Use of the present tense

These are just rough notes. I think this should at some point be said on the main policy pages though -- Tarquin

This is a glitch I've corrected quite a few times on Wikipedia. Consider this example:

Emma was a novel by Jane Austen

Emma still is a novel. It was written by Austen. The following case blurs a bit, but IMO past tense is still incorrect:

Emma was a novel written by Jane Austen.

This can be avoided since the "written" is superflous. However,

The Tower of Babel was...

Since it's no longer around. And

Emma was written by Jane Austen in 18--.

The distinction is that "was" above is used as an auxiliary verb for "written". In the earlier example, it's used as a copula. More on "why I hate E-Prime" elsewhere.

There's something to be said on use of the historic present tense too.