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ACTION NEEDED: Capitalization of English names on Wikipedia

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Old Wednesday 23rd April 2014, 06:11   #1
MichaelRetter
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ACTION NEEDED: Capitalization of English names on Wikipedia

I apologize in advance if this is not the correct forum for this topic.

If you think official English bird names should be capitalized, please take just a moment to share your thoughts as to why at at this link by clicking the [edit] button within it. Wikipedia is seriously considering uncapitalizing all bird names, and will do so if enough birders don't leave comments "Supporting Option 2". We who support this convention are currently losing 3:1.

Thanks for your time.
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Old Wednesday 23rd April 2014, 20:38   #2
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Fwiw, I quite like the widespread use of leading capitals for English vernacular names within the 'birding' community. But I think it's unrealistic to expect this practice to be followed in more general or scientific literature.
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Old Wednesday 23rd April 2014, 21:11   #3
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At least they have solved the problem of the ontogeny of species in their discussions: a species is "a class of animals", hence "not under any circumstances a proper noun."
And they claim they are just doing grammar.
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Old Wednesday 23rd April 2014, 21:17   #4
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Originally Posted by Richard Klim View Post
Fwiw, I quite like the widespread use of leading capitals for English vernacular names within the 'birding' community. But I think it's unrealistic to expect this practice to be followed in more general or scientific literature.
I expect the worst of the common press, but species names should be capitalised. This is not just a birding community matter. Proper lists such as Howard and Moore and Duff and Lawson use the proper form of initial capital with subsequent capitals except for hyphenated words (e.g. Lesser Black-backed Gull.)

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Old Wednesday 23rd April 2014, 23:12   #5
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I expect the worst of the common press, but species names should be capitalised. This is not just a birding community matter.
Birds, in particular, have a disproportionately large amateur following (mostly averse to using scientific names) compared with other biological classes, with consequent pressure to formalise vernacular names as alternative unique identifiers, reinforced by capitalisation.

But however strongly you/we feel about it, I don't think that the capitalisation of vernacular species names is likely to be adopted in mainstream literature anytime soon...

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Old Wednesday 23rd April 2014, 23:49   #6
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Part of the problem is all the names of "greenish warbler" type, where a "civilian" does not care but anyone of the "in group" sees the importance of determining whether it was a species name or just a description.
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Old Thursday 24th April 2014, 04:45   #7
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Wow, I didn't realize that capitalizing bird names was such a horrible crime. Thank you, Wikipedia editors, for showing me the error of my ways.

Seriously, there's a lot of nastiness in that discussion.
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Old Thursday 24th April 2014, 16:41   #8
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It seems that anything we might attempt to say is going to be disregarded at best, or even make it worse since clearly any party who might have an interest in a Wikipedia decision who has NOT been a regular editor/contributor prior to the discussion arising is a 'meat puppet' whose opinion must be disregarded and/or attacked.

They're going to do what they're going to do. The birding community will continue to capitalize regardless.
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Old Friday 25th April 2014, 11:34   #9
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Wow! It never ceases to amaze what people find to get het up about!

Someone mentioned the example of "American yellow warbler". As birders we all know of or have seen several yellow warblers in the Americas. There is only one Setophaga petechia which solves the inherent problem of the imprecise English vernacular name but a Wikipedia page with the title 'American yellow warbler' or 'green woodpecker' or 'hooded siskin' for example is too vague to be any use. I'm sure everyone can think of many similar examples.

Wikipedia's going to end up looking rather silly if they adopt this.
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Old Friday 25th April 2014, 14:07   #10
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Wikipedia is somewhat conflicting. On the one hand they want to use the common English names proposed by the IOC. But when it come to the spelling they argue all animal names except those of the birds use lower case so we have to do the same with the bird names. Well, if I use the common names from the IOC I will also use their spelling.
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Old Friday 25th April 2014, 15:04   #11
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But when it come to the spelling they argue all animal names except those of the birds use lower case so we have to do the same with the bird names.
But its simply not so: if you consult Duff and Lawson the mammal names are all capitalised in exactly the same way as we would birds' names. And I'd rather consult Duff and Lawson than wikipedia for a mammal name any day of the week.

The Handbook of British Mammals (a scientific publication) capitalises the initial name e.g. Greater horseshoe bat. What does HMW do?

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Old Friday 25th April 2014, 15:27   #12
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Originally Posted by Snapdragyn View Post
It seems that anything we might attempt to say is going to be disregarded at best, or even make it worse since clearly any party who might have an interest in a Wikipedia decision who has NOT been a regular editor/contributor prior to the discussion arising is a 'meat puppet' whose opinion must be disregarded and/or attacked.

They're going to do what they're going to do. The birding community will continue to capitalize regardless.
Indeed, who cares what Wikipedia does. Since when have they been an authority about anything!
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Old Friday 25th April 2014, 15:33   #13
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Originally Posted by Melanie View Post
Wikipedia is somewhat conflicting. On the one hand they want to use the common English names proposed by the IOC. But when it come to the spelling they argue all animal names except those of the birds use lower case so we have to do the same with the bird names. Well, if I use the common names from the IOC I will also use their spelling.
What is said on that page by people who obviously have no interest in what anyone else thinks and isn't even true in the case of Wikipedia pages listing non-bird lists. They're editors with their fixed opinions don't seem to have noticed;

e.g. List of Mammals of Europe http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mammals_of_Europe is all over the place; always seems to capitalize the first letter of the first word, capitalize later hyphenated words and also complies with the birding standard sometimes but never complies with what the editors on the bird discussion page claim is the norm for animals!

Any number of other list of <pick a country/region, pick of mammals/reptiles/birds etc etc> and didn't see any complying with this argument so why the vitriol about birding lists?
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Old Friday 25th April 2014, 15:33   #14
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I can't speak for HMW (the first two volumes of which are sitting in another state). I can say that as far as science publications go, I am unaware of any journal for mammals which capitalizes Mammal common names. This is in contrast with Birds, where the majority of journal do so. So I would say, yes...capitalization of birds common names is largely a phenomena of the ornithological journals

Having recently submitted a wave of papers with common names of pinnipeds, this has sometimes snuck through the editing and resulted in edits during peer review.
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Old Friday 25th April 2014, 18:08   #15
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HMW uses uppercase for the mammal names but lower case for insects and plants.
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Old Sunday 4th May 2014, 15:27   #16
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Seems that the lower case purists have won.
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Old Sunday 4th May 2014, 18:59   #17
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Anything I write has bird names capitalised. It always has, and always will. To me it is both right and logical. But many people and bodies, including both the RSPB and the wildlife trusts in the UK, obviously don't agree.

What is a little gull? I know for sure what a Little Gull is.

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Old Sunday 4th May 2014, 21:28   #18
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Be interesting to see what happens now. I'd recommend that all those who prefer capitalised English names resign from wikipedia if they are not allowed to captialise names any more. It means wikipedia will lose all its best bird editors, and just go further downhill as vandalism and nonsense pass in un-noticed. I gave up editing wikipedia some years ago after very similar redneck-supremacist ideas were pushed into other areas (notably plant articles).

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Old Sunday 4th May 2014, 21:59   #19
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I still fail to understand why birders are so concerned about this. Capitalisation of vernacular names has become the norm in English-language birding literature, and will surely remain so. But it's unusual to capitalise species names in scientific or more general literature, and it's reasonable that Wikipedia should have a consistent policy for all biological classes rather than pandering to the whims of a particular hobby group. So what...?!

Last edited by Richard Klim : Sunday 4th May 2014 at 22:51. Reason: typo.
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Old Sunday 4th May 2014, 23:30   #20
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I still fail to understand why birders are so concerned about this. Capitalisation of vernacular names has become the norm in English-language birding literature, and will surely remain so. But it's unusual to capitalise species names in scientific or more general literature, and it's reasonable that Wikipedia should have a consistent policy for all biological classes rather than pandering to the whims of a particular hobby group. So what...?!
Indeed, as I said, who cares what Wikipedia does? We have our conventions, they have theirs.
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Old Tuesday 6th May 2014, 18:02   #21
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Indeed, as I said, who cares what Wikipedia does? We have our conventions, they have theirs.
Henceforth to be known on BF as wikipedia

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Old Tuesday 6th May 2014, 22:12   #22
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Henceforth to be known on BF as wikipedia
There you go, don't get mad, get even! Wish I'd thought of that.
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Old Wednesday 7th May 2014, 06:25   #23
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[...] What is a little gull? I know for sure what a Little Gull is.
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Old Thursday 5th June 2014, 19:11   #24
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It looks like this project is now under way; earlier today I looked at the Wikipedia article about Tanimbar Corella and noticed that the page's title had been changed to "Tanimbar corella" on 1 June as part of the "Bird common name decapitalization" process. However none of the couple of dozen instances of "Tanimbar Corella" in the article had been decapitalized.

It's possible that the decapitalization project only applies to article titles, but I couldn't determine that based on the enormous discussion page.
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Old Friday 12th December 2014, 21:44   #25
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Just thought I'd chime in that bird articles on wiki are now, of course, a mess. For the sole reason that they mass edited all the titles of the articles for their precious Manual of Style (of course THAT is capitalized...). To adjust the copy of over 10,000 articles to make sure there's no capitalized names throughout is a near impossible task. The inconsistency is rampant.

What a mess. Truly a case of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.
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