Talk:Star

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Article based on English Wikipedia

This article or parts of it were created based, in whole or in part, on this version of the English Wikipedia article. The complete history of the article can be found there. —Clementina talk 08:23, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

Untitled[change source]

See last para of fire, and en:Star#Nuclear_fusion_reaction_pathways. Fresh start 06:33, 19 March 2006 (UTC) how 100that is how it is now

Stars most certainly do "give off heat and light"; the only way one can say they are not fire, is if one then changes or narrows the definition of "fire" in order to exclude them... however, changing definitions of words away from what they've always meant for hundreds of years seems to be a general trend nowadays, among those few who have taken it upon themselves to do so on behalf of all the rest of the speakers of English. Blockinblox 13:10, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

Well, for a start, a fire is a chemical reaction, whereas a star's energy comes from nuclear fusion, which is a physical process... Macdonald-ross (talk) 12:21, 24 March 2013 (UTC)

Nuclear Fusion Article Merge/Separation?[change source]

Wow this is a great simple article, I just filled out Nuclear_fusion perhaps we should come to some agreement between the two? Changing between elements is certainly a better way of putting it than my over use of the word ATOM :) MattOates 16:22, 4 June 2006 (ETC)

Is This Perhaps TOO Simple?[change source]

This is not meant to be rhetorical. This article read like something from a 2 grader's My First book. While simplicity is to be appreciated, is this article perhaps dumbed down too much? Maybe others may not feel that way, but it seems to me this lacks the quality of many if not most of the other Wiki articles. — This unsigned comment was added by LaBella~simplewiki (talk • changes) at 00:40, 1 July 2009‎.

Article written at too high a level[change source]

The Simple English encyclopedia is intended for people who are learning English. Its purpose is not to be just a little simpler than the main encyclopedia but should be a lot simpler. I have parsed the writing using this utility: https://www.online-utility.org/english/readability_test_and_improve.jsp

This is how it presently reads:

A star is a massive ball of plasma (very hot gas) held together by gravity. It radiates energy because of the nuclear reactions inside it

It radiates heat and light, and every other part of the electromagnetic spectrum, such as radio waves, micro-waves, X-rays, gamma-rays and ultra-violet radiation. The proportions vary according to the mass and age of the star.

The energy of stars comes from nuclear fusion. This is a process that turns a light chemical element into another heavier element. Stars are mostly made of hydrogen and helium. They turn the hydrogen into helium by fusion. When a star is near the end of its life, it begins to change the helium into other heavier chemical elements, like carbon and oxygen. Fusion produces a lot of energy. The energy makes the star very hot. The energy produced by stars radiates away from them. The energy leaves as electromagnetic radiation.

The reading level as calculated by various measures using the above utility is:

Number of characters (without spaces) : 717.00 Number of words : 155.00 Number of sentences : 12.00 Average number of characters per word : 4.63 Average number of syllables per word : 1.68 Average number of words per sentence: 12.92 Indication of the number of years of formal education that a person requires in order to easily understand the text on the first reading Gunning Fog index : 11.62 Approximate representation of the U.S. grade level needed to comprehend the text : Coleman Liau index : 9.12 Flesch Kincaid Grade level : 9.32 ARI (Automated Readability Index) : 6.82 SMOG : 11.80 Flesch Reading Ease : 51.27

Notice that the Gunning Fog index suggests that it requires 11.62 years of formal education to understand that on the first reading. That is entirely too high for the Simple English. The above measures do not take into account the huge number of new words the article throws in that complicate the understanding even further. I challenge you or anyone else to write this at an appropriate level, which would be below six years of education for understanding on the first read. You will find it very difficult to get the reading down below six years of education.

My version was:

A star is a giant ball of very hot gas. It is held together by gravity. It gives off heat and light (radiates energy) because it is so hot. Special reactions happen in a star. They are called nuclear reactions. The energy of stars comes from a special reaction called nuclear fusion. This is a very strong reaction that makes light and heat and makes bigger and bigger chemical elements. Stars have a lot of hydrogen. Nuclear fusion changes hydrogen into [[helium]. When a star is gets old, it begins to change the helium into other bigger chemical elements, like carbon and oxygen. Fusion makes a lot of energy. The energy makes the star very hot. The energy produced by stars radiates away from them. The energy leaves as electromagnetic radiation.

The result of the utility was:

Number of characters (without spaces) : 599.00 Number of words : 131.00 Number of sentences : 14.00 Average number of characters per word : 4.57 Average number of syllables per word : 1.63 Average number of words per sentence: 9.36 Indication of the number of years of formal education that a person requires in order to easily understand the text on the first reading Gunning Fog index : 9.24 Approximate representation of the U.S. grade level needed to comprehend the text : Coleman Liau index : 7.93 Flesch Kincaid Grade level : 7.34 ARI (Automated Readability Index) : 4.79 SMOG : 9.71 Flesch Reading Ease : 59.14

So, the Gunning fog index was dropped by about 2.26 years. In addition, I removed as many new words as possible as they add complexity that is not appropriate for what should be a simple article. If the reading can be dropped to as low as the sixth year you will be doing very, very well.

Your pronouncement that "accuracy" should be the sine qua non of these articles is ludicrous. Zedshort (talk) 21:23, 25 December 2016 (UTC)

I disagree with most of this. Accuracy is the primary objective of any encyclopedia. We are a point of reference. I understand what readability scores are about, and the change brought about was not so great as to justify the loss of detail and accuracy on the page. The subject-matter is most likely to be used at secondary school level, or by general readers. The range 60 to 70 on the Flesch scale is described by him as "standard", and is quite satisfactory for a science article to that audience. Language like "very, very, very large" is simply unworthy and unsuitable for an encyclopedia. It is also inexact and unscientific. Macdonald-ross (talk) 08:58, 26 December 2016 (UTC)
Accuracy is not the primary objective of any encyclopedia. The object is to get the ideas across in as simple a manner as possible in all cases. Even in the case of WP, the articles should be written at a low level, ideally at no more than 12 years. Your selection of 60 to 70 as standard is for the case of a person with 12 years of education. These articles should be pushed as low as possible. If you want accuracy then go to WP. The insistance on "accuracy" is grotesquely misplaced. SEW is for those who are attempting to learn English or have mental disabilities. Any edit that pushes the reading level lower is an improvement. Ideally the reading level should be below six years on the first read and that is not easy to achieve. Your contention that the edit was "It is also inexact and unscientific" or "simply unworthy and unsuitable" or "quite satisfactory" is your judgement based on your biases and misperception of the purpose of SWP. Please use the utility to parse the writing so as to gain an unbiased measure, otherwise this is endless. Zedshort (talk) 10:08, 26 December 2016 (UTC)
The readability tests you refer to use algorithms to determine sentence length and the number of syllables in individual words. They are fine for most purposes but run parallel to our methods. The Simple English Wikipedia uses Ogden's Basic English. We use the 1,000 most common and basic words in English and we use simple sentences whenever possible. For words not in Basic English, we link these to other articles or to the Simple English Wiktionary. A simple sentence has no predetermined length. It contains a subject, a verb and a complete thought. Simple words are those based on the Basic English combined wordlist, not the number of syllables they contain. These algorithm-based tests cannot recognize a simple sentence, only a shorter sentence. They are not set up to recognize Basic English words, only shorter words in regular English. Lastly, simplicity over accuracy makes no sense at all for an encyclopedia. "The goal of Wikipedia is to become a complete and reliable encyclopedia." Accuracy has to be our main objective here. Granted, technical subjects are more difficult to simplify. But placing simplicity first invites dumbing things down to the point of inaccuracy or trying to explain everything in one article. If you challenge readers to learn something new by drilling down, you are educating them. If you want to call our ideas and efforts here ludicrous, you are entitled to your opinion. Articles such as this one benefit from multiple editors as long as each follows our established guidelines and policies. Rus793 (talk) 17:02, 26 December 2016 (UTC)
Goodness, so much standing on principle! Such language seldom leads to compromise, and my opinion is that this is a case where compromise can work well. Our old friend @Macdonald-ross: is right that we mustn't say something that isn't so. A friend I haven't yet encountered, @Zedshort: has correctly indicated a direction to move. And yes, objective numeric scores are often a useful tool even though they don't provide final answers. Getting into particulars, "very, very, very large" is poor language, inflating without informing. "Special reaction" suffers from the same shortcomings, as though it were intended for an audience aware of the distinction between special and ordinary reactions. Which is to say, I'm objecting to particulars rather than to the intended direction of the changes. The problems are a mix of poor execution, and going too far. Jim.henderson (talk) 16:43, 26 December 2016 (UTC)
Here is what I suggest you and everyone else do that wants to provide an opinion: Rewrite the introduction in such a way as to make it understandable on the first read at six years of education level by parsing the writing with the utility. Good luck with that as it is not easy. At the same time keep the number of new words and links to other articles to a bare bones minimum. Not sure how to quantify the latter. No, numeric scores do not provide final answers but any changes made to improve an article should lean toward simplfication. BTW repeated use of words as in "very, very, very" is a very good way of explaining things to young children. Keep in mind that this is meant for young children and the mentally disabled. Zedshort (talk) 17:40, 26 December 2016 (UTC)

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I haven't looked at all the disputed changes yet, but here are a few comments.

  • I think you are using the word accuracy incorrectly. Accuracy means getting the facts right. However, there are different ways of getting a fact right. For example, there seems to be a disagreement about whether to use the term plasma or the phrase "very hot gas". Both of those seem to be correct, so they are equally accurate. I suspect you are thinking of precision more than accuracy: gas can be hot without being plasma, so plasma is more precise. Our articles here MUST be accurate (that is, the information in them must be correct), but how precise they are is a judgment call.
  • Speaking of precision: there is a guideline somewhere about using vague qualifying words such as massive, giant, very, big, etc. Instead of these, it is preferred to give specifics. In this article, we could say a star is a ball of gas, and either leave it at that or give specific examples of how big they can be.
  • About the plasma/hot gas issue: we actually have the article Plasma (physics), so it should be linked here. The sentence could be worded in the following ways:
    • A star is a ball of plasma.
    • A star is a ball of plasma (hot gas).
    • A star is a ball of hot gas called plasma.
Note that we can both use the precise term and explain it so that readers don't have to go to a linked article if they don't need details right away.
  • There was mention of aiming for 6th grade level text. I agree that it's good to make articles as simple as possible, but somewhere there is a rule of thumb of aiming for 8th grade.
  • There as also mention that articles here are for "young children and the mentally disabled". Our actual mission is to be for anyone with lower English skills. That can include the groups mentioned (although I'd disagree that all mentally disabled people have low English skills), but also includes people whose first language is not English, people with learning disabilities, and people who are of normal intelligence but just didn't learn English well in school. We use simple language, but we do not talk down to our readers.
  • There was mention of keeping "the number of new words and links to other articles to a bare bones minimum". No and no. New words (not that we can know what words are new for a given reader) are fine, but may need explanation. Links are not only fine, they are encouraged. Part of what Wikipedia is is a web of knowledge, and part of what builds that web is having links between articles. All significant terms should be linked; that's true even if the links are for articles we don't have yet (see Wikipedia:Red link).

I might have more comments later, but these are my first thoughts. --Auntof6 (talk) 19:31, 26 December 2016 (UTC)

Please rewrite the introduction and apply the utility to show us how it is to be done. Typically, the military writes technical manuals as the 8th grade level and most encyclopedias aim for about that level. WP should be at the 12 grade level at best. That of course does not take into account the difficulty of the concepts, just the sentence complexity. I suggest aiming as low as possible to get it down to the level for children, who are about ten years old. If you manage to get it down to the 6th grade level you are doing very, very well. It is not easy. In fact I think it is much harder to write for SWP than for WP. I can understand a rule that aims for below the 8th grade level but never above that. Also, stuffing in a lot of new words is not helpful as it discourages and all the links distract. If you have young children, ask them to read this article and see what they think. Again, please rewrite the intro and run the utility. Zedshort (talk) 20:49, 26 December 2016 (UTC)
I may or may not do that. For now, I will just repeat that significant terms should be linked the first time they appear in an article's text.. That is one of the basics of Wikipedia. I'm not sure what you mean when you say that links distract. Is it because they are in a different color? That's part of Wikipedia; if that's a problem for anyone, then this might not be the right encylopedia for that person. --Auntof6 (talk) 21:13, 26 December 2016 (UTC)
You are studiously avoiding understanding what I am saying, pretending ignorance. Zedshort (talk) 23:22, 26 December 2016 (UTC)
Not at all. I am not pretending anything. I am assuming good faith on your part. You need to assume the same of me and others. --Auntof6 (talk) 23:37, 26 December 2016 (UTC)
All other things being equal, which writing would be better. Writing that requires 11.62 or writing that requires 9.24 years of formal education to understand it on the first read? Zedshort (talk) 23:52, 26 December 2016 (UTC)
The thing is, all other things are never equal. An article that uses only 9th-grade vocabulary and below is not necessarily better than one that uses more advanced vocabulary along with simply-worded explanations of it. An analysis of an article like that would show it at the higher level even though there was enough in it for a ninth grader to be able to understand it. --Auntof6 (talk) 00:29, 27 December 2016 (UTC)
I think we are still putting too much emphasis on grade levels. Simple English Wikipedia is based on Basic English, simple sentence structure and links to more complex words and terms. As a suggestion, read Wikipedia:How to write Simple English pages. Then, if you're willing, rewrite the lead yourself in a sandbox and ask Aunt, Mac or another editor to look it over and discuss it with you. Thanks Rus793 (talk) 21:16, 26 December 2016 (UTC)
"We" are not putting nearly enough effort into reducing the reading difficulty, the grade level being the measure and you are studiously avoiding understanding that. I've already rewritten the intro and since it reads at a signicantly lower level it is prefered to what came before. My point is that you should demonstrate better writing and parse it using the utility or stop giving opinions. If the writing can't be demonstrated to be simpler then leave it alone. Zedshort (talk) 23:22, 26 December 2016 (UTC)
I agree that we don't do enough to simplify. Grade level analysis is a good way to judge simplicity, but is not the last word. As for specific words and terms, we have a standing practice that complex words can be used if they are either explained, linked to an article (or, rarely, Wiktionary), or both. --Auntof6 (talk) 23:37, 26 December 2016 (UTC)
It feels like this is being approached as an all or nothing. Keeping one version or the other shouldn't be our only choice. Some of Zedshort's changes do improve the simplicity of the article. For instance:
"Proxima Centauri is the star that is closest to our Sun."
reads better than and is as accurate as
"The nearest star to our Solar System, and the second nearest star to Earth after the Sun, is Proxima Centauri."
Some changes do alter the accuracy, which I don't think anyone, including Zedshort, wants. For instance changing "oldest stars are thought to be around 13.7 billion years old" to "the oldest stars are 13.7 billion years" makes 13.7 seem like a fact when it is the best we know so far. Hopefully this discussion leads to an overall better article, rather than just one of the two versions. --Tbennert (talk) 01:50, 27 December 2016 (UTC)
I have to agree with Tbennert here - this is a false dilemma. It is a good thing to head towards simplification, but it is similarly not desirable to compromise the accuracy of content, and give the impression that we are talking down to readers. With that said, I am going to add on to what Jim.henderson mentioned in his comments, and look into the specifics of the lede:
  • "Special reactions happen in a star. They are called nuclear reactions. The energy of stars comes from a special reaction called nuclear fusion." - there is some degree of redundancy here. Either keep the first two sentences, or only the third sentence.
  • "This is a very strong reaction that ... makes bigger and bigger chemical elements" - the use of the word "big" is not correct here; size and mass are two distinct physical properties. I can get the reasoning behind this change, but it is going to cause problems in other places which bring up the concept of atomic radius. I note that there is a similar conflation of density and volume under the section "Birth of a star".
  • "Nuclear fusion changes hydrogen into helium" - this sentence should be further qualified to avoid giving the impression that nuclear fusion is a reaction that specifically converts hydrogen into helium.
...and while I have not had the time to look at the changes to the rest of the article, I have to agree that the use of repetition is a bad way to highlight the relative differences in quantities/numbers. For that matter, I found it surprising that neither version of the article mentioned the solar mass. --Chenzw  Talk  11:48, 27 December 2016 (UTC)
  • Redundancy is essential when writing for people who read at a very low level. Sentences should be linked one to the other in a chain to make a coherent paragraph.
  • Children understand big and small, very big and very small, they cannot parse such things as the enormous range of scale of the universe or weight verses mass and density and why even bring up the "concept" of atomic radius if it cannot be explained very simply. The more concepts you stuff into a paragraph the more difficult the reading becomes.
I suspect that much of the touble here is that some writers believe that if they write at a very low level, it somehow reflects on their own mental capabilities, that it somehow drags them down. It doesn't. I find writing for SEWP to be very much tougher that to write for WP. Finally, accuracy should not be the sine qua non of SEWP. When writing for children, be accuracy must be sacrificed for simplicity. This is called the Simple English Wikipedia not the Accurate English Wikipedia. Zedshort (talk) 14:26, 27 December 2016 (UTC)

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No, simple and accurate. That is the challenge in writing here. Most people tend to write at their educational level. Those who have a higher education have to learn to write at a lower reading level in order to write well here. More often than not that is the problem for many editors. I do agree that writing for Simplewiki is more challenging than writing at Enwiki. However, there is nothing at all wrong with writing a better article here than the corresponding one at Enwiki. Rus793 (talk) 14:53, 27 December 2016 (UTC)

The emphasis should be on simplicity even at the expense of accuracy. The emphasis should be simplicity, simplicity, simplicity, and accuracy. It is possible to have accuracy if you emphasize simplicity, but not simplicity if you emphasize accuracy. If you aim for accuracy you will wax pedantic in your writing and will lose your audience. Zedshort (talk) 17:37, 27 December 2016 (UTC)

@Zedshort: You are absolutely right that it is harder to write for this wiki. Many people don't get that, so I'm glad that you do.

You mention things that are needed when writing for children. A common misunderstanding is that this wiki is particularly for children. It is not. Children are only part of our target audience. We don't cater to them, and writing specifically for them risks doing a disservice to our other readers. Remember that it is only low English that we address, not lack of knowledge or understanding; some of our readers may be highly educated, and we don't want to tilt things so far toward children that we end up talking down to others.

You keep indicating that you don't think accuracy is important. You said, "When writing for children, be [sic] accuracy must be sacrificed for simplicity." What exactly do you mean by accuracy? To me, it means that information given is true; it doesn't refer to how complete the information is. I hope you don't think we should give false information just because the real information is complex.

You said, "The more concepts you stuff into a paragraph the more difficult the reading becomes." Where that is an issue, it can help to divide paragraphs into shorter ones. Shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs are part of simple language. --Auntof6 (talk) 18:00, 27 December 2016 (UTC)

I am puzzled. People seem to stumble on the idea of writing for children. I suspect that the aversion to that is the pejorative sense that has been attached to the words "child", "childish" and "children". I am suggesting writing for children as a short hand for writing for "children, those who are learning English and those with mental disabilities". Please pardon me for not wasting time by repeating that time and time again, I will simplify by simply saying "children." The Simple WP is particularly for children and there is nothing wrong with that. We should cater to them because if you write for them you will in the process serve all those other people. I'm not sure where you got the idea of "low English". Appending the term "low" to this will open a pandora's box of controversy. "...and we don't want to tilt things so far toward children that we end up talking down to others", says worlds about your perspective on this subject. Nobody is talking down to anyone and your suggestion that someone is I find to be vexing and puzzling. Accuracy is nowhere as important as keeping it simple. If you make the writing simple and employ greater verbosity at that simple level you will get to where you want to go (i.e. sufficient accuracy), but you will not write a simple article by emphasizing accuracy. You will instead begin to write in a high and pedantic manner that will leave people behind. And finally, yes by all means write in short simple sentences to expand concepts, but start by limiting the number of concepts to the bare bones minimum or even avoid trying to explain them altogether. Zedshort (talk) 19:04, 27 December 2016 (UTC)
Where I said "low English" I should have said "low English skills" (low skill in English). Like you, I used shorthand that didn't say what was meant.
Maybe it would be helpful to refer to our target audience as "our readers" instead of as "children". "Children, those who are learning English and those with mental disabilities" probably isn't a good description of our audience. For one thing, the term "mental disabilities" is very vague. For another, it leaves out the less literate, those trying to read something but who are not necessarily learning English, and who knows who else. Even uf you continue to use "children" as shorthand for out readers, I will not use it; it is misleading.
If we're sensitive about saying that this wiki is for children, it might be because there are expectations for children's materials that we do not meet. In one sense, we are not even allowed to meet them: specifically, the Wikipedia policy that things here are not censored. If we use "children" as shorthand for our audience, people will expect us to meet those requirements. We have articles, sections of articles, and images that are inappropriate for children. This has caused issues with people who assumed that this wiki was a children's site, then saw articles with frank descriptions and images about things like sexual topics. In any case, the requirements for simplicity, accuracy, etc. in those articles are the same as for articles like Star.
And I'd still like to know what you mean by "accuracy". --Auntof6 (talk) 19:44, 27 December 2016 (UTC)
It is called the Simple English Wikipedia not the "our readers" or "young readers" wikipedia. I am puzzled as to why you seem squeemish about using the word "children". Has a pejorative sense of the word tripped you up? If so get over it. Wikipedia is in fact sensored, but only at the level of the individual writer and rarely when we collectively when we decide to remove material that is "not necessary", or "not informative". If there is in fact material that is not appropriate for children, I am sure that a concerted effort can be made to remove it regardless of how high to the sky people might object. Finally, I am not the one who is insisting that the article must first be accurate. Seek out that other writer and ask that person to explain. Zedshort (talk) 21:59, 27 December 2016 (UTC)
I am not in the least squeamish about the word children. I just think you are using it incorrectly. The word means people who have not yet reached the age of adulthood, and I am happy to use it where it applies. I do not use it to describe the readers here because it does not completely and accurately describe the audience we aim for.
As for removing material that is not appropriate for children, there is no need to do that and it is not our job. It is the job of children's parents/guardians to determine whether children should see the material here. Wikipedias, including this one, are encyclopedias that can have articles about any notable subject, including ones that would be upsetting to some people for whatever reason, whether it be on moral, religious, or other grounds. If that's not what you thought you were getting into when you started working here, you might want to reevaluate whether you want to continue. --Auntof6 (talk) 23:55, 27 December 2016 (UTC)
Thank you for that last bit of insipidly silly advice. You obviously have trouble restraining yourself from the temptation of projecting of garbage into other people. Typically when people do that they are struggling with something within themselves. Try a little harder. Zedshort (talk) 01:12, 28 December 2016 (UTC)

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That was uncalled for. You can talk about a person's change but not the person himself or herself. Please keep it civil and stay on topic. This is a discussion. Rus793 (talk) 01:22, 28 December 2016 (UTC)

In response to the earlier statement "Children understand big and small, very big and very small, they cannot parse such things as the enormous range of scale of the universe or weight verses mass and density and why even bring up the "concept" of atomic radius if it cannot be explained very simply. The more concepts you stuff into a paragraph the more difficult the reading becomes": my view is that we are doing a disservice to our readers if we withhold information or otherwise dumb it down with the justification that it would be difficult for them to read articles if we were to explain concepts correctly. That's what wikilinks are for, by the way - they link to another article that will explain new concepts in detail. What I was trying to say earlier is that I don't think it is right to say "...bigger chemical elements" when the use of "big" could refer to size (volume). Larger objects are not necessarily heavier. If we talk about size on the atomic level, we are looking at atomic radius. While this concept has nothing to do with the star article itself, to use scientifically incorrect terms will lead to confusion among readers and across different articles. Star is not the only article on this Wikipedia; we also need to strive for consistency, especially where there is an established convention.
And why is there the assertion that "Children ... cannot parse such things as the enormous range of scale of the universe or weight verses mass and density"? This wiki also caters to readers who are learning English - these same readers could also be proficient in other languages at the native level. If we dumb the language down for them and sacrifice accuracy of facts in the process, then they will really be unable to "parse such things", or distinguish between weight, mass, and density. --Chenzw  Talk  03:04, 28 December 2016 (UTC)

Life[change source]

Nice to see the improved intro. I still dislike "special" reaction but another matter seems more urgent. There is a "Life" and a "Lives" section. Should their contents be merged? Should one be simply deleted? Do they too much repeat what's in the evolution article? Jim.henderson (talk) 14:42, 3 January 2017 (UTC)