Talk:Battle of Spion Kop/Archive 1

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Article name

Isn't Spion Kop spelt Spioenkop?--Jcw69 17:41, 28 Jan 2005 (UTC)

"Spion Kop" is the spelling that's most common in English. To confirm this, I did a Google search, restricted to pages in English. I got:
  • "Spion Kop" - 6,330
  • "Spioenkop" - 1,490
  • "Spioen Kop" - 37 (just to check to see if this gets any use)
Since policy on the English Wikipedia is to use the English version of names, please leave it where it is. Thank you. Noel (talk) 13:34, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)
How do you figure that? Since South Africa does have English as a national language, and the accepted spelling is "Spioenkop" (according to not only the SA Government, military and a few museums), how is that not English? Simply because the British cannot spell it correctly? "Kop" in itself is not an English word, and therefore the whole name is a borrowed name. If it was something like "Spioen Head", it would have been a different matter. Furthermore, I believe your search claim is misleading, since not only English results are relevant. The search for "spioenkop" delivers hits primarily in South Africa, and "spion kop"'s hits lie primarily within British webspace. I vote to move and rename in the article to Spioenkop, with appropriate redirects from "spionkop", "spion kop" and "spioen kop". Dewet 13:49, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)
"[O]nly English results are relevant" because this is the English Wikipedia. Our article on Rome is at Rome, not Roma. Please see the policy page I cited. Noel (talk) 13:54, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)
You are ignoring what I said; the accepted "English" spelling (albeit South African English), is Spioenkop, according to the sources I mentioned. And, from your cited policy document, which I did indeed read:
(As a reminder, all national standards of English spelling are acceptable on the English-language Wikipedia, both for titles and content. American spellings need not be respelled to British standards nor vice-versa; for example, either Aeroplane or Airplane is acceptable.)
Therefore, Spioenkop being the national (South African) standard of spelling, it should be named as such, since this is, after all, a South African topic. QED. Dewet 14:50, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)
English is a language of India, but our article on Calcutta is at Calcutta, not "Kolkata", the local spelling, because the former is still the most common form in English. (We have Madras at Chennai now because that has now become the most common form in English, as is Mumbai for Bombay.)
I realize that "Spion Kop" was originally a mistake, but alas it's now by far and away the spelling that's prevalent (by over a 4 to 1 margin) throughout the English-speaking world. Noel (talk) 15:52, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)
That's not a fair comparison at all – "calcutta" delivers about 3.5 million hits on Google (as per your own metric) and is a world city, known for many more things than a (comparatively) tiny battle a century ago. Ergo, this is inherently a South African topic (I mean, what percentage of Brits even know what happened in the Boer wars?), and should have the (correct) South African spelling. Note that I don't want to delete all references to "spion kop"; I'd even be happy to write a sentence or two to explain the difference in naming, but I maintain that we should move and rename. Dewet 16:51, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)
The size is irrelevant. The policy is clear.
Let's try and keep the parochialism ("this is inherently a South African topic") out of this, OK? What's next, only residents of country X are allowed to edit articles about X? Noel (talk) 18:04, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)
You simply continue to ignore the point of my argument. Policy dictates that national standards of spelling is okay, which is what this is all about. South African ENGLISH (Afrikaans never entered into it) says "Spioenkop". Therefore, no matter what you say about "history being wrong, we should keep it" — its irrelevant, since the policy makes no mention of that. Don't patronise me about being parochial; I only brought it up because you insisted on following the policy, which I am doing. Dewet 19:32, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)
It's you who simply continues to ignore the point of my argument. The policy says use the most commonly used English version of the name for the article, and in English the "most commonly used .. version" throughout the English-speaking world as a whole is definitely "Spion Kop" - something you seem determined to ignore.
(The reference to "national standards" is clearly meant to apply to ordinary words which have variant spellings, as the example - Aeroplane/Airplane - shows.) In any event, that policy is not going to help you, because the standard with variant English spellings is to keep whichever variant national spelling was used first, and "Spion Kop" was used first. Noel (talk) 20:06, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I do not think that Spioenkop is so well known in the world that we are obliged to keep this mistake. Calcutta and Bombay were once the correct names - Spion Kop never was. I think we should lead, and not follow, and use the correct spelling. Wizzy 16:08, Jan 31, 2005 (UTC)

Spion Kop is a bastardised spelling of the word and if you want it to be Britsh English them we must change it to Spy Head or we can change it to the correct name of the hill which is Spioenkop. There is no such place as Spion Kop in South Africa. I feel that it should be re-directed but keep the in-correct spelling as re-directs in case someone who is looking for this battle site and does not know how to spell it correctly can find it--Jcw69 16:42, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Almost all names in language X for places in country Y which differ in spelling are "bastardised spelling(s)". I await with bated breath your attempt to move fr:Londres to "London" on the grounds that "there is no such place as Londres in England". I repeat, this is the English Wikipedia, and for the vast majority of the English-speaking world (which is a lot more than the UK, no matter what some people seem to think), it's "Spion Kop". If you want to have an article at "Spioenkop", go for it - on the Afrikaans Wikipedia. Noel (talk) 18:04, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)
If the UK government and all of the British people insisted on "Londres", I'm sure that something would come of it. At the time of the battle, Spioenkop was an accepted name, the British simply got it wrong. Stop missing the point. Dewet 19:32, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Right, I've been bold and went ahead with the renaming in the body of the page. I've added more info, including a sentence about the naming confusion. I haven't yet moved the page; I'll leave that for a while still. Dewet 17:56, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I protest. Only a single user here wants to keep the page where it is. Jwc69 has been doing an amazing job of filling out the English wikipedia with South African information. Just check his user page - that is all new pages. The other three discussing it here are all in South Africa, though I am not a native. I have been to Spioenkop myself though, and climbed the hill. I write about Zulu topics and other African things. I request User:Noel to go along with the majority and agree to the renaming. You admit yourself the current spelling is a mistake. Wizzy 18:59, Feb 1, 2005 (UTC)

I agree, and wish to salute Jcw69 for his tireless job filling out this wikipedia with tidbits about South Africa. Don't let a single user ruin this; if the argument had merit (ie., there was genuine doubt about the naming, or that the British had been right all along), I would have agreed, but this is turning into a farce. Dewet 19:32, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I fail to see the point of having a Wikipedia policy on something if the editors of any page can ignore it. If the policy said "naming of pages is a matter for the editors of the page", I would cheerfully rename this page myself. But that's not what the policy says. Noel (talk) 20:09, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Using and restricting the search sites .za and English. Spioenkop 57 English pages -- Most of them current usage (did not check all)

  • "Spionkop" 3 English pages -- all current usage
  • "Spion kop" did not match any documents
  • "Spioenkop" 12 English pages (nearly all SAS Spioenkop (a ship))
  • "Spionkop" 1 English in a quote
  • "Spion kop" not match any documents.
  • "Spioenkop" about 814 English
  • "Spionkop" about 2,880 English
  • "Spion kop" about 136 English

Same search using but on Aus and NZ

  • "Spioenkop" about 5 English pages
  • "Spionkop" about 7 English pages
  • "Spion kop" about 517 English pages
  • "Spioenkop" did not match any documents
  • "Spionkop" about 3 English pages
  • "Spion kop" about 24 English

Global English:

  • "Spioenkop" about 5,020 English
  • "Spionkop" about 6,310 English
  • "Spion kop" about 11,800 English
  • about 1,290 English pages for "Spioenkop" war.
  • about 640 English pages for "Spionkop" war.
  • about 4,560 English pages for "Spion kop" war.

Australians, Canadians, Indians and New Zealanders, raised contingents which fought in the war. I have seen New Zealand books which refer to "Spion Kop", so this is not just a South African v British argument. I have read a number of English Books published in SA about the war and most used "Spion Kop" . I do not think that the official South African English usage is "Spioenkop" (for the Battle and not a placename on a map) because like English everywhere common usage is at least as important and on the net spionkop seems to be the most common in SA.

BTW "Kop" a borrowed word in British English, many football terraces are known as Kops and Anfield's "Spion Kop" is one of the more famous. Philip Baird Shearer 22:48, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Thank you, Philip, for at least suggesting a compromise. I think it is acceptable to have the introductory sentence using the old naming, and then using the correct naming throughout the article. I would still like to see it moved to the correct name, with relevant redirects added, but since Battle of Spioenkop already exists, an admin will have to do this. Dewet 11:03, 2 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Just to point out a flaw in Noel's logic: he first states that he did a search on "Spioenkop" restricted to English pages and got 1,490 hits (thus actually proving that "Spioenkop" is indeed an acceptable spelling in English, albeit a less popular variant, seemingly) but then blithely goes on to state that "Since policy on the English Wikipedia is to use the English version (my Italics) of names...". Thus the argument that the article should keep its current name due to it being the (only?) correct English-language spelling is fallacious. Elf-friend 16:05, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Black casualties

Is there any information about the africans who where also killed in this battle?--Jcw69 09:43, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

None in the two paper sources I checked here. Dewet 10:01, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I also can't find anything but I know a number of africans fought on both sides in many Boer War battles. Anyway I in my search Ifound that Mahatma Gandhi worked as a volunteer stretcher-bearer for the South African Indian Ambulance Corps and a number of them died during this battle and other battles.--Jcw69 10:46, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

You have to be careful how you define the word "African" in the context of South Africa. Not many people of none Eurpeans decent fought, there was an agreement not to use them. But Deneys Reitz mentions some in his book Commando. Baden-Powell threatend to ask London to send Gurkhas if the Boers persisted on shelling Mafeking on Sundays, and (if memory serves), I think he used a "native" levies in the defence of Mafeking, although I do not know if they were armed.
Here is an online source: :"Excerpts from The Boer War Diary of Sol. T Plaatje (from an exhibit at the McGregor Museum, Kimberley, South Africa) Chapter XIX: Armed Natives in the South African War
Here is an online source:
Vera Stent, who served in the British forces there, described the work of the Indians in the Illustrated Star of Johannesburg, July 1911, as follows:
"My first meeting with Mr. M. Gandhi was under strange circumstances. It was on the road from Spion Kop, after the fateful retirement of the British troops in January 1900. The previous afternoon I saw the Indian mule-train moved up the slopes of the Kop carrying water to the distressed soldiers who had lain powerless on the plateau. The mules carried the water in immense bags, one on each side, led by Indians at their heads. The galling rifle-fire, which heralded their arrival on the top, did not deter the strangely-looking cavalcade which moved slowly forward, and as an Indian fell, another quietly stepped forward to fill the vacant place...
You may find more online sources at (Perspectives: The South African War) :-- Philip Baird Shearer 20:59, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Further reading

References in Afrikaans are totally useless to virtually all readers of an English encyclopaedia. Anyone have anything in English that can be listed? Noel (talk) 17:50, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

If you had bothered to follow the ISBN link of the book quoted, and looked at the South African National Library entry for it, you'd have seen that it is, in fact, mostly an Afrikaans translation of an English book. Straw man. Dewet 19:36, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I tried to follow the ISBN link but could not. If you have time perhpase you could alter it to the English book which it translates. Philip Baird Shearer 13:11, 8 Feb 2005 (UTC)

No problem, just did that. Dewet 20:06, 8 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Final move

I am moving this article to the proper South African English title of Spioenkop. An example of why this has been done that most of my fellow South African editors may not be aware of is the fact that in Boston, the Battle of Bunker Hill Monument was built on the wrong hill. Because most Google links discuss the monument, this does not mean that the article about the battle should state that it took place on the wrong hill. Furthermore, it is not nationalism to state that an article pertaining to the history of that specific country is of national interest. No one would fault someone from the United States if someone said the Bunker Hill Battle was of US interest, and thus a proper American standard of spelling should be the name of the article. Furthermore, the only editor that would prefer this to remain at Spion Kop is Noel. Páll 08:43, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Agree. Furthermore, I find the claim that Google is the final arbiter of (the most) popular usage to be nonsensical, seeing as there is a whole, wide world out there that is not linked to Google. Also, as I pointed out on the Tshwane talk page, when Pretoria is (probably) renamed to Tshwane later this year, should Wikipedia only rename (or merge & redirect) its Pretoria article to Tshwane once the latter's Google count (currently 83,100) surpasses the former's (currently 3,400,000)? I can name many more examples where it would be silly to stick to so-called rules, instead of using common sense (see Luftwaffe, for example). Elf-friend 09:38, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I support it, however we will need to get an admin to move it since the redirect page's history was (intentionally) created to prevent this. This is the same problem as Talk:Calcutta/Vote, where the "officially recognised" name differs from the rest of the world's outdated and incorrect notion of spelling. I suppose this should be placed on WP:RM? Dewet 06:25, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I'm an admin, I'll do whatever I need to. Páll 08:03, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
OK, I went ahead and started the vote below, as well as adding it to WP:RM. Dewet 06:45, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

As per the discussion on the rest of this talk page, this is the vote to get consensus about renaming the article.

Please number, sign and date votes with: #~~~~

edit Support section


  1. Dewet 06:43, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  2. Wizzy 07:25, Mar 10, 2005 (UTC)
  3. Páll 08:03, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  4. Elf-friend 08:06, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  5. Impi 11:08, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  6. Jcw69 13:36, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  7. Michael Z. 2005-03-10 17:39 Z
  8. DmitryKo 09:56, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Voting closed - see decision below.


  1. Philip Baird Shearer 15:01, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  2. Wasting my time, but who cares. Oh well, I know a lot of other pages I think are misnamed, even though they follow policy - I'll go move them all now.Noel (talk) 18:18, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  3. Audiovideo 23:22, 11 Mar 2005 (UTC) Lots of places in the world have names in English. This one matters if only because so many other things are named after it.
  4. Geoff/Gsl 23:27, 11 Mar 2005 (UTC) If the Oxford History of the British Army calls it "Spion Kop", that's good enough for me.
  5. SoLando 17:29, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Voting closed - see decision below.

Any additional comments

I do not think that anyone would dispute that the place is called Spioenkop, but the name of the battle is commonly known as Battle of Spion Kop. In this case it is the battle name which is under debate and battle names are often names which have little to do with modern locations (or the correct local location at the time). In this case I thought we had reached a workable compromise by keeping the title to the common name outside South Africa and using the South African name inside the article along with a reletitivly long note explaining why this is so. This compromise allows search engines to pick up on either name.

  • Google: "Battle of Spion Kop": 927 English pages for "Battle of Spion Kop"
  • Google: "Battle of Spioenkop" 394 English pages for "Battle of Spioenkop".

Wikipedia:Naming conventions#Use common names of persons and things

Convention: Use the most common name of a person or thing that does not conflict with the names of other people or things.
Also a convention: All national standards of English spelling are acceptable on the English-language Wikipedia. (Google counts do not enter into it, otherwise we'd all be spelling "defence" as "defense".) And, as you point out above, a large number of English pages actually do use "Spioenkop". Elf-friend 22:59, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Rationale and specifics: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (common names)

It is silly that more words and effort have been spent on this issue than the total spent on writing the description of the battle. --Philip Baird Shearer 15:01, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Exactly. The correct name of the place is clearly "Spioenkop", but the correct name of the battle, as generally used in English (and this is the English Wikipedia) is "Spion Kop" (see, e.g., the relevant English reference works on the battle). Noel (talk) 18:24, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I could agree with the battle/place differentiation. I heartily agree with the more words and effort comment. Perhaps we should go with the historians on this one. It still galls me that Wikipedia would perpetuate something that is obviously a spelling mistake. The English wikipedia must also wear the mantle of the international wikipedia. You can pretend it is the wikipedia for English speakers, but really it is the definitive wikipedia. I am a British colonial, and I feel sensitive to our tendency towards unconscious cultural steamrollering. Wizzy 19:57, Mar 12, 2005 (UTC)
Noel is not quite right, the correct South African English name for the battle is the "Battle of Spioenkop", and not "The Battle of Spion Kop". Though the latter may have been used years ago, the accepted spelling in South Africa today is Spioenkop. For example. the term "Battle of Spioenkop" is used by: The SA Navy (SAS Spioenkop - named after the battle not the place); the official Ladysmith site; the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce and Industry site; the Anglo-Boer War Museum; the SA History Online project; the SA National Museum of Military History and the South African Military History Society Journal. There are also some non-SA sources that use this spelling, including the Harvard University Alumni Association, the UK's the Armourer magazine and books such as Pakenham's the Boer War (easily one of the best books on the subject). Many of the above sources are extremely authoritative, and so it would not be wise to dismiss "Spioenkop" so quickly as some wish to do. It's evident that both spellings are important and neither can be ignored. However, on balance, I think it is the official spelling as used officially in SA, that should be the title of the article, with a redirect from Spion Kop and an explanation of the spelling difference. Impi 13:25, 13 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Thanks, Impi. Noel says I'd be happy to go list the dozen or so military/history books I have than mention Spion Kop (and say nothing of Spionkoep) - please do so. We already have one - Oxford History of the British Army from Gsl. Wizzy 14:56, Mar 14, 2005 (UTC)
Has anybody considered that Wikipedia and its many mirrors are also included in the Google count, thus skewing the result and making it self-referential? While I accept that Google is a valid justification for notability (the contentious little word that crops up in VfD so often), could you please justify using Google for the determination of the correct/most common spelling of a word/name? Elf-friend 15:51, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Fair comment on self-referential so remove articles with a string of words in the article:

  • about 608 English pages for "Battle of Spion Kop" -wikipedia
  • (about 322 English pages for "Battle of Spion Kop" +wikipedia)
  • about 400 English pages for "Battle of Spion Kop" -wikipedia -site:za
  • about 21 English pages for "Battle of Spion Kop" -wikipedia site:za
  • about 210 English pages for "Battle of Spion Kop" -wikipedia -site:com
  • about 130 English pages for "Battle of Spion Kop" -wikipedia -site:za -site:com


  • about 392 English pages for "Battle of Spioenkop" -wikipedia
  • about 249 English pages for "Battle of Spioenkop" -wikipedia -site:za
  • about 143 English pages for "Battle of Spioenkop" -wikipedia site:za
  • about 52 English pages for "Battle of Spioenkop" -wikipedia -site:za -site:com

Still returns 2/3 to 1/3. If .za and .com sites are excluded the ratio is a higher in favour of Spion Kop.

Most of the military histories written in English were written by the British Empire side and their works still influence most of what is written today. Most English language military histories use the general Commonwealth spelling for the battle names. Men from Australia, New Zealand, and Canada where thought to make superior soldiers for the sort of campaign waged in the second half of the war, so volunteers from those countries were encouraged to join. In New Zealand for example there are many Boer War memorials and the war is marked as the first war on the National War Memorial consequently the war has a higher profile in NZ than it does in the UK. So this is debate should no be viewed as a chance to bash the Poms. Philip Baird Shearer 18:09, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

It's clear that Spion Kop is common in English. As long as there are redirects and search, I see no problem reverting to the native Latin-based names even in historical events. Anyone is free to link to or mention Battle of Spion Kop, which gets redirected to Battle of Spioenkop with "also known as Battle of Spion Kop" in the intro, noone is harmed. This is exactly what happens with many Russian names like Suvorov/Suvarov, and I've yet to see any negative effect of similar Second Battle of Zürich case. --DmitryKo 10:08, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)

It is important, because when a page is moved like this even if the person who makes the move intends that one string is contained with the alternative name, subsequent modifications often remove the former. Take the "Second Battle of Zurich" which was changed to the "Second Battle of Zürich", if one uses then the main page does not show up because, despite the redirect, the the Google search engine does not find the page because the word Zurich is not present on the page. If this page name is changed to "Battle of Spioenkop" there is a chance (possibly by another pedant in a few months or years) that the string "Spion Kop" will be removed and the page will not be found using a search on "Spion Kop" by popular search engines used in many Commonwealth countries. E.g. using

  • about 4 for "Second Battle of Zürich" +wikipedia
  • about 75 for "Second Battle of Zurich" +wikipedia And does not include the Battle page on Wikipedia.

Personally I think that the current page structure using the non SA name first and then the SA name for the rest of the article is a good compromise which fulfils the Wikipedia educational remit and allows the technology of an on-line resource to work at its most effective. Philip Baird Shearer 11:26, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Nowhere was there a motion to remove all references to Spion Kop. In fact, I offered (and did, to some extent try) to make specific mention of the disparity in naming. I'm not for a moment trying to deny the fact that a significant part of the world refers to this battle using the name "Spion Kop"; my primary motive is correctness (being pedantic, if you insist) in terms of naming. It has been sufficiently established that the correct spelling is Spioenkop, while the accepted spelling is Spion Kop. Google will still have its chance to index the page, barring any indexing bugs it might have, and the world will be a wiser place. Dewet 12:22, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)
On another note, the whole google not indexing the second battle of Zurich correctly seems to be an anomaly -- using both zurich and zürich search terms (plus do not deliver the correct result, as does a search for the city. I would argue that google needs to fix their indexing/search schemes to equate 'ü' with 'u' -- the lack of hits by google would be felt by any site using the correct spelling, not just wikipedia. Dewet 12:27, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)
An obvious solution is to include "also known as Second Battle of Zurich" in the intro, which is what I did today, and to revert any unneeded removals of Battle of Spion Kop as well. DmitryKo 12:55, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)

If it is left with the page name with the common English usage and primary author , for the battle name of "Battle of Spion Kop", there is no need to monitor for unneeded removals as they will not happen. Philip Baird Shearer 01:59, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The best way to get rid of any removals is to permanently lock the pages and establish a board of highly qualified full-time editors. Of course, that would involve subscription fee, banner ads and weekly fund drives. DmitryKo 11:05, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I am not sure we have established common English usage. By primary author do you mean the initial author of the page ? (Lets skip the initial author, we would not be discussing any of this if we were not ever to rename pages). Impi, above, has listed some authoritative references for preferred English South African spelling. Am I being pedantic to ask for some recent, authoritative, sources for "Battle of Spion Kop" spelling ? If the South African Navy chooses to name a ship after the battle, does that not indicate preferred spelling, and should we not go along, as per the Calcutta renaming ? We have established no consensus yet on this page, and the voting margin is too small to decide. Wizzy 11:28, Mar 15, 2005 (UTC)

Primary author is one of the guidelines for how words should be spelt on the page. There is a second guideline which states that when an article of national interest then national spelling overrides primary author. EG if you write an article about an American regiment you can expect it to be copy edited into American spelling. Just as you would do to an article about a South African regiment. (This is nothing more than the guidelines recognising what happens in practice and trying to reduce time consuming conflict over this type of thing). But when one is taking about an article about a war or a battle between two English speaking countries, there are two (or more) specific national interests, so the article tends to remain in the English of the primary author, however common usage and sources, still has some weight in the decision. Trying to forcing this change on this article breaks at least two guidelines primary author and common usage in favour of one guideline on national usage. Why have guidelines (which are there to help to reduce silly time consuming arguments like this one) if people are going to ignore them when it suits them? People should spend their time changing the guidelines, so that they can then change articles within those guidelines. To ignore the guidelines in articles like this just results in everyone spending lots of time in these petty arguments and setting precedents for more to come. Philip Baird Shearer 14:57, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I found it ironic that the listing on WP:RM referred to the Kolkata/Calcutta issue. The precedent from the "Calcutta" debate is to leave Black Hole of Calcutta and similar articles about historical events where they are, and not rename them. Noel (talk) 18:42, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

To make a comparison with Calcutta, this is the same (kinda) pronounciation, but picking the Indian preferred spelling. Wizzy 14:56, Mar 14, 2005 (UTC)
In fact, its not preferred, its the Indian (government's) official spelling. That is why I'm saying this is the same issue we have: collonial history have left us in this predicament, and while the country involved has moved on and corrected the spelling, the rest of the world just keeps on clinging to the incorrect spelling. Dewet 14:20, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)

moved from WP:RM

  • Current day spelling for the place, yes; the battle is another matter. Noel (talk) 18:39, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
    • This is already covered in Wikipedia:Naming conventions (not policies), line two: It is important to note that these are conventions, not rules written in stone.... We use our judgement and work towards consensus. Try to move on and apply your positive energy to other things on WP. There have been many consensus decisions I don't agree with, too. And you can cheerfully remind me to buck up when I get bitter about some other one. Cheers. Michael Z. 2005-03-10 19:15 Z
      • Just one difference with Calcutta, Noel: The official name of Kolkata/Calcutta was, in the past, Calcutta. The official name of Spioenkop has never been anything than Spioenkop (in English as well, this has got nothing to do with Afrikaans).
      • And if we have to quote from naming conventions, try this on for size : "As a reminder, all national standards of English spelling are acceptable on the English-language Wikipedia, both for titles and content. American spellings need not be respelled to British standards nor vice-versa;". Why would this apply only to U.S. English and U.K. English, but not to other variants, such as S.A. English? Otherwise we would all have to use the word "defense" (46 million Google hits) instead of defence (13.5 million).

We really have to come up with a better standard of determining common usage than just quoting Google. Elf-friend 21:36, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Well, I'd be happy to go list the dozen or so military/history books I have than mention Spion Kop (and say nothing of Spionkoep). Noel (talk) 18:56, 11 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Vote count

While both the totals are close, it is Wikipedia policy to have the winenr take all. Since discussion has wound down or is mostly going in various, theoretical directions, I suggest we close the vote in the next 24 hours or so as it seems there are no new people voting. This debate cannot go on forever, and it seems that each side of the debate has a clear opinion. Páll 14:33, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)

From the second paragraph of the Wikipedia:Requested moves page:
Page moves requested on this page may be actioned if is a rough consensus supporting the moving of an article after five (5) days under discussion on the talk page of the article to be moved, or earlier at the discretion of an administrator.
It is not Wikipedia policy to have the winner take all. If it is, please provide a link to the policy page which says this. WP:RM requires a rough consensus before the move is made. As you agree, the votes are close so there is no consensus for the move. Philip Baird Shearer 15:06, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Then we'd never get anywhere, and I'd be tempted to just start a new article at the correct name. We have the ability to correct history, without having to impede, destroy or negate the legacy. There's definitely more "consensus" to change the name, in fact by a 20% margin. Let's sum up what we have collectively agreed to:
  • Spioenkop has been in use since before the battle, when the Voortrekkers/other Afrikaner inhabitants named it; this is evident from the fact that it wasn't simply called "Spy Head".
  • A fork occured at the time of the battle, with "Spioenkop" being predominantly in South African literature, and "Spion Kop" being recorded in British and Commonwealth literature.
  • The British naming has become somewhat entrenched by virtue of the British Empire's reach, while the naming in South Africa hasn't changed; in fact, the South African naming has become official in as far as the government and other authorities are concerned.
My argument, again, is simply this: the correctness of "Spion Kop" is supported solely by the sheer volume of colonial literature on it, not by any geographical or other virtue. That we cannot change, but we can inform. This is the point of the whole exercise; Wikipedia is striving to be an authorative, correct source, isn't it? Dewet 15:33, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I suggest that as Páll has voted on the move and expressed an interest and a willingness to move the page without it going to WP:RM, that it is left to a disinterested administrator who monitors WP:RM to decide if the vote meets the rough consensus for the move which WP:RM guidelines outline. Philip Baird Shearer 15:17, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Páll expressed his willingness to move the page after I entered it on WP:RM. In fact, his words were "I'll do whatever I need to", meaning he'll stand down should the vote reflect this. It hasn't turned out this way, so him moving the page would not be due to being biased, but due to the vote reflecting this. Dewet 15:33, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I think Philip Baird Shearer's suggestion that it is left to a disinterested administrator who monitors WP:RM to decide if the vote meets the rough consensus for the move which WP:RM guidelines outline is good. Wizzy 16:24, Mar 15, 2005 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I do not want to denegrate into name calling, but I dislike the suggestion that I am impartial. I have made my vote, as have you. To me, a 20% lead is a clear margin of support. This is a highly obscure topic for most people, and I am quite amazed that we have had as many votes as we have. I did not say that I would move it now, but I did say that I was calling for final votes because this debate cannot drag on forever. I am fairly impartial, apart from the fact that I think the arguments made for Spioenkop are much stronger. Páll 15:56, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)

A consensus is not a simple majority. If it were then the WP:RM page would say that. Páll, you are interested in the result, as am I. I have mearly suggested that a disinterested administrator who monitors WP:RM, decides if (as the template says) "there is a clear consensus". In the interests of natural justice, when there is a debate on if there is not a clear consensus, someone who has a partial interest in the result, should not make that decision. Philip Baird Shearer 17:14, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I'm not disinterested, but I would say consensus has not been reached with 8 out of 13 votes (62%). The proposed policy mentions 70% and 80%.

But the total number voting is quite small. Perhaps there are some places we could flog this vote to get more (and more disinterested) participants, to get this proposal to more clearly pass or fail. South African, military history, or English-language Wikipedia groups? RFC page? Michael Z. 2005-03-15 17:55 Z


There has not been a consensus to move the article away from the current name and it should therefore remain here. I've removed it from WP:RM. violet/riga (t) 19:17, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)

It is a sad day that an error recorded by some scribe who did not know how to spell, went down in the annuals of the British history, then this flawed spelling is propagated by wikipedia--Jcw69 09:04, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Time to move on. I would like to thank User:Philip Baird Shearer for cogently arguing the case for Battle of Spion Kop, which is where it now stays. Wizzy 09:40, Mar 16, 2005 (UTC)
When Pretoria changes its name I hope User:Philip Baird Shearer will also use google to force wikipedia to keep the old name and not Tshwane. Old colonialists will never except change and will fight untill the bitter end. Well the battle is lost but not the war--Jcw69 11:20, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)
"99". As I said before, this should not have be seen as a pom bashing exercise, not all who voted against were from Britain. If you look at the voting on Talk:Calcutta you will not find my name there, although I did enter a comment. If this debate was about the name of the place (not the name of the battle) if asked to vote, I would have voted the other way. However I would vote against the changing of the name of the Battle of Cannae to the "Battle of Canne della Battaglia". Wellington always named his battles after the village he stayed in the night before. So there are alternative names for the Battle of Waterloo like the "Battle of Belle-Alliance" (which was proposed by Blucher (and which is a German alternative de:Schlacht bei Belle-Alliance)), that would have been a more geographically accurate name and, particularly in today's Europe, have been much more political correct. However that is not the name most English language military histories (or British Regemental battle honours) use, so I would object to that move.
"Enough already!". I suggest that this talk page is archived and that we move on to more constructive activities regarding this article. Philip Baird Shearer 12:44, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Philip, I cannot help but get the idea that you are being purposely obtuse. I (and my fellow arguers) have stated our arguments again and again, and you haven't responded it. Noel seemingly has no interest in debate, since he hasn't responded either to the others' queries. You two are the only ones who actively opposed the move, the other three votes were from disinterested parties who didn't contribute here, while 6 active contributors voted "for".
Again, this is not about parochialism, this is not about anti-colonialism, this is not about any number of other -isms. Unlike the Battle of Waterloo and the others you mentioned, there is no contention about their name, which makes your statement fallacious and a straw man. Here exists (and will keep on existing) a desire to have the page moved because it is wrong. Just for interest's sake, do a search through the online South African libraries' catalogues. Spioenkop (both the place, and the battle) isn't some crackpot theory, it is real hard fact. What will it take to convince you of that — should I get some famous historian to tell you that? This page can be archived, but the issue will be a recurring one. Dewet 13:02, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I am sorry it hasn't gone your way this time, but the support for the move was not enough against the opposition. violet/riga (t) 12:13, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Dutch and Afrikaans

As far as I know the confusion comes from the fact when the battle took place the Afrikaans language was not yet a widely written language, and certainly not an official language. Spioen is the Afrikaans word for 'spy' or 'look-out' while the Dutch word is spion.

At the time though Afrikaans was the spoken language of the Boers, Dutch was the written and official language. Therefore the place would have been written in Dutch as Spionkop or Spion Kop (I'm not sure whether Dutch combines words in the same way as Afrikaans). Afrikaans only replaced Dutch as an official language 25 years after the battle. Since then many Dutch place names have been changed to their Afrikaans versions.