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posted by janrinok on Friday February 13 2015, @10:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the start-coding dept.

A recent comment thread here considered SoylentNews' headline capitalization policy. As this has been an ongoing challenge for submitters and editors alike, I'd like to throw this out to assess the SoylentNews community's view on it.

For background, consider that our policy is basically Title Case. Alternatives include: sentence case, initial caps, all caps, and small caps. These variations are well-described in that Wikipedia article, and especially in the section Headings and Publications.

Of course, the devil is in the details! If we were to naïvely use initial caps throughout, it would produce "The Doj And The Fbi Seek Answers". If, instead, we folded everything to lowercase and capitalized the first word, we would have "The doj and the fbi seek answers". So, there would need to be some need to preserve, by default, all words that arrive as all-caps. One would also need to make specific allowances for "iPad" and "iPhone" as well as "Apple Computer" and "Isaac Newton's apple".

I fail to see a simple algorithmic solution to the problem that produces an aesthetically pleasing result. But, maybe there is something that can get us most of the way there coupled with a simple ad hoc solution employing manual capitalization of proper nouns, 'initialisms', and acronyms.

So, what say you fellow Soylentils? Pseudo-code solutions are welcome!

Related Stories

The Second Law of Thermodynamics is More of a Guideline than a Rule 45 comments

Researchers from University College London and the Universities of Gdansk, Singapore, and Delft are suggesting that rather than being an immutable fundamental law, the second law of thermodynamics is more precisely a probability-driven process.

According to Science 20, "The researchers found that not only does the second law hold at such small scales, but there are actually many other second laws at work. In other words, just like larger systems, small systems also tend to become more disordered. But there are additional second laws which constrain the way in which disorder can increase."

http://www.science20.com/news_articles/the_second_law_of_thermodynamics_is_more_of_a_guideline_than_a_rule-153049

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  • (Score: 2, Disagree) by TheGratefulNet on Friday February 13 2015, @10:40PM

    by TheGratefulNet (659) on Friday February 13 2015, @10:40PM (#144765)

    I get a lot of grief from various folks about my dropping most u/c chars. my reason: carpal tunnel, pain and inconvenience of hitting shift. yes, it does hurt and so I don't bother other than the personal pronoun (old habbit).

    fbi or FBI - its pretty obvious what it means. in fact, you can skip a lot of letters in words and people will still be able to read it.

    we should revise this whole 'must use caps' idea. its outdated and it slows down typing.

    --
    "It is now safe to switch off your computer."
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by frojack on Friday February 13 2015, @11:38PM

      by frojack (1554) on Friday February 13 2015, @11:38PM (#144794) Journal

      we should revise this whole 'must use caps' idea. its outdated and it slows down typing.

      But it speeds up reading, and improves comprehension.

      You write it once, we read it often. Typing speed is not the ultimate goal here. Comprehension is.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2, Disagree) by TheGratefulNet on Saturday February 14 2015, @12:52AM

        by TheGratefulNet (659) on Saturday February 14 2015, @12:52AM (#144820)

        I guess the spaces are enough to 'do it' for me. I spent a lot of time doing C and I rarely use uppercase. sometimes, but I try to avoid it and I don't see reability suffering. again, spaces between works are very important (otherwise it starts to look like german. sorry, lol). but caps don't really help as much as you may think. two spaces after a period is enough to delim a sentence from the next, don't you think?

        --
        "It is now safe to switch off your computer."
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by wonkey_monkey on Saturday February 14 2015, @01:08AM

          by wonkey_monkey (279) on Saturday February 14 2015, @01:08AM (#144828) Homepage

          but I try to avoid it and I don't see reability suffering. again,

          I honestly did a double-take on that one - something a capital A on "again" would have probably have averted.

          spaces between works are very important

          Not as important as using the right letters ;)

          two spaces after a period is enough to delim a sentence from the next, don't you think?

          I don't know, it's been decades since I've seen double spaces. The fact that every browser folds them into one makes it a bit irrelevant on teh interwebs.

          --
          systemd is Roko's Basilisk
          • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Marand on Saturday February 14 2015, @09:03AM

            by Marand (1081) on Saturday February 14 2015, @09:03AM (#144908) Journal

            I don't know, it's been decades since I've seen double spaces. The fact that every browser folds them into one makes it a bit irrelevant on teh interwebs.

            You also don't see it because style guides dropped the double space in favour of single spacing. The double space is a legacy of fixed-width text and typewriters, and most style guidelines updated to reflect their obsolescence years ago. The expectation now is that the ubiquity of variable-width fonts, plus software being capable of adjusting the formatting on-the-fly to lengthen post-punctuation spaces, should cover the double space's purpose.

            It actually makes a lot of sense, since double spacing is mixing presentation/formatting into your content, which is usually a worse way to handle things. LyX, as an example, won't even allow you to double space: if you try it ignores the second one and spits out a warning about it in the status area.

            That said, I still double space because most software is still too stupid to adjust the spacing properly during the input phase, so it helps me proofread what I wrote without affecting the end result, since it's usually ignored or squashed during output.

            • (Score: 2, Insightful) by fatuous looser on Saturday February 14 2015, @06:36PM

              by fatuous looser (2550) on Saturday February 14 2015, @06:36PM (#144988)

              "The expectation now is that the ubiquity of variable-width fonts, plus software being capable of adjusting the formatting on-the-fly to lengthen post-punctuation spaces, should cover the double space's purpose."

              Is that so?  I'd like to see this software that adjusts post-punctuation spaces accomplish something.  It doesn't seem to be working.  But that's not necessarily what you'd want anyway.  Every period doesn't need extra space after it.  Abbreviations don't want it.  You wouldn't want extra space after every Mr. or Mrs., for instance.

              What is needed is adjustment of the space between sentences.  & that is simply not happening, for the most part.  There are a zillion web pages to peruse & the sentences are ALL too close together.  Don't look now, but the myth of "the software will do it for us" is an Emperor with no clothes.

              Now, don't get me wrong.  Software is perfectly capable of widening inter-sentence spacing automatically––but nobody actually utilizes the functionality (other than myself & a few rare-as-hens'-teeth outliers).  It's easy.  Simply write a macro for your editor or word processor that replaces every double-space with a non-breaking space (NBSP) followed by a regular space.  This technique enhances a text's legibility/readability in a subtle but appreciable way, IMO.

              • (Score: 2, Disagree) by isostatic on Saturday February 14 2015, @11:13PM

                by isostatic (365) on Saturday February 14 2015, @11:13PM (#145069) Journal

                What a hideous comment to read, all that extra gaps which breaks the flow. It's like you've channeled Shatner's ghost!

                • (Score: 1) by fatuous looser on Sunday February 15 2015, @02:22PM

                  by fatuous looser (2550) on Sunday February 15 2015, @02:22PM (#145281)

                  "Breaks the flow."  That's a good one.  Thanks for that.  It almost got my dander up––before I realized the funneh lurking in there.  Sneaky bastid.  :)

            • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @10:52PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @10:52PM (#145059)

              Third Way [xkcd.com]

              • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Wednesday February 25 2015, @02:05PM

                by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 25 2015, @02:05PM (#149495) Homepage Journal

                Re that XKCD. I've actually adopted line break after every sentence.
                It seems to make the raw, unformatted text more friendly to revision control,
                which usually takes line breaks quite seriously.

                -- hendrik

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @01:05AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @01:05AM (#144825)

      Maybe not everything should be posted in a singular standardized format. Maybe, we should kill off the capitals, and if only a change that big was that easy. As far as posting goes, there's been a standard in the media, and in most written content as to how one should post a title. Following that standard, encouraging it, or even mandating it conveys the impression of legitimacy. This is a smaller on-line community that's operated by the users. If we're to compete in some ways with corporate behemoths like Slashdot, then we need to have some of the qualities of one of those sites. We don't need to become those sites, we don't need to use the same structure altogether, but I for one don't want to scroll through posts and have each one have unique title formatting. It gives the impression that the poster didn't care enough to abide by common standards that are used in most written work, that the information is unimportant, or perhaps untrustworthy. I know I look at something written in all lower case as if it were written by a 13 year-old sending a text message. I just don't see it as quality content, and even if that's wrong of me, I know I'm not the only one. We've trained our brains to read something which is official, or meaningful in a certain way. We've also trained our brains to discard information that's not within the boundaries of that definition. If a standard isn't optimal for one use, does that mean we should get rid of it even if it is beneficial in other areas?

      Does this community value the implication of legitimacy, or do we wish to remain a site notorious for being a niche community which caters to a specific group? Nothing is wrong either way here, but even something as simple as this is the start of two very different directions for the site. It's not a decision that will make or break things, but it's something we really need to consider the ramifications of.

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by isostatic on Saturday February 14 2015, @01:07AM

      by isostatic (365) on Saturday February 14 2015, @01:07AM (#144827) Journal

      You don't need to use shift, there's a PERFECTLY GOOD CAPS LOCK

      Put everything in UPPER CASE and you won't have a problem

      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @02:33PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @02:33PM (#144948)

        SGT CAPSLOCK IS THAT YOU?

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by janrinok on Saturday February 14 2015, @03:29PM

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 14 2015, @03:29PM (#144961) Journal

      We do not enforce the capitalisation rules for submissions - so the display of story headings is not affected by your carpal tunnel problems, personal whims or anything else. I am, of course, sorry to hear of your problems but that is not what is under discussion here.

      The SN Manifesto discusses how we will strive for a certain level of quality and, while we do from time to time fall short, having a consistent and clearly defined 'look and feel' is a part of that. If each editor was allowed to do as he or she wished the front page would soon look disorganised and unattractive so we have agreed on a 'standard' that we try to follow whenever possible. Where there are good reasons for not following the suggested layout then the editor is free to change it to something more suitable. However, each story should be seen by at least 2 editors before it hits the front page to ensure that it is suitable for release which includes reviewing the format and style.

      We receive submissions from the standard submission editor, from IRC and from various connected devices. They come in various states and some noteworthy examples (gewg_ and Hugh Pickens) are very well formatted and require the minimum amount of additional editorial work. Others do not all follow the layout suggestions so I suspect that martyb (the submitter) was looking at something that could help format stories. Anything that can help get quality stories to the front page more expeditiously is worth investigating but, if nothing turns up, then the editors will continue as before. While a perfectly edited submission will always be welcome, we sometimes have to begin with a URL and some quick scribblings.

      --
      I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
  • (Score: 2) by moondrake on Friday February 13 2015, @10:43PM

    by moondrake (2658) on Friday February 13 2015, @10:43PM (#144766)

    Hmm, clicking the link to the comment leads me to a rather empty page. So where is this discussion?

    My first thought would actually me: why not have the editor type/amend the sentence as he/she sees fit?

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Gaaark on Friday February 13 2015, @10:45PM

    by Gaaark (41) on Friday February 13 2015, @10:45PM (#144767) Journal

    pEOPLE aCTUALLY CARED?

    i Never Even Noticed. Is IT BECause i hAVE A LIFFF??///

    (and yes, my lifff is wafer thin)

    --
    --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13 2015, @10:50PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13 2015, @10:50PM (#144770)

    only_allowing_underscores_and_lowercase_would_make_for_a_much_nerdier_website

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by physicsmajor on Saturday February 14 2015, @05:09AM

      by physicsmajor (1471) on Saturday February 14 2015, @05:09AM (#144869)

      I endorse this as an idea for April Fools.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Marand on Saturday February 14 2015, @09:09AM

      by Marand (1081) on Saturday February 14 2015, @09:09AM (#144912) Journal

      weCouldUseCamelCaseLikeThisForTheJavaPeopleOutThere

      • (Score: 3, Funny) by meisterister on Saturday February 14 2015, @08:33PM

        by meisterister (949) on Saturday February 14 2015, @08:33PM (#145013) Journal

        whatAboutThoseOfUsWhoLearnedJavaStyleBut USE_C_CONSTANTS?

        --
        (May or may not have been) Posted from my K6-2, Athlon XP, or Pentium I/II/III.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by opinionated_science on Friday February 13 2015, @10:57PM

    by opinionated_science (4031) on Friday February 13 2015, @10:57PM (#144771)

    1. Capitalise Proper Nouns e.g. John Smith , Human Body, but not galaxy , dog cat fish.

    2. Acronyms should be expanded on first use in prose e.g. DOJ (Dept. of Justice). Acryonyms are by definition capitals. FBI, DOJ

    In headlines it is sufficient to capitalise everything except conjunctions. e.g. The Dog Jumped Over the Lazy House.

    I'm not sure an algorithm can work properly, though if you basically lowercase common words, I would say it looks ok.

    I used these general rules to format my thesis.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by wonkey_monkey on Friday February 13 2015, @11:17PM

      by wonkey_monkey (279) on Friday February 13 2015, @11:17PM (#144780) Homepage

      Capitalise Proper Nouns

      "Proper" and "nouns" aren't proper nouns, so why have you capitalised them? One of them isn't even a noun!

      e.g. John Smith , Human Body

      "Human" and "body" aren't proper nouns either.

      In headlines it is sufficient

      There's nothing sufficient about it; it's entirely superfluous, conveys no meaning, and, in some rare cases, is even ambiguous.

      --
      systemd is Roko's Basilisk
      • (Score: 3, Touché) by DECbot on Friday February 13 2015, @11:38PM

        by DECbot (832) on Friday February 13 2015, @11:38PM (#144793) Journal

        Perhaps we should consider the German sentence capitalization rules: the first word and every noun.

        --
        cats~$ sudo chown -R us /home/base
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by frojack on Friday February 13 2015, @11:29PM

      by frojack (1554) on Friday February 13 2015, @11:29PM (#144787) Journal

      General English rules generally don't apply to Titles.

      Even the English tend to revert to Title Case for that.

      both British and U.S. publishers to capitalise significant words (and in the United States, this is often applied to headings, too). This family of typographic conventions is usually called title case. For example, R. M. Ritter's Oxford Manual of Style (2002) suggests capitalising "the first word and all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs, but generally not articles, conjunctions and short prepositions"

      That is what I try to follow in my submissions, sometimes with modifications when it looks bad.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2, Redundant) by wonkey_monkey on Friday February 13 2015, @11:35PM

        by wonkey_monkey (279) on Friday February 13 2015, @11:35PM (#144791) Homepage

        That is what I try to follow in my submissions, sometimes with modifications when it looks bad.

        If a set of what seem to be little more than traditional rules sometimes needs modification to stop a headline looking bad, then that in itself seems, to me, to be sufficient reason not to follow those rules.

        "Sentence case" never needs modification.

        --
        systemd is Roko's Basilisk
        • (Score: 4, Informative) by hendrikboom on Saturday February 14 2015, @03:53AM

          by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 14 2015, @03:53AM (#144852) Homepage Journal

          It's true of just about every grammar rule for a natural language that there are situations where following it produces difficulties, especially because language changes. But following accepted grammar rules usually produces greater comprehensibility.

          I see no reason why titles should be different. Follow the standard rules unless they cause trouble.

          • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Paradise Pete on Saturday February 14 2015, @10:48PM

            by Paradise Pete (1806) on Saturday February 14 2015, @10:48PM (#145056)

            Yes. Grammar is the underlying structure that enables clever writing and creative wordplay. The more stable the structure, the more flexibility in the words.

      • (Score: 2) by canopic jug on Saturday February 14 2015, @09:56AM

        by canopic jug (3949) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 14 2015, @09:56AM (#144920) Journal

        General English rules generally don't apply to Titles.

        The rules for capitalization in titles for English have been well worked out and there are several choices. The top level choice is whether you want to approach it as one of writing style or of cataloguing. If you approach it as writing style, then several formal style guides exist [wikipedia.org] and are very well established and recognized. Of these, Strunk & White [wikipedia.org], The Chicago Manual of Style [wikipedia.org] and maybe the Associated Press Stylebook [wikipedia.org] or another, depending on how we see SN fitting in the larger scheme of things. If you approach the question as one of cataloguing online resources, then the Resource Description and Access (RDA) [loc.gov] guide, replacing the AACR2, is the relevant one. It has clear rules for capitalization of titles, but as far as I can tell those rules are behind lock and key. AACR2 appendix A can be used instead and any major library will have a copy, though they are unlikely to let it leave the building.

        It can be a fun thing to discuss, in some cases, but ultimately any discussion comes down to reinventing the wheel. So it would be practical to just pick a style or cataloguing guide and roll with that. Any college bookshop and most libraries will have the style guides.

        --
        Money is not free speech. Elections should not be auctions.
        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday February 14 2015, @08:09PM

          by frojack (1554) on Saturday February 14 2015, @08:09PM (#145010) Journal

          All well and good, but how does that pertain to SoylentNews. Sorry, not visiting any library to pick up a style guide just to post on this site. Just not happening, ok?

          TFS says that the policy is Title CASE, It can succinctly be summed up as

          capitalizing "the first word and all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs, but generally not articles, conjunctions and short prepositions".

          Why would we run off to a library look into a style guide so closely guarded you can only Look but not Touch it, and which was designed for a bygone era of hand cataloging? Clue: Computers have arrived, internet searches are non case sensitive.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 2) by canopic jug on Sunday February 15 2015, @12:40PM

            by canopic jug (3949) Subscriber Badge on Sunday February 15 2015, @12:40PM (#145265) Journal

            Yeah it's stupid how hard the cataloguing rules are to get hold of these days. So that leaves then the style guide and most people have one on the shelf left over from college or one of the online ones. It would not be up to the submitters as much as it would be upon the editors to standardize the titles. It's not a big deal one way or another as long as they are consistent throughout the site. A little tidying goes a long way in improving the appearance of the site. SN already does a very good job of cleaning up, and sometimes combining, the summaries.

            --
            Money is not free speech. Elections should not be auctions.
            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by frojack on Sunday February 15 2015, @07:25PM

              by frojack (1554) on Sunday February 15 2015, @07:25PM (#145350) Journal

              It's not a big deal one way or another as long as they are consistent throughout the site.

              “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. " RWE.

              SoylentNews is People. Says so an every page.

              And all people do not think or write the same, and different stories often warrant different presentation.

              --
              No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 2) by everdred on Tuesday February 17 2015, @09:14PM

            by everdred (110) on Tuesday February 17 2015, @09:14PM (#146300) Journal

            > Sorry, not visiting any library to pick up a style guide just to post on this site.

            Here you go. [gutenberg.org]

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @09:27AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @09:27AM (#144917)

      Acronyms should be expanded on first use in prose e.g. DOJ (Dept. of Justice). Acryonyms are by definition capitals. FBI, DOJ

      DOJ (Dept. (Department) of Justice)

      • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Saturday February 14 2015, @10:11AM

        by maxwell demon (1608) on Saturday February 14 2015, @10:11AM (#144922) Journal

        "Dept." is not an acronym, it's an abbreviation.

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by GungnirSniper on Friday February 13 2015, @11:00PM

    by GungnirSniper (1671) on Friday February 13 2015, @11:00PM (#144772) Journal

    There's really no need to change to some non-standard style. Title Case is not Perl; It can be learned.

    • (Score: 1, Redundant) by wonkey_monkey on Friday February 13 2015, @11:14PM

      by wonkey_monkey (279) on Friday February 13 2015, @11:14PM (#144779) Homepage

      From Wikipedia:

      All words capitalised, except for certain subsets defined by rules that are not universally standardised.

      So the "standard" itself is non-standard.

      Also, headlines are not titles.

      Why can't headlines just be written like you write everything else? Everyone already knows exactly how to do that, and I can't really imagine anyone complaining because the headlines weren't capitalised.

      I say if it's good enough for the BBC [bbc.co.uk], it's good enough for Soylent.

      --
      systemd is Roko's Basilisk
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by GungnirSniper on Friday February 13 2015, @11:35PM

        by GungnirSniper (1671) on Friday February 13 2015, @11:35PM (#144790) Journal
        • (Score: 2) by wonkey_monkey on Friday February 13 2015, @11:38PM

          by wonkey_monkey (279) on Friday February 13 2015, @11:38PM (#144792) Homepage

          What is it missing?

          A practical reason for doing so. I can't see any more reason for following those particular rules than, say, capitalising alternate words.

          --
          systemd is Roko's Basilisk
          • (Score: 3, Disagree) by GungnirSniper on Saturday February 14 2015, @12:39AM

            by GungnirSniper (1671) on Saturday February 14 2015, @12:39AM (#144816) Journal

            Consistency is one way excellence is determined. That alone is a valid reason for following the existing style. For a community with long traditions, I hope we don't go with change for the sake of change, like marketing droids or systemd.

            • (Score: 2) by wonkey_monkey on Saturday February 14 2015, @01:02AM

              by wonkey_monkey (279) on Saturday February 14 2015, @01:02AM (#144824) Homepage

              Consistency is one way excellence is determined.

              I don't think sticking with an arbitrary and pointless set of rules (albeit well defined ones) simply for the sake of sticking to them is ever an indicator of excellence - especially when a simpler, easier, and ubiquitous set of rules (those we use for writing everything else) exists.

              For a community with long traditions...

              I've got underpants older than Soylent News!

              --
              systemd is Roko's Basilisk
              • (Score: 5, Insightful) by hendrikboom on Saturday February 14 2015, @03:56AM

                by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 14 2015, @03:56AM (#144854) Homepage Journal

                Soylent News may not have been around as long as your underpants, but its traditions are a lot older than the site. Those traditions are what made it necessary to create it.

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by girlwhowaspluggedout on Saturday February 14 2015, @08:44AM

          by girlwhowaspluggedout (1223) on Saturday February 14 2015, @08:44AM (#144903)

          Story Style was originally introduced with the following paragraphs, which are now partially included in its Talk page [soylentnews.org]:

          This document is intended to form a manual of style that dictates the way stories are written, mainly in matters of format, punctuation, and grammar. The Manual of soylent Style will hopefully create a uniform presentation that is in line with journalistic practices, while leaving many matters open to the personal preferences of editors and submitters.

          It is currently in its initial stages. Whereas some languages, like French and German, have standardized forms governed by regulatory bodies, English is in many ways a free-for-all. The laws presented below therefore reflect my (Mrgirlpluggedout) own personal preference.

          Since no one has died and made me King of Soylent, my opinion does not outweigh the opinion of others. You are most welcome to add your own laws and examples to this document. I simply ask that instead of changing something that already exists, please make your reservations known in the talk page.

          I wrote the Story Style section. While I did intend to define the Soylent Standard, what I wrote was pretty much just an RFC detailing my own preferences. The only reason for it to be "the" standard is the fact that it is the oldest proposal, perhaps even the only proposal so far. But inertia shouldn't be a social value. More importantly, it's not as if SN's editors have actually been following it for the last 11 months, and SN's titles in particular are hardly uniform. So it doesn't even have inertia going for it.

          To the best of my knowledge, I was not appointed King of Soylent in absentia by the Lady of the Lentil. So my opinion still does not outweigh those of others. I am glad that wonkey_monkey's comment sparked a general discussion regarding my proposal.

          Oh, and when reading Story Style, keep in mind that it was written by a non-native speaker of English, who doesn't even reside in an English-speaking country. For all I know, my preferences are considered presumptuous and high-falutin by most English-speakers nowadays.

          --
          Soylent is the best disinfectant.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13 2015, @11:01PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13 2015, @11:01PM (#144773)

    Use whatever algorithm tickles your fancy (title case), with curly braces manually added to surround chunks of text where the case is import: {iP}hone, {NAMBLA}, etc.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13 2015, @11:04PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13 2015, @11:04PM (#144774)

    socialism! gonna fix everything!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13 2015, @11:04PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13 2015, @11:04PM (#144775)

    I thought this site was The Soylent News (TSN).

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Appalbarry on Friday February 13 2015, @11:07PM

    by Appalbarry (66) on Friday February 13 2015, @11:07PM (#144777) Journal

    If only there was, say, a book somewhere [wikipedia.org] that told us the rules for using words.

    Or at least an xkcd comic... [xkcd.com]

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by NotSanguine on Friday February 13 2015, @11:11PM

      Actually, it's available for free here [washington.edu].

      --
      No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13 2015, @11:21PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13 2015, @11:21PM (#144783)

      Do you wish you could be as white and nerdy as Rondel Manho? Now you can, with Xckd Anal Bleach. Apply directly to the anus.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by NotSanguine on Friday February 13 2015, @11:18PM

    Capitalization should follow the standard (as I was taught in school) rules. Strunk and White (as opposed to Strunk/White) is a good source for those.

    At the same time, I don't see why there has to be some sort of automated capitalization process.

    Why not just allow posters to do what they want, and as for submissions, allow the editors to, well, edit?

    Or am I missing something?

    --
    No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by wonkey_monkey on Saturday February 14 2015, @12:07AM

      by wonkey_monkey (279) on Saturday February 14 2015, @12:07AM (#144804) Homepage

      I'm not sure where the idea that some kind of automation was required came from, either - any such attempt would seem doomed to failure on the first Apple story, or failing that, the first story about apples.

      --
      systemd is Roko's Basilisk
  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Buck Feta on Friday February 13 2015, @11:19PM

    by Buck Feta (958) on Friday February 13 2015, @11:19PM (#144782) Journal
    --
    - fractious political commentary goes here -
  • (Score: 3, Disagree) by krishnoid on Friday February 13 2015, @11:26PM

    by krishnoid (1156) on Friday February 13 2015, @11:26PM (#144785)

    Considering we have the low double-digits of comments on stories, could we consider having stories published less frequently? Perhaps twice a day to start, until there's some critical mass built up? It seems like more people would pitch in on fewer articles, and would have more time to consider the topic in depth to compose detailed, hopefully higher-quality replies.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by FlyingSock on Saturday February 14 2015, @03:12PM

      by FlyingSock (4339) on Saturday February 14 2015, @03:12PM (#144957)

      I don't think this would increase the number of comments furthermore it might reduce the number of visitors.

      With fewer stories there is a lower probability that one of the stories is within my field of interest and or expertise, hence with this rule I would be less likely to comment and also less likely to visit.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by wonkey_monkey on Friday February 13 2015, @11:29PM

    by wonkey_monkey (279) on Friday February 13 2015, @11:29PM (#144786) Homepage

    Disclaimer: I composed the comment [soylentnews.org] that caused the current kerfuffle.

    -

    The bizarre and arbitrary* capitalisation of words in headlines has always annoyed me. There's no sense to it; it conveys no meaning. In some rare cases, it can even be ambiguous. It's a pointless and confusing tradition.

    The answer, then, seems obvious to me - just capitalise headlines the same way you'd capitalise any other piece of text.

    -

    * Before someone points me to The Elements of Style or similar, any set of rules you can find - and there are several differing sets of such rules - are themselves arbitrary, since capitalisation serves no real purpose in a headline.

    --
    systemd is Roko's Basilisk
    • (Score: 3, Funny) by frojack on Friday February 13 2015, @11:45PM

      by frojack (1554) on Friday February 13 2015, @11:45PM (#144795) Journal

      * Before someone points me to The Elements of Style or similar, any set of rules you can find - and there are several differing sets of such rules - are themselves arbitrary, since capitalisation serves no real purpose in a headline.

      Well, now that you've had your say, you also appear to have closed the conversation, and preempted any alternative points of view.
      Its settled then.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by wonkey_monkey on Saturday February 14 2015, @12:03AM

        by wonkey_monkey (279) on Saturday February 14 2015, @12:03AM (#144801) Homepage

        and preempted any alternative points of view.

        I'd much rather you presented one instead of just implying that I'm not willing to hear any at all.

        As for the statement of mine that you quoted, I'm confident that it's factually accurate.

        --
        systemd is Roko's Basilisk
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @02:19AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @02:19AM (#144838)

      >just capitalise headlines the same way you'd capitalise any other piece of text.

      but then it wouldnt be a HEADLINE.

      i say do whatever we do now, its fine, no one cares apart from the occasional
      unhinged simian (said with love in my heart :)

      • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @11:44AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @11:44AM (#144930)

        >just capitalise headlines the same way you'd capitalise any other piece of text.

        but then it wouldnt be a HEADLINE.

        Yes it would. Nothing about a headline requires a particular capitalisation; it's all about the position, size, and composition of the text.
        Many headlines use all-caps. Many headlines use title-case. Many headlines use regular sentence capitalisation.

        "MAN KILLED BY DOE" could have multiple meanings. "Man Killed By DOE" would be less ambiguous.
        "Man Killed By Apple" could have multiple meanings. "Man killed by apple" would be less ambiguous.

        So I can see a reason to use non-sentence capitalisation, if a site specifically wanted to encourage ambiguous and/or misleading headlines. But sometimes I'd hope for a little more honesty.

    • (Score: 1) by FlyingSock on Saturday February 14 2015, @03:17PM

      by FlyingSock (4339) on Saturday February 14 2015, @03:17PM (#144959)

      I don't think title case is senseless, as in there is no point/meaning/intention to it. The point of title case, I find, is that it creates more aesthetically pleasing Headlines.

      So while I don't know of any objective reason that makes title case necessary, I do not think it is senseless.

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13 2015, @11:47PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13 2015, @11:47PM (#144797)

    If you read hundreds of thousands of headlines, you learn how to write them.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_case#Case_styles [wikipedia.org]

    Just use this one:

    The Vitamins Are in My Fresh California Raisins

    Title case: all words capitalised except for articles, prepositions and conjunctions

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_(grammar) [wikipedia.org]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preposition [wikipedia.org]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_conjunction [wikipedia.org]

    Use sentence case if you want, or just rip off a headline if you can't words

    • (Score: 2) by wonkey_monkey on Friday February 13 2015, @11:53PM

      by wonkey_monkey (279) on Friday February 13 2015, @11:53PM (#144799) Homepage

      all words capitalised except for articles, prepositions and conjunctions

      Simple question: why?

      --
      systemd is Roko's Basilisk
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @09:00AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @09:00AM (#144907)

        who gives a shit. really?

        if you don't like the way submissions are titled, submit your own with titles "correctly capitalized" (whatever that means) and they might be accepted and then you can gloat

        do you like caps or not? from all your replies i can't even tell. it just seems like you wanna argue with everyone

        that's why i'm here too. trolling is fun :D

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Non Sequor on Saturday February 14 2015, @12:05AM

    by Non Sequor (1005) on Saturday February 14 2015, @12:05AM (#144802) Journal

    This has the advantage of having a chance of generating any other case type. Just hit refresh until your preferred case shows up.

    --
    Write your congressman. Tell him he sucks.
    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Saturday February 14 2015, @10:33AM

      by maxwell demon (1608) on Saturday February 14 2015, @10:33AM (#144927) Journal

      What a non-nerdy suggestion! No, the real solution is to let people specify their preferred capitalization rules in their user preferences. For that, develop a Capitalization Scripting Language which gives access to enough properties of the title to decide on capitalization; title writers are then asked to properly tag their title words, so you can do so without implementing a natural language parser (and don't get tripped by accidental ambiguities; intentional ambiguities can be explicitly marked as such). Users can then enter code for their preferred capitalization in their user preferences, which then is executed on every title before it is shown to the user.

      For example, the title for this story would then be entered as

      <word class="article" detail="indefinite">a</word> <word class="adjective">capital</word> <word class="noun" detail="improper">idea</word>

      and your user profile could contain code similar to

      foreach word w:
          if w.class == acronym:
              return unchanged
          elseif w.isFirst:
              return titlecased
          elseif w.class in (adjective, pronoun):
              return lowercased
          else:
              return uppercased

      SCNR :-)

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Refugee from beyond on Saturday February 14 2015, @12:05AM

    by Refugee from beyond (2699) on Saturday February 14 2015, @12:05AM (#144803)

    Title Capitalization needs to die. Horribly. The only thing it does is making it harder to read headlines. They are already visually separated from content anyway.

    --
    Instantly better soylentnews: replace background on article and comment titles with #973131.
    • (Score: 2) by TGV on Saturday February 14 2015, @08:15AM

      by TGV (2838) on Saturday February 14 2015, @08:15AM (#144897)

      I agree. It's horrible.

      For the rest, the algorithm is: look up the proper spelling in the dictionary. Put the words in the title as they appear in the dictionary, but put the first character of the sentence in capital, unless there is an exception in the rules of the language. E.g., in Dutch, you've got to capitalize the two initial letters when a word starts with "ij". There is no rule that forbids writing "IPad" as the first word.

      Notice that some lemmas have different capitalization depending on usage or context, so unless you have a method for determining the meaning of such words, capitalization can't be fully automated.

      • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Wednesday February 25 2015, @02:27PM

        by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 25 2015, @02:27PM (#149501) Homepage Journal

        In Dutch, 'IJ' is the upper-case form of a letter whose lower case is 'ij'. It is alphabetized together with 'Y'.
        That said, there are occasional situations where a 'J' follows an 'I' without them bonding to form an 'IJ'. In those situations, the 'Ij' ends up being alphabetized as an 'i' followed by a 'j'.

        You cannot properly alphabetize the Amsterdam telephone directory without distinguishing these cases.

    • (Score: 2) by Nerdanel on Saturday February 14 2015, @10:21AM

      by Nerdanel (3363) on Saturday February 14 2015, @10:21AM (#144923) Journal

      Not all languages with capitalization use Title Case. I wonder about the historical reasons behind the English system. I suspect it's because way back way more words were (inconsistently) capitalized, and that style stuck around for titles.

      I have Finnish for direct comparison, and I can confirm that long titles are far easier to read in sentence case. There is a reason English stopped capitalizing every other word in the content part.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Tramii on Saturday February 14 2015, @12:21AM

    by Tramii (920) on Saturday February 14 2015, @12:21AM (#144808)

    > I fail to see a simple algorithmic solution to the problem that produces an aesthetically pleasing result.

    Just force the titles to use all caps and call it a day.

    • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Saturday February 14 2015, @04:06AM

      by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 14 2015, @04:06AM (#144856) Homepage Journal

      All caps is less readable than almost anything except for the typefaces used to make modern pubs look authentically Olde English.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by DrkShadow on Saturday February 14 2015, @12:35AM

    by DrkShadow (1404) on Saturday February 14 2015, @12:35AM (#144811)

    You're presenting a _title_, right? So isn't Title Case appropriate? If you're looking for something to geterate it, the first letter of each word, except for articles. The editor corrects the rest.

    If you _must_ have something more perfect, take words from a dictionary. If the dictionary (http://wordlist.aspell.net/12dicts-readme/) lists them with some particular capitalization, capitalize them that way; else lowercase but the first letter, except for articles. Keep in mind that that dictionary may not be updated with words such as iPod, but it does have FBI, FYI.

  • (Score: 2) by goodie on Saturday February 14 2015, @01:01AM

    by goodie (1877) on Saturday February 14 2015, @01:01AM (#144823) Journal

    I'm not sure this applies because SN is different from the stuff I read (journal papers, conference articles etc.) but I would almost go with a citation style for the title: proper nouns are capitalized (as in Apple etc.), but other than that, only the first letter at the beginning of the title or a column are capitalized.

    As in:

    -This is a great title: The title of an article
    -This is an Apple article
    -Why, oh why? We do not know

    etc. The capitalization part is easy to do. However, when we deal with abbreviations and proper nouns etc. there are two ways I see it. escape character (as in everything coming after this \ do not automagically alter the case), or a list of reserved words and abbreviations (the way EndNote manages it which sucks donkey ass). We could always have something that "learns" a list of reserved words which over time, would cover 95% of the abbreviations and proper nouns we use otherwise.

    So basically, I'd have something that splits the title in words. Caps the first letter of the first word along with the first letter of the first word coming after a set of reserved characters (':' and '-' for example). If any word is escaped with a '\', do not lower case it, it was meant the be capitalized in a special way. Because it's tricky otherwise. In my field, it and IT are not the same thing so a universal rule, however desirable, does not easily apply. I'd say it's the same problem with a site like SN where submissions are on a variety of topics. One day we could be talking about Apple and the next a GMO apple...

    • (Score: 1) by drgibbon on Saturday February 14 2015, @04:18AM

      by drgibbon (74) on Saturday February 14 2015, @04:18AM (#144858) Journal

      but I would almost go with a citation style for the title: proper nouns are capitalized (as in Apple etc.), but other than that, only the first letter at the beginning of the title or a column are capitalized.

      This would be my preferred style also. Then it's easy to apply the rules, and if you want to maintain capitalisation it can be done the BibTeX way, by wrapping the word in braces {}. So if you submit this:

      My Title: What the {FBI} is Doing

      you get

      My title: What the FBI is doing

      Certain acronyms and proper nouns could be coded in to automatically apply capitalisation if the braces are omitted.

      --
      Certified Soylent Fresh!
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by wonkey_monkey on Saturday February 14 2015, @01:38AM

    by wonkey_monkey (279) on Saturday February 14 2015, @01:38AM (#144830) Homepage

    Smoking Is Even Deadlier Than Previously Thought

    That's the latest headline to grace Soylent News. Is it correctly capitalised, according to the Soylent story style [soylentnews.org]?

    I don't think it is - "is" and "than" shouldn't be capitalised, according to my reading of the guide, since the former is a copula (apparently) and the latter is a conjunction (I think).

    But I can't be sure. And that's the problem with title case in a nutshell. Do most people who speak English as a first language really know for sure what is a conjunction or preposition, and what isn't? But pretty much everyone does know how to write a normal sentence - you capitalise the proper nouns, and that's it. There are no lists of words or word types to commit to memory, or worrying about it not looking quite right.

    You can't get much simpler or more consistent than sentence case without doing away with the distinction between upper- and lower-case altogether.

    Here are a couple of recent title case car crashes for your consideration:

    HTTP/2 on its Way In, SPDY on its Way Out

    Fed Up with systemd? Why Not Try a BSD?

    --
    systemd is Roko's Basilisk
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @09:18AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @09:18AM (#144913)

      Since this thread looks more and more like a poll, I have to vote:
      I am completely supporting a switch to sentence case, as it is the most known, the easiest to read, and - as someone previously pointed out - less prone to create confusion than title case.

    • (Score: 2) by gidds on Saturday February 14 2015, @11:38PM

      by gidds (589) on Saturday February 14 2015, @11:38PM (#145078)

      I've never understood the point of all those complex rules for titles.

      As far as I can see, life would be much simpler all round if we capitalised the first letter of every word, whichever part of speech it was, however open or closed its category, and however common or rare it was.

      After all, what's the point of such capitalisation?  It's to visually set off a title from the surrounding text — in much the same was we use font changes such as italics, or single- or double-quotes.  So why treat some words to the change but not others?  It's confusing, as well as less effective!

      If we capitalised the first letter of every word, it would be much easier to refer to two titles without ambiguity.  For example:

      I read Pride And Prejudice.

      is clearly a single book; but if you didn't recognise the title:

      I read Pride and Prejudice.

      could easily be taken for two.

      I guess the only reasons are tradition ("But that's how we've always done it!"), or some bizarre broken sense of aesthetics ("It looks prettier that way!").  Neither of which I accept as valid reasons :-)

      So join me!  Capitalise Every Word In Your Titles!!!

      --
      [sig redacted]
  • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Saturday February 14 2015, @01:44AM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Saturday February 14 2015, @01:44AM (#144832) Homepage Journal

    There are many languages that don't have the concept of capitalization, or if they do, capitals were not in their original alphabet.

    Sometime soon I'm going to change every H1 tag on my entire website to smallcaps.

    --
    Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @05:59AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @05:59AM (#144876)

      You canconvert all H1 tags at once with a style-sheet.

  • (Score: 2) by dcollins on Saturday February 14 2015, @03:06AM

    by dcollins (1168) on Saturday February 14 2015, @03:06AM (#144844) Homepage

    This is a pretty awesome analog to recent-years occurrences of new UI paradigms, systemd, etc. A small number of crazed proponents will bang the drum for it loudly, the content majority will not spend the time, and the new nonstandard mangled version will get foisted upon us all. Maybe there's a moral about centralized gatekeepers in all this.

    • (Score: 2) by dcollins on Saturday February 14 2015, @04:45AM

      by dcollins (1168) on Saturday February 14 2015, @04:45AM (#144866) Homepage

      Or even better example: Put it up for a community vote and find out that most people prefer it as-is, just like you did with the title of Soylent itself.

      • (Score: 2) by girlwhowaspluggedout on Saturday February 14 2015, @08:55AM

        by girlwhowaspluggedout (1223) on Saturday February 14 2015, @08:55AM (#144906)
        As one of the people responsible for our headline style(s), I wholeheartedly agree with a community vote, regardless of its result. I was certainly not a centralized gatekeeper when I proposed a standard [soylentnews.org]. And any standard used by the community should reflect the preferences of that community, or at least its majority.
        --
        Soylent is the best disinfectant.
  • (Score: 2) by Gravis on Saturday February 14 2015, @08:13AM

    by Gravis (4596) on Saturday February 14 2015, @08:13AM (#144896)

    it's quite simple, use Title Case and then go back through and search for proper nouns that are exceptions.

    i think the real question should be, why is this so hard for editors to just do manually and get correct?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @09:38PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @09:38PM (#145036)

      Agreed, it sounds like the editors are too lazy to do their job and just want an algorithm to do it for them. Is it really so difficult to edit a title? Maybe SoylentNews should hire someone who took a basic writing or journalism course in high school.

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @09:03AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @09:03AM (#144910)

    just put titty fucking in the titles, cos everyone knows sex sells

    8==D (o Y o)

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @01:54PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14 2015, @01:54PM (#144945)

    Define the standard in a text document rather than in code. Write the module to analyze for standards compliance, then put a compliance percentage on the Preview page, linking back to the standard.

    Sometimes variance is needed for impact. Most of the time though submitters will respect rules if they have a simple means of verifying whether they are compliant with them. In this way you gain the ability to adjust the standard based on analysis of popularity rather than on debate. Tweak the standard, measure popularity vs. standard. repeat.

  • (Score: 1) by fatuous looser on Saturday February 14 2015, @09:53PM

    by fatuous looser (2550) on Saturday February 14 2015, @09:53PM (#145041)

    If Soylent could just banish title-style capitalization from its RSS feed listings, that would be improvement enough for me.  All other capitalization considerations should be decided within their context.  IOW, free rein (not "reign," TYVM) to the editors therewith.

  • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Saturday February 14 2015, @11:14PM

    by darkfeline (1030) on Saturday February 14 2015, @11:14PM (#145070) Homepage

    I'm a big fan of using regular capitalization (first word, proper names, and certain acronyms) for everything. Title case is horribly overrated, especially once you get beyond three or four words. Consider:

    The Foo Of Bar Reports That the Baz Spammed the Eggs Last Monday

    versus

    The Foo of Bar reports that the baz spammed the eggs last Monday

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