Wiktionary:Votes/pl-2012-02/Attestation vs the slippery slope

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Attestation vs the slippery slope[edit]

  • Voting on: Removing the "Issues to consider" section from Wiktionary:Criteria for inclusion:
    Issues to consider
    Attestation vs. the slippery slope

    There is occasionally concern that adding an entry for a particular term will lead to entries for a large number of similar terms. This is not a problem, as each term is considered on its own based on its usage, not on the usage of terms similar in form. Some examples:

    • Any word in any language might be borrowed into English, but only a few actually are. Including spaghetti does not imply that ricordati is next (though it is of course fine as an Italian entry).
    • Any word may be rendered in pig Latin, but only a few (e.g., amscray) have found their way into common use.
    • Any word may be rendered in leet style, but only a few (e.g., pr0n) see general use.
    • Grammatical affixes like meta- and -ance can be added in a great many more cases than they actually are. (Inflectional suffixes like -s for the plural of a noun and -ed for the past tense of a verb can actually be used for almost any noun or verb.)
    • It may seem that trendy internet prefixes like e- and i- are used everywhere, but they aren’t. If I decide to talk about e-thumb-twiddling but no one else does, then there’s no need for an entry.
    The straw poll showed community support for the removal of this section.
  • Vote starts: 00:01, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Vote ends: 23.59, 22 March 2012 (UTC)


  1. Symbol support vote.svg Support Dan Polansky 08:36, 22 February 2012 (UTC) The section is (a) needless and (b) misleading by its reference to "common use" and "general use". Ad (a), it goes without saying that each term is considered on its own, as long as CFI does not say otherwise, which it does not. Ad (b), the section implies that only terms that are in "common use" and "general use" can be included, by its language in bullet point 2 and bullet point 3, but in fact, any attested and idiomatic term can be included, even if it is rare and only used by specialists. --Dan Polansky 08:36, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
  2. Symbol support vote.svg Support Mglovesfun (talk) 16:57, 22 February 2012 (UTC). Off topic material, it's good talk page material, nothing more and nothing less. Mglovesfun (talk) 16:57, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
  3. Symbol support vote.svg Support - -sche (discuss) 21:39, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
  4. Symbol support vote.svg Support --Daniel 23:00, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
  5. Symbol support vote.svg Support --Yair rand 00:17, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
  6. Symbol support vote.svg Support Ƿidsiþ 13:46, 24 February 2012 (UTC) Amateurish and tangental.
  7. Symbol support vote.svg SupportRuakhTALK 19:33, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
  8. Symbol support vote.svg Support because nothing is added by including so many bullet points, but I wouldn't call it amateurish. Some of these were controversial topics, and the clarity sought compromise in its day. DAVilla 03:37, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
  9. Symbol support vote.svg Support -- Cirt (talk) 07:23, 22 March 2012 (UTC)


  1. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose for the same reasons I opposed it in the last vote -- Liliana 05:01, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
    The reason you gave in that vote: "This is a good section to link to in case such an argument is ever presented at an RfD or elsewhere." --Dan Polansky 08:36, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
    I don't think CFI needs to address a variety of potential arguments that have nothing to do with CFI. If one person says in RFD that "pr0n should be excluded, as adding an entry for it will lead to entries for a large number of similar terms", an avaliable response is that "this is not a CFI consideration; CFI mandates inclusion of terms that are attested and idiomatic", or the like. --Dan Polansky 16:13, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
  2. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose EncycloPetey 21:34, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
  3. As indicated in the straw poll, I oppose the removal. I was going to abstain, since the straw poll seemed to indicate community support for removal. But now I realize that we've voted on this already and there is no such community support, so I'm opposing instead.​—msh210 (talk) 21:57, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
    But there is no community support for having the section in CFI in the first place, and the section got to CFI without a vote. The state of affairs in which sections unsupported by even a plain majority stay in CFI is a poor one, IMHO. Then we cannot say that CFI tracks consensus, and we cannot take it seriously. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong about repeating votes when people had time to rethink the issue, and new editors came to the project. --Dan Polansky 22:02, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
    True, but I would have been less likely to start this vote if I had known/recalled that the issue had already been voted on. - -sche (discuss) 22:45, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
    That the CFI were never voted in as a whole may be a problem, but now that this vote is structured not as "shall we do away with all of the CFI except such parts as were voted in and start again de novo?" but as "do we want this part?", I say yes, we want this part. (Perhaps someone should start that vote, after determining what parts of the CFI have not been voted in. That'd be fun.) As to your point that there's nothing wrong with repeating the vote, I agree, there's nothing wrong with it (in this case, anyway): my point in mentioning the previous vote wasn't to indicate my displeasure that the vote's being repeated but rather merely to mark my discovery of that previous vote, as a part of explaining why I'm opposing rather than abstaining.​—msh210 (talk) 00:00, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
    To start CFI de novo is too challenging and revolutionary a project, I think. Removing parts of CFI that are not part of the core and are supported only by a strict minority (<50%) seems doable without turning policy-making in Wiktionary upside down. I think even the opposers of this vote would have to admit that the discussed section is nowhere crucial to the way CFI is applied on a daily basis, unlike "This in turn leads to the somewhat more formal guideline of including a term if it is attested and idiomatic." --Dan Polansky 07:39, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
    @msh210, I feel that's a bit like saying Barack Obama won the last presidential election, so he should be president forever. Mglovesfun (talk) 08:56, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
    I'm not seeing the analogy. Perhaps you misunderstand what I wrote above. I meant this: I oppose this proposal. I would abstain rather than vote in opposition because there was consensus in the straw poll. But then I realized that that straw poll was only half the story and that there is in fact opposition,so my reason not to voice mine is gone. Hence my vote.​—msh210 (talk) 09:59, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
    Understood. But the key question still remains: why do you oppose? Do you want some attested leet spelling excluded? Do you acknowledge the presence of the language of "common use" and "general use" as a bug, or is it actually a feature for you? Would you be okay with having the section trimmed to "There is occasionally concern that adding an entry for a particular term will lead to entries for a large number of similar terms. This is not a problem, as each term is considered on its own based on its usage, not on the usage of terms similar in form."? --Dan Polansky (talk) 10:25, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
    I do not want attested leet spellings excluded (assuming they are attested properly, viz in running English text. E.g., "I was looking at pr0n" would be a good citation for pr0n whereas "| \/\/ /-\ 5 L00|<II\I(- @ pr0n" would not be. But that's not the point here). The terms "common use" and "general use" are faulty, as are some other aspects of the section as it stands, but I think that having a section to indicate the main point is important. That point is what you rewrote, just above, quite well. Changing it to that wording would be fine by me. Changing it to that wording plus some specific examples like it has now (about loanwords, leetspeak, affixed words, and similar) would be even better.​—msh210 (talk) 20:47, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
    It may neither be here nor there, but we attest all orthographies; if there is an attested orthography of English where looking is spelled L00|<II\I(-, then <II\I(- is a perfectly valid entry.--Prosfilaes (talk) 04:39, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
    Just to clarify: I did not rewrite anything; I have just quoted the first two sentences. The rest of the section is an exemplification of the first two sentences. --Dan Polansky (talk) 08:05, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
  4. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose. How would we deal with leet entries without this section? Words like s0m3, wh1p, w1nd0w would be attestable. Ungoliant MMDCCLXIV 21:40, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
    This passage already doesn't deal with that. It mentions leet but doesn't propose any action on it. Mglovesfun (talk) 21:42, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
    Come to think of it, this section doesn't recommend or enforce any action on anything. It's just discussion. Mglovesfun (talk) 21:44, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
    It could do with some improvement. Even though it doesn't recommend or enforce anything, it makes it clear that we don't just accept any leet entry, only those with general use. Ungoliant MMDCCLXIV 21:50, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
    Re "it makes it clear that we don't just accept any leet entry, only those with general use": no, the only thing it says is that "only a few" words are in "general use" in pig Latin / leet. Nowhere does it say uncommon / non-general-use words are not accepted. Consequently, it doesn't affect our practice of accepting every attested pig Latin and leet word. It just idly observes that many ordsway aren't "common". - -sche (discuss) 00:38, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
    True, but I think that's the impression a newcomer reading it will get. He will know that we have something to say about leet. "but only a few (e.g., pr0n) see general use." might not be rule carved in stone (or even a rule), but in my opinion it's a way to prevent some well-intentioned newcomer from creating as many leet terms as he can just because they seem to be lacking and the CFI doesn't say anything about it. This is far from ideal and should be regulated, but I repeat: it's better to have it mentioned somewhere than not at all. Ungoliant MMDCCLXIV 01:58, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
    Maybe Wiktionary:Criteria for inclusion#Spellings? —RuakhTALK 22:28, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
    Leet isn't misspelling (or: when it is, it's intentional); so I don't think WT:CFI#Spellings addresses it. If it's ever expanded to address leet (and the Pig Latin issue), I'd support getting rid of Attestation vs. the slippery slope section. Until then it's better to have leet and Pig Latin mentioned somewhere than not at all. Ungoliant MMDCCLXIV 00:10, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
    ──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Re: "How would we deal with leet entries without this section?": The same way as other terms: they are included iff they are attested and idiomatic. Single-word terms are automatically idiomatic, so they only need to be attested. If you are saying that some leet spellings should be excluded even if attestable, that is something that I do not know community consensus has ever supported. Thus, if a specific more stringent regulation for leet spelling is to be developed, the first thing to do is to remove the community-unsupported text from CFI, and figure out what the community thinks of leet spellings in the first place. Once a more stringent regulation is developed, it will not be part of a slippery-slope section; right now, the mention of leet is there only to illustrate the rejection of a slippery-slope argument.

    Re: "I think that's the impression a newcomer reading it will get": This is just cheating. What you are saying is, let us trick the poor newcomer into believing that the community has agreed that leet should be largely excluded even if attestable, when nothing of the sort is true. This is it, the CFI text just deceives the newcomer about the community consensus. It is this that I find so annoying, about this vote and about some of the other currently running votes. --Dan Polansky (talk) 07:54, 24 February 2012 (UTC)

    I wouldn't call it deceiving. If the Attestation vs the slippery slope section has been in the CFI for so long, there is community support for it (or at least there was. I don't think it will survive this vote). Sorry to disappoint you guys. I honestly think it's a good idea to keep it in the CFI for now. Ungoliant MMDCCLXIV 17:50, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
    It is deceiving, because you want to create an impression in the newcomer that is different from what the section actually means in terms of its impact on RFD and RFV.
    Re: "If the Attestation vs the slippery slope section has been in the CFI for so long, there is community support for it": That is incorrect. If you look at the history of CFI, hardly anything was ever removed from it without a vote, while things were added without a vote that turned out to have very little community support. A community support is determined via voting and polling, not via things being sneaked into CFI and then left unopposed. Furthermore, the section does not do all that much harm, I admit, as hardly anyone ever refers to it in RFD and RFV, so getting the section removed was not a priority, and still is not. Thus, I did not bother to try to get it removed, especially considering that getting anything removed from CFI is hard, as it suffices that 1/3 of voters opposes. It is just annyoing that we ask every newcomer to read a document that contains verbiage that should better get removed, so that reading CFI is actually worth the effort for the newbie.
    The section can easily survive this vote. Right now, the vote is 6:4 for removal, which is no consensus and thus the section would stay. The section did not need to get anything like 2/3-supermajoritarian support to get into CFI. --Dan Polansky (talk) 18:06, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
  5. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose --Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 15:46, 9 March 2012 (UTC) I remember when I was a newbie (wait, I'm still a newbie... whatever) and I actually bothered to read through the CFI. To be honest, this sort of thing is actually helpful. I don't think it's tricksy, and if a newbie has read down to the bottom and still doesn't get the concept of attestation, they're a lost cause anyway.


  1. Symbol abstain vote.svg Abstain I still remember how this section made clear the point that each term is attested independently, and doesn't serve as a precedent for including similar terms, when I was a noob. Couldn't it be replaced with a single phrase or sentence near the beginning of the guideline?  Michael Z. 2012-03-15 17:48 z


  • No consensus, 9-5-1. --Yair rand (talk) 12:49, 27 March 2012 (UTC)
    • ...i.e., 64%.​—msh210 (talk) 14:49, 27 March 2012 (UTC)