Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search


Voting on: Allowing a "Description" section in entries for symbols, to place a visual description the current symbol.

Section contents:

  1. The visual description should be as short as possible. Just using the name from the Unicode codepoint should usually be enough for the character description.
    • The entry (Unicode name: HOURGLASS) may be described as "An hourglass."
  2. When the Unicode codepoint name does not tell anything about the character shape, a short shape description may be added in one's own words.
  3. Major rendering variations may be mentioned.
    • The entry 🏦 (Unicode name: BANK) may mention: "This is sometimes rendered as a bank emoji, or just the written work 'bank'."

Section placement:

  1. The Description section is to be a level 3 section.
  2. The Description section is to be placed among the first sections that exist before the POS section. More specifically: before the level 3 Etymology and Pronunciation sections when they exist, and after the level 3 Alternative forms section when it exists.


Many entries of symbols are currently using the Unicode character name as the single, or first definition. One may be tempted to define as "An hourglass." However, the current (unvoted) consensus as per this 2015 discussion is that we must not document individual characters just because they exist in Unicode.

The sense "an hourglass" (the object) may not be attestable. To attest that specific sense, it would be enough to find quotations like this: There is a hole in my , so the sand is spilling out!. Otherwise, the sense or entry may fail an RFV discussion. People may still be tempted to add the "an hourglass" sense; given that this is the Unicode character name, arguably it should be mentioned somewhere in the entry, other than infoxes such as {{character info/new}}. A few entries use the Etymology section to place information like "an hourglass". (These entries currently have a shape description in the Etymology section: 🔇, , 🗕, 💡, , etc.) However, descriptions are not etymologies.

If this vote passes, we will be able to use the Description section for the entry ⌛. A Description section is easy to find and brings consistency to the entries, as opposed to scattering symbol descriptions in definitions, Etymology and Usage notes sections. If we introduce the Description section and start adding it to entries, it should be easy to see which symbols lack a description, to add it in those as well.

Concerning the entry , compare:

Exhibit 1. Single definition. Exhibit 2. Multiple definitions. Exhibit 3. Etymology section. Exhibit 4. Description section.
(wrong per discussion) (wrong per discussion) (this is an allowable section,
but descriptions are not etymologies)
(proposed new section)


# an [[hourglass]]


# an [[hourglass]]
# [[time]]
# [[busy]] [[application]]

An [[hourglass]].


# [[time]]
# [[busy]] [[application]]

An [[hourglass]].


# [[time]]
# [[busy]] [[application]]

Status quo:

If this vote fails, maybe the Etymology section can still be used for visual descriptions until further discussion, because Etymology is already an allowable section, and Description needs to be approved by vote before it starts being used in entries.

Other examples:


  • Until further discussion, it is not known if all characters of all scripts merit a Description section. For example, one might argue that Han compounds like "秋 = compound of 禾 ‎+ 火" should use only the Etymology section and don't need a separate Description section.

Procedural note:

  • There are no entries with a Description section yet. That is, there was no attempt to add the section without a vote. If the vote passes, a Description section may start being added in entries.

Final comment, future plans:

  • This is not part of the current vote, but rather something that can be discussed eventually: if we have the Description section, we can either: 1) keep striving to have only the attestable symbols, deleting all other symbols; or 2) if people want, we can try having a large Unicode database, with unattestable entries that have the Description section properly filled with a textual description, and a single definition along the lines of: "# Symbol not attested. This entry merely describes the Unicode character."


  • Vote starts: 00:00, 10 September 2016 (UTC)
  • Vote ends: 23:59, 9 October 2016 (UTC)
    • Extended: 23:59, 9 November 2016 (UTC)



  1. Symbol support vote.svg Support --Daniel Carrero (talk) 00:15, 10 September 2016 (UTC)
    In my opinion, the information "an hourglass" must be somewhere in the entry (besides {{character info/new}}), even if the entry already has as image. An "hourglass" is what the symbol is.
    If someone asks: "What is ? I don't seem to have the right Unicode fonts to see it.", someone else could check Wiktionary and reply: "Turns out this is the hourglass symbol."
    Another conversation could happen with the opposite problem: "Where is the hourglass symbol? I can't find it.", and someone else could say: "I found it for you, here it is: ."
    The proposed description sense introduces what exactly the character is, not counting the attestable definitions. It would feel off not having "an hourglass" anywhere in the entry, and people might feel tempted to create a sense "hourglass". The entry was created in 2009 (see revision) defined as "hourglass" even though this specific sense seems to be unattestable and would fail RFV. Many other symbol entries have a sense that is merely the Unicode codepoint name, which is unwanted per this discussion. Having a "Description" section is intended to curb that practive, while still describing the symbol somewhere in the entry. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 00:21, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
  2. Symbol support vote.svg Support Using the "Etymology" section for this is silly, but until now it's all we had. In case anyone supports the idea but opposes the specific name of the header ("Description"), I hope they would consider supporting this vote regardless, so that we can talk about the name of the header after this vote has finished. This, that and the other (talk) 11:35, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
  3. Symbol support vote.svg Support. If this doesn't pass, then there should be images in each entry for characters/symbols, showing a number of different variations. Andrew Sheedy (talk) 21:11, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
    Per my "Support" section, in my opinion, the Description section is not merely a fallback in the lack of images. I believe he Description section would be useful even if all symbol entries had images. That said, I agree with you on this point: no matter if this proposal passes or fails, it would be great if all symbol entries had images, eventually. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 00:21, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
  4. Symbol support vote.svg Support. I don't greatly care, but this would increase our ability to manage these entries in a consistent and (hopefully) CFI-compliant way. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 01:17, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
  5. Symbol support vote.svg Support — Since there are already descriptions of characters, and they do not have an appropriate place, such a place needs to be created. The Unicode character name in the character infobox ({{character info/new}}) might provide an adequate description in the cases of a few characters, like the hourglass character , but not in the case of 🚫 or , whose names, "no entry sign" and "warning sign" don't give any information about what the character looks like. For such information, a Description section is needed. — Eru·tuon 23:55, 26 September 2016 (UTC)
  6. Symbol support vote.svg Support — I have been won over by Daniel Carrero’s arguments. Also, re his “Final comment, future plans”, I very much like the sound of proposal 2. — I.S.M.E.T.A. 22:32, 9 October 2016 (UTC)


  1. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose There is simply no evidence that this will be useful to anybody; I regard it as a vanity project. "Can" does not imply "should". Equinox 11:45, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
    Feel free to disagree with me, but I said in my support vote why exactly I believe this is useful. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 00:45, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
    Daniel, you have recently had a big argument with Wyang over the fact that what is useful doesn't matter, but only what the community votes on. It is therefore disingenuous if you piggyback users' votes to say "well, your vote isn't my opinion", especially when you started the vote. Equinox 02:52, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
    I also can't possibly see the value of saying "I explained why I think this is useful" when you are holding a vote. If your "usefulness" somehow takes priority over our oppose votes, then there shouldn't be a vote: we would just go with your superior choice. If we do have a choice, then don't be so presumptuous as to stamp over it. Equinox 02:56, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
    But it's normal to reply to votes of other people in a way to build a discussion. I believe it would be okay if I asked to you in the first place: if you feel the proposed Description section is not so useful, where would you say "an hourglass" in the entry , if anywhere? ... don't you agree? Or did I sound like I was ordering you around? I apologize if I sounded like that.
    Concerning "what is useful doesn't matter, but only what the community votes on" ... for implementation of some big and/or controversial things, and for policy edits, yes. In the current vote, I believe that having a new heading would be a great idea, but I would only be able to use it if the vote passed. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 05:46, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
  2. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose Would not be useful, since most of the uses are better served with images. --WikiTiki89 11:54, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
    Feel free to disagree with me, but I said in my support vote why exactly I believe this is useful. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 00:45, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
    The {{character info}} box already shows the Unicode name, which solves the issue you mentioned. --WikiTiki89 00:56, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
    I mentioned {{character info/new}} in my support vote. In my opinion, floating infoboxes feel somehow "outside" the main contents of the entry, and something important like the short character description (which states what the symbol is) should be mentioned in the main body of the entry, not only in the infobox. I imagine that a reader will sometimes be more interested in knowing what a symbol is than knowing what are the attestable definitions.
    I stated that the "Description" section should be able to curb the practice of people creating an entry like with non-attestable definitions like "# hourglass". In the entry (diff), I replaced a simple "# Symbol for tick, checkmark, check." by three semantic definitions.
    See for a symbol entry created a few weeks ago. It has two definitions:
    1. fuel pump
    2. (figuratively) petrol station, gas station
    I'm not convinced that is actually used with the meaning "fuel pump" in the real world; for this reason, I believe the 1st sense should be deleted. But the symbol does appear in maps, meaning "gas station". If printed maps with that symbol are found on Google Books, then I would consider the 2nd sense attested. The older infobox {{character info}} that you mentioned exists since 2009 and that unwanted practice of creating senses for Unicode names is still widespread, which suggests that the infobox is not helping a lot to curb the practice. The entry was created with both an infobox ({{character info/new}}) and the sense that is merely the seemingly-unattestable Unicode codepoint name ("# fuel pump"). The existence of a "Description" section (rather than an infobox) should make it clearer that there's a difference between what is a descriptive Unicode name and what are the attestable, semantic defititions. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 01:26, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
    That's exactly the point. This content does not belong in the main entry, that's why we stuffed it in an infobox. The infobox just tells you about what page you're on. --WikiTiki89 01:45, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
    As I said, feel free to disagree with me. It's okay that we have different opinions. I'm just explaining what I think, even if it does not sound convincing to you. Concerning your last point, my opinion is as follows: Actually, not only this content does belong to the main entry, it's one of the most important things to have in the main entry. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 01:54, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
  3. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose -Xbony2 (talk) 00:54, 16 September 2016 (UTC)



Passed: 6-3-0 (66.6%-33.3%) --Daniel Carrero (talk) 00:52, 10 November 2016 (UTC)

Edited WT:EL accordingly. See diff. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 00:59, 10 November 2016 (UTC)