Wikinews talk:Style guide/Archive 1

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single quotes in headlines


I rolled back the recent deletion of style to use single quotations in headlines instead of double quotes since every journalism style guide I found says that news headlines have single - not double quotation marks to set off quoted text. To quote UK, "Double quotes in headlines are the giveaway sign of the amateur journalist." -- Davodd | Talk 8 July 2005 13:10 (UTC)

  • It wasn't a deletion of an existing style, it was a dispute of a new style guideline that you had just added. It originally asserted that headlines were quotations of the article, and justified the single quotes on those grounds. Headlines are not quotations, of course. Now, with your second attempt to add this style guideline, it justifies the single quotes on the grounds that only amateurs use double quotes. Ironically, since all Wikinewsies are, pretty much by definition, amateurs, the correct implication of that assertion is that our style guide should be the exact reverse of what you have written, and we should use double quotes, not single quotes. I've therefore corrected the style guide to follow the actual logic of the rationale that it itself puts forward. Uncle G 8 July 2005 19:07 (UTC)
    • I much prefer the single-quote in headline actually. I looked at a lot of headlines and it really does look much nicer to have single quotes. -- IlyaHaykinson 8 July 2005 19:15 (UTC)
      • You may prefer it. Partridge may strongly advocate it. Fowler does not, however, preferring double quotes instead; as does Gowers (TCPW). It is not the subject of unanimous agreement, and is disputed. It is a matter of house style, not a universal convention that everyone adheres to. Moreover, I recommend that all editors who are thinking of settling on single quotation marks as Wikinews house style bear in mind that doing so will result in a less usable "permanent historical record", since single quotes break the search function. (The Wikipedia manual of style and Search guide discuss this quite thoroughly, so I won't re-hash it.) Having London bombing death toll rises to 'more than 50' is not maximally useful if a search for "London bombing death toll rises to more than 50" (sans quotes) won't actually turn it up. Uncle G 8 July 2005 19:54 (UTC)
        • Do people really search for a story by typing the entire headline into the search box? I doubt it. People usually search by single words or small groups of words. And in the case of searching for the word "fockers" shows the following result: So, I really don't think the search argument is valid for a news wiki as it may be for an encyclopedia or book wiki. Anyway, every major accepted journalism style guide in the English language that I have found says that news headlines use single quotes. Then again, most also say that quotes in headlines should be avoided whenever possible - which would make this argument moot. :-) -- Davodd | Talk 20:49, 9 July 2005 (UTC)Reply
          • A strawman question. The point is quite clear (please read the Wikipedia explanation) that searches for any of the words that happen to have single quotation marks around them will fail. The argument is valid for all wikis that use the WikiMedia software. Uncle G 10:37, 10 July 2005 (UTC)Reply
          • Ok, in the interest of preventing an edit war, can we leave this up to the editors, and take out all guidelines about quotation marks in headlines? -- IlyaHaykinson 21:14, 9 July 2005 (UTC)Reply
            • The guideline serves the purpose of bringing WN volunteer writers into a more professionally accepted level of writing within the larger journalism community. If Wikinews is to fulfill its goals, one of which includes being a free news source for other news organizations, we should not dismiss or fail to adopt common standards of the profession. -- Davodd | Talk 21:19, 9 July 2005 (UTC)Reply
              • "common" != "universal", as the references to Fowler and Gowers above should have amply demonstrated. Uncle G 10:37, 10 July 2005 (UTC)Reply
                • Isn't the Fowler and Gowers style guide meant for writing scholarly essays? In journalism, I'd rather go by AP Style or other respected style guides of the journalism profession, all of which say to use single quotes.. -- Davodd | Talk 08:36, 11 July 2005 (UTC)Reply
            • I think it definitely needs to be specified in the style guide which kind of quotes are to be used so that articles will be consistent. I also think that single quotes in headlines look better, and it seems like that is how every other news source does it. Leif 21:36, 9 July 2005 (UTC)Reply
              • And the fact that the search function thus won't work doesn't bother you? Uncle G 10:37, 10 July 2005 (UTC)Reply
                • I have doubts about the search thing is as valid in this project as at WP. I have yet to hear of a person who actually searches for a news story by typing the entire headline - and not just one or two topic words. -- Davodd | Talk 08:36, 11 July 2005 (UTC)Reply
                • The goal to bring writers to a more professionally accepted level of writing seems to be in conflict with denying the journalistic common practice of single quoting headlines. A technical problem doesn't seem sufficient a reason to alter a style guide; if the search function problem bothers you, spend your energies fixing it. Isn't that the Wiki way? 11:07, 10 October 2005 (UTC)

In the U.S. we use double quotation marks. Single quotation marks are British style. Check out the "Chicago Manual of Style." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:00, 29 April 2008 (UTC)Reply

  • Inasmuch as Britain and the U.S. are "two great peoples separated by a common language," may I offer a compromise? Articles by or about [insert noun] which uses British English should use conventions of British English, and articles by or about [insert noun] which uses American English should use conventions of American English (the Chicago Manual of Style was mentioned above). Svanslyck (talk) 20:44, 25 May 2010 (UTC)Reply


  • (Edit conflicted comment on Tony editing this document). Here, the distinction is enWN as-opposed to enWP, or the more sarcastic "The Other Place™", which is a reference I'll leave you to unearth. is insulting to dedicated enWN contributors in that it implies there is only one English Wiki project; patently not the case. I don't know Peter, but I know of Wouter's pains with Wikizine; working on a newsletter can be draining, unrewarding, and not well recognised. But, I have to assert that, it is not the same as a journalistic piece. Those are the links Amgine highlights. Bickering over constructive/unconstructive in relation to a reversion is not really relevant. At-issue is the purpose of this document; I question if anyone can fully understand that in a very brief period, especially if they've not had it inflicted on their efforts at journalistic writing. --Brian McNeil / talk 22:07, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply
And, ChiCaGo MaNual oF StYle? Are you deliberately trying to be provocative? (Hint: If you don't get the in-joke in the comment, you shouldn't be picking at this policy. --Brian McNeil / talk 22:07, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply

Periods in titles


So I added periods to the section that recommends using "Mr" to say "Mr.", on the assumption that I was fixing it. But now I notice that the BBC uses "Mr", which to my American eyes looks sloppy and incorrect. Personally, I don't see why anyone should use such titles, but I guess it's been decided not to use the usual American style that way? (The major exception I know of being the New York Times.) In any case, should there be periods or not? (If not, that should probably be explicitly mentioned.) -- Beland 13:16, 26 July 2005 (UTC)Reply

Like much of Wikinews, this is a difference between British and American styles, and is left up to the first author. -- IlyaHaykinson 14:01, July 26, 2005 (UTC)
The rule I remember being taught many years ago (in a British school) was that if the last letter of the shortened form uses the last letter of the word, no full stop (period) is used. So Reverend Jones become Rev. Jones but Doctor Jones becomes Dr Jones. --Yaf201 13:03, 13 October 2005 (UTC)Reply
Regional style differences are not a part of the Wikinews Style guide. It is, like spelling, determined first by the region being written about, second by original author's choice. - Amgine / talk 23:23, 15 October 2005 (UTC)Reply

In the U.S. we use double quotation marks. Single quotation marks are British style. Check out the "Chicago Manual of Style."

  • Inasmuch as Britain and the U.S. are "two great peoples separated by a common language," may I offer a compromise? Articles by or about [insert noun] which uses British English should use conventions of British English, and articles by or about [insert noun] which uses American English should use conventions of American English (the Chicago Manual of Style was mentioned above). Svanslyck (talk) 20:44, 25 May 2010 (UTC)Reply

Why comma instead of and


There is a guide to "Use comma, not 'and' or '&'" in headline. I don't get it. Even the example seems worse to me with comma instead of and. What is this rule about? -- 19:20, 12 November 2005 (UTC)Reply

Natural breaks when people read are always better than using 'and', which promotes rushed headlines. I think. --MrMiscellanious (talk) (contribs) 19:23, 12 November 2005 (UTC)Reply
I must disagree. I still think "Powell and Annan set international goals for aid" is better than "Powell, Annan set international goals for aid". -- 20:35, 12 November 2005 (UTC)Reply
I like it better without the "and". Bawolff ☺☻  05:30, 28 November 2005 (UTC)Reply
I think the 'and' should be used in that example, as it reads more easily and 'Powell, Annan' might read to some as a way of writing 'Annan Powell' with surname first... Frankie Roberto 09:35, 23 June 2006 (UTC)Reply
Because that is the standard journalistic practice in the English language. Wikinews adopted such standards to help with the professionalism of our end product. Davodd -
Whatever individual preferences may be, it's worth noting that the use of a comma is not "standard journalistic practise in the English language"; no newspapers or online media use that syntax in British-English. A British newspaper, for example, would always run with "Blair and Bush meet at conference" and never "Blair, Bush meet at conference." – 23:47, 8 December 2005 (UTC)Reply
It also looks strange to me to use comma instead of the more readable and straightforward "and". To me it seems like a U.S. culture peculiarity and not something to do with English language as such. For a non-U.S. citizen like me, it is definitely more difficult to read a sentence where commas are used instead of every "and", and Wikinews is meant to be international and not focused on U.S. culture. So I think this specific cultural style should not be included in the style manual and that it should actually be encouraged to use "and" and not "," in headlines. Also, we don't write "," in normal body text when we mean "and", so why do it in a headline? There is plenty of space on a computer screen to write proper headlines, and everybody can read "and", but not everybody understands the use of "," instead of "and". Maybe it made some sense for some U.S. printed newspapers back in time to limit the space used by "and" words in headlines, but I do believe it is something belonging to the past (and limited to U.S. culture) and not something to recommend in the style guide. --Jhertel (talk) 04:31, 2 June 2013 (UTC)Reply
I've never seen anything to suggest it's a US thing; rather, it's a news thing. See wikt:headlinese. --Pi zero (talk) 11:17, 2 June 2013 (UTC)Reply

Minute points


Large numbers


The decimal can be used to spell out large fractional numbers such as one and one-half million to be "1.5 million" instead of "1,500,000" or "1 500 000". In UK and North America commas are used as thousand separators and points are used as decimal separators. In other regions (e.g. South Africa) a space is used as a thousands separator and the comma is used as the decimal separator. Either is appropriate, but use first the style used in the region written about, second the style of the original author.

Canada uses spaces. In fact I thought spaces were a metric thing and commas were the imperial system. I see , alot from things in the us.

Spaces are being used to replace millenial separators due to two primary systems which are exactly opposite: using dots as millenial separators and commas as decimal marker, and vice versa. Currently common online styles are to use spaces as the millenial separator and the mid-dot for the decimal marker: 1 234·56 (mid-dot can be inserted with · or alt-0183 on many keyboards) - Amgine | talk 00:36, 12 December 2005 (UTC)Reply
I have never seen the "1 234·56" style... please point to some resources that use that method! -- IlyaHaykinson 07:45, 12 December 2005 (UTC)Reply
Isn't that ussually used for multiplying? I've also never seen that used as a decimal point. Bawolff ☺☻  09:47, 12 December 2005 (UTC)Reply

Decimal Fractions


Either a comma or a point is acceptable ie 1,5 is the same as 1.5; however, in English the latter is the more common and readily understandable format.

I disagree, as , is ussually understood to be a large number seperater to be , and have yet to see a , used as a point in english.

Bawolff ☺☻  21:31, 11 December 2005 (UTC)Reply

  • In my various trips and time spent in Canada, I found it much more common to use commas than spaces, albeit I'm sure that both are quite common. It's much like spelling, whatever is more comfortable with the author(s).
  • In some European nations, primarily those using the Euro currency, commas are used instead of periods (but still denote a decimal of a whole number).
I wouldn't be too worried about it, just whatever is more comfortable for the user. Others can edit it if they wish. --MrMiscellanious (talk) (contribs) 21:43, 11 December 2005 (UTC)Reply

Clarification needed on sources


Hi all, was wondering if we could get clarification over the format for citing sources. I got into a back-and-forth with MrM on Saturday re: who is the publisher if site X republishes a story from wire service Y. I cited this section:

When referencing a story from a wire news agency that has been syndicated in another news source, we should identify the wire news agency as the publisher, not the carrying news media. Thus, a report written by the Associated Press that appears in The Guardian would be attributed to the Associated Press. The main syndication agencies are Associated Press (AP), Reuters, and AFP.

I read it to mean: [Some dumb news story], Wire service, Date (via News Site). MrM wanted: Wire service [Some dumb news story], News Site, Date.

However, I'm reading it again and the style guide appears to back up MrM as well:

Articles from news sites which are initially from a wire service should have the wire service added to the author's name, or just the wire service if no author is given. For example, "author=Anne Gearan, Associated Press".

So we were both right, but WN:SG is ambiguous here. MrM did make a good point in our discussion on IRC that technically the site is the publisher, as it makes the editorial decision as to whether to carry the article or not, which contradicts the first paragraph above. Not sure what the original rationale was behind the first paragraph; does anyone know?

Anyway, this really needs to be clear...if we're gonna be harping on folks to source their articles, they may as well be consistent, which means the guidelines need to be consistent as well. --Aloha, KeithH (talk) 08:42, 1 May 2006 (UTC)Reply

Good point. Who published it? The wire service didn't, did they? -Edbrown05 08:54, 1 May 2006 (UTC)Reply
some wire services do publish their stories themselves as well as syndicating it, eg. reuters. maybe we can make it a point to link to the story on the wire service's own site whenever possible and use a syndicating publisher only when the wire service doesn't publish itself (in which case, i think, the wire service gets to be author and syndicating site gets to be publisher). Doldrums 09:06, 1 May 2006 (UTC)Reply
i would defer to publisher -Edbrown05 10:10, 1 May 2006 (UTC)Reply

The choice is ultimately made by the publisher, so I think it's appropriate to show where it is published (AP, for example, does not have a separate publication, and relies on other publishers to distribute their content). --MrMiscellanious (talk) – 21:49, 1 May 2006 (UTC)Reply

OK, I made a straw man change to the page. [1] Fire at will.  :) --Aloha, KeithH (talk) 08:10, 5 May 2006 (UTC)Reply



The part on image and picture usage saying "When including pictures with Wikinews stories, they must abide to the Wikicommons guidelines, namely copyrighted or trademarked images may not be used" seems a bit wrong considering Wikinews:Fair use and Wikinews:Image use policy. We also might want to reference the reader of the style guide to the fair use and image use policy pages as well. I'd change it, but I don't want to change something in the style guide and me be wrong about it =) -- Ash Lux (talk | contribs) 13:50, 23 June 2006 (UTC)Reply

  • I agree, it's even more important for us as a news story to be able to use fair use and non-commercial images than it is for an encylopedia, as there may simply be no other option (although clearly if there are other options, they'd be preferable). As we already have a page with our image use policy, I've edited the page to link to that, as I can't see this changing being very controversial... Frankie Roberto 14:55, 23 June 2006 (UTC)Reply
  • For what it's worth, I agree it should be changed. (Someone probably already has…) I think Ash Lux has the right idea here. Karen 20:41, 25 June 2006 (UTC)Reply

Cuurency Symbol-Indian rupee.


I suggest we use Rs. (Re. for singular) as the symbol for the Indian rupee. PVJ(Talk)  14:43, 7 September 2006 (UTC)Reply

This seems reasonable to me. maybe on first use, we could include a hyperlink to the wikipedia entry Indian rupee for those unfamiliar with the rupee. As India's economic influence continues to grow, i suspect that more and more people will become familar with the currency.
--TrueBrit 09:49, 20 September 2006 (UTC)Reply

Surnames / Family Names


The CIA World factbook has the following standard for writing names;

Personal Names - Capitalization The Factbook capitalizes the surname or family name of individuals for the convenience of our users who are faced with a world of different cultures and naming conventions. The need for capitalization, bold type, underlining, italics, or some other indicator of the individual's surname is apparent in the following examples: MAO Zedong, Fidel CASTRO Ruz, George W. BUSH, and TUNKU SALAHUDDIN Abdul Aziz Shah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Hisammuddin Alam Shah. By knowing the surname, a short form without all capital letters can be used with confidence as in President Castro, Chairman Mao, President Bush, or Sultan Tunku Salahuddin. The same system of capitalization is extended to the names of leaders with surnames that are not commonly used such as Queen ELIZABETH II. For Vietnamese names, the given name is capitalized because officials are referred to by their given name rather than by their surname. For example, the president of Vietnam is Tran Duc LUONG. His surname is Tran, but he is referred to by his given name - President LUONG.

The story Thai_PM_Shinawatra_ousted_by_coup made me think that Wikinews should adopt something similar to prevent confusion on how to refer to people world wide.

What do you think?

--TrueBrit 09:34, 20 September 2006 (UTC)Reply

Punctuation in headlines?


I joined Wikinews today and renamed 2 articles. For both, it seemed natural to use a colon. Although punctuation isn't mentioned in the style guide, I noticed that Wikinews headlines very rarely have punctuation. Did I make a bad newbie mistake (or 2)?

--Hrothulf 20:06, 16 November 2006 (UTC)Reply



I'm just wondering if there is a standard that should be used for measurements. I've seen in a couple of articles a combination of different measurement systems (ie. Miles per hour and degrees Celsius appearing in the same article, and paragraph). I'm just wondering if Wikinews has a convention for this, should we be using SI or American measurements? Thanks. Liamhanks 13:08, 11 January 2007 (UTC)Reply

I don't think there is a standard set yet. And it's unlikely that were going to opt for the exclusive use of one system. Consistency is of course the main issue. Some considerations:
  • You can explain the measure in the other system between brackets: 6 foot (1.80m)
  • As you say, mixing different systems is strange. Perhaps the system used should also be in line with the spelling used and with the location.
  • The problem extends to currencies, as for example I don't have a clue of the value of an Australian dollar. A wikilink is a minimum effort.
--Steven Fruitsmaak (Reply) 14:26, 11 January 2007 (UTC)Reply
Well I like metric, but I'm biased as I live in a country where metric is common. Bawolff 00:33, 4 February 2007 (UTC)Reply

Downsizing Titles


WikiNews should act as any other new source, and use full grammar and capitalization rules in its headlines. Club2007 00:27, 4 February 2007 (UTC)Reply

we had a poll at the beginning to decide which type to use. the results were in favour of down-style. Note some other news sources also do that. Bawolff 00:31, 4 February 2007 (UTC)Reply

Stating days


What is the style on referring to the day the events are happening? Today, yesterday, tomorrow? Or say the day? For example:

  • Tropical Storm Gonu headed toward Iran today, after lashing Oman yesterday with high winds and torrential rains.
  • Tropical Storm Gonu headed toward Iran on Thursday, after lashing Oman on Wednesday with high winds and torrential rains.

I read the style guide but didn't see a reference to these examples. Wisekwai 11:25, 7 June 2007 (UTC)Reply

As long as the article is done today either would be acceptable, but I'd say go with the latter because that gives scope for not having a rename if publication is delayed. --Brian McNeil / talk 11:27, 7 June 2007 (UTC)Reply
you can use "today", "yesterday" ... etc, speaking in terms of the article's dateline (not the time of writing). however, be aware that readers from around the world may read these to mean "today", etc in their local time. if the time info is significant, might be useful to include references to local times, UTC etc. flip side is the text looks a lot more complicated. –Doldrums(talk) 11:32, 7 June 2007 (UTC)Reply
I've used both styles here and in my own work, and I'm not sure which I like better. What I'm leaning towards is that because only the date and not the day is given in the date at the top of the story, is that today, yesterday and tomorrow would be more appropriate. Saying the day might make me want to take my eyes off the screen and look at the calendar. Anyway, the date is right there at the top of the page, and I think folks reading stuff on the Internet are accustomed to the vagaries of the International Dateline, so when the story says today, tomorrow, yesterday, it refers to the date the story is written. Once you're past the lead, then you can get a bit more detailed about the exact time and UTC/GMT conversion, and avoid the clutter in the opening paragraph.
Another thing I've always struggled with is how to refer to the days beyond tomorrow, yesterday and today. The style I'm most familiar with is if the day is within seven days, say the name of the day, "on Saturday", "last Friday"; beyond that, state the date, "on May 31", "on June 15", etc.Wisekwai 12:50, 7 June 2007 (UTC)Reply
what u've outlined, viz "today", etc in lead; more precise info later on; day names for the preceding and following week; and dates o/w, are the best guidelines i can think of. it's also more or less what we tend to use. so go with these, and i wouldn't mind seeing these added to the style guide as well. –Doldrums(talk) 12:59, 7 June 2007 (UTC)Reply

Image caption question


Wikinews:Style guide#Image captions states:

"Image captions should be made of complete sentences."

What about images that aren't complete sentences, or where it makes more sense to merely state what the object is? (the article that raised this question for me is Canadian dollar reaches parity with US dollar, but an even better example would be Canadian dollar reaches parity with US dollar)

Later, the page refers to the Wikipedia MOS for items not covered by this (being an en.wp admin, I'm well versed with it); over there, if it isn't a complete sentence, there's no period, but there's also no insistence that everything be a complete sentence. So, should that caption be reworded, or should the style guideline be rephrased to address instances where the caption isn't a complete sentence? EVula // talk // 22:19, 22 September 2007 (UTC)Reply

One of the key pillars of Wikinews is that nobody obeys the "rules". ;)
In all seriousness, I don't think anyone takes the MOS to the letter. I don't believe we've done more than a handful of articles that completely obey it. You should go ahead and make an edit to it reflecting what you think would be more reasonable, and then post the diff here (or on the watercooler) for review. If nobody fights it, hey, that's policy. :) irid t i e 22:22, 22 September 2007 (UTC)Reply

Currency Codes


I like the changes you made to the currency section, SVTCobra, and appreciate the link to the ISO codes. I went ahead and changed the examples to the 3-character codes. I think users should be encouraged to use the 3-character codes for the common dollars (USD, CAD etc.) Jcart1534 02:50, 15 December 2007 (UTC)Reply

Thanks, Jcart. I would also encourage others to review the changes I've made to the currency section. I haven't finished, as I want to overhaul both the $ and £ subsections, but I am afraid that I am done for tonight, and that might mean that it'll be a few days before I do the rest as my weekend is fairly busy. --SVTCobra 03:10, 15 December 2007 (UTC)Reply
Oh, no, I think you have misunderstood. Symbols should not be used in conjunction with three-letter codes. It's an "either-or" situation. So, I will try to finish up tonight. Sleep be damned! --SVTCobra 03:17, 15 December 2007 (UTC)Reply
Oops! I see now...the symbol is not necessary due to the "D". Sorry. Should I revert my changes so you can revamp properly or just leave it for now? Jcart1534 03:31, 15 December 2007 (UTC)Reply
I updated the "dollar" section. But now, I am truly done for the night. G'nite. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by SVTCobra (talkcontribs) 03:38, 15 December 2007
Good work, SVT. Cheers, Jcart1534 03:47, 15 December 2007 (UTC)Reply

Sources change


I added mention of {{Source-science}} for use when citing journal articles, and {{Source-pr}} when citing press releases. These have been in standard use for four years, so I don't think this is a major change. Gopher65talk 14:56, 21 June 2010 (UTC)Reply



The guide says: "use a Wikipedia-linked full name". I think this dates back to the days when there were few local pages for organizations, and doesn't seem to match the way we prefer local links in practice. Lets shorten it to: "use a wiki-linked full name" and change the example to link locally to "European Union". --InfantGorilla (talk) 16:16, 21 June 2010 (UTC)Reply

Done. Thanks, Brian. --InfantGorilla (talk) 11:39, 23 June 2010 (UTC)Reply

Pronoun preferences


Last fall we had an article related to transgenderism which has raised a question: should Wikinews recognize an article subject's preferences? If a woman prefers to be addressed as Miss Surname, rather than Ms Surname, should we do so? Western-style surnames are occasionally a problem: blended families may prefer to use a hyphenated surname, some professionals use a previous name to retain recognition for earlier professional accomplishments, similarly individuals may seek a name change to disassociate themselves with earlier scandals. And, of course, people involved in gender reassignment generally spend time living as the desired gender, and wish to be acknowledged in their gender preference.

Since we have in the past followed the subject's choice for social titles and surnames, it seems to me there is a tradition of accepting the subject's preferences though, where relevant to the story, it should be made clear to the readers why the pronoun choice is being used. I propose the following addition to the Style guide:

"(L5 under People's titles in general) Sex, gender, and pronouns
"In general, a person's sex may be inferred and appropriate pronouns used. However there are certain cases where there may be confusion, or the subject expresses a specific preference, usually involving transgender/transsexual/transvestite or other sexual minority or sexual health topics. In these cases, consult the following guidelines ordered first to last in order of precedence:
  1. Use the subject's preference, where known or made obvious.
  2. Use sex/gender the subject is transitioning toward/has transitioned into.
  3. Use sex/gender based on the name the subject is currently using. This might not be the individual's legal name.
  4. Use the known sex/gender of the individual.
"Where the individual's gender is an intrinsic element of the story, include an explanatory note which states clearly the known facts, but does not unduly sensationalize them: e.g. Last term she went home a boy, but over the break she began living as the girl she truly feels she is, the next step on her transitioning path.

- Amgine | t 22:19, 22 June 2010 (UTC)Reply

I've never thought much about this, but it's a good point and needs addressed. I've not yet developed a strong opinion either way, but am concerned that, if we use the person's desired form of address, we might, in certain instances, imply that we support that person's POV. For example, if the individual in an article wants to be known as a "she", but authorities (or someone else) insist upon "he", using the former may suggest we are sympathetic with that person's position. Then again, using "he" would have the same implications, but from the other side's position. (Does that make any sense?) It's tricky, and I really can't say either way. I'd like to hear other thoughts. Tempodivalse [talk] 22:52, 22 June 2010 (UTC)Reply
Common usage where I'm from is that "sex" is the physical sex of the person, and cannot (yet) be changed (not until we can transfer consciousness between bodies, or we have *way* better surgery techniques than we have now). "Gender" on the other hand deals with your views of yourself, and can change. That's the way I've always heard it. So I'd say it depends on the context of the article; is the article talking about physical sex, or emotional gender? Both are possible subjects for articles. Gopher65talk 22:54, 22 June 2010 (UTC)Reply
Hmm, I've always considered "sex" and "gender" to be more-or-less synonyms, but Wiktionary would agree with you. Still doesn't really answer the question of whether referring to a person one way or the other would imply we agree with that viewpoint, we'd still have that problem. Tempodivalse [talk] 23:40, 22 June 2010 (UTC)Reply
Actually, physical "sex" is not as fixed as you might believe. And there are rather a few genetic variations as well, even within the most common XX, XY, XXY, and XXX. The most common collection of issues are sometimes lumped together as "intersexed". I've even read research about a chimera who was "proven" not to be the parent of her children.
However, none of that is necessarily relevant to this policy suggestion. If there is a person who wishes to be acknowledged as a woman, and who happens to be a witness to a car accident, do we use him or her? do we put in a sentence about how he is a professional drag queen who lives as a woman, even though it isn't part of the story? This policy would clear up some of those questionable situations. It would also make clear that Wikinews isn't in the business of putting trans-people stories under "Whacky news" - gender reassignment is no less serious than a face transplant or hormone replacement therapy for someone who has had their gonads amputated. - Amgine | t 23:59, 22 June 2010 (UTC)Reply
Brian, I have to disagree that it is that cut and dry. If a story is talking about gender, as in Amgine's example, the yes, the person's personal preference should obviously come first. Also if the story isn't specifically about gender issues then I'd see no reason to explain the pronoun use, regardless of whether the article's sources did or not. However if the story is about the person's *sex*, then gender preference becomes irrelevant. For instance, what happens if we get a rape story where the perpetrator happens to be a "male" transvestite who is transitioning toward a gender of female?
Ostensibly the story is about a woman who raped someone; the story is about the rape, and has nothing to do with gender. Only 5% of rapists are female, but it does happen. Would the sex (not gender) of the person need to be reported? If it wasn't, the story would have the potential to become confusing:P ("Fortunately, the rapist was arrested by police only a block away. Bail has been denied until her semen samples can be compared to those recovered from the victim"). In this case it wouldn't be an issue of gender, but rather an issue of stating the sex of the perp, for the sake of clarity. Gopher65talk 00:38, 23 June 2010 (UTC)Reply

Quote "Sarah, currently undergoing hormone replacement therapy as a part of her full transition to a woman, was charged last week in relation to the rape of her husband.".


Tempo. It is not awkward to start a sentence with "But,"; take that, or suppose the semi-colon. It is the perfectly normal form for writing a report that may subsequently be recorded. --Brian McNeil / talk 00:47, 23 June 2010 (UTC)Reply

I'd think that in this particular instance it's much more awkward to start the sentence with it than to use a semicolon, or even better, not use anything at all. It just sounds wrong to my ear, and there's a difference between spoken, more colloquial English and formal written English. (Also, did you have to use rollback? I'd like to think my edit wasn't vandalism.) Tempodivalse [talk] 00:54, 23 June 2010 (UTC)Reply
Convenient, maybe so, but implies the edit was blatantly unconstructive and I don't appreciate that at all. Perhaps "colloquial" might not have the most appropriate word; what I was trying to convey is that spoken English frequently sounds "stuffy" when spoken exactly as the formal, written English that we use (example: no contractions, not starting sentences with "because", etc.). That's why our audio-script contributors will occasionally reword a few places in our articles from the main article to the brief. We're venturing off-topic though ... Tempodivalse [talk] 01:09, 23 June 2010 (UTC)Reply
You were both wrong. Tempo is wrong because you can indeed start a sentence with "But", while Brian was wrong because the sentence he started with "But" was a sentence fragment. Now eeesh, stop being children. Please. Gopher65talk 01:07, 23 June 2010 (UTC)Reply
Thanks Gopher. I didn't mean to say one can't ever start a sentence with "but", it's just in this instance it's grammatically incorrect since - as you say - it's a sentence fragment. Tempodivalse [talk] 01:09, 23 June 2010 (UTC)Reply

<cough, throat clear> Well, uh, gosh. That was implemented quickly... And what is with Wikinewsies getting into *edit wars* over grammar? - Amgine | t 03:09, 23 June 2010 (UTC)Reply

  Support A bit late to the discussion, but I fully believe that the person in question has a fundamental right to determine which gender pronoun should be used. Governments throughout the world differ on policy: some cause havoc at immigration because they allow people to "change sex" but insist on the birth sex still being on their passport, thus confusing border control agents when an apparent woman has "male" indicated. Others allow you to change your legal name by simple proclamation, and would permit me to change my name quite legally to Her Spendiflerousness Lady Amanda Piglet Wol Boopbopalulla-Cummington-Smythe were I so inclined. --Александр Дмитрий (Alexandr Dmitri) (talk) 13:38, 23 June 2010 (UTC)Reply

Punctuating speech or quoted statements?


Do we prefer single quotation marks, or double, or does it matter? (See w:Quotation mark#Usage) --InfantGorilla (talk) 11:35, 23 June 2010 (UTC)Reply

I've noticed we generally prefer single quote marks in headlines, and doubled ones in the actual article prose. It doesn't appear the Style Guide says one way or the other, though. Tempodivalse [talk] 12:44, 23 June 2010 (UTC)Reply

Is it usual to be reverted for no reason, without an edit summary?


Someone called Amgine appears to be behaving in a very unhelpful way. The style guide desperately needs a copy-edit, yet my first attempts have been reverted, twice, without ANY edit summary. No reason is given, beyond the notion that nothing can be changed without first gathering consensus on this talk page.

That is odd: I see a lot of edits in the history that don't have specific consensus here. Can someone advise what is going on? It is not the way a wiki normally works.

The edit is here. If there are no objections, I will reinstate it tomorrow. Tony1 (talk) 17:37, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply

  • Wikinews is not Wikipedia, and this policy is a cornerstone herein. Amgine is particularly well-respected, and I'd not take use of auto-revert as an insult. It was followed up with with comments here, but there has to be a serious consideration of what you aim to achieve with your changed. So, don't revert, that would be unconstructive. If you wish to revise the lede of this policy it might be best to work on a draft using a sub-page. However, I have to assert that experience contributing content here is something I consider a prerequisite for tinkering with this document. I have done so, extensively, and I use British English; a consistency in this particular document might imply that is the de-facto assumption that i project-wide. As far as that's concerned, it is a trivial item. -- Brian McNeil (alt. account) /alt-talkmain talk 18:43, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply
    Don't believe Brian. I'm as well-reviled as well-respected. You'll need to make up your own mind as to how you wish to regard me. On the other hand, I'd welcome your contributions at User:Amgine/SG Details. - Amgine | t 18:57, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • I forgot,.. You'r der-schttth-picable! I'd have no disagreement with many of the noise words being removed from this policy. But, I still assert changes should be made from a position of contributing experience. Otherwise we could just nab Strunk's and pick out the archaic language from the PD version. Then you lose Orwell's Horizon editorialising. -- Brian McNeil (alt. account) /alt-talkmain talk 19:31, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply



Dear colleagues, I have copy-edited the opening section of the style guide. This has not, as far as I can see, involved any substantive changes to meaning. Over the next few days, I will return to work through the page, which really does need a cleansing. I do not intend to change any substantive meanings, but if something came up, I would raise it here first.

I've removed two clauses. First, after the comma, here: "Adherence is very strongly recommended, but not absolutely compulsory", since it means virtually the same as before the comma. Second, "Style guides therefore are most helpful" seems a little awkward, even defensive, here. If the reader is not convinced by the previous text in that paragraph, s/he certainly won't go with that sentence.

Just one matter: I see both s and z (ize, ise, etc). Which should it be on this page? Is this page written using US spelling?

You can find me on en.WP under the same username. Thank you and cheers. Tony1 (talk) 17:18, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply

Thank you for your interest in copy-editing this official guideline. My first commendation is for you to please read Wikinews:For Wikipedians.
Here are a few comments on the copy edits you have made:
  • "A style guide helps writers and editors by providing a standardised way of writing; they help to ensure consistency in such things as headlines, abbreviations, numbers, punctuation and courtesy titles." - Subject/pronoun disagreement.
  • "A news style is developed with an emphasis on the efficient and accurate imparting of information about events." - article should be omitted.
  • "The Wikinews style guide aims to produce text that is readily understandable and informative for most readers." - Adverb modifying an adjective; should be "readily understood".
There are rather a few more issues in this section which could be improved, and I agree with the removal of both those pleonasms. The move to the active voice should be consistent. You might be better served by considering replacing the intro section entirely - what would you suggest instead?
Wikinews specifically does not recommend either a UK or USA spelling standardization. It says:
Elements of punctuation and grammar are not addressed by exactly the same terms universally. There is no intention to be regionalist in this manual; however, in the interests of causing the least confusion, the following terms are used for clarity:
  • Period: This American term is used to describe full-stops (the British/International term) wherever they might be used.
- Amgine | t 17:51, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply
Most of your points are fine, but why didn't you fix them yourself, rather than aggressively reverting the whole edit, without edit-summaries? That is likely to turn a newcomer off completely; yet you have just posted a template at my talk page that says, "Welcome! Thank you for joining Wikinews; we'd love for you to stick around and get more involved." People won't "stick around" if they are reverted in this way. It is most uncollaborative.
Surely different varieties of spelling are not used from sentence to sentence? What, "realise" in one sentence and "realize" in the next? Tony1 (talk) 18:09, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply
Well, many official guidelines on (for example) en.WP are protected and cannot be edited by non-admins. In this case, there have been several edit wars in the history of the SG, including wheel wars, so preemptive caution - immediately followed up by a discussion first on user talk pages to ensure notification, then the policy talk page - seems the most logical and least risky path.
As for spelling ... within a news article the spelling preferences tree is: the regional spelling if the language is English or a proper noun, else the initial author's choice, else the copy editor's choice. Within Wikinews policy it means the initial author's choice, since there is no regional dialect priority. - Amgine | t 18:21, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply
So is it the z or the s on this page? I see both. The template at the top of the page says "When in doubt, first discuss substantive changes on the talk page." I am not usually in doubt when an edit concerns copy-editing without substantive changes in meaning. There is a clear difference between such edits and those that change the effect of the style guide.
It is unfortunate that we have had a revert sequence when you talk of the need to avoid edit-warring. That is why I am surprised you didn't engage with the edit rather than whole-reverting it. Please do not do that again unless the matter is serious and not easily fixable.Tony1 (talk) 18:33, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply
There have been multiple initial contributors; if I'm the person who adds a section on font colours, and someone else writes about border colors, both would retain their spelling. Such a situation is why I suggest drafting a new introduction section.
It is my opinion that a sequence of reversions cannot occur if there is an exchange of opinions following the initial and before subsequent events. YMMV, and that is the last I'll comment on this event. - Amgine | t 18:51, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply

Discussion digression

I have to say that use of rollback in this instance doesn't seem terribly helpful and if the whole edit doesn't need to be discarded, it's usually a better idea to fix what's wrong with it rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater. That aside, I agree with Tony on a need for consistency- a document as highly regarded as this should look professional which "ise" in one paragraph and "ize" in the next doesn't, it looks sloppy and no reviewer would publish an article like that. I say let Tony do what he does (I'm a seasoned editor and admin and I'll vouch for the fact that he knows what he's doing), then any problems can be discussed here and fixed. This document is important, yes, but we shouldn't treat it as sacred. This is a wiki, so any problems are easily fixed. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 20:54, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply
You know, only en.Wikipedia editors type "" and assume everyone in the world knows they're talking about Wikipedia, rather than en.Wikibooks, en.Wikisource, en.Wikinews, etc. It has been mentioned repeatedly in this discussion Wikinews is not Wikipedia, that this project has its own norms and traditions - mostly similar and in harmony with other WMF projects, but where differing certainly deserving attention and respect from contributors who are not based in this project. When someone who claims expertise on elements of style and grammar inserts errors of same while supposedly copyediting the project's manual of style there are justifiable concerns, especially since the contributor's only edits on the project have been to xyr user pages, a different proposed policy page, and a single (!) article talk page.
I respect Tony's accomplishments, even xyr involvement as a "journalist" at Signpost, but my respect does not mean I fail to examine xyr edits critically. I have encouraged xyr to propose a complete replacement to the intro section.
As for the use of s vs z, which would you propose we use consistently and why? - Amgine | t 21:07, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply
Well "" is how it's referred to elsewhere, particularly meta, but that's not important here (we could all waste time debating terminology 'til the cows come home). Personally, I would prefer "ise" over "ize", but that's because I'm English. Objectively, I don't mind which specific variety of English we use, as long as it's consistent. I don't really think that "WN is not WP" is relevant here- a copy edit is a copy edit, regardless of where it is and, while Tony might be light on contributions here, he has proven elsewhere that he has an impressive grasp of the English language. What I propose is that we just let Tony do his thing. Then we can fix anything that needs fixing later on- if there's nothing worth keeping, just whack rollback. It's unlikely that any "bad" changes will have any kind of drastic effect, even left for a few hours. :) HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 21:33, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply
Unlike Wikipedia, WN:SG is regularly used to support reverts, blocks, even deletions. I do not think "just let someone who is unfamiliar with the community norms and practices do his thing" is an appropriate approach. That's my opinion; it isn't set in stone anywhere, and there's only a small amount of community tradition to support it. However, as I pointed out, xyr copyedit introduced errors of exactly the type xe is purporting to alleviate. There is no harm in slowing down and proposing changes in such a situation, rather than implementing them immediately. Since you have not presented any argument to support the copyedits other than "I'll vouch for the fact that he knows what he's doing" and your judgment has already proven to be rather less than ideal on this project, I think I will stick with my opinion that such changes should be proposed first and implemented later.
Back to the question of s vs z: The very consistency you are championing has also been presented in this discussion as to why it should not be used – it may imply the project's endorsement of a single spelling standard. Do you happen to have a different argument to support your position? - Amgine | t 21:54, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply
You're treating this as if it's some sort of sacred document. It's not a perfect document and the idea that it is or that it shouldn't be edited, even by someone with only a handful of edits on this project is completely at odds with the principles of a wiki.
As to "s" vs "z", frankly it looks unprofessional to, as a reader would see it, randomly chop and change between national varieties of English. Would you publish an article that was written with that kind of inconsistency? We could easily enough write on policy or guideline in one style and another in the other style. Or we can simply write "Wikinews does not advocate any single variety of English". HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 22:20, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply
No, I am not, and would appreciate if you would refrain from ascribing such ludicrous purposes to my actions. I am treating this as someone new to the project being bold, but not able to fulfill their goal. You cannot honestly tell me someone with little or no experience on en.WP could walk into section 0 of the MoS and recast the verb tense of nearly every sentence, delete a couple, and introduce a few grammatical errors with a summary of "copyedits" would not be reverted. I will happily go try it just to see what happens, if you doubt me. Please do not attempt to apply a double standard here.
An article, if you had read the earlier discussion, would use a different standard than does this project guideline: first the language choice of the locale, second that of the the initial author, third the copyeditor. For policy there is no locale, therefore it falls back to initial author. And if we stated we do not advocate any single variety of English, but then used solely Canadian spelling in all our policies and guidelines (including the inevitable edit wars,) that would probably annoy rather a few contributors more than does an unprofessional appearing style guide. I do not think you have provided a rebuttal to the other argument presented in this discussion, nor have you presented any new argument. - Amgine | t 22:43, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply
Well if even your style guide looks unprofessional, how can Wikinews possibly expect to be taken seriously? Any serious news service, professional or not, would at least write its official documents consistently. It is possible that somebody doing the same thing to Wikipedia's MoS would be reverted, but they certainly wouldn't be rolled back. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 23:02, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply

Do not edit the comments of others. Especially not to point to another project. Arguing over revert versus rollback is far from a productive use of anyone's time; the two are functionally the same. Not to mention that you seem to be ignoring the points raised instead of dealing with issues valid to this project. I reiterate, How can you effectively critique the manual of style for a news organisation if you have not contributed to it, while working within the existing framework? Calling it unprofessional is not a particularly valid criticism in those circumstances. --Brian McNeil / talk 23:08, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply

<in reply to HJ Mitchell in what is now thoroughly off-topic> I would expect Wikinews to be taken only so seriously as our content would warrant. Having worked in a couple of extremely small newspapers I have to say your expectations of quality for internal documents are, in my experience, misplaced. - Amgine | t 01:14, 30 July 2010 (UTC)Reply

<reinserted comment previously misplaced due to edit conflict>

Copyedit, section break

  • (Edit conflicted comment on Tony editing this document). Here, the distinction is enWN as-opposed to enWP, or the more sarcastic "The Other Place™", which is a reference I'll leave you to unearth. is insulting to dedicated enWN contributors in that it implies there is only one English Wiki project; patently not the case. I don't know Peter, but I know of Wouter's pains with Wikizine; working on a newsletter can be draining, unrewarding, and not well recognised. But, I have to assert that, it is not the same as a journalistic piece. Those are the links Amgine highlights. Bickering over constructive/unconstructive in relation to a reversion is not really relevant. At-issue is the purpose of this document; I question if anyone can fully understand that in a very brief period, especially if they've not had it inflicted on their efforts at journalistic writing. --Brian McNeil / talk 22:07, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply

A critical comment would be that, no serious Wikinewsie would use "copy-edit". --Brian McNeil / talk 22:46, 29 July 2010 (UTC)Reply

Thorough copy-edit of the style guide


I'm going through it gradually from top to bottom, by posting here, paragraph by paragraph—first the existing text, then a suggestion for how it might be improved. I take seriously what the style guide says in its "Six tips on better writing", particularly:

  • Shorter is better in sentences and paragraphs. If you can cut a word from a sentence, cut it.
  • Shorter is better in word choice. Never use a long word when a short one will do.

In my view, there are many opportunities for putting this good advice into practice in the style guide itself. A style guide can be daunting for editors, and the shorter it can be, the better. Brevity could also be assisted by rewording passages that contain repetition; there are several examples of undesirable repetition in the first few paragraphs. Concerning tone, my impression is that the style guide doesn't need to "sell" itself to newbies, and that explicitly mentioning them might be counterproductive. In short, the text needs to be trimmer and less repetitious.

I look forward to your critical comments beneath the examples. I'm unsure about the conventions for dashes, and the variety of English (ise/ize, etc) that should be used. Tony1 (talk) 16:03, 22 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

  • Excessive verbiage is an unneeded, and unwelcome burden on this community. I will respond to your ramblings with two, curt, terse points:
  1. Don't try to teach your grandmother to suck eggs.
  2. Your input is without merit.
I'm not open to debate on that second point, follow the link provided. When you qualify as a valued content contributor then I'll give you the time of day over minutae of project policy. --Brian McNeil / talk 20:32, 23 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
"I'm not open to debate on that second point..." is an unhelpful comment on any wiki. All wiki editors have the right to discuss issues in a community forum. Those discussions must be issue-based and not prejudged by the status of the other participants.  HWV258.  03:46, 25 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
For the record, I will report that Brian McNeil responded to my post. Unfortunately, Brian didn't address the issue I raised, and in the absence of a suitable response I am still inclined to believe that "I'm not open to debate..." is inappropriate for a public forum such as a wiki.  HWV258.  09:35, 25 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
Some points in Brian McNeil's comment seem likely to be either lost in translation from Wikinewsie to Wikipedian, or even mistranslated. I'll suggest some possible translations (even though this is obviously unwise of me, since I may end up with everyone mad at me, including Brian).
  • "Excessive verbiage is an unneeded, and unwelcome burden on this community."
Tr: Wikinewsies pour almost all their effort into the news itself. When contributing Wikinewsies are drawn into big discussions, that has a real cost to Wikinews, which is paid in news stories lost forever. Most WMF projects aren't like that: the content will still be waiting later, because facts don't cease to be facts. But on Wikinews, content often won't be waiting later, because news ceases to be news.
  • "Don't teach your grandmother to suck eggs."
Tr (?): The proposer knows less about the subject of the Style Guide —how to contribute content to Wikinews— than do those who regularly use the Style Guide.
  • "Your input is without merit."
Tr: The proposer made their suggestions without having made any mainspace edits to Wikinews. Mainspace edits are basic to enfranchisement at Wikinews.
Note: Those who lack mainspace edits are welcome to contribute to mainspace (which is also the cure for their lack). They're also free to comment in public fora (non-disruptively, of course). However, when it comes to weighing a consensus on policy, a position that lacks mainspace edits behind it will lack weight.
  • "I'm not open to debate on that second point, follow the link provided."
Tr (?): That wasn't an opinion on the merits of the proposal, it was an objective statement.
  • "When you qualify as a valued content contributor then I'll give you the time of day over minutae of project policy."
Tr: Demonstrate your comprehension of the status quo, and commitment to the project, by contributing content. Then I'll consider your suggestions of this sort.
--Pi zero (talk) 10:39, 25 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

Thanks for your post, Pi zero, but I didn't need your translations to understand those points. Mr McNeil's insults and put-downs (it is hard to see them as anything else, with or without the translations) show exactly why WN has only about 30 editors.

You appear to go along with the notion that a few established editors are in total control of this page, and will allow no one else to discuss it. You also appear to reinforce the circular idea that because there has been so much fuss and resistance from two users, I am responsible for it. It is very easy to accuse me of disruptive behaviour, but please remember that all I have done is to propose amendments to the text of the top few paragraphs here. The suggestions involve little or no substantive change in guidance, but concern surface language and structure.

The only input required was direct responses to the suggested improvements. Yet the text here and on my talk page has almost entirely comprised personal attacks, insults and denigration. That is the waste of time; please no one accuse me of that waste. The only way this SG will be improved is if there is calm, polite discussion, and it should not take much input. There is no hurry, but equally, it is important to clean up the SG so it is of professional standard. If no one is willing to do that, there's no point in having WN.

Of particular concern is that an apparent hostility towards en.WP (implicit from the start, and explicit above on this page) goes unquestioned. "Assume good faith" (and that is the wording in the WN policy—not "assume good intentions") appears to be turned on its head. Tony1 (talk) 14:29, 25 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

Example 1



Note: This is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to English spelling, grammar, and punctuation; it is assumed that the majority of contributors are well-versed in writing for an educated native-speaking audience. A number of the external guides listed later in this document are excellent references when seeking to improve your command of the English language.


Note: This is not a comprehensive guide to English spelling, grammar, and punctuation; it is assumed that contributors can already write for educated native-speaking readers. The external guides listed below may be useful in improving your command of the English language.

Example 1 comments


I believe, in this case, it is relevant to the meaning of the sentences, and the paragraph, that the guide is not intended to be authoritative. It may be written more simply and succinctly, however.

Note: This guide is not intended to cover every rule of English. Contributors should be able to write for an educated native-speaking audience. Other guides should be consulted to help improve articles.

The intentions of a style guide are to harmonize some elements of prose and presentation; the guide itself is merely a collation of rules and advice. - Amgine | t 20:00, 23 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

  • That is a bold rewrite, Amgine, and goes beyond the remit of a copyedit. But it says broadly the same thing and I fully support the proposal, even if I rarely consult other style guides myself. However, if Amgine's proposal doesn't achieve consensus, Tony1's suggestion is not so bad. The original is stilted and wordy, and sounds like a first draft, rather than the considered product of a wiki community that prides itself on its collective ability to write prose. --InfantGorilla (talk) 13:48, 24 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
    Bold, perhaps, but then it was not inserted into the policy. I would say it is a suggested improvement, offered to contrast with another suggested improvement. It's a pretty important element of the Guide, and alterations should be carefully considered. - Amgine | t 23:10, 24 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

Example 2




The vast majority of news sources rely upon a manual of style, a collection of agreed-upon guidelines for writing style. A style guide helps writers and editors by providing a standardised way of writing. Style guides help ensure consistency in such things as headlines, abbreviations, numbers, punctuation and courtesy titles. Style guides therefore are most helpful.

A news style is developed with emphasis on the efficient, and accurate, imparting of information about events; so, following our news style suggestions should have the additional benefit of helping you write effectively – if you are a newcomer to writing news.

The Wikinews style guide is aimed at producing understandable, and informative, articles readily understood by the majority of readers. Adherence is very strongly recommended, but not absolutely compulsory.



Most news sources rely on a manual of style—a set of guidelines for writing style. A style guide helps writers and editors by setting out standardised and consistent ways of writing. The particular emphasis of the Wikinews style guide is the efficient and accurate presentation of information about events. Adherence is strongly recommended.

Example 2 comments


The statement of purpose should be brief, presenting justification and conclusion in several tight sentences. Every sentence in the rest of the document must only pursue the ends presented in the statement. Therefore, in my opinion, your refactor fails.

A style guide standardises some elements of prose and presentation to improve communication between the writers and the readers. News style guides, in particular, are used to efficiently and accurately inform readers regarding current events. The Wikinews Style guide provides for consistency over a range of writing elements, and is authoritative for articles published here.

I believe this covers the justification, conclusion, and perhaps unnecessarily re-iterates the authoritative nature of the SG as a policy. - Amgine | t 20:17, 23 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

  • Both suggestions seem to delete "readily understood by the majority of readers" without reason.
  • Amgine's suggestion of "authoritative for articles published here" is a bold re-write of "strongly recommended" and may need further discussion.
  • On both counts I personally prefer the status quo. Otherwise both rewrites meet the objective of the copy edit.
--InfantGorilla (talk) 13:41, 24 September 2010 (UTC)Reply


  • Your specific comments, please
    Become an active, respected contributor to the en.Wikinews community; we always support writers who have an interest in the quality of written contributions. You will also become aware - as a participant in a small, close-knit community - that working collaboratively involves compromise. For example,
    • "Shorter is better in sentences and paragraphs. If you can cut a word from a sentence, cut it."
    should be "Omit needless words." Your sentences, much longer and heavily qualified, may be an improvement for the given context. But likely you are unable to make that judgment because you are not yet a part of the community. - Amgine | t 16:32, 22 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
Ah, now by "your specific comments, please", I was asking for comments on the text proposed above, not inviting personal/political statements of the "don't bother until you're one of us" type. I doubt there would be much agreement that participation here depends on membership of some kind of in-clique, but that is the clear meaning of your announcement: that an editor can't make judgments on text here "because you are not yet a not part of the community". Is there an automatic assumption of incompetence? I refer to my talk page, where Amgine has left a pretty nasty comment.
I have no particular agenda to make substantive changes in the guidance; merely to clean up the text. I am surprised at the negativity.
I will disregard these comments and assume good faith in all editors here. There is no doubt that the style guide needs a copy-edit. Let's get on with the job, without regard to the in-club. I am doing just what the box at the top says: raising the proposals here first. Tony1 (talk) 16:50, 22 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
That comment on the talk page really does make me wonder what you've been up to; I trust Amgine to have a very good reason for saying that. The assumption here is not incompetence but inexperience; Amgine, iirc, is among many who subscribe to the view that anyone's ability to make good judgements about something must take quite a lot of time to understand the place they are commenting on. Given how carefully Amgine has constructed this, you've missed the boat spectacularly. "...likely..." - xe wouldn't write that for the fun of it. It's an acknowledgement that such is not impossible. Xe, afaik, thinks long-term understanding produces better judgements. I will, when I have more time, read through the actual suggestions before I comment on them. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 17:05, 22 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
"That comment on the talk page really does make me wonder what you've been up to; "—A second person automatically assumes bad faith. I've been up to nothing, actually, and I think you should remain neutral until there is some reason to be otherwise. It is very clubby here, which is a pity. This culture needs to shift to a more open attitude that embraces contributions for their intrinsic value, not whether their writer has earned sufficient social points. I am surprised that it's all based on personal attack and suspicion rather than the changes to the text I have proposed. Tony1 (talk) 17:16, 22 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
That isn't an assumption of bad faith, it's an assumption you've been embroiled in something. I'll make my own judgment on how it was handled once I know what it is. (I also wonder how relevant it is, but again I must wait to find out.) Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 17:18, 22 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • My initial reaction is that I like the triming down, now I have time to read through all the text. However, I should note that my areas are largely mainspace and discussions about policy/guidelines, not so much wordsmithing of things like the style guide. I am glad an effort's coming to rework this, as it needs it. Commenting on your 'heavy' sentences... I wonder if we should have a version along those lines, and another 'quick-reference' SG which would be as short and snappy as possible. We'd have to carefuly consider how we picked which one to send who to (obviously, editors could go to the other if they prefered). Regardless of wether people will decide more needs done on your suggestions, I think we can all agree they're a massive improvement on what went before. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 19:45, 22 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • After looking over the proposed texts once, I want to reserve judgment until I have a chance to really scrutinize the changes. My caution is over what information is being lost — the trick to omitting needless words is determining which words are really needless.
Re multiple versions of the style guide, taken broadly as a concept, I note that redundancy can become a maintenance hassle. I'm already trying to maintain, in effect, a wildly stripped down version of the style guide and lots of other stuff at WN:Tips on reviewing articles#Checklist. --Pi zero (talk) 21:29, 22 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • BRS says it's "an assumption you've been embroiled in something". Attack after attack after attack. Here, it seems to be easy to smear someone (without evidence), and to continually fuel doubt and suspicion. That is what you're doing, taking the lead from Amgine's nasty little attack on my talk page. I could say "I believe Amgine and BRS have been involved in widespread sockpuppetry." No details. Just the allegation. That is the equivalent.

    In any case, even if I had engaged in "guerrilla warfare" as accused (I haven't), what has it got to do with improving this page? I note that my suggestions for improving the text have been sidelined almost entirely into personal attack. When will we spend time on the actual text? Tony1 (talk) 02:21, 23 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

The effort here, on all sides, should be to de-escalate the situation.
  • One good technique for that is to let a certain amount of apparent aggression simply slide harmless away. Whether it was real or imagined usually doesn't matter, later on. For the most recent example, BRS didn't need to add that bit about "and someone with your command of the English language knows it". What useful purpose does that really serve? We're probably all better off forgetting it. At that juncture, BRS might say, "That was not intended as an attack."
  • Accusing others of assumption of bad faith is another example of something that doesn't seem likely to serve any useful purpose — neither if it's false nor if it's true (BTW, the analogous principle on Wikinews, still in development, is called Assume Good Intentions). I generally find it's more effective to remind others to assume good faith/intentions by simply remarking that I'm doing so myself.
  • It's also a good idea not to ask whether something bad was intended, as that encourages the other party to respond in kind.
  • And of course the original reference to guerrilla warfare was unnecessary, providing opportunities both for Amgine to have simply left it out, and for Tony to have simply let it slide harmlessly away by not remarking on it (probably Tony's best move at that point).
One great thing about de-escalation is that you don't have to wait for the right moment to apply it; you can just start.
Sorry to be so verbose about it. Just a thought. --Pi zero (talk) 09:26, 23 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • Every word was worth saying. Thank you, Pi zero. I'm very willing to let things slide away. We need good working relationships on this page, and I'm open to learning things from my colleagues here. Tony1 (talk) 09:33, 23 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

Effective use of contributor time


The above, to a large extent, is not.

It is overly verbose and, by-and-large, likely to be taken as a stranger telling others how to perform a job they've demonstrated no inclination, or ability, to do.

Tony1, you do not need Reviewer status to copyedit articles for review, or even push them back to developing. You certainly started on the wrong foot by hacking a project cornerstone document. Yes, it could be improved; not, however, with Amerikanization, introduction of new grammatical errors, needless verbiage, and a hostile attitude when challenged to show your changes merit inclusion.

To then, when reverted here, edit the guideline template is sheer chutzpa, verging on hubris. However well-intentioned you are, or believe your efforts to be, do you actually intend to make main namespace contributions? --Brian McNeil / talk 15:26, 24 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

  • Brian, you seem to exhibit some of the alarming hallmarks of someone who fancies himself as the mayor of this place and who has become quite practiced in the art of biting newcomers arriving with new ideas. Do you secretly hope to drive them away? Your 20:32, 23 September 2010 (UTC) post, above:
  I'm not open to debate on that second point, follow the link provided. When you qualify as a valued content contributor then I'll give you the time of day over minutae of project policy.  
is shocking in its hubris. I suggest you start listening some more if you want to be perceived as a valued voice of reason and a leader whose opinions are looked to by others.

In all cases, “consensus“—whether you like it or not—is all that matters in deciding how to improve Wikinews.

I’m new here too. But I’d hate to find out that your dominance of this venue was seized by virtue of the fact that you are a Bureaucrat who knows how to wield that power to his advantage rather than through the logic and strength of your arguments. Greg L (talk) 15:06, 25 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

Greg L: I am curious as to where you were linked to this discussion. You do not seem to be a part of the group who has landed on multiple projects MoS; you aren't indef blocked on fr.wp. Would you please enlighten as to where this is being discussed? - Amgine | t 15:38, 25 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
You posed your question with a note of innocent interrogatory but exploited the opportunity (“not indef blocked on fr.wp”) to get one more dig at the newcomers with whom you disagree. Your entire attitude seems well summarized by your above 16:32, 22 September 2010 post, where your wrote “But likely you are unable to make that judgment because you are not yet a part of the community.” Really? “Not yet part of the community”??? This whole attitude of biting newcomers until they have proven themselves *worthy* of listening to by first jumping through your hoops reeks of a “club” mentality. It’s utterly detestable and is a complete anathema to Jimbo’s vision. I sense that a wholesale attitude adjustment is in order here. And darn fast, too. Greg L (talk) 16:03, 25 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
You may be correct. But, please note, you did not answer my question. Where did you hear about this discussion? - Amgine | t 16:06, 25 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
I am correct. And I won’t answer your question as it nosy and none of your business. Greg L (talk) 16:10, 25 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • I say, with some relief, Greg L (talk · contribs) seems to have decided to de-involve himself. Xe completely forgot which project this is (not founded by Jimbo), and that content is a primary project goal. I suspect xe was unaware of xyr engagement in aggressive Usenet-style debate - so few people can even find an NNTP server these days, Google have destroyed what were the DejaNews archives, and we're well past the 15th anniversary of The September that never Ended. Sigh. --Brian McNeil / talk 19:01, 25 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • Well, it was short “relief.” My “de-involving” was the product of your blocking me. As an involved ‘Crat, you should have known better. Tony and I both have multiple years of experience on MOS and MOSNUM on Wikipedia. That alone entitles us to weight in here—even if you disagree with what he says or I say. Your labeling vigorous debate as “disruption” and turning right around and blocking both of us for having the hubris to have weighed in here because—in your opinion—we hadn’t earned the status as a “valued contributor” was exceedingly poor form.

    Wikinews’ style guide is an immature hodge-podge that desperately needs improvement to get it remotely up to the standards seen at en.WP:MOS and MOSNUM. I can’t help it if that threatens you; you can dismount from your high horse as it blocks the sunlight for the *little people* down below who are trying to weigh in at a venue where thoughts are shared and vigorous debate is the norm.

    Edit warring is disruption. Bad-faith editing is distruption. Personal attacks are. But to-the-point, on-topic debate on a germane subject—even if it is vigorous debate on an issue You™© disagree with—is never disruption. If that’s the way you feel, that’s perfectly fine; you have a right to your opinion. But please don’t use your powers again to silence those who disagree with you; it smacks as if you feel entitled to dictate to others what they may think and how they may express their thoughts.

    More debate—even if it is vigorous debate—will occur here on whatever style-guide subject the community feels is worthy of discussing. If you want to participate constructively, that’s fine. Greg L (talk) 21:48, 25 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

Excess verbiage, again


Despite several references to the constraints I face editing from a mobile device, those from The Other Place continue to overload sections on this page with derogatory remarks to an extent where I cannot respond.

I would, therefor, request that Amgine's proposed changes be implemented, the policy page be fully protected, and any further debate on the merits - or otherwise - of changes to this policy can continue as and when regular contributors are able to spare time to tinker with this. I have expressed elsewhere how unhappy I am at this "Big Brother Wikipedia" interference; had we 1,000 reporters it would not be an issue for four or five to be pushed to address concerns on this page. That is clearly not the case. This is not Wikipedia, it should not be treated as such, nor should anyone doing so feel affronted when such is rebuffed.

Demanding scarce human resources be redeployed to suit the whim of those with no history on-project is, indisputably, disruption. Or, as Bawolff suggests, trolling. --Brian McNeil / talk 23:12, 25 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

  • There is no need for protecting this page. Everyone just needs to understand these simple points:
  1. All changes to the Style Guide are by consensus.
  2. Good faith and common sense should suffice. Small additions and clarifications can be made without first proposing it on the talk page (but must be responsive to discussion on the talk page should it arise). Wholesale changes and outright reversing of guidelines should be discussed first.
  3. Logic prevails no matter from who it comes from. No one has to undergo initiation rights or jump through hoops such as first editing in mainspace for a while before their suggestions on any matter graduate from “trolling” and can finally be taken seriously.
If everyone abides by these simple principles, everything will go smoothly enough. Contributing to Wikinews is a labor of love performed by volunteer contributors; it must remain a fun hobby. But neither can we put up unnecessary hurdles for others to join in. Wikinews is a small community right now; as it gains credibility in the world, we can count on more contributors coming here to participate. Greg L (talk) 23:40, 25 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
Respectfully, my previous statement about "trolling" was based on your behaviour, and not on your newness. However with that said I do feel that it is arrogant at best to try and change an internal document describing how to complete a process without having experience in doing said process. Bawolff 00:03, 26 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
Oh, really? Do tell, what part of my behavior would you consider to be “trolling”? Because my total participation on this entire project comprised these three posts in one single thread. How about that? And what were those three posts about? They weren’t advocating changing one single guideline; they were entirely to point out that Tony—a new editor here—wasn’t being given the “time of day” (literally, right out of Brian’s finger tips, ∆ here) because he hadn’t earned his stripes to qualify to weigh in here. I’ve rarely witnessed such arrogance. And don’t even try to deny that because it’s all up there in black & white. It seems that “trolling” is a real handy way of long-term insiders to circumvent the real attitude of “You ain’t part of the club and we don’t want to let you in.” Lighten up; Tony is an experienced editor and dismissing his input out of hand is just circling of the wagons. Like I wrote above, if Wikinews ever amounts to a hill of beans, it is inevitable that it is going to grow with new editors who bring new ideas. That’s just the way it works. Greg L (talk) 01:03, 26 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
(/me is going to regret entering this argument). Your only contributions here are to fight with other users. Maybe they're right, maybe your right, but at the end of the day if your only contribution is to enter into a controversial debate, I call that trolling. Bawolff 01:11, 26 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

You call it fighting. I call it defending. A movie I once saw put words to a worldview I hold dear. It went like this:

Pfc. Downey: What did we do wrong? We did nothing wrong! 
Lance Cpl.Dawson: Yeah we did. We were supposed to fight for people who couldn't
Lance Cpl.Dawson: fight for themselves. We were supposed to fight for Willy.

Aaron Sorkin in his screenplay for A Few Good Men.

Now Tony is no lightweight and he can hold his own in any venue where reason and logic prevails. But when there’s a pile-on and the arguments being used against him are unconscionable garbage, I will come to his—or anyone’s—aid. You can’t hide behind the apron strings of my “fighting” if the regulars here give atomic wedgies to newcomers who have the audacity to suggest ways they think will improve things (which the style guide here is in desperate need of). Instead of writing…

  When you qualify as a valued content contributor then I'll give you the time of day over minutae of project policy.  

…the better response would have been to debate the ideas on their merits rather than basically saying the writer amounts to pond scum and his opinion doesn’t even have to be debated. Behave properly and you won’t have to point fingers at others and accuse them of “fighting” when they stand up for what is right. So just pardon me all over the place for not making 100 edits in mainspace before coming to Tony’s defense. Greg L (talk) 01:57, 26 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

I do apologize for interfering in so promising a thread, but I feel this particular thread is a very common, and I mean that in the sense of low, rhetorical technique to avoid addressing the issue raised, so I feel compelled to point out the common (in the sense standard, well-known and widely accepted) definition for troll: Wiktionary's etym 2, sense 6, "To disrupt the operation of an online community, particularly by luring others into combative argument." Which, despite Wiktionary's misinformation (as a former admin of that project as well, I do not feel compunction in mentioning where it is wrong), is a sense partially attested since 16671 while to troll as with bait is attested since 15652, but is in draft addition June 2006 as "To post a deliberately erroneous or antagonistic message on a newsgroup or similar forum with the intention of eliciting a hostile or corrective response. Also trans.: to elicit such a response from (a person); to post messages of this type to (a newsgroup, etc.).", attest 1992. I would not for my life expend a single syllable beyond what is necessary, in a section headered "Excess verbiage", nor commit a pleonasm, and, as I believe mentioned at the outset of this inclusion, should dearly regret cutting short a promising entertainment, yet I'm sure, if both parties were well-acquainted with the terms, there should be less chance of miscommunication and, in my opinion, I should be remiss if I failed to clarify the issues to the, if you'll pardon the assumption in judging the case, contestants.
I do also hope I have been sufficiently obvious. - Amgine | t 02:09, 26 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

Orwell's rules


Can we use a verbatim copy of Orwell's six rules? Link. Text is near bottom. Imo, it's better to include his original text rather than a paraphrase. —Mikemoral♪♫ 01:27, 27 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

Yes. - Amgine | t 01:30, 27 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
Mikemoral: do you think it might be stronger to simply dispense with the introductory sentence, and end the preceding sentence with a colon? - Amgine | t 05:23, 27 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
Yes, and done. —Mikemoral♪♫ 22:50, 27 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

Question re appositives


Which do we prefer for appositives in dates and locations: AP style ("On June 22, 2016 Police in Orlando, Florida said ...") or WP/CMOS style ("On June 22, 2016, Police in Orlando, Florida, said ...")? 🖖ATS / Talk 00:22, 24 June 2016 (UTC)Reply

As far as I am aware, that is not an appositive. This is relative to comma use. I cannot recommend a better essay on comma use than In Praise of the Humble Comma, an exemplar essay. For me, the ruling authority is Strunk's rule #3, Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas. This aligns with CMOS, but Tony's legacy is not considered authoritative by any typography geek (or by en.WN.) - Amgine | t 04:31, 24 June 2016 (UTC)Reply
Am I misusing "appositive", Amgine? Somehow I'd been under the impression that use of commas to separate a parenthetical constituted an appositive ... 🖖ATS / Talk 04:38, 24 June 2016 (UTC)Reply
You might not be misusing the term; I am just not familiar with that particular sense of the term. But I just looked it up and you are correct; yet another case of the limitations of Wiktionary. <sigh> I generally think of such phrases as parentheticals - unnecessarily additions which provide additional, useful, precision. - Amgine | t 04:50, 24 June 2016 (UTC)Reply
Oh, then the mistake is my lack of clarity—I meant appositive commas, surrounding a parenthetical. Maybe I'm not so accomplished at this English thing after all ... xDDD 🖖ATS / Talk 04:53, 24 June 2016 (UTC)Reply
<grin> English: dung (from many sources) thrown at a wall, some of which has stuck. - Amgine | t 04:56, 24 June 2016 (UTC)Reply
All natural languages are like that. It's not even a defect; it's a natural consequence of their function. Granted, complaining about it is a grand tradition. --Pi zero (talk) 18:02, 24 June 2016 (UTC)Reply
My two cents on (mainly) parentheticality in this situation. I see nothing inherently parenthetical about the year that constitutes the last part of a date, nor about the larger region in which a more specific place resides. On might say "the September 3, 2012 meeting", in which the date is adjectival to the noun meeting, and there's nothing parenthetical about "2012". I choose that example to avoid confusion with the different function of the comma following the year in "On September 3, 2012, governor so-and-so issued a statement", where the comma delineates the prepositional phrase "On September 3, 2012". Likewise "the Springfield, Vermont meeting", in which "Vermont" seems to me no more parenthetical than the surname in "the Arnold Schwarzenegger film". I see nothing anomalous in the absence of a comma after the "2012" or the "Vermont"; it's more striking that there is a comma before them, though I quite see the function of the earlier comma (especially the one between two clumps of digits). --Pi zero (talk) 10:58, 24 June 2016 (UTC)Reply
If a year is not provided it is this year, just as one does not say Friday, week 28 in conversational English. Usual news style is 24 June 2016 as this format removes the necessity for any punctuation (and, incidentally, possible misinterpretation,) but en.WN chose not to follow that older style (originally implemented to save column widths and sadly fallen out of common use even in journalism.) As for locations, Birmingham is sufficient for most audiences; Birmingham, West Midlands, would be seen as silly within the UK and mostly unknown without; Birmingham, England, would elucidate for the population in the U.S.A. However, to exemplify where the parenthetical should be set off from the sentence, any comma-separated (or set off with dashes, parentheses) clause can be removed from the sentence without harm while an unbound clause cannot. E.g. "2012 governor so-and-so issued a statement" does not quite scan, while "On September 3 governor so-and-so issued a statement" does. For locations, as I mentioned, it provides clarity for an audience which needs it but can be removed from the sentence without harm for the audience which does not. Think of it as curly braces - there is a syntactical error if one does not bound an unnecessary descriptor. - Amgine | t 14:23, 24 June 2016 (UTC)Reply
The more I think about this, the more convinced I am there shouldn't be a trailing comma on the construction. Take the passage, with trailing comma,
the Springfield, Vermont, meeting
I find this almost impossible to read; I have to stop, pop up to a meta-level of reasoning, and consider how to put the words together into something sensible. Because the second comma sets "Vermont" off from the rest of the passage. I'd find it hard to read if it were written as
the Springfield (Vermont) meeting
since this requires me to stop and think about why there's a word in parentheses there, but I find delimiting commas instead of parentheses even harder because the number of interepretations is greater. Perhaps Vermont is another name for Springfield (no, that's not it); perhaps Vermont is the particular name for this Springfield (no, that's not it); perhaps Vermont is another qualifier of meeting (no, that's not it). I'm not trying to be obtuse, here; those possibilities all get eliminated in a moment, but they collectively add cumber to the task of understanding the passage. In descriptivist terms, I'd have to call such a passage, that's hard for a native speaker to understand, poor grammar (the language involved being — just to state the obvious — my idiolect of English). To me it's unnatural to present Vermont as a parenthentical; it's a sometimes-omitted part of the place name, conventionally separated from the first part of the name by a comma, rather than by some other separator, because why not. Or here's another way to think about it. Suppose you have a table, with a column for "city". You might choose to write the entries in this column with the city name and then parenthetically the state name, like "Springfield (Vermont)" or "Springfield (Illinois)". Or you might choose to separate them with a comma, like "Springfield, Vermont" or "Springfield, Illinois". But in the version where you use a comma, you'd never also put a comma after the state name, even though in the parenthetical version you would put a close-paren after the state name. The comma is effectively part of the qualified name. --Pi zero (talk) 18:02, 24 June 2016 (UTC)Reply
<shrug> The reality is that typography, and orthography, are artificial and intended to approximate spoken language yet, due to the limitations of the medium, cannot exactly represent it. Both are recent developments, linguistically speaking. Writing is code, and in order to be consistently representative it has developed certain standards. For example, using contractions in text impedes understanding and that sense of flow you feel is lacking in the use of bounding commas, yet they are in continuous use in spoken English so many writers use them as an unthinking en:eye dialect. There are turns of phrase which, when spoken, do not have the pauses suggested by comma and yet, without the punctuation, may mean something else entirely. The commas, or other punctuation, are used to clarify. Referring to a series of events "the Springfield, Vermont meetings" may be different events at two venues, while "the Springfield, Vermont, meetings" are multiple events in the same location.
But imo it depends on the audience for whom you are writing. I would write shopping centre here in British Columbia, I would write shopping center in Minnesota, and perhaps in en-US there would not be a bounding comma (or, perhaps, in en-GB-oed which apparently really is a locale1, as is oxendict.) Ultimately the rule is to communicate clearly, not follow rules. - Amgine | t 19:13, 24 June 2016 (UTC)Reply
Pretty much, yeah. In this case I'm broadly more inclined (after mulling it over) to omit the second comma, on my sense of which practice is likely to be easier to read for more readers. It's certainly worth keeping in mind that some people prefer the opposite convention. --Pi zero (talk) 19:31, 24 June 2016 (UTC)Reply
Amgine by invoking the "meetings" hypothetical brings up the occasional and real problem of the lack of comma causing confusion, which is only part of the reason I use it every time. The other is (to my way of thinking, anyway) the clear parenthetical: "Springfield (Vermont, as opposed to any other state)" and June 24 (2016, as opposed to any other year)". As such, I would not consider "Springfield, Vermont" a qualified name in the sense that University of California, Irvine is a qualified name—Springfield, yes; Vermont, yes; together, no. Cheers, all! 🖖ATS / Talk 20:58, 24 June 2016 (UTC)Reply

Discussion on guidelines for selecting national variety


I happen to think the "choose the variety most closely related to the subject matter if possible" is a good rule, but it's become clear that not everyone here does, and imposing that kind of stricture in the face of strong feelings can have some very negative results. What's the process for discussing these matters here on Wikinews? Everyone should at least get to feel like they got a fair say in this. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:32, 30 January 2017 (UTC)Reply

Well, it's not a new part of the style guide by any means (in fact, the most recent changes water it down a little bit). I'm not sure quite how old it is; possibly it predates me on this wiki (and it saddens me to say very little predates me on this wiki any more). So I guess the way forward would be for somebody who wished to remove it to propose that, and seek consensus for it. I suspect they'd be in for an uphill struggle, but they're most welcome to try and maybe even to surprise me. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 13:58, 30 January 2017 (UTC)Reply
Oh I see. This isn't a new rule here. It's just a rephrase or an update-for-changes-in-practice. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:19, 30 January 2017 (UTC)Reply
@Agastya Chandrakant: Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:20, 30 January 2017 (UTC)Reply
  • Doing some archaeology, before August 18, 2013 that passage in the style guide didn't express a preference between the two strategies; it just said
Follow the spelling patterns of the subject of the article or that of the first author of the article to avoid issues.
I kind of like the simplicity of that. The change was made (by BRS, as it turns out) on entirely plausible grounds of reflecting practice; diff. The original was put in place on (lol) February 7, 2005; diff. --Pi zero (talk) 15:41, 30 January 2017 (UTC)Reply
Way to legwork! So this rule has actually been in place for a while, and if AC or anyone can think of a good reason to change it, they say so here, the community hears them out, and that's that. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:41, 30 January 2017 (UTC)Reply
The first article on Wikinews is dated November 11, 2004. The passage was put in place a bit under four months later. That was a bit over 144 months ago. --Pi zero (talk) 17:34, 30 January 2017 (UTC)Reply
<coughs politely> - Amgine | t 20:13, 30 January 2017 (UTC)Reply
Heh. Working through Recent Changes whilst I was asleep/unwell, I just pinged you, and low behold, now I see you'd just appeared before hand. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 17:21, 31 January 2017 (UTC)Reply
  • It's rather tempting to abolish it purely because I would then be able to selfishly not worry about which version I was using and if it was correct. :P We tend to be perfectionists, within the constraints imposed by news working; I think the present version both aspires to perfection whilst acknowledging the practicalities. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 17:21, 31 January 2017 (UTC)Reply
    It would likely be easier, but again the simplest formulation which can be used is:
    • Prefer first the orthography of the story locale.
    • Where that spelling style is not known by the first author of the article, prefer the orthography used by the first author.
    • No matter what spelling is used, it must be used consistently throughout the article.
    …then there is only the argument of "who should be considered first author?" Unless the spelling chosen is wrong in all venues, it is the author who first submitted the spelling being questioned. NB: do not use en.WT as a spelling authority - that project specifically and deliberately accepts all spellings which can be found in durably archived texts, even proscribed spellings.
Of your first three bullets, I'd say internal consistency is the most important. After all professional American newspapers write stories about Britain in American English and professional British papers write about the U.S. in British English, so there's no reason we couldn't. "Use the locale"/"first work, first choice" are really just reasonably fair ways to keep people from arguing over their personal preferences.
Speaking of which, my main work at Wikipedia has been at WP:Manual of Style and let me tell you people fight over this stuff. It's inspired some really nasty behavior. Over the years, I've developed the philosophy that it is best not to add a new rule to the style guide unless something has shown that it is necessary.
On the one hand, Wikinews is a smaller community and we can just talk things out among ourselves, but on the other, Wikinews has time limits, which Wikipedia does not, so I'd say that the guideline on choosing national variety is sensible and there's call for it. But a regarding a rule for identifying the first major contributor, yes the recent Peña Nieto article was in a gray area where either AC or myself could have been considered to have precedence, and that happens a lot on Wikipedia, but how often does that happen here on Wikinews?
However ...if what you're talking about is adopting a professional style guide for Wikinews instead of using our in-house amateur one? That idea sounds very good to me on first blush. If we were to do that, I think the best thing would be to have one for American English (AP hands down) and one for British English (may I rec The Economist's). It's definitely a big deal, though. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:57, 31 January 2017 (UTC)Reply
Yes, we have dealt with Tony of that ilk in the past. (Just realized I do not have the Scot usage there, hmmm.)
I sincerely do not encourage blind adherence to any specific styleguide, as you can see from the intro to my personal one above. But it is sometimes useful to have and maintain an archive of useful style snippets to which one can refer in our smaller community. "You did it this way, but the curmudgeon suggests this other way. However, I would suggest a glance at Fowler's since the story is in Cornwall..." I have a few hundred detailed suggestions collected, and others are more than welcome to add to/alter/fix my pages. And anyone who gets really feisty about the topic should be directed to me: I have reasonably thick skin. - Amgine | t 21:09, 31 January 2017 (UTC)Reply
No Scotilk? (Sounds like a public disservice firm; or, is that ScotRail?) Deary me, immediate rectification called for I think! BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 23:02, 31 January 2017 (UTC)Reply

I consider it vital that we not have a "professional" style guide. We have a style guide short enough to read in one session, presenting principles general enough to be useful and relaxed enough not to get in the way. A detailed guide would be a disaster, just as bureaucracy has been a disaster for Wikipedia. As for the project being smaller, right now it is but we don't mean it to stay that way, on the contrary it should always be our intention to do things so they'll scale up; I believe Wikinews has the long-term potential to have as profound an impact (though different) on human civilization as Wikipedia. One of the most important principles here is that we do not want to let in the sort of extended disputes that Wikipedia has built into its infrastructure to its long-term detriment. Our primary activity — writing particular articles — doesn't lend itself to such nonsense, first because each article quickly either gets archived or gets deleted, and second because nothing gets published without a reviewer (I've seen reviewers, and have don it myself, prevent a situation from turning into an edit war by the simple act of not self-sighting, so as to effectively solicit a second reviewer's opinion). Given that we have this great advantage in not having endless debates about a content article, we should avoid creating another source of endless debates about the style guide.

On the specific matter of US/UK spelling, I like the slight modulation of phrasing that BRS and I between us have lately produced; it doesn't advise people what to do, though it does suggest, and it gently reminds them that they are responsible for being reasonable to keep things from blowing up. --Pi zero (talk) 22:28, 31 January 2017 (UTC)Reply

It is verbose, and fails to use the active voice. These are faults, in my opinion, because they introduce the possibilities of misinterpretation, not because the text is inaccurate or unpleasing. <grin> As usual, it is Strunk, rules 11 and 13. - Amgine | t 22:46, 31 January 2017 (UTC)Reply
{{sofixit}} ;) BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 23:02, 31 January 2017 (UTC)Reply
<chuckles> I am reliably informed that reversions to one's own, previous, edits are considered gauche, and one should always avoid acting like the current US President, no? More honestly, my opinions are not really relevant to the current en.WN community. Bubble up. - Amgine | t 23:35, 31 January 2017 (UTC)Reply
In response to Pi Zero, my experience on Wikipedia is that even suggestions in the MoS are treated as gospel rules in the article space, but I don't know if that happens here. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:37, 1 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
@Amgine: (Who has actually disabled pings): I'm struggling with reconciling reversions as a synonym for fixes. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 16:27, 1 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
@DarkFrog24: As a purely personal approach, I'd adhere always to the style guide unless I was convinced there was, or may be, a good reason not to. Minor style issues are not generally a barrier to publication. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 16:27, 1 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
Well yes. I've seen featured articles on Wikipedia that either deviated from the style guide or had some incorrect forms (on their day as article of the day). I'm more concerned with interpersonal conflicts, which do seem to slow things down. So far no major snags here, though. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:19, 1 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
I recall fondly the days in which several users could be involved in several arguments, often split along different lines. We'd all come to some kind of middle ground, pat each other on the back for a job well done, and move on. We'd then move on to a new fight. It was friendly, it was effective, and it was fun. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 21:09, 2 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
I know. It's envigorating! Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:25, 5 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
@Blood Red Sandman:} (Because I do not receive pings, and therefore sending pings is out of character for me. And we all know I am a creature of character; likely shady.) First, keep in mind that I think Dr. Johnson did more to destroy the language than any other single individual, because I blame him for shifting England from their perfectly useful phonetic orthography (and therefore highly… individual) to one with a right way and all others are wrong/less-right. Well, I would refactor this conversation the way it once was done on the wiki projects, but today that would likely get me blocked nearly instantly. But here is the simplified version of the points of consensus regarding orthography:
  • There is a hierarchy of preferred spellings, but these are only loosely adhered to in current practice. The hierarchy is:
    • Prefer the spelling most commonly used in the locale of the news event.
    • Where that is not possible or relevant, prefer the spelling of the first author.
  • Bounding this guidance is the rule that spelling within an article must be consistent.
The question then becomes how best to say this clearly. Drawing from the extant:
Spelling is sometimes contentious. For Wikinews the preferred spelling is that common in the region the news event takes place, if that region speaks English. If that preference does not apply, then the spelling used by the first author is preferred. No matter how a spelling is chosen, it must be used consistently throughout the article. Being an international collaborative project we expect actual practice to occasionally deviate from this, with timely compromise being far more important than strict adherence.
Bah. That last sentence should just be junked; there is no way to say that concisely, and it is not necessary. Or should not be necessary. - Amgine | t 19:47, 1 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
There is more than one variety of English in the world, and these varieties can differ on spelling and other matters. When selecting a variety for a Wikinews article, the most important thing is to be internally consistent; any given article must be written in just one type of English. When relevant, use the variety of English spoken in the area where the news takes place or most closely related to the subject of the article. Otherwise, please continue with the variety of English selected by the first author. Because Wikinews is an international, collaborative project, actual practice may deviate from this. Timely compromise is far more important than strict adherence.
I prefer "variety of English" because it makes it clear that it isn't limited to spelling. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:56, 1 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
This would certainly allow any of the English-based creole languages including, for example, Tok Pisin. This section of the SG is specific to orthography, however, so perhaps it should mention that spelling is the subject on which guidance is being given? - Amgine | t 00:10, 2 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
There's no harm in mentioning spelling but even British and American English differ in other things too like whether run-on sentences are acceptable and in punctuation and word choice. "Full stop" vs "period," for example and what the word "football" means. Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:29, 2 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
This is written in a 'variety of English' called Ndyuka, an English creole in Suriname:
En so den be abaa na a líba, dísi wi kai Kawína Líba. Di den abaa de, den abaa teke gwe na opu fu Kawína. En so den be waka langa langa gwe te na Mama Ndyuka ede, pe wi kai Mama Ndyuka.
The dialect is also written in Afaka syllabary, but I do not have a font handy. The English translation of the text would be:
And so they crossed the river, which we call "Kawina [Commewijne] River". Having crossed it, they went way upstream along the Commewijne. Thus they walked a long, long way, clear to the upper Tapanahony, the place we call "Mama Ndyuka".
I am sure you can see both how Ndyuka is an English variant, and how difficult it might be to publish articles using the Ndyuka orthography on en.WN. However restrictive it may be, we should likely use only the word 'English' and not 'variety of English'. We should likely prefer the orthography of the primary dialects: Indian English (this first because it is the largest single population, second largest is Chinese ESL), English, American English, Australian English, British Received English, and Canadian English. But we do not need to be exact and precise; just write simply, clearly, and let actual practice define the policy. - Amgine | t 18:22, 2 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
Is it fair to call these English, and not English-derived? BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 21:21, 2 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
We ask folks not to use the words lakh and crore because non-Indian English readers are likely not to understand; there's an implicit need to stay within a range that's going to be mutually intelligible for most English readers. US/UK spelling is well within that range, and iirc I had no difficulty when the chiefly-Scottish outwith cropped up (it came across clearly in context, as I recall). --Pi zero (talk) 21:39, 2 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
If Ndyuka is a variety of English then I guess we don't treat them equally. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:56, 2 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
Here is why it is clearly English, although I somewhat dispute Dr. Grimes's 1972 translation despite never having heard of Aukan languages before earlier today (and I have yet to find a dictionary of it.) The languages are of small tribal groups of the interior of Suriname, approximately 24,000 native speakers irrc from earlier surfing to find this example. The point made by Pi Zero is most relevant: if a word's sense may be understood from its context, then the spelling is less important. "Whisht!" he said, silencing the children. You now know another Scots English word. - Amgine | t 22:30, 2 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
My dog (actually the family dog; the lives with my parents but I still consider him my dog as much as anybody's) understands wheesht as a command. :D BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 22:35, 2 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
Okay, well, maybe not you. Although I just ran across one which I *think* I translated properly. Is "fuaimneach uilleagan" a really-used phrase, or a made-up-by-word-geeks one? - Amgine | t 22:39, 2 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
I've never heard of it, but it's supposedly Scots Gaelic so that means nothing in itself. Based on its apparent translation I could believe that in regular use amongst the Highlands and Islands. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 22:48, 2 February 2017 (UTC)Reply

There are several mutually intelligible varieties of English, such as British, American, Australian, Canadian and Irish English. These varieties can differ on spelling and other matters. When selecting a variety for a Wikinews article, the most important thing is to be internally consistent; any given article must be written in just one type of English. Timely publication is also very important. When all else is equal, use the variety of English spoken in the area where the news takes place or most closely related to the subject of the article. Otherwise, please continue to use the variety of English selected by the first author.

Ta-da! "Mutually intelligible" work for everyone? Do the examples help more or hurt more? Should we include types of English spoken where it is not a first language, like Chinese English? (My vote on that is no.) Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:56, 3 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
<grin> One quibble: "When selecting a spelling variety…" I would order the introduction of the strictures differently, but that is due my personal opinions of priorities and not worth delaying over. I believe you would find a larger number of Indian English first language than most if not all the dialects you do choose to list, which seems an odd omission. - Amgine | t 16:19, 3 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
The omission of "spelling" is deliberate. I think it shouldn't treat spelling as separate from other rules associated with specific types of English. I see this as part of internal consistency and part of treating mutually intelligible varieties as equally valuable and valid.
I listed the strictures in what I see as order of importance, but yes this is a secondary issue. Darkfrog24 (talk)
I know it is deliberate; it is why I quibble with it. The section of the guide is not about varieties of English, but about spelling. - Amgine | t 08:05, 4 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
Yes, this would be a change. Right now, the style guide does not actively forbid anyone from using the punctuation and other forms specific to the variety of English in which the article is written, and I can't tell you how much I love that. I think it would be better to go all the way and just "write this in British English or American English or Irish English but pick just one. You like comma splices? Spell 'harbour' with a U." This way, we subtly educate our readers on the precision and diversity of the language as well as on the content of the article. What do you think? Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:46, 4 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
So you think we should add instruction that there is no rule. I think that is an anti-pattern. - Amgine | t 23:32, 4 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
To clarify, no I am not saying we should add instruction that there is no rule. I'm saying that my preferred action here would be "Choose just one variety of English per article and maintain internal consistency." Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:45, 4 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
Why not say that? But, again, I would suggest deliberately pointing out that selection is of spelling, because we do not restrict punctuational variance by so-called dialects. (I am assuming that, in fact, you are trying to write a different guideline, not one about spelling, that explicitly accepts any 'mutually intelligible' English standard of punctuation, spelling, grammar, etc. Feel free to propose such a guideline, rather than subvert this one which is useful by itself.) - Amgine | t 23:55, 4 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
That's actually what I meant by "this would be a change." I take mild offense to your use of "subvert." No one's trying to do anything underhanded here. Like I said in my other comment, it's clear that you and Pi Zero don't want to expand this rule beyond spelling, and I don't have a big problem with it so long as it doesn't forbid the pairing of spelling with punctuation and other aspects of national variety. What do you think of the latest proposed text? Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:44, 5 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
You may wish to propose your change differently then, for example by making clear it would not be under the L3 "Spelling"; I would even suggest that it be above the Detailed style issues, since it is an abstract guideline. As for your current text, I have previous pointed to its bias. Oxford and non-Oxford are rather controversial classifications, reminding me vaguely of a prayer by Portnoy in Berkley Breathed's comic strip actually. But the important question I would suggest you ask yourself is: does it address a current, extant problem which requires addressing? Because if you are simply describing the status quo... you don't need to. Our policy on policy already says that the way things are done is policy - and it has said that since it was first written in 2005. - Amgine | t 02:24, 5 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
You know, "Is there a problem that this rule would solve" is my usual litmus test for whether I support adding a rule. I've just been through so many fights, some of them with some pretty underhanded doings, just to be allowed to use American English punctuation that I get touchy about it.
You lost me on two minor points: 1) "L3"? In the table of contents, this stuff is listed under 5.2. 2) I am interested in reading the policy on policy. Can you link me?
Regarding bias, I'm guessing you're referring to your comment about Indian English and just now about Oxford. It sounds like you would rather there were no examples listed. Just because I find it interesting, do you mean that people argue about whether or not Oxford and non-Oxford spelling systems exist and are distinct from one another? Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:43, 5 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
<chuckle> Sorry, that was some en.WT jargon leaking through - a header Level number. === L3 header ===, ==== L4 header ====, etc.
Yes, by bias I was referring to not mentioning the largest English-as-first-language population. As for the Oxford vs. non-Oxford, oddly enough members of the rather broad range of dialects of the British Isles which are not the Oxford orthography (or pronunciation, which even the BBC has finally abandoned as a standard) do not self-identify that way. Any more than the non-American English dialects identify themselves as non-American English, the non-Republicans identify themselves as non-Republicans, the non-sailors identify themselves as non-sailors. The non-religious do, sometimes, describe themselves as non-religious, though, so I should likely not make a blanket generalization that people identify themselves and others by what they are more than what they are not. Do they exist as identifiable classes? No. One of those classes exists - Oxbridge (if you will pardon the collapse) has a distinct identifiable character/influence. Lacking membership in that class is not identifiable, imo; it is proving a negative. - Amgine | t 04:24, 5 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
I'm not sure about your reasoning. I don't mind being referred to as "non-British" or "non-Asian" or "non-French-speaking" etc. They seem like neutral descriptors to me. But is there some concise way to refer to the -ise British spelling system that you think would work better here? Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:09, 5 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
Why would I need to refer to it? The concise spelling suggestions are:
Use the spelling common in the region of the news event. -or-
Use the spelling system of the first author.
Whatever system used, apply it consistently within the article.
By avoiding any possibly contentious label, I avoid being contentious. By accepting all 'mutually intelligible' conversations as English, without any defining labels, I am able to communicate without digressions into regionalisms and turf wars. - Amgine | t 05:30, 5 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
(Varieties of English are not, of course, realistically multiple-choice. In the end there can be only idiolect. My own idiolect is a hodge-podge with "dove" as the past tense of dive, from Indiana, an occasional colloquial Bostonian "wicked", and two-syllable "join" whose origin I've not identified.) --Pi zero (talk) 13:06, 5 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
I think that the examples make the instructions easier to understand. Most people would go "Variety of huh? OH! British and American!" I guess we can always re-add them later if anyone gets confused. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:24, 5 February 2017 (UTC)Reply

Seems to me this is creating a problem where there wasn't one. I oppose that. Discussing varieties of English in the style guide — and especially, doing so prescriptively — is inviting in the bureaucratic hellscape that the WP:MOS has helped turned Wikipedia into. (Who, me, strong opinions on the subject? What ever gave you that impression?) --Pi zero (talk) 14:09, 4 February 2017 (UTC)Reply

Yes, it likely is. SG is, imo, too long, too specific and needs pruning à la meta:Instruction creep. Write simply. Use the active voice. Do not run with scissors. Be nice. - Amgine | t 23:32, 4 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
As long as there's no rule forbidding the use of correct punctuation and forms (and I here mean correct as in correct for that variety of English), it's certainly livable. This kind of middle ground has been proposed on WP:MoS, and I supported it as a second choice. I wouldn't mind if others weighed in but it's clear that you two want to keep the written rules to just spelling.
There are several mutually intelligible English spelling systems, such as American, Oxford British, non-Oxford British, Australian, Canadian and Irish English. On Wikinews, publishing articles on time and keeping them internally consistent is more important than quibbling over which system is best. When all else is equal, use the variety of English spoken in the area where the news takes place or most closely related to the subject of the article. Otherwise, please continue to use the variety of English selected by the first author.
How's this one? Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:45, 4 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
I do not think the first author rule is a good idea. There can be ambiguity and thus, we need to explain who is the first author, or what makes an editor the first author.
Agastya Chandrakant ⚽️ 🏆 🎾 🎬 🎤 📰 08:35, 8 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
From what I understand, it was originally supposed that Wikinews articles would be highly collaborative, like Wikipedia articles, but that turned out not to be the case; most Wikinews articles are by a single author, with maybe a bit of copyediting by someone else. When there's intense collaboration it's generally necessary for one author to provide overall coherence to the thing.

Part of the reason we don't usually get big arguments over an article is that there isn't time for it, and experienced Wikinewsies, whether operating in reporter or reviewer mode, learn to put high priority on getting along to streamline the process. (Which is why, for example, atm I'm pinching myself and backing off for now on certain stylistic points where I can see we've yet to find a technical solution everyone is happy with). --Pi zero (talk) 13:24, 8 February 2017 (UTC)Reply

1) I appreciate it. 2) Me too. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:28, 8 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
Defining the "first author" is not so straightforward. The creator of the page is the first author? The one, who adds category and infobox to the blank page is the first author? The one who adds source to the blank page is the first author? The one who adds content to the article body is the first author? If the meaning content added is just a quote, is the editor the first author? If the one who added the content, which happens to be a copyvio the first author? There are so many things we need to think about to define the first author. Besides, there is a chance that two people create two articles for the same story. Then, who is the first author? What if someone creates a new article for the same event, because the first one failed, and was not written in the English xhe would like to use?
Agastya Chandrakant ⚽️ 🏆 🎾 🎬 🎤 📰 13:54, 8 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
Q1 Have you ever had a discussion where this is an issue?
> Yes
Q2 Did you come up with an amicable resolution?
> Yes
That resolution is way things are done. [end]
> No
Q3 Have you reached this query repeatedly?
> Yes
You should start a discussion on the Watercooler and here to suggest and adopt a guideline to avoid future conflicts. [end]
> No
See Q1 No, below.
> No
This is probably not a community-wide problem, and probably does not need a written guideline. [end]
Just my opinion of a simple flow. - Amgine | t 19:25, 8 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
So do you think we should 1) remove the existing written guideline or 2) revert BRS's recent rewording or 3) continue working on rewording without altering scope? Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:29, 9 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
<assumes Darkfrog24 was querying AGastya> - Amgine | t 03:30, 11 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
No, I was talking to you. I'm not sure what the upshot of your simple flow is. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:37, 12 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
The goal of the flow is to avoid writing a policy or guideline by first determining the problem exists (preferably for more than a single contributor), causes conflict, and repeats. I was suggesting, by implication, that arguments about "first author" are rare, and resolvable, which means they likely do not need a written guideline. The purpose is to avoid instruction creep. I prefer prevention over cure. - Amgine | t 16:35, 12 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
Okay, so we've come full circle to "do we really need a rule about this?" Got that part. But there is a rule about it in the guideline now. Do you want to take it out? Replace it with explanatory text to the effect of "There's more than one variety of English, like but not limited to British and American; pick just one per article"? Keep it as it is? Revert to the form it had just before BRS's recent modifications? Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:55, 13 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
No, really, I was not commenting on your last text at all. I was just commenting regarding AGastaya's request for clarifying first author rule. I personally prefer an extremely concise form for the guide regarding spelling, but the active contributing community has in the past felt it needed expansion. I assume the current community has been invited, and perhaps there is a consensus for (or against) a change to the wording - I would abstain from such a straw poll. (I not quite always do.) - Amgine | t 05:37, 13 February 2017 (UTC)Reply

Song titles


Song titles need to be removed from list of things in italics. It is flat out wrong to do so according to every style guide I know. --SVTCobra 17:36, 26 April 2018 (UTC)Reply

I recall, when that section was written, BRS had some specific explanations about certain aspects of it. If we're reconsidering part of it, I should certainly make a concerted effort first to resurrect what was said; I can think of several places it might be. Might take a while. And meanwhile I'll leave a note on BRS's user talk, and take the first small step in researching those remarks, which is to identify just when it was added. That would be 22:52, 22 January 2012. --Pi zero (talk) 18:51, 26 April 2018 (UTC)Reply
Well, I think the two most applicable resources would be The Chicago Manual of Style and the AP Stylebook. Both agree when it comes to song titles. See the table in this link. I think BRS got this one wrong. I am deliberately avoiding Wikipedia's MOS, BTW. --SVTCobra 19:15, 26 April 2018 (UTC)Reply
As it happens, AP and Chicago are the two large resources most readily available to me, as I have hardcopy of both (AP 2015, Chicago 15th Edition), and I was just leafing through them for a bit of background perspective on this. AP says, we don't use italics for anything in news articles. I didn't find much that's relevant in Chicago, but did find 17.263, on citing a musical score, which calls for italics (though 17.264 says that if the score is unpublished, use double quotes). --Pi zero (talk) 19:33, 26 April 2018 (UTC)Reply
I don't know if the page number will match, but it's page 62 in AP. In CMOS the relevant section is 8.189. Cheers, --SVTCobra 02:21, 27 April 2018 (UTC)Reply
A large faction of my AP Styleguide is alphabetical. Under Italics, it says AP never uses italics for anything in news articles, which makes AP substantially irrelevant to this discussion. The section you're referring to in Chicago — do you know what edition that is, btw? — appears to be 8.202 in my 15th Edition. It does indeed say to use double quotes for the names of songs (which is what I'd expected to find in Chicago). --Pi zero (talk) 02:46, 27 April 2018 (UTC)Reply
No, it's from the table I linked above. I could not find the edition number, but the comments are dated December 2012 so it must be older than yours. Check it out, it is a handy table. The author is very well-respected. --SVTCobra 03:00, 27 April 2018 (UTC)Reply
I had read the reference you provided, yes. --Pi zero (talk) 03:02, 27 April 2018 (UTC)Reply
Checking the edition dates, I now believe it edition 16. --SVTCobra 03:04, 27 April 2018 (UTC)Reply
Poking around news sites on both sides of the Atlantic, looking at music and film reviews, I've found they almost never use any formatting, at most "quotes" around titles, aligning them with AP (unsurprisingly as they are news). Our WN:Style Guide, however, is more closely aligned with CMOS.
Here's what Grammarly has to say [6] and the always authoritative [7] Cheers, --SVTCobra 03:30, 27 April 2018 (UTC)Reply
I'll take those assessments of "alignment" as descriptive rather than prescriptive — shared orientation rather than imitation. We don't actually imitate anyone of course; we're forging our own path, trying to embrace both journalism and wiki-ness, and improve on both into the bargain; so we seek to recognize and redress the flaws of even the best of news sites and wikis, as well as introducing unique features implied by the fusion of the two traditions. We might, in some cases, choose to do something that is neither AP-like nor CMOS-like, and it might not even be a middle road as such but rather something motivated by our unique circumstances. (Which said, nothing's changed about my intent to make a really concerted search for that original discussion.) --Pi zero (talk) 13:24, 27 April 2018 (UTC)Reply
To be sure, when I said "aligned", I was talking about an observable pattern, not suggesting Wikinews is beholden to CMOS or less "news" becaause of it. My main point, I have yet to find any sort of style guide that recommends italics for song titles. I have not been cherry-picking resources. I rather liked one rule-of-thumb I saw; longer works (books, poetry collections, TV shows, albums, etc.) get italics; shorter works (chapters, poems, TV episodes, songs, etc.) get quotation marks. --SVTCobra 14:44, 27 April 2018 (UTC)Reply
Yes, that's the general principle, and most everyone when discussing such things mentions it. The prototypical case for me in graduate school was that when citing an article in a journal, the title of the article is in quotes while the name of the journal is italicized; on Wikinews the prototypical case is that when citing a news article, the article title is in quotes while the name of the publication is italicized. Although, that's in citations, which don't usually occur within the news report itself, and their detailed formatting is handled by the {{source}} template. The question here seems to be whether, in the news report itself, we should grant a song enough gravitas to warrant italics, or use a multi-tiered rule where a song is treated differently from an album. The principle of keeping things simple within the report itself — treating songs and albums the same — is actually more in keeping with AP than Chicago; though italics are one of the things wiki markup is best at, so we're not likely to carry the simplification where AP does by eliminating the italicized tier altogether. --Pi zero (talk) 15:40, 27 April 2018 (UTC)Reply
I may be dating myself here, but I remember underlining instead of italics because ... because typewriters couldn't do italics #IAMSOOLD --SVTCobra 15:45, 27 April 2018 (UTC)Reply
Heh. I learned touch typing on a typewriter, in the Old Time. --Pi zero (talk) 16:52, 27 April 2018 (UTC)Reply
Me, too; a mechanical one no less. Have you formed an opinion on this issue yet? --SVTCobra 18:34, 5 May 2018 (UTC)Reply
Mechanical? Huh. We owned one of those, that I recall playing with, some; I'm sorry we don't still have it, which is how my mother feels I think about the Crosley we once (I'm told) owned. But I learned on an electric.

Truthfully, haven't scrounged time yet. --Pi zero (talk) 22:00, 5 May 2018 (UTC)Reply

Small comment on justifications for not using italics: in contemporary contexts, songs are usually a portion of a larger work - an album or a collection. The album or collection title is italicized, the song not. (But mos evolve for their publication platform and audience; print academic book mos are often inappropriate for, as an example, online comics.) - Amgine | t 15:24, 28 May 2018 (UTC)Reply

Talk page getting larger


The whole HTML size is currently close to 150kb. Archive page is desired. --George Ho (talk) 08:30, 2 February 2017 (UTC)Reply

I will give it a try. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:27, 3 March 2019 (UTC)Reply

Disputes about use of present tense could be avoided by updating this guide




Updated section on italics per conversation here at "Longtime leader of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe dies aged 95" — Wikinews, September 7, 2019. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:05, 8 September 2019 (UTC)Reply

I'd been thinking some minimal addition might be in order; thanks. --Pi zero (talk) 16:44, 8 September 2019 (UTC)Reply

Wikinews:Style guide#Names of publications and articles


{{flag}} With DannyS712's attention to detail highlighting a flaw here, well not a flaw, but over-simplicity and lack of nuance and breath of possible sources. User:Pi zero recently commented italicization should depend on whether ABC News (Australia) was referred to as ABC or ABC News. If this is not corrected soon, I fear Wikinews could develop a formatting style which is unique and not used anywhere else in the world. Developing a unique style which is not widely accepted elsewhere would impede contributors. It would also increase difficulty for reviews by someone like me. I am very familiar with w:The Chicago Manual of Style and w:WP:MOS and they are largely in agreement. AP Stylebook barely differs, as far as I know. I would not mind writing a proposal for this section of our WN:SG. --SVTCobra 21:09, 12 September 2019 (UTC)Reply

@SVTCobra: There seems to be some confusion over what the style guide says to do, which presumably needs to be cleared up before we can meaningfully discuss the merits of what it says to do. For example, I saw you correctly removed the italics from "NBC", but your edit summary suggested you might not have been aware that what you were doing was what the style guide said to do. I've tried to further clarify the phrasing of that passage. --Pi zero (talk) 03:48, 25 September 2019 (UTC)Reply

WN:NOT and length



WN:NOT, which is not tagged as a policy, guideline, etc., notes that "Wikinews is not paper. Thus, Wikinews has no size limits, can include links, can be more timely, etc. It also means that the style and length of writing appropriate for paper may not be appropriate here."

WN:PYRAMID is a part of the Style guide, a guideline, and says "Use brief paragraphs — between 30 and 80 words is considered acceptable in newspaper writing"

Should WN:PYRAMID have this recommendation removed? @Acagastya:, who removed " — between 30 and 80 words is considered acceptable in newspaper writing". I restored it, but was reverted. What do others think? Should the "Use brief paragraphs" remain with the word length explanation, with no word length explanation, or not at all (or something else)? --DannyS712 (talk) 06:46, 10 April 2020 (UTC)Reply

To begin with, feel free to go through Wikinews:Content guide, which is an official policy. It says: "Before starting your first Wikinews story, you may want to familiarize yourself with what Wikinews is not." Official policy stands above the guideline, and it endorses WN:NOT. Besides, what is considered okay in newspaper has zero relevance here.
•–• 06:49, 10 April 2020 (UTC)Reply
"Use brief paragraphs" and "Each paragraph covers a single topic only" makes the comment about newspaper and number of sentences redundant. Sometimes it is just not possible to get done with 80 words. Sometimes it takes more than three lines to talk about one topic. So if they are properly followed, the rest two are no longer necessary.
•–• 06:51, 10 April 2020 (UTC)Reply
So how should "brief" be judged? In the eyes of each individual reviewer? --DannyS712 (talk) 06:56, 10 April 2020 (UTC)Reply
The particular provision about thirty-to-eighty-words has been a bit out of step with current practice for some time. I'm not in disagreement with the observation that it oversimplifies things; what we might want to put in its place calls for some careful thought, seems to me. We want to avoid bureaucracy, prescriptivism, and excessive detail; we also want to provide some guidance; and we don't want things to become an anarchy ruled by reviewer preference, either. (I've been reflecting lately that, going forward, we ought to have some really elegantly simple guidance somewhere —not in in the style guide, but somewhere— about the character of the role of reviewer, and interaction between reviewer and reporter. These are very deep matters; we need to carefully avoid descending into bureaucracy, but we also need to nudge things away from arbitrary reviewer preference; and reporters need to be able to work smoothly under the guidance of reviewers, which is also a skill. Very challenging; new territory, and important to help things remain on an even keel as we grow.) --Pi zero (talk) 10:49, 10 April 2020 (UTC)Reply
(Yes, this is challenging; brief meditation on current best-practice suggests I could probably write a medium-long paragraph just on the subject of paragraph length — and contemplating that, I'm immediately wary against instruction bloat.) --Pi zero (talk) 10:58, 10 April 2020 (UTC)Reply
To start with (er, hadn't planned that to be a pun), I've tweaked the first word of that bullet item from "Use" to "Prefer".

The nothing-but-short-paragraphs style is not hard to find in various on-line newspapers around the world; a few years ago, we were also getting it from students from University of Wollongong (turned out they were taught to write that way), and in discussion amongst reviewers it was remarked that the effect could become problematic in itself. The standard comment we crafted and starting deploying was that while single-sentences paragraphs are not necessarily a problem in news writing, a very high proportion of very short paragraphs can produce a bullet-like effect that disrupts article flow. All of which is rather long and complex compared to the short, pithy items on the bulleted list at WN:PYRAMID. --Pi zero (talk) 11:25, 10 April 2020 (UTC)Reply

I've further tweaked things, and attempted to add a third subitem re the bullet-like effect.
  • The subitem about what constitutes a short paragraph feels a bit more prescriptive than implied by the word "Prefer".
  • The new subitem about the bullet-like effect feels like it could somehow be worded better.
--Pi zero (talk) 14:54, 10 April 2020 (UTC)Reply

Gender policy in style guide


While I approve the general sentiment of the Sex, gender, and pronouns policy, I'd reckon it needs some rewording. Specifically, I think a policy similar to MOS:GENDERID on Wikipedia should be adopted, and outdated or possibly offensive terms should be removed from the style guide. Also, sex should not be considered equal to gender/used interchangeably with gender, as they're quite different terms. I'd propose renaming the policy to "Gender identity and pronouns", and changing it as below:


In general, a person's gender may be inferred and appropriate pronouns used. However there are certain cases where there may be confusion, or the subject expresses a specific preference, usually involving transgender or non-binary persons or other sexual minority or sexual health topics.

In these cases, use the person's expressed gender self-identification. Avoid referring to the person by previous gender identity, unless the individual's gender is an intrinsic element of the story, include an explanatory note stating the known facts; do not unduly sensationalize their part therein. When addressing works or statements made by a trans or non-binary person before their transition, use their current name unless it conflicts with the preferences of the person. Do not use an individual's former name, unless it is crucially important.

Avoid using terms such as transsexual or transvestite, unless the person self identifies with such terms. While articles should not be retroactively edited to reflect an individual's change in gender identity after the fact, if a mistake is made with misgendering an individual, the article should be corrected promptly.

  • Darren is a transgender man who wrote a book on the history of supermarkets under his previous name. When referencing Darren's work, his current name and gender identity should be used. "In his book "The Supermarket Anthology", Darren wrote that "supermarkets have faced many obstacles in keeping produce fresh for consumers.""
  • Sam is a politician who has just come out as non-binary. If writing about Sam, reference their former name in the lede and avoid drawing undue attention to it. "Sampletown Mayor Sam, formerly known as Sarah, has announced that they are non-binary."
  • Amy, a transgender female, is being interviewed due to her status as a local community organiser, and her trans status is mentioned. Do not refer to her by her previous gender or name, but note that she is transgender. "Amy, a trans woman, brought up the difficulty she had coming out initially, fearing rejection."


I think these are pretty common sense updates and reflect updating terminology and understanding in regards to referring to trans and non-binary individuals. If anyone has any concerns or questions, do ask and I'll try my best to respond. --LivelyRatification (talk) 00:48, 25 May 2021 (UTC)Reply

It says "sex/gender" so we don't end up in a situation where we are unnecessarily arguing over the label's definition, and directly identify what we are talking about and how it is supposed to be. I re-read our current policy, and I find it to the point. Is it short and precise -- to the point without any unnecessary complication. I read what you wrote above, (actually before reading the current policy), and frankly, I find it using too many words while achieving too little. I took the liberty of going through the archives, looking for articles about transgender, finding all of them complying with the style guide, and also complying with what you wrote. Given the advantage of having a smaller policy, which makes it easy to do a duck-test, I don't see any reason to have a longer one. If there is a glaring problem in the current policy, please point out. If it is leading to articles being created which are somehow problematic, please point out (but looking at the archives, that does not seem to be the case, since at its core, the above text is trying to say what the policy already says.) If there are any edge cases that needs coverage, please point out.
•–• 04:09, 25 May 2021 (UTC)Reply
That's a fair point, and looking through the archives, I don't think there is much of a problem with them. "If it ain't broke", I suppose. --LivelyRatification (talk) 00:31, 26 May 2021 (UTC)Reply

Song titles


Is there any particular reason why the style guide insists on using italic text for the names of songs versus quotation marks, e.g., Bohemian Rhapsody vs. "Bohemian Rhapsody"? This seems to be contrary to general usage in North American and UK writing. Wikipedia also goes with this usage. I'm unsure about the usage in other national varieties of English, but this seems to be a strange outlier rule we use here. —chaetodipus (talk · contribs) 07:08, 5 August 2021 (UTC)Reply

I genuinely don't care what the enwp says in their MOS, and we had this discussion back in 2018, where SVTCobra said tha felt odd -- though we concluded, there are different styles of doing and there is no convincing reason to shift. The advantage of continuing was overall consistency with other form of media -- and that is a good idea, imo.
•–• 08:19, 5 August 2021 (UTC)Reply
Return to the project page "Style guide/Archive 1".