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Past/Present tense?

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Forums: Index > The Wizengamot > Past/Present tense?

Is there is a clear policy on using present or past tense. Like when your editing an article of a person who is not known to have died, but talking about events in the past, should it use past tense, or present tense? -- Ratneer Owl Me! 21:49, December 25, 2009 (UTC)

Past tense should be used in all in-universe articles, as if the events had happened in the past and we are simply recording the information as a historical record. This also applies to articles set in the "future" such as the DH epilogue. - Cavalier OneGryffindorcrest(Wizarding Wireless Network) 23:17, December 25, 2009 (UTC)
Ah ok, So we are acting like we are always ahead of the story. Got it. I guess alot of articles need changing then. Wait, Then why are the characters who are alive, say things like = Harry potter is, and not Harry Potter was. I thought if they didnt die, then it should be in present tense. -- Ratneer Owl Me! 23:31, December 25, 2009 (UTC)
No, articles should be written in the past tense regardless of whether or not the character is alive. And a lot of articles probably do need changing. - Cavalier OneGryffindorcrest(Wizarding Wireless Network) 23:49, December 25, 2009 (UTC)
Hmm, Is this Policy, or a guideline, Becuase If it is policy, Im going to propose a change to it. I believe articles should be written in present tense. -- Ratneer Owl Me! 00:04, December 26, 2009 (UTC)
Let me revoke that lol. I wasnt wording it right. lol -- Ratneer Owl Me! 00:06, December 26, 2009 (UTC)
Hm, I know that many editors (myself included) have regarded the past-tense-for-in-universe-articles as set policy, but after looking through the wiki's policy pages, I can't find it actually specified anywhere. Maybe I missed something, but if not, this does need to be addressed. - Nick O'Demus 09:07, December 26, 2009 (UTC)
I looked around, and its not uncommon on the Wiki for the introductory paragraphs of an article to be in present-tense, and the rest to be in past-tense. Still, there's an overall discrepancy between the tenses of articles. Perhaps we should hold a vote? I'm still in favor of the current leaning toward past. ----Parodist Ravenclawcrest(Send me an Owl) 03:03, December 30, 2009 (UTC)
Maybe sentences like "Harry Potter is a wizard" should be in the present tense (as Harry is alive) and sentences denoting actions should be in the past tense (such as "Harry went into the Chamber of Secrets in his 2nd year")? --  Seth Cooper  owl post! 03:32, December 30, 2009 (UTC)
I agree, We should be writing as if it is September 2nd 2017. -- Ratneer Owl Me! 04:30, December 30, 2009 (UTC)
So do I. If a character is now technically dead then we should say "So and so was such and such", and vice versa if a character is still alive. -- GrouchMan (Send an owl then scram!!) 02:57, January 2, 2010 (UTC)
I think the Biography and Relationships sections at least should be written exclusively in past-tense. However, descriptive information, such as in the article header, Personality and Traits, and Magical Abilities and Skills could be present-tense, unless the character is confirmed to be deceased. - Nick O'Demus 11:01, December 30, 2009 (UTC)
But what about characters who may be either living or deceased, such as the Death Eaters after the War? ----Parodist Ravenclawcrest(Send me an Owl) 15:32, December 30, 2009 (UTC)
If they're not confirmed to be deceased, they should be presumed to still be living, at least for now. - Nick O'Demus 17:07, December 30, 2009 (UTC)
I think this should be put to a vote. I still believe that the biography should be in presetn tense, If they are still alive. As for everything else, It should be written in past tense, like it should be, since it is in the past. We need to write as if we are in the universe As on 2017, IMO. -- Ratneer Owl Me! 20:23, December 30, 2009 (UTC)
Past tense on all articles is preferential for the reasons that it resolves all issues of when present/past tense should be used in articles. By keeping to a single standard, there is no room for misinterpretation. Wookieepedia, which I point to as the standard by which wikis should aspire to be like in terms of article content and organization, uses past tense for all articles, regardless of whether or not the subject is still alive in current canon works. Also, putting all articles in past tense ensures that, if for any reason Rowling releases further works set after 2017, articles will not need to be rewritten to accept the new timeframe. - Cavalier OneGryffindorcrest(Wizarding Wireless Network) 23:59, December 30, 2009 (UTC)
But there is a reason Wookiepedia writes in past tense. Isnt it because of the A a long time ago, in a galexy far far away. thing. If, in the unlikely event that Rowling decides to write more, we wont have to change much, Only if she kills off any more characters. -- Ratneer Owl Me! 02:21, December 31, 2009 (UTC)
I understand the argument that it's logical for Wookieepedia to use past tense because Star Wars is set "a long time ago," but Memory Alpha, the Star Trek Wiki, also uses past tense in in-universe articles, and Star Trek is mainly set hundreds of years in the future. However, although I do find the past tense convention confusing to read at times, I think we should maintain it for the sake of consistency, and because it makes sense if we regard in-universe articles on Harry Potter Wiki as being written from the perspective of historians recording events from the distant past. The only time I use present tense in an in-universe article is if I'm describing a real-world subject in the first sentence and past tense would seem awkward ("A daisy was a flower..."). I keep to past tense in the first sentence when describing entirely fictional subjects ("Deadlyius was a magical mushroom..."). Starstuff (Owl me!) 11:24, December 31, 2009 (UTC)
I am starting to see it might be better to use past tense, except for you last statement. When describing objects, the present tense should be used. We are still writing it as in-universe no matter what the tense. It would have to be (Deadlyius is a magical mushroom...) unless it is known to be extinct. Even if we used past tense, the objects are still in-universe and should be written as real, and in present tense. -- Ratneer Owl Me! 06:41, January 4, 2010 (UTC)

I just want to make this clear. this vote is only for articles of people. As we are writing from in-universe, all objects and magic will remain in the present tense, as We are in-universe. -- Ratneer Owl Me! 23:31, January 5, 2010 (UTC)

That's already specified at the top of the voting section, and as Starstuff pointed out, it would be kind of silly to have statements like "London was a city" or "Wands were magical tools". - Nick O'Demus 11:05, January 6, 2010 (UTC)
I just want to clarify that I don't have an issue with using past tense to describe entirely in-universe objects (wands, Venomous Tentacula, Chocolate Frogs, etc.). I think it would be confusing to use past tense to describe objects that also currently exist in the real world (daisies, PlayStations, bacon sandwiches, etc.). Starstuff (Owl me!) 11:19, January 9, 2010 (UTC)
I am a bit confused about what you just said starstuff, are you saying you believe objects like wands should be in the past tense, or am I getting you wrong? -- Ratneer Owl Me! 21:32, January 9, 2010 (UTC)


We have discussed this, I think the only way to solve this is a vote.

This is a vote on the policy for the tense which articles should be written in. This only affects articles about People. Articles of objects and magic will remain written in the Present tense.

Suggestion #1

All articles should be written in Past Tense, including Biographies. (EX. Harry Potter was a Wizard)

Suggestion #2

All articles should be written as present tense, as if We are writing the articles on September 2nd, 2017, the day after the series ends. All character's biographies should be in present tense if they are alive, and if they are known dead, then the biography will be written in past tense. All events that happened in the past will be written as past tense. (EX. Harry Potter is a Wizard) BUT (In 1998, Harry Potter defeated Tom Riddle)

Voting restrictions

Since this vote will impact multiple articles across the Wiki, including featured articles, I am tightening the voting eligibility to stop single issue voters, possible sock puppets, and newly registered users from deciding the fate of these articles. As such, voters will have to have made their first edit at least one month prior to the opening date of this vote, which by my calender is the 31st of December, 2009. This means any user whose first edit was after the 30th of November, 2009, is ineligible to vote.

Any user caught using sockpuppets registered before that date will also have their votes—their own and their sockpuppets—struck. There are ways of checking whether or not you are using sockpuppets, and I will be checking any vote considered to be suspicious.

Suggestion #1 (10 for)

  1. As I said previously, present-tense might be okay for some character descriptive information, but the majority of the article, and especially the Biographies and Relationships, should be written as a history. - Nick O'Demus 09:18, December 31, 2009 (UTC)
  2. I agree.--Rodolphus 10:18, December 31, 2009 (UTC)
  3. I think that in-universe articles should be written exclusively in past tense for the sake of consistency. The only exception I think there should be is when we need to describe a real-world subject in an in-universe article's first sentence, and using past tense would seem bizarre ("A daisy was a flower..." or "London was a city..."), or would suggest that a currently-alive person is dead ("Stephen Hawking was a Muggle physicist"...). Starstuff (Owl me!) 11:37, December 31, 2009 (UTC)
  4. Cavalier OneGryffindorcrest(Wizarding Wireless Network) 12:06, December 31, 2009 (UTC)
  5. Jayden Matthews 14:06, December 31, 2009 (UTC)
  6. Using past tense at all times makes things consistent, simple, and leaves little room for confusion. QuidditchLoverSnitch 2(My talk)(contribs) 23:02, December 31, 2009 (UTC)
  7. For many reasons. We should be consistent on our tense use, as it will provide a better writing style, rather than awkward tense switches. Plus it is far more stylistically pleasing to be written in the past tense, after all, it is professional to write history works in the past tense. Grunny (Talk) 08:05, January 1, 2010 (UTC)
  8. -- DarkJedi613 (Talk) 03:39, January 4, 2010 (UTC)
  9. I agree with Nick. -- User:Hcoknhoj
  10. Past tense keeps everything consistent, and keeps any loose ends free of subjective original research. --Cubs Fan (Talk to me) 05:14, January 4, 2010 (UTC)

Suggestion #2 (4 for)

  1. I strongly believe the we need to write the article as if we are in-universe, and as if we are writing directly after the series, when all characters are alive, and the dead characters dead. -- Ratneer Owl Me! 02:37, December 31, 2009 (UTC)
  2. Famini71 {{SUBST:Utilisateur:Famini71/autosig}} 16:37, December 31, 2009 (UTC)
  3. Smonocco 01:29, January 1, 2010 (UTC)
  4. --  Seth Cooper  owl post! 05:11, January 1, 2010 (UTC)
    -- I believe very, very strongly that articles should be written as if we are writing in 2017. Points were mad eon this page, and I'll personally always push for present tense to be used. I've seen many wiki's where suggestion 2 is in effect. If we simply say a lot of articles need changing, it looks like a lot of wikia's need changing too. I'm for a thousand time. Arculus Ambleway 18:40, January 2, 2010 (UTC)Arculus AmblewayArculus Ambleway 18:40, January 2, 2010 (UTC)


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