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Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 2

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  • March 15, 2004 — August 7, 2004


See also

See also discussion on Village Pump

Sometime back there was a discussion on the village pump on these issues :

  1. whether "See also" can use links already mentioned in the page. There are scenarios where duplicating links are helpful.
  2. what is the difference between "See also" and "Related pages" ? This page makes no attempt at distinguishing them.

There was no consensus and I'd think they're still open. Should the discussions be copied to over to here ? They're currently at Wikipedia:Village_pump/January_2004_archive_3#Wikipedia_guide_to_the_See_also_lists Jay 14:13, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Bibliographic Citations

This is on Wikipedia:History:

The following is a formatted reference link for external links and references.


Doe, John, "Main page". Wikimedia Foundation, Florida, USA. January 1, 2000. Source:

Surely this is only the guideline for online resources? According to established Chicago Manual of Style practices, this is incorrect for most published print resources, which generally go something like this:

  • LastName, FirstName, "Article Title," Periodical Title, Date.


  • LastName, FirstName, Book Title, London: Arnold A. Knopf, 1963.

and so forth... Jengod

I generally go with "Firstname Lastname, Book Title (Publisher, Location, Date)" or "Firstname Lastname, "Article Title", in Periodical Title, Date", but it's a matter of taste, really. Anything sensible should be OK, I don't think there's a great need to standardise on one form. If you're adding something to an already-existing list, it would make sense to follow the format already established in that list for the sake of consistency (unless said format is ridiculous, of course), but otherwise I wouldn't worry about it too much. Incidentally, you may want to take a look at Wikipedia:Cite your sources. --Camembert
Could someone with experience therefore take a look at List of important publications in computer science which I just spent some time cleaning up (it had nassssty tables all over it) and reassure me that all my work making it possible for an ordinary mortal to read it without significant eye-strain has not all been in vain? --Phil 18:13, Feb 16, 2004 (UTC)


(from the village pump)

User:Wik seems to insist on replacing ndashes – with ASCII dashes -. Style guides for printed work such as encyclopedias, as well as Unicode, state that for ranges such as dates an ndash (1998–2000) and not a dash (1998-2000) should be used. One advantage of using the correct dash is that a linebreak won't occur on the right of it. Is there some official policy from the Wikipedia on this, or should I just wait until Wik tires of his game and restore the correct dashes? Jor 01:00, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Well, if you're prepared to insert the "correct dashes" into all the tens of thousands of articles which now have the ASCII dashes, go ahead. --Wik 01:04, Feb 12, 2004 (UTC)
Okay. I will interprete your quote above in that you'll start leaving them alone from now on. Jor 01:05, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)
No, only if you go through all articles and make it consistent. I will always edit the articles to fit the de facto standard. Currently, that's the ASCII dash. --Wik 01:07, Feb 12, 2004 (UTC)
Please use two ASCII hyphens -- in a future version of MediaWiki this will be automatically converted to –. The problem with using one hyphen is that they're very difficult to find and convert once the new feature is implemented. I'd be quite happy with people using – in the meantime. -- Tim Starling 01:11, Feb 12, 2004 (UTC)

Wikipedia articles are about being easy to read and edit. The average non techie reader has no idea what the sequence of characters "–" is supposed to mean. It makes the article source ugly and therefore harder to edit. This kind of stuff should be kept at a minimum.—Eloquence 01:34, Feb 12, 2004 (UTC)

I also don't like ndashes as they make editing harder. Dori | Talk 03:14, Feb 12, 2004 (UTC)
An ndash and and an mdash are NOT the same thing, and a '-' is not a substitute for an mdash;. I agree with Jo. Stop putting in ASCI dashes anywhere. Or else you are going to be real busy for the rest of your days because I use only ndash and mdash and will change any ASCI dashes I encounter to the correct form (something a BOT cannot do). And a -- should become an mdash not an ndash. The look of the "source code" is not an issue. Incorrect English prevails over making editing "easier" : Maybe we should just ignore spelling too - Marshman 05:42, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Manual of Style (biographies) uses regular ascii dashes in dates (1999 - 2005). I don't see what the problem with them is personally. It makes editing easier and looks fine when rendered to my eyes. The manual of style isn't compulsory, but it's the only guideline that should be applied to wikipedia IMO. If it's under debate then hash it out on the talk page and modify the guidlines if necessary when a consensus has been reached. fabiform | talk 06:57, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Can anybody please explain why this matters at all? A dash is a dash is a minus sign... or not? And minus signs are far easier to use compared with some "&..." character sequence. Furthermore, it is my impression that everything else looks ugly in Mozilla-based browsers. The advandages of "&..." listed above look not too significant compared with the ease of editing that "-" offers. So, what are the reasons for using the "&..." things? Specifically, why are they considered "correct"? Kosebamse 11:19, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)
See Dash (punctuation), and in particular, the external link at the bottom, The trouble with EM 'n EN. While you are at it. look over Typography Matters—a short essay on the theme "Typography, at the root, is all about providing as many helpful cues for the reader’s eye as possible." Tannin
It can also be important when "viewing" pages through a different kind of browser, for example having a text-to-speech engine read it aloud. The different kinds of dash/hyphen can be used to cue different pauses or emphasis. HTH HAND --Phil 12:17, Feb 12, 2004 (UTC)
Fair enough. Still, everything except minus signs looks plain ugly on a monitor (at least under Mozilla et al.), i.e. there is not a helpful visual cue but a distraction, i.e. it is counter-productive to use the "n" and "m" things. Is there a solution to the display problem? Kosebamse 12:44, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Get your eyes adjusted, Kosebamse. No, I'm not making a smart crack here---if proper typography looks ugly to you, you have been spending too long reading badly set web pages, or student term papers, or some such. Take a break from the 'pedia and read some real printed-on-paper things (books, National Geographic, anything you like) till your eyes adjust themselves back to normality. As for Mozilla, it is ugly. Always has been. The most stable and practical browser around but ugly as a hatful of ar.... um ... bottoms. If you like pretty, use Opera. Or, if you must, Explorer. Microsoft have always been good at pretty. Tannin 13:14, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)
PS: I usually use Mozilla for most things, but nearly always Opera here (don't ask why, just habit). Looking at the page as rendered by Mozilla just now, it's fine. Perhaps your problem is the font support in Linux. Linus still has crappy on-screen fonts. Tannin 13:21, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Oh my god, please stop spewing out misinformation. First of all, Mozilla has no problem with en or em dashes, minus signs, quotation marks, or most other relatively common characters in Unicode. If your font has the character, it will be displayed in Mozilla—just like with any other graphical browser. Second of all, this has absolutely nothing to do with Linux. Linux is an operating system kernel that controls your hardware and says which process gets to run when. It does not care in the slightest about em dashes. Finally, with that said, do check out the free, high-quality Bitstream Vera font family. —Daniel Brockman 08:50, Mar 7, 2004 (UTC)
Ah well... I like to see myself as a bibliophile and book maniac and could not agree more that good typesetting is A Good Thing. The "m" dashes are displayed too long, too high and without right or left spaces on Mozilla (under Linux). It would be A Very Good Thing to fix that but on which level? Browser? Style sheet? Font? Kosebamse 13:28, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Font, I suspect. Am m-dash should be exactly the same width as the letter "m" (uppercase or lowercase? I can't remember) in whatever font you are using. The "lack" of spaces is not an error. That's the way an m-dash is supposed to be rendered. Some---mostly American---publishing houses have taken to inserting spaces on either side of an m-dash in recent years. I have no idea why. A micro-space is acceptable if desired, but a full space ... well ... what is it they say? Two nations seperated by a common language? Tannin
Quite possible it's the fonts. I have played around a little and they all look either like a minus or as described above (much wider than a lowercase "m" and too high). Kosebamse 13:50, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Do not forget we are a wiki!

I must insist that we NOT use HTML entities in raw wiki markup. This is a barrier to editing to all the non-technically-minded people who do not know what — means when they see it in raw wiki text. Irrespective of what is correct typograpy, we must work with the tools at our disposal, and we must remember that this is a wiki and clarity in raw source is as important as clarity and accuracy in rendered form. -- Tarquin 16:42, 17 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I am relatively new, and I disagree completely. I know a lot of other people do, too. Can we vote on this or something? - Omegatron 17:12, Mar 17, 2004 (UTC)
Or perhaps a tech fix could solve the disagreement; replacing the 4 used dashes with special codes, for instance, as the horizontal bar has been replaced by "----", and people were talking about replacing en dashes with "--" or whatever, which would be rendered as the correct HTML character. Probably something like "-en-" would be better and easier to grasp. This would be very easy for newbies to grasp, and would still format articles in a readable way. - Omegatron 17:15, Mar 17, 2004 (UTC)
Getting the automatic conversion function back up would solve a lot of this tension. And "clarity in raw source"? Well, that disqualifies every single article with a summary box. Hajor 17:23, 17 Mar 2004 (UTC)
And just to throw in my two cents on the "evolution of typography"; I agree that throwing out "correct typography" is akin to throwing out proper spelling. Sure, we could use "online style" for everything, and "embrace the new internet style", but by that logic, "WELCOMA 2 WIKIEPDIA111!!!!! OMG LOL W3 R BUILDNG A MULTILNGUAL COPYLEFT ENCYCLOPADIA TAHT WIL ALWAYS BLONG 2 3VERYONA!1!111 LOL" is a perfectly valid intro. It's an encyclopedia. It should look good. There is nothing wrong with conforming to "old" standards. We certainly shouldn't force people to use them, but there is nothing wrong with using them, either. - Omegatron 17:43, Mar 17, 2004 (UTC)

Sevral points, Omegatron: yes, articles that begin with lengthy tables are a bad thing in many ways. There have been suggestions to move these to another namespace and insert them in pages. second, you need to understand how wikis work: theire open nature is crucial. Complex HTML terms are a barrier. Thirdly, I never mentioned "evolution of typography". What I SAID is that we have imperfect tools, that were not designed for typography, namely the basic ASCII set used on the internet. This is what we must work with, for now at least. Try to accept that WP is a work in progress! :) -- Tarquin 19:55, 18 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I have much more experience with WP than standard wikis, but if I am not mistaken, typical wikis don't have images, tables, TeX markup, boilerplate text, or normal text links (they have ugly CamelCase). All of these things are very good to have, make it much more encyclopedia-like, respectable, etc (if WP used camelcase I would probably never have come here. An article that looks crappy gives the impression of having crappy info). They should not be removed just because they make the markup a little more difficult to edit. Dashes are pretty trivial, but HTML entities in general should not be expressly prohibited just because they are confusing the first time someone sees them. Possible solutions to the disagreement are
  1. Put a description in the first few pages that new editors see. Perhaps a "[[what are these &number; things?]]" or "what are these special symbols?" at the bottom of an edit page. (near Editing help) (I just checked, and editing help itself has a huge list of possible HTML characters, explaining plain as day what they are for)
  2. Automated conversion - give some or all of the html entities less ugly formats that are automatically converted (-- or -n- or -en- or <endash> or [[[special character: en dash]]] becomes &ndash; for rendering) Obviously you need to make it obvious to newcomers that the code is supposed to be there, without being hard to read, yet without making it so long that no one will type it. - Omegatron
It sure would be handy if there was a more capable browser based text editor provided to edit Wiki articles, with context driven online help. Or, maybe we could put together a very easy to use guide to markup sequences, in general, from the point of view of a beginner. - Bevo 21:14, 18 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Automated dash conversion and digital representation

Well the new dash conversion has just gone live. One hyphen - ; two -- ; three --- ; and of course four is the horozontal rule. We've all been muttering about having confusing "&..." symbols in the wiki editing box, but it just occured to me that this wont happen with the new markup. In the editing box the n-dash (if it was entered that way) will just look like --, just as horozontal rules display as ----. fabiform | talk 12:38, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Yay! Finally we can have correct dashes! No more ugly poor man's dashes! (I'm with the mdash-ndash camp on this one.) --seav 13:07, Feb 12, 2004 (UTC)
Don't hooray too loud, as the same one breaks the new wiki table markup, where |- works, but |-- doesn't work anymore. But Tim already heard the complain on IRC... andy 13:10, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)
I briefly switched this on using a live patch of two lines of PHP code, which was a bit silly because it broke a few things. I switched it off when I realised it broke links to titles containing --, of which there are about 140. There was some contention on IRC as to whether -- should be expanded as an en dash or an em dash. -- Tim Starling 23:24, Feb 12, 2004 (UTC)
Two dashes should be an em dash of course. An en dash is represented in ASCII by a single dash, and as such cannot be automatically fixed but must be done manually. Jor 22:01, 13 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Actually, it makes more sense that two hyphens make an en dash, and three hyphens make an em dash, for at least three reasons: (1) It enables usage of the en dash; (2) it uses only one token for the em dash (i.e., "---"), whereas two hyphens would encourage people to put spaces around the dash (thus: " -- "), which complicates parsing and takes away power from the style sheet; finally (3) this (using three for an em and two for an en) is how TeX has done it for decades.
I strongly advise that this long-established convention be adopted. The table syntax invented—what?—some momths ago?—can easily be adjusted to make this possible. I doubt that this would cause more confusion than throwing out the logical, intuitive, and well-tested TeX syntax. —Daniel Brockman 08:50, Mar 7, 2004 (UTC)
Has this also got something to do with why the "nowiki" tags are showing at the top of this page: (3) Sign your name and date (by typing "nowiki"–~~ ~~"nowiki"? fabiform | talk 13:17, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC) (not on irc).
Seems to be related - on MediaWiki:Villagepump it shows correctly, but once imported here it shows the nowiki's and there is a double - inside the nowikis. andy 13:24, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Doesn't Wikipedia use UTF-8? Can't we just insert the actual mdash and ndash characters? That would make editing much easier. 17:03, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC).

No, most English and Western European wikis use ISO 8859-1, for maximum browser compatibility. -- Tim Starling 23:24, Feb 12, 2004 (UTC)

OK. Now I'm confused. According to the recent additions to wikipedia:Manual of Style, one should use a single-dash-without-spaces to represent a simple hyphen (as in date ranges), a single-dash-surrounded-by-spaces to represent an ndash, and two dashes (ie, --) for an mdash. However, if I follow the above conversation correctly, it seems that the software will convert a double-dash into an ndash and a triple-dash into an mdash. Am I misunderstanding, are there two incompatible standards being developed, or has something changed? -Rholton (aka Anthropos) 23:51, 16 Feb 2004 (UTC)

OK, you confirmed what I suspected--that I thought it was resolved but there is in fact no clear statement to that effect. I'll try to rouse up a clarification of what's really going on. Elf 01:44, 17 Feb 2004 (UTC)
When the automatic conversion was briefly turned on, a - remained unaffected, -- turned into a dash (an n dash I assume) and --- turned into a longer dash (an m dash I assume). I have nothing to do with the programming though, so you might want to talk to someone else about this, especially if you would prefer it to be done another way. :) fabiform | talk 07:27, 17 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Not resolved. A few people involved in the field seem to find the use of the hypen by ordinary people for all of the purposes offensive. Those same ordinary people have no objecting to ignoring the attempt to prevent the language from evolving and ignore the variations in dash lengths now that normal people can easily write and publish and not follow the conventions which used to be used in the print world. Effectively, a small group is trying to enforce an undesired style rule on everyone else, when usage clearly indicates that the majority of contributors do not agree. Simply, the online style for almost everyone is to use - for everything. Since we're a wiki, we do have to accept that change in style expectations, because it's not practical for a few people to force everyone to do what they want. Just document the way most people do it - the simple hypehen - and document that it's accepted that those who are writing new text and object can do it the print way if they desire but are discouraged from changing the writing of others. Jamesday 02:46, 17 Feb 2004 (UTC)

You are contradicting yourself. You start out by arguing that the pro-dash people are trying to “prevent the language from evolving,” and then go on to say that we should definitely use hyphens everywhere because “it’s the online style.” This begs the question: aren’t you preventing the online style from evolving/maturing?
In my not-so-humble opinion, it would be an insult to humanity—and, specifically, the people who work with on-screen typography research, Unicode, the W3C, the Mozilla Project, and others who put in effort to enable to use of good typography on the World Wide Web—to throw out the typographical lore accumulated over the course of centuries just because some PHP script can’t do this or that, or because some people allegedly can read all text equally well no matter how badly formatted. As someone else noted, you’re not proposing that we abandon other seemingly “unnecessary” and “troublesome” English punctuation rules, such as italicising emphasized words or having a whole bunch of different punctuation marks—e.g., comma, semicolon, period, colon, dash, parentheses—that all basically mean “short pause”—or are you?
Finally, yes, this is a wiki. This means that if you don’t know or care about the difference between the variously sized line segments sprinkled about the text, that’s okay, because I—and probably a hundred other people who are willing to edit your text—do. I completely fail to see the logic in arguing that the collective competence of thousands of editors of a wiki could somehow be less than that of, say, one or a few of a paper. No doubt, an article is read a lot more often than it is edited, so it makes sense to spare all the future readers some eye-strain. irritation, and confusion, at the editor’s expense of a small one-time (or more likely few-times) typing cost.
Daniel Brockman 08:50, Mar 7, 2004 (UTC)
Daniel, please don't use HTML entities, it makes your text extremely hard to read in raw form. -- Tarquin 10:08, 7 Mar 2004 (UTC)
So who's going to want to read it in raw form when Wikipedia so nicely formats it for us? --Phil 10:10, Mar 9, 2004 (UTC)
Your point seems to be based on the mistaken belief that the use of multiple types of dash is moving forward. It's not, it's moving back to conventions based on the limitations of newsprint and paper reproduction. The web needs to support the old print conventions, to support republication of old documents and to support those who want to apply print conventions online, because that's how they have been trained and what they are used to. We don't need to use things just because they can be used. Sparing readers and editors eyestrain, irritation and confusion is why I'm going with the usual practice here, which is the hyphen for everything. I've no problems at all with not using rules learned over centuries when rules learned over the last twenty years show them to be inappropriate. One good example of such abandonment of inappropriate conventions is the usual choice of sans- rather than serife fonts online. Since it's unlikely that those used to print will convert to other conventions - they are more likely to believe that they must be right - the leave it alone approach seems best here, so those used to print don't feel that their own writing is wrong. Jamesday 03:05, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Disputed paragraph

Evolving language and the decreased reliance on print world conventions have led to the hyphen becoming an acceptable replacement for other dashes. Where hyphens have been used in place of other dashes, you are discouraged from changing these, in the same way that changing spelling forms is discouraged. (See #Usage and spelling).

The statement that hyphens are now acceptable substitutes for other types of dashes had been added to the main page. In an attempt to avoid an edit war, I added a notation that this is disputed rather than removing it again. I just do not believe that this is the case. I don't know of any style guides or professional online publishers that have said that punctuation rules have changed. And I don't buy that, just because lots of people do it, that that makes it correct. (By that rule, "its" and "it's" would be interchangeable, for example.) And I certainly object to having the statement put into the style guide that we're not supposed to correct somebody else's punctuation when we come across it. I could live with the inclusion of the observation that some people feel that hyphens are acceptable to use for other dashes. And I expect tht in Wikipedia, people will type what they're comfortable with. And then other people will come through and clean it up. I get the impression from all of the various preceding discussions on dashes and hyphens that "hyphens-are-legitimate-for-anything" is a minority opinion, and "hyphen-once -typed-by-one-person-are-immutable" is very much a minority opinion. Elf 05:48, 8 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I couldn't agree more. I think that we should aim for Wikipedia articles to look clean and professional. This goes hand-in-hand with NPOV. There is plenty of Internet left for those who wish to experiment with new, "online" punctuation rules. —Daniel Brockman 21:21, Mar 8, 2004 (UTC)
I've commented this out for now and just noted that the hyphen is commonly used in place of other dashes. I disagree that it should be "corrected", and I believe the safest option is to go with the same policy we have for spelling to prevent edit wars over this. I personally regard pages containing text such as "&ldquo;&rdquo;" to be highly unreadable. Angela. 02:33, Mar 9, 2004 (UTC)
If you think it's a minority opinion, I suggest that you try the exercise of listing those who have on this talk page expressed opposition to or support for the use of different dash types. My quick count placed those opposing it in the majority, with those used to the print world being at least a high proportion of those who favor it. Jamesday 03:10, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Lots of people will find the use of hyphens instead of dashes annoying, as you say, because they are used to the print world. After all, there's a pretty good amount of people who read books. On the other hand, I suspect that very few, if not no one, will find the use of proper dashes annoying to read. Granted, some might find it annoying to type, but that's been shown to be a non-problem, as other people will later come to clean it up.
As for being annoying to read in the edit box, well, let's face it: the source is and will always be harder to read than the rendered page. I think that in this case, we're talking about a rather minor decrease in source readability (em dashes are relatively rare) in exchange for a rather major enhancement in the appearance of the rendered page:
  • Hey, what's&mdash;what? ⇒ Hey, what's—what? vs.
  • Hey, what's - what? ⇒ Hey, what's - what?
Compare, for example, to Angela's example:
  • He said, "what's up?" ⇒ He said, "what's up?" vs.
  • He said, &ldquo;what&rsquo;s up?&rdquo; ⇒ He said, “what’s up?”.
Whether the apostrophes are a little bent makes a minor difference, since people will know they're apostrophes anyway. The length of dashes, on the other hand, makes a major difference, since a long dash carries a completely different meaning than a hyphen.
It might be possible to render " -- " or "---" as an em dash automatically, just as two apostrophes are rendered as emphasis markup. I'm all for this, since it would give us the very best of both worlds. (The new table syntax is very low-priority compared to this, IMHO.) In fact, I don't see how anyone could object to it. So what's the status on this? :-) Is it in the process of being implemented? —Daniel Brockman 09:38, Mar 9, 2004 (UTC)
In parallel with the automated conversion (which I think is a good idea: I reckon "--" should go to N-dash and "---" to M-dash, just like ''' makes things bold) maybe the toolbar could be extended to add in various types of dash. If people get used to clicking a button then you just need to alter the code behind the button. --Phil 10:14, Mar 9, 2004 (UTC)
The problem with having three dashes (---) go to emdash instead of two dashes (--) is that the latter has been taught as an emdash in typing classes probably since the advent of typewriters, and publishers who buy manuscripts from writers have used this as the standard for emdashes (and still do). I realize that TeK, which is a markup language, uses --- as the markup for an emdash, but that's a markup language, it's not the standard for typing. I'm going to reinsert the text that says use -- if you don't want to (or can't) use the others, because this is correct.
Wiki markup is just as much of a markup language as TeX is. Yes, representing em dashes by -- is an existing convention. But this was the case a few decades ago, too, when Donald Knuth decided to go aginst the convention, supposedly because it was too ambiguous. Today, both -- and --- are in widespread use. The former is still more common than the latter, but people who have used TeX are likely to stick to three hyphens, at least for text that is going to be parsed by a machine—as in the case of wiki markup—because they are aware of the ambiguities that would arise were both kinds of dashes represented by --. I feel confident that Knuth made the right choice, and I believe we are now facing the exact same choice. —Daniel Brockman 22:41, Mar 9, 2004 (UTC)
Furthermore, I don't really care whether people use dashes or the ampersand formats or whatever. What I do object to are (1) having info in the style guide that gives misinformation (hyphens just simply not the same as em dashes and just because people use single hyphens in their place doesn't make it correct; read some style guides) and (2) having info in the style guide that prohibits me from editing what other people have done. We made a real effort to specify what the different punctuations mean, to show the markup to use if you want to use it, and an alternative using regular dashes if that's what you want to use. I think that "-" no spaces for hyphen, " - " single with spaces for en dash, "--" double with or without spaces for em dash (I understand UK publishers sometimes prefer spaces) pretty much covers those options. Elf 20:05, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I appreciate your careful efforts here Elf, but the bottom line is that using -- to represent an em dash is doing just that: it represents an em dash, it does not pretend to be a replacement for it in anything bar a typed manuscript on its way to a publisher to be set properly. Bad typography is every bit as sloppy and unprofessional as bad spelling. I don't expect every Wiki contributor to get his or her punctuation right first time, but the Manual of Style certainly should not endorse bad punctuation as the standard. If you want to abandon correct language, please first demonstrate a consensus to do so. Tannin 20:41, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I expected to be stressed about this but instead you've made my day. I really am laughing--because I'm usually known as the harridan of correct typography and punctuation. It's so weird to be accused of being the opposite! Anyway, thanks for responding and I feel much better now. Maybe I'm repeating myself: I don't see that there is a disagreement that -- is never legit for em dashes, only whether to use markup of --- for emdashes (which see above) or whether single hyphens are acceptable substitutes, or whether markup should be required (which I think is your view) or shouldn't ever be used. I'm trying to be realistic. Double dashes have been taught in typing classes for so very long (I don't instinctively type &mdash; when I'm in the throes of writing text, I type --) that it can't be eradicated. And people who don't want to muck with markup are going to type something in place of em dashes, and it just seems to make more sense to identify the existing punctuation convention than to annoy people who hate typing markup. That's how we got into this whole discussion, because not everyone likes typing markup. Elf 20:57, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)

This is perfectly fine with me. What I object to is reccomending that people use a single hyphen in place of an em dash, and forbid other people from correcting it (yes, I view this as changing incorrect langage to correct language). I do not expect people to use the correct punctuation all the time, just as I do not expect people to write perfect prose all the time. What I do expect is (1) the right to improve on other people's subperfect language, and (2) that someone will eventually come along and improve on my subperfect language. —Daniel Brockman 22:41, Mar 9, 2004 (UTC)

Current status

OK, we've tried to add NPOV description of the various dashes that does the following:
  • Briefly describes the standard usage for the various dash types. (For detailed descriptions, there's a reference to Dash (punctuation).)
  • Shows the special markup that's valid for each type of dash and also identifies how to represent each using the hyphen key on the keyboard. (Note that I don't have final info on whether someone implemented an automated tool that changes groups of hyphens to something else.)
  • Gives a nod to the fact that there might be technical issues involved in using the special markup.

Elf 17:17, 20 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I agree with the above. But I must strongly oppose the use of (--) for en dashes or (---) for em dashes. -- for en dash is absolutely wrong as it is far too long, and -- for em dash is wrong because in all computer fonts I know of they do not connect, and thus instead of providing the "long dash" which it should (as the practice does on old-style typewriters) it gives an ugly series of characters. — Jor (Darkelf) 22:18, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Minus signs vs figure dashes

Wow. This is an insane conversation. Anyway, I don't mean to start another feud, but I see in both the Dash (punctuation) article and in Manual of Style article (that goes with this page), figure dashes are equated with minus signs. The HTML entities for each are different, however, as I pointed out in the dash talk page.


Minus sign:

Figure Dash:


1 + 2 - 3 =

Minus sign:
1 + 2 − 3 =

Figure dash:
1 + 2 ‒ 3 =


It looks as if the TeX markup HTML rendition uses a plain old hyphen for a minus sign. I think the &minus; works better in equations, since that is what it is designed for; to be the same width and height as the plus and equal signs. Hyphens and figure dashes look obviously bad in comparison. The figure dash doesn't even have space around it in my font. (8‒8‒0‒0)


  1. Should these be separated in the two articles?
  2. I have been using the &minus; in my math articles. Is that ok?
  3. Should the TeX renderer use the minus sign too?

- Omegatron 21:56, Mar 16, 2004 (UTC)

Figure dashes are not minus signs, that is a mistake. To answer your questions:
  1. Yes. I'm doing so now.
  2. Using − is very good even, when used in mathematical operations.
  3. Probably. This is likely a font or encoding issue: the hyphen-minus is overused mainly because it is the only dash-like character known to exist on all platforms as it is in ASCII. If possible, Tex of course should use the real character.
— Jor (Darkelf) 22:10, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
2. Mostly, I was asking if it should be used, since it might not be supported by enough modern browsers. - Omegatron
It should be compatible with all modern browsers. I can't check archaic browsers like Netscape4, but any more recent browser should work. I know from personal experience the following support &minus:
  • Opera (3.5 and up)
  • Mozilla (any version), Netscape 6/7 and up, and other Geckos,
  • Internet Explorer 4 and up.
  • The Lynx and Links terminal browsers (ASCII approximations)
— Jor (Darkelf) 15:20, 17 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Introductory quotations

It looks like we're heading into more edit wars involving introductory quotations. I have used them fairly often when they provide a familiar and immediate frame of reference to the topic, usually a topic in popular culture (e. g. mad scientist, melodrama) or when the topic is of interest chiefly because it is the subject of the quotation I begin with (Lizzie Borden, Old King Cole). If none of these quotations are appropriate, I would like to get a clear sense from the community that they are forbidden. Otherwise, I mean to begin restoring them. -- Smerdis of Tlön 15:19, 27 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Here are my thoughts. Wikipedia is intended as an encyclopedia. In the encyclopedic style of writing, the first sentence or paragraph are essentially definitions of the entry. This identifies the topic immediately so that someone who is interested in information about a specific topic knows immediately whether she has found a relevant article--most readers are at the article because they have specifically requested to be there. Creative writing, such as for magazine articles, needs to draw in a reader who happens upon the article by chance--the reader is there by accident-- and so the article's first sentence or paragraph must show the reader that the article will provide entertainment or must draw in the reader by intriguing the reader with a mystery or a question. Quotations such as "Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother 40 whacks" or "They dared to laugh at my theories...!" are intriguing and are certainly relevant detailed information about a topic but they don't define the subject and hence are inappropriate as the first sentence or paragraph in an encyclopedic article. (And although Old King Cole presumably exists only because he's the topic of a nursery rhyme, still, the rhyme itself does not define who he is.) Elf 16:19, 27 Feb 2004 (UTC)
I think they should be included, but not in the first sentence. That really needs to be kept for defining what the article is about, and a quotation is not going to do that. Angela. 03:03, Feb 29, 2004 (UTC)
I agree. Is Lizzie Borden about the woman or about the poem? In fact, even if it were the latter, it would still be more felicitous to have an introductory sentence before sailing into the verse. --Phil 16:50, Mar 1, 2004 (UTC)

If formatted right, an introductory quotation does not read like the first sentence, even if it is, sequentially. I think of them more as illustrations in text rather than with a picture. -- Smerdis of Tlön 16:00, 1 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Copyediting article

This is really minor, but if you're interested, I'm looking for input on "copyediting" vs "copy editing" vs "copy editor"; see Talk:Copy editing. Elf 18:02, 1 Mar 2004 (UTC)

New section proposal

I'd like to propose a new section on image/article integration. In particular, I'd like it to be official policy that first image (IE, images at the top of an article) have to go on the right. →Raul654 20:31, Mar 13, 2004 (UTC)

Picture Alignment

For picture alignment in article, Docu said that for pictures where the person is facing right, they should be left aligned. I totally disagree. To me, regardless of which way the person is facing, the picture should be right aligned. So let me make a proposal - that we horizontally invert pictures where the person is facing the to the right (so that they are now facing left) and we put them on the right side of the article. Does that sound good? →Raul654 09:17, Mar 14, 2004 (UTC)

I'd prefer if the photos are not edited too much. Next thing, some may want to change the background to match one of the stylesheets. Maybe we should simply drop the part on alignment. -- User:Docu
I'd prefer dropping the part on alignment. It makes more sense for a picture at the very top of the article to be on the right--has to do with people reading from left to right--but I don't feel that it's something we need to mandate. Certainly don't want to mandate its position by its content. I understand that the human eye is drawn subconsiously in the direction of a person or animal's gaze, but I wouldn't want to have to put all the right-facing dog breed tables on the left side of the articles while the others are on the right. And I really don't like the idea of flipping photos; this distorts reality in some way that we might not even be able to anticipate (e.g., someone doing a study of how often photos are taken of people facing the right rather than the left--I dunno--) Elf | Talk 16:01, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Ok, let's compromise on the wording. We agree that pictures where the person is facing left or out (into the camera) should be right aligned. So let's put that in. Also, we need to decide how to do articles with multiple pictures. Library of Congress and Dormitory gave me lots of problems in this regard. →Raul654 17:50, Mar 14, 2004 (UTC)

I don't agree with a policy of always right-aligning pictures. The option to use a variety of alignment of images is used effectively in many articles. Sometimes I've used borders to get a pleasing text wrap. - Bevo 18:22, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I don't think I said that I agree with requiring left-facing photos to be right aligned. I said I understood why that's appealing. I *did* say that I don't think we should mandate the alignment of images based on their content. If a particular project wants to mandate that a certain thing always goes right/left at the top of the article (again, like dog projects have the dog breed table on the right), that's fine, but otherwise I disagree with mandating any alignment. Elf | Talk 19:09, 15 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Always right-aligning=boring, boring, boring. (To me anyway.) Mirror imaging the pictures is kind of dishonest too (which side was Lincoln's big wart on?). Although I think left-aligned pictures shouldn't be at the top; the first line of the article should be left-justified. - Hephaestos|§ 19:12, 15 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I'd say this is a judgment call. A lot depends on the flow of paragraphs around the picture; my chief concern, esp. with a left-aligned picture, is that the picture doesn't leave a line of text extending beneath it; that affects readability. OTOH, left alignment makes a quite nice effect for example on Harrowing of Hell, where the picture is an old manuscript illustration. Smerdis of Tlön 20:28, 15 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Ships as "she"

I find it mildly offensive to refer to ships as "she" rather than "it." As one example (of many) see USS John S. McCain (DD-928). Does Wikipedia have a policy on this? moink 21:38, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)

As an ex-sailor, I find it mildly offensive that this is found mildly offensive. PC overkill, at its worst.
The tradition goes way back in history. Other non-living objects are personified, countries are usually "he" or "she" ("Fatherland, Mother Country"). Objects of nature and religion are often assigned gender: Venus (love) is female, Zeus is male, "Mother Nature." In languages that have gender (most) lots of items are so identiified. I recall when Japan had to decide on how the country name would be transliterated into roman characters on stamps, they had to choose between Nippon (male) or Nihon (female). What is it you find particualrly (if mildly) offensive about referring to ships as "she"? Cecropia 21:51, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)
That is Nippon (masculine) or Nihon (feminine): Grammatical genderSex. Jor 21:56, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I understand the tradition. I'm not objecting to the poetry of much of language... though I am objecting to it being included in the Wikipedia. That is, it would be fine to call Venus she, but not love. Germany should not be referred to as he, though "The Fatherland" should be mentioned in the article. My objection has to do with the association between women and objects, particularly objects used mainly by men. Sailors have traditionally been all male, but now there are some female sailors as well. I'm having a hard time explaining myself... I'll try to get back to you when I can think more clearly. moink 21:59, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Actually, Germany had a sex change after losing World War II: Die Bundesrepuplik Deutschland is feminine. Mkweise 23:13, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)
That's because it is "Die Republik" (feminine), but was "Das Reich" (neuter). Neuter words are often treated as masculine when personified. Jor 23:58, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)
At the time of the ancient mariners even as far back as 500 BC, most were 'married to the sea' due to thier love of the ocean. The ships were their liveihood, their home and their love. As a compliment to the woman they loved they named their sailing vessels after them, telling them that it would remind them of the ones they left behind for the months and sometimes years they have would be gone. This caught on. The 'she' was also given for things of great beauty found in the sea.. ie "Thar she blows!" depicting the massive water spout seen by whaling ships of old which almost all had female names. Even when ships stopped being given feminine names they were still referred to as 'she', but basically this analogy was due to a captain's love for his ship. "Shes a fine ship, Captain" etc... Matt Stan 22:15, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)
That's my point exactly. Ships are female in order to be the counterpoint of the male sailors. I'm not saying that we should excise it from all creative works, or that we should stop sailors from saying it. But it has no place in an NPOV encyclopedia.
No, ships are feminine, period. To force a neuter gender on them is just incorrect. Jor 22:47, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)
This is simply standard English, no more, no less. In English, ships are always "she". In Russian, they are always "he". It has nothing whatever to do with hidden gender or sexuality issues, it's just the English language. Tannin 22:16, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I don't know Russian, but I understand that French and other languages need to assign grammatical gender to objects. But in English we have a quite useful neuter pronoun. If you refer to things in English by a gendered pronoun, it means they're connected to the sex. moink 22:38, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Please do not push a sexist view on a linguistic matter. Neutering ships as you propose is sexism, as by doing so you imply that this is a matter of sex, and not a language tradition or grammatical gender. Jor 22:31, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)
English does not have grammatical gender. We have a neuter pronoun, it, which seems to do quite well for us in other contexts. moink 22:38, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)
English used to have one. Distorting the language to alleviate perceived sexism which does not exist is political correctness gone overboard. Jor 22:47, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I think I understand your point, Moink, but I don't see any denegration implied in the usage. To ban such a long tradition unless there is an observable problem seems to me to be a little politically correct, and I don't think encylopedias should vote on such issues. Having said that, I remember when hurricanes became "he" and "she" instead of just "she." But I understood that because YV weathermen always used to explain that hurricanes were "she" because of "their tempestuous nature." I mean, how silly can you get? For my mind, putting people's names at all on such a horribly destructive force is asinine. They should just call them "Hurricane A", or "Hurricance 1" with the year noted. Or, if you must use names for ease of memory and description, use the phonetic alphabet: "Hurricane Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo," etc. Cecropia 22:34, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Hurricanes are good! At least, cyclones (which is what you call a hurricane if it occurs in this part of the world) are good. If it were not for cyclones, large areas of arid inland Australia would never get any rain worth talking about. Sure, they cause grief and destruction on the coast, but if they move inland they bring life and growth and renewal to vast areas. (Err ... am I off-topic yet?) Tannin 00:22, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)
No, encyclopedias should not vote on the issue, either way. We should be NPOV. But I don't think it's offensive to anyone to refer to ships as it? Or am I wrong? moink 22:42, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Calling ships "it" is offensive, as it implies calling ships "she" as English does is sexism, which it is not. Jor 22:47, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)
To follow standard form is NPOV. To make a conscious decision to ban a particular usage is POV. If society changes and calls ships "it", then Wikipedia should follow. I don't Wikipedia should be in the forefront of that kind of thing. If you want to write about a ship, and say "it" I wouldn't stop you. Cecropia 22:48, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)~

The Chicago Manual of Style 15th Edition, 8.126, suggests "it" rather than "she". Tradition notwithstanding. -- Nunh-huh 22:50, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Moink said "My objection has to do with the association between women and objects, particularly objects used mainly by men." I disagree. Calling a ship "she" is personifying the ship, not objectifying women. fabiform | talk 23:34, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)

A ship is an it as long as it's just a generic object. When a ship is chistened, however, it becomes a she. The same applies to animals and even babies: an anonymous creature is an it, but naming bestows gender. Mkweise 00:08, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Surely usage determines everything? Take French la lune is feminine, le soleil is masculine. In German it's exactly opposite: der Mond is masculine, die Sonne is feminine. Are we suggesting that we should rewrite grammar because of gender politics? In German it is das Vaterland because in German compound nouns it is always the second of the components which determines the gender of the compound word, as -land is a neuter word as in das Land so the whole becomes a neuter noun. German ships' names, too, as in English usage, take on the feminine, as in die Graf Spee. Usage is everything, therefore to use it for the Titanic would if anything be drawing attention to sexual and gender politics, rather than her tragic story. --Dieter Simon 01:04, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Shouldn't we then call the USS John McCain a he then, instead? :) Dysprosia 03:05, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Very interesting discussion so far. Here's my $.02 (FWIW I'm an extreme nautical illiterate). First, no disresect to our non-English colleagues, but there is no grammatical gender in English. Using the pronoun she with a ship has nothing to do with grammatical agreement. it is simply tradition. Now, whether we want to perpetuate that tradition, that's another matter. Without getting into issues of political correctness, I would suggest the best course would be to follow one of the standard references on usage, such as the Chicago Manual of Style that Nunh-huh cited earlier. Bkonrad | Talk 03:24, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I feel that this is becoming to PC. If in the English language she has alway been used, keep on using it. I know a ship is inanimate, so an "it" but still. I do not feel that the using of male or female nouns is sexist, that is realy pushing it in my humble opinion. Waerth 13:58, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Sorry, Dysprosia, the fact that a ship's got a male name, such as USS John McCain, doesn't really matter , as I was saying about the Graf Spee (male name). The Germans would also call her the equivalent of she.
As Bkonrad said it is a matter of tradition - or usage in a language. I think if you wanted to change that kind of tradition, you'd a hell of job to convince the person in the street, or the "Man on the Clapham Omnibus" as we Brits would say. And try as we may, people would still carry on using the phrases they have always used, so it's not a matter of political correctness, you'd never succeed. I don't really see why a tradition should be changed only because it might favour the female of the species.;-) --Dieter Simon 15:49, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I think this should be treated in the same way as British and Americal English spelling-- do whichever you like, just be consistent within an article and don't change articles just for the sake of it. WRT the Chicago manual, aren't there other style guides that disagree with that? What about older (and newer?) versions of the handbook? Couldn't it be a case of PC itself? Mr. Jones 15:55, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I'm not sure why I've taken an interest in this, having nil nautical background. But looking around on the web a bit, it seems clear to me that referring to ships as feminine appears to be standard for both the U.S. Navy and the Royal Navy. In fact, it looks as though that is an official Royal Navy position. I found no such official pronouncement for the U.S. Navy, but the usage is clearly established throughout the Navy's web site. For other types of vessels, there is more variation. Lloyd's list (apparently THE standard for shipping vessels) decided to start using "it" rather than "she" in 2002 [1]. This article tends to support that change in the context of sailing vessels. Here are a few other interesting tidbits I came across: The Naval Historical Center on why a ship is referred to as she; Naval Glossary entry for "Ship" suggests ships were originally referred to as masculine in English but became feminine by 16th century -- shows traditional usage can change; Linguists discuss this usage. Bkonrad | Talk 17:14, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Thanks Bkonrad for doing all that research! It seems the conclusion is that right now this particular part of language is in the midst of change, that during the transition period either pronoun is acceptable, and that few people find either offensive. I think Mr. Jones might be right about doing the same thing we do with British vs. American spelling. moink 02:22, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Reference to a ship as "She" is a personification of an object, not an objectification of women. It is one used in reverence, for example as in "Mother-ship" exempifying the nurturing role of a ship to the safety of its crew. It bestows an empowering rather than derogatry idea of feminity to counterblance what was traditionally mascualine world. Like in all things balance is required. Would the objection of use of gender have been raised in the first place had ships been traditianlly referred to as "he"? I personally think not. :Dainamo march 15, 2004

And this is what I have issues with. Why, because a ship is considered "nurturing" or "beautiful" does it have to be female? As the opposite of a radical feminist I don't believe there are any sweeping generalizations one can make about the female sex. I think that this is just as limiting to men as to women. But I'm strolling off topic a bit here... I'm not really horribly offended by this but I do think that it's an arcane construction which has changed in most publications and should change in Wikipedia. moink 16:07, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
"Changed in most publications"? You're going need more evidence for that kind of a bold claim. The ship-related history book I finished two days ago, Lucky Lady (see USS Franklin (CV-13)), was published in 2003, uses "her" and "she" throughout. I have hundreds of books in my library referring to ships as "she", and none that do otherwise, so where exactly are these "most publications" that have supposedly changed? I don't care about people's bizarre rationales, they are bogus and/or pointless because the usage was established so many centuries ago. It's like saying the German language should change because all the nouns have different genders. Stan 16:48, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Okay, maybe not most. I was referring to Bkonrad's research on LLoyd's list and the sailing magazine, as well as Nunh-unh's reference to the Chicago Manual of Style. I think your reference to "many centuries ago" is mostly irrelevant, language evolves, otherwise we'd be speaking Middle English or even Old English. moink 18:07, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
To clarify my point, I agree with you Moink "nuture and beauty" is not exclusively female, but that is not a reason why "nuture and beauty" cannot be seen as an attributes possible in females (or to males) without being sexist. For example, purple and plum may be assosciated in a metaphor, but that doesn't mean we have to think all plums are purple or that in order to see purple we have to look at a plum. I know that sounds a little silly, but it boils down to the same logic. Being sensitive to the fact that language can matter to some even if it does not to me, if the idea of nurture had negative connotations, I could understand the objection. But it isn't negative in the slightest and whatever the historical roots, I would expaect most to regard it as neutral until a discussion is started. I remember a public offcial being chastised as racist for using the worrds "nitty-griity" as it was claimed to have racial routes dating to the slave trade, but this obscure fact was probably unknown to probably everyone who heard it apart from the person who chose to object. If we try to erradicate everything with potentially offensive roots we would end up bannning nearly all Nursery rhymes and what I (personally) find offensive, is that we risk diverting from tackling the real issues of inequailty where they exist. Dainamo March 8, 2004
That was a very considered response Dainamo, and an interesting one. You're right, nurturing is not negative and we can apply it to either gender. However, I have to disagree with your argument tending to nursery rhymes. I never like slippery slope arguments, they always seem fallacious to me. What's appropriate in an NPOV encyclopedia is different than what is appropriate in a nursery rhyme, or a politician's speech, or a narrative by a sailor. And of course this is very minor compared to what inequality exists in the world. Though I have to say Wikipedia is pretty equitable, I can't think of what bigger battles there are to fight here. (except perhaps to get User:Irismeister to stop calling User:Theresa Knott "baby" and "dear" in a condescending manner. :) moink 16:39, 19 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Moink, after a long consideration, I agree with your original assertion that "she" should not be used, but not because it is offensive (referring to my earlier points above). Moreover, I consider the use of "she" too coloquial (in the sense of arenas of use rather than literal geography) such as in sailor's speak, poetry and even everyday spoken language which is different from how a factual manual such as Wikipedia should approach a subject Other encyclopdias seem to use "it". Dainamo March 21, 2004

I think this is something to monitor, but I'm still changing "it"s whenever I see them. However, if the language will not be too tortured, I'll change "it" to "the ship" or use the name, sort of like how one avoids the awkward "his/her" when being gender-neutral. The reference to Lloyd's shows that it's controversial even there, so it's premature to say this is some kind of big shift in the language. In the US Navy, people are well aware of the logical strangeness of John McCain being a "she", but the unwillingness to change anyway just shows you how strong the tradition is. Stan 14:46, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)

The loss of grammatical gender in English is decadent and corrupt. If we were still talking correctly, your head would be an He, your nose a She, and your eye an It. It's precisely because we wrongly fail to use sexed pronouns routinely in this manner that we have all of these issues about non-sexist language. This is all the more reason to cling fiercely and preserve those vestiges of grammatical gender that continue to exist in English. Smerdis of Tlön 16:44, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
No offense Smerdis, but that's a load of nonsense. The usage is not even a vestige of grammatical gender. It is simple tradition. Period. I have no real problem with using she or her to refer to ships. I think it's kind of quaint. (I wonder how Navy men feel about being thought quaint? :) While the usage itself doesn't really bother me much, I have to agree with moink that some of the justifications and rationales for the usage are borderline offensive (if not outrightly so). In my earlier entry, I decided not to cite the many, many crude jokes that purported to explain and justify the usage. Although the relationship between language, thought and behavior is certainly complex, I think we would do well to be cognizant of how language usage can sometimes (perhaps even unintentionally) reinforce offensive attitudes. Bkonrad | Talk 17:36, 17 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Dated entries removed

I've removed this, as it seems completely back-to-front to me:

==Dated entries==
When writing an entry, there is a temptation to qualify it by saying "of as 2004". This means as soon as the year changes, the entry is automatically out of date. These should be avoided at all cost. "As of this writing" should also be avoided. Alternate, non-specific wording such as "Currently" or "Recently" (and similiar phrasing) is acceptable.

If information is liable to change over time, then there is always a risk of it becoming out of date. Saying "as of 2004" doesn't protect against this, but what it does do is give a clear and unambiguous indication of when the information was correct. For instance, if in 2006 you read "as of March 2004, Tony Blair is Prime Minister of the United Kingdom", then even if he isn't PM of the UK when you're reading it, you know he was in March 2004. On the other hand, if the article says "Tony Blair is currently PM of the UK", that's going to be completely wrong if, in fact, he isn't any more.

In other words, articles which use formations such as "as of 2004" date much less badly than articles which say "currently" or "recently" or "as of this writing". --Camembert

I agree. I feel [[As of 2004]] should if anything be encouraged for dated entries, as it provides an easy way to check what entries are dated (through What links here). It also allows people to use for example [[As of 2010]] for material which is known to expire at that later date. — Jor (Darkelf) 01:14, 18 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I agree completely as well. Dating the information is a much better alternative than the non-specific "currently" or "recently". At least with the date, a reader can know whether the information is current when it is read. Imagine the loss of credibility if someone cites an incorrect figure as "current", because it did not specify the date. Bkonrad | Talk 01:31, 18 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I agree as well. It should give the date for things that might change, such as population numbers for people. Haven't you ever read an old article where they talk about flying cars coming within the next 10 years, and it has been 30 years since then? - Omegatron
I agree that timely statistics should be dated - they change fairly quickly and there is really no way you can prevent it by conservative wording. OTOH, it is assumed that the textual information in an encyclopedia is up to date. Just look at EB - you will never, ever see "As of this writing" or "As of 2004" there, rightfully so. Wikipedia should strive for no less. →Raul654 02:22, Mar 18, 2004 (UTC)
Well, I don't have premium access to EB online, so I can't check. If you can provide some specific examples, that would help. Sorry to be skeptical, but I'm curious just how they do handle changeable data. Bkonrad | Talk 02:38, 18 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I don't have EB online either - I actually have an old (shudder) paper copy (circa mid-80's). But I don't understand what you want me to show you - I said you would never find them using the terms "as of this writing" so I don't really know what you expect me to show you. →Raul654 02:41, Mar 18, 2004 (UTC)
The paper copy you have doesn't need to say "as of the time of writing", that's assumed. That said, there's a whole page at the front of the book (sometimes several) telling you what is the effective date for the information contained therein, and usually---in a reputable work---a disclaimer saying that any information is only accurate at the time of writing, which might even be months before the work is published. Wikipedia is unusual in that it is capable of near-real-time update; however there's got to be some way of telling how old the information is so as to be able to properly update it. --Phil | Talk 08:02, Mar 18, 2004 (UTC)
I don't think anyone has suggested using "as of this writing" which is (IMO) just as vague as "currently" or "recently" if you can't easily tell when it was written. I thought you were saying that EB did not date information such as census statistics, or if perhaps if talking about a living person to whom something happened "recently" did not specify when. Bkonrad | Talk 02:56, 18 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I just noticed this topic is also discussed in Wikipedia:Avoid statements that will date quickly. That seems to have the same postion we all seem to agree about. Although I do not understand all the [[As of 2004]] business. Bkonrad | Talk 02:42, 18 Mar 2004 (UTC)
To put it simply - "As of" is newspaper speak. Newspaper are designed for obselesence - they go out of date in 24 hours. Encyclopedias are supposed to be timeless (or as close to it as possible), and should be written as such. →Raul654 02:46, Mar 18, 2004 (UTC)
But this is both an online encyclopedia and a wiki. Some information changes. I can see that there may be a problem with writing about a living author who is due to have a book published in several months. Nice to have the information in Wikipedia, but the future tense will be old when that date passes. Bkonrad | Talk 02:56, 18 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Then you update the article when you have further information. --Phil | Talk 08:02, Mar 18, 2004 (UTC)
Some articles will just not get updated. It is not the original author's responsibility to make sure that the articles are always accurate with changing information. When information is subject to change, it should say when it was applicable. "In 2004, the world population was..." If someone wants to update that article in 2006, they can change it to "In 2006, the world population was..." (and change the number, too, of course). If no one ever updates it, it will still be accurate at any future date, even if it is not as useful anymore. Giving someone the impression that something is currently true that was only true a few years ago is bad. Writing articles that will become false in the future is bad. - Omegatron | Talk Right now, Today, This year (UTC)
An encyclopedia like EB gets everything updated before it is published. WP gets updated sporadically. - Omegatron 13:26, Mar 18, 2004 (UTC)
EB does minor updates, but completely rewrites itself only after a very, very long time. 1911 to 1976 -> 65 years. Wikipedia can beat that hands down. If they don't feel the need to qualify statements, I don't think we should either. →Raul654 19:57, Mar 18, 2004 (UTC)
I am sure they go through each article and check it for date sensitive material, which is updated before printing ("minor updates"). Even then, every volume has a year stamped on the outside binder. It is obvious when the information was applicable. Since WP articles are not obviously dated and not (necessarily) constantly being updated, the date that information was applicable must be specified in the article itself. I don't understand why anyone would not agree with this. It's a web-based encyclopedia, not a printed one. Very different animals. Whether they do something or not has nothing to do with whether we should. - Omegatron 20:43, Mar 18, 2004 (UTC)

Moving back to left margin. First, I agree with Omegatron that strictly speaking, it doesn't really matter what EB does -- Wikipedia is in a different category altogether. Even so, I still find it hard to believe that EB does not qualify dates in its entries. I wish I had one handy to check. But let's say I wanted to look up the population of Toledo, Ohio. Would it not say what year the figure is from? I find that hard to believe.

Second point, just as a hypothetical, if (and that is a big if) we all agree that WP doesn't need to qualify date-sensitive information -- can someone give a concrete example of what such a style of writing might look like? Bkonrad | Talk 21:20, 18 Mar 2004 (UTC)

The only way to completely avoid dated statements I can see is to postdate everything: thus not "John Doe is president of the Lurker Association", but "In 2004 John Doe became president of the Lurker Association". — Jor (Darkelf) 17:02, 19 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Yes, exactly the point. I don't see any way ensure the 'timeless' accuracy of the information without specifying the "as of" date. Obviously, it is not necessary to use the term "as of", but I think specifying the date in date-sensitive information is critical. Bkonrad | Talk 17:36, 19 Mar 2004 (UTC)


The MoS says:

Note that when ==This is a heading== is used, no blank line under the headline is needed. Extra blank lines should be removed, since formatting is an issue for the Wikipedia style sheet, not the way you write your article.

I think it ought to say that a blank line should be under the heading. There is a difference between this:

Like this

blah blah

and this:

Like this

blah blah.

In lots of articles I've been inserting the blank line. I think it looks distinctly better that way. The MoS seems to be saying it makes no difference! That is absurd! Michael Hardy 23:53, 21 Mar 2004 (UTC)

The point is that the amount of space under a Section Heading is controllable through Style Sheets. Admittedly the system for doing this appears to be still in development, but we don't want to have to trawl through thousands of articles removing extraneous blank space when the option arrives. in the meantime, there is a problem with allowing a blank line under a Section Heading: if there is an invisible space (ie the line is actually not empty) this causes a huge gap

Like this

which looks totally bogus. HTH HAND. --Phil | Talk 08:57, Mar 22, 2004 (UTC)

Make the header stand out more in the edit box

I would prefer a blank line in the wikitext between header and section text, to make the header stand out more in the edit box.--Patrick 12:53, 22 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Not wishing to be overly sarcastic but how much more could you make it stand out than putting Equals Signs around it, bearing in mind you're restricted to plain text? The point is not so much what it looks like in the edit box (although there is a certain minimal requirement) as what it looks like in the resulting article. --Phil | Talk 14:40, Mar 22, 2004 (UTC)
If there is a trade-off between the two, that makes sense; if a convenient lay-out in the edit box does not badly affect the result, the remark is not to the point.--Patrick 16:20, 22 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I see your point. I've tried to get used to finding the sections just by ==xxx== demarcation, but sometimes I have to look hard to spot them. I've turned on the option to edit by right-clicking section headings, and that helps in many instances (that's what I did just now to edit this section) . - Bevo 14:47, 22 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I prefer to add an extra line after a heading, regardless of what the MoS says. It looks better on the page that the user sees and it makes it easier to locate the sections in the edit box. An observation: when you use the "Post Comment" link on a talk page and include a subject, it automatically includes a space after the heading. Bkonrad | Talk 15:00, 22 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I've found that it depends upon the particular article as to whether it is more pleasing to display a blank line below a section heading. And, I usually prefer one style in the sections in the article (blank lines follow section heading) and another in the sections in the Talk: page associated with the article (no blank line following the section heading). - Bevo 15:21, 22 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I agree with Brevo. I'll amend my previous statement to say that I generaly prefer to include a space after the heading. There are situations where no space is better, such as some templates where links to sub-articles appear after a heading. Bkonrad | Talk 15:58, 22 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Moved from article

  • Sexuality

Avoid homosexuality and thus heterosexuality, use alternatives such as gay/lesbian/bisexual/straight/same-sex/different-sex. Avoid the use of queer (or any term) as being most inclusive.

What is this about? homosexuality and heterosexuality are the proper medical/biological terms, the rest of the above are pop-culture/alt-culture jargon. I don't hear the word gay used any more often than fag, and both are POV. Homosexual and heterosexual are the precise, clinical terms, regardless of what is seen on "queer eye for the straight guy". Sam Spade 19:34, 5 May 2004 (UTC)
The problem is that they're medical/biological terms, and thus carry the implication of being a pathology instead of an identity. Snowspinner 19:36, 5 May 2004 (UTC)

Once again: By "medical/biological terms" did you mean the medicine and biology of the last or next to last centuries or of this one? Consult, for instance, the American Psychological Association: Hyacinth 19:46, 5 May 2004 (UTC)

I think the ruling of the APA is pretty much solid when talking about this issue - I've put the passage back in, with an added citation of the APA guide. Snowspinner 20:02, 5 May 2004 (UTC)
Did you bother to read that link? "Because no universal agreement exists on terminology, and because language and culture continually change, the ideas in this article should be considered helpful suggestions rather than rigid rules." And even if it were describing "rigid rules", who says the APA dictates wikipedia content? I find the APA to be generally wrong, and I'm a psyche major ;) Sam Spade 20:13, 5 May 2004 (UTC)
I've consulted MLA, Chicago, and APA guidance on this - APA guidance is cited by MLA in terms of unbiased language, whereas Chicago remains silent on the usage. Regardless, there is clear precedent for using external styleguides to determine the style guide for Wikipedia. Unless you can find a current style guide that argues for heterosexual and homosexual as the preferred words, I think APA pretty much stands, and a poll is unnecessary. Snowspinner 20:29, 5 May 2004 (UTC)
I refer you to the following quote from the article: "If you are faced with a fine point, please use other resources, such as The Chicago Manual of Style (from the University of Chicago Press) or Fowler's Modern English Usage (from the Oxford University Press)." The APA is one of the most-cited publication guides, with many disciplines requiring its usage. And the most recent APA Publication Manual does say not to use those terms. I think that's pretty much definitive. This is not an issue of disagreeing with the APA, but with accepted style for an academic discipline. If we don't use widely accepted style guides, what would we use? Snowspinner 20:34, 5 May 2004 (UTC)
FWIW, straight is a disambiguation page that points to heterosexual. The problem with the neologisms goes beyond gay. Smerdis of Tlön 20:59, 5 May 2004 (UTC)
It should probably be changed to straight (sexual orientation) or something along those lines. Snowspinner 21:00, 5 May 2004 (UTC)
If one has a problem with the APA one could also consult the The Guardian style guide the Newswatch Diversity Style Guide and I imagine other sources, and they would all suggest one should not use homosexual. Hyacinth 21:38, 5 May 2004 (UTC)
As a note, the quote referenced about guidelines, at least in the APA manual I have in front of me, applies to three guidelines earlier in the chapter than the section on sexual orientation. The sexual orientation section is part of the same larger section on biased language, but it is not one of the three guidelines marked - the APA is clear that the preferred usage is not homosexual or homosexuality. Based on Hyacinth's production of two further styleguides, I'm putting the section back in until some source indicating a reason for deletion is actually provided beyond one person's personal experience. Snowspinner 21:49, 5 May 2004 (UTC)

A physical act may certainly reasonably be described as "homosexual" (v. "gay") or "heterosexual" (v. "straight"). However, I'd really hesitate to use the word "homosexual" in terms of a person's identity. It's too strongly associated with a century or so of categorizing same-sex orientation as pathology. "Heterosexual" to describe a person seems less tinged, and "straight" too ambiguous -- drugs, honesty -- so I wouldn't hesitate to call a person "hetrosexual," so insofar as we need to use these words to refer to people, I'd actually opt for the (admittedly asymetric) "gay" and "heterosexual." -- Jmabel 01:26, 6 May 2004 (UTC)

Regarding historical figures before the word gay became common usage, although its appropriate to say "Elton John is gay", but Oscar Wilde was homosexual; its all about self-identification. 20:49, 15 May 2004 (UTC)

I actually agree that it is probably more historically correct to call Wilde "homosexual" than "gay", but (1) self-identification is not exactly the issue: I don't think he ever used the term, and he was a married man with children and (2) what, then, do we call people from a period any earlier, when the term "homosexual" had not been invented, and where same-sex practices were not usually seen to constitute an identity? -- Jmabel 02:43, 16 May 2004 (UTC)

I think you refer to them as having had gay male experiences, as having preferred men, etc. i.e. you simply describe their behavior instead of ascribing an identity to them. Snowspinner 03:27, 16 May 2004 (UTC)

After all of this discussion, our MoS still says (without qualification on the historical issues, etc.), "Avoid using the words homosexuality and heterosexuality...", etc. I'm not very active in the Manual, I honestly don't feel like I should be editing it (I imagine all of these issues are very fraught), but I'd sure appreciate if someone would edit it to reflect some of the nuances in the conversation above. -- Jmabel 16:09, Aug 13, 2004 (UTC)


I suggest a poll on this matter, one which specifically outlines style guidelines for the wikipedia sexuality project. Sam Spade 20:16, 5 May 2004 (UTC)

I find a poll unnecessary. I added the sexuality section April 6th (at the latest, I can't figure out revision histories) and there were no objections until you decided to cut. Thus you are the only one who disputes the guideline, and you have provided only one reason with no references, sources, or documentation. However, you are right to point out that &;quot;no universal agreement exists on terminology, and...language and culture continually change." I suggest the guideline indicates that pluralism is necessary and beneficial as being more neutral. Hyacinth 22:56, 5 May 2004 (UTC)
I do think a poll is necessary, but in the short term finding a better rewording will have to suffice. Something that makes it clear there is a diversity of opinion on the subject would do nicely. Sam Spade 23:34, 5 May 2004 (UTC)

Gender: "his or her" versus "their"

I must be blind, 'cause I can't find the guidline on gender neutrality... I've just come from CPR which states place the victim on his or her back. Personally I find this style cumbersome and grating. Is there any consensus (or even discussion anywhere) on the use of the plerual gender neutrual:

  • their rather than his or her
  • they rather than he or she and
  • them rather than him or her

Erich 03:02, 23 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I tend to find this usage of the plural, especially in formal contexts, very much more cumbersome and unpleasant to the ear than the construction 'he or she'. Allow me to quote what Eric Partridge has to say on the issue:
' they, their, misused for he, his as in "Anyone thinks twice, when their life is at stake'; read "his life". But this locution, technically incorrect, arises from our lack of relative pronouns meaning he or she, him or her, his or her. Traditionally, he (or him, his) has been used for any singular human noun, as in "A doctor should visit those of his patients whom he knows to be too ill to come to the surgery." But this may now be taken to imply that doctors are all men. One way to avoid giving offence is to rephrase in the plural: "Doctors should visit those of their patients ...". Another way is to cut out the pronouns, writing "A doctor should visit those patients who seem too ill ...".'
Therefore, the easy answer is to rephrase. However, a problem arises when dealing with words such as 'everyone' or 'anyone', since they require the use of the singular; I believe it is only clear and fair, in order to be politically correct, to say 'his or her' in this case.
On the other hand, this could very well conflict with Wikipedia's neutral point of view policy, because our use of this pronoun combination can definitely be seen as our implied support for feminisim and political correctness; the use of 'his' alone might be seen then as supporting traditional rules, on the other hand.
Nonetheless, I assert that mismatching singular and plural pronouns is a very inappropriate practice in a formal context; more so than 'he or she' is. I should think it is better to use 'his or her' when it is impossible to rephrase the sentence.
You may wish to check the discussion at singular they.
And CPR is BRIMMING with misused plurals!
Sinuhe 06:38, 23 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I have forgotten to mention that often, words have their grammatical gender, so it would not be overly inappropriate to say 'to lay a person on her back', or 'a child and its toys'. Of course this is just as open to criticism as the traditional use of 'he' is, so it oughtn't to be a style used. —Sinuhe 06:43, 23 Jun 2004 (UTC)

errrh.. I confess, not really then answer the i was hoping for. I'm still hoping somebody will say go ahead use "their" rather than "his or her"... anybody...??? Erich 11:47, 26 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Use "their" as a singular. It has an extensive history. It'll still be disputed, though, so use it as a plural where feasible - David Gerard 12:46, 26 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I have always been taught that using "their" as a singular is wrong, and is not of essay quality. - Mark 14:09, 27 Jun 2004 (UTC)
This may depend upon where you come from. I was taught that "their" (as the modern version of "thou" and the rest) is quite acceptable. Checking my copy of "The Handbook of non-sexist writing" I find that the use of 'he' to cover both genders is (in the UK) as recent as 1850 whereas the singular 'their' has a much longer history. Even Shakespeare wrote "God send everyone their heart's desire". For an American usage, Walt Whitman: "...everyone shall delight us, and we them." --VampWillow 14:19, 27 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I'm not saying it is uncommon to use it. I use it a lot, especially in everyday speech. Just not in assessed pieces of work. - Mark 03:36, 28 Jun 2004 (UTC)

There's absolutely nothing wrong with "his or her" and no reason not to use it. Exploding Boy 14:31, Jun 27, 2004 (UTC)

And there is a great deal wrong with using "their". It's terrible English. The best writers use "his" and "her" in alternate passages; "his or her" is an acceptable but rather clumsy substitute. "His" is no longer acceptable in most circles. Singular "they" is a horrible abuse of a perfectly good language.
Luckily (from the point of view of being able to stop arguing and get some useful work done around here) and unluckily (from the point of view of actually getting it right the first time), the Manual of Style is careful not to prescribe any of these alternatives. Those of us who labour under a misguided linguistic fetish such as singular they are free to practice it. Those of us who prefer to express things in English sentences are equally free to do so. Tannin 15:12, 27 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I respectfully disagree. There is nothing wrong with using a singular "they" or "them". It is quite common, even though some, influenced by prescriptivist grammarians, get rankled when they read it. olderwiser 15:22, 27 Jun 2004 (UTC)
fantastic! this is what i was hoping for. I love seeing a bit of healthy debate, although I'm not keen to see the same debate repeated needlessly. (as an aside, I don't have a URL, but I'm told that Australian Government style includes the single their.) Whatever the conclusion of this debate, I think it should be in the style manual. Avoiding the topic is a cop-out! best wishes to allErich 05:00, 28 Jun 2004 (UTC)
It's fairly late now, so I care not to raise my blood pressure (there will be plenty of time for that tomorrow), but respectfully - you should both be whipped for suggesting this. "He" or "he or she" are both acceptable for singular gender-indeterminant nouns. Using "they" as a singular noun is a common mistake, but don't let that fool you - just because it's common doesn't mean it's not a mistake. If your high school english teacher was worth his salt, he would have instilled that in you and you would never have turned something like that in for grading. →Raul654 05:08, Jun 28, 2004 (UTC)
Calling it a "common mistake" does not make sense, as noted in the references and examples of teaching noted in this very discussion. It's not going to be resolved by such declaration, bold text or no. The only resolution would be to declare it one way or the other as hard policy, and I really doubt there's going to be consensus on such a move - David Gerard 07:27, 28 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Pronoun-antecedent agreement is a basic rule of english - we don't need to make it a rule, because it's assumed that when you write here, you follow the basic rules of english. It's not a subject for debate, and I shouldn't have to remind you of that. To quote from the Bedford writing guide: a pronoun and its antecedent agree when they are both singular or both plural. Singular nouns go with singular pronouns; 'they' is not a singular pronoun. Therefore, it does not go with singular antecedents. Now it's not hard to construct sentences where "they" might seem correct instead of 'his'/'her'/'his or her', but (as I said before) just because it seems correct does not make it so. "Each teacher went to _____ car" - fill in the blank. If you said "his", "her" or "his or her", you are correct. If you said 'their', then you are wrong. →Raul654 07:43, Jun 28, 2004 (UTC)
Actually, Fowler says singular they has been a part of English for centuries, and implies it is preferable to the "clumsy use of 'his or her'" -- Tarquin 08:17, 28 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Pop quiz: fill in the correct response:

Intermission ended; upon returning to the theater, everyone found a single red rose upon _____ seat.
a. his
b. his or her
c. their

Did you say his seat? Whose seat? If you can truthfully say that this question does not spring to mind when you hear that completion for the sentence, then that hypothetical high school English teacher was incredibly successful in indoctrinating you. Most people are quite confused by the substitution of his above. (Not my opinion, it's been tested in the lab.)

His or her seat is little better. The problem with his isn't that it's gender-specific, but that it's individual-specific. People who use singular-they don't use it for specific individuals, even when the specific individuals are unidentified. For instance, Raul's use of the pronoun to refer to the interlocutor's English teachers was unfair, because nobody would use singular-they in that circumstance. Since Raul doesn't know the gender of Erich's teacher, only his or her, he or she would be correct. (The obstinate use of he in the specific sense is particularly problematic, and this is a good example of why. Chances are better than even that Erich's teacher was female.)

There are two completely different syntactic purposes that have been filled by the third-person singular pronoun in English: "back-reference", and "variable binding". Some languages have completely different and non-overlapping words for the two concepts, but without neologism, English is stuck with overloading one or another pronoun. Back-reference, like referring to Erich's English teacher and his or her hypothetical salt, is gendered; variable binding, like directing individuals to their (yes, their) seat is not.

The answer is not as simple as blindly directing the usage of "he" or "he or she" or "they" in all contexts. To say it is that simple is just ideology, ignoring the linguistics. (If you want to promote an ideology and ignore the linguistics, that's an entirely different argument, but one rather hard to reconcile with the idea of trying to produce an encyclopedia with a neutral point of view.) --TreyHarris 07:10, 28 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Ok, well I did a google search on ("style manual" "gender neutral").
The best source I found, by far, was (and I?ve only just noticed it is written by a Queenslander!) [2] which gives practical advice, echoing and synthesising most of the thoughts expressed here:
  • 'Do not use "they" as a singular pronoun unless you are confident that your audience won't mind. This usage is gaining in popularity and acceptance, but a lot of people dislike it or stumble over it.
  • Avoid phrases such as "he or she" and "he/she" or made-up words like "s/he."'
The rest of the article is also worth a quick scan. (To save the cynical asking, I declare I have no relationship with this site or writer.)
All this is too much out of my field for me to want to touch the style manuals myself, but I hope somebody else will ?be bold?. In general, I confess, I found less support for the singular they/their than I expected. Erich 07:25, 28 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Is there any reason why we don't just transfer this debate to the Talk:Singular they page? It seems silly to recapitulate the entire acrimonious discussion in this more general forum. -- Jeff Q 14:21, 28 Jun 2004 (UTC)


I'm not sure the style guide is the place for that... wouldn't that be something for an article on terminology? Snowspinner 23:39, 5 May 2004 (UTC)
I also object to making this a style manual matter. According to the article on gay, According to the Safe Schools Coalition of Washington's Glossary for school employees: "Homosexual: Avoid this term; it is clinical, distancing and archaic. Sometimes appropriate in referring to behavior (although same-sex is the preferred adj.). When referring to people, as opposed to behavior, homosexual is considered derogatory and the terms gay and lesbian are preferred, at least in the Northwest.
Of course, "clinical and distancing" is the style many people think we should be aiming for. Moreover, the unspoken POV in all of this would appear to be that homosexuality is normal and acceptable, that to want to be "distanced" from it a sort of prejudice, and that moral distaste to homosexuality, or at least to the identity politics subtext of this passage and the general discussion, are "archaic." This is a POV that we should not endorse, at least not in a style manual. Smerdis of Tlön 01:18, 6 May 2004 (UTC)
The problem is that sexual orientation is not currently a pathology - the term originated at a point when sexual orientation was something that was considered an illness. As sexual orientation is not considered a pathology by any reputable sources anymore, and is instead an identity, the term is rejected because it describes a condition - not an identity. Snowspinner 01:42, 6 May 2004 (UTC)
It seems that what you, Smerdis, are arguing for is terminology which does distance gay people, that does treat them clinically, and that anything which does not is POV. Hyacinth 03:54, 6 May 2004 (UTC)

The idea that sexuality is an identity rather than a condition is pitiful. I pity anyone so wretched, ensnared by the pleasures of the flesh that they find their self-identity in it. We are humans, not copulators. Homosexual describes an act, which is all I am intending to refer to when I use the term, not all this "cultural" business. Gay and Homosexual are separate articles, and rightly so. One is a term describing a phenomena, and the other a slang term for a sub-culture. Sam Spade 06:09, 6 May 2004 (UTC)

Your objection seems to be an ethical one with contemporary Western culture much more than a stylistic one, then. That said, I think you're wrong to assume that people have only one identity. That is to say, I know of no one who's sexual orientation, or even larger sexual identity makes up the whole of their being. But it is a part of people's identities. And when describing that part of people's identities, it is more than a little arrogant to declare what that identity is called. After all, it is their identity - our job is just to describe it. Not dictate it. Snowspinner 14:44, 6 May 2004 (UTC)
Some folks think homosexuality is an identity; others a sickness; others a sin. I don't think that we should crown any one of these positions as TRVTH and the others as error, especially through the somewhat underhanded method of adopting a terminology rooted in one particular POV and making it part of a style manual. Perhaps, instead, we could all just agree to refer to homosexual acts as the abominable and detestable crime against nature, and to homosexuals as sodomites. These terms with an implied agenda strike me as no less objectionable than the proposed terms with an implied agenda, and for the same reason. -- Smerdis of Tlön 13:58, 6 May 2004 (UTC)
Well, OK, so long as we're adopting "niggers" instead of "African Americans", "wetbacks" instead of "Mexican Americans", and "towelheads" for "Arabs." Oh, and we should change all references to "left-wing" to "pinko." After all, to some all of these are accurate and appropriate descriptions of the groups.
There's a difference and you know it. (if you were objecting to "homosexual"... if you were objecting to "sodomite", you need a sarcasm transplant -Random832 23:30, 2004 Jun 14 (UTC)
My point being that it is an accepted guideline in scholarly writing that you avoid offending people, and that you call groups by the name which they desire to be called by. There are lots of terms for lots of things. When dealing with groups of people, the convention is to err on the side of not offending the group of people being described. And so we use the word "gay," even if it offends conservative Christians. However, we avoid using the word "bigoted asswipes" to describe them, for more or less the exact same reason. Snowspinner 14:44, 6 May 2004 (UTC)
A better analogy: Saying that respectful terms are unacceptably non-neutral is like arguing that "Canada" is a POV term for what really is the "Evil Northern State," because some people think that it is a as-of-yet-to-be-incorporated/conquered US state. Hyacinth 15:07, 7 May 2004 (UTC)
You are avoiding my point, which is that homosexual describes an act, wheras gay is ambiguous, and positive. As far as erring on the side least offensive to the group in question, that reasoniung didn't work very well for Racialism, which now redirects to racism, even tho most of those folks prefer to be called racialists, and see racist as offensive and POV. What I see is the typical Left-wing Politically Correct POV of academia creeping in, and attempting to uproot NPOV with what it see's as a higher purpose. Were the demographics here on the wiki more Representative, this wouldn't be a problem, but unfortunately, particularly in places like Wikipedia:WikiProject Sexology and Sexuality, the wiki demographics are FAR from representitive of our fearless readers, and worse yet, fail them with violations of neutrality such as this, style guides or no. Sam Spade 17:57, 6 May 2004 (UTC)
I agree with you on Racialism, for what it's worth, and I'm happy to enter that fight and put the article back - I think it was a reasonable article, and a term that ought to be explained. That said, the standard for academic and professional writing is politically correct. I'm sorry that you dislike PC, but I think it does Wikipedia a great disservice to use something other than the accepted styles of academic and professional writing. It makes it look, well, amateurish. If we want to be treated as a real encyclopedia, we need to act like one. And that means PC language. Snowspinner 18:11, 6 May 2004 (UTC)
Well what can I say to that? Obviously the wikipedia is not the place to fight popular changes of usage or meaning, and apparantly I can't even chide you for inconsistancy ;) I will use "homosexual" to describe acts (as rarely as possible, I should hope!) and "gay" to describe the sub-cultural identity. Is that acceptable to you? Sam Spade 18:17, 6 May 2004 (UTC)

Going left again because I'm on a 12" powerbook and it hurts my eyes to count the colons. That works. I'll wade into the racialist issue in a bit. I have to consult edit history, and see what's in Racism now that may need redirection. Snowspinner 18:32, 6 May 2004 (UTC)

One large concern with enforcing language based on 20th century identity politics is that it raises a serious problem with anachronism. Though many ancient Greeks and Romans had homosexual sex, it strikes me as a bit odd to refer to any of them as "gay." (Well, maybe Hadrian). I've recently written on Richard Burton's odd theory of the Sotadic zone; he said in essence that homosexuality --- specifically pederasty ---- was concentrated in a mostly tropical belt; not sure it works at all to say "gayness" was concentrated there. Smerdis of Tlön 20:01, 6 May 2004 (UTC)
This is something plenty of people are aware of - the identity "homosexual" is a 19th century creation. This objection has been raised several times on various lists of historical gay figures. Ultimately, it becomes a factual error to refer to historical figures as homosexual, gay, or as any other contemporary sexual identity, and should be avoided - regardless of terminology. Snowspinner 20:18, 6 May 2004 (UTC)

I agree. When we review history or even just non-western sociology/anthropology, it doesn't take long to realize that contemporary PC terms regarding sexuality (and everything else ;) are intellectually offensive encumberances. That being said, snowspin made a pretty valid case for the wiki needing to conform to popular style guides. I would love to hear a clarion call of truth, and if you (or anyone, of course) has an alternate style guide, or a sound reasoning for ignoring all style guides, etc.. so much the better. As you point out above, in reality homosexuality has been far from a "identity" or subculture in most of history, and was mainly rather a severely unorthadox (by most of todays standards) way of educating boys in the ways of adulthood, or a form of promiscuity engaged in by some. There is very, very little evidence for organized or distict "gay" societies or organizations historically, altho there are some (the kama sutra mentions the role of male bath attendants, for example). Sam Spade 20:28, 6 May 2004 (UTC)

Off topic: The first recorded case of someone coming out is actually fairly recent (can't remember exactly, an Italian boxer declared himself a sodomite), though the existance of the various identies now called Two-Spirit, along with theories that society always treats minorities as lesser or greater than the majority would tend to prove you wrong on this one. Hyacinth 15:07, 7 May 2004 (UTC)

I can't believe that anyone could think gay is a positive term, obviously you all didn't grow up gay! For many people born since 1970 gay means stupid, at best. Hyacinth 15:07, 7 May 2004 (UTC)

APA gay?

Yikes Sam, did you call the APA gay? Hyacinth 22:46, 5 May 2004 (UTC)

No, he called them homosexual. Remember, there's a difference. ;) Snowspinner 22:48, 5 May 2004 (UTC)
LOL... you guys got a laugh out of me on that one, I will admit :) Sam Spade 23:32, 5 May 2004 (UTC)

from article

' Avoid the use of queer (or any term) as being most inclusive '

What is this supposed to mean? It needs reworded, or removed. Sam [Spade] 20:06, 15 May 2004 (UTC)
It means that the term "queer" should not be used as a term that encombasses gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals, etc. And furthermore, that no other term is an adequate substitution, that is, that there is no good way to encompass all of these things into one umbrella term. Snowspinner 20:08, 15 May 2004 (UTC)
What does this mean: "Avoid homosexuality and thus heterosexuality," ...? How do I avoid heterosxuality, it's what I am!!! Perhaps you mean: "Avoid "homosexuality" and thus "heterosexuality"," -- the words. But even so, why? Whatr is wrong with the word "heterosexuality"? -- Tarquin
He justifies these by a number of style guides which he claims suggest against the use of the term "homosexual" as being distressing to some. I find it incredibly poor reasoning, and requested a poll before. Perhaps its time for one now. Sam [Spade] 20:23, 15 May 2004 (UTC)
It's rather more than "suggest." It's more "Clearly says these terms are not preferred." And, again, I hardly see how reference to a style guide is "incredibly poor reasoning." Particularly when it's the APA guide, which is the guide most applcable to this particular issue, being the leading style guide in the social sciences. Snowspinner 20:28, 15 May 2004 (UTC)

"See also" vs "Related topics", and Category Project

The Wikipedia Guide to Layout recommends that "Related topics" be a heading for a collection of internal links to related topics. Custom and practice in the Wikipedia appears to be to use "See also". Google:"See also" = 56,100 hits, Google:"Related topics" = 1,900 hits. Should we wait for a thunderbolt from on high before we change the recommendation in the Guide to Layout? --Tagishsimon

Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Sections gives a better explanation. Ideally there should only be one place that explains a rule or policy so as to avoid problems like this. Bensaccount 01:36, 16 May 2004 (UTC)
I don't go according to the MoS on this one. I think it's not useful to have "Related topics" and "See also", since they're basically the same thing... Dysprosia 01:44, 16 May 2004 (UTC)
I think they're not the same thing. I went back through the various see also/related topics discussions & I see more people with my dilemma--in certain cases, you want to include links in the "related articles" list that also appear in the body text. See Wedding, for example. It would be confusing, I believe, to leave off the 3 or 4 links that appear in the text. In this case, Related articles would be more correct, whereas the See also presumably would not include links already in the text. Elf | Talk 15:52, 17 May 2004 (UTC)
Maybe then there needs to be a relaxation of the requirement forbidding inline links appearing in See alsos, because while they may not functionally be the same thing, they most definately read as the same thing (to me, that is ;) We should be striving for some sort of uniformity, however. But reading that categories are soon to be implemented, I hope this makes this matter moot, and we can all stick with "See also" Dysprosia 12:07, 18 May 2004 (UTC)
With categories this will no longer be a problem. Related articles will be in the same category, so there won't be a need for a section. There will always be a need for a See also section though, and that is what we have standardized on for a long while now. Dori | Talk 16:26, May 17, 2004 (UTC)
I've just this week heard about the famed mythical categories project--meanwhile, until it's finalized and someday implemented, I don't think we can say unequivocably that one can't put links into the list that also appear in the article. Elf | Talk 16:44, 17 May 2004 (UTC)
It's not mythical, you can try it out on and I think it's redundant to link things more than once on each page. If readers were interested in the link, they would have followed it. If we go by this, then we could end up listing every link on the Related section becayse how could you decide? Dori | Talk 16:48, May 17, 2004 (UTC)
Re: categories: Cool! Now that I've tried it, I want it *now*! And I will hold my breath and turn blue until I get it! Wahhhhh! Re: how could you decide? Same way we'll have to decide what categories things go into & same way we decide what to link already--roll a 10-sided die--er, I mean, common sense. I'll admit that mine isn't always in smooth running order, but I like to think that it mostly is and so are most folkses' who edit wp. Elf | Talk 18:00, 17 May 2004 (UTC)

(ident from above)Yes, you do have a point that my "how could you decide?" concern would still stand. However, I still think that they're needlessly redundant. Dori | Talk 22:18, May 17, 2004 (UTC)

Citing poetry style guide somewhere ?

I'm often looking for a style guide page when adding a sample poem in biography articles. I.e see Li Bai. I don't know how to emphazise the title, where to write infos (as date and translator). I saw in Jonathan Swift that the font used is fixed and wonder if its usefull (and beautifull) in this case. I'd like to have a page where common usage is described. gbog 07:04, 21 May 2004 (UTC)

You might want to ask at Wikipedia:WikiProject Poetry. Angela. 08:09, May 21, 2004 (UTC)
Ok, thanks for the help. gbog 10:15, 21 May 2004 (UTC)

Anyway to remove underlining?

Is there a way to remove underlining from links? The reason I want to do this is because the underlining can be confused as part of a Chinese character if the character appears in a link. See Chinese family name. ☞spencer195 00:02, 29 May 2004 (UTC)

Check your preferences Dysprosia 02:30, 29 May 2004 (UTC)

US or U.S.

I've removed the reference and any specific guidance. United States style guides (apparently) and English style guides [3] directly conflict over US and U.S. and the general guide to use the local convention in articles specific to the topic seems to cover this well enough. Since this article is not a United States-specific article, not enforcing United States English rules is the appropriate practice - but life's too short to argue about it when it can be dodged. Assuming that United States copy editors can agree to accept that their style guides differ and not go on crusades to have only their domestic style folowed in this international work, that is. Jamesday 02:19, 29 May 2004 (UTC)

The motion to place those words into the article was put here for months without objection. Therefore, consensus is needed to remove them. I object.
The general guide is the follow the official spellings of proper names. "U.S. Department of Defense", not "US Department of Defence". For the same reason, we should respect desire by the U.S. (meaning Americans) to insert the full stop into the abbreviation for their country. Likewise, it should always be "UK" since "U.K." is a bit jarring. The BBC calls Donald Rumsfeld "the US Defence Secretary". Now there's a conflict with our MoS... --Jiang 06:29, 29 May 2004 (UTC)
I agree with Jiang. --mav 04:16, 30 May 2004 (UTC)
I agree that US guidelines should be followed when referencing U.S. entities, but, speaking as an "American" (more specifically, a citizen of the USA), I point out that there isn't a single universal guideline to follow on the abbreviation of "United States". For example, the United States Postal Service always abbreviates itself as "USPS", never "U.S.P.S". Even if you could dig up a formal US publication that recites a specific standard (and I'm sure there are several mutually-contradicting ones, all published in Pueblo, Colorado), you will find that U. S. government agencies pretty much do as they please unless and until they're called on it. And this doesn't even consider the much larger scope of NGOs that use "US" in their names. In this particular situation, the stereotypical world image of Americans as Wild West cowboys is not far from correct. I think Jamesday's point that "life is too short" is the more reasonable one here. Of course, don't ever spell it "defence". ☺ -- Jeff Q 19:53, 15 Jun 2004 (UTC)

We explicitly stated that "USAF" should not have periods. I think the same applies to USPS. The thing with periods only applied to "US" alone. --Jiang 21:23, 15 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Two examples do not make a standard. I would offer the following examples, taken from FirstGov, "the U.S. Government's Official Web Portal", of government agencies in their own words (or, more accurately, letters and punctuation):
  • U.S. Senate
  • USA Freedom Corps
  • U.S. Courts (which refers to the "US Code" in some places and "U.S.C." in others)
  • U.S. Air Force (USAF)
  • US Army Corps of Engineers (not U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
Now that's just a 15-minute perusal of an entirely new medium (i.e., less than 10 years old), which presumably has a considerable amount of taxpayer-supported staff attempting to provide a consistent window into the government. I will concede that most references to the "U.S." are exactly that — two periods, no space between the letters — but I respectfully suggest, as one of those taxpayers, that you're fighting a hopeless battle. But I would also agree that "U.S." is most common, and is probably the best to try to standardize on. (P.S. Re-reading the above discussion, I remember why I originally took offense to the argument flow. Please do not mistake "the desire by the U.S." [government] for the desire of "Americans". As we so often demonstrate [and probably will again in November 2004], we are an unruly lot who frequently punish our government for both its failures and its accomplishments.) -- Jeff Q 06:38, 20 Jun 2004 (UTC)

scientific references

style ain't really my thing - but just checked this page for the "correct" style for adding a scientific reference... eg Lancet 2004;363:1747,1757-1763. is there such a style recomendation? if so it should really be on this page shouldn't it? (i could link to the online version but you need to pay - so seems a bit pointless) Erich 03:04, 31 May 2004 (UTC)

Yeah, it seems like that hsould be here. I think we should make the references as complete as possible (including article names) and link to public-access databases such as PubMed when possible. AdamRetchless 20:05, 2 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Pictures, Categories, and so forth

I am crossposting this comment to Wikipedia:Village Pump and Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style.

I have been advised that the manual of style says unambiguously that articles with single pictures must have the picture at the very top of the article, aligned to the right. I have no particular problem with this as a general guideline. At the moment, however, when this is done to article with categories, it results in an extremely ugly article. I have been advised that this will probably be corrected at some point in the near future (although have seen no evidence that this is the case, aside from Raul654's assertion that Mr. Starling will "doubtless" do this.) In many cases, it is perfectly easy to move the picture down so that it is even with the second paragraph of the article. In most of these cases, this looks perfectly fine. It also means that we don't have absolutely hideous articles until whenever it is that the problem with categories gets fixed. For moving the pictures in several articles down a few lines, I have been accused of doing "serious damage" to wikipedia, because now people will have to "fix" all these articles so that they don't contain the ultimate indignity of having pictures slightly lower in the article than the manual of style says they should be. My feeling is that this is insane pedantry, but what is the general feeling on this? john k 06:06, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)

For readers, the discussion can be found at User_talk:Raul654#Articles_with_pictures_in_categories. What John was doing was going through large numbers of articles and moving the picture down further into the article, breaking convention in order to fix (what appears to be) a transitory problem with the Wiki software. →Raul654 06:24, Jun 1, 2004 (UTC)
This is accurate, if slanted (my own comments were also slanted, of course). BTW, is there any discussion in the archives as to the particular convention under discussion? I couldn't find anything, but I only looked through pretty quickly, mostly looking at the TOCs. john k 06:28, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)
John, just take it easey. You are over-dramatizing this whole thing, it’s a technical problem, and it’ll be resolved in a few days. Until then, just have patience, and instead of wasting your energy like this, you could work on making the articles better. This is really pointless, it's a tehnical problem, not a problem of standards. --GeneralPatton 06:57, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I agree that the issue itself is not especially important. Which is why it's upsetting to be accused of doing "major damage" to wikipedia. I'd like to have some explanation as to why this convention you two have been arguing for is so important that it warrants such expostulations. All I was doing was going through articles and adding categories, and trying to make sure that doing so did not result in the article looking like crap. You are the ones who decided to chew me out about it, and accuse me of doing serious damage to wikipedia. Who's "over-dramatizing" here? john k 07:04, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)
First, I should point out that he didn't say you were doing "major damage", he said what you were doing was "more damaging" than the technical issue you seek to correct. This is literally true- the effort to standarize a large number of articles once the issue is corrected is going to take higher than the effort to quash the bug itself. Second, it sets a *very* bad example when someone just decides to disregard the manual of style. Trying to get it changed is one thing, but disregarding it is entirely different. →Raul654 07:17, Jun 1, 2004 (UTC)

To what extent is the manual of style followed? I'm sure we can find many, many, many ways in which the manual of style is disregarded in hundreds upon hundreds of articles. I'd also add that all manual of style items are not created equal - I'd like to know where this particular convention arose from - as I said before, I can find no discussion of it in the archives of this talk page. A convention is only a convention insofar as it is supported by some kind of consensus. Just because someone or other put something into the manual of style does not make it a genuine convention. john k 07:41, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)

While I happen to agree that it's better not to change the articles in this case (since a technological fix should be soon forthcoming, if not already), I don't see this rule ("Articles with a single picture should have that picture at the top of the article, right aligned.") as hard-and-fast anyway. It was added by Raul654 only recently, without any discussion that I can find. It also doesn't make sense in any number of articles where an image is better placed next to the text referencing it (e.g.: monochromator). -- DrBob 00:05, 4 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Ha! So Raul added it himself recently? And he was giving me a hard time for not following a silly rule that he made up himself without any discussion? That's just ridiculous. At any rate, there really wasn't any need for me to move the pictures, since the technical issue has been fixed now, but at the same time, I don't see that moving the pictures has caused any problem that now needs to be fixed - Pictures look absolutely fine next to the second paragraph, and this "rule" is clearly just an eruption of analness. I'm going to remove it from the manual of style. john k 07:50, 6 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Yes, I did add the section in question (I thought I already mentioned that - if not, sorry, yes I did). It was added after problems with the picture at Douglas MacArthur, specifically, over left or right alignment. You can see the talk page there for discussion. →Raul654 08:04, Jun 6, 2004 (UTC)

On further checking, the discussion took place on this very page. You can see the first page diff here. →Raul654 08:17, Jun 6, 2004 (UTC)

I am quite sure this problem is solved soon - it's not only the pictures which create that problem, but also the very popular Infoboxes. Instead of temporarily moving down the pic/infobox or move the pic to the left we can also abstain from adding the category temporarily until the glitches of the new software version are fixed - this also gives some time to think about what categories we want to add. andy 08:01, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)
There is a user CSS fix to this problem currently listed on the Meta bug report/comment list. It's under [4]. blankfaze | ?? 16:12, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)
This shouldn't be a problem now that categories have moved to the bottom of articles rather than being in the way of images at the top. Angela. 00:06, 4 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Right. So who should fix all the damage that John did by moving those images around? →Raul654 23:34, Jun 14, 2004 (UTC)

Regarding contractions

I'd like to add a few lines to the manual about contractions. In nearly all cases, except when quoting directly, contractions (for example, don't instead of do not, can't instead of cannot, won't instead of will not) should be avoided. Somewhere else on some remote manual of Wiki-style there's something about avoiding abbreviations such as "eg" instead of "for example," er, for example. Any objections? Exploding Boy 07:21, Jun 6, 2004 (UTC)

Hmmm, a toughie. There's a good argument for avoiding contractions because it makes the text sounds less casual - but it can be offputting for readers, especially for pop culture topics, where formality is borderline comical. I guess I can go either way. Stan 13:06, 6 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Not using contractions does not make one sound automatically formal. It's the vocabularly and sentence structure that makes people sound pompous. We do not write in slang when we discuss slang. --Jiang 08:43, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Agreed. We're told to avoid contractions in formal essay writing/academic papers. I don't see how this encyclopedia should be an expception. --Jiang 03:01, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Object. The blanket rule against contractions in formal writing is disappearing, and it makes little sense to me that Wikipedia should be a standard-bearer for a dying style. This is a new medium, and it should have a modern style, which includes the use of contractions when appropriate. And while I don't want to make a slippery-slope argument, what other rules of proscriptive grammar would you wish to put in the Manual as well? The 'rule' against dangling prepositions, perhaps? As Winston Churchill said, "That is the type of arrant pedantry up with which we shall not put."
I disagree with a proposed rule against abbreviations as well. Read some of our chemistry articles before trying to claim that converting every "ml" to "millilit(er/re)s" will improve the article--it won't. --TreyHarris 03:57, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)

That's why I said "in most cases." On the subject of contractions, however, and speaking as a grad student, I don't see it the use of contractions in formal writing becoming more common at all. No formal academic work I've ever seen has included them. Exploding Boy 08:22, Jun 8, 2004 (UTC)

I don't think there should be an across-the-board recommendation. It very much depends on the subject of the article whether contractions are appropriate or not. Wikipedia does not aspire to emulate academic English (thankfully, since much of it is almost unreadable unless one is steeped in discipline-specific jargon). olderwiser 11:38, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Nevertheless, the intent is to be formal, isn't it? Contractions just seem to casual for this type of writing. Exploding Boy 14:27, Jun 8, 2004 (UTC)

Yes, I agree and withdraw my previous objection. I thought that for some articles a more informal tone might be appropriate, but I could not think of any examples. olderwiser 14:47, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Ok, let's make a few things here. Contractions and abbreviations are two different things. Km is an abbreviation of kilometer, not a contraction. Contractions use apostrophes ('). Don't, won't, can't, isn't - these are contractions. I would support an entry in the manual of style that says: "In general, we prefer formal writing. Therefore, contractions are discouraged." End of story. Short, sweet, and hard to misunderstand. →Raul654 07:21, Jun 9, 2004 (UTC)

"Christian" writing style

The Ten Plagues uses a number of writing conventions that look typical of writing about Christianity by some Christians, including the liberal sprinkling of Biblical references like "(Ex 9:18-21; 12:1-13)" and the capitalization of "His". I have some queries about the content of the article dealt with on its talk page, but it also raises some wider stylistic issues when writing about Christian topics.

I consider the capitalization inappropriate (except in a quotation of a Christian speaking about God).

I also wonder whether a less ugly way to add Biblical referencing can be found. --Robert Merkel 04:42, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)

If someone is quoting from a English Biblical translation and that translation uses "His" rather than "his" (not all of them do) then it probably should be capitalized as in the text whether the person is Christian or not. Myself, I tend to use translations that don't follow this convention or sometimes I mix translations including some translating of my own, especially when making a linguistic point and wanting to be extra literal.
I also generally spell out the names of the books of the Bible with a link on the first mention and use a more modern style for chapter and verse reference, e.g. "(Exodus 9.18–21;12.1–13)". I use the same style when dealing with various classical authors and normally avoid all use of Roman numerals for chapters, sections, or subsections. Such documentation is sometimes ugly, but I would always rather have a writer provide full indications as to where information is found than to have it omitted, e.g. not just "in the book of Exodus" or "in Ovid's Metamorphoses". jallan 00:22, 15 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Chicago Manual of Style says that deities (Allah, God, Freyja), alternate names of deities (the Lord, the Almighty), and prophets (the Buddha, John the Baptist) should be capitalized, however, pronouns referring to God or Jesus should NOT be capitalized. (And, as a side note, Platonic ideas should also be capitalized. I only mention this because it's one of my favorite style rules ever.) I think the MoS already reflects this, no? Snowspinner 19:16, Jul 1, 2004 (UTC)

Article title in bold

Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Introduction states that "All articles should have the title or subject in bold...", and the examples show triple quote marks as the way to mark text as bold.

It turns out that a free link which is the same as the article name automatically displays as bold, so I've been using that method instead of triple quotes. Is there any preference or policy regarding this?

Given that the self-ref bold display is a deliberately designed feature of Wiki, and adds more information, I think it's a Good Thing. -- Paul Richter 11:44, 9 Jun 2004 (UTC)

That feature is a relatively recent addition to the wiki software. In the interest of consistency, please use the standard triple quote. →Raul654 20:19, Jun 9, 2004 (UTC)
I agree with Raul. I think bold formatting should always be bold formatting, not a link just because that happens to produce bold formatting. Additionally, I think (though I'm not certain) that using the link would cause the page to show up in the "list of pages with self links" queries. You also run into problems if the page is moved and the part you have linked is then a link to a redirect to itself, rather than being bold text. Angela. 01:04, 10 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Making the article title bold is also discussed in the Article names section (the first one on the page):

"Bold article titles using '''three apostrophes''' — do not self-link to bold the title."

Shouldn't that sentence contain some reference to the first line of the article? Mightn't someone get confused and literally try to create an article whose title contains triple-apostrophes? Or, sitting on the edit page, wonder how to "get at the title" to insert them? — Or is this just my overactive imagination? - dcljr 03:20, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Foreign language spelling and usage

I've started a section on foreign language spelling and usage. I'm hoping people can add sections for many other languages. I'm also wondering about how place names should be listed. Köln is listed as Cologne and Sevilla as Seville but Beijing is not listed as Peking. Personally, I'd like to see every place in the world listed under the name used by the inhabitants of the place. --Samuel Wantman 06:36, 14 Jun 2004 (UTC)

The former are english words for places... in the latter case, "Peking" is an obsolete romanization, not an english word. And "Beijing" is the accepted english term these days. And this is an english edition of wikipedia. My 2cents: put in redirects. which are already, as i check, for all three cases you complain about. --Random832 06:47, 2004 Jun 14 (UTC)
PS do you want Beijing listed under "北京" instead? They certainly don't spell it "B-e-i-j-i-n-g" there. --Random832
Of course there still is the more subtle point that maybe we should spell things according to the romanizations worked out by the speakers of those languages, and I think we should at least require that "the name used by the inhabitants of the place" be mentioned, bolded, after the article title. Hyacinth 07:03, 14 Jun 2004 (UTC)
And that is done in the first sentence. --Random832 22:55, 2004 Jun 14 (UTC)
According to Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Identity: "When writing an article about specific people or specific groups always use the terminology which those individuals or organizations use, self identification." Hyacinth 07:07, 14 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I don't read that as meaning there is a requirement to use foreign-language terms for groups (even less places) that primarily speak foreign languages. This is an english-language edition of wikipedia. --Random832 22:55, 2004 Jun 14 (UTC)

Let me just point out that en: has restrictions on what can be used as a title (see Template:Wrongtitle for instance), and so you're largely limited to ASCII. Since native English spelling doesn't use non-ASCII characters (except for the weird ones that template is designed for, like C++ for instance), we're okay making titles English names. We wouldn't be able to make an article entitled 北京 in en:, though. Even if we could do all the non-ASCII names, though, I don't believe we should have an article on Sverige in en:; I do believe that we should have an article on Sweden that mentions Sverige in the first paragraph, with redirects from that name (which is exactly what we do). --TreyHarris 01:11, 15 Jun 2004 (UTC)

It's worth noting, i think, that none of the characters listed at the link from Wrongtitle, least of all '+', are "non-ASCII characters" by any stretch of the imagination. --Random|832 12:26, 20 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Foreign language usage and spelling

The section I wrote was reverted almost instantaneously, so I'm putting it here. I think there needs to be a section on foreign language spelling and usage because it is being done many different ways. Here's what I wrote...

(This needs more work -- please contribute!)

  • Foreign language usage in an English article should in most cases use the common spelling and punctuation currently in use in the country of origin for the word.
  • When foreign language words have become part of the English language, the English spelling should be used.
  • Titles of books, movies, and other media mentioned in articles should be first listed in their native spelling as published. An English translation in parenthesis should follow. For example:
    • Броненосец Потёмкин (Battleship Potemkin) : for many years generally considered the greatest film ever...
  • Articles about foreign language books, movies, and other media should be created using the translation of the name. The beginning of the article should have the name in the foreign language using the native spelling as published.
  • Books, movies and other media that were renamed for their English publication or distribution should be created using the name they are best known by. There can also be a redirect from the literal translation. For example: Ladri di biciclette, the 1948 Italian film should be listed as The Bicycle Thief and not by the more accurate translation Bicycle Thieves.
  • Once a word is introduced in a foreign spelling, its translation or transliteration can be used instead of the native spelling whenever it makes the article easier to read (such as the Battleship Potemkin example above).

The manual of style already explicetely says to "Use the most common english name" - this was reaffired by the recent policy poll. Your proposed changes go against this, and therefore do not belong. →Raul654 23:03, Jun 14, 2004 (UTC)

I disagree... Every single one of the proposed changes as apply to article titles are a restatement and clarification of "Use the most common english name". it's a naming policy poll, not a linking policy poll or mentioning policy poll. --Random832 23:08, 2004 Jun 14 (UTC)

Also, as far as putting foreign language names first - I disagree. First, it's been longstanding poliy to put the english name outside (this *is* the english wikipedia) and put the foreign language name in parenthesis (if the contributor happens to know, which may not be the case). Second, putting it in parenthesis makes it optional, because most of our contributors probably won't know this. →Raul654 23:27, Jun 14, 2004 (UTC)

List of specific foreign language usage issues


  • In an Arabic name, the format is as follows:

AAA bin BBB (or AAA ibn BBB) (male)

AAA binti BBB (or AAA bte BBB) (female)

where 'AAA' is the first name and 'BBB' is the father's name. The word bin means "son of"; likewise, binti means "daughter of". For example, Mahathir bin Mohamad is the name of the former Prime Minister of Malaysia. In the article, he is referred to as Mahathir.


  • Current Indonesian spelling should be used instead of the older colonial Dutch spelling. For example: Canting instead of tjanting.
  • The old spelling should be included at the beginning of the article. For example:
    • Kecak (also Ketjak) a form of Balinese music drama, originated ...


See: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Japanese)


See: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Korean)


See: Wikipedia:Use other languages sparingly.


I'm glad this is on the talk page now. It's true we could use more specific guidelines for foreign language use, but many points of this go against the already-established guideline to use the most common names in English to refer to a subject in its article title (although the native language version definitely needs to be in the first paragraph of the article, and probably also made a redirect to the article). This is, after all, the English language version of the Wikipedia. Even if, for example, it were possible under the software to make article titles in Cyrillic (which it's currently not) it wouldn't be appropriate here any more than using the Roman alphabet would be on ru.wikipedia. - Hephaestos|§ 15:36, 14 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Sorry, Hephaestos, couldn't resist: see ru:TCP/IP, for instance. :-) --TreyHarris 16:56, 14 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Perhaps what I have written is not clear. But, I am not saying that there should be non-english article names. To use The Bicycle Thief as an example, in an article that references the movie, such as Cinema of Italy, it should say:

"De Sica wrote and directed together with scenarist Cesare Zavattini: among all, Sciuscià (Shoeshine - 1946), Ladri di Biciclette (The Bicycle Thief, 1948) and Miracolo a Milano (Miracle in Milan, 1950)..."

The article about the movie should be listed as The Bicycle Thief. There should be a redirection from "Ladri di Biciclette" and "Bicycle Thieves". The top of the article about The Bicycle Thief should say:

"Ladri di biciclette (Literal translation: Bicycle Thieves, but known by the name The Bicycle Thief) is a 1948 Italian neorealist film about a man who..."
  • The literal translation isn't needed anywhere besides the beginning of the article.
  • The common English name is the one that titles the article.
  • references to the article use the original name spelled out in the original language with the common english name in parenthesis.
--Samuel Wantman 20:32, 14 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Furthermore, in some parts of the world multiple foreign-language names may be relevant, and it is important to identify what language is being used. This arises, for example in place names in Transylvania (where both Hungarian and Romanian are almost always relevant, and sometimes German as well) or for monarchs who may have been called differently by their subjects who spoke different languages (and differently again in English). -- Jmabel 00:36, Jun 15, 2004 (UTC)

OK. Here's an example from the academy awards for best foreign film. How should the films be listed. Like this?...

1964 Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Ieri, oggi, domani) (Italy) - Compagna Cinematografica Champion, Les Films Concordia - Carlo Ponti producer - Vittorio De Sica director

  • Raven's End (Kvarteret korpen) (Sweden) - Europa Film - producer - Bo Widerberg director
  • Sallah Shabbati (סאלח שבתי) (Israel) - Sallah Company, Sallah Ltd. - Menahem Golan producer - Ephraim Kishon director
  • The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les parapluies de Cherbourg) (France) - Beta Film GmbH, Madeleine Films, Parc Film - Mag Bodard, Philippe Dussart producers - Jacques Demy director
  • Woman in the Dunes (砂の女; Suna no onna) (Japan) - Teshigahara Productions, Toho - Kiichi Ichikawa, Tadashi Oono producers - Hiroshi Teshigahara director

or like this?...

1964 Ieri, oggi, domani (Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow) (Italy) - Compagna Cinematografica Champion, Les Films Concordia - Carlo Ponti producer - Vittorio De Sica director

  • Kvarteret korpen (Raven's End) (Sweden) - Europa Film - producer - Bo Widerberg director
  • סאלח שבתי - Sallah Shabbati (Israel) - Sallah Company, Sallah Ltd. - Menahem Golan producer - Ephraim Kishon director
  • Les parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg ) (France) - Beta Film GmbH, Madeleine Films, Parc Film - Mag Bodard, Philippe Dussart producers - Jacques Demy director
  • 砂の女 - Suna no onna (Woman in the Dunes) (Japan) - Teshigahara Productions, Toho - Kiichi Ichikawa, Tadashi Oono producers - Hiroshi Teshigahara director

or perhaps some other way? I think the second example is more respectful, and more accurate. The first example is probably easier to read. --Samuel Wantman 07:12, 15 Jun 2004 (UTC)

The latter way is easy-enough to read, IMO (though I suppose it helps if you can parse romance languages). Definitely not the first form (it seems to encourage the idea that the 'real' name of the film is the English one, but it also happens to have another one in a foreign language.
James F. (talk) 13:55, 15 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I disagree with putting the non-English name first, unless it is also commonly used in English. It is already standard practice in Wikipedia to do something more like the following:

The Bicycle Thief (original Italian title Ladri di biciclette, lit. "Bicycle Thieves") is a 1948 Italian neorealist film about a man who..."

This also corresponds nicely to it being located at The Bicycle Thief, as one would expect the article title to be the first major thing in the article. This is no different than any other issue of translation: we say "Munich (German München)" at Munich, not the other way around. --Delirium 07:22, Jun 17, 2004 (UTC)

The proposal deals mostly with the titles of books, movies and other media. There really isn't any consistancy about this currently in Wikipedia. People seem to do it whatever way seems right to them. I agree with the notion that the names of articles should be the most common way people refer in english to the subject. That makes sense because we want people to be able to find things. Sometimes the name isn't even English, like Mein Kampf or Rashamon, but they are known by these names, so it is O.K.

Once an article begins we are trying to educate people, and when it comes to works of Art, I think we should use the name created by the artist for the work. So the actual name of the work in the native language should come first with the transliterations, meanings and other English titles coming after.

I can go either way about places. But starting the article about Munich with the German name, makes a strong statement that the REAL name of the place isn't Munich at all, something most Americans don't realize. --Samuel Wantman 09:57, 17 Jun 2004 (UTC)

  • Whether or not it makes a strong statement, I don't understand why that's a statement Wikipedia needs to make. Currently it reads
Munich (German: München) is the state capital of the Bundesland Bavaria in Germany...
Right there it says they live in Germany, and the German language word is München. Would a reasonable person think that Müncheners speak English?
Just to insert my sixpence-worth, if I were to visit the French Wikipedia and go to their article on London, I would be totally unsurprised to discover the article to live at fr:Londres and to start something like "Londres (en anglais: London)...". In fact, I'll pop over and have a look right now ... well, swope me, if I'm not just about word-perfect without even looking! On a french-language page, I would expect that the primary key would be in French; likewise on an english-language page I would expect the primary key to be in English. Sorry to interject a personal view but I think all these people arguing as to what should be the correct non-english term for something ought to take their arguments to the appropriate Wikipedia for that language and come back—when they've achieved consensus— and annotate (as opposed to replace) the english text with the result. HTH HAND --Phil | Talk 15:41, Jun 28, 2004 (UTC)
A voice of sanity! Thank you! :) -- Tarquin 22:30, 28 Jun 2004 (UTC)
If Wikipedia wants to take the POV that the current English name for this city is wrong, and should be changed to München (either as part of an ideology that all English names for foreign-language places are wrong and should be changed to the native, or on individual cases), then I agree, we should refer to München (English Munich) and סאלח שבתי - Sallah Shabbati. And if Wikipedia wants to take the POV that English is the universal language and should be encouraged worldwide, then we should bury those other language spellings deep in the article, as a footnote (and we should come up with a pure English title for Sallah Shabbati besides).
On matters of language, you unfortunately can't always be NPOV. You have to make a choice, even if that choice is resorting to circumlocutions because you're not comfortable with any of the direct choices. We could say:
The city at 48°8'N 11°35'E (known to natives as München, in English as Munich) is the state capital...
but that's a wretched circumlocution, and in some cases even that isn't possible (how do you refer to authors in the past whose name was written differently than in English? By referring to their works? Fine, but how do you refer to the works, assuming the works weren't in English? By the authors? At some point, you have to make a decision).
I think you've fallen to the seduction of the "correct". Language isn't about "correct," language is about matching signifier to sign, of providing a symbol that the audience will take for what you intended it as. Munich does that job, for most of the audience. München does not. It is elitist to say that because of some notion of "correct," we should prefer the word that doesn't do the job to the one that does. You may be able to glance at סאלח שבתי or 砂の女 and immediately read it—though I can't, and I've taken an introductory class in Hebrew and years of Japanese; most of the Wikipedia audience won't be able to read it, either.
Showing a string of non-English characters does nothing for most readers but perhaps serve for a thrill of ethnographic spectacle ("gee, look at all those consonants jammed together, how do they say that?"). This is especially true in non-Roman languages, where the characters might as well be squiggles. The primary audience for en: is English speakers. As such, from a pure communicativity basis, the form should be something like:
English form (native Native form, <transliteration if necessary,> pronounced nɜytɨv)...
Current practice as mentioned by others—use the English spelling, mention the native—is the democratizing one and the accessible one. We should stick with it. But please, in the name of accessibility, let's start adding more pronunciation guides, because if you don't know how 砂の女 is pronounced, seeing those characters doesn't even let you read the article aloud... --TreyHarris 17:30, 17 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Making possessives

I've always followed the prescription of The Elements of Style for making a possessive from a proper name ending in s: One adds an apostrophe and another s. I don't have my copy ready to hand, but I believe the example concerned a royal tonsillectomy, in which the surgeon removed the tonsils and the copyeditor removed the s. (The authors condemned a newspaper reference to Charles' tonsils -- the correct form being Charles's tonsils.) I think the same rule would apply in the rare case of a singular noun that ends in s, e.g., the brass's polish would be correct. Of course, a plural possessive takes a simple apostrophe (the books' covers).

In the article on Bobby Fischer, I happened to notice a reference to his visits to his teacher, which read: "Fischer spent much time at Collins' house ...." Following Strunk and White, I changed it to Collins's. Another user promptly changed it back. Does Wikipedia have a policy on this burning issue? JamesMLane 16:20, 1 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Fowler says it is down to the pronunciation. "Charles's", but "Bridges'", because of the "-iz" sound.
Ruymoultor says I've always been taught that you don't add the "s" after the apostrophe because it is superfluous and for someone reading it they would pronounce it the same (so using Occam's Razor the shorter simpler version is used) but that's just me.
The Chicago Manual of Style sides with James on this one - even if the word ends in "s", the posessive adds "'s." Though, in classic Chicago style, it does note that "feelings on these matters sometimes run high," and offers an alternative practice, which is what Ruy is noting. This alternative practice, however, is noted as being less common. There are some assorted interesting exceptions (Words where the singular looks like a plural, and the plural is the same, are always formed simly by adding an apostrophe), and one policy I object to (Company names that include a punctuation mark, which I think should be reduced to their non-logo names), but for the most part, James is correct. Snowspinner 19:50, Jul 1, 2004 (UTC)
See also Possessive Forms for some discussion of various rules and The Apostrophe. See Possessive forms for the opposite of what Strunk wants. People just don't agree, in part because dialects and idiolects differ on when or whether an s is pronounced in such cases (and may not follow any easily derived rules with obvious consistancy). This should probably be considered part of allowable spelling differences in Wikipedia unless consensus on one style can be reached. The Wikipedia entry Apostrophe notes both styles and makes no recommendation. jallan 20:43, 1 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  • The Elements of Style: Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's. Follow this rule whatever the final consonant, except for ancient names ("Jesus'") and forms such as "for righteousness' sake". Pronomimal possesives ("hers") have no apostrophe.
Even in Jesus's case I would form the possessive, to avoid confusion with the hypothetical singular "Jesu". "For goodness's sake!" [[User:Poccil|Peter O. (Talk)]] 00:16, Jul 8, 2004 (UTC)
  • A Pocket Style Manuel: Add -'s if the noun does not end in -s or if the noun is singular and ends in -s. Exception: ackward pronunciation ("Sophocles'"). Add -' if the noun is plural and ends in -s.
Awkward prononciation? But you'd still have to say that "Soff-o-clease-ez", no? I'd imagine the reason you don't add the 's to Sophocles is the ancient names clause listed above. Though Chicago cites Elements of Style, but does not carry over that exception, so who knows. /sigh. We should really have a style committee for this. Snowspinner 21:15, Jul 1, 2004 (UTC)
Singular "sophocle"? [[User:Poccil|Peter O. (Talk)]] 00:16, Jul 8, 2004 (UTC)
In may own dialect I would say Sophocleez works not Sophocleezez works. The second sounds wrong to me. I would also, I think, generally say Charlz house rather than Charlzez house. I say "I think" because it is hard to be sure what one actually says as opposed to what one thinks one should actually say. Charles' house was also the way I was originally taught. That doesn't mean I'm right. Others speak differently and were taught differently. But obviously usage varies in pronunciation as well as spelling. Under current rules one should probably leave possessives alone if they follow either Strunk's rules or the Fowler rules (and perhaps sometimes even when they don't?) jallan 15:08, 2 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Well, I'd say that some people were taught wrong. The question is just which people they are. :) Snowspinner 16:20, Jul 2, 2004 (UTC)

American International English

"Most American Manuals of Style follow American English, or what is sometimes called American International English usage (the form used in the American print media, which combines American capitalisation with British English spelling)."

I removed this from the style guide because Google show only Wikipedia using the term "American International English". Are their any media that actually use this style? Rmhermen 23:40, Jul 2, 2004 (UTC)

Heading style and spaces

I really think headings should be capitalized, except for words like "and" or "the", of course.

In fact, the Wikipedia system often does it, not citing countless authoritative newspapers or books (seriously, pretty much all publications I can think of use capitalized headings). Even this page is titled Manual of Style

Does everyone agree with current guidelines?

Furthermore, headings should be spaced more for following paragraphs, but I guess this is more of a Wiki style issue. Where or whom should I petition for this?

Regards, Aside 19:55, 6 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I think headings should always be given an extra space before the first sentence, as in:
== Overview ==
 Tryptophan is an amino acid...
rather than
== Overview ==
Tryptophan is an amino acid...
I think it's much clearer in the wikisource. Plus, using spaces or not appears to produce the same HTML, so I don't see how this could be a formatting issue for the wiki stylesheet (as the MoS indicates).
This is fine unless that empty line is not in fact empty (i.e. someone includes spaces in it) in which case a huge dead space opens up under the Heading and looks really gross. IMNSHO it's better to avoid the possiblity by closing up the space so that a paragraph starts directly under the Heading line. FWIW it is better to have an empty line before the Heading particularly if it is immediately preceded by a list, because the list formatting can spill over and screw up the Heading. HTH HAND --Phil | Talk 16:59, Jul 7, 2004 (UTC)
If someone includes a space at the start of the "blank" line, thereby introducing some ugly rendering, then some other user could simply come along and remove the space. IMO, that's not a big problem, and I don't think it's a good reason for excluding the space following the heading. My point is that leaving a space after (and before, as you suggest) the heading makes for wikitext whose sections are more readily identifiable. Without the space, headings tend to get lost in the section text, and they become more difficult to identify. This discussion should probably be continued over at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (headings). --Diberri | Talk 21:06, Jul 7, 2004 (UTC)
FWIW, after using Wikipedia for some time now, I'm partial to using capital letters only for the first letter in heading titles, and lowercase letters subsequently (except for proper nouns, of course). However, when I first came to WP, my original thought was that headings should be styled as you suggest above (i.e. first letter of each word capitalized except for prepositions, etc). --Diberri | Talk 15:48, Jul 7, 2004 (UTC)


This came up on IRC w/ regards to arcticles like Brandon Tina - what pronoun do we use for transsexuals? Pretty much everyone agrees that post-op transsexuals should be called by their preferred/physical gender, but what do we do use for pre-op transsexuals, where the physical and preferential genders differ? Should an M->F transsexual be called a he or a she? Either way we go, it's POV and factually debatable, so we might as well make a uniform policy. Snowspinner checked other manuals of style but found no reference we could use (does anyone else have one?). →Raul654 17:58, Jul 7, 2004 (UTC)

If we try to go legally, we run into some difficutlies. In the US, some states allow sex changes on the birth certificate, others do not. Britain appears to have passed the Gender Recognition Act 2004, which would allow legal change after two years of transition - surgery not required. What would people think of this criterion, then? After two years of living in a gender identity, the pronoun is used? Snowspinner 18:13, Jul 7, 2004 (UTC)
It's always good policy to call people what they want to be called; I don't see a particular need to have a time limit. If a person identifies as a particular gender, then we should use the appropriate pronoun in referring to him or her. In other words, it's not up to us to decide what gender a person is. Anyway, in Wikipedia it should be clear enough from the article. In the case of Brandon Teena, the article is actually very badly written, but with a bit of editing it would be perfectly clear what his circumstances were, and it's quite acceptable to refer to him as male, since that was what he himself did. Exploding Boy 23:56, Jul 14, 2004 (UTC)

U+0027 versus U+2019 for apostrophe?

Did I miss the the statement on this? For quotation marks, I've found the recommendation toward straight ones. What about the apostrophe? Pjacobi 20:13, 9 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Abbreviations & Acronyms

What is the policy abbreviations & acronyms within articles? Should they always be expanded, unless they are well-known in their short forms? --gracefool 22:48, 9 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Never hurts. I think it's always a good policy, and often ignored, not just here. ;Bear 21:10, 2004 Jul 14 (UTC)
The Chicago Manual of Style (14th edition, §14.15, p. 464) suggests in passing that acronyms and abbreviations should be spelled out in their first occurrence in an article. (It's a rather unsatisfying half-mention, frankly.) I've always favored spelling out the phrase first, then parenthesizing its acronym, and thereafter using the acronym alone, as many publications do. Wiki links should be attached to the text best highlighted for a link (usually but not always the full phrase), but links to redirects should be avoided where possible. As far as "well-known" goes, one person's "well-known" is another's "say what?". There is a tendency to assume that anyone reading an article will already have some basic grounding in the subject matter (see just about any Mathematics article for extreme examples, sayeth this college Math minor), but don't forget that wonderful Random page link. — Jeff Q 22:32, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Alternate vs. Alternative

The MOS currently states: If a word or phrase is generally regarded as correct, then prefer it to an alternative that is often regarded as incorrect. Thus "alternative meaning" should be used rather than "alternate meaning" since dictionaries often discourage or do not even recognize the latter. For example, the American Heritage Dictionary "Usage Note" at alternative simply says: "Alternative should not be confused with alternate."

I think this unnecessarily deprecates "alternate" for "alternative". There is an absolute distinction between the two when used as nouns. However, one very common meaning of alternate as and adjective (at least in the U.S.) is Serving or used in place of another; substitute: an alternate plan. "Alternative" (again, at least in the U.S.), also has the additional very common meaning a. Existing outside traditional or established institutions or systems: an alternative lifestyle. b. Espousing or reflecting values that are different from those of the establishment or mainstream: an alternative newspaper; alternative greeting cards. I think alternate is preferable to alternative for adjectival use. I think alternative has unintended connotations which I find distracting when I come across it. olderwiser 13:37, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)

The problem is that's exactly the reaction I have (and presumably that other author has) to the word alternate, which to me implies a pre-decided option—Plan B if you like, or a substitute in a sporting game—whether there might be more than one such or not. Alternative on the other hand allows rather more freedom: there's not a laid-down list you have to pick from, you can make it up. HTH HAND --Phil | Talk 15:20, Jul 12, 2004 (UTC)
The term 'alternate' means every second one, which is quite different from 'alternative' (allowing/necessitating a choice).
To quote Eric Partridge in Usage and Abusage: A Guide to Good English, Third Edition, 1999:
alternate and alternative. The first means 'every other'. Alternate days are Monday, Wednesday, Friday ... The related adverb is alternately, meaning 'by turns'. 'He walked and ran alternately.' Alternate cannot replace alternative, which means 'available instead of another', as in 'We took an alternative route.' The adv. of alternative is alternatively, 'offering a choice'. 'You could fly, or alternatively go by sea.' Alternative has been overused in official jargon, in such contexts as 'alternative accommodation', 'make alternative arrangements', 'find alternative employment', where it is often better replaced by other or new. But there is no really satisfactory synonym for the more recent sense 'nontraditional, offering a substitute for the conventional thing', as in 'alternative medicine', 'alternative cinema', 'alternative technology'. In this sense, it is a vogue word.
An alternative meaning, you will agree, is certainly not a meaning in rotation; it is, rather, 'available instead of another'.
Granted, of course, there is the American English habit of using alternate in place of alternative. Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary gives the second definition of 'alternate' such that could be used in the sense of 'alternative' above – it gives to it no qualification on register or suitability, however. Nonetheless, the Compact Oxford English Dictionary, Cambridge dictionaries and the Concise Oxford Dictionary – which is more or less the authority on English usage – all state this is North American English. A useful note given by the COED: 'The use of alternate to mean alternative (as in we will need to find alternate sources of fuel) is common in North American English, though still regarded as incorrect by many in Britain.'
And this is precisely what the Manual of Style warns against.
Sinuhe 16:32, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
So if we have a British vs. U.S. usage difference, why are we recommending one over the other? Shouldn't this follow the more general policy of using whichever form is appropriate for the context of the article? olderwiser 16:51, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
No, this is not primarily a US vs Commonwealth difference. The term alternative is correct everywhere; and as such, it should be used in preference to a term which is not. In other words, alternative is – I should believe – always preferable to alternate in the sense of choice, even in subjects entirely related to the USA. The spirit of the passage from the style guide in question is exactly that: if something (='alternate') is considered not correct by many (in this case, virtually all speakers of English bar North Americans – I fear that I live in ignorance as regards Canadian usage), and there is an alternative (='alternative') considered correct by all, use the correct term so as to suit the most. Or can you think of a context in which alternate is the better option of the two? —Sinuhe 18:16, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
(continuing the discussion from Talk:American and British English differences: The usage recommendations by traditionalists for alternative is more complex than has been conveyed so far. Many traditionalists indicate that alternative should ONLY be used in cases where there are exactly two alternatives. So in contexts such as "alternative meanings", the usage is contrary to traditional usage. Alternative is also undesirable in this context because in AmEng it also has the strong connotation of "non-traditional" or "out-of-the-mainstream", which is certainly not what is meant in most cases. Because both alternate and alternative are problematic, perhaps the MoS should recommend using "other meanings" instead. olderwiser 18:14, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)


As a student, I have been taught to highlight keywords while writing my answers. I want to know if it is an acceptable practice to highlight (bolden) keywords (including links) so that at a glance, a reader knows the major points of that heading. ¶ nichalp 20:55, Jul 11, 2004 (UTC)

Please don't do that. Jamesday 21:46, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
You haven't given a reason why not. ¶ nichalp 20:48, Jul 12, 2004 (UTC)
From Wikipedia:Manual of Style: "Sometimes it is useful to have an explicit cross-reference in the text, for example, when a long section of text has been moved somewhere else, or there is a major article on a subtopic. In these cases, make the link bold so that its significance is easier to recognize."
It seemes that it is acceptable to bold text occasionally in long articles to highlight something of great importance. But it would be prudent to exercise discretion and not do this too often.
Acegikmo1 00:59, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
True, I'll have to use discretion, else the entire reason of using bold text would be lost. Now say for example I am writing a history sub heading (6-8 lines) and I want to highlight the major rulers of that era. Can I bolden the dynasties? ¶ nichalp 20:48, Jul 12, 2004 (UTC)

In some articles, like railway stations, (e.g. Spencer Street Station), previous and alternative names of the station are bolded in the text. Is that an acceptable style or not? TPK 11:59, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)

The rule of thumbs seems to be to embolden all names which should also exist as redirects to the article. See Timur for an example. Zocky 13:36, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Certainly in articles about books, it seems to be common and acceptable practice to embolden character names on first mention, particularly if there is no corresponding article. --Phil | Talk 13:10, Jul 12, 2004 (UTC)

Recommended style for book references

I looked high and low for a recommendation on referring to printed matter. I wound up finding some articles with a style that looked plausible and went with that for the article in question. Here's a first attempt at a recommendation (I thought it better to put it up for discussion here rather than just drop it in):

To refer to a book or magazines in your article, start a new level-2 heading at the bottom of the article titled "Further Reading", followed by a list of publications. Books in the list should have the following format:
  • Author/Editor Name, Book Title (Publisher, City) ISBN 1-2345-6789-0 Parameter error in {{ISBN}}: Invalid ISBN.
Magazines in the list should have the following format:
  • Author Name, "Article Title" Periodical Title edition # (Date): pages X-Y; ISSN 12345678

Points to resolve:

  • Is "Further Reading" the best title for this section?
  • Should there be a preferred order of appearance of outside-reading sections (external links, related articles in wikipedia, etc)

adamrice 18:53, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Its at Wikipedia:Cite sources. Thanks. Hyacinth 19:26, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Thanks. That covers similar (though not the same) ground I'm trying to get at. Perhaps the '"See also" and "Related topics"' section of the style manual could be expanded a bit...? adamrice 20:25, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)

British versus American casing

This section includes the pronouncement "Remember also, American English tends to lowercase most titles except in the most formal settings, while British English uses capitals far more widely, with all words of a title being capitalised except for prepositions, articles and conjunctions." To which I say: huh? What types of titles are being referred to here? The rules I know (and consistently see applied here in the US) are exactly as described for British English. See, for example, something filled with titles such as the All Music Guide.

I'll also note that this section of the style guide uses UK vs. US spellings inconsistently, even for multiple uses of a single word within a single sentence. While recognizing that this might be done with some ironic intent, we must also recognise that the implication is that it is acceptable (desirable, even?) to switch back and forth within a single article, which seems sub-optimal to me. Jgm 21:51, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I'd like to point out that the Florida-based All Music Guide actually goes in the opposite direction of the above statement of supposed "American English" capitalization. Its band name and album title entries do indeed follow the so-called "British English" capitalization rules, but most of the songs are listed in all-capitalized form. Not only is this an easier rule to follow (unlike the exception-riddled "standard" rules that seem to be merely a holdover from the Germanic origins of the English language), but it's more in keeping with the way song titles, album titles, and even band names are currently printed on the actual media (e.g., commercial CDs). (See my statement under Talk:List of songs whose title includes personal names#Capitalization for details.) Personally, I think we should abandon the confusing and poorly-practiced "standard" capitalization rules and just adopt the capitalize-all method for proper nouns like titles. (The Wiki article title policy also seems reasonable, too, as it simple gets rid of unnecessary capitalization. Its only serious problem is that mandatory initial capital letter, which can introduce undesirable error and ambiguity.) -- Jeff Q 22:44, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I'm going to change the above sentence and change all spellings to US variants within the next couple of days unless objections are raised here. Jgm 23:59, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Why US spellings? The original author of the section, User:Jtdirl, used Commonwealth spellings. Is there a specific reason to use US spellings rather than English ones? Sinuhe 08:50, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I just read the section from which the above quote is taken, and I realize now that both Jgm and I have misunderstood the context of the word "title" in the original text. It refers specifically to office titles (e.g., "president" and "prime minister"), not artistic work titles (such as one may find in All-Music Guide). Because of this, I must object to any changes based on what Jgm and I have said here. It is good to be consistent, but we need to be consistent within the correct context, and the one described in this section is even more complicated than the messy "rules" of artistic work capitalization. P.S. Jgm, please forgive my reformatting and rearrangement of your most recent posting. I did it in order to preserve the flow of dialog here and eliminate the confusion between the indent- and bullet-based formatting of Talk page dialogs. If you feel the point you raised should maintain your preferred bullet format, feel free to change the format, but please preserve the flow for the sake of other readers who may come upon this issue at a later date. -- Jeff Q 07:20, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)
No, I do not believe you are right; it refers to headings. The previous section refers to job titles. It would be senseless to talk about the very same thing in two consecutive sections. As for capitalisation in the music industry, see the article on capitalisation. –Sinuhe 08:50, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Heh heh. Now I'm hopelessly confused. Going back to my original statement, I have trouble parsing the sentence I quoted as referrring to honorary or office titles, but I suppose (given the confusion between readers) that various people may have edited the section thinking it was referring to different types of "titles". In any event, now it's even more clear to me that the section needs rewriting, but of course there must fisrt be a consensus as to what kind of "title" we are talking about here.
As to Sinuhe's question of "why American spellings", my main objective would be consistency. I understand that the Wikipedia is going to be inherently (and perhaps appropriately, though I'm not completely sold there) inconsistent in this area, but I think spellings should be consistent within a given article and also that a usage guide is a special case in that it is (should be) simultaneously descriptive and prescriptive. Also I thought the idea was that the "appropriate" type of spelling for a given article isn't so much a function of who wrote it but what it is about -- if, indeed we agree that there should be consistency within an article and know that editors from multiple places will be contributing to an article that approach (which I think is backed up elsewhere in this very style guide) would seem to be the only way. Jgm 13:50, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Taking another look at this, and re-reading the entire Manual of Style, I'm inclined to propose that this entire section is unnecessary. There are entire sections devoted to UK vs. US style guidance; the only thing this paragraph has that isn't covered elsewhere is the claim that US and UK casing traditions may be different, and, again, I disagree with this claim from the outset (and others seem to back me up on this). There does seem to be a gap in the WMoS regarding capitalization for titles (of works rather than people), but this isn't filling it. What would be lost if this paragraph (British versus American casing) were deleted outright? Jgm 16:03, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

All that refers to is office and personal titles, ie, offices of state. It was never intended in way cover other titles, certainly not album casing. The reason it was put in was because there was a serious problem arising over how office titles were being used; major work had been done by a group of people in cleaning what had in reality become a farcical mess in pages relating to pages about presidents, prime ministers, peerage references, monarchical references, etc., only for the work to be undone by people who did not realise that (i) there is a difference between AE, BE, CE, HE, IE etc in how they capitalise, (ii) as most of the offices were non-American, applying American english capitalisation rules to titles that even American sources refer to using other forms of english, was causing friction and revert wars. The whole point was to tell people not to apply blanket AE rules in areas such as titles where AE is not used even in the US. And most people thought the addition achieved that, it being important that the page there as well as elsewhere warned people off making blanket capitalisation generalisations. And yes, there is a fundamental difference in CE and AE casing structure and traditions. FearÉIREANN 17:14, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

In that case, I think the seperate section header for this paragraph needs to go, since this is just an extension of the previous section on titles in general. Are you OK with that? And, what if anything do you think we should do about the mix of US and UK spellings in this paragraph? Jgm 17:51, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Syntax highlighting for source code

I just did a search and could find no information on syntax highlighting for source code on wikipedia. It's the strangest thing that I don't seem to have found a clear guideline on it, perhaps I missed it someplace.

There's 3 ways of looking at syn highlighting (if it hasn't been mentioned yet):

  • Syntax highlighting is evil, and should be avoided. (about 10% of the world population of programmers feels this way I estimate)
  • Syntax highlighting drastically improves code readability, and should be done by default (the other 90% ;-) )

To avoid a holy war here, perhaps a middle road anyway:

  • Syntax highlighting would be very useful in articles about syntax and syntax highlighting in any case. In other cases limited highlighting might be used to make much clearer which parts of the code are more important or most relevant to the discussion.

Right now sometimes people have made painstaking efforts to syntax highlight stuff in the clearest possible way, only to have it reverted out a little later.

Kim Bruning 22:27, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)

  • What sort of articles have enough source code to warrant syntax highlighting? --Ardonik 22:33, Jul 17, 2004 (UTC)
    • 2 articles that might use syntax highlighting (whether you think it's a good idea or not) are Hello_world_program and Command_(computing). Many hello world programs are rather short, but syn highlighting might be used for some of the longer ones. In the case of command, syn highlighting might be used to clarify syntax issues. For more programs, see also for instance: List_of_articles_with_Python_programs. Kim Bruning 23:08, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)
      • Well, that answered my question. The problem is that if we syntax highlight C/C++, we'll have to get all the rest, too. That will be tedious; Emacs colors more languages than any other program, but it only understands so many. I'm not opposed to the idea of syntax highlighting, but consistency is king, and "no highlighting" is consistent. --Ardonik 23:13, Jul 17, 2004 (UTC)
        • I think oppertunistic highlighting would be quite ok. There's limited situations (namely : syntax clarification) where it's something you could really use. Think of it as an extention to using emphasis or bold Kim Bruning 23:22, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)
          • Still, I worry. Inconsistent color schemes, colorblind people being unable to read source code, and the whole thing being independent of CSS. If the devs could control the colors with CSS classes, then I'd be fine with it (it's consistent.) In the end, I think that entails making a Wikitext markup for colors. --Ardonik 23:44, Jul 17, 2004 (UTC)

Writing Style/Spelling

(I didn't know where else to put this, so, if this is not the proper place to discuss such a topic, please move it to a more appropriate venue)

I was looking through some random pages, and noticed something - there are quite a few pages out there that use British-English spellings of words (colour, programme, etc.), and then many others that use the American-English spellings (color, program, etc.). Inconsistency looks bad in an encyclopedia, no matter what form it comes in, so perhaps we should pick a format and make it a standard? — StellarFury

Both are welcome here, although each article should standardise (standardize?) on one. There is a page full of stuff on this somewhere - hang on... Mark Richards 22:45, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Please don't end your words with "-ise". The correct spelling in American English is "-ize". Wikipedia should be based upon the American English content, because the servers are located here in the United States. If you want to have your country's spellings of words, you can house the servers. Mr. Grinch 22:07, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I suppose all non-English content should be deleted too, Mr Grinch. — Chameleon My page/My talk 16:24, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)
No, because someone who does not speak English could not read the articles. A British person can still read American English; Anyone who complains is just being whiny. By the way, how is this "Off-Topic" for the Main Page? Mr. Grinch 21:26, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
OED uses 'ize' as does the Cambridge University Press. The British are defying their own conventions. Jiang 22:16, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Already answered, no worries. It's Wikipedia:Manual of style. — [[User:Meelar|Meelar (talk)]] 22:50, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Since neither system is more correct than the other, but a lot of people are very fiercely attached to one or the other, I think the present compromise is a good one. Check out Talk:World War II to get an idea of how much people are willing to argue about it. — Harry R 22:52, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I have another suggestion. Have an array list (users can contribute to this) that contains American and British spellings. Let the users select his preference as to which spelling he wants in the preferences. A tag or template on that page can be used to protect key pages (such as 'US Dept of Defense') or "Shakespere's works" from such a policy. (Maybe something like this can also be used for Celcius/Fahrenheit?) — ¶ nichalp 18:58, Jul 16, 2004 (UTC)
What about Kelvin and Rankine? 1pezguy 00:15, Jul 17, 2004 (UTC)
Kelvin and Rankine too. — ¶ nichalp 20:26, Jul 17, 2004 (UTC)
I believe the general standard is Brit spelling on Brit topics, Murrican spelling on Murrican topics and edit wars on shared topics, i.e. World War II — jengod 00:52, Jul 17, 2004 (UTC)
Not just spelling but whole words change. There are also more than two varieties of English. The is also the issue of the default: if Webster spellings are made default, this is unacceptable. — Chameleon My page/My talk 12:09, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Also, some words can't be replaced on a simple one-for-one basis. Example: 'TV program' in US English would be British 'TV programme' but 'computer program' would be the same in both. Similarly, Brit English uses 'metre' for the unit of measurement and for poetry, but 'electricity meter' for the box recording your usage. And both draft and draught as well. I can't see what's so bad about a global encyclopedia reflecting the diversity of its users, myself. — Harry R 13:03, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Yes, there are problems with implementation as you correctly stated. The examples that you have cited perhaps can be overcome by also checking the phrases (2 word or 3 word max). Wikipedians should be allowed to edit the list of phrases array to weed out such glitches. — ¶ nichalp 20:26, Jul 17, 2004 (UTC)
Try not to attempt to simplify that so much; for example, consider the phrase "[...] the program was written [...]": in an article about a computer program, that would stay as it is, but in one about a British television programme, it would have to be changed. Unless you're willing to make available a sufficiently aware NLP to fix this (which would probably win you, amongst other things, a Nobel &c.), stop being so silly. It's not going to happen technically, it's not going to do so socially, and it's certainly not going to happen politically; to attempt to cause the English Wikipedia to schism into en, en-us, en-au, en-nz, en-sa, en-in, en-ca, &c. is worthy of the highest ranked troll. — James F. (talk) 11:22, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
While I'm not into the idea of splitting the wikipedia into en, en-us, en-ca, etc., I must request that if it gets to that point the "standard" (British) English goes to "en-uk" rather than to "en". Mr. Grinch 17:14, 30 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Here in Canada, both spellings (for many of these disputes) are generally accepted, as Canada has long had to balance between British and US spellings. However, I do agree that for general-interest categories, it is best to stick to a convention. Maybe we should use the Canadian Press standard style? (Admittedly, this is a bit arrogant and CAN-centric) — RealGrouchy 16:57, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Bots anyone?

I think that ther eshould be a standard of english for every article regardless of topic. It should be American English because it was started in America and the servers are hosted there too. Anyway, whatever the standard, it should be used.

Perhaps bots could automatically change words to the standard for example colour to color.

Don't be a dickhead. And eef ze servers were 'osted een France we would 'av to write like zees? Wikipedia should be in standard English, but since there are huge numbers of Americans here, it'll always have to be a mixture of standard and American English. That's not going to change. Sorry, "gonna". — Chameleon My page/My talk 10:59, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
There's no such thing as "standard" English. Each system is just as correct as the other. Mr. Grinch 17:14, 30 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Or alternatively, it should be in American English, but the Brits get all pissy when you try to step on their illogical spelling system. — [[User:Meelar|Meelar (talk)]] 13:12, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
All English spelling systems are illogical. *shrug*. Who cares? We cope. Using both systems of spelling reflects both the diversity of contributors and the nature of wikidom. As someone who loves language and cares deeply about how it is used, I'm baffled by the energy expended over inconsequential trivia (British vs. American spelling, the Oxford comma, singular 'they') rather than the things which really matter - like clarity, precision, concision, wit, and the avoidance of Latinate circumlocution. — Harry R 14:27, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I still don't understand why there's a problem with the current system. It's a global encyclopedia which reflects the diversity of global usage. That seems reasonable enough to me. Personally I couldn't actually spell if I had to use American English, which would be a pain in the arse, but generally - it ain't broke. Don't fix it. — Harry R 10:02, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Erm... No thanks. — Exploding Boy 15:11, Jul 19, 2004 (UTC)

British spellings are a waste of time. Why can't those silly people learn to spell right? Think of all the time wasted typing the extra 'u' when the word would mean the same without it. The American system is obviously suprerior. Comments? Jiang 22:10, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I don't think we should adopt any suprerior spelling systems. — Nunh-huh 22:14, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I think we should adopt a logical system based on patterns of binary digits, just like computers. Ianb 22:26, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)'s obviously up to which country can ass-kick or assimilate the other. Face the inevitable! Jiang

Speaking as an "American" (more precisely, a U.S. citizen), I strongly suspect that most people who argue for American English spelling believe there is a single standard which can be deterministically followed by conscientious editors and/or bots. This is a myth. We've all been taught "standard" English rules in school, but you'll find that, if you compare notes between regions, such rules don't necessarily jibe. What's more, when you get out into the real world, professional writers have their own disagreements about exactly how to compose text, including spellings and punctuation. Anyone who has actually read the oft-referenced Chicago Manual of Style will recall seeing many passages that mention general practices, guidelines, and preferences which are frequently not followed by respected publishers. Many times the CMoS takes the trouble to point out that its publisher, the University of Chicago Press, recommends a practice that is in variance with others. If our professional editors aren't even agreement with what is "American English", how can we Americans impose anything on the rest of the world, regardless of rationale? Rodney King's plea ("Can't we all just get along?") remains the wisest course in the face of such conflict. — Jeff Q 22:21, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
P.S. I wish all the poeple complaining about speelling would expend as much effffort with they're own spelling befour they complain about otherz. ☺ — Jeff Q 22:27, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I agree 100%. Check your own spelling before you complain about others. If we add any bots anytime soon, please add a spellchecking system to the editor. Mr. Grinch 17:14, 30 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Irony --zippedmartin 19:36, 8 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Re Jiang's comment on the superiority of American spelling - actually most of the planet thinks that calling American spelling 'American English' is simply a way of covering up the fact that Americans can't spell (or in the case of Bush, can't speak. His latest garbled attempt at communication is being played on radio and tv stations worldwide for the last thirty-six hours and people are laughing their heads off at it. Jeez, and this amadan (Irish for fool) is US president)!!! :p Seriously though, American English, is a non starter as a standard for wikipedia. This is an international encyclopaedia, not an American one. If someone Americans wants to go off and launch their own encyclopaedia with their own standard of english, that's fine. But as internationally many people baulk at American spelling (which they see as a form of linguistic imperialism), just as they baulk at the American mm/dd/yy dating standard. A decision by wikipedia to adopt American English would be sending the message that wikipedia is the world's American encyclopaedia. The current solution, that each side tolerate each other's spellings works adequately (even if people in Ireland have to restrain themselves from turning every annoying ize to ise and get a migraine when they see paycheck for pay cheque or fetus for foetus! :-) FearÉIREANN 19:26, 7 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Removed section

Marshman added this to the section on uniformity of spelling within an article. I removed it because talk is a better place for it →Raul654 17:20, Jul 21, 2004 (UTC)

Note: This idea is naive and impractical. It comes from the concept of Wikipedia as an encyclopedia like any other that is published and produced as a book. Wikipedia is a hypertext document subject to constant change; the concept of an "article" as a fixed feature written by one person and read from top to bottom by a user is, in fact, incompatible with the general purposes and best features of Wikipedia. Consequently, either Wikipedia rules support multiple English spellings or they do not. It is impossible to avoid "jarring" a reader except by making it a rule that only one form of English is acceptable. Oddly, this rule assumes writers are above being jarred, as it requires, for example, British contributers to use only American spellings in any article first started by an American and vice versa.)
I might agree with you if there is anyone paying attention to this discussion page. However, the "Rules" are not fixed for all to follow blindly, but are merely suggestions. Therefore, it seems that the best way to better define a "Rule" is to modify it where it is presented. Of course, if I thought it was a stupid rule, I could just replace it or erase it. I did not do that because all points of view need to be presented. I do not see this rule "changing", but thought needs to be given to its application,. I provided that thought. - Marshman 17:29, 21 Jul 2004 (UTC)

This manual gave contradictory advice about italics

This manual, under words as words, says that when one writes about a word rather than using the word to write about what it refers to, it should be italicized. That convention is often followed in publishing. Thus:

  • Bishop is derived from a Greek word.

(with italics), and

  • John Smith is the Bishop of Wherever.

(without italics).

Usually it's better to begin an article by writing about the thing rather than the word, thus:

  • A dog is an animal that barks.

but sometimes one should write about the word, especially if there's a need to clarify divergent meanings, or clear up confusion about the word, or to say that the word is offensive, etc., thus:

  • Dog is a term that, when used by omphalogic veterinarians, does not mean the same thing as when used by lay persons.

Thus sometimes it is appropriate that the first appearance of the title word, which should of course be bolded, is also an instance of writing about the word rather than about the thing the word refers to, so that it should be italicized. For example, in Oriental Orthodoxy, it once said something to this general effect:

  • Oriental Orthodoxy is a confusing term, because oriental means eastern, but Oriental Orthodoxy differs from Eastern Orthodoxy.

So I deleted the statement that one should use bold italics only for terms that are always italicized. It contradicts the "words as words" section. Michael Hardy 00:33, 30 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I believe the sentence you deleted applied only to the convention of bolding the title in the first sentence--I think the point was that in that specific context you should only use bold italic if the word or phrase would normally be italicized, such as the titles of books, or names of songs. I think the direction is appropriate. olderwiser 01:09, 30 Jul 2004 (UTC)
And now I've altered the sentence so that it says what you thought it meant. Now it does not contradict the advice given in the later section. And now it makes sense. Michael Hardy 00:58, 1 Aug 2004 (UTC)
What a clever trick! I've changed it back to what it was. Your special case is not a justification - David Gerard 18:28, 1 Aug 2004 (UTC)

guidelines for article splitting/merging/refactoring..?

Are there any guidelines advising on when two articles should be merged together, or one article broken into multiple ones? I didn't find anything in the manual of style or elsewhere adamrice 21:29, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Dunno where you'd put it ... two articles should be merged when they're really about the same thing, or when a bunch of very short articles really should be sections of a longer article and work that way pretty much as-is. Articles tend to be split, or at least made into a summary of more detailed articles, when they hit 32 kilobytes - which is a technical limit, but seems to work quite well as an editorial one - David Gerard 13:23, 7 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I vaguely remember something somewhere - but opinions are all over the place, for instance on whether a game sequel should have its own article. Different areas tend to have different consensuses too; wikiprojects often document what there is for agreed standards for their areas. Stan 17:38, 7 Aug 2004 (UTC)
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