|While this essay is not a policy or guideline itself, it is intended to supplement the Wikipedia:Disambiguation guideline and Wikipedia:Article Titles policy page, which should be deferred to in case of inconsistency between that page and this one.|
Unnecessary disambiguation is the use of a title, comprised of the name of a topic of an article along with additional descriptive information that is not necessary to disambiguate the unadorned name from other uses on Wikipedia. For example, since the city in Ontario is considered to be the primary topic of Welland, adding ", Ontario" to that title, or, moving it to Welland, Ontario, would be unnecessary disambiguation. When the reason given for such disambiguation is to "preempt" conflicts with other uses some time in the future, this is often referred to as preemptive disambiguation, and often considered unnecessary per WP:CRYSTAL.
WP:Disambiguation defines disambiguation in Wikipedia with the following opening sentence:
- Disambiguation in Wikipedia is the process of resolving the conflicts that arise when a single term is ambiguous—when it refers to more than one topic covered by Wikipedia articles.
So, interpreting "topic covered by Wikipedia articles" to mean either topics with full articles that could be titled by that same name, or topics covered in sections of articles to which that title would be a reasonable redirect (e.g. Queen stage), page titles should only be disambiguated when there is a conflict with another covered topic. If a name is used for only one article, its title should not be disambiguated, even if similar pages are disambiguated.
If multiple articles have the same logical name (for example Delta rocket), they are disambiguated by adding either parenthetic or natural disambiguation to the title. This system resolves naming conflicts. It should not be used to make concise and precise titles more descriptive.
Therefore page names should not be disambiguated unless there are other articles that use the same name. This includes cases of articles being disambiguated from non-existent pages for consistency with similar articles, (for example Delta IV rocket)
Concision and the recognizability scope limitation in title selections
Unnecessary disambiguation is often cited as a reason to favor a more concise title in title discussions. While recognizability is also a criteria to be given consideration, its scope is explicitly limited to "someone familiar with the topic". In other words, we don't try to make our topics recognizable from the titles to anyone who is not already familiar with the topic. That's why we favor Laeken over Laeken, Belgium, Welland over Welland, Ontario, Nicholas Campbell over Nicholas Campbell (actor) (let alone Nicholas Campbell (Canadian actor)), Happy Sad over Happy Sad (album), Putsj over Putsj (magazine), Cincinnati over Cincinnati, Ohio, etc., etc.
Community support for this scope limitation to recognizability is demonstrated implicitly in the fact that most of our topics are recognizable from their titles only to those who are already familiar with the topic in question, something that can be easily verified with any WP:RANDOM sampling of a dozen or so titles, especially if any titles which are recognizable only because of necessary disambiguation are omitted from the sample. For example, Lorca (album) and Harley, Ontario are recognized as being an album and a city in Ontario respectively by those unfamiliar with the album and city, but only because they disambiguated with (album) and , Ontario respectively, due to conflicts with other uses of their respective names.
Community support for the recognizability scope limitation has also been explicitly demonstrated with unanimous support at this 2012 poll on WT:AT: Wikipedia talk:Article_titles/Archive_35#Once and for all: Poll to establish the consensus.
The practice of unnecessary disambiguation, particularly when excused by a naming convention that purportedly indicates the simple unadorned name of the topic should be disambiguated even if there are no other uses for that name, tends to cause the creation of redlink basenames - the unadorned titles remain red links, like these.
What about consistency?
The consistency title criterion of WP:AT is often cited as a reason to use a longer title when a shorter title, consisting of the simple commonly used name for the topic, will suffice and has no disambiguation issues. The consistency criterion is defined as follows:
- Consistency – The title is consistent with the pattern of similar articles' titles. Many of these patterns are listed (and linked) in the box of Topic-specific conventions on article titles.
Like all WP:CRITERIA, consistency is but one consideration. There is no requirement to meet the consistency criterion at the expense of concision, for example.
It certainly makes sense to rely on consistency when there is an applicable topic-specific convention and the other criteria do not clearly indicate a title without disambiguation issues. There is no known debate about that.
Controversy arises when the other criteria indicate an appropriate and available (unambiguous or primary topic) title that is different from that indicated by an applicable topic-specific convention. One school of thought is that such conventions should only be followed when disambiguation is necessary. Many guidelines, like Wikipedia:Naming conventions (films), state this explicitly, and there is little controversy about those titles. Thus we have Gone with the Wind (film) and Unforgiven. This is true for many place names as well, thus we have Laeken and Haren, Belgium - both districts of Brussels, but only the latter is disambiguated, because only it needs it. Another school of thought is that such conventions should be followed even when disambiguation is not necessary. Only a few naming guidelines still explicitly call for this, most notably WP:USPLACE, a guideline with a long history of controversy, at least partially because many believe consistency should not trump concision (and believe a shorter appropriate name clearly meets concision better than a longer name).