Wikipedia:Naming conventions (events)

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The following guidelines apply to events and incidents, such as military conflicts, terrorist attacks, transportation accidents, natural disasters, and the like.

Conventions[edit]

If there is an established, universally agreed-upon common name for an event, use that name. Otherwise, create a name using these guidelines. In most cases, the title of the article should contain at least the following two descriptors:

  • Where the incident happened.
  • What happened.

If these descriptors are not sufficient to identify the event unambiguously, a third descriptor should be added:

  • When the incident happened.

The year ("when") should not be used in the title unless other descriptors are insufficient to establish the identity of the incident.

Examples of "where" and "what"
Examples of "when"
  • September 11 attacks
    • What: Attacks
    • When: September 11
    • "Where" is not a good descriptor because the events happened in different places.
  • Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
  • 2003 Bam earthquake
    • When: 2003. There is no other "Bam earthquake" in Wikipedia, but earthquakes happen many times in history in the same place, so the year is a useful identifier.
    • Where: Bam
    • What: earthquake

Aviation accidents and incidents[edit]

Aviation accidents and incidents should generally be titled according to the air carrier and flight number for commercial air transport related events. In aviation, the terms "accident" and "incident" are defined in the Convention on International Civil Aviation Annex 13, and these standards should be followed in naming aviation related events. If there were two or more aircraft involved, or if the flight did not have a flight number assigned, use the "where and what" convention stated above. Avoid using the informal terms "plane" or "plane crash". Article titles should not contain the year of the incident unless needed for disambiguation.

Train wreck[edit]

Train wrecks should be named according to the "where and what" convention. The default name should contain the term "train wreck", unless a more specific description such as "derailment" or "collision" is supported by the facts alone without interpretation. "Train collision" includes incidents where a train collided with another vehicle, such as a bus. "Accident" is not a neutral word, because it implies the event was truly accidental, and not a reasonably foreseeable consequence of willful or negligent actions. Only use the term "accident" if a competent authority has concluded the event was accidental after a thorough investigation, and this finding is not controversial or contradicted by another authority, such as a court of law. Likewise "disaster" implies a certain level of destruction. Only use the word "disaster" if the crash was more destructive than most other accidents, and reliable sources consistently characterize it as such. Avoid the term "tragedy" because this characterization is too subjective. If an event is commonly known by another name, such as a "Great Train Wreck," in reliable sources, use that name.

It is acceptable, but not required, to name the type of event in the article title (derailment, explosion, level crossing collision, etc.) Article titles should not contain the year unless needed for disambiguation.

Articles not in compliance with these guidelines will be renamed.

Tornado and tornado outbreak[edit]

Tornado and tornado outbreak events should follow the earliest applicable style below

  1. Commonly accepted name, in accordance with Wikipedia:Naming conventions (common names). Example: Tri-State Tornado
  2. If more than one name is in common use, that used by NOAA or an official weather agency should take precedence except in extraordinary circumstances, with any other names a redirect. Example: 1980 Grand Island tornado outbreak
  3. If more than one event share the same name (even if the other event may not have its own article), precede the accepted name with the year (or, if needed, the month/date). The accepted name should serve as a disambiguation page. Example: Palm Sunday tornado outbreak
  4. If there is no accepted name, the name should be formatted as follows: Year (or Month/year, or day/month/year if need be) Geographic location (only if necessary: City, State, Country, Continent, or any combination of these) tornado, tornado outbreak, or tornado outbreak sequence. Examples: January 2008 tornado outbreak sequence, May 1–2, 2008 tornado outbreak, or 2007 Brooklyn tornado

Maintaining neutral point of view[edit]

Article names for current and historical events are often controversial. In particular, the use of strong words such as "massacre" can be a focus of heated debate. The use of particular strong words is neither universally encouraged nor discouraged. The spirit of these guidelines is to favour familiar terms used to identify the event. Rules to select a name should be applied in the following sequence:

  1. If there is a particular common name for the event, it should be used even if it implies a controversial point of view.
  2. If there is no common name for the event, and there is a generally accepted word used when identifying the event, the title should include the word even if it is a strong one such as "massacre" or "genocide" or "war crime". However, to keep article names short, avoid including more words than are necessary to identify the event. For example, the adjective "terrorist" is usually not needed.
  3. If there is no common name for the event and no generally accepted descriptive word, use a descriptive name that does not carry POV implications. See above for how to create a descriptive name.

Definitions[edit]

A common name or standing expression exists if most English speakers who are aware of the topic call it the same thing. Slight variations on the name, such as changes in word order, count as the same common name. For example, World War II is often called the Second World War; they are close enough to be considered variations of the same common name.

A generally accepted word is a word for which there is consensus, among scholars in the real world, on its applicability to the event. The use of a strong word may still be controversial among politicians, Wikipedia editors, or the general public.

Resolving conflicting points of view[edit]

Regardless of which rule applies, there may still be different points of view on how to characterize the event, and some of these points of view may be contrary to the title. These points of view should be discussed in the article. However, the title may contain a word of questionable neutrality, such as "massacre" or "terrorism," if this word is part of the common name. Also, redirects may be used to direct biased titles to a more neutral title.

Examples[edit]

  • My Lai massacre: This is a common name, and scholars generally agree that a massacre took place. Rule #1 applies, and rule #2 would give the same result.
  • Rape of Nanking: This is the common name (Rule #1 applies), but redirects to Nanking Massacre, which in view of everything that happened is probably a better title since more than just rapes occurred. However, "massacre" probably shouldn't have been capitalized.
  • War on Terror: This is a common name, so it should be used even though many people consider it to be propagandistic. Rule #1 applies.
  • Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse: "Torture" was a controversial word here. There is no common name, so rule #1 does not apply. There is general scholarly agreement that torture has taken place, so rule #2 kicks in.
  • War in Darfur: The term "Darfur genocide" is used, but is not common enough to constitute a common name, so rule #1 does not apply. Many people consider the conflict to be a genocide, however there is no general scholarly agreement on this yet, so rule #2 does not apply. Hence rule #3 applies, and "conflict" is used instead of "genocide."
  • September 11 attacks: A debate here concluded that there was no common name for the event. Scholars agree that the events were acts of terrorism, however adding the word "terrorist" to the title would have given it more words than necessary to identify the event.

See also[edit]