This is the way I've begun nameless characters, planets and species as of the present (not always), but could someone outline the differences in grammar between one beginning with "This bla bla bla was" and one beginning with "A bla bla bla was", and how the grammar's right or wrong for wiki writing? Examples in the relevant pages at the bottom.
Actually, you're doing it the right way. A while back, Czechout and another user had a conversation discussing this (and unfortunately I don't remember where I saw it) and it is considered bad grammar to start an article with "this so-and-so" because readers don't know what "this" is referring to.
I've been changing it whenever I come across it, but there are probably tons of examples that I haven't seen yet.
Looking at the page for the occupation miner, I can see exactly what you mean by that, Smaller. Didn't even consider that.
However, what if the adjective "unnamed" was in there, i.e.: "An unnamed Peladonian steward was..."? Would that be clear enough?
Though speaking of examples beginning with "steward", the existing example of Steward (The End of the World) with "the steward" because he's actually referred to by several characters as "the steward".
You can't use "unnamed" because they have a name in universe. They aren't actually unnamed. Their parents, whoever they are, did name them. We, the audience, just don't know what that name is. So it's actually a technical violation of T:NO RW to say "an unnamed miner".
You just have to use a prepositional phrase to give some kind of context. "A miner on Peladon in <insert year here>", for example.
Please never, ever use "unnamed" in an in-universe article.
And before you ask, yes, this does mean that all the titles of planets and species that begin with "unnamed" are wrong. However, these are relatively easy to fix by bot, so I keep putting it off. The proper — and faster-to-type — nomenclature is "Planet (story title)" — not "Unnamed planet (story title)".
That said, I still stand by the specific example of "the steward" in post 5 as a correct usage, as that's what he's called in-universe.
Don't misread me. I'm not saying you should always use a instead of the. Certainly in the case of Steward (The End of the World), that's "the steward". He's the only one not only on Platform One, but also several others. In fact, I would argue that the s begs to be capitalised in that case. I think he's "the Steward", cause it's a title not just a job. Borderline case, obviously, so I'm not rushing in to change it, but if it were currently written as a proper noun, I wouldn't change that, either.
But in the case of something not unique — like a miner — you clearly wouldn't use a definite article. SOTO is, in my view, grammatically wrong above when he says that he'll just use the … whenever. No, you don't do that. Most of the time when someone is identified by a job — waitress, miner, secretary — you're obliged to use a, unless it can be established there's only one of that type of worker in a particular situation. There might only be one secretary in a small firm, for instance, or one teacher in a frontier school. You don't use the definite article just because that's the only one of that type of worker that we meet in a story, because using the definite article implies something that's simply not true.
I mean, that does kind of sound like I'm claiming that all waitresses came from the 21st century and worked at Happy Cook. Obviously, I don't mean that. But, if we're not to use "the" unnecessarily, how better could we phrase it? Does
doesn't directly or indirectly indicate that all waitresses were <whatever>. There is no definition of a which means everything of the class of thing that follows. Instead, a means pretty much the opposite: one of the class of thing that follows. It is a way of individuating one from a group, not applying a common characteristic to a group. In your example, you're saying, "of all the waitresses that exist, this one has the characteristics which follow".
There is nothing grammatically wrong about:
A waitress was a 21st century human who worked at Happy Cook.
However, it's pretty boring writing for a lead sentence. Remember, lead sentences should try to grab the reader's attention. Alternately the lead should economically give us the topic's key relevance to the DWU. That sentence does neither really. A better sentence might be:
Well, your sentence does make it much more clear what the topic of the article is, and actually gives information. I guess I'll start writing my leads more like that from now on. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.
I think the "boring" leads come from the fact that all new character pages start with "Pagename was", and editors just fill in from there. I do occasionally change the "was" to something more interesting, but the fact that it's there allows me to be lazy without even thinking of it, especially when creating a lot of new articles at once.