Help talk:Manual of style

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Good stuff. Might mention "watch pronouns". I see lots of "he went there and saw them and they did it" type stuff. Some suggestions of things that might be worth discussing per "style".

  1. What needs referencing. This isn't an encyclopedia, but grounded in opinion - so editors might talk about a soft sense of what does and doesn't need cites.
  2. How snarky can/should you go? This is also something I've seen very small edit wars over. --Waiting for Godot 18:31, 28 July 2008 (EDT)
Without adding those in yet, as far as refs, really we should be prepared to provide one for any claim of fact (like that Ashcroft crap I pulled out of my ass and let someone else fix ;)). However, we are a bit comfortable with putting the fact in not freaking out about the cite immediately. And as you say, we also provide opinion and commentary, which should be logical in presentation but since they are "original", we are the reference.
Snark is a tough call. We can go as far as we want, but as far as "style" it's an issue of good writing - calling Jesus his own father and accusing him of raping his own mother in the middle of a careful explication of differences between the Gospels would be poor writing. Doing it in a section on perceived confusions in theology might work. Ideally it should always be funny and not just nasty. We often end up with separate sections with very different tones, which is ok as long as the headers make it fairly clear to the reader that a shift in gears in coming. Some people just seem to want to add, say, anti-Chrisian snark that is mean and silly to every article we have that relates to the religion, which makes a mess of decent serious articles by demeaning their tone. I often delete them ;). However, we certainly have our share of articles where that sort of thing (well, not the just plain mean ones) fits in.
I should also add a line about "god" vs. "God", etc. Keep in mind that this is just what I try to follow, it's not site policy. Thanks! ħumanUser talk:Human 19:02, 28 July 2008 (EDT)

External links / see also[edit]

Following a revision I wasn't aware that this was the order in the MOS (even if it's "unofficial") surely it makes sense to have external links first as they should be relevant to the article itself. The "see also" is linking to other things on RW that may not be directly relevant. Hence I've always put them the other way around. Any thoughts? Scarlet A.pngd hominem 13:28, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

We have been doing it like that for a long time now. I just hit Random page 5 times and the 2 that had see also, external links and footnotes were in that order. - π 13:31, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
Just did another 10, 3 more, same order. - π 13:32, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
I've been moving them to that order for so long it's unlikely you'll find many that aren't. My logic was, first, internal links, second links to other websites, last, footnotes. The idea is that links to other RW articles are the ones we want to present first, to help add some "stickiness" to the site. Oh, and the ELs are often no more relevant than the see alsos. ħumanUser talk:Human 20:17, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
Actually, shouldn't references and footnotes be above ELs too? Template:Article (the new article preload) has them below the ELs -- Nx / talk 20:30, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
The one reason not to do that is articles with huge numbers of footnotes. Oh, and also, footnotes tend to be accessed "directly" by clicking on the superscript number, not by scrolling an reading. So they belong last. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:39, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

Categories and See alsos[edit]

I'd like to get your opinion on how we should order categories and entries in "See also" sections. I favor listing categories in alphanumeric order, which, I think, is fairly well accepted. I also think it best to do the same with links in the "See also" section. (A while ago I would list them in descending order of relevance, except what is relevant is completely arbitrary.) Your thoughts? Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 22:52, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

Well, it matters not what order cats are in because the software alphabetizes them upon display anyway, right? Actually, I just hit random a few times and did find one that wasn't, so I guess it doesn't. As far as see also lists, I think it's more of a judgment call - in many cases relevance probably matters more than "neatness", although there are probably many others where abcing doesn't hurt anything. Even with the cats, I'm not sure abcing is more useful than "relevance". Just do the mob a favor and bot yourself (or get someone to do it, I forget if you're still a crat) if you're going to make a few thousand similar edits, okay? ħumanUser talk:Human 01:25, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

Move to the Help section?[edit]

I'm curious. Was there a reason this was never popped in to the help section? It's a fairly decent guide. By the way, a question came up as to how often we should linkify a word. The general practice seems to be on first use in the article. Considered adding that to the guide? --ConcernedresidentAsk me about your mother 21:30, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

Only reason was that we never discussed it as a community. I wrote it up because it's pretty much what we do, and it's what I try to adhere to. You're right about the linking on first use, I see if I can squeeze it in. Funnily enough, this MoS breaks one of the style things I don't like - excessive bolding in lists ;) Do you think we should bring this up at the SB to see what people think about "formalizing" it as "soft" policy? ħumanUser talk:Human 22:19, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, it'd be worth bringing it up. We could probably clean-up the layout. Like you said, it'd be a handy set of soft rules to have. ConcernedresidentAsk me about your mother 22:26, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

Note after move[edit]

Comments prior to this timestamp were made when this was a sub page at user:human. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:27, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

Layout change[edit]

I've a proposed layout for the guide, but I didn't want to just chuck it in here. There's a draft at User:Concernedresident/style and comments would be appreciated. I think it's easier to navigate, but I'm not certain that the categories I used are entirely consistent. Feel free to modify the article directly if you think that stuff needs to be moved around. Ignore the nowiki stuff at the end. I put that there to stop the draft from showing up in the help category. --ConcernedresidentAsk me about your mother 09:16, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

I Schlafly skimmed it and it looked fine to me. Or at least, it's closer to the way it should be written. ħumanUser talk:Human 09:19, 5 March 2010 (UTC)
I'm 95% certain that it's ready to be moved over. I'll pop it in and then we can always hack it around a bit if something seems out of place. Godspeed! Glad to see the guide in here. Seemed a shame that it was hidden away for so long. --ConcernedresidentAsk me about your mother 09:38, 5 March 2010 (UTC)


WP has a date template which displays according to user preferences. Do we have the same here and if not could someone set up an easily used alternative?  Lily Inspirate me. 11:32, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

I'll have a look into it. - π 11:35, 5 March 2010 (UTC)
After a few minutes of checking, my first impression is that it only works if you are linking to dates. - π 11:39, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

Maximum length of pages[edit]

We should have a guideline for the maximum and ideal lengths of pages.

What is the shortest page that has a problem with a device or web browser (which device/software is the most sensitive to page length)? ~ Lumenos talkpage 21:47, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Is the main problem the page load speed on slow connections or when the server has a lot of traffic? I notice the difference in page load speeds. This can usually be mitigated by using the section edit links, but many long pages are frequently loaded. ~ Lumenos talkpage 21:47, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Community Standards talk[edit]

Most talk page sections can be archived, but the Community Standards talk page has many proposals that should probably not be archived. I have some suggestions for dealing with that but here I just want to establish how long is too long and how long is ideal. ~ Lumenos talkpage 21:47, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Moer suggestions[edit]

Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.

And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.

It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.

Avoid clichés like the plague. (They're old hat)

Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.

Be more or less specific.

Remarks in brackets (however relevant) are (usually) (but not always) unnecessary.

Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.

No sentence fragments.

Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.

Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.

Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.

One should NEVER generalize.

Comparisons are as bad as clichés.

Don't use no double negatives.

Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.

One-word sentences? Eliminate.

Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.

The passive voice is to be ignored.

Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.

Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.

Kill all exclamation points!!!

Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.

Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth shaking ideas.

Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.

Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."

If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.

Puns are for children, not groan readers.

Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.

Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.

Who needs rhetorical questions?

Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

Hat tip 20:57, 7 October 2010 (UTC) SusanG Toast

Lol. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:24, 7 October 2010 (UTC)

Goodpost.gif Scarlet A.pngd hominem 21:27, 7 October 2010 (UTC)

"Remarks in brackets (however relevant) are (usually) (but not always) unnecessary." Proper use of parenthesis is (usually (but not always)) really easy to accomplish. How could you make such a (perfectly reasonable) mistake? Xalder (talk) 17:15, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

Lead section[edit]

This is based on a related rant, but I think the lead section should only be about a paragraph and the missionality of the article should be clear from that so our readers know why the article is important to read. - π 13:22, 14 May 2011 (UTC)

Too much information[edit]

I think background info should be kept to the bare minimum to place the subject in context. Ideally everything in an article should be relevant to the mission, or at least be a good joke. there's too much encyclopedia-style burble-burble in many articles. Real first name and last initialTalk, talk, talk skim my contributions 09:02, 21 May 2011 (UTC)

I think balance is best. It should really be on an article-by-article basis. Ancient Greek Pegasus icon.png 09:30, 21 May 2011 (UTC)


Not only [1] reintroduced several instances of a clueless double space amidst a sentence, but this version intermixes “ - ” and “ – ” at random. Incnis Mrsi (talk) 13:51, 1 November 2013 (UTC)


I'm newish here. Does RationalWiki have an official opinion on the use of contractions in articles? My wife is telling me I shouldn't use them in edits, as they're seemingly quite offensive to her; however I, obviously prefer to think of the issue as a matter of voice, style, and/or purpose. Dowdicus (talk) 22:48, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

I am not a big fan of contractions, but I could not swear that I have not used them myself. I do not think it is really a big deal. If another editor does not like your use of them, he/she will not have a problem removing them, and it should not be a big deal. PowderSmokeAndLeather: Say something once, why say it again?.Moderator 22:53, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

Linking to Wikipedia template[edit]

✘ Don't fucking use this, it looks like a link to another article: wp:Goat produces: wp:Goat

So... why does Template:Wikipedia article even exist? Can it be deleted? (after its dependencies are fixed of course)

Maybe it could be redirected to Template:Wpl without breaking much or anything? Deku-shrub (talk) 12:49, 1 January 2017 (UTC)

Could TheFuzz be used for this, perhaps? I also agree that the [[wp:]] template likely ought to be removed outright. Reverend Black Percy (talk) 18:22, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
It's not a template -- it's a, uh, interwiki extension or summat like that. Herr FuzzyKatzenPotato (talk/stalk) 19:34, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. Reverend Black Percy (talk) 20:21, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
It's pretty widely used on talk/discussion pages & does no harm there. Eradicating it would be a large & pointless job, but it should be discouraged in mainspace. ωεαşεζøίɗWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:30, 1 January 2017 (UTC)

Which English?[edit]

I am trying to find information which spelling should be used on RW but I find nothing. British English? American English? Some Other English? Prompted by this change which I am fairly sure only changed AmE to BrE spelling (and one less popular according to number of google results and ngrams) NoJohYouAreTheDemons (talk) 11:37, 5 October 2017 (UTC)

Personally I go with use whatever you want. ClickerClock (talk) 11:38, 5 October 2017 (UTC)
My understanding is that you leave the spellings as they already exist. I made that change because looking at "esophagus", it took me forever to work out what that was meant to mean. I'm sure anyone not entirely accustomed to non-US spelling could still recognise "oesophagus". —Kazitor, pending 08:11, 13 October 2017 (UTC)

"White" vs "white"[edit]

Our articles are rather inconsistent with how "white" and "black" (in the racial sense) are capitalized. Should we add something about which to use here? þe olꝺe Ꞅƿɽyᵹᵹyna (ꞇalc) (conċꞃybs) @ 19:04, 20 June 2018 (UTC)

Suggestion: Tooltip[edit]

I want to use tooltip (hovering over a word making text appear) in mainspace, but I don't know if it is allowed. Is it? If it is, I am willing to create the template for it. — Godless Raven SDAPOe logo.svg talkstalkwalkbalk 🌹 Flag of Europe.svg 13:33, 27 July 2020 (UTC)

I don't see any reason not to allow it as long as its not being used for essential content, as mobile and screenreader devices don't really support it afaik. — Z 14:21, 27 July 2020 (UTC)
There also is Template:H:title (will move page, since this is burdensome to write or find). — Godless Raven SDAPOe logo.svg talkstalkwalkbalk 🌹 Flag of Europe.svg 14:31, 27 July 2020 (UTC)

Vertical A-Z[edit]

I created {{AZv}} and wanted to see if it may be useful for pages such as Dyslexicon, for example? — Godless Raven SDAPOe logo.svg talkstalkwalkbalk 🌹 Flag of Europe.svg 20:35, 6 August 2020 (UTC)

Update: Mobile users have problems with the position of the bar (it blocks text and might be small), unfortunately this is a problem with viewing RW on mobile phones. Not sure how to fix it. Open to suggestions. — Godless Raven SDAPOe logo.svg talkstalkwalkbalk 🌹 Flag of Europe.svg 03:09, 7 August 2020 (UTC)
Absolutely! It can be added to the list of gods too. Maybe there could be an option to close it? Maybe? The Sqrt-1 talk stalk 04:24, 7 August 2020 (UTC)
Made it collapsible. Let me know if there are further issues or suggestions. — Godless Raven SDAPOe logo.svg talkstalkwalkbalk 🌹 Flag of Europe.svg 04:41, 7 August 2020 (UTC)

Russian RW but not Chinese?[edit]

Richard Dawkins#Want_to_read_this_in_another_language.3F

If we have a left sidebar that links to the Russian version of the article, why not the Chinese one? — Godless Raven SDAPOe logo.svg talkstalkwalkbalk 🌹 Flag of Europe.svg 07:56, 12 August 2020 (UTC)