Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style

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

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Style discussions elsewhere [keep at top of page][edit]

Add a link to new discussions at top of list and indicate what kind of discussion it is (move request, RfC, open discussion, deletion discussion, etc.). Follow the links to participate, if interested. Move to Concluded when decided and summarize conclusion. Please keep this section at the top of the page.


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Extended content

An amusement park with a Noah's Ark theme is...[edit]

This is for the Answers in Genesis page. --Guy Macon (talk) 16:16, 15 April 2019 (UTC)

  • The form without hyphens is clear, and I do not see a compelling reason to hyphenate. It could also be rewritten to avoid the question: "An amusement park with a Noah's Ark theme" (also the title of this discussion). Jmar67 (talk) 16:34, 15 April 2019 (UTC)
  • I could read the non-hypened form as a themed amusement part under the brand name "Noah's Ark". I think the second with the single hyphen is correct, but yes, as Jmar points out, rewording is much easier to do. --Masem (t) 16:39, 15 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes, the day has come that we can combine hyphens with creationism. Now if we can only drag in Nazis and infoboxes somehow, we'll have achieved Nirvana. In the meantime, it pains me to say that none of the above is correct. An ndash is needed. Watch. Nothing up my sleeves...
A Noah's Ark–themed amusement park
See MOS:PREFIXDASH. The idea is that we want a bit more distance between Ark and themed than hyphen gives, because we don't want those two binding too closely to the exclusion of Noah's. EEng 16:52, 15 April 2019 (UTC)
That's reasonable. At the moment I don't see that covered under the section on hyphens. A reference there to the dash discussion would be good. Jmar67 (talk) 17:16, 15 April 2019 (UTC)
I just tried something along those lines, but the mass of dash-and-hyphen–related (or maybe dash and hyphen–related or dash- and hyphen-related) material is just too crushing. I barely escaped with my life. EEng 17:51, 15 April 2019 (UTC)
I added an ndash to the article. Thanks! --Guy Macon (talk) 12:15, 16 April 2019 (UTC)
EEng, the important thing is: it's definitely dash- and hyphen-related and not dash and hyphen–related unless you're referring to the Dash and Hyphen pub. (I never go there, the atmosphere is too uptight.) Levivich 21:08, 19 April 2019 (UTC)
I feel there's a colonoscopy pun in there somewhere, but it's just not gelling. EEng 21:31, 19 April 2019 (UTC)
That's because your pun account is in a rears. This being MOS, I would suggest you start with semicolonoscopy puns. Then you can move up to innuendos. --Guy Macon (talk) 22:00, 19 April 2019 (UTC)
Wow, you're good. Your contribution has been formally entered in the Great Register. EEng 02:52, 20 April 2019 (UTC)
It's thhe first one, " Noah's Ark–themed amusement park" --Fandelasketchup (talk) 15:15, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
EEng: "The idea is that we want a bit more distance between Ark and themed than hyphen gives, because we don't want those two binding too closely to the exclusion of Noah's." This is precisely correct. I've always had the problem, however, of regarding the en dash as somewhat too wide for such purposes. I generally don't like it in number ranges either, for example, though I don't have anything against the character concerned's being a bit visibly wider than a hyphen. I've found this perceived excess of width to be particularly noticeable in bibliographies, where I've sometimes thought the en dash makes the page ranges stick out too much visually (and where I've occasionally revolted and used hyphens, with no one ever complaining in consequence). I was thinking today that in addition to the hyphen and the en dash, I'd like to have a c dash or an e dash, either of which would be about halfway between a hyphen and an en dash widthwise. It hit me as odd that while printers have always had a variety of spaces at their disposal (InDesign's Insert White Space menu shows, for example: Em Space, En Space, Nonbreaking Space, Nonbreaking Space [Fixed Width], Hair Space, Sixth Space, Thin Space, Quarter Space, Third Space, Punctuation Space, Figure Space and Flush Space), the hyphen/dash options have been remarkably meager (in InDesign, besides the normal and discretionary/nonbreaking hyphens: Em Dash, En Dash, and that's it). Where I went from there in this fanciful digression was to see if I could modify the width of characters in Wikipedia, but Help:Advanced text formatting offered no method for this. I thought of changing the en-dash font, but that wasn't a very appealing idea, and before I got around to possibly trying it another thought came to me that seemed interesting and amusing enough to post here, though I don't suppose it will have any practical consequences. Namely... one of the problems I may have with the en dash is that it's customarily used, spaced, as the long dash. So if it looks like a long dash, that's actually what it is, at least in text using the en rather than the em as long dash. So if it's been commonly thought that the em is too wide and that the solution for this is to space the narrower en... why not similarly use a spaced hyphen if or when the en is thought to be too wide? One wouldn't want much of a space, of course, and it might not seem or be perfectly logical in an example such as the one here, but I'm still going to have a crack at it and post what I get. Here it is, hyphenated with a hair space – A Noah's Ark - themed amusement park – and with a thin space – A Noah's Ark - themed amusement park. I like it with a hair space myself. Comments welcome but not expected. –Roy McCoy (talk) 05:10, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
Roy, you say "I've always had the problem of regarding the en dash as somewhat too wide for such purposes". This is entirely your problem, or your font's problem perhaps. In most fonts, the difference is not so striking, but personally I prefer a font where the difference can't be missed (though it's been so long since I picked a font some place that I can no longer find where that was or what font it was; maybe I'm hallucinating). Also, the MOS does not recommend an en dash for this purpose, so it's not really an issue. Also, all the sources just use "Noah's Ark-themed", so I wouldn't be looking for ways to improve on something where our MOS and all sources are already aligned. Dicklyon (talk) 05:49, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
I didn't know it, Dicklyon, but you're right: it is entirely my problem. I googled "en dash is too wide" to see how many othere people shared my feeling on this, and there were no finds on it – not a single one. It's not a font thing, as I don't remember having ever encountered a font that didn't have a noticeable width difference between a hyphen and an en dash, though I suppose they may exist. So thanks for leading me to the realization that I'm surprisedly alone on this, and also for informing me that en dashes aren't recommended on Wikipedia for number ranges. As long as we're at that part or its neighborhood of the MoS, I just now changed the heading "Multi-hyphenated items" to "Multi-word hyphenated items" in accordance with the text, as there are not always multiple hyphens in such constructions. I was tempted as well to replace or delete the first example there ("a four-CD soundtrack album may be easier to read as a soundtrack album of four CDs"), since I sense no problem at all with the first variant and in fact find it easier to read than the second. If someone agrees with me (with this en-dash Google non-find I no longer have any confidence about people's agreeing with me, except on the nonnecessity of commas following short introductory prepositional phrases), they can maybe do something about the existing example. –Roy McCoy (talk) 19:26, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
En dashes certainly are recommended in number ranges; but not in Xx Xx-themed. You can see different relative widths in some fonts at Dash#En_dash_versus_em_dash. Dicklyon (talk) 01:06, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
You're right again, Dicklyon. Actually I quite noticed "In ranges that might otherwise be expressed with to or through", but I somehow missed "ranges of numbers" and got the idea that this was more in relation to non-numerical expressions. Thanks on the fonts – maybe I will have an occasion to switch fonts in WP at some point, then. Or maybe, perhaps more likely, I won't. –Roy McCoy (talk) 05:48, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
Spaced hyphen is logical and visually appealing, but MOS:HYPHEN currently forbids it. Might be worth a discussion of its own. Jmar67 (talk) 08:41, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
Thanks also, Jmar67 – not only for supporting my esthetic consideration, but also for relieving me of any imaginable temptation to act on it. I now see the proscription you're referring to, however ("A hyphen is never followed or preceded by a space, except [...]"), which supposably means word spaces and might thus be taken as not applying to the distinctly different hair spaces. But I'm not going to take that up and I doubt anyone else will either, so I don't think a separate discussion is called for at this point. Thanks for the suggestion, though. –Roy McCoy (talk) 19:26, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
Spaced hyphen has one universal meaning: "I didn't know how to make a dash". It has no place in proper typography. Dicklyon (talk) 01:06, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
I don't think you're right here though, Dick. (I just now realized your name is probably Dick Lyon. I thought it was one of those classical-type names: DICleon, like Anacreon etc.) You're mixing apples and oranges. A hair space is a small spatial adjustment; I was explicitly not suggesting a full-width word space such as used around en dashes. You really don't need to tell me about (word) spaces around hyphens. –Roy McCoy (talk) 05:48, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
Got it. But I don't think there's ever a call for any amount of space around a hyphen. Let me know if you find otherwise. Dicklyon (talk) 20:35, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
"Noah's Ark-themed". This is already covered at MOS:HYPHEN (don't inject hyphens into a proper name being used adjectivally). But constructions with no hyphen are ambiguous. E.g. "A Noah's Ark themed amusement park" seems to suggest a "themed amusement park", which certainly sounds like a real thing, owned by a company called Noah's Ark (check trademark registrations and you'll find that there are many).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:18, 29 April 2019 (UTC)
That’s ugly. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:04, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
Tell that to the authors of the most world's English-language style guides. This is simply how hyphens are used with proper names. It's not like MoS just made this up. It's normal English.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  21:52, 7 May 2019 (UTC)

Numbering officeholders in infoboxes[edit]

Relevant RfC for any concerned: Template_talk:Infobox_officeholder#RfC_regarding_ordinal_numbering

Deleted sentence at Punctuation inside or outside / Proposed reordering at Names and titles[edit]


I almost boldly changed

"Life", Anaïs Nin wrote, "shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."


"Life," Anaïs Nin wrote, "shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."

at Quotation Marks > Punctuation before quotations, in accordance with the style I had always seen, I thought even in British publications. I don't remember what stopped me from making this change, but whatever it was I was very surprised – and very pleasantly – to see that what I now see is termed "logical quotation" is now standard in Wikipedia. Despite the change I was about to make, I have for decades been an active proponent of what I would normally call British usage on this, which is both more logical and more attractive. Hooray Wikipedia.

The topics I am here raising, however, are not that but rather (1) my deletion – I hope not too bold – of a sentence in the subchapter Punctuation inside or outside, and (2) a proposed reordering in the subchapter Names and titles.

(1) When I noticed there was no sample given for the sentence "A question should always end with a question mark", I first added one:

Marlin asked Dory, "Can you read?"

I immediately had doubts about this, however. It wasn't really a question, but a declarative sentence quoting a question – and if I changed it to a question I wouldn't be sure how to punctuate it in approved Wikipedia style. Would that be

Did Marlin ask Dory, "Can you read?"


Did Marlin ask Dory, "Can you read?"?

Someone please tell me, thanks – though it seems fairly clear that the question needs two question marks in order to conform to the sentence it's supposed to illustrate.

What finally made me desist with trying to provide another sample, however, was not so much this problem but rather that there was no clause following the quote and I didn't know how to provide one, or even if the sentence without a sample necessarily referred to a quote with a following clause or not. So I deleted both my previously placed sample and the sentence, noting:

"Deleted previously added sample, plus the sentence "A question should always end with a question mark." pending provision of an appropriate sample, or perhaps new paragraph with same. Otherwise others than myself will be confused.

What I think I've done, then, is to prompt an improvement without having made or specified it myself. It may, however, be unnecessary to do anything more here at all, since "A question should always end with a question mark" may be taken as something rather obvious that neither belongs at this particular place nor merits a separate paragraph elsewhere.

(2) Continuing to check out the MoS, I noticed that the list item "and the section you are reading now." under Names and titles seemed out of place and should appear at the end rather than in the middle of the list. I tried to change this but couldn't, so I'm now suggesting that someone here who's able to do that make the change (assuming it can be changed by someone, as I suppose it can).


Roy McCoy (talk) 23:56, 19 April 2019 (UTC)

@Roy McCoy: This is all old news and covered many times before. WP has used LQ since the early 2000s. Briefly: Don't double-up punctuation except in unusual circumstances. Thus Did Marlin ask Dory, "Can you read?" [Aside: we really need to replace these Finding Nemo examples, since they bear little resemblance to encyclopedic writing.] An example of a special circumstance is literal string quotation: The newspaper misquoted Smith as stating "I am to resign.", but Smith's actual announcement phrased this as a question, "I am to resign?". Thus, when quoting a question in a non-question sentence, the quoted and quoting sentence have separate terminal punctuation. There's no need to do this when quoting a question inside another question and they both end on the same word. Similarly, if you quote someone saying "I'm tired, and sore, and upset, etc.", and your sentence ends there, do: He said, "I'm tired, and sore, and upset, etc.", not "I'm tired, and sore, and upset, etc.". PS: Some British news publications also use typesetters' punctuation (commas and periods/stops inside, no matter what). This is not recommended by British style guides (other than the house styles of some newspapers of course). I did an analysis of this stuff a few years ago, and it turns out there are at least 12 different British quotation punctuation styles among major publishers in the UK. They shake out to very similar to LQ, and very similar to TQ, with various intergrading based on special "rules" made up by particular publishers, and they're generally not compatible with each other.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:21, 29 April 2019 (UTC)
Thank you SMcCandlish for your interesting and enlightening comments in response to my questions. My MoS revisions have apparently been left alone, and there doesn't seem to be anything that needs to be done further in regard to them on my account. I would say the deletion of "A question should always end with a question mark" is the less dubious in light of the sample given by you ("Did Marlin ask Dory, "Can you read?"), which is a question but ends with a quote mark rather than a question mark. (I deleted your opening single quote there, by the way.) There has however been no reply as yet to my second concern, which was the incorrect ordering of "and the section you are reading now" under Quotation marks > Names and titles. Can this be corrected? Thanks again. –Roy McCoy (talk) 05:01, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
I'm sure it'll get ironed out. People making undiscussed substantive changes to MoS usually does get reverted, just not always immediately. What the actual "rules" are should not change without being certain it's what the community supports, since any such change has the potential to affect innumerable articles, especially the more general the point is. PS: the "and the section you are reading now" thing is not an error. Look at the list more closely.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:05, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
I took another look at my MoS edits (mostly minor – I didn't change any rules), and I think they're okay. EEng reverted one of them, so I suppose he reviewed the others as well. I was going to re-add the "Principal Skinner" text I deleted on April 20, though as a separate item and reworked:
If matter is added or modified editorially at the beginning of a sentence for clarity, it is usually placed in square brackets:
"[Principal Skinner] already told me that", he objected.
This is preferable to the following, which is likely to be unclear:
"He already told me that", he objected.
Consider, however, an addition rather than a replacement of text:
"He [Principal Skinner] already told me that", he objected.
This is better than what was there before, but I finally didn't add it because it seemed to have noticeably too little to do with the sentences subtopic.
As for the list, I have looked at it again and it still looks wrong, whether you say it's not an error or not. The line with "and" announces the last item of the series in which it appears, and it ends with a period that furthers this announcement. The following two lines thus appear to be out of order. I call this incorrect. Even if it's somehow technically correct, it's still inelegant, unclear and confusing, and I continue to think it should be emended somehow. –Roy McCoy (talk) 01:55, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
I don't disagree with the advice, but it's very partial, and it's a lot of verbiage stating the obvious. This doesn't have anything to do with beginnings of sentences in particular, nor even sentences at all, but any quoted material and editorial change to it. And the case of moving the change out of the quotation is missing. And these examples do not pertain to encyclopedic writing (it's more of the "Dory and Nemo" type of stuff we need to replace). Maybe:
If matter is editorially added to or modified in quoted material for clarity, it should be in square brackets or moved outside the quotation:
"[Laura Chinchilla] has pledged to continue the probusiness policies of her predecessor".
"She [Laura Chinchilla] has pledged to continue the probusiness policies of her predecessor".
Laura Chinchilla "has pledged to continue the probusiness policies of her predecessor".
As for the list we've been talking about, here's a hint: It's about the pages, about / versus the displayed § (or # in the actual section links). The error you think you see is illusory. The "and" is the end of a sub-list of WP:MOS sections, in a larger, containing list of MoS pages and subpages. I.e., it's the same structure as "I like donkeys; elephants; snakes, turtles, and lizards; and ferrets."
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  08:12, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
What do you mean, "very partial"? You informed me that "People making undiscussed substantive changes to MoS usually does get reverted [sic ]". This was the only such change I made, so I felt I needed to take another look at it in light of your comment. I don't think I was "very partial" at all, particularly given that I was trying to re-add what I had – apparently correctly, if it was so obvious – deleted before. (And if it was so obvious, why hadn't you or someone else already deleted or moved it?) Moreover, I wrote only two sentences on this aside from the revised samples, which is hardly verbose. My original suggestion was that the deleted text, if restored, should be moved to a different location. You apparently concur with that, so why don't you go ahead and do it (though preferably with "pro-business" rather than "probusiness", the latter not reflecting the word's pronunciation).
I'm also wondering why you found it necessary to change <br> to <br /> in the sample text, when the former apparently does the same thing and is even approved by Wikipedia ("The <br> or <br /> tags are used for a single forced line break." I see that only <br /> and {{Break}} are mentioned at, but if "The MediaWiki software converts valid forms [note] like <br>, <br/>, and <br > to <br />", then why not let it do that? Perhaps your penchant for unnecessary commas extends to word spaces and slashes as well.
Finally, your technical justification of the apparent disorder in the list does not detract from the validity of what I've been saying about it. "Even if it's somehow technically correct, it's still inelegant, unclear and confusing, and I continue to think it should be emended somehow." And apparently it has been: someone's gone in and fixed it so that the period previously in the middle (which wasn't a semicolon as in your "I like donkeys" sentence) has disappeared. That's an improvement, whether I'm credited with having suggested it or not. –Roy McCoy (talk) 17:09, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
I think this has run its course; you seem to be coming up with disagreements just to have them, predicated on a completely unrelated discussion below. Quickly: What I meant by "very partial" is immediately apparent from everything I wrote after that, especially the scope-expanded revised text I supplied, and explained in detail. I changed to <br /> because the lack of the / screws up the wikitext syntax highlighter; the fix is well within WP:REFACTOR. The fact that you still think there's "apparent disorder" in the list, even after the reason for the order has been made clear to you, and no one in the entire history of WP but you has had this "issue" with it, and I even edited it to get rid of "and" for you so this circular back-and-forth would stop, isn't something I care to deal with any further.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  08:39, 4 May 2019 (UTC)
Two improvements have been made at my suggestion, which is all I was interested in and so there is nothing essential to discuss further. You did not, however, explain what you meant by "very partial", which in fact was not immediately apparent from everything you wrote after that. It still doesn't seem apparent, however many times I read it. I also didn't understand how the lack of the slash screws up the wikitext syntax highlighter, though I now find your recent explanation of this at WP:LINEBREAK. This means I've suggested yet a third improvement, so it's not clear why you should be haughty or disrespectful.
As for the punctuation itself, the one thing that stayed in my mind following this discussion (which otherwise I'd forgotten, having been reminded of it now only by its appearance somehow in my screen) was the sample question Did Marlin ask Dory, "Can you read?". While I fully agreed and still agree that a second question mark there looks bad and isn't needed, I still had the nagging feeling that logic – which is what logical quotation is about, right? – nonetheless demanded the second punctuation mark, i.e. one for the main question and one for the quoted question. "Don't double up punctuation except in unusual circumstances" seems like a pretty good rule that covers this fairly well, though it's not clear to me that this shouldn't also extend to The newspaper misquoted Smith as stating "I am to resign.", but Smith's actual announcement phrased this as a question, "I am to resign?"., (triple punctuation!) as I don't immediately see why the quote-ending period is necessary (unless solely for the purpose of illustration here and it actually isn't). Admittedly it doesn't look as bad as two question marks, but it still looks a bit odd, and unnecessarily. I'm honestly not looking for disagreement here, by the way, and I'm sure you can understand the point. Doubled punctuation marks look odd and can be skipped, but it still doesn't seem to me that this is perfectly logical. –Roy McCoy (talk) 00:34, 11 May 2019 (UTC)

Another capitalization question[edit]

The following is the current lead of the article James Buchanan:

James Buchanan (/bjuːˈkænən/; April 23, 1791 – June 1, 1868) was the 15th president of the United States (1857–1861), serving immediately prior to the American Civil War. A member of the Democratic Party, he was the 17th United States Secretary of State and had served in the Senate and House of Representatives before becoming president.

Note that "president" is lowercased (twice) but "Secretary of State" is not. The general convention on articles on U.S. presidents is to indicate the ordinal rank in this form, with "president" in lowercase. However, in this example there is a capitalization conflict with "Secretary of State". Three other articles (James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams) also use "president" but "Secretary of State". The articles Secretary of state and United States Secretary of State treat it as a proper noun in the U.S. context and consistently capitalize it.

Is this lead MOS-compliant with respect to capitalization of these titles? Jmar67 (talk) 11:23, 23 April 2019 (UTC)

No. Should be lower-case. It's capitalized in a construction like "Secretary of State Buchanan" (fused to the name), or in a reference to the position as such and without a modifier ("Mike Pompeo is US Secretary of State, since April 26, 2018"). Even that second case isn't really necessary, but we seem to be doing it. E.g., we have List of lord mayors of London (modified, as a plural, thus a common noun), and Lord Mayor of London as an unmodified title being the subject itself.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:08, 29 April 2019 (UTC)

Translating political party names[edit]

Hi. Titles for articles about Swedish political parties differ a lot when it comes to language. For example, the articles for Moderate Party (Sweden) and Citizens' Coalition are written in English while articles for Direktdemokraterna and Liberala partiet are written in Swedish. What is the appropriate way to deal with political parties from non-English speaking countries? Should they have translated titles or not? I can see a problem with translating every time, names of parties such as Landsbygdspartiet Oberoende and Enhet cannot be translated accurately translated well into English (the translated name for Landsbygdspartiet Oberoende is "Countryside Party Independent", Enhet would translate simply as "Unit"). And that brings us yet another question, how much freedom do translators have? Landsbygdspartiet Oberoende's literal translation sounds awkward, so would it be okay to rename it to, say, Independent Countryside Party just because it reads better? lovkal (talk) 16:42, 24 April 2019 (UTC)

What do other, reliable English Language sources do outside of Wikipedia? --Jayron32 17:12, 24 April 2019 (UTC)
These are smaller parties which are rarely, if ever, mentioned in English-language media. lovkal (talk) 17:31, 24 April 2019 (UTC)
I find that hard to believe. This took all of two seconds. There's a half dozen English-language news sources covering local Swedish issues there, a modicum of effort searching those should turn something up to establish correct usage. --Jayron32 23:39, 24 April 2019 (UTC)
I'm not saying that there aren't English-language Swedish news sources, I'm perfectly aware that they exist and I have looked for mentions of these parties in the ones I know of. But as I said, these are *very* small parties with less than 1% of the vote, so I think it's perfectly understandable that they aren't mentioned in The Local. lovkal (talk) 09:13, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
If there aren't many English sources that cover a party name, it may be preferable to just leave it in its original language - if there's not an obvious translation then no one is going to be searching for the English name anyway. The parlgov database is a good source for English names of most European parties and a good number of OECD countries. The Manifestos Project also has reasonably good coverage. I couldn't find Landsbygdspartiet Oberoende in either dataset but it looks looks like other pages reference them as the "Independent Rural Party". That translation would make a lot more sense, especially since they appear to be similar to agrarian parties like the Finnish Rural Party. Nblund talk 01:05, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
I'll check those out, thanks! lovkal (talk) 09:13, 25 April 2019 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review after discussing it on the closer's talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: not moved. There is a definite consensus against the proposed requested move. (closed by non-admin page mover) qedk (t c) 11:16, 2 May 2019 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Manual of StyleWikipedia:Manual of style – As pointed out by my dear colleague SmokeyJoe, the so-called "Manual of Style" does not actually follow its own recommendations. We do not capitalize common nouns in titles at Wikipedia, and "style" is a common noun. This is our manual of style, not some hoity-toity "Manual" of some high-falluting "Style".

I am serious, if a bit facetious. This title is wrong and has no reason to be capitalized. Red Slash 00:27, 25 April 2019 (UTC)

  • Waste of time The Manual of Style applies only to articles, not project space. What a waste of time. EEng 00:31, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    Nobody made you comment! Red Slash 00:43, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    No, but the opening of this thread "made" me come to see what it's about. Next you'll want WP:Arbitration Committee -> Arbitration committee. The main MOS page has literally 150 subpages and 600 redirects pointing to it [2] and on top of that there are (easily) a thousand, if not thousands, of redirects and shortcuts pointing to the subpages. All of those would need to be moved and updated, and inevitably some links in old discussions will be permanently broken through some slipup -- all just to scratch someone's obsessive-compulsive itch. EEng 02:28, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    As a member of the Guild of Copy Editors I have to say that looking for improvement in writing style is not a waste of time. Many of us spend some time changing capitalization in articles. But tiny errors in style do add up and in my humble opinion it is a kind of unwarranted conformism and even outright insulting to state trying to fix such things is a waste of time or a compulsive itch. Thinker78 (talk) 18:19, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    The "unwarranted conformism" here is the overworrying about this tiny "error". I'm all for fixing things, but not where the cost far outweighs the benefit, as here. EEng 19:07, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    I'll second that. Asserting opponents' mental disorders is never a useful or even intelligent argument and has no place in civil discourse. Too bad the community tolerates it. ―Mandruss  18:57, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    That's crazy -- it's no different than saying "That's crazy." EEng 19:05, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    You're wrong, it's distinctly different. But even "That's crazy" is a pointless non-argument; the only meaningful part is why you feel it's crazy, so the "That's crazy" preface could and should be omitted. ―Mandruss  19:10, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    It's shorthand for "Your contribution to the discussion seems, at least to this observer, to be severely lacking in the validity of either its premises or its reasoning. You are strongly encouraged to revisit it in light of this commentary." But saying, "That's crazy" saves a lot of time. EEng 19:24, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    Equally vacuous: "Your contribution to the discussion seems, at least to this observer, to be severely lacking in the validity of either its premises or its reasoning. You are strongly encouraged to revisit it in light of this commentary." Again, nobody cares that it seems that way to you, what's meaningful is why you feel that way; i.e., your counter-argument. Examples of other pointless cruft: "Nonsense." — "That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard." — "I'm shocked/saddened/disappointed that" ―Mandruss  20:34, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    That's silly. Often the simple realization that a fellow editor finds your position startling is all that's needed. Or it can act as an intensifier introducing a more substantive comment, as indeed I've used such characterizations in this thread. Now stop being so serious. Jeesh. EEng 21:04, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Support. Not because I really care about capitalisation edge cases, but because I believe that consistency is good for everyone most importantly the newcomers. The MOS should be consistent with its own advice. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:32, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    I should point out that I summoned you, which could technically be "canvassing". Anyone looking to count votes could discount this one to be "fair" Red Slash 00:44, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    It’s ok. Consensus decision making is based on strength of opinions, not vote counting. I obviously wholly share your opinion given in your nomination. Be to create some independence of argument I emphasise the importance of consistency. I do not mention that I enjoy the kick to the shins for the high-falluting grandstanding perception that the MOS carries. Not that I dislike the MOS, it is essential, but should not be taken so seriously. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 01:07, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    All the more reason not to robotically apply it here, ignoring all the trouble that doing so will cause. EEng 19:05, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose Comment Could a case be made for using title case since the MoS is essentially a guidebook rather than a single article? (I'm also tempted to oppose on pure WP:IDLI grounds: I think Mos looks lamer than MoS, and I don't think it really matters since this isn't article space). Edit: I'm changing my !vote to oppose: I agree with Jayron32 that WP:BROKE applies here. gnu57 16:06, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    WP:AfD is well accepted as an abbreviation for Wikipedia:Articles for deletion. WP:MoS will continue to function as a redirect to WP:Manual of style. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:04, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    I too fall in the position that the MOS is a long work (inb4 EEng with some sarcastic image about how lengthy it is [FBDB]), for which we typically capitalize significant words. --Izno (talk) 13:24, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Support—On this occasion I have to go against the view of the excellent EEng. For years, en.WP has been in harmony with CMOS, the Oxford Style Guide, and many other authorities, in telling us to minimise unnecessary caps. So we do, largely. It's weird that the title of our style guide clashes with this. Tony (talk) 02:40, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    So why doesn't the Oxford Style Guide call itself the "Oxford style guide", or CMOS call itself "Cmos"? -- Dr Greg  talk  03:14, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    Bingo! Randy Kryn (talk) 03:23, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    That's a pretty good catch, but to be fair, those are proper names, while the title of our style guide isn't because ... well, for some reason that escapes me. I'd be totally with this change if we were starting from scratch. But there are so many things that really need doing around this joint, and this will no doubt cause all kinds of headaches we're not thinking of -- minor headaches probably, but unnecessary ones for sure. Perhaps we can let the current form of title be a constant reminder that MOS does not apply to MOS (something that comes up now and then, as when someone demands that it be regularized to use either BrEng or AmEng, instead of continuing to display the shocking promiscuity in which it currently indulges). EEng 03:26, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
And for spelling issues we can have a Manual of orthography – Moo! -EEng
Manual of orthography noticeboard Mandruss 
Manual of orthography noticeboard?-EEng
  • Oppose, MOS reduced to Mos? The continuous upper-case lower-case MOS discussions finally turned upon MOS itself, like a wandering bird coming back to its birthplace to roost? In these hallowed halls common sense should prevail, so per EEng, who speaks truth-to-lower(case). Randy Kryn (talk) 02:53, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    • No, abbreviations in English are almost always capitalised. Our own advice, echoed elsewhere, is not to cap the initials of expanded forms of abbreviations just because the abbrevation comprises caps. Tony (talk) 06:48, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Every time you use "CMOS" to refer to anything other than complementary metal–oxide–semiconductors an electronics engineer cries. If you don't want salty tears corroding your PC, please don't do that. --Guy Macon (talk) 03:24, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    Surely you mean "an electronics engineer is shocked"? Hyphen–dash warriors, please open a separate thread. EEng 03:27, 25 April 2019 (UTC)'
    I have launched an investigation into this horrific case of dash abuse at Talk:CMOS. —BarrelProof (talk) 13:25, 26 April 2019 (UTC)
    Weeps quietly. EEng 18:22, 26 April 2019 (UTC)
    Speaking of shocked, I don't see how an EE can make such a bastardized plural of complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor, as if CMOSs was meaningful. CMOS probably says not to do that. Dicklyon (talk) 05:32, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose along the lines expressed by gnu57. The title could be simply Wikipedia:Style. But "Manual of Style" gives it the status of an online work within WP. It is thus a proper name and must be rendered as such. Jmar67 (talk) 05:31, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose for the same reasons given by Jmar67, EEng, and Randy Kryn. --Coolcaesar (talk) 05:42, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment: I'm staying out of this one but have popped some popcorn. 🍿 WanderingWanda (they/them) (t/c) 06:06, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Support, but prefer Wikipedia:Style for consistency with other policy and guideline pages that use sentence case. This is a guideline, and thinking of it as a "manual" feels overindulgent. Would we create something like 'Wikipedia:Manual of neutrality' or 'Wikipedia:Manual of citing sources'? "Manual" also make it sounds like something that belongs in the Help: namespace Those that think of this like an "online work within WP" or want to create a "Manual" could transwiki it to Wikibooks and make it so. -- Netoholic @ 08:20, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    Manual of style is a widely-used term outside Wikipedia, unlike your other examples. The opening paragraph of that article says it's a set of standards and says nothing about physical form or structure. If Wikipedia actually used ours like manuals of style—i.e. in-house ones, not style guides like CMOS CMoS—are generally used outside Wikipedia, "Manual of style" would be the obvious choice. Since we don't, it seems misleading and unhelpful. But we are both far outside this discussion's scope, predictably. ―Mandruss  08:59, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    An internal document would normally be referred to as a "style guide" or "style manual". The phrase "manual of style" is used more for how-to guides meant for general consumption - notably and predominantly the Chicago Manual of Style. Here is a comparison showing that "style guide" would be the most popular of these phrases, and "Manual of Style" quite rare when you subtract the CMoS from results. For Wikipedia internal purposes though, Wikipedia:Style would be sufficient. -- Netoholic @ 12:11, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - I initially assumed I would support this move, but the ngram on this subject suggests a "consistently capitalized in a substantial majority of independent, reliable sources" and that the current capitalisation is therefore the correct one per MOS:CAPS. Also, per EEng, there is a distinct WP:BROKE issue here. I suggest this be speedy closed fairly soon.  — Amakuru (talk) 09:22, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
    Per this ngram, subtracting CMoS from "Manual of Style" reduces the difference to statistical insignificance, especially considering the likelihood of a few other accidentals. ―Mandruss  09:32, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose per WP:BROKE, WP:BIKESHED, etc. --Jayron32 13:55, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Support. Why not. —pythoncoder (talk | contribs) 14:33, 25 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Support instead WP:Wikipedia’s Manual of Style . The current is broken. It does not follow its own advice. It self-asserts the singularity of a “Manual of Style”. “Wikipedia’s Manual of Style” would nicely, unambiguously, state with emphasis that manuals of styles exist, and this one is Wikipedia’s, and this one unambiguously has its unique composition title. Claims of a title change affecting shortcuts or having other affects are not true. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:38, 26 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I consider it to be a proper noun, The Wikipedia Manual of Style, analogous to The Chicago Manual of Style. Rreagan007 (talk) 02:53, 26 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose: The MoS is a creative work. The Wikipedia guidance for the capitalization of the titles of creative works is found at MOS:CT, and the title follows that convention. —BarrelProof (talk) 13:04, 26 April 2019 (UTC)
    • Only a MOS:CT enthusiast will appreciate the logic of what you just said. For the conversant, it is convoluted. For the newcomer, it is quite opaque. Again, broad understanding of the MOS is BROKE. If barriers can be reduced, they should be. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 13:25, 26 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. As others have pointed out, it's not a manual of style, it's the Wikipedia Manual of Style. Peter coxhead (talk) 13:38, 26 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Per EEng, fixes nothing -- waste of time and efforts of all of us. --A D Monroe III(talk) 16:38, 26 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose: Waste of time, Manual of Style looks better. --Biscuit-in-Chief (TalkContribs) 19:45, 26 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. It is normal for a specific example of a manual of style (lower case) to be titled something like "Podunk Manual of Style" (title case). Ours fits into that pattern, so there is nothing wrong to fix. And as others have already stated, trying to fix this would introduce more problems than the zero that it solves. —David Eppstein (talk) 20:02, 26 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Neutral: In my view, the guideline title could be interpreted either as a title name of the published work (Manual of Style) or a common noun phrase (manual of style), so I don't mind changing it to align with the naming conventions guidelines' title format (e.g. WP:Naming conventions (people), WP:Naming conventions (capitalization)). For this aspect, I agree with EEng, quote "I'd be totally with this change if we were starting from scratch." But if the name change causes more trouble than what it would ever benefit, then don't change it. Sounds simple, right, my fellow Wikipedians? —Wei4Green | 唯绿远大 (talk) 23:56, 26 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Per many of the previous arguments against. Shearonink (talk) 17:14, 28 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose: This is a creative work. We call it Wikipedia:Manual of Style because of the conventions of Wikipedia, but it could stand alone as The Wikipedia Manual of Style and be capitalized as a creative work. Alternatively it could be listed as Wikipedia:Style.  SchreiberBike | ⌨  00:15, 29 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose per much of the above. It's a proper name of a specific work (albeit an internal one), thus is perfectly compliant with MOS:TITLES. WP uses sentence case for encyclopedia article titles, but this rule doesn't apply to other namespaces. We tend to go lower-case on them (even with WP:POLICY pages, but those are also not akin to published works. MoS is essentially a book in wiki form, though not intended as general writing advice for the entire world. Anyway, I would instead suggest some counter-cleanup, like moving all "WP:WikiProject foo bar" (or the really confusing ones, "WP:WikiProject Foo bar") to "WP:WikiProject Foo Bar" as proper names. Or at least move them all to have a consistent format one way or the other.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:05, 29 April 2019 (UTC); revised 21:50, 29 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - wow, I haven't added my opinion in the quest to find consensus like this in a long time. The MoS only applies to the main space, not the project space. Gentgeen (talk) 08:09, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
    And if you read some of these arguments, you can see why it sometimes doesn't even apply in mainspace. Sheesh. Dicklyon (talk) 03:19, 2 May 2019 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

Page header not displaying in mobile view[edit]

I use the mobile view almost exclusively. After a recent edit to this talk page's header by another user, I realized that the desktop view displays a header that I do not see in the mobile view. Does anyone using mobile remember seeing a header displayed here? It does seem like there used to be one. Jmar67 (talk) 00:14, 27 April 2019 (UTC)

  • I use desktop, iPad, iPhone landscape and iPhone portrait. There have been a lot of silent changes in display by Wikipedia software over the last year, with some crazy things briefly oblong the way. Problems seem to get fixed faster than I can understand the problem I experienced. I think things are quite good at the moment. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 04:21, 28 April 2019 (UTC)
  • And what do you mean by "header"? Are you talking about section headings? Templates at the top of the page? If the latter, various <div>...</div> CSS classes have suppressed display in the mobile view. E.g., if you go to WP:ANI in mobile, you'll find a heading for the noticeboard archives but no actual archive links available, until you switch to the desktop view. This isn't really ideal, but it's also not really an MoS matter. More a MediaWiki developers + "MediaWiki:"-namespace regulars matter.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  21:53, 29 April 2019 (UTC)
    Yes, I mean the set of templates shown at the top of the talk page. This is not related to the style-related content of the MOS but rather to the talk page itself. The Help Desk referred me to VPT, but I wanted to get feedback here first. Jmar67 (talk) 01:23, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
    Right then. Definitely a VPT matter, since this is all about how the mobile version is coded, and how our CSS is coded to work with it.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:02, 30 April 2019 (UTC)

Spaces before unit symbols[edit]

MOS:UNITSYMBOLS says to use non-breaking spaces before unit symbols (as in "35 mm"). But some editors have recently moved pages to squeeze the space out of the title, as in 35mm and 35mm movie film, because that unspaced form has become somewhat more common in popular sources in recent decades. This seems like the usual COMMONSTYLE fallacy to me. Shouldn't we try to be more consistent than that, in following the use recommended by standards organizations and our own MOS like we do almost everywhere else in WP? Is 35mm in some way special about this? Dicklyon (talk) 02:31, 28 April 2019 (UTC)

Absolutely. We've followed the International Standards Organisation for a long time now. It sets the most authoritative, consistent, logical, and respected standards. Tony (talk) 02:34, 28 April 2019 (UTC)
Don't go overboard, at least not unprepared
Don’t go overboard. Most units (not %, not degrees Celsius) should for sure have a nonbreaking space. But sometimes a measurement transforms into a name. “400-35mm film” is a leading example. The name is derived from a millimetre measurement, but it became a name. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 04:18, 28 April 2019 (UTC)
Cases where units don't get spaces are enumerated at MOS:UNITSYMBOLS. It doesn't apply to mm. I'm not asking about things like the Canon lens names (e.g. Canon EF 16–35mm lens), but when the film width is a simple measurement as in 35 mm film and 35 mm movie film, we should respect the conventions. Dicklyon (talk) 05:29, 28 April 2019 (UTC)
And I've never heard of "400-35mm film". What is that the name of? Or do you mean an ISO 400 35 mm film, such as Tri-X? Dicklyon (talk) 05:33, 28 April 2019 (UTC)
Yes. Although it is quite a distant memory needing to specify 35mm. My first camera used a smaller width film that became hard to find. 100 and 400 were the standard choices. The 35mm film memories are mixed with things like 18-55mm lenses. It was very common for the space before the unit to be lost when a measurement in millimetres was not the point. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 07:17, 28 April 2019 (UTC)
I recall seeing 100m used in articles on sprint and swimming races. No one objected when I moved them to ISO spacing. Tony (talk) 11:33, 28 April 2019 (UTC)
I wouldn’t expect it. In a 100m sprint, 100 metres the measurement is kind of central. Less so an 18-50mm lens, but I can’t see why someone would be upset. Was Dicklyon concerned about this: Talk:35mm_movie_film#RfC:_35mm_articles? It is a bit odd, section titled “RfC”, but not. Midstream, the “RfC” driver makes actions. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 11:49, 28 April 2019 (UTC)
I'm not upset, just trying to call attention to an error that was made and move things along in a consistent direction. I don't think your fragmental memories of photographic terminology are particularly relevant here. It's a measurement in SI units, and treating it oddly just obfuscates that. The opinions at that discussion do not seem to have been voiced with our own MOS in mind (nobody mentioned it), just a scan of some popular sources. The spaced version remains very common, too, and there's no reason given to treat this case differently from others. Dicklyon (talk) 18:58, 28 April 2019 (UTC)
I must have had a 110 film cartridge camera. I have some of the thin negative strips. The purpose of scratching out these memory fragments is for me an attempt to find any remote reason for “35mm” to be a name, and I do not find a reason. Spaced versions and non spaced versions exist without any apparent meaningful distinction, I think it is just a style issue. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 12:30, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
I'll start an RM when I get a chance, and link it here. Dicklyon (talk) 19:04, 28 April 2019 (UTC)
By the way, I find it hard to imagine that your first camera used a smaller film width than 35 mm. There was no format like that that I know of in the last 70 years, except for toy and spy cameras such as the TONE camera, and the 1972 Pocket Instamatic cartidges. More likely if you're an old guy like me you started with size 127 or 120 roll film or 35 mm, or a 70 mm size 116 roll film, which is actually what I started with using a very old camera. Dicklyon (talk) 19:11, 28 April 2019 (UTC)

Here: Talk:35mm_movie_film#Requested_move_28_April_2019. Dicklyon (talk) 19:30, 28 April 2019 (UTC)

Yes, move them back to properly include the spaces. This can be done speedily via WP:RMTR.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:02, 29 April 2019 (UTC)

"Decorative quotations" again[edit]

Some while back we had an RfC here, to consistently recommend use of {{quote}} or the <blockquote>...</blockquote> element for block quotations, and deprecate the use of decorative quotation framing devices (colored boxes, giant quotation marks, etc.), which are a pull quote style, and to also remove support for use of pull quotes at all in main space.

I didn't notice at the time but Herostratus misread the RfC results and rewrote the template documentation to basically say the opposite of what the conclusion was: combined diff. Several of the things that version said are flat-out incorrect.

I've belatedly fixed this to reflect both the RfC results and what MoS and other pages say about this stuff: combined diff

Herostratus has reverted this with the non-rationale "Liked it better before", and then cited WP:BRD, but it was Herostratus who actually made the undiscussed major changes in the first place. I've restored my version, as actually compliant with the RfC consensus and the guidelines. So, this seems to be an impasse. We can RfC this here if necessary (doing it at the template talk page is probably a waste of time since virtually no one watchlists it), but just a general discussion is probably enough to resolve the issue.

PS: That sounded grouchier than intended: I don't think Herostratus is "being bad" for not codifying something that agrees with the RfC and the relevant WP:P&G material, since WP:Writing policy is hard. And some of my version might be better integrated directly into guidelines, though it's intended to address several forms of (very frequent) abuse of quotation templates, at the template's doc pages were it'll be seen (WP:UNDUE emphasis, decoration for its own sake, confusing non sequitur placement, over-quotation, using block quotes for very short quotations, mis-placement of citations inside the quoted material, etc.).
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:02, 29 April 2019 (UTC); revised 23:30, 29 April 2019 (UTC)

I agree that the type with the giant quotation marks looks darn awful, but I don't really see any problem with the judicious use of {{quote box}} for primary-source quotations. I think of them as akin to images+captions in that they offer specific examples or details related to the summary-style overview they run beside. Glancing over a few articles with the quote box template, Aleister Crowley provides relevant excerpts from his writing, Charlie Chaplin includes pithy remarks of Chaplin on his own life events, placed at relevant junctures, and Messerschmitt Me 262 gives a fascinating first-hand account from a fighting ace. I agree that they can be hokey or misplaced (e.g., William Shakespeare, Bill Clinton, Social media#Criticism, debate and controversy), but I don't think the tendency to misuse them justifies discouraging all use. Cheers, gnu57 00:31, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
I've said something along these lines myself. What we probably need is a fork of that template exclusively devoted to primary-source excerpts and documented as such, and named accordingly; and then to change the code of the original and its variants – abused literally thousands of times to "decorate" everyday block quotations – so that in mainspace they just emit the same code as {{Quote}}. And do the same thing to the "giant quotation marks" templates like {{Cquote}} and {{Rquote}} (other than they need no variant that does what they do in mainspace, for any reason).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  17:57, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
Well first of all User:SMcCandlish, could you point to the RfC you're referring to, thanks. I don't know where it is. Herostratus (talk) 12:03, 1 May 2019 (UTC)
You must know where it is since you cited it as the rationale for your major and counterfactual changes to the page in the first place. But others may not, so I'll dig it up later. I'm running late for something, and can't do it right now.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  13:44, 1 May 2019 (UTC)
I don't know where it is, I can't remember everything, including exactly what's in it. If you have to "dig it up later", it sounds like you don't either, right off, so my question would be, when did you last read it? If it's not recently, how can you be so confident of what it says? Herostratus (talk) 15:45, 1 May 2019 (UTC)
Please. I was not kidding; I really had to leave. See also WP:LMGTFY; you're perfectly capable of looking in the handy WT:MOS archives at the top of this page by yourself. :-) I don't have time for this right now; real-life stuff takes precedence. Yes, I re-read it recently; that doesn't mean I have the archive page number memorized. Sheesh.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  20:00, 1 May 2019 (UTC)

─────────────────────────Well, of course; I wasn't demanding you do anything right away, was I? Take as long as you want, weeks or months if necessary... there's no hurry, and we want to get this right. And I mean you brought it up, you should provide the pointer. But OK whatever. I assume you're talking about this: Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 184.

Well OK let's see. It is long, 148 KB. Well, the close was by jC37. He's an admin and wasn't involved, so that's fine. He wrote:

While I understand there were several questions in the various headed discussions, there was much overlap, so I'm closing this all together.

A few things to note:

First, as this is a style question of format of quoting (which template to use, whether templates should be used, etc.), much of the discussion concerns ILIKETIT/IDONTLIKEIT comments.

Second, albeit with some clear exceptions, guidelines are generally to reflect consensus and common practice, not the other way round.

So while keeping the above in mind, use of quotes in articles using some form of template has consensus. Though there was discussion concerning what the appropriate styling should be (and whether more than one style - such as with or without a border-box, oversized quotation marks, shading, adjusted font size, etc.), and whether the templates should be merged or to remain separate - none had overall consensus. This close does not prevent a follow-up RFC on such styling. Once that is determined, then a followup to that would be implementation of how to address the current styistic usage in articles.

There is consensus that "pull quotes" should be avoided in most cases, but should be left to editorial discretion. So the templates' "intended usage" should be edited to remove that usage as a suggested general example, as necessary.

So let's see: I edited {{Quote/doc/boilerplate}}, which is transcluded into the documentation for various templates used for quotations in articles, viz. {{Cquote}}, {{Rquote}}, {{Quote box}}, {{Quote frame}}, and {{Quote2}}). If I recall correctly, all of these templates were ostensibly, in their documentation, used for "pull quotes". {{Quote/doc/boilerplate}} is not transcluded into the documentation for {{Quote}}, which which was never intended or used for pull quotes, but only ever for regular quotes.

OK, so based on the RfC close the main thing we wanted to do is remove advice to use pull quotes? Right? The closer wrote "There is consensus that 'pull quotes' should be avoided in most cases, but should be left to editorial discretion. So the templates' 'intended usage' should be edited to remove that usage as a suggested general example, as necessary". OK so far?

So let's see.. to that end, here's what I did:

1) Removed thes two sentences from the beginning:

"This template is meant for pull quotes, the visually distinctive repetition of text that is already present on the same page. In most cases, this is not appropriate for use in encyclopedia articles."

The first sentence was removed to follow the instruction "So the templates' 'intended usage' should be edited to remove that usage as a suggested general example". (I removed the second sentence because it not needed and lost its referent. You'd have to rewrite it to read "In most cases, pull quotes are not appropriate for use in encyclopedia articles", but with all other references to pull quotes removed, this would be confusing non sequiter. IMO. If for some reason you wanted the second sentence restored, we could talk about that, and where to put it.

2) Changed "pull quote" to just "quote" in three places:

"Pull quotes work best when used with short sentences"-> "Quotes work best when used with short sentences; "For typical pull quotes..." -> "For typical quotes..."; and "For very short pull quotes..." -> "For very short quotes...".

That's it. The goal here was to change the text as little as possible, so as not to exceed the remit of the precise instructions given in the RfC close, which was to remove instructions saying or that pull quotes are something we implicitly recommend by providing these templates for them. Without discouraging them either.

To that end, I did not change the textbox at the top of {{Quote/doc/boilerplate}} which says "This template should not be used for block quotations in article text" (emphasis in original), even though this makes the documentation kind of contradict itself. Which is mediocre, but I mean I was hoping to avoid another several years of fighting over this. I absolutely should have removed that text box. Because the close said

Though there was discussion concerning what the appropriate styling should be (and whether more than one style - such as with or without a border-box, oversized quotation marks, shading, adjusted font size, etc.), and whether the templates should be merged or to remain separate - none had overall consensus.

Since there was no consensus that any one style was "right", obviously a large billboard admonishing editors to not use certain styles isn't appropriate. But whatever. I was bending over backwards to avoid more years of vexations litigation. Recognizing the ah politics of the situation, I believe that it'd take a whole nother RfC, probably taking tens of man-hours, several calendar weeks, and I suppose another 148 KB of text, to get the documentation all shipshape and Bristol fashion -- if it could even be done, which I'm not super confident of.

I mean, what honestly was I supposed to do. Nothing?

So, I mean... so far, I'm not super happy with recent events to far... besides kind of throwing shade on me, making me look up the location pertinent to the issue that that you were bringing up, adding like several paragraphs to {{Quote/doc/boilerplate}} that are totally your own personal preferences (even tho this has been a fraught subject that has been extensively discussed in the past -- including the large RfC noted above -- and ignoring my WP:BRD rollback of your extensive changes and going to 2RR... it's not a good look, so far.

So, where do we want to go from here? If you don't want to just let it go, there're a number of next steps we could take. We want to be careful how these things are presented tho. "How should RfC close X actually be interpreted, that is, what precise changes with what precise wording should be made to what pages, since the closer did not specify these exactly" is a very difficult question to answer in a community discussion, I think. I suppose you could ask an admin at WP:AN to review the RfC, interpret the close, and make such changes as are called for. Or probably other stuff. You could keep edit warring, then go to WP:ANI, and if you frame it right and get lucky maybe you could "win" that way. You never know.

Or... if you want to have a new RfC on the merits of the case, I suppose you could... it's been a year and a half. I think it'd be wasteful and not change anything, but it's your prerogative I guess.

The one thing that I don't want to see is getting content questions mixed up with procedure questions. That's no good. As you can see, the one other editor that responded in this thread addressed the merits of the question, which is not what is wanted. We want to be real careful to avoid that. Herostratus (talk) 00:44, 3 May 2019 (UTC)

There've actually been multiple discussions about this over the last few years (including followup to the one you found, which resulted in removal from MoS of all support for pull quotes in mainspace at all; but the on you found was itself a followup to one not long before that, and a heavily canvassed one at VPPOL, and a TfD thread, and various other things that all inter-related, until people got kind of worn out about it). Just coming from a WT:CS1 thread with a similar "buncha discussions back when" situation, I'm drawing the conclusion that its probably better to have a new discussion than do a he-said-she-said analysis on old ones. Even 6 months is sometimes enough for people to start making WP:CCC noises.

I've taken "your version" of the template documentation in question as good faith (and no shade-throwing was intended, I just didn't find the ILIKEIT-themed revert summary appropriate). But it has serious problems, mostly caused by simply substituting "quotes" or "quotations" in place of "pull quotes". E.g., one of the results of that, "Quotes work best when used with short sentences, and at the start or end of a section, as a hint of or to help emphasize the section's content", is factually wrong on all three points contained within it, just for starters. It was arguably correct about pull quotes, but is entirely wrong about block quotes. It's almost certainly the direct cause of the sharp uptick in misuse of quotations. People are simulating pull quotes, using the same over-stylization/pointless decoration, and the same unhelpful, magzine-style placement, and unduly emphasizing tiny micro-quotes, all without any of the material otherwise being present in the article at all (real pull quotes repeat material that's inline in the main body). That is, the situation is now worse than it was before. I'm not sayhing "this is Herostratus's fault", but "that version of the doc cannot stand"; if anything, I blame myself for not noticing it and dealing with it much sooner.

I'm not wedded to the exact wording of my version; as I said above, some of it may really need to move into the guidelines. But we also have a strong interest in having some kind of "these are the high points" summary consistently transcluded at all these templates' doc pages, because non-encyclopedic abuse (of many different kinds) of these templates is rampant, and the people using and misusing them are far more likely to read the template documentation than the guideline section. Guidelines are mainly references for gnomes doing post hoc cleanup, while template documentation is how-to material for even the first-time user of the template. It's like the distinction between Adobe Photoshop CC Classroom in a Book, versus the tool documentation available under the "Help" menu in the application itself.
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:25, 3 May 2019 (UTC); rev'd. 22:34, 3 May 2019 (UTC)

Well... I have mixed feelings about a further RfC... but maybe it's a good idea, and it's certainly your prerogative to start one if you like.
OK, well, I'm not really up on the locations of the discussions previous to and subsequent to the RfC which I had to guess is the relevant one. If I guessed wrong, oh well, but if you're not going to provide links to what you are talking about, that's what it's going to be I guess.
Yeah and my edit summary -- "Liked it better before, reverted WP:BRD. Make you[r] case on the talk page and gain consensus for these changes please" -- seems pretty normal to me. BRD is pretty well established, and "liked it better before" seems to be a pretty normal motive. You don't often see "This is a definite improvement, reverted per WP:BRD". If it's too sporty for your taste, oh well. Can't please everyone. Anyway, I rolled your edits to {{Quote/doc/boilerplate}} back a second time, so the ball's back in your court on that.
I don't agree with much of anything you're saying here regarding content. I just don't, and there's no way to compel me to, I guess. Some other people also don't agree with your general take on this matter, which to my mind involves characterizing editors choosing to format things differently from your personal preference as engaging in "non-encyclopedic abuse" and "misuse", who need to be re-educated (and I suppose sanctioned if that doesn't take) and their contributions re-formatted. Asking people once again with the same arguments to agree with you on this is probably not going to change that, but you can try if you like. You never know, I guess. Fresh voices might. If you keep doing it for enough years or decades, you might hit the jackpot eventually, I guess. That's not my idea of how all this is supposed to work, but whatever.
By the way you are apparently exercised about canvassing, mentioning it here and in the other other RfC. Canvassing can be an annoying problem sometimes, but there're templates and other ways to deal with that usually work, described at Wikipedia:Canvassing. Another way to counter canvassing is to advertise neutrally for extra eyes in a neutral venue. That's fine. Advertise on the Village Pump. That's a neutral venue. Advertise on Jimbo's talk page. That's a neutral venue. Make it a WP:CENT discussion if you like. Or anything else reasonable. ("People not agreeing with me" is not always the result of canvassing tho, I might point out.)
Also it's appropriate to notify everyone who was involved in the previous RfCs and other related discussion, of course (as long as we notify everyone, and in a neutral manner).
So anywayyyyy... it seems like the next discussion (unless I've missed any where this was already decided) would be:
  1. Should there be only one allowed template for (non-inline) quotes?
  2. And if so, what should that be?
And settling that would to a long way toward settling the current bone of contention in this thread, namely what should be in the documentation for the template(s).
Anyway, it will be very difficult to have have the these discussions, because of human nature. In the first, some editors are going to want to re-litigate whether there should be any quote template, and many editors will probably be of the mind "Yes, but only if it is my preferred template X" (and even if not, a lot discussion over what template(s) is best will certainly be mixed in, and other suggestions). This will probably result in a long discussion with various side streets taken, a great deal of time and energy spent, and a difficult close since reading thru and absorbing all the discussion sorting all the "Yes, but only if X" type opinions will be difficult. But difficult is not impossible tho.
(Or, we could have one single RfC combining both these questions... that might be better, but would even more complicated to figure out a consensus, if any, so I dunno.)
But I mean this seems the only realistic way forward. So let's do it, shall we?
Let's just leave the template-doc text as it is for now (there's no hurry to get this right) and move on a new RfC(s) as suggested. Unless you can think of anything else.
(I would point out that there's a good chance there'd be no consensus... that'd require either a supermajority in favor, which is vanishingly unlikely IMO, or clear preponderance of argument in favor, which is also vanishingly unlikely IMO since this is basically a question of personal opinion and preference (even if you personally think it's not). So, my preference would be to do nothing since, probably, scores of man-hours will be eaten up, with no change, and just leave things exactly as they were. But it looks like that's not going to fly with you.)
So, your call. Ball's in your court. If you do want to start a new RfC, please be as clear and concise as possible on what, exactly, is being discussed, and what is not being discussed, thanks. I would recommend simply that it read "Shall only one template be allowed for quote boxes? Yes or no".
Then, if it was me, parenthesized below that, maybe stuff to the effect of "Which template(s) should be allowed isn't intended to be part of this discussion; that's a separate discussion for later and let's try to stay focused on the one simple question at hand please. Also, the question of whether any quote boxes should be allowed is not in play; that's been decided, and would be separate discussion to overturn. Here are links to previous discussion relating to this matter: [link][link][link]". I would also add a hidden section showing the possible formats in play (again, reminding that these are just to show which ones would likely be the pool from be "the one" is chosen, if it is to be just one. In my opinion there would be four, which would be {{Quote}}, {{Quote box}}, probably {{Cquote}} I guess, and a replacement for the current {tl|Quote} that adds a light background and (maybe) reduces the font size a bit, which you suggested at the previous RfC and which was popular there.)
If it was me, I would add something to the effect of "Keep in mind that if the consensus is 'Yes', the format chosen might be the one you like least; we're just trying here to establish the principle whether there should be just one format, or not." Or course now we're getting kind of wordy.r
Anyway, ball's in your court, good luck and Godspeed. Herostratus (talk) 13:31, 4 May 2019 (UTC)
OK, first let's see if we can pull together all the previous discussions on this general subject that we can find. Let's see... in chronological order, I get:
I'm sure there's more, but thats for now... you got any more? Herostratus (talk) 02:53, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
There are oodles more at other pages (article talk, VPPOL, TfD, template talk, etc.) Mapping it all out would look a lot like User:SMcCandlish/Organism names on Wikipedia § Capitalization of common names of species – an eight-year, site-wide dispute; and like User:SMcCandlish/Organism names on Wikipedia § Capitalization (and disambiguation) of breeds and cultivars. I'm skeptical it'd really be a useful exercise, as neither of those "catalogue of the entire dispute" lists ended up being very helpful, either to the WP:BIRDCON RfC or to WP:BREEDCAPSRFC. In both cases, the issue mostly just got hashed out on its own merits again.

On that matter, "Should there be only one allowed template for (non-inline) quotes?" isn't actually the question. It's about the rendering, the formatting of the quotation and what effects this has. There could be 20 slight-variant templates that visually do the same thing (i.e. one quote style) plus divergent templates doing other quotation styles; or even one and only one non-inline quotation template but with 20 radically different output options, and we'd still have exact same issues to resolve. It's not about the number of templates, but about there being divergent styles, some of which have WP:UNDUE and other policy problems.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  03:28, 10 May 2019 (UTC)

Well, one thing you are talking about is parameters for quote templates, such as the background-color option for the quotebox template, is that right? What else do you mean by "output options"? Are you also talking about the manner in which quote templates are employed, that is for instance, in one article many might be sprinkled liberally all thru the text, in another an extremely long quote is templated, in another a trivial quote is displayed, in another a quote might be highlighted for POV purposes, and so forth? Herostratus (talk) 17:09, 10 May 2019 (UTC)


Comma police
Arrest this girl
Her comma style
Is making me ill
WanderingWanda (they/them) (t/c) 22:56, 1 May 2019 (UTC)

I've come across an editor who does very little except add commas in sentences like "In 2006, so-and-so did X". Unless this is an ENGVAR thing I'm not aware of, the sentences don't need a comma (and some style guides expressly advise against using it in these cases). If it's not an ENGVAR thing, I was just wondering was there any kind of policy to stop editors making small changes like this based on their personal preference. Cheers, Number 57 20:50, 29 April 2019 (UTC)

I think it might be an ENGVAR issue. I (American) prefer the comma in these situations because I learned to do it and feel a pause there when I read the sentence. Many articles where the comma is missing strike me as being BrE (not necessarily written by a native speaker). I usually refrain from inserting a comma in such cases, although the temptation is always there. Jmar67 (talk) 21:28, 29 April 2019 (UTC)
It's not an ENGVAR matter, it's a formal/academic style versus news style matter. You'll find that news publishers in the US and UK regularly drop the comma after short introductory phrases, because their primary concern is squeezing text to save space, while other publishers do that much less often (less often the more formal the publication is, and few things are more formal than an encyclopedia, which is an academic book by nature even if published online as a wiki). The few style guides that literally advise against such commas (rather than stating that they're optional) are news style guides, with very few exceptions. WP is not written in news style as a matter of policy. (It's part of what keeps us reading like an encyclopedia at all instead of dismal blog with too many cooks in the kitchen.)

The comma should be used on WP for several reasons: 1) it's just clearer, especially for non-native English readers; 2) it's going to be clearer regardless of the exact construction (while "In 2016, they moved to Botswana." isn't going to melt anyone's brain, many intro phrases can lead to ambiguities that require re-reading the sentence a couple of times to get the meaning); and 3) it's going to remain clearer no matter what later editors do. That last is a key point: you have no idea what that line is going to say in 5 minutes or 5 months or 5 years, and it's quite likely that it's going to change. Especially because of the WP:PROSELINE problem, these kinds of sentences actually change even more often than they might otherwise.

In closing, see also MoS's admonition against editwarring over optional style matters. If someone wants to clarify our prose by including commas (grammatically correct ones, I mean), then you're not doing right in reverting them or picking a fight with them in some other way. Given the crappy state of much of our mainspace text, especially in articles on more obscure topics, an editor devoted to punctuation cleanup is no kind of problem, but a desirable WP:GNOME doing tedious work most others don't find appealing. If it's a new-ish editor you're singling out, see also WP:BITE. And beware the problem that objecting to someone as a control freak is usually done by someone else acting as a control freak with a difference of opinion (WP:KETTLE); WP is the obsessives' home away from home, remember. :-)
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:05, 29 April 2019 (UTC)

Given that I was referring to the University of Oxford style guide (p12), the claim that it's "a formal/academic style versus news-style matter" doesn't seem to be true. I'll assume it's a personal preference thing then. Number 57 10:09, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
Nope. This has been discussed before multiple times, too. The "University of Oxford Style Guide" is not the Oxford Guide to Style, AKA Oxford Style Manual, formerly Hart's Rules, and now New Hart's Rules in current editions – the work intended as a guide book for general publishing, a British equivalent of The Chicago Manual of Style. The "UOSG" is an internal memo for, and only for: "writing and formatting documents written by staff on behalf of the University (or one of its constituent departments etc). It is part of the University’s branding toolkit". Like all university and corporate house style sheets, it is written by the marketing department, using the marketing register and style of English, which is derived almost entirely from news style (plus extra bombast – note the overcapitalization). It is not a reliable source for anything to do with English in a formal/academic/encyclopedic register.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  17:47, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
Agreed. Absolutely not an ENGVAR issue. I'm British and I prefer the comma in my own writing, although it doesn't really bother me that much either way. -- Necrothesp (talk) 08:05, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
This topic has been on this talk page before, and within the past year. You might take a look through the archives to see what the discussion settled on then. --Izno (talk) 02:05, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
Thanks, I found the discussion, which largely seems to conclude that the comma is not wrong but also not necessary, and that it's effectively a WP:RETAIN-type issue, so the editor doing this probably shouldn't be, especially after their edits were queried. Cheers, Number 57 10:14, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
More recently, here. —[AlanM1(talk)]— 12:48, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
RETAIN applies to ENGVAR issues exclusively. This is about adding something to the article. If an editor were going around removing these commas, then there might be an issue. Primergrey (talk) 22:57, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
Yep, this isn't a RETAIN matter, but a WP:EDITING policy one.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:57, 4 May 2019 (UTC)
  • an editor devoted to punctuation cleanup is no kind of problem, but a desirable WP:GNOME – If someone has a way to detect and fix comma splices, confusion between dependent and independent clauses, and the few other things like that which are genuine errors in comma placement, fine. But going about reducing comma placement to some anodyne least common denominator is not on. EEng 10:23, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
    Least comma denominator. Levivich 16:22, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
    In the Old West men were shot for less. EEng 17:10, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
    I would agree per WP:MEATBOT and MoS's own advice about trivial style changes that inserting these optional commas without doing anything else constructive isn't particularly helpful, as it hits watchlists for something not strictly necessary. But that's true of a lot of style cleanup. Gist: integrate such changes into a more substantive copyedit or other article improvement.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:10, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
    without doing anything else constructive – with or without doing anything else, a blind, systematic insertion of these commas is not "cleanup". EEng 23:51, 1 May 2019 (UTC)
    I'll echo Dicklyon's point below that the editor about whom this thread was opened has not been identified nor their edits examined. We have no basis on which to judge whether their activity has been in the WP:MEATBOT vein, or incompetent.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:38, 4 May 2019 (UTC)
I'm with you, Number 57, and I don't buy SMcCandlish's contention that the commas concerned are necessarily correct and should be used on WP. I was a career typesetter for both British and US American book publishers, and I clearly remember that the rule was always that short introductory prepositional phrases did not take the comma. I think McCandlish may be taking the rule that introductory phrases generally take the comma and extending it – inappropriately, I think – to cases like your "In 2006". A Google search on introductory prepositional phrases confirms this. "When an introductory prepositional phrase is very short (less than four words), the comma is usually optional. But if the phrase is longer than four words, use a comma." ( "Use a comma in the following cases: [...] After a long introductory prepositional phrase or more than one introductory prepositional phrase." ( "A comma may also set off a single prepositional phrase at the beginning to make the sentence clear. A comma is recommended after any introductory prepositional phrase of more than four words." ( "It is permissible, even commonplace, to omit a comma after most brief introductory elements — a prepositional phrase, an adverb, or a noun phrase." ( "DO use a comma: [...] After an introductory prepositional phrase of more than four words." ( "You may omit the comma following a short introductory phrase: On Thursday the committee decided the dispute. In 1954 the Supreme Court desegregated the public schools." ( "Rule: A short prepositional phrase that is a simple modifier takes no punctuation after it." ( These are the first finds that come up for me, with none excluded... but all of the finds following – to my surprise, actually – seem to be saying the same thing. In apparently every case, the comma is required only after a long prepositional phrase, generally of four words or more. I don't see any authority requiring a comma following "In [year]", and I accordingly regard such revisions in WP text as unjustified. –Roy McCoy (talk) 16:08, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
Absolutely right. It's sad to see how many people have been taught that English is some kind of programming language with rigid rules for everything. With a handful of exceptions (e.g. as mentioned in my post a little bit up from here) most comma usage is about rhythm and pacing. Drive-by "corrections" we do not need. EEng 17:16, 30 April 2019 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Nice straw man. I never said anything about "necessarily correct". What I did say is that style guides treat the comma as optional for shorter phrases, and we have good reasons to opt to include it. I've laid out some of those reasons in detail, and you've done nothing to dispel them. The fact that you can find some publishers who prefer to opt to exclude it is completely meaningless. PS: Actually, none of those are publishers in any sense we'd care about; all are random writing-related blogs, except two that are universities spelling out how students should write in class papers (one just for a specific department).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼 
Excuse me SMcCandlish, but I know what a straw man is and I believe you're the one who's presenting one here. I didn't quote you literally, though you suggest that I did. In fact, however, you did essentially say that the commas we've been considering here are necessarily correct in the Wikipedia context, which is what we're dealing with: "The comma should be used on WP for several reasons". That's saying it's correct, and that it's necessarily correct in this context. My saying "necessarily correct" of course didn't mean and wasn't intended to mean that you said the comma is obligatory, as anyone can understand. If you're suggesting I meant otherwise, then you're obviously twisting my meaning. Anyway, you continue to maintain that the comma is necessarily correct also now, though you express this a bit more mildly: "we have good reasons to include it." I don't actually think your reasons are very good, and if I didn't refute them before it was possibly because I had already spent so much time documenting that the comma was considered unnecessary by an apparently very wide consensus, which in itself might be taken as an adequate refutation of your undocumented assertions. But if you want to challenge me, okay, I accept the challenge so let's continue. You didn't say that style guides "treat the comma as optional for shorter phrases" (and what they say is that the comma is omittable, not that it's includable), but rather: "The few style guides that literally advise against such commas (rather than stating that they're optional) are news style guides, with very few exceptions." This is clearly quite different, with only an oblique parenthetical suggestion that a majority of style guides concur with your opinion, which in fact they don't. As for my purportedly having "done nothing to dispel" your purportedly good reasons for including commas generally considered to be unnecessary, you're right in that I didn't address some of them. I didn't have to, as I presented detailed web documentation adequately refuting your main argument that "it's a formal/academic style versus news style matter" and that since the unnecessary comma conforms to the former rather than the latter it should appear in WP. Number_57 questioned this and I do too, and at least here you don't document it at all. (I was actually thinking of editing a [citation needed] into your comment, but resisted the urge.) I see you've later come in claiming that the University of Oxford Style Guide represents news style rather than academic style – a dubious assertion on the face of it. And despite your implying that the "real", "academic" Oxford style favors your viewpoint, I've now discovered the "Oxford University Press / Academic Division / Guide for authors and editors / Oxford Paperback Reference" at, which states quite explicitly: "Avoid the use of a comma after an introductory adverb, adverbial phrase, or subordinate clause, unless the sentence will be hard to parse without it: In 2000 the hospital took part in a trial involving alternative therapy for babies." It's funny you should accuse me of illogical argumentation, when it's so clearly yours that's defective. Your syllogism is: Wikipedia should follow academic style; academic style favors the use of commas following short prepositional phrases such as "In 2006"; therefore, such commas should be used in Wikipedia. But your neat distinction between academic and news styles is a bit dubious in any event (particularly as many guides cover both), and even if it does actually exist it isn't at all clear that academic style actually accords with your preference. I worked for the OUP in London and was offered a job with them as a compositor in Oxford, so you can't pull rank on me at least in regard to that institution. As for news publishers, you've presented zero evidence here that they "regularly drop the comma after short introductory phrases, because their primary concern is squeezing text to save space" – nor, for that matter, that academic publishers do otherwise. You didn't document what you actually said about style guides either. I'll get back to this, but I'm dealing with your initial comment in order in order not to miss anything and be criticized on that account. 1) You say the comma is "just clearer, especially for non-native English readers", but this isn't at all obvious and I don't accept it. Whether I can conclusively dispel the notion or not, everyone's reason for authorizing omission of the comma is that it doesn't make anything clearer – otherwise it wouldn't be considered unnecessary. 2) Your arguing on the basis of "In 2016, they moved to Botswana" is poor, and I can dispel this purported reason for institutionalizing the comma. Namely, "In 2016 they moved to Botswana" itself – and this is exactly the kind of sentence we're talking about – doesn't lead to any ambiguity whatsoever, so you're effectively arguing against your own point (unless one is prepared to admit oranges as apples, of course). Moreover, while the variation with the comma may not melt anyone's brain, it does trip the reader up with an unnecessary pause, which is also somewhat inhibiting. 3) Your last, "key" point is perhaps the most unfounded of all: "you have no idea what that line is going to say in 5 minutes or 5 months or 5 years, and it's quite likely that it's going to change." So what? You could say that about just about anything. And if it wasn't actually clearer with the comma (as others and I will maintain), then it's not going to be clearer later anyway. So having now covered what I missed before, let's get back to what I didn't miss. It's true that a majority of my first seven Google finds were bloggy. This doesn't mean, however, that the authors didn't base their prescriptions on authorities and common usage as well as on their own preferences. But you say two of the finds were academic, and however you may now pooh-pooh these, this still seems very strange for someone whose basic argument is that he thinks academic usage should be preferred. You also apparently ignored my observation that all of the subsequent finds were saying the same thing – and I did quickly look through the whole page of a hundred finds. So where are yours in defense of the unnecessary comma? I hope I've now sufficiently dispelled your arguments. –Roy McCoy (talk) 05:54, 1 May 2019 (UTC)
I'm already running late for something but will try to address this in detail later; digging around in style guides is going to take a few hours. One stand-out point, however, to address right now is the idea "it does trip the reader up with an unnecessary pause". We've been over this many, many times in previous comma discussions. The idea that comma = pause is a falsehood that some people pick up from incompetent grammar school teachers. Pauses in spoken speech (and thus in some readers' "inside voice" while reading) fairly often coincide with comma placement, but very frequently do not, because commas are used for myriad purposes that have no relation to diction and speech rate. If someone mentally injects a pause at every comma they encounter, they have a bad mental habit they need to work on; it's not something WP needs to "write around" for them. Also, in a construction like "In 2011, the company moved to new headquarters in Bristol" actually does have a slight pause at that comma in most people's speech anyway, so your premise is faulty twice over. Another good reason to include the comma is that if it just "left to editor discretion" then the random editors will do it inconsistently not just in the same article but in back-to-back material; e.g., here's one I just fixed [3], one among uncountable examples.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  13:42, 1 May 2019 (UTC); diff added 02:10, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
What's happened here is that I dispelled all your purported comma-favoring reasons in response to your challenge, and then you ran off implying that style guides would support your position and that you would provide evidence of this. But you haven't so far, and even if you do eventually manage to come up with one or a couple of respectable sources, it's going to be clear enough that you cherry-picked them chose them selectively – which you can't accuse me of doing since I simply transcribed all the Google finds that initially came up on the question, two of which you even granted to be from academic institutions (though I'm still wondering what the one for the specific course was). And then, again, all the finds following those, however authoritative or nonauthoritative, seemed to say the same thing. But I've been wanting to express my embarrassment at having leaned on consensus opinion and practice in defense of my position, as the truth is that I often tend to be indifferent to this. Perhaps the main case in point is logical quotation, which I steadfastly defended and practiced on my own for decades (thinking of it as "British style") before discovering that it had another name and that – to my great delight, and apparently largely to your credit – it was now standard policy on Wikipedia. And I think you should be similarly embarrassed, having written in your essay on logical quotation in the subchapter entitled "Wikipedia is not bound by external style guides, anyway": "Where third-party stylebooks' grammar pronouncements conflict with our goals, our decision is clear: we ignore them, and promulgate our own internal rules, with Wikipedian rationales." In other words, you don't really care about style guides. When they conflict with what you want, you will ignore them and do as you see fit anyway. You said that yourself, so you might as well be honest about it. I'm largely the same way myself, though I've generally followed normal style when working for printers and publishers. The difference between us here is that the most common opinion is actually correct and I have it on my side, while yours is wrong in various aspects and unsupported by mainstream style, news or academic, your unsubstantiated claims to the contrary notwithstanding.
One of the ways in which you are wrong on this issue is illustrated by your recent assertion: "The idea that comma = pause is a falsehood that some people pick up from incompetent grammar school teachers." This is nonsense, at least insofar as it implies that a comma is not accompanied by a pause and doesn't signal one. One might charitably assume that you're making an attempt at humor, though I fear you aren't. In any event you seem to refute yourself in the same paragraph, correctly asserting that "in [sic ] a construction like 'In 2011, the company moved to new headquarters in Bristol' actually does have a slight pause at that comma in most people's speech". Indeed it does – because of the comma. "In 2011 the company moved" doesn't have the pause, and that's why it's so often preferred. Sometimes the pause is desired, whether speaking or writing, and then the comma is inserted – but not otherwise.
I'll do the same thing I did the last time, submit this to a search, and presumably watch you pooh-pooh the results again because they probably won't conform to your preference. Or you can say (again with no substantiation) that all the sources picked this up from incompetent teachers. But let's see what we get anyway. Again, with no cherry-picking, here are the first, let's say, ten finds I get on <does a comma indicate a pause?> (i.e. without quotes).
"A style guide dictates the use of commas [as a sort of pause], which is a vast and searchable topic here (I have referenced one of hundreds of cases).
"So, use them [commas]: to denote a natural pause, such as if you were reading aloud"
"The first, and perhaps most common, use of commas is to show a pause."
"If [the pause you wish to create with a punctuation mark is] essential, use the comma, or, if you really want to draw attention to it, use the more powerful em dash."
"MYTH: You should add a comma wherever you pause. Where you pause or breathe in a sentence does not reliably indicate where a comma belongs. Different readers pause or breathe in different places." (You'll want to note this one.)
"A useful rule of thumb is to place commas where one makes a pause in speech."
"Use punctuation (comma, ellipsis, dash) to indicate a pause or break. [...] When you use commas or dashes to signal a pause in the middle of a sentence, be sure to use the same punctuation before and after the pause."
"In a nutshell, the two main uses of the humble comma are: • to create rhythm (by indicating a pause) • to clarify meaning (by separating elements)"
"Em dashes are used to indicate a pause or an emphasis. They often take the place of many other punctuation marks, such as colons, commas, or parentheses."
"In standard English punctuation systems, there are four primary pauses. In increasing order of pause length, they are: comma, semi-colon, colon and full stop (in US English: the period). [...] Commas are the shortest pause and it's helpful to think of them as a fraction of a halt in the flow of the text."
Again, as before, it goes on. "The comma is a punctuation mark that indicates a slight break, pause, or transition." "Commas indicate a soft stop — really any kind of pause" "Use one comma before to indicate the beginning of the pause and one at the end to indicate the end of the pause." "When a sentence is spoken aloud, a comma often represents a pause, which in verbal conversation functions to clarify meaning." "The primary punctuation used for denoting any kind of pause in dialogue or narration are the ellipsis, em dash, and comma." "Commas [...] mark a brief pause in the sentence, usually at a point where you would naturally pause if you were speaking rather than writing." Etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. I'm really beating a dead horse here. Commas signal pauses. If you say otherwise you're wrong (and I say that without a comma).
As in your published statement that you don't care about style guides, you reveal yourself also when you say the inclusion of commas following short introductory phrases should not be left to editor discretion. In other words, you think they should be inserted at your discretion. Well, that's okay. I think they should be deleted at mine, so I guess we're essentially the same there. And I have to congratulate you for coming up with at least something legitimate, i.e. a case of your correcting an apparent inconsistency. I deny, however, that every short introductory phrase in an article must or must not be followed by a comma. As others have properly remarked, this will depend on individual situations and circumstances, such as (to mention a main example) the presence of other commas in the sentence. If one wants, a sentence, that reads, like this one, one can get it by always willy-nilly sticking in a bunch of commas in accordance with strict rules. But it's inadvisable and yields unfortunate results. You can make up cases of imagined ambiguity or lack of clarity all you want, and you can sometimes insert an appropriate comma. Your absolute insistence and general outlook on the issue are inappropriate, however, and I think this has been adequately demonstrated. –Roy McCoy (talk) 04:44, 3 May 2019 (UTC)
Real life takes precedence over "argue with people on the Internet" stuff, always. Just because you posted something really lengthy does not mean you have "dispelled" my arguments. Citing a bunch more unreliable WP:SPS/WP:UGC blogs, and internal house style sheets, does nothing to bolster your position, because WP's MoS is not based on such works. Pre-emptively accusing me of cherry-picking is blatant assumption of bad faith (especially given your own relianace on weak sources you dug up via Google, and zero citations to any references that pertain to MoS's wording).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:45, 3 May 2019 (UTC); rev'd. 01:37, 4 May 2019 (UTC)
"Commas indicate a soft stop — really any kind of pause" I can not, dare not, disagree, but how about this? The comma indicates where the writer might stop, perhaps mercifully leaving a period, but lifts the pen in such as a way that you realise they are going to blather on about the same thing. A new sentence can be inserted to repeat an assertion, for example, to preface the same poorly sourced notion with smug clichéd statements like "One of the ways in which you are wrong on this issue …". cygnis insignis 06:58, 3 May 2019 (UTC)
I think you could say there's always a degree of smugness in someone who's confident that he's right and that someone else is wrong, and if I'm smug – which perhaps I am – I'm hardly the only one here sharing that characteristic. You seem pretty smug yourself, and McCandlish is a poster child of smugness. I don't think I'm any more so than other people here. This doesn't seem to have too much to do with the topic of commas, however, and if someone is objectively wrong on that subject – saying for example that academic authorities generally favor their use following short introductory phrases, or that commas don't signal pauses – then it seems to me appropriate to say that somehow, and referring to ways in which the person is wrong seems to me to be an acceptable manner of so doing whether it's clichéd and suggests smugness or not. You don't seem to have added anything here but a slur and a clever absurdity. Congratulations for that, but it doesn't say much to the issue. I don't vouch for any old source that I happen to encounter in a Google find, and I've simply presented these as I found them. None of them are authoritative in and of themselves, but together they indicate a consensus opinion which in this case seems to be quite correct. Commas do indicate pauses, and if you say or think otherwise then, at least in this common view, you're wrong too. –Roy McCoy (talk) 15:47, 3 May 2019 (UTC)
This kind of finger-pointing isn't constructive (and see also the menacing WP:AC/DS notice atop this page – I tried to get it removed last year, and ArbCom refused). Everyone who is either opinionated but full crap, or well-read on a matter and certain of what they're talking about, is going to sound "smug" to someone who disagrees with them and is looking to pick a fight, so such labeling is pointless and inflammatory just to be inflammatory. We can tell who's making sense and who is not by the arguments and evidence they present (and the reliability of those sources, and the soundness of that reasoning); whether one is fond of their evinced personality and tone isn't substantive. PS: It also seems pointless to me to be accused of smugness, but to respond by pointing a "yeah, but he's even more smug" finger at someone else. That doesn't work when you're due for a spanking at age 5, and it doesn't work when you're in court at age 30 for a misdemeanor, so it shouldn't be expected to work here either.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  01:45, 4 May 2019 (UTC)

The fact is that a comma, in this context, can serve to clarify a given sentence. It will for some readers and won't for others. That makes it an improvement to an article and any revert of it ought to be policy-compliant. Primergrey (talk) 06:22, 1 May 2019 (UTC)

It also can, and quite often does, serve no purpose at all other than to obstruct the flow of the text in which it appears. That's why its addition is not an improvement, and why it may be dispensed with when someone has nonetheless tried to impose it. I note you're arguing solely from personal opinion, and like McCandlish present nothing to support your assertion. –Roy McCoy (talk) 06:40, 1 May 2019 (UTC)
That a reversion of a useful addition ought to have a policy-compliant rationale is not simply my opinion. However, the idea that an edit is an improvement if some readers benefit from it is a personal opinion of mine and one also held by the majority of editors. Primergrey (talk) 12:25, 1 May 2019 (UTC)
No, the benefit to some readers must be debited by any detriment for other readers, then found to be positive on balance. Including parenthetical pronunciation guides, or grade-school glosses, for big all words in articles would improve things for some readers, but be a severe detriment for many more. We therefore do not do that, despite it meeting your stated criterion of "some readers benefit". EEng 17:38, 1 May 2019 (UTC)
And any edit that results in ambiguity for some readers or a real impediment to reading, like requiring people to read a passage two or three times to makes sense of it, is quite objectively not an improvement. The presence of a comma that some individual would prefer not to be there in their own writing for personal preference reasons or just because it's what they were taught, is a not an impediment to reading of any kind, and is not objectively any kind of fault in the text. While I didn't elaborate on this, I will do briefly: Even our most common short introductory phrases, "In YYYY" dating constructions, are naturally ambiguous in many cases. Consider "In 1999 Congressional hearings", "In 2015 investigations of the allegations", "In 2018 championship playoffs", etc., etc. Worse is that the "kill every comma I think I can get away with" people are also apt to go beyond what even their comma-averse news style guides (and unreliable-source blogs) say about commas and short intro phrases, and consider the comma after those phrases optional too, when they certainly are not. I fix errors like "In 2018 championship playoffs Smith beat Jones again 3–2" very frequently (two commas are missing: "In 2018 championship playoffs, Smith beat Jones again, 3–2"). Worse still, YYYY patterns that are not dates can coincide with Western calendar years quite often: "In 1972 reported cases", "In 1492 incidents", etc. (This is also a reason to use commas inside such numbers, another comma that some editors keep wanting to editwar to remove; don't do it – we write "1,972 cases" for a good reason.) And this is just touching on a single type of example.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  13:42, 1 May 2019 (UTC)

─────── I wouldn't write In 2015 investigations of the allegations; I'd add the comma. But I'd write In 2015 he returned to England. Just because some editors don't have the skill to differentiate those cases doesn't justify crucifying everyone else on the cross of commas, and reducing all our writing to foolproof stiltedness (stiltidity?). I want to quote here (slightly adapted) something said by Herostratus in a similar situation; the first and fourth points don't apply 100% here, but the other three sure do:

This is certainly something that should be left up to the individual editor, for various good reasons.

  • One good reason is that... there is no one clear correct or better way.
  • A second good reason is that adding another needless rule bogs down the MOS with more detail and makes it harder to learn and harder to use.
  • A third good reason is that creating a rule means enforcement, it puts interactions about the matter into an enforcement mode where editors are playing rules cop with other editors and this is not as functional as peer-to-peer interactions.
  • A fourth good reason is that there's zero evidence that it matters to the reader.
  • A fifth good reason is that micromanaging editors to this level is demoralizing and not how you attract and nurture a staff of volunteer editors – for instance we have a stupid micromanaging rule that I have to write "in June 1940" and not "in June of 1940" which is how I naturally write, and every stupid micromanaging rule like this is just another reason to just say screw it. As the Bible says "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn" (1 Timothy 5:18, paraphrased from Deuteronomy 25:4) which updated means "Let the editor who did the actual work of looking up the refs and writing the friggen thing -- you know, the actual work of the project -- be at least allowed the satisfaction of presenting it as she thinks best, within reasonable constraints"...

This means different articles will do it differently. This annoys a certain type of editor. Oh well...

And from a series of posts, also by Herostratus, in a discussion of whether someone should be described as a "former American hockey player" or an "American former hockey player":

We don't have a rule for it, so its not your job to "fix" other editors' constructions to a format that pleases you personally. It's just roiling the text for no gain. (On the merits, English is a human language, not a programming language, and everyone understands what is meant by "former American hockey player".) Since there isn't a rule, I believe that the operative procedure is:

  1. Do what you think best, using your wit and sense for the English language.
  2. And give other editors the same courtesy. Do not change other editors constructions, and do not "correct" other editors to match your personal predelictions. It just leads to pointless roiling of the text, unnecessary bad feelings, and pointless sterile edit warring.

As for setting a rule, we could do that with an RfC, but I wouldn't recommend that, for a couple of reasons. One, it would probably be a lot of work ending in no consensus. Two, give editors a little room to breathe, shall we? We don't need to micromanage every possible clause construction. The project will survive if we write this two different ways....

I believe in letting the person who (after all) did the actual writing work be given a kind of stare decisis privilege in minor matters like this.

More at [4]. EEng 17:38, 1 May 2019 (UTC)

You're missing that "In 2015 investigations of the allegations" shouldn't have a comma in it. Actually, there are cases where it could. I guess the example wasn't complete enough to get the point across (because a construction like "In 2015, investigations of the allegations were concluded." is possible), though I think it should have been clear enough given the company of the other examples it was juxtaposed with. Anyway, I was addressing forms like "In 2015 investigations of the allegations, the accused were exonerated.", where 2015 is a modifier of investigations. Your extensive quote of previous discussion doesn't work for me. E.g., "adding another needless rule bogs down the MOS with more detail and makes it harder to learn and harder to use" is something we both know we agree on, yet opening this up to "editorial discretion" a) leads to "style fights" like this (the secondary if not primary purpose of MoS is to curtail them), and b) the idea is based on "rules" that themselves are so damned complex they would lead directly to a big pile of the WP:CREEP you and Herostratus object to. I'll be quoting NHR to prove that shortly.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:45, 3 May 2019 (UTC); rev'd.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  01:37, 4 May 2019 (UTC)
You know, if anyone else ever wrote something like "...crucifying everyone else on the cross of commas", I would eagerly await whatever barbed admonition you would (deservedly) heap upon such a hyperbolic mess. Primergrey (talk) 22:19, 1 May 2019 (UTC)
People think it's so glamorous being me, but really it's quite a burden -- people expect perfection. I was going for a William Jennings Bryan vibe but it didn't work out. I meant to revise but something distracted me and I guess I just saved. EEng 23:51, 1 May 2019 (UTC)
It would be less of a burden if you'd archive your talk page a bit. >;-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:08, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
I do. Imagine if I didn't! EEng 03:10, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
Sorry, I had to go to therapy for a while after imaging that. The horror. The horror.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  01:37, 4 May 2019 (UTC)

This all seems kind of theoretical/hypothetical. Why not say who it's about and notify him of the discussion? Dicklyon (talk) 03:14, 2 May 2019 (UTC)

Well, it's one of those cyclical issues we go over; I don't think it really has much to do with who edited what, it's a "have a rule to reduce recurrent strife" vs. "have no rule because we hate rules" thing. I do a sourcing dump and analysis on this every few years, and will probably continue to do so until it finally settles out. Especially if the sourcing from the other site is primary-source blogs, and house-style sheets that have no relationship to encyclopedic writing.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  07:51, 4 May 2019 (UTC)
  • As I've proposed before, maybe the best solution would be to print a line of commas across the top of the page and invite the reader to mentally insert them as she sees fit. Herostratus (talk) 13:05, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
    Darn you. I was holding that one in reserve to quote in the next round [5]. EEng 02:07, 3 May 2019 (UTC)
Mental insertion? Sounds like something straight out of the Comma Sutra. Primergrey (talk) 18:45, 3 May 2019 (UTC)
Well, as Neal Sedaka said:

Comma, comma, down dooby doo down down

Which -- provided you understand that correctly -- pretty much settles the issue, I'd say. Herostratus (talk) 21:54, 3 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Comma usage is complex, and needs a set of tutorials for editors (too complex to include all of the issues in MoS). On the whole, English-language writers use commas poorly. "In 2015 investigations of the allegations"—could be ambiguous without. Do I need to disambiguate in reverse, to rule out the meaning of "2015 investigations", as opposed to the 2014 investigations? It's nothing to do with ENGVAR or the formality of the register, or whether it's academic text. IN BRIEF: weigh up the length of the sentence, the density of commas already in the sentence, and whether absence of a comma causes ambiguity. Tony (talk) 02:44, 4 May 2019 (UTC)
    One thing that struck me while combing through and quoting from the manuals cited in the subsection below was that the "too many commas" fears of editors are very vague and generalized, but rather unfounded. The kind of excessive comma use (often mimicking speech pauses and simultaneously also applying a comma in every case were one could possibly be used in any structurally similar circumstance for syntactic reasons) as is found in much early-20th-c. writing, isn't found in any modern style guides, and their specific rules about comma use actually rule most of them out. Writing "In March 2002, a provice-wide referendum was held about the curfew ordinance" does not actually encourage writing things like "In Elbonia, however, the police force, which operates as a division of the military, and is subordinate to it, and to its chain of command, are well-known, internationally, for physical abuses, and questionable arrests, of citizens, and also of tourists." No one writes like that in contemporary English, other that people too incompetent at the language (probably any language) to work effectively on this project to begin with. Anyway, I strongly agree with "Comma usage is complex, and needs a set of tutorials for editors"; that would be a great essay, along the lines of your own writing-better-articles tutorials which are still well-regarded.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:36, 4 May 2019 (UTC)

Examine, on this question, the style guides on which MoS is itself based[edit]

I've made the time to get back into this, and pore over these sources in great detail. There is no point citing a bunch of corporate/organizational house style sheets or unreliable UGC/SPS blog pages about commas, as was done above. These have no bearing at all on what MoS says or should say, or how to write an encyclopedia. What does actually matter are the major style guides that MoS is almost entirely based on (like 98% of it, just not the parts that are WP-specific technical matters and such, plus a tiny handful of points we pulled from news style because they addressed it in a more timely fashion; the only example I can think of is parts of MOS:GENDERID). They're MoS's prime sources because they're the ones that have the reputation and impact to have markedly affected real-world writing, in the register that pertains to encyclopedic writing. So, let's look at their relevant parts in detail:

  • Oxford Guide to Style (2nd ed, R. M. Ritter, 2002, pp. 117–123; a.k.a. Oxford Style Manual in a different printing with additional material from Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors; the pagination for this material is also pp. 117–123 in that 2003 version, the one I recommend if you don't own it yet; also republished in abridged form in 2005 as New Hart's Rules 1st ed.; I've not checked the pagination in that copy, but it will differ): This is the main non-US style guide on which MoS is based, and the most influential in 21st century British and Commonwealth publishing. Probably most importantly in all the OGS material on commas is something I quoted directly in the last round of this cyclical debate a couple of years ago:
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It's in the subsection on the serial comma, but all of it also applies to commas for introductory phrases – especially on WP, where the individual writer has no control over later editorial changes that may be confusing:
Given that [this] comma is sometimes necessary to prevent ambiguity, it is logical to impose it uniformly, so as to obviate the need to pause and gauge each enumeration on the likelihood of its being misunderstood—especially since that likelihood is often more obvious to the reader than the writer. ... Moreover, if one uses [this] comma consistently, its intentional absence clarifies the sense instantly. This was then followed by an example pertaining to serial commas and when a construction just looks similar to a situation that might use one; but we can substitute an introductory-position example easily, like: "In 2015 investigations of the allegations, the accused were exonerated.", in which "2015" is a modifier of "investigations". The more consistently on WP the comma is used in a construction like "In 2015, investigations into the matter were concluded.", the more obvious is to our readers that the example before that one is not the same kind of construction; the more people do whatever the hell they feel like with introductory commas, the harder the reader of this site has to work to figure out the meaning of both kinds of sentences; they may have to re-read either of them twice to be sure.

OGS has no subsection specifically about "short introductory phrases" as a class (because that's not really a thing – phrase position and length has little relationship to syntactic function and composition). But it does have much to say about cases that would qualify for the description, and many illustrations of them, throughout its long section on commas:
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"Use the isolating comma to separate vocative expressions from the rest of the sentence: My son, give me thy heart. ... The question is, Can it be done? ...
Use commas as required to isolate interjections, reflexive questions, and brief comments: Yes, I'll come. Oh, how delightful! ...
Adverbial material, whether clauses, phrases, or single adverbs, obeys no single rule regarding commas, though the length of the material and what it modifies in the sentence regulates where commas are placed: The sermon over, the congregation filed out. ... Driving as they had been all night, they were relieved to see the sunrise ...
Adverbs and adverbial phrases that comment on the whole sentence, such as therefore, perhaps, of course, are often enclosed in commas, but this is not a fixed rule. Sense may be altered by the comma's placement or presence. Consider the following: ... Again she refused to speak, (once more) Again, she refused to speak, (in addition) ...
Include a comma even where the structure does not absolutely require one, if necessary for clarification, to resolve ambiguity: With the police pursuing, the people shouted loudly. As the car pulled up, the demonstrators crowded round. Three miles on, the road gets better. However, much as I should like to I cannot agree. ...
There is usually no need for a comma in short sentences, and in longer ones where the meaning is clear: He was as scared of me as I of him. He turned and ran. I boiled the kettle and then made tea. Sarah loved him and he her."
Note the complete lack in the last ("short"-related) rule of any example here like "In 2015[,] they moved to Bristol" or "In Pakistan[,] traditional dishes are often spicier than in India." Notably, no such examples exist in the entire subchapter on commas; it's all left up to the grammar-specific rules and advice quoted here, without any regard to whether such a construction is "short" or "introductory", or has anything to do with dates or locations. This is because the entire notion comes from journalism, focused on dropping anything they can to save column space, and especially concerned with the first parts of paragraphs and sentences because of the reader attention-span and click-away issues that affect their bottom line. Neither are concerns that apply to Wikipedia (and WP is not written in news style anyway).

Oh, and just to address further the "commas = pauses" stuff:
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"Do not introduce a comma between subject and verb, or verb and object—even after a long subject, where there would be a natural pause in speech, if only for breath: Those who have the largest incomes and who have amassed the greatest personal savings should be taxed most."

  • Garner's Modern American Usage (Bryan A. Garner, 3rd ed., 2009). This was the edition that most influenced MoS; I don't have my copy handy, but I have the expanded, internationalized Garner's Modern English Usage (4th ed., 2016, pp. 748–750), in which I don't detect any substantive changes to the relevant material (I recognize most of this wording, having been through this exact same debate half a dozen times before):
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'The "close" style of punctuation results in fairly heavy uses of commas; the "open" style results in fairly light... some writers and editors went too far [in the 20th c.] in omitting commas that would aid clarity. What follows is an explanation tending slightly toward the open style but with a steady view toward enhancing clarity. I nominate Garner for WMF's board of directors!

Importantly, he directly agrees with Oxford Guide to Style:
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Again addressing serial commas originally, we find that the reasoning is 100% applicable to intro-phrase commas, too:
'Whether to include [this] comma has sparked many arguments. But it's easily answered in favor of inclusion because omitting [it] may cause ambiguities, whereas including it never will.' He observes that newspaper journalists typically omit such commas simply as a "space-saving" device (and the "scare quotes" around that are his).

More specifically about intro-phrase commas:
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'[T]he comma separates most introductory matter from the main clause, often to prevent misunderstanding. The introductory matter may be a word (Moreover,), a phrase (In the meantime,), or a subordinate clause (If everything goes as planned,). Matter that is very short may not need this comma (On Friday we leave for Florida), but phrases of three or more words usually do–and even shortest subordinate clauses always do (That said,). On the other hand, a comma may prove helpful for clarity even with shorter phrases (For now, we must assume the worst). It may even be imperative (Outside, the world goes on..' That last example is key; while Garner admits that some one- or two-word constructions might not need the comma (and illustrates only informal use), he's certain that it's absolutely necessary any time confusion could result even if the grammatical structure makes only one meaning possible (it is not possible for Outside the world goes on to mean anything different from Outside, the world goes on, versus a construction like Outside the world, a realm of spirits existing is a possibility that has fascinated humans since prehistory. Garner is concerned not with the syntax but with wasted reader time, having to re-parse unclear constructions.

Other notes on Garner's:
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Garner's, like Oxford, also calls for commas in various other situations that are sometimes introductory or sometimes mid-sentence or terminal:
'[T]he comma marks the beginning and end of a parenthetical word or phrase, an appositive, or a nonrestrictive clause.... [T]he comma separates a participial phrase, a verbless phrase, or a vocative....'; he rarely does consider some of these optional, but not ones we'd care about (e.g., antiquey nominative absolutes), and notes of course that appositives of the form His friend Janet do not take commas; all style guide agree on that. Both books, along with Chicago and Fowler's, also consistently address comma usage not directly related to our question ('[T]he comma separates adjectives that each qualify a noun in the same way.... [T]he comma separates a direct quotation from its attribution....', and so on; I'm not getting into that stuff here for any of these sources, since it's off-topic.)

If there's any doubt as to Garner's view or meaning, he's put out another and more instructional volume, The Chicago Guide to Grammar Usage and Punctuation (2016, pp. 347–356 – no effect on MoS but relevant for interpreting Garner):
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'Use a comma after a transitional word oor phrase though not and, but, for, so, or yet), an introductory phrase (especially a long one), or a subordinate clause that precedes an independent clause: Nevertheless, the conditions behind the kitchen door were suitable for a pigsty (George Orwell); "Aside from that remark, all our conversion was about personalities." (Theodore H. White) ...
Use a comma to set off a name, word, or phrase used as a vocative: "Mother, I have nothing particular to write about" (Walt Whitman) ....
Use a comma before a direct question contained within another sentence: ... "[W]e must ask, Why do people no longer suffice?" (Sherry Turkle)....'

This advice is followed by a multi-page section named "Preventing Misused Commas", a list of rules that all begin with "Don't", and each of which has multiple examples. Not a single one of them supports the view that "In 1999 the company filed for bankruptcy." should not have a comma in it.

While Garner suggests that some such commas are sometimes optional, everything he advises about the matter (and everything he just writes, using commas himself in his own prose) leans the other direction for such cases. E.g. the very first sentence in that book ("Introduction", p. 1) is "In its usual sense, grammar is the set of rules governing how words are put together in sentences to communicate ideas–or the study of these rules." Note the comma after "sense", a comma various arguers above would drop for what seem to be personal aesthetic reasons.
  • Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed., 2003). This edition most influenced early and key MoS provisions (though the 16th ed. came out far enough back to have also had a major impact on MoS's post-2010 development, sometimes retroactively versus what was ported from the 15th):
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'6.25 Introductory phrase with comma – An adverbial or participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence is usually followed by a comma, especially if a slight pause is intended. A single word or a very short introductory phrase does not require a comma except to avoid misreading. After reading the note, Henrietta turned pale. On the other hand, his vices could be considered virtues. Exhausted by the morning's work, she lay down for a nap. ....
For examples of necessity even with short intros, it gives: 'Before eating, the members of the committee met in the assembly room. To Anthony, Blake remained an enigma.'
It gives an example, too, of when the comma might be omitted: 'On Tuesday he tried to see the mayor.'
So it "permits" this dropping, but states no rule requiring it. That's consistent with everything I've said: style guides we care about treat it as optional, but are concerned about clarity, which is way more of a concern on WP than in usual writing, even formal writing.

If this Chicago approach seems remarkably consistent with Garner's, it's because Bryan A. Garner has written the grammar and punctation chapters of Chicago since the early 1990s (though there are a few things its managing editors won't let him put in it, such as defaulting to use of the serial comma). The rest of the comma material thus obviously agrees with the equivalent material in Garner's, and it's not pertinent to our question, being mostly mid-sentence uses. The 15th ed. did touch on a few other related matters, but they're covered better by the 16th, which I quote extensively below.

  • Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed., 2010), also highly influential on MoS, abandoned the idea of addressing "introductory phrases with a comma" as all the same thing (which is linguistically unsound because where a phrase is in a sentence has little to do with the function it serves and the elements which compose it). The 16th ed. thus expanded the relevant advice along more precise grammatical lines (in quoting them, I elide matters and examples that cannot pertain to introductory phrases of any kind, or this would be three times longer):
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'6.25 Commas with however, therefore, indeed, and so forth – Commas ... are traditionally used to set off adverbs such as however, therefore, and indeed ...: ... Indeed, not one test subject accurately predicted the amount of soup in the bowl. ...
6.30 Comma preceding main clause
– A dependent clause that precedes a main clause should be followed by a comma: If you accept our conditions, we shall agree to the proposal. ...
6.35 Commas with introductory participial phrases – An introductory participial phrase should be set off by a comma unless the sentence is inverted and the phrase immediately precedes the verb: Exhilarated by the morning’s work, she skipped lunch and headed for the ocean. Failing in their quest, the team resolved to train harder in the off-season. But: Running along behind the wagon was the archduke himself!
6.36 Commas with introductory adverbial phrases – An introductory adverbial phrase is often set off by a comma but need not be unless misreading is likely. Shorter adverbial phrases are less likely to merit a comma than longer ones. After reading the note, Henrietta turned pale. On the other hand, his vices could be considered virtues. After 1956 such complaints about poor fidelity became far less common. But: Before eating, the members of the committee met in the assembly room. To Anthony, Blake remained an enigma.
6.37 Commas with oh and ah – A comma usually follows an exclamatory oh or ah unless it is followed by an exclamation mark or forms part of a phrase (e.g., oh boy, ah yes). No comma follows vocative oh or (mainly poetic and largely archaic) O ...: Oh, you’re right! Ah, here we are at last! Oh no! Ah yes! Oh yeah? Oh mighty king! O wild West Wind ...
6.38 Commas with direct address – A comma is used to set off names or words used in direct address ...: Ms. Jones, please come in. James, your order is ready. ... Hello, Ms. Philips.
6.39 Yes, no, and the like A comma should follow an introductory yes, no, well, and the like, except in certain instances more likely to be encountered in informal prose or dialogue: Yes, it is true that 78 percent of the subjects ate 50 percent more than they reported. No, neither scenario improved the subjects' accuracy. Well then, we shall have to take a vote. But: No you will not!.'

What we have here, then, is a major style guide that obviously and overwhelmingly prefers commas for "short introductory phrases" of most kinds. It doesn't mandate or even directly advise, just permit and illustrate, dropping it after a very short construction of the "In 2015 he died in Paris" variety, but only if there's no chance of it being confusing.
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As already discussed a bit higher up this thread, and in more detail below in the examination of NHR 2nd ed., it simply isn't the case that such a construction ever is devoid of ambiguity potential on WP, because it can be altered willy-nilly at any time by any other editor. The 16th ed. also explicitly agrees (at 6.18) with Oxford and Fowler's (by name) and "strongly recommends" use of the serial comma "since it prevents ambiguity". As already covered twice above, this rationale applies at Wikipedia to intro commas as well, even if it might not in the kinds of published-in-fixed-form writing that Chicago and the others have as their subject.

Chicago 16th also hoses down the idea that commas in writing have anything to do with pauses in spoken English, or that commas which are optional should be omitted even if clarity may suffer:
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'6.16 Use of the comma – The comma, aside from its technical uses in mathematical, bibliographical, and other contexts, indicates the smallest break in sentence structure. Especially in spoken contexts, it usually denotes a slight pause. In formal prose, however, logical considerations come first. Effective use of the comma involves good judgment, with ease of reading the end in view.' The 16th ed. also dropped the "if a slight pause is intended" line quoted above in the 15th, since it wouldn't be compatible with this approach.

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"Such adverbs as already and soon when used as the first word of a sentence are usually followed by a comma. So too with however and moreover ...: Already, prints and poster have turned anguished, passionate paintings into mere features of the décor; ... Moreover, you were late home after school; Soon, some inner compulsion erupts into the pretty pictures.
A comma is sometimes needed in order to avoid ambiguity: In the valley below, the villages look very small (so that below is not taken to be a preposition) ..."

Agrees with Ritter, Garner, and Chicago:
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Burchfield, though much less specific, is clearly in agreement with Ritter (which is to be expected given OUP's editorial cycles and practices with regard to these two style guides – each Fowler's edition is kept in pretty close synch with the contemporary edition of Oxford Guide to Style/New Hart's Rules. Burchfield concurs with Garner as well as Ritter that dropping the serial comma is "unwise", because it often "would render the sentence ambiguous", which also applies on WP to commas in intro phrases as a class (and applies everywhere, even in static print, to many of them anyway).

All three, plus Chicago (which is really Garner again) concede the optionality of certain commas but are concerned about ambiguity; there are times this "optional" converts to "mandatory" in their view, and the unpredictability of it is a problem on WP – they cannot be boiled down into a simple syntactic rule like many comma matters can (e.g. "Plainly parenthetic clauses, phrases, or single words require commas before and after them").

Let's look at some additional works in passing, including a recent revision of what was Oxford Guide to Style (and New Hart's Rules 1st ed., in redacted form), since people are apt to want to rely on the newer edition, despite it having almost no impact on MoS's development, and being too recent to demonstrably have affected much real-world writing (plus it having serious flaws):

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"When a sentence is introduced by an adverb, adverbial phrase, or subordinate clause, this is often separated from the main clause with a comma.... This is not essential, however, if the introductory clause or phrase is a short one specifying time or location.... Indeed, the comma is best avoided here so as to prevent the text from appearing cluttered.
Use a comma when a preposition is used as an adverb....
If commas are omitted, be vigilant for ambiguities: In 2000 deaths involving MRSA in males increased by 66 per cent. Prefer In 2000, ... or recast the sentence. ...
When an adverb such as however, moreover, therefore, or already begins a sentence it is usually followed by a comma ... [but] not followed by a comma when it modifies an adjective or other adverb: However fast Achilles runs he will never reach the tortoise."
(Most any other other style guide, including NHR 1st ed., would put a comma after "runs", which just highlights how divergent NHR 2nd ed. is.)

This is very partial and narrow support for dropping this comma in certain circumstances. As with Chicago's penchant for exceptionalism, it forms too complicated a system for MoS to use and expect editors to follow; people already in this discussion right now want to drop commas that NHR says not to (i.e., inject more special rules) all the while crying WP:CREEP. On Wikipedia, Waddingham's take is a recipe for dispute. The "time or location" idea NHR uses is (aside from being arbitrary and ungrounded in any linguistic principle of any kind) directly countermanded in the same material by an instruction to reinsert the comma any time ambiguity could result. The problem with YYYY constructions is that very frequently such ambiguity exists, but will not be detected by the writer (who has a specific idea of the meaning already in their mind). And the ambiguity exists in multiple forms, not just the one NHR illustrated; cf. my "In 2015 investigations of the allegations, the accused were exonerated." example.

Worse, the premises on which NHR "comma skepticism" is based do not really apply here. WP necessarily prizes precision and absolutely certain communication of meaning more than subjective aesthetic quibbles like whether someone might think something looks "cluttered". WP is not in a typography and design awards competition; it's an encyclopedia, for all English readers, not just for journalists or fans of Waddingham. Also touched on above, the rationales in NHR are assuming a static document that is going to be written and published just the once, not perpetually subject to random change. In our editing environment, there is no guarantee against a short phrase becoming longer, a clear passage being made accidentally ambiguous, a simple time/location-only construction changed to include additional detail. The Ritter edition, like Garner's and the Burchfield Fowler's, actually pre-figured this (albeit in a different section): using a optional comma as if not optional hedges against all such problems, while also making the text objectively clearer for more readers, and less clear for precisely zero readers.

All this material in NHR is absent from earlier versions of the work, and was inserted in the 2nd ed. revisions along with a large number of other things (some of them self-contradictory from section to section and occasionally even on the same page, due to a rushed editing job) that were ported in directly from journalism style sheets (particularly those of The Economist and The Guardian, judging from the specifics of the changes). They're invasions of dubious and conflicting news style ideas into what had formerly been a solid and respected academic-publishing style book, to make it more of a least-common-denominator and everyday-letter-and-memo-writing work – that is, less encyclopedic in tone. The Waddingham edition actually often fails to be a style guide at all, and just throws up it hands, declaring that for this and that there are no standards and writers should just do what they feel like. It's a dismal failure, as I outlined in my Amazon review of it (the top-rated review to this date, and the only detailed one [6]).

  • The above "journos took over" problem is also evidenced in the newest edition of Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage (Jeremy Butterfield, 2015), on which MoS also is not based and which has had no demonstrable real-world impact yet.
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Due to the editorial synching of Fowler's to Oxford Style Guide/New Hart's Rules, the Butterfield edition agrees with Waddingham, and injects a bunch of news-style stuff, and a lot of hand-wringing and doubt and "just do whatever" non-advice, into what was once a clear and certain academic and general-usage style guide. I'm not going to quote Butterfield in detail, as his material on this just summarizes Waddingham's, and is arguably even more wishy-washy. He has even more of a habit than the other editor of wandering into descriptive linguistics and suggesting that everything is optional, with this variation and that attested (somewhere), such that the work is not much of a style guide at all in parts. It's a fine approach for the external, aloof, social-scientific study of language, but basically useless in a manual of style, which is prescriptive by nature in what it advises, even if not (in post-Victorian times) in its rationales for the advice.

  • As far as I can tell on quick review, Chicago Manual of Style 17th ed. (2017) is consistent on this stuff with the 16th, though it is too new to have had any impact on English that we'd be able to detect anyway. The only effect I can recall it having on MoS to date is being partial evidence in two style RfCs (the MOS:JR one at WP:VPPOL was one, and I misremember what the other, more recent one was).
  • Finally, another major style guide that has had major impact on MoS, specifically for technical matters (especially at MOS:NUM and some science-related MoS subpages), is Scientific Style and Format (mostly the 7th ed., 2006; the 8th came out in 2014). However, we only use it for those technical matters, and on all basic grammar and punctuation questions, it explicitly defers to Chicago (from the same publisher) anyway.

In summary:

  1. The external style guides that actually matter for MoS purposes are, in the plurality, strongly in favor of commas with introductory phrases of all sorts, but treat a few as optional, with warnings about ambiguity and clarity.
  2. Given that WP text can never be guaranteed to have that clarity and lack that ambiguity due to the project's very nature – the text you're looking at in an article could change at any second – all those warnings apply on WP all the time at every article.
  3. We should thus generally use the optional commas as if not optional. They are never incorrect in any case in which they are optional, and it is not possible for adding one in such a case to make the material less clear. It is only possible for the omission/removal of one to make the material less clear for one subset of editors to satisfy the subjective aesthetic preferences of another subset.
  4. As is readily apparent from NHR 2nd ed. and Chicago 16th ed. bending over backwards to try to squeeze in some allowances for various commas being more optional, taking that tack requires a "ballooning" of the ruleset, to distinguish the numerous cases of syntactically mandatory commas from those declared optional, and additional rules to even say when that option should be exercised. Trying to account for this in MOS:COMMAS would be precisely the kind of WP:CREEP that pisses off editors about MoS and makes its points difficult to remember and follow.
  5. Yet saying nothing about it and leaving it to "editorial discretion" leads to circular and recurrent disputes like this (and editwars at articles, and flaming at their talk pages). We know from over 18 years experience that WP editors generally lack discretion when it comes to style peccadillos; we wouldn't need an MoS (or WP:AT, or numerous naming conventions pages, or WP:CITEVAR, etc.) if this were not the case. In point of fact, various normally reasonable editors are quite capable of "holy war" behavior over trivial style matters. "Say nothing" doesn't work when the matter is a perennial dispute; it's just MoS not doing its job because it's hard.
  6. The obvious solution to the entire set of problems is to advise that syntactic commas sometimes treated as optional (when there's supposedly "no chance of confusion") in some forms of writing should be usually actually be used in WP writing.

 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  07:51, 4 May 2019 (UTC)

  • In the past, I have strongly disagreed (and continue to disagree) with User:SMcCandlish on several other issues involving the Wikipedia Manual of Style. On this one, however, I fully concur in his cogent analysis as set forth above. Also, there is another style guide that prefers commas after short phrases at the beginning of a sentence. Section 4.52 of the California Style Manual, 4th edition (2000) provides that "A comma is generally used after introductory participial, adverbial, or prepositional phrases, and after introductory dependent clauses." --Coolcaesar (talk) 20:54, 4 May 2019 (UTC)
    There are lots of house-style manuals like CSM that do, but I've intentionally avoided them, as not what the community has based MoS on, and not likely to affect it much if at all in later development, to the extent MoS actually needs any. Mostly it just needs copyedting, like replacement of non-encyclopedic-reading examples, and compression of rambling instructions.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  01:16, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
    I don't like stating the obvious, particularly having been criticized recently here for so doing. I nonetheless feel a compulsion to point out that the cited section of the California manual in fact does not state a preference for commas after short phrases at the beginning of a sentence. "A comma is generally used after introductory participial, adverbial, or prepositional phrases, and after introductory dependent clauses." Nobody has argued to the contrary, and I think it's indisputable; a comma is indeed generally used after introductory phrases. The sentence says nothing about short introductory phrases, however, and that's what's at discussion here.
    I was looking the other day to see what the Harvard University Press style policy on this might be (with a standard international norm on academic references having originated at Harvard, I notice), and while I couldn't find one (I emailed them this morning, asking), I did find the following interesting and germane rule at the university library's website: "Commas As with all punctuation, clarity is the biggest rule. If a comma does not help make clear what is being said, it should not be there. If omitting a comma could lead to confusion or misinterpretation, then use the comma." I think this is clearly excellent. If anyone else finds it worthy of incorporation in the MoS, I hope they will support it.
Roy McCoy (talk) 20:10, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
Typical Harvard elitists, expecting judgment to be used. EEng 06:21, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
Let's apply some: In no case does keeping the comma in "In 2013, similar laws were enacted in Queensland and Western Australia" not help make clear what is being said, while removing it will definitely lead to confusion (even if short-lived) for some subset of editors, so there's the answer. Same one I've been providing throughout. And when a source like the California Style Manual (a court-specific one, but I guess it seems reasonably well constructed) says to use the comma and doesn't make exceptions for short intro phrases, that cannot be magically transmuted into evidence in favor of comma-dropping for short intro phrases; it's concrete proof that the source is making no such exception.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:19, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
The comma in your sentence doesn't make anything clearer, SMcCandlish, because what's being said is already totally clear without it. That's why the comma is unnecessary. Sticking it into the sentence adds nothing but an optional pause that may or may not be desired, but in any event isn't in any way obligatory in a sentence such as this one, where it is at best only tolerable and then only if there aren't other commas in the sentence leading to an undesirable halting jerkiness if the additional comma is retained. Its absence isn't going to "definitely" lead to confusion in anyone's mind. You supposably mean – or should mean – a subset of readers rather than of editors, though you repeat "editors" in another post. The California style manual here acquires your stamp of approval now that you've been blown out of the water on your other ones, which turn out not to support you at all. The CSM may uniquely appear to perhaps concur to some degree with your highly minority viewpoint, but in fact it does explicitly allow exceptions in its use of the qualifier "generally". It simply doesn't specify them. –Roy McCoy (talk) 03:08, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
Of course the comma makes the sentence clearer. It's the sole reason you do not have to read to somewhere between the middle and end of the sentence (which in many cases will be much longer), and possibly have to re-read it from the beginning, to be sure this even is that kind of construction at all, and not one of the sort "In 2013 similar laws enacted around the world, failure to comply with the statute is a misdemeanor; only 114 jurisdictions classified the crime as a felony." While that non-date number would be better with a comma in it, we can hardly depend on it being present given the nature of this discussion, a putsch to eliminate as many commas as possible regardless of the cost to clarity. And because using commas in numbers larger than 999 isn't mandatory anyway. We've already been over, several times in this thread, why the comma is clarifying, so I'm just going to cite WP:IDHT and move on.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  05:13, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
This is gibberish, and straw-man gibberish at that. No one has proposed elimination of the comma in numbers like 2,013, and you know it. Bye-bye. –Roy McCoy (talk) 07:23, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
I've now looked at WP:IDHT and WP:DISRUPT in general. I can thank you for the confirmation that you're threatening and trying to bully me, but otherwise the citation is inappropriate. The minority viewpoint here is yours, not mine. Believing that you have a valid point does not confer upon you the right to act as though your point must be accepted by the community – which is how you've been acting. Your viewpoint hasn't been accepted, there is no consensus in favor of your view, and you cannot claim that there is. I'm perfectly happy to let the matter drop if the discussion has actually run its course (despite there being more to be said on it, particularly in regard to current encyclopedic practice), but not if you're going to be claiming a nonexistent consensus in favor of your view on the issue of commas following short introductory phrases. I've established my claim of an virtually universal existent consensus on their nonnecessity, even using your own preferred authorities, and I can establish this even more firmly if necessary – unless you succeed in getting rid of me. I hope there isn't some mechanism at work here whereby you repel those who disagree with you and then claim consensus among those who remain, but I have the unpleasant sensation that something like that may be afoot. –Roy McCoy (talk) 14:44, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Way, WAY TLDR. SM, that was absolutely nuts. We've reached the point at which at least one participant has left a DS notice for another participant [7] so please let's just all take a breather. Someone let me know when diffs have been posted demonstrating that editors are wasting time debating this (on actual articles, not here at Talk:MOS). See WP:NONEEDNORULE. EEng 23:14, 4 May 2019 (UTC)
    • I don't believe in "TL;DR" when it comes to source analysis; more information is better than less (and better than further mongering of subjective beliefs). This information is pertinent and my sources were demanded, so the demand has been answered in as-complete-as-is-relevant detail, which much elided. It is the nature of many style matters that many sources say a large number of detailed things about them. Editors who care about this seemingly never-ending dispute (which is entirely grounded in what sources say and which ones matter for our purposes) can review as much of it as they like; those who do not care can skip it and the entire thread. No one is strapped to a chair with their eyes propped open being forced to absorb the material. The DS notice has nothing to do with the substance of the discussion; when someone makes pre-emptive claims of bad faith about what someone might post before they've posted it, in a topic area covered by DS that were imposed specifically because of bad-faith-assumptive behavior in that topic area, delivery of a DS notice by someone is effectively mandatory. I and several others have tried to undo (both in general and as applied to MoS) this WP:NOT#BUREAUCRACY failure on ArbCom's part, and ArbCom will have none of it. The best we've been able to do is get the wording of the notice revised to sound less like a threat; I personally take pains these days to be clear that such notices are delivered as a bureaucratic requirement not an escalation.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  00:45, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
PS: Just for you, I've subtopically collapse-boxed most of it. :-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  01:08, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
I'm still waiting for diffs showing article editors are wasting time on this issue. EEng 04:24, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
@Binyamin Mintz: Here, I found it. Personally, I think the commas he added after short introductory adverbial phrases are fine, and sometimes do that myself (and I agree with SMcC that these "optional" commas should be encouraged for the reasons he enumerates). I'm more annoyed by Mintz's edits like this one removing the Oxford comma. Generally, I'd rather not see a comma-opinionated editor running open loop without some discussion. So I pinged him here. Dicklyon (talk) 05:07, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, the serial comma should be retained for the same reason the intro-phrase comma should be (see quotes about it from major style guides in the section of such material I posted).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:19, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
SMcCandlish's sentence is ambiguous and needs clarification. The "it" refers not to the intro-phrase comma but rather to the serial comma. McCandlish conflates the two and has no support for his insistent contention that the most reliable and pertinent authorities support his view on the intro-phrase comma, the evidence being to the contrary. –Roy McCoy (talk) 03:22, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
You're having (or faking) reading comprehension problems, both as to that sentence and as to what I've said about the serial comma material. Below, I appreciated your measured approach on May 7, but it has completely disappeared.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  17:27, 12 May 2019 (UTC)
I'm neither having nor faking anything of the sort, and you're an exceptionally fine one to be making such an insinuation. Are you now saying that "it" referred to "the intro-phrase comma"? –Roy McCoy (talk) 17:18, 14 May 2019 (UTC)

I defend SMcCandlish's having further written at length on the current comma issue, and I thank him for so doing. I have read his addition through with care, and I found it interesting, illuminating, and useful for the purpose of this discussion. I acknowledge that there are problems with its length. For one thing, people may not read it (as Eeng hasn't), and that's regrettable. I can recommend that everyone have a good look at it, but my recommendation may not count for much or suffice as a motivation. Also, I'll have to wade through it all again (no small task), and then have the problem of trying to formulate an adequate response that is sufficiently far shorter than his original exposition.
I don't think the issue should be simply dropped at this point, though I'll grant that the recent discussion has had an unfortunate aspect or two. Since my talk page was published with mention of the DS notice placed on it, I'm entitled to comment on that. Briefly, I don't think for a minute that the notice was mandatory, SM's assertions notwithstanding. There are various negative terms by which I could characterize his placing it, but I'll refrain from using them here. I will say, at least, that aside from its being unnecessary (etc.), I found it uncivil per WP:CIV: "Be careful with user warning templates [doc's emphasis]. Be careful about issuing templated messages to editors you're currently involved in a dispute with, and exercise caution when using templated messages for newcomers (see Wikipedia:Please do not bite the newcomers). Consider using a personal message instead of, or in addition to, the templated message." I think this is fairly clear a case where a simple message, if anything, would have sufficed. There was no pattern of misbehavior on my part, his complaint being that I on a single occasion imputed bad faith to him in saying that I expected he would cherry-pick his sources. I regret using the term "cherry-picked" and I apologize for that, though I don't consider it an insult. I don't suppose he could or would have complained if I'd said I thought he would "selectively choose" his sources, as I should have if I was necessarily going to say something to this effect; but I wasn't aware that "cherry-picking" was such a loaded term. I've applied it to myself on various occasions, I'm sure everybody cherry-picks in one way or another, and it seems to me like a fairly normal thing to say. It's untrue that I was imputing bad faith by using the term, as the truth is quite to the contrary: I think SM is acting in exceptionally good faith, which is why I've taken him so seriously. There's of course more that could be said about all of this (that such notices are essentially threatening however they're worded, etc.), but I promised to be brief. I'll just close by observing that SM apparently didn't cherry-pick at all in his extended posting. I suppose that's part of what made it so long... and illuminating. –Roy McCoy (talk) 06:48, 7 May 2019 (UTC)

I appreciate the measured response. This thread doesn't have the character of an RfC; it's an open-ended discussion and this is the kind of thread in which I tend to do a source analysis for that reason. This is material that might be referred to, in summary form, in a later, more circumspect discussion. It's a practice that's worked well, and in the long run actually reduces verbiage, because you can just do something like "Not according to Chicago; see quoted material here" with a link to the longer source material (including with an added anchor directly to that part of it), instead of regurgitating the entire pile of material again at the new page. E.g., I used this technique to very good effect in the VPPOL RfC on breed capitalization by building an entire page of evidence and arguments collected from one side, and those from the other, plus links to every relevant prior thread, and then I just pointed RfC respondents to it as the backgrounder. If you object to ArbCom expecting that the DS notices like that one be delivered, please take that up at WT:ARBCOM or WT:AC/DS (really – they won't change or just get rid of this bureaucracy, with its tendency to increase rather than decrease tension, if more people don't complain about it). The issue wasn't the phrase cherry-picking being "insulting", or we couldn't the have "WP:CHERRYPICKING". It was that predicting pre-emptively that someone is going to do it is an assumption of bad faith. The point of the DS notice ArbCom made up wasn't that you're a baaad person who needs to get a "threat-tag", but rather that because any admin is empowered to apply discretionary sanctions in any DS topic area for something like that, anyone who crosses or gets near such a line (or even posts a lot in the topic area without getting near the line yet) should be aware of the DS. ArbCom's mantra about these things is they are not user-warnings for behavior and they do not imply wrongdoing, just are notices that one is in a danger zone. Myself, I want MoS to stop being classified as one. I leave more DS notices than the average MoS regular because they actually work in curtailing the boundary pushing. It's important because the more often editors do that here, without it being curtailed (and it was really bad several years ago), the more convinced ArbCom and the AE admins are that MoS is some "controversy hotspot" that they have to patrol and at which they have to whack people with sanctions.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  07:34, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
@SMcCandlish:You begin your tract by dismissing the common consensus on the issue of commas and short introductory phrases revealed by Google on the Internet. It was not and is not a matter of "citing a bunch of corporate/organizational house style sheets or unreliable UGC/SPS blog pages". It's just what comes up, virtually everywhere, from complete garbage sites (if such they actually are) on up. I was put on notice for saying essentially that you would presumably be selectively choosing your sources, but actually you had already done that and continue to do so now (though not in a dishonest manner). Not only do you openly dismiss everything that comes up on Google: you'll even pick up points from generally inappropriate (according to you) news style if, again according to you, it suits Wikipedia's and your purposes. But this isn't to say that respectable sources aren't respectable, so indeed, let's do look at their relevant parts in detail.
The first such source considered is the Oxford Guide to Style. We hear about editions and paginations of this authority, but... "OGS has no subsection specifically about "short introductory phrases" as a class". In other words, you've come up with nothing here, whatever you may say about syntactic function and composition. "It's in the subsection on the serial comma," but a series is not a short introductory phrase. If someone finds cogency in argumentation based on the assertion that something is something different than what it actually is – well, that surprises me, actually. I don't. I quite like what OGS says about the serial comma – "it is logical to impose it uniformly, so as to obviate the need to pause and gauge each enumeration on the likelihood of its being misunderstood" – and there is even more justification for an obligatory serial comma than that succinctly given here (though I've lightened up on this in recent years, as have others also). But it doesn't necessarily all apply to... I was going to say short introductory phrases, but I now notice you're talking about the general case as Coolcaesar was previously, and it's already been granted that commas are generally okay in the general case. The point, yet again, is that short phrases constitute an exception – or, if you prefer, very often constitute an exception – and this is... I almost dare to say universally acknowledged, as I still haven't seen anything to the contrary, i.e. dictating the comma following short introductory phrases. It isn't here, at least, or in anything previous in this discussion. What you're again throwing around here, cited from a previous discussion, is your small collection of hypothetical cases: future editings and "In 2015 investigations". I don't remember that you've even made up an example of the former, but in any event it's not actually a real-life concern.
I now join EEng's protest of your excessive lengthiness in that you cited much of the rest of OGS's section on commas, despite none of its having to do with the specific type of phrase under discussion. You seem to be either forgetting or ignoring that I, on the other hand, did come up with something Oxford has to say on the specific matter, officially and academically: "And despite your implying that the 'real', 'academic' Oxford style favors your viewpoint, I've now discovered the 'Oxford University Press / Academic Division / Guide for authors and editors / Oxford Paperback Reference' at, which states quite explicitly: 'Avoid the use of a comma after an introductory adverb, adverbial phrase, or subordinate clause, unless the sentence will be hard to parse without it: In 2000 the hospital took part in a trial involving alternative therapy for babies.'" So what's happened here is that not only have you not provided any substantiation for your claim that academic authority demands the comma, but I have concretely established the opposite in at least one Oxford authority. So much for OGS.
[Your throwing in the thing about pauses was objectionably off-topic, particularly in a piece of this length, and nobody was talking about introducing a comma between subject and verb anyway.]
Your second authority is Garner, whom you claim to have on your side ("I nominate Garner for WMF's board of directors!") but he isn't. He's "tending slightly toward the open style", not the close one, and again, a series is not an introductory phrase (I won't lengthen this by commenting on the differences, which are clear enough), and the same logic doesn't necessarily apply. Our eyebrows rise when we read further and see: "Matter that is very short may not need this comma (On Friday we leave for Florida), but phrases of three or more words usually do". In other words, pretty much exactly what everyone else other than you says, except sometimes it's four or five words rather than three – and even then he says "usually". Again, no one's arguing that a comma isn't needed when it's in fact needed, or that it isn't perfectly fine in your cited sentence, "In its usual sense, grammar is the set of rules [...]" – though you're incorrectly implying we would drop it. So anyway, we now have your first two esteemed authorities favoring our side, not yours.
So we finally get to the Chicago Manual of Style, my primary authority when I had my typesetting business for Boston and New York book publishers – so I'm familiar with it, thanks. And lo and behold: "An adverbial or participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence is usually [my emphasis] followed by a comma, especially if a slight pause is intended. [LOL!!!] A single word or a very short introductory phrase does not require a comma except to avoid misreading."
Uh, what's that again? A single word or a very short introductory phrase doesn't require a comma except to avoid misreading? Isn't that, er...?
Come to think of it, this is quite probably where I picked up the notion that a short introductory phrase doesn't need a comma in the first place, since I didn't have any other authority than a book called Words Into Type. I didn't need one, since everybody was going with Chicago. At any rate[,] I think we can stop right there. I'll re-read through the rest of it but will try to refrain from further comment as much as necessary, as we've really reached an end here. You'd like to make the comma obligatory, but you'll never have the required consensus. I was afraid you might, since it seems to have been largely you who succeeded in implementing logical quotation, and that's why I've gotten involved in this to the extent that I have. But now it seems I don't have to worry about it, at least that much. Since basically you yourself have now (re-)established that the comma isn't required, you can't defend sticking it into articles either, or correctly assert that those who in certain cases omit it are editwarring, while those who insistently place it are doing so properly and grammatically and have the right of way, so to speak. As a matter of fact [no comma] I will leave it at that at least for the moment, finally commenting just on one thing you have since added, that you "leave more DS notices than the average MoS regular because they actually work in curtailing the boundary pushing". This confirms my initial impression and justifies my reaction, which was possibly too measured. I think that in any case it's amazingly [I can't say it] on the one hand to say you don't like and oppose the notice, but on the other hand be the only one who finds it appropriate or necessary and applies it, implying furthermore that some other person, an administrator, would come in here and single me out for sanctions. I just want to say that this hasn't influenced what I've written above or may write in the future. You're not going to bully or manipulate me, though I suppose you can continue to issue threats etc. ("see also the menacing WP:AC/DS notice atop this page") if you so deem fit. –Roy McCoy (talk) 19:05, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
I don't have time to cover every point of this right now (and much of it's handwaving or rehash of material we've already covered, like the fact that Oxford's in-house "marketing about the university" stylesheet is irrelevant to encyclopedia writing and has no connection to Oxford U. Press style). Random stuff "revealed by Google on the Internet" isn't a "consensus" that WP cares about or ever will. We take sources on a case-by-case as to their contextual reliability; what you dug up generally isn't a reliable source at all (SPS/UGC), or isn't relevant to writing an encyclopedia (news style, marketing style), and hasn't been relevant to what our MoS says, or we would have drawn on those sources already. You seem to be crowing that you've found a smoking gun, but you have not: "A single word or a very short introductory phrase doesn't require a comma except to avoid misreading?" Been over this half a dozen times already: Any sentence like "In 2013, similar laws were enacted in Queensland and Western Australia" is going to be misread by some editors if you drop the comma, and we have no idea what form that sentence will have shifted to in a month or a year; meanwhile, it is not actually possible for adding the comma to lead to misreading, and doing so future-proofs the sentence a bit should it get expanded in ways that the original writer of it didn't anticipate.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:19, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
If you don't have time to re-cover every point of this (you already covered them before at length, and were refuted), I'm sure that's quite all right with everyone concerned. It certainly would be with me, as I'm getting a bit tired of hearing you continue to repeat the same inadequate and unconvincing arguments, and of having you vainly blow away everything I say. You still haven't understood, for example, that you've been totally debunked regarding Oxford, on which your pooh-poohing dismissal of my source is completely off-target. The document concerned is in fact a publication of the Oxford University Press itself, not simply of some branch of the university. It certainly does have a most intimate connection to OUP style, having been prepared "to help you to deliver the text of your work to Oxford University Press in a form that will ensure its smooth passage through the publication process." And for at least the third and hopefully last time, the Google searches merely established a consensus; no authority was claimed for the individual websites. If I similarly searched on "the shortest distance between two points is a straight line", you could pooh-pooh the consensus on that too, on the same grounds. If you in fact had any preferable authorities backing your comma view (I honestly expected you to have a few), then it might be different, but you don't. In fact I discovered several smoking guns, as you put it. Give it up. –Roy McCoy (talk) 04:06, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
Let's take a vote: Who else here can't tell the difference between the style guides, written by language authorities like managing editors of the OED, etc., that Oxford University Press publishes for general usage and (in summary form for the journals it publishes), on the one hand; and one the other, the in-house stylesheet, written by marketing functionaries, for how Oxford U. employees should write about Oxford U.? Since you're not interested in further responses to the rest of your stufuf, I'll skip making any, especially since you recycling the same stuff over and over again, about sources already pointed out to be non-reliable or off-topic, while accusing me of recycling when I actually posted a new and detailed analysis of the sources from which almost all of MoS is built, is clearly not going to lead to a productive continued discussion.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  05:00, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
Are you blind?
I don't know which Oxford publication you keep referring to, but it isn't the one I found and presented, which is OUP and has nothing to do with whatever you're talking about.
We know, in any event, what your idea of a productive continued discussion is: one that leads to your desired consensus that "We should [...] generally use the optional commas as if not optional." I suppose it's imaginable that you might reach, or somehow be able to claim, such a consensus through bluffing with hollow arguments, nonexistent documentation and fictitious examples; but I doubt it. This is regrettable, as in fact I agree with you on the merit of having a workable policy. ("[...] saying nothing about it and leaving it to 'editorial discretion' leads to circular and recurrent disputes like this (and editwars at articles, and flaming at their talk pages). 'Say nothing' doesn't work when the matter is a perennial dispute; it's just MoS not doing its job because it's hard.") But you've taken the wrong side, and in fact you seem to be blocking consensus by insisting on a minority viewpoint that will presumably remain a minority viewpoint. You don't seem to be able to realize what you've done. You claimed to have authoritative support for your position, but it turned out you didn't. This changes the game. The editors involved in this can now seek a working consensus, but around a normal contemporary norm rather than your idiosyncratic and rather discredited one. I'm not, by the way, the one who's "recycling the same stuff over and over again". That's you – though with the addition of your recent documentation showing that your authorities don't agree with you. If you want new from me, you'll get new from me; in fact I've found some stuff at that I may be posting soon, and that's not all. We could also just drop it, as EEng suggests, and we're indeed not going to get anywhere as long as you're unwilling to compromise and actually attain a solution, but rather keep trying to shove your unconventional and unwanted commas down people's throats. If you have anything new to say that you think is useful and can find the time to say it, then okay, go ahead. But try to have a little more respect for differing viewpoints, and please don't keep repeating your same ineffectual arguments and false (or let's politely say dubious) assertions. –Roy McCoy (talk) 07:03, 8 May 2019 (UTC)

It has been maintained that I cited an inappropriate Oxford source, the University of Oxford style guide, though I did not. In fact this purportedly inappropriate style guide is actually excellent and multipurpose, as anyone examining it can see. But I cited a completely different OUP publication, the OUP Academic Division's Guide for authors and editors, though this has yet be acknowledged. While looking further into OUP style tonight, I found its relevant comma policy in the 2014 New Hart's Rules – the top OUP authority itself, this time incontestably – at Fortunately the page concerned is in the "look inside" excerpt and anyone can see it there (p.75).

4.3.3 After an introductory clause or adverb
When a sentence is introduced by an adverb, adverbial phrase, or subordinate clause, this is often separated from the main clause with a comma:
Despite being married with five children, he revelled in his reputation as a rake
Surprisingly, Richard liked the idea
This is not essential, however, if the introductory clause or phrase is a short one specifying time or location:
In 2000 the hospital took part in a trial involving alternative therapy for babies
Before his retirement he had been a mathematician and inventor
Indeed, the comma is best avoided here so as to prevent the text from appearing cluttered.

When I searched on a portion of this text in order not to have to type it over again, I discovered that it was exactly the same in the earlier edition of Hart's Rules, except for a final sentence that was omitted in the later 2014 edition:

[...] the text from appearing cluttered. Whichever style is adopted should be implemented consistently throughout.

This deletion may be interpreted as either a relaxation of the the requirement for consistency, or a change from recommendation to proscription. Perhaps it was both. In any event I intend to pick up where I left off in the middle of SMcCandlish's treatise and finish my comments on that, probably before commencing the new thread I recently mentioned. I suspect its author may reply to my comments despite his claiming to have abandoned the discussion – which is his prerogative, though if he then wanted to remain in it I would expect him first to reply to the two matters still outstanding. –Roy McCoy (talk) 06:42, 12 May 2019 (UTC)

Already addressed this [8]; you're just proving my point for me, trying to rely on an internal memo of a publisher as if it is one of their public-facing works. It isn't.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  17:27, 12 May 2019 (UTC)

Relevant policy of Encyclopædia Britannica[edit]

An exposition of the relevant Encyclopædia Britannica comma policy is germane to this discussion. When I first went to its website the other day, I searched on "In 1776" and came up with the following: "The navy, taking its direction from the naval and marine committees of the Congress, was only occasionally effective. In 1776 it had 27 ships against Britain's 270 ...". I didn't know where to proceed from there, as it would take forever to search every year in modern history and I had no criterion on which to make a selection. It occurred to me, however, that I could limit a search to 2000-2019 only, which would cut the sample down, be doable relatively quickly, and ensure that what was found would not be from legacy entries of earlier editions, which might imaginably be punctuated in an outdated style and thus open to criticism and/or rejection on that account. So I started searching on "In 2000". The finds came up ten at a time, which made it awkward to copy them to a text file; so I stopped at 100 and decided to copy only the first 10 finds for each of the years following. A complete listing of the finds thus generated appears below. Thanks to SMcCandlish for demonstrating how to collapse lengthy text.

Extended content

In 2000 more than 600 indigenous bands or tribes were officially recognized by
Aboriginal flag. In 2000 she also won several Grand Prix titles ...
In 2000 the media were full of references to Globalization of the economy,
Colombia - Colombia in the 21st century: In 2000 the U.S. Congress approved a
again and was elected in 1995. In 2000 Fox ran for president on a platform that ...
fragments during the 1980s and '90s, but in 2000 this modest game show ...
…21st century, and in 2000 Ricardo Lagos of the CPD was elected the country's
first socialist president… Bachelet, Michelle. Michelle Bachelet. In 2000 Ricardo ...
In 2000 the Democratic Party joined with the New National Party and the Federal
from a party other than that controlling the national government, and in 2000 most
Also in 2000, in a move spearheaded by Libyan leader Colonel Muammar al-
In 2000 a Swiss foundation launched a campaign to determine the New Seven
election: On this day in 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively awarded the ...
... to end the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In 2000 he became president of Rwanda.
In 2000 she was nominated as the SDP candidate for president. After topping the
In 2000 the BJD, in alliance with the BJP, won a large majority of seats in
In 1999 Forbes announced his candidacy for the nomination in 2000. Although
In 2000 von Trier released Dancer in the Dark, a melodrama that features
In 2000 the National Assembly rejected a constitutional amendment that would
In 2000 the PAN's candidate Vicente Fox won the presidential elections, ending
In 2000 he worked on the presidential campaign of his brother, George W. Bush,
In 2000 Leibovitz was among the first group of Americans to be designated a
As a result, in 2000 the PRI's presidential candidate was defeated by Vicente Fox
In 2000 Bondevik stepped down from the premiership after failing to win support
In 2000 George W. Bush's narrow 271–266 electoral college victory over Al Gore,
In 2000 iceberg B-15 broke off the Ross Ice Shelf with an initial length of 295 km (
In 2000 the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) began demolishing Cabrini-Green
In 2000 George W. Bush's narrow 271–266 electoral college victory over Al Gore,
In 2000 the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) began demolishing Cabrini-Green
In 2000 the Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriages;
In 1992 the Catholic Church finally admitted its error at the Inquisition, and in 2000
Pope John Paul II gave a formal apology for the trial of Galileo and other
In 2001, 19 militants associated with al-Qaeda staged the September 11 attacks
In 2003 Eberhard and Tarpenning teamed up again to launch Tesla Motors, a
In 2005 some 45 billion Text messages were expected to be sent by cellular
In 2005 Harvey and Bob left Miramax Films to form the Weinstein Company. The
In 2006 the Winter Games returned to Italy after a 50-year absence. Unlike the
In 2006 the Rwandan government implemented a significant administrative
In 2007, however, she admitted to using banned substances and subsequently
In 2008 the world economy faced its most dangerous Crisis since the Great
In 2008 the Olympic Games were held in China for the first time.
In 2012 London became the first city to host the modern Games three times,
In 2013 the Bolshoi Ballet was the subject of a worldwide media scandal that
Media). However, in 2014 the company's publishing division was spun off, and
In 2014 economic inequality was the central theme of many Economic and
Ukraine crisis: In 2014 Ukraine faced the greatest threat to its national security
The FIFA Corruption Scandal: In 2016 FIFA, the international governing body of
The 400th Anniversaries of Shakespeare and Cervantes: In 2016 the world took
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected): Dustin Hoffman: In 2017 he starred
Logan: Hugh Jackman: In 2017 Jackman starred in Logan, the 10th film in which
yards, the Patriots were upset by the Eagles. In 2018 Brady passed for 4,355
Backstabbing for Beginners: Ben Kingsley: In 2018 he starred in Backstabbing for
In 2019 he launched the Brexit Party. Farage was born into a prosperous family—
In 2019 the academy's website showed that the Board of Governors' president
Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom: Sylvia Plath: In 2019 the story Mary
candid notes to her psychiatrist—appeared the following year. In 2019 the story…

These are 55 cases, in which post-intro commas appear only in the following four:
Also in 2000, in a move spearheaded by Libyan leader Colonel Muammar al-
election: On this day in 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively awarded the ...
In 2001, 19 militants associated with al-Qaeda staged the September 11 attacks
In 2007, however, she admitted to using banned substances and subsequently

In the first of these cases, the comma is setting off an appositional phrase. In the second, the introductory phrase consists of five words. In the third, the comma separates figures. In the fourth, the comma sets off "however". This listing establishes that the Britannica, a historically eminent English-language encyclopedic authority, consistently dispenses with commas following short introductory prepositional phrases of the form "In [year]". –Roy McCoy (talk) 23:41, 8 May 2019 (UTC)

There isn't any question, in anyone's mind, that some publishers prefer to drop this and other commas. We have reasons to not do so, already covered in detail above, the most obvious of which is that our text changes randomly, second by second, so we can never expect that a phrase will not be made longer, will not change to juxtapose numbers, will not be rewritten to be appositional, will not get an injection like "however", etc., etc. Because of some individual editors' hostility to commas, and some other editors' lack of writing experience, we cannot expect, however, that the commas that would become semantically mandatory in such situations would be included in the course of such edits (all our articles with missing necessary commas prove this), ergo we should include the optional ones as if non-option to "future-proof" the material and to make it clearer for more editors in its original form.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  00:39, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
We read this now, but the opening comment of SMcCandlish in this discussion was the following: "It's not an ENGVAR matter, it's a formal/academic style versus news style matter. You'll find that news publishers in the US and UK regularly drop the comma after short introductory phrases, [...] while other publishers do that much less often (less often the more formal the publication is, and few things are more formal than an encyclopedia, which is an academic book by nature even if published online as a wiki). [...] WP is not written in news style as a matter of policy. (It's part of what keeps us reading like an encyclopedia at all instead of dismal blog with too many cooks in the kitchen.)" In other words, he was arguing that academic/encyclopedic style favors commas in sentences like "In 2006, so-and-so did X", Number 57's original example, and that since Wikipedia should be written in academic/encyclopedic rather than news style, it too – like the encyclopedias, like the academic books – should favor the commas in such sentences. We note that McCandlish makes no suggestion that Britannica constitutes any sort of exception. It will not surprise him that other authoritative academic/encyclopedic publishers have published and continue to publish their texts without commas in such sentences, and he will always have this now-modified argument there at his side: some publishers may not be following what he previously characterized as normal academic/encyclopedic style (actually it may turn out to be closer to "all" than to "some", since publishers – unlike McCandlish – generally respect common norms rather than putting themselves above them), but "we're" not going to do that because... and then we get back into his again-repeated refrain, that some texts may change in the future in some way that may imaginably affect the readability of some articles in relation to the nonpresence of the introductory comma. I'm not sure this is even a specious argument. To be specious it would have to be at least superficially plausible, and I'm not sure this one qualifies in that regard. In any event I've already contested it and won't do so again on this occasion, particularly not wanting to repeat myself as he has largely done here (though now apparently having to change his tune regarding actual academic/encyclopedic practice). I remember a university course in which my professor talked about a situation where two people are standing in front of a white wall and one of them obstinately refuses to acknowledge that the wall is white. It doesn't matter how white the wall is or what the other person says, he still can't or won't see that the wall is white. It would appear to be futile to continue to argue with such a person in such a situation, particularly when – as someone advised me lately in regard to the current discussion – nobody else cares. With no one else indeed appearing to care (?), I won't say anything else now. But because I care – even if I've given up on McCandlish's ever moving an inch – I will continue to look into actual contemporary academic/encyclopedic practice. Such practice doesn't matter to McCandlish (whatever he claimed at first), but it should matter to Wikipedia. I may also take a closer look at some of the Britannica examples. –Roy McCoy (talk) 05:24, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
I'm not sure if this is necessarily a pressing issue or should even be addressed in the MOS, although I would probably support SMcCandlish's position considering some of the analyses (and my personal preference of adding commas in such situations; I haven't read all of the discussion, though, so I don't know if my mind would be changed by the comments that I haven't read). I've noticed, however, that in some articles there are commas where there don't need to be any, as well as no commas where there should be commas (e.g. something like "[…] the main line continued west[,] crossing Newland Avenue, and the NER's Hull to Cottingham Line[,] before reaching […]" in Hull and Barnsley Railway). I'm actually not sure if WP:MOSCOMMA addresses this. Jc86035 (talk) 14:08, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Moving on to some meta-commentary about the entire thread and question: My operating assumption from the start is that MoS is not going to change position on this matter, to mandate either inclusion or exclusion of these commas, and I still predict that result, whether the discussion stops here or quadruples in length. None of the sources are against this comma universally, nor can any of them surmount the rationales for inclusion in this particular context; the very clarity/confusion exceptions they rely on apply more broadly here than in a newspaper or book or journal. They were not written to deal with text that is constantly and unpredictably changing. We have our own style guide for real reasons (and we do not add everything we can think of to it, since keeping it short and limited mostly to otherwise-intractable disputes is one of those reasons). My purpose in this has been to provide a logic- not preferences-based view of how to defuse sporadic conflict over this point without writing a new rule. My WP writing style uses more commas than I do otherwise; I regularly drop introductory and serial commas in informal contexts. Much of the genesis of pointless, cyclical MoS-related disputes is people having difficulty separating "How WP should be written" from "How I write memos at work", as if they are only capable of using one register of English. We know they are not, and they need to stop campaigning. WP is not "Wrong" (nor is MoS, nor a particular article here) simply because it doesn't match one's personal habits.

WP content simply may be less or more clear for fewer or more readers, and we should always optimize for more+more not less+fewer in that analysis, especially if the cost is just a few additional punctuation marks that no sources at all consider to be actual errors.

I decline to respond to most of the above rehash and unnecessary personalization other than to observe again that the style guides that matter most for MoS purposes treat such commas as optional, advise including them if they improve clarity or can prevent misreading (which is effectively always the case at this site due to its nature and audience), and offer remarkably logical reasons to default to inclusion of serial commas, with rationales that turn out to be entirely applicable to introductory commas in our context as well. I never suggested that no academic source could ever be found that went another direction, only that habitual comma dropping is primarily a journalism and marketing practice. McCoy's own source list keeps mistaking such sources (e.g. Oxford internal marketing stuff) for academic ones anyway, or citing unreliable blogs, or turning to sources like Britannica which simply do things differently from WP in many ways and don't affect how WP writes. It's just kind of a FUD cloud. I don't think I need to present a clearer or stronger case than I have because the light shines through that cloud anyway.
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:15, 10 May 2019 (UTC)

There are 1,124 commas in this section, including those in this sentence. Jc86035 (talk) 14:08, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
Which is entry XIV in this sequence: 8, 17, 32, 54, 57, 100, 145, 177, 320, 368, 512, 593, 945, 1124. Which is the sequence of numbers constructed thus: . Oh no now there are 1138 commas. Coincidence? Herostratus (talk) 23:15, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
Coincidence? Pshah. It's clearly a conspiracy.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:15, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
SMcCandlish: You talk about my rehashing, but look what you've been writing the last couple of days.
(1) I don't have time to cover every point of this right now (and much of it's handwaving or rehash of material we've already covered, like the fact that Oxford's in-house "marketing about the university" stylesheet is irrelevant to encyclopedia writing and has no connection to Oxford U. Press style).
(2) Let's take a vote: Who else here can't tell the difference between the style guides, written by language authorities like managing editors of the OED, etc., that Oxford University Press publishes for general usage and (in summary form for the journals it publishes), on the one hand; and [on] the other, the in-house stylesheet, written by marketing functionaries, for how Oxford U. employees should write about Oxford U.?
(3) McCoy's own source list keeps mistaking such sources (e.g. Oxford internal marketing stuff) for academic ones anyway

All of these repeated criticisms, on May 7, 8 and 10, respectively, follow my having clarified on May 1 that I was not talking about the University of Oxford style guide previously referred to by Number 57, but rather the OUP Academic Division's Guide for authors and editors, which you seem to have failed to look at despite its significance to the discussion and my calling attention to your error in regard to it several times.
It's also interesting that you now contradict yourself regarding what you wrote only a few days ago, with which I publicly expressed agreement:
Yet saying nothing about [the comma question] and leaving it to "editorial discretion" leads to circular and recurrent disputes like this (and editwars at articles, and flaming at their talk pages). [...] "Say nothing" doesn't work when the matter is a perennial dispute; it's just MoS not doing its job because it's hard.
I do share your skepticism about the chances for consensus (though I almost came back on last night to add that I don't know you will never move an inch), but I continue to agree with your earlier statement, and in accordance with that am presently planning on starting a new thread in the interest of pursuing your previously stated goal.
Before I do, however, I would appreciate it if you would acknowledge the absence (or possibly claim the existence) of a present consensus on the issue. I would normally assume that this was clear and that there wasn't, given the continued absence of a related provision in the MoS and the lack of concrete conclusion in the two previous discussions (both of which I have now studied, having missed one of them before). I'm not sure now, however, because of several surprising things I've read today in WP:CONSENSUS, such as that a majority isn't required for consensus ("discussion not voting"), that arguments are more important than numbers, that unchallenged edits suffice, etc. You have spoken at times as if you believed a consensus existed (also now, with your purported provision of "a logic- not preferences-based view of how to defuse sporadic conflict over this point without writing a new rule"), and your WP:IDHT would seem to imply that you do.
So I'm asking you to (1) finally look at the OUP authors' and editors' guide, commenting if you feel like it but at least acknowledging that it isn't what you've been saying it is; and (2) respond to the question of whether or not you think a consensus on the current comma issue exists. Thank you. –Roy McCoy (talk) 04:49, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
If your view on this is not changing, and mine is not changing, further back-and-forth is a waste of everyone's time. Let's let others get a word in edge-wise.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  11:51, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
Your edit comment "Meh" has been noted. My views on this have in fact been changing; it's been an enlightening discussion for me. Also, I have already been encouraging engagement from others – suggesting people read your recent treatise despite its length, nudging them with "With no one else indeed appearing to care (?)", etc. – so you don't need to tell me about letting other people get a word in edgewise. Nothing obliges you to respond to everything I say, and it would be better if you didn't if you're going to keep repeating deprecatory falsehoods such as the one about the Oxford style manual. But you've been requested to reply briefly to two reasonable and pertinent requests:
So I'm asking you to (1) finally look at the OUP authors' and editors' guide, commenting if you feel like it but at least acknowledging that it isn't what you've been saying it is; and (2) respond to the question of whether or not you think a consensus on the current comma issue exists. Thank you.
Please do so. The guide is, again, Guide for authors and editors rather than University of Oxford style guide. Thank you. –Roy McCoy (talk) 13:23, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
The OUP guide you're now relying on is primarily for journals. It is a tiny house style guide for one particular publisher. It does not magically trump the enormous style guides produced for general public use that also happen to come from the same academic publishing enterprise. You seem unaware that OUP publishes even for general public use multiple style guides that contradict each other in many way (e.g. Garner's Modern English Usage, Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage, New Hart's Rules, New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors, and various others besides. There is no such thing as one monolithic, unwavering style that "represents" OUP. They use one variant set of rules for their journals and I think it may also be applied to some of their non-fiction book publishing. They issue several sets of rules for much broader writing and publishing. Internally they have a completely different, marketing-based one for styling Oxford U.-related public messaging, and so on and so forth. There is no way around this problem. WP just couldn't give a damn about their internal house styles, of either kind. They are primary sources, for a specific extremely narrow internal context, have nothing to do with encyclopedic writing, and have not been used in any way whatsoever as a basis for WP's MoS, nor would they be.

What matters for our purposes are their publications that other publishers rely on (i.e., that are reputable, reliable sources): New Hart's, Garner's, Fowler's, and (to the extent a simpler usage dictionary is helpful) NODWE. Oxford's internal marketing guide is no more pertinent than that of Sony or the Minnesota Attorney General's Office. Oxford's house style for journals is not more pertinent that that of any other journal publisher on the planet. Neither of those house-style works are world-trusted sources on how to write English; they are nothing but internal documents telling specific individual working with Oxford what to do with documents emanating from or being submitted to the entity. They are business relationship matters, a form of memo or internal policy; they are not authoritative sources on English usage norms or best practices. I.e., they are directly equivalent to our own MoS and its relation to the wider world: MoS is not a general "how to write" guide for the public; it is only applicable to WP itself. I'm going to ignore the rest of this, since it's even more rehashy that this bit is.
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  17:23, 12 May 2019 (UTC)

Whether consciously or unconsciously, you seem to be missing the point. It should still be possible to explain the matter to you, though this may require an effort at understanding on your part. You write about the "OUP guide [I'm] now relying on" as if I had changed horses, but this only perpetuates your previous repeated assertion that I ever cited the other one in the first place (not, again, that there's anything necessarily wrong with that one, or that it actually presents a distinct and less appropriate Oxford style). So rather than correcting your previous derogatory misstatements, you've added a new one. I did invite you to comment on the authors' and editors' guide and you were welcome to do so, but you have presented your commentary instead of rather than in addition to the requested acknowledgement that I cited the authors and editors guide (which is for dictionaries rather than journals – you can't have looked at it very closely) and not the other one. It may seem like a minor point and perhaps it is, but since you repeated the false statement several times and in so doing imputed stupidity to me ("Let's take a vote: Who else here can't tell the difference [...] "), I have to insist that you acknowledge the error. The only "rest of it" is that you "respond to the question of whether or not you think a consensus on the current comma issue exists". This is a yes-or-no question, and nobody requested or suggested a commentary from you on that. Just answer it, please. A simple yes or no will suffice. Thank you. –Roy McCoy (talk) 22:10, 12 May 2019 (UTC)
Oxford produces lots and lots of in-house style sheets, for various projects and parties. WE DON'T CARE. They are internal memoranda. They are not reliable sources advising the world how to write; they're internal policy documents for how to write about Oxford U. in marketing materials, how to style their online resources for students, how to format papers for Oxford journal submissions, how to write their dictionaries if you're on their dictionary stuff, what they expect for book manuscripts, etc., etc., etc. They are not what the world turns to for "How should I write in English?" advice. They are not what MoS is based on. They will never be what MoS is based on, any more than our copyright policy is based on that of Uni. Frakfurt, or our civility policy is based on the human resources manual at Microsoft. FFS. How can it possibly be this hard to get this point across? I've covered this in detail in user talk already, anyway.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  15:24, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
Though you have repeatedly stated you were leaving the discussion and moving on, you're still returning to it here. As I have stated on your talk page (where we're supposed to be working this out), I neither requested nor suggested further commentary from you on this issue. One of the two things I did request (again keeping it simple, owing to the apparent necessity of so doing) was a yes-or-no answer to the question of whether you think a consensus exists on the comma issue in question. I have explicitly stated, though couched in other words, that I don't want to have anything to do with you and that I will be happy to never request anything at all from you in the future. Speaking of three-month voluntary bans, I hereby declare a three-month voluntary ban on myself from personally engaging with you on Wikipedia, following the present resolution and assuming it's not going to be necessary to lodge a complaint. So here's your last SMcCandlish for at least three months, if then. At this moment, however, I'm still waiting for a straight answer to my straight question, which I previously characterized – correctly, I believe – as reasonable and pertinent. We can deal with the slander later, and that hopefully will be the end of it. Thank you. –Roy McCoy (talk) 19:09, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
I have received no further response on the user talk page concerned, where WP:BLUDGEON was cited to me. Actually this article approves "a request to clarify something" (as opposed to "a demand to explain"), which my request for an answer to the question as to whether the person concerned felt that a consensus exists or not was and remains. I was also not badgering an editor to state the obvious, to restate what he already said (though he did), or to go into any detail. If anyone was bludgeoning I didn't feel it was me, but I read the rest of the article regardless. "Dealing with being accused of bludgeoning the process" sent me to WP:AN, which said it was rarely appropriate for inexperienced users to open new threads there. I'm inexperienced in regard to matters such as this one, so I again followed the given recommendation and was sent to WP:ANI, which listed various inapplicable cases and sent me to WP:TEA if I was "just plain confused". I didn't feel particularly confused, so the alternative seemed to be "Or try dispute resolution." This led me to WP:DR, where I was sent down the page by "When it becomes too difficult or exhausting to maintain a civil discussion based on content, you should seriously consider going to an appropriate dispute resolution venue detailed below". This led me to WP:CONTENTDISPUTE, where I read: "Third opinions is an excellent venue for small disputes involving only two editors." This sounded appropriate for this one, so I followed the link to WP:3O. After an initial hesitation because this page started off by saying that 3O "is a means to request an outside opinion in a content or sourcing disagreement" and I wasn't immediately sure whether this was a content disagreement or not, I decided it was and continued to read. Somewhat to my surprise (though understandable where actual content disputes are concerned), it said: "Before making a request here, be sure that the issue has been thoroughly discussed on the article talk page." Did that mean I was supposed to discuss the issue(s) of my complaint here on the MoS talk page? I've concluded that though these haven't been discussed here – apparently nobody cares, as someone has aptly pointed out to me privately – the general dispute has been aired sufficiently, so I'll make a request for a third opinion at 3O. I was disturbed by the obligation to inform the other editor of my post there, because I'd just announced that I didn't intend to contact him further. I then remembered that this was assuming it wasn't going to be necessary to lodge a complaint, so it's okay for me to send him a notification (though an exception for such a case would also have been understandable and supposably permissible). So I'll notify the person concerned when I file the request. I'm very disappointed that all this is necessary, as however populated this page may be by colleagues of the other editor concerned, I still feel that at least someone should have called him out at least for his evasiveness and general rudeness, if not for his self-contradictions, dubious reasoning, false assertions, and acting as if he were speaking for everyone. Or maybe he's repulsed or otherwise eliminated everyone who disagrees with him, and actually is. I don't know. In any event I am still waiting for a clarification from him on whether or not he thinks a consensus on commas following short introductory phrases exists, and a retraction of his erroneous statements regarding myself and the Oxford style guides. Comments to my talk page are welcome and invited, thanks. My apologies for any bother. –Roy McCoy (talk) 04:06, 14 May 2019 (UTC)
This is just more circular argument; please give it a rest. At some point you need to realize this is not productive. MoS isn't going to have a firm rule about this, in either direction, because it's not something editors fight about all the time, and there's no clear consensus one way or the other. PS: WP:3O will not take "cases" that are about internal matters like MoS, only a content dispute at a specific article (and wouldn't take one about this, anyway, since it's a subjective preferences matter, not a unilateral fact that can be settled with sourcing). There isn't a way for you to WP:WIN on this.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  05:05, 14 May 2019 (UTC)
So there's no consensus. Thank you. I rescind my self-imposed ban on addressing you. Would you please now retract your derogatory misstatements regarding my purportedly having unintelligently cited an Oxford style guide that I did not cite. I may not WP:WIN on this; I understand that incivility complaints are infrequent and generally discouraged. But I still suspect you're going to have stand before someone and account for your uncivil behavior if you don't acknowledge what you repeatedly said and correct it. I've suggested on your talk page that you might have misunderstood or forgotten that it was Number 57 and not I who cited the first guide mentioned, and I suggest you regard the matter with that possibility in mind rather than ignoring the substance of my complaint and posting yet another beside-the-point rant accusing me of rehashing old material – which I have not done – while repeating your own. My last post contained no circular argument whatever. It and the posts preceding related to the comma issue only tangentially, in regard to the consensus question that has now finally been answered. —Roy McCoy (talk) 06:09, 14 May 2019 (UTC)

Both of you shut the fuck up[edit]

At long last, will the both of you please shut the fuck up now? Please??? EEng 07:22, 14 May 2019 (UTC)

My apology for any bother was sincere, though I wasn't aware of having bothered anyone other than McCandlish. I have replied very briefly to his May 12 posts, which I hadn't seen until now while compiling the excerpts relevant to the Oxford style guides matter, presently posted to my talk page. If anyone looks at these and thinks there's anything I should or shouldn't have included, I again welcome comments. I would particularly welcome any acknowledgement of McCandlish's error, as it is clear that he will never own up to it himself. I admit that this may seem like a minor matter and I'm sorry if I've overemphasized it. –Roy McCoy (talk) 18:51, 14 May 2019 (UTC)

"Let us consider" statements[edit]

There are about 300 articles containing "Let us consider" statements, such as Color mixing ("To explain the mechanism, let us consider mixing red paint with yellow paint") and Polyandry in Tibet ("To elucidate, let us consider a family with two or more sons"; "Let us consider a family in which the mother died before the son was married"). I find this phrasing to be overly formal and unnecessarily wordy. I would like to go through these articles and, except for instances where the phrase is part of a quote, either remove the "let us" part and have sentences like the above merely read "To explain the mechanism, consider mixing red paint with yellow paint" or "Consider a family in which the mother died before the son was married", or remove the entire phrase and use a different construction, "To explain the mechanism, when mixing red paint with yellow paint..." or "In a family in which the mother died before the son was married..." to lead into the next concept. Since this would affect hundreds of articles, I would like to see if there is any disagreement with this plan of action. bd2412 T 13:36, 6 May 2019 (UTC)

  • Some thoughts. It’s a style of writing. I think it is a little bit familiar to Japanese formal writing. I have seen argument that first person writing lends itself to easier clarity, and more natural active versus passive writing. “Let us consider” is first person plural active tense. It is not popular is modern western culture. Is it desirable to force the popular writing style on all articles? What if the sources use that style? This style is probably best avoided as it strongly implies a WP:Voice of Wikipedia, which should be avoided or minimised. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 13:49, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
    • It appears that the most prevalent use of this phrase is in articles relating to the hard sciences and complex mathematics, where publications often use certain phrases to introduce topics (for example, it is common in mathematical writing to introduce parameters by saying, "It is common knowledge that...", even if the thing being introduced is not exactly "common" knowledge). I think that is where these "let us consider" phrases tend to come from. bd2412 T 14:35, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
In terms of succinct and direct writing which is part of concisely conveying information as an encyclopedia, I can’t think of a time when you’d want those phrases in an article, especially since you can cut it down to just “consider X” if you really want to introduce something in that manner. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs talk 15:10, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
This seems to relate to MOS:NOTED. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 15:15, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
Good point. Perhaps MOS:NOTED should be amended to specify avoiding constructions like "let us consider" (or even just "consider" statements). bd2412 T 16:55, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
Apart from being wordy, first person writing and writing that speaks directly to the reader like that doesn't fit the encyclopaedic tone. Nor does it seem appropriate for a collaboratively-written work. Speaking of which, when Wikipedia becomes self-aware enough to start speaking in "we" terms, I think it'll be time to find another hobby. :) Guettarda (talk) 16:05, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
  • We should replace all of the "let us consider" constructions with "for example" or similar replacement. All writing should avoid 1st and 2nd person constructions like these. --Jayron32 17:06, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
    • I prefer "Consider" to "Let us consider", but it is not generally possible to replace them by "For example". The typical use for me of "Consider" is to set up the preconditions for a math problem, like "Consider two points in the Euclidean plane, with integer coordinates. Then their distance is the square root of a sum of two squares." In this example, it could be rewritten as a single sentence, "When two points in the Euclidean plane have integer coordinates, then their distance is the square root of a sum of two squares." But that single sentence is long and grammatically complex. And this was only a short example; other uses of the same phrasing can be considerably longer. The use of "Consider" allows it to be broken into two shorter sentences, which are individually less technical and therefore easier to read. —David Eppstein (talk) 20:04, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
  • It's already against MOS:NOTED, as I understand it, though I wouldn't object to adding the example. I've found phrasing like that to be a good indicator of potential WP:COPYVIOs. —[AlanM1(talk)]— 01:24, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Update: I have gone through the list and replaced every instance I could find of "let us consider" or "let's consider" that was not part of a quote with "consider", which is at least an improvement. That leaves about 250 articles containing "consider" statements, which might be looked at more carefully. bd2412 T 04:34, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
    Those should just get removed or replaced, per MOS:NOTED. Some WP:MATHS people have argued for an exception for maths material because it's use is common in maths textbooks, but that's not really a rationale, per WP:NOT#MANUAL; we don't write in that style to begin with. Any case of something like "Consider two points in the Euclidean plane, with integer coordinates. Then their distance is ..." can be replaced with "Given two points in the Euclidean plane, with integer coordinates, their distance is ..." which is less pedantic and more concise, as well as no longer a fourth-wall problem. Same with David Eppstein's other-way-around rewrite above; which to prefer would depend on what the material needs to emphasize in the context. Even in long cases that won't work as a single sentence, the instructional "Consider" can be written around some other way.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:27, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
    Writing simple understandable sentences for technical subjects is more important than your pedantic adherence to certain overspecific grammatical rules. And if you are not a regular editor of mathematics articles, and don't have experience trying to write these things both non-technically and accurately, please stop making blanket statements that this construct is easily avoided. It is not. —David Eppstein (talk) 18:09, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
  • For the most part, these are not examples of MOS:NOTED – it is not instructing the reader that they must take note. Rather, they are examples of the "author's we", marking a logical progression in an explanation, which is an acceptable encyclopaedic form, as stated at MOS:PERSON, althugh it can usually be reworded if desired. I agree that "consider" is preferable to "let us consider" in most cases. SpinningSpark 23:22, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
    • For our purposes, they're not distinguished; see also MOS:WE. Given that there are unlikely to be any cases that cannot be rewritten, just rewrite them.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  05:02, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
      • @SMcCandlish: MOS:WE is exactly the same guideline section as I linked at MOS:PERSON above and it very much does not say it is the same as MOS:NOTED. MOS:WE explicitly states that the author's we is an exception to the injunction not to use personal pronouns and that this is an acceptable form. That is why the example text is in green, not in red. For our purposes, they are distinguished as far as the guidelines are concerned. SpinningSpark 10:17, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
        • They are the same for our intent here in that they're undesirable. The section does not say it's an exception, it says it's best rewritten.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:21, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
          • You are clearly reading what you want hear, not what is actually written. But some such forms are acceptable in certain figurative uses. For example:...The author's we found in scientific writing. Does that passage, or does it not, contain the word "acceptable"? Often rephrasing using the passive voice is preferable says neither that the author's we is undesirable, nor that it must be removed. You are reinterpreting what it actually says to comply with your own opinion. SpinningSpark 23:27, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
            • And you're cherry-picking to selective quote what you like and ignore what argues against you. "Acceptable" (i.e. not against rules, not something you'll get in trouble for) doesn't mean "advisable", especially when what you elided says "Often rephrasing using the passive voice is preferable". The actual advice is in the opposite of your preferred direction.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  00:45, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
  • It's maths language, to start with. Should be used judiciously, but there's a place for it. Under no circumstances should someone unilaterally sift through expunging every instance without careful judgement. Tony (talk) 03:10, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
    Yes, there is a place for it - in a maths textbook or lecture notes. I have used plenty of these myself in my time and very useful they are too, for a student if mathematics. Where it doesn't belong, though, is an encyclopedia. We should be describing the topics we have articles on, not attempting to teach them to our readers. The fact that large numbers of articles do it does not make it right.  — Amakuru (talk) 18:34, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
  • One other concern - I have found that “let us consider” (and similar language) is often a red flag that the text is a copyright violation. Not always... but often enough that we should avoid it. Blueboar (talk) 12:00, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
  • 'Let us consider' is very math textbooky, but it's just a more formal way of saying things are conditional on the assumptions. "Let us consider n pairs of numbers" is just a more formal way of saying "Imagine you have n pairs of numbers" or "When you have n pairs of numbers" or "The following results assume you have n pairs of numbers". I don't really see the inherent problem with it, save for a bit of stuffiness that will be lost on the general population. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 19:16, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
    Since there are other ways to do that (most commonly and succinctly, "Given n pairs of numbers, ....") which are not presumption/instructional language aimed at the reader, I'm suggesting we should use those other ways.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:52, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    Your proposed replacement, besides leading to longer and more complex sentence structure, is problematic grammatically. A sentence that begins "Given X," can really only be followed by a noun phrase that is modified by "given" and describes to whom X was given. That whom is the reader, again in first person. So you can properly say something like that "Given n pairs of numbers forming the coordinates of points in the plane, consider their convex hull" and we're back where we started with "Consider". Or you can say "Given n pairs of numbers forming the coordinates of points in the plane, their convex hull is ..." and be wrong and confusing because it is incorrect that anybody is giving the pairs to the convex hull. —David Eppstein (talk) 04:21, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    [citation needed]. I'm unaware of any dictionary or other source that defines the "Given X, then Y" construction that narrowly. You're obviously aware that words have multiple meanings and uses, and thus that "given" need not refer to something literally handed from one person to another like a gift or a payment. Regardless, the point is there that are ways to write about this stuff that do not use instructional language like "Consider ...". Another obvious one is "If [scenario], then [result]", and another is "When [circumstance], then [what to expect]". Give a minute or two, anyone could probably come up with ten more.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  12:43, 13 May 2019 (UTC)

Scope of accessibility guidance[edit]

One of the issues we regularly encounter is the unwarranted assumption that MOS only applies to articles, but that's simply not true. The MOS covers three broad areas: documenting conventions; guidance on functionality; and guidance on accessibility. It is reasonable to assume that the first, and probably the second, have their greatest applicability in mainspace, but there can be no doubt that the guidance the MOS gives to help make our encyclopedia accessible to all must apply to every page.

I've added a short paragraph to the lead to make that clearer, as this page takes precedence over its sub-pages. Please feel free to improve it. --RexxS (talk) 10:10, 9 May 2019 (UTC)

This has now been reverted with the edit summary "(a) If this belongs anywhere, it belongs at MOS/Accessibility; (b) but there's a more serious problem: it's one thing to say that accessibility considerations apply everywhere (which is fine), but it's quite different to say that those are the RIGHT considerations for application outside of article space"

(a) It certainly does belong here. This page delineates the scope of the Manual of Style and this page claims to be authoritative. The scope of accessibility is universal, as disadvantaged and disabled readers and editors participate throughout the encyclopedia. The statement of scope is not something that can conveniently be ghettoised into a subsection of the MoS, and merely paying lip-service to accessibility is not an option in this day-and-age.

(b) If any of the guidance contained within MOS:ACCESS is considered unsuitable for outside article space, then I'm unaware of it. Specific exceptions, if they exist, can be catered for in the appropriate sub-section, but in the absence of real examples of this purported "more serious problem", there is no good reason not to have a statement of scope in the lead of MoS. The paragraph should be restored. --RexxS (talk) 16:22, 9 May 2019 (UTC)

I don't disagree with the underlying point, though it would probably be better added as a footnote about MoS's scope. And the suggestion that much of MoS only applies to mainspace isn't true, as it applies to any reader-facing content, which also includes portals, templates transcluded into mainspace, category names and explanatory content atop category pages, etc., etc. In practice almost all of it is applied site-wide except in userspace and on talk pages. E.g., it's entirely normal to edit policy pages, template documentation, etc., to comply with MoS, but not to change other people's posts, or drive-by change a userspace essay. We used to have a footnote covering this, too, but someone keeps slow-editwarring it out. Need to restore that, since its presence reduces a lot of disputation. That said, the idea that MOS:ACCESS should apply to every single page "no matter what" is bound to be controversial. Such a decision is outside MoS's own scope. I would think that it would need to appear in some policy or more general editing guideline, perhaps as a recommendation that what is said at MOS:ACCESS about encyclopedia content should also generally be applied to internal content as a courtesy to editors with accessibility needs, and leave it at that. But I'm not certain what the best page is for that.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:48, 10 May 2019 (UTC)

RfC on gendered nouns in spaceflight[edit]

I propose copying NASA's style guidelines verbatim: "In general, all references to the space program should be non-gender-specific (e.g., human, piloted, unpiloted, robotic, as opposed to manned or unmanned). The exception to the rule is when referring to the Manned Spaceflight Center (also known as the Manned Spacecraft Center), the predecessor of Johnson Space Center in Houston, or to any other historical program name or official title that included “manned” (e.g., Associate Administrator for Manned Spaceflight)." Kees08 (Talk) 19:15, 10 May 2019 (UTC)

Previous discussions on the spaceflight WikiProject.

Recently, there have been edits back and forth changing manned to crewed (and vice versa), occasionally resulting in minor edit wars. It has been long enough since the last major discussion on this issue that we can have a fresh one. NASA's policy is to use crewed and uncrewed in lieu of manned and unmanned, except for historical usage (like Manned Maneuvering Unit, Manned Orbiting Laboratory).

Style Guide for NASA History Authors and Editors

Slate article discussing NASA policy


Editors are interpreting Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Gender-neutral language differently, clarification is needed.


  • Support - while we do not have to follow NASA's style guide, I think it is well-written, logical, and easy to interpret. Kees08 (Talk) 05:31, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support. This should be a simple, clear application of the first sentence of MOS:GNL, Use gender-neutral language where this can be done with clarity and precision. The fact that this is NASA's policy should also be given significant weight, as this is the topic area NASA falls under. —⁠烏⁠Γ (kaw)  05:51, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    Updating this to agree with those below saying that the text should be rephrased, not copied. —⁠烏⁠Γ (kaw)  00:34, 17 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose broad changes per WP:NOR and WP:WEIGHT. The terms are not always equivalent in meaning to the proposed alternatives, and so it fails the clarity and precision clause in MOS:GNL. Usage of terms should be accurately aligned with whatever supporting sources exist per WP:STICKTOSOURCE. We should explain that the various terms exist, and use them in the proper, sourced context. There is nothing inherently "gendered" about the term "manned", and it is not an uncommon term even to use for women. -- Netoholic @ 06:28, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support: I see no reason not to follow NASA's and MOS:GNL's guidance here. Regarding WP:NOR: Sticking to sources does not mean sticking to the exact word choices of sources: Rewriting source material in your own words, while substantially retaining the meaning of the references, is not considered to be original research. WanderingWanda (talk) 07:08, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support principle, though this seems redundant to the existing advice in MOS:GNL. Perhaps this RfC will provide sufficient clarification, such that no additions to the MoS will be necessary. NASA has prescribed gender-neutral language since at least 2006 ([9]). Netoholic I'm puzzled as to how WP:WEIGHT is relevant. Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 07:48, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support I agree that this is redundant with MOS:GNL, which is fairly clear on this, but some people need the extra reminders. --Jayron32 12:09, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support What Jayron32 and Adrian J. Hunter said. I don't understand Netoholic's objections here. Also, while it's true that "she manned" is not unheard of, it's always been less common than "she piloted". Furthermore, if you swap in the male pronouns, you'll see that "he piloted" is also more prevalent: [10]. Mackensen (talk) 12:20, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    @Mackensen: No direct comparison works because the terms mean different things, which is my point. To "pilot" means to assume direct control over the movement of a craft. To "crew" means to perform one of many roles associated with operating the craft. To "man" a craft could mean any of the above, or simply sitting within a craft and being largely a passenger, as was especially true with the early missions. Likewise, one can "man" many other things that cannot be crewed or piloted - think of the phrase: she 'manned' the front desk of the store. This guidance will confuse people and cause them to use terms not supported by the sources. -- Netoholic @ 14:29, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    Sure, and I considered that. "Staffed" would be the direct replacement for "manned" in your hypothetical, though it's not applicable in this use case. The potential for confusion seems minimal, at best. Sidebar: while pilot involvement in the Mercury and Gemini missions was perhaps minimal compared to later missions, the pilots themselves were adamant that they were pilots who were piloting those spacecraft. You don't need "manned" to express any of these concepts. Mackensen (talk) 14:35, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    No, but you need to use whatever the secondary sources use as they are the ones that analyze what those men said, what NASA said, and what the general public expects from their language - hence WP:STICKTOSOURCE policy. -- Netoholic @ 14:38, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    Wikipedia articles are not just giant quotes. WP:STICKTOSOURCE does not say we are required to only directly quote sources. The use of paraphase, synonyms, summarization, and rewriting in Wikipedia's own style and voice is expected and encouraged. --Jayron32 14:41, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    These are not synonyms we're talking about. You are advocating for the changing of meaning without understanding the context of the terms in use. I have absolutely no problem with "crewed" - if that is was a source uses. But at present it looks like such usage is quite rare. -- Netoholic @ 14:48, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    We have several clearly useful alternatives to "manned", and those alternatives are not confusing to native English speakers. Your insistance, over and over, that WP:STICKTOSOURCE means we must stick to the exact word that the source uses in all cases is not borne out in any other situation anywhere else on Wikipedia, and it feels like you are reaching to somehow use your own idiosyncratic understanding of a policy page as a means to invalidate a consensus, or to somehow innoculate against a developing consensus so that you can claim that "the one single policy I have cherry picked here to interpret in my own way to defend my position must be the only valid policy that applies AND the only valid interpretation of that policy" That's not how any of this works. You don't get to pick one "magic spell" policy that trumps all others, you don't get to invalidate the perspectives of other that don't agree with you merely because they don't agree with you, and you don't "win" in the face of a developing consensus merely because you repeat the same points over and over or refute everyone with the same thing over and over. You don't get extra "consensus points" by doing that. --Jayron32 15:08, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support It's a sensible clarification in line with MOS:GNL. Schazjmd (talk) 14:12, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. "Manned" is gender-neutral. –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 14:28, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    Asserting so doesn't mean it is so. Gender-neutral language disagrees with you. Where can I read, elsewhere, that your assertion has evidence to back it up? --Jayron32 14:37, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    How is Gender-neutral language's assertion any more valid than mine? See wikt:man#Etymology 2. –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 15:13, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    Gender-neutral language specifically notes many instances of avoiding the use of "man". You assert that it doesn't, and yet reading the article clearly shows it doing so. The actual evidence goes against your assertion. Also, see etymological fallacy. We use words as they are used now, not as they were used at some point in the past. Today, sources consider "man" to be gendered as male. The fact that speakers in the past didn't used to has little to no bearing on the discussion. Lots of words meant different things in the past. We use words today as they are used today. --Jayron32 15:19, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    I'm not arguing based on etymology; that was merely the section link. I'm arguing based on the usage in that section. But GNL is incorrect in stating that "crewed" should be used instead of "manned". Should we say "Crew the machine guns!" rather than "Man the machine guns!"? –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 15:21, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    When would one ever write either the phrase "Crew the machine guns!" or "Man the machine guns!" in a Wikipedia article? That phrase should never appear, except as a direct quote. Under normal encyclopedic style, I can't see any reason to present a second-person command with an exclamation point. --Jayron32 15:29, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    It was just an example to point out the fact that in this sense, it's not a gendered word any more than "history" is.
    What? I don't even know what you mean by that. Look, lets just sit back and watch consensus develop one way or the other here. Your arguments are becoming increasingly incomprehensible here, and ultimately I have wasted everyone's time by humoring you. You have voted. I have voted. Other people will vote. This entire side discussion has done, and will do, nothing towards generating a consensus. --Jayron32 15:42, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    I would have thought the reference was obvious in this context: "history" contrasted with *"herstory". —DIV ( (talk) 02:27, 11 May 2019 (UTC))
    Also note that line in GNL was added just today; I've reverted the edit, and now GNL says nothing about "manned". –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 15:25, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    I never said Gender neutral language used the example "manned". I said it contained information about avoiding "man" in situations analogous to this. --Jayron32 15:28, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    In any case, to "man" a craft is not the same usage as using "man" as a suffix for occupational titles. And the article there is about documenting certain efforts and viewpoints; it does not provide advice on what should be done. –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 15:38, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
It's not the same, but reliable sources do indicate that this usage of "manned" is gendered, and that's the category of language that MOS:GNL applies to. Nblund talk 15:50, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
I hope you realize using the phrase "etymological fallacy" is, in itself, offensive and derogatory. You are trying to dismiss an idea you dislike by slapping a biases label on it. In fact, "manned" spaceflight is a term in common use. It is less universally used than it was a few decades ago, but it is still widely used. We are talking about which of the currently used terms is more appropriate. Fcrary (talk) 18:44, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support If it works for NASA it will probably work quite adequately for us too. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 14:53, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support - sensible direction. Evidently the advice of MOS:GNL is not sufficient to prevent edit-warring in this topic, so it is necessary to explicitly adopt this style. Ivanvector (Talk/Edits) 15:18, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support Consistent with existing MOS:GNL guidance. If there's a specific use-case where "manned" has no English equivalent, then we can say it, but I sort of struggle to imagine a scenario where that's the case. This seems like an odd hill to die on. Nblund talk 15:40, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • OpposeSupport changing project pages Unless I am misinterpreting the intent here, the wording of MOS:GNL is sufficient. "Manned" is acceptable in established proper names. We can't include every organization's policy on gender-neutral language in the MOS. Jmar67 (talk) 15:46, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    You'll note that the proposal includes a specific exemption for established proper names, and is not proposing changing those. --Jayron32 15:49, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    We shouldn't need to say anything about terms in proper names. It should be clear that they are exempt. Jmar67 (talk) 16:03, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    That isn't the crux of the proposal though. The proposal is here because there is some clarification needed over the use of the terms "manned" and "unmanned" outside of proper noun situations. Some people feel those terms are gender neutral, or are otherwise not covered by MOS:GNL. This is specifically about adding clarifying language that such terms are covered by MOS:GNL and should be avoided here. When you stated "Unless I am misinterpreting the intent" it is clear you are. The purpose of the proposal is not to carve out the exceptions for proper names, it is to include language to explicitly note that "manned" is not gender-neutral. --Jayron32 16:08, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    Jmar67: I think a lot of the support !voters are agreeing with you that MOS:GNL already covers this. When you say "oppose" are you saying you believe that "manned" should still be used even in cases where it is not part of a direct quote or a proper title? Or are you just saying you oppose changing the wording of GNL? (similar to Izno's !vote below) Nblund talk 16:18, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    Thanks. I am opposed to copying the NASA guideline verbatim into the MOS. I still don't understand what specific change to the MOS is being suggested and where. Jmar67 (talk) 16:28, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    Thank you for your clarification. I understand what you're opposition is based on now. --Jayron32 16:36, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support Where there's a clearly supported gender neutral term, we should use it as per MOS:GNL. "Manned" may or may not once have been viewed as gender neutral, but language changes, and it isn't now, as NASA indicates. Peter coxhead (talk) 15:57, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support principle, oppose changing the main MOS page per the apparent duplication of intent. --Izno (talk) 16:02, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    • Unless I'm misunderstanding, I don't think the nominator is proposing changing any guideline pages. That is, I read the question to be: "Should we make this change at various spaceflight pages?" not "Should we add this language to the MOS?" WanderingWanda (talk) 16:24, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
      I propose copying NASA's style guidelines verbatim I interpreted copying here to mean publishing a MOS which uses the text of NASA's guideline, i.e., as a MOS change. You could reasonably interpret the word copy to mean "use their guideline without changing ours", but again, not what I did. I think my interpretation is more reasonably. ;) --Izno (talk) 16:39, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
      What misled me was that it was unclear where the cited NASA guideline would land, and I assumed it was the MOS. Jmar67 (talk) 17:27, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
      I want to have a clear interpretation of the Manual of Style that can be pointed to in future discussions that will hopefully end the edit wars. I thought perhaps a note like the Milhist one could be added, but whether it is or not I do not care. Kees08 (Talk) 16:50, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support NASA gets it right. XOR'easter (talk) 16:08, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support This sounds very sensible. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 16:13, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support I agree with NASA's convention here and I think Wikipedia should adopt it. Reyk YO! 16:22, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support mostly per WP:DUH. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 16:23, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support. If we do copy though, quote marks and cite, perhaps with intro: Wikipedia has adopted the following guidance: Alanscottwalker (talk) 16:53, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose without modification NASA is not the only space agency around, and they have not always used this standard. I think it would be confusing to have an article on, for example, the Russian space program with quotes about "manned" missions and text about "crewed" missions. The same thing would apply to historical NASA missions, such as Mercury or Apollo. If the original sources used the term "manned" the article should as well. I think that's consistent with Wikipedia guidelines on gender-neutral language, since being consistent would improve clarity. Fcrary (talk) 22:07, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
    It is a good point that NASA is not the only space agency around. However the issue of 'mismatch' between quotations and surrounding article text is not a problem. Consider an article Caesar, for example: there may be quotations in Latin, but that doesn't conflict with the article being written in English. There can be an article on Hitler that includes pejorative terms for specific people or groups of people within quotations, but which avoids those pejorative terms within the surrounding article text. —DIV ( (talk) 02:44, 11 May 2019 (UTC))
  • Support—Wikipedia should always strive for inclusive language where reasonable. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:22, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support It's the right thing to do and the NASA policy means we have a good precedent to follow. The exception for historical terms is adequate. —David Eppstein (talk) 22:35, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment. It is not clear that "manned" is necessarily interpreted as a gendered verb. As evidence I propose the following scenario.
    NASA sends an "unmanned shuttle" to the moon. When it lands the crew get out and perform a moonwalk.
    I believe that everybody would interpret "unmanned" as a synonym of "uncrewed", and that nobody would leave open the option that an "unmanned shuttle" might have a crew who are all women (or perhaps even transgendered, intersex, etc.).
    Logically if "unmanned" is unambiguously a non-gendered synonym of "uncrewed", then "manned" should unambiguously be a non-gendered synonym of "crewed". Of course, logic might be lacking in reality....
    —DIV ( (talk) 02:36, 11 May 2019 (UTC))
The simple response is that "reliable sources say it is gendered". That said: One verb form of "unman" means "to castrate". So it definitely is not an unambiguously non-gendered term. Roger Freitas uses the term "'unmanned' singer" to refer to a castrato vocalist. Romeo and Juliet even contains a play-on-words based around using the "unmanned" to indicate Juliet's virginity and her lack of self-control. "Manned" is often use to refer to male and female crew members, but that doesn't make it genderless. It's like the term "mankind" in that sense. Nblund talk 21:00, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
I don't think it is sufficient to say a single source considers a word gendered. I think it takes evidence that a majority of people, or at least a large majority, consider it to be when used in the relevant context. In you examples of "manned" being used as a gendered word, they are (1) rather archaic usage, which I believe few modern speakers of English would use, and (2) using the word in a dramatically different context. Are you implying that, if a word is gendered, then all of its homonym are also gendered? That does not make sense to me. Fcrary (talk) 21:28, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
My point was that can't exactly call a word "unambiguously genderless" when one of its dictionary definitions literally refers to removing someone's testicles. It's not just a single source. OED guidance, the Handbook of Nonsexist Writing, as well as the BBC and New York Times style Guides all note the gendered connotation. We don't have any source for polling the majority of English speakers, and the whole issue is that terms like "manned" or "mankind" are implicitly gendered even when the speaker doesn't intend them that way. Our informal poll of Wikipedia editors shows a pretty clear consensus in favor of avoiding the term. Nblund talk 22:31, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
It's hard to call anything about languages unambiguous. But if there are two completely unrelated dictionary definitions for a word, they are different words. Just because they are spelled the same way doesn't mean one is automatically a gendered word because the other clearly is. If I accepted that logic, I'd also have to agree an aircraft is a geometric construct, since those are both definitions of "plane". Fcrary (talk) 19:02, 12 May 2019 (UTC)
What a novel theory: "if there are two completely unrelated dictionary definitions for a word, they are different words". Did you make that up, or find it somewhere in a discussion of what makes a word? And are you also suggesting that some uses of "manned" and "unmanned" are not related by referring to the root "man"? Dicklyon (talk) 21:54, 12 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment We might consider preserving the cited NASA guideline text and parts of this discussion in the article Gender-neutral language. Jmar67 (talk) 03:43, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support 'Man' and 'manned' are not gender neutral words as acknowledged by NASA and most modern style guidlines. Many of the opposes use logic along the lines of "well it's gender neutral to me" or "that's what was written in the source". The first argument is irrelevant, what matters is the gender neutrality to most english speakers. The second is inappropriate in this context, we do not use Shakespearian language to discuss the works of William Shakespeare, even if that is how they were originally written. --Spacepine (talk) 11:50, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
In fact, we may use Elizabethan words in discussing Shakespeare's works. Specifically if the work contains a word which is no longer in common use. It would cause confusion to quote the text and then substitute the modern, equivalent word in a discussion of the text's meaning.Fcrary (talk) 18:44, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support the point being added in our own wording, but not plagiarized. We do not rip off language, word-for-word, from other style guides. We certainly should give the same advice (reworded), because it is sensible and is consistent with MOS:GNL. We should maybe omit "manned" as an example of gendered language, since there's obviously dispute about whether it qualifies.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  11:58, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
    @SMcCandlish: Since it's published by NASA, surely it's {{PD-NASA}}? Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 19:17, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
    Whether you can be prosecuted for stealing it has nothing to do with the principle of not just ripping it off. Beyond this obvious point, we do not want to set a precedent for directly quoting other style guides in our own. Our wording changes all the time to better suit our needs and the ability of our editorial pool to interpret and follow the rules as written and applied. Virtually nothing in MoS reads exactly as it did the first time it was written, because we cannot predict in advance what someone is going to try to WP:GAME a month or a year later, nor what adjustments have to be made to account for later changes to other WP:P&G pages. Another reason to not rip off other style manuals to the letter is that we can usually make the same effective rule more concisely, having had a lot of practice keeping our rules short for WP:CREEP reasons.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  23:34, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support per MOS:GNL. SarahSV (talk) 22:43, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose "copying NASA's style guidelines verbatim", but support the gist of the proposal, adopting guidance along those lines. Dicklyon (talk) 21:57, 12 May 2019 (UTC)
    • Oppose, as the word "human" has in itself the letters of the word "man", which is NOT, in itself (mind me being redundant) a gender-neutral term as it was before, since nowadays it is like saying "mailman" instead of "mail carrier", "fireman" instead of "firefighter", "chairman" instead of "chairperson" or "CEO" and so on. --Fandelasketchup (talk) 15:37, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
      That's farcically bogus folk etymology which has been debunked about a million times by now. Human does not in fact have the word man in it at all; it has the three characters m-a-n in it (lately; it did not in Middle English). The word man is from Proto-Germanic *mann, and human is from Latin hūmānus. In this case, they're not even anciently related. Man ultimately goes back to Proto-Indo-European *mon, while hūmānus is Latin homo with a suffix and vowel shifts, ultimately from PIE *ǵʰm̥mṓ, and related to words for 'earth' (humus, etc.). The resemblance of man and human in English is purely incidental, the result of convergence inspired by the kind of confusion/assumption that leads to folk etymology in the first place.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:04, 17 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support as long as we don't copy and paste. We should try to rephrase things in our words, to err on the side of over-caution with regards to copyright. (Summoned by bot) -- I dream of horses  If you reply here, please ping me by adding {{U|I dream of horses}} to your message  (talk to me) (My edits) @ 20:14, 16 May 2019 (UTC)

Use of ∞ (infinity) symbol for marriage in genealogy[edit]

At Morgan family#Genealogy, ∞ (infinity; U+221E) is used many times. I worked out that it means "marriage". This seems analogous to using * for "born" and † for "died" (disallowed at MOS:DATETOPRES). Should these be replaced with "m." (and a note about it added to MoS, since there are many more articles in which it appears)? —[AlanM1(talk)]— 11:02, 10 May 2019 (UTC)

The ∞ is an improper substitute for the character ⚭ (U+26AD, "Marriage Symbol"). I agree with replacing it with m. (parallel with b. and d.). Doremo (talk) 11:42, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
I'd be in favor of converting all of these to "m." or "married". Non-keyboard symbols should be used sparingly, and in cases where a perfectly acceptable letter exists, I'd go with that. --Jayron32 12:08, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
The "Marriage Symbol" is two interlocking circles, for those who use a small text or an old screen! Martin of Sheffield (talk) 12:16, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
The marriage symbol is too small for me to make it out at my preferred text size and is anyway unfamiliar, so I would be quite happy to see it deprecated. Use of the infinity symbol as a substitute is even worse. "m." or "married" is clearer to me, and possibly to the majority of readers, which should be the main concern. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 14:58, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
This edit changed "m." to the infinity symbol. So it was that way at one time. Jmar67 (talk) 22:36, 10 May 2019 (UTC)

There's also a line that is followed by "<Mass Town Birth Records></Virginia Marriage Records>", which also seems like a bad idea. Should they be turned into a reference, assuming it means those are sources. Any idea what the "/" is for? —[AlanM1(talk)]— 11:02, 10 May 2019 (UTC)

Reads as bad closing tags and just a misunderstanding of markup. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs talk 18:49, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
Appears to be a remnant of XML tagging in one of the sources. I see no reason to retain it. Jmar67 (talk) 20:52, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
It looks like it was added by @DACC23:. Maybe they have a good reason for why it's there? Fyunck(click) (talk) 21:47, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
I use the ∞ symbol often because I've seen it used in many other family trees and think its cleaner (and shorter) than the other options, but am happy to use m. or m. if that is what is preferred overall. — Preceding unsigned comment added by DACC23 (talkcontribs) 13:30, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
@DACC23: The question here was the tags. I have commented these out. Jmar67 (talk) 13:56, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
I think all of these should be spelled out per WP:NOTPAPER. Certainly the symbols are right out. —David Eppstein (talk) 22:36, 10 May 2019 (UTC)

I also support removing these symbols, and further suggest making use of Template:Abbr for a result of m. —⁠烏⁠Γ (kaw)  04:20, 11 May 2019 (UTC)

Definitely replace it. Even genealogists don't use that symbol (they typically use m. in running text or = in a pedigree chart, since is obscure and not found on anyone's keyboard). If we're going to use any abbreviation or symbol, it should be within MOS:ABBR guidelines (don't abbreviate without a good reason, like a cramped table in which horizontal space is at a premium, and either link to the meaning or use {{abbr}}, at first occurrence of any abbreviation).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  12:05, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
I did the replace. Hopefully got it right. And hopefully anyone there who might care was already aware of this discussion and saw the error. Dicklyon (talk) 02:29, 12 May 2019 (UTC)
  • In this modern age it's amusing to see the symbol for "never-ending" being used to represent marriage; perhaps someone's idea of a joke. EEng 05:02, 12 May 2019 (UTC)
    Sometimes it can seem that way. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 19:14, 12 May 2019 (UTC)
I do prefer the infinity symbol over the letter "(m.)" to reflect marriage because the "(m.)" by itself, to me, if I am reading in English, may mean "male" as opposed to the "(f.)" for "female" or, in my native language, Spanish, it would be the abbreviation for "muerto/a" much like you put a "d." to represent "dead", so I have no objections to it. --Fandelasketchup (talk) 15:43, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
Except this isn't Spanish Wikipedia, every abbreviation can be amibigous with other abbreviations in different contexts (there are only 26 possible one-letter abbreviations in English, or double that counting lower/upper-case variants). And the infinity symbol doesn't mean anything in particular to anyone when used this way.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  12:46, 18 May 2019 (UTC)


The (short) section on Ligatures in the MoS is much too hardline. While I respect/tolerate the 'house style' to avoid using ligatures when they are optional, it seems to leave no room even to mention alternative forms.

For example, in the formula article we have the ridiculous situation of claiming

"The plural of formula is spelt formulae (from the original Latin).[1]"

Whereas actually the OED states (verbatim):

"Forms: Plural formulæ, formulas."

in which the ligature is specifically and deliberately used. The OED distinguishes three distinct spellings: "ae", "æ", and "e". (Compare with "haematology". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.), which is listed with the "ae" spelling, and the "e" spelling is given as an alternative form — but not the "æ" spelling. Yet within the definitions the ligature is carefully used to cite quotations from the publication Hæmatology.) So the WP article on formula is misquoting the OED article, possibly due to the excessively constrictive guidance in the MoS.

The MoS entry should be extended to state something like:
"Additionally, if a spelling of the article's subject sometimes includes (or historically included) a ligature, then ligatures can be used in lead sections (or in expositions on etymology/spelling) for the purpose of mentioning that fact."

—DIV ( (talk) 02:20, 11 May 2019 (UTC))


  1. ^ "formula". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  • Opposed to any change to this section. First off, no rules in MoS about how to write ever preclude mentioning and illustrating something when it is itself the topic. Basic common sense. Literally no one on Wikipedia is confused into thinking otherwise (I don't even think you are; I think you're using hyperbole to try to make your point, and it is backfiring). Second, the fact that the OED prefers to write with ligatures (and much of its text dates to the mid-20th century, when they were in much more common use) has nothing at all to do with whether WP's house style is to avoid them and should remain that way (it is, and it should). OED's house style is not WP house style. You say you respect that we have a house style, and then want to impose someone else's. So, nope. This also has no effect whatsoever on titles of works; cf. Ænima, "Ænema", Encyclopædia Britannica, etc., etc. If something quoted from OED is in fact being misquoted, then fix the quote, like we would with any other quote. While MOS:CONFORM permits some trivial alterations for normalized text presentation, this isn't one of them (if OED's dictionarian position is in favor of the formulæ spelling, then that should be reported accurately). There is nothing wrong with the guideline; there's something wrong with a quote in one article.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  12:14, 11 May 2019 (UTC)

MOS:GEOCOMMA, most common punctuation error in WP?[edit]

It seems we have a ton of articles missing a matching comma after state, in lead sentences even, in constructs like "X in City, State was a ...". MOS:GEOCOMMA and every style and grammar guide that I've looked at says this is an error, but lots of editors don't know, and a distressing number even argue that it's not an error (esp. in discussions of titles such as City, State thing. Is there something we should be doing to make this more clear? Does anyone know why some people don't experience any pain on encountering such imbalances? Dicklyon (talk) 15:40, 12 May 2019 (UTC)

As usual, it's because some news-style manuals like to drop this comma, and people see that style if they read more news than other nonfiction, so they absorb it. I think the MoS material is plenty clear, but most editors never read it. MoS is primarily a post hoc cleanup tool, and a means of settling disputes, not a "Now that you want to become an WP editor for the first time, please learn all of this" document. The average editor just writes in whatever way feels comfortable to them, and someone else cleans it up later.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  17:33, 12 May 2019 (UTC)
I get that, and I don't mind doing the cleanup work. What seems odd, though, is the opposition that such work sometimes encounters, as in some recent RM discussions where nearly half the people argue that it's not wrong so don't fix it – when it's obviously wrong. Dicklyon (talk) 17:45, 12 May 2019 (UTC)
I can only speak for myself, but I suppose that the absence of a comma simply isn't regarded as an imbalance. I seem to recall having read somewhere recently that the state is treated as an appositive and hence the comma following, but it's possible to see the state as not an appositive at all, but rather as simply part of the address, the address constituting a whole. Such a missing comma may be seen as obviously wrong, but I think this is basically simply in regard to the accepted rule that it should be followed by a comma. I don't feel that the state is an appositive myself, and when I encounter phrases such as "He moved to Columbus, Ohio, in 1948", I find the suggested pause after "Ohio" unnecessary and rather irksome (as with short introductory prepositional phrases). What I would say would be more like "He moved to Columbus, Ohio in 1948", and if I don't pause it I don't see why I should punctuate it either. (Actually, to be truthful, what I would say would probably be even more like "He moved to Columbus Ohio in 1948", but I would never for a single second consider omitting the comma between the city and the state – though I would unhesitatingly in "Columbus OH" or "Columbus OH, USA.) Could we perhaps agree that however de rigueur the comma following the state may be, the comma between the city and the state is nonetheless more essential? If so, that might say something about perceived balance or imbalance. I've now tried to answer Dicklyon's question about how someone could regard this comma as unnecessary, and now I'm wondering if he regards its absence as obviously wrong for some reason other than the rule itself, and if so what that reason is. If he sees the state as an appositive, I don't. If he sees it as something else, I'm interested in what that is. –Roy McCoy (talk) 00:37, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
I suspect that the form "city, state" derives from early postal conventions that called for separation in the interest of clarity and to avoid ambiguity. The commas involved have no "pause" function, in my opinion. I would not pause in speaking before or after the state. The state is normally included as a disambiguator, since identically named cities can exist in multiple states, or to clarify the location of a city that is not well known. For major cities (New York, Chicago) the state can be omitted. The idea of placing a comma after the state is to set off (enclose) it as a defining element (which Columbus?) and as such is an appositive form. It could just as well be enclosed in parentheses in normal prose, thus avoiding the comma question. Jmar67 (talk) 01:27, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
The comma is no problem whether you pause a little or not at all. I'd be happy if we moved to no comma, as we've done with "Jr." (and as the post office now prefers for addresses on envelopes), but with just one when the text continues, it's really hard to see what the role of that comma is supposed to be. "He moved to Columbus, Ohio in 1948" just looks like a broken comma splice of some sort, with a pause between "He moved to Columbus" and "Ohio in 1948". All grammar guides say to not do that. Same with years in American style dates; I'd be happy to go to no comma, but with mismatched comma it's a glaring error, just like a mismatched open paren, as in "He move to Columbus (Ohio in 1948." Dicklyon (talk) 01:31, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
I wouldn’t put much stock in what the post office says (for our purposes): Canada Post, for example, deprecates all punctuation in addresses. I agree with Jmar67 that the function of these commas is essentially parenthetical, so they should be paired. (BTW some Europeans, and French-Canadians as well, do normally use parenthesis symbols for the purpose.)—Odysseus1479 21:31, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
Yep. Commas that serve a bracketing function always come in pairs (or the second is replaced by some other punctuation). I don't think we'll be dropping these commas, because the real world isn't (as it has been with the commas in "Sammy Davis, Jr., was born in 1925."). So, the thing to do is just fix them when they're not paired. If you keep running into confused pushback, I would suggest putting together an information page that lays out all the style guide quotations; if you've already done the looking up, might as well just save it and give it a shortcut, to curtail both the amount of time spent rehashing it, and the frequency with which people want to.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  06:22, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
One of the most common fixes I make, and I never had someone revert it ... until today. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:43, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
First time for everything I guess.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  16:24, 17 May 2019 (UTC)

Change to the "Style discussions elsewhere" section[edit]

Per WP:Canvassing, notifications must be neutrally worded, so I've taken the BOLD measure of removing the open commentary from all #Current listed items (viewable in this version) and changed the instructions slightly. Pinging those who had signed comments there: @Dicklyon, Randy Kryn, and WanderingWanda:. I considered trying to word descriptions for them neutrally, but the issues were most often obvious just from the section link itself, so taking inspiration from Template:CENT, I just dropped the descriptions entirely. -- Netoholic @ 22:01, 14 May 2019 (UTC)

That works. Randy Kryn (talk) 22:07, 14 May 2019 (UTC)
Agree. Maybe a note in the header to say what sort of additional information should not appear in an entry and why. Jmar67 (talk) 06:07, 15 May 2019 (UTC)


Why use the word "film" as opposed to "movie" in movie-related articles? I mean, isn't it more common to say "Let's go to the movies" than "Let's go to the films"? --Fandelasketchup (talk) 15:18, 16 May 2019 (UTC)

Could you post a few examples? I would suppose the more appropriate word is sometimes "film", sometimes "movie", with it not mattering which other times. "Film" seems generally more appropriate for formal encyclopedic texts, where people aren't talking about going to the movies. –Roy McCoy (talk) 15:28, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
I suspect the primary reason it that "film" shows up more often in reliable sources related to film, even though it's not the most common in everyday speech in the US. The names of entities like the National Film Registry, and The American Film Institute sort of reflect this. It is kind of amusing that we have entries like Scary Movie (film_series), but I think this is a fairly well established naming convention at this point. Nblund talk 15:49, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
Roy, one example which comes to mind is the website which, upon logging me in, shows me "Watch Next TV and Movies" rather than "Watch Next TV and Films". The website I just gave you is the international version of --Fandelasketchup (talk) 15:57, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
It may be more common in the US, but in Britain you would go to the cinema (or "flicks") to see a film. It's one of the classic issues with WP:ENGVAR. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 16:02, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
Hmmm.... Martin of Sheffield, maybe that's where "Netflix" got its name from? --Fandelasketchup (talk) 16:30, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
I'd always assumed that was obvious, but then I naturally use British terms. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 16:37, 16 May 2019 (UTC)

I think "film" is more formal, but I think it also is used exclusively for productions designed to be (originally) displayed in a theatre, while "movie" can refer to TV, streaming, etc. as well. "Flicks" is a common colloquialism for films (in the U.S., too), probably derived from the flickering seen in early projection systems. —[AlanM1(talk)]— 17:51, 16 May 2019 (UTC)

Except it isn't used exclusively that way. So ....  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  17:52, 17 May 2019 (UTC)

Numbers from 0 to 9[edit]

I know we learned in school to write out single-digit numbers in prose (confirmed by MOS:NUMERAL), but why does that rule exist? Jmar67 (talk) 02:24, 17 May 2019 (UTC)

One or two thoughts about that: It's not a rule, it's a style; pretty much based on tradition and readability, as most styles are; something for school teachers to teach. OK, three thoughts. Dicklyon (talk) 02:34, 17 May 2019 (UTC)

Collapsing References[edit]

The references at the bottom of each page should be hidden and only be shown if the user presses on a special button or on a reference number (that would still be shown in text), also pressing on a reference number would show ALL references with the ability to hide them again with a special button, this way the user won't see a long page (the page would LOOK short), and won't get discouraged to read it, and this would raise the average knowledge of humankind and would make humankind stronger!!! and also this would make scrolling in the page easier. This way when users see short pages they would read more (the whole page or more of it as he would feel he's advancing in reading it and would feel like he's adding to his knowledge more than if the page looks extremely long) and people would donate more to Wikipedia because they use it more. Also this way the user knows approximately what percentage of the page he has read and how much time it takes to finish it based on the scrollbar at the side of the page unlike when references are expanded. If you want to keep it as it is at least add a button "Collapse references in this page." that would be required to be pressed on each page individually that the user wants to collapse the references in it to read it with a sensible "progress bar" which is the scrollbar on the side, the same button would be then "Show references on this page." for the user to mouse click or keyboard press on it if the user wants.

AdamMichaels784 (talk)

  • That's an interesting idea. In some ways it would be more reader friendly, and we are here to serve the reader, but I think it might have the effect of making Wikipedia seem like it is the source of information, like Wikipedia is an authority. I think it should be clear in every article that Wikipedia is just a convenient collection of facts which all come from reliable sources. The reference section helps make that clear. I do note that on the iOS mobile app one must click on the heading to show references. SchreiberBike | ⌨  01:04, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
    Here to serve the reader? What? Didn't you get the memo? EEng 02:52, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
  • The proposer has a good idea: An option to hide the sources. It's quite a simple one. BeenAroundAWhile (talk) 01:36, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
    But a key requirement -- to uncollapse automatically when the reader clicks a [1] thingamajig -- is not so simple, I'm guessing. EEng 02:51, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
  • It's indeed an interesting idea, but I have a hunch it's one of those things that will get enough resistance that it will go nowhere. Of course, by the same reasoning other sections, such as notes an See Also, should be collapsible. Note that readers on mobile (who, IIRC, are the majority) see all sections, including the ref section, initially collapsed. EEng 02:48, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
  • No opinion (I use mobile), but is this an MOS topic? Jmar67 (talk) 09:37, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
    Well, if this has any chance of happening it would probably need to be discussed here, and MOS/Layout, and VP, and then in an RfC. It's the sort of thing that gets the hackles up. EEng 12:40, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
  • The reason(s) we do not do something or anything remotely similar to this is/are outlined at MOS:COLLAPSE. --Izno (talk) 11:50, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
    There izno need to rush to judgment. As I read COLLAPSE's somewhat rambling discussion, it might be OK to have the reflist be collapse-ible, not collapse-ed by default. But I still doubt this is going to happen. EEng 12:40, 20 May 2019 (UTC)