" and the others should use "is", please make that clear in your response.
[Then a single responses section heading and a discussion section heading.]

How does that look? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:56, 27 May 2020 (UTC)

No objections, so done. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:44, 28 May 2020 (UTC)

Pinging everyone who contributed to the above discussion to let them know of the RfC: Trystan, Doremo, Popcornfud, Johnbod, Thumperward, TAnthony, Sturmvogel 66, Primergrey, SchroCat, C. A. Russell, Masem, Khajidha, Trovatore, SportingFlyer, North8000, Gah4. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:07, 28 May 2020 (UTC)

  • We're seriously taking this to an RfC? I thought the consensus was clear to use "was" for defunct periodicals, though I get the "big net" rationale. SportingFlyer T·C 16:18, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
If you look at the RfC, the responses show this is not so clear cut and bigger than a talk page discussion, if only because TV series have been looped in. A wider net is definitely required.— TAnthonyTalk 16:23, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
(ec) I thought it was clear for magazines, though there was not enough discussion of TV shows to make that a clear cut decision, but C. A. Russell said he wanted an RfC. I went ahead and edited the MoS page to include a magazine-related example of "was", but he reverted, and since nobody reverted him I figured the best way to settle it was to go ahead with an RfC. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:26, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • When this thread began the cumulative total of COVID cases, worldwide, was 150,000; it's now 10,000,000. What remains to be seen is whether this issue will have been resolved by the time either the human race is wiped out or a vaccine becomes available. Just in case, the WMF has made provision for this page to be archived in a form such that, with luck, aliens coming to earth eons from now will be able to pick up where you guys left off. EEng 17:10, 27 June 2020 (UTC)

RfC: Should "is" or "was" be used to describe periodical publications that are no longer being published?Edit

This RfC concerns an attempt to establish consensus for a house style on which grammatical tense to use when describing publications that may still be available in archive or back-issue form, but are no longer being produced. Because it's an RfC on house style, there aren't sources produced below, and I've been unable to locate a policy or guideline that applies, so I've had no clear basis on which to assign different weight to one contribution over another.
There is no consensus to establish a guideline insofar as it relates to television media; but there is rough consensus that articles about periodicals that are no longer being produced should normally, and with commonsense exceptions, use the past tense.
I hope this helps; any comments, criticisms, complaints or queries about this close should be directed to my talk page in the first instance. Re-closed following appeal on my talk page—S Marshall T/C 21:38, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

When describing periodical works such as newspapers, magazines, journals, comic books, radio programs, televisions shows, podcasts, and web series that are no longer published, should we use "is" or "was"?

For example:

  • "Gourmet is a magazine that was published from 1941 to 2009" vs. "Gourmet was a magazine published from 1941 to 2009"
  • "I Love Lucy is a TV show that ran from 1951 to 1957" vs. "I Love Lucy was a TV show that ran from 1951 to 1957".

Note that the MoS guideline that covers this question is WP:WAS, which says By default, write articles in the present tense, including those covering works of fiction...and products or works that have been discontinued. Generally, do not use past tense except for past events and subjects that are dead or no longer meaningfully exist. However, attempts to resolve the question this RfC is asking by referring to this have not agreed on whether defunct periodicals should be considered to be "dead...and no longer meaningfully exist" -- see Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style#WP:WAS and defunct magazines.

If you believe some types of periodical should use "was" and the others should use "is", please make that clear in your response. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:43, 28 May 2020 (UTC)



  • Support was for magazines, newspapers, comics, journals, and any printed periodical that is no longer published. Neutral on the other periodicals listed, so far at least. I will post some more detailed notes in the discussion section, but briefly: every single reliable source I have checked so far uses "was" for printed periodicals. We need a very strong argument to go against accepted usage. If a substantial number of RS cites can be found for "is" in those cases, it comes down to preference; then I'd still argue for "was", but I would have to agree that "is" is not incorrect in edited prose. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:34, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
    Update: still supporting was for printed periodicals; now also weakly supporting was for TV. See notes on usage in the discussion section for reasoning. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:47, 2 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Support was for magazines, newspapers, comics, journals - everything Mike says above goes for me too. Popcornfud (talk) 12:03, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support was per all of the above. Doremo (talk) 12:13, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support was per all of the above. In addition to the weight of reliable sources that prefer "was", it feels natural to to use "was" for the ended publication/broadcast, etc and "is" for the still ongoing. - SchroCat (talk) 12:33, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • was makes the most sense to me --Guerillero | Parlez Moi 13:07, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support was as and per Mike Christie. --Khajidha (talk) 13:13, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose enforcing "was", except where we are sure that no copies of the publication are still in existence. If copies exist, then "Gourmet is a magazine that was published from 1941 to 2009" seems perfectly correct to me. The same applies to radio and TV programmes. We have a similar situation with car articles, e.g. "The Jaguar E-Type... is a British sports car that was manufactured by Jaguar Cars Ltd between 1961 and 1975..." (my link and bold). -- DeFacto (talk). 14:33, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Generally support was for defunct magazines, newspapers, and TV news shows, where the topic is more naturally understood as the whole publication operation rather than solely the end product, and is for extant works of fiction, including comic books and TV comedies and dramas. There is no bright-line rule, so flexibility is needed.--Trystan (talk) 14:35, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • It would be was for a description of the magazine: "X was a magazine published in the 1890s...," but is once it is contextualized, especially for a description of its contents: "In its editorials, X is very clear about what was considered acceptable in the 1890s." Fowler&fowler«Talk» 14:45, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Partially support "was" for magazines, etc; oppose "was" for television, basically as per DeFacto's argument (and others) – IOW, the current guidance for TV, WP:TVNOW, is still correct, and should not be changed. --IJBall (contribstalk) 14:52, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support was for magazines, newspapers, or anything that is periodic containing some current/news events. For those items being a current publishing enterprise weighs more heavily in the meaning of the term and choice of words that describes it. This is how it is different than other examples such as TV series. North8000 (talk) 14:54, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support is. Issues of Gourmet exist and I can hold one in my hand. It didn't stop being a magazine just because I can't buy a new issue. It's existence is current, and any reasonable reader will understand that "was published between [year] and [year]" means it's not being published anymore. In the unlikely event we have an article about a periodical that has been discontinued and no copies of it exist anywhere, was would be appropriate. It's hard to imagine such a subject would be notable, though. Argento Surfer (talk) 15:13, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support was for all defunct serials, whether print, audio or video, and "is" for the individual stories, issues and volumes. Only exception should be for publications with a pre-planned limited number of issues, e.g. a book published in serial form (The Old Curiosity Shop) or a miniseries (Roots), since these are whole works which stand on their own. pburka (talk) 15:22, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support "was" for magazines, newspapers, comics, journals, and any printed periodical that is no longer published only for sure no longer have any copies that exist; oppose "was" for television. Per MOS:TVNOW, even if a television series is canceled, the television series still exists in terms of streaming services, DVDs, and Blu-rays, and etc. — YoungForever(talk) 15:27, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support is, usually, for TV series as described in MOS:TENSE and MOS:TVNOW. Especially for any work that has an overview, plot description, etc., which should be in the present tense on Wikipedia. Changing to "was" would not only require changing the lead sentence, but most of the lead section and possibly large swaths of the article to past tense, and/or lead to awkward mixed tenses. For example, if "Star Trek was an American science-fiction television series, then it "followed the adventures of the starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)", "The show was set in the Milky Way galaxy", "The ship and crew were led by Captain James T. Kirk" and so on throughout the article. Past tense for all that might be ok for Britannica's article, but that's not how we do it here. The example given of I Love Lucy is odd because after the opening sentence it describes the premise in the past tense, but later changes to present tense in the "Premise" section. It should all be present tense. I would bring up the idea of ephemerality in general - it might make sense to talk about defunct newspapers as well as cancelled TV news shows in the past tense, because the content was never intended to have a long life - yesterday's newspaper is today's fish wrapper - though that's debatable, since people often consult them for historical research. I think that a scientific journal for example would not be so ephemeral. But in any case, if people are still buying and watching old TV series on Amazon, they are certainly not things that "no longer meaningfully exist". --IamNotU (talk) 16:05, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
    PS, Britannica isn't consistent - in contrast to Star Trek, they use "is" and the present tense for Lost: [16], which I find more natural. --IamNotU (talk) 20:11, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support is for consistency with books and artwork. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel by Mark Twain, the Mona Lisa is a painting by Leonardo da Vinci. People die; works of art, film and literature do not. I find the votes above that say "is for TV series, was for magazines" to be confusing and contradictory. Yes, a TV series still exists after cancellation, and a comic book series still exists too. What is the justification for making that distinction based on the medium the work is published in? — Toughpigs (talk) 16:15, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support was for all. The fact that a TV series still "exists" in some Platonic sense is irrelevant. It just isn't how people talk. TVNOW is wrong and should be overturned.
    Side note: There are certainly locutions where it makes sense to talk about a discontinued TV series in the present tense — say, I Love Lucy is my favorite sitcom. That's fine, because it's comparing them with other sitcoms, past and present. But in a definition, I think you'll find if you do a well-controlled search, which would admittedly be challenging, that almost no one would introduce the show in the present tense.
    As for artworks, I think the point is that a TV series is not a single work, but a collection of works. It doesn't have a narrative unity. While it's being produced, it's undetermined what it will do in the future. When it's over, that's no longer true, and the series is now properly in the past, even though the individual episodes make sense to talk about, as works, in the present tense.
    But none of that justification really matters. The point is that the past tense is how people actually talk and write. Using the present tense here is jarring to readers, for no sufficient countervailing benefit. --Trovatore (talk) 17:10, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
    • It just isn't how people talk. Which people? If someone said "tell me about Star Trek", I'd say "it's a TV show from the 60s, where people fly around in a spaceship". I really honestly would not say "it was a TV show". It still is. I still watch it sometimes. --IamNotU (talk) 19:52, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
      PS, Encyclopedia Britannica says "Lost is a fast-paced, suspenseful, and surreal series about a group of people who survive..." So it is how some people, including some encyclopedia writers, talk. --IamNotU (talk) 20:11, 28 May 2020 (UTC) [Sorry, it looks like this is a leftover from when the show was still running, see below --IamNotU (talk) 17:33, 30 May 2020 (UTC)]
      Well, Lost is a single story, so that would kind of make sense. The online EB uses a sentence fragment for the first sentence of its article on I Love Lucy, neither is nor was. --Trovatore (talk) 20:21, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
      Isn't being a 'single story' subjective, though? Lucy, Seinfeld, or the Simpsons are all a 'single story' compared to the Twilight Zone or Beyond Belief. Argento Surfer (talk) 20:26, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
      No, in my view, none of Lucy, Seinfeld, or The Simpsons count as a single story. --Trovatore (talk) 21:09, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
      Where, exactly, is being a "single story" established as criteria for anything in our guidelines? And um, your saying "in my view" proves Argento Surfer's point that classifying works this way is subjective. And who decides for a particular work? Not any one of us.— TAnthonyTalk 22:21, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
      It's not established in our guidelines. We're discussing precisely a proposed change to the guidelines, so that's irrelevant. In any case, I haven't proposed that a "single story" criterion be adopted; I would be perfectly content for us to describe Lost in the past tense. I'm just pointing out a reason that Brittanica might have made a different choice. --Trovatore (talk) 22:44, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
      I might be persuaded that it's reasonable to use the present tense for all narrative works, and that some TV series are narrative works. But it seems incredibly awkward to say that "Donahue is an American talk show which ended 24 years ago", or "Face of the War is an American news program about recent events in World War II." pburka (talk) 20:41, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
      Well put. I'm not ready to revise my opinion to be for fictional periodicals only, but I'll have to think about adding nuance. Argento Surfer (talk) 20:50, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
      I think it's perfectly fine to say: "Donahue is a 1967-1996 American talk show which aired in syndication" and "Movietone News is a newsreel series that that ran from 1928 to 1963". The work exists in the present tense, the events of its creation and distribution are in the past tense. I think that any attempt to split hairs by whether a work is a single story or not takes us down an unprofitable rabbit hole. — Toughpigs (talk) 23:31, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
      We can also avoid the rabbit hole by using was for all. --Trovatore (talk) 00:33, 29 May 2020 (UTC)
      It's ridiculous to say "The Johnny Carson Show is a half-hour prime time television variety show starring Johnny Carson [who died in 2005]", but that's essentially the opening sentence of that article right now. If we can say that the show was (is?) "short-lived" and that it was (is?) canceled, I don't see why we would speak of it in the present tense. Even though recordings of the show still exist, it's no longer an ongoing enterprise. pburka (talk) 19:56, 29 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support is, per my comments in the discussion above. I really don't see how magazines are different than TV series, or how "was" makes sense on the merits. As quoted in the intro of this RfC, MOS:TENSE (WP:WAS) is explicit that we do not use past tense except for past events and subjects that are dead or no longer meaningfully exist. This has been the case for a very long time. Production of a magazine or TV series may have concluded, but installments (issues/episodes) still exist. Gimbels no longer exists in any form, just as Abraham Lincoln and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon no longer exist. I should also dispel any argument that availability makes a difference. The shows exist somewhere, but may or may not be re-released; magazines might never be reprinted, but hard copies exist in various places, including libraries and eBay. Magazines are like books in this regard, and we definitely don't use "was" for out-of-publication books (nor should we). As with reliable sources, these media should be reasonably available, but they need not be easily available. WikiProject Television's WP:TVNOW confirms the use of "is', has done so for a long time, and has been stringently enforced. That said, I was shocked to discover that somehow every article about defunct magazines I looked at uses "was". It seems like there must be a specific discussion or guideline somewhere for so many articles to violate what I would argue is the basic intent of MOS:TENSE? I don't have a horse in the magazine race so, as much as I think the practice is wrong, I won't fight an effort to keep magazines status quo (using "was"). I'm vehement though that the guidelines for television series, and WP:WAS itself, should not be changed.— TAnthonyTalk 17:20, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
    • TVNOW has been wrong for a very long time. --Trovatore (talk) 17:26, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
      So you're basically saying that Game of Thrones does not exist? Your grandiose arguments about "no narrative unity" and "a collection of works" is, no offense intended, subjective nonsense. And if present tense was so "jarring" to readers we would have had backlash long ago. Finally "this isn't how people talk" isn't necessarily a valid argument; we commonly use contractions like "can't" in speech, but we explicitly do not use those in prose at Wikipedia.— TAnthonyTalk 19:05, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
      I'm not saying Game of Thrones does not exist. I'm saying that its Platonic existence is irrelevant. The "narrative unity" and "collection of works" stuff is, as I say, also mostly irrelevant; it just goes to explain why normal usage can reasonably make a distinction between I Love Lucy and Vertigo. As to whether you've had backlash, I haven't really been following the question, but I bet you have. The current Wikipedia tense is a real clanger and I think anyone who doesn't see that has just internalized the Wikipedia usage. --Trovatore (talk) 19:30, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support was for any periodicals. Magazines, newspapers, journals, and comics (I'm thinking Peanuts here, maybe it's different with serials) which have stopped publishing are no longer in existence. Two caveats: whether a television show is a periodical is up for debate and should probably be a spinoff discussion, and specific issues of a periodical, if notable, can still use is. SportingFlyer T·C 19:17, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
    • "comics which have stopped publishing are no longer in existence." What if, like Peanuts, reprints are still being run daily and hardcover collections are still being printed? What if they're technically out of print, but a local bookstore still has new copies on the shelf? Argento Surfer (talk) 19:42, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
      • I guess Peanuts isn't a great example since it's functionally a brand now, but the "was" is appropriate because the publishing of temporal content has ceased. I'm not changing my opinion as I feel strongly about this and don't really want to comment further on this, but if you must respond, please ping me in the discussion thread. SportingFlyer T·C 23:40, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Either as long as usage is consistent within an article. I have a weak preference for was because it makes obvious to the reader that the periodical is discontinued, but those in favor of is make good points that in certain situations would be preferable. TV shows still in syndication seems a very likely example. Wug·a·po·des 20:39, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support is - Magazines, newspapers, books, etc. don't die, even when there is a discontinuation of publication. And the very next clause of the sentence will make it clear that it is no longer being published: "Life is a magazine that was published from NNNN to NNNN." Cyphoidbomb (talk) 20:47, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Comment on the "present tense if the show is in syndication" argument that's popped up in a few places: tracking the distribution of television shows is very complicated. If a show is released on DVD, does that mean it still "is"? Does it become "was" when the last copy is sold? Is there a difference between a show stripped daily in syndication (e.g. Friends, for the last thirty years) and a show that was in syndication but is now exclusively streaming on HBO Max? (e.g. Friends now). If a US show is no longer syndicated or streaming in the US, but it's still in syndication in Latin America, does that count? If it does, then who volunteers to keep track of noticing when the last network drops the show? Etc, etc. — Toughpigs (talk) 23:41, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support was as being more natural. – John M Wolfson (talkcontribs) 00:26, 29 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support "is" for all. I agree with every comment by TAnthony in this discussion, and MOS:TVNOW is reasonable, logical practice that should extend to all serial works. Individual works, such as novels, and individual episodes or magazine issues should of course also use "is". —⁠烏⁠Γ (kaw)  01:44, 29 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Prefer was for magazines and periodicals, for naturalness, because that makes clear that they've been discontinued, and because that's the main usage in RS. However, internal consistency in article is more important, and there may be certain articles where "is" works better. buidhe 02:00, 29 May 2020 (UTC)
    • For a good example why not to use present tense, consider "Arijský boj is a pro-Nazi Czech-language newspaper published between 1940 and 1945..." Thankfully Arijský boj and the ideology it represents are no longer meaningfully in existence. buidhe 02:06, 29 May 2020 (UTC)
      • I don't see a problem with that sentence. —⁠烏⁠Γ (kaw)  04:47, 29 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support is (...which was published/broadcast) for artworks and was for non-fiction such as news, journalism and current events coverage, regardless of medium or format. I think I'd group documentaries with artworks. Fiction comics, like other forms of fiction, should get is. Artworks live on as part of a culture, and have a presence so long as the culture exists whether or not a copy of the artwork exists. Note that lost films generally get is. Some flexibility should be understood and consistency within an article should be maintained. – Reidgreg (talk) 17:01, 30 May 2020 (UTC)
    I would support this as a secondary choice if "is" is not adopted universally. —⁠烏⁠Γ (kaw)  21:24, 30 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support is, as in this modification of an article's first sentence: The Gentleman's Magazine is a monthly magazine that was founded in London, England, by Edward Cave in January 1731 and which ceased publication in 1922. That is no less logical than talking about anything else produced in the past but still extant in the present, although TGM might be known to fewer people than some popular TV show produced long ago but still seen frequently in reruns. Dhtwiki (talk) 23:49, 31 May 2020 (UTC)
    • "Is" is also wrong for TV shows no longer in production. Whether it's "logical" or not is not the point. It's simply not good English usage. --Trovatore (talk) 06:32, 1 June 2020 (UTC)
      • I can accept either "was" or "is" for periodicals and TV shows, but why doesn't "was" for even older but timeless works, such as paintings, seem unacceptable? Is it that the ongoing nature of TV series and periodicals is felt more strongly? It would be more logical if we could specify such impressions better, and good English rests on the ability to make such specifications. Dhtwiki (talk) 05:35, 2 June 2020 (UTC)
        • So if I'm speculating, I would say that I think you've hit the nail on the head about the ongoing nature being felt more strongly. But that's a side comment. We aren't going to be able to parse apart all the underlying logic, if any, of English verb tense here, and it's not our job. It is our job to pick a style that isn't jarring, and I Love Lucy is... is jarring. --Trovatore (talk) 19:34, 2 June 2020 (UTC)
          I've hesitated to get involved in this, but I do think "ongoing nature" is the crux. People look forward to the next issue/installment of magazines, TV shows, or newspapers, and so long as they can continue to look forward like that, the magazine (or whatever) is; when that can no longer happen -- when the machinery that produced those installments becomes defunct -- it becomes was. OTOH paintings, novels, and films spring out fully formed, and just are forever (though in the case of a lost film I suppose was might make sense). A difficult edge case might be a trilogy or miniseries, where there's the expectation of more, for a while, but you know from the start that there's a definite end. I think Ken Burns' The Civil War (documentary) is but I'm not entirely sure; same for The Lord of the Rings (whether the books or the movies). As for Star Wars (the franchise) I don't know if anybody ever knew, or now does know, where that's going so I dare not even speculate. EEng 20:09, 2 June 2020 (UTC)
          Yes, this is nicely put. --Trovatore (talk) 22:05, 2 June 2020 (UTC)
          Trovatore has asserted many times in this discussion that using is to describe old TV shows "is not good English usage," "is jarring", etc, and the more times that they use that kind of phrasing, the more it feels like a personal opinion that Trovatore is insisting is a fundamental truth about human nature. I do not think that it is appropriate to state unequivocally that one of these options is obviously "good English usage" and therefore fundamental to the nature of human language, when the fact is that people in this discussion seem more-or-less evenly split on this. I disagree with Trovatore's assessment, and I believe that I am not personally a neanderthal mouth-breather who doesn't know what "good English" sounds like. This is clearly a matter of personal opinion and taste; if it was a basic component of human speech, then we wouldn't be having this discussion. I think that what sounds correct depends on the context. For example, if someone who had never heard of I Love Lucy were to ask you, "What is I Love Lucy?" then you would reply, "I Love Lucy is a television show," or "I Love Lucy is a sitcom." In that case, I think that it would sound jarring to say, "I Love Lucy was a television show." It's possible that some of the disagreement here is based on a different framing of the question that readers are asking when they come to a page. — Toughpigs (talk) 00:08, 3 June 2020 (UTC)
        I agree that there are different contexts where a different tense is appropriate. If I ask you what your favorite sitcom is, and it happens to be I Love Lucy, then sure, it makes perfect sense to say I Love Lucy is my favorite sitcom. But in a definition, no no no, this strikes me as completely unacceptable.
        As for it being a personal opinion, yes, there is obviously a subjective component to what is jarring and what is not, but that doesn't mean it's OK to be jarring. I think the editors who don't find it jarring have likely internalized the WP usage.
        In any case, there are somewhat-less-subjective approaches available for settling the question. We can look at the stylistic choices made by other high-register sources. I'm reasonably confident how this will come out. WP is going to be an outlier. --Trovatore (talk) 01:17, 3 June 2020 (UTC)
        That argument pathologizes people who disagree with you. The people that feel the same way that you do understand what "jarring" sounds like; the people who disagree have some kind of psychological block. I do not think that is a productive or persuasive argument, and the more that you repeat it, it gets progressively weaker. Toughpigs (talk) 01:51, 3 June 2020 (UTC)
        It is not a "pathology", per se. I hypothesize that they have internalized a usage created here; that's all. But yes, it does make their intuitions at variance with ordinary good English usage, and this will be possible to show by examining the corpus, as Mike Christie has made a good start at doing below. --Trovatore (talk) 02:01, 3 June 2020 (UTC)
  • We use present tense for extinct species and languages, two things that are much closer to "dead for good" than a magazine, and we use present tense for non-magazine works, because that's the correct way to write about them. I'm against changing the Wikipedia Manual of Style to conflict with the basic rules of composition taught in writing courses—that is, I'm against the adoption of a new mandate for "was". The comments from advocates for "was" are in general contradictory and hinge on either fundamental biases or a misunderstanding of the actual article subjects; the subject of an article for any given magazine is the creative work—not the business entity that led to the work's creation, nor is that entity's lifetime the deciding factor in considering the appropriateness of using present tense when referring to the the works themselves. Support for magazines as a special case among the commenters here is also superficial at best and in general non-substantial; the overwhelming consensus is that magazines are not different from TV series. (This is true even among many campaigning for "was"—they just wrongly advocate for using past tense for TV series, too.) Indeed, even among those asserting that magazines are a special case, there is no coherent argument put forth for why that is—for all the words written here, there's a dearth of any real justification for magazines differing in this regard from other creative works, such as films, film series, documentary series, TV series (whether fictional or non-), books, book series, audio records, etc. Furthermore, the primary proponent of the change starts by reasoning that use of "was" here should be dictated by the patterns purported to be observed in some sources, but the actual belief in that line of reasoning was revealed to be hollow—upon explaining that even if attempts to substantiate those claims showed that the claims were untrue, then it wouldn't affect the belief and that we should be using "was" anyway. The policy at WP:CONSENSUS establishes that it is the "quality of an argument" that that is to be taken into consideration, not superficial agreement or disagreement. In fact, this was repudiated prior to raising the RFC, so it's not clear why it's back in focus now. In summary: we must use present tense to describe magazines, and going out of publication doesn't change that. -- C. A. Russell (talk) 21:17, 1 June 2020 (UTC)
    I assume I'm the "primary proponent" referred to here, and C. A. Russell says my belief in my own argument was revealed to be hollow, so here's the line of argument so that others can judge. We can argue from either existing usage or reasoning about the language or both. I have been unable to find any usage of "is" in edited prose for magazines (or TV shows, come to that, and will post some examples in the discussion section at some point). If all examples of usage I'd found were "is" I'd find it hard to argue that "was" is correct. As it stands the most that can happen is that some examples of "is" will be found in edited prose, which would imply at least it's acceptable to some editors out there. If that happens (and I'd like to see more than one or two examples) then the argument from usage is weakened and we'd all (not just me) have to fall back on reasoning. My reasoning would parallel some of the arguments made by others. Finally, since you're asking for coherent argument, I think it's not coherent to appeal to reason against established English usage, which has no obligation to stick to logic. If you're going to argue for a usage demonstrably different from every edited source consulted, the onus should be on you to show that English usage is to be ignored. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 21:30, 1 June 2020 (UTC)
    What was the point of creating a separate "Discussion" section if everyone is going to dump their free-form discussions here instead of there? -- C. A. Russell (talk) 21:52, 1 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Was for newspapers, magazines, journals, and comic books per above. Is for televisions shows per MOS:TVNOW. Neutral on podcasts, and web series radio programs. Regards  Spy-cicle💥  Talk? 09:58, 2 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Support was for defunct periodicals (including newspapers) and televisions shows that are no longer on air. I fail to see why we should treat them differently from one another. There is also no reason to split hairs and use "is" if a magazine is defunct but still available somewhere as has been suggested above and quite frankly doing so would be unworkable. "Is" can continue to be used for works for art (provided they haven't been destroyed), movies and novels, among others. Calidum 17:56, 2 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Was. The point is to aid the reader in quickly understanding the entity. A very important of an entity is whether it's current or not. "The Greens are a faction in Constantinople..." doesn't answer well the question "What are the Greens?". One has to read deeper into the sentence to find out the important fact that they're defunct (they have been for 1500 years, and that matters when trying to suss the entity). That's mental work. Not a huge amount, but it adds up in terms of reader-hours.
So then its matter of opinion, here, whether (let's say) I Love Lucy is current or not. I'd say it better serves the reader to use "was" for entities that have ceased to publish, or be manufactured, or be alive. It's true that Modern Racoon (ceased publication in 1987) exists in sense that physical copies may be held and even brandished. But I think that's pedantic. It's more important to the majority of readers (I would think) to immediately know if the entity has died, or has ceased publication or production or manufacturing. I think that Margaret Wise Brown would say "The important thing about Modern Racoon is that it is defunct. It was written for raccoons, and it had ads for trash can openers, and it cost four acorns, and the pages crinkled when your crumpled them, and it was sold by chipmunks. But the important thing about Modern Racoon is that it is defunct." We can't know for sure, but that's my best guess. Herostratus (talk) 00:14, 3 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Use is, for consistency with books, films, and everything else. People here seem to be confusing the publication (the work – that is, the magazines or newspapers you can hold in your hand or read in more mediated fashion via or whatever) with the [usually defunct] legal entity that was the publisher. Those are separate topics, even if we cover them in the same article, and the central topic of the article is almost always the work (which remains extant, unless someone has tracked down every copy of every issue and destroyed it), not the entity. Where the entity is actually more notable, the article should be re-scoped and moved to be titled for the entity (or when both are independently notable, split into two articles). So: "The Promise' Land Times is a zine that was published by Kerry Wendell Thornley from [date1–date2]." I know it's an "is" because I still own several issue of that; they have not ceased to exist, even though he quit producing new ones and eventually died.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  13:01, 3 June 2020 (UTC)
    • Stanton, any evidence that anyone is confusing the publication with the legal entity? That certainly is not the basis of my argument. I would argue instead that you are conflating the publication with issues of the publication. You can hold the physical issues in your hand, but not the abstract object that is the publication, which was an ongoing repetitive event when it was in print, and now is not. That abstract object is the subject of the article, and it is only weakly related to the legal entity. --Trovatore (talk) 17:22, 3 June 2020 (UTC)
      An example would be Stirring Science Stories, which published three issues under one publisher; the publisher went out of business but the magazine's run did not end. It was continued by another publisher for one issue, after which the magazine ceased to be published but that second publisher continued to be in business. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 18:48, 3 June 2020 (UTC)
        • But I mean...I can hold Richard Nixon in my arms, dress him up and take him to to parties (provided I can dig him up and get away with it). He has a physical body that exists in the world (albeit somewhat thinner than in former days). Should we thus write "Richard Nixon is an American politician..."? Isn't, I don't know, the absence of life from his body kind of an important point that the reader should not have drill down into the third paragraph to find out? Or even down to the end of the first sentence or so?
Similarly, I can hold copies of the Saturday Evening Post and take them to parties, but so? What does that have to do with quickly and efficiently describing the entity Saturday Evening Post to the reader?
(Also, if you want to go down the pedantic path, individual copies of The Promise' Land Times are not, in and of themselves, The Promise' Land Times. Even if you collected all of them together, that still would not be The Promise' Land Times. Similarly, individual episodes of I Love Lucy that might appear on your television screen (or even all of them collected on videotape) are not I love Lucy, which was (that's right, was) a production effort consisting of various writers, directors, and actors, physical sets, financial arrangements, a history involving broadcast times and nielsen ratings and public commentary, and much else (in addition to also being a set of finished performances preserved on videotape). We do not write "The Saturday Evening Post is a collection of 12,243 magazines, with a total weight of 947 kilos and a total count of 403,976, 241 characters." There are more important things than physical existence of a finished product that the reader wants to know.) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Herostratus (talkcontribs) 16:30, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
I agree that physically existing copies of media do not hold much relevance to whether the media exists. But I think that the degree to which an article about a TV show is about the preserved performances available on videotape is much greater than the degree to which an article about a scholarly periodical is about its publications (versus the surrounding process that is / was responsible for publishing them). {   } 04:33, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Fine, then there are three levels of abstraction to keep track of, not just two. I still don't see a solid rationale for switching verb tenses for a select handful of particular media. It's just inconsistent for the sake of being inconsistent, in effect if not in intent. Every argument presented here for was can also be made to apply that tense to almost every other kind of work we are using is for, when the work is question is no longer in production.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  21:38, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
As I say, I don't see Lucy as a "work". Individual episodes are works; Lucy as a whole was more like a recurring event, and events in the past take the past tense.
That would be the "rationale", but the rationale is really kind of beside the point. As Mike Christie has shown, essentially no one else does what Wikipedia does in using present tense for series of which new episodes are no longer being shown. That's because it's just not good English usage to do so. It doesn't have to be logical; it's just English. --Trovatore (talk) 21:51, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Was. Because they aren’t, but they were. MapReader (talk) 13:14, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Was for periodicals. Make it clear it was discontinued. If I see "is", I automatically assume its still being published. No opinion on TV. Renata (talk) 15:31, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Neither, work to avoid "to be" verbs in favor of more dynamic writing style - Use of the various forms of "to be" often leads to a dry writing style because "is" and "was" offer little informative value and may result in improper level of precision, indicated by this debate. Fundamentally, this RfC presents the false choice between considering works of art either "dead" or "living", when other options exist (see E-Prime). Taking the two examples given in the proposal, one might reword them as: Gourmet, the first U.S. magazine devoted to food and wine, operated from 1941 to 2009 and The television show I Love Lucy, starring Lucille Ball as the title character "Lucy", ran from 1951 to 1957 - or any number of similar ways. I believe this writing style strikes the balance far better than the limited two options presented. -- Netoholic @ 17:11, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
    Your "more dynamic writing style" is someone else's "non-encyclopedic language". --Khajidha (talk) 18:06, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
    I'm not sure about that. I think the examples that have been posted from specialized encyclopedias have shown that a flat declarative "X is/was a television show" is not the common opening for entries in those encyclopedias. — Toughpigs (talk) 19:15, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
    Many business and formal writing guides teach avoidance of to be as a way to make communication more direct. Deciding between operated/published or aired/ran or a universe of other verb options, and variety of sentence word orders, feels to me much more interesting than debating between only past/preset of the single verb to be and limiting ourselves to a strict "X is/was Y" style. I confidently believe that, given this style as an option, individual topic areas will develop standard openings that convey even more "encyclopedic" style than we use today, so don't judge based only on my crude examples. -- Netoholic @ 20:51, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
    While I'm less than convinced by the E-Primers in general, I could possibly be persuaded that it's a way out of this impasse. This has actually been used as a solution to a very similar problem at Wikipedia in the past.
    Look up the history of the Whitechapel murders article. There was an editor who was insisting on beginning the article with The Whitechapel murders are.... I hope everyone agrees that at least that was bizarre. This editor would use edit summaries like If they were, then what are they?, which raises interesting metaphysical questions about the continued existence of past events but is not particularly relevant to English usage.
    Anyway, I think we eventually settled on The Whitechapel murders occurred..., which poses no such conundra. Apparently now it reads The Whitechapel murders were committed..., which is no longer E-Prime (because it's passive voice) but still gets us out of this jam.
    So instead of I Love Lucy is an American multinational television sitcom that originally ran on CBS from October 15, 1951 to..., how about I Love Lucy, an American multinational television sitcom, originally ran on CBS from October 15, 1951 to...? Seems to express the same information, and I think all sides here would agree that its verbs are in the appropriate tense. --Trovatore (talk) 17:38, 6 June 2020 (UTC)
    I am (←see) definitely not an E-Prime purist and I don't think that standard would be reasonable to expect across the project. I raised it as an extreme example of a solution to that philosophical problem being raised here about identity. I like your Whitechapel murders example very much - great solution. -- Netoholic @ 19:41, 6 June 2020 (UTC)
    I think this would be a good solution if there were any certainty that it could be universally applied, but it seems like it would very quickly become awkward (or impossible) when trying to construct a sentence with any complexity. It's a cute way to resolve an editing dispute, but making it a part of MoS would result in contorted language across the whole encyclopedia. {   } 08:38, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
    I'm not sure it matters how other specialized encyclopedias format their opening lines, because "Cheese is a dairy product" is the standard Wikipedia style. A policy change of that is a much bigger discussion than this one about defunct magazines. You're reaching.— TAnthonyTalk 19:14, 6 June 2020 (UTC)
    I definitely don't think we should try to impose such a solution on cheese. But it could be a way out for these sorts of articles, where we disagree on the ontological status (some see them about being about an artwork that persists, others as something more like a recurring event that has ceased to recur, even as the individual works (episodes) remain available). --Trovatore (talk) 20:51, 6 June 2020 (UTC)
    Yeah, I could go along with that. I like I Love Lucy, an American multinational television sitcom, originally ran on CBS from October 15, 1951 to... a lot more than the originally proposed I Love Lucy, an American multinational television sitcom, originally ran on CBS from October 15, 1951 to... Gourmet, the first U.S. magazine devoted to food and wine, operated from 1941 to 2009., which sounds more like magazine style. But I am having a difficult time formulating exactly why one reads more encyclopedic than the other, which points to this being difficult to address in a style guide.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  21:38, 9 June 2020 (UTC); revised: 22:57, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
    @SMcCandlish: my eyes can't pick out the difference between your two versions above; can you help me out? --Trovatore (talk) 21:53, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
    Derp. Copy-paste error; I meant to quote this one: Gourmet, the first U.S. magazine devoted to food and wine, operated from 1941 to 2009. I think for one thing it's the dwelling on "a first"; it sounds like gee-whiz marketing language. Yet it's a salient fact that should probably be in the lead. It's just the exact phrasing style that seems off to me.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:57, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
    Removing the word "first", of course, accurately still describes it, but to make the point about being "first" (an important distinction), you'd have to give the context of "U.S. magazine devoted to food and wine" later on anyway (otherwise it'd be "first what"). -- Netoholic @ 16:30, 12 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Support was for newspapers, journals, and other articles where the subject of the article pertains to an organization or institution surrounding the publication. If a newspaper or an academic journal currently exists, it's possible for old articles to be edited, updated, or retracted, as they have an ongoing responsibility for their content. The tense, in this case, conveys a substantial difference in how the reader ought to understand, and interact with, the publication. An article about a newspaper or an academic journal is as much about the publication itself as it is about the institution which *is* (or *was*) responsible for its content — e.g. while the New York Times article is about a physical publication, it also covers the editorial stances of the organization, its corporate history, staff, et cetera. A defunct newspaper *was* attached to an organization whose offices no longer exist, which is relevant to understanding it (i.e. you cannot call them to report a story or confirm figures that were published in an article). Meanwhile, a TV broadcast does not possess an ongoing relationship with the organization that created it. An anime that aired in 1986 *is* a piece of media that, when you watch it, you interact with in basically the same way as someone watching its original broadcast in 1986. I think that there is often a blurry boundary between a "magazine" and a "journal", so I don't really have a strong opinion on that, and could go either way. {   } 09:01, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
    • Just a note here: As far as I know, no one has proposed using "was" for individual TV episodes. The proposal is to use was for series; the episodes of the series would retain is. Your "anime that aired in 1986" sounds more like an individual work or episode than a series; please let me know if I've misunderstood. --Trovatore (talk) 18:46, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
    • Magazine names tend to be more bound up with those of their "production companies" than are those of television series, and that makes it confusing. Dhtwiki (talk) 23:10, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
      I think the "company" angle is a red herring. Periodicals and TV series are both experienced as ongoing, recurring events, and when they cease to recur, the past tense is appropriate. --Trovatore (talk) 23:27, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
      Magazines are frequently published by multiple different companies over the course of their existence. It's less common with TV series, but it does happen; The Expanse is an example, though the production company did not change -- I would imagine that's much rarer. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:40, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
      Sure. I just don't think that really has much to do with the verb tense. No one is really thinking about the company. --Trovatore (talk) 23:52, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
      I think some are -- SMcCandlish's response, for example, talks about the legal entity behind the periodicals. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:04, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
      Yes, but he did so in the context of supposing that other people were thinking about the legal entity. He wasn't proposing it as a distinguishing criterion himself. (To be fair, it's a possible reading of Herostratus's !vote immediately preceding. I'm not sure it's the intended reading, but it's a possible one.) --Trovatore (talk) 00:11, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
      See also the "I think it might clarify my point ..." post by JPG immediately below, as well, making an argument that specifically commingles the publication and the publishing entity.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  23:14, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
      I think it might clarify my point to imagine scenarios in which a defunct thing were to become "refunct". If a TV show receives a sequel or a reboot many years later, the new episodes are part of the same show — the original Space Battleship Yamato aired in 1975, and Yamato 2199 aired in 2012, which is still meaningfully Space Battleship Yamato (i.e. it is still a show featuring the spaceship Yamato, whose captain is Okita Juzo, et cetera). Contrariwise, if the New York Times became defunct (shut down its offices, liquidated its assets, fired its employees, dissolved the corporate entity, et cetera) and a new company started publishing a newspaper called "the New York Times", I claim it would not meaningfully be the same thing (i.e. a publication possessing ownership of, and editorial responsibility for, New York Times articles 1851—2020). A news publication or an academic journal isn't just a collection of articles — it's an institution that can exist without having any publications (whereas a TV show does not have any existence outside of its episodes). So it matters a lot whether that institution still exists. Whereas, is there any relevant fact to a TV show (beyond "is there an episode next week") that changes based on whether the production company is still around? {   } 04:23, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
      No, reboots are a different show. Battlestar Galactica (1978 TV series) and Battlestar Galactica (2004 TV series) were different shows, and they quite properly have different articles. There can be an overarching article on the franchise, certainly, but that's a different subject from the shows. As to whether the production company is still around, no, as you say, that's unimportant, but the argument in favor of was has nothing to do with the production company. --Trovatore (talk) 05:32, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
      They're still Battlestar Galactica, though. And enough articles about media franchises have separate media rolled into them that this is a significant issue. {   } 06:00, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
      If the article is about the franchise, I have no objection to is. That's a separate question from articles on series. It's really not generally hard to tell which one a given article is about. --Trovatore (talk) 06:03, 9 June 2020 (UTC)

Point of order: I just counted how many times people have posted in these discussions since June 1st. Here's the tally:

  • Trovatore: 21
  • Jacob Gotts (JPG): 9
  • Mike Christie: 9
  • SMCandlish: 6
  • Toughpigs: 5
  • C.A. Russell, Netoholic: 3
  • Dhtwiki, Herostratus, Masem, TAnthony: 2
  • Calidum, EEng, Khajidha, King of Hearts, MapReader, Primegrey, Renata, Spy-cicle: 1

I counted these up, because I've been feeling like Trovatore has (intentionally or not) been wearing everyone else down in order to "win" this discussion. In the last two days, Trovatore has responded to basically everything that anyone says, with flat assertions like "it's just not good English usage to do so," which seem to be subjective arguments masquerading as eternal truths. I'm pointing this out because I think that if this continues, Trovatore will make it seem like there's consensus for their point of view, when actually they've just repeated themselves so many times that other people give up and go away. — Toughpigs (talk) 03:44, 10 June 2020 (UTC)

I am, obviously, engaged in the discussion. I don't think I'm bludgeoning anyone. I'm just responding where I see things that should be responded to. --Trovatore (talk) 16:21, 10 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Support use of was under ordinary circumstances. Robert McClenon (talk) 08:29, 16 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Support was where the publication has officially ceased publishing/been formally discontinued, or where it's been so long since it was published last that it clearly has. Oppose using "was" in reference to broadcast media, per WP:TVNOW. Naypta ☺ | ✉ talk page | 14:45, 16 June 2020 (UTC)
    • Could you clarify what you mean by "per" TVNOW? TVNOW is under discussion in this RFC; it can't be used in support of itself. --Trovatore (talk) 17:01, 16 June 2020 (UTC)
  • I support is. I see a lot of sophistry above that really contorts how we should talk about these subjects in formal English. Particularly, we should distinguish the topic of a magazine, an issue, and its publishing entity. The collection in fact exists longer than any one issue does as it does not 'disappear meaningfully' until after the last specific printed issue has gone (which may be A Long Time). This is about precision in text, and "was" doesn't give us that at the end of the day. --Izno (talk) 17:02, 23 June 2020 (UTC)
  • I support was for already-defunct serial media (periodicals, television, radio), and is for serial media currently still in its original run as well as one-and-done standalone works (films, books, art). --Coolcaesar (talk) 18:39, 23 June 2020 (UTC)


Posting a note here to point to the usage comments in the earlier discussion, here. I found multiple examples in reliable sources of "was" and no examples of "is" to describe defunct magazines. Frank Luther Mott is the author of the five-volume History of American Magazines (1930), probably the most authoritative survey of US magazines and surely someone whose text is likely to follow standard usage. If you want something more recent, in British English, there's Mike Ashley's The Time Machines (2000). I also cited Malcolm Edwards, a British editor and critic, and Eric Leif Davin, an American academic. I was unable to find a single case in which a defunct magazine was referred to using "is" (and these are not the only sources I looked at). Note in all cases these were magazines, not newspapers or comics, so I suppose it's possible that there is different standard usage there. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:44, 28 May 2020 (UTC)

I think we are dealing with a spectrum of things. I would find it confusing to refer to a defunct newspaper with "is", and don't want to end up referring to novels with "was". But in between, you have magazines, anthology magazines, comic books, anthology series, and serialized novels. Similarly, in visual media, you have a "was-to-is" spectrum from news broadcasts, talk shows, TV comedies and dramas, TV miniseries, TV movies, and film movies. Any hard line is going to be somewhat arbitrary.--Trystan (talk) 14:43, 28 May 2020 (UTC)

Toughpigs: you ask for a justification for saying that the medium a work is published in makes a difference to whether it should use "was" or "is". I (and several others commenting) aren't making that case; I'm arguing that the existing usage in reliable sources is justification for "was" for magazines, with no reference to other media. I would be interested in seeing RS usage for TV shows, in fact; if it shows "is" regularly then it would imply English usage really is divided by medium. But even in that case we don't need a justification by medium; the usage would be our guide, though we could speculate as to the reasons for the apparently inconsistent usage. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:30, 28 May 2020 (UTC)

A very quick look in Google Books landed me just one example usage so far: Talking Heads was a series of six critically acclaimed dramatic monologues penned for television by.... That's from Horace Newcomb's Encyclopedia of Television, 2014 edition. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:35, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Some exceptions and some supporting examples of my statement above (sorry I don't have time to examine the previous discussion, nor to give the URLs, etc.:
    • Exception for was (in Encyclopedia or other timelines:
      • The Cornhill Magazine is founded in London, with William Makepeace Thackeray as its first editor. The first British Open golf championship (in an encyclopedia timeline, recent one)
    • Support for is after contextualizing, or in talking about the particulars.
      • Dickens's magazine is effectively a mouthpiece for the Owenite line on questions of the production of species. (about Household Words, long defunct, in a journal 2001)
      • The Cornhill Magazine is also notable for the five-year period from 1903 to 1908 during which time the schoolteacher W. A. Shenstone was responsible for the ... (2010)
      • When the Cornhill Magazine is founded a year later, Thackeray gives new life to the bowdlerisation in the name of women which took root in the (2000 journal article, jstor) in a narrative
      • An 1888 ad in Scribner's magazine is for exercise equipment. An 1894 article in New England magazine mentions that this company had a complete display of (recent)
      • This illustration for a 1907 Henry van Dyke story in Scribner's Magazine is called “She Took the Oars and Rowed Me Slowly Around the Shore.” Fowler&fowler«Talk» 16:44, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • I think that there may be a way to split the difference. Look at the opening of Scandal (TV series): "Scandal is an American political thriller television series starring Kerry Washington. Created by Shonda Rhimes, it aired on ABC from April 5, 2012, until April 19, 2018, for 124 episodes over seven seasons." The show is a television series, it was created by Shonda Rhimes, and it aired (past tense) from 2012 to 2018. The work itself exists, in the present tense. But the painting was created, the book was published, and the series was cancelled. — Toughpigs (talk) 16:57, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
    My !vote above only addresses magazines; for TV shows I think this usage is probably right, though I'd like to see more usage examples. But for magazines it's definitely not the case that "is" is used. Fowler&fowler's list of quotes above gives some possible uses of "is", but you can make the case that these are exceptions -- none of them are simple declarative sentences: "Scribner's is a magazine". I have not seen a single RS usage of the straightforward declarative that uses "is", and I've found multiple examples that use "was". Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 17:06, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
    I wasn't aware we based our MOS on reliable sources. Argento Surfer (talk) 17:14, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
    I'm not trying to lay down a general principle, but wouldn't it be strange if we established a usage that no reliable source follows? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 17:34, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
    I suppose, but I rarely come across a source that says something as dry as "Foo is/was a [periodical form]". They usually go for something more flowery, like "When the magazine Foo was being published...". That avoids the question we're addressing entirely by appropriately using a different past tense verb. The way I see it, the magazine doesn't stop being a magazine just because there hasn't been a new issue in a while. It still exists, and I can hold it. I appreciate User:YoungForever's clarification above, but what's the difference between a TV show on DVD and a newspaper on microfiche? Argento Surfer (talk) 17:44, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
    As Argento Surfer says, I think it depends on whether the reliable sources are encyclopedias that have an opening sentence with the same construction. A newspaper article doesn't start with the sentence "Superman is a fictional superhero created in 1938"; that would sound utterly wrong. But that is the style of encyclopedias. — Toughpigs (talk) 17:47, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
    I also did not address TV shows in my comment before. I look at it as the show was, but the individual episodes are. "I Love Lucy" was not a work. It was a collection of works. --Khajidha (talk) 19:45, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
    And it isn't anymore? I think it still is. What about The Beatles Box Set or The Chronicles of Narnia? --IamNotU (talk) 20:34, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
    As the Beatles Box Set is a physical product (not a creative work on its own), and did make it to sale, it retains is, not subject to what's being discussed here. The Chronicles of Narnia as a whole is a series of books and thus as a whole is content that retains is. --Masem (t) 02:12, 29 May 2020 (UTC)
    This definition seems pretty arbitrary to me. You're subjectively choosing what's a "series" (Narnia was a single novel with sequels, not a seven book cycle like The Dark Tower) and what's just "a container". Argento Surfer (talk) 12:43, 29 May 2020 (UTC)

The usage quotes I mentioned are worth listing here, since they're examples of the same usage that we want as the first sentence of magazine articles: simple declaratives. Citation info is in the earlier discussion, above.

  • "Several magazines were published for traveling salesmen, most important of which was the Commercial Travelers' Home Magazine (1893–1902)..."
  • "The Universalist Magazine of 1819 was a four-page paper."
  • "The Royal American Magazine, or Universal Repository of Instruction and Amusement was an illustrated miscellany of forty octavo pages..."
  • "Stirring was in fact two magazines in one."
  • "Avon Science Fiction and Fantasy Reader was a good magazine with some sharp stories..."
  • "Mexico's leading pulp magazine of the period was Los Cuentos Fantasticos."
  • "In March, 1937, the Gaines and Mayer team began publishing yet a third comic book for Dell, also with a simple title: The Comics. It was a mixed bag of newspaper reprints and original comics..."
  • "The new magazine was more garish and more juvenile than its predecessor."

Yes, this simple declarative usage is rare, but it does get used, and it's exactly what we do as the first sentence of our magazine articles, so I feel it counts as examples of ordinary English usage. Do you think this usage doesn't bind us, or that there are sources out there that I haven't yet found that use "is"? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:56, 28 May 2020 (UTC)

I don't think these examples should bind us, but I've never been of the opinion that our MOS should be influenced by how other organizations style things. Argento Surfer (talk) 20:20, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
And MOS:CONFORM states explicitly that material here should conform to our MOS, regardless how it may be presented in a source. The whole point of the MOS is to standardize our style, since as you know even respected style guides can conflict with each other. For example, we italicize the titles of creative works; some external sources do, some don't, some capitalize the titles, but we stick to italics. And I'm sorry, the days of attention being paid to spelling, grammar and style in articles are over when it comes to online sources. We regularly see typos, inconsistencies, etc. there, so these days I wouldn't take anything I read as a style example we should be necessarily following.— TAnthonyTalk 22:32, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
The sources are all published books, and my point is partly that there is no inconsistency. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 22:40, 28 May 2020 (UTC)
  • "Lost is a fast-paced, suspenseful, and surreal series about a group of people who survive when their commercial passenger jet, Oceanic Airlines Flight 815, crashes on a remote island in the tropical Pacific." Encyclopedia Britannica, though their actual first sentences use neither "is" nor "was". --IamNotU (talk) 20:41, 28 May 2020 (UTC) [Withdrawn, per Masem's comment below.] --IamNotU (talk) 17:38, 30 May 2020 (UTC)
    • If you look at the Info for that page, the "is" langauge was from the original authoring of the Lost article (while the show was on) and the changes made in the intro after the show was completed, but not to the body. So it's sorta a bad example. --Masem (t) 01:52, 29 May 2020 (UTC)
  • The logic I presented in discussions prior to this is to distinguish the "content" from the "container". Physical works are easy to see this with, the printed magazine the container for articles that are the content. The content is persistent and always is presumed to exist so is discussed in the present tense, while the physical magazine, the container, only exists as long as the work continues publication. When we move to broadcast and digital content the same analogy applies and can be seen consistent with how works are discussed in the media. With television series, the series is a container, while the episodes are the content in the same scheme. There's afew gotches where I've thought that this analogy may require a few extra bit of advice but every case I can think of I can logically sounding answers of application of tenses. --Masem (t) 02:04, 29 May 2020 (UTC)
  • I agree with Mike Christie. For simple declarative forms found in the first sentence of Wikipedia articles, involving tensed verb phrases of the form i.e. Foo (subject) + be (verb) + noun phrase, only the past simple, i.e. "was," is correct. All others, such as for example, involving the syntactic expletive and the verb "found," "It is the Strand Magazine that is founded in Arthur Conan Doyle's lifetime ..." and any I have listed above, are not in this form. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 10:30, 29 May 2020 (UTC)
I disagree with IamNotU's example from Britannica. The first sentence there: ""Lost, American television drama that aired on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) network." is written in typical Britannica fashion in a bulleted, verbless, form. The second sentence is: "The show, which ran from 2004 to 2010, was one of ABC’s most successful series, ..." Only after the subject is contextualized, does Britannica employ the present tense: "Lost is a fast-paced, suspenseful, and surreal series ..." in talking about the contents. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 10:51, 29 May 2020 (UTC)

Something else participants in this discussion may want to consider is the rule of thumb that was in WP:WAS for a few months. It was added here, by Thumperward, in January. C. A. Russell removed it on 24 May, here, with an edit summary of "Undid revision 936057856 by Thumperward (talk) originally inserted against opposition from others, is now being used to undermine original stated intent". My interest in WP:WAS mostly relates to magazines, so the results of this RfC are all I'll need for guidance, but others may think it's worth re-adding as a useful statement of the principle behind WAS. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:21, 30 May 2020 (UTC)

Given that the Thumperward (unilaterally) inserted it, in his words, as a simple way to stop people using "was" (having been inspired by a truly idiotic edit war), we should consider:

  • it's not only not accomplishing that, but
  • is being used as evidence from folks eager to argue that it means we're supposed to favor of using "was"

... and how "useful" of a statement is it? About as useful as a security system that only allows burglars to enter the building. -- C. A. Russell (talk) 21:40, 1 June 2020 (UTC)

Out of curiosity I looked through some encyclopedias of TV to see if there was consistent usage there. As with magazines, it's not that easy to find simple declarative statements, but I found some. Note that the examples cited from Newcomb are all by different authors, so these either represent multiple authors' usage or a single house style edited for consistency.

  • "Primary (1960) was a breakthrough documentary." Tom Mascaro in Horace Newcomb (2014) Encyclopedia of TV p. 742.
  • "Dr. Kildare, the award-winning series that aired on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) from September 28, 1961, through August 30, 1966, was one of television's most popular and influential medical dramas." Joseph Turow and Rachel Gans, p.757 of Newcomb.
  • "An Early Frost, broadcast on November 11, 1985, on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), was the first American made-for-television movie and the second prime-time dramatic program to acknowledge the presence and spread of AIDS in the 1980s." Rodney Buxton, p. 777 of Newcomb.
  • "The Ed Sullivan Show was the definitive and longest-running variety series in television history (1948-1971)". Ron Simon, p. 785 of Newcomb.
  • The Encyclopedia of TV Pets by Ken Beck & Jim Clark (2002) generally uses "is set in" or "is about"; I could not find direct declarative sentences.
  • "Described by its parent network A&E as 'the gold standard of criminal justice programming,' American Justice was a weekly, 60-minute documentary series, tackling important issues from the perspective of the legal system". Hal Erickson (2009) Encyclopedia of Television Law Shows p.36
  • "Confession was one of the many locally produced half-hour "fillers" used by ABC to plug the gaps in its sparsely populated Prime Time schedule of the late 1950s" ibid., p. 61.
  • R.M. and M. K. Reed (2012) The Encyclopedia of Television, Cable, and Video. Couldn't find any direct declaratives; the closest was "This 64-episode, black-and-white series was one of two supernatural sitcoms to appear on the networks in 1964, joining "The Munsters" in treating horror comedically."
  • "This was an anthology series of longer-than-average television animation productions, chiefly serving as the airing of "pilots" for potential series, though a number of one-shot films were also produced." David Perlmutter (2018) The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows
  • Vincent Terrace (2014) Encyclopedia of Television Shows. Can't find any direct declaratives; the closest was "New Prospect, Oklahoma, in 1901 is the setting". p.448.

Based on these I'm changing my !vote above to weakly support "was" for TV shows as well as magazines; weak, because I'm not as familiar with historical writing about TV as I am with magazine histories, so I'm willing to believe there are uses of "is" out there. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:45, 2 June 2020 (UTC)

  • Although the point being made by the was supporters is clear to me, I just can't imagine being convinced by it while, say, watching an episode of I Love Lucy or reading an issue of Solarman. Primergrey (talk) 01:59, 3 June 2020 (UTC)
    If I were watching The Girls Want to Go to a Nightclub, and someone walked in and said "What's this you're watching?", I'd say "It's an episode of I Love Lucy". If they then said "What's that?" I'd say "It was a comedy show made in the 1950s". I agree that in the context of an individual episode we'd use "is". Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:23, 3 June 2020 (UTC)

In the above examples, the tenses are relatively context-dependent and different tenses make sense depending on the meaning of the sentence. For example, "The Ed Sullivan Show was the definitive and longest-running variety series in television history (1948-1971)" is a statement that would be materially changed by changing the tense — what it actually says is that, at one point, it was the longest-running variety series in television history. To change this to "is" would be making an additional claim that it has, to the present day, remained the longest-running series, which is not supported by the source material and would require verification. In other examples, changing to "is" would make no sense; "This 64-episode, black-and-white series was one of two supernatural sitcoms to appear on the networks in 1964" is a statement concerning an event which happened in 1964 (the series appearing on the networks) and is not ongoing. In general, these statements almost all seem to be clearly referring to events like the broadcast of the show ("was a weekly", "was a breakthrough") or to things that were true at one point and may no longer be true ("was the first", "was one of television's most popular"). Are there any examples of "was" being used to refer to the work itself (as opposed to a broadcast of the work, or its production)? {   } 09:18, 8 June 2020 (UTC)

I’d have to go back through those books and look for more examples, so let’s say for the sake of argument that I can’t find any examples as simple as “I Love Lucy was a TV show”. What is a plausible first sentence of a Wikipedia article about a TV series that does not contain some of the additional material you mention above that implies “was” should be used? I would prefer to argue from observed usage: if we agree that the usage should be “was” in every case listed because there is material that implies we are talking about the past, it seems counterintuitive to argue that there is a highly restricted form of the sentence that would allow “is”, which we have seen no examples of. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:25, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
If there is no other encyclopedia or reference work that uses the structure "X is/was a television show" as the opening sentence for each entry, and Wikipedia is (as far as we can tell) unique in this regard, then there are a couple possible conclusions. We could say that Wikipedia ought to use the opening-sentence structure used in another book or set of books, change the existing style on the 6 million+ existing articles, and retrain all the contributors. That would be interesting but I don't think it's super practical. We could also say, well, for better or worse, Wikipedia's style is unique, and then choose the is/was based on other factors besides what we find "in the corpus", which is generally what's happening in the section above anyway. It's worthwhile to look at these examples, but I don't think that the result gives us a clear direction either way. — Toughpigs (talk) 14:15, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
6 million plus? There are 6 million plus articles on defunct magazines and TV series? I don't think so. The change being proposed is significant, but not that big. Most Wikipedia articles have a perfectly reasonable choice of verb tense. It's only these few classes that are problematic. (Extinct taxa would be the next strange case, but that brings up another pain point because if you say Tyrannosaurus was an extinct genus it sounds like it's no longer extinct, so somehow those would all need to be reworded.) --Trovatore (talk) 19:01, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
I've tried to avoid talking about mental models in these discussions, but the extinct taxa example is very interesting. To me that has to be "is", and I think it's because I imagine the tree of branching classes/orders/families etc. as a actual object in some sort of platonic taxonomic space. "Extinct" is a valid adjective for some of the subtrees, but the platonic existence of those subtrees isn't affected by that any more than it would be by an adjective such as "interesting" or "important". However, I'd say that a taxon that is no longer considered to be part of that platonic tree "was" a taxon. Something in our brains is deciding what it is that we're seeing as a statement of existence or a statement of an ongoing process, and that's what controls the preference for "was". I don't know that this really helps with the discussion here, but for me it illuminates why people feel compelled to talk about models. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:14, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
Well, maybe best to defer that to another day. My intuition is "was" for extinct animals but "is" for extinct languages (there's still a right and a wrong way to say something in Etruscan, even if no living human can tell you what it is, but those dinosaurs are gone). But the RFC is about "periodicals" including TV series, not about these other classes of article, and we don't have to worry about them right now. --Trovatore (talk) 19:21, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
So you think that Etruscan is "alive" and Downton Abbey is "dead"? That's a very specific, subjective intuition. — Toughpigs (talk) 19:36, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
No I don't think Etruscan is alive. But I'm more inclined to treat it as a Platonic entity than I am for Lucy. Anyway the point is not so much my intuitions; it's the fact that we are a radical outlier on these tenses, and in my opinion we're an outlier for good reasons. The other publications are "right" (in terms of what sounds good in English) and we are "wrong". --Trovatore (talk) 20:10, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
"It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is."
The more I think about this, the less reasonable it seems to specify a single tense for referring to these works in MoS for anything besides the first sentence. While I still think that "is" makes sense to use for references to a creative work qua creative work, as Mike said above, it's unlikely for an article (or even sections within an article) to refer to a series in ways that consistently evoke the same tense. In fact, I'd say that the question of which tense is correct is only ambiguous in the very first sentence — as an example, here are the sentences from above adapted to be article introductions.
  • "Dr. Kildare is a series that was aired on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) from September 28, 1961 [...]",
  • "The Ed Sullivan Show is a variety show that was the definitive and longest-running in television history (1948-1971)"
  • "American Justice is a documentary series that was a weekly 60-minute broadcast [...]"
  • "Primary is a documentary that was first broadcast in 1960 and described as a ""breakthrough"."
As you can see, there's not a lot of ambiguity here — things that happened in the past are referred to in the past tense, the existence of the work itself is referred to in the present tense. But, per Toughpigs, I think that a policy change should be evaluated based on how it affects existing articles (and this is why I think that the MoS should only dictate tense for the first mention):
  • I Love Lucy is an American multinational television sitcom that originally ran on CBS from October 15, 1951 to May 6, 1957, with a total of 180 half-hour episodes spanning six seasons (including the 'lost' original pilot and Christmas episode). The show starred Lucille Ball [...].
  • Maria†Holic is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Minari Endō, the author of Dazzle. The manga was first serialized in the Japanese seinen manga magazine Monthly Comic Alive on June 27, 2006 [...] The manga was initially licensed by Tokyopop in North America [...] The first anime adaptation animated by Shaft aired in Japan between January and March 2009.
Now, these both seem pretty comprehensible to me. With the second example, specifically, I'd like to point out another issue with "was" here — Maria†Holic is a media property consisting of print media, broadcast media, et cetera. And with something like Haruhi Suzumiya, there is a series of light novels, a manga series, two seasons of broadcast anime, two original net animations, several audio dramas, several video games, et cetera. If you wanted to perform a "wasing", you'd need to arbitrarily determine which of several media the article was "about". For example, was Happy Days a TV show that ended in 1967, or is it a musical that began touring in 2008 (and will it forever be because theatrical productions never get wased)? Is I think that a reasonable policy would only be capable of applying to the tense used in the first sentence — as Trovatore mentions, other publications do not seem to grapple with this issue at all, and I think it's mostly because most publications do not have a policy of always starting their entries on media with "Such-and-such is/was a blah blah blah". Since ours does, we have to figure out a way to make that one first sentence be consistent — but apart from that, I don't think enforcing a tense throughout the lead of an article would be very helpful. {   } 01:32, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
We don't have a "policy" of starting articles with an is/was sentence. It's the most common form for the lead sentence, but there are lots of exceptions. I think Netoholic's suggestion to use a more substantive verb in the first sentence might make a lot of sense for this problematic class of article. One nice thing about it is that the first sentence can be transformed with very little thought (that's not to say it's bad to think about it, just that you don't have to, which is nice if we're going to be changing a lot of them). See my example for Lucy in this diff. --Trovatore (talk) 02:23, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
(As to the "not a lot of ambiguity" because the "existence of the work itself is referred to in the present" — the problem is that series and periodicals are not "works". Their individual episodes/issues are "works", but not the series/periodicals as a whole.) --Trovatore (talk) 02:27, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
You are correct. I'd meant to describe it as a general practice, rather than a concrete item of policy. {   } 04:41, 9 June 2020 (UTC)

Dead fictional charactersEdit

Starting a side conversation about a related issue: Should we use "is" or "was" for dead fictional characters in a TV series of indefinite length? I see it both ways:

King of ♥ 22:05, 5 June 2020 (UTC)

    • "Is". The content of the events in the work of fiction are considered to be perpetually ongoing at any time, so a character alive at the start of the series "is" a character that may end up dead by the end of it. We have no idea where the reader's context is going to start from so we have to presume they will take the present. Eg: even if in show Chef is dead he is still a character on South Park, who just happened to be no longer a living character at the current point of the show's continuity by the latest episode. The only time a past tense should be applied would be for a character that had been planned out but never actually made it into the published work. I know of no good example of this, but this would be considered consistent with cancelled books and episodes. --Masem (t) 22:15, 5 June 2020 (UTC)
    • Also another hypothetical case would be a character that is completely stripped out of a work by some means (censorship or the like) such that all distributed forms of the work have erased existence of that character but we know they they had existed at one point. But again, I know of no example for this case. --Masem (t) 22:16, 5 June 2020 (UTC)
No no no. We use present tense for fiction, per Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Writing about fiction#Contextual presentation and WP:FICTENSE, which notes Works of fiction are generally considered to "come alive" for their audience. They therefore exist in a kind of perpetual present, regardless of when the fictional action is supposed to take place relative to the reader's "now". Wikipedia:WikiProject Soap Operas#Tense also covers it well. We write all articles from a real world perspective; fictional characters are not real people, so they are not born and they don't die in any kind of real world context. They exist as fictional constructs.— TAnthonyTalk 15:58, 6 June 2020 (UTC)
    • "Is". An work of fiction doesn't "occur" in any real-life interval of time, and even if it did, there's no reason why the last page/minute of it should be considered more real than any other arbitrary point. Even if my story is "It was a dark and stormy night. John Smith, who had died 500 years prior, remained dead." it's still the case that John Smith *is* a character in it. {   } 04:39, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
      • Yes. "Mayor Adam West was a character ... on ... Family Guy" doesn't make any sense, unless he was in early drafts only.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  21:09, 9 June 2020 (UTC)


It's been 30 days, and new comments are rare. Per WP:RFCEND, "if the matter under discussion is not contentious and the consensus is obvious to the participants, then formal closure is neither necessary nor advisable". I'd say the consensus here is that "was" should be used for printed periodicals that are no longer being published, and there is no consensus on TVNOW so the status quo for TV series remains in place. C. A. Russell, TAnthony, Toughpigs, Argento Surfer: you're among those who argued most strongly for "is" for printed periodicals. Do you feel we need a formal close here, or do you agree with my summary? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 14:37, 27 June 2020 (UTC)

I'm fine with it, insofar as it's keeping the current status quo in both areas.— TAnthonyTalk 14:40, 27 June 2020 (UTC)
You feel “was” for printed periodicals is status quo? It was a revert of “was” that led to this RfC; I think it’s a change. An example under WP:WAS would be helpful but wouldn’t be required if it’s understood “was” is used for printed periodicals. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:13, 27 June 2020 (UTC)
I don't believe that there is/was a consensus. I think that people who advocated for "is" were relentlessly opposed in a way that people who advocated for "was" were not, by a single individual. I think that this contributed to the impression that there was a consensus. — Toughpigs (talk) 16:43, 27 June 2020 (UTC)
I think support leaned in favor of was and I don't think a formal close is needed, but I don't think it was strong enough to justify any modification to the MOS. I think the best suggestion to come out of this is to avoid the "Foo [form of to be] a magazine" construction in favor of something more dynamic. Argento Surfer (talk) 16:56, 27 June 2020 (UTC)
The current status quo is that the manual of style includes the universal prescription for present tense in writing, and some folks have ignored in magazine articles especially, but there's also no dedicated task force at this time systematically trying to eradicate the misuse. But I also don't know where the claim that there's obvious consensus for "was" comes from. (It also seems weird to selectively ping only a few of the folks who were opposed to the proposal while, say, SMcCandlish or Izno weren't included.) As an alternative to the status quo, if you're set on changing the guidelines we could continue pursuing that, but the current effort has been a poor. But I also don't see it going well a third time, though, unless as I mentioned several times before, we establish a rubric at the outset and someone steps in to ensure we're observing basic order and a method to test whether claims are well-founded or not. We've had two rounds of this, and they both devolved into an unstructured mess of less-than-rigorous claims and browbeating. -- C. A. Russell (talk) 17:55, 27 June 2020 (UTC)
I pinged a small group because if they didn't agree with my reading of the RfC it wouldn't matter what the rest of the "is" supporters thought; we would need a formal close. I saw no reason to bother everyone if the conclusion could be drawn with less trouble. To the rest of your comment, no, I don't think there's obvious consensus for "was", but I feel there was enough of an argument made by enough contributors to the conversation to establish that the result of the RfC is in favour of "was" for printed periodicals. But my opinion is irrelevant since we've asked for a formal close. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 18:35, 27 June 2020 (UTC)

Then we don't agree enough to avoid a formal close. I'll post at AN and ask for one. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 17:15, 27 June 2020 (UTC)

Requested here. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 17:19, 27 June 2020 (UTC)
Moved the request here; hadn't realized there was a dedicated noticeboard for close requests. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 18:47, 27 June 2020 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Re-stating the scopeEdit

User:Izno reverted this small change. I agree that it should normally be considered an unnecessary bit of redundancy. But outside the theoretical realm, I've seen a couple of demands recently that various pages in the Wikipedia: namespace comply with WP:ANDOR.

Although I don't use this form much myself, I don't necessarily think that it is a bad choice outside the article space. Wikilawyers sometimes claim confusion over whether the word or should be interpreted as exclusive or or inclusive or.

I believe that Wikipedia:Nobody reads the directions, and it is especially true that nobody reads the whole page. Being told that the MoS generally doesn't apply to policies and guidelines doesn't seem to be working. Maybe being told that the specific convention that the user wants to push explicitly says "in articles" would encourage him to give up. To put it another way, adding a redundant two words here might stop pointless edits elsewhere and prevent avoidable disputes. Please add those words. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:53, 1 June 2020 (UTC)

  • Support. The slippery slope argument is that it would open the door for "in articles" to be added to every section. I don't think that will happen, because the guidelines in MoS are variously either common sense suggestions that should be followed in Wikipedia space anyways, or so obviously article-specific that no one would think to apply them outside mainspace. This is one where there is genuine confusion for people who don't read the whole page. -- King of ♥ 20:05, 1 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Sorry, I'm against this. Why exactly ANDOR is especially troublesome, or especially troublesome recently, I don't know, but I'm going to make a different slippery-slope argument: mentioning, in one particular bullet, that that bullet doesn't apply outside of articles risks implying to some people that the rest of MOS does apply outside of articles. EEng 20:14, 1 June 2020 (UTC)
  • I mean, if I write "don't do A and/or B" on a non-article page, and someone comes along and changes it to "don't do A, or B, or both", I don't much care? I mean in most cases you can just use "or". Anyway I think most people understand "don't to A or B" to intend an exception if you do A and B, unless that's specified... so, the text was fine before, it was fine after, but a change is just roiling the text, so OK to revert. Herostratus (talk) 23:24, 2 June 2020 (UTC)
    • It usually gets re-written as "Don't A or B", and then someone says "But it said not to do A exclusive-or B, and I did both, so it's not prohibited!" "Don't do A, or B, or both" is a more long-winded way of saying "Don't do A and/or B", with no discernible benefit. (In articles, the benefit is in maintaining a proper encyclopedic tone, which doesn't apply elsewhere.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:03, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
  • I don't support this proposal. Mentioning it in one place implies there is a specific reason for highlighting this guidance does not apply outside of mainspace. The Wikipedia namespace includes policies and guidelines but also project pages, which have different purposes and thus different guidance would apply to each category, should it ever be codified. And on this specific item, avoiding "and/or" remains pretty good advice for many sentences outside of mainspace. isaacl (talk) 00:53, 3 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose for the same reason as EEng above: if we highlight some small piece of the MOS as applying only to articles, people reading it are going to inappropriately assume that it means that everything else does apply to non-article content. We don't want to have to put this qualifier on all bullet points in all pages of the MOS, so better not to put it on any of them. —David Eppstein (talk) 01:10, 3 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose. In point of fact, the community generally does apply MoS site-wide to almost everything, outside of userspace and talk pages (sometimes formally – categories, for example, can be speedily moved to fix MoS-defined writing errors, and MoS generally also pertains to all reader-facing content, including in portals and in templates with visible output in mainspace). MoS's broad de facto applicability is not a rule, and we don't need to state that is one, or that it is not one. It's simply what usually happens. And sometimes it doesn't happen, usually for a good reason (and that's sometimes even true in mainspace, per the WP:IAR principle and the "some exceptions may apply" principle in WP:POLICY). It is not MoS's job to declare that its scope explicitly covers policypages. Nor is it's MoS's job, contrariwise, to dictate to the community that the generally good sense in MoS cannot be applied outside of articles. Nor is it MoS's job to try change what the community does (guidelines reflect best practices, they do not try to impose new ones by fiat). None of those things are intrinsically MoS concerns or within MoS's own scope, so MoS has no business adding a codicil to some line-item in it that it doesn't apply to a particular namespace or namespaces, or outside a particular namespace or namespaces. Also, I agree with EEng and David Eppstein and Isaacl, above; I'm just adding my own additional opposition rationale.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  13:11, 3 June 2020 (UTC)
    • WP:POLICY itself says that all policies and guidelines are exempt from the MoS, and the MoS agrees. Editors who are trying to apply the MoS to policies (actually trying for conformity, not just writing in standard written English and formatting pages correctly) are screwing up. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:08, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
      • Except none of those claims are accurate. 1) WP:POLICY says nothing about MoS other than "For example, proposed style guidelines should be announced at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style, which is the main guideline for style issues." And that's not a qualified statement. Obviously various policies and guidelines cannot logically apply to policies and guidelines (e.g. WP:RS – there is no external reliable source for our own policies, which come from internal consensus). 2) MoS says nothing about its applicability beyond article content; it states its central intent/purpose thus: "The Manual of Style (MoS or MOS) is the style manual for all English Wikipedia articles." This does not, however, preclude the community applying it more broadly, and we know for a fact that this is done (e.g. at WP:CFD for category names, in portal content, in templates that are reader-facing, at WP:RM for article titles, etc.). 3) The community is not "screwing up" in making a collective decision to generally write consistently; it's simply doing what it does, and an individual isn't in a position to tell consensus that it is in error on a subjective matter like which parts of MoS to follow in writing WP:POLICY materials (which isn't everything; e.g., MOS:CONTRACTION is generally not applied very strongly to policy and guideline materials, because instructions to editors sometimes actually read better with a contraction). It comes down to a WP:NOT#BUREAUCRACY / WP:IAR matter, really: WP is not so regimented and hidebound that writing practices laid out in MoS cannot be applied to a policypage simply because MoS was mainly intended for articles.

        To also address Jacob Gotts's comment below at the same time: Clearly, there should not be a rule that MoS has to be followed for talk, project, and other non-reader-facing namespaces. We just tend to do it to a varied extent anyway, and that's not "wrong", it's just what we do. Honestly, its too much work to write in one style (e.g. "3 cm") and then intentionally switch to another (e.g. "3cm") in talk comments just for the hell of it. Most of us have better things to do than carefully craft sotto voce objections to MoS line-items we wish were different by writing contrary to them at every opportunity. That's certainly not why I'm here, anyway.
         — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  21:27, 9 June 2020 (UTC)

        • @SMcCandlish, I'm guessing that you used your web browser's find tool at WP:POLICY, because you missed the very explicit exemption in the WP:NOTPART section: "The policies, guidelines, and process pages themselves are not part of the encyclopedia proper. Consequently, they do not generally need to conform to the same content standards or style conventions as articles." That link behind the words 'style conventions' points straight at the main MOS page. I think that counts as "saying something" about the MOS. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:34, 25 June 2020 (UTC)
          • I'm well aware of that material, and it doesn't contradict me at all. To summarize: It is not required to apply MoS principles to policypages and other material that is not reader-facing. But we generally do it anyway, simply for consistency. You seem to be commingling the ideas "an editor may apply MoS to a non-article page" and "an editor must apply MoS to a non-article page". They're very different.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  01:55, 4 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I think that reading MoS and thinking it applies to talk pages is kind of an outrageous conclusion to reach, and if someone is jumping to it for this section, they are probably going to jump to it for every section. I actually can't find any policy documents that concern applicability of MoS to project pages (not that I looked very hard); I'm sure that consensus has been reached on this, so would it not be better to have that consensus noted somewhere in MoS rather than piecemeal in individual sections? {   } 04:53, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
    • It's WP:NOTPART WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:35, 25 June 2020 (UTC)
      • I'll add also that the issue raised wasn't about talk pages anyway; it was about project pages. No one (that I'm aware of) believes MoS applies to talk pages, and we have talk-page guidelines telling people clearly not to do things like edit other people's posts for grammars and speling. That said, the broader point I was making above is still applicable: people often do apply some baseline MoS compliance to aspects of talk pages (e.g., we usually write talk section headings in sentence case, etc.). And there is nothing wrong with that. It's a natural habit of contextual consistency, not a rule. Everyone knows it's not a rule, so we don't need to say it's not a rule (or nearly everyone knows, and newcomers who don't will be told it is not if they seem to be confused on the matter). Cf. WP:CREEP and WP:AJR: do not add rule-mongering blather to guidelines and policies without a very clear, and long-term dispute-resolving, need for the new line item in question.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  14:01, 24 July 2020 (UTC)


There's a tendency on articles about noble families to describe children as "issue" and to say that the father has children by [name of wife]. I know the aristocracy does view heritage like breeding horses, but is this appropriate for Wikipedia? Guy (help!) 15:34, 4 June 2020 (UTC)

  • Those seem perfectly normal usages to me, for anyone. And I am far from "nobility" and disagree with the very concept of "nobility" (as a class). --Khajidha (talk) 15:43, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
    Peon. EEng 15:45, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
  • In my view, "issue" for children is legalese (as well as antiquated and pretentious). I don't have a policy objection to "by", I just find it personally repugnant. Schazjmd (talk) 15:53, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
    I was going to say exactly that but was struck by a sudden attack of lazy. EEng 15:55, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
    Might actually be a congenital condition from all your noble inbreeding.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  23:21, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
  • What a weird question and set of responses (excpet for Khajidha)! "Issue" is common, standard English (American usage may differ) whether for nobility or commoners. Likewise, if a man has had more than one wife you might talk about his son by his first marriage, daughter by Caroline his second wife and no issue from Anne whom he married late in life. It is neither legalese, antiquated or pretentious, just normal educated English. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 16:25, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
    Whenever I see an old friend after some period of absence I inquire about the well-being of their issue, as one does. pburka (talk) 16:41, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
    And my mom keeps bugging me about when I'm going to give her grandissue. EEng 16:44, 4 June 2020 (UTC) I used to give her the gay excuse, but recently she's smartened up and says I can't hide behind that anymore.
    That would be colloquial usage, "issue" is formal. Oh, and Martin, I am VERY American. North Carolinian, to be exact. --Khajidha (talk) 16:45, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
    Well certainly "issue" and "by" are common in conversation when researching family history, but in general I agree with Khajidha about formality (nice part of the world BTW, I was there in back '74 for a visit). Martin of Sheffield (talk) 17:06, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
    I was born in '74. --Khajidha (talk) 17:15, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
    I think it's common in genealogy and certain kinds of legal writing. Outside of those fields I feel like it's very uncommon, even in formal writing. pburka (talk) 17:20, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
    Issue, maybe. But I hear things like "he has three kids by his first wife" all the time. Also "from". See the song "Merry Christmas from the Family" ("Brother Ken brought his kids with him/The three from his first wife Lynn/And the two identical twins/From his second wife, Mary Nell"). --Khajidha (talk) 17:26, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
    I agree with Schazjmd that 'by' is still commonly used in formal and informal English, although I personally dislike it. pburka (talk) 18:51, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
    I'm struggling to see what seems to be upsetting y'all so much. --Khajidha (talk) 19:16, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
    You mean you don't see the issue? EEng 22:26, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
    Or "By which, you mean you don't see the issue?" Heh.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  23:21, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
    Martin of Sheffield, mate, I went to a thousand-year-old school and have numbered peers of the realm among my friends. This is how Brian Sewell used to speak, not real people. Guy (help!) 11:27, 5 June 2020 (UTC)
    Why are these peers of the realm numbered? Is it for inventory purposes? Are they difficult to distinguish because of the inbreeding? And where do they put the numbers? Have you considered adding barcodes to speed up processing and reduce errors? EEng 21:20, 5 June 2020 (UTC)
    They're so unoriginal in naming, they just add numbers. I'm Henry the VIII. --A D Monroe III(talk) 23:38, 10 June 2020 (UTC)
    As far as I know I've never met you, so "mate" is inappropriate. Your schooling has no bearing on the case. I'm curious to know why you consider that Brian Sewell is not a "real person"? Indeed, if you are criticising me as not a real person you are bordering on an ad hominum attack. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 12:40, 5 June 2020 (UTC)
  • I don't see the issue here. "Married and had issue" is a phrase I'm familiar with but I don't see its being used much in articles here. Nor its opposite: "died sine prole" (the latter words probably abbreviated s.p.). These are succinct phrases used by sources, no doubt (and that validates their use here); but I don't see their overuse, probably due to their being so non-specific. I also don't see any real tie-in to horse breeding ("Wonderboy and Chestnut mated and had issue" instead of "Dancer, foaled by Chestnut, sired by Wonderboy"). Dhtwiki (talk) 23:06, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
Dhtwiki, "issue=" is a parameter in the nobility template, and the term is often used especially in articles on fake nobility ("Her Imperial and Royal Highness" the social worker) presumably prompted by that. I think we should rename the parameter from "issue" to "children". Guy (help!) 11:20, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
"Issue" has the virtue of being shorter. Would "children" be better understood? Does "issue" have any implication of "lawfully begotten" (i.e. not out of wedlock), a condition that I believe is still important in inheriting noble titles. Dhtwiki (talk) 07:19, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
  • I agree that "issue" is inappropriate; I have extremely rarely seen/heard it outside this set of Wikipedia pages. I also agree that "by" is unfortunate but not incorrect. —⁠烏⁠Γ (kaw)  23:28, 04 June 2020 (UTC)
  • "Issue" was discussed in 2018. My opinion that it is WP:JARGON remains the same. --Izno (talk) 01:19, 5 June 2020 (UTC)
  • "By" is somewhat offensive because it implies that the other parent was just a passive participant in the whole thing, a thing something is done to rather than a person with a stake in the matter. "With" would be much better. And "issue" is jargon and should be avoided for that reason; it's accurate and inoffensive but also pretentious and more likely to confuse casual readers. —David Eppstein (talk) 22:21, 5 June 2020 (UTC)
    My understanding of the whole process is that at first one participant indeed remains relatively passive while there's a brief spurt of excited effort from the other participant, who then rapidly loses interest, after which the previously passive partner does the rest. EEng 23:09, 5 June 2020 (UTC)
    Okay, that made me laugh. On a more serious note, I hear the "children by _________" formation used for both individuals in roughly equal numbers, so this perception does not occur to me. That is, phrasings like "he has children by 3 different women" and "she has children by 3 different men" are both well attested.--Khajidha (talk) 23:44, 5 June 2020 (UTC)
    Speaking of attestation, I've heard that testify comes from, um... EEng 23:50, 5 June 2020 (UTC)
    On the other hand, it always confuses and amuses me when I hear a British person say that someone "fell pregnant". --Khajidha (talk) 02:01, 6 June 2020 (UTC)
    You are most unlikely to hear any British person actually say that - read it in Victorian novels maybe. Johnbod (talk) 02:18, 6 June 2020 (UTC)
    That's how they become fallen women: they fall and don't get up quick enough. EEng 02:27, 6 June 2020 (UTC)
    Just heard it a few days ago. But I can't remember what I was watching at the time.--Khajidha (talk) 02:41, 6 June 2020 (UTC)
    [17] EEng 02:56, 10 June 2020 (UTC)
    He's not dead. He's pining. Or maybe he's stunned. Perhaps we should put four million volts through him? --Khajidha (talk) 17:25, 10 June 2020 (UTC)
    Khajidha, that's archaic. So is "by" - except in horse breeding. Guy (help!) 11:23, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
    All I can say is I'm finding lots of videos using "fell pregnant", some as recently as 3 weeks ago. As for "by", it's common usage where I'm from. --Khajidha (talk) 12:16, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
    Khajidha – Not only does language change with area, but also with time. What seems "archaic" to a youngster in one area may be the normal speech pattern for someone elsewhere or a decade or two older. I suspect that both you and I learnt a more formal form of English the teaching of which which fell out of favour during the '60s and '70s. Just ignore the insults, if someone calls you archaic realise that they, in their turn, will get the same back from today's toddlers. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 13:26, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
  • I tend to agree that "issue" is weirdly formal/legalistic, though it is common in genealogy-speak. Using "children" would make the material more easily understood by more readers. Also agree that "by" is still commonly used this way, even in the other gender order ("her daughter by her first husband").  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  23:21, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
    • Yes, I would agree with this too. "Issue", whilst still perfectly acceptable English, is now rather antiquated usage except by genealogists and lawyers, but "children/son/daughter by" is still common English-language usage. -- Necrothesp (talk) 22:30, 10 June 2020 (UTC)
      • We could be even more old-fashioned and use "get" (noun) and "beget"/"begat" (verb).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  14:03, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
  • A mention above of legal suddenly makes me think: any chance issue is strictly biological while child/children can be adoptive? EEng 23:20, 10 June 2020 (UTC)
    That is exactly the distinction.--Khajidha (talk) 23:33, 10 June 2020 (UTC)
    So issue are from your tissue? EEng 12:09, 11 June 2020 (UTC)
    <Not gonna make the obvious kleenex joke.... not gonna make it .... nope.......> --Khajidha (talk) 17:03, 11 June 2020 (UTC)
    Sorry, I don't understand. Please explain. EEng 22:46, 11 June 2020 (UTC)
    No, really, tell us. EEng 16:54, 12 June 2020 (UTC)
    @EEng: The only issue from your tissue is when your mom finds it in your bed the next day. --Khajidha (talk) 19:50, 17 June 2020 (UTC)
    I still don't understand what you're getting at. You mean like if I'd been in bed with a runny nose? EEng 19:57, 17 June 2020 (UTC)
    @EEng, I understand that in the legal field, issue includes all successive generations, whereas children refers only to immediate offspring. A related longer phrase, issue of the body, has been used (at least in the past) to exclude adopted children. That might still be true for inheriting titles, but for everyday questions of who gets Grandma's jewelry, all known and legally recognized children (adopted/biological and legitimate/illegitimate) seem to be treated the same in most developed countries. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:13, 25 June 2020 (UTC)
    Issue = all generations -- that rings a bell. EEng 20:21, 25 June 2020 (UTC)
  • A small technical point. The analogy with horses is incorrect (see OP). Horses are described as "by <sire> out of <dam>", for instance "Red Rum by Quorum out of Mared". Now I would agree with you about using "out of", it's just a little too mechanical! Martin of Sheffield (talk) 08:51, 11 June 2020 (UTC)
    As in "Charles, by Phillip out of Elizabeth"? EEng 12:06, 11 June 2020 (UTC)
    :-) Off to The Tower with you! Martin of Sheffield (talk) 15:03, 11 June 2020 (UTC)

Use of e.g. versus e.g.,Edit

I have noticed entirely inconsistent use of e.g. and e.g., (i.e. whether a comma follows or not) to introduce examples (both in running text and in parenthesis), and find no reference to the issue in the MoS or on the current Talk page. You might like to address it, at a minimum to point out it should be done consistently one way or the other within a page. There are probably similar issues with i.e. and i.e., and maybe other common abbreviations. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:29, 9 June 2020 (UTC)

It's currently covered under Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Punctuation and spacing and further under Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Abbreviations#Miscellanea. I can't think of a clearer way to include this in the main MoS that wouldn't also apply to the whole Miscellanea section (AD, BC, a.k.a., n/a, &c). {   } 06:20, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
Neither of those links address the question at all. The answer is that it is a difference in usage between American English, which includes a comma, and all other varieties of English which follow the British usage of not including a comma. Hence you are not going to be able to establish a common WP-wide approach and, strictly, it should follow the same rules as WP:ENGVAR. MapReader (talk) 06:32, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
People have different views on this. One is that it should always have a comma (or a colon, when introducing a long list) because the plain-English equivalent, "for example," would normally use one. However, commas are declining in English, and some writers prefer to drop them when they can, especially for short phrases that aren't unclear without one; those editors' mixed use is intentional and considered by some to be valid (i.e., we are not going to get consensus on this, and trying to "legislate" a hard rule on it will be called WP:CREEP). Compare: "House cats are similar to great cats (e.g. lions) in that ...", versus "Her political platform includes many proposals considered progressive-left, e.g., universal health care, increased taxation of the wealthy, and a guaranteed minimum income." So, some will argue this variability in style is a feature, not a bug. And many uses of "e.g." are actually better reworded ("including", "such as", "for example", etc. – depends on context, can actually make the precise meaning clearer, and some of these do not usually take a comma while others do). I personally prefer to be consistent with the punctuation after "e.g." and "i.e." within the same article, but can understand the rationale for doing it differently in different cases. Indeed, the argument can be that any instances of "e.g." in the senses of "including" or "such as" should not have a comma after them because "including" and "such as" themselves would not. Anyway, what I won't sit still for is dropping the comma from sentence-introductory phrases just because they are short ("In 2019 they moved to Boswana."). That's pure news style, which WP does not use.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  23:35, 9 June 2020 (UTC)
  • I used to be of the e.g., class, but have switched. It's easier, and does nothing to reduce the ease of readers' recognition. My view is that MOS should allow either, but insist on within-article consistency (but for quotes, etc, of course). Tony (talk) 02:27, 10 June 2020 (UTC)

Unclear instructions in Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Music samplesEdit

"A Vorbis quality setting of 0 (roughly 64kbit/s) is usually sufficient." 0 on OGG sounds like around 128kbit/s, sounds a lot better than 64kbit/s. In file properties it shows 1411kbit/s so it could cover original WAV of 1411kbit/s quality or 320kbit/s MP3 and then OGG quality setting of 0 isn't a solution. So how it should be done? Eurohunter (talk) 00:07, 11 June 2020 (UTC)

You know who might be able to help with this? Binksternet, that's who. EEng 16:51, 12 June 2020 (UTC)
Responding to ping. At Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Music samples, we are instructed that the audio sample must be lower quality than the original. The advice is to set the OGG quality to zero (there's a lower setting of negative 1) which I think is sufficiently reduced in quality. Another way to reduce quality is to provide a monaural sample of a stereo original, or to reduce the sample rate from 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz to something like 32 kHz.
Hope that helps. Binksternet (talk) 17:18, 12 June 2020 (UTC)
Thanks! Ping Eurohunter. EEng 17:23, 12 June 2020 (UTC)
@Binksternet: As I said OGG quality can be set lowest to 0 which results in 1411kbit/s instead of 64kbit/s. I'm doing something wrong? Eurohunter (talk) 18:21, 12 June 2020 (UTC)
A setting of zero is fairly low quality. Nothing close to 1411 kbps should be coming out of that setting. You're looking at "file properties" to get 1411 but maybe the computer operating system isn't measuring the right stuff. A better metric is file size. You should be seeing a smaller file size than the original, which for OGG files is an indicator that your quality has been reduced. Binksternet (talk) 18:36, 12 June 2020 (UTC)
@Binksternet: Zero sounds like 128kbit/s so it isn't that big difference and whole song has then 1,3mb. In Winamp it actually shows 64kbit/s. I noticed 64kbit/s OGG sounds like 3 times better than same 64kbit/s file but in MP3. Is it expected or something went wrong? Eurohunter (talk) 19:08, 12 June 2020 (UTC)
I wouldn't worry about it. You did the right things – your due diligence – and now you can upload your OGG file as an audio sample. Binksternet (talk) 19:37, 12 June 2020 (UTC)
@Binksternet: Thank you. Eurohunter (talk) 20:12, 12 June 2020 (UTC)
And what am I? Chopped liver? EEng 21:32, 12 June 2020 (UTC)

the Terminology section?Edit

Hello, I was unsuccessful to find a MOS or rule about where the Terminology section should/can be placed? I ask this because there is a debate about it: Talk:Video game#Please add the section "Terminology" please add something about it, thanks.--Editor-1 (talk) 04:08, 13 June 2020 (UTC)

This is not something MOS is going to specify. It's something editors on particular articles need to work out for themselves. EEng 04:12, 13 June 2020 (UTC)
The explained problem in Talk:Video game#Please add the section "Terminology" is that the Terminology section is placed in the child/forked articles while the main article lack it, my mean about "where the Terminology section should/can be placed?" was about that situation, not where to place the Terminology section in articles.--Editor-1 (talk) 04:46, 13 June 2020 (UTC)
I looked into it and commented, but it's not an MoS issue. It's really a WP:MERGE/WP:SPLIT and WP:SUMMARY issue, i.e. a content (and information-architecture and usability) not style matter.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  14:16, 24 July 2020 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 15 June 2020Edit

Under the section "Contractions," change cannot to can not. Cannot is itself a contraction, so suggesting it as an alternative to "can't" is slightly ironic. (talk) 22:05, 15 June 2020 (UTC)

What you say is completely incorrect. Can't is a contraction of cannot, but cannot cannot be called a contraction of can not, because it is not; they mean completely different things. EEng 22:14, 15 June 2020 (UTC)
What? Google plainly defines 'cannot' as can not, and classifies it as a contraction. Merriam-Webster also defines it as meaning 'can not.' I don't know of a single alternative definition for cannot. --2601:583:4381:9B90:989C:5EC1:FFA6:1F22 (talk) 00:32, 16 June 2020 (UTC)
  Not done for now: please establish a consensus for this alteration before using the {{edit semi-protected}} template. RandomCanadian (talk / contribs) 22:17, 15 June 2020 (UTC)
Sorry, what? That's not right. These edit-request threads are perfectly appropriate places to start a discussion of a potential change. It's what they're for. And WP:NOTBURO. EEng 22:21, 15 June 2020 (UTC)
Declining edit requests for potentially controversial edits is pretty standard, especially when someone has expressed disagreement immediately after, especially on a PAG page with a DS notice like this one. Even with a decline, all are still welcome to discuss. If a consensus emerges, the request can be reopened (or someone participating in it can just go ahead), but closing out ones like this helps keep the queue managed. –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 00:49, 16 June 2020 (UTC)
Then the decline should say, "Not done at this time, but feel free to continue discussing in this thread". The idea that you should get consensus first, then make an edit request, is silly because once consensus is reached the edit request is superfluous. EEng 04:11, 17 June 2020 (UTC)
When a non-autoconfirmed editor tries to edit a semi-protected page, we show them a big blue button that says "Submit Edit Request", which overwhelmingly get summarily closed for lacking consensus. It would probably be more constructive just to direct them to make the proposal on the talk page for discussion. (That advice is also there, but the big blue button is more prominent.)--Trystan (talk) 04:55, 20 June 2020 (UTC)
So my point is we should treat edit requests as proposals for discussion. Once the discussion's underway the edit request can be changed to Answered to get it out of the queue, since presumably editors active on the talk page will take it from there, as with any other thread. EEng 04:37, 21 June 2020 (UTC)
"Cannot" means "not able to", "can not" means "able not to". There's a subtle difference. --Khajidha (talk) 19:47, 17 June 2020 (UTC)
Or "able to not". EEng 21:51, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
Yep. I think the OP is correct a in hollow-victory way, in that the linguistic process that produced cannot was one of contraction. But this is a fallacy of equivocation, in which a very general, procedural, and mass-noun sense of contraction is being misapplied in a context that is addressing a very narrow, concrete, count-noun meaning, namely informal contractions of the apostrophe sort (can't). It could have also addressed the "eye dialect" sort (gonna), though I don't think we even need to address those; editors know better than to use them in articles. In all of WP's existence, I think this is the first time anyone has suggested the rule is confusing, yet they're making a clever enough argument that they're clearly not actually confused but trying to nit-pick. At any rate, cannot isn't "a contraction"; it's a word that was produced by contraction. "A contraction" in the sense we mean here is a short-hand for a longer expression (don't for do not) with the same meaning, while cannot and can not don't actually have quite the same meaning, since Early Modern English. By the OP's definition, probably most of English would consist of contractions, since a tremendous number of our words are borrowings directly (or via one form of French or another) from Latin or Greek but shortened. Even many native English words are squished-down versions of longer Anglo-Saxon originals. We also obviously don't mean regular abbreviations that happen to be produced via contracting out the middle letters; British formal writing (per New Hart's Rules and Fowler's) does not put stops at the ends of these (St for Saint, Dr for Doctor) but does put them, like American publishers do, at the ends of truncation abbreviations (like Prof. for Professor). I don't think I've ever seen anyone "confused" that this section means any of that stuff, either. It's pretty clear what it's addressing when the example is of the apostrophe-bearing sort, and the linked article section (Contraction (grammar)#English) also only provides apostrophe-contraction examples. Maybe the OP would be better off suggesting that the article address other forms of contraction in English?  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:20, 15 July 2020 (UTC)

Names of organisms that include hyphens and dashes is not mentioned in the MOSEdit

A recent move discussion was held at Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus on whether to use a hyphen or dash in its name in the article title. The move discussion was closed improperly/prematurely/etc. as there was no consensus to move, prose across numerous articles was not updated to reflect the move, and I and another user were in the middle of a discussion. The issues I raised were unresolved in the move discussion, so I am bringing them up here since this is a MOS issue.

Currently, the usage of hyphens and dashes in biological names is not addressed in the MOS. Note that for viruses, Latin binomial nomenclature is not used, so hyphens are common in virus names but presumably rare for non-viruses. On Wikipedia, there has been a longstanding consensus among people who edit virus articles to defer issues like this to the ICTV, the organization responsible for virus taxonomy, including spelling, punctuation, etc. There are currently 191 virus species that have a hyphen in their name and none that have a dash. For these reasons, hyphens have become standard across all virus articles for virus names, regardless of the manner that the hyphen is used in the name. The recent move of SARSr-CoV has broken the consistency on this matter, so I am bringing attention to it here.

From looking at how hyphens are used in virus names, I found the following different ways:

  • 1. in a sequence of letters and numbers, e.g. Escherichia virus KWBSE43-6
  • 2. as part of -associated, -related, -dependent, and -like constructions, e.g. Adeno-associated dependoparvovirus A, Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus, Mimivirus-dependent virus Sputnik, and Phasi Charoen-like phasivirus
  • 3. as part of a proper name within a virus name, e.g. Avon-Heathcote Estuary associated kieseladnavirus
  • 4. as part of a description within a virus name, e.g. Tomato pseudo-curly top virus, Turnip vein-clearing virus, Foot-and-mouth disease virus, and Acidianus bottle-shaped virus
  • 5. as part of -borne constructions, e.g. Soil-borne cereal mosaic virus
  • 6. the "T-lymphotropic" viruses, e.g. Primate T-lymphotropic virus 1
  • 7. "type-x" viruses, e.g. Guinea pig type-C oncovirus

A resolution to this issue would be beneficial. Essentially, two things should be addressed:

  • 1. how hyphens and dashes should be used in scientific names
  • 2. how hyphens and dashes should be used in common names

Because of the different ways that hyphens are used in virus names, I've thought that it may be beneficial to amend the MOS to state that names of organisms should use whichever (hyphen or dash) is part of their name. In my opinion, this is preferable to having multiple approaches to dealing with these names, which would create a lot of inconsistency in virus articles. Velayinosu (talk) 04:28, 21 June 2020 (UTC)

  • I fear this issue may be too rich for the diets of those assembled here. EEng 03:54, 28 June 2020 (UTC)
    Or gastric upset might be evidence of an infection!  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  01:47, 15 July 2020 (UTC)
  • If someone thinks that a "move discussion was closed improperly/prematurely/etc.", the appropriate action is to request a WP:Move review (although suggesting to change the MoS to support your preferred outcome is also fine, of course). —BarrelProof (talk) 02:34, 5 July 2020 (UTC)
The move has broader implications than one article so I figured that this would be a better place since it's a MOS issue. You're free to state how you think scientific and common names should be dealt with too you know, but maybe we need uninvolved people for this discussion to go anywhere. Velayinosu (talk) 03:36, 5 July 2020 (UTC)

I have struck parts from the original comment that were inappropriate and want to clarify that my opinion (the last paragraph) is for scientific names and that the hyphen is standard for virus scientific names on Wikipedia, though there may not be explicit stated consensus for it even though there is a general practice of deferring topics like this to the ICTV. Velayinosu (talk) 00:19, 7 July 2020 (UTC)

It's not clear what you mean by "the hyphen is standard for virus scientific names on Wikipedia". What about places where the en dash is appropriate? Wikipedia style is to not use hyphens to stand for what en dashes mean. Dicklyon (talk) 06:13, 7 July 2020 (UTC)
I mean that on nearly all virus articles the hyphen is used for scientific names, regardless of the construction used in the name, so it is in effect standardized, including for situations when one might think a dash should be used. Velayinosu (talk) 02:45, 8 July 2020 (UTC)
Do you know examples of ones where WP style would be to use an en dash but we've accepted a hyphen due to the ICTV? Dicklyon (talk) 04:30, 8 July 2020 (UTC)
In particular, most of your examples are good examples of the uses of hyphens. But a few are not. For example, the Avon–Heathcote Estuary is named for two rivers, and a hyphen between those would not make sense in a style where en dashes are used for that; see for example this book where you can see the dash between them is longer than a hyphen on the same page. There's no reason to change that to a hyphen just because it's included in a virus name. Dicklyon (talk) 06:38, 7 July 2020 (UTC)
@Dicklyon: this takes us, yet again, to the endless discussions of where the boundaries are between substance and style. The scientific names used in the ICTV are identifiers: exact strings of characers. The hyphen is part of the identifier and should not be changed. If you search the ICTV taxonomy database at with the string "Avon–Heathcote Estuary associated kieseladnavirus" (i.e. containing a dash rather than a hyphen) you get "No results". You have to search with a hyphen to find the species. Its name has a hyphen not a dash. Peter coxhead (talk) 08:01, 7 July 2020 (UTC)
If you put the quote marks you also get no result. But the fact that their search is broken doesn't need to be a problem that drives our article title styling. It does find strings like avon-HEATHCOTE, so it's obviously doing some kind of text normalization or flexible matching; just needs to be fixed a bit. Dicklyon (talk) 15:26, 7 July 2020 (UTC)
All your search shows is that the search function on the ICTV's website is not case sensitive and it recognizes portions of names. It's working as intended, not broken. Velayinosu (talk) 02:45, 8 July 2020 (UTC)
If it won't allow matching of an en dash to a hyphen or hyphen-minus or nonbreaking hyphen, it's broken. Dicklyon (talk) 04:30, 8 July 2020 (UTC)

Note that there is a related WP:RM discussion ongoing at Talk:Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus, citing MOS:SUFFIXDASH. Most of the examples given above in item 2 use only a single word before the "-associated, -related, -dependent, and -like" suffix. The guidance provided in MOS:SUFFIXDASH only differs when dealing with a multi-word phrase before the suffix. —BarrelProof (talk) 16:50, 7 July 2020 (UTC)

Additional information: the ICTV explicitly states on its website[18] that hyphens are the only permitted form of punctuation in virus taxonomic names, i.e. dashes are prohibited. Velayinosu (talk) 04:59, 8 July 2020 (UTC)

Plainly the move was in error. This is not a style question, but a question of fact. And the fact is the international standard is plainly that the names contain hyphens, not dashes. Changing it has created an erroneous, made-up name. Factual errors like this can't be allowed to persist. oknazevad (talk) 11:27, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
@Velayinosu: I would decouple this entirely from discussion of a particular move or particular case at all. The evidence-gathering so far is a good start, but this will probably be more productively (though more slowly) hashed out at WT:MOSORGANISMS. That's a long-term-stable draft guideline that gets into all the tiny nitpicks of biological nomenclature, and is surely where we would put anything about hyphens in scientific and vernacular names of organisms. Be aware also that not all the rules that apply to zoological and botanical names apply beyond them, especially in virology. So we may not be able to generalize very far from virus example to other things or vice versa.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  01:47, 15 July 2020 (UTC)


I am hoping to get some information about best practices at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Lead section#LEADALT and significance. This relates partly to ENGVAR, as some "alternative names" are really alternative spellings. Please join the discussion over there. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:26, 22 June 2020 (UTC)

Citations for listsEdit

When an article includes a subsection that is a bullet list, what is the preferred way to cite the entire list. I ran across Danang Rubber Company#Products today with a citation for the list (section) in the header, which is incorrect per MOS:HEAD. Sometimes I have see a the word "Source" added at the end followed by the ref, but haven't see that documented as the "best" or "correct" method. I think the same situation occurs with tables and maybe other non-prose constructs. I don't think we want to be repeating the ref on every item. MB 00:22, 23 June 2020 (UTC)

GVSU Fieldhouse#Notable performances is an example where the ref is just "floating" at the end. This looks bad to me. MB 00:43, 23 June 2020 (UTC)
I usually try to find some type of introductory paragraph or even a sentence to have it apparent that the ref leading the list (or table) is the ref applied to that whole list (eg United States vehicle emission standards#State adaption of California Standards (ref 27 before the table in its current version). --Masem (t) 00:51, 23 June 2020 (UTC)
Another option would be to cite the first entry in the list... and include a text note in the citation saying “This citation applies to all entries in this list, except for those specifically cited to other sources” (or some similar language). Blueboar (talk) 00:59, 23 June 2020 (UTC)
What about developing some template that generates text like "The source for this entire section is <ref num>" for cases when there is no introductory paragraph/sentence. When editors use the "Source[1]" method, it's not the word "Source" that is being referenced, so the refnum shouldn't be superscript. Since there appears to be no recommended way to handle this and there are various deficient methods being used... MB 19:18, 23 June 2020 (UTC)
It's not elegant, but I often prepend the list with something like: "In alphabetical order:" or "Based on ...:" and attach the reference to that. Even just repeating the section head works. SchreiberBike | ⌨  19:27, 23 June 2020 (UTC)


This policy says to avoid referencing items in infoboxes when they are cited in the article body. On many political party pages, the ideology and political position are cited in the infobox. In my experience, removing the citations from the infobox makes the information much more prone to edit warring, even when the references are in the article body. Would it be acceptable to put these references in the infobox so that editors can accept the ideologies or political position, or should the manual of style still be followed? Thanks, Ezhao02 (talk) 05:23, 27 June 2020 (UTC)

  • Methinks that this is something like LEADCITE; such citations are suboptimal if the facts are not in significant dispute (and, of course, cited in the body), but if there are verifiability/BLP concerns then that takes priority. – John M Wolfson (talkcontribs) 06:57, 27 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Luckily this isn't a policy, merely a guideline, so WP:IAR. Add a WP:HIDDEN note saying "Experience shows that without this cite there's edit warring over XXXX". EEng 12:22, 27 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Given that infoboxes are increasingly using Wikidata (which has different reliability standards) to automatically generate information.. I think we should amend our guidance... and require citations in the infobox. Blueboar (talk) 13:13, 27 June 2020 (UTC)

Thanks for your responses. Ezhao02 (talk) 21:13, 27 June 2020 (UTC)

Verb tense in embedded storiesEdit

MOS:FICTENSE says that one should write about fiction using the historical present tense rather than the past. I recently ran across this paragraph in the Volsunga saga article, relating a story told by one of the characters in the saga:

Then Regin tells Sigurd a story: His father Hreidmar had three sons: himself, Otr, and Fafnir. Otr was an otter-like fisherman, Fafnir large and fierce, and Regin himself was skilled with ironwork. One day Odin, Loki and Hœnir are fishing and kill Otr in his otter shape, skin and eat him.

The plot of the saga itself is written in the historical present ("Regin tells"), but then the start of Regin's story is given in the past ("Hreidmar had", "Otr was", etc.). However after the first two sentences, the remainder of Regin's story reverts to the historical present ("Odin, Loki and Hœnir are fishing").

To me, the past tense reads better for a story-within-a-story like this. But I can't find any guidance in the MOS about whether this is acceptable, or whether the embedded story should also be in the historical present. I think in either case, the tense should be consistent within the embedded story. But which tense should be used? CodeTalker (talk) 17:23, 27 June 2020 (UTC)

MOS:PLOT, and you are correct: an "historical story" in the content of a fictional work should be written in past tense. --Masem (t) 17:37, 27 June 2020 (UTC)

"He or she" as gender-neutral languageEdit

Opinions are needed on the following matter: Wikipedia talk:Gender-neutral language#Time to revisit "he or she"?. A permalink for it is here. It was noted there that, according to reliable sources, "he or she" is gender-neutral language, but also that it's not considered gender-neutral language to many these days with the rise of non-binary gender identities. Among other things, an editor there feels that "he or she" violates MOS:GNL. Thoughts? Flyer22 Frozen (talk) 03:31, 28 June 2020 (UTC)

  1. He is gender neutral in English, regardless of what the PC police say.
  2. There is documentation for old use of they as a singular gender neutral pronoun.
  3. IMHO, Wiki should pick a rule and stick to it. Shmuel (Seymour J.) Metz Username:Chatul (talk) 08:16, 29 June 2020 (UTC)
To claim the he is still gender neutral is nothing more than a tip of the hat to the Emperor's latest summer fashions. Primergrey (talk) 16:08, 29 June 2020 (UTC)
Well if common gender is the Emperor's old clothes, denying such usage must be his new clothes. Chilly? Oops, misread "latest" as "last". Martin of Sheffield (talk) 16:34, 29 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Please dear God, not this shit again. EEng 20:15, 29 June 2020 (UTC)
    • I'm so fed up of these discussions; There always seem to be some spiteful comments thrown at people who don't use the pronoun 'he', insisting that they must be okay with 'he' as default gender neutral. It's such aggressive, naked exclusion of people who aren't men, and there seems to be fucking consensus for it! -- a they/them | argue | contribs 15:47, 1 July 2020 (UTC)

Commas withing WP:MOSEdit

What rules apply for commas within WP:MOS? In particular, do English or American rules apply to the comma after exempli gratia (e.g.)? The article is currently not consistent. Shmuel (Seymour J.) Metz Username:Chatul (talk) 08:22, 29 June 2020 (UTC)

The MOS seems to be written in American English (it uses AmE color, not BrE colour, and it uses AmE/BrE -ize forms, not BrE -ise forms), and so it seems that a comma should be used after e.g. for stylistic consistency. (Personally, I would prefer for example spelled out in running text and e.g. used in parentheses.) Doremo (talk) 10:43, 29 June 2020 (UTC)
This is not an article (fact) and therefore need not be consistent in its style (current consensus), as odd as that my seem (my opinion). Primergrey (talk) 16:03, 29 June 2020 (UTC)
MOS is an ecumenical zone in which all ENGVARs coexist side by side in peace and harmony. EEng 20:13, 29 June 2020 (UTC)
It was written in AmEng. I hope it's not grown internally inconsistent. Tony (talk) 14:38, 30 June 2020 (UTC)
Long, long ago. And there's nothing wrong with that -- it's fun in fact. It's a reminder that this is an international project. See User:EEng#A_rolling_stone_gathers_no_MOS (my userpage having grown to the point that there's no topic not somehow related to it). EEng 16:11, 30 June 2020 (UTC)
Dialectal style varies by MoS page (though I think most of the MoS is in AmEng). And -ize isn't just American, but also often Canadian, and used in Oxford spelling in British/Commonwealth English. But the idea that "e.g." versus "e.g.," is a UK/US distinction isn't anything I've ever seen good sourcing for. There's another thread about it already on this talk page anyway, so it's probably worth using one thread or the other for such investigations. I don't know why Primergrey wants to argue that MoS and other internal pages need not be written consistently or following any style best practices at all, but it's an omphaloskeptical argument to present, since we do in fact write these pages pretty consistently and following MoS on most applicable points, and they are getting better in both respects over time, not worse.

Back to i.e. and e.g.: What I've noticed is that after either of these, a comma tends to be used with long, complex material, but omitted with short, simple material. There's a tiresome old argument that they "must" have a comma because the closest idiomatic translations in English, "for example" and "that is", would require one. It's a linguistically unsound argument, because foreign loans often do not behave in their new language exactly like directly corresponding native expressions would, and their literal meaning is often completely opaque to almost everyone using them. We already know that Latinisms abbreviated in English are used by habit without perfect understanding by many, and defy various other English norms (e.g., by being preferred in parentheticals and footnotes rather than in running text; by being written e.g. instead of EG like other initialisms; by often not undergoing plurality or other adjustments that would be required of the English equivalent; by sometimes taking counterintuitive irregular plurals when they do take them, e.g. pp., qq.v.; by abbreviating for no reason – i. is the same length as id; by being irregularly punctuated and spaced – compare etc. for et cetera and q.v. or even q. v. for quod vide; and so on).

So, there really isn't any reason to expect a comma to be "mandatory" after i.e. or e.g., especially if inserting one doesn't actually improve the reading flow or comprehension. "Drupes are pitted fruit, such as plums, apricots, cherries, and many other single-seed fruits, including some produce more often thought of as vegetables (e.g. avocados)" wouldn't really be improved by adding a comma. But the same "death to commas" behavior that results in messes like "In 1900 Ireland ..." when "In 1900, Ireland ..." was meant, with a very different meaning, can also result in awkward-looking stuff when e.g. precedes, without a comma, a long list of things or an otherwise complex bit of material, and i.e. with no comma also can have an "I have to go back and re-read this sentence" effect. So, "... co-starring Buster Poindexer (i.e. David Johansen) and ..." isn't going to be helped by a comma. But one works much better in "Buster Poindexter (i.e., David Johansen of New York Dolls fame, working under an alias he first used on an eponymous album in 1987)"; it really looks like a comma is accidentally missing from a construction like that if you remove it.
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  03:13, 15 July 2020 (UTC)

Removal of "UK" from location field in infoboxesEdit

Is there a policy regarding the UK not being necessary in location field for companies, organisations etc. and that the constituent nation i.e. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is sufficient?

For example I changed the location on Deltic Group from:

| location = [[Milton Keynes]], UK to |location = [[Milton Keynes]], England, UK Edit link: [19]

Subsequently user User:IceWelder removed the UK from the location from their edit:

| location = [[Milton Keynes]], England, UK to |location = [[Milton Keynes]], England Edit link: [20]

There a few other articles where this has happened: Rockstar North, Denki. Rather than get into an edit war I instigated a discussion about it and we couldn't come to an agreement on this point. I suggested it might be best to get advice/help from the Administator noticeboards. Discussion link: [21]

Conversely, the user User:Beagel has insisted that United Kingdom be added in full for the Vattenfall UK article in their edit summaries: [22] and [23]

|| location =London, England, United Kingdom

So its all a bit confusing!

I've edited quite a number of articles in the format |location = Place, Nation, UK without any issues.

Some clarification on this would be most welcome. Angryskies (talk) 11:55, 1 July 2020 (UTC)

Standard practice on articles related to association football players is for UK to be excluded from place of birth/death. GiantSnowman 11:59, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
Angryskies, thanks for opening this thread. For the sake of discussion, I would like to reiterate my main point against the inclusion of "UK" in infoboxes. It has been, as far as I am aware, the status quo not to, because naming the constituent country already makes for an unambiguous location identifier, making listing the sovereign state above it unnecessary. Another example with the same status is:
  • [[Willemstad]], Curaçao
  • [[Willemstad]], Curaçao, Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • [[Amsterdam]], Netherlands
  • [[Amsterdam]], Netherlands, Kingdom of the Netherlands
Adding the United Kingdom or the Kingdom of the Netherlands as an additional identifier does not help the reader in any way.
Whatever the outcome of this discussion, it should be included somewhere in the MoS (in respect to both the UK and the K.o.t.Netherlands, as well as any other constituent country constellation) for future reference. Regards, IceWelder [] 12:09, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
This relates to a similar discussion I've had with EEng on countries in general within infoboxes. Perhaps a guideline for UK, or other constituent countries, in infoboxes shouldn't be made specifically as a result of this discussion. Might be better to hold off until we can make a single, clear and consistent guideline for countries in infoboxes. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 12:33, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
Well, this discussion could be the springboard for doing that, but a single Procrustean approach won't be satisfactory. The US situation has its subtleties; the UK situation has its subtleties; Australia and Canada have their special considerations. So a comprehensive discussion of all of them is likely to end with slightly different rules for each. In recent years I've come around to believing that infoboxes should be a scrunch more at-a-glance than article text, so that (for example) an infobox should say Westport, Connecticut, US. EEng 12:12, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
  • There is a general lack of consistency, at least relating to the UK. For now, it appears to come down to what editors in local articles wish to do. It is an area which needs clarification and a MOS guideline, though. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 12:36, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
  • I don't necessarily think we need a MOS policy, but omitting "UK" after England, Scotland, & Wales seems correct & usual. A better case can be made for including it for Northern Ireland. I think the Netherlands examples are different (also French overseas territories). I'm very clear "Netherlands, Kingdom of the Netherlands" should not be used - either one will do. But "Curaçao, Kingdom of the Netherlands" is necessary on en:wp - maybe not on nl:wp. Johnbod (talk) 12:38, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
    Johnbod, I think a worse case can be made for including it against Northern Ireland, if we're considering any constituent country of the UK. I would imagine that there's a very diverse range of opinions you'll get, especially from NI people, on including "UK" after "Northern Ireland". ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 13:01, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
    Maybe - but that's the case for pretty much anything to do with NI. But in terms of how likely readers from the rest of the world are to be confused, I think it can be justified. Obviously those in Ireland are already well aware. Johnbod (talk) 13:04, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Similar to what GiantSnowman indicates, there's a convention for individuals on some page clarifying demonyms which can probably be adapted. For specific locations, the UK should be kept in as it helps makes the infobox more immediately accessible to an international audience who may not be familiar with the situation, whereas removing it doesn't bring a benefit to the reader. CMD (talk) 13:19, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Note, there is also an issue as to whether it should be "UK" or "United Kingdom" - the two diffs at the top were changing from the first to the 2nd. Personally, I think a linked "UK" is enough. Johnbod (talk) 13:31, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
    • I would think in the infobox specifically, UK should be sufficient if its needed, just as "U.S." should be sufficient for "United States", as to save space. --Masem (t) 13:36, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
      • Both U.S. and United States are used in infoboxes, I'm unsure if there's a standard. UK is probably sufficient in the format under discussion. CMD (talk) 13:40, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
  • We only need 1 country specified in location fields, there is no ambiguity by removal of UK. It also makes it clearer and shorter. A much more problematic situation is the removal of county from the field so you end up with <place>, UK which is not very helpful. I think that <place>, <county>, <constituent country> is what should be specified as that makes clear where we are referring to without having to going through any links to determine the place. Removing the county would be like removing the state in US articles. Keith D (talk) 13:42, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
  • I agree with IceWelder having location, country, sovereign state (like UK and K.o.t. Netherlands) is unnecessary and does not help readers. Stating that the location is based in England/Wales/Scotland already establishes where it is without needing "UK". Knowing that England/Wales/Scotland are in the UK is basic geography which we should not have to show readers in every infobox (if they do not know they can always look it up at their respective articles). The only possible exception would be Northern Ireland given that its status is variously described as a country, province or region. I would suggest adding a guideline on this to MoS. Regards  Spy-cicle💥  Talk? 14:07, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
    The most recent official denomination for NI is also "country", as far as I am aware, but it has the same status as Scotland and Wales nonetheless. Wales even used to be called a "principality" by the UK as recently as 2007.[24] We should treat all four constituent parts the same, IMO. IceWelder [] 14:18, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
    Legally they are all constituent countries. Northern Ireland has, historically, had more devolved power than Scotland. Currently, there are various differences still, though I wouldn't call it 'more' devolved. Both certainly have more local authority than Wales, though. But indeed, from a MOS standpoint, they should be treat the same. Though some readers may confuse Northern Ireland as being part of the Republic rather than the UK, similar confusion could be had for other constituents too (as to whether they're independent or not), for which the "if they do not know they can always look it up at their respective articles" advice applies. I can't imagine it would be proper for Northern Ireland to retain a different MOS guideline to the rest of the UK in this matter.
    If we're being perfectly honest here, many readers don't really know how the UK is made up of constituent countries, or the difference between England and UK etc (many believe the two are interchangeable). So, I don't think we're adding or reducing any confusion by this guideline, for the purposes of the UK.
    Editors should remember that we serve a worldwide audience, though, not just a Western one. This is the same issue with not suffixing "United States" (or U.S.) in infoboxes for some U.S. related articles. Many Americans can't even name all their states, never mind people across the world. The sovereign country should always be mentioned imo, an abbreviation may be acceptable for the US and UK. The same issue exists for UAE's emirates. Should UAE be omitted after Dubai? Maybe. How about after Umm Al Quwain?
    My opinion: let's just be consistent. Where there is a strong, well-recognised devolved authority (constituent country, emirate, state, whatever) we include that as well as the name of the sovereign country. We're not really "wasting space", and it does clear up confusion. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 16:45, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
    But the point is that there is no confusion. This is the English Wikipedia, not the Simple English Wikipedia. Nearly all educated people are aware that Wales is part of the United Kingdom, California is part of the United States, etc. We don't write for the lowest common denominator because Simple English Wikipedia was created for that purpose. --Coolcaesar (talk) 16:58, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
    I have no opinion on the topic of this section, but as a Brit who's lived in the US (Texas and Long Island) for over thirty years I am quite sure you're too optimistic about "nearly all educated people". (And that's a relatively easy question; ask for the difference between Great Britain and the British Isles and you'll really get blank stares.) I work in IT and would guess that most of the few dozen people I've had that conversation with over the years had degrees; less than half knew the relationship between, say, Scotland and England, or England and the UK. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 17:02, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
    What Mike Christie said. The English Wikipedia targets a worldwide, general audience of literate people, not just "educated people". Even many "educated people" (assuming educated means passed high school, or has a degree) are unaware of the differences. The idea of constituent countries is foreign to many. Anecdotally, I've met many people across Europe with degrees who use England and UK interchangeably. They know Scotland exists, perhaps in their head they view it as a state, but they wouldn't really be able to say with confidence what the relationship is between each.
    One doesn't study British history in most areas of the world. You can be totally literate and educated and not know this. Wikipedia isn't an academic journal, it's one of the largest sites on the internet and the featured result from Google on topics we discuss. Someone wants to learn about Beyoncé, Google gives them a convenient snippet of our lead plus a "Wikipedia" link. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 17:35, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
    I agree. That someone who is sufficiently educated and fluent in the English language to read and contribute to the English language Wikipedia would necessarily know anything about UK geography and government is a faulty assumption. There are hundreds of millions of English speakers around the world with zero ties to the UK, and no need to ever deal with the place. The idea that all English speakers should know about Britain is, frankly, arrogant. We have no reason to make that demand and not add two bloody letters to the infobox. oknazevad (talk) 03:55, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
    This just reads like WP:OR. You do not need to study British history to know that England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are part of the United Kingdom. Moreover, think about what the parameter is being used for location. Most people know where England, Scotland, etc are located. We do not need to explain they are a part of the UK on every single infobox, that is what the country articles are for. If readers are still unsure of where they are located they can click on the link to the specific location e.g. Milton Keynes links to England and the United Kingdom or readers can use the search bar. Remember this is English Wikipedia not Simple English Wikipedia. Regards  Spy-cicle💥  Talk? 16:23, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
  • The other relevant guidelines are MOS:INFOBOXPURPOSE and MOS:INFOBOXGEO. These offer advice to keep information succinct and to use informal names, short forms or abbreviations where doing do would not lose any significant information. Infoboxes are, by their nature, short on space and if we don't need to write "UK", we should omit it; similarly there's no case for ever writing "United Kingdom" in an infobox or for writing "Kingdom of the Netherlands" when "Netherlands" serves the same purpose. --RexxS (talk) 17:30, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
    Rexx, (maybe you know this, but) Kingdom of the Netherlands (political) and Netherlands (geographic and political) are not the same thing - from Kingdom of the Netherlands: "The four parts of the kingdom—the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten—are constituent countries (landen in Dutch) and participate on a basis of equality as partners in the Kingdom ...." I agree we never need to use both one after the other, but there are times when one is appropriate, and times when the other is. It's like "England, UK" etc, but even less likely to be well understood by many readers from the other side of the world. Johnbod (talk) 14:49, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
    Yes I knew, John, but the point of MOS:INFOBOXGEO is that it's okay to use informal names as long as we don't mislead, and that's especially pertinent in infoboxes. If there's a need to refer particularly to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, a piped link – [[Kingdom of the Netherlands|Netherlands]] would be perfectly reasonable (i.e. not an "easter egg"). --RexxS (talk) 15:04, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
    Personally, I think seeing just "Curaçao, Netherlands" is easter-eggy. Johnbod (talk) 15:40, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
    Surely that would only be the case if someone was surprised that following the link in "Curaçao, Netherlands" took them to Kingdom of the Netherlands. I can't imagine anybody being surprised by that. --RexxS (talk) 16:58, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
    It's not only about surprise per se. The principle is that information that should be in visible text should not be hidden in the choice of target for a piped link. (This is part of why piped links are generally bad; like goto statements there are reasons to use them, but only for very specific reasons.) I personally was not aware that there was a distinction between "Netherlands" and "Kingdom of the Netherlands" before reading this discussion, and I would indeed have been surprised for the link to take me somewhere other than Netherlands. In summary, in this case, "Kingdom of the Netherlands" should be spelled out in visible text, and not hidden behind a piped link. --Trovatore (talk) 17:37, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
    (I looked at a little more of the context of this discussion and I want to clarify what I said. I don't mean that we necessarily need to mention the Netherlands at all, when including Curaçao in an infobox. Just saying Curaçao may well be sufficient, if the island's political status is not of great importance to the topic of the surrounding article. What I object to is the piped link [[Kingdom of the Netherlands|Netherlands]], which I think codes information into the choice of target of a piped link, something we should avoid. Either spell the information out in visible text, or leave it out.) --Trovatore (talk) 07:17, 3 July 2020 (UTC)
    "'GOTO Considered Harmful' Considered Harmful". EEng 18:13, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
    • The "if we don't need to write" argument could apply to any level of location. If that was the simply applied criteria, we wouldn't need to include anything after "London" in relevant articles. CMD (talk) 06:14, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
      • @Chipmunkdavis: The "if we don't need to write" argument could apply to any level of location. Yes it could, and does. It all depends on what you think the audience is most likely to understand from the context. In the article England, the capital is given as London. That's fine, because the location of London in England can be assumed by most readers. In other contexts, it may be less obvious and we might write "London, England". I don't think anybody has yet found a context where "London, England, UK" would be needed. The point remains that we keep the location as short as possible in infoboxes, consistent with unambiguously supplying key information. --RexxS (talk) 12:38, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
        • I don't think the England infobox relates much either way to infoboxes locating very specific buildings/locations. In terms of conciseness, "London, UK" is even shorter and as unambiguous. "London" alone again more so. CMD (talk) 12:46, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
          London's probably not the best example because it's a special case. Why not stick with Milton Keynes? EEng 12:51, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
          London is a fine example of the principle of "just enough and no more" in infoboxes. New York would have similar considerations. --RexxS (talk) 15:04, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
          But just "New York" is ambiguous, as it can also refer to the state. There's a reason the article on the city is at New York City. oknazevad (talk) 15:48, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
          RexxS, I personally agree, but a concern I raised with EEng on his talk was that I'm biased from a Western viewpoint, and we have an international audience of readers. "London, England, UK", "New York City, New York, US", and "Dubai, Dubai, UAE" look pretty silly. I think the state/constituent country/etc should be omitted where omitting would have no loss of meaning. But I think the country should still be kept strictly in abbreviated form (if a well known abbreviation exists), so "London, UK", "New York City, US" and "Dubai, UAE" (3rd is slightly confusing, as it's unclear if it refers to city or emirate, but meh). There are other cities a reader should be reasonably familiar of country, like Shanghai, but I would still bet many Western readers don't know it's in China, so I'd find "Shanghai, China" appropriate. We can't have one standard for popular Western cities and another for Asian ones. Adding 2 letters isn't wasting space, doesn't look silly imo, and it's consistent and most informative. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 16:07, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
          @Oknazevad: I know "New York" is ambiguous, and that's why I wrote [[New York City|New York]], which doesn't refer to the state.
          @ProcrastinatingReader: But we can use "London" and "Shanghai, China" as part of the same standard if that standard is "the shortest that readers will recognise". We think that most readers would know that London is in England, but the same wouldn't apply to Shanghai. This is still the English Wikipedia. As for writing "London, UK", it looks very strange, imho. The country that NYC belongs to is the US, but the country that London belongs to is England. We would similarly write "Glasgow, Scotland" and "Belfast, NI".
          It is indeed the English Wikipedia. English as in the language, spoken by many around the world, and our readership isn't exclusively western. I'm strongly opposed to any exceptions Western countries get to inflate some egos and act like everyone in the world should know where their cities are. It's two letters, just suffix "UK" and keep it consistent. There's no good reason to omit. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 01:04, 3 July 2020 (UTC)
          The special case was the point as I was discussing the concision argument. For Milton Keynes, "Milton Keynes, UK" would probably be the shortest well-recognised format. CMD (talk) 16:19, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
          My point was that the piping renders the link ambiguous. There's nothing incorrect or uncommon with using "New York City" unpiped.
          As for the use of "London, UK" vs "London, England", the former is analogous to using "New York City, US", while the latter is analogous to "New York City, New York". The idea that England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are comparable to the overarching sovereign state and not provinces/states/other subdivisions in other countries is the issue. It's an assumption that all readers are familiar with the structure of the UK as a country (and by all objective definitions of the word it is a country, even if it's subdivisions are also known as countries for historical reasons). I don't think we can make that assumption for a worldwide audience where there's hundreds of millions of native speakers and those who have learned the language because of its status as the main international Lingua Franca of the day with zero connection to the UK. Indeed, I always find that assumption outright off-putting. oknazevad (talk) 17:34, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
          I disagree that piping renders a link ambiguous. Anyone uncertain about the meaning of a term only has to follow the link to have that uncertainty removed. All disambiguation works like that.
          "London, UK" simply is not analogous to "New York City, US" because the country that London belongs to is England, not the UK. A football player born in NYC can play for the USA Soccer team; a player born in London may play for the England football team, but not the UK football team because it doesn't exist. There are no "provinces/states/other subdivisions" in other countries that are comparable to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, for historical reasons. I don't accept that English has "zero connection with the UK", or with England, for that matter. The cultural background, history, legal system, monarchy and institutions belonging to the home countries has had a profound impact on the language, at least as great as that of any other English-speaking country, and it's frankly ridiculous to think that anyone learns English without becoming aware of that impact. --RexxS (talk) 21:45, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
          Links don't "remove ambiguity" because you must never ever ever assume someone is going to follow a link. Piped links for disambiguation are OK only if it's obvious where the link is going. --Trovatore (talk) 00:15, 3 July 2020 (UTC)
          RexxS, just so I'm not misinterpreting you here, are you saying it's ridiculous that people learn English and don't learn about the cultural background, history, legal system, monarchy and institutions of the United Kingdom? And if so, and assuming it is ridiculous, does that mean we should expect our readership to know all of these things, and to force that down their throat we should omit the UK? Do we learn about the same of China, Germany, Switzerland, Hong Kong, India, etc.? And, as you will know from teaching in schools, many UK students also don't know any of these things. The concept of 'constituent country' and the legal background of this alone is foreign, beyond elementary understanding, to the majority of people under the age of 25, never mind all the other stuff you mentioned. Also, comparison to football teams is a bit shocking, because football teams aren't governed by any international treaty standard but instead by an organisation which creates identities mostly based on patriotism. UK is the sovereign country. Infoboxes should refer to the sovereign country, not any smaller division, for 'notable cities' where subdivisions (like state, emirate, constituent country, etc) should be omitted. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 01:10, 3 July 2020 (UTC)
          There are plenty of people within England itself who don't understand all this historical interplay and impact. Plenty of people learn English without learning much at all about the UK. Probably most people. CMD (talk) 01:57, 3 July 2020 (UTC)
          Sure, I've taught thousands of kids and every one of them knew that London is in England, NYC is in the USA, Paris is in France, and so on. Are the kids I taught in the deprived areas of England somehow smarter than those in the USA, in India, in Australia? I don't think so. I have a Belgian friend married to a Swedish woman, whose common language is English and their tri-lingual four-year old lad knows I come from England when I come to visit. Simple geography isn't rocket science. Why do you think we have MOS:OVERLINK? We don't link places like "Berlin; New York City, or just New York if the city context is already clear; London, if the context rules out London, Ontario; Southeast Asia" because we assume that our readers have at least a passing familiarity with those places, and don't need to read their article to find out where they are. We have the Simple Wikipedia that's aimed at readers who need a simplified version of Wikipedia; there's no need to dumb down this version to solve a problem that doesn't exist. --RexxS (talk) 09:13, 3 July 2020 (UTC)
          Knowing London is in the UK is not the same as knowing "the cultural background, history, legal system, monarchy and institutions belonging to the home countries". Even if it was, no, kids in England are probably not smarter than those elsewhere, but yes, they will know things about England and the UK that the children in the other countries do not. Those children will in turn probably know more about New York, Mumbai, and Sydney, than students in England. I really don't see what intelligence, or English language comprehension, has to do with it at all. CMD (talk) 15:48, 3 July 2020 (UTC)
    • And a what about an Olympian from London? There is no English Olympic team. Soccer is a special case, not general international definition of the term "country". oknazevad (talk) 22:48, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
  • The special pleading about who knows what is parochial, and just depends on who is speaking. Whatever we decide to do about pinpointing Accra, Goa, or Guangzhou, we should do with every other city including in the UK. The kid reading in Mumbai about Manchester, should get directly comparable info as the kid reading in Manchester about Mumbai. (Not to mention, the kid in Birmingham, and the kid in Birmingham)-- Alanscottwalker (talk) 22:14, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
    My point exactly. The English language may have its roots in England, and that may have shaped the language, but the language is spoken by hundreds of millions of people that have zero ties to the country. It's those people we have to serve as well. The mentality that speaking English means one should automatically know the geography of the country is rooted in the empire mindset. The English language no longer belongs to Britain, but to the world. oknazevad (talk) 22:48, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
    I have no ties to France, but I can read the French Wikipedia, and I know the geography of France well enough to know that Paris is in France, without being told. The kid in Mumbai reading about London is pretty unlikely not to know that it's located in England. --RexxS (talk) 23:18, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
    And if they are not in Mumbai but in Ontario? (Also, since Wikipedia is not about you, there is no point in you talking about yourself.) Alanscottwalker (talk) 00:41, 3 July 2020 (UTC)
    Why not "..., England, UK, Earth, Solar System, Milky Way? Who needs both "England" and "UK"? Keep it short. Tony (talk) 05:47, 3 July 2020 (UTC)
    Just to be clear: We’re (or, at least, I’m) not arguing for England and UK, but simply UK. The name or common abbreviation of the sovereign state should always be used.
    Tony1, You are Nigel Molesworth and I claim my five pounds. Guy (help!) 12:17, 3 July 2020 (UTC)
    Short? That leads to either, just, UK, or just, Eng., even if one truly but oddly thinks, England, UK, is terribly long. Besides which, whether England and UK need each other is a matter of deep politics or civil war. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:47, 3 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Adding the individual countries of the Union is completely pointless. There is only one Milton Keynes in the UK, we do not need to clarify that it's in England, though I can see why Scottish editors would want to be cleare that it's nothing to do with them. Guy (help!) 12:12, 3 July 2020 (UTC)
    • Arguably there's two, a town and a borough. CMD (talk) 15:52, 3 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Keep it simple, the UK is the sovereign country, we don't need to bother with whether a place is also in E, NI, S or W. -- DeFacto (talk). 12:38, 3 July 2020 (UTC)
    • Keeping it simple would be procrustean (word of the day, thanks Eeng). England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is sufficient. Nobody says "I'm from the UK". They compete in the Olympics as Britain. Other major international sports like rugby and football are represented by England, Wales, etc. --Cornellier (talk) 23:47, 4 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Of course, this will all unravel when Scotland and Northern Ireland leave the union. Tony (talk) 08:03, 4 July 2020 (UTC)
  • comment I didn't think this topic would snowball into the discussion that it has! I don't find myself any clearer as to whether or not removal of the sovereign state of the UK from the location field in the infobox is valid or not. I just edited the Heathrow Airport article adding England and had it reverted by another user stating in their edit summary I think having it as London, UK (as the sovereign state rather than London, England is more suitable here. by User:OcarinaOfTime [25]
    Angryskies thanks for the ping - I will of course go with consensus on this issue once this emerges but my view is that for a major piece of national transport infrastructure like Heathrow, it's more relevant to the whole UK, not just England. OcarinaOfTime (talk) 11:56, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
    Infoboxes should contain one of suburb or city, and country, e.g. Hounslow, England or London, England. No need for suburb and city, country / state or crown dependency. Jeraldshield (talk) 05:45, 10 July 2020 (UTC)
  • It does depend on circumstances, and editors should give up on the idea of trying to impose consistency over this - but there are never any circumstances in which "England, UK" is the way to go. One or the other... depending. Ghmyrtle (talk) 08:52, 10 July 2020 (UTC)
    The question I asked, is should it be removed, if it was already in the article or if added, it should be removed. There is no policy so this is why it is confusing. Jeraldshield has said there is no consensus for having UK in the location box, and has removed UK from the FirstGroup article, despite it being in place for over a year and is accusing me of edit warring. So it is an issue that some consensus should at least be made to avoid edit wars. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Angryskies (talkcontribs) 12:46, 12 July 2020 (UTC)
    Since none of these is incorrect – Milton Keynes, England / Milton Keynes, UK / Milton Keynes, England, UK – anyone changing one to the other is simply out to cause trouble. Often for political reasons. Anyone who does it a lot, and there are editors in this discussion who do it a lot, should be blocked. Trying to impose consistency is without consensus, futile, unnecessary and almost certainly due to some ulterior motive. Nobody is that anal as to find it a problem unless they have a particular personal beef. Bretonbanquet (talk) 12:58, 12 July 2020 (UTC)
    Well, a very narrow topic-ban would be more appropriate than a block, and either result would need a well-diffed showing of doing this robotically without regard to disruptive fallout, or doing it in a targeted, politicized manner guaranteed to cause disruptive fallout.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  03:24, 15 July 2020 (UTC)

State names in infobox fieldEdit

There's a question at Talk:WRNN-TV#Location field that two other editors have (it briefly turned into an edit war) and I couldn't find anything in the MOS about this.

{{Infobox broadcast}} includes a location field to list the city of license and target market of a TV station. One editor thinks this field should read "New Rochelle, New York / New York, New York", and the other thinks it should read "New Rochelle/New York, New York". Should the state name be repeated more than once in listing cities in the same state or not? Raymie (tc) 05:54, 2 July 2020 (UTC)

Avoid where it's clear to readers with an IQ above about 50. Tony (talk) 05:48, 3 July 2020 (UTC)
If it's two cities, they shouldn't flow over two separate lines. Mind, the infobox doesn't really explain what location means, especially when there is a separate city field. CMD (talk) 06:46, 3 July 2020 (UTC)
The discussion is at the linked page, not here. oknazevad (talk) 16:08, 3 July 2020 (UTC)
Go with the less redundant version, but use "New York City, New York" so it doesn't look like a copy-paste error. And there's no need to use a slash in here. So: "New Rochelle and New York City, New York". And as for "they shouldn't flow over two separate lines", we have no control at all over what the reader's font sizes are. Given that infoboxes are a fixed size but the text in them is resized at will by the end user (in system settings, browser settings, on-wiki user CSS, or all three), exactly where things may wrap should never be a factor in deciding what should go in an infobox, because it's just not predictable.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  03:29, 15 July 2020 (UTC)

New questionEdit

Hi - this question regarding part of the MOS might concern readers here - please see Wikipedia:Neutral point of view/Noticeboard#Master architect, master chef, master navigator, etc. ɱ (talk) 23:43, 4 July 2020 (UTC)

Discussion at Wikipedia:Templates for discussion/Log/2020 July 6 § Template:CharEdit

  You are invited to join the discussion at Wikipedia:Templates for discussion/Log/2020 July 6 § Template:Char. Psiĥedelisto (talkcontribs) please always ping! 06:33, 6 July 2020 (UTC)


Thought I ought to let people know her that this is under discussion at WP:VPP#MOS:NUMERO. WT79 (speak to me | editing patterns | what I been doing) 12:30, 7 July 2020 (UTC)

Discussion at village pump has come to nothing, and is now archived here. Guess it'll stay as it is. WT79 (speak to me | editing patterns | what I been doing) 20:02, 23 July 2020 (UTC)

Capitalizaton of "Black" when used as a raceEdit

AP and The New York Times among others are starting to capitalize "Black" when used to refer to the skin color or race. Should we add this to our MOS? - Jasonbres (talk) 23:56, 8 July 2020 (UTC)

Jasonbres, see Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style/Capital_letters#Proposed_update_to_MOSCAPS_regarding_racial_terms. Discussion in progress. Schazjmd (talk) 00:19, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
Jasonbres, This would be a very big change and we should probably have an RfC on this matter. Note also that The New York Times explicitly does not capitalize "brown" or "white" but the AP are issuing a decision on "white" soon. Other sources are explicit about capitalizing "Black" but not "white" (e.g.) but remain silent on other things capitalized by the AP such as "Indigenous". Such a big change with so many variables will require community input on a large scale. See also, e.g. (koavf)TCM 00:22, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
This one seems to have some NYT discussion on the subject, and I think I mostly agree with the first one. It might be that Black is an abbreviation for African-American, as, for example, it fits on protest signs. Probably unrelated, but the genetic diversity across Africa is much more than the genetic diversity of all the rest of the world, htough I suspect that the slave trade only used a small part of Africa. Otherwise, is Black supposed to include Africans visiting from Africa, or otherwise not Americans? As many have noted, even in the same sentence, brown is not capitalized. Gah4 (talk) 22:09, 10 July 2020 (UTC)
If one were to capitalize Black and White as stand-ins for generalized ethno-racial categorizations, then Brown should be as well, when used in that manner. But none of them should be capitalized when not used in this way, e.g.: "People with OCA-2 albinism do not have truly white skin, but effectively translucent, producing a pale pinkish hue." "Some of the villagers of Banaka are so dark-complected they appear almost pitch black except in bright sunlight." "Her Afro-Cuban cousin Mario is a darker brown than her siblings and other cousins." However, use of "Brown" in reference to non-Caucasian peoples is a bit of an informalism (it does not have anywhere near the saturation of "Black" and "White" in mainstream writing), so WP probably should be be using it in this sense anyway.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  00:40, 15 July 2020 (UTC)

Request for commentsEdit

Greetings to all,

A Request for comment has been initiated regarding RfC about whether to allow use of honorofic 'Allama' with the names or not?

Requesting your comments to formalize the relevant policy @ Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Islam-related articles


Bookku (talk) 17:51, 9 July 2020 (UTC)


Dear colleagues: This discussion, which began on my talk page, regards changes to an article's "era" style i.e. the choice of AD/BC vs. CE/BCE – see WP:ERA. EEng 21:57, 11 July 2020 (UTC)

It shouldn't be necessary but what to do about editors arguing that only those wanting a change need give arguments pertinent to the article? See Talk:Stonehenge which unfortunately is not the only place I've seen that argument. Doug Weller talk 18:49, 28 June 2020 (UTC)

OK, now I see. Hmmm. I hate to say it but I think that's the design, something like MOS:RETAIN. Now, RETAIN works pretty well in general -- do you think it might help to either import some of the RETAIN language into ERA, or maybe make ERA explicitly reference RETAIN as the way to make era decisions? (I say all this without thinking about it very much, so maybe there's a pitfall I'm not seeing.)
I'm sure you know that this probably won't be easy, no matter what. If you think this idea is a good one, why don't you do a bit of private analysis of ERA vs RETAIN, maybe tell me here what you're finding, and if it still seems like a good idea then we can talk about how to get key MOS elites quietly on board. EEng 20:03, 28 June 2020 (UTC) P.S. Just in case you missed it, you are officially listed at WP:CONFUSED.
Does MOS:STYLERET apply here? --A D Monroe III(talk) 21:58, 28 June 2020 (UTC)
Oh God, it's all coming back. MOS:RETAIN is about ENGVAR, whereas MOS:STYLERET is about style stuff in general. Or the other way around. My heart is starting to palpitate even now. Pardon me while I go lie down. Doug Weller, I'm still willing to walk this path with you, if (after reviewing everything) you think there's a feasible path to change. I'm going to ping SMcCandlish for his brief (BRIEF!) preliminary (PRELIMINARY!) thoughts. EEng 22:12, 28 June 2020 (UTC)
I admit that we don't ever have said anything about arguments against a change - apparently "I don't like the change" has always been seen as sufficient. The problem I have with this is that that's got nothing in common with the way we hold discussions elsewhere - it turns what should be a discussion into something where those in favor of change have to have reasons, those against just have to shout WP:RETAIN. In other words, a poll where the close can't do much more than count the numbers - it doesn't matter if those favoring no change have reasons specific to the article or not. If we did AfDs, RfCs, etc like this it would be a mess to say the least. I'm sorry that we lost "A personal or categorical preference for one era style over the other is not justification for making a change." along the way.
The other problem is the phrase "established style", which I've discussed before. Some editors believe that "established" doesn't mean a style established by a discussion, others that it means the original style unless there was a discussion agreeing to change it, so that even if it was changed 15 years ago that change did not make it the established style. The two together make change very difficult - era styles may be the hardest thing to change on Wikipedia, I don't know. Nor do I know how to change this particular problem. It would be easy to change the guideline so that arguments on both sides have to be based on the article, although that wouldn't make every discussion easy as for many even if the wording says that arguments need to be based on the article and not general issues what's most appropriate may not be obvious. I've seen editors argue that some Old Testament books are more important to Christians than to Jews, for instance.
Ironic that I've come here after reverting an editor who insisted that all articles should use BCE/CE (although they backed down) and insisting that they start a discussion. Doug Weller talk 17:55, 29 June 2020 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I'm not seeing in there whether you think it would be helpful to make the ERA guidelines more the RETAIN and/or STYLERET. EEng 18:42, 29 June 2020 (UTC)
Twice sorry, once for not answering your question directly, second for not answering it timely. Real life...
RETAIN's first sentence looks good, for ERA styles it would read "When an era style's consistent usage has been established in an article, maintain it in the absence of consensus to the contrary." Maybe I'm missing something, but I can't see why that's being used as an excuse to revert back to the original style just because someone changed it without discussion years ago. Do you? And I like "Sometimes the MoS provides more than one acceptable style, or gives no specific guidance. The Arbitration Committee has expressed the principle that "When either of two styles are [sic] acceptable it is inappropriate for a Wikipedia editor to change from one style to another unless there is some substantial reason for the change."[3] If you believe an alternative style would be more appropriate for a particular article, discuss this at the article's talk page " from STYLERET. I'd also like a simple sentence saying something like "Discussions should focus on the article in question, not personal preferences or principles." Doug Weller talk 14:42, 2 July 2020 (UTC)
OK, thanks. McCandlish hasn't edited since I pinged him above, so since there's no hurry (?) on this let's wait for his response. He'll know the secret history of how the guidelines got the way they are. EEng 15:03, 2 July 2020 (UTC)

@Doug Weller and A D Monroe III: Sorry, I've also been busy of late, what with the world being on fire. My semi-brief and not very preliminary thoughts: RETAIN is about ENGVAR; STYLERET is more general. ERA is pretty vague/flexible. My personal habits are to switch things to BCE/CE dating any time there is no connection to the history of Christendom, and I'm rarely reverted. If I get reverted, I don't fight about it, I just move on, though I may circle around in months or years and do it again and maybe get it to stick (not as a plan – I don't have a "hit list", I just may happen across it again and do my usual). If it pertains to the history/society of Europe, the Near East, or North Africa, and involves anything to do with 1 AD or later, I leave it at BC/AD, and may even impose it if there's a clear connection to Christendom and its history/background (but would not if there is not). Equivalent dates in some other calendar systems are also valid to include (as parenthetical conversions) in some cases (especially Islamic subjects). If it's purely a science topic, I use BCE/CE, since religio-cultural baggage isn't relevant. My reasons for these changes are "substantial" in ArbCom terms, though not necessary overwhelming. In my experience, there are rarely article-talk-page discussions about this stuff; it's a lot like citation formatting and date formatting. I might engage in such a thread if one arose, but I'm not on a warpath to impose this quasi-consistency, and am not inclined to argue about it much. [Everyone breathes a sigh of relief.]  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:19, 3 July 2020 (UTC)

This sneaky approach is exactly why Doug's "oh-if-it's-been-there-for-a-few-years-its-ok" approach doesn't work. Would you also apply this to ENGVAR, Doug? And if not, why not? But thanks for being so honest about your tactics, SMcCandlish. You seem to assume that all our readers actually understand BCE, which even in America isn't true, still less elsewhere, for example India - a tough case for the "I-stand-proud-against-oppressive-Christian-ideology" crowd (see the Stonehenge discussion for some stirring rhetoric along these lines). Johnbod (talk) 14:01, 5 July 2020 (UTC)
There's nothing "sneaky" about it, it just application of editorial judgement while gnoming around. If the topic has nothing to do with Christendom (or "Chistendom-embedded" topics like European and Near East history), then there is no reason to use BC/AD dating. It's not a matter of "oppression" but of cultural appropriateness, WP:Systemic bias, etc.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  23:52, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
It clearly gaming WP:ERA to push your own POV, and sneakily returniung to do it again if reverted. And what about India, where the locals all use BC/AD unless they are academics writing for an international audience? What is culturally appropriate for articles about obscure Indian temples that no non-Indian is ever likely to look at, and where many of the actual readership don't understand BCE/CE, not being American? Johnbod (talk) 03:37, 15 July 2020 (UTC)
Is see nothing in MOS:RETAIN as vague or "flexible". If an article is (or was) all AD/BC, it should not be changed to BCE/CE without consensus, and vice versa. Editors changing this to their personal preference is explicitly what RETAIN prohibits. Right? --A D Monroe III(talk) 19:49, 4 July 2020 (UTC)
The only people who feel strongly about this issue are those for who it is a matter of religious identity (or lack of it). The rest of us may have mild preferences which may vary by article but if we relax the guidelines, we'll have endless repetitive ill-tempered mass warfare in which reasoned debate will be about as useful as a koala trying to stop a state-wide bushfire by widdling on it. If anyone feels like making the effort to tighten up the definition of "established style", that might be useful, I'd be happy to support it. I don't have any suggestions about what that tightened definition might be. Richard Keatinge (talk) 11:09, 5 July 2020 (UTC)
I disagree that the only people who feel strongly about this issue are people who consider it a matter of religious identity (or lack of it). I feel strongly about it, because it is a matter of accessibility (as I have said on the Stonehenge Talk page). But I agree that the purpose of the guidelines should be to avoid endless repetitive mass warfare. (I have no opinion on koala bears’ powers of extinguishment. ) Sweet6970 (talk) 12:48, 5 July 2020 (UTC)
Me too. Johnbod (talk) 14:01, 5 July 2020 (UTC)
I stand corrected! Nevertheless, I feel that the only changes to WP:ERA should be in the direction of tightening it. Richard Keatinge (talk) 12:54, 5 July 2020 (UTC)
RETAIN is about ENGVAR (about "varieties of English"); it is not about trans-dialect questions like BC/AD and BCE/CE. So all this waving around of it like a law is off-base (doubly, since it is a guideline not a policy, so it doesn't really "prohibit" anything at all). It's entirely reasonable to change from one format to the other to better match the nature of the topic (which really has nothing to do with "changing to their personal preference" – if we have editors going around changing everything to BC/AD or to BCE/CE, then they need to stop doing that). The actual reasoning behind ENGVAR, however, is sensibly applicable here, and not everyone in this discussion would be happy to do: if there's a strong national/cultural tie, (e.g. to European and Christendom history) then there's a plausible reason to use BC/AD, but absent one there is not.

It's more important and relevant to look at MOS:STYLERET: "it is inappropriate for a Wikipedia editor to change from one style to another unless there is some substantial reason for the change". If there's such a reason, then it's not against the guideline. The same section also suggests talk-page discussion first, but (as I've noted earlier) this rarely happens, and a guideline like this does not have the force of policy. MoS's own lead basically suggests the same things as a general matter for all style issues; not changing style without a good reason is part of the entire MoS, and is not specific to this or any other particular matter. Next, MOS:ERA: "The default calendar eras are ... BC and AD, and BCE and CE .... Either convention may be appropriate for use in Wikipedia articles depending on the article context. ... An article's established era style should not be changed without reasons specific to its content". It also suggests having a discussion first, but again this is not a requirement; even just basic WP:EDITING policy trumps it. We need to stop thinking and talking about this in terms that basically boil down to "Who can I punish for changing BC to BCE in my article?" WP just doesn't work that way. More to the point, MOS as a whole and STYLERET make it clear that a change for a good reason is permissible, and ERA even specifically states that the surrounding subject-matter content is such a reason.

MOS:ERA probably does need minor updating. E.g., it still says "AD may appear before or after a year (AD 106, 106 AD)", but there was a row about this semi-recently in which the conclusion was that there's no reason to continue using old-fashioned "AD 106" style. Using it an article with "106 BC" or "2nd century AD" style is apt to confuse readers or at least look inconsistent. It's certainly incompatible with the general MoS instruction to not mix different styles for the same thing in the same article (found in STYLERET, and MOS:US, and the main WP:MOS lead, among other places). If we were going to tweak any of this language, it should be revise that ERA line-item to say to use "106 AD" order in all four BC, BCE, AD, and CE cases (except where directly quoted material uses "AD 106" order).

 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  23:52, 14 July 2020 (UTC)

I follow MOS:STYLERET and WP:ERA. That said, my personal preference is to resist language changes connected to political correctness, so I'm going to use AD/BC in any article with no established style, and I'm not going to tell you what pronouns to use when you refer to me. And if you want to know which English honorific to use when referring to me, you may refer to me as "the honorable Jc3s5h". Jc3s5h (talk) 14:30, 5 July 2020 (UTC)

I'm not sure why you think it's condemnation-worthy to bring one's socio-political viewpoint to the matter, when you are simply bringing your own equal-but-opposite one. That's not standing on principle, it's simply being on the other side the very WP:BATTLEGROUND you pretend to deplore. You're basically stating in a WP:POINT-oriented way that you'd rather push your viewpoint than do what is best for the particular article context. As far as I'm concerned, that's sufficient grounds for anyone to revert you without discussion and use BCE/CE in any context in which it's a better fit, because your rationale for using BC/AD isn't based on logic but on a desire to stick it to your ideological enemies. Meanwhile, most people are not taking this as an ideological issue to begin with. It's simply a choice between international, secular, and culturally more neutral language. Trying to make it a religious dispute is silly, anyway, because even most biblical scholars think that the historical Jesus (if there was one) was born a bit earlier. The point at which this calendar system pivots has been arbitrary all along. While BC/AD make cultural sense on Wikipedia for various topics, they're technically probably misnomers.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  23:52, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
@Johnbod: era style is not like WP:ENGVAR in that although ENGVAR doesn't say where a variety should be used, it links to WP:TITLEVAR which is clear - "If a topic has strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation, the title of its article should use that nation's variety of English". There's nothing like that for era styles, and you don't seem to think the word "established" has any meaning.
But I ran into something interesting today - well, not just me. Someone is using proxies going through articles changing BCE to BC - when reverted they return with a new IP address. Eg [26] [27] and [28] - I'm not the only Admin to notice it (fortunately the other Admin is more clued in about proxies and was able to confirm my suspicions. They seem random articles so I'm guessing whoever is doing this is using a search. Doug Weller talk 18:06, 5 July 2020 (UTC)
Few ENGVAR arguments involve the "strong ties" aspect, which tends to make things much clearer. Most revolve round "first use" issues, & are similar to ERA rows. It seems to me that you are the one who doesn't believe in "established" styles. it's no surprise there are people changing to BC - personally I seem to come across more doing it the other way, typically with edit summaries like "correct date" - like the Stonehenge guy in fact. Another persistent offender has turned himself in just above - I hope you give him a good talking-to. Johnbod (talk) 20:59, 5 July 2020 (UTC)

I enforce WP:ERA often. Which is clear on the matter. I don't really know if there is much else to do about it, or if there is even a need. It is a perennial problem. A centralized discussion by those who think otherwise and/or are in preference of one system versus the other, is always available. Who knows, maybe it's a discussion worth having. But probably not. El_C 18:20, 5 July 2020 (UTC)

I've just realised that there is another problem WP:ERA says "Apply Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Retaining existing styles" which says don't change existing styles without discussion. But it also says "An article's established era style should not be changed without reasons specific to the article", which is not the same thing. Does this mean that if an article had always had one style, but three months ago someone changed it without discussion, that the new style is the existing style so needs discussion before changing? "Do not change existing styles" is surely bad wording inviting editwarring. Doug Weller talk 08:21, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
I would say certainly not, but I think an undiscussed change for reasons of general preference takes far longer to become "established" than you do. I don't follow your last point at all - removing "Do not change existing styles" is a sure way to vastly increase edit-warring. Johnbod (talk) 08:46, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
Why? Surely ""An article's established era style should not be changed without reasons specific to the article" is sufficient? I'm not sure you're right about how long it takes to be established, but then there aren't any criteria. Doug Weller talk 18:28, 10 July 2020 (UTC)
No, it means don't change the style without reasons specific to the subject/content of the article. I'm not sure where you got the idea that has something to do with time spans. This "I was here longer" or "I was here first" confusion keeps coming up with regard to all the *VAR guidelines. People need to actually read them. The choice made in the first major contribution is only a last-resort fallback position, after all attempts to reach consensus have failed. It is not the default or preferred style, and whoever made it does not have more say. It only comes into play when someone wants to make a change and a subsequent discussion cannot come to consensus on whether to accept that change, to go with the current style (the one before that change), to go with some new third choice, to use the style that was longest used in the article, to use the first style used in the article, or any consensus at all. That would leave resolution in limbo indefinitely, so the forced resolution is to use the style in the first non-stub version (or the first non-stub version to have the applicable material).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  23:52, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
He's got the idea from the wording of the policy: "An article's established era style should not be changed without reasons specific to its content". And one bit you need to read is (MOS:RETAIN "Edit-warring over style, or enforcing optional style in a bot-like fashion without prior consensus, is never acceptable." I've put a query for you above. Johnbod (talk) 03:45, 15 July 2020 (UTC)
  • There's nothing to talk about here, IMO; the "retain" policies are clear that such things are not to be enacted without a darn good reason (not to mention that BCE/CE is still based on the nominal date of Jesus's birth, but that's another thing), and nothing in the original talkpage or this discussion gives me reason to suspect otherwise. – John M Wolfson (talkcontribs) 04:40, 15 July 2020 (UTC)

RfC: Proper and improper use of monospaceEdit

Should one of the below § proposed guidelines be added to the Manual of Style?[note 1] Psiĥedelisto (talkcontribs) please always ping! 17:43, 14 July 2020 (UTC)

Proposed guideline № 1Edit

Withdrawn proposal

Below Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Text formatting § Font family, add the following:


Monospaced fonts should be used only when necessary to avoid unnecessary overemphasis. Monospace should generally not be used when:

  • The context is not technical or computing related, and extreme accuracy in the characters of the text is not needed for another reason; readers can deduce it from context. While a simple computer program is liable to confuse lol with 101 or IoI or lullaby for 1u11aby, a human is unlikely to do so.
  • None of the possible characters could be confused for one another. For example, Unicode notation consists of a ⟨U⟩, a ⟨+⟩, and then between one and eight hexadecimal numbers (digits between 0–0 and F–16). As in no common font can any of the characters in the set U+0123456789ABCDEF be confused for one another, monospace is unnecessary emphasis.[note 2] So, write U+058D ֍ , not U+058D ֍ .



  1. ^ This is Psiĥedelisto's first RfC, so might have formatting errors. I hope it doesn't, I looked at a few examples...
  2. ^ If adopted, {{unichar}} will be changed to match consensus. See also Template talk:Unichar § Deviation of task, which is the seed of this IRC.

Proposed guideline № 2Edit

Withdrawn proposal

Same text as § Proposed guideline № 1, just put on Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Computing instead. Psiĥedelisto (talkcontribs) please always ping! 17:43, 14 July 2020 (UTC)

Proposed guideline № 3Edit

After the first sentence of Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Text formatting § Font family, add the following:


  •   Support, with a preference for № 1, as nominator. Psiĥedelisto (talkcontribs) please always ping! 17:43, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
    I see where other editors are coming from regarding the potential for bloat, so pull my support for proposals №ˢ 1 & 2, which had no other supporters, and back № 3 instead, which SMcCandlish supports. (Hopefully I got his intent right.) Psiĥedelisto (talkcontribs) please always ping! 12:40, 19 July 2020 (UTC)
    We might need to reword it a little, so it cannot be misinterpreted as "... computer and technical material, because the use of monospace is customary for all such material." Definitely not the intended meaning.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  05:24, 20 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose both variants as WP:CREEP, and not entirely correct or adequate in various ways. (In practical terms, it probably could never be adequate to try to list out permitted uses). I would support an alternative: Just say not to use monospace except for computer and other techncial material for which it is customary. Leave it to human editorial judgement instead of trying to make an OK/not-OK list. And this belongs in MOS:TEXT, if we do it. More details in the "Discussion" subsection below.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  21:58, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Hold, more info needed per discussion section. Alsee (talk) 22:52, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose. A complicated rule for the primary purpose of prohibiting code formatting for unicode codes, with no evidence of investigation of how this might affect other unrelated parts of the encyclopedia, is too much WP:CREEP for me. —David Eppstein (talk) 23:00, 14 July 2020 (UTC)


  • @Psiĥedelisto: Can you provide some context please? Why is this enough of a problem that it needs to be added to the MoS? -- King of ♥ 18:05, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
    @King of Hearts: Sorry, I don't understand what you're getting at with this comment. Guideline № 2 was provided if you don't think it's important enough for the main MoS, but shouldn't every agreed upon style convention be in the MoS, especially if a new consensus would change a long-standing template like {{unichar}}? Psiĥedelisto (talkcontribs) please always ping! 18:16, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
    We could also put in the MoS "don't use Comic Sans," but we don't do that because it's unnecessary (WP:CREEP). What are examples of people incorrectly using monospaced fonts, such that the problem is important enough to have an official guideline against? -- King of ♥ 18:24, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
    @King of Hearts: Well, {{unichar}} is one example :-) Apparently, before {{char}}, {{code}} was being used many places it shouldn't have been. (Per Template talk:Char § I have doubts about this template). I would say this is a common mistake. Psiĥedelisto (talkcontribs) please always ping! 18:42, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
    We also don't need to put "don't use &numero; in MoS, either, since most editors don't do it. I do agree with the view, in an earlier discussion elsewhere, that we should not be applying monospace to characters and other strings that are being discussed as characters and other strings; MOS:WAW wants these in italics, or in double quotation marks if italics are already heavily used in the material for something else. An exception would be when a glyph is being discussed as a glyph per se (i.e., as computer output) or as a keystroke per se (i.e., as computer input). The <samp> and <kbd> elements exist for these cases and are already monospace. <Samp> is also used for various other forms of output, e.g. paths and filenames (output of a computer directory listing).

    This proposed new rule is too fiddly and too prescriptivism-based. If we needed an MoS line-item to address monospace at all, it should be advice to simply not use monospace other than for computer and other technical material for which it is customary – and leave it at that. If we start listing off exactly what it's okay or not okay to use it for, the list will simply grow and grow as more use-cases come up. It is actually customary in technical writing to put the hexadecmial Unicode codepoint designations in monospace. WP didn't invent that. The fact that it might not be utterly necessary for reader comprehension is irrelevant. Same goes for putting genus and species names in italics and capitalizing the genus. No one's brain would asplode upon encountering "homo sapiens" instead of "Homo sapiens", but the real world prefers it a particular way, and reputable publishers follow that preference in the main. Our general approach to all "optional style" questions (absent some Wikipedia-specific technical consideration) is that we apply a style if the vast majority of high-quality publications do it, and we don't otherwise. There's not any reason to stop using this WP:Common sense in the case of monospace/nonproportional font usage. Especially when various HTML elements (including <code>, <samp>, <kbd>, and <pre>) are monospace by default in all visual browsers. We would have to use custom stylesheet tricks to override that, which would confuse a lot of people, and in turn require re-doing various templates that use such elements and need the monospace to reintroduce it. And this isn't really about whether OCR can easily distinguish between 1, I, and l (though that matters for WP:REUSE reasons), it's mostly about the failure of various fonts used by human readers to clearly distinguish them. And it always has been, long before WP existed.

    [The only case I can think of in which WP has overridden the default behavior of an HTML element's font styling was eliminating the forced italics of <cite>, and we only did that because there's a dispute between W3C and WHATWG about what this element is. WHATWG is a mini-consortium of browser makers, and they want this element to mean the title of a work, while W3C is a macro-consortium of, basically, all the users of the Web, so W3C simply wins when they say this element is for citation information in general. It's why our template-generated citation tags are wrapped in this element and it doesn't do font crap. WHATWG's italics were wrong anyway, even if their scope limitation had been accepted by the Web development community, since minor works' titles go in quotation marks not italics.]

    Anyway, if we have anything about monospace at all as a general-rule matter, it belongs is MOS:TEXT along with the other font-style stuff. And it should be cross-referenced to any other sections that address monospace for particular uses (e.g. in MOS:NUM and MOS:COMP) MOS:COMP would not be a good home for a general rule, since the entire point of that rule would be discouraging use of monospace for things it is not appropriate for (i.e., things that probably will not be addressed by MOS:COMP). In the end, this is much like use of serif font in mathematical formulas (sometimes mandatorily for certain things). The average person might not feel they need it, but it is the way it is done, and we don't need to browbeat editors about it. Those with a maths background already know about it (and might or might not want a MOS:NUM rule to always use it in the mandatory cases, but otherwise just happy that our math markup tools do the serifs they're supposed to); meanwhile, those who don't know about this are not regularly abusing serif font styling in articles, so from an MoS perspective, there's no frequently recurrent, endless-arguments issue to codify an answer to. Same with monospace. We just don't have a continual, heated, unresolving series of arguments about its use.

    PS: I do not understand the footnote above that seems to be attributing this RfC to me. I didn't write it, and if I ever wrote something very similar, it is not what I would support now, on later and more detailed reflection.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  21:58, 14 July 2020 (UTC)

    @SMcCandlish: Please kindly see [29]. I messed up, and it was not at all intentional. I thought that the magic word {{REVISIONUSER}} was automatically WP:SUBST'd. It's not, very sorry. I was too lazy to type/copy my ĥ. Won't happen again. Psiĥedelisto (talkcontribs) please always ping! 23:12, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
    Psiĥedelisto I edited the RFC to include your username instead of {{REVISIONUSER}}. It was still causing trouble even with safesubst. It's puzzling why you used such an roundabout manner to put your username in, but unimportant. I think everything is fixed now. Alsee (talk) 23:44, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
    Oh, ha ha. That useless magicword has bit me in the butt before, too.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  00:30, 15 July 2020 (UTC)
  • @Psiĥedelisto: I have basically the same questions as King of Hearts above. There are many different kinds of RFC, but in in many cases it's a good idea to provide a little more background for people newly arriving. First, lets set aside {{unichar}}. (I'll get back to it.) What is the general background here, is there (A) one or more arguments over this issue that we are trying to resolve? If so, links and/or more info on previous debate please. (B) Is this a recurring issue that is regularly and uncontrovercially resolved in the way you suggest? If so, some sample diffs would be helpful. (C) Is this a new idea to change a singificant amount of existing conent? If so it would help to have some links or examples of what it is that we'd be changing. (D) Aside from {{unichar}}, are there few or no other particular cases and you merely propose this as a general good idea? We usually avoid bloating guidelines or MoS if there isn't any significant issue.
    Regarding template {{unichar}}, it looks like the parameter sans=y does what you want. Do I understand that correctly? That you basically want to make sans=y into the default or only mode? And if so, could you point to some pages that make significant use of this template to make it easier to review and consider whether that is a beneficial change? Thanx. Alsee (talk) 22:48, 14 July 2020 (UTC)
    @Alsee: Mojikyō was the article that made me decide that the way {{unichar}} worked was a problem. I was familiar with the Unicode standard and Unicode technical writing (I've been known to engage in it), so I knew that it's quite odd to use monospace when discussing the characters. It's less odd when discussing Unicode in a programming context. I added |sans=y while writing Mojikyō. I decided it should be default, and this was the way to get that done. I'm not aware offhand of other wrong uses of monospace. I've withdrawn my first two proposals and gone with SMcCandlish's instead. --Psiĥedelisto (talkcontribs) please always ping! 12:40, 19 July 2020 (UTC)
  • WHO IS USING "OUTSIDE OF"? On the outside of the tennis ball, yes. But not where "outside" is a preposition. Tony (talk) 07:52, 20 July 2020 (UTC)
@Tony1: see Merriam-Webster. Many compound prepositions seem to my ears to be growing in use compared to the single word synonym. It's possibly influenced by "out of". Peter coxhead (talk) 07:35, 21 July 2020 (UTC)

A discussion about collapsible elements in mathematics articlesEdit

I am very aware of MOS:COLLAPSE. In fact, I have removed collapsible elements on many occasions.

However, I'm also aware that we receive many complaints that our mathematics articles are too challenging to follow for many of our readers. As an OTRS agent, I've seen many such concerns expressed by readers. It's also ubiquitous enough in Wikipedia that the FAQ in WikiProject mathematics has several questions along this line.

I do know that we are not a textbook, and I support the position that we should not have all of the elements of a textbook in an article.

However, I also believe there is an important distinction between many prose oriented articles and mathematically inclined articles. To pick a sentence from Julius Caesar:

Leaving his command in Gaul would mean losing his immunity to criminal prosecution by his enemies; knowing this Caesar openly defied the Senate's authority by crossing the Rubicon and marching towards Rome at the head of an army.

Any reader with a high school level knowledge of English can comprehend this sentence. Expert historians might well believe that a deep knowledge of history would provide insights about that sentence beyond that picked up by the casual reader, but this is a matter of degree. In contrast, if our article on polynomials illustrated the product of polynomials as follows:




It would be a factual statement, one that a significant portion of the readership would not comprehend. While much of our adult readership covered this in a high school class, some weren't paying attention at the time, and some did pay attention, but have forgotten the details in the intervening years. If for some reason, they were now interested in multiplying polynomials, the short statement wouldn't provide much help.

Again, I'm not proposing changing the article into a textbook, but I think we can provide more help while falling far short of the exposition one might expect to see in a textbook. For example I'm not remotely considering a list of problems for the students intended to help them reinforce their knowledge.

In fact, the article did include a bit more; it contains one intermediate step. It's my belief that the reader is well served by adding a couple additional intermediate steps, which I have done recently. However, I recognize that I am treading closely to the line between encyclopedia and textbook, and I suspect there will be some pushback about including these intermediate steps.

We have several levels of readers of mathematical articles. At one extreme, we have people with mathematical degrees who may be using mathematics on a daily basis, and they may visit an article simply to recall exactly how something is expressed. We have other readers who may have a solid knowledge of mathematics, but haven't been actively using mathematics on a day by day basis, have reason to refresh their recollection of how something works, and want to see in Wikipedia what it has to say. Then there are some readers who may have covered this material in high school, but zoned out, or maybe even mastered it to some degree at the time, but have completely forgotten some of the basics. How do we write an article that addresses the needs of all of them?

One possibility is the use of collapsible elements (which explains why I am posting this in MOS as opposed to WikiProject mathematics.)

Imagine that we explain polynomial multiplication as follows:





which can be simplified to


In this example, the accomplished mathematician glanced at the introductory phase, know that they know how to do polynomial multiplication, glanced at the last sentence and moved on. The second group of readers who mastered this at one time but haven't looked at it in a while, might look at it in a little more detail and may not even click on the show button. Another group of people will look at it, click on the show button, and say to themselves "oh ye,s I remember this now" then hide it again and move on. Another group of readers might click on the show button and leave it open and walk through the steps.

The obvious point being that the use of a collapsible element allows us to do an exposition of this concept that can appeal to several levels of mathematical knowledge.

I just checked the mobile view, and it appears that the mobile view automatically displays the material, and encloses it in a labeled box. If this approach became ubiquitous, readers at higher level would know to skip over the material in the box and would not be disadvantaged.

I know that the prohibition on collapsed elements is a long-standing position, but it is equally long-standing that a substantial portion of our readership finds are mathematical articles close to useless. I think the use of a collapsible box, used judiciously, could be used to improve articles without a significant cost.--S Philbrick(Talk) 16:41, 19 July 2020 (UTC)

FWIW, I believe that collapsible elements are also sometimes used for proofs in mathematics articles, on the principle that most readers will not want to read a proof, but sufficiently many might that it would be a disservice to omit it entirely. --JBL (talk) 21:36, 20 July 2020 (UTC)
I agree with the OP's general thrust, except the "make it collapsed" conclusion. Collapsed content is an accessibility problem. I don't buy the argument that it's okay to make it collapsed because some will not want to see it. That's robbing Peter to pay Paul. Every article on every topic has material in it that isn't of interest to some readers of the article. We include it anyway to be complete, and all readers of this site already understand this. This "be complete, no matter what" principle begins right at the lead sentence. E.g.: "Elvis Aaron Presley ..., also known simply as Elvis, was an American singer and actor." The only fragments of that which will not already be known to 99.99% of our readers are "Aaron" and "and actor".  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  01:54, 22 July 2020 (UTC)
Paging David Eppstein. EEng 04:49, 22 July 2020 (UTC)
I'm not convinced that hidden elements (and the accessibility problems they raise) are ever really necessary. The better solution is to be more careful about the level of audience expected for an article in mathematics (or on any other technical subject): spell things out in detail when one would expect readers of this topic to need spelling out, don't spell things out in so much detail for articles that are anyway going to be hopeless for less-advanced readers. Many mathematical publications provide detailed proofs of their claims, but we should only provide those proofs when they are enlightening to readers, not as a mere verification of the truth of what we say, because Wikipedia is based on a different sourcing-based mechanism for verifiability. The same goes for steps of calculations. —David Eppstein (talk) 04:58, 22 July 2020 (UTC)
Well said.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  13:48, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
I pinged him here so I deserve some of the credit. EEng 03:00, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  03:39, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
An interesting question is what level of original calculation Wikipedia is allowed to engage in. For example, it is not WP:OR to convert units ({{convert}}), compute someone's birth year based on age attested in a dated RS ({{birth based on age as of date}}), or calculate the present value of historical currency ({{inflation}}). Where do we draw the line? When does a series of logical deductions go too far for WP:BLUE? -- King of ♥ 20:39, 23 July 2020 (UTC)
That is something that needs to be clarified, but it's off-topic for MoS, and is not directly involved in the formatting-and-presentation-and-access issue raised here. I would raise it at WT:NOR instead.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  13:48, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
I'm also not convinced that hidden content is a good way to go. On the other hand, I also don't think it's possible in general to pick a right level of presentation for your readers. I can read a lot of technical stuff, but many math articles leave me in the dust because they're in an unfamiliar territory with unfamiliar language and don't go far enough in connecting to the basics that someone might have gotten from pretty good high-school and college level math classes. (and I just submitted by first attempt at a paper in the Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society in spite of not being a mathematician for real). Dicklyon (talk) 03:13, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
Until I recently removed it, {{math proof}} allowed for collapsing. Did you know of the template? :) My general opinion of anything related to collapsing in mainspace is that either a) you think the material is not actually necessary for the article and hence you should remove it (in general spirit of how we write our articles, such as WP:SUMMARY), or b) you think the material is actually necessary in which case it has no business being hidden away from the user. (This ignores the accessibility concerns of collapsing elements.) --Izno (talk) 15:21, 25 July 2020 (UTC)

How to fix curly quotes?Edit

As the header states, is there any quick/easy way to fix curly quotes being used in an article, or does it have to be done manually one-by-one? Asking this in regards to the episode summaries for All That (season 11). Thanks in advance. Magitroopa (talk) 18:51, 19 July 2020 (UTC)

I use the "source" editing mode and when that window is open, and the Advanced button is selected, on the far right is a "search and replace" button. There are probably other ways using other editing modes, but that one works. It must be used with care because it's possible for the curly quote to be part of a URL or a file name where replacing one with the other will mess things up. SchreiberBike | ⌨  19:04, 19 July 2020 (UTC)
Yep. Always compare what changed before saving. For my part, I do such cleanup in an external editing application which I can use more quickly (and which also has regex grep search/replace, which is useful for fixing various other things). I use BBEdit for this, in macOS, though there are good Windows and *n*x text-editing apps, too. I think there's a way to make all editing be done in such an app, but I only do this for tedious stuff, so I just copy the article code over, use my external editor, then paste it back in, preview to find or correct any obvious errors, and compare versions to pore over them one last time for inadvertent things like mangling a URL.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  01:45, 22 July 2020 (UTC)

Links in table headersEdit

MOS:HEAD is ambiguous as to whether table captions and headers can contain links (and so is MOS:HEADERS). –LaundryPizza03 (d) 15:26, 24 July 2020 (UTC)

What would lead you to believe that links are not allowed in table captions and headers? I do not see ambiguity, I simply see no comment on the matter. --Izno (talk) 16:53, 24 July 2020 (UTC)

Proposed addition to MOS:TEXT or MOS:WAW to codify some actual practiceEdit

Disputes about this stuff pop up not every other day, but frequently enough that they should be addressed.

Text of proposed addition:

A monospaced (non-proportional) font should be used only for strings of technical material for which this style is conventional in reliable sources. This is preferably done with {{kbd}} or the <kbd> element for input, and {{samp}} or <samp> for output, both broadly defined. When writing about a character as a glyph or codepoint in a digital communications context, it is often appropriate to use monospace, though characters as such should otherwise be given italics. When necessary to provide extended information about a Unicode character, use {{Unichar}}. Examples of direct user input (e.g. of a strong or weak password), can be rendered with {{kbd}}. Filenames, directory paths, URLs, and similar computer strings can also be rendered with {{samp}}. For illustrating an actual keyboard or controller key, see {{key press}} and related templates. Samples of computer source code should be rendered with the block template {{code}} if multi-line, or simply with the <code> element if inline in a sentence.

I'm normally resistant to additions at this late a stage in MoS's development (see WP:MOSBLOAT), but even WP:POLICY indicates that the purpose of guidelines is documenting actual WP best practices. My first instinct, in a previous discussion, was to just use the first sentence of this and leave it at that. But we have long-established templates for most of this, and should recommend their use, instead of leaving people to willy-nilly try to make up their own approaches to these matters.

I would prefer to shunt this into MOS:TEXT, though I suppose it could live in MOS:WAW (where we also address characters as characters in the broader sense). I am just leery of adding this to the main MoS page which is already long, and which should focus on the "frequently asked questions". In MOS:TEXT, it could have a heading of something like "Monospace, computer text, and key presses". And I'm not averse to various tweaking of this text; I just wrote it one go, though I've been thinking about it for a long time.

PS: The last sentence calls for using the bare <code> element inline in the sentence because the {{code}} template applies syntax-highlighting coloration, and we should not do that in the middle of a regular-text sentence, where it is distracting, over-emphasizing, and devoid of context. Syntax highlighting only serves a useful function when it is in a block of code, clearly distinguishing different code elements from each other in a pattern.
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:41, 24 July 2020 (UTC)

Did you somehow miss #RfC: Proper and improper use of monospace where this issue is already being discussed on this very talk page? —David Eppstein (talk) 07:44, 25 July 2020 (UTC) (Actually from longer ago but I forgot to sign, sorry. —David Eppstein (talk) 07:44, 25 July 2020 (UTC))
I'm assuming that's the "previous discussion" he's referring to, which seems to have withered after 4 or so days of silence and not much support. Dicklyon (talk) 23:41, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
This might indeed be better-placed as a subsection of the above. --Izno (talk) 00:46, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
I thought about it, but this page is getting long despite the "aggressive" archive bot, and people are more apt to jump down here and see what's latest than pore over a long list of older threads, most of which are pretty moribund. A concrete proposal didn't emerge from that older discussion, so I'm making one here.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  03:33, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
There is also the fairly quiet MOS:COMPUTING, which much of the above seems to target. I also would prefer this be in one of the subpages rather than the main page as the use of monospace is more esoteric than not these days. --Izno (talk) 00:46, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
Addressed in subthread below. There's unresolved history.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  03:33, 25 July 2020 (UTC)


About two years ago (maybe three?), there was extensive discussion here about MOS:COMPUTING, and the consensus was that it is basically not salvageable and is not a guideline or a part of MoS, but just some essay that was controlled by two people making up whether they felt like. I proposed that "MOS:COMPSCI" (which is a WP:PROJPAGE essay, and not part of MoS either, though well-accepted and stable) should absorb any useful bits of MOS:COMPUTING before its formal deprecation with {{Failed proposal}}, but there was no consensus there to keep any of it at all. I think some bits and pieces of MOS:COMPUTING could be kept, and merged into other places, but it is long overdue to have {{Guideline}} removed from it, and probably moved to something like "Wikipedia:Manual of Style proposals (computing)" or something, so it is no longer part of the MoS tree. I'd meant to do that over a year ago myself but just forgot about it. Maybe we should just go do it, or maybe another discussion should happen, perhaps about keeping certain tidbits from it. And it would probably be worth discussing making the more sensible and consensus-based COMPSCI actually a part of MoS and not a wikiproject page.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  03:33, 25 July 2020 (UTC)

IP editor correcting every inverted conditional they findEdit (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log)

They are determined to change every incidence ([30][31][32][33] etc.) of inverted conditionals they find to a phrasing starting with "if". They apparently think they are correcting a grammatical mistake. The conditional inversion actually sounds more formal and appropriate for an encyclopedia to my ear. Am I missing something? What's the best way to handle a problematic editor like this? —DIYeditor (talk) 17:53, 25 July 2020 (UTC)

This one was especially bad because not only did they "correct" something that wasn't wrong, they messed up the logic (tense) of the sentence. Maybe this is more into CIR/ANI territory. —DIYeditor (talk) 18:01, 25 July 2020 (UTC)

Guideline neededEdit

Noticing a discussion on Talk:2040s, I followed the links to Wikipedia:WikiProject Years. There is a guide to writing a year-based article, but it needs transferred and fleshed out to the MOS since a long time. Seems straightforward, requiring some inclusion and other guidance added but format is already detailed with examples. ~ R.T.G 14:32, 1 August 2020 (UTC)

One idea for the COMMONALITY section: Footnote addressing usage in South Asian articlesEdit

I'd like to add a footnote to "Use universally accepted terms [...] ten million is preferable to one crore (Indian English)."

In South Asia-related articles one should use both British/American and South Asian numerals together, with British/American ones first and South Asian ones second if that is the convention followed in South Asian formal English language sources (such as government documents and newspapers like The Hindu and Dawn). This is because Indian numerals have become a feature of South Asian Englishes to the point where Indian/Pakistani/etc readers expect them, but one also needs non-South Asians to understand too.

South Asian sources in English tend to use lakh/crore with South Asian currencies (such as Indian and Pakistani rupees) but use the regular million/billion with foreign currencies like US dollars and British pounds.

  • 1 million (10 lakh) Indian rupees (conversions to foreign currency here)
  • 1 million U.S. dollars (no lakh here)

WhisperToMe (talk) 05:49, 3 August 2020 (UTC)

yes, I agree in principle, but wonder if we need to be so prescriptive. I remove these systematically and have never had any issues or complaints, only thanks. --Ohconfucius (on the move) (talk) 11:23, 4 August 2020 (UTC)
Return to the project page "Manual of Style".