Proposal:Insist on metric units

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Summary

I would like to propose that Wikimedia projects foster their own metrication process--insisting that all units be expressed in the metric system, only allowing non-metric units to be used (in addition to metric ones) in places such as pages detailing non-metric systems or their conversion, quotations, etc.

Proposal

Require that all units of measure, except in a few cases such as within quotations, articles discussing prior systems of measurement, etc., be expressed within metric units (and ideally ONLY within metric units, and if not, always by default in metric).

Motivation

We are in an international setting here (including with English pages), and as Wikimedia has boldly done in taking such principled measures as insisting on open standards such as Ogg-Theora, bringing them into prominence and wider adoption as a result, or making the main web domain of Wikimedia content sites be language splash pages rather than the (at-least-as-yet-not-globally-official-or-universal English) and insisting that articles from a limited national perspective be labeled as such, I believe a similarly standards-based policy should also be adopted to insist that measurement units should be unbiased (and not extraneous) in using the system adopted and implemented by virtually every country in the world and accessible to the large majority of people on the planet.

While some might agree with requiring metric while seeking to continue to allow expression in non-metric units (e.g., by allowing expression in British Imperial Units as still used in the United States alongside the metric), I do not feel this extraneous information conduces well to a spirit of following well-adopted international standards, and besides delaying fuller understanding of the real standard and its benefits for non-adopter(s), it also adds an unfair burden here on those not familiar with non-standard (non-metric) units for accuracy verification, upkeep work (e.g., updating multiple units), conversion, etc.

It cannot be argued that British units are inherently tied to the English locale, since all other English-speaking countries besides the United States and Liberia use metric (one could more readily argue that with the other holdout being Burma, Burmese pages could keep Burmese units, though even here, this would still be flying in the face of nearly universal international standards).

As a welcome side effect, I believe, given Wikipedia's prominence and value to the world, the existence of such a firm and principled policy would also have the potential to prompt those countries lagging behind in metrication to appreciate the immediate social, practical, educational, scientific and economic benefits for themselves as well as the rest of the world of following units which can be readily understood and used anywhere.

Key Questions

Can metric units be required in virtually all cases (except of course within quotations, articles discussing prior systems of measurement, etc.)?

If there are too many votes against exclusively using metric (though I strongly feel metric should be used exclusively and that is the thrust of this proposal), can there at least be a requirement that if other units are used, metric must be used as the default as well (and with non-metric only as an optional conversion target)?

Potential Costs

Effort would be needed (though it could be done over time) to make conversions to metric only (and away from non-metric units) or to add templates to indicate that conversions must be made. If the weaker form of the proposal were accepted (to allow conversions)--or if there were a desire for the sake of the Data Web to make use of templates--there would also be a need to add templates expressed in metric (but which can be auto-converted).

References


Community Discussion

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