主题:Beer parlour/Protologisms

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I moved the discussion here, rather than Wiktionary talk:List of protologisms, as to move it there was pre-supposing the favoured solution.
This is still Beer Parlour stuff still.--Richardb 09:21, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)


I'm trying to condense some of the discussion into a "paper"--Richardb 14:54, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Stating the problems

  • One form of "vandalism" is to create new words that have no usage in the real world.
  • One form of people understanding how to add entries for Wiktionary is to put in the latest word they have heard, with little supporting information.
  • It is very difficult to tell quickly if new words are just "vandalism", or indeed new words coming into usage, perhaps starting in some limited way in some limited geography or social group.
  • The unwanted, vandalism words then clutter up Wiktionary, making it less useful for "readers".
  • Not being able to quickly distinguish "vandalism" new words from genuine new words then poses a number of dilemmas for administrators - to delete the vandalism, or to leave it there in case it is a real new word just coming into usage. not to squash the enthusiasm of a new user, unless that enthusiasm is of the vandalism type

Criteria for a Solution

  • The solution must work in a consensus way, as per everything Wiki. No-one should think they have the right to squash things. But collectively we do have the right, and the duty, to keep things clean and tidy.
  • Must not kill off the enthusiasm of new users adding the latest words which the "old timers" haven't yet heard of.
  • Must be simple to administer.

Summary of Alternative Solution Ideas Proposed so far

  • Delete Protologism articles, condense the content into Appendix:List of protologisms.
    • Give notice before the deletion, by using the {{RfdProto}} template. This also categorizes the page as "Ready for Deletion" and "Protologism".
  • Move/rename the Protologisms with a prefix of "Protologism:"
  • Combination of the above two, as proposed/discussed by eean and dmh - see lower heading


Delete Protologism articles, condense the content into Appendix:List of protologisms.


  • Reduces the size and clutter of Wiktionary.
  • Not so much because that its clutters Wiktionary, as that protologisms will be more noticable and will stick around indefinitely. The significance of a namespace might be lost on some, so would not fully resolve the problem of protologisms (creating a bad example and culture, what I've talked about before). One page of protologisms would allow sysops to be more bold about removing protologisms (since someone could come up with the required example later), in a way that would not encourage more protologims. --Eean 18:49, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)


  • Too much administration effort
  • Too high handed in deleting what might be real words, or a new user's over-enthusiastic first step into Wiktionary.
  • Loses what might later prove to be valuable content for a new word just emerging.
  • Prevents protologisms from having their own category links, and thus being auto-alphabetizable and/or automatically topically sorted.
  • Prevents easy referencing of a protologism from an external site
  • Prevents "what links here" from being useful
  • Makes discussion of a specific new word difficult (by all being on one page)
  • (A bold disclaimer can clearly set apart the word, as could some tweaking of the software to allow filtering out listing of protologisms)

Move/rename the Protologisms with a prefix of "UNPROVEN WORD:"


  • Easy to do. The word will still turn up in searches. But will clearly be an UNPROVEN WORD.
  • No need for the list, just use the category listing for "UNPROVEN"


  • Keeps the words around in a more visible way so has the same drawbacks of protologisms in Wiktionary proper, just to a lesser extent.


I think very valid cases can be made in both directions, of course.
  1. I think there should be ultra-clear disconnect between presentation of definition for a word that is not yet accepted. I think there's real danger in presenting someone who searches for what winds up being a protologism with whatever is passing for best-definition at the moment, regardless how strong disclaimer tries to be.
  2. I also think if someone is searching for something, then that is pretty faqqing significant, and should be given Great Weight.
I think there's opportunity here. I think we should adopt the convention that:
  1. searches for protologisms return a page that does not have any definition on it, but does briefly explain what a protologism is,
  2. and then display, prominently, links to page that contains the current best-possible Wiktionary entry for the word.
maybe flesh that last bit's incarnation out a bit, but something like that.
  1. and maybe maintain the current best-defition of the protologism on a sub-page somewhere? a best pass a definition as incarnated by the type of people that hang around the protologisms pages.
  2. or or maybe to the discussion page of the protologism that has yet to be accepted into the lexicon?
Where is the intermediate step between the Ogism and The Real Word, Neo?
We need to build that step, and can maybe do so by simple convention without incurring additional CMS development or admin-ing efforts.
-:)Ozzyslovechild 04:12, 2 May 2005 (UTC)

Combination of the above


  • Unnecessary extra admin work to add the word to a list. Just use an UNPROVEN category list, linked into the Cleanup process.


This space is meant just for voting. If you want to add further argument, please add it below, and a condensed form of it in the summaries above.
So, who wants which alternative - please sign under the Proposal you prefer.
There will still and always be scope to refine the chosen alternative.

Delete Protologism articles, condense the content into Appendix:List of protologisms.

With suitable notice using RfdProto

yes --Eean 18:07, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Move/rename the Protologisms with a prefix of "UNPROVEN WORD:"

Flag the word for one week as an UNPROVEN WORD, using template Template:UNPROVEN. Admin will move the word in one week, unless given some supporting evidence. Also gets category of UNPROVEN.

  • After one week, Rename/move the word with a UNPROVEN WORD: prefix.
Gets my vote--Richardb 14:54, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Combination of the above

  • Flag the word for one week as a Protologism, using template Template:Proto-new. Admin will move the word in one week, unless given some supporting evidence.
  • Put the word into Appendix:List of protologisms
  • After one week, Rename/move the word with a prefix of UNPROVEN WORD.


Unsorted stuff

Is there some way that we could set up an independent Wiktionary dedicated to these protologisms, I wonder? There would be advantages to setting up each protologism as its own page such as being able to have multiple ways of listing the protologisms as we do for the main words at Wiktionary (e.g., by topic, "by-date-added", alphabetical, etc.), but as was pointed out by someone earlier, just adding protologisms as separate items within Wiktionary could be misleading to people, even if there is a note on each protologism page. Brettz9 06:43, 4 Nov 2003 (UTC)

That doesn't strike me as the right way to go. We are dealing with the same language, and unless people have it in mind to go wild creating new words, a few pages describing these words may be sufficient. As new words, they have not yet built up the connotations that established words have, so the definition can easily remain concise. The contributor should perhaps show some rationale for the word, and identify who first used it and when. An essential to a word being any thing more than a mere "protologism" would be evidence that it has been used and accepted by oothers. Eclecticology 21:51, 4 Nov 2003 (UTC)
I think encouraging folks to make up words is a terrible idea. Give some justifaction on how this furthers the cause of Wiktionary.
Perhaps they could be given a seperate namespace? Personally I think they have no place another in a dictionary, but that would be a good compromise. --Eean 19:56, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Whoever is editing the Neologisms article here, please be careful, as for whatever reason, your edits are adding unnecessary spaces...If you don't know the source of the problem, trying editing the pages in chunks by selecting the edit links on the side of the page so that any accidental spaces added will at least be confined to that section. Brettz9 19:52, 13 Nov 2003 (UTC)

As it seems people are adding definitions at separate pages for individual protologisms, may I suggest we either require that people prefix their entry with "Protologism:", or (if absolutely necessary) remove these pages. Otherwise, there is a potential for these words to become confused with the more accepted words at Wiktionary. Though maybe at least the definition of "protologism" itself is starting to get into the Neologisms:diffused category with the presence of this page here. :) Brettz9 06:40, 23 Aug 2004 (UTC)

(If expanded, the protologisms list might be cross-referenced in alphabetical order as well as by topic (if the system software is updated, we could use categories at the respective pages to do this, as well as possibly include a pronounced template disclaimer about the item being a protologism.)) Brettz9 08:53, 7 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I love the self-descriptive word addition... Nice one... Brettz9 01:13, 5 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I was uncomfortable about - it is the source of a mathematical paradox, as self-descriptive could also be perfectly well described as being not-self-descriptive... (in which case of course, it wouldn't be...) 07:40, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Moogless is ambiguous. It could easily be misinterpreted as "lacking a synthesiser". I suggest Mooglessa. rationaltoast 14:05, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The following discussion has been moved in from the Beer Parlour:

Protologisms - where do we draw the line?

To what extent can the protologism template be considered an invitation for abusing Wiktionary by adding junk entries? I'm referring specifically to "prydxl", a made-up term with three posited meanings and several even more spurious synonyms. By sticking the protologism template at the end, the poster attempts to legitimise his or her joke.

Of course, we have to give users scope for putting forward new words, but how much leeway are we to allow? I don't believe we should allow completely free rein. Should we, for example, require all protologisms to be backed up with some evidence of their usage (such as Google hits or quotations from printed material)?

Paul G 10:26, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I don't have a good answer — it seems to me very subjective by nature — but I admire the question. -dmh 18:07, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

User dmh's long, thoughtful discussion, 29th Nov

Paul's point is well taken. Wiktionary is frequently Googled, and because of its FDL availability it is frequently copied into other websites. The result is that allowing some protologism here has a multiplier effect. By allowing a protologism we become advocates for it; we are no longer neutral, but begin to collectively push a POV.

Wikipedia has a "no original research" policy. We need some parallel to that. The support for a word is far more accessible that the details of some complicated new theory in physics. With a physics theory the average reader is soon lost in opaque details, and can quickly give up in confusion. A word is different in that it's often easy to devise a coherent definition. The average reader can understand it, and begin to apply it in his own life. We are in a better position to get away with a lot of public bullshit.

Strangely enough, I believe that Wiktionary has a far greater potential than Wikipedia to being influential in the general public. I say this notwithstanding the fact that it is much smaller, and receives far less critical scrutiny than Wikipedia. A person who has found "prydxl" in Wiktionary or any of its copycats could very well begin to use it despite its bogus origins.

Protologisms are only part of the problem. The debate about "leet" words come into it; so does the verifiability of any entry. Mix these with an increasing level of influence, and we have a major ethical dilemma relating to the function and purpose of any dictionary.

A dictionary chronicles the language in both its past and its present. Its past needs to be subject to calls for evidence; if a word is challenged the burden of proof for verifying its legitimacy needs to fall upon the contributor. Otherwise, the rest of us are left with the futile task of proving a negative. Evidence for new words is even more important. It is not enough to say that the word was used in some unspecified episode of a TV series. What amuses the members of today's peanut gallery may be completely forgotten by this time next year when the forces of marketing will have diverted our attention to some new ephemeral fantasy. Web evidence does no better. It is not good to accept any word as valid irregardless (sic!) of where you found it. Eclecticology 20:10, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

This is all valid, but (is anybody surprised?) I disagree with some of it. First, and this probably gets to the heart of quite a few previous skirmishes, I'm not particulary worried by the prospect of Wiktionary as precedent. We clearly mark protologisms as such, and if someone is just going to blindly apply some word they found by googling without actually reading what the links pointed to, I'm not sure anyone can help them.
The only time I worry at all about this is when someone is trying to claim some sort of objectivity when in fact they have self-promotion in mind. Generally this means trying to give a caveat-free official-looking definition for a word they made up. Even then, I tend to attribute this more to ignorance of the "protologism" label than to malice.
My instinct is to just let people make stuff up. As long as it's clearly marked "someone just made this up", what's the harm? In effect, we have two classes of words: those the community vouches for, and those it doesn't. This largely gets rid of the delete/restore edit war, replacing it with the protologism/no protologism edit war. And progress marches inexorably onward. My guess is that people will be less inclined to fight over this than whether an entry exists at all. IMHO reducing edit wars and such is a compelling practical issue.
Further, there is benefit in making protologisms visible. The whole idea is that someone might run across them, like them, and use them. They may even eventually find their way into common use, quite likely with new and varied senses, and come full circle into the main body of Wiktionary. That would be cool. In other words, Wiktionary as precedent, to the extent it may actually happen, is potentially something to be embraced, not avoided.
It should be clear by now that I disagree on the burden of proof issue, though there may not be quite as much disagreement as there appears. I would say that the burden of proof for a new entry is quite low, and there are multiple ways to meet it. Appearance in print is very nice, though it doesn't necessarily answer the question of currency. Multiple independent google hits are good (naturally we disregard echoes of Wiktionary itself and, generally, material clearly associated with the author of the article). BNC is good. Other corpora would most likely also be good if we could find them. Multiple Wiktionarians reporting first-hand contact with the term should be enough as well.
Except in cases of blatant vandalism challenges should be made sparingly, as they are likely to be defeated, costing everyone time and effort and increasing the heat/light ratio. They certainly should not be made unless the challenger has good reason to believe that there is no support. This would typically mean checking other dictionaries, BNC, google and one's memory first, and only then raising the challenge.
Let me make a small plea here, to everyone. Instead of seeing an odd or unfamiliar or even offensive word as something to be guarded against and challenged, try to see it as opportunity to increase your own and the community's knowledge. I've certainly learned quite a bit by trying to dig up the truth on random and blatantly garbled entries people have posted over time, and I've tried to feed that new-found knowledge back into the various entries and talk pages. It's really quite satisfying.
I also hope we've laid to rest the notion that origin and typography are reasons for exclusion. We now have unchallenged or successfully defended entries from foreign languages, Pig Latin, street slang, the fertile minds of corporate marketing directors and advertisers, video games, TV shows, films and a variety of other sources. We include pH, 10-4, i18n, mHz, GiB, TelePromTer, G-d, ext3 and any number of other orthographical oddities (some of which, I admit, I just recently put in, but few of which should prove troublesome). IMHO this is all to the good.
Neither should ephemerality be a problem. Stupid, in the sense of stupid fly gear lasted, oh, about 10 minutes on the scene. But people will still run across it and we should (and do) document it.
As far as I can see, there are two main criteria for inclusion:
  • Is the term, or has it been, in current use? Even if it's only current in a limited community, it can still be marked as specific to that community. We do this all the time.
  • Is the term a protologism that someone would like to float? If so, mark it as such.
The only exceptions would be blatant bullshit, which is necessarily subjective but which in practice people seem to have no trouble recognizing. From my experience, it's easy to deal with: everyone rapidly agrees it's bullshit and away it goes. If there isn't rapid agreement, there is very likely something to it after all. Wiktionary's charter is "all words in all languages". I'd think we should err on the side of inclusivity.
Finally, if anyone needs a Thanksgiving dinner, I hear that Irregardless will cater. Not sure if they ship cross-country. -dmh 21:35, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Eean, 26th Nov

I agree with your first criterion, disagree with the second. The first criterion is a potentional strength of Wiktionary, as long as we define community as not just a single chatroom or forum, just a little broader then that. People who enter such gray-area words should be prepared to have some justifaction for them, if they have anything remotely reasonable sounding then its in. (So far we've only dealt with folks who have no agruments to make really, no reason to think this will change.) However the second criterion, as seen from my contributions to the delete list, I disagree with strongly. Even if they are clearly marked as being BS words, they're still BS and Wiktionary suffers from a lack of credibility. The latter certainly being Wiktionary's weakness.
We need to make a clear policy againist BS words, perhaps if there was some way of inserting a message when a user edits a new page? Currently I think new users are confused, thinking Wiktionary is like Urbandictionary or perhaps actually encourages folks to make up new words.--Eean 03:01, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I would certainly like to see a strong firewall between Wiktionary proper and protologisms. Given a clean slate, I would probably leave protologisms out altogether, but they're here, so we should decide what they are. Right now, the best distinction we have is to clearly mark them as protologisms. From a credibility point of view, this seems OK. One question is, how will people find them in the first place (a question worth considering in general, as well).
  • If someone actually runs across a protologism in the wild and wants to look it up, then it's probably worth converting to a real entry (and we should add this to the boilerplate, something like "if you have seen this word, please edit this page to say where and how it was used").
  • If someone runs across it from "random page", then I don't see any harm in seeing a random word marked as a protologism. Random page has bigger issues, anyway.
  • Similarly, if someone looking for another word turns up a protologism in the search results, that seems OK as long as it's marked.
  • The audience for Recent Changes is presumably capable of handling such shocks.
  • The remaining avenue I can think of is a link from another word. I think we should discourage links from the main body to protologisms (links the other way are, of course, well and good).
In short, I don't see much harm in protologisms per se, as long as they know their place. If we allow protologisms at all, the requirment should be "no attestation, but a coherent and well-formed definition for which no term already exsits." This still cuts out most of the bullshit that floats by. -dmh 17:58, 29 Nov 2004 (UTC) (-dmh)
I actually hadn't looked at the Neologisms:unstable page before yesterday (which for some reason needs its own direct link from the main page, instead of just via neologisms. and WTF is a sniglet). As it is, we are effectively encouraging folks to make up words. That is a problem.
I think the made up words go againist what Wiktionary should be about, a dictionary that describes language as it finds it. So it sets a bad precedent that extends into even how we define real words.
The very fact that it results in wiktionarians using just-on-wiktionary "words" like "protologism" goes againist the wiki-way of being open to newcomers.
I don't see why we should have to be resigned to the fact that Wiktionary has made-up words, it wouldn't take much work to clean them out. So I don't think that the fact that they are here already is much of an agrument to keep them. The words seem to have little to no defenders.

--Eean 19:38, 29 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Proposed new policy regarding pretend words

On the Wiktionary mailing list, I proposed we end the practice of pretend words. Jimbo responded:

From: Jimmy (Jimbo) Wales <jwales@>
To: wiktionary-l@wikipedia
Subject: Re: [Wiktionary-l] [en] A Modest Proposal for Pretend Words
Ian Monroe wrote:
> Proposal:
> I propose we change policy on en.Wiktionary user-created words
> (so-called "protologisms") to exclude them entirely.
> (Hereafter, when I say Wiktionary, I mean the English one).
I would recommend that this be adopted as a blanket policy for all of
wiktionary.  The specific means of judging which words are "pretend"
will likely vary by language, of course, but the general principle is
I would be interested to hear any counter-arguments, but I doubt very
much if there are any.  Made up words, original words, are quite
beside the point of a dictionary.
There will be some tough judgment calls about neologisms, and I'm not
sure exactly how these should be decided.  A "google test" is no good,
although it can be a clever tool for a first check.

Muke (a Latin contributor) made the point that people sometimes transcribe words into classical languages that haven't been done before. I'm not really in agreement with that either, but that's a separate issue and I don't work on classical languages so my opinion doesn't really matter anyways. But no objections were made to what Jimbo was saying, and I haven't heard of anyone defend the current policy elsewhere either. And as Muke pointed out, if you take a look at Wiktionary:Criteria_for_inclusion it appears our written policy already forbids them anyways. Basically we should start following the criteria. An idea on how to enact this policy efficiently (assuming the status quo continues to have no defenders):

  • sysop can remove the link to "Protologisms (a.k.a. "Sniglets")" from the main page and delete that page. Folks can remove other links to that page.
  • Insert {{RfdProto}} on all pages of category:protologism. Basically anything that is a "protologism" should be removed, if it isn't actually a pretend word it should have {{protologism}} removed.
    • instead of listing them all on the Wiktionary:Requests for deletion, sysops can use the Category:Requests_for_deletion. If someone contests a word being deleted they can bring it to the RFD page then.
    • Is there another template for words that are really new but not made up? The "diffused" neologisms type of thing.
  • After a week or so, a sysop can remove the words that aren't being contested on whether they are pretend words or not. Then Template:RfdProto should be deleted as well, future pretend words can go through the normal RFD process.

Here is {{RfdProto}}:

While I very much support the idea that "leet" and other pretend words do not merit individual articles, it also seems that the approach taken which suggests that this is already a policy that is ready for enforcement is unnecesarily high-handed bordering on offensive. Eclecticology 09:25, 6 Dec 2004
leet is not a pretend word. Check out the current words labeled as protologisms. Also, we have been talking about protologisms here and on the mailing list and they don't have any real defenders. Apparently some young whippersnappers don't know who Jimbo is, check out his Wikipedia entry. --Eean 15:44, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)
To the extent that this policy is applicable I don't see why it should exclude the illiterate fantasies of the "leet" community. I don't see the relevance of Knowing who Jimbo is. He has influential opinions of course, but he does not normally engage in the micro-management of projects in the manner that you misinterpret what he says. Argument from authority is generally regarded as a logical fallacy. The issue here is not whether anyone supports protologisms, but how we deal with the issue. Approaches that promote co-operation, flexibility and common sense are to be preferred over mindlessly rigid rules. Eclecticology 18:28, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Right, I agree, the issue is how we deal with the protologisms. You apparently misinterpert what I said and why I refered to Jimbo. It should be the policy of Wikimedia and Wiktionary in particular to not include BS. For some reason this obvious policy has not been followed. Now we need to figure out a way to do so. I proposed a way to do so. You decided to call it mindless, while at the same time make your own improvements in {{RfdProto}}, which was the idea. The assumption on why someone brings something to the beer parlor is to seek approval and advice. Which I'm doing.
Can we have some dates on arguments/discussion like this. There is absolutely no indication here if this a current argument, agressively bringing in a new policy, or an ancient, lost argument.--Richardb 15:25, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)
oh, I put this up the weekend of the 4th of Dec, in otherwords, its current. You could've clicked on the links to the mailing list messages to see that, sorry I didn't properly sign it though. --Eean 15:44, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Eean did initiate the discussion on the mailing list, and assumed that Jimbo's reply was ex cathedra. Armed with such a response, he then proceded as though some kind of enforcement were needed immediately. I do monitor the mailing list, but most of us probably don't. That is one reason why that is not the proper place for setting policy, and why I change this discussion to be on a proposal rather than an enforcement. Eclecticology 18:28, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)
what? who the heck is enforcing? Note I said An idea on how to enact this policy efficiently (assuming the status quo continues to have no defenders). I noticed that no one seemed to defend protologisms here (in previous discussions) or on the mailing list. How is policy decided on if not finding a consensus? --Eean 06:44, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I admit that you did use the word "enact" rather than "enforce", and that this may have the effect of reading your views as stronger than they really. I'm sorry if that misled anybody. I still stand with the view that we should avoid mindlessly rigid rules that will be enforcedby some kind of wikipolice. "Forbid" is a hot-button word that can always be replaced by a phrase that appeals to people's reasonableness. I very much prefer guidelines to rules because they encourage acting a certain way because it's reasonable, and not just because they seek to avoid consequences.
At this point there is apparent consensus that we don't like protologisms and other pretend words. The question is now one of how we deal with them in a respectful manner without awarding pretend words the credibility that would come from their having their own separate individual articles. Eclecticology 11:17, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Yes, I did use 'enact' but you corrected it fairly quickly. At least I saw it as a correction, you apparently saw it as changing the mood of the letter, but you apparently still read it the way you did originally. So anyways, the real conversation can continue. Whats your proposal to replace the apparently mindless one? --Eean 18:01, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Aren't the ole Wiktionary:Criteria for inclusion kind of what you mean by positive guidlines instead of forbidding? We need some structure over that simple page to be able to apply those guidelines, but its a good place to start. --Eean 18:09, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I just reviewed Wiktionary talk:Criteria_for_inclusion, much of which was put up in Wiktionary's first month of existence. What it tells me is that the issue will not go away, even if those who are here now find common ground. I agree about the good place to start. Just two of us differ considerably on what we would exclude from individual articles: I would exclude leet words (as pretend words) but you would not; you would exclude obvious adverbs but I would not. Still others would very fiercely defend some things that we both call protologisms.
Broadly speaking, pretend words can fall into an indefinite number of classes, protologisms being only one such class. I would consider Leet and Klingon to be additional such classes. The single unifying characteristic is a high proportion of refusal to accept them as proper English words. Their validity in other languages is well beyond our abilities to determine, and I would be happy to leave such decisions and policies entirely to the people involved in the Wiktionary for that other language.
If we outright delete pretend words, they are very likely to reappear in the future, though perhaps not for another year or more. At that point our conversation about the aord will be long forgotten, and the whole argument will start over. :-) It's better that we put these words in a jail that we can watch. Appendix:List of protologisms would be such a jail. A similar jail can also be built for each other such class of words. Eclecticology 22:24, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Never said I would exclude obvious adverbs, just don't see the point, certainly wouldn't RFD them or anything. leet words which are used routinely in the wild shouldn't be excluded. I guess my definition of pretend is that it was defined before it was used, and has in fact not ever been used outside of being defined.
I would assume Klingon meets the publishing standards, I've seen Shakespeare in Klingon at a bookstore. Basically Wiktionary protocol should come from the stand point of describing language, not suggesting language or judging language.
A single-page jail under Wiktionary: sounds like a good idea. It would probably avoid some conflict. --Eean 05:51, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)
My point exactly.
I think the guidelines for inclusion are pretty close, modulo the separate question of how we handle "words defined before use". I would add a soft requirement of idiomaticity, something like this:
We should not make a point of adding terms whose meaning is clear from their construction, but there is no great need to delete such terms should they appear. Some examples would be regular inflections such as cats and singing, and phrases with no specific meaning as idioms, such as a door or It is raining today. If a term is idiomatic, look for the smallest non-obvious parts. For example, It's raining cats and dogs today is idiomatic, but the idiom should be listed as rain cats and dogs. Similarly, bluesy (probably) merits an entry. On the other hand, bluesier doesn't, but shouldn't be removed if it appears.
In any case, there is a clear distinction between words defined before use and everything else. These made-up words aren't necessarily even nonces. A nonce is constructed and used for a one-off situation, so it has at least one legitimate attestation and generally a clear definition from context. Many useful words start life that way; protologism and wikify might be good examples. As always, attestation is central. No matter how funny looking a word, how questionable its derivation or how many dismissive pejoratives one may wish to apply to it, if it is consistently used in running text, it's a word.
Finally, I agree that most of the protologisms listed as such look about as useful as skis on a garbage truck. Nonetheless, there are a few I like (teratomobile comes to mind). Again, I don't have a big problem with them sitting where they are marked with a large scarlet "P", but neither would I weep if they went away entirely. If they're deleted, but people use them anyway, then great. We'll have new words to enter. -dmh 15:41, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I've tried to clean this article up to reflect current thinking, which actually seems quite similar to the original idea behind this list. That is, the idea of separate entries for protologisms seems to be a relatively recent development.

In particular, I have removed "protologisms" which appear to be in use, whether with the proposed meaning or others (or both), and I have dewikified the protologisms themselves, as they should never have articles. This does remove a cheap way of seeing if anyone creats articles for them, but it seems more important to discourage people from creating such articles.

I've also double-checked that the remaining terms are marked {{rfdProto}} and that the terms I removed are not so marked.

Finally, I've tried to reorganize and update the explanatory text. I hope this all helps. -dmh 18:18, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I think that using Appendix:List of protologisms is as close as we'll get to a compromise at this stage of things. Let's use it for now, and see where it goes. I do think that retaining the wikification is better, for the same concerns that you had. I t will be an alert not only if something goofy turns up, but also if a new insight on the word appears. Eclecticology 01:31, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Note that the namespace approach allows for wikification on a master list. But then, why have a master list at all in that case? There shouldn't be such a thing as a "requested protologism". If you think "wibblify" should be a word, add it to whatever we decide the appropraite place is, with a proposed definition. If you can't do that much, don't do anything. -dmh 16:21, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Eean and dmh proposal re combination of List of Protologisms and Protlogism: namespace

(Now that everything's together in one place, I see that Eean proposed just this on 28 November. The following elaborates on why I think it's a good idea -dmh 16:21, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC))

I'm not sure if this has come up before, but after shoveling around a bunch of protologisms and non-protologisms, I've noticed that the present system is a tad awkward. In particular, since only a sysop can delete, there will always be a set of words hanging around waiting to be deleted. Further, sysops can't just blindly delete what's on the list: it might actually be a legitimate word, or on the other hand, it might be a protologism, but not yet be listed on the page. This puts the sysop in the inconvenient position of having to examine the entry, examine the protologisms list, and decide whether to gun the entry, add the definition to the list and then gun it, remove the protologism notice from the entry, or just leave it and go on. If the sysop mistakenly guns an entry, that's yet more headache for everyone.

A lesser issue is that a one-line entry in the protologisms list carries less information than a full article. We already have a format for indicating pronunciation and part of speech. Why invent a more compact one just for a list of non-words? Etymology is less of a concern, since we know the etymology, as are quotations (if we had 'em it wouldn't be a protologism) and translations (unlikely, unless the protologism is an English translation of an "untranslatable" word — gezellig, anyone?).

So why not create a protologisms namespace? This keeps protologisms out of the wiktionary proper and makes it easy for non-sysops to move them out of the way, or to bring them back in if they gain attestation (or turned out to be attested after all). The format doesn't have to change, only the namespace and the presence/absence of the category tag (if that can't be done magically behind the scenes). We may not even need the category tag, if the namespace is in itself enough of a marker.

The process for handling over-the-transom entries then becomes something like:

  • If it's fine as it is, leave it alone.
  • Check for attestation. If it's attested, clean up the definition, or mark it for cleanup if you don't have time. If you don't have time to check for attestation, leave it alone.
  • If it's not attested, but it's not blatant bullshit, move it to the protologisms namespace. It shouldn't need cleanup beyond formatting — a garbled entry for a non-existent word is generally bullshit.
  • Otherwise, rfd it.

The nice thing about this process is that anyone can do any part of it, short of deleting an rfd'd entry, and there's only one place to look for entries possibly needing deletion. I would hope that this will also decrease the heat/light ratio on rfd, as items on rfd are more likely to be blatant bullshit and not borderline cases. Granted, this is more a matter of agreeing on how to categorize protologisms than a matter of where to put them, but a more efficient filing system may help facilitate this. -dmh 20:10, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)

If a word is truely a protologism, it should be deleted. It should have no part of Wiktionary. A protologism is bullshit by definition. If we do have a seperate namespace, it shouldn't be a "protologism" namespace, it should be more of a "unsure" namespace. That would seem pretty fair. We could in the future develop a bot to remove unsure entries that haven't been edited in years.
I'm not really sure what words like hojillion should get. Maybe it shouldn't be a template, just a note like Diffused Neologism at the beginning of the definition. Is there a less technical way of putting it? --Eean 06:11, 11 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Further argument from Eean

moved from VOTING space by Richardb

no, I believe its counter to what Wiktionary should be about. A seperate page for each pretend words implies its permanent. A page for all unproven words would be a good way of removing likely unproven words without having to be 100% sure (someone could come by later with a real world example and it could easily be re-added), but still allow the words to be cleaned out of Wiktionary after a longer period (like there could be a policy of removing words after they've been on the page for more then a year or so). --Eean 18:03, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Use "UNPROVEN WORD" instead of Protologism

New users don't understand a notice which says "Your work is judged to be a Protologism" - Huh? Lets use simple English - Why not call them UNPROVEN WORDS. Much easier to understand than Protologism. (Not saying that the word Protologism isn't useful. Obviously it is, but it is jargon to be used only amongst those in the know. Can use a Template "UNPROVEN" and a category "UNPROVEN".

I agree. Changing categories and templates would be too much work with little benefit, those aren't really for general use anyways. However, maybe we should not call them protologisms within templates... --Eean 17:55, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Status of Protologisms

I don't see anywhere in this discussion thread where the idea of flagging the entries as a protologism of a certain threshold and otherwise leaving it alone. There are different general levels a protologism can conceptually be at:

6. generally accepted term
5. easily comprehensible, yet obviously informal slang
4. some ancillary acceptance of term
3. media buzzword-du-jour
2. cute sounding, but unattested bullshit
1. total unattested bullshit

It sounds like this discussion page is trying to deal with only the lowest rung (or two) of these.

I came across bouncebackability recently, and as it has ~46k google hits, was deemed not a protologism. Yet the sampling of google "pages" I saw all pertained to selling t-shirts with the term, or temporary articles about the sportscaster canvassing to get the term adopted by the OED. Besides that nonsense, it looked like a total of 64 hits.

Wouldn't it be meaningful to have it flagged as a made-up word? Nice red-light traffic light logo in the top right corner (or orange, perhaps in this case) warning about the word's dubious origin?

For the lowest two categories (from my list above) of protologisms, I personally feel they should just be deleted. If a term or article doesn't meet the criteria for inclusion, don't include it. If the threshold for inclusion is too low, raise the threshold a little.

--Connel MacKenzie 07:02, 22 Jan 2005 (UTC)

One of the problems in suggesting 'just delete it', is that most of the administrators loath that kind of responsibility. Plus, do we want this dictionary to be dynamic ? To capture the start of use of a new word ? (Not to promote it though). Branding it as an 'UNPROVEN WORD', moving it into the 'UNPROVEN' name-space is like adding the Orange Traffic light you suggest. (Maybe using a template someone could work out how to add a warning symbol of some sort). Readers beware. But if the word does later prove to have some currency in some community, however small, niche or unfashionable that group may be, we have been in there at the beginning. English is a living language that grows in strange ways. It is not prescriptive. And I don't think many of the administrators want to make be prescriptive, dictatorial.
Thanks Richardb, but I guess I was getting at labelling "UNPROVEN WORD:" (I do like that concept, BTW) with a glimmering RED traffic light. Items 1 & 2 on my list above would get red-light warnings. Items 3 & 4 (not previously discussed here, as far as I can tell) would get the orange light and perhaps not move to "UNPROVEN WORD:."
What I like most about the "UNPROVEN WORD:" prefix, is that (exactly as you say) it removes the need for administrator intervention, except in cases that are hotly contested. I dislike the fact that the original word still exists as a redirect. I suppose that is a minor gripe, though.
Now, what I was getting at in my previous post is that, from my point of view (this is a talk page, right?) I think the criteria used should be bolstered by an order of magnitude. And I believe I did qualify my statement as indicating it was *my* option; obviously not Wiktionary's. But 1,000 hits on google indicates a typo; you've matched a random number/character generator, and maybe a dozen "real" pages. 10,000 hits mean the word got used in an article, and dropped because it was stupid. 50k means its buzz-word-of the month. 100k means it's buzzword of the year. 1 million hits means that people are starting to use it. (Approximately 8 Billion pages contain the word the makes 1 million hits ~= 0.0125%.)
With that said, I think "UNPROVEN WORD:" should be replaced by "BOGUS MADE UP WORD:" for most of the words in the protologisms category. The idea was to substitute "UNPROVEN WORD:" was because "Protologisms" is too uncommon a word, no? But why mince words? I can understand not prefixing them with "BULLSHIT WORD:" as that, of course is vulgar. But it would be more appropriate than "protologism" and probably better than "UNPROVEN WORD:."
Perhaps another alternate solution would be to replace the original article with a redirect to Appendix:List of protologisms after it has been added to the proto list. That seems too obvious though; perhaps someone did that (before my time here) and that started this thread?
I apologize in advance to anyone who thinks I trying to change the subject. I truly only commingle the two orthogonal problems, as I think the solutions to both of them have shared characteristics. --Connel MacKenzie 07:13, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Resurrection of the issue

I apologize for not responding earlier on this issue (I am the guilty party for starting the protologisms pages (then just called neologisms unstable)), but due to illness and moving to another country (where access had been, until a few days ago, restricted), I had not been able to contribute to this discussion.

Although I just added some articles above in favor of protologisms having their own pages (use of a separate namespace would solve that, though might that make it harder to find a protologism when someone is searching the site?), I do recognize that protologisms do go against the "original research" restriction (a restriction which I think is understandable, but which I truly hope does not prevent separate Wikimedia sister projects from starting without these restrictions), and as such, appreciate that the List of protologisms (and List of protologisms by topic) pages are allowed. (By the way, I find it ironic (I'm not being sour by the way) that people are using a kind of protologism here ("rfd") for which no definition has been made available... :) )

However, let me quote from the topical listing page for further arguments in favor of protologisms, in the event that this might stir interest in allowing them at least their own namespace:

...Having a platform on which one can try out new words (and have the words seen by those interested in the topic or in new words in general) makes it much more likely that the words have a chance of catching on.
Although any one can (and many people do) coin new words which eventually gain acceptance, such acceptance does not only depend on the quality of the word, but also on the number of people who will have an opportunity to hear the word, particularly those who are in a position to use the word.
For example, if we coined a word to express a technical physics concept, it is unlikely that the word would catch on unless the word could be voiced in a forum where those interested in or knowledgeable about physics might visit. True, there already are forums such as scholarly articles or email lists where this kind of discussion takes place, but the interactive and fully editable nature of Wiktionary makes opportunities for accessibility and refinement (without distracting side-discussions consuming the view of the new idea) much greater. Also, those with only a peripheral interest in the topic--yet with some insight--could make contributions to the process by being able to easily navigate a structured definition/categorization.

The latter, I might add, would be especially true if each prologism could have its own page.

What the above hints at is the possibility for the generation of knowledge and not the mere repackaging of content available elsewhere. While the Wikipedia:Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is at best only partial (the idea that language can control thought), there is no doubt that having a rich vocabulary available facilitates communication and building of knowledge (though I believe that hybrid languages such as English can also obscure the meaning of some words which might otherwise be plain to the common person in other language communities). Wiki technology provides an excellent means for such scaffolding. And while Wikipedia has faced some scrutiny for credibility (and perhaps shuns its potential sibling of an original research wiki as a result of such concern), I think it is interesting that, as was recently in the news, a number of scientific journals are themselves lowering barriers for public participation (with collaborative vetting being possible--as it should be here). Moreover, a number of people I have talked with have shown an interest in the idea of a central place for viewing and coining new words; I believe it just may not be of much interest to the current contributors who are probably disproportionately concerned with convention (which has its place, I don't deny--though I like the graded ranking concept Connel raised which could provide more nuance).

I don't think that the labeling of protologism as (inherently) B.S. is a fair one, or even a logical one. Every word in the human language had to start as a protologism. As Richardb stated, language is not prescriptively created (actually for any language besides constructed ones and even these evolve--even while the French have made an academy to legislate language, it doesn't work so well, at least not much more than a dictionary can legislate and enforce language adherence). The M.I.T. linguist Steven Pinker has a wonderful chapter in his book "The Language Instinct" called the "Language Mavens" (I see it is online here) which should be required reading for all Wiktionary fans (and especially moderators--this is not a broadswipe (is that a word?) by the way). Even Webster (actually, especially Webster) made added neologisms (even protologisms perhaps) by popularizing if not inventing the "American" spelling of words such as "color"--which had hiterhto been "authoritatively" spelled differently (here as "colour"): see Wikipedia:American and British English spelling differences.

The topical listing page also mentions criteria for inclusion, differentiating words you might label as B.S. (i.e., "qwowerud" to mean "hello") from (albeit still unattested) words which fill an expressive gap (albeit perhaps not fully transparently). To tell you the truth, given the existence of readily accessible "authoritative" dictionaries already elsewhere online, besides for some of the more novel collaborative work onsite here (e.g., comparative language lists or potentially the Regionalisms page I set aside space for but which was deleted), I see protologisms (and neologisms)--needless to say clearly labeled--as being the primary potential advantage of Wiktionary over other dictionaries.

The spread of the word "protologism" (not my creation by the way) was in fact I think a great success for Wiktionary and I would hope to see more (and believe there could be more if each protologism could have its own page and thus opportunity for discussion) (though I hope the Mediawiki software will allow the addition of articles to category pages to be reflected in Watchlists so that protologisms of a certain category could be easily watched without necessitating their being added manually to a separate page). Just because there is this "original research" rule doesn't mean the rule is a good one (at least if it is so rigid as not to allow a full if separate place for it to grow). I would think that the open, free, and collaborative nature of Wikimedia would lend itself well to embracing room for consensus-based original research rather than dogmatically opposing it.

thanks, warm regards, and my apologies for being too long-winded here, Brettz9 20:46, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

A note about my previous classification of protologisms as BS. Of course all "new" words start somewhere, but the "invented" words that have been submitted to Wiktionary, to date, have very rarely been of the "potentially useful" variety. There have been perhaps three borderline terms where the term obviously would fill a need. But the thirty or so entries per day (my estimate) that arrive here, are, indeed, undeniably BS. (That would be about 99.9999%.)
I think User:Hippietrail's concept of a multi-level Wiktionary coincide nicely with your concept of banishing these terms to a "Protologisms:" namespace. Since we have become technically capable of creating additional namespaces that don't feed google results (making legitimate verification of terms infinitely more difficult) I would now, in late 2006, support the addition of this namespace. But that is just one person's opinion. Furthermore, I'd prefer "Neologisms:" to "Protologisms:". --21:06, 14 October 2006 (UTC)
Being that I mostly just monitor my own watchlist rather than the whole site (and that until recently not for a few years), I wasn't aware of that phenomenon, if you mean people add words just to be annoying (e.g., "qxyzld"). But I wouldn't want to see "cute" words get lost which may not enlighten us to some truth of molecular biology, but which are still expressive within their respective sphere. For example, I got a kick out of "bouncebackability" mentioned before (though maybe I wouldn't if I had heard it repeatedly as part of some ad campaign or comporate rallying cry). For those who aren't aware, the Sniglet popularized this kind of cute neologism, and I think such words have their place in that expressiveness can also relate to cultural phenomena (e.g., if I coined "Prisoner Fry" to refer to the obligatory French Fry we have to eat while at the fast food counter, and also in contrast to "freedom fry" it may still be "useful" to people in such a social situation) . And even well-established cultural words can still draw giggles after their time, so it is not just an ephemeral phenomenon.
As far as using the name neologism though conjures up words like "email" for me--I think it would be good to clearly label something as very new--perhaps the "unproven word" already discussed would be better?
As far as the namespace not being accessible to Google, I was thinking that it would be nice to be accessible from Google. If someone is trying to popularize a word, people could at least find its "definition" once someone had used the word. Of course, the disclaimer should be clear on the page, as we have discussed here, and the Mediawiki software could also ideally be modified to distinguish between protologisms and regular words when serving up a search (I think it'd still be good to show the protologisms if a closer search didn't turn up, but with them listed distinctly so that people will know before visiting a page that, e.g., the only results was/were protologism(s).) Brettz9 21:56, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

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