Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Medicine-related articles

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To-do list[edit]

  • Add advice on how to incorporate the psychological, emotional, and social effects of health problems into articles.
    • should be infused throughout
    • may need some subsections, e.g., reaction to a life-threatening diagnosis
    • I support this one—and not just because I'm a psychologist! ;-) ... We have had discussion about this topic before. Let's link to such archived discussions, e.g., this one from 2008. Mark D Worthen PsyD (talk) [he/his/him] 14:36, 5 May 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Add advice on how to present costs.
    • accuracy ("the wholesale list price in Ruritania in 2017 according to Alice", not "the price")
    • WP:MEDMOS2020 results
    • any recommended metrics, such as cost effectiveness, cost per DALY averted,[1] etc.
  • Add statement about gender-neutral language.
    • Avoid unexpected neutrality for subjects very strongly associated with one biological sex (e.g., pregnancy, menstruation, and ovarian cancer affect "women"[2]; prostate cancer and orchiditis affect "men") but encourage gender neutrality for all others (e.g., heart disease)?
    • Defer to MOS for any individual person.
  • Reading levels
  • How to talk about suicide-related content (e.g., the "committed" RFC)
    • I've added a statement about the word "commit", and alternative phrasings. Bibeyjj (talk) 12:10, 28 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Clarify how to include "evolution" in anatomy articles (suggest under "Development" subheading). Bibeyjj (talk) 18:52, 6 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • (Your idea here)

What to do with this to-do list?[edit]

It's not clear to me if the above "To-do list" is a WikiProject Medicine effort, i.e., something we, as a WikiProject, have decided (via consensus) to establish, or if it was one (unidentified) editor's idea, or something else. Can someone clarify? Mark D Worthen PsyD (talk) [he/his/him] 03:51, 4 May 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is a collection of items that various conversations and disputes have indicated (a) it might be helpful for MEDMOS to address but (b) exactly what the consensus is or how to address the subject in MEDMOS will require further discussion.
Any editor is welcome to add a suggested topic to the list. It doesn't have to be a subject that you personally care about or relates to an article you were editing. Please add enough context that we can figure out what your subject is later.
If you feel ready to address one of the topics, then please start a new ==section== at the end of the page to ask a question or make a proposal. WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:53, 5 May 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Please don't start discussions in this section. Please do add links to prior discussions and examples or other details that you think will be helpful (signed or not, as you choose) when we have the real discussions. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:35, 5 May 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Phrasing of the section alternatives to commited suicide implies a consensus[edit]

Despite the style guides being external, that section has been invoked in numerous discussions a fact of wikipedia. As the RFC failed with a minority wanting it banned, a majority supporting it not being banned, and the style guides being external (not wikipedia), I question whether or not that section even needs to be there in a MOS page and frankly think it should be deleted. This seems like a last ditch attempt by someone who didn't get their way to plant a seed to "soft enforce" it in something like this. DarmaniLink (talk) 07:36, 22 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I went ahead and deleted it with my justification in the edit summary. This is soft activism on wikipedia anyone can see the implications by juxtaposing it with the verbiage before the alternatives. External style guides are irrelevant to wikipedia, especially when there's a failed proposal intra-wikipedia on the same subject. DarmaniLink (talk) 07:49, 22 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I strongly oppose this change. Bold changes are fine; however, given that DarmaniLink has made it clear her's aware of long-standing contention regarding this issue, I think obtaining consensus first in this instance would have been a better course of action.
There was recently an ANI regarding the fact I made mass changes to the terminology: See here. At the time I was not aware there was an extensive RFC on the matter, and obviously I stopped this behaviour once it was contested. I am also not currently interested in reopening the debate of whether the term "committed" should be banned or not. I will, however, note that while there was a strong consensus not to ban the term at the RFC, there was also no consensus to continue preserving the term. In the words of WhatamIdoing at the ANI, "This means: It's okay to remove the committed language."
However, whether or not this is indeed OK isn't clear enough at MOS:SUICIDE. At the ANI, several users, myself included, voiced exactly what DarmaniLink is concerned about here, albeit for opposite reasons. We believed that the current wording of MOS:SUICIDE seemed to very much encourage replacing the term. People at the ANI who disagreed with replacing the term "committed", however, considered the wording to explicitly endorse keeping the term "committed" by simple omission of saying otherwise. I don't know who wrote the current wording, though one way or the other, it needs to be clearer. Rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater, I simply think the section needs to explicitly clarify whether or not changing the term is acceptable on a case by case basis. Or it should explicitly clarify that the decision should only be made on a case by case basis on the respective articles talk pages.
I must stress, I'm not campaigning for it to say the change is acceptable, I'm simply asking for it to make it clear whether individual changes are acceptable or not. And while we're at it, I think the section needs to explicitly say that mass changing the terms one way or the other is not OK. I'm wondering if we need to start a new RFC, not on whether the term should be banned, but rather, simply regarding this wording. Damien Linnane (talk) 09:53, 22 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have no long standing contention of this issue, and I didn't even know this was an issue until today because of you. This issue is ludicrous, and the misuse of that section by you to imply consensus when it was a small but vocal minority against is why it needs to be removed. If we change it to say "well we should handle it on a case by case basis", then there's no point to it being in the MOS because case by case is the standard. Decide what verbiage you should use on wikipedia on a case by case basis? That's the default. IF this is an "every rule exists because someone needed it" case, we could follow the RFC and say "don't change the phrasing tendentiously" without the blatantly manipulative wording that implies their way is correct and you should not be using that phrase. Whoever wrote that knew exactly what they were doing. DarmaniLink (talk) 10:18, 22 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This thread is gibberish.
Never mind; I misread. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:59, 22 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  1. DarmaniLink posts at 07:36
  2. DarmaniLink responds at 07:49 that they had gone ahead and made a change
  3. DarmaniLink responds to self at 09:53 saying the strongly oppose this change. (Presumably, the change they just made that they are threading their response under? Gibberish).
  4. DarmaniLink responds to self again at 09:53 aimed at some vague "because of you". You meaning, the self they are responding to ?
PLEASE ... what is a new reader to the topic to make of this mess. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:42, 22 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It took me a moment to figure it out, but two editors with similar names are in this discussion: Damien Linnane and DarmaniLink. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:53, 22 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ah ha ... strike that :). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:59, 22 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I do not think this is an improvement, and I believe that offering people some ideas of alternatives is important.
But I'm very concerned about the phrasing "any tendentious removals of the phrase should be avoided", as I fully expect it to be misinterpreted as saying that all removals of this phrase are Wikipedia:Tendentious editing.
Also, @DarmaniLink, given that you're presently involved in a dispute over exactly this subject at Talk:Marie Sophie Hingst#Describing suicide, let me suggest that you self-revert. Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines says "Editing a policy to support your own argument in an active discussion may be seen as gaming the system", and none of us will benefit from having this discussion complicated by accusations of self-serving editing. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:38, 22 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Starting over. [3]. DarmaniLink, please gain consensus before making contentious edits. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:44, 22 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay, there is a severe problem with the current verbiage as people (see, the user in question) are using it to attempt to override an overwhelming consensus in the RFC by implying that NOT using it was the consensus, and this is worded in a very manipulative way to imply exactly that.
This needs to be clarified. DarmaniLink (talk) 22:20, 22 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I was changing it to better reflect the RFC. Saying "Well its not banned but there are other acceptable ways to do it" implies you should use the "acceptable" ways over what the RFC overwhelmingly was in favor of. This belongs in an opinion essay, not on a MOS page. DarmaniLink (talk) 22:24, 22 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Use the talk page. Propose the wording you suggest, wait at least a week, more like two in a case like this, for others to provide feedback. Don't just plow in to a guideline that has been widely discussed and is contentious. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:01, 22 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Darmani has taken this to Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)#RFC: Change wording in MOS:SUICIDE to better reflect the supermajority consensus in the RFC that added it. (Please remember that this is a newer editor, whose first edits to the project namespace were just seven months ago, and whose first-ever edit to a Village pump was starting this discussion. I think that those of us who've made tens of thousands of edits over 15+ years can centralize the discussions later, if we need to.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:56, 23 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
AFAIK there is no consensus that the proposed alternatives are unacceptable or even undesirable. Similarly we could say that sfn or harv referencing are acceptable alternatives to putting the full citation in <ref> tags. It's when someone went around changing the citation style on a variety of articles that there would be a dispute. (t · c) buidhe 15:57, 24 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
For the record, to be clear about which article this started at: The dispute first started at Talk:Otoya Yamaguchi. The Talk:Marie Sophie Hingst discussion was secondary to that, and involved initially different editors than DarmaniLink. AFAICS, the argument by Damien Linnane at Otoya Yamaguchi, citing this guideline, was reasonable (i.e. not misinterpreting the guideline). The response Damien got was rather hostile imo. Altogether, I'm not seeing that dispute as evidence the guideline is misleading or easily misinterpreted. In contrast, I think the comments at Marie Sophie Hingst misinterpret the guideline's position. But I really don't think the guideline could be clearer. We have two facts which there's no getting away from. The phrase is not banned on English Wikipedia and many external style guides (not to mention, organisations involved in suicide prevention and support for families) discourage it. And furthermore, there are alternative ways of describing the topic. That editors continue to butt heads over this matter is a behavioural concern, not the responsibility of MOS. -- Colin°Talk 17:24, 24 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes. Both of these facts are simultaneously true. It is true that no option is banned at the English Wikipedia, and it is also, equally, true that non-Wikipedia reliable sources really do discourage the one option. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:21, 24 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

How to describe a suicide[edit]

Hi there, I know this is contentious, but I still think it’s important to bring it up. In the page now we have:

“There are many other appropriate, common, and encyclopedic ways to describe a suicide, including:

  • died as a result of suicide
  • died by suicide
  • died from suicide
  • killed himself
  • The cause of death was suicide.”

However, IMHO “died as a result of suicide”, “died by suicide”, “died from suicide” and “The cause of death was suicide” are NOT the same as “committed suicide”. Someone who died after his/her suicide does not necessarily has suicide as the cause of death. Making conclusion on the cause of death of a person sometimes need much investigation or even an autopsy. If an editor just pick a phrase from the list to avoid the use of “committed suicide” there can be problems.

So, may I suggest the list be changed to something like:

  • attempted suicide
  • died following a suicide attempt
  • died following a suicide
  • tried to take his/her own life
  • killed himself/herself

I haven’t followed the previous discussion of this contentious subject, thus if I’ve missed anything important please feel free to point it out. :) --Dustfreeworld (talk) 10:16, 7 August 2023 (UTC)--Dustfreeworld (talk) 15:09, 15 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Dustfreeworld, I don't think I understand your concern. You seem to have suggested that we change a list of five ways to describe someone who died into three ways to describe someone who died and two ways to describe someone who did not die ("attempted" and "tried to"). WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:27, 7 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I didn’t notice that “attempted" and "tried to" implied that the act was unsuccessful. Thanks for pointing it out. Maybe that two shouldn’t be in the list then.
My concern about the phrases “died as a result of suicide”, “died by suicide”, “died from suicide” and “The cause of death was suicide” is that they seem to be making a conclusion on the cause of death of the person, which may exclude other possibilities and may imply no further investigation is necessary, which is usually not the case. --Dustfreeworld (talk) 21:55, 7 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't think I'd call surviving "unsuccessful".  :-/
Are you suggesting that we should say "killed himself" but not "died from suicide", because otherwise the police won't investigate whether it's a murder that was staged to look like a suicide? WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:38, 7 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I checked the dictionary for “attempted” and the word “unsuccessful” was written there and I used it. . . I’m not writing a Wikipedia article here anyway. . . Sigh  :-/
Perhaps I’d better leave the topic to others. . .
And yep “killed himself” seems to have the same problem too, just a bit better. And it’s not only about whether they investigate or not (and perhaps not just murder, there can be many other causes). It just doesn’t seem ok to present such a conclusion to our readers, which may sound not very neutral. --Dustfreeworld (talk) 00:14, 8 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Generally, especially when the death isn't recent, we're working with sources that say things like "The inquest found that he died by suicide" or "The coroner ruled the death a suicide" or "The police said it was a suicide", which doesn't leave a lot of room for doubt. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:45, 8 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What you’ve said is exactly what I’m concerned. The prerequisites of using those phrases would probably be - when the death isn't recent, and we're working with sources that say things like "The inquest found that he died by suicide" or "The coroner ruled the death a suicide". --Dustfreeworld (talk) 09:42, 8 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've been uncertain that I understand your concern throughout this discussion, and I appreciate your efforts to try to explain it to me. So, in the interests of clarity, am I correctly understanding that if:
  • the death happened a year ago, and
  • we have a legal ruling stating that the death was a suicide,
then you want us:
  • to cast doubt on it actually being suicide?
That doesn't sound entirely reasonable, so I'm pretty sure that I'm not understanding what you want. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:32, 8 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Em. . . I’m afraid it’s the opposite. --Dustfreeworld (talk) 17:41, 8 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Let me try explaining it again.
What I mean is, I agree with what you said that,
  • when the death isn't recent, we're working with sources that say things like "The inquest found that he died by suicide" or "The coroner ruled the death a suicide" . . . which doesn't leave a lot of room for doubt
But what if the death is recent? And there’s no inquest yet and the coroner hasn’t ruled? When a famous person died our editors will edit his page very soon and they won’t wait until there’s an inquest conclusion. If they just pick a phrase from the existing list to describe the death (to avoid using “committed suicide”), it’s likely that they’re presenting a conclusion that doesn’t sound neutral. --Dustfreeworld (talk) 17:44, 8 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Unless I misunderstand, other Wikipedia guidelines address your concerns. For example, "the police said it appeared to be a suicide" is acceptable two days after the person's body was discovered, provided the quote comes from a reliable source. (Although most police departments these days avoid making such pronouncements - I'm just using it as an example.) We (Wikipedia) are not saying "the person died by suicide", we are including relevant information from reliable sources. If three weeks later, a coroner holds a press conference stating, "the cause of death is not clear at this time", we would edit the article accordingly. Mark D Worthen PsyD (talk) [he/him] 21:34, 8 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Dustfreeworld, thanks for helping me understand. I'm thinking about two separate things now:
  1. When the cause of death is "unofficial" or otherwise uncertain, what should we say?
  2. Does "He committed suicide" sound less like the person definitely killed himself than some of the other alternatives?
For the first question, I think that a neutral article will fairly represent the information in the sources, without going beyond them. This might mean not saying anything beyond the fact of the death ("He died on the 32nd of Octember"). It might also mean clearly stating that the situation is uncertain to some degree ("Police are still investigating his death" or "The cause of death is unknown" or perhaps "Suicide is suspected"). The best choice in uncertain situations would depend upon what the sources say. This would normally be a temporary placeholder, as one can usually expect further information to be available in a week or two.
<tangent> Here I want to add that there are cultural and sometimes legal differences about what media say in the early days.
  • I understand that in the UK, suicide is generally not mentioned in the news media at all, unless and until there is a legal verdict from the inquest. It seems that the newspapers can get in trouble for saying "It was suicide" on their own – even when it's absolutely certain to everyone involved, even if they have officials and family members telling them that it's definitely suicide – but they can't get in trouble for saying "This judicial process said it was suicide", because what the judicial process says is a government action, and government actions are always considered a legitimate subject of public interest. So the news reports first say "He died. Police do not suspect foul play", and then when the inquest is over, they say "The inquest ruled that the death was a suicide". If everyone reads "Police do not suspect foul play" and thinks "must be a suicide" to themselves, well, the press code doesn't prevent readers from thinking.
  • In the US, there seems to be a pattern of silence about the cause of death for a few days, followed by an announcement that it was a suicide. Like the UK approach, it's not necessarily fooling any of the readers, especially because when it isn't a suicide, there is either an immediate announcement about the cause of death or a statement that suicide is not suspected.
  • In Japan, even as recently as last year, celebrity suicides were reported in sensationalistic ways (think: television cameras outside the family's house, providing specific details about methods, interviewing the neighbors). The government has reminded several broadcasters about the World Health Organization's guidelines, but the interest in following these rules has sometimes been outweighed by the fact that people will watch these shows.
I don't know which culture is more familiar to you, but it's easy to imagine that if yours is reticent to mention suicide, then having Wikipedia casually say "Yup, it's suicide" might feel weird, and if yours blares it from the doorstep, having Wikipedia pretend that we don't know might feel weird, too. </end tangent>
On the second question, I think that all of the options mentioned in the guideline, whether "commit" or "died by" or anything else, have approximately the same amount of certainty behind them. I could imagine someone thinking that the "commit" language (because it is more formal and judgmental – people commit crimes, sins, adultery, suicide) is heavier than the others, but on the question of whether an apparent suicide should be reported as such, I think that "He committed suicide" and "He died by suicide" and "He killed himself" are all the same, and that if you want to introduce any uncertainty, you need to change the other words: "He seems to have committed suicide" or "He apparently died by suicide" or "Police suspect that he killed himself". WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:19, 8 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
UK practice is not entirely that - "suspected overdose" is used very early on when that applies, as with Amy Whitehouse, leaving intentionality open. But I was surprised to hear the very experienced journalist Kevin Maguire (journalist) on a tv papers review speculating (certainly not reporting) that Sinéad O'Connor took her own life less than 24 hours after the news broke - that did seem to break a convention. Johnbod (talk) 02:22, 9 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I've seen UK news saying that a death happened, and sometimes a cause of death (like overdose or drowning), but they almost never mention the word suicide. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:00, 9 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Right. For both police statements and media, the cause of death is generally "suspected", "probable" etc until confirmed by the inquest. Johnbod (talk) 22:01, 9 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think there is greater care among high quality sources wrt any unexpected death, not just suicide. For example, with the Killing of Brianna Ghey, sources may say "was found stabbed to death" or "the fatal stabbing of". They may then mention a murder charge but determining that it was murder and not some alternative crime, is for the court. I think that is similar to the final decision of whether something was suicide or an accident or even murder. The Death of Nicola Bulley was handled appallingly by much of the press/news, by the police themselves, and by social media, with an avalanche of speculation and unnecessary disclosure of sensitive personal information. -- Colin°Talk 16:33, 14 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Just shoot me[edit]

Actually, don't. It's metaphoric idiom used to indicate, in a hyperbolic manner, that a current, proposed, or feared situation or event would be most disagreeable. OK?

The current situation is that the current state of MOS:SUICIDE is most disagreeable to me. Well, just one bullet point is anyway. Most of the rest is fine and thank you all for the worc

Executive summary: the bullet point

The phrase committed suicide is not banned on the English Wikipedia. However, many external style guides discourage it as being potentially stigmatising and offensive to some people. There are many other appropriate, common, and encyclopedic ways to describe a suicide, including: [bullet points] died as a result of suicide,died by suicide, died from suicide, killed themself, took their own life, The cause of death was suicide.

should be changed. Here's one example of a possible change I'm putting out:

The Wikipedia not have a rule or suggestion of what terminology to use to describe suicide. "Committed suicide" is much the most common generally, but editors are free to use any other reasonable term, such as "killed himself/herself/themself", "died by [or: from] suicide", "The cause of death was suicide", and so forth. Editors are discouraged from changing existing terminology in an article, unless there is good cause.

My biggest problem with the bullet point is that little of it is true, and in addition it is a lot counter to the actual preferences of the editor corps (pretty). I'm sure it was written in good faith, but I can't figure out what sources the writers were drawing from, and I really think a change is in order.

Being me, a wrote a detailed argument below, read it if you wish,.

Lot of words

OK, the "The phrase committed suicide is not banned on the English Wikipedia. However, many external style guides discourage it as being potentially stigmatising and offensive to some people..."

"not banned" strongly implies that its only tolerated, and given for that is This 2021 RfC. The proposal there was 53 to allow, 6 to disallow, 8 use the term the source uses.

Mind you, the Allow votes were not all in the nature of "Allow, I guess, reluctantly". Some were like that, but some were vehemently in favor of allowing (and there was one "Require"). And in my view the arguments were banning the phrase were awfully weak tea. At the most, a disinterested observer would not consider them stronger than the opposing side, I'd warrant.

Based on all that, I'd change the passage to "The phrase committed suicide is not required on the English Wikipedia..."

OK, on to "offensive". I want to see some numbers for "stigmatising and offensive to some people". My guess is these numbers are very few. I haven't seen anyone who was genuinely offended by this common idiom. (I have seen people offended by, for instance, explicit porn content here. Shouldn't we be worrying about those people first?)

It's hard to know, because (I think) many of the "some people" are not actually offended but think that others might be, or say (or even think) that they are offended when they're not, or don't actually care but want to... well, you figure it out. Some people might be annoyed, but there's often something in an article that annoys me, like poor writing or whatever, and that's life. Some readers might be annoyed because are insufficiently sensitive and culturally progressive if we use "committed suicide", might roll their eyes. That also is life.

If a reader is offended -- that is, truly actually sad and upset and angered -- by seeing the very common idiom "committed suicide", then:

  • That person has got to be one in a million. C'mon. There's a limit to how much we can cater to extremely small fringe subsets of our readership.
  • There's probably hella other stuff here that will offend them, so they probably won't be reading our encyclopedia anyway.
  • Do we even really want readers like that? They're likely to be offended because we use "actress", or say "died" instead of "passed", or don't bowdlerize to say that some people called General Pershing "n***** Jack" and so on. Which fine, but if they complain, it's a waste of our time.
  • And even if we do, for the person's own good, wouldn't they be better off confining their reading to a material that doesn't upset them? I mean it's their life and not our business, but I hate to see anybody go around sad and angry.

On to "many style guides". We don't follow or pay attention much to style guides per se. We do pay attention to the styles of worthwhile books and newspapers and notable web sites which are often based on popular style guides, so kind of the same thing. But not entirely. Some style guides aren't used much, and some publications (like us) have their own style guides. Anyway, we uses sources for facts but not style or terminology. If a source says "On December 7th" we don't use the ordinal number even so. (Granted, source terminology shouldn't be ignored either. It's a data point.) And anyway the ever-busy and expert User:SMcCandlish surveyed style guides at the RfC and maintains that most of them don't take a position either way.)

Nobody had done an Ngram, so it's not really fair to bring it up now, but FWIW this Google Ngram indicates that of books that use "committed suicide" or a different term such as "died by suicide", about twice as many use "committed suicide" as all the others phrases combined. ("Killed him/herself" is the only one that's close; the others are within a rounding error of 0%.). This has been steadily true since the mid 19th century and continues in books published today.)

(I didn't get to "stigmatized", but probably basically similar to "offensive")

Don't forget to drink your eight glasses of milk today. Herostratus (talk) 01:27, 15 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm not too impressed with the current wording, but that suggested rewording has some clarity issues of its own, and is probably trying to change too much all at once. I think it would probably be more productive to start with your small proposal (embedded in the collapsed material) to change "not banned" to "not required" to better suit the actual outcome of that RfC.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:31, 15 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Herostratus, I assume this is about Talk:Somerton Man#Committed suicide.
The main points here are:
  • If an editor believes that the 'commit' language is wrong/bad/inappropriate, and has assumed (incorrectly) that this is "obviously" going to be banned, we need to tell them that it's not banned. Therefore: "is not banned". This line exists so that you have a chance to argue in discussions such as the one linked above that it's not mandatory to remove it.
  • If an editor believes that 'commit' language is best/most formal/encyclopedic, or has assumed (like you) that no true reader could genuinely be upset about that, we need to warn them that it is. Therefore: "many external style guides discourage it as being potentially stigmatising and offensive to some people". We don't ban it, and we don't claim that it's bad [here; for all I know, we might say something like this in the mainspace], but others do. This line exists so that editors who choose that language can do so with the knowledge that this wording has the potential to be controversial.
  • What follows these two points is an effort to help people figure out what they can do that isn't as likely to draw complaints. (That is, the key point is to give editors some hints about what they can choose that isn't either 'commit' or 'died by', if they end up in a dispute over the phrasings that are usually described as offensive or ugly, respectively.)
I think you are overstating the support for the 'commit' language in the RFC. The RFC closing you mention says about the 'commit' language that if some other equal or better formulation exists and a change is made, we should not tendentiously revert it. That means that RFC closing accepts its removal (whenever editors agree that the new formulation is at least equal). The RFC also discourages mass removal, and – perhaps most importantly – does not encourage retention or expansion of the 'commit' language.
As for whether those external style guides actually exist and actually make this claim about people being offended: I suggest that you visit your favorite web search engine and find out for yourself. There's nothing quite so convincing as looking it up yourself, after all. Then you'll know that nobody's hiding anything from you. I will add that if you do manage to find a source that explicitly prefers the 'commit' language, you'll be the first editor to find one. I'll give you the first one for free: Since about 2000, style manuals have come to avoid commit suicide, which is now considered insensitive because of its whiff of criminality. The trend is to prefer die by suicide, kill onself, or take one's own life. That's from the most recent edition of Garner's Modern English Usage. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:10, 15 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That seems like a pretty good summary to me (and I started out in the "there is no issue here" camp originally), but I'm not sure it tells us how to improve the section's wording (if it needs any improvement). I think it's worded rather weirdly myself, but I've had my head thoroughly mired in a bunch of very unrelated stuff for weeks (Middle Irish place-naming, etc.), so I'm not immediately having alternative wording spring to mind.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  03:26, 15 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have considered mirroring the "neither encouraged nor discouraged" language from other parts of the MOS, but I think that it is weaker phrasing and will therefore be less helpful. The editors who believe it is obviously wrong need to see the stronger "is not banned" language, and I think that any editors who might complain about 'woke ideology' will benefit from being reminded (or told for the first time, in some cases) that Wikipedia's internal rules are not the only ones in the world. Sometimes editors do care about things that aren't Wikipedia's rules, and would like some warning that certain word choices have the potential to look like a big target painted on the article.
Looking at this in the longer term, I have wondered whether the eventual result will be "discouraged but not banned". No style guides prefer it any longer, and almost all of those that address it directly discourage it. (I believe there is still one that accepts it as one among multiple options.) Also, it looks like the total number of articles using the 'commit' language is used has gone down in the almost two years since the 2021 RFC. This has happened not through any organized effort, but just through the normal, everyday copyediting. Editors, like the sources we cite (especially outside the US), seem to be moving away from that language. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:14, 15 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yep. I recently made pretty much the same kind of observation about use of she in reference to ships, in one of the perennial re-discussions of that. It's still in use, but the usage is declining, and various external sources (more all the time) advise against it. That doesn't (on either of these issues) put WP in a position to force a change, but the change will gradually work its way in until it's a clear enough consensus to codify it some day, if it still seems to need codification.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  08:16, 15 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Keeping with the theme of the section title, my dad used to say that if we had a law where people who can't be bothered to indicate at roundabouts were shot, that would quickly sharpen up people's driving habits. (Of course, he wasn't serious, and used this as an example of how one could propose a ridiculously extreme solution to a problem that was both effective and bad). The cited RFC is a bit like that. Some such RFCs are explicit in their request to entirely ban a word or phrase. This one was more neutral but everyone knows what the vote was on: should "commit suicide" be banned in the MOS. And such a ban would rapidly encourage editors to mass edit the words to extinction. So interpreting the reaction as anything more than a response to that extreme scenario is wrongheaded. Add to this is the problem that people simply don't do their homework before replying. Which is odd since you'd think we'd all be instinctive about finding sources to back up what we write. So most reactions are gut ones based on vague recollections of what language your English teacher in the 1980s thought was acceptable. Add in a "I am not a bad person, yet I casually use this phrase/word myself" conflict and then top it with a society where around half the population of our countries are aligned with politics that is currently pursuing an "anti-woke" agenda...

I think WAID's response is correct. The current wording states several indisputable facts. The proposed wording actually is disputable in many regards. I think ngrams and other googles for words should be banned imo, as they are mostly wrongly used. How about this ngram to decide what word Wikipedia should use to describe what comes out your backside? Such methods, along with Google searches, can't find the absence of a phrase or term. How many news reports or articles simply omit this detail of the death entirely? They just say "Robin Williams died in August 2014, aged 63" or even "Following Williams death, in 2014, ...." and other variants. If one is writing an article about the actor's many performances, this isn't relevant, just as such an article might not mention his wife or children or parents. It simply isn't wise to use such crude statistics to work out how to write. And the concluding sentence about what editors are encouraged or not to do is also firmly anti-wiki. Yes we discourage mass edits on any contentious matter, but that guidance belongs and exists elsewhere. Individual edits... well this is the encyclopaedia where anyone is encouraged to edit and if they think they can improve it they should. That's core stuff. -- Colin°Talk 08:44, 17 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]