Talk:International Bureau of Weights and Measures

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Why does Bureau International des Poids et Mesures redirect here? Is that not the correct title - with title case? 07:05, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Somebody must think that is the correct French rule.
Somebody also forgot that this is the English Wikipedia
  • This organization has an official English name, The International Bureau of Weights and Measures, a name which does follow the normal English rules for capitalization.
  • Both "Bureau international des poids et mesures" and "Bureau International des Poids et Mesures" (and BIPM as well) should redirect to International Bureau of Weights and Measures.
This is an international organization, not a French organization--and even if it were a French organization with an official English name, we should use the official English name.
There is only one official acronym for it, BIPM, no matter what language is used when it is spelled out. But that is not a good enough reason to use French in the title here. Gene Nygaard 07:43, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Why back to French grammar and rules, rather than English?[edit]

Apparently somegbody had fixed the capitalization, but kept the French name rather than the English name, between the time of my comment above, and a few hours ago when somebody again lowercased this name.

Dammit; even the BIPM capitalizes the I and the P and the M in the French language version, and we shouldn't be using the French language version anyway when there is an official English language version (of the spelled out name, normally using the same acronym). [1]

Will somebody who knows how to do this renaming please rename it to International Bureau of Weights and Measures and make the capitalized French version a redirect. Or I will take a stab at it myself; don't blame me if I screw it up. Maybe the uncapitalized French version as well, but that's not what the BIPM uses.
Gene Nygaard 03:30, 27 May 2005 (UTC)

Good points being raised in both sections above. Unfortunately, the BIPM is not very helpful in sorting this out. The Convention du mètre is the treaty that sets the BIPM, CGPM, and CIPM up, and its text exists only in French. It clearly indicates the correct French case is to be used for the French names (thus the occasional "Bureau International..." form is somewhat erroneous --it seems to be used only on the English pages in any case). There is no mention of localization issues in the FAQ. Can anyone provide an actual reference that establishes the "official" existence of the English title (International Bureau...) as anything more than a convenient translation? I'll look into this more myself as well, as time allows.
Urhixidur 12:17, 2005 May 27 (UTC)
The fact that the French "des" is always "of" in the "International Bureau of Weights and Measures" (BIPM), always "on" in "General Conference on Weights and Measures" (CGPM), and always "for" in "International Committee for Weights and Measures" (CIPM) is one piece of pretty good evidence that there is an official English version of these names.
There is no French version of the acronyms page; the "Version française" link there to redirects to
Look at the capitalization in the name below the logo on all pages (usually if not always in upper left), French or English. Gene Nygaard 14:13, 27 May 2005 (UTC)
Follow-up: The official brochures (seventh edition, 1998) exist in French and English, with the French having precedence over the English. (There is a 2000 update, a single document in both languages, which has no bearing on this discussion). They do not lay out the appellations in unambiguous terms, but we can note the following:
1) The English "International Bureau..." does not appear.
2) The French text uses "Bureau international...".
3) The English text uses "Bureau International...".
It seems the BIPM has but one official name, but its case adapts to the local language. Personally, I find that bizarre, but that's life. I conclude that the BIPM has the following names, in order of precedence: "Bureau international...", "Bureau International...", and "International Bureau...". The abbreviation IBWM does not exist. This matches the current set of redirects, so I think Wikipedia has it right.
The pattern is repeated for the other entities (CGPM, CIPM, CCU); however, I note the treaty is written Convention du Mètre in French, so I'll correct that (French capitalises proper nouns in titles, and in this case the Convention is about the metre, i.e. the physical prototype that used to define the unit of length).
Urhixidur 13:36, 2005 May 27 (UTC)
In any case, BIPM usage is not totally determinative as to the existence of the English name, which should be the title in the English encyclopedia. Look also, for example, to the usage of the national standards laboratories in English-speaking countries, such as NIST in the United States, NPL in the United Kingdom, etc. I have, of course, pointed to use of that English name by the BIPM itself; that's enough of an acknowledgement of its existence to justify use of the English name here, with redirects from the two French versions (with different capitalization).
Gene Nygaard 14:13, 27 May 2005 (UTC)
Not finding the English version of the name in the BIPM "brochure" explaining the SI doesn't prove the nonexistence of that English name of these bodies, especially in light of the explicit listing of the English names on the acronyms page (note also that it appears that there is only one version of that acronyms page, for all users). That listing in itself is sufficent to give it "official" status. Gene Nygaard 14:25, 27 May 2005 (UTC)
Proving a negative (« the nonexistence of... ») is, obviously, impossible. The burden of proof lies with the other half of the argument. My point is, simply, that the legal instrument that brings the metric system into existence is the Convention du Mètre, which exists only in French. We've established that English translations of the titles of the various organs (BIPM, etc.) do exist, but that does not make them anything more than conveniences.
As for NIST's usage, I find it rife with typos and errors when it quotes French, so it is not a very reliable source. Still, if you wish to move the page to its English title, I find it no skin off my nose.
Meanwhile, the problem stands unresolved: Does the English name have any official standing? (Internationally, that is; it of course has official standing in English-speaking countries' laws)
Urhixidur 02:32, 2005 May 28 (UTC)
Digging some more into the question, the Manual of style (Wikipedia:Naming conventions) does bear Gene out: « Organizations (such as political parties): For [these] articles [...] the general rule applies. That means: Name your pages with the English translation and place the original native name on the first line of the article unless the native form is more commonly used in English than the English form. ». So I'll move the page(s) so that Gene doesn't "screw them up", as he put it...
Urhixidur 02:48, 2005 May 28 (UTC)
I think I know how to do it, but I've never tried it. I would have moved the target (English name) to some dummy name, moved the French name to the English name, and moved -- no, it doesn't make sense to move the dummy anywhere. Guess I don't have it figured out after all. I don't think I would have done more than minimal damage to the history; but I have problems with understanding why "moves" work the way they do in the first place. Why can't you add editorial comments when moving? Why don't those renamings show up in the history? I also had problems once with the talk page not moving, when it should have, I'd checked the proper box and there was no other talk page in the way. Gene Nygaard 04:20, 28 May 2005 (UTC)


From Pavilion de Breteuil:

Following an agreement signed on 25 April 1969 between the International Committee for Weights and Measures (French: Comité international des poids et mesures) (CIPM) and the French government, contrary to popular belief, the Pavilion de Breteuil does not enjoy extraterritoriality but only partial immunity.[1][2]
Thnidu (talk) 23:23, 13 April 2017 (UTC)


Error in {{Infobox organization}}[edit]

The infobox is incorrectly shown in the article, could anyone fix? Vlad5250 (talk) 07:50, 21 July 2019 (UTC)

@Vlad5250: fixed now. -- DeFacto (talk). 09:04, 21 July 2019 (UTC)


@DeFacto: While you're right that the BIPM itself is not a nation, it is subject to extraterritoriality. As with any other international body like that (the UN, ISO, etc.), it's been customary to use the variant of English on their WP articles that the bodies themselves use, and basically every international body uses Oxford spelling. Unless you have significant qualms about this, I propose we change it to that to maintain consistency. (I should also add that by around 2006, consistent use of Oxford spelling had been established, but somebody went in and changed all the spellings to British spelling deliberately.) Getsnoopy (talk) 07:22, 17 October 2019 (UTC)

MOS:TIES seems clear to me that the ties required are to an "English-speaking nation". I see no imperative to change this article. -- DeFacto (talk). 19:43, 17 October 2019 (UTC)
@DeFacto: Sure, but see my point about MOS:RETAIN being violated early in the article's history. Getsnoopy (talk) 23:47, 17 October 2019 (UTC)
@Getsnoopy: MOS:RETAIN applies to the consensual version, and I think it's fair to say that if, as you say, it has been British English since 2006, that this is very definitely the current consensual version per WP:EDITCONSENSUS. -- DeFacto (talk). 07:23, 18 October 2019 (UTC)
@DeFacto: It doesn't apply to the consensual version, it applies to the first instance of "consistent usage" being established. That usage had been established very early on (since about 2006), which is of Oxford spelling, not British spelling. The history of the article, as you'll notice, indicates many editors going in and changing the spelling to their preferred version. This violates MOS:RETAIN, which is why I'm saying it should be reverted. Getsnoopy (talk) 08:00, 18 October 2019 (UTC)
@Getsnoopy: read the rest of the sentence you quoted from; it goes on to say "maintain it in the absence of consensus to the contrary". And that is the consensus I referred to. -- DeFacto (talk). 21:08, 18 October 2019 (UTC)
@DeFacto: The "consensus" was incorrect, even as per the person making the change. The editor who added it thought the BIPM uses British spelling, so they added that tag in. This is incorrect, so I'm proposing correcting this mistake. As for WP:EDITCONSENSUS, it says consensus is only assumed to be reached for any edit "that is not disputed or reverted by another editor". This discussion is evidence enough that consensus has not been reached. Going off of what the original editor intended (using a variant of English that the BIPM itself uses), I'd agree with them (as would every editor before that one, given the consistent usage up until that point), so the current consensus is to use just that: Oxford spelling. Getsnoopy (talk) 21:47, 18 October 2019 (UTC)
The diff in your comment points to an edit in 2013. Are you saying that the article has used a certain kind of spelling for six years and you are now going to force your preferred spelling because the article is wrong? That would be disruptive. Face the fact that anyone wanting to change an established article needs to proceed cautiously and engage in issues raised by others. Johnuniq (talk) 01:44, 19 October 2019 (UTC)
@Johnuniq: It isn't my "preferred spelling", it is the spelling that was established early on through consistent use. Insofar as that edit is concerned, according to your logic, it was disruptive in unilaterally changing the spelling that's been used and established, and it violated MOS:RETAIN. I'm simply suggesting that we reverse this violation. And the fact that this discussion is occurring is enough evidence that I'm engaging in issues raised by others. Getsnoopy (talk) 17:17, 20 October 2019 (UTC)

Use of the English name (and acronym) for this organisation[edit]

There is a dispute in progress about the use in the article of the French-name- and English-name-derived acronyms for this organisation. The name of this article is "International Bureau of Weights and Measures" and the commonly used acronym for that is "IBWM". Shouldn't we, as this is the English Wikipedia, be using that acronym throughout the article rather than "BIPM", which is derived from the French name for the organisation? -- DeFacto (talk). 09:50, 1 January 2020 (UTC)

I've avoided the issue due to the season. Isn't this something to be resolved with common usage in reliable sources? I think you added a ref somewhere showing one usage of IBWM? I seem to recall another acronym where this issue arises and common usage is clear. Perhaps ISO? The one I'm thinking of has a French name but uses the English acronym as a compromise. Or was it the other way around? Johnuniq (talk) 23:22, 1 January 2020 (UTC)
@DeFacto: The acronym IBWM is not commonly used, not at all in fact. The organization itself uses BIPM as its official abbreviation even on its English-version pages. Like I've said in previous edits, I struggled to find any sources which use IBWM as the acronym for the organization. Even if it was used, it's in the overwhelming minority and therefore, should be presented as such. You seem to have cited one source, yet when I visit the page, it uses BIPM consistently throughout and even refers to IBWM as the "incorrect" abbreviation. This situation is the same case as that for the International System of Units: the abbreviation is SI, not IS, ISU, or the like. Getsnoopy (talk) 07:24, 5 January 2020 (UTC)
@Getsnoopy: sure the France-based organisation uses the organisation's French-name-based acronym, but that is not a good reason for this English encyclopaedia article not to also point out the the English-name-based acronym is also in use in English publications. I'm sure I don't need to show you how to search the internet, but as you seem to be struggling to accept that "IBWM" appears in the literature, here are just a few examples: [2], [3] and in a letter from the "Director of the IBWM" - [4]. -- DeFacto (talk). 11:52, 5 January 2020 (UTC)
@DeFacto: The origin of the organization has nothing to do with the topic at hand. The organization (and practically all other reliable sources) use BIPM as its abbreviation. After some deep searching, you seem to have found a handful of sources which refer to it as IBWM; that's fine, but they're in the overwhelming minority. One of the sources you cited also refers to the SI as "IS", yet there doesn't seem to be a dispute about which is the official abbreviation for the International System of Units. As such, I'm opposed to displaying IBWM as the official abbreviation or even a common one at that. Keeping that in mind, I made some edits that account for that while still acknowledging that IBWM is an abbreviation that's in some type of use, but you reverted those changes as well. I don't know how you want to move forward. Getsnoopy (talk) 02:34, 6 January 2020 (UTC)
@Getsnoopy: there was no "deep searching" involved, just a simple standard web search. Sure BIPM is the more common acronym, and we can make that clear in the article, but it is not the only acronym used. The fact that the organisation deals in two languages and thus has two names, inevitably leads to it having two acronyms too, and we should accept that. As for whether their origin is significant in their choice of their preferred language; all I can say is do you think if they were founded in the US with an English name that they would primarily use the acronym of their name as translated into French? -- DeFacto (talk). 07:00, 6 January 2020 (UTC)
@DeFacto: I'm confused as to what your criteria are for claims. Clearly, you're not against the International System of Units article for claiming that SI is the sole abbreviation for it despite the fact that a source you cited (which frankly, I don't believe is reliable, but that's besides the point here) refers to it as "IS". Yet, in this case, you seem to be vehemently disagreeing with me that BIPM isn't the sole abbreviation for the organization despite it being the official abbreviation according to multiple sources (including the BIPM itself) and merely the overwhelmingly prevailing abbreviation due to the sheer number of reliable sources using that abbreviation, all because a tiny sliver of the internet seems to have inconsistently used an abbreviation in a reasonable, yet incorrect way. Furthermore, you don't seem to have any quibbles about abbreviations which fall into a similar multi-language category such as CIPM, CGPM, ISO, UTC, etc. As for the origins of the organization, while that is a reasonable line of logic, it doesn't always follow especially when it comes to international organizations. Case in point: UTC; it had English origins, but its abbreviation was a compromise nevertheless. Getsnoopy (talk) 08:44, 6 January 2020 (UTC)
@Getsnoopy: you are taking this around in pointless circles. This page is for this article, and that's what I'm discussing here, and I've explained why I think the alternative, English-name-based, acronym for this organisation needs to be fully covered in the article. We cannot uninvent it or have it purged from history, so we should not pretend that it does not appear in the literature by trying to supress coverage of it. -- DeFacto (talk). 12:27, 6 January 2020 (UTC)
@DeFacto: I think you actually win that title; you're agreeing with everything I've been saying. Why revert my change then? It keeps both abbreviations, while highlighting that BIPM is the official and standard one. Getsnoopy (talk) 02:17, 7 January 2020 (UTC)
@Getsnoopy: they need to both be in the infobox and described neutrally in the prose, with none of the USMA editorialising by use of the word 'official' or 'unofficial', etc. You can say "the BIPM's preferred acronym...", or whatever, and even that "BIPM" is more commonly used, but you cannot imply that one is more correct than the other in general English prose. -- DeFacto (talk). 07:13, 7 January 2020 (UTC)

@DeFacto: I can add them both in the InfoBox. I can also add IBWM back into the prose, but not without making it clear that it is non-standard. The BIPM is the authority on what its abbreviation should be; after all, it created its own name, and it gets to choose what its abbreviation is. Getsnoopy (talk) 22:16, 8 January 2020 (UTC)

@Getsnoopy: no, the BIPM do not control how initialisms are used in the English language, even for their own name, it is what is presented in the literature that controls that, and to use unsupported subjective terms, such as "non-standard", fails WP:NPOV. -- DeFacto (talk). 22:59, 8 January 2020 (UTC)
@DeFacto: Uh...yes it does. It's akin to a brand name. In the same way that "BMW AG" ("BMW Aktiengesellschaft") is a brand name with the type of company. People can choose to write it as "BMW JSC" for "BMW Joint-Stock Company" in English, but that doesn't mean it's correct just because it transcended the linguistic border. Same thing with SI, UTC, etc., like I've said before. As for NPOV, the first point explaining the policy go squarely against what you're proposing: the sources you've cited are at best opinions of what the authors thought the organization's abbreviation would/should be, but there's more than enough evidence to prove that those aren't correct. And "standard" is defined as Used or accepted as normal or average. according to the OED, so saying "non-standard" is quite apt for this situation given the prevalence of the abbreviation BIPM as compared to IBWM. Getsnoopy (talk) 23:24, 8 January 2020 (UTC)
The sole (and not especially authoritative) source previously cited for "IBWM" [5] now explicitly says: "This article has been updated to give the correct acronym for the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM). The previous version incorrectly gave it as IBWM." I've revised (hopefully for the last time) the infobox. Hqb (talk) 14:09, 22 January 2020 (UTC)
It's the initialism of the English name and used in the literature, especially from North America - do a web search and you'll see that. There is no need to suppress it. -- DeFacto (talk). 20:55, 22 January 2020 (UTC)
I simply don't know why you're fighting this. There are a handful of sources which happen to use the incorrect abbreviation for the organization, as compared to countless other sources which use the correct abbreviation, all of which are fare more reliable. In the same way that WP doesn't suddenly start endorsing that "Kg" is the symbol for kilogram or "IS" is the abbreviation for the International System of Units because there is one source out there that happens to use the incorrect abbreviation, there's no reason to start endorsing IBWM as the BIPM's abbreviation. Getsnoopy (talk) 06:29, 23 January 2020 (UTC)
Wikipedia isn't here to "endorse" anything, it's here to record facts, and it is an incontrovertible fact that "IBWM" is an initialisation of the organisation's English name that is used in the literature. I cannot understand why you are disputing that and why you think Wikipedia shouldn't record it. And as we know, there is no such thing in the English language as an "incorrect abbreviation". Sure in recent years, "BIPM" has become more commonly used in the scientific arena, but we should not deny historical facts and should not ignore common historical usage - should we? -- DeFacto (talk). 07:13, 23 January 2020 (UTC)
IBWM is not used in "the literature", as that term is normally understood. Pointing out a couple of random web hits in support of your viewpoint is just WP:OR. You might as well try to argue that the article about the European Organization for Nuclear Research should also prominently feature the proper English initialism "EONR", in addition to the Francophile CERN; or that the "correct" initialism for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be "CDCP", rather than the CDC that they themselves (and almost everyone else) use. (In fact, one could probably make a far stronger case for CDCP, based on published, presumed-reliable sources, than for IBWM.) To quote from WP:UNDUE: "If a viewpoint is held by a significant minority, then it should be easy to name prominent adherents; If a viewpoint is held by an extremely small minority, it does not belong on Wikipedia, regardless of whether it is true or you can prove it, except perhaps in some ancillary article.". If you believe that the use of IBWM is indeed firmly backed by reliable sources, please name the one or two best ones you can find, and explain why you believe they should be taken seriously enough to merit inclusion. Hqb (talk) 08:13, 23 January 2020 (UTC)
That "IBWM" is used in the literature to stand for "International Bureau of Weights and Measures" is not a 'viewpoint' though, it is an observable fact, and is shown in the leading acronym finder from "AF" here. On the first page of a contextual web search we have: [6], [7] and [8] all using it. -- DeFacto (talk). 18:36, 23 January 2020 (UTC)
"Common historical usage" seems like a viewpoint, seeing as what you don't seem to be corroborating its commonality with sources. "As we know, there is no such thing in the English language as an 'incorrect abbreviation'"— Do we know this? Because I've cited myriad examples where this is not true. Nobody is denying that there a few websites out there which use IBWM as an abbreviation; the point is that not only is it incorrect by way of the organization in question referring to itself differently, but also that the overwhelming number of reliable sources indicate otherwise. Saying that IBWM is observably factual by way of it being the first initials of the organization's translated name would make sense only rudimentarily, ignoring usage and other factors at play. Again, one of the sources you cited refers to the SI as "IS"; so are we to include that on the International System of Units page now? And what about UTC? Should we say CUT is just as valid? Setting aside the fact that the latter two sources you've cited are the same ones, the ones you've cited don't inspire confidence in terms of their reliability, and they definitely don't confirm the fact that their existence constitutes a "significant minority". Getsnoopy (talk) 06:31, 24 January 2020 (UTC)
@Getsnoopy: point by point:
  1. You don't need sources for talkpage opinions, only for article content. My point is that "IBWM" is an acronym/initialism of the organisation, and that is a fact - as we have seen in various documents, not an opinion.
  2. Can you list the "myriad [of] examples" you think are specifically of "incorrect" abbreviations?
  3. If you're not denying the abbreviation has been used, why are you so opposed to listing it in the article?
  4. We cannot deny the existence of an acronym that has been used when referring to an organisation in the English literature because it isn't that preferred by the organisation in question, or because there is an acronym of the organisation's name in another language that is more commonly used.
  5. What happens in other articles isn't relevant here, they may not be accurate or complete.
  6. The sources I showed (excuse the duplication, I obviously got in a muddle with my copy and pasting) simply demonstrate the fact that the acronym is in use. If you want more, there are plenty where they came from. To state as a fact that it is used doesn't need proof of how often it is used, it just needs to be verifiable that it is used (see WP:VER), and it certainly is.
-- DeFacto (talk). 18:39, 24 January 2020 (UTC)
It is a fact that a handful of ignorant and/or lazy writers have used IBWM as an ad hoc shorthand for referring to the BIPM. It is a viewpoint that such usage is widespread enough to merit inclusion in an encyclopedia as an acceptable alternative abbreviation; and for that viewpoint, per WP's verifiability policy, you absolutely need to provide a reference or two to reliable sources. Since I specifically asked you for the best sources, which could potentially be formally cited in support of IBWM, let's look at what you propose: The AcronymFinder site also supports "EONR" as a valid alternative to CERN, or "CDCP" for the CDC. It also seems to rely largely on machine- and/or user-generated content, with little (if any) competent editorial oversight. The Platinum Investment Council one contains such gems as "The kilogram will then be redefined in terms of quantum mechanics using the ‘Planck’ constant, a measure derived from the frequency of a subatomic particle.", and (in the infobox) "The PLANCK CONSTANT is an important quantity in quantum physics that links the amount of energy in a proton[sic] (simple particle) with the frequency of its electromagnetic wave.". It's clear that the author has only a very dim idea about what they are regurgitating (which, to be fair, is arguably not their expected core competence). The Sci-News one (which you listed twice) is more serious, but still manages (like many others) to refer to the base unit of temperature as the "Kelvin" (strangely, next to the correctly non-capitalized "ampere"), and names the inventor of the Kibble balance as "Brian". But surely you wouldn't propose that – based on these "observable facts" – we amend the Kelvin article to say, "The kelvin (also: Kelvin) is the base unit of temperature ...", or the one about Bryan Kibble to lead with, "Bryan (sometimes Brian) Peter Kibble was a British physicist ..."? Why, then, should we pay any attention to their use of IBWM? Hqb (talk) 08:22, 24 January 2020 (UTC)
@Hqb: I'm not sure that WP:VER requires us to measure how widespread the use of an acronym is to include it (we don't do that for "BIPM", for instance), all it requires is that its use is verifiable (which "IBWM" is). And I wasn't providing "best sources", I was showing usage, and the rest of their content is irrelevant. Acronym Finder shows used acronyms, yes - that's what it's for. If those acronyms are in use, then they should, of course, be included - and why not? Symbol mistakes are common in SI usage - especially with their capitalisation (as there's no general rule - some are capitalised and some aren't - so I wouldn't take much notice of how sources do that, we should just stick to the Wikipedia "manual of style" recommendations. As for name spelling errors, if it is a one-off and not repeated in other sources, then, clearly, its use in Wikipedia couldn't be supported, but if it was an alternative nickname - or alternative spelling of a nickname, and commonly used in a variety of sources, then there wouldn't be a problem including it - as with "IBWM" in this case. If you want to see more examples of "IBWM" being used in serious sources over the years, here are some more: [9], [10], [11], [12] and [13] (from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology) and [14] (from the US Department of Defense) and [15] (from NASA). What rational reason is there to omit "IBWM"?-- DeFacto (talk). 20:31, 24 January 2020 (UTC)

It is a viewpoint that such usage is widespread enough to merit inclusion in an encyclopedia as an acceptable alternative abbreviation; and for that viewpoint, per WP's verifiability policy, you absolutely need to provide a reference or two to reliable sources.—This. Exactly this.

@DeFacto: I'm glad we've finally arrived at the crux of your argument, since we can now address the points you're making. If you're not denying the abbreviation has been used, why are you so opposed to listing it in the article? Because it doesn't meet the editorial standards of Wikipedia. I'm frankly surprised that I'm having to explain this: Wikipedia doesn't include any and every kind of usage out there, only the ones which are verifiable by way of multiple reliable sources. Websites which depend on user-generated content (UGC) clearly don't rise to that standard, nor do ones which are deemed to not have good editorial standards. Here's an example: there are many people/publications out there that use "mtr." and "mtrs." as abbeviations for metre(s); this doesn't mean that Wikipedia will suddenly start including these usages because of the mere fact that someone somewhere has used them as such.

Dismissing what's happening in other articles is not an argument, especially when you seem to be an active maintainer of said articles, given that editorial standards are the same across Wikipedia. Furthermore, the SI article is a "good article", so the argument of "incomplete" or "inaccurate" seems weak in the face of that fact. It seems like your logical progression is "If it's being used, it's valid. And if it's valid, it belongs on WP." The point @Hqb and I are making is that steps 2 and 3 of that thinking process are simply not true, at least not always. Getsnoopy (talk) 20:42, 24 January 2020 (UTC)

@Getsnoopy: your arguments do not add up, your apparent understanding of WP:VER would contravene WP:OR. Reliably sourced examples of something being used do not make verifiable the general case that it is used exclusively (that is OR) - for that you need an independent reliable source explicitly saying it is exclusively used. Similarly, a lack of reliably sourced examples of something being used is not the same as an independent reliable source explicitly saying that something isn't used. Now can you tell us what you think we have in the article supporting the inclusion of "BIPM" which is missing for "IBWM"? Or to put it another way, what do you think we need before it is acceptable to include "IBWM" in the article as an acronym/initialism?
Note: that first reference you give showing "Mtrs" as an abbreviation of "metre" is most definitely a reliable source, it was published in the Journal of the Franklin Institute, one of the oldest and most respected of US scientific and technological journals. -- DeFacto (talk). 22:05, 24 January 2020 (UTC)
First, for the record, Symbol mistakes are common in SI usage - especially with their capitalisation (as there's no general rule - some are capitalised and some aren't) is certainly not true: the English names of SI units (whether base or derived) are never capitalized (except at the start of a sentence, etc.), even if they are derived from the name of a person. (We even have a handy template, {{SI unit lowercase}}, saying exactly that.) A purported reliable source violating this basic rule will immediately have its credibility questioned.
Anyway, as has been said repeatedly, the point is not whether IBWM has ever been used at all (it clearly has), but -- as per WP:UNDUE -- whether this usage is sanctioned by a significant minority. (Since we all hopefully agree that it is clearly not a majority view.) And also, "Keep in mind that, in determining proper weight, we consider a viewpoint's prevalence in reliable sources, not its prevalence among Wikipedia editors or the general public." So it's good that your latest batch of hits actually concentrates on presumed-reliable sources from unquestionably reputable organizations. However, since "Wikipedia aims to present competing views in proportion to their representation in reliable sources on the subject", and none of the sources explicitly addresses the relative prevalence of IBWM vs. BIPM, we cannot look at individual hits alone, without considering the whole populations from which they were taken. For instance, restricting to only, a Google search for IBWM gives me only the 6 hits you cited, whereas BIPM finds "about 4600". Likewise, at (and including the search word "bureau" to avoid patently irrelevant hits inside random binary strings), IBWM bureau gives just a single hit (the one you cited), while BIPM bureau locates "about 318". Or, casting a wider net, on Google Scholar, I get "about 173" hits for IBWM bureau vs. "about 17,700" for BIPM bureau. While these numbers are by no means absolute, they do indicate that, even including historical usage, the abbreviation IBWM is used at most about 1% as often as BIPM. (The disparity gets even greater if we only consider publications from this century.) I'd be hard pressed to argue that this is enough to justify explicit mention of IBWM in the infobox at all; but if it is included, then by the above-quoted WP:POLICY, it needs to be explicitly qualified as "(occasionally IBWM)" or similar. Hqb (talk) 09:45, 25 January 2020 (UTC)
@Hqb: just to clarify, I didn't say names can be capitalised, I said (as you quoted) "Symbol mistakes are common in SI usage - especially with their capitalisation (as there's no general rule - some are capitalised and some aren't)" (my emphasis on "symbol"). According to the SI brochure we have "K" for kelvin, "kg" for kilogram, "S" for siemens, "s" for second, "T" for tesla, "t" for tonne, "L" or "l" for litre, etc. I'll try to find time to reply to your other stuff later. -- DeFacto (talk). 10:41, 25 January 2020 (UTC)
PS And the reliability of a source isn't really related to its compliance with a particular grammar style guide, it is more related to its fact checking prowess and its accuracy. -- DeFacto (talk). 17:47, 25 January 2020 (UTC)
@Hqb: you say "the point is not whether IBWM has ever been used at all (it clearly has), but -- as per WP:UNDUE -- whether this usage is sanctioned by a significant minority." Well I, respectfully, disagree with that analysis of the applicability of WP:UNDUE with respect to this. WP:UNDUE is related to the balance of viewpoints put across, when presenting opinions in an article. Here we are not presenting a viewpoint or opinion in the article, here we are presenting a fact about the way the organisation's English name has been abbreviated in English usage. Now, as we all seem to agree that this acronym/initialisation has been used in the literature, the objections to adding it to the article seem to be rooted in the belief that the France-based organisation prefers the use of its French name acronym/initialisation. And that sounds like an invocation of the appeal to authority fallacy in an attempt to remove content that one does not like. Also I think WP:BLUE might hit the mark when it says: "[s]ometimes editors will insist on citations for material simply because they dislike it or prefer some other material, not because the material in any way needs verification." I'm not sure the time we are spending on this is justified, and I propose leaving it there for now. -- DeFacto (talk). 17:47, 25 January 2020 (UTC)
About the capitalization of SI units/names, since you were directly responding to my note about kelvin/Kelvin, I did indeed assume that you meant "names" but just mistyped it as "symbols". Because it is absolutely not the case that miscapitalizing SI symbols is common in actual reliable sources, and any serious scientist would be mortified to have accidentally published an article or report referencing "a 4 KG mass" or "a temperature of 3000 k" – at least unless it was clearly a one-off typo/braino, overwhelmingly outweighed by correct usage in the rest of the document. This is, of course, because miscapitalizing a unit name in running text usually (with the possible exception of "Calorie") does no serious harm to the semantics, whereas using the wrong case in a symbol (or prefix) will often completely alter its meaning. It would be like a chemist accidentally confusing Co and CO. The inviolable rules (not style guidelines) for correctly capitalizing SI prefixes and unit names are quite simple and uniform, with just a few pragmatically justified special cases (e.g., that L is also allowed as an abbreviation for the litre, despite not being derived from a personal name, Claude Litre notwithstanding). A source with persistent case errors in SI symbols (e.g., when reporting in the general press on a scientific development) positively reeks of unreliability (if they got the units wrong, what else did they botch, in much subtler ways?), and can at best be used to help track down the actual scientific publication it is paraphrasing.
Now, for the main matter at hand, are you really arguing that WP:BLUE, clearly labeled as a personal essay (and counterbalanced by WP:NOTBLUE) should somehow trump WP:V and WP:UNDUE, explicit WP policies? It is not that a France-based organisation prefers the use of its French name acronym, but that (as I amply demonstrated) an overwhelming majority of the scientific community, including relevant institutions of the US government, consistently uses BIPM, and finds no reason to invent their own "proper English" initialisms, just like for the previously mentioned examples of UTC, SI, CERN, etc. And I cannot believe you would disparage "appeal to authority" as a valid justification for editorial decisions, when that is arguably the very foundation of Wikipedia; or that insisting on upholding WP policies somehow amounts to WP:IDONTLIKEIT argumentation.
Your proposal of "leaving [your preferred version] there for now", i.e., effectively presenting BIPM and IBWM as two equally appropriate ways to refer to the organization, would be a clear instance of WP:FALSEBALANCE. On the other hand, I actually proposed a genuine compromise (because I contend that <1% prevalence of a viewpoint among reliable sources, especially in the absence of a recognized dispute such as about climate change, does not constitute a "significant" minority, and therefore IBWM should not be explicitly mentioned at all), namely to give the abbreviation in the infobox as "BIPM; (occasionally IBWM)[x][y]" where [x] and [y] reference properly formatted citations (including author, date, publication type etc., not just a naked URL) of two of the previously discussed NIST/NASA sources that you consider the most authoritative. That would actually comply with WP's verifiability and proportionalty policies. If you find it necessary/relevant (despite WP:BLUE), we can of course also add a citation for "BIPM", e.g., to, though this abbreviation is already prominently plastered across all web pages at, and I don't expect anyone would seriously want to challenge it. Hqb (talk) 16:41, 26 January 2020 (UTC)
@Hqb: we have a misunderstanding here; when I said "I propose leaving it there for now", I meant I intended to leave the discussion for now, as it has gone a bit circular. It wasn't a (provocative) proposal to keep the disputed term in the article regardless. Sorry if my choice of words was ambiguous.
And, particularly as we do not even seem to have a common understanding of what the difference between a fact and a viewpoint is, or the meaning of WP:V or WP:UNDUE, or even of whether Wikipedia's content should reflect what happens in the real world or reflect what we think (or what we think certain 3rd parties would prefer) should happen, then that is what I am doing - until or unless I see new arguments that I feel I can comment upon. -- DeFacto (talk). 12:28, 27 January 2020 (UTC)
I think @Hqb has more than sufficiently summarized my sentiments on the matter. I couldn't quite quantify the prevalence of the usage of "IBWM", but it seems like it's abysmally low even among reliable sources. As such, I'm going to change the Infobox to reflect the changes @Hqb proposed so that balance is restored while still acknowledging the (albeit pointless, in my opinion) fact that a trifle of sources used/use "IBWM" as the abbreviation. Getsnoopy (talk) 23:56, 28 January 2020 (UTC)
I think that it would be premature to replace the status quo, as we haven't managed to reach a policy-based consensus yet. We haven't even managed to agree on an interpretation of the policies and how they should be applied to this. Perhaps we need an RfC on this to try and better understand how to resolve it? -- DeFacto (talk). 07:08, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
Why would the WP:UNDUE policy not apply here? Again, quoting: "Wikipedia aims to present competing views in proportion to their representation in reliable sources on the subject.[emphasis theirs] This applies not only to article text but to images, wikilinks, external links, categories, and all other material as well." Surely that also covers which abbreviation(s) to include for an organization in its infobox?
Anyway, I've tagged the use of "IBWM" in the article with a link to this discussion, to hopefully encourage more viewpoints. If that doesn't work, a wider WP:RFC might indeed be appropriate. Hqb (talk) 14:08, 29 January 2020 (UTC)

@Hqb: as you insist on keeping the 'undue weight' tag in the article, more than six months after the discussion on it petered-out, and without reaching a consensus to remove that initialisation, perhaps you could raise an RfC as you mentioned above. -- DeFacto (talk). 08:57, 21 August 2020 (UTC)

Done; see below. Hqb (talk) 14:34, 21 August 2020 (UTC)

Comment: Even though the matter has already been decided and closed, I had just stumbled across this, which answers the question I have asked, in terms of usage on Wikipedia. Unless the Bureau international des poids et mesures uses the initialism itself, using "IBWM" in this article would be inappropriate, for the reasons specified in MOS:Do not invent abbreviations or acronyms. The invention of IBWM seems to originate from some usage on the part of the United States when referring to the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. The organization in question not adopting IBWM as an initialism, signifies that such an initialism is informal (based on local language) and thus inappropriate, no matter who else chooses to use it, according to Wikipedia policy. Repeating the IBWM initialism just because an academic, government, or other body used it at one time, would be in contradiction to this policy.
— Christopher, Sheridan, OR (talk) 10:10, 1 April 2021 (UTC)

DeNoel, we didn't invent that acronym, it came from third-party sources, and that MOS guideline (no, not 'policy') includes use "by independent sources" as a valid reason to use it. So that guideline supports its use rather than gives a good reason not to use it. But, as you say, the dispute has been closed anyway. -- DeFacto (talk). 10:59, 1 April 2021 (UTC)

RfC: Use of "IBWM" as an abbreviation for the International Bureau of Weights and Measures?[edit]

The following discussion is an archived record of a request for comment. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
There is a clear consensus that "IBWM"" should not be used. (non-admin closure) Eggishorn (talk) (contrib) 22:19, 5 February 2021 (UTC)

Should the abbreviation "IBWM" be listed in the organization infobox, alongside the far more common "BIPM"? See the long discussion thread above for arguments from both sides. The main viewpoints seem to be:

  • Yes: it's been used by reliable sources
  • No: it's only used by an insignificant minority of such sources
  • Compromise: include it, but with an explicit caveat, such as "(unofficial)" or "(rare)"

Please comment. If supporting option 3, please also suggest a specific wording or formatting. Thanks, Hqb (talk) 14:33, 21 August 2020 (UTC)

  • No: it's only used by an insignificant minority of such sources. I read a lot about weights and measures, and I've never seen "IBWM" outside this talk page. Jc3s5h (talk) 15:29, 21 August 2020 (UTC)
  • No: the alternate abbreviation is either unsupported or poorly supported by reliable sources. Jojalozzo (talk) 16:37, 22 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Yes. Sure it's used less often now than it used to be, but that doesn't mean it's any less valid to add it. It was commonly used in NIST and US government documents until recently, and is often used in scientific publications, written in English, by people whose first language isn't English. Here are a few reliable sources which use this initialism...
In books: International Organisations and Global Problems, Computational Science and Its Applications, Animal Nutrition, Subsea Engineering Handbook.
On the web: a letter from the Director of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures itself, to the European Atomic Energy Community,US Foreign Affairs Manual list of acronyms, US Congressional Budget document, US DoD metric standards guide, US General Accounting Office report, US Department of State directory, US Raioactivity Calibration Standards, US Systems of Electrical Units.
-- DeFacto (talk). 13:56, 24 August 2020 (UTC)
    • No, I've had second thoughts about it being in the infobox, and agree now that - as it is no longer a fashionable initialisation for the organisation - it should not be there. The redirect can be integrated to cover the historic use of that term. -- DeFacto (talk). 09:35, 5 February 2021 (UTC)
  • No: Not only is it used by a trivial minority of sources, but many of them have abandoned using it in subsequent publications since the publication of the ones where they used "IBWM". Getsnoopy (talk) 23:06, 25 August 2020 (UTC)
  • No: Per other editors above, the sources in which they're used appear to be both the significant minority and fairly outdated. The strongest we can say about it is "sometimes formerly called IBWM", which is far too tenuous to belong in the lede of such a small article, much less the infobox. For the fact that it was sometimes formerly called IBWM to even belong in the article, an editor would need to show the notability of that fact - the fact that it was sometimes used just doesn't seem notable to me. Remember that wikipedia uses secondary sources. I think all of the links I saw in support of this (though I didn't look at all of them) are primary sources simply using (or misusing) the term. Arathald (talk) 08:24, 26 August 2020 (UTC)
@Arathald: I'm not sure which of the random samples of sources I offered you think are 'primary'. Please clarify. And can you confirm whether you have searched for secondary sources, including books and academic papers, to check how prevalent the initialisation is amongst them. -- DeFacto (talk). 09:07, 26 August 2020 (UTC)
@DeFacto: First of all, it's not my job to research sources for your RFC. If you think there's better evidence out there, show it. Second of all, please familiarize yourself with the guidelines for RFCs, in particular that your question should be presented neutrally (WP:RFCNEUTRAL). Third, I suppose I was more saying why I found the "compromise" choice unacceptable, since it gets too close too WP:OR for my comfort. Simply adding it with no comment would be misleading at best, and that's a nonstarter. Lastly, given the comments by User:Martinvl on wikidata which invalidate the letter (and this is why we don't rely on primary sources), the rest appear likely to be mistranslations or misuses, so I have to change my position to Strong No. Arathald (talk) 06:51, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
@DeFacto: My apologies on the second point, I misremembered who opened the discussion. I've stricken that out, and the rest of my comment stands as written. Arathald (talk) 07:17, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
Arathald, doesn't that same mistake apply to the first two sentences too? -- DeFacto (talk). 09:11, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
@DeFacto:I corrected myself about you being the RFC author. The rest of the point still stands - you are the only editor advocating for this position, so it's on you to provide sources, not on RfC respondents. Arathald (talk) 11:26, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
Arathald, firstly, it's not my RfC; secondly, if you think the wording of the RfC isn't neutral why don't you raise that with filer? Thirdly, you were commenting on sources in which they appear, so I wondered how thoroughly you searched for them, and whether you found any - you didn't say. Fourthly, you didn't say which of the ones I found you thought were primary - but you did say you hadn't looked at them all! Fifthly, it's due weight, not notabilty, that it needs to be included, and whether it gets that weight from translated documents or native language documents doesn't matter one jot. And there are no 'mistranslations' - the initialism matches the correct English name for the organisation, not a mistranslation of it. And if you think it was 'misused', it'd help if you explained how, and by whom. -- DeFacto (talk). 09:09, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
@DeFacto: I sampled the documents, but as many are from the NIST I didn't need to read all of them to understand that they're primary sources for the claim that IBWM is a commonly used name. If you want to lean on WP:DUE your case is even worse, as pointed out by other editors. Whether the documents are original or translated is of vital importance if they're not official translations, and I think it's pretty clear that the use of an unstandard, uncommon initialism for an organization with a different well-accepted abbreviation is a misuse. The only thing you've shown is that occasionally people aren't aware of the proper abbreviation. The comparison in the previous discussion to SI units is extremely apt. Finding a very few sources that use something as nonstandard as 'mtr' and using it to claim that 'mtr' should be included in Meter is both WP:UNDUE and WP:OR. Arathald (talk) 11:26, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • No, as there is lack of RS if any, that supports using the abbreviation. Idealigic (talk) 20:22, 26 August 2020 (UTC)
    Idealigic, what's wrong with the RS samples I provided above? -- DeFacto (talk). 20:31, 26 August 2020 (UTC)
    DeFacto,The RS samples you provided seem to be outdated. Idealigic (talk) 09:31, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
    Idealigic, outdated? At what age do reliable sources become outdated then? Let me list that random sample again, with more details, including publication year.
    • Susan Park (2018). International Organisations and Global Problems: Theories and Explanations. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781108577595.
    • Sanjay Misra; et al. (2019). Computational Science and Its Applications – ICCSA 2019. Springer. ISBN 9783030243050.
    • Guoyao Wu (2017). Principles of Animal Nutrition. CRC Press. ISBN 9781351646376.
    • Yong Bai, Qiang Bai (2018). Subsea Engineering Handbook. Gulf Professional Publishing. ISBN 9780128126233.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
    • "Exchange of Letters between the Commission and the International Bureau of Weights and Measures". 1965.
    • "5 FAH-3 H-300 ORGANIZATION ACRONYMS". U.S. Department of State. 2018.
    • "Congressional Budget Justification" (PDF). U.S. Department of State. 2016.
    • "Report to the Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate" (PDF). U.S. Government Accountability Office. 1997.
    • "International Organizations: Contact Information". U.S. Department of State. 2007.
    • "Radioactivity Calibration Standards" (PDF). NIST. 1975.
    • "Systems Of Electrical Units" (PDF). NIST. 1963.
    Which of those are too old be be considered as reliable sources? -- DeFacto (talk). 17:30, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • No: it's only used by an insignificant minority of such sources -- The Anome (talk) 11:31, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Question: As I have been asked to close this discussion, I am abstaining from voting. However, I would like to mention that the official body name is Bureau international des poids et mesures, which is an international organization that officially uses BIPM in both French and English translations (per their website and PDF publications). Any country would have their own translations of the title, and may choose to use an initialism of their own language. The question that I have not seen asked is... does the BIPM themselves use another initialism in an official capacity? — Christopher, Sheridan, OR (talk) 03:44, 4 February 2021 (UTC)
    DeNoel, I don't know if they use it themselves, but I do know that it's use was widespread in the English-speaking world, especially in the US scientific world, until quite recently. This is reflected by the fact that there is an entry for it in The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations; from the publishers of Oxford English Dictionary, the definitive record of the English language.[16] -- DeFacto (talk). 07:48, 4 February 2021 (UTC)
Can we please not restart this pointless discussion? That "definitive" dictionary also includes CUT for Coordinated Universal Time, "mtr" for meter, and who knows what else. (With "over 100,000 abbreviations and acronyms", I doubt it has seen much, if any, human editorial oversight.) I think the RfC resuts were quite conclusive. Hqb (talk) 09:12, 4 February 2021 (UTC)
Hqb, sure, the dictionary includes abbreviations and initialisations that have been in common usage in English, and as this is one of those, there is a reasonable chance that someone might turn to Wikipedia to find what it is. Why pretend it never happened? -- DeFacto (talk). 09:20, 4 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Redirect. It's already a redirect; nothing more than that is needed. Jc3s5h (talk) 09:59, 4 February 2021 (UTC)
    Jc3s5h, yes, and readers clicking it will expect to see it mentioned somewhere in the article (usually at the start of the lead in bold) to confirm that it's the article they were looking for. Many, if not most, articles list synonyms and alternate names, whether current or historical, in the lead. What WP policy-based argument supports the notion that we should not confirm that that initialisation has appeared in the literature? -- DeFacto (talk). 10:11, 4 February 2021 (UTC)
    Jc3s5h, thinking about it again, I agree with. We can remove it from the infobox as we can cover it using the redirect, so I have changed my response accordingly. -- DeFacto (talk). 09:44, 5 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Clear consensus: In reviewing the arguments. I feel that a clear consensus has been reached, and that no significant reason has been given for this discussion to remain open; I will verify this by revisiting this RfC in 7 days (12 February 2020) to see if anything significant has been added. I have also left a request for an uninvolved administrator to review this section, and the section above. — Christopher, Sheridan, OR (talk) 19:30, 4 February 2021 (UTC)
    • @DeNoel: I've changed my mind about its appearance in the infobox, as we can cover its historical use by integrating the redirect. I think that makes it a clear and unanimous consensus now, so that should make the job of closing it easier. -- DeFacto (talk). 09:39, 5 February 2021 (UTC)
The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.