Forums: Index > Wiki discussion > Break line tags and asterisks

As some of you may have seen today Leon and I have been having a discussion about the break line tags and the use of asterisks. Leon claims it's proper typography to use a space following a break tag (<br />+(space)) instead of the usual <br />. Example can be seen here. I happen to disagree with that. Leon doesn't give a reference for this claim, so at this point either way may be good, except the difference is the line break format we use now, we have been using for many years and there's no reason to change it. The line already properly breaks (if necessary) with the space between <br and />. Also it looks akward and improper in my opinion if you edit the page. I suggest we keep it as is.

The second issue are the asterisks. Leon wants to remove them if there is a single item list, with no added text. Example would be Rocket (Fallout Tactics). With the "Weapons using this ammunition" you will see no asterisk there. I just saw it, and I would want to change that. I don't have a wikipedia- or similar reference for my claim that there should be an asterisk preceding it, other than that it looks bad and out of place without it, especially with just one or two words. Even with a very small text following it, I personally would still prefer the asterisk. Only with longer text, the asterisk doesn't need to be used. Shared my view on this subject already 7 years ago on Forum:Bullet_Points.

I've asked Leon for references for his claim, I didn't get them (outside the wiki anyway), so I can't give proof of my claims, but we have used these two types of wiki formatting for many years like this, and I don't see a reason to change it. Both make the pages look worse when viewing it, and when editing it. That alone is reason enough for me not to use it. They tell me it's professional, well, I don't see it. And changing it would involve thousands of pages (just alone the break lines are used hundred thousands of times). So just leave it as is. Jspoel Speech Jspoel 17:55, March 7, 2020 (UTC)

So, I'll go ahead and add my thoughts here, and then wait to see if any sort of discussion is further merited:


  • Line breaks: To anyone that is familiar with .css and such, when using tags <>, especially when using them excessively, it can be hard on the eyes jumping from one item to the next. Adding a space after and even before tag usage, follows the same concept of using paragraphs to break up large chunks of text. In the end, it's all personal preference - but with that being said, these line breaks are also completely invisible to anyone reading the respective articles; these changes can only be noted in the editor, and have absolutely 0 impact on anyone not specifically editing the tags, nor do they affect the formatting in any way.
  • Bullets: I'm really not sure what to argue here outside of what is an easy Google search away. We've already had multiple discussions over this topic, where the only argument for violating standard typography conventions, entailed prioritizing aesthetics over professionalism. FE:EDIT states, verbatim: "In general, content should be written in a style appropriate for an encyclopedia." Typography conventions dictate that bullets can only be used to denote a list, which a single item does not constitute.
  • Making the changes: Ultimately, these aren't big problems. They honestly shouldn't even be problems, as these changes do not violate the rules, and therefore, are fully viable editing options. But if the argument is that the bullet changes shouldn't be made because we'd have to go through thousands of articles... well, we have bots for that exact purpose, meaning it's not a valid excuse to avoid the issue at hand. 寧靜 Fox 18:29, March 7, 2020 (UTC)


  • Line breaks: Done some investigation on Wikipedia. Editing the United States page, it demonstrates how the break tags (<br />) are used there. There are 85 tags, and used without the spaces preceding or following the break tag. So using that ourself we use proper protocol.
  • Bullet points: Without the bullet point, I think it's less professional, and I don't see the typography conventions where it's stated it should be without a bullet for a single list. I've looked for example bullet point uses on Wikipedia, found some random ones:

We shouldn't change how we use it. In fact, I would propose that with one bullet point, that the listed item is allowed to have a small description (up to ~10 words). It can be already seen on some character pages at the quests section. Jspoel Speech Jspoel 19:44, March 7, 2020 (UTC)

Line breaks: Not long ago, you were telling me to avoid using the Wikipedia standard, which is something that I never claimed I was doing in the first place. And now you're using a single random Wikipedia article to make declarations of what's right and wrong with line breaks? That doesn't quite compute.
Bullet points: There's no such thing as a single list. That's an oxymoron.


You told me to go look for evidence myself, now I have it and you complain about the source. I've used the United States article as an example, but it sets the standard. Barack Obama is another one, has 8 break tags used without spaces. So one can say it's used like that on Wikipedia. At the Bibliography section, Audiobooks is single-bullet listed there (even with some text following it). Maybe one item doesn't define as a list, we still should use the bullet point when adding it to a section. In your links it doesn't specifically forbid it. Jspoel Speech Jspoel 20:56, March 7, 2020 (UTC)

Confirmation bias ain't evidence. I guess I gotta keep repeating myself, so I might as well and use my Oxford comma example again:
  • You can go onto Wikipedia, look up a bunch of random pages, and find plenty of em with little to no Oxford commas. And in that scenario, it would be equally ridiculous to suggest that because of that, that Oxford commas should be arbitrarily disallowed on the wiki. My changes are nothing more than personal preference, and I'm failing to see why a any editor should be able to insist on how I can and cannot edit, when I'm within the rules.
All of the sections are part of the same list, making any and all of the sections exactly that: a list. I'm sorry, but you are wrong on this, and even if it all seems minor to you, that doesn't mean it's okay to break this convention to make the wiki look better specifically for you. 寧靜 Fox 09:13, March 10, 2020 (UTC)


I’ve never seen anyone putting spaces after break tags, only typing next line down after forcing the line break. Removing unneeded spaces is generally done for page optimization. On the subject of the break tags, we should really move to format them as html5 tags. Xhtml us archaic.

Although we generally don’t use bullets for single list items, it does look like it breaks uniformity with other lists on the same page that use them. Great Mara (talk) 19:50, March 7, 2020 (UTC)

Yeah; it's just personal preference in the end. I normally wouldn't have a problem with people removing the line breaks, but the problem as I see it, is that editors are going in specifically to remove them without adding anything constructive to the article in return. That'd be like if I re-wrote an entire article, and someone came in behind me just to remove a few commas I added, while failing to register it as a minor edit. It kinda stinks of edit boosting, to be perfectly frank.
As for bulleted lists, my latest response to J above formulates my response well enough I feel, providing the relevant definitions, and I've also provided an excerpt from FW:EDIT on the wiki's encyclopedic style. 寧靜 Fox 20:10, March 7, 2020 (UTC)
You don't need to change something that is already good, the break tags are already properly used and don't need to be changed. Jspoel Speech Jspoel 20:53, March 7, 2020 (UTC)

Sorry I didn't see this earlier. L84tea&forums.

Re: <br />
Tbh, I'm not convinced of the need for change given that the 33,000+ pages on the wiki utilise break tags without a following space and this is the first time I've heard of (not) including a space as being even vaguely controversial. I too have never seen anyone put a space after the break tag with regularity other than you, Leon; I have only seen the example which Mara describes about newlining alongside a break tag. If it was the latter convention being proposed, I would probably have a different view on the matter.

The problem which you identify about people "edit boosting" by removing your spaces after you have made an edit and then not marking it as a minor change which is somehow even more minor than the issue of whether or not we put a space after the break tag. When someone boosts themselves to – oh what is it for admin – at least half of the 2000 edits required by removing spaces after break tags which only one or two users are adding to articles, I'm willing to give that concern more weight.

Re: bullets
I prefer the visual aesthetic of a bullet because, as mentioned by Mara, it makes the page more uniform and therefore easier to read. This is especially the case when the (non)list consists of an item with only a few words, making it easy for the eye to skip the section (as in the case of Rocket (Fallout Tactics)). With the tools available to us, I find the bullet point to be an effective call-out mechanism for alerting the reader that there is something here. As I think I've made pretty clear in all my approaches to editing, the reader experience trumps almost all things, even the strict definition of a list.

However, there's such a variation in approaches taken to it already that I'm not gonna argue too hard about it wherever it lands. I will say though that "encyclopedic" and "suitable for an encyclopedia" is so subjective in this day and age where they no longer produce physical encyclopedias that it's practically meaningless. I also have pretty strong opinions on the suggestion that "aesthetics" and "professionalism" cannot coexist (lmao) but I'll park them given it's not the issue at hand.

--L84tea Tea kettleWould you like a cup of tea? 07:31, March 10, 2020 (UTC)

Line breaks: No one is saying that there's a need. They're changes that I've been making as I go, and they're so insignificant that I've never even entertained the notion of forcing these changes on the wiki as our official standard. Not sure why it keeps being made out as if that's what I'm trying to do: it's subjective editing, and my beef with this entire situation, is that, as I said with what's been happening, is that this is essentially the same as if I re-wrote entire articles, just for editors to consistently come behind me and remove only the commas. The concern being, is that my personal preferences are being censored for no other reason than a few editors thinking that they have the right to say that their way is better than mine. That's not even remotely a healthy editing doctrine, and I can just imagine how that kind of arbitrary nitpicking must feel to new editors, if it's so frustrating to a veteran editor.
Bullets: There's nothing subjective about the encyclopedic style requiring proper English conventions to be abided by - that is an incredibly dishonest argument to make. I get how certain people might find the improper use of bullets to be aesthetically pleasing (even if I do not), but that's not an excuse to add em to the wiki anyways with complete disregard. Might seem stupid to the layman, but seeing improper grammar/typography drives plenty of people nuts, and for good reason when reinforcing these bad habits just contributes to people remaining uneducated on the matter (resume and cover letters being good examples, as employers will often make note of these errors in competitive fields). 寧靜 Fox 08:48, March 10, 2020 (UTC)
Re: line breaks: No need to get so defensive, I thought the point of this forum was to canvas different viewpoints. My question remains: if there's no need for change to the standard approach taken by 95% of pages on the wiki then why change? Because so far what I have gathered is that you have made a unilateral decision to make the changes because of your own personal preference? If your concern is new editors, in my experience, an inconsistent approach is much more frustrating for a new editor than someone following behind to amend spaces.
Re: bullets: "Suitable for an encyclopedia" is absolutely a subjective phrase. It has always been subjective but moreso now in an age where online wikis are the closest analogue to the old-school encyclopedia. I never said anything about not abiding by the requirement for "proper English conventions", only that the terminology used to describe what was acceptable was subjective; so I am not the one making a dishonest argument here. Also, given the proportion of my edits devoted to fixing grammar and spelling in articles, I find it particularly rich that you've decided to lecture me on the importance of proper grammar.
I also do not appreciate your implication that I do not understand how proper grammar translates into the real world. --L84tea Tea kettleWould you like a cup of tea? 12:04, March 10, 2020 (UTC)

Line Breaks: While different viewpoints are always great to have, the root of the issue here, is that I was specifically told not to edit in a way that went against how another editor felt things should be. I then see that sort of thought-process expounded upon by other editors, and it's something that I feel ought to be properly discussed, since I'm not particularly fond of the idea of policing editors on how to edit, based off of how we personally see things, and not the actual guidelines/policies. As for why change things... why not? Wikis and their editors are always changing, and I see no reason to stifle that.
Bullets: I was just being expositional - this forum and its viewpoints are something that myriad of people are going to read through. You might have a thorough understanding for what I'm saying, but not everyone is going to, and I'd rather it be clear to everyone when I say that there's a reason as to why I'm somewhat upset that such a casual approach has been taken in regards to proper typography. Especially when the argument is that it looks better to some editors, but to others, such as myself, it absolutely does not look better (nor do I agree that people truly interested in reading a given article, are going to consistently skim over important information that they're looking for, just because bullets aren't used for single items). 寧靜 Fox 13:32, March 10, 2020 (UTC)
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