Wikispecies:Requests for Comment/Archive 2

This is an archive of closed discussions. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this archive.

New user group for editing sitewide CSS and JavaScripts

Dear fellow Wikispecians, please note that in order to improve the security of our readers and editors, permission handling for editing CSS and JavaScript ("JS") pages has changed throughout Wikimedia. These are pages like MediaWiki:Common.css and MediaWiki:Vector.js which contain code that is executed in the browsers of users of the site.

One of the changes includes the creation of a new user group called Interface administrators (interface-admin). Starting two weeks from now, only members of this group will be able edit CSS/JS pages that they do not own (that is, any page ending with .css or .js that is either in the MediaWiki: namespace or is another user's user subpage). You can learn more about the motivation behind the change here.

We need to realize that this is a potentially dangerous permission to hand out; a malicious user or a hacker taking over the account of a careless interface-admin can abuse it in far worse ways than "standard" admin permissions could be abused. Therefore this permission should only be assigned to users who really need it, who are trusted by the community, and who follow common basic password and computer security practices – and preferably also use two-factor authentication when logging in to Wikispecies (which by the way is a good idea regardless of user rights).

I'm not at all sure we actually need any interface-admin's on Wikispecies, but if we want to they can be added the same way as new administrators are appointed, i.e. by Wikimedia stewards or our own Wikispecies bureaucrats (not by admins). It's important to remember that our local bureaucrats can only assign this user right to a user, but not revoke it. Hence we will require the help of a Wikimedia steward to remove a user from this user group, if need be. Here are some details, and a proposal:

The WMF has decided that the following will take place on August 27, 2018
  • The ability to change .js and .css pages is removed from administrators and bureaucrats
  • Instead, a new group of interface-admin will be created
  • The reason is increased security

We need a plan for how we intend to handle this. Here's my proposal.

  • Neither administrators nor bureaucrats should automatically become interface administrators
  • No bureaucrat should assign himself to the interface-admin user goup
  • If an administrator needs to edit JavaScript- or CSS files he should ask a bureaucrat about this on Wikispecies Administrators: Requests for adminship. Since this privilege entails a security risk, a request for interface adminship should not lead to a public poll.
  • When assessing whether a person is to be authorized, the bureaucrat should take the following into account:
    • Has the person shown technical skills involving JavaScript and CSS?
    • Has the person proven responsible?
    • Most often it isn't necessary to edit JavaScripts or CSS files on a frequent basis. Therefore it is likely that the assignment of the privilege should be time-limited, after which it will be automatically revoked by the software
    • If uncertain, the bureaucrat is invited to ask other trusted users for their opinion
  • Interface administrators should consider the following:
    • Use a good, unique password for your account. Using two-factor authentication for logins is highly recommended. (This can be set globally using Special:Preferences. However be careful to read up on the details first, or you might be unable to at all login to Wikimedia later on. A simple password reset wont help if you are locked out, and due to security related technical limitations the Wikimedia staff may not be able to help you if that's the case.)
    • Never copy-paste JavaScript or CSS code that you do not understand
    • Never include anything from an external URL (such as fonts, images) as it violates Wikimedia's policies
    • If you leave Wikispecies, ask a bureaucrat to revoke your interface administrator user rights

Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 04:22, 14 August 2018 (UTC).


  • Oppose high barriers to entry I agree that editing the site CSS and JS can be pretty devastating but I don't see the problem with allowing admins and bureaucrats to have the right as we've never experienced a problem with it. I've tooled around with it in the past couple of years and so has User:Pigsonthewing and unless I'm mistaken, it's never lead to anything disastrous. —Justin (koavf)TCM 06:11, 14 August 2018 (UTC)
I get your point and to some degree also agree with you (as I most often do, btw). However I suspect that rather few people understand how badly this user right might be misused. Meta-Wiki lists some of the problems that can occur. Here's an excerpt from the above mentioned "motivation behind the change"-link:
"By editing pages such as Common.js interface-editors can instantly execute code on the machines of our millions of readers and thousands of editors. By sending malicious code to readers/editors, one can basically do anything: phish passwords or credit card numbers, redirect monetary donations, deanonymize editors, make edits in another editors' name, trick people into installing malware, send spam, orchestrate DDoS attacks against third-party sites, etc.
Unlike other dangerous powers (e.g. CheckUser) which cannot be monetized, this is a lucrative target for an attacker. Recently we have seen someone abuse their privileges to run bitcoin miners on visitors' machines; there are far worse things that are attractive to any attacker looking for some easy income. The damage is not limited to a single wiki. Due to Wikimedia wikis all using a single global login system, an exploit on one wiki can be used to take over admin accounts on any other wiki and extend the attack further. Thus, rogue admins and hackers stealing admin accounts present a serious threat, and we should do what we can to reduce it. It's a small miracle no major incident has happened so far, even though admin accounts are stolen regularly; we need to reduce our reliance on miracles.
At the same time, Wikimedia communities' ability to shape the workings of their sites is extremely valuable and should be preserved."
Because of the above I think that at the very least any assignment to the interface-admin user group should be time-limited. One of the reasons for this is that after August 27, edits to JavaScript- and CSS files in the MediaWiki namespace can't be reverted by "ordinary" admins or bureaucrats. They can only be reverted by interface-admins, and we certainly don't want any lengthy "edit wars" between a couple of interface-admins reverting each others edits, recurrently changing site-wide code and layout in the process. –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 23:44, 14 August 2018 (UTC).
I support a time-limited assignment, given temporarily by a bureaucrat. I think I may be among the few who updated such files in the past, when noone else seemed concearned, but I welcome a higher security in those matters, and agree that different changes should reflect a higher security demand, so noone just change relevant files on their own wish, like I used to do in the past. Dan Koehl (talk) 09:08, 15 August 2018 (UTC)
  • Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose I think this proposal is somewhat exaggerated in the case of administrators/bureaucrats (maybe these rules would apply better for the case of normal users), it would be strange to think that any of us could insert, intentionally or maliciously, spam or destroy the CSS/JS pages of Wikispecies (unless your account was compromised). We should be able to rely on our sound judgment and that administrators or bureaucrats are sufficiently aware of the security measures and risks involved in the permission. For example, in Commons all administrators can obtain permission on request from bureaucrats without having to go through a vote; here maybe we could do that with the current administrators, and for the future that the candidates be put to a vote, but without so many requirements (suffice it to have a secure account and maybe, that you have at least 6 months as administrator [like the bureaucrats on Meta]). Regards. —AlvaroMolina ( - ) 16:50, 15 August 2018 (UTC)
In the strictest sense there are only two Wikispecies-specific requirements stated in the above proposal, namely that (after the 27th of August): "no admin or bureaucrat should automatically be assigned to the interface admin group", and that "no bureaucrat should assign him/herself to the interface-admin user group". The third requirement ("If an administrator needs to edit JavaScript- or CSS files he should ask a bureaucrat on the 'Requests for adminship' page") is in effect a Wikimedia global requirement and nothing we can decide locally for Wikispecies, since on all Wikimedia sister projects only bureaucrats can assign a user to this particular user group. Admins can't.
As for Commons and admins being "promoted" to the interface-admin user group without having to go through a vote: yes, you're right. However again, one must remember that there is a huge difference in user level capabilities between admins and interface-admins, and perhaps not even all bureaucrats know this. First of all, a "regular" admin in a wiki project can't really do anything outside of that specific wiki project. This is not true for interface-admins. For example an interface-admin on any wiki project can instantly and automatically make all visitors on all Wikimedia sister projects start to send spam and/or set off a DDoS attack towards for example the United Nations, the Central Bank of Russia‎, or the FBI. Yes: all who even visits any of the currently 882 Wikimedia projects are affected, even if they've never made a single edit (registered or not). Considering that all together the different Wikipedia, Commons, Wikispecies, Wikivoyage etc. sites have several millions of visitors every day, this is potentially a huge security risk.
Lastly I wish to remind everyone that after August 27 only interface-admins will be able to edit JavaScript and CSS files in the Wikimedia namespace. Our admins and bureaucrats will not. This is a global Wikimedia decision we can't change locally here at Wikispecies. We can only decide whether we want interface-admins or not, and if so, how to assign them. And after they're assigned we can't take them away. –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 11:38, 16 August 2018 (UTC).
Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose Apologies I have been at a conference. Hence unavailable last few days. I agree with @AlvaroMolina: that this is probably a little overboard. When this came up I asked what advice Meta had and the response was not as exclusive as this. That basically said that account security, ability to do this and experience were basically the main issues. Above it has been suggested that a time limited access to this user right be considered. I can see this being appropriate, since I would suspect anyone wanting it legitimately has a single objective in mind anyway. This could all be negotiated between the user and our current admins etc at the time. Then given accordingly if deemed appropriate. Not really a formal vote just a discussion and a decision. Maybe it would be better to develop a policy of what we expect from people wanting this in terms of their account security, demonstrated experience etc, and outline of what they are attempting to do. Then any applicant can provide the information we need when asking and we can all just decide based on this. Keeping it a semi informal process with a few checks. Cheers Scott Thomson (Faendalimas) talk 23:27, 16 August 2018 (UTC)
As for formal votes I already in my first draft above propose that "Since this privilege entails a security risk, a request for interface adminship should not lead to a public poll", so no argues there. :-)
We will need a formal Wikispecies:Interface administrators page listed in Category:Wikispecies user access levels (analogous to Wikispecies:Administrators, Wikispecies:Checkusers and Wikispecies:Oversighters etc.) so that users can find information about the policy and at any given time check a list of current interface administrators. The user group itself has already been created globally and may henceforth be populated by our bureaucrats so in theory our interface-admin page could be created right away, but I guess there's no real point in doing so before we have an agreed upon policy? –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 12:42, 17 August 2018 (UTC).
Btw here's the current proposal for the equivalent policy at English Wikipedia: Interface administrators. (As noted on the page local enWP bureaucrats have the ability to not only assign but also remove users from the interface-admin (and admin) user groups. At present this ability is not a part of the toolset available to our bureaucrats; see Special:ListGroupRights.) –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 00:14, 18 August 2018 (UTC).
That is a fair point. Considering the potential risks for this type of user right, at present our only option to stop someone abusing it would be to block them and request assistance from a Steward. Maybe before we assign any of these the capacity to remove this right immediately should be considered. As we can for bots with admin rights. I am hopeful such an issue could be avoided by careful decisions on who to give it to, but things can go wrong. Cheers Scott Thomson (Faendalimas) talk 01:00, 18 August 2018 (UTC)
Agreed, however the process of granting bureaucrats the technical ability to remove admin flags isn't altogether trivial: see for example RFC: Granting bureaucrats the ability to remove the admin flag and RFC: Bureaucrat removal of adminship policy at enWP. Also, since only interface-admins are allowed to edit CSS and (more importantly) JS files (in Wikimedia: namespace) I guess that implies only interface-admins can revert them as well. Not 100% sure about that though, but it seems logical. –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 02:00, 18 August 2018 (UTC).

───────────────────────── So, if we all agree that assigning this user right should be time limited, how long do you guys feel we should consider a good "standard" period of time? A week, a month, a year? –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 20:28, 23 August 2018 (UTC).

1 year or more seems like a prudent and reasonable time. —AlvaroMolina ( - ) 16:05, 24 August 2018 (UTC)
Symbol support vote.svg Support, agree with Alvaro, 1 year (or more) sounds reasonable. Dan Koehl (talk) 10:17, 8 September 2018 (UTC)

@Tommy Kronkvist, AlvaroMolina, and Faendalimas:, It seems this discussion somehow never resulted in a clear direction in regard to some sort of community consensus and similair. While this discussion may be actualized, I boldly created the page Wikispecies:Interface administrators, a user box, and would like to suggest that we elect at least one Interface admin. Dan Koehl (talk) 10:37, 30 September 2018 (UTC)

Thanks @Dan Koehl: This issue has been on my agenda for some time, but I haven't really got around to do it (my computer is still acting up somewhat). However now that you've created the Interface admin page I would like to be as bold as to nominate myself. I had an issue just the other day when I needed to edit a JS file (regarding localization of the GUI, since I'm also a Translation admin) but all that work had to be paused since I can't edit the script files. –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 16:12, 30 September 2018 (UTC).
Very good @Tommy Kronkvist:! we havnt really managed to gat around the corner with this issue, and the question is, how can we proceed? Shall we announce a nomination on Requests for adminship and let users vote, or apply some easier method? Will anyone care, so far, there was very little feedback on this. what is the next step? Dan Koehl (talk) 19:30, 30 September 2018 (UTC)
@AlvaroMolina, Dan Koehl, Faendalimas, and Koavf: In my opinion the first step of this last (?) part of the process is to finalize and above all formalize the Wikispecies:Interface administrators page in a way that as many users as possible are comfortable with. The version created by you is good and covers most of the bases, but we need to add stuff about the more technical details. When this particular user right is granted it comes hand-in-hand with a potentially very powerful toolbox. Therefore I think the interface-admin page should be exceptionally crisp and clear when informing about the one year time-limit (which of course can be extended), how to file a formal complaint against an interface-admin, how the process of demoting an interface-admin works (including links to Wikimedia Stewards), and so forth. Thereafter announcing the nominations of the first interface-admins on Requests for adminship is not a bad idea, however we should consider adding a "Requests for adminship" section to the actual interface-admin page itself rather than use the "standard" admin page. All future interface-admin requests are likely to be made on the interface-admin page and eventually also end up in an archive, and keeping all of the requests in the same archive is a lot more translucent and makes it a lot easier for the community to investigate what's been going on. –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 23:29, 30 September 2018 (UTC).
Agreed that language around what this user right is should be completed before the process surrounding it is finalized. —Justin (koavf)TCM 01:15, 1 October 2018 (UTC)
For my part, I think that for a point of order, it would be good if the requests were made on the Wikispecies:Interface administrators and not in the Wikispecies:Administrators page, since then it can give rise to confusion. Given that Tommy Kronkvist has been involved in this topic more than all of us, it could be good that it was responsible for adapting the page to suit the consensus that has been reached here and adapts to the other pages of the project. Regards. —AlvaroMolina ( - ) 02:28, 1 October 2018 (UTC)
Very good, it seems we are heading somewhere with this issue. I have made some changes to the new page Wikispecies:Interface administrators, please add anything relevant, so it gets clearer and more precise in its description, and like Alvaro write; adapting the page to suit the consensus that has been reached here and adapts to the other pages of the project. Dan Koehl (talk) 06:25, 1 October 2018 (UTC)

───────────────────────── I've made some changes to Wikispecies:Interface administrators (diff.) as well. –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 13:10, 3 October 2018 (UTC).

@AlvaroMolina, Dan Koehl, Faendalimas, Koavf, and Pigsonthewing: Using the Admin noticeboard as model, I've created Wikispecies:Interface administrators' Noticeboard (and the accompanying {{IAnheader}} template) and added links to it on the Interface administrators page. Please have a look at both the noticeboard and the template and chisel out any oddities you may find in the code. –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 22:21, 4 October 2018 (UTC).

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this archive.

This is an archive of closed discussions. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this archive.

Vernacular names

Should the names in the == Vertacular names == section be spelled correctly, that is, according to the spelling of the language to which they are assigned?-Rosičák (talk) 10:54, 7 October 2018 (UTC)

Because of the doubts, I tried to rationalize and match the sources to present the current help.

Vernacular names

čeština: medvěd malajský[1]
dansk: malajbjørn[2]
Deutsch: Malaienbär[3]
English: Sun Bear[4]
español: oso malayo[5]
français: ours malais[6]
magyar: maláj medve[7]
italiano: orso malese[8]
lietuvių: malajinis lokys[9]
Nederlands: Maleise beer[10]
norsk: malayabjørn[11]
polski: biruang malajski, niedźwiedź malajski[12]
русский: солнечный медведь, медовый медведь, бируанг[13]
slovenščina: sončni medved[14]


  • Symbol support vote.svg Support Names should be written correctly.--Rosičák (talk) 10:54, 7 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support Names should be written correctly e. g. should distinguish gramatically correct german (de) first capital (majuscule) and many other languages gramatically correct first small letter (minuscule). Visitors should not be misleaded. --Kusurija (talk) 18:54, 8 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support Remember though in UK English Vernacular Names are usually capitalised. Sun Bear not sun bear. Andyboorman (talk) 19:02, 8 October 2018 (UTC)
@Andyboorman:Bingo! So who knows perfect english, should distinguish between cases as Sun Bear and bear or daisy (not Bear or Daisy) (if these are correct - I'm not so good in english). --Kusurija (talk) 19:27, 8 October 2018 (UTC)P. S.: cf. „A ‚sun bear‘ photographed at Miller Park Zoo“--Kusurija (talk) 19:37, 8 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support Unless someone can provide a relevant motivation for the opposite. Dan Koehl (talk) 19:38, 8 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support --Franz Xaver (talk) 20:48, 8 October 2018 (UTC)


  • Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment In English, first letters of names should be capitalised, as that's what most formal lists do (e.g. IOC, BSBI, MSW, etc.). In all languages, the list should use title case: capitalise the first letter, if that language uses capitals in the title at the start of a page. These are index lists, not text in the middle of a sentence. Also the reminder: VN is not an important part of Wikispecies; stick to one name per language - here is not the place for long lists of often obsolete or rarely used colloquial names. The name listed should be scientifically accurate - we should not be misleading readers with inaccurate names - and preferably the name used in official national lists (unless that conflicts with scientific evidence). Thus, in the list above, e.g. Russian should be Малайский медведь, not "солнечный медведь, медовый медведь, бируанг" - MPF (talk) 09:21, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment ...thank you MPF. Orchi (talk) 17:25, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment ...Whats is meant by scientific accuracy? For example, Wollemia nobilis is known, in English, by the vernacular Wollemi pine, but is not a pine (see the Discussion Page for an attempt by over zealous pedantry to over-rule common sense). Rock roses are Cistus or Helianthemum, not Rosa and then there is the Japanese Umbrella pine - the list goes on. As MPF states it is not that important, but using the most familiar VN for a language is crucial, even if the plant is not botanically a daisy, flax, rose, pine or whatever. There is also a good reason for not insisting on one VN only, for example UK and US VNs can be different and no one culture should have precedence. Andyboorman (talk) 17:51, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
    • Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment Language 'us' or 'en-us' for American language is certainly needed; it has been added to the language list at Commons, but not yet here (or at wikidata). Cistus is Rock-rose, hyphenated, to show it isn't a rose. And no, we should not be promoting the misidentification of Wollemia as a pine - this sort of Trumpist fake news needs to be eliminated, not promoted. Facts First, please. - MPF (talk) 19:43, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
      • Pictogram voting comment.svg CommentYou can not impose your own opinions as "facts" - that is core Trumpism. The world is there as it is and not as you would want to make it. It is factual that the RHS in the UK call Cistus × purpureus Purple-flowered rock rose, the Australians treasure their Wollemi pine and the Kiwi name for Phormium is New Zealand flax. It is unscientific to consign a whole discipline of historic and vernacular knowledge to the dust-bin. WS reflects taxonomy not create it and the same should be for VN. Andyboorman (talk) 20:30, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
        • Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment it is not my own opinions. Wollemia is not Pinus; demonstrable scientific fact - do a DNA comparison. Since it is not a pine, it should not be called a pine. To do so is a lie. - MPF (talk) 21:20, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
          • Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment DNA is one source of evidence and local cultures another, both are undeniable and factual. This is getting so silly - a VN is a common name used by a particular language group or culture and is never a lie. To deny them its use is cultural fascism. I will not convince you nor you me - please close this as unresolved, but do not interfere with well meaning contributions that have their own justifications, as this causes bad feelings and can be a deterrent to contributions - see Wollemia Discussion page. Andyboorman (talk) 08:12, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
            • Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment Local cultures are not scientific; Wikispecies is scientific. Incorrect names may have a place being listed in the wikipedias for those cultures, but not here. And what you say about 'not interfering with well-meaning contributions' works both ways. If you are going to keep reimposing misleading and inaccurate names, that too is a deterrent to contributions. - MPF (talk) 07:06, 12 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment ...if available to use the name of the article name of the respective country. What about a new abbreviation for: en (american) as for "de" and "de switzerland" = gsw? Orchi (talk) 18:47, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment Thank you for the comments above. Perhaps we may be inappropriate, outdated or overcome names to refer to this Genus species.--Rosičák (talk) 03:14, 11 October 2018 (UTC)

Can someone who hasnt participated in this discussion make an estimate of the consensus, and close the discussion, please? Dan Koehl (talk) 10:14, 27 December 2018 (UTC)

I think it's clear, but I would not like to do it.--Rosičák (talk) 18:17, 27 December 2018 (UTC)

The question hasn't been asked clearly. "Should the names in the == Vertacular names == section be spelled correctly"? Yes of course thet should be spelled correctly, no-one is going to say we should include deliberate typographical errors in names.

The question it seems that Rosičák really wanted to ask is "should the names in the == Vertacular names == list be treated as though they were in the middle of a sentence and not in a list?", as opposed to the current index list which - inevitably and correctly for a list, uses Title case. To this, the answer I would say is

  • Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose, strongly, - because (a) it makes the list very difficult for single users to create: it is one thing for me, as someone without a Cyrillic keyboard, to copy "Зверобой чашечковидный" from Wikidata and paste it into the list; another thing altogether to ask me to hunt down a lower-case "З" on a keyboard that doesn't include it; and (b) it looks incredibly untidy and unprofessional to have a mix of lower case and upper case in an index list. The only case where a vernacular name should not begin with a capital, is if it is in a language which never uses capital letters, not even at the start of a sentence or in the title at the top of a page. - MPF (talk) 10:30, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
It is easy to extend the page MediaWiki:Edittools by inserting characters of different alphabets.

Charmaps tools:

--Rosičák (talk) 16:59, 29 December 2018 (UTC)


Vernacular names should always use correct spelling, with the following praxis in regards to number of vernacular names in the table, and capitalisation (listed in order of importance):

  • When possible we should strive towards only listing one vernacular name per language, and then always an official one, if available. We should add the possibility of using specific ISO 639-2 and ISO 639-3 languages codes for regional variations of names, e.g. "de" for German, "gsw" for Swiss German. When ISO codes are not available, we may look in to the possibility of using IETF codes instead (e.g. "en-AU" for Australian English).
  • For languages using a writing system with case distinction, the first letter of any given vernacular name should always use upper case, regardless of language. In other words, all vernacular names should at least use "Sentence case".
  • The rule of sentence case should be extended to "Title Case" for languages with such a praxis.

Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 13:32, 11 January 2019 (UTC).

@Tommy Kronkvist:Your conclusion about the Results is not true, as many users expressed different opinion and contraargue is not clear enough, btw. in my opinion also not right (at least, because it is abusive contrary to grammar of some other languages.) I on no way can agree with such conclusions, and, if such mode will be enforced by power, I will not parcipitate here any more. --Kusurija (talk) 18:07, 12 January 2019 (UTC)
One problem is that as a database, Wikispecies should handle all data of a certain type in the same way. When possible, all author pages should be formatted in the same way, all categories should be constructed in the same way, all templates should follow the same standard, and so forth. This is also true for the list of vernacular names. Wikispecies can currently be presented in any of 32 different languages, and for the vast majority of them "Title case" (as desribed in Help:Vernacular names section) is correct. Sadly this may become a problem in some of the languages, but I guess the majority rules... Another example of this is how we have agreed to format author names. As explained in Help:Author Names all middle name initials should be written without spacing, i.e. written as "Gerald A.H. Bedford" and not "Gerald A. H. Bedford". This strikes many users as odd and some – including many of those with English as their mother tongue – even find it outright wrong. Nevertheless we have had this up for vote too, and the outcome of the poll clearly states that the majority prefers the format without spaces. This may be wrong in some languages, but since there is only one version of Wikispecies and that one version must simultaneously serve all the people on Earth regardless of their language, we will sometimes have to make compromises. It's of course easier on Wikipedia where there is one WP version for each language, and every single Wikipedia is supposed to be monolingual. Unfortunately, here at Wikispecies we don't have that luxury. –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 14:36, 4 March 2019 (UTC).

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this archive.
This is an archive of closed discussions. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this archive.

Vernacular names, take two

Hello fellow Wikispecians, Tommy Kronkvist (talk) here, adding a note at 09:41, 30 July 2019 (UTC). The matter of caps in vernacular names is still often discussed on different talk pages here and there. As a result I wish to rise a new RfC regarding the same issue, only this time with a more up-front and stringent question, as follows:

Should the vernacular names in the "Vernacular names" sections on taxon pages be spelled using so called "title case", i.e. with a capitalised first letter, or not?


  • Is this not language-dependent? Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 09:54, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
    I argue that in this particular case it's not really a matter of language at all, but rather related to Wikispecies' overall layout conventions and GUI. –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 10:02, 30 July 2019 (UTC).
    I can find not a single German-language web page where "Malaienbär", for example, is written with a lower-case first letter. I am not sufficiently knowledgebale as to be able to assert that there is not a language where the reverse convention applies. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:51, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
    In German orthography all nouns are always capitalised, whether they are the first word in a sentence or not. This convention is almost unique to German, shared only by the closely related Luxembourgish language and may be some dialects of the North Frisian language (which is related to German to a somewhat lesser degree.) In my opinion the vernacular names section should be considered a list (with one VN per row), or perhaps a table (with one VN per cell). I believe that throughout all of Wikimedia (regardless of language) it is most common to always capitalise the first item in every row of a list, and that the same is true for the first items in table rows. For the sake of consequence I think it would be best either to always capitalise all vernacular names, or never do it. A mix of caps depending on language is only confusing. As I wrote in March 4, 2019 in the very last post of the now closed thread above: "Wikispecies can currently be presented in any of 32 different languages, and for the vast majority of them 'Title case' (as desribed in Help:Vernacular names section) is correct. Sadly this may become a problem in some of the languages, but I guess the majority rules." After weighing all of these considerations together I opted for voting that all vernacular names should start with caps. Other users may of course come to other conclusions. –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 13:50, 30 July 2019 (UTC).
    Not only is it language-dependent, it is context dependent. Some names in English derive from proper nouns and are capitalized by convention. We cannot force "spanish moss" when "Spanish moss is clearly correct. Likewise, German always capitalizes nouns. The option to always use lowercase is clearly not usable, yet it is the only alternative offered below: to always capitalize or always use lowercase. Neither option is correct. --EncycloPetey (talk) 16:15, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
    I agree that it's context dependent: that's actually one of my main points. Surely we can agree that starting any list item (or sentence, for that matter) with a capital letter is okay in any language, whereas starting with lowercase letters seems more dubious? –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 20:59, 30 July 2019 (UTC).
    Even if I were to agree (and I do not), that doesn't solve all the capitalization issues currently under discussion. Do we use sentence case or capitalize every element? Both suggestions have come up in discussion, and the voting does not distinguish between these two situations. We really need to identify and sort out the various problems in discussion before we start a vote on them. The current vote will only lead to more voting, regardless of how it ends, because it doesn't consider the possibilities. --EncycloPetey (talk) 21:26, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
    It's fairly straightforward to me. The alternatives (per the "Votes" section below) are to either start the first word with caps, or not. The rest is of a more academic nature: to my knowledge English is the only language where the rest of the words are ever capitalized (except for proper nouns which of course always use upper case in other Latin script languages as well). –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 16:36, 31 July 2019 (UTC).
    German capitalizes every noun, whether proper or not. French capitalizes some of them, at least in their WP policy, when the vernacular name is applied to a group (class of objects) versus a member (representative of that group). So English is certainly not the only language in consideration. But my point is that we are tackling this issue both backwards and in piecemeal fashion. Normally, one has the discussion first, then votes. And normally a vote is intended to settle the issue, not merely one tiny facet of the issue. Look at the previous discussion, where the vote was whether or not to "spell names correctly". What would the alternative to that be? To spell them incorrectly? Neither the previous vote nor this one was thought out well at all. --EncycloPetey (talk) 17:18, 31 July 2019 (UTC)
    I see your point. It should also be noted that personally I think we ought to scrap the "Vernacular names" section altogether. I've said this a number of times before, and the main reason is that the VNs very rarely add any information related to the taxonomy or nomenclature of taxa. Hence, in my opinion adding vernacular names to the taxon pages is out of scope of the Wikispecies project. I therefore withdraw my vote, and will refrain from commenting any further. However I will of course continue to follow consensus and contribute in accord with any outcome of the voting. –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 18:13, 31 July 2019 (UTC).
  • Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment In languages which distinguish between capitals and lowercase, the name should be capitalized if the rules of grammar in that language say it should be capitalized, and should not be capitalized if the rules of grammar in that language say it should not be capitalized. German vernacular names should be capitalized because German grammar capitalizes nouns. Names of plants in English should not be capitalized because names like "moss" and "fern" are not capitalized in English. The voting options below do not allow for this fact, and it is premature to call for a vote before the discussion has happened. I will point out that title case is not correct for most Wiktionaries which includes the vernacular names of species. The English Wikipedia Manual of Style says that English vernacular ("common") names are given in lower case, except where proper names appear. (link). --EncycloPetey (talk) 15:07, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment Lists are very often capitalised irrespective of the "correct" spelling. There is no consistency with UK English common names with authorities tending to use there own preferences, however capitalisation is most commonly encountered, for example Fir Clubmoss on Wildlife Trusts website. Andyboorman (talk) 15:26, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
    This is not done on the Flora of North America website: example: Spanish-moss, long-moss, black-moss, mousse espagnole, mousse. Here, the vernacular names appear in lowercase type, except for "Spanish" which is normally capitalized because of its etymology from a proper noun. --EncycloPetey (talk) 15:34, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
    Note that the "Wildlife Trusts" website considers Fir Clubmoss to be a member of the "Mosses and liverworts" (aside: liverworts is not capitalized), yet that no clubmoss (Huperzia in this case) belongs to the bryophytes, as they are vascular plants in the Lycopodiaceae. If this website cannot be trusted with correctness of even basic taxonomic information, then it should not be used as a model for what we are trying to do here. --EncycloPetey (talk) 15:39, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
    That the Wildlife Trust page has taxonomic errors is not relevant to capitalisation; what does matter is that they follow the standard capitalisation convention adopted by the botanical naming authority for the region, BSBI, which is to capitalise the first letters of English names. The same convention is adopted by many/most other naming authorities, e.g. IOC for birds; there are many good reasons for doing so, including consistency, the difficulty of determining capitalisation based on etymology, and perhaps most importantly, to indicate that a name is a formal accepted vernacular name (e.g. a common tern can be any species of Sterninae that is abundant, but a Common Tern is the specific taxon Sterna hirundo). - MPF (talk) 17:05, 9 August 2019 (UTC)
    I note that the BSBI does not use sentence case, which is the proposal being made here. On their site every part of the English name is capitalized. However, I fail to see why the British and Irish Botanical Society's choice for one region and one language should be made the standard for all languages and all nations across all taxa. --EncycloPetey (talk) 19:57, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment Neither of the options laid out for voting below are correct. We cannot force capitalization, and we cannot force lowercase. There are too many exceptions on both sides to make it entirely one or the other. For example, it should be "kelp" not "Kelp", but it should be "Arkansas oak", not "arkansas oak". We cannot claim that either capitalization nor removal of capitalization is always correct. --EncycloPetey (talk) 15:34, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment In my opinion, this is not about linguistic correctness, whatever that is, but more concerned about consistency in a WS list. Therefore my vote goes for capitalisation, which just gives the list a professional appearance, as it just assumes that each member of the list is an independent entity. Andyboorman (talk) 18:34, 31 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment Why would such a proposal exist? All of them should be capitalized. This is not Wiktionary. --Znotch190711 (talk) 01:30, 14 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment EncycloPetey says it right. We're making a scientific wiki here, so we should be as close to the truth as possible. The vernacular names section is supposed to give insight on other languages. But why even bother with it, if we don't intend to allow those languages to be written correctly? The only reasonable thought supporting the All Capital Team was the one with machine-readable data in the table. But this is something already solved by Wikidata, isn't it? (Here I could shout in a similar way Znotch190711 shouted: This is not Wikidata.) With that out of way, the only next objective reason for capitalizing would be aesthetics. And that seems to be a too poor of a reason to consider to me. Look at the table of vernacular names itself - are the language names written all capitalized? Of course they are not, that would be erroneous. Forcing users to use distorted mother tongue is something that will disgust a lot of people. National grammar is not something that should be overridden by a international community consensus. --GeXeS (talk) 10:46, 18 September 2019 (UTC)


Symbol support vote.svg Yes, all of the vernacular names should start with a leading uppercase letter.

  1. Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 09:41, 30 July 2019 (UTC). I choose to refrain from voting. Signed, Tommy Kronkvist, 18:13, 31 July 2019 (UTC).
  2. Andyboorman (talk) 10:05, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
  3. Thiotrix (talk) 10:44, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
  4. RLJ (talk) 21:19, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
  5. MPF (talk) 17:05, 9 August 2019 (UTC)
  6. This is not Wiktionary. --Znotch190711 (talk) 01:29, 14 August 2019 (UTC)
  7. MKOliver (talk) 22:52, 14 August 2019 (UTC)

Symbol oppose vote.svg No, all of the vernacular names should start with a leading lowercase letter.

Cancelled process mini.svg Neither of the options above is correct.

  1. EncycloPetey (talk) 16:17, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
  2. Because all vernacular names should be grammatically correct. Avoiding grammatical acuracy is injuring. Neglecting the fact, that some editors does not matter it. Users/readers of the project has right to get true information, including gramar accuracy. Howgh. --Kusurija (talk) 19:09, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
    well here you ask the impossible. Different cultures have different grammar. Also does it really matter grammar is not that important in vernacular names. Seriously people make them up and they gain some local traction, this is all they are. I seriously do not see the importance of this. Scott Thomson (Faendalimas) talk 20:18, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
    Please, could you (You?) avoid propagation of Newspeak for nations, who "tasted" any form of pressure from dictatures? Let's be more friendly and more cooperating. I'm for love and TRUTH (V. Havel). I'm opposite of "alternative truths", which are weapons of hybrid wars. Thank you for understanding. --Kusurija (talk) 04:56, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
  3. Proposal is unclear. In the proposal Tommy Kronkvist suggests using "title case"; e.g. Bald Eagle. Support votes are under "all of the vernacular names should start with a leading uppercase letter", which applies to both "Bald Eagle" and "Bald eagle". Most of the omments in the Discussion section of this RFC seems to be assuming that "sentence case" is the standard being suggested (i.e. "Bald eagle"). In my opinion, sentence cases should be used; the first letter of vernacular name should be capitalized, but the first letters of subsequent words should be lowercase unless those words are proper nouns. On Wikispecies, vernacular names are presented as line-spaced lists rather than running text. In some languages, line-spaced lists may be presented in sentence case (with an initial capital, but subsequent words in lower case), and non-proper nouns in running text are lower case. In some languages (e.g. German), all nouns use title case (each word capitalized). Is this a proposal for using sentence case (with initial words upper case when in line-spaced lists, but lower case in running text) or title case (with all words capitalized)? Are there any languages where it would be inappropriate to use capitalized letters in a line-spaced list? Plantdrew (talk) 03:11, 27 August 2019 (UTC)
  4. I'm not familiar enough with names of organisms in other languages to make a full statement, but since there are many languages that have no capital letters at all, it is nonsense to require that all languages use forms beginning with a capital letter. --EncycloPetey (talk) 15:33, 1 September 2019 (UTC)
    @EncycloPetey: What languages and/or alphabets are you referring to? For single-case writing systems one could argue either that those languages use no capital letters at all, or that they only use capital letters. –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 10:31, 11 September 2019 (UTC).
    The only one I know about is Georgian. Regards --Franz Xaver (talk) 13:28, 11 September 2019 (UTC)
    There are many writing systems that are ideographic, or have no capital letters: the Chinese languages, Japanese, Hindi, Malayalam, Thai, Hebrew, Arabic, etc. So to require all vernacular names to start with a capital letter means that many languages must be excluded from Wikispecies because that requirement cannot be met in those languages. The "capital letter" is a very Euro-centric concept. --EncycloPetey (talk) 15:26, 11 September 2019 (UTC)
    Well, I sort of took for granted that people understood that the discussion regards writing systems using alphabets, such as for example the Cyrillic, Greek, or Latin scripts. As for the few alphabets using an abjad writing system (notably Arabic and Hebrew) they would of course be excluded since they generally doesn't have any distinct upper and lower case letter forms. Logographic writing systems and most of the languages using syllabic or logosyllabic scripts are of course also excluded, since the graphemes of those languages doesn't relate to phonemic letters. In other words, they don't use letters in the true sense at all. Is this difficult to understand, in any way? Languages that doesn't use different cases (because the are ideographic, logosyllabic, or whatever) are excluded simply because the issue doesn't relate to them. The same goes for digits, chemical formulæ, phonemic orthography, sign language, etc. In short, stuff that's not affected by the discussion shouldn't be part of it (and yes, I know that some typefaces include both upper and lower case digits, but you get my point, right?) Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 21:12, 12 September 2019 (UTC).
  5. (And stop discussing in the voting section. Discussion takes place above.) --GeXeS (talk) 10:49, 18 September 2019 (UTC)


  • Somewhat resolved.

Post vote addit

Sorry I did not vote on this. I have seen it discussed a multitude of times. I think no matter what rule you place on this there will always be exceptions and those who cannot agree. Then we are a nomenclatural taxonomy site in which case this is not that relevant to us. We have tried before, people will do what they want with vernacular names. Hence I abstain. Scott Thomson (Faendalimas) talk 18:01, 9 August 2019 (UTC)

Why did you "impose" unresolved (tongue in cheek)? A vote is a vote after all. Andyboorman (talk) 21:16, 9 August 2019 (UTC)
I did not that was there when I added the above comment. Cheers Scott Thomson (Faendalimas) talk 02:52, 11 August 2019 (UTC)


  • Ok since the current two iterations of this discussion have continued for a year, its all become rather mixed as pointed out by @GeXeS: and we have not really resolved the issue alluded to by @EncycloPetey:, honestly because I think we cannot. I would like to make a counter proposal and offer several choices. So please comment on the below options.
  1. I will close this discussion and archive it, I would rather it does not come up again. People can agree to disagree, vernacular names are not what we do anyway.
  2. If people insist on a vernacular name section each one is to be written correctly according to the language it is in. That is an english name would agree with English Grammar, a German name must follow German Grammar, etc.
  3. My preferred option I will say, and seemingly @Tommy Kronkvist:'s as well, we remove the vernacular section from pages as it is not relevant to nomenclature which is what we are about.
  • In any event I would like to close this so offer some choices before I do. Cheers Scott Thomson (Faendalimas) talk 00:44, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
I suggest a mix of the above. First we close this RfC as unresolved. This should best be done by a registered user (not necessarily an admin) that didn't vote in the poll. We then follow up with starting a new, broader RfC about whether to keep or remove the vernacular names as such. As far as I'm concerned the only benefit from the VN sections is that they have attracted more editors to Wikispecies as a whole, however many other users find them quite a bit more useful than I do so this needs to be discussed. Depending on the outcome of that RfC we then either:
  1. scrap all vernacular name sections and focus on taxonomy instead, or
  2. retain all vernacular name sections, but remove all manually added vernacular names from them and instead rely solely on automatically importing vernacular names from Wikidata. We already have most of the code and modules needed to do this, and it would help keep the format consistent throughout all of Wikispecies.
  3. or, we start this discussion all over again...
Regards, Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 02:57, 11 October 2019 (UTC).
I tend to agree with closing this down as unresolved. However, I think that @Tommy Kronkvist: has a better basic approach than @Faendalimas:, but not to start all over again! Firstly, open a discussion about scrapping all VN sections. If the vote is to retain then we can move onto discussing; a liberal versus structured approach suggested above, the automatic addition via Wikidata and other points that may arise subsequently. By the way a number of editors are continually adding a blank VN section as a matter of routine.
Regards Andyboorman (talk) 08:27, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
I am good with that approach, if retention is deemed appropriate by the community perhaps @Andy: has some ideas on how best to populate the VN box straight from Wikidata, perhaps we can then also look at the template so it is automatic. Cheers Scott Thomson (Faendalimas) talk 14:49, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
I would like to ask for last comments if no one is going to take this further. Is @Andy: on a break? I have not seen him in a while. Cheers Scott Thomson (Faendalimas) talk 00:35, 19 October 2019 (UTC)
Apologies; I missed the earlier ping; I'll take a look at this over the next few days. I have less free time overall, hence my contributons here have been reduced. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:16, 19 October 2019 (UTC)
This work is now in hand. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 13:11, 20 October 2019 (UTC)
Cool thank you @Andy:, you ok if I close this in the meantime? Further discussion can be done on Pump or Admin Noticeboard as you see fit. Cheers Scott Thomson (Faendalimas) talk 15:57, 20 October 2019 (UTC)
Fine by me. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 16:02, 20 October 2019 (UTC)

─────────────────────────Closing this as partially resolved. @Andy: is developing a way to obtain VN's from Wikidata and populate them this way. He will get back to the community with this. Scott Thomson (Faendalimas) talk 16:41, 20 October 2019 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this archive.