How (not) to structure and phrase biograpical articles[fontem recensere]
The first sentence of a biographical article should be a succinct summary, needing only the person's (1) name, (2) years (or century), and (3) claim to fame. All the temporal information that's needed in the first line is the plain years in parentheses, e.g. "(1876–1954)." The details – including the exact dates and places of birth and death – should be added into the later section(s). (For some people, a short "Vita" – or "De vita" or "Biographia" – section will suffice; for others, the "Vita" section will break down into many subsections or new sections.).
Rationale: If a short biographical article is expected to grow (as 99.99% of them are), it should be structured ab initio to ease that growth. Putting full dates & places of birth & death in the first line will inconvenience later editors, who'll be obliged to spend extra effort removing full dates & places from the first line, often rewording them, and always putting them elsewhere. To organize the information in biographical stubs as if they were complete articles (which is what many writers have been doing) may give them the illusion of elegance, but it places a barrier in the way of writers who want to expand them.
Articles about persons should be put in categories so as to indicate:
- the profession of the person (or the activity that made him/her notable), e. g. Categoria:Politici and
- the nationality (or place of relevant activity), e. g. Categoria:Incolae Norvegiae, Categoria:Romani antiqui.
(These two pieces of information – profession and country – may be indicated using a "combined category", where such a category exists, e. g. Categoria:Reges Franciae.)
- the dates of birth and death, if these are known with reasonable certainty. These can always be added whether or not they result in bluelinks. For dates A.D. the format is [[Categoria:Nati 1215]] and [[Categoria:Mortui 1299]]; for dates B.C. the format is [[Categoria:Nati 434 a.C.n.]] and [[Categoria:Mortui 360 a.C.n.]].