Bhamwiki:Style

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This is an ad hoc page to collect thoughts on project style. As a matter of principle, the issue of style should always take a back seat to the task of adding good information to Bhamwiki. In no case should anyone get bogged down in debates over this sort of thing. If in doubt, use Wikipedia guidelines or discuss on the talk page. Additions or changes to this guide can be discussed at Bhamwiki talk:Style or Bhamwiki talk:Messageboard.

Abbreviations

  • I prefer to omit the dot after abbreviations that end with the last letter of the word (St, Mr, Dr, Rd, Mt, Jr, Bros, etc.)
  • It's best to avoid abbreviations like "18th St S" or "5th Av SW". (see Style#Streets and Highways)

Chronologies

  • Typically, lists of dates or events will follow chronological order. Mature, lengthy articles will forego lists in favor of more qualitative divisions (early years, peak years, decline, etc). See discussion at Messageboard#Chronological_order

Disambiguation

  • Article titles should be disambiguated only when necessary (i.e. 19th Street Bessemer, but not Dolonah Road Bessemer).
  • When disambiguating between something in Birmingham and something in another city, the Birmingham version can keep the primary name (i. e. Triangle Park and Triangle Park (Pinson)). However, if the other one is by far the best known, then it would be the primary (I can't think of an example).
  • Some titles work better with the disambiguation in parentheses, others are OK without.

Image naming

  • Uploaded images should be named so that the subject is clearly indicated (i.e. "Denny Chimes.jpg" rather than "IMG_1075.JPG".
  • For historical images, its helpful to lead with the date. (i.e. "1967 Ariail Drug Co ad.png" rather than "ad for ariail.png".

Image use

  • The following conventions have emerged as practical, at least in my view:
    • Portraits of people should generally be about 175-180px wide. Because user preferences set thumbnails at 180px by default, I generally don't specify a width. Sometimes a really good-looking photo (like Gail Patrick) or an the odd wide-format (Hoyt Sanders) or super-narrow image (like Geneva Mercer) demands individual consideration.
    • Most images of locations, etc. used as the sole or primary illustration for an article look best to me at 375px, aligned right at the top of the page (Highland Avenue). Other images may be smaller and stagger left to right if there's a lot of body text (1911 Banner Mine explosion), align to the right if that makes more sense (Talley mounds), or be grouped into a gallery (Seal of Alabama)
    • Logos don't generally need to be more than thumbnail (180px) width, but usually look better without the thumbnail frame.
    • Some images are by nature very wide and need extra space. These should usually be uploaded at 575 or 1150 pixels wide and displayed, centered, at 575px (Railroad Park) Lately I've been happier with 800 pixel width banner images, such as at Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Company.
    • Maps, aerial views or expansive photos with lots and lots of detail might work better as links (Image:Rickwood site plan.png, which right now serves as a COUNTER example).

Names of people

  • Article titles for people should generally use the most familiar name, whether it is their given name, initials, or a nickname. (i. e. Shug Jordan, Country Boy Eddie)
  • Suffixes, middle names and initials should only be used in article titles where they are familiar or where needed to disambiguate. (i. e. E. O. Wilson, Earl Hilliard, Jr)
  • Honorifics and formal titles generally should be left off, except in the introduction of an article, where needed for clarification, or where they are the most familiar referent. (i. e. Brother Bryan, Mother Angelica)
  • When used, multiple initials should have a space between them. (i. e. T. C. Cannon)

Capitalization

  • Only the first word in article names and section headings should be capitalized unless it is a proper name or referring to the title of a work (e. g. Cahaba lily; Stay Hungry)
  • In citations, I generally follow the source, except where the source places a title in ALL CAPS, I tend to use sentence case (like modern newspaper headings). This isn't terribly important.
  • Building names can be ambiguous. Some are definitely part of the proper name of the building (Crow Building), but others are not, in which case I tend to use lower case (Birmingham News building, Theodore Swann residence).

Streets and Highways

  • The names of numbered streets use the ordinal number and spell everything else out. For example, use 1st Avenue North, 7th Court South, 8th Street Southwest, and 20th Street Ensley. Where the context is evident, they can be "piped" to appear shorter (i. e. [[18th Street South Homewood|18th Street South]] produces 18th Street South.) It's best not to use abbreviations like "18th St S" or "5th Av SW".
  • Outside of Birmingham proper and its inner suburbs, neighborhood or subdivision streets without much importance should not be linked. The names of neighborhoods and subdivisions themselves should generally be linked.
  • Articles about U. S. or Alabama state routes should be titled "U.S. Highway X" or "Alabama State Highway Y". Redirects to those pages may be created for shorter names, such as "State Highway Y" or simply "Highway X".

Verb tense

  • Descriptions of historical events should typically use the past tense. Descriptions of current and lasting conditions should use the present. When writing about imminent changes (the appointment of a new principal, for example), the past tense can be used to avoid having to rewrite the article a few days later. If circumstances prevent the appointment, that's probably big news and the article would be updated anyway.
  • Bhamwiki follows the AP Stylebook and Black's Law Dictionary in preferring "pleaded" as the past tense of "to plead" (as in "White pleaded guilty."). Note also that, technically, one cannot plead innocent in a court of law, but can enter a plea of not-guilty.

Birth year

  • Not so much a matter of style as a matter of fact: Often a news report will give a person's age but leave the actual date of birth unclear, meaning they could have been born in one of two years. I have typically used rounding to assume that if someone is listed as 20 years old in the first half of 2008, that they were likely born in 1987, and if the article appears in the second half of the year, that they were born in 1988. This is prone to error, but the error of being off a year seems to me better than the error of omission. It can always be corrected later. The practice of using "c. 1988" to point out the uncertainty can be helpful.

Categorization

  • A lot of Bhamwiki's categorization has been trial-and-error. The main lessons to be learned are that (a) categorizing benefits from big-picture thinking and (b) making changes that involve several articles can be a real pain. With that in mind, here are a few practical tips:
  1. Use caution when creating new categories. Look at the natural parent category and, if there aren't too many entries, maybe just stick it in there for now. You might also discover an existing subcategory that fits what you were trying to accomplish.
  2. A frequent inconsistency which I've helped propagate is an uncertainty regarding articles and categories with the same name. Right now I can only suggest thinking about whether the subject of the main article fits better in the category than the collected subjects of all other articles in that category. For example, Sloss Furnaces itself belongs to Category:National Historic Landmarks while some of the articles in Category:Sloss Furnaces don't contribute to that designation.

Councilor

  • Per the arguments made here, Bhamwiki will use one "l" in "councilor". --Dystopos 13:09, 15 December 2009 (PST)