Forums: Index > The Wizengamot > Magical abilities and skills redux

Given some of the recent discussions and edits, I'd like to use a bit of Necromancy on this topic and see if we can come to an agreement on the terms and formatting used for the "Magical abilities and skills" section. This information could then be used to update the Harry Potter Wiki:Layout guide to help provide guidance for future editors.

To start, if you look at the older version of most major character articles like Bellatrix Lestrange (2013) or Minerva_McGonagall (2012) you'll see the convention has been to use bolded, Sentence case (first letter capitalized) entries for each ability or skills such as: Underage magic and Teaching skills, while specific spells and such use the corresponding Title Case, such as Unbreakable Vow and Study of Ancient Runes. This format matches the Sentence case used for all sections through out the article ("Behind the scenes", "See also", etc) and follows the canonical use of Title Case for known spells, classes, and concepts.

However, this is just the convention that has been used in the past and there may be ways to improve it. Recently some editors have favored the use of Title Case for these entries as well as new wording such as Magical Mastery instead of Magical aptitude. As such, there is now a mix of terms being used for the same skill or ability in various articles. As Rodolphus noted (way back before dinosaurs roamed the wiki ;) it would be useful to find a standard set of terms that can be used consistently. Thoughts everyone? --Ironyak1 (talk) 15:05, June 29, 2020 (UTC)

Let me add, can we please not continue to edit these entries for the articles in question until some agreement is reached? They've been out of sync in terminology for some time so a little longer isn't going to hurt anything and I don't really want to try and protect every major character article we have to prevent edit-warring. Thanks --Ironyak1 (talk) 15:16, June 29, 2020 (UTC)

Hey there, everyone. Firstly, I think that employing Title Case rather than Sentence Case for the Magical abilities and skills section renders the article very aesthetically appealing; I can certainly attest to that and I'm sure many of you would. Most new editors will default to this type of capitalisation due to it being the most common format among most other major wikis and we aren't talking about body paragraphs or normal sentences, but rather a short phrase/two words meant to act as a sort of header. If we want to be grammatical about things, we could also say words in the Magical abilities and skills section don't need to be bolded because they're just nouns. We bold them due to a stylistic choice to set them apart from the rest of the text. Capitalising the words is also done for the same reason. In addition, the usage of the phrase Magical Mastery rather than Magical Aptitude is because the former is used for characters who are rather more magically powerful than most witches and wizards, and it does not mean that that those characters have mastered every branch of magic. Magical Aptitude is for those who are very powerful, but have not yet attained Mastery, characters like Hermione Granger, Jacob's sibling, Merula Snyde, Dedalus Diggle and Credence Barebone. This has been the standard protocol of the way things operate here for some time now, so do you guys see any real reason why we have to change everything? Mite-Man16 (talk) 15:53, June 29, 2020 (UTC)

Personally, I#ve always found the wording "mastery" to be a bit problematic. And personally, I haven't used it a lot if I remeber correctly. We are never told when exactly a person is considered masterful. I seem to remember times when a person was considered skilled because they were made minister or headmaster. Minster, for example, is an elected position and while the headmaster is responsible for the school, we're not told that they couldn't task another trustworthy person with casting the spells. Another example may be Newt, who is described as masterful on his article. I seem to remember JKR saying that Newt was not a really great wizard when talking about the suitcase, but I can't find the interview right now.--Rodolphus (talk) 16:07, June 29, 2020 (UTC)

Indeed, the sections' headers are in bold due to a stylistic choice to set them apart from the rest of the text. It isn't necessary to capitalise the first letter of every single word in the header, because the fact that they are in bold suffices to make the headers stand out.
If you look at an article's table of contents, say that of Lord Voldemort's article, for example, you'll notice of the section titles that the only words whose first letters are capitalised are either proper nouns, or article titles that are capitalised in this way. Magical abilities and skills itself, for example, doesn't have every word capitalised. I don't see why the headers within the abilities and skills sections - headers that are lesser than the uncapitalised article section titles - should have more stylisation than the section titles. I don't think it makes a difference to the sections' aesthetic appeal either way.
Care of Magical Creatures, for example, is the name of a Hogwarts lesson, which is why it is capitalised in that way. 'Elemental magic affinity', for example, isn't a lesson, or anything formal like that, so things like that should be in sentence case, so there is an instant, easy differentiation between informal, unique skills (e.g. leadership skills, acting skills, elemental magic affinity), and abilities in actual formally named magical subjects and fields (e.g. Care of Magical Creatures, Defence Against the Dark Arts, History of Magic, Muggle Studies). -  MrSiriusBlack  Talk  16:38, June 29, 2020 (UTC)
100% behind the need to do something about this. I agree that using title case makes absolutely no sense, and it reads like we're making up concepts when these are nowhere to be seen in canon (the most prevalent of which are things like "Magical Mastery", "Indomitable Willpower", or "Elemental Magic Mastery").
The "Magical abilities and skills" sections of most articles have become filled with fanciful interpretation, assumptions, and at points sometimes frankly silly induction. There are numerous examples: Porpentina Goldstein has "indomitable willpower" because she was able to "[persist] with her job at the MACUSA after being demoted"; Aberforth Dumbledore was possibly a Legilimens because "he had the same piercing look as his brother"; Patricia Rakepick shows remarkable proficiency in Herbology becuase "she was able to identify gillyweed with a mere glance" (is it especially hard to do?); Sirius Black shows remarkable "Intellectual Keenness" because he "deduced that Pettigrew was at Hogwarts with Harry when he saw a photograph of the Weasley family with Pettigrew". And these I picked up over a cursory glance at just some articles. --  Seth Cooper  owl post! 16:49, June 29, 2020 (UTC)

I think using terms such as "Magical Mastery" is good for wizards and witches who are shown to be very powerful and accomplished in numerous fields, say with Tom Riddle and Albus Dumbledore. I think it helps to acknowledge how powerful these characters are in their magic. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by RedWizard98 (talkcontribs).

As 'Magical Mastery' or as 'Magical mastery'? That is the question. -  MrSiriusBlack  Talk  17:48, June 29, 2020 (UTC)

I think that terms like masterful etc should only be used in the article uf they are directly used in canon- --Rodolphus (talk) 17:58, June 29, 2020 (UTC)

I agree with Rodolphus on sticking to terms from canon so as to avoid some of the creative speculation seen in the articles currently with the terms and their possible meanings. Cheers --Ironyak1 (talk) 18:23, June 29, 2020 (UTC)
I agree with Rodolphus too. It feels like too big a statement if it hasn't been used in canon. Using words like "aptitude" sounds better because it simply tells us they have shown skills in something. If the text doesn't say they were somewhat invincible in a specific field, or achieved something at the highest standards in the wizarding world, why should we use words to that effect? If their shown to be powerful, we could just indicate that in "Magical aptitude" anyway.
I don't think it's necessary that every word be capitalised. It's a stylistic preference, rather than something the English language tells us we should do. But I personally don't think capitalisation helps these words to stand out better when it's in bold anyway. I agree with Seth that these sections have gotten very subjective, and we definitely need something in the policy that clearly states what should be detailed in the section. - Kates39 (talk) 20:03, June 29, 2020 (UTC)
Just to follow on what Kates39 said about stylistic preference and what MrSiriusBlack said earlier, I also do like how using Sentence case by default allows for easily distinguishing between informal terms like "Magical aptitude" and formal canon terms like "Dark Arts". As a note on "Magical aptitude" specifically, the term aptitude is in the canon texts about half-a-dozen times, such as for the Wizards' Ordinary Magic and Basic Aptitude Test, whereas I did not a single use of the term Mastery. Someone else with the eBooks can of course double check this if they like. Cheers --Ironyak1 (talk) 20:28, June 29, 2020 (UTC)
Wait, wait, wait. Hold on. Since when exactly was it decreed that the wording of the magical abilities and skills must come straight from the books? Where did that even come from? Not all the magical abilities and skills potrayed in the books and films come under a designated name, so there is nothing wrong with coming up with a specific name for that magical ability or skill that has not been properly named in the books or films, which can be used generally in pages pertaining to it. It's like saying all the unidentified spells from the books and films should be removed because they weren't specifically named in canon material. Like... what?
Also, if I may recount, I used to just look at articles as a reader for about 2 years before I officially joined the wiki as an editor. During my time as a reader, I can attest that Title Cased magical abilities and skills like Magical Mastery and Indomitable Willpower were very visually appealing to me. They stood out and could easily grab my attention, making it more easier to read through the ability's associated (usually long) paragraph. As such, most new editors will default to this type of capitalisation due to it being the most common format among most other major wikis. Since I only recently joined this wiki around February 2020, thus retaining more experience as a reader than most of you on this forum (I believe), I'm telling you all now: adhering to the layout we are currently employing for the Magical abilities and skills section is more appealing and captivating than the dullness and lackluster feeling that I assure you will arise from using mere Sentence Case for that particular section.
Moreover, @MrSiriusBlack, there is no need to differentiate between the lessons noted in the Magical abilities and skills section, like Defence Against the Dark Arts, Care of Magical Creatures, etc, and the unique skills pertaining to each character, like Leadership Skills, Teaching Skills, Intellectual Genius, etc, for the sake of clarity, as you seem to be implying. What is there to clarify? Virtually everyone in this wiki knows the most basic Harry Potter lore, which includes the names of the lessons and what they are, so how could one, when reading through the section in question in an article, somehow mistaken Teaching Skills for a Hogwarts lesson like History of Magic. That is just downright ludicrous. So, to that end, I don't really see the point in the need to use Title Case for the Hogwarts lessons and Sentence Case for the unique abilities in the interest of "differentiation" when there is nothing to differentiate, as the aforementioned knowledge is the most basic Harry Potter lore.
Furthermore, over time, the phrases Magical Mastery and Magical Aptitude have been sorted into some sort of totem pole, namely that the former is used for those witches or wizards with very great skill while the latter is for those just below the aforementioned class of wizards. I must stress the fact that Magical Mastery does not mean that those characters have mastered every branch of magic, it just describes those individuals who are rather more magically powerful than most. Magical Aptitude is for those who are very powerful, but have not yet attained Mastery. These two phrases better delineate the power levels of various particularly exceptional witches and wizards, instead of just denoting all of them under the phrase Magical aptitude which fails to adequately distinguish between those who are very, very powerful, i.e. have Magical Mastery (Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape, Lord Voldemort, Minerva McGonagall, Gellert Grindelwald, Porpentina Goldstein, Newton Scamander, etc) and those are just very powerful, i.e. Magical Aptitude (Hermione Granger, Jacob's sibling, Merula Snyde, Dedalus Diggle, Mafalda, Credence Barebone). Mite-Man16 (talk) 00:11, June 30, 2020 (UTC)
The headers would still be in bold. They would still stand out. They would still be eye-catching. The use of title case is pointless and unnecessary, and just looks wrong. -  MrSiriusBlack  Talk  01:20, June 30, 2020 (UTC)

I for one don't find the usage of "Magical Mastery" and "Magical Aptitude" to be problematic at all. By my understanding, "magical mastery" simply means that the witch or wizard in question is rich in learning and experience, and have distinguished themselves by being demonstrably skillful in a variety of magical disciplines, whereas those of "magical aptitude" had displayed great promise and potential, but are still too young and inexperienced to have lived up to their full potential yet, or otherwise distinguished themselves academically, having done well in both theoretical and practical aspects of their schoolwork, but still have yet to show any exceptional ability in a "real life" situation, such as I am certain we can agree to be the case with Percy Weasley. Also, Rodolphus, if memory serves, a fan asked Rowling why Newt's suitcase didn't have a specific feature, and she said that it would take a witch or wizard of an ability that far exceeded that of Newt Scamander to pull off. Tfoc (talk) 07:28, June 30, 2020 (UTC)

The trouble with making up terms is that there is no basis in canon to measure them against. Where in canon is Magical Mastery defined and shown so that there are examples to go by and compare to? If we assume Dumbledore has Magical Mastery, then what about Snape, or McGonagall, or Kingsley, or Tonks, etc... Where exactly is the Mastery line drawn and where is this defined in canon? As opposed to "Magical aptitude" where it is clearer who is near the the high end (e.g. Dumbledore) and low end (e.g. Lockhart) and varying degrees throughout the middle, but there is no attempt at a making up some bright line where an individual can somehow be considered to have obtained Mastery.
As for other wikis using Title Case for similar Abilities sections, the ones I looked at such as Marvel - Tony Stark use Title Case also in their Section Titles so the "Powers and Abilities" such as "Skilled Marksman" are simply being consistent with their formatting. As all the Section titles here are in Sentence case per the Harry Potter Wiki:Layout guide policy, the "Magical abilities and skills" enumerated should be as well by default in the same interest of consistency. Cheers --Ironyak1 (talk) 08:01, June 30, 2020 (UTC)

It's not as much a matter of "making up terms" as it is a matter of adding descriptors to give the reader of the article an idea of the extent of the character's abilities. That said, perhaps an argument could be made for the practicality of reaching a consensus for whatever criteria there would be for a character page to include magical aptitude/mastery? Tfoc (talk) 08:27, June 30, 2020 (UTC)

These descriptors could very easily be added in the first line after the header. For example: "Magical aptitude: Dumbledore was an exceptionally powerful and masterful Wizard, and"...etc etc the paragraph continues. And anyway, no-one is going to look at Albus Dumbledore's page, see that it says 'Magical aptitude' instead of 'mastery', and think 'oh, that means Dumbledore is inexperienced'. No. Headers don't have to be quite so specific. That's why they are headers. So you are drawn to read the paragraph to get more information.
And the point Ironyak was making is that we don't know the threshold where 'aptitude' ends and 'mastery' begins. The level of skill and/or ability a wizard or witch has to pass in order for their article to say 'mastery' in that header has not been defined in canon. It's dubious. We can't use our own definitions, because we're not J. K. Rowling. Thus 'aptitude' is best for all articles, because it gets rid of that issue. 'Magical aptitude' just means magical skill. The header just demarcates what the paragraph is about, and then the paragraph itself can expand upon the article subject's skill level. -  MrSiriusBlack  Talk  10:06, June 30, 2020 (UTC)
I think it's important that we have conformity across every article, which we encourage in the Layout Policy. Our main and sub-headings are in Sentence case too. "Magical aptitude" works for every character. In the proceeding paragraph, we can put if a specific character has shown any higher standard of skill. But like Ironyak says, at what point do we consider a character to have done that by the standards of the wizarding world? That's why we need to be thoughtful about what words we use, and try to limit subjectivity.
I don't think Newt and Tina have shown the kind of skill Dumbledore and Grindelwald have. I find it a very bold statement. If anything, Rowling has stated they don't by downplaying their skills in interviews. So, that's one case of being subjective and using a word Rowling hasn't and possibly wouldn't. And I know plenty of wikis who use Sentence case too. - Kates39 (talk) 11:22, June 30, 2020 (UTC)
As Tfoc so succinctly explained, Magical Mastery describes those who are rich in magical learning and experience, and have distinguished themselves by being demonstrably skillful in a variety of magical disciplines. Magical Aptitude delineates those who display great promise and potential, but are still too young and inexperienced to have lived up to their full potential yet, or they have distinguished themselves academically, having done well in both theoretical and practical aspects of their schoolwork, but still have yet to show any exceptional ability in a "real life" situation.
In response to the issue presented by Ironyak1 and MrSiriusBlack, namely that there is seemingly no threshold where 'aptitude' ends and 'mastery' begins, that the level of magical ability and/or skill a wizard or witch has to pass in order for their article to say 'mastery' remains dubious, then answer me this: how does the MCU Wiki so effortlessly accomplish that? How do editors readily know how to distinguish somone as a master, expert or just skilled at a particular ability? All their articles are able to precisely classify their characters' level of expertise or flair in a skill, and the reason is because once they had denoted a more prominent movie character (after intensive observation of a showcasing of their skills, of course) a particular classification, then they would be able to compare other characters against them in order to decide their level of skill. Likewise, who is arguably the most powerful wizard in the Wizarding World? Albus Dumbledore! He is so frequently commended and praised for his magical power that it stands to reason that he has Magical Mastery which again, does not imply him as having mastered every branch of magic, but that he, of all the known characters, has the most prominently demomstrated consummate skill in magic. How did we then distinguish Lord Voldemort and Gellert Grindelwald as likewise possessing Magical Mastery? Obviously because they have both been frequently touted as being the closest individuals to matching him in power and skill, and, along with the incredible, idiosyncratic and nigh-impossible displays of magical power from Voldemort and Grindelwald, it is laughably apparent that they too have Magical Mastery. Continuing on, the same can be said for Minerva McGonagall, who stalemated Voldemort along with Horace Slughorn and Kingsley Shacklebolt, and Severus Snape as well, who proved equal to McGonagall during his brief duel with her and is also possessed of phenomenal Potions skill, the likes of which far surpassed Hermione Granger, who is an 'Outstanding'-level student in that particular magical subject. Newton Scamander was able to not only challenge the fearsome Grindelwald on numerous occassions, but even survive those encounters, along with Newt's ability to fight and tame the most dangerous beasts in the world, many of them XXXXX classified, solidifies Newt's power level as Magical Mastery. But the articles for Newt, Porpentina Goldstein, Theseus Scamander and Yusuf Kama also show that these characters are at the lower spectrum of Magical Mastery, as it required all 4 of them to successfully contain and dissipate Grindelwald's incredibly destructive black fire while the articles for Dumbledore, Voldemort and Grindelwald indicate that the three are at the higher spectrum of Magical Mastery. The justifications for all these Magical Mastery designations are elaborated in detail in the characters' respective abilities, which you would do well to read over.
That being said, I do think that certain characters from the Order of the Phoenix, like Benjy Fenwick and Hestia Jones, whom we've never seen much of in either the books or the films, should be labelled as having Magical Aptitude rather than mastery, as, in their special case, aptitude has a wider range of connotations so it more easily covers examples of poor aptitude, since their other areas of magic, which they could possibly be weak at, hasn't been adequately showcased, as the aforementioned two are essentially just background characters. Mite-Man16 (talk) 11:54, June 30, 2020 (UTC)
The word 'aptitude' does not specifically delineate magical ability that is not masterful, that is just a definition that you have made up. Magical aptitude literally means magical skill in general, of all kinds. Aptitude can be poor or masterful, and the contents of the paragraph would elaborate on that, the header does not need to.
And again, you are talking about a 'spectrum of magical mastery' that has never been defined in canon. We do not get to make up definitions like that, our canon policies are pretty clear. It does not matter in the slightest how the MCU Wiki does it, because they could easily have a different policy, and it is a statement of the obvious that their policy is entirely irrelevant to this wiki. If you are so determined to have it say 'Magical mastery' on the pages of Dumbledore, Voldemort, etc, then by your logic the entire magical abilities and skills section should be renamed 'Magical mastery', because 'Magical abilities and skills' and 'Magical aptitude' mean the exact same thing. -  MrSiriusBlack  Talk  13:14, June 30, 2020 (UTC)

I also have another suggestion to add to the mix. I posit that the 'magical abilities and skills' sections should be renamed simply 'abilities and skills', because there are several skills listed in these sections (such as acting skills, poetic skills, love, intellectual giftedness/keenness, indomitable willpower) that don't actually necessarily require the use of magic at all. -  MrSiriusBlack  Talk  13:14, June 30, 2020 (UTC)

I don't see why we'd do that. It's "Magical abilites and skills", not "magical abilities and magical skills", keeping it the way it is, is sort of all-encompassing, since it accounts for magical and non-magical skills alike. Tfoc (talk) 13:31, June 30, 2020 (UTC)​​​​​​​

'Magical abilities and skills' does mean 'magical abilities and magical skills', but it is wholly unnecessary to write 'magical' twice. If it meant 'magical abilities and non-magical skills', it would be written as 'skills and magical abilities'. -  MrSiriusBlack  Talk  13:37, June 30, 2020 (UTC)
While I agree that the parallel structure of "Magical abilities and skills" makes it tricky to interpret, I would suggest we save the discussion on potentially renaming it for the moment. It feels like we have plenty to chew on and sort out already.
I was hoping our use of Sentence case made us somewhat eccentric in the wiki realm, the Lovegoods up over the hill from everyone, but I'd be interested in hearing of some of our neighbor wikis Kates39 that share similar sensibilities. I'm still holding out for at least being quirky like the Weasleys.
I agree with MrSiriusBlack that we don't have a definition or even a mention in canon for "Magical Mastery" so using it as a term and trying to apply it to various characters adds a large layer of user conjecture and speculation to the articles. "Magical aptitude" as a header allows for discussing the full range of high and low aptitude, as well as specific talents such as Harry's "aptitude at resisting the Imperius Curse" (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 24 (Sectumsempra)).
However, in order to avoid getting caught up on this one term I think it's worthwhile to examine the other abilities and skills terms commonly used and see if a general approach can be considered.
There seems to be little contention over commonly used and known concepts such as: Dark Arts, Care of Magical Creatures, Flight, Apparition, and so forth. Given these are well understood terms that link to articles, it seems these are, and would remain, the most clear, consistent, and preferred.
Then there are some non-canon, but I'd suggest rather straight forward, terms such as: Teaching skills, Magical Law expertise, and Baking. I would suggest that allowing for non-magical skills makes sense so the section can be used on articles for Non-magic people when the skill is particularly noteworthy. That way Jacob Kowalski's talents for Baking may be noted and and better appreciated, but his lack of Magical Law expertise would not need to be discussed.
Lastly there are the non-canon and more vague and contentious terms such as: Indomitable Willpower, Elemental Magic Mastery, Intimidation Master, etc. These probably need more discussion to figure out what they mean in the context of canon and how to handle them. Cheers --Ironyak1 (talk) 14:27, June 30, 2020 (UTC)
Well, if a vote is happening, let me know, mine would be for the same old bolded Sentence case. In short, imho Title Case would/could just confuse people into thinking that those are some canon term when they aren't (as of now, that we know of.) --Sammm✦✧(talk) 07:49, July 1, 2020 (UTC)

Observing Mite-Man's latest edits, he also seems to be on the side of sentence case now, so I think we're all in agreement, and this forum matter can be put to bed? -  MrSiriusBlack  Talk  11:14, July 3, 2020 (UTC)

I would suggest we continue so we can sort through the last set of non-canon terms like Indomitable Willpower to figure out what they mean exactly and if they should be used or how best to do so. As we seem to have some interest in this topic I think we can make progress there as well. Cheers --Ironyak1 (talk) 06:03, July 4, 2020 (UTC)
I'm confused about what Indomitable Willpower was supposed to be about, thus I copied and searched it on HPW, the first result was Rodolphus Lestrange so I read the part, and I'm not even sure if what's written is better than speculation; does anyone who, after being broken out of Azkaban, hasn't been explicitly declared as insane, automatically deserve to be described as having "Indomitable Willpower"? Like, what did Rodolphus do? It's not like we know him terribly well before or after he went to Azkaban? Or is there some subplot I just totally missed? (Not ruling this one out, feel free to enlighten me =D) --Sammm✦✧(talk) 09:44, July 4, 2020 (UTC)
Hey Sam, it's been a very long time! I too feel confused about the words "Indomitable Willpower". How do we determine what characters have an "invincible" willpower? Shouldn't we factor in any weaknesses which could break their willpower? It just feels like a very strong statement / heading. Even Dumbledore had weaknesses (e.g. Ariana), which affected his willpower (e.g. temptation towards Horcruxes).
And I don't think Rodolphus not being specifically described to be "insane" = a sort of invincible willpower. We know very little about Rodolphus to even begin to understand what he would and wouldn't be capable of doing. I think the words being a heading just feels too confusing and speculative. - Kates39 (talk) 09:58, July 4, 2020 (UTC)
Seems to be another example of headers with skill-level-specific headers, instead of general headers named after the type of skill in general. Indeed the whole indomitable willpower thing is nonsensical in most articles; for those that do genuinely have notable willpower abilities, I'd suggest the header simply say "Willpower", for the same reasons I prefer 'Magical aptitude' over 'mastery'. -  MrSiriusBlack  Talk  12:19, July 4, 2020 (UTC)

Was a conclusion ever reached as to whether 'Magical aptitude' or 'Magical mastery' is the wording that should be used on more powerful wizards' pages? -  MrSiriusBlack  Talk  21:04, July 16, 2020 (UTC)

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