[DISCUSSION] Wiki editing: capitalizing Waze noun phrases

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[DISCUSSION] Wiki editing: capitalizing Waze noun phrases

Postby DwarfLord » Sun Jun 23, 2019 3:51 pm

Capitalizing noun phrases for specific Waze functionalities

The USA Wiki Editing article doesn't use the word "capitalization" once, but rather refers to the Wikipedia guidelines that have an entire article on the use of capital letters. That article does discuss capitalization of proper nouns and noun phrases, but the discussion is not exhaustive.

I would like to open a discussion around our capitalization of nouns and noun phrases for specific Waze functionality. For example:

major highway or Major Highway?
private road or Private Road?
area place or Area Place?
entry point or Entry Point?
junction box or Junction Box?

My initial sense is that, for the purpose of our wiki, these terms should be treated as proper noun phrases and capitalized because to do otherwise risks confusion. For example, what if we wrote:

"We should prefer junction boxes to box junctions."
"Although it's a major highway through the reserve, it should still be a private road."
"Was the driver's entry point at the hospital complex at the entry point or somewhere else?"

It would be clearer to the reader if we wrote instead:

"We should prefer Junction Boxes to box junctions."
"Although it's a major highway through the reserve, it should still be a Private Road."
"Was the driver's entry point at the hospital complex at the Entry Point or somewhere else?"

Granted these are contrived examples, but not wildly so, and they are for the purposes of illustration.

Perspectives welcome!
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Wiki editing: capitalizing Waze noun phrase

Postby jm6087 » Sun Jun 23, 2019 3:58 pm

100% agree
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Wiki editing: capitalizing Waze noun phrase

Postby ottonomy » Sun Jun 23, 2019 5:39 pm

I’d give that several hundred thumbs up if I could. Alas, I’ve only got two, and the forum will only let me use one of those.
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Wiki editing: capitalizing Waze noun phrase

Postby Kartografer » Sun Jun 23, 2019 9:11 pm

We discussed this here 1-2 years ago, but we didn't seem to reach a strong consensus. The weak consensus, at least as I understood it, was to not to capitalize Waze objects but to capitalize some unique properties such as the road types. I practice this, and my position hasn't changed since then. In case I wasn't clear then, a few quick thoughts (will have more time to write later):

I don't think ambiguity is a big issue, and I don't think capitalization is the best way to solve it anyway. Rather, use context and synonyms to avoid the ambiguity. I haven't found anywhere in the wiki where capitalization of something has been a better solution than using context and synonyms. Furthermore, one doesn't just say something is a proper noun out of convenience; it either is or it isn't a proper noun. It seems that this question can go rather deeply into philosophy, but here's Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proper_noun
Waze objects (segments, places, map comments, cities) are common nouns. Some attributes are proper nouns, like road types and place categories, because their names uniquely identify them. There aren't multiple private road types. There is one Private Road type.

Consistency is important. We don't have to follow Wikipedia style, but we should be consistent with how we write. Currently almost all of the wiki (besides the military base page) AFAIK has Waze objects in lower case but road types and categories in upper case. IMO this works well and is better than an alternative of capitalizing all Waze objects.
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Wiki editing: capitalizing Waze noun phrase

Postby DwarfLord » Mon Jun 24, 2019 1:19 am

Kartografer wrote:Waze objects (segments, places, map comments, cities) are common nouns. Some attributes are proper nouns, like road types and place categories, because their names uniquely identify them. There aren't multiple private road types. There is one Private Road type.

Can you explain in more detail why private road is specific but area place is general?.
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Wiki editing: capitalizing Waze noun phrase

Postby Kartografer » Mon Jun 24, 2019 2:46 pm

DwarfLord wrote:
Kartografer wrote:Waze objects (segments, places, map comments, cities) are common nouns. Some attributes are proper nouns, like road types and place categories, because their names uniquely identify them. There aren't multiple private road types. There is one Private Road type.

Can you explain in more detail why private road is specific but area place is general?.

Area places are a class of nouns. There are many, all over the map, rather than one single entity named Area Place. You can edit or PL specific instances of them. Private Road is a single entity (a road type) that is applied to various road segments, such as segments that represent driveways or private roads. It has unique properties, like a high transition penalty and a gold color in WME. It's the same with the category Hospital / Urgent Care (a specific entity). This is applied to various places that represent hospitals, urgent care locations, emergency rooms (classes of nouns). I'm in favor of capitalizing those terms that refer to a type or category. I am not in favor of capitalizing classes of objects like Area Places, Junction Boxes, Nodes, Segments or Cameras. This is actually how WME does it, at least in default English. Objects are not capitalized beyond what sentence case requires (it says "Junction box" in the drop-down); road types and place categories are.

It's also how we normally write. I don't see people in Discord writing about "Segments" or "Nodes" or "Cities" or even "Places" or "Junction Boxes", even those who expressed their support here for capitalizing these in the wiki. Nor do I see anyone else complaining about ambiguity in Discord due to lack of capitalization in what folks write there.

If we do decide to capitalize Waze objects, even if they are common nouns, where do we draw the line, and why? If we capitalize all Waze objects, I think readability would decrease a good bit. We would get things like:
Creating and editing Road Segments wrote:There are five essential steps to add Roads to the Waze map:

  • Draw the Road.
  • Set or confirm the Road properties.
  • Connect the Road with Junctions to existing Segment(s) or another newly created Segment(s).
  • Set allowed Turns at Junctions.
  • Save the changes.


Now maybe if you come from a certain profession such as the military, where capitalization is used more widely due to tradition (which is why the Military Bases page has its own unique capitalization), this may appear normal to you, but all technical writing guides and even many new DoD writing guides recommend capitalization only of proper nouns. And this isn't the military anyway.

This is a community and a wiki about mapping, and mapping will always have some ambiguity between physical reality and abstract representations thereof. That's OK, because we want the map to represent physical reality. Also, as map editors, most of the time we are talking about the stuff on the map anyway, so this is the default understanding. Again, where disambiguation is needed, use context. So let's take your examples from the first post and try to add some context. Which is easiest to read and understand?

contrived wrote:"We should prefer junction boxes to box junctions."
"Although it's a major highway through the reserve, it should still be a private road."
"Was the driver's entry point at the hospital complex at the entry point or somewhere else?"


capitalized wrote:"We should prefer Junction Boxes to box junctions."
"Although it's a major highway through the reserve, it should still be a Private Road."
"Was the driver's entry point at the hospital complex at the Entry Point or somewhere else?"


contextualized wrote:"We should prefer junction boxes to control routing through complex intersections."
"Although it's considered a major highway through the reserve, we should still use the Private Road type for it."
"Did the driver's route end at the at the entry point for the hospital place or somewhere else?"


Or how about:
"Place the point place at the front door of the place" vs "Place the Point Place at the front door of the place" vs "Position the point place over the front door of the building" - Just be intentional about how you write.

One might argue that new editors or non-editors don't understand how terms like "entry point" or "area place" refer to abstract things on a screen rather than physical realities. That may be true, but capitalization doesn't help. One will still need to explain what these things mean, and that's what the wiki does. Also, when talking about Waze objects in URs to non-editors, one needs to use context, so the wiki should be a good example of that. Capitalization is of little use in clarifying what "the Road has a Closure on it" means to a reporter.

Tl;dr Waze objects (things that you can edit or PL) are common nouns, but some other functionalities in Waze (road types, place categories, the Waze Map Editor itself, Live Map) are proper nouns. We should continue to capitalize only proper nouns, like Wikipedia does, because:

  1. Ambiguity is not a big problem in the wiki.
  2. Capitalization doesn't really help to disambiguate.
  3. Consistency is important in documentation.
  4. If we decide to capitalize some Waze objects, we must capitalize them all everywhere or come up with a more complex standard.
  5. This reduces readability due to distraction.
  6. We do not write like this in everyday writing.
  7. The wiki is not written like this currently.
  8. Context and synonyms are adequate to disambiguate, where this is needed.
  9. Context and synonyms are necessary anyway for new editors and UR reporters.
  10. The wiki should be a good example of how to write about these things.
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Wiki editing: capitalizing Waze noun phrase

Postby DwarfLord » Mon Jun 24, 2019 10:28 pm

Kartografer, thanks very much for the carefully considered post. I recognize and appreciate the care and hard work involved.

I want to clarify that I consider this a discussion, not a proposal; thus the [DISCUSSION] flag in the title. My current goal is simply to understand the different perspectives better so I can make a more informed judgement.

So, although I recognize arguments having to do with practicalities — for example, whether current practice is really a problem, whether there are adequate linguistic workarounds even if it is, and whether the effort involved in adopting a different standard is more trouble than it's worth — here I would like to focus on the essentials.

Further, I would never argue that common nouns or noun phrases should be capitalized. I doubt anybody here would. We can surely stipulate full consensus on that.

The primary question in my mind is simply whether certain Waze-specific noun phrases really are common. This is why I asked what makes a private road a proper noun phrase, and an area place a common noun phrase. I do not yet follow your argument on that.

There seems to be agreement that the road types should be treated as proper noun phrases, that Major Highway, Private Road, Local Street, etc. should be capitalized. So let's start with those. What makes those proper nouns? Were it not for their special meaning in Waze, then obviously these would all be common noun phrases; outside of Waze world, nobody capitalizes Major Highways and Private Roads. So it is specifically their use in Waze that makes them proper noun phrases. What is that use, and why is it so different from other functional elements in Waze?

Kartografer wrote:Private Road is a single entity (a road type) that is applied to various road segments, such as segments that represent driveways or private roads. It has unique properties, like a high transition penalty and a gold color in WME.


Let me try to reword this this around Area Places:

Area Place is a single entity (a place type) that is applied to various map objects, such as map objects that represent parks or university campuses. It has unique properties, like multiple entry points and shading in the app display.


I am being honest, I don't understand why the former explanation is correct but the latter isn't. Where am I going wrong?
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Wiki editing: capitalizing Waze noun phrase

Postby mhh60 » Mon Jun 24, 2019 10:35 pm

Capitalizing noun phrases adds clarity when such phrases are commonly abbreviated by use of acronyms. Example: Residential Point Place (RPP). I’m not sure that The Chicago Manual of Style would agree, but it makes sense in the context of how we use such phrases in our Wazeopedia.
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Wiki editing: capitalizing Waze noun phrase

Postby herrchin » Tue Jun 25, 2019 2:35 am

(everything phrased in debate format simply for clarity, not because I'm resolute)

There are plenty of style guides to choose from just like there are plenty of standards to choose from. Oh the pleasure of debating CMS vs. Strunk & White...

If a common noun, or combination of words, is used in a manner specific to Waze, it should have emphasis (capitals, italics, color, underline, whatever the style standard dictates). This ensures that the reader understands that there is more nuance than the words present on the page indicate and does so in a concise way.

I do believe most technical style guides also agree with this, though I'm struggling to find a common way to reference it. Many use formatting other than capitalization -- such as bold or italics -- so as to not run afoul of "proper noun" standards or risk offending the "readability." Ditch CMS and S&W, we've got the Microsoft Writing Style Guide!

Having to add clarifying context instead of using a mark-up element is the antithesis of clarity. It only reduces the likelihood that the reader gets it wrong, instead of easily and explicitly calling out the text that is more than the sum of its parts.

Examples of things I consider Waze-specific that might not qualify under proper noun styles but would earn emphasis under my recommendation (in whatever chosen formatting element):

  1. Junction Box - far more than the sum of the words, it's a particular Waze construct, with back-end processes, rank restrictions, editing practices, etc.
  2. Private Road - means something different than "private road" as you're not talking about the real-world traffic restrictions necessarily, you're talking about how the segment attribute is going to influence routing.
  3. Area Place - You bet this has Waze-specific meaning. Ask any new L1 who did it "wrong." It is a whole set of attributes and best practices, not simply a map representation. We've got tables, and carefully refined guiding text... why would we not essentially hyperlink this every time it is used?
  4. Major Highway - even to a seasoned editor, sometimes you mean the Waze segment property, sometimes you don't.
  5. Map Problem - You're not referring to something in the abstract. It's a specific thing in Waze, detected by a process, complete with a WME layer. Sure, it's also a problem with the map, but that's not how we're using it most of the time. Though sometimes, yeah, we're saying "that's not a user error, that's a map problem." (and we're not meaning an MP to be worked and closed out)
  6. Update Request

Things which do not have Waze-specific nuance (the words carry no hidden additional meaning), and thus should not receive emphasis:

  1. node
  2. segment
  3. place
  4. road
  5. speed limit - doesn't matter that it's a segment attribute, it's not being used specially in Waze
  6. regional coordinator - a Waze RC is not a nuanced use of "regional coordination"
  7. turn arrow
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Re: [DISCUSSION] Wiki editing: capitalizing Waze noun phrase

Postby Kartografer » Tue Jun 25, 2019 3:34 pm

DwarfLord wrote:Kartografer, thanks very much for the carefully considered post. I recognize and appreciate the care and hard work involved.

I want to clarify that I consider this a discussion, not a proposal; thus the [DISCUSSION] flag in the title. My current goal is simply to understand the different perspectives better so I can make a more informed judgement.

I meant to say at first (before I started thinking about linguistics I guess), thanks for starting this discussion, and really thanks for restarting other discussions lately in this forum. Sometimes this process can be a little exhausting, but it's fun when we can build agreement together.
DwarfLord wrote:My initial sense is that, for the purpose of our wiki, these terms should be treated as proper noun phrases and capitalized because to do otherwise risks confusion.

herrchin wrote:If a common noun, or combination of words, is used in a manner specific to Waze, it should have emphasis (capitals, italics, color, underline, whatever the style standard dictates). This ensures that the reader understands that there is more nuance than the words present on the page indicate and does so in a concise way.

I do believe most technical style guides also agree with this, though I'm struggling to find a common way to reference it. Many use formatting other than capitalization -- such as bold or italics -- so as to not run afoul of "proper noun" standards or risk offending the "readability." Ditch CMS and S&W, we've got the Microsoft Writing Style Guide!

mhh60 wrote:Capitalizing noun phrases adds clarity when such phrases are commonly abbreviated by use of acronyms. Example: Residential Point Place (RPP). I’m not sure that The Chicago Manual of Style would agree, but it makes sense in the context of how we use such phrases in our Wazeopedia

The main reason you gave for capitalizing Waze technical phrases was not that they are proper nouns, but in order to reduce confusion we should treat them like proper nouns. I read that, perhaps incorrectly, as "pretend they are proper nouns and capitalize them as such." Blaine and Mark seem to have spoken from that understanding as well: Even if some Waze technical phrases are common nouns, there is benefit to capitalizing them or otherwise marking them up.
DwarfLord wrote:Further, I would never argue that common nouns or noun phrases should be capitalized. I doubt anybody here would. We can surely stipulate full consensus on that.

It doesn't look like we have full consensus on that. This is the joy of discussion!

So let's talk about proper nouns, and then we can talk about markup.
Wikipedia on proper nouns wrote:A proper noun is a noun directly associated with an entity and primarily used to refer to that entity, such as London, Jupiter, Sharon, or Microsoft, as distinguished from a common noun, which is a noun directly associated with a class of entities (city, planet, person, corporation) and primarily used to refer to instances of a specific class (a city, another planet, these persons, our corporation)... The detailed definition of the term is problematic and to an extent governed by convention... In English, proper names in their primary application cannot normally be modified by an article or other determiner (such as any or another), although some may be taken to include the article the, as in the Netherlands, the Roaring Forties, or the Rolling Stones.

So basically, as I understand it, if people normally can use at least an indefinite article or determiner with a noun phrase, this noun phrase is by convention a common noun. Since English doesn't have some governing linguistic academy, we let convention tell us what to do. We don't say "a Waze Map Editor" or "any Ottonomy." Those proper nouns refer to single entities. It sounds archaic to say "these United States of America" because the United States of America has since become a single entity in the way we talk about our country, and thus it is a proper noun. So back to the road types. In the thread I linked above, I first said that road types should not be capitalized at all, but then shifted at the end. Regardless of whether the road types should be capitalized for disambiguation (as supported by Kent, Alan and sketch in that thread) they can be proper nouns if used as such. If we say, "Passageway has a vehicle-type-specific penalty" or "for roads through apartment complexes, use Parking Lot Road", we're referring to Passageway and Parking Lot Road as single entities (and this is what the road templates were intended for). If we say, "draw parking lot roads through corner gas stations", we're referring to parking lot roads as a class of individual segments. "There's a parking lot road mapped through the Shell station, and a parking lot road on the opposite corner through the BP station, and a junction box may be needed to improve turn data at this intersection" contains many common nouns but two proper adjectives, "Shell" and "BP," that modify the common noun "station." A similar use for road types as proper adjectives might be, "draw Freeway stubs [i.e. stubs of type Freeway] at certain wayfinders." The convention, at least to me in the wiki, is usually to write about road types as single entities. For example, from the road types page, we have sentences like this: "The following roads are to be classified, at minimum, as Minor Highway." The lack of an article indicates that this is a proper noun.

If we talked about Area Place as a single entity, like we do with the road types, then we could say that this is a proper noun too. As I look through the history of the places page, it seems that we actually used to do this in the wiki, but the writing evolved as places became more commonplace (har), from March 2014 to April 2014 to January 2015. By the time I started editing in late 2015, people said things like "draw an area place here" and did not say things like "use a Place of type Area here." The convention had changed to using this phrase as a common noun, and it has remained so.

As for markup, I like the Microsoft Style Guide that Blaine linked above. Here's what Microsoft says in regard to capitalization:
Microsoft Style Guide wrote:
  • Use sentence-style capitalization most of the time. That means:
  • Capitalize the first word of a sentence, heading, title, UI label (such as the name of a button or check box), or standalone phrase.
  • Capitalize proper nouns. To learn more about proper nouns, see Nouns and pronouns.
  • Use lowercase for everything else.
  • Always capitalize the first word of a new sentence. Rewrite sentences that start with a word that's always lowercase.
  • Don't use all uppercase for emphasis. (It's OK to use italic sparingly for emphasis.)
  • Don't use all lowercase as a design choice. Although all uppercase is used occasionally as a design element, don't use it in text.
  • Don't use internal capitalization (such as AutoScale or e-Book) unless it's part of a brand name.
  • Don't capitalize the spelled-out form of an acronym unless it's a proper noun.
  • When words are joined by a slash, capitalize the word after the slash if the word before the slash is capitalized.

It mentions using italics sparingly for emphasis. I fully support this, and we probably do need to add more italics in the wiki, at least when defining our terms. When talking about road types, the road templates serve a similar function. Blaine, you also mentioned hyperlinking. Yes! The first occurrence of a technical term in any section of a page should always get a link, if it is not defined in the section. We shouldn't link every subsequent occurrence of the term; that's just redundant, but yes, people need to know that these terms have very specific and possibly hidden meanings.
Last edited by Kartografer on Wed Jun 26, 2019 5:25 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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