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Singular they guidance

I cannot find any guidance regarding the choice between "him or her" vs "they" at all. This is highly disappointing. I've checked in lots of places:

  • Archive_210#Gender-neutral_pronouns:_guidance
  • Archive_198#Singular_they
  • MOS:GENDERID, MOS:S/HE, even MOS:NEO
  • I'm not talking about "how to address a specific person" - that's MOS:IDENTITY which is crystal. I'm asking about the general use or non-use of "gender neutral" constructions such as singular they, "him or her", etc

But where in the actual MoS are these issues addressed?? Are each construction encouraged, discouraged, or is it left up to each editor, and how about changing one for the other?

All it says is to avoid "the generic he". That's weak. Real weak. (I don't mean to state disagreement, I mean this area is about much more than merely "the generic he"!)

Even if the lack of guidance reflects lack of consensus, which I personally would be fine with, it would still be much better to say this outright in relevant sections. Instead of appearing to ignore the issue, clearly state that there is no guidance and no policy (if indeed this is the case)! CapnZapp (talk) 12:01, 15 December 2018 (UTC)

The MoS can't seriously enumerate all the cases in which there's no consensus. Where the MoS remains silent, use your judgement—and, seriously, in this case it wouldn't even matter whether you were consistent within the same article. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 12:50, 15 December 2018 (UTC)
MOS:GNL is the relevant section: "Use gender-neutral language where this can be done with clarity and precision." So, "him or her" should not be used (unless it is necessary for "clarity and precision", which seems highly unlikely). —{{u|Goldenshimmer}}|✝️|they/their|😹|T/C|☮️|John 15:12|🍂 03:11, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
No, there's definitely no consensus for such an interpretation of the guidelines. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 08:48, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
Curly Turkey, what do you mean? "him or her" isn't gender-neutral, and doesn't seem necessary for clarity... —{{u|Goldenshimmer}}|✝️|they/their|😹|T/C|☮️|John 15:12|🍂 19:49, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
Goldenshimmer: you do know what "no consensus for such an interpretation" means, do you not? Keep in mind that the issue at question is about referring to unspecified antecedents—the singular they in question is the traditional one we've had since the 14th century, not the neological one you prefer for referring to yourself. That's not a criticism of your preferences, only pointing out that we may be talking at cross purposes. CapnZapp is not asking whether it is appropriate to refer to a specified antecedent with "him or her". Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 21:42, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
"The MoS can't seriously enumerate all the cases in which there's no consensus" - sure, but it can give guidance when specifically requested.

In this area I strongly suggest we add guidance (and even "non-guidance" is much better than complete silence!). Why? Because silence could mean "use your own judgement" but it could also mean "you're looking in the wrong place, and you're about to make a mistake". The voluminous discussions in this area clearly show that MOS guidance is of paramount importance. It's not about achieving consensus - it's about informing editors in a clear and succinct way without having to wade through loads of talk discussions (not to mention having to check half a dozen places!)

Even if all we can do is agree to disagree - even if we can't even agree that this should be left up to each editor! - it's still better that the MoS says as much (or little)! "The MoS currently offers no guidance on singular they" or "There is no consensus regarding gender-neutral language" just to offer two example phrasings.

At the very least, this means I (as an editor) can stop looking for something that isn't there! CapnZapp (talk) 10:28, 16 December 2018 (UTC)

"sure, but it can give guidance when specifically requested"—(a) there's no consensus on what guidance to give; (b) "specifically requested" guidance is what you ask for on a talk page, not in the MoS itself. You are free to use singular they, "he or she", recast, etc., just as you are when you run into that brick-wall of a decision between employing "large" or "big". The MoS's job is not to micromanage editorial judgement. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:07, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
This is something that pops up again and again, as should be clear as day by browsing these archives. If it isn't clear to you the MoS would be improved by bringing up more gender language examples, I don't know what to say. Btw, consider not comparing "should we use singular they" to "large or big", it makes people not take you seriously. Just a heads up. Now, how about my other arguments - such as not having to needlessly look in five or so places before you realize what you're looking for isn't there? CapnZapp (talk) 23:23, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
What "pops up again and again", CapnZapp, is not people asking for guidance on which to use, but people arguing about whether the MoS should allow or disallow certain usages. There are people who really, really dislike singular they, for instance, who have been unsuccessful at having the MoS recommend against its use, but nevertheless will try "again and again". You're asking for guidance when there is no guidance the MoS can or should give, and you have not given an instance of it causing concrete article-space grief, so you're not presenting any evidence that it's something the MoS should address. Do you want to use singular they? Then use it. Do you have issues singular they? Use something else. That's advice that applies to every grammatical construction and unit of vocabulary in the language. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 01:59, 17 December 2018 (UTC)
Your response makes me wonder if maybe I have failed to explain my query. Am I arguing whether to allow singular they or any other expression? No. Am I trying to get its use disallowed? No. Am I asking for help for myself personally? No, no and no.
What I am asking for is that singular they is mentioned in the section on gender-neutral language (or some other logical place the community deems appropriate). What then do I suggest we say? Anything really, just as long as the issue is addressed at all, allowing editors to stop looking for guidance. As for what we actually say: even saying we can't say anything is much better than complete silence.
So. Please don't conflate my ask for people wanting policy to change either way, or even people asking you and others to explain to me (here at talk) what gives (or doesn't give). Talk pages are meant to improve articles. It is the article I want improved. Bringing up 'singular they' will improve the MoS. Regardless of what we actually say, as long as the editor understands that he or she (or they) have found the place where guidance (or lack of) is given, and there's no point looking elsewhere.
Now, you're one single editor effectively saying we can't cover every single language construction, which is correct (and I'm not asking about every single construction, just one highly contentious one), and comparing the case of singular they to "large and big" which, frankly, is aggravatingly preposterous, and something I really want to ignore moving on. I need more than one editor telling me it's better to say nothing at all, in the age where popular tv shows start to use this construction (Billions), and plenty of wikipedians have strong opinions either way. Again, I don't ask for consensus to change or even happen at all. Just that something is said to alert the reader there's no point in keep looking for what isn't there. Effectively arguing that "generic he" should be covered but not "singular they" is an unsupportable opinion in my view. Have a nice day and thank you for reading. CapnZapp (talk) 09:44, 17 December 2018 (UTC)
And I'm telling you again: no, no, no, and no. Just as we're not going to fall for the "aggravatingly preposterous" idea of including non-guidance on split infinitives, dangling prepositions, inanimate whose, or any other of the long list of things an editor may conceivably come to the MoS looking for guidance on. Generic he is covered because there's a consensus that it should be avoided. There is no consensus on whether singular they should be avoided, encouraged, or ignored. The implicit guidance is to use your judgement if the MoS is silent—and the MoS is silent on most things. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 10:00, 17 December 2018 (UTC)
First off, I'm arguing that this issue isn't like most language issues, and your attempts to generalize the issue are not appreciated. Please stop conflating my request with the whole host of possible language issues - it makes you come across as avoiding my actual issue. If you don't think this issue is important, fair enough - as long as you say so instead of trying to paint my request as an objectively unreasonable one, which it clearly isn't. Your other argument, that we should only bring up examples when we have a consensus on our guidance, is weak. I can easily see us bringing up examples even where we disagree on what guidance to give, if we deem it more important to signal to the reader he's found the right place and can stop looking. Singular they is my candidate for such an example. CapnZapp (talk) 10:36, 17 December 2018 (UTC)
You'll notice nobody else has risen to the bait. Perhaps that should give you a clue that what I'm saying is more than just my opinion? Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 21:07, 17 December 2018 (UTC)
First off, let me ask you never to characterize other editor's requests and considerations as "bait", as if my purpose here is to lure editors into arguments. It makes you appear rude and condescending. Other than that, yes, you and I are most definitely done, and I'll await the opinions of other editors. CapnZapp (talk) 09:29, 18 December 2018 (UTC)

───────────────────────── Should we mention "singular they" in our Manual of Style, even if we have no guidance to give? This would at least allow editors to stop looking for what isn't there. Please note I am not reopening the discussion on changing our consensus or lack thereof, and I am not trying to encourage or discourage its use. What I am doing is suggesting our MoS mentions singular they (perhaps as an example at WP:SH/E), even if all we can say is that there is no consensus. I feel it is problematic if we appear to completely ignore a highly topical and contentious issue like this. CapnZapp (talk) 09:29, 18 December 2018 (UTC) Pinging previously engaged editors: @SMcCandlish, Georgia guy, David Eppstein, John Cline, Mathglot, Natureium, and Sb2001: CapnZapp (talk) 09:32, 18 December 2018 (UTC)

  • I am reluctant to suggest that our MoS should specifically mention the use of "singular they" at MOS:GNL. Not because it's inappropriate but because its scope is limited to subjective constructions where he or she would otherwise be used; to the exclusion of objective forms (using them) possessive forms (using their) and post possessive forms (using theirs) as well as "they are" and "they have" constructions. I am concerned that a good faith step in this direction will all too quickly suffer from inclusive bloating to ultimately obfuscate the important message which is gender neutrality. I think the guideline is sufficiently robust in telling us to avoid generic he constructions while leaving the rest to our language and grammar skills. The problem between you and Goldenshimmer is somewhat twofold.

    First we have GS incorrectly believing that wp:gnl discourages the use of "he or she" constructions which it absolutely does not. Then we have you, CapnZapp, warring to use the possessive form "his or her" while completely missing the second instance in the same sentence where it says: "regardless of whether their edits were justifiable". Remember that wp:gnl also says: "each article should be internally consistent and employ one or the other exclusively" making each of you equally right, and equally wrong. Never forget that some constructions are best served by recasting the sentence to remove clunky redundancies wherever they may occur. The sentence you both are warring to improve is, perhaps, just such an example. I believe that once you dispense with overriding each other and begin to collaborate instead, you will, together, achieve the goal which you mutually share of improving Wikipedia.

    That is the best answer I can devise at this time; I thank you for inviting my opinion. Cheers.--John Cline (talk) 12:15, 18 December 2018 (UTC)

Thank you for your opinion. I wouldn't call one edit and one reversal "warring" myself, and indeed the issue was subsequently handled just the way you suggest. I wouldn't even say I was "using" the form "he or she" - I merely objected to replacing one style for another; I wasn't trying to exhibit a preference for one style over another. So, with respect, I'm not sure I see what about ""regardless of whether their edits were justifiable" I missed? Unless, of course, you're arguing that replacing one style for another is justifiable by policy. But doesn't that mean the door is open for wholesale search-and-replace operations to add one style (singular they, for example) even in places where the author chose other styles? I am open to being wrong here. Regards, CapnZapp (talk) 14:30, 18 December 2018 (UTC)
You are correct and I apologize for characterizing your efforts as warring; that is my mistake. I didn't mean to open any doors to encourage wholesale search-and-replace operations to add one's preferred style either. wp:gnl covers that as well; saying: "As with all optional styles, articles should not be changed from one style to another unless there is a substantial reason to do so." regarding the "regardless of whether their edits were justifiable" text, I meant only to show that your edit resulted in a sentence that was written as: "An editor who repeatedly restores his or her preferred version is edit warring, regardless of whether their edits were justifiable:" where therein, one occurrence of "their" was changed to "his or her" while the second occurrence was left as "their". I hope I haven't caused more confusion. Best regards.--John Cline (talk) 14:57, 18 December 2018 (UTC)
Ook. True. This goes all the way back to User:Doniago's edit of 12:40, 12 June 2015, which, in fairness to User:Goldenshimmer, is the edit, if any, I should have targeted, not theirs. I was off by over three years :) Thank you. CapnZapp (talk) 23:05, 18 December 2018 (UTC)
If you're concerned enough about an edit I made three years ago to ping me, could you please provide a WP:DIFF for it so that when I inevitably see that I was pinged I can see why I'm being pinged over something that happened three years ago? Thank you. DonIago (talk) 02:37, 19 December 2018 (UTC)
  • One thing I want to see if anyone knows is that there are some Wikipedians, such as User:Double sharp, who now prefer generic male language is always acceptable. Georgia guy (talk) 12:52, 18 December 2018 (UTC)
Georgia guy: Something's broken in your statement I can't parse it. Are you saying double sharp believes the prescriptive generic he should be acceptable on Wikipedia? Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 03:16, 19 December 2018 (UTC)
Sure, I think it ought to be acceptable if there's no other way to word the sentence with clarity and precision while not shifting the emphasis inappropriately to the repeated pronouns like "he or she" would do. Of course, I do not think it is preferable, and would favour rewording. I would also favour "he or she" over "they", as while the former is clunky, it is at least unambiguous between singular and plural, which can be important. Double sharp (talk) 02:30, 27 December 2018 (UTC)

In an attempt to stay on topic, I'm bringing up User:Cthomas3 and the edit summary we can’t realistically add every edge case to the MOS (actual post was added to the other section, here: [1], but I feel I am making it best justice discussing it here). I completely agree we can't and should not add every edge case. Luckily that is not what I am discussing. In other words, please don't mischaracterize, it makes for poor discussion. I am arguing that singular they is not an "edge case" comparable to just any other case. Instead I am submitting singular they is an especially important/topical style/construction to address, overriding our regular (and understandable) reluctance to not mention aspects we can't reach a consensus on. Please address your posts to this statement, and not statements relativized into insignificance. Thank you. CapnZapp (talk) 16:58, 19 December 2018 (UTC)

Greetings, CapnZapp. I do understand where you are coming from, but if we are going to offer no guidance, I am not sure I see the point. What is the effective difference between not addressing it at all, and addressing it to say specifically we are not addressing it? The point you have been making, as far as I can see, is that it gives editors assurance that they can stop looking for guidance because there isn't any. Is that sufficient reason to cover it? I'm not so sure, especially given the fact that just because the MOS doesn't make a statement either way, some other policy or guideline might. Plus, I don't think this comes up enough for it to be a significant time saver. I go back to my original thought on this: either make a best judgment and be bold, or open a discussion on the talk page. CThomas3 (talk) 18:46, 19 December 2018 (UTC)
Thank you for seeing my point. CapnZapp (talk) 22:25, 19 December 2018 (UTC)
CapnZapp: if you want to make the case that singular they is special, then you have to actually make the case. So far you've only made the assertion, and then stomped your foot about it. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 21:36, 19 December 2018 (UTC)
I don't know you before this discussion, and based on our limited interaction: what would be the point? I would spend a lot of effort only for you to still shoot me down? No thanks. Honestly, if this discussion's going to end with approval, I'm pretty sure it's going to be against your wishes. And honestly, if you don't already see the point, I'm not sure what else I could tell you that might change your mind. Bring in a lot of quotes that build up the case "singular they is a hot topic these days", only for you to hunt for details to discredit? Nah. I know enough of these discussions not to do that. I feel secure in my knowledge singular they is a major new language influence (likely the future replacement of "he or she") but if nobody else is speaking up, there's nothing else to do but wait until someone does. CapnZapp (talk) 22:25, 19 December 2018 (UTC)
CapnZapp: "what would be the point?"—you can't seriously have just said this out loud. If you are going to make no effort whatsoever to demonstrate why your little bugbear is a special exception, then there's no point in anybody wasting their time humouring you. You'll notice that even after you canvassed a number of other participants, you're still not a cm closer to having any of this put in the MoS page. Pull your fingers out of your ears.
"singular they is a major new language influence"—Jesus Christ, have you not even clicked through to the singular they article? It's been near-universal for nearly seven hundred years. You, I, and everyone else here uses it every single day. It could hardly get more prevalent in the language if it started doing backflips on the dinner table. "New" ... ffs ... Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:36, 19 December 2018 (UTC)
The use of singular they as the preferred pronoun for gender neutrality is something I hadn't heard of just a few short years back. You keep mischaracterizing my request - stop it, this time without the please. If you consider my colossal waste of time talking to you as "no effort whatsoever" then you need to readjust your expectations: this is quite enough unconstructive banter as it is. CapnZapp (talk) 08:05, 20 December 2018 (UTC)
WP:IDONTKNOWIT isn't an argument. Even in that particular context, academic debate about that goes back to at least the late 1960s. "Singular they is a hot topic these days" is a reason to have a good article on it; it has nothing to do with what MoS should advise (which is nothing, if we don't have a consensus to advise something specific).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  09:01, 20 December 2018 (UTC)

One of the more-recent discussions on singular they was in 2017. That this topic recurs probably makes it worth addition to the MOS, even if the MOS would rather not speak on "correct English" or would rather not provide a statement such as "no consensus on what to do with it". CT, you've spent more time arguing against such here against a one-liner than you might countenance as reasonable, and certainly more than I would. --Izno (talk) 23:46, 19 December 2018 (UTC)

Singular they is hardly the most common disputed construction that recurs on TALK:MOS. Are we going to set the precedent of including a non-guidance one-liner every time someone raises their voice loud enough?
But more importantly is that a one-liner will make things only worse with regards to singular they, as there are multiple usages—the traditional singular they used for referring to non-specified antecedents, and the 21st-century, politically-charged usage for specified antecedents (the one Goldenshimmer prefers for themself). A one-liner won't address this, which will only raise more questions (so more of these discussios anyways—nothing will put an end to them).
So what now—a paragraph? With examples to demonstrate the different usages? Prefaced and followed by non-advice on the lack of consensus on whether any of these usages should be disallowed, or even (as per Goldenshimmer's interpretation of MOS:GNL) enforced?
If a one-liner's not going to solve any problems, then why have one? Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 00:54, 20 December 2018 (UTC)
You keep setting up strawmen you can defeat instead of actually engaging with the argument: that mentioning singular they (regardless of the number of lines) signals that we are aware of the issue even if there isn't any consensus on what directions to give, and that the editor can stop looking now. Let's see how many more times you will reply before you actually respond to the specific request made. And please stop bringing up the political views of other editors - this is my request, it has nothing to do with what actual guidance to give, and I have specifically forked off your off-topic debate just to avoid conflating the issue. Revert that, and I will have to start a new talk section and leave you to this one. CapnZapp (talk) 08:13, 20 December 2018 (UTC)
How many people have to tell you "no" before you get the hint, CapnZapp? Stomp, stomp, stomp. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 21:08, 20 December 2018 (UTC)
More than you? CapnZapp (talk) 21:32, 20 December 2018 (UTC)
You've ignored everyone else, too (John Cline, Cthomas3, SMcCandlish), but keep on whimpering that it's only me standing in your way. Stomp, stomp, stomp. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:10, 20 December 2018 (UTC)
There's no point is adding an MoS line item when there is no consensus guidance to give. If you compare the size of MoS to The Chicago Manual of Style and New Hart's Rules, you'll find that we're declining to address about 99% of style questions that could arise. Conflicts about singular they come up often enough we should probably try to come to a clear consensus on what to do with it, but we have no need to declare in the guideline itself "we have no consensus". The few times we've done things like that in the past it's led to nasty messes (like years of battlegrounding over capitalization of common names of species). We have no need to "signal that we are aware of" singular they, since everyone familiar with English is aware of it. Our WP:P&G pages serve a "do this, don't do that" purpose, not a "catalogue what we're aware of" purpose.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  09:01, 20 December 2018 (UTC)

So there's a bigger problem

I see this (#singular they guidance -- my comment CapnZapp (talk) 23:09, 18 December 2018 (UTC)) has come here because CapnZapp and Goldenshimmer have a disagreement going on over at Wikipedia:Edit warring.[2][3] They should have mentioned that in this discussion. Goldenshimmer: there is no consensus that "him or her" is to be considered non–gender neutral on Wikipedia, and you have not sought to obtain that consensus. I'm sure you're aware by now that your edits are controversial—there are enough editors who get their undergarments in a bunch over singular they even being allowed on Wikipedia in the first place, and the suggestion that "him or her" is to be considered non–gender neutral will only bring out pitchforks, even from those who are fine with singular they. Yes, you have a rationale for all this, but you do not have WP:CONSENSUS, and Wikipedia is not a forum to WP:RIGHTGREATWRONGS. To be extra clear: the issue is not singular they, which the MoS in no way discourages. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 03:25, 17 December 2018 (UTC)

What I don't find in any of this is you asking either of us for our reasons for making our respective edits. Maybe you are making conclusions that could have been avoided by asking either of us directly? Personally, I'm more than willing to answer any questions you might have, but maybe best over at Wikipedia Talk:Edit warring, since at least in my opinion my edit has nothing to do with improving this article (unlike the above, separate, issue)? Cheers CapnZapp (talk) 09:50, 17 December 2018 (UTC)
I don't have any questions for you—the edit should never have been made for the highly contentious reasons given in the eidt comment, especially on a policy page. And, no, the dispute does not rise to the level of needing explicit MoS guidance instruction creep to deal with it. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 10:05, 17 December 2018 (UTC)
Are you saying my or Goldenshimmer's edit should not have been made? Please don't bring up an issue (which you did here under the "So there's a bigger problem" subheader) if you're not interested in following up. Especially don't expect discussions to end right where you contend some edit should not have been made! Anyway, again: this discussion belongs IMHO on the page where the edit was made, and not here. CapnZapp (talk) 10:42, 17 December 2018 (UTC)
I brought it up because you obviously started this discussion in reaction to what went on there. It's best to disclose those things, or people will suspect you of ulterior motives. Goldenshimmer's edit would not have been problematic in and of itself, but the stated motivation most definitely is—it is disruptive to make systematic edits based on rrationales that do not have consensus. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 21:10, 17 December 2018 (UTC)
I obviously agree Goldenshimmer's edit was problematic, or I wouldn't have reverted it. You, however, seem to prefer drawing your own conclusions regarding the motivation of editors, rather than asking them about it. Since you refuse to ask me at the relevant page, I will tell you here: No, I didn't revert him because I didn't like his motivation. I felt his motivation was wrong, but still, please never revert someone based on their motivation alone. No, I reverted an edit (never mind its edit summary) that changed "he or she" for what I considered no particular benefit, and I came here (to MoS) to research possible rationales. Had MoS told me there was consensus for wholesale replacing "him or her" with "they", I would have recanted my reversal. But it was a bitch to find that out, since the MoS never actually addresses the issue!
On the subject of hypotheticals, had G added a new chunk of text, where a particular style choice wasn't already made, I wouldn't have minded him choosing singular they. As it turned out, a third editor edited the text to avoid the pronoun altogether, which received a public thanks from me. When I found out that the best MoS can offer is "don't change one optional style for another without reason", I was sufficiently disappointed that I started the above section - surely our Manual of Style should at the very least tell us editors that there is no consensus regarding "singular they", perhaps the most discussed language construct in recent years, and far more important than trifles like whether to say large or big. As for you being suspicious, that's entirely on you. I know why I started the section above, that's quite enough for me. If you start talk sections based on your own suspicious nature, then you should be prepared for those to be questioned and discussed. That is all. CapnZapp (talk) 09:51, 18 December 2018 (UTC)
"since the MoS never actually addresses the issue!"—for good reasons, that you don't seem interested in trying to understand. The rest of your comment sounds like you're hunting for a fight, not trying to solve a problem. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 03:19, 19 December 2018 (UTC)
The MOS can’t realistically address every conceivable style issue, especially those that it isn’t giving any guidance on. I cannot imagine how unwieldy a MOS would be if we had paragraph after paragraph of “Editors are free to choose which style of x vs. y they use, so long as they remain consistent throughout the article.” While I get your point that explicitly saying so might save some editor time not having to hunt for something that isn’t there, that’s what talk pages are for. Or better yet, editors can simply be bold; if it’s wrong, someone will undoubtedly come behind and fix it for them. I seem to recall a few experienced editors saying they deliberately do that with hyphens/dashes during a MOS:DASH discussion. CThomas3 (talk) 05:51, 19 December 2018 (UTC)
(To answer the question in the previous section above, I'm well aware we're discussing unknown subjects, rather than specific individuals.) Curly Turkey writes that "there is no consensus that "him or her" is to be considered non–gender neutral on Wikipedia". It seems obvious to me that it's not gender-neutral, but it's evidently not obvious to everyone, given the above discussion. To clarify, it's not gender-neutral because it excludes anyone who doesn't use "him" or "her" pronouns. If language excluding those people is considered "gender-neutral" by Wikipedia for the purpose of MOS:GNL, it should be clearly stated there since it's a non-obvious use of the phrase — and the policy should be changed to make it inclusive, since Wikipedia's acceptance of exclusionary language would only serve to drive people away. Otherwise, it would be helpful to clarify the existing policy, so everyone's on the same page about what it means. —{{u|Goldenshimmer}}|✝️|they/their|😹|T/C|☮️|John 15:12|🍂 08:22, 18 December 2018 (UTC)
(In terms of the "motivation" of my edit, it was to make the article conform to MOS:GNL, which — by my reading, apparently in dispute per above — discourages "him or her". —{{u|Goldenshimmer}}|✝️|they/their|😹|T/C|☮️|John 15:12|🍂 08:39, 18 December 2018 (UTC))
MOS:GNL explicitly encourages "him or her" (second bullet in Pronouns section). There's an argument to be made that the construct is problematic with respect to non-binary gender, but I don't see such an argument there already. The other reason for avoiding "him or her" (that is mentioned in MOS:GNL but not related to gender neutrality) is that it can often be awkward. —David Eppstein (talk) 08:44, 18 December 2018 (UTC)
Comment: Regarding MOS:GNL explicitly encourages "him or her" (second bullet in Pronouns section), I don't see it. There are no subsections of the section indicated by MOS:GNL, much less one named "Pronouns". The shortcut leads to a two paragraph section, and the second paragraph is about ships. Searching the entire page for "him or her" yields zero results. Maybe you meant another shortcut, User:David Eppstein? Thank you in advance. CapnZapp (talk) 14:18, 18 December 2018 (UTC)
Sorry, I didn't realize that WP:GNL and MOS:GNL are different pages. It's in WP:GNL. —David Eppstein (talk) 18:30, 18 December 2018 (UTC)
Thanks. Anyway, yes, the recommendation in the WP:GNL essay for "he or she" should be removed, so that Wikipedia is a more inclusive environment, and it should be advised against there and at MOS:GNL. I assume these changes will need community consensus, even though I'm right. ;) —{{u|Goldenshimmer}}|✝️|they/their|😹|T/C|☮️|John 15:12|🍂 20:20, 18 December 2018 (UTC)
Do note, Goldenshimmer, that you can, at least for these purposes, safely ignore WP:GNL and all other essays. MOS:GNL, on the other hand, is policy. CapnZapp (talk) 23:12, 18 December 2018 (UTC)
WP:MOS, as it states at the top of the page, is a guideline, not policy—although a guideline built with years of consensus-building. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 03:13, 19 December 2018 (UTC)
This is bizarre. "Him or her" is explicitly gender neutral. Not everything needs to be codified in the MoS. Natureium (talk) 14:41, 18 December 2018 (UTC)
That's like saying "Democrat or Republican is explicitly politically neutral". There exist people who do not identify with the male and female genders and do not wish to be called one or the other. I'm not a fan of made-up pronouns but the non-made-up alternative, singular they, usually works perfectly well to cover those cases as well. I do agree with Curley Turkey that "there is no consensus that "him or her" is to be considered non–gender neutral" but there's a case to be made that it shouldn't be. —David Eppstein (talk) 18:35, 18 December 2018 (UTC)
Of course there's a case to be made. The problem is Goldenshimmer doesn't want to make the case, but only state that because "[i]t seems obvious to" them, that it's okay to go ahead and make these changes without consensus. It's "obvious" to me that Eastern-style YEAR-MONTH-DAY date formatting is superior in every way to DAY-MONTH-YEAR, and far, far superior to the joke that is MONTH-DAY-YEAR (and it is), but I'm not going to go around disrupting Wikipedia over it. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 03:10, 19 December 2018 (UTC)
Curly Turkey: Excuse me, but where did I state that "it's okay to go ahead and make these changes without consensus" (or anything remotely like that), and where was I "disrupting Wikipedia over it"? I've done neither such thing, as far as I am aware. I made a change to a page to make it conform to (my reading of) a guideline, someone else disagreed with the change, thereby indicating that my interpretation of the guideline was not universal, and so now we're here discussing it. As far as I am aware, that's exactly how things are supposed to be done. Please clarify. Thanks! —{{u|Goldenshimmer}}|✝️|they/their|😹|T/C|☮️|John 15:12|🍂 00:55, 20 December 2018 (UTC)
I'm glad that's how it's working out. When you state your interpretation of the guidelines is "obvious" to you it makes it seem like you believe there's nothing to discuss, and raises concerns that you might continue making such systematic edits. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 01:20, 20 December 2018 (UTC)
Ah, fair enough I guess. For clarity, since my interpretation of the policy is disputed, I indeed won't make further changes relying on that interpretation unless and until it has been confirmed, since that would be obnoxious. Rather, I hope to see the policy clarified (preferably in favor of my interpretation, because I think it's the right one, but that's up to the community to decide). Thanks for the response Curly Turkey. :) —{{u|Goldenshimmer}}|✝️|they/their|😹|T/C|☮️|John 15:12|🍂 01:31, 20 December 2018 (UTC)

Ellipses and nbsp

At MOS:ELLIPSIS:

  • Use an ellipsis if material ...
    • Put a space on each side of an ellipsis ...
    • Place terminal punctuation after an ellipsis ...
    • Some of these spaces should be non-breaking spaces ( ), as follows, to prevent awkward line breaks:
      • to keep a quotation mark (and any adjacent punctuation) from being separated from the start or end of the quotation ("... we are still worried"; "Are we going to France ...?").
      • to keep the ellipsis from wrapping to the next line ("France, Germany, ... and Belgium", but not "France, Germany, ... and Belgium").

For me at least (Vector/Firefox/Win10), the <code> tags insert spaces around the contents, creating a confusing appearance. I'd like to replace:

<code>&amp;nbsp;</code>

with

{{Mono|&amp;nbsp;}}

in the MOS:ELLIPSIS page source?

Also, how about strengthening "Some of these spaces should be" to "Use", for consistency with the "Put" and "Place" in the previous two?

Here's the rendered result:

  • Use an ellipsis if material ...
    • Put a space on each side of an ellipsis ...
    • Place terminal punctuation after an ellipsis ...
    • Use non-breaking spaces (&nbsp;), as follows, to prevent awkward line breaks:
      • to keep a quotation mark (and any adjacent punctuation) from being separated from the start or end of the quotation ("...&nbsp;we are still worried"; "Are we going to France&nbsp;...?").
      • to keep the ellipsis from wrapping to the next line ("France, Germany,&nbsp;... and Belgium", but not "France, Germany,&nbsp;...&nbsp;and Belgium").

—[AlanM1(talk)]— 22:27, 22 December 2018 (UTC)

Where examples include markup we often use < code> in some way, though not in uniform ways -- sometimes we only put the markup in < code> and sometimes we put the whole slice of source text in < code>. I think the right choice in this case is the latter, because it starkly shows all the characters including spaces. I started to do that, but ended up reorganizing the whole section. EEng 00:57, 23 December 2018 (UTC)
Looks good now. —[AlanM1(talk)]— 17:55, 24 December 2018 (UTC)
The problem was mixing code and non-code markup. The text should have been using something like {{mxt|"...&nbsp;we are still worried"}}, with a result like: "...&nbsp;we are still worried". The entire string represents a wikisource view of "... we are still worried".  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  21:16, 27 December 2018 (UTC)

Continuing...

While we're looking at this section, (Place terminal punctuation after an ellipsis only if it is textually important, as is often the case with exclamation marks and question marks but rarely with periods.) jumped out at me as an interesting style deviation. Why is that commentary there? Is it because of WP:LQ? --Izno (talk) 16:21, 23 December 2018 (UTC)

In trying to improve the presentation of that section recently, I preserved that simply because it was there before. We have a few MOS sections like this, which deal with things that seem unlikely to arise in encyclopedia articles. I had to really struggle to come up with examples that seemed even plausible for what we do. And it may very well be that there izno need for that provision in particular. EEng 16:43, 23 December 2018 (UTC)

User's odd styling edits

@An Errant Knight: has been doing lots of edits like this for years. Overlinking states, adding United States where it was already implicit, adding unneeded bolding, and making an unusual choice for reflist formatting. It seems to me that all these things are not good style, but I'm not sure we have specific guidelines for all. I've asked him to stop some of that (didn't get to the bold yet). Comments? Dicklyon (talk) 00:26, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

MOS:OVERLINKcovers not tacking on , United States, etc., after obvious places like Alaska. MOS:EGG vaguely gets at doing things like Cooper Landing, Alaska ("Cooper Landing, Alaska" is a unit here for WP purposes), and OVERLINK again would not have us link US state names anyway, unless there was a specific contextual reason to do so. I think there's another page somewhere that gets into "chain linking" of this sort, especially with regard to page names, but I forget where. Use of "<br>" is invalid HTML. Even using the correct <br /> there ("<br />[[Cooper Landing, Alaska|Cooper Landing]]<br />Alaska<br />United States") would not be how we render placenames in infoboxes; we don't have a rule on it that I know of, it's just WP:Common sense and the general consensus evident in thousands of infoboxes. For city infoboxes, people sometimes craft separate, custom infobox fields for various civil divisions under which the city is jurisdictionalized, but this is probably a poor idea and seems to have been done primarily to inject more flag icons, which is itself a MOS:FLAGS problem. Boldfacing only has a few, sharply prescribed uses, at MOS:BOLD, and browbeating readers with excessive emphasis of list items (already emphasized by being in a list) isn't among them. Doing that is also a WP:NOT#GUIDE problem; it's field guide style, not encyclopedia style. The rest of the edit (aside from mistakenly assuming that "formerly X" and "formerly known as X" are synonymous) appeared to be OK. I undid the objectionable bits [4]. Also put the town location ahead of the mile-marker trivia in the infobox (the latter should probably be deleted or moved to the article body), and fixed a MOS:NUM and MOS:DASH issue. I do note that most of our populated-places articles do include the country in their infoboxes, so I left that in the infobox. Whether we should be doing that in the infobox, the lead, or where ever, is a question that's been hashed over before but never seems to come to a very certain conclusion and get codified.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  01:01, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
Use of "<br>" is invalid HTML. No. Do I have to bash you over the head again? :) --Izno (talk) 03:02, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
There izno need to resort to violence. EEng 03:34, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
It also boogers some of the syntax highlighters, including the default one presented in the "Preferences" options.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  06:18, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
<br> is invalid XHTML, but it is valid HTML and is preferred in HTML 5. See http://w3c.github.io/html/textlevel-semantics.html#the-br-element. Quale (talk) 05:20, 14 December 2018 (UTC)
Is this addressed somewhere in WPs guidelines? Should we stop using <br/>? Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 08:54, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
WP is nowhere near complying with HTML 5 yet. It's a grail-shaped beacon in the distance.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  09:03, 20 December 2018 (UTC)
Because we're not there yet isn't ever a reason not to do something now. So, yes, Curly Turkey, we should stop using <br/>. Peter coxhead (talk) 12:21, 21 December 2018 (UTC)
Except a) it's not at all against the HTML 5 specs (a / before the > is optional, and any or no number of spaces before / is optional); b) removing the "/ " breaks tools some of us rely on (here on-site), and will also do so to various off-site tools, like HTML parsing and conversion utilities (which affects WP:REUSE); c) removing it does nothing useful. It's too soon to start insisting on the purest version of HTML 5, even as we move toward compliance with what the spec actually requires. If you want to work on that, see WP:LINT. And at some point, the devs are going to have the fix the problem of ; and : generating bogus list markup when not actually in a description list.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  15:29, 21 December 2018 (UTC)
HTML has quite a few empty elements, but the only ones I think are of concern to Wikipedia editors are <img>, <br> and <hr>. In practice I think the / to explicitly self-close is almost always used with <img ... />, probably because this tag has required attributes. In contrast, <br> and <hr> are often used without attributes. I found this analysis of empty elements in the HTML, XHTML and SGML standards from 2000 to 2013 to be quite interesting: http://jkorpela.fi/html/empty.html. Quale (talk) 21:37, 23 December 2018 (UTC)
But we don't use <img ... /> at all; we use [[File: ...]]. Until doing <br> breaks no browsers or other tools, we should continue using <br />. It is in fact compliant with HTML 5, and backward compatible with everything, while <br> fails the latter criterion.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  21:21, 27 December 2018 (UTC)
Hold on a second, <br> doesn't break any browsers and never has. Please demonstrate a browser in 2018 that is broken by <br>. Your arguments would be more compelling if you didn't just make things up, such as "<br> is invalid HTML" (a patent falsehood). I'm also skeptical that off-site tooling can't handle <br>, so a specific example of something actually in use for Wikipedia that breaks would be helpful here. That said it is reasonable to use the XHTML syntax in macros, but we should stick to arguing from facts. Quale (talk) 05:02, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
Something actually in use in for Wikipedia is what I already used as an example: the syntax highlighter provided in Preferences > Gadgets. Also, any tool that expect XHTML and which will throw an error about anything non-compliant rather than accepting the error silently; that will be pretty much every XML-based tool, unless it was specifically written to handle HTML 4.01 markup or more recently written to handle HTML 5 markup which now permits the HTML 4.01-style <br> syntax again. It can cause issues in browsers, in which presence or absence of the slash-space may cause the browser to drop into HTML 4.01 Transitional versus Strict mode, or the browser's own quirks mode, which is going to affect the parsing of a lot of other stuff, in ways that the average person is not going to be able to predict or explain. Similarly, it will cause a cascade of validation failures in a number of tools, if they switch to a parsing mode for strict HTML5 or HTML 4.01 and reject XHTML syntax upon encountering something like <br> (which is fine in Transitional, but throws errors – different ones – in HTML 4.01 Strict and in XHTML parsing). Given sufficient adoption of HTML 5, and sufficient stability and consistency of it (for now, W3C HTML 5.2 and the draft 5.3 still directly conflict with WHATWG HTML5 on some things), then eventually none of this will matter. In 2018, it still matters. HTML 5 (at least on the W3C side) was explicitly intended for backward compatibility with applications that parse XHTML and both forms of HTML 4.01 (aside from SGML ShortTag NetEnabl ImmedNet features, which no one uses anyway), and tools that use them are still in wide deployment. It's difficult to be certain how wide, because there don't seem to be any reliable stats on HTML 5 adoption levels across any classes of tools.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  13:07, 28 December 2018 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Today's featured article/January 27, 2019

Imperator torosus, the brawny bolete, is a fungus in the family Boletaceae. Native to southern Europe east to the Caucasus and Israel, it is generally associated with deciduous trees such as hornbeam, oak and beech in warm, dry locales. Although generally rare in Europe, it appears to be relatively common in Hungary. Appearing in summer and autumn on chalky soils, the stocky mushrooms have an ochre cap up to 20 cm (8 in) across, yellow pores on the cap underside, and a wine-red to brown or blackish stalk up to 6–15 cm (2.4–5.9 in) long by 3–6 cm (1.2–2.4 in) wide.

Anyone have a problem with those commas? The argument could be made that WP:MOS requires a comma after "oak" (or no comma after "underside"), but if so, then WP:MOS is wrong. - Dank (push to talk) 02:33, 29 December 2018 (UTC)

  • WP:SOFIXIT, or take it up on the article's talk page. This isn't a MOS matter. And while we're here, MOS:SERIAL (as well as several of the sections around it) is a good example of the kind of general advice on writing that has nothing to do with house style and shouldn't be in MOS. One could imagine some kind of writing-refresher page, separate from MOS, that could accommodate such stuff. (Most of it's well-written, I rush to add.) EEng 04:39, 29 December 2018 (UTC)
    I can't agree. MOS:SERIAL is there because we've had problems with people trying to force serial commas into, or strip them from, large numbers of articles. (And when someone arrives here with a "WP:MOS is wrong" attitude – about a language for which is there's nothing like a single authority, but there is wide disagreement between style guides on virtually every matter – we know for a fact that this is going to continue.) That said, we might not need all the examples, but comma-related problems are among the most frequent, so their utility as examples is probably toward the high end. One thing me might consider, MoS-wide, is putting examples into two-column tables, to distribute them a bit horizontally.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  15:10, 30 December 2018 (UTC)
    Actually, I somehow missed Editors may use either convention so long as each article is internally consistent, which is the one thing that qualifies this as a house-style provision. Oops. But I still say there's too much general-writing advice in MOS. EEng 16:39, 30 December 2018 (UTC)
    No disrespect to MOS or to you was intended, Stanton. If what I was doing here was opaque, it will make more sense in January. - Dank (push to talk) 15:41, 30 December 2018 (UTC)
    And apologies if I was misreading you. I'm just really wary about "MoS is wrong" arguments or anything that sound like them, since we've had some (sometimes pretty extreme) problems with WP:GREATWRONGS campaigning against various line items in these guidelines (and in the naming conventions).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  16:19, 30 December 2018 (UTC)
    No, of course, I hesitated to write that, and should have kept on hesitating :) - Dank (push to talk) 17:39, 30 December 2018 (UTC)
    Dank, while you're at it, perhaps you could fix the gobbledy at the end: "up to 6–15 cm (2.4–5.9 in) long by 3–6 cm (1.2–2.4 in) wide".

    That would be better as computer code.

    "typically 6–15 cm long by 3–6 cm wide (24–5.9 × 12–2.4 in)".

    It's the usual rubbish that FAC endorses. FAC is a broken and corrupt system. Tony (talk) 08:40, 29 December 2018 (UTC)

  • I would actually remove the deciduous list from the blurb. Surely there are more interesting bits for a TFA blurb? I also agree with Tony's suggested amendment. --Izno (talk) 14:42, 29 December 2018 (UTC)
    I would say there izno need to point out that a deciduous list can be dropped. EEng 17:38, 29 December 2018 (UTC)
    • Thanks. TFA blurbs are based on the article. I generally check for changes to each article a couple of times before the TFA goes live. - Dank (push to talk) 14:58, 29 December 2018 (UTC)

Twelve-hour clock notation and the use of periods

@SMcCandlish: The AP, Chicago, and NYT styles, among others. I just figured the MOS shouldn't set a bad example. Jay D. Easy (talk) 11:58, 1 January 2019 (UTC)

bad different. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 12:49, 1 January 2019 (UTC)
The use of full stops/periods looks very old-fashioned to me, but maybe there's an ENGVAR difference. Regardless, consistent use of either should be accepted. Peter coxhead (talk) 13:25, 1 January 2019 (UTC)
MOS:TIME allows either variant. --Izno (talk) 17:25, 1 January 2019 (UTC)
It does? EEng 20:15, 1 January 2019 (UTC)
Indeed: "12-hour clock times end with lower-case a.m. or p.m., or am or pm". I must disagree with you though Peter, "a.m." looks more formal, as befits an encyclopaedia, whereas "am" looks like the first person singular of "to be". Martin of Sheffield (talk) 20:40, 1 January 2019 (UTC)
I thought you guys were talking about He arrived at 6.40 and left at 7.10. Never mind. EEng 20:53, 1 January 2019 (UTC)
Context is all, Martin; "6:40 am" isn't going to be read as involving the verb to be. I wouldn't use it except after a number. Peter coxhead (talk) 20:45, 1 January 2019 (UTC)
When using 12-hour time, I would always capitalize AM and PM (no periods), except maybe in extremely informal settings (like texting). We really recommend minuscule? I don't agree with that. --Trovatore (talk) 22:21, 1 January 2019 (UTC)
Should definitely not be capped. And I should say that in some countries (including my own), there is never a space before the "p". It reads non-smoothly when the country-related articles have these spaces. @Ohconfucius: Tony (talk) 23:00, 1 January 2019 (UTC)
Last time I looked into this, most style guides wanted "AM" or "a.m." (and often accepted both): either following modern acronym and initialism style (HIV, NASA, UN, PRC), or following a traditional style specifically for Latinisms (etc., et al., cf., q.q.v., and so on - always lowercase, always with a dot where an abbreviation has happened). I don't think any of them permit "am", and WP shouldn't either, since it's ambiguous with a form of "to be". If we really are talking about "6.40 AM" with a dot instead of a colon, we've been over that many times before. The style is attested (more in the UK than elsewhere, but it is in fact found in the US, especially in timetables of transit systems). It is confusingly ambiguous and should be avoided; "6:40" style is universally understood, and is highly unlikely to be mistaken for anything but hour:minute.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:21, 2 January 2019 (UTC)
Agree with SMcCandlish on this. Old style was lowercase with periods (a.m. and p.m.)... more modern style is upper case but no periods (AM and PM). Blueboar (talk) 02:59, 2 January 2019 (UTC)
It appears that a number of styles are in use. What is important is that a style be consistent within an article. Tony (talk) 03:44, 2 January 2019 (UTC)

Can we PLEASE settle the capitalization situation, once & for all?

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
There's a strong consensus that nothing needs to be settled and the concerned-guidelines are already perfect. Exceptions may be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.WBGconverse 08:04, 2 January 2019 (UTC)

Again, there an inconsistency across the bios of US governors & lieutenant governors, when it comes to capitalizing (i.e Governor/Lieutenant Governor) or de-capitalizing (i.e governor/lieutenant governor). Is there ANYPLACE on Wikipedia, to have an RFC that'll settle this once & for all? GoodDay (talk) 23:54, 25 November 2018 (UTC)

That should be settled already, at MOS:JOBTITLES. Dicklyon (talk) 01:32, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
But it's not. Right now, you reverted at Bill Walker to governor. Yet, it's Governor in all the other bios of Alaska governors & all bios of Alaska lieutenant governors. GoodDay (talk) 01:47, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
So work on those, in the direction indicated by guidelines. Dicklyon (talk) 02:20, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
You could help out. Meanwhile, I'll likely bring this topic up at the Village Pump. Try & create more awareness. GoodDay (talk) 02:22, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Helping on these, GoodDay says (at User_talk:GoodDay#"Not_the_info_boxes"?) that I did OK except that they should remain capped in infoboxes where they say things like "3rd Lieutenant Governor of Alaska". Seems odd, as we always use sentence case for headings and such. Is it somehow a proper name in this context? Seems unlikely. Same as template title "Lieutenant Governors of Alaska". Comments? Dicklyon (talk) 03:00, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
  • They should be capitalized in the infobox title. But more importantly, whatever's decided? consistency needs to be enforced & definitely awareness of this problem should be increased. GoodDay (talk) 03:10, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
I think the best way to raise awareness, is to mention this topic on the most highly trafficked bio articles. GoodDay (talk) 03:13, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
I'm all for raising awareness. "Enforcement", on the other hand, is not a concept in Wikipedia. Dicklyon (talk) 03:20, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
Certainly will get the community's attention, though :) GoodDay (talk) 03:23, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Dicklyon, I would say they are capitalized and proper nouns. From MOS "Standard or commonly used names of an office are treated as proper names (David Cameron was British Prime Minister; Hirohito was Emperor of Japan; Louis XVI was King of France)." PopularOutcasttalk2me! 03:19, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
OK, maybe caps when referring to the office that way, like in the Template title. But for "3rd Lieutenant Governor of Alaska"? I don't think so. Dicklyon (talk) 03:22, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
I see a difference between ran for lieutenant governor of Alaska and is the 3rd Lieutenant Governor of Alaska. Lieutenant governor (United States) seems to differentiate between those two things as well. But, I am new here and may not understand the nuances so I will defer. PopularOutcasttalk2me! 03:44, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
  • The intent of this section appears to be the resolution of two questions. One of those questions comprises the section's heading and the other appears in the first paragraph. But they are both leading questions. This is akin to the stock interrogation question and instruction:
"Have you stopped beating your wife? Just answer yes or no."
It does not allow for the possibility that you were never beating your wife in the first place.
Similarly, the assumed premise of this section is that the capitalization of job titles is somehow not settled. But as was already observed by Dicklyon (talk), this is not the case. The Manual of Style is very specific in this regard, and provides several examples that are directly applicable to the cases quoted above. The observation that some article editors do not adhere to the Manual of Style does not "unsettle the situation".
If the actual intent is to change the specific guidelines, I respectfully suggest that this would be unlikely to succeed. This is one of those rare rules of English grammar that is consistently applied both inside and outside Wikipedia and across all national variations. If the intent is to gain greater understanding of those guidelines then may I respectfully suggest a review of the specific set of examples about Richard Nixon in the Wikipedia Manual of Style, where one can learn that the following are correct within Wikipedia article text (including Infoboxes):
  • Bill Walker is Governor of Alaska (capitalized because it denotes the specific title of a specific person and is not otherwise modified).
  • He is the 11th governor of Alaska since statehood (not capitalized because the job title is preceded by 11th, which is an ordinal modifier).
  • He lived in Anchorage before becoming the governor (not capitalized because the title is preceded by (and therefore modified by) the definite article.
  • Bill Walker will cease to be the governor of Alaska on December 3, 2018 (because he didn't win last month's election).
Sorry! I couldn't resist that last parenthetical explanation. More to the point, when it refers to a specific person and is not otherwise modified, a job-related title such as Governor is capitalized, but the governor is not. This is not just a guideline within Wikipedia, the same rule and interpretation can be found in style manuals from Chicago to Oxford to Fleet Street. And it is good to note that Richard Nixon did have some political usefulness, after all. ChrisJBenson (talk) 10:12, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
  • I support your interpretation, and have done this edit to apply it to the article in question. Let's see if others agree. Dicklyon (talk) 15:32, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
  • ChrisJBenson, That's a great explanation. I was confused about the ordinal modifier. Does the infobox assume is? Does the infobox ignore the ordinal modifier? I was looking at the Richard Nixon article and the infobox does not match the text in the Richard Nixon example in the MOS. PopularOutcasttalk2me! 15:48, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
  • When it's in the info box its his title the ordinal is just to let you know what number he is Bill Walker Governor of Alaska with 11th not a modifier just letting you know what number governor עם ישראל חי (talk) 16:07, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
11th is an ordinal modifier. Maybe I made it sound too complicated. The most likely candidates for modifiers of a job-title are adjectives (e.g. youngest, previous, eleventh, or tallest governor of Alaska), along with the words the and a. Eleventh is described as ordinal (or an ordinal number) because it refers to one item by its position within many items in some particular order.
And finally, the office-holder infobox template is usually used for governors. Under normal browser conditions, the first line of an office-holder infobox is the value of the name parameter (along with any honorifics). The next line (after the image) joins the values of two parameters: order (a number expressed in its ordinal form) and office (which is the job title). This is a potential source of confusion because the office is governor of Alaska (not capitalized because it refers to the job and not the person). But here it seems to apply to one specific person, so editors are tempted to capitalize the job title. But it should not be capitalized here because it will be preceded by a modifier (the value of the order parameter). So you have to know how this template works in order to follow the Manual of Style (which is awkward, to say the least).
{Infobox officeholder
| name = Bill Walker
| order = 11th
| office = governor of Alaska
...
}
P.S. I see that the edit to correct this by Dicklyon (talk) lasted just four minutes before it was reverted. I am too old and too tired to embark on an edit war, but is anybody else up for it? ChrisJBenson (talk) 20:12, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
The practice (for years) has been to capitalize in those cases. GoodDay (talk) 21:31, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
And that is the root of the problem... our guidance is not in sync with actual practice. Blueboar (talk) 23:23, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
That reasoning requires that the actual practice have some basis beyond "It feels right." or "That's how they do it at ________". If the guidance is the result of community-level close examination, discussion, and consensus—regardless of individual experiences outside that process—the actual practice should be in sync with it, not the other way around, no matter how much work is required to get there. (Wikipedia guidance should be the result of careful and thorough consideration, not an aggregate of personal and largely uninformed opinions.) I believe that's the case here, or close enough.
If I'm mistaken, then it's time to have that community-level close examination, discussion, and consensus on this question. When it's completed, no editor should stand in the way of compliance edits even if they disagree with the outcome or didn't participate.
By your reasoning as an illustrative example, we should make major modifications to MOS:FLAG because of the rampant disregard for it. It should now read: "If you feel it makes articles more attractive, you may use flag icons to decorate lists that include the names of countries."
Also by your reasoning, we would never be able to reach a community consensus to change existing guidance and then widely modify articles to reflect the new consensus. Instead we would be required to win local consensus for the change, one article at a time, against arguments in each case that we should be consistent with long-standing treatment at other articles. That simply is not workable. ―Mandruss  02:49, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
I'm with you, yet BlueBoar is right that "our guidance is not in sync with actual practice" in this particular corner of Wikipedia. The answer is not to encode this exception into the guidance, but rather to go ahead with edits to move toward compliance with the guidance. This is an ongoing process. Every time we find a little corner of Wikipedia that would rather cap what's important to them than follow the consensus guidance, we have work to do; and every time, BlueBoar and few others will object. But why? Overall the encyclopedia is stronger if caps can be interpreted an meaningful; this overcapping gets in the way of that. Dicklyon (talk) 03:40, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
  • No, we can't settle it once and for all. Consensus is generally to use capital letters for titles like governor and senator less than we currently do, but not to replace all uses. power~enwiki (π, ν) 03:15, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Strongly Support the ChrisJBenson interpretation as above. There is nothing I could add to it so that's it from me. Take care, all. -The Gnome (talk) 06:25, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
  • This already is settled. The guideline wording is clear. There is no magical exemption to any WP:P&G material for content that was written differently before that P&G material was clarified; see WP:CONTENTAGE. I detect from some user-talk discussions including here and here that confusion of this sort seems to be what's happening here. "This article was this way for years" and "it's how we've always been doing it infoboxes" arguments are invalid reasoning. The well-discussed clarifications to MOS:JOBTITLES (both as to their implementation and their interpretation) are specifically intended to apply to all such cases. We simply would not bother having a style guide or any other guidelines and policies at all if they were somehow not applicable to content that pre-dated a rule's implementation.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  17:48, 29 November 2018 (UTC)
How does one enforce this, however? Particularly on the bio articles of US presidents & US vice presidents? GoodDay (talk) 00:00, 30 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Concur with several comments above. This is well settled, it is unambiguous in the MOS already. We just need to apply it. If someone is uninformed, we inform them. It isn't that complicated. There isn't any "but sometimes it's different". It isn't. If it's different in this case, it's because it is wrong. Very few issues are as easily settled and clearly black-and-white as this one. --Jayron32 18:06, 29 November 2018 (UTC)
How does one enforce this, however? GoodDay (talk) 00:00, 30 November 2018 (UTC)
@GoodDay: First, I wouldn't use that word. The only "enforcement" anything on all of Wikipedia is WP:Arbitration/Requests/Enforcement. Guidelines are applied, and exceptions can exist to them. "I wanna exception for infoboxes, just because I say so or because of old stuff" isn't any kind of WP:IAR rationale. If people are editwarring against you applying the guidelines the way they were meant to be applied, then just directing them to this discussion should be enough (though it may archive quickly, and require a different link at that point), since there's clearly no support for any special pleading for infoboxes. If they keep at it, you could try an RfC, probably best hosted here for centralizing, and maybe advertised at WP:VPPOL. If they're being disruptive about it, you could try an WP:ANEW or WP:ANI report, though if you also look to be editwarring, that can backfire.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  01:03, 30 November 2018 (UTC)
Support using lower case for titles in the infobox when it comes after the modifier. When it's consistent with the prose it doesn't look weird at all. The resistance is likely just because editors aren't used to seeing it done correctly. UpdateNerd (talk) 13:42, 1 January 2019 (UTC)
  • in the infobox it's the title of office which should be capitalized the problem is that the infobox includes the ordinal before the title which is assumed to modify the title so i propose editing the template and putting the ordinal below the title as a new line which would look something like this
    Bill Walker
    Governor of Alaska
    11th
    עם ישראל חי (talk) 18:24, 29 November 2018 (UTC)
    I doubt that having the ordinal 'below', would get accepted. GoodDay (talk)
    Yeah, that's unencyclopedic bureaucratese, like "meals, ready to eat". Writing crappy, mangled English just as a way to WP:WIN and force capitalization of something you subjectively want to to capitalize for personal reasons is a terrible idea.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  01:05, 30 November 2018 (UTC)
    How about after in parenthesis for example Governor of Alaska (11th) עם ישראל חי (talk) 17:17, 3 December 2018 (UTC)
    No. GoodDay (talk) 04:29, 14 December 2018 (UTC)

Brexit is easier. Getting folks to reach an agreement on this whole capitalize/de-capitalize matter, is tougher then getting the British House of Commons to agree on a Brexit deal. GoodDay (talk) 03:54, 22 December 2018 (UTC)

Is it settled or not?

  • User:Dicklyon, User:PopularOutcast - no, it’s not settled in three ways. First, voiced confusion from multiple editors indicate the phrasing in latest MOS JOBTITLES edit may need work (e.g. examples not matching explanation text). Second, there is strong RS including the official government ones (whitehouse.gov, Congress.gov, Constitution, GPO Style manual) and grammar guidance that differs from it. Third, perhaps worst, the MOS editors seem to have a denial going on that anything might be wrong (‘yes it’s settled’, ‘it’s settled because the MOS says’, ‘no we don’t need to talk at the affected articles’). While I appreciate the weight of a cite to Chicago Manual of Style... it’s not the end of this story. Cheers Markbassett (talk) 13:05, 31 December 2018 (UTC)
    Let's look at those then, and decide whether we have any proposals to improve the situation:
    • First, voiced confusion from multiple editors indicate the phrasing in latest MOS JOBTITLES edit may need work (e.g. examples not matching explanation text).
    You may have pointed out above what you think is unclear or doesn't match, but please repeat here for us, perhaps with a recommended improvement.
    • Second, there is strong RS including the official government ones (whitehouse.gov, Congress.gov, Constitution, GPO Style manual) and grammar guidance that differs from it.
    The existence of other style guides, especially specialist-oriented ones, is not a problem for WP; styles vary. I think we're pretty close to the what the GPO Style Manual says, but maybe there are some minor differences you'd like to propose we adopt? They go a bit specialist with "To indicate preeminence or distinction in certain specified instances, a common-noun title immediately following the name of a person or used alone as a substitute for it is capitalized." which does not seem like a good idea for a global encyclopedia. At least they admit there that "President of the United States" is a "common-noun title".
    • Third, perhaps worst, the MOS editors seem to have a denial going on that anything might be wrong (‘yes it’s settled’, ‘it’s settled because the MOS says’, ‘no we don’t need to talk at the affected articles’).
    I don't see the problem there. It seems like a good idea to treat previously-settled style issues as settled until there's a definite proposal for a change under discussion. Are you ready to make such a proposal?
    Thanks for clarifying your concerns. Dicklyon (talk) 17:44, 31 December 2018 (UTC)


Echo chamber?

The fact that this keeps coming up... over and over... for years now... tells me that we may have a more serious disconnect between the consensus here, and the broader consensus reflected by usage at hundreds of articles. Yes, whenever this is raised here, we get a clear consensus to not over capitalize. But I think this is a consensus among about 30 editors (including me) who regularly work on this page, and form an echo chamber among ourselves. Our guidance does not reflect what hundreds of editors actually do. That actual practice is significant... but because it is spread out, we don’t see it as being a consensus in our discussions here. Yet it is a form of consensus... actual usage indicates that there is a silent consensus that we are ignoring and need to think more about. Policy and guidance is supposed to be descriptive and not proscriptive. It is supposed to reflect what our editors actually do, not what we think they should be doing. If literally hundreds of articles are ignoring our guidance (sometimes quite vociferously), we need to ask whether our local consensus here is in opposition to the broader community’s consensus. Blueboar (talk) 02:53, 30 November 2018 (UTC)

It's the other way around. MoS is one of the most-watchlisted guidelines on the entire system, and substantive, non-copyediting changes to it are routinely listed at WP:VPPOL to ensure broad input. It's pure fantasy to suppose that small number of "capitalize like mad" editors who seem not to have read a style guide of any kind, or paid attention to real-world usage in RS since ca. 1982, somehow represent a stronger consensus, just because a few other editors have imitated them, than an actual consensus record formed by well-attended RfCs and other discussions specifically addressing questions (like when to capitalize job titles). The idea that WP:P&G pages being built up by people who care to work on them and through discussions at those pages for the most part somehow makes them false consensus is clearly not how WP operates; this argument would simply have us delete all our P&G pages and have no rules.

There is no advice or even hard rule of any kind on Wikipedia that "literally hundreds of articles are[n't] ignoring" – even our most mandatory policies like COPYVIO and BLP. This indicates not that the rules lack consensus, but that this is a volunteer project with over 5 million articles on it, and virtually no gatekeeping other that understaffed activities like NPP, AIV, and noticeboards.

We can re-RfC this yet again, but we know what the result is going to be – if it even ran to closure. Given that nothing has changed – there is no real-world shift to account for over the last year or two, there is no fundamental policy change to incorporate, there is no new argument to advance of any kind – people will object to re-RfCing this as simply more WP:IDHT forum-shopping. The consensus can change principle isn't considered to apply absent a new argument to present, and re-re-re-testing consensus decisions in hopes of eventually "winning" some day if the right people happen to show up is interpreted as disruptive system-gaming and a waste of community time.
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:11, 30 November 2018 (UTC)

PS: Random editors "doing stuff" without guidance (either lack of it existing back when, or lack of it having been read by them today) are apt to converge on something over time, out of "monkey see, monkey do" behavior, then start to pretend it's a rule. We've seen this many, many times before. The most obvious and disruptive example was when some people in a wikiproject decided to capitalize the common names of a particular order of animals (against the preferences of other people in the wikiproject, who were hounded away). In short order, editors who didn't bother asking just assumed "capitalizing vernacular names of species is Official Wikipedia Style", so they began applying it site-wide, starting a tsunami of "style fights" that lasted an entire decade, and reached a fever pitch of pointless, disruptive bullshit when it came down to trying to capitalize things like "Mountain Lion" (which means "Lion" next, then consideration of "Human", "Horse", "Dog", etc.). "The fact that this keeps coming up... over and over... for years now... tells [us]" nothing other than that some people are tendentious and some others just make assumptions about what they see in one article and context without finding out if those assumptions apply broadly. Two other obvious examples: Using spoiler warnings, and putting ethnic and religious labels on people in infoboxes. I can provide dozens more examples of editorial behavior clustering in one direction and the community undoing it later as the opposite of a best practice. PS: See two threads below this one: misc. editors are still pushing for ethnicity-based "nationality" labeling; this doesn't make the consensus against doing so wrong or overturned.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:13, 30 November 2018 (UTC)

Maybe we need to take this to the Village Pump. GoodDay (talk) 06:02, 3 December 2018 (UTC)
Do you think this stuff hasn't already been there? [sigh]. We actually do have have a style guide, and it is actually a guideline, and it was arrived at through years and years of actual consensus discussions (often negotiations, between anywhere from two to a dozen conflicting viewpoints and off-site styles). It didn't just pop out of someone's butt one day and get pushed onto the community. The community built this, very, very carefully. At some point a few individuals who keep grinding their teeth and refusing to accept a guideline that has some line-item in it they would prefer said something else need to be shown the door (at least to an exeunt from any style-related battlegrounding). With the exception of PoV-pushers on religious, ethnic, and fringe matters, I'm hard-pressed to think of a more constant and tendentiously predictable source of disruptive lobbying.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:22, 8 December 2018 (UTC)
It's not much of a guideline, if it can't be fully enacted. GoodDay (talk)
Sort of like WP:NCCAPS in that respect? There are always a handful of zealots resisting the implementation of guidelines when they affect topics they are passionate about. Not sure why "Presidents" tend to fall into that category, but it happens. Dicklyon (talk) 03:50, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
It is a LOT more than a “handful of zealots”. That’s why this issue never seems to get settled. Blueboar (talk) 13:33, 14 December 2018 (UTC)
It never seems to get settled because there are a number of editors who think it's constructive to ignore a community consensus and guideline with which they disagree. They are Wikipedia's anarchists and guerilla warriors, conducting an endless disruptive campaign of resistance when more orderly governance fails to produce the desired results. The result is an enormous dysfunctional time sink, not to mention quite a bit of avoidable ill will within the project.
That some editors disagree with a consensus does not mean there is no consensus; I think after 13 years you know it doesn't work that way and couldn't work that way. If you feel that a majority of the community disagrees with the current guidance, you are free to prove it using well-established process. Until you do that, your claims are unfounded. ―Mandruss  03:46, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
I'll also reiterate my comment above at 02:49, 27 November 2018 (UTC), which is probably more relevant in this subsection. You didn't respond, let alone convincingly, but it appears you weren't swayed either. Just another bit of evidence supporting my opinion that discussions like this are mostly a time-wasting intellectual exercise—and that in the end it's about numbers, not reasoning. ―Mandruss  04:42, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
An "exercise" of the right hand stroking really fast, in public. I've said before that much of this sort of circular argument needs to be catalogued at WP:PERENNIAL in an MoS section there. And it really is just a handful of editors. At any given time there aren't more than about a dozen people gnashing their teeth over some "give me capitals or give me death" struggle (or whatever – sometimes it's about hyphens or something else). It's not always the same editors, but particular usernames are very frequent among them. There appear to be three main sources of such wikianarchism. The most common is the mistaken belief that "follow the sources" (a rule about the facts we present) applies to everything imaginable, including style matters; this is the WP:Common-style fallacy (typically compounded by failure to understand that WP:IAR doesn't operate on whim). It's silly, of course, since it would have us write about rock stars in the style of Rolling Stone magazine, and write about proteins in the impenetrable jargon of academic chemistry journals, never like an encyclopedia. The second most common is the WP:Specialized-style fallacy, related to the first but based on topical control by "experts" rather than frequency of non-encyclopedia source usage ("WP must capitalize Tango because that's how dance journals do it"). The third most common, and the most troubling, is emotional attachment (taking three forms usually: nationalism, traditionalism, and fandom). You're dealing with subjective zealotry, not a reasoned argument, when someone has a religious-like conviction that something must be capitalized in [insert national variety] English because it's how the [insert jurisdiction] government does it and because some one-country style guide says so, or because it's how they were taught to do it in 7th grade in 1982 and everyone knows it's right, or because not doing it is somehow "disrespectful" to the subject. They just won't hear you when you argue otherwise, but will instead keep recycling the same argument to emotion page after page (forum shopping). Topic bans have dealt with the third of these in a few cases. Needs to be more cases. This "capitalization warrior" stuff is a massive drain on editorial productivity.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  10:00, 20 December 2018 (UTC)
This is a relatively easy issue to handle at a higher level: Wikipedia should follow an already-written, standard grammar style for each country + language. For English, this would mean choosing one grammar style for English-US, English-UK, etc. If no country clearly "owns" the topic, then default to one grammar style (probably US English, if only because Wikipedia's founder is American). Any more detail for consideration will probably lead quickly to hair-splitting arguments for or against. Aboudaqn (talk) 20:50, 17 December 2018 (UTC)
Some countries capitalize, while other don't? GoodDay (talk) 05:17, 19 December 2018 (UTC)
Yeah, this isn't a "countries" matter. Besides, most countries have no particular style guide (e.g. most of the Commonwealth of Nations, aside from Canada, plus Ireland, follow British style guides, but they conflict with each other – including about capitalization). WP has no reason to say "WP is written following all rules of New Hart's Rules in British/Commonwealth English". It's only one British style guide, and it was not created with a site like this in mind, with a broad global audience. This is not BritiPedia (nor AmeriPedia, etc.). Similarly, there are many US English style guides that all conflict with each other on innumerable points. We have our own style guide for good reasons, built by consensus out of the best-accepted of the offsite ones, plus WP-specific concerns. One of the most important aspects of it is MOS:COMMONALITY.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  10:00, 20 December 2018 (UTC)
It would be interesting is anyone could show us any guides from any country that significantly differ from what we say in MOS:JOBTITLES. If any are found, then we could consider whether there's a correlation with country or ENGVAR. I doubt it. So, adopting Aboudaqn's suggestion is probably easy, and simplifies to "follow advice in style guides including our MoS". Right? Dicklyon (talk) 06:30, 21 December 2018 (UTC)
Re the "3rd governor of Alaska" question and such above, this page uses the example "The 42nd president, Bill Clinton, ...". Seems clear. Is there any guide that would suggest capping in this context? Dicklyon (talk) 06:36, 21 December 2018 (UTC)
I'm not aware of any recent ones, outside of business and marketing writing (which is heavy on capitalizing). It used to be AP Stylebook style to do so, decades ago, at least with titles of "high office", and I think that's why people keep doing it. Anyone over about 40 (and American at least) got "infected" with that style in the early stages of their literacy, and probably also had it pounded into them by 7th-grade teachers. Such habits die very hard. Like most of the "style war" crap we deal with, it's someone's ingrained personal preference, mutating into an "everyone knows this is right" WP:TRUTH / WP:ADVOCACY position, but which isn't actually backed up by the preponderance of modern reference works. That said, I don't think we should inject anything like "follow advice in style guides including our MoS", since that's just a wikilawyering wedge for someone to cherry pick a style guide that agrees with them, and which implies that off-site style guides are of equal on-WP guidance level as our own WP-specific guidelines. (This is just one of those WP:Writing policy is hard things – always be on the lookout for how someone with a bone to pick may try to WP:GAME the system if the wording can be interpreted in a way it was not intended).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  12:22, 21 December 2018 (UTC)
The only way to implement decapitalization in article intros, will be to do it in groups of articles. Just like we've done for the governors & lieutenant governors of Alaska bios. GoodDay (talk) 15:33, 21 December 2018 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Semi-protected edit request on 7 January 2019

Stylish Sunil (talk) 16:57, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  Not done: No request was made. aboideautalk 17:03, 7 January 2019 (UTC)

Adding another case of hyphen vs. dash

Here's the proposed addition to the paragraph that starts with "Generally, use a hyphen in compounded proper names of single entities":

  • Wrong: Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug-Yugra and Republic of North Ossetia-Alania; spaced en dash should be used, as Yugra and Alania are alternative names used officially (Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug – Yugra and Republic of North Ossetia – Alania)

Both of these geographic entities are in Russia, and native names use spaced em-dashes ("Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug — Yugra" and "Republic of North Ossetia — Alania").

The rationale for proposing this addition, is that such case is not explicitly mentioned – and there's currently a potential confusion that exists as to which of the multiple possibilities should be used here:

  • Hyphen: on the pattern of "Austria-Hungary" (where both Austria and Hungary are separate historic/modern entities that happened to be a single jurisdiction). There are at least two good arguments against using hyphen here though:
    • Neither Yugra nor Alania are separate entities – they are just alternative names for these regions, which would be still be fully and unambiguously defined by skipping these alternative names (i.e. by using simply "Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug" and "North Ossetia").
    • Using hyphens in "Okrug-Yugra" and "Ossetia-Alania" read like these are some joint grammatical entities within longer names – which they are clearly not in this case, as such pairing implied by hyphens is semantically wrong (indeed "Okrug" actually pairs with all the words preceding it, while "Ossetia" pairs with "North" instead of "Alania").
  • Unspaced en-dash: this would be closely matching recommendations on joining multi-word entity ("Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug") with a single word ("Yugra") as in the rule on "applying a prefix or suffix to a compound that includes a space" (Yugra being essentially a suffix in this case).
  • Spaced en-dash: to closely match Russian and other native spellings (e.g. Ossetic), where spaced em-dash is used in both of these cases. While using em-dash in this case would not be appropriate in English, replacing it with an en-dash is a usual practice in English.

As a final note, the word "generally" in the sentence "Generally, use a hyphen in compounded proper names of single entities" is a good indicator that there are indeed some exceptions and that there's no single absolute rule. I believe this is one of those exceptions that deserves being mentioned explicitly. cherkash (talk) 02:42, 7 January 2019 (UTC)

That em dash used by Russians causes a lot of work when they translate their articles with minimum oversight and dump them here. English doesn't use em dashes in the same way. Just like foreign quotemarks, we "translate" them into the normal English typography. Tony (talk) 11:06, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
Yes, that's why em-dash is not among the options I mentioned. cherkash (talk) 16:05, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
So if Yugra and Alania are "alternative names for these regions", why are you looking at the section for "compounded proper names of single entities"? I would think that they belong in round brackets or separated out as also known as. Take what I said with the ignorance with which it was written—I am not an expert on Russian places names, Russian articles, or the MOS. I am still curious. PopularOutcasttalk2me! 16:26, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
Semantically, they are just alternative names. But in Russian, each forms a part of their official names. That's why though the articles may even skip them as part of the article names (as is the case with the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug article, but not with the North Ossetia – Alania article – which can be rectified separately, but is beyond the point here), the WP:MOS is still silent about what punctuation to use in these cases. Hence, my proposal to clarify it.
And if you are not confused enough yet, another republic of Russia – the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) – has its alternative name in parentheses, unlike Yugra and Alania. So there's no naming consistency even within a single country. Go figure! cherkash (talk) 16:05, 8 January 2019 (UTC)


Off of

Is the phrase/idiom "off of" considered OK for use on WP? I understand it's more prevalent in Am Eng than Br Eng, so maybe it's just my Britishness that makes it seem too colloquial for an encyclopedia? PaleCloudedWhite (talk) 22:31, 25 December 2018 (UTC)

It's sloppy, and always redundant. Change it to "off". Popcornduff (talk) 23:07, 25 December 2018 (UTC)
It's redundant, but nothing the MoS should be regulating. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:33, 25 December 2018 (UTC)
Thanks. It was seeing the phrase here that made me question, 'well, maybe it's just an Engvar thing?', and I couldn't think where else on WP to ask. PaleCloudedWhite (talk) 09:38, 26 December 2018 (UTC)
Generally redundant, but agree it's not an MoS matter.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:29, 27 December 2018 (UTC)

The Rolling Stones were Americans?? News to me... —David Eppstein (talk) 07:40, 5 January 2019 (UTC)

Of course they are. Isn't everybody?CThomas3 (talk) 19:25, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
a) British popular music often uses Americanisms, and b) the extra syllable scans better in the song. It would certainly generally be considered an Americanism in Britain. -- Necrothesp (talk) 13:57, 9 January 2019 (UTC)

Online publications whose names look very much like running prose

Black Panther (film) includes the line Russell Rickford of Africa is a Country noted that Killmonger's role as a character is "to discredit radical internationalism"., but it looks ugly to me not to have "Africa is a Country" in italics or quotes or some such, since "Africa" is always capitalized and it looks kinda like we are saying "Russell Rickford (Africa) is a country". Is there really no solution here? I'm pretty sure I've seen other sources treat online-only publications similarly to magazines, and the same article italicizes Variety and The Hollywood Reporter even though it is citing articles on those publications' websites that (for all I know?) never appeared in the print editions. Hijiri 88 (やや) 12:33, 8 January 2019 (UTC)

Websites as long works are generally italicized, especially in this sort of case. --Izno (talk) 13:04, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
Some clarification. Only websites which qualify as magazines (and not blog magazines) are italicized. For example, Wikipedia itself is not italicized. Randy Kryn (talk) 13:19, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
@Randy Kryn: Yeah, that's how I understand it too, but should there be room for exceptions where doing so looks ugly or could be confusing? "Wikipedia" is one word, whose first letter is capitalized. Hijiri 88 (やや) 13:26, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
This is not true. Please review MOS:MAJORWORK: Website titles may or may not be italicized depending on the type of site and what kind of content it features. Online magazines, newspapers, and news sites with original content should generally be italicized (Salon or HuffPost). Online encyclopedias and dictionaries should also be italicized (Scholarpedia or Merriam-Webster Online). Other types of websites should be decided on a case-by-case basis. --Izno (talk) 13:28, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
Trust me: I've had this discussion multiple times in the context of video gaming; see this long discussion on WT:VG. --Izno (talk) 13:30, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
Of course, and I was just unclearly summarizing the concept of italicizing magazines. But no, Wikipedia is not italicized, and the same for other user-generated encyclopedias and dictionaries. For this one, would quote marks surfice? That would solve any confusion without incorrect italics. I personally don't know the website mentioned, this is just in-general. Randy Kryn (talk) 13:33, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
Whether they are user-generated is irrelevant to the question of whether they are long works. You might reasonably suggest Wikipedia is e.g. a "database" of articles, but that's playing with words rather than getting to the point: Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. Encyclopedias are italicized. --Izno (talk) 13:36, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
? No, Wikipedia is not italicized. Unless some obscure policy discussion occurred which would have to be vetted and changed. If guideline language reflects that it is italicized then that language should be changed. (EDIT: I added "non-user generated" to the language). Randy Kryn (talk) 13:39, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
The way we should think about this is that websites should not be italizied, unless their content is, broadly, long-form articles that involve some type of creativity. This, rather than trying to compare how the website works relative to traditional print. --Masem (t) 23:14, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
Regarding whether quotes would surfice: Yeah, I think either quotes or italics would work for that purpose, but would prefer italics just because the article doesn't appear to use quotes for other publications but does use italics for the aforementioned online magazine. Hijiri 88 (やや) 13:37, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
Regardless of the italics issue, another solution might be to just rephrase - something like "Writing for Africa is a Country, Russell Rickford argued that..." Popcornduff (talk) 13:40, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
@Popcornduff: No, that still wouldn't solve the problem: presumably everyone writing for that publication is "writing for Africa", which would make the "is a Country" read, at least until one hovers the cursor over the citation to find out that "Africa is a Country" is the name of a website, like a misprint akin to the recently revdelled edit that included the words "seen throughout the movie" between two periods. We could go a step further and say "Russell Rickford, writiRelevanceng for the website Africa is a Country, argued that...", but would that really be better than italicizing? Hijiri 88 (やや) 13:47, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
That still reads as "Writing for Africa" is a county. You need the quotation marks: Writing for "Africa is a Country" or the original Russell Rickford of "Africa is a Country" noted that .... Martin of Sheffield (talk) 13:53, 8 January 2019 (UTC)

Should publications be mentioned in running prose?

  • Is Africa is a Country relevant to the context? Why not just drop it? We have far too much "John Doe, writing in the Rolling Stone, opined that ..." irrelevant fluff in our articles. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:04, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
    • Unless you are a household name like Roger Ebert, most people are not going to recognize the author of the review, and to present that without providing their authority to the work they writing for, it then looks like one is posting a bunch of random bloggers' reviews in such sections. And the reverse situation is not ideal, if we dropped the writer's name and left the work, many of these writers are not true employees of the work and their voice doesn't necessarily work for the work. Both name and work are regularly needed. --Masem (t) 23:20, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
      You'll have to let us know how the "authority of the they are writing for" plays into it—and then again for cases where said work is also not a household name.
      And, no, "Both name and work are" not "regularly needed"—on what authority did you produce that? In almost all cases I've come across it, it's been simple noise whose removal improves the article. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 01:19, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
      WP:INTEXT. --Izno (talk) 04:04, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
      Thank you. To quote WP:INTEXT: "It is preferable not to clutter articles with information best left to the references. Interested readers can click on the ref to find out the publishing journal". Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 06:39, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
      Except the case of quoting or summarizing a review would fall under the first set of examples in INTEXT. If you can't wikilink the author, then you need to show that work's authority to implicitly show why that review is being cited in prose. This is standard practice for nearly all works with reception sections, as well as commentary of last and present notable events, and mimics how the press also publishes others statement of the name alone doesn't provide context. --Masem (t)
      You can't just make the assertion it's "standard practice for nearly all works with reception sections" to seasoned editors, Masem. No, it's not "standard practice", and no, there are no exceptions made for authors without wikilinks. In most cases, it's noise—and the quotation from WP:INTEXT gives a rationale for that. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:37, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
      I'm not sure if you read to the actual policy on the point (that's at WP:SUBSTANTIATE). In-text attribution must be given when it is not obvious that the statement being placed in the article is without bias. When it comes to reception, generally, you're going to have multiple different reviews or reviewers listed who all have a different opinions (bias) on a particular point of the work being received. So, using your example, either "John Doe" or "Rolling Stone" needs to be included in the text unless the point is so overwhelmingly true across multiple reliable sources that you can make the argument to synthesize the multiple sources into a single statement (and take note of the link I provided--sometimes you'll find a non-contemporary source has conveniently summarized the points on the reception of a particular work, but that's rare(r) than not). I doubt anyone disagrees that this phenomenon can cause the writing to be stilted or be pained (see also WP:Copyediting reception sections), but it is usually necessary. --Izno (talk) 14:57, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
      I think you've misread what we're talking about—nobody's arguing for dropping attribution. Masem is arguing that both author and publication need to be mentioned in running text; I'm arguing addition of the publication is usually noise in such cases. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 21:34, 9 January 2019 (UTC)

German double s: ß

How should this (ß, "a letter unique to German called scharfes S or Eszett", often transliterated as "ss") normally be displayed in names in EN.wikipedia? (I ran across a dispute about this in the Talk page of some article in EN.wikipedia. I personally have no opinion.) What about modern Icelandic names with edh (Ð, ð) and thorn (letter) (Þ, þ) (which I privately wish were still used in written English). What about other Roman-ish alphabet letters that are not used in English? Acwilson9 (talk) 04:49, 9 January 2019 (UTC)

I'm all for sticking to the English alphabet wherever possible. Even the Germans use ss for ß much of the time. EEng 05:08, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
Standard practice is to leave such characters (and diacritics) as they are unless there's an established convention to do otherwise. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 06:35, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
You're probably right. Also that lets us laugh at people who pronounce it as b. EEng 10:26, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
"chortle, chortle" I'm sure you will be pleased to learn from the Eszett article, that the Swiss and the Liechtensteiners no longer use it. Martinevans123 (talk) 10:41, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
I don't know about the British alphabet, but at one time (i.e., Colonial) the American alphabet encompassed the eszett. As I recall there are instances in the U.S. Constitution. They might not have been "kosher", but perhaps folks were more relaxed about such things back then. At any rate, if for some reason we wanted to quote something the original Constitution, rather than the modernized form, it would seem presumptuous to "correct" it. ♦ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:28, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure you're thinking of those stretchy s's (i.e. ∫) that look like f's, so that it seems like Jefferson was extolling "the purfuit of happinefs". And we would definitely transcribe those ∫'s as just plain s. ß is a little different, though; it really is a subtly different thing from ss, even if a choice has been made more and more in the last 100 years to simply pretend there's no difference and use ss anyway. CT is probably right that we would preserve the ß. EEng 23:00, 9 January 2019 (UTC)

Do we have to capitalize "Middle Ages"?

Ctrl+F [5] for "ages"; I disagree with User:DePiep on this issue (at least assuming it doesn't already have community consensus as a hard and fast "rule"; if it does I'll conform), but to give him/her credit those are some useful-ass edit summaries. Hijiri 88 (やや) 12:07, 9 January 2019 (UTC)

Don't know which "side" is which, but this n-gram, as well as historic use, may change someone's mind. Randy Kryn (talk) 12:33, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, that confirms what I thought. "Middle Ages", as a specific historical period, is seen as a proper noun, and is capitalized conventionally. oknazevad (talk) 12:58, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
Well, yeah, but what about the Japanese middle ages? In my experience, English-language reliable sources on Japanese history tend to favour not capitalizing when referring to the period of Japanese history that lasted from the late 12th to the late 16th century,
When capitalized like this, it's specifically referring to the period of European history, as noted in the article about it. There are many "middle ages", that is middle periods of history, but "the Middle Ages" is about Europe between c.500 and c.1500 CE. oknazevad (talk) 13:14, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
To be clear: the change was a WP:AWB spellchecking change (I ran few a hundred WP:FACs). I did not absolutely check whether that European period was intended, but glancing the sentences it struck me as a reasonable change each time (i.e., no "m/Middle a/Age man" change seen). I remember having seen similar changes for "j/Jurassic" era and such. -DePiep (talk) 14:19, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
@DePiep: Well, as long as there's no hard and fast rule (for the "Jurassic" example you give, I'm pretty sure that is covered by a hard and fast rule), I'm pretty sure standard practice is to maintain internal consistency within articles. My Googling did bring up some sources that used "Japanese Middle Ages" (although the first one called The Tale of Genji a work of that period, which is wrong), but it's still wrong to call it a "typo" to not use capitals; I was following my source, Donald Keene's Seeds in the Heart, as you know because the one instance you didn't change was a quotation from that source. Anyway, I think it's been established that we have so editorial legroom when it comes to this, so my question is answered and we can all go home. Hijiri 88 (やや) 10:23, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
Is there any doubt left with you on whether we should write "Middle Ages", irrespective of the 'hardness' of this 'rule' and otherexistingstuff and editsummaries? -DePiep (talk) 10:35, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
(ec)I find "useful-ass" unhelpful and unfriendly language, so I will not spend time responding here. -DePiep (talk) 12:34, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
It's a compliment. Such usage of the word as a suffix is a form of emphasis. Hijiri88 is saying your edit summaries are very useful in their specificity. oknazevad (talk) 12:58, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
Yes, it was meant as a compliment. Thank you Oknazevad for clearing that up. Hijiri 88 (やや) 13:10, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
One should be careful with "ass". --Izno (talk) 14:09, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
One might even be way-ass careful with it. >;-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  04:27, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
Thx. Issue closed. -DePiep (talk) 14:11, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
"There are many "middle ages", that is middle periods of history, but "the Middle Ages" is about Europe between c.500 and c.1500 CE." That seems reasonable. I have to note that we're not consistently capitalizing "Medieval", either. And RS do not consistently capitalize either synonym for this period (nor alternative spellings like "Mediaeval", which I'm told is obsolescent even in British English now). This is another of our "consistency conflicts", which arise inevitably. We can either consistently such matters as "default to lower case when sources do not consistently capitalize", or we can choose to be consistent in capitalizing all names of well-defined major historical periods. If we want to do the latter, we should write it down more clearer (probably at MOS:CAPS rather than in the main MoS page).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  04:27, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
We don't normally capitalize "Medieval", however spelt, nor should we. I doubt there would be any objections to changing it. MA should be capitalized. Johnbod (talk) 05:00, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
Agree. Sources may not be quite consistent with capping "Middle Ages", but they're closer to consistent than anything I'd argue for lowercasing. If the term "middle ages" is used in a different way, that's a different deal. Terms like Industrial Revolution and Digital Revolution are interesting; the former is marginally consistently capped in sources, and the latter very much not, yet WP caps both (for now). Dicklyon (talk) 05:07, 18 January 2019 (UTC)

Intra-page links?

I'm looking at NCAA Division I, where it says (last paragraph of the intro section), ... 1,066 member institutions, with 125 in FBS, 125 in FCS, and 95 non-football schools. The terms FBS and FCS had me befuddled, but eventually I discovered they're defined later in the article. What's the proper style for referring somebody to a later section of the same page? I could just link them to NCAA Division I#FBS and FCS, but I've always found intra-page links kind of confusing. Or should I just add, "(see below)" to the text? I seem to remember once reading a MOS recommendation about this, but I can't locate it. -- RoySmith (talk) 15:33, 23 January 2019 (UTC)

IMHO they should be quoted in full at the first use. I've changed the lead accordingly. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 15:49, 23 January 2019 (UTC)

Bolding in Infobox election

Your comment is requested at Template talk:Infobox election#The Bolding issue. --Izno (talk) 18:15, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

Style discussions ongoing [keep at bottom of Talk page]

Add new items at top of list; move to Concluded when decided and summarize conclusion. Comment at them if interested. Please keep this section at the bottom of the page.

Current

(newest on top?) Acwilson9 (talk) 05:00, 9 January 2019 (UTC)

Concluded

(newest on bottom)

Semi-protected edit request on 28 January 2019

Te example of George W Bush under tense works only as far as he is alive otherwise it does turn to past tense since the dead are past tense in everything. That could be noted to guide people when tense changes by default. 2605:E000:9149:8300:131:6246:D91E:742A (talk) 02:09, 28 January 2019 (UTC)

  Not done for now: Since George W Bush is indeed still alive and is expected to be for some time, the issue is moot. General Ization Talk 02:12, 28 January 2019 (UTC)

There seems to be some confusion. Yes, he is alive and only god will tell when will be his time but not all subjects are at an age that they will be around for quite some time. And some people may think that the example serves as a universal answer when in fact at some they will die. A caution as to when the tense changes would be appropriate. If the style guidelines are to be effective then examples that do not potentially add to confusion should not be used or a caution added to clarify when tense changes. Otherwise there would not be so many "is"'s when they should be "was" with the passing of time.2605:E000:9149:8300:131:6246:D91E:742A (talk) 02:42, 28 January 2019 (UTC)

I appreciate your concern, but all of our documentation, including the Manual of Style, is under constant review by a number of editors and admins here, and I am confident that when former president Bush is deceased they will make any needed changes. For now, it should be clear from the existing guidance and the conventions of the English language that present tense should generally be used to refer to subjects that are alive, and past tense should generally be used to refer to those who are dead. It is very unlikely that articles that use the wrong tense do so because we did not state in the MOS what the tense should be; more likely they have simply not been edited since the subject of the phrase using the incorrect tense died. General Ization Talk 02:47, 28 January 2019 (UTC)

Maybe instead of George W. Bush we should use as an example the name of someone who is not expected to ever die. You can use my name if you like. Dicklyon (talk) 02:49, 28 January 2019 (UTC)

Hmmm. We'll have to seek consensus on that. General Ization Talk 02:50, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
Keith Richards? Cinderella157 (talk) 03:13, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
Ah yes, Keith Richards, who never dies but merely decays perpetually: But when loathsome old age pressed full upon him, and he could not move nor lift his limbs... he babbles endlessly, and no more has strength at all, such as once he had in his supple limbs. EEng 07:23, 28 January 2019 (UTC)

Unless appropriate changes in tense are being reverted, I don't see any evidence that the current guidance is causing confusion. Primergrey (talk) 04:13, 28 January 2019 (UTC)

List of works question

Could someone answer Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style/Lists_of_works#Podcasts? NE Ent 14:54, 3 February 2019 (UTC)

Request for Comment - Crediting the Wachowskis

How should the Wachowskis be credited in articles about films/media they worked on before they came out as women? (The main point of contention is how they’re credited in leads and infoboxes.) You can vote or comment here:

Talk:The_Matrix_(franchise)#Request_for_Comment_-_Crediting_The_Wachowskis

WanderingWanda (talk) 05:05, 8 February 2019 (UTC)

Shortcuts plural/s guidelines

Working with the guidelines regarding plural nouns, I discovered this quite late: WP:PLURALWP:PLURALS. First one leads to Wikipedia:Naming conventions (plurals), second one to Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Plurals. Could we add hatnotes with either target section that helps editors, like:

at WP:PLURAL target [MOS:grammatical plural, inline] add

at WP:PLURALS target [MOS:article title] add


Since I might miss som subtleties, I'm not going bold. Prefer others to take a look first. Another option would be to deprecate the shortcuts for being this confusing. Note that any de-confusing would help editors (like me). -DePiep (talk) 12:59, 20 January 2019 (UTC)

Also: MOS:PLURAL and WP:PLURAL do not lead to the same target, unexpectedly. -DePiep (talk) 13:06, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Adding hatnotes makes sense to me. Anything that helps editors to navigate our plethora of policies and guidelines is an improvement. Blueboar (talk) 13:30, 20 January 2019 (UTC)

  Done The shortcuts now link to:

WP:PLURAL, MOS:PLURALWikipedia:Naming conventions (plurals) (article title plural)
WP:PLURALS, MOS:PLURALSWikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Plurals (grammatical plural, in sentences)
WP:SINGULAR, MOS:SINGULARWikipedia:Article_titles#Article_title_format (article title, list of general guidelines)

So always WP:-prefix and MOS:-prefix lead to the same target page. (Changed MOS:PLURAL; all 4 usages checked & corrected).

Will take a look at hatnotes (useful {{for}} clarification). -DePiep (talk) 11:14, 2 February 2019 (UTC)

That's an ass-backwards "fix"; MOS:FOO shortcuts should only go to MoS pages, that being the entire point of them. They were created because the WP:FOO shortcut pseudo-namespace is running out of sensible strings to use, and the specific intent is that MOS:FOO can go somewhere different from WP:FOO (otherwise we should simply mass-delete all MOS:FOO shortcuts are redundant trash). By contrast, one of the most common "fix-it" WP:RFDs is to ensure that plural and singular forms of redirects go to the same target page. Consequently, I've undone much of the above well-meaning but confused and confusing mess; WP:PLURAL and WP:PLURALS = WP:NCPLURAL; MOS:PLURAL, MOS:PLURALS, MOS:SINGULAR all go to the MoS section on plural vs. singular; WP:SINGULAR retains its now-ancient target of the WP:AT section.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:30, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

"...after being thrown out of a first-floor window".

"...after being thrown out of a first-floor window" (from "Rape during the occupation of Germany § Social effects"). This is confusing because first floor in British English is the second floor in American English. Is there any guidence on the numbering of floors? -- PBS (talk) 23:14, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

Yes, I was wondering if that header was the punchline to some joke.
I have seen "ground floor" used in the American context to avoid the ambiguity of "first floor". But no idea how to disambiguate the upper floors. Perhaps we could have little subscripts to indicate zero-based versus one-based indexing. ♦ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:32, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
Hush! Someone might take you seriously. EEng 23:58, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
I would assume ENGVAR would apply... but perhaps a parenthetical clarification would be helpful to readers. Blueboar (talk) 23:54, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
At first I was amazed this hadn't come up before, but when you think about it the issue mostly comes up in the context of defenestration, and even then only from fairly low floors i.e. if you're thrown out of the 10th floor window, it doesn't really matter whether that's counted from 1 or from 0 (and certainly it matters more whether you land on concrete, fresh-mown hay, or a trampoline, which isn't usually specified anyway). On the other hand, "ground floor" is unambiguous in all ENGVARS. So it's perhaps only one-floor-up-from-ground that presents a potential problem. But I think it's enough to just say "after being thrown out of a window". EEng 23:58, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
Could rephrase to "...after being thrown out of a window and falling one floor to the ground." Other possibilities are "...thrown out of a window one floor above the ground" or "...thrown out of an upper-floor window" (if you're OK with losing the specific floor number). Modulus12 (talk) 00:03, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
Or sidestep the issue entirely with "...after being thrown out of a window and falling x feet/meters to the ground," although that would be dependent on sources to provide the height of the window. Novusuna talk 00:07, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
Which of course they don't. This is all too wordy. Look, the current text is she sustained a serious lifelong back injury after being thrown out of a first-floor window. It's enough to say she sustained a serious lifelong back injury after being thrown out of a window – once you give the injury (serious but not fatal) the reader gets the point. No one's drawing a physics diagram or calculating terminal velocity. EEng 00:09, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
We are getting a bit caught up in hypotheticals, especially since ENGVAR would presumably apply anyway. Novusuna talk 00:21, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
Our article on free fall says a human needs 1,500 ft to reach terminal velocity, and there's only about a dozen buildings in the world taller than that, none of which exist in Germany. (Europe seems to have zero interest in building tall skyscrapers.) Modulus12 (talk) 04:24, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
@Modulus12: The distance one has to fall to die or be injured is much smaller than the terminal velocity of a theoretically-shaped and -sized human in a theoretical atmosphere. You can fall while walking, or certainly while exiting a ground-floor window, and experience severe or even lethal injury. With regard to the OP's question, I don't think the ambiguity really matters, but I generally try to understand the meaning of ambiguous terms like this based on the source; i.e., when talking about an event in the U.S., "first floor" means the ground floor or, when outside the U.S., it means one floor up. —[AlanM1(talk)]— 03:04, 23 January 2019 (UTC)
  • After being thrown out of a window one floor up from the ground. Tony (talk) 01:35, 22 January 2019 (UTC)

@Blueboar and Novusuna ENGVAR does not cover it because that ENGVAR is editorial behaviour advise not presentation advise (like much of the MOS). That floor numbering differs in differnt dialects of English is not a well know fact. Even it was well known a reader ought not to have to scan an article for the spelling of "colour/color" (or similar) to work out whether the "first floor" means the ground floor or the one above. This problem is more analogous to the use of the template {{convert}} even if it is an obvious specific ENGVAR. For example the lead to the article Mount Rushmore "The memorial park covers 1,278.45 acres (2.00 sq mi; 5.17 km2)"

At everyone else yes the suggestions are useful for those reading this page, but this is simlar issue to that of seasons:

It was confusion in the article Falklands War (and others) that lead to MOS:SEASON. The Argentinians invade the islands in autumn 1982 the British task force set sail in spring 1982. Was it a pre-emptive strike? If it was, then the British were very slow getting there because they did not arrive until late autumn/early winter.

The question at the start of this section was asking if such guidence for floor numbers existed. It seems that it does not. It is issues like this were guidance in the MOS is far more useful than whether or not articles about an act of a parliament has a upper-case or lowercase "Act/act" (as either is understandable to all). Issues like the start of year, in the Julian calandar, the season of the year and floor numbering highlight problems and allow people write articles that are less confusing for those reading them. So what guidance should be added to the MOS over floor numbering? -- PBS (talk) 23:11, 22 January 2019 (UTC)

This came up a long time ago..... and if I recall correctly people thought the best answer would be to say they fell/jumped from let's say the "second story" or "fourth story of a building".... this way leaving the term floors out of it altogether.--Moxy (talk) 23:25, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
And hence the recommended rewrites, because we prefer wordings that would be common to multiple English variations. --Izno (talk) 04:15, 23 January 2019 (UTC)
 
Let's just take the stairs.-EEng
Does using story/storey truly solve the problem? Are those words in fact immune to the ambiguity that afflicts floor? EEng 06:13, 23 January 2019 (UTC)
Just link the word for less aware readers Storey . There may be more than one floor level within a storey as in the case of a mezzanine....so best use engineering terms. Stewart Clark; Graham Pointon (20 May 2016). The Routledge Student Guide to English Usage: A guide to academic writing for students. Routledge. pp. 120–. ISBN 978-1-317-39117-3. --Moxy (talk) 06:55, 23 January 2019 (UTC)
Well, this is getting to be yet another way-too-long MOS discussion, but I don't think linking storey is going to help, since readers unaware of the Br/Am ambiguity won't know to click. I still say the best path is to avoid the reference to "what floor" in the first place if possible – really, how often does the precise floor matter? – and if it's not then give an awkward parenthetical explanation. EEng 07:16, 23 January 2019 (UTC)
I think the Brits should change to the American system, being greatly outnumbered. Problem solved. ―Mandruss  07:20, 23 January 2019 (UTC)
Counterpoint: A billion Indians who use the British usage :-p TSP (talk) 18:03, 31 January 2019 (UTC)

What about "second storey/story"? Or is there still a numbering conflict between North American and British/Commonwealth usage?  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:35, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

Can "or" be a substitute for "and/or" and other formulations? User:EEng thinks so. I don't think so.

Here is the text in the MOS concerning the use of "and/or" as contributed by EEng. "Avoid writing and/or unless other constructions would be lengthy or awkward. Instead of Most had trauma and/or smoke inhalation, write simply trauma or smoke inhalation (which would normally be interpreted to imply or both); or, for emphasis or precision or both, write trauma or smoke inhalation or both."

I have proposed an alternative text: "Avoid writing and/or unless other constructions would be lengthy or awkward. For example instead of "trauma and/or smoke inhalation", write trauma or smoke inhalation or both."

My problem with EEngs formulation is his explanation that the word "or" between two alternatives can imply "or both." If I offer you "tea or coffee," I am not anticipating that you want both. I'm am offering you a choice. If I wanted to cover all possibilities I would ask, "Tea or coffee, or both." If somebody asks, "Would you like a screwdriver or a wrench?" I interpret that he is asking me to make a choice -- and not implying that I need both.

Therefore, I think EEng's wording is misleading and that my proposed text avoids a confusing -- and likely mistaken -- explanation of the meaning of the word "or. Smallchief (talk) 18:42, 31 January 2019 (UTC)

  • I'll take both the screwdriver and the wrench. EEng's suggestion to just use "or" usually seems best to me. It is often interpretable as allowing both, but need not imply that, as in the coffee or tea example (or Feynman's cream or lemon example, which he misinterpreted). Dicklyon (talk) 18:58, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
It's a very complicated topic. People tend to reduce it to "inclusive or" versus "exclusive or", which are terms from the propositional calculus, but most natural-language usages of "or" are neither one; they're something not truth-functional. I think most of the usages that people hear as "exclusive" are really more like relevance logic; there should be a reason that the speaker mentions both things.
Usages in the hypothesis of an "if" conditional are usually "inclusive", or as close to that as it gets in natural language. If the regulation says any soldier who deserts or strikes a superior officer is subject to the death penalty, very few would think they could be safe by both deserting and striking a superior officer.
There are situations where and/or really is a pretty good solution for expressing one's meaning clearly and tersely. But I don't think those situations really apply to encyclopedic writing, which is very formal in its way (though not flowery). Just bite the bullet and say what you mean, even if it takes a few extra words. --Trovatore (talk) 19:09, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
  • That or sometimes means inclusive, and sometimes exclusive, is on every linguist's top-ten list of examples of natural-language ambiguity:
arrested everyone with expired or forged papers is clearly inclusive
you can reach the island by plane or boat is clearly exclusive
Does this bolt require a screwdriver or a wrench? is probably exclusive (but in spoken delivery could be pushed either way by intonation or pausing)
What do you need for this bolt – a screwdriver, or a wrench? is probably exclusive (given the comma, and in spoken delivery pause and intonation could underscore this)
Which do you need for this bolt – a screwdriver, or a wrench? is absolutely exclusive
If it will help I can lend you a screwdriver or wrench is probably inclusive
If it will help I can lend you a screwdriver or other tools is undoubtedly inclusive
Will you need a driver or interpreter on this trip? is probably inclusive
If the trip requires an interpreter or special visa, allow extra time for arrangements is certainly inclusive
Give me liberty or give me death is in a different class entirely (since we're ringing the changes)
In most cases writers rely on the reader's common sense to make the appropriate interpretation from the context. To avoid any hint of ambiguity there are such forms as
You can have either ice cream or cake (emphasizing exclusivity)
Violators are subject to fine or imprisonment or both (emphasizing inclusivity)
The very existence of such forms (not to mention the despised and/or) testifies to the ambiguity of naked or. Any claim that or is always exclusive is completely untenable.
I chose the example
most had trauma or smoke inhalation
saying that it "would normally be interpreted to imply or both" because the reader's common sense will tell him that in a situation which exposes a group of people to such vicissitudes, some will suffer one, some the other, and some both (on top of some escaping completely, as testified to by most). And yet in an article describing some disaster, it's really not critical that the reader understand the Venn diagram of victimology with absolute certainty – we're just trying to give an impression of the kinds of things that happened to the people involved, not provide a client list for liability attorneys. I suppose we could switch to
many prisoners were tortured or killed
in which the inclusivity is surely obvious, but then it's so obvious that the followup rewrite-for-emphasis
many prisoners were tortured or killed or both
becomes painfully pedantic. EEng 19:55, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
What you've established is that the meaning of "or" is painfully uncertain in many cases. Therefore, why risk misunderstandings when there are easily comprehensible remedies? Am encyclopedia is supposed to be precise and clear. And/or is one way of making meaning clear; another which seems preferable to most is "x or y, or both." Declaring that the formulation x or y is "normally" comprehensible doesn't come up to standards in my opinion.
The MOS as you propose it gives the editor license for sloppy and unclear drafting. My redrafted MOS avoids using an example of which the validity and relevance is doubtful. Smallchief (talk) 21:45, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
Not painfully uncertain in many cases but somewhat uncertain in some cases, and in most of those it doesn't matter anyway – again, it's rarely important whether there definitively were or were not combined trauma-smoke cases, and for those few cases where it is there are constructs to fix that. However, it's important to keep in mind that MOS does not (or should not -- it slips here and there) preach about things that are universal to all English writing. Its only role is to explain WP's house style -- the practices it has adopted that are not universal. Some publications accept and/or, but we don't, so MOS speaks to that to the extent necessary: where there's a need to emphasize inclusivity, use or both instead of and/or . It shouldn't go into a lecture on the general pitfalls of or, because that's a problem in all English writing. EEng 22:18, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
As EEng rightly says, it is well known that the meaning of or in English is context dependent, meaning 'and/or' in some contexts, and 'exclusive or' in others. This does not mean that given the context language using or is "painfully uncertain" or "sloppy and unclear". However, I've spent too long trying to teach formal logic to university students not to know that multiple examples are helpful, so that although I find the disputed example perfectly adequate, it would be worth adding to it. Peter coxhead (talk) 21:54, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
Bearing in mind my lecture above about MOS' limited role, I'm certainly happy to hear any suggestions. EEng 22:18, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
I made a proposal that was briefer and more precise than yours. You prefer ambiguity. I don't, unless it is warranted by an absence of facts. Smallchief (talk) 10:41, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
No, I don't "prefer" ambiguity, but as the wise man said, an ounce of imprecision can save a ton of explanation. It's a question of whether the tiny, tiny datum transmitted to the reader (telling him that, for sure, some people got both smoked and traumatized) is worth stuffing those few extra words into the article; the present example simply suggests that the editor consider that question. EEng 00:47, 2 February 2019 (UTC)
  • My take: don't use and/or unless you really need to be that fussy. Sometimes and and sometimes or will do. Remember that unlike and and or in most languages, in English or is marked and and is not. Tony (talk) 11:58, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, I'm being fussy. But I recall endless discussions about the atrocity of confusing a hyphen with an n-dash -- a difference in text that can only be discerned by using a microscope. Compared to that dispute, my fussiness on this subject seems significant as it impacts comprehension, rather than just violating grammatical orthodoxy. (P.S. I have no idea whether I used the m-dash in the previous sentence correctly.) Anyway, I'll shut up now, having made my point -- and having enjoyed the debate. Smallchief (talk) 12:19, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
  • "Or" is inclusive in English by default, so most constructions are fine with "or"; they do not imply a rigid binary choice that can never be commingled. When it actually does, this is usually already clear in the context, and if not, then more specific wording can be used (e.g. "a choice between ...", "the mutually exclusive options ...", "X, otherwise Y", and so on. "And/or" is an ugly, lazy construction. While it's fine as a shorthand in compressed technical documentation, it's poor writing in an encyclopedia, like "his/her" and various other misuses of the slash (virgule).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:40, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

MOS:DASH

I am a little confused with The en dash in a range is always unspaced, except when either or both elements of the range include at least one space. If either element of the range includes at least one space, shouldn't there be a space between '1' and '17' in 1–17 September? JACKINTHEBOXTALK 08:05, 13 February 2019 (UTC)

Neither 1 nor 17 contain a space. In the example, 1–17 is the complete range; September is not part of the range. Cf. spaced 19 May – 1 June. Doremo (talk) 09:32, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. JACKINTHEBOXTALK 11:48, 13 February 2019 (UTC)

Gender identity section

The section is currently:

Extended content

Main biographical article on a person whose gender might be questioned Give precedence to self-designation as reported in the most up-to-date reliable sources, even when it doesn't match what is most common in reliable sources. When a person's gender self-designation may come as a surprise to readers, explain it without overemphasis on first occurrence in an article. Any person whose gender might be questioned should be referred to by the pronouns, possessive adjectives, and gendered nouns (for example "man/woman", "waiter/waitress", "chairman/chairwoman") that reflect that person's latest expressed gender self-identification. This applies in references to any phase of that person's life, unless the subject has indicated a preference otherwise. Avoid confusing constructions (Jane Doe fathered a child) by rewriting (e.g., Jane Doe became a parent). Direct quotations may need to be handled as exceptions (in some cases adjusting the portion used may reduce apparent contradictions, and "[sic]" may be used where necessary). The MoS does not specify when and how to present former names, or whether to use the former or present name first.

See also WP:Manual of Style/Words to watch § Neologisms and new compounds

I think it needs work in two ways, one there needs to be some treatment of how gender is actually indicated for the two simple gender categories of male and female, and the two extra categories of biological female to transgender male, and biological male to transgender female.

In short, gender is typically indicated only by

  • the first name and its cultural assignment to either males or females,
  • the gender pronouns used in the body of the article.
  • scattered additional information, such as a photo, or marital partner information,

This is said to be sufficient, but in a formal way gender is not always clear if the tendecy is to rely on the above. For example foreign language names might be ambiguous, and transgendered persons might be indicated only by their transgender gender, without indication that they are transgender (there are meaningful differences between women and transwomen and transgender status should be clearly indicated). There might be a case for assigning biographical articles with hidden category tags which state that the article subject is one of the two plus two genders, which should cover about everybody. -Inowen (nlfte) 20:23, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

  • We have a long-standing and clear policy on this issue for a reason. I'm not sure the Manual of Style is the place for an editor to work out his personal issues with/general confusion about transgender people. The Drover's Wife (talk) 00:15, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
    Greetings, The Drover's Wife. The Manual of Style is the mother of style guides in Wikipedia and here is where we find the main instructions about denoting gender identity in articles. Any editor who has questions or suggestions about the notation of geneder identity in articles should come right here and post up. This is just fine as a place for an editor to ask or discuss that - although there may be other suitable pages, as well. Dismissing queries by assigning "confusion" and "personal issues" to the questioning editor is not helpful and probably constitutes a personal attack. I'd say that even if we think there's confusion from the other editor's part, it's better to clear up the confusion (e.g. by providing helpful links) rather than anything else. Take care. -The Gnome (talk) 06:58, 26 January 2019 (UTC)
  • As I've said frequently before, nothing arouses stronger and lengthier editorial conflict that attempts to change the wording in this section; at one point, the topic dominated WP:VPPOL (with multiple back-to-back RfCs) for several months solid. The wording we have at present is the result of a very long (and often very angry and unreasonable, on all sides) series of site-wide and editorially broad consensus discussions. Willy-nilly changes to it are extremely unlikely to be accepted, especially if the substantially change the advice (rather than clarify the current advice without producing any different results). If you really want to change anything about it substantively, prepare another VPPOL RfC.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:34, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
  • The section is also in contradiction with MOS:MULTINAMES, specifically this sentence: "The MoS does not specify when and how to present former names, or whether to use the former or present name first." wumbolo ^^^ 11:46, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
Given the widespread discussion that resulted the current consensus for GENDERID, surely MULTINAMES needs a revision, at least to carve out an appropriate exclusion/restriction for GENDERID. Newimpartial (talk) 12:04, 15 February 2019 (UTC)

Quotation marks on blockquote

MOS:BLOCKQUOTE is contradictory: it says "Do not enclose block quotations in quotation marks" but then the poetry example below ("Tis some visiter...") includes them (slightly complicated by the fact that there are quotes within the quote, which seems to me to be an unnecessary complication). Which rule should I follow, and should a more straightforward example quotation be substituted? Dave.Dunford (talk) 12:39, 16 February 2019 (UTC)

Dave.Dunford, I don't think it's contradictory. The example shows dialog which needs quotes. These quotes are different than quoting whole text. If the poetry example would have been quoted inline, it would have had double quotes on the outside (or around) and single quotes for the dialog.
So, don't use quotes around a block quote. Hope that helps. PopularOutcasttalk2me! 14:46, 16 February 2019 (UTC)
Oh yeah; my mistake. Dave.Dunford (talk) 15:57, 16 February 2019 (UTC)

Use of "et al."

I've always used et al. only in a list of people, but have found it being used in lists of things. I can't find any guidance on this in the MOS. (There is a latin definition here that says there are masculine/feminine/neutral versions in latin). My inclination is to use etc. or others as appropriate. Any thoughts? MB 17:43, 17 February 2019 (UTC)

I have only ever seen it used for people, indeed I've seen in the past "et all"! See wikt:et alii where it says "The abbreviation 'et al.' finesses the need for such fastidiousness", ie using different m, f & n terms. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 18:12, 17 February 2019 (UTC)
In careful usage:etc. means "And other similar stuff which you can imagine for yourself, and which we may or may not be able to exhaustively identify or enumerate if we really tried". et al. means "Uncle Al ate it." No, actually, et al. means "For brevity I've left out some members of this list but this is enough to identify the group to which I refer, and there's a definite list somewhere you can consult if you need to"; WP:MISSSNODGRASS would tell you it can only be used for people, and in practice is usually is, but sensible people know it can be used for people or things or whatever.
As per my usual exhortation, unless this is a question of house style specific to WP, or there's a history editors wasting time on it, MOS should not opine on or explain this. EEng 18:39, 17 February 2019 (UTC)
And Miss Snodgrass would be flat wrong, anyway, since it's standard practice to use et al. for any entities (corporate, organizational, governmental, individual human, etc.); a common usage of it is in abbreviating long legal-case names with numerous parties. I agree that it's used to indicate truncation of a finite list, and is rarely applied to non-entities, but could be validly be. Also agree MoS doesn't need to address this; it's a Hart's Rules and Chicago Manual of Style bit of trivia, not a subject of frequent WP editor consternation.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  06:17, 19 February 2019 (UTC)

Specialized-style fallacy and resistance to hyphenation of compound adjectives

I keep wondering if MOS:HYPHEN needs to be clarified in some way to make it clearer that compound modifiers are hyphenated on Wikipedia (narrow-gauge railway, loot-box system, half-pipe ramp, etc.) even when specialists writing for other specialists in specialized publications tend to drop the hyphen in a term of art that would be clear to subject-matter experts without that punctuation.

Some people don't even seem to understand that a noun phrase used to modify another noun or noun phrase has become a compound adjective, as at this thread: Talk:Loot box#Loot box hypen. Yet they seem to think they're competent to write an encyclopedia and to lecture others on how to write one. Rather perplexing. It's frequent enough (almost always among little camps of single-topic editors who don't seem to read about much of anything beyond their favorite topic) that it's getting tiresome, and has been for several years now.

The MoS section on this should be clear enough to curtail that sort of "well, we sociometrists/rock climbers/osteopaths/skaters/trainspotters/whatever don't hyphenate" nonsense. It's both sides of the Dunning–Kruger effect at once: an incorrect presumption that the style they are used to is "correct" and that everyone else, including the world's major style guides, are wrong and stupid, compounded by an equally incorrect presumption that the term of art that makes perfect sense to them (through constant familiarity) when used as an unhyphenated compound modifier is equally clear to all WP readers, which is obviously not going to be the case. (Is an "evolutionary ecology theory" an ecology theory that has been evolving, or a theory about evolutionary ecology?)  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  23:10, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

It's true that a lot of people are not familiar with this kind of role-related hyphenation for clarification of how to read the text. On the other hand, they usually get it when I link MOS:HYPHEN, and I've gotten very little pushback on such things (with "narrow gauge" being the notable exception, which took a lot of discussion to settle). Are you running into hyphen resistance more often? Dicklyon (talk) 23:15, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
(edit conflict) It would be good to have some sort of rigorous rule that we could hang out hats on. I think I saw this when there was resistance to the box-office bomb construct. Not sure what the rule would be, though, because there are exceptions. Well-known proper noun phrases such as Middle Eastern and African American, and probably some involving common nouns too.  — Amakuru (talk) 23:18, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
Pretty much all grammar/usage guides are clear on saying that you don't ever put a hyphen into a multi-word proper name. Not really an exception, just part of the general pattern. Dicklyon (talk) 23:22, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
On Box-office bomb, you got no pushback at all. When a clueless editor recently removed the hyphen, it was quickly fixed without controversy. This happens, not because of any general controversy, but just because some editors don't understand the role of this hyphen, as I noted (it's especially apparent in edit summaries such There’s not a dash between “box” and “office”). Dicklyon (talk) 23:27, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, you're right I think. The discussion about box-office bomb at the time was more just that one editor was surprised by it, and when I tried to back up my position via MOS:HYPHEN I found it didn't actually give as firm an instruction as I thought it might. I'll have to have a root around tomorrow though, because I'm sure there have been cases of a construct that's so ubiquitous that we wouldn't consider hyphenating it. Fossil fuel phase-out was a case I do remember, where I rather angrily argued that it should stay as was, but I was younger then and perhaps I would think differently now?!  — Amakuru (talk) 23:37, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
High school is the big exception that few people hyphenate as an adjective. There's also law enforcement officer, ice cream cone, real estate agent, and peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I'm sure more exist. Modulus12 (talk) 04:59, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
Yes, hyphens are increasingly dropped as compounds become more familiar, especially in the context of larger familiar compounds. Every now and then, hyphens might even be used in these, like here in PB&J sandwich. Dicklyon (talk) 05:27, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
Some constructions become so familiar that many people drop the hyphen (if they were ever even taught to use the properly in school in the first place, which is iffy), but this mostly happens inside even larger phrases that themselves become treated as conceptual units (thus law enforcement in "law enforcement officer", itself a stock phrase, will proportionally be hyphenated less that the same two words in a phrase that isn't stock, like "law-enforcement hiring practices"). Hyphens can be and are used in all of those example phrases ("ice-cream manufacturing facility", etc., but less often hyphenated in the very stock phrase "ice cream cone". [Trivia break: It's still non-standard, but there's an increasing number of people (e.g. on blogs) who fully compound that as icecream, but it sees very little print yet. The two-word form is itself a contraction of iced cream; it was originally from a verbal form, to ice cream (attested in 1718), like to bake bread. I knew most of that already, but cribbed the date from our Ice cream article.].

Sources of hyphen-dropping: More generally, hyphens are less likely to be used in a) specialist writing, which tends to drop them from "term of art" constructions, like case law citations or divorce law practice in legal writing; and b) news and magazines, which follow house style that seeks seek to compress and visually simplify text to save column width and, these days, especially for rapid eye-scanning. [An online news story has about 15 seconds to get its main point across before the average reader moves on [6], and it's not much different for print newspapers, though surprisingly higher for e-news on mobile phones [7], probably due to reading when "trapped" in lobbies, on buses, etc.] The language of marketing is also mostly based on (or debased from) news style, so dropped hyphens are typical of the advertising all around us.

Thus, there are two orthogonal avenues for "I don't like hyphenating that" sentiments: people who mostly only read news and other pop-culture material following AP Stylebook and similar news/marketing style; and people from particular fields who resist hyphenating jargon they already understand. WP isn't written in news style, nor for particular micro-audiences (and they don't get to "own" topics), so neither of these are valid rationales for anti-hyphenation in our articles.

It's never actually wrong to hyphenate "law-enforcement officer", it's just one character more "fussy" (clear, precise) than some people would bother to be.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  08:03, 19 February 2019 (UTC)

I don't believe that "a lot of people are not familiar with this kind of role-related hyphenation" is actually true; rather, it's not the most common style in either the job-specialized or pop-culture stuff some people mostly read, so it's not their preference. It's not actually plausible that they don't recognize this kind of hyphenation, since it's been the high-register writing norm in English for about 200 years.

I'm also not sure it's really a matter, for MoS purposes, of how much "fight you to the death" resistance any of us encounter about hyphens (especially since WP:ARBATC and other actions against "style warrior" antics have actually curtailed MoS-related incivility and tendentiousness). It's just an unusually frequent point of editorial confusion. Tooth-gnashing about it is actually frequent enough that I consider it problematic.

This passes my "if MoS doesn't have a rule already it probably doesn't need one" test, because faulty hyphenation is one of our most common style faults in article text, even up to the FA level. It's just downright weird that we've not addressed this adequately, especially given the frequency with which is produces sentences that don't make sense to anyone not already familiar with the topic. Guideline-wise, we probably need a line item in MoS saying to hyphenate such compound-modifier constructions by default, and only drop hyphens for stock phrases like "ice cream cone" that are rarely found with hyphens in any genre or register of English. It's not enough that the phrase isn't often hyphenated in specialized writing, or on news sites. It needs to be something dictionaries and other encyclopedias don't hyphenate when used adjectivally. Then we kinda hope for the best. There is no easy way to build a list or test a case, because even Google N-grams are useless for this; too high a percentage of the books and non-books Google has content-indexed are low-register, pop-culture stuff like cookbooks, magazines, children's books, true-crime, pop psychology, and other pabulum without much in the way of editorial control from a reputable publisher, much less one that uses the kind of formal and precise English used in an encyclopedia.
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  08:03, 19 February 2019 (UTC)

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