Wiktionary:Votes/pl-2005-03/First letter capitalization

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Hi fellow Wiktionarians.

I'm going to bring up a hot topic again, turning off of first letter capitalization on en.wiktionary.org. We have wanted it since the beginning, but when finally it became technically possible, it was outvoted by people who weren't even that large contributors and who are also not around any more. They forced us into the status quo back then and everything had to be left the way it was, when the English Wiktionary got started.

This vote is about the simple question of whether we want this feature. Because of the size of this project, a positive vote does not imply that the change will be made immediately. Further discussions about how to implement that decision will be necessary. Eclecticology
This introduction is bristling with POV:
"We have wanted it since the beginning"
"it was outvoted by people who weren't even that large contributors"
"They forced us into the status quo back then"
Hippietrail 13:34, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)
You are right. Most of the above is my opinion about the matter. They are all the reasons why I wanted to restart the vote. In fact it was outvoted by people who mostly weren't and stil aren't contributors at all. Since I was around in the beginning of the project, I can tell you that one of the recurring questions back then was indeed about this capitalization. We had to make do with the software created to build an encyclopedia tough, so we did. I don't know how to start a vote without expressing my opinion. I can only tell you that differences in capitalization policies between projects are a pain to work around. Sorry for being calculating and manipulative. Polyglot 14:55, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)

In the mean time the following 24 Wiktionaries already went ahead and switched over:

'cs', 'de', 'es', 'fa', 'fr', 'gu', 'hi', 'hr', 'hu', 'it', 'ja', 'ka', 'kn', 'ku', 'nl', 'sa', 'scn', 'sq', 'sv', 'sw', 'tlh', 'tokipona', 'tr', 'vi'

(Taken from pyWikipediabot)

Many by the same people, most of tiny size in comparison to en. This smells like a tactic to try and make it look popular purely as a calculated step to get en to change. — Hippietrail 13:34, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)
vi: was switched over without a majority vote: 1 for, 1 against. But I'm not bitter about it. :) In addition, tokipona: shouldn't matter since it wasn't even started, and the companion Wikipedia was shut down. – [[User:Mxn|Minh Nguyễn (talk, blog)]] 21:53, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)

As far as I know the ones that didn't switch over are either unpopulated or their languages simply don't have an alphabet that allows capitalization. Polyglot 10:46, 8 Mar 2005 (UTC)

-- That's about right. -Ec

'pl' has not switched over. \Mike 15:20, 8 Mar 2005 (UTC)

So who wants to switch off first letter capitalization and thus have two separate pages for kind (English, Dutch) and Kind (German)?


  1. Polyglot 14:33, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  2. SemperBlotto So we can have i (Square root of -1) and I (personal pronoun) etc.
  3. Connel MacKenzie 08:01, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC) Always wondered why this was broken.
  4. Eclecticology 01:35, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC) I've supported this from day one.
  5. \Mike 01:41, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC) Definitely.
  6. Brian K Lewis 03:15, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC) Of course, many words have different definitions in capitilization. And if a word doesn't have separate capitilizations, it could always have a redirection.
  7. User:Mac Davis---- I totally agree with Brian, and maybe we can have a template prepared in relation
  8. Cam 22:54, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC) As Brian says.
  9. erlome 18:12, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC) Default capitalization is silly.
  10. I'm new to this place, but love the idea. Concerning the question at hand, it seems to make sense to capitalize only those entries demanded by grammar to be capitalized. I'm in.
  11. Ncik 6 Mar 05
  12. Phoenix-Forgotten 17:20, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC) I'm new as well, and I don't see why you would even want pan-capitalization in a wiktionary; it's silly. A 'did you mean...?' template at the top of every dual-capitalized word's page should work fine.
  13. Stan Shebs 00:13, 11 Mar 2005 (UTC) The auto-capitalization was rather, shall we say, "unhelpful", back when I was working on the German section.
  14. GerardM 05:59, 11 Mar 2005 (UTC) Was not aware of the vote but YES!!
  15. --SabineCretella 07:14, 11 Mar 2005 (UTC) This would make also the English wiktionary similar to a paper-dictionary - simply great - no more discussions with colleagues about the "why all captial letters" :-) Yes, please do it!
  16. Yann 12:55, 11 Mar 2005 (UTC) I just learned that there was vote, but yes, that's a good move. And I would participate much more.
  17. TarmoK 12:37, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC) (in the starting of page can (and I think should) always add note about other writing versions.)
  18. .sj:. 11:04, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC) Totally. Talk about a technical artefact surviving floods and dark ages... do you think the encyclopedias will ever start to follow suit?
  19. Paul G 12:49, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC) For the correctness's sake, yes. However, it'll mean a lot of broken links to fix...
  20. Gliorszio 14:03, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC) - concerning Earth/earth or Sun/sun, do we how should do?
  21. Capitalizing English words that are not by their nature capitalized is simply incorrect. A case-insensitive search would be very useful, but let's list and define words the way they really appear, not with a useless capital letter where it doesn't belong. User:rsvk 18:03, 21 Mar 2005 (PST).
  22. --Anniesophia 02:10, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  23. Timwi Thanks for bringing it up again! 19:44, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)


Who doesn't want to switch over?

  1. HelloMrMe As Brian says.
  2. Akavel Actually, I'm not so sure about it; I think there should be much thinking done before decision, especially considering the ease of use. And first of all - are there any real problems with capitalization? Secondly - I'd vote for making a (rough at least) list of categories of words, which exist only in capitalized versions - so that the considerations would have some data to base on:
    Actually a lot of thinking has been done about it already, especially by the people who are in the project almost since its inception. The only reason why First letter capitalization exists on Wiktionary is because the software written to create an encyclopedia didn't allow otherwise. Now it does and I believe we should make the change sooner rather than later. Polyglot 15:46, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
    Since "sooner" equates to immature software from a dictionary perspective, I'd like to hear some justification for rushing this. — Hippietrail
  3. User:Hippietrail I'm for being able to represent words with their correct capitalisation. I'm against "turning off of first letter capitalization" to acheive correct capitalisation as being short-sighted and simplistic, and creating too much differention between minor variations. I'm against having English "kind" and German "Kind" on different pages. I'm for full normalization of upper- and lower-case titles as part of a better, long-term solution. Many of the yes-voters' comments above indicate that they are unaware of the bad side-effects and better proposed solutions which do not suffer from these side-effects. Hardly surprising considering the seriously one-sided introduction.
  4. [[User:Mxn|Minh Nguyễn (talk, blog)]] – To me, having the entries in lowercase is merely a stylistic issue: with some words, changing it to lowercase would mean changing the meaning. But changing it to uppercase merely signifies that we're using title case here, like most pages on the Internet probably do. How many languages are incompatible with title case? Umm… toki Pona and tlhIngan Hol? At the Vietnamese Wiktionary, this meant moving many of the 60-70 entries we already had; here, it would mean moving a whole lot of entries; something that probably couldn't be done accurately with a bot. – [[User:Mxn|Minh Nguyễn (talk, blog)]] 21:53, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)
    Title case doesn't apply to dictionary entries. Ncik 02 Apr 2005
  5. Connel MacKenzie 17:56, 2 Apr 2005 (UTC) - Now I know why this was always broken. Without better explanation, it should stay "broken."
  6. -Diego UFCG 20:18, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The vote is 23 against 5 by now. I think it makes more sense to add your comments about how we should proceed on the page linked to below.

After a full month of voting we can interpret the above 13-2 vote as support in principle to proceed with this initiative. To discuss how this may be most conveniently implemented please see Wiktionary:Capitalization transition. Eclecticology 02:21, 11 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Bogus Vote[edit]

This whole "vote" is totally bogus and I must object as strongly as I am able. If we go forward based on the one-sided propaganda presented here, I will interpret this is the precedent of how all future decisions are to be made on Wiktionary. I am totally serious too.

Everybody surely knows I don't like things being forced to uppercase. You should also know that I don't like the simplistic knee-jerk response of turning off the lame first letter switch. I'm in Wiktionary for the long-term and I'm willing to wait for a long-term solution. None of the baggage that will come with the simplistic fix is presented on this page. None. Therefore this is not a vote. If it is accepted as a vote then I will take it that it is accepted as the way to vote on Wiktionary.

Somebody (sorry, I forget who) is right now actively working on some kind of next-generation Wiktionary software. Separately, when this issue first came up big-time I discussed preferable solutions with the main Wiki developers. They agreed that there were better ways to solve the capitalization issue and had some ideas on the topic. They also told me it was in demand by other users of the software but it was not high enough priority yet to begin working on with all the more major issues on their plates.

My suggestion is to cancel this whole sordid "vote". If we're honest and want to do things fairly and openly we will not do them the way this page is set up.

First I think it's quite obvious we need to come up with a proper and decent way to set up a vote.

Once we've done that if some people are still unwilling to wait for a long-term solution to the capitalisation issue, we can set up a fair vote along the guidelines we've agreed upon. Then we can vote and it will be a fair vote. If people really do vote not to wait and to go with the simplistic short-term solution under a fair system, I will go along with it. Wiktionary will still be a better place because we will no longer have misrpresentation disguised as democracy. — Hippietrail 02:43, 25 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I'm curious to learn about what the issues are that I did not consider, when entering my vote. You have demonstrated that the "vote" was shamefully biased. For that reason alone, I think it is quite reasonable to delay any plans on moving forward. But I still do not understand what you think kind and Kind should not reference separate pages. At this point, we don't have a good feel for how the software works with the switch turned off: do old articles suddenly migrate themselves to lower case, or does the switch only affect new entries? Assuming that some cross linking will exist between Kind and kind, how is search broken? Or is there a reason that my assumption about cross-links might be unworkable? --Connel MacKenzie 08:44, 25 Mar 2005 (UTC)
There were some very long and sometimes fiery threads which covered topics such as the side-effects of the simple solution, and potential other solutions. I'm not sure if it's all still in the Beer Parlour, in one of its archives, or even in another page altogether. (If my computer hadn't blown up I'd just look through the database source directly which is easier to search than the online version).
If we're to decide the best solution we need to first decide what we want that to encompass. I am personally against putting "Kind" and "kind" on separate pages for various reasons which I've covered at length. But if everyone else decides on an independent (and unbiased) vote that they want separate pages for those, I'll go along with the popular opinion. To set up such a vote we need a page which lists all the pros, all the cons, discusses & debates them with the views of various contributors. There is absolutely no reason to tie correct capitalization to splitting lowercase and uppercase words spelled identically onto separate pages. The only thing linking them is that the quickie solution will have both effects. A long-term project should not allow quickness of change to be the deciding factor in shaping its future. — Hippietrail 09:32, 25 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Most of the prior comments on this topic are at Wiktionary:Beer_parlour/case-sensitivity_vote. Some more relevant comments are at Wiktionary:Capitals_again. It's a lot to read through I'm afraid but I think it's pretty important to know what we're really voting on here and what's been said before. If any kind capable soul would like to create a digestible summary, that work would benefit us all and I'd be very grateful. — Hippietrail 09:52, 25 Mar 2005 (UTC)
This is nothing but a lot of whining because the result was conclusively contrary to what you wanted. Even if we only accepted the result of votes from people who were here before the last vote the result would be the same. I even recognize one long active person who changed his vote to yes. Characterizing the vote as "sordid" or "bogus" or "improper" or "unfair" or "indecent" or "misrepresentative" is an insult to the intelligence of everybody who participated. We aren't even talking about a close vote. Nor do I find your mention of a discussion with developers about some unmentioned pie-in-the-sky solution to be at all convincing. Developmental changes happen when they happen, and no-one should need to feel paralyzed waiting for them to haoppen. Eclecticology 06:52, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  1. "Nothing but whining" — If there is nothing else, why not respond to the individual points I made. If you can ignore that and call it whining, then your response is also nothing but whining. Respond to the points. You have only rhetoric here.
  2. "Conclusively contrary to what I wanted" — For it to be conclusive it first has to be a legitimate vote. Nowhere in your response have you defended the legitimacy, validity, or fairness of the vote.
  3. "... who changed his vote yes" — Again you are using the rhetorical technique of ignoring my points on legitimacy of the vote only to counteract with an outcome of the new vote which, as the vote was illegitimate, is not worth anything.
  4. "Characterizing the vote as "sordid" or "bogus" or "improper" or "unfair" or "indecent" or "misrepresentative" is an insult to the intelligence of everybody who participated. — Absolutely not. It is because I believe they are intelligent that I believe they will see now that only one side of the argument is presented on this page. It is because I believe they are intelligent that I believe they will go back and read all the facts. It is because I believe they are intelligent that I believe they will now consider the facts and not just the kind of emotional rhetoric typified in your response.
  5. "misrepresentative" — It is misprepresented. Most of the facts are not here. That is misprepresentation. Instead of huffing, show us how I'm wrong and how it really is representative. Polyglot admits to as much when he says "Most of the above is my opinion about the matter" and "Sorry for being calculating and manipulative". Please read the full context above.
  6. "unfair", "improper", "bogus" — I certainly believe that calling people to vote on something by showing only one side of the debate is unfair and improper. Please show where this type of vote is either fair or proper. Respond on those facts rather than quoting me out of context as a rhetorical backup to show how insulting you think I am.
  7. "sordid", "indecent" — Those are accurate terms I would use in any vote in any forum for anyone trying to get a vote to swing their way by omitting one side of the debate. Please, again, show how they are innacurate.
  8. "We aren't even talking about a close vote" — Of course not - that's why I had to respond. Paint a debate one colour and the people only see one colour.
  9. "Nor do I find your mention of a discussion with developers about some unmentioned pie-in-the-sky solution to be at all convincing." — Discussion has been on IRC and also I believe at Meta. When my internet connection is working properly I'll do my best to dig through and find them. I am pretty sure at least one other contributor here was aware of Brion's thoughts on this matter. By the way, it is now you who are using intelligence-insulting language.
  • You have made no comment at all on my proposal to define a voting system.
  • Do you endorse the presentation of the vote on this page?
  • Would you endorse this type of vote if the outcome was not on your side?
  • Is this the way you want all future votes to be run on Wiktionary?
Please, please, this time instead of responding to my "whining" with your own whining, just respond to the facts and the issues. We don't need rhetoric. We need everybody informed and we need a fair voting system. — Hippietrail 01:11, 28 Mar 2005 (UTC)
In the start of this paragraph it is mentioned that some next generation wiktionary is being developped. Correct. The timetable says that it will be available in three/four months time.
This software will NOT have first character capitalisation. So by a very lucky coincedence the en:wiktionary is going to move away from first character capitalisation NOW. When this conversion is finished, it will be easier to convert this data to the "ultimate wikionary".
It will be up to you if you join the new project. It will however NOT be the en:wiktionary way of things it will not be the nl: de: pl: way of things it will be different. First we will get some experience, then we find the flaws in the new system, then we will work on a solution.
I have proposed to change the en:capitalisation on the first of April. This in the anticipation of people preparing for this event. So, I do adress some issues. How the voting went is relevant up to a point and when the "ultimate wiktionary" proves to be a success the way this voting was done is not relevant any more. (I voted after the vote had already finished and so have many more..) GerardM 18:34, 28 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Gerard, could you please expound a little on what you mean by "first letter capitalization?" Is the next version of Wiki* software no longer going to capitalize the article title's first letter? Or something else? Is a MySQL DB conversion part of the upgrade (in a few month's time?) Will all articles have their first letter converted to lower case, and a script run after the fact to recapitalize the ones with the titled words appearing in the article? Will the "GO" button be enhanced to display an auto-disambiguation page (showing the TOC for each page?), or will people entering "Kind" end up at the German noun (with no indication that the article for the English word "kind" exists?) Are there any user preferences or checkboxes to assist people doing a search? What will the default search for anonymous IPs be? Will that likely lead people to mistakenly enter the English definition for kind in the German noun's page? Will interwiki links be automatically broken (well, yes, either way they will be.) Will regular en wiki links be broken? Will regular en wiki links automagically display multiple links? --Connel MacKenzie 22:50, 28 Mar 2005 (UTC)
In a few months the "ultimate wiktionary" will become available. It will be an integrated wiktionary where all languages will be treated as equal. 80% of the information will be treated in a language independent way and consequently all the work that you do will benefit everyone interested in the English language in equal measure. In the same way all the 3000+ pronunciations in Dutch will be available to you when you look up a Dutch word.
Ultimate wiktionary will NOT capitalise first characters. We hope to do things in the userpreferences specifically for Ultimate wiktionary This will provide for less need for disambiguation. Interlanguage links will be IMPLICIT, interproject links will have to be converted. How a page will look like? Well more or less like the pages on the Dutch, Italian, French .. wiktionaries. It will not be an exact change as we will experiment first with the GEMET data.
Every occurence of a word will start by defining the language it is in. Obviously people will still make errors but that is not different from the current situation. GerardM 11:42, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I have been willing to withhold judgement on Gerard's ultimate Wiktionary until it is operational. I was satisfied by his statement that no single language based Wiktionary would need to be merged with it unless the volunteers there agreed to it. We do agree on the basic issue about first letter capitalization, even if it is from different perspectives. At Wiktionary:Capitalization transition I did suggest some steps that should be taken before the actual switch, and suggested that his April 1 switch date was a little rushed. He then showed himself willing to change that date to May 1.
The situation is this. I am willing to accept Gerard's May 1 deadline if that's what it takes to get things done. I am not a techie, so I am unable to run the analytical steps that I feel are required before the switch. That means someone else needs to do it. As it happens, based on previous experience, the person most capable of running these analyses happens to be the one person who is most adamant about retaining the present first letter capitalization policy. If someone else has the technical skill please use it. The alternative is to go ahead with the change first. The changeover should then be based on decapitalizing article titles when all links to it begin with a lower case letter; all other article titles would retain the first letter capital until they can be repaired manually. That would then just mean that a greater amount of manual clean up work would be needed. Eclecticology 19:32, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I am not aware of a 1 May date. Given the absence of any technical discussion, there is also no point in waiting longer than April 1. GerardM 06:01, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)
My mistake, it wasn't you who suggested the May 1 alternative. It was Connel. Eclecticology 18:52, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)