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Forum: The Situation Room > Using past tense in articles...


Most of the Day 7 articles say " Was " instead of " Is "

I have fixed 6 different articles so far that said that.

Renee Walker, Larry Moss, Janis Gold, Sean Hillinger, Christina Hillinger, Edward Vossler,


Whoever is using " was " instead of " is " is not correct. Please use " Was " for dead characters or character who held a positsion and are no longer in that position ( such as the Jack Bauer article that says " Was a federal agent " or James Prescott saying " Was Vice President " WaffleStomp 03:31, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

Well, according to this policy all IU articles, regardless of how recent the episode or season aired, should all be past tensed, while the episodes and other OOU articles use present tense. -- Matthew R Dunn 03:35, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
All In-Universe articles are written in the past tense, from the perspective of someone in the distant future. You would never write that "Renee Walker is" anything. Check out the Manual of Style for further details. --Proudhug 03:37, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

Was sounds like they are dead or they are not in their position anymore though.. WaffleStomp 03:40, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

That's been the policy since this wiki opened. It circumvents alot of complicated work when a character dies or loses his job too. Unless you're proposing a change in the policy, you'll have to revert all those changes you made to present tense. Blue Rook  talk  contribs 12:10, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

Alright then, how do I propose a change in policy? Because a lot of people I know that I send here to look up stuff from prior seasons because they did not yet see them and just started watching from 7, they go and look up a S7 character and it says "Was" like they lose their job or were killed. I remember when I came here after watching EP: 3 in S7 and typed in Renee and it said " Was " and I thought I missed something in the episode or something and she was removed from the FBI.

WaffleStomp 12:13, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

It only sounds like they're dead or no longer in the position if you're interpreting it from an OOU perspective. All IU articles are written from an IU perspective of someone at an infinite point in the future. Once you think of it that way, it's no longer confusing at all. Keeping our articles in a perpetual "present" tense with the show would be an absolute nightmare. Take a character like Stu for example. He was only ever seen in Season 1. We never saw him die or leave the FBI, so do we keep him described as an agent forever? Also, as soon as Day 7 started and we learned CTU was disbanded, we'd have to go back to every non-deceased CTU character page and change the tense of their opening sentence. And characters of Unknown status, do we say something like "Cam Strocker is possibly still a phone company worker who..."? Hopefully you get the point that your proposal just isn't realistically worth saving some minor confusion for new users. The only thing I can think of that might alleviate some of the confusion is to add something like "Renee Walker was an FBI agent during the events of Day 7" or something. --Proudhug 18:35, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Proudhug, and I almost always remember to say "... during Day #" in character introductions for this explicit purpose. It opens up a huge can of worms to make the introductions OOU but the rest of the article IU. We also need to extend this to place articles: instead of just saying "City Name was a city in State" (which shrieks at new users to change the verb tense) we need to be more specific: "City Name was a city which was attacked by/experienced a riot during/etc. during Day 3" ...anything specific to the show. I recommend we have an in-universe introduction improvement drive, or, at least, always be on the lookout for poorly worded character and place introductions. Blue Rook  talk  contribs 18:49, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

Alright, it's the call of you guys.

Anyway, is it just a 24 wikia rule or is this a whole wikia network rule? As far as I see for example the GTA Wikia ( gta.wikia.com ) has all the living characters with IS and dead with WAS.

Ex of Living: http://gta.wikia.com/wiki/Tommy_Vercetti Ex of Dead: http://gta.wikia.com/wiki/Lance_Vance

WaffleStomp 01:58, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

Yuck. Those articles aren't written from an IU perspective, much like they'd appear on Wikipedia. Wiki 24 would never use language like "Jack Bauer is the protagonist of 24" or "Chloe O'Brian was first seen in Season 3". Do you see the difference in presentation between our articles and theirs? And for the record, there are better examples you could've used, such as the Harry Potter or Twilight wikis. Upon a casual glance at other Wikia sites, it seems some use our standard and some use a perpetual present tense. Perhaps I'm just a snob, but it seems to me that the more refined wikis tend to do it our way. Either way, a show like 24 would cause us a major headache if we changed. Perhaps other series can get away with it, but I don't think we could. --Proudhug 02:13, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
I agree, and to use a comparison, it might be useful to consider the US Constitution. Most Americans know that the Const is a "living" document that can always be amended, but there is a tiny handful of provisions (Article V primarily) that cannot be changed on principle. Similarly, our policies and standards are always up for alteration and change... but there are a few deeply-ingrained practices and rules that would be self-defeating to alter. In a case like this, it would essentially require/allow for a rewriting of all our wiki's main namespace content. No thank ya. Blue Rook  talk  contribs 02:48, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

Revisiting the policy change proposal Edit

I now believe there is cause to support a single, strict alteration to this policy. The proposal I'll make does not undo any of the opinions above except for a certain specific situation in IU articles. Before I even begin, I'll note that this will not require any wide-spanning changes or rewrites at all, and I hope you all entertain this proposal with an open mind.

Currently, the policy is that all IU articles are written from a point in the indeterminate future, that is, all the events have happened in the past and the present verb tense is prohibited. This is counterintuitive for many visitors and requires a constant, watchful eye from the more experienced editors. I suggest we allow the present tense to be used strictly in the introductions of articles which are incomplete during a season's airing. It will still be forbidden everywhere in an article's main body headings and subheadings, AND the present tense will revert to the past the instant the season is up! But for characters and buildings, and other such IU examples, the introductions may include present tense. What do you all think? Blue Rook  talk  contribs 22:47, January 19, 2010 (UTC)

I prefer how it is already. Seems easier to work with. --MistahWhippy 17:49, February 4, 2010 (UTC)
I really don't see how that might help. If this present-tense will only be applied to articles in the "current" season, that will then be changed to past-tense anyway, then what's the difference? If a visitor feels like editing and using present-tense because he is not familiarized with the policy or doesn't like it, it will be changed anyway; be it immediately or at the end of the season. As for some articles having a mix of present and past-tense between introductions and main body, I think that would only complicate the readability of the article overall. For what it's worth, I use "past-tense" in another wiki where I'm administrator. Thief12 17:12, February 5, 2010 (UTC)
I'm glad there is feedback on this! I'll drop the matter since there's no support for it. But the problem still remains.
Instead of this policy change idea, everyone should make a lifelong effort to construct sentences in the introductions that would preclude visitors from even thinking of changing verb tense. This means no more "Oregon was a state in the US. Yadda yadda..." (which screams for visitors to change "was" to "is")... instead and we should go with more complex structures like "Oregon, a state on the west coast of the USA, was the location of the Northwest Regional Operations Complex during Day 2..." This way they have no reason to want to screw with the verb tenses. Blue Rook  talk  contribs 19:11, February 5, 2010 (UTC)
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