CZ Talk:History Workgroup

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This is the Discussion Page for the CZ:History Workgroup


The page as I have made it is functional enough, but certainly lacks the razzle-dazzle of the Biology Workgroup page. If anyone has the expertise to make this look better, go right ahead. --Dana Lutenegger 01:01, 21 November 2006 (CST)

Proposed subgroups (moved from main page)

  • American History
  1. US History
  2. Latin American History
  • European History
  1. British History
  2. French History
  3. German History
  4. Spanish History
  5. Italian History
  6. Russian History
  • Asian History
  1. Middle Eastern History
  2. East Asian History
  • African History
  1. South African History
  • Pacific History
  1. Australian History

Priority articles

Could I suggest that the priority for historians here should be to write these national history articles? Some of the Wikipedia articles are adequate, but most are not, and most of these articles should be rewritten from scratch with proper academic referencing, by people who know what they are talking about. Who would like to volunteer to take a country?

History of Afghanistan, History of Albania, History of Algeria, History of Andorra, History of Angola, History of Argentina, History of Armenia, History of Australia, History of Austria, History of Azerbaijan, History of the Bahamas, History of Bahrain, History of Bangladesh, History of Belarus, History of Belgium, History of Belize, History of Benin, History of Bhutan, History of Bolivia, History of Bosnia and Herzegovina, History of Botswana, History of Brazil, History of Brunei, History of Bulgaria, History of Burma, History of Burundi, History of Cambodia, History of Cameroon, History of Canada, History of Cape Verde, History of Central African Republic, History of Chad, History of Chile, History of China, History of the Republic of China, History of Colombia, History of Comoros, History of the Republic of the Congo, History of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, History of Costa Rica, History of Côte d'Ivoire, History of Croatia, History of Cuba, History of Cyprus, History of Czech Republic, History of Denmark, History of Djibouti, History of Dominica, History of Dominican Republic, History of East Timor, History of Ecuador, History of Egypt, History of El Salvador, History of Equatorial Guinea, History of Eritrea, History of Estonia, History of Ethiopia, History of Fiji, History of Finland, History of France, History of Gabon, History of Gambia, History of Georgia, History of Germany, History of Ghana, History of Greece, History of Grenada, History of Guatemala, History of Guinea, History of Guinea-Bissau, History of Guyana, History of Haiti, History of Honduras, History of Hungary, History of Iceland, History of India, History of Indonesia, History of Iran, History of Iraq, History of Ireland, History of Israel, History of Italy, History of Jamaica, History of Japan, History of Jordan, History of Kazakhstan, History of Kenya, History of Kiribati, History of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, History of the Republic of Korea, History of Kuwait, History of Kyrgyzstan, History of Laos, History of Latvia, History of Lebanon, History of Lesotho, History of Liberia, History of Libya, History of Liechtenstein, History of Lithuania, History of Luxembourg, History of the Republic of Macedonia, History of Madagascar, History of Malawi, History of Malaysia, History of Maldives, History of Mali, History of Malta, History of the Marshall Islands, History of Mauritania, History of Mauritius, History of Mexico, History of Micronesia, History of Moldova, History of Monaco, History of Mongolia, History of Montenegro, History of Morocco, History of Mozambique, History of Namibia, History of Nauru, History of Nepal, History of the Netherlands, History of New Zealand, History of Nicaragua, History of Niger, History of Nigeria, History of Norway, History of Oman, History of Pakistan, History of Palau, History of Panama, History of Papua New Guinea, History of Paraguay, History of Peru, History of the Philippines, History of Poland, History of Portugal, History of Qatar, History of Romania, History of Russia, History of Rwanda, History of Saint Kitts and Nevis, History of Saint Lucia, History of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, History of Samoa, History of San Marino, History of São Tomé and Príncipe, History of Saudi Arabia, History of Senegal, History of Serbia, History of Seychelles, History of Sierra Leone, History of Singapore, History of Slovakia, History of Slovenia, History of Solomon Islands, History of Somalia, History of South Africa, History of Spain, History of Sri Lanka, History of Sudan, History of Suriname, History of Swaziland, History of Sweden, History of Switzerland, History of Syria, History of Tajikistan, History of Tanzania, History of Thailand, History of Togo, History of Tonga, History of Trinidad and Tobago, History of Tunisia, History of Turkey, History of Turkmenistan, History of Uganda, History of Ukraine, History of the United Arab Emirates, History of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or History of Britain, History of the United States of America, History of Uruguay, History of Uzbekistan, History of Vanuatu, History of Vatican City, History of Venezuela, History of Vietnam, History of Yemen, History of Zambia, History of Zimbabwe.

Adam Carr 02:10, 23 February 2007 (CST)

Get rid of "Top" articles?

On the forums, it has been proposed that the "top" articles are just maintained on the workgroup page, and the "top" category is merged in with the general category for the history workgroup. The biology workgroup have gone ahead and implemented this. Yay or nay to getting rid of the top category? I vote yes, to eliminate the category. Neville English | Talk 13:35, 28 February 2007 (CST)

Naming convention: need a decision

Editor User:Benjamin Lowe asks whether Massachusetts: History should be changed to History of Massachusetts. That's a policy issue--what do people think? It's a policy issue for many articles: France: History, Japan: History etc. The Massachusetts: History format naturally leads to Massachusetts: Economy/Education/Government etc, with the stress on the state. Richard Jensen. Richard Jensen 15:44, 9 April 2007 (CDT)

Here was Larry Sanger's response in a move the other day "17:52, 7 April 2007 Larry Sanger (Talk | contribs) North Carolina: History moved to History of North Carolina (Better to invite a free-standing article without a colon)". That seems to imply his preference. Matt Mahlmann 17:31, 9 April 2007 (CDT)
the goal is to help people find articles. When we have thousands of articles that start History of ... then it's hard to find things. When we have 10 articles that start Massachusetts: History or Massachusetts:Government or Massachusetts: Economy then searching is much easier. I assume people are interested in Massachusetts (rather than in history generally). Richard Jensen 17:38, 9 April 2007 (CDT)
I don't mean always to have my way, but omitting colons used in this way is a good policy. Presumably, we won't be finding articles via alphabetical lists. I rarely do this, and I doubt others do either. The main way to find articles is (1) the search form, and (2) via links from other articles.
  The difficulty with this use of colons in titles is that they subtly enshrine and "hard-code" a certain relationship between the part to the left of the colon and the part to the right. Why should it be "North Carolina: History"? Why not "History: North Carolina"? And why not "History of the South: North Carolina"? Etc. Besides, if we use colons in this way here, people will start using them in many other places, when there won't be any clearly understood rules about when to use them and how. Will we have "Aristotle: Metaphysics" or "Metaphysics: Aristotelian"? (Reference point: [1]) It seems we can easily sidestep such potentially difficult problems by omitting the colon. --Larry Sanger 18:02, 9 April 2007 (CDT)
We can avoid colons but we can't ignore the problem of standardizing subarticles for geographical regions. It makes more sense to have the main search word first, then secondary search words. thus I recommend: Utah, Utah--History, Utah--Economy, Utah--Geography. (and not: Utah, History of Utah, Economy of Utah, Geography of Utah). That way the search engines (our and outsiders) will put all the Utah articles together. Richard Jensen 18:28, 9 April 2007 (CDT)
I essentially agree with Richard Jensen in this discussion. I'm no fan of the colon, but the state (or other geographical unit) should come first, followed by history. They can be separated with a colon, an m-dash, a comma, or something else (we need to figure out what and stick with it), but I think "History of X" is cumbersome and puts the cart before the horse.--Ben Alpers 21:05, 10 April 2007 (CDT)
Well, if the goal is to help people find the articles, then I think that it is more likely that they will be searching History of Massachusetts and not Massachusetts: History - I certainly would do that. --José Leonardo Andrade 10:13, 23 April 2007 (CDT)
I think people are interested primarily in Massachusetts. People will lose out if they try "History of the state of Massachusetts" or "History of Massachusetts Bay Colony" or "History of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts." But I suggest the scheme is mostly for the benefit of editors so WE can keep track of all the Massachusetts-spinoff articles (on politics, economy, society, environment, etc). Richard Jensen 15:50, 23 April 2007 (CDT)

(undent) I didn't notice this debate (still) going on here until now. This really isn't an issue for the History Workgroup, per se, to decide, because it is a perfectly generalizable issue.

I don't think that any naming schemes (in the main namespace) should be made simply for our own benefit. The question is what is going to be most inviting and useful for our users; and "History of Massachusetts" is a lot more inviting to me, anyway, than "Massachusetts--History" or whatever you'd like the convention to be.

Richard wrote: "That way the search engines (our and outsiders) will put all the Utah articles together." I don't see how this is the case. Search engines, ours and others, for the most part don't care about alphabetization, nor should they, in my opinion. Let human beings make meaningful groupings; don't make ugly titles so that machines can do it better more efficiently.

Also: "It makes more sense to have the main search word first, then secondary search words. thus I recommend: Utah, Utah--History, Utah--Economy, Utah--Geography." But these aren't search terms, they are titles. As such, it's actually very important that they be inviting and immediately comprehensible. "History of Utah" is more inviting and immediately comprehensible (to the user of a search engine) than "Utah--History".

There's also the argument I made above, in the paragraph starting, "The difficulty with this use of colons in titles is that they subtly enshrine..." That's important to me. It's bound to cause trouble.

Just a friendly hint--this isn't a paper encyclopedia. --Larry Sanger 17:45, 23 April 2007 (CDT)

Yes, it does matter how to search. We want a simple system that any user can quickly master. If users want information on a state they will search on the state. It is highly unlikely that users will want information on generic history, where any place will do. We need some way for users and editors to see what is available on a geographical unit. (This issue comes up in other ways as well, but let's start with geography.) It's not true, I suggest, that "history of xyz" helps anyone. The user will NOT know whether to search on
  1. "History of Colonial Massachusetts"
  2. "History of Massachusetts before 1776"
  3. "History of Witches in Massachusetts"
  4. "Social History of Colonial Massachusetts"
  5. "Economic History of Massachusetts"
  6. "Farming in Massachusetts History"
  7. "History of Massachusetts Bay"
  8. "History of Puritan Massachusetts"
The bottom line is that the most useful keyword should always come first in a title. Richard Jensen 18:10, 23 April 2007 (CDT)
It's hard to anticipate how people will type queries, but since they're not optically looking through a print index, the "order" of such entries matters only on index pages (and there we can sort using DEFAULT:SORT of the article checklist's "abc" entry. If it's for the editors that we want all History articles sorted by keyword first, you could use the article checklist to do that. Russell Potter 04:19, 24 April 2007 (CDT)
How people type in queries is irrelevant, the search engine will match various word orders. Also any search engine worth it's salt will match plurals and other tenses. As Larry said, we should title in a way that is logical to normal English usage. We don't have to copy the style used in library catalogues of reversing word orders and adding colons and commas.
  In plain English, we can put the words either way round without loosing the relation ship between the words. There are two ways to indicate possession. Either the word 'of' or the use 's. E.g. "History of Citizendium" and "Citizendium's History". Using this method of writing, the ambiguity of the relationship that a colon leaves is cleared up.
  Again, I have to second Larry, this discussion should be beyond the history workgroup. It applies to the entire site. I notice the Biology workgroup has settled into using parenthesis e.g. Cell (biology) to disambiguate their articles. I think we should move this topic to the general forums for wider input and consensus. Derek Harkness 07:12, 24 April 2007 (CDT)
I think reliance on super search engines (which we do not yet have) is a poor solution. There are too many hits. What happens when we have 10,000 articles that start with "History of XYZ"? answer: editors will get lost easily and start new articles when we already have an article that largely cover the subject (this has already happened to me on CZ!). We want to tell users: "The best way to search CZ is as follows...." (and we can say start with the geographical unit, like "Massachusetts," then the topic like "witches." (Note that asking Google about Massachusetts witches gives 558,000 hits; asking for Connecticut witches gives 352,000 hits). We can then ask our search engine to give priority to our own naming convention. (Who's writing this search engine?) Conclusion: One standard approach decided upon early will reduce confusion for readers and editors. Richard Jensen 05:21, 24 April 2007 (CDT)
We do already have a search engine. It's far from super, but it's what we have and we don't have the resources to do anything other than minor changes to it. So we can't decide a convention then produce a search engine around that; rather we must work with the search engine we have and base our decision on it's current behavior.
  But our search engine is of low significance. Where our pages are going to be found the in the 558,000 and 352,000 hits that Google throws up? Many people are going to search Google then come to our site, not come to our site then search.
  Lastly, we want to tell Users that the "The best way to search CZ is the way your already do." Nobody wants to learn how to use our site. It should be intuitive. If we have to teach people how to use our site then we have made a mistake. Derek Harkness 07:12, 24 April 2007 (CDT)
We should plan for 10,000 articles in a year and eventually 100,000 articles. That means a simple search may turn up 100 unstratified hits inside CZ--that is too many to be useful to a student in a hurry. If our search engine is week then we ought to build into the system a logical order. How do users now search--no one knows, and to pretend to match this imaginary process is a recipe for confusion. The way classification works is that it organizes material in an orderly way (think of biology, or indeed Roget's thesaurus.) I've prepared a dozen book indexes. The worst ones were computer generated (I used automated Key Word in Context in my Historian's Guide to Statistics, 1971), and the best ones required some thought and design. Richard Jensen 07:24, 24 April 2007 (CDT)
Some numbers: Wiki now has 1.8 million articles in English. When you try something like "Massachusetts Bay history" you get over 2000 hits inside the Wiki, which is going to baffle users. I suspect when confronted with lots of hits people take just the top 10 or 20 (that is Google's formula anyway). That means they miss 99% of the available information. The solution is to structure the information so users can find their way around. Richard Jensen 07:39, 24 April 2007 (CDT)

(Undent) I see, so this is mainly about the convenience of searchers? Well, as any computer scientist can tell you, placing words in a certain order is not going to make a whole lot of difference--unless you straitjacket the search engine by telling it, "Deliver the results in alphabetical order." Document search isn't exactly a "solved problem," but there is a lot known about it. Search results can be delivered according to various useful heuristics (whether the word occurs in the title, number of times a word occurs in the article, whether the word occurs among the first N characters, etc.), and those heuristics are usually more useful than anything you might produce by alphabetical order.   One particularly useful heuristic, by the way, is the ability to deliver at the top of a list articles that have all the search words in the exact order in which they appear in the search. Well, most people are going to search for "history of Massachusetts", not "Massachusetts, History", and you'd like to present them with exactly what they searched on, if possible. You can try this right now: when I search for "history of Massachusetts" right now, the first result is "Massachusetts, History"--which takes one extra beat of processing before I realize, "Oh, that's what I'm looking for, they've just used the old-fashioned paper encyclopedia method of titling articles; how quaint."   It's the job of programmers to take ordinary English pages and then deliver the desired results near the top of a search. Trying to second-guess them by titling articles in a certain way will not help them very much, unless you redesign the way the search engine works--which we aren't going to do. --Larry Sanger 09:53, 24 April 2007 (CDT)

I wholeheartedly agree with Larry here -- we have search paradigms, and the ability to tweak them, and therefore do not need to follow the old print-based notions of tables of contents and indexes. But in order to ensure a clear, uniform look across articles and topics, the sooner we have an unambiguous guideline for naming conventions, the better. One thought: might we have a mainpage link to such editorial policy documents? I know we have some out there, but my intuitive guesses as to where they are linked seem to be wrong. Russell Potter 10:32, 24 April 2007 (CDT)
Russell, can you please have a look at CZ:Project Home and offer suggestions (on Talk:Main Page) about what we should have on the main page? I agree that it's due for an overhaul. --Larry Sanger 10:42, 24 April 2007 (CDT)
what do editors do? we keep track of articles planned, underway, finished, in need of updates, etc. With say 10,000 history articles we have to use alphabetized listings to keep track--there is no other way. It is a curious fallacy that CZ can do without alphabetical order. Richard Jensen 17:33, 24 April 2007 (CDT)
Richard, I do understand your concern -- but by the time we have that many articles, no one person will be keeping track of them all, and even an alphabetized list of 10,000 articles would be balky and not very useful. We have other tools -- page tracking and the Article Checklist among them -- which will do the job far better. It may be useful to put the keyterms in the order you've suggested in the abc field of the Article checklist (since we want an alpha sort to be possible on these), but there's nothing to be gained -- either in sortability or tracking articles -- by using such terms for actual article titles. Russell Potter 17:39, 24 April 2007 (CDT)
Yes, an editor can keep track of articles if they are sorted the same way for each subtopic. (For example, the subarticles for states will all look like UTAH, HISTORY, VERMONT, HISTORY, VIRGINIA, HISTORY etc rather than HISTORY OF UTAH, VERMONT HISTORY, VIRGINIA STATE HISTORY etc. Richard Jensen 17:50, 24 April 2007 (CDT)
But we will be compiling many lists--and, in fact, that the wiki itself is itself (or can be) an efficient, effective sorting mechanism. I concede that listing articles in Category:History Workgroup won't be easily findable without the convention you suggest--I take it that that's your point. But I doubt it will be very helpful even if we make our entries more "alphabeticizable," simply because many topics are not "classified" by their titles (for example, the names of political figures, or battles). But by compiling lists (or, as I recently proposed, "catalogs"), we can make it much easier to find things. It's very important to think about the possibilities that not being paper opens up... --Larry Sanger 17:51, 24 April 2007 (CDT)
Thinking outside the box is one thing, but having heaps of unorganized, unsystematic names is quite another. As an old librarian, I spent a lot of time with classification schemes and actually, there is a logic to using logic. :) If it does not matter to you, then please step away from the discussion because it really does matter to some people. Richard Jensen 18:00, 24 April 2007 (CDT)
Hey, just because you're an old librarian, that doesn't mean you have the lock on interest in classification. I thought I had the lock because I'm a philosopher. Stand back!  :-) We're debating about how to classify. You want article names to reflect their classification. I don't; I think that the tendency to use the names of articles (and other things) to organize is a reflection on old-fashioned automatic paper methods of classification. I.e., according to that old librarian way :-) of doing things, each item goes on a card, and all the cards go into a giant alphabetized stack, and people locate books by searching through that alphabetical list. Of course, if those are your constraints, it makes sense to name articles the way you want. But there are no such constraints here. We can still classify things, but by using wiki pages, we can do it even better. --Larry Sanger 18:06, 24 April 2007 (CDT)

(Undent) we have this constraint: if every topic uses a different naming system nobody will be helped and everyone will be confused. The authors will be doing duplicate entries because they did not spot the duplication. (This actually happened to me this week!) This anti-paper bit is a red herring: it assumes, without evidence or logic, that search engines will solve problems and I want to prevent the problem in the first place. Richard Jensen 19:19, 24 April 2007 (CDT)

I think everyone agrees we need a consistent naming convention, for our own internal consistency and to help prevent duplication (though if the Article checklist has the key term first in its abc field, then duplicate articles should show up right next to one another -- a very helpful detail!). But I don't think we're anti-paper here, simply post-paper. If, as has been the case with Wikipedia, the *vast* majority of users come to the site laterally via search engines then, for better or worse, it's to that mode of access we need to attune ourselves. Russell Potter 20:40, 24 April 2007 (CDT)
Most folks who use search engines use only the first page, and indeed only the first few listings--that means Wikipedia. That's bad for our numbers. We should cater to more sophisticated users who appreciate quality, for we will never beat Wiki at the numbers game (they have 1.8 million articles today). Richard Jensen 21:50, 24 April 2007 (CDT)
The number of articles on Wikipedia does not increase their search ranking. Pages are listed in order of relevance. The search engines know that just cause Wikipedia highly relevant for many searches, it is not relevant for every search. If our articles are better written, then they will be, or become, more relevant and so compete the Wikipedia version in the search results even though we are smaller. We can then rely on our branding to influence people to click on our article rather than theirs. Derek Harkness 01:00, 25 April 2007 (CDT)
A agree with Derek's points, we must stress quality. Consider a Wiki article on XYZ and a CZ article on XYZ. The way Google works, they both are about as relevant; the one with more user LINKS gets a higher rating. So we have to convince people to link to us. Consider another factor--the same Wiki article gets mirrored or duplicated in other sites, and those are listed separately by Google. So users may see 4 copies of the Wiki article and one of the CZ, but not know the 4 are duplicates. That gives Wiki a 4-1 advantage over CZ in getting chosen by the user, everything else the same. If people comparison shop for quality, they will pick CZ. That is if they know enough to judge quality, which is stretching things for the high school and college kids who are typical Wiki users. One solution is to get gatekeepers (teachers, librarians) to recommend CZ. Richard Jensen 01:55, 25 April 2007 (CDT)

Redirects and Naming?

Hi folks, I'm not sure if you realize, but we should not be making redirects to articles to change the naming conventions. When you do that, you lose the page histories. As this workgroup now has two articles up for approval, and I assume some editing will be forthcoming, the decision needs to be made in rather short order. Thanks. --Matt Innis (Talk) 21:12, 24 April 2007 (CDT) Constable

I split the Pittsburgh article in two per discussion, then someone not in this group jumped in and changed my titles. That's a no-no, so I changed them back. Richard Jensen 21:45, 24 April 2007 (CDT)
Well, since it was the editor-in-chief who did the title changing, and since he did that in conformity with practices well understood if not perfectly articulated until lately, I can't agree that it was a no-no. But I'd like to persuade you of the wisdom of the action, for no other reason than that you're such a valuable person to have on board. --Larry Sanger 23:37, 24 April 2007 (CDT)
I have not heard any positive reasons why it's a good idea. I've tried at some length to explain the drawbacks. What explicit alternative policy is suggested here? Richard Jensen 23:39, 24 April 2007 (CDT)

No Ships or Weapons

No Ships or weapons in this workgroup--they only belong in military workgroup. Richard Jensen 22:52, 27 April 2007 (CDT)

Why is that? I'll admit to my doubts about having dozens of entries on named ships of a single class, but surely some ships (HMS Victory, the Mary Rose, or RMS Titanic) are of sufficient historical importance? Russell Potter 02:55, 28 April 2007 (CDT)
I agree that historical ships belong. In fact I'm planning an entry on the Lusitania myself. None of these ships remotely qualify. Richard Jensen 08:52, 28 April 2007 (CDT)
That sounds right by me! However, rather than completely "strand" these relatively less significant ships, why not have some sort of index page which *is* tagged for the History workgroup, such as "Index of Military Vessels," that could be linked to any appropriate main entry? Russell Potter 08:57, 28 April 2007 (CDT)

Types of history

Hi, Would have posted on the forums, but no registration email has been forthcoming so I thought I'd try here. Just querying the absence of Ancient history/Medieval history/Modern history articles. This may be a UK-centric or university-centric perspective, but these are some of the first articles I'd look for to find pointers on history as a whole, not to mention being three well-known categories of history. I am sure you have considered this! The reason I ask is that I have begun an article on Medieval history but will not continue if there is already a plan of attack that excludes these articles. Hope this all makes sense. A Larter 13:56, 14 June 2007 (CDT)

There is no plan of attack and articles on medieval history are most welcome indeed! (we have a few in ancient history now) The article on "history" in my opinion should be about historiography. and not attempt to be a capsule history of mankind from 4004bc to 2007ad (excuse the humor--there is a lively discussion on 4004 BC going on in Young earth creationism). Richard Jensen 21:53, 14 June 2007 (CDT)
Ah, I was thinking more along the lines of articles entitled Medieval history, Ancient history and so on. There don't appear to be any links to these titles on this page, so I was wondering about their exclusion. I will have a further think about the history v. historiography thing. I can see your point, but I feel that history itself would be somehow missing out. A Larter 03:05, 15 June 2007 (CDT)
We really could use a survey article on Medieval History. Please give it a try and I will help out. Richard Jensen 03:14, 15 June 2007 (CDT)
Will have a go. A Larter 05:48, 15 June 2007 (CDT)

Years as Articles

Someone added a one-line article on 563 BCE. I think year-articles are a waste of our limited efforts. Perhaps they make sense on Wikipedia where there are hundred thousand teenagers to keep busy. Does anyone here SUPPORT such articles? If so we'll discuss it. If not we'll set the policy of no-such-articles. Richard Jensen 05:26, 29 December 2007 (CST)

Always found this WP linking of years a nuisance, so don't do it.--Paul Wormer 05:37, 29 December 2007 (CST)
Paul, I fully agree, *linking* to years as e.g. 2006 is pure nonsense. I guess we discuss here something else -- the very existence of separate pages as 563 BCE or 2006.
  Regarding year's pages, I agree, one-two liners are pointless. But I find years' articles from e.g. XIX century quite interesting lecture. See e.g. this. Why to restrict our scope? We have already "official" catalogues and timelines. We could simply set some time limits (e.g. after 1000 or after 1500) or a minimal number of notable events for years' articles. I admit some maintenance efforts should be made to avoid statements like e.g. "December 30 - Wearing masks at balls forbidden in Boston, Massachusetts." :D But, hopefully this would cost not too much (typically, these articles are not very controversial). Although historians have much to say about this, I wish the discussion was not restricted to the History Workgroup. Aleksander Stos 08:24, 29 December 2007 (CST)
There is a controlling, overarching policy that impinges on this decision: maintainability. If we can maintain a full set of articles about individual years, and they are of reasonably good quality, then we should. We can't maintain such a set at present, but we can anticipate being able to do so. It is simply not a good reason to nix a whole category of articles simply because you think the information in the articles is unimportant; importance is often a question that reasonable people can disagree about, and in that case, we are biased in favor of inclusiveness. If, therefore, the history editors want to discourage articles about individual years, feel free for now; but the decision would have to be revisited in the future, after we have grown.

  I think we can certainly credibly maintain a full set of articles about different historical periods or ages, and even about individual centuries, and about recent decades. --Larry Sanger 09:08, 29 December 2007 (CST)

Yes, CZ can maintain good articles on eras, centuries, and key decades. Each year is a different matter. Wikipedia's year-entries fill up with trivia, local disasters and explosions, and unsourced urban myths--the 1890 example is full of both. (For example Hollerith did NOT devise his IBM-card system in 1890, it was 1885.) We can never match Wikipedia in vast quantity of trivia, and it is very expensive (in terms of time spent by limited numbers of CZ experts) to keep high standards of reliability when you have lots of unconnected facts that have to be verified from multiple sources--and which do not add up to anything at all. Richard Jensen 10:04, 29 December 2007 (CST)
I like timelines and chronology lists, but its simply pointless to link to years and then be expected to have articles for every year. Denis Cavanagh 17:58, 30 December 2007 (CST)
I don't think we should even (ever?) try to match WP's vast quantities of trivia :P On a practical note, though, if we're going to have a policy of not linking to years, that needs to be communicated to people. As mentioned on Talk:2006, it was one of the most linked-to pages without an article. Both 2006 and 1945 have 118 incoming links, and two other years have more than 100 incoming links each. We're really going to need a bot to find and de-link every occurrence. Anton Sweeney 18:13, 30 December 2007 (CST) (And w00t, an edit conflict - we're getting busy!)
You, Anton & Richard, both claim that we can't and shouldn't try to fill up CZ with what you call "trivia." There are two mistakes in this view. The first is that we are not on track to be as large as Wikipedia in terms of personnel after some more years of growth. We are. If that still isn't clear, wait six months, and I am very sure it will be. This means we will have the personnel to handle Wikipedia-quantities of what you call "trivia." The second is a problem I have with the very concept of "trivia." One person's "trivia" is another person's Deeply Important Truth. There is and never has been any good reason to exclude "trivia" that we can expect to be able to handle credibly. This is why we have a maintainability policy and not a CZ:notability or "importance" policy, which is what Richard, wrongheadly, often assumes we have. We don't! --Larry Sanger 22:25, 3 January 2008 (CST)

(Undent) Maintainability - even wikipedia doesn't have articles on every single year. Most wikipedia dates are grouped into decades or centuries. These longer time periods may be useful to view contemporary events but single years contain too little, especially in the BCE times. However, there is another factor aside form maintainability: the question of relevance of a link. We don't link to an article just because there is an article of that name. We link because the linked article is relevant to the topic of the linking article. When you look at what links to 2006, one of the first articles you will see is Charles Darwin. How is the year 2006 relevant to Darwin's article, it isn't. There was an exhibition about Darwin in New York in 2006 but reading an article about 2006's events will not help me understand anything more about either the exhibition or Darwin. Derek Harkness 20:49, 30 December 2007 (CST)

I don't have the strongest of feelings either way, but we just don't have the time and human resources now. I vote with Richard. No way I'd spend my time verifying trivia, so I wouldn't expect him to. We can't simply leave a whole bunch of unverified data; we'd look ridiculous if it were bad.
  Sorry to be curmudgeonly, but this page is long and boring and needs archiving. Nah, I can't do it. Is the conversation here and the core articles on the talk page for a good reason? --Aleta Curry 22:10, 30 December 2007 (CST)
The word "narrative" appears 11 times in CZ:Article_Mechanics. A list of stuff that happened in a year is clearly not a narrative. I'd say, if someone writes a narrative introduction to a year, we ought to keep it. That would be maintainable. Otherwise, nix it. --Joe Quick 18:42, 3 January 2008 (CST)
A list of stuff that happens in a year should not be made an article. It obviously should be a catalog. Does that help solve the problem, or at least put it into perspective? --Larry Sanger 22:27, 3 January 2008 (CST)
I just added subpages templates to a handful of year stubs (because they were in special:uncategorizedpages). Warren Schudy 18:56, 3 January 2008 (CST)
Those really should be made subpages, perhaps of pages about decades. --Larry Sanger 22:27, 3 January 2008 (CST)
Many periods of time already have names, such as middle ages. However, the terminology "middle ages" is Euro-centric, and other regions would probably prefer to slice time differently. If per-year pages have a purpose, it's to help people connect what was happening in different parts of the world at the same time; the article on year 1000 might link to articles on the middle ages and other articles on history of that time in other cultures.
  I know a history professor who, when asked informally what her specialty was, used to say "European intellectual history during the late middle ages and early modern period." A Chinese historian, hearing her say this, replied, "Oh, you mean during the Ming" (which was 1368 to 1644). So now she says, "I study European intellectual history of the Ming period." Of course, since Citizendium is currently all in English, if we're going to use dynasty names, maybe we should subdivide time into "the Plantagenet era," "the Tudor era," etc. (Mostly just kidding, but there is a real point here about the arbitrariness and cultural basis of such names, as Warren points out.) Bruce M. Tindall 11:18, 18 January 2008 (CST)
How about something like:
  • Articles on each decade from 1900 to present
  • Articles on each century from 1 to 1900
  • Articles on each millennium from 10,000 BCE to 1 BCE
I think those periods of time are long enough to write real narratives, not just trivia. Note: I'm just wandering by while cleaning up and not a history author, so there's no need to pay attention to me. Warren Schudy 18:56, 3 January 2008 (CST)
As I understand maintainability, it is sort of like a Wiki Categorical Imperative: Write only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will and expect that the category of your article should become universally covered on the wiki. So if we can reasonably expect to have articles about all roads, then we should allow an article about Center Street (Valdosta, Georgia) (Huh? Which road??), because we also want articles about roads of similar UNimportance. On the other hand, we want articles on roads like the Autobahn because we also want Route 66. We want Middle Ages because we also want The Enlightenment. I think anything beyond this is simply untenable and thus not maintainable and is also inviting of cruft. Of course, as I suspected all along, "what is maintainable?" actually begs the question of "what is notable?" Stephen Ewen 19:17, 3 January 2008 (CST)
I think that "Categorical Imperative" is a load of bologna, to be honest. Some items of almost any type are going to be more important than other items of that type. Zero, pi, and (-1)1/2 are all important numbers, but 28 isn't so special. Similarly, 1492 would probably make quite a nice narrative article because a number of really important things happened that year and many of them were interconnected. 1602, not so much. --Joe Quick 21:25, 3 January 2008 (CST)

(Undent) I suppose CZ:Family-Friendly Policy excludes an article on the number 69 :-) It is rather difficult to devise a general rule, about numbers, or dates, or anything actually. However, it is clear that unless a special year, date or number can be justified as an encyclopedia entry in itself, then it should not be an entry on CZ. Surely? Martin Baldwin-Edwards 23:38, 3 January 2008 (CST)

Right. If five important but unrelated things happened in a particular year, then by all means write five articles about them but an article about the year is probably unjustified. If an article can be oriented around a particular year such that it sticks together with some narrative flow, then I think an article is justified.
  In 1492, the last Moorish stronghold on the Iberian Peninsula was vanquished, the Inquisition decreed, and Columbus's voyage undertaken. That sounds like a justified article: it's maintainable and can be written as an introductory narrative. It might be included as a part of a larger article on the Catholic Kings but by orienting it around the year, you actually get more information because you can include related events across southern Europe, Turkey, North Africa, and the Americas. With a narrative, not everything in the article needs to have actually happened in 1492, and it probably shouldn't be so limited because events leading up to and following those of 1492 are integral to understanding the year's significance. I'll see if I can put something together for the write-a-thon to demonstrate my point. --Joe Quick 04:34, 4 January 2008 (CST)
Some historians have spun whole books out of single years: e.g., John Wills's 1688: A Global History, and Ray Huang's 1587: A Year of No Significance. (Of course, some of these are, to put it mildly, questionable, e.g. Gavin Menzies's 1421: The Year China Discovered America.) Bruce M. Tindall 11:18, 18 January 2008 (CST)
All: I guess I'm not clear on what the controversy is here. I thought the idea of Draft vs. Approved articles seemed like it should remedy most of the WP issue of "bad" info. Aleta mentions above "We can't simply leave a whole bunch of unverified data" to which I would reply, what do you think we have now? Any article that is not approved, which is most of them, can (and should) basically be viewed as such. My hope is that the real names and open discussion will be what inspires accuracy, and not necessarily the editorial/approval process.
  Really, though, why does anybody care about what articles _shouldn't_ go into CZ. Wouldn't it be more productive to look for what information we _want_ to include and focus our efforts there? I sure don't want to have to go through articles for every year from forever ago ... and so I won't. But is it for me to decide that you shouldn't? just my 2 cents ... --David Yamakuchi 23:34, 22 January 2008 (CST)

(Summary) Years as Articles should conform to CZ:Article Mechanics (i.e., contain narrative) and be maintainable. Thus, 1492, 1066, 1688, 1968, 1989, and others could reasonably have articles written about them because of their historical significance as years. But linking to years just because this has been WP policy should be deprecated. Russell D. Jones 22:32, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

Police history?

Hi, I'm an Editor over in Literature, but with an interest in the history of the Metropolitan Police. I've so far started items on Scotland Yard and some of its denizens, including Lilian Wyles, Frederick Porter Wensley, and Charles Frederick Field -- wanted to alert the History workgroup to them, and see if perhaps a Workgroup header of some kind could be devised for "History of Policing," so that these articles might get attention from those in, or joining, your workgroup. Many thanks, Russell Potter 09:46, 12 April 2007 (CDT)

police history = very good idea. Richard Jensen 12:44, 13 April 2007 (CDT)

use the core topics

I suggest we drop the old priority list (which was made up by an undergradauet who is now longer active) and use these from the Core listing. Richard Jensen 23:53, 8 November 2007 (CST)

History - Stage 2

(10) = worth this number of points   * = external, to replace or rewrite   ** = micro-stub

  1. Black history
  2. Cultural history
  3. Comparative history
  4. Demographic history
  5. Diplomatic history
  6. Education history
  7. Economic history
  8. History of Science
  9. Legal history
  10. Social history
  11. Political history
  12. Women's history
  13. World history

Second column

  1. African history
  2. American history
  3. British history
  4. Chinese history
  5. Ethnic history
  6. Family history
  7. French history
  8. German history
  9. Italian history
  10. Latin American history
  11. Middle East history
  12. Russian history
  13. South Asian history
  14. Spanish history
  15. Urban history

Third column

  1. Ancient Middle East
  2. Canadian history
  3. Charlemagne
  4. Charles de Gaulle
  5. Benjamin Disraeli
  6. Elizabeth I
  7. Enlightenment
  8. Henry VIII
  9. Holy Roman Empire
  10. Mao Zedong
  11. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  12. Louis XIV
  13. Peter the Great
  14. Philosophy of History

Already-written core articles in this workgroup

(Core Article points not available for these articles.)

Start listing already-existing core articles here

  1. Business history
  2. History
  3. Military History
  4. Oral History
  5. Quantitative history

Second column

  1. Agriculture, history
  2. Atlantic History
  3. Cold War
  4. The Crusades
  5. French Revolution
  6. Great Depression
  7. India, history
  8. Industrial Revolution
  9. Japan, history
  10. Middle Ages
  11. Poland
  12. Renaissance
  13. Ukraine
  14. Slavery
  15. World War I
  16. World War II

Third column

  1. American Revolution
  2. Herbert Henry Asquith
  3. History of biology
  4. Otto von Bismarck
  5. British Empire
  6. Andrew Carnegie
  7. Winston Churchill
  8. Coal mining, history of
  9. Colonial America
  10. Communism
  11. Diplomacy, U.S., Timeline
  12. William Ewart Gladstone
  13. Henry Ford
  14. Frontier Thesis
  15. Adolf Hitler
  16. Holocaust
  17. Thomas Jefferson
  18. Abraham Lincoln
  19. David Lloyd George
  20. Napoleon
  21. National Socialism
  22. New Deal
  23. Railway History
  24. Ronald Reagan
  25. Reconstruction
  26. Republicanism
  27. Republicanism, U.S.
  28. John D. Rockefeller
  29. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  30. Theodore Roosevelt
  31. Social History, U.S.
  32. Joseph Stalin
  33. Steel industry, history
  34. American Civil War
  35. George Washington
  36. Woodrow Wilson

Items removed from list on main WG page

This series of edits deleted a number of items from the list of articles on the main WG page; the rationale was "trying to drop items that belong to other workgroups (archaeology), and focus on nations and big topics, dropping almost all individuals and smaller events." J. Noel Chiappa 11:08, 15 April 2008 (CDT)

I'm unclear here, Noel-- are you finding fault with doing this? Personally, in the interest of seeing the workgroup become a more central location for History authors, I think we should be adding more articles to the list-- and particularly so that we can see which articles have and have not been written, and so that contributors can keep abreast of what other people are working on and not duplicate their efforts. We want our list to be a wish-list, but we also want it to be a list of what people are actually doing. Brian P. Long 17:24, 17 April 2008 (CDT)
Nope, purely informational. When I delete things from lists like this, I tend to comment them out, so it's easier to see that they are gone (and put them back, if doing so becomes appropriate in the future - memory/consideration can always use a hint). When they're deleted, of course they are still available in the history, but most people wouldn't look there. J. Noel Chiappa 12:30, 19 April 2008 (CDT)
Thanks for the tip-- I'll comment list items out in the future. Best, Brian P. Long 12:42, 19 April 2008 (CDT)


Given that many individual years are high up on the Special:WantedPages list, I was wondering what their role should be here at CZ. Should they get individual pages and narratives or live as lists at subpages of some broader time frames that get a narrative (e.g. decades or centuries)? I probably won't participate much in writing any of these but I started {{years}} which could help in organizing these things coherently if expanded and adapted accordingly. --Daniel Mietchen 20:27, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

Just saw that the discussion is much older already, see CZ:History Workgroup#years_as_articles. --Daniel Mietchen 09:25, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
As this is a matter pertaining to article standards, I think the history editors and authors should develop a policy on this for the Editorial Council to review. Daniel, what is the purpose of the {{years}} template? How would editors/authors use it? Does it just create a list of articles with the tag? Russell D. Jones 17:15, 12 December 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, hadn't seen this earlier - from my perspective, the main purpose of the template at present would be to help clean up Special:WantedPages. However, this may clutter up the main namespace with entries too stubby to persist here, and so there may be a better way to do this - e.g. by creating a page like CZ:Years with an explanation of the current and possible long-term policy on articles about years, decades and so on - and redirecting all those 1945s there. However, I think any such policy would need editorial input, to which I am not entitled. --Daniel Mietchen 07:43, 28 April 2009 (UTC)


I disambiguated this, but seem to have messed up some things in the process. I hope someone knows how to sort it out. Peter Jackson 12:03, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

Looks fine to me. Russell D. Jones 17:16, 12 December 2008 (UTC)
The article seems to have moved OK, but not the talk page. However, I just now created a new talk page for United Empire Loyalists and copied the (one line of) content from the old "Loyalists" talk page into it. Does that make it work? Bruce M. Tindall 19:29, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

A specific question about a tribal name

I am copying this question to the Linguistics, Anthropology and History Workgroups' discussion pages in the hopes of finding a definitive answer to a specific question.

My question is this: there was a tribe known as Dal Riata which existed in various extents in north-eastern Ireland and western Scotland. I have seen the name rendered also as Dalriata, Dalriada, Dal Riada and Dál Riata. Which is the correct version of the name? Are the 'riada' versions a simple confusion with another tribe called Dal nariadi? Which form should the name take in an English language forum? --Mal McKee 00:27, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

Inconsistent naming

Hi History workgroup, do you have any advice about the best means of naming for articles about the United States? For example we have both History of education in the United States and USA education, preschool. David Finn 12:36, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Thank you for asking. This, as you can find out from reading some of the debates on this issues from 2008 or so, has been heavily discussed and there are various (hotly held) opinions about it. There is no workgroup rule about it, but there are our naming conventions, with which I agree: punctuation in the title of an article should be avoided if possible. So I would prefer "History of preschool education in the U.S." to "U.S., education, preschool, history". Reducing this sort of inconsistent naming has been a pet project of mine for many years. I'm sure my list is incomplete, too. You can see that I have re-worked "Britain, History" into "History of the United Kingdom" and "Railways, Canada" into "History of railways in Canada" and some others. You can see also, that there is a remediation suggested in CZ:Naming_conventions: add the article to Category:Rename suggested. • Russell D. Jones 16:17, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the explanation. I notice the EC was discussing this recently, and although they didn't get as far as the voting stage the opinions there seem to favour Preschool education in the U.S. (history). What do you think of that approach? If there is a method everyone could agree on I can help with that list. David Finn 18:24, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
It reads like a disambiguation page. It has unneeded punctuation. If we need an article on the history of preschool education in the U.S. then the article should be titled "History of preschool education in the U.S." If we don't need* an article on the topic, then a heading in the "Preschool education in the U.S." would suffice (i.e., Preschool education in the U.S.#History). Russell D. Jones 18:52, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
*"need", "want", "should have", etc., insert your verb here.
Regarding the list, here are some examples of how I was intending to go with it:
Agriculture, history "History of agriculture"
Agriculture, history, U.S. "History of American agriculture" or "history of agriculture in the U.S."
Alabama, history "History of Alabama"
American election campaigns, 19th century "American election campaigns in the 19th century"
Human flight, history (1919-1938) "History of human flight"
Labor Unions, U.S., History "History of U.S. labor unions"
  • N.b.: The history workgroup has hashed this out repeatedly (see above). Jensen's arguments in favor of "Germany, History, Wilhelmine era" are in the minority. Russell D. Jones 19:21, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
Yes, looking at this page and the forums I see this has been a much-contended issue over the years. Personally I have no preference - I can see that your method is consistent and useful. I can also appreciate one of the forum points which was that we could end up with a zillion articles all titled History of....
I am going to ask again of the EC if they can make this official for the reason that I am worried if I start working through your list they might ultimately pick a slightly different method which would mean me redoing all my edits. However if the issue is not a priority for them I will go right ahead and implement your method so that we have some consistency. David Finn 07:03, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
Well, really, for building an encyclopedia from the bottom up, we shouldn't be creating "History of ..." articles from the beginning. That's happened because we've had a couple of really active historians working here. Ideally, these articles should start as top-level articles. e.g.:
Agriculture, history should be #History heading of the agriculture article, e.g. Agriculture#history
Agriculture, history, U.S. should be #U.S. under #History of the agriculture article
Alabama, history Alabama (U.S. state)#History
American election campaigns, 19th century U.S. Elections#19th century
Human flight, history (1919-1938) "History of human flight"
Labor Unions, U.S., History U.S. Labor Unions#History
Once the articles get bulky enough, then we can summarize and fork, (See also: History of this topic) Russell D. Jones 13:51, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
Well, I guess that's already happening with some of these. I noted that both Alabama and Agriculture had history sections. Russell D. Jones 13:53, 7 December 2011 (UTC)

<undent>OH! and I just rediscovered this: History Workgroup Style Rules. I had started a style sheet under a resolution of the Pre-Charter Ed Council which authorized each workgroup to develop its own style rules. So, I had started it, but didn't get very far. Russell D. Jones 01:01, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

I can't blame you for not finishing it yet, that is a lot of work for one person. Looking at your comments above, about History of... articles beginning as a subsection of a main article, makes me think (although I have no evidence for it) that most people, if looking for the history of the USA, will probably type "USA" into our search box and then look for the history section. At that point they will get a short synopsis of the history with a link to the page History of the USA.
This makes me think that disambiguation, ie having an article called USA (history), might not be so bad. That way when someone types "USA" in our search box they get a dropdown list of all articles starting with "USA", eg USA (history), USA (geography) etc. If the articles are instead called History of the USA and Geography of the USA then the dropdown list will have a lot of articles like History of education. History of dance, History of the USA, History of physics, etc.
I take your point about excess punctuation, but can you see how having all our USA articles starting with USA could also be useful? Like a supercluster of USA articles, all originating as a subsection of the main article. David Finn 11:46, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
Useful? no. The search engine finds the articles. The article titles should have elegant names. Russell D. Jones 15:27, 8 December 2011 (UTC)