Wikipedia:Avoiding disambiguation pages
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This essay, WP:Avoiding disambiguation pages, offers a way to reduce the use of disambiguation pages as the first page linked to a common term. The solution involves linking common alternatives in the top hatnote of the major page, when other meanings seem almost as common. When properly structured, then most disambiguation pages would be named "xxxxx (disambiguation)" rather than as the common term "xxxxx".
The growing use of disambiguation pages has led to the situation where many common terms have no longer led directly to the page of the common term, but rather to a disambiguation page listing that term and a few other common alternatives, plus numerous rare articles also listed which contain the term in the title. This increased use of disambiguation pages as the direct link for numerous common terms, could be called "disambiguitis disease". The cure would be to link other popular uses at the top hatnote of the main article, then link to "xxxxx (disambiguation)" as the last link in the hatnote. There is no need to rename a common term as a disambiguation page simply because there are 2 (or 3) popular common meanings for the same term. Instead the term should directly link to one of the main meanings, which has a hatnote listing the next-most common page, and finally linking a disambiguation page (in the hatnote) for the rare meanings.
Disambiguation pages when no clear leader
Several years ago, many common terms directly led to the article page describing the common meaning. However, the later switch and rename, from directly linking the common-term articles, to linking disambiguation pages (first) has been most often justified when a second term is nearly as common as the first meaning. Once there were 2 popular meanings, the solution was to directly link a disambiguation page, which then opened the door to including many minor articles, as entries listed in that first page.
Hatnote to other common meaning then disambiguation
An effective means to reduce linking most disambiguation pages is to link the 2nd common meaning in the hatnote of the top 2 pages, then link the (separate) disambiguation page as the next choice, "xx (disambiguation)".
As an example, the word "magician" could link directly to the common page for "Stage magician" (a very common meaning) with a hatnote to also consider seeing "Magician (fantasy) or Magician (disambiguation)". In that manner, the term "magician" would tie quickly to "Stage magician" but have a top link to "Magician (fantasy)" which is another common meaning, quickly seen at the top of the first page. There is no need to force all uses of "magician" to link to the disambiguation page, but instead, use hatnotes atop each of the 2 major articles to link the other major meaning. Then, if another (3rd) article about "Magician" becomes popularly famous (such as a blockbluster film or a shipwreck S.S. Magician), then that popular page could be linked as a 2nd hatnote in the top part of the traditional article "Magic". There is no need to rename every common term as a disambiguation page, simply because there are 2 (or 3) popular meanings of the term.
Title "Johann Strauss"
Another example would be to link the 2 famous waltz composers, Johann Strauss I (father) and Johann Strauss II (son), for Johann Strauss III. Accordingly, the name "Johann Strauss" should link directly to the most famous Johann Strauss II (The Waltz King), with a hatnote there to the father:
That hatnote (inside article "Johann Strauss II") would allow for other uses of name "Johann Strauss" such as a ship name or a flower variety, etc.
This simple solution will probably eliminate over 80% of all cases where a common term directly links to a disambiguation page, when the first page should be the most-common meaning, and then hat-note link the 2nd (or 3rd) common pages, before linking "xx (disambiguation)" as the last choice, instead of being the default link. Most disambiguation pages would be named "xxxxx (disambiguation)" rather than common term "xxxxx".
- [ This page is a quick draft to be expanded later. ]