Template talk:Distinguish

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Request for comment – 14 July 2014[edit]

Responding to the request at WP:ANRFC. This RfC evaluated a proposal previously discussed both in the linked TfD, though no consensus for a change was found at the time, and in the linked edit request as well.

The result is that the proposal is opposed. The main arguments were that the proposed wording is a positive statement rather than a negative one (in support), and that the proposed wording is awkward, less clear, or unusual style (in opposition). It is not really necessary or relevant to distinguish between "no consensus" and "consensus against" here, as the outcome is the same, although there was significantly more opposition than support. Some other possible wordings were discussed, although none to the degree that would be necessary to implement a change, so further discussion may be useful. Sunrise (talk) 06:42, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I would like to see the wording of this template modified...

Not to be confused with... or...
To be distinguished from... and...

Discussion regarding this proposal may be found at:

I made this change earlier with the thought that the wording itself, which I've been planning to change for awhile, would not be controversial. As can be seen, I was apparently wrong and have been reverted. Rather than begin a whole new Tfd at a later date, I would prefer first to open this RfC. – Paine Ellsworth CLIMAX! 17:20, 14 July 2014 (UTC)


  • Support as nom. Some editors appear to feel that the present wording is too negative for Wikipedia. I myself feel that the content should be consistent with the template's name. There was a time when the content was consistent with the name, but then it was changed to "Not to be confused with...". This would be a good time to return the content of template "Distinguish" to a wording consistent with its name. (I'll be going out of town on Wednesday, the 16th, for about a week, so please enjoy the discussion!)
  • Oppose. The old wording is definitely better. As for the TfD, it was a hostile environment full of eye-poking and ear-pulling; I know it for a fact from good authority that several people refrained from participating in the side discussions to maintain their own dignity. (As I said early in my identity discussion when I signed up with Wikipedia, I come from a family of Wikipedians; this TfD attracted our attention good and proper.) Therefore, any seemingly side-consensus obtained there is automatically null and void. Best regards, Codename Lisa (talk) 18:05, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
Yes, that is another good reason to have an RfC and perhaps draw fresh (and more civil) discussion from non- or less-involved editors. Joys! – Paine  18:14, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose the new wording is not clear and there is nothing wrong with the old wording. JDDJS (talk) 18:49, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Support Definitely an improvement, and will likely avoid future TFDs for the wording issue. --Netoholic @ 19:55, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose It looks like the template was originally created with the wording "Not to be confused with..." [1] The template is certainly not negative and it is clearer than the proposed change. I see no reason to modify it. Piguy101 (talk) 21:54, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
  • I totally support using "To be distinguished from..." for the fact it is one word less than "Not to be confused with" or "Should not be confused with" I thus support the Distinguish2 template. WikiPro1981X (talk) 10:59, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
{{Distinguish2}} is a separate issue. We should focus ourselves on {{Distinguish}}.Forbidden User (talk) 12:00, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The new wording is not as clear, and there is nothing negative or biting or patronising in pointing out two or more similar names may be confused. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 12:07, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
    • That seems to be a matter of opinion, and if other people perceive the current wording as negative or patronizing, why not avoid that perception? --R'n'B (call me Russ) 15:43, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
      • Because none of the other proposed wordings are as clear and concise. The fact that some editors choose to take personal offence at wording which describes topics rather than readers is not a good enough reason to degrade the utility of the hatnote.
        If somebody comes up with an alternative wording which is at least as clear as the current one, then I will reconsider. So far as I am concerned, the important issue is that hatnotes are a vital navigational tool which is speed-read. They need to be as clear and concise as a roadsign, which doesn't say "please make sure to reduce your speed and come to halt". It says "stop" ... and any driver who finds that "bitey" can either get over themselves or get fined. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 23:52, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. "To be distinguished from" is horrible usage, and sounds like nothing any native English speaker would utter except in parody. "Not to be confused with" is the common, colloquial English usage for exactly this scenario, and carries absolutely no inherent judgement. But if you feel the need to get rid the grammatical negative, use "Often confused with ... or ..." or "Commonly confused with ... or ..." VanIsaacWScont 01:00, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. "To be distinguished from' sounds less intrusive to the reader than 'Not to be confused with'. It is also a common rhetoric concept to avoid negative statements and prefer positive ones. 'Different from' is also a very good alternative as long as we avoid the old wording. If there is no majority to support that change than perhaps we should create a Distinguish3 template and let editors decide for themselves. --Fluffystar (talk) 19:36, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
Not a bad idea, though the new template'd be more vulnerable to speedy deletion.Forbidden User (talk) 13:30, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The present wording conveys, clearly, compactly and in natural English, the message that this template has traditionally been used to convey. There's nothing to stop anyone from using the {{hatnote}} template, or creating other templates if they really want, to express slightly varying messages. W. P. Uzer (talk) 11:55, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. There's nothing wrong with the current wording. "To be distinguished from" sounds awkward and makes the purpose of the template more difficult to determine. ~jenrzzz (talk) 06:39, 27 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose To be frank, nobody uses phrases like 'To be distinguished from' in everyday speech. 'Not to be confused' is a phrase that many people use in speeches, talks, discussions, and writing. I feel that the existing one is more appropriate for Wikipedia as an encyclopedia. --Rsrikanth05 (talk) 06:14, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose The new wording is more clunky, less understandable and less natural. —Tom Morris (talk) 07:51, 9 August 2014 (UTC)

Threaded discussion[edit]

I would like to make a comment toward JDDJS' rationale above. If one believes the proposed wording is "not clear", then maybe someone might please indicate another similar wording that is clear? I ask this because I believe there is clearly something wrong with the present wording when some editors feel that it "talks down" to readers (comments from the Tfd), and at least two editors (myself, and please see the discussion at the edit request above, where is found Netoholic's opinion that the proposed wording is "appropriate") who feel that the proposed wording is better than the present content. "Right" and "wrong" in this context are of course "opinions", so I am not saying that JDDJS' opinion is necessarily wrong, yet there was clear and definite disagreement with that opinion at the Tfd and in above discussions on this page. – Paine Ellsworth CLIMAX! 19:48, 14 July 2014 (UTC)

WP:IDONTLIKEIT is of course weaker arguments. Everyone joining should be noted. By the way, why isn't it a TfD?Forbidden User (talk) 07:12, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
Got your idea on the TfD/RfC issue. Thanks!Forbidden User (talk) 07:43, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
Pleasure! – Paine  09:50, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
PS. As you noted earlier, it is a bit too soon for another Tfd, and some might think it's like kadh. Let's see how this RfC turns out; it's still early and I remain optimistic. PS left by – Paine 
It's not a TfD because the proposal on the table is neither to delete nor merge, but to change the wording. TfD does not concern itself with the effects of a template (such as its wording) and the internal workings by which those effects are produced. --Redrose64 (talk) 11:18, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
Yes, it's not really a major mod, is it. – Paine Ellsworth CLIMAX! 11:42, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
TfD is not for any kind of modification, major or otherwise. The lead section of WP:TFD says "On this page, deletion or merging of templates (except as noted below) is discussed." (my emphasis). --Redrose64 (talk) 12:12, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment I don't know if it's ok, but I have some more ideas:
  1. Different from (1) or (2)
  2. Note that it is different from (1) or (2)
  3. (From another user)Should not be confused with
Meanwhile, as it is a highly-visible template, only consensus with as much participants as the recent TfD can replace the decision at that time. Good day.Forbidden User (talk) 07:27, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
Good ideas! Since 1 and 2 are more positive, maybe "and" would fit better than "or"? Just a thought. – Paine Ellsworth CLIMAX! 09:25, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
Let's see what others think. I should insist that I'm just giving more choices besides the original and proposed wordings, not that I'm not neutral.Forbidden User (talk) 10:38, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
I'm very supportive of 'Different from'. It is short, clear, positive and unobtrusive. --Fluffystar (talk) 19:40, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Additional comment I should clarify that "concise" means using the simplest expression to deliver a clear meaning. "Simpler"≠"fewer words" ; "clear" means that the expression is explicit and direct.Forbidden User (talk) 14:15, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment: how about "For (a) similar title(s) with different meanings, see ...". The items in parentheses would be conditional on the number of parameters. I agree that "concise" does not necessarily mean "shortest". --R'n'B (call me Russ) 15:43, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
    • That's too similar to {{for}}, and so it would probably get this template deleted.Forbidden User (talk) 13:34, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment I'm agnostic on the change. The new version is good because to me it's not quite as imperative, and it's also consistent with the name of the template. So those are pluses, I guess. But overall, as I said above (in section 26), I don't think there is ever a reason to use either the old or the new wording. There are a host of different choices that people could use that are a lot more helpful. Instead of saying something like "Apple redirects here. Not to be confused with Apple (company)," it would be so much more helpful for readers to say "This article is about the fruit. For the company, see Apple (company)." More relevantly to this exact discussion, even just "For the computing company, see Apple (company)" is a substantial improvement over "Not to be confused with Apple (company)" at the top of the fruit article. There are a lot of other informative template alternatives too. Yes, it is a lot of work to change these templates because they've been used a lot and you can't automate adding new fields. But just saying "not to be confused with" or "to be distinguished from" is not very informative to readers. So I feel like this proposed change is more of a step sideways than anything else. AgnosticAphid talk 02:25, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
    • Further comment: Someone in an earlier deletion discussion suggested that "Not to be confused with" (or "to be distinguished from", as the case may be) would be especially appropriate for commonly misspelled article titles like capital and capitol. It's not a bad point. While I am partial to "for the building, see capitol" over "to be distinguished from capitol" atop capitAl, I am not exactly sure what you would put at the top of the article "capitOl." Certainly it would be awkward and verbose to say "for the word relating to either financing or the locale hosting the seat of government or a valuable resource, see capital". I'm sure there are other similar circumstances where having to specify the meaning of the not-to-be-confused-with article(s) would be difficult. But this is a narrow circumstance and I still think that this template should be discouraged when its use is at all avoidable. AgnosticAphid talk 02:46, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
Another area where this template appears to be more concise than {{For}} is when there are 2 to 4 comparisons:
from Alkane
Not to be confused with Alkene, Alkyne, or Alkaline.
– Paine Ellsworth CLIMAX! 21:17, 23 July 2014 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

"To Be Distinguished from"[edit]

I, too, seem to be an advocate of the "To be distinguished from" and "Should not be confused with" wording, although I would prefer the former since it's one word less than the latter or the original "Not to be confused with...". But, what I want to know is would it be OK to use the Distinguish2 template for the Phil Collen article?

My example is this:

To be distinguished from Phil Collins.


To be distinguished from Genesis drummer/singer Phil Collins.

or maybe even...

Should not be confused with Phil Collins.

What do you think? WikiPro1981X (talk) 08:23, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

The reason is probably misspelling, so {{distinguish}} is enough.Forbidden User (talk) 08:35, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
ありがと (thank you) for your advocacy, WikiPro1981X! All your hatnotes above would be acceptable and pretty much up to you which to use. Just remember that hatnotes should be as concise as possible, and that if something is already mentioned in the linked article, then readers who click will read it there.
And if you wouldn't mind, perhaps you could lend your welcome support in the above RfC? under the heading Survey? Thank you again! Joys! – Paine Ellsworth CLIMAX! 10:06, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
How about
For the Genesis drummer and singer, see Phil Collins.
 ? I think it is much more helpful. In most instances the "for" title would be both more helpful and also shorter, which is like the holy grail of hatnotes, right? I would suggest avoiding the "to be distinguished from" or "not to be confused with" if possible. AgnosticAphid talk 02:57, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

Under what circumstances should this template be used without linking to an article?[edit]

An anon has been adding this template to 116 Clique to distinguish the article from a band without an article. Is that how it should be used? The template documentation doesn't elaborate. Walter Görlitz (talk) 07:42, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

@Walter Görlitz: See WP:NOARTICLE. --Redrose64 (talk) 13:01, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks @Rose64:. Not redlinked, simply text as in this edit: {{Distinguish2|196 Clique}}. Walter Görlitz (talk) 15:12, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Seems to me that this template just serves to help people, so its proper use is dependent on judgment, not rules. If there's some other topic that may be notable, even if it doesn't have a Wikipedia article at the moment, and which is reasonably likely sometimes to be confused with the article topic, then the template may be helpful. It doesn't necessarily matter that the reader doesn't have another WP page to go to to find out about the other topic; the important thing is that they realize that the present article is not about that topic. Mind you, I would expect such cases to be rare, and I have no idea whether the case you're referring to might be such a case.W. P. Uzer (talk) 15:32, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
While there might be some hypothetical possibility where a non-article link might be warranted as IAR, in general, the purpose of hatnotes is to help readers locate other articles. A non-article hatnote would be subject to verifiability and I don't think anyone would want to see a footnote in a hatnote. olderwiser 15:55, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Yes, WP:HAT says "Hatnotes provide links to the possibly sought article or to a disambiguation page." I would say that if there is no link, it's not a valid hatnote. This template is just one of dozens, so if not resolved here, the matter perhaps deserves discussion at WT:Hatnotes. --Redrose64 (talk) 16:28, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
This one is somewhat different though, since it also has the purpose (presumably) of stopping people from thinking that the information in the article concerns their sought topic. That purpose is served even if we can't provide any information on their sought topic - they can Google it instead, once they realize that WP isn't helping them. W. P. Uzer (talk) 17:08, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
No, I don't see any basis for this one being different. It's always been used to direct readers to other articles. olderwiser 17:22, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Have you not read what I just wrote? I know you don't like changing your opinion on anything, but you could at least respond to what another person writes, instead of just claiming "not to see". The fact that something has "always been done" doesn't mean that doing differently must be wrong. W. P. Uzer (talk) 18:20, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I mean, a case where this might be important (and may be similar to the case that provoked this discussion, I don't know) is if there are two hockey players, say, with the same name, and we have an article about only one of them (because the other one is just the other side of our arbitrary boundaries of notability, or else is potentially notable but hasn't had an article created yet). It's important not just for preventing reader confusion, but also for avoiding potential damage to reputation (and perhaps also for stopping editors from adding information to the wrong article), that it be made clear in a prominent way that this person is not that person. Maybe there's a better way, but this template seems a good enough method on the face of it. W. P. Uzer (talk) 18:38, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

Can we bring this back to the original question?
Should they only link to articles or can we, as in this case, offer distinguishing from a similarly named band? Walter Görlitz (talk) 06:06, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
Well, we obviously can, if we think that the upsides (prevention of potential confusion to some readers) outweigh the downsides (unnecessary distraction to most readers). I think we've established that it would be very unusual, but that doesn't mean it must necessarily be wrong. W. P. Uzer (talk) 11:18, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
I don't think that the subject should be specific to this template, so I've left notes at WT:Hatnote and WT:WPDAB. --Redrose64 (talk) 14:23, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
If the hatnote is making factual claims, then it is subject to verifiability requirements. I don't think a hatnote is an appropriate vehicle for distinguishing unencyclopedic topics. olderwiser 14:26, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
"No article" does not necessarily imply "unencyclopedic". Verifiability requirements would of course have to be satisfied, as with anything else. What alternative vehicle do you suggest? W. P. Uzer (talk) 15:18, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
Why not take your hypothetical hockey player example a step further? There are hundreds if not thousands of persons named John Brown who are not mentioned anywhere in Wikiepdia. Surely someone might be confused by their John Brown not being listed. But Wikipedia is not a directory and is not a catalog of otherwise unnotable entities. WP:Verifiability is a core policy and WP:Notability an important and widely supported guideline. If an entity is so unnotable that a stub cannot be written or that a verifiable entry cannot be added to some other article or list, the risk of confusion is vanishingly small. On the other hand, the potential for disruptions caused by editors feeling justified in adding otherwise trivial cross-references is significant. olderwiser 18:11, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
I think we can assume readers will be aware that different people can have the same name, particularly one as common as John Brown. But if there are two relatively equally obscure hockey players called Bruff Nargs, and one of them has an article here titled Bruff Nargs (hockey player) (or just called Bruff Nargs, about a hockey player) you can surely see that confusion is likely to arise, and that it would be a good idea (i.e. would help people) to try to prevent that confusion with a hatnote? Anyway, I don't know of such a situation in reality, so I'm not going to continue discussing it until some such actually arises. W. P. Uzer (talk) 20:43, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
No, if they are in fact equally obscure, then both should either have or not have a mention in Wikipedia. If one does not satisfy even the minimalist criteria for a verifiable mention within some other article or list, then no I do not see any significant potential for confusion. olderwiser 22:09, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
Definitely not. It opens up a can of worms of editors being able to add the name of their favourite band/book/teacher/pet to the top of a similarly named WP article without any need for it to be notable. Bands are a particular problem as, at least in the UK, every major act of a certain vintage has dozens of tribute bands all with deliberately very similar names. But given that notability would not apply there's nothing to stop any individual an editor has heard of being mentioned at the top of e.g. a BLP. And once one is added then what's to stop dozens more being added?--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds
Some kind of "at least close to notability" requirement would obviously have to apply. By which I don't mean we should make rules for this or even bother discussing it much further except in relation to some specific case; I'm just making the general point (unfortunately often ignored by the people who deal with disambiguation-related tasks on WP) that rules on WP never have to be enforced just for the sake of it. W. P. Uzer (talk) 15:31, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

If the other entity is somewhere close to notability, and is verifiable, then it should be possible to add a mention of it to an existing article and link there in a hatnote: thus "196 Clique" could be mentioned, with a reliable source, in the article on their home town, or record label, or genre of music. If no verifiable information can be found to support such a mention, they don't belong in a hatnote - just as disambiguation pages do not include information other than links to existing Wikipedia articles. So I would oppose the use of unlinked hatnotes. Hatnotes are to link to other WP articles: no article, and no mention in any article, means no hatnote. PamD 16:25, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

Sounds reasonable, but there may still be cases where no mention in any other article would be justified (or hasn't been made yet), and yet the possibility of confusion might reasonably be expected to exist (see my hypothetical hockey player example somewhere up the page - we might know only that he was born in London and played for some team, and neither of those things is enough to justify a mention in any other article). You don't give any reasons for your opposition, you just state it (like other disambiguation people doubtless will) as if it's a predetermined rule. Anyway, I don't think this Clique 196 deserves a hatnote - not because of its not having an article (which in itself is somewhat irrelevant to the potential likelihood of readers' being confused) but because the name isn't similar enough to the name of the band in the article. If the name was identical or virtually so, and the other band had something approaching notability, then it would clearly be to everyone's advantage (readers, editors, both bands) to have a hatnote, regardless of whether the other band could be shoe-horned into some other article. But it would still probably be opposed vigorously by the disambiguation rulemongers. W. P. Uzer (talk) 17:25, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose unlinked hatnotes, which give undue weight to topics whose notability has not been established. If the editors of the 116 Clique article feel that this other group 196 Clique might be confused with their group because of the similar name, then make the distinction in the 116 Clique article's lead section, providing a reference demonstrating the other group's existence, such as their official website. The fact they exist would be a lower bar than demonstrating notability through mentions by third-party reliable sources. This would be particularly appropriate if "116" feel that "196" is infringing on their name. Wbm1058 (talk) 17:30, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
Sounds cool to me, as long as you don't then get another group of rulemongers saying "...no reliable source has made the connection between this and the article topic..." (When I say "sounds cool", I mean in the more hypothetical case where the names are practically identical - I still don't think it's necessary in this xxx Clique case.) W. P. Uzer (talk) 17:38, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
  • None per WP:NOARTICLE (to answer original question), and per PamD. A mention elsewhere yes. Widefox; talk 13:25, 19 February 2015 (UTC)