Wikipedia talk:Article titles

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Proposal/question: Should we disambiguate year-range work titles?[edit]

Previous discussion of essentially the same proposal: Wikipedia_talk:Article titles/Archive 47#Date ranges as titles.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  13:42, 6 September 2014 (UTC)

Sometimes, compilations of works are named for the years they cover, e.g. 1962–1966 by The Beatles or 1979–1983 by Bauhaus, and it is not readily apparent that such titles are proper names. After lengthy discussion with a fellow editor helped me to crystallize my own thoughts on this, I’d like to pose this question to the community at large:

Should the titles of our articles about such compilations include a bit of disambiguation by default, such as the creator’s name or the type of work? For instance, if the short stories that a John Smith wrote between 1947 and 1953 were collected and published under the title 1947–1953, should our article about that book instead be titled “1947–1953 (book)” or “John Smith 1947–1953”? — (talk) 03:31, 8 August 2014 (UTC)


  • Composition titles, especially when commercial products (albums, books, movies, games), are often deliberately ambiguous with something catchy. This is a standard marketing/promotion technique. In general, allowing these things to occupy undisambiguated titles rewards this tactic, allows mis-recognition by unsuspecting readers, and sets a trend that Wikipedia titles are not useful. I would say that every number from 0 to 2100 can be reasonably expected to refer to the year, and that for any of these numbers, yyyy-yyyy can reasonably be expect to refer to an historical period. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 04:06, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
    I would say 1900 or possibly 1800 to 2100, and quite disagree that 0–999 would be expected to refer to years, but otherwise I’m in full agreement. — (talk) 04:18, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
    Perhaps you have taken little interest in subjects such as Æthelred of Mercia? Note that numbers from 1 upwards are articles about the year (as according to the Julian or Gregorian calendar). I don't know about how that came to be, but is fits very well with the notion that an encyclopedia is a historiographical work, and even it is was an arbitrary decision, it is an established decision, and for the benefits of consistency, it is advantageous to assume that these numbers refer to years if undisambiguated. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 04:40, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
    Good point. Never mind my disagreement on that then. — (talk) 05:26, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support Yes, disambiguation of number ranges and year ranges when they mean something else like a work title, per the "precision" criterion at WP:AT: "The title is sufficiently precise to unambiguously identify the article's subject and distinguish it from other subjects." (though the precision criterion was more precise before it was mangled thus). Dicklyon (talk) 04:43, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
    "though the p..." snigger. -- PBS (talk) 08:15, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
  • (edit conflict) To be future-proof, I would suggest "1947–1953 (John Smith book)" in analogy with "1962–1966 (Beatles album)" which is how we refer to other albums whose names are ambiguous - note that we sometimes include and sometimes omit "The": Revolver (Beatles album) but Absolutely Live (The Doors album) (emphasis mine). (I haven't investigated whether this is a case of "use common sense" or of ils ne savent pas ce qu'ils font.) Samsara (FA  FP) 04:48, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Shouldn't a question about whether to disambiguate be at WT:D rather than WT:AT?

    In any case, the process of disambiguation - a term specific to WP - is for the purpose of coming up with an alternative title when the first choice for a given article is used by another article. This isn't just my personal view. This is what WP:D said back in 2003, before I started editing here:

    • Disambiguation in Wikipedia is the process of resolving the conflict that occurs when articles about two or more different topics have the same natural title. [1].
    And this is not something that has changed. The disambiguation section here at WP:AT says something similar today:
    • "It is not always possible to use the exact title that may be desired for an article, as that title may have other meanings, and therefore may have been already used for other articles.".
    Album compilations named by the date ranges that they encompass, when we have no other article to which that date range refers, have no conflict that needs to be resolved; their natural titles - the date-range itself - is available and perfect for the title of the article. These date ranges have no other meanings that have been "already used for other articles". Such a title meets WP:PRECISION because the title - the name of the album - is precise enough to define the topic scope of the article, just like the name of any other album "is precise enough to define the topic scope of the article" of that album. There is no policy basis to "include a bit of disambiguation by default" on such titles, and there is no good user benefit reason to do so either.

    Finally, 1983-1991 is not causing anyone any problems, nor will any other compilation album article title that simply reflects the name of the album, like this one does. --В²C 20:20, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

    “Disambiguation” is not a term unique to Wikipedia (check any given dictionary). You’re thinking of the sense of disambiguation between conflicting titles of distinct Wikipedia articles, and that is indeed handled at WP:D, but that’s not what we’re discussing here; this is why I brought it up as a matter of titling policy rather than a matter of disambiguation between existing articles. It’s a question of precision. What I’m asking is whether those titles are “precise enough to unambiguously define the topical scope of the article” (a key word being “unambiguously”), or ambiguous with the year ranges they appear to be. — (talk) 02:21, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
    I checked the Google dictionary for "disambiguation". "No definition found". --В²C 05:00, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
    I’m not sure what the “Google dictionary” is (a Google define: query returns a definition), but according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, disambiguation is the noun form of the verb disambiguate. Here, I’ll link the Wiktionary entries: wikt:disambiguation, wikt:disambiguate. — (talk) 05:09, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
    And why are you focusing exclusively on albums here? Short story collections, poetry collections, anything that could be collected into a single publishable work in any medium, this applies equally to all of them. — (talk) 05:21, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. By all means do disambiguate any ranges which are ambiguous with a title of another article, but to do disambiguate all of them preemptively makes very little sense, nor is such an approach supported by existing policies.—Ëzhiki (Igels Hérissonovich Ïzhakoff-Amursky) • (yo?); August 8, 2014; 20:29 (UTC)
    Hence I’m asking to change this policy to support that. Face-tongue.svg174.141.182.82 (talk) 02:21, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
    I understand that, but it is my opinion that such a change is neither necessary nor prudent nor wise. And gathering opinions from various editors is ultimately what this proposal/question is all about, right? Cheers,—Ëzhiki (Igels Hérissonovich Ïzhakoff-Amursky) • (yo?); August 9, 2014; 04:20 (UTC)
    Of course, and I thank you for your quite reasonable input even though I don’t personally agree with it. Face-smile.svg174.141.182.82 (talk) 04:30, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. In my opinion, disambiguation in Wikipedia should be for resolving the problem of what to do when the topic is not the primary use of the "name" (or other logical title), even if other uses do not have Wikipedia articles. The principle of least surprise should apply to article titles, as well as to article content. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 10:32, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
The hard part of the principle of least surprise is determining which title actually will cause the least amount of surprise, or surprise the fewest number of people. Blueboar (talk) 11:22, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
If policy were to encourage RM participants to consider minimising surprise, then that would be a good thing. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 12:47, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. If this previous discussion is anything to go by, all the dates ranges were either merged or renamed. Not having guidelines and practice match doesn't make much sense. --Richhoncho (talk) 12:30, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment: As the proposer, I should mention that (if there’s consensus for it) I’ll be leaving the implementation to other editors who are better at writing policy. I feel strongly that there should be a section of policy about this, but I couldn’t say exactly where or with what wording. — (talk) 02:13, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This truly is a solution in search of a problem. WP does not do "date-range qua date-range" titles. E.g., 1814–1823, 1923–1941, 1988–1991, 1892–1901, 1961–1965, 2002–2008. The only exceptions are the decade articles, which have redirects like 1970–1979; and very rare redirects to articles which are highly associated with a date range, like 1914-1918. Otherwise, there just are no encyclopedic topics that are known by their date ranges.

    And that's the crux - WP deals in encyclopedic topics. WP is WP:NOT a bunch of things, including a dictionary, an atlas, a telephone directory, or a collection of timelines. Which is where a lot of people get led astray on this issue. They ask the person on the street: "What is "1979–1983"?" The person on the street answers: "A date range."

    But consider the analogy to the dictionary. Ask the person on the street: "What does "never" mean?" The person on the street will say: "At no time," or similar. But that is a simple dictdef, which is why we have no article on the word never, but instead a dab page - of encyclopedic topics actually called "Never." The same is true for any number of words qua words - we get dab pages or something completely different: you can look here, there, and everywhere, and find similar results. And if there is no encyclopedic topic for a common word, do we redlink it? Quite.

    The point? Most things that look like date ranges are not actually encyclopedic topics, will not be used to search for encyclopedic topics, and therefore do not exist as WP articles or redirects. There's no need to disambiguate against something that doesn't exist. Dohn joe (talk) 03:17, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

There are exceptions. There are articles associated with date ranges. All year-like numbers are articles on years. Readers will reasonably expect a date range title to return an article on the date range, or something prominantly associated with the date range. An unknown date range title creates intrigue of an important date-range specific international event. If the article returned is an obscure commercial product with a deceptive title, then the reader has been deceived.
Titles are not for searching. Search engines are for searching, and they use far more than titles. Disambiguating the ambiguous is a good idea. Ambiguous titles do not serve the readers. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:39, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
The common words you use as examples properly link to DAB pages, rather than an article on some obscure subject that goes by that name. So you have not at all addressed the point made by User:Arthur Rubin that we should not have undisambiguated article titles that are not the primary use, which is the whole idea behind this proposal. — (talk) 03:50, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
The point of those was to show that even though "never," "here," "there," and "everywhere" are extremely common words, the dab pages at those words have nothing to do with the by far most common way that they are used. And when there is no encyclopedic usage, the article/redirect does not exist, as in quite or become. And yes, if there is a single encyclopedic usage of a common word, it goes to a specific article: Until, Away, .... Dohn joe (talk) 04:40, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Since the words “until” and “away” aren’t really concepts that you could write an article (even a rejected one) about, they don’t really set any words-as-words expectations, so I see no conflict there (what about nouns?). But you absolutely could write an article about events that took place between 1979 and 1983, so I’d still say that title conflicts with its primary use, the meaning that one would reasonably expect from an encyclopedia article with that title. For example, we have no article at Elderly, so it redirects to Old age. If a book, movie, album, etc. came out with the name Elderly, that title would technically be available—but I would still expect this redirect to remain because that’s the primary use expected of an encyclopedia. — (talk) 05:08, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Common English words, Until, Away, Big, should not be allowed as article titles. They are inherently ambiguous. They do not precisely identify their topic. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 05:15, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
    Is there any policy or guidance that expressly says so? Because there should be. — (talk) 12:16, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
    Common English words, Until, Away, Big, should redirect to the actual article that best encompasses the abstraction that represents their primary topic, if one exists. I'm not sure what this would be for Until and Away, but for Big it would probably be Size, which should be an article on that general topic. bd2412 T 13:08, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
    Again, is there any policy or guidance on this? If not, someone really ought to get on that. — (talk) 13:12, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Just a note... Currently, "Big" is fine... since it is used as the title of a disambiguation page and not as the title of an article. Blueboar (talk) 12:52, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support; while I understand the position of B2C, Ezhiki or Dohn joe, this is mostly a style debate, which should result in one recommendation or another. I'm generally advocating more "preemptive" disambiguation in article titles, in order to stress WP:PRECISION possibly on the expense of WP:CONCISEness. More descriptive titles also facilitate searching and auto-completion: for "inherently ambiguous" titles like yyyy–yyyy it is practically impossible for the reader to even get a general idea what the article is about until they open it start reading it. Of course, it is far from possible for any given title, but at least some conformance to the principle of least astonishment should be honored. No such user (talk) 13:35, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support in the interests of titles communicating something about the subject of the article. Omnedon (talk) 13:51, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose on principle as the proposal is not specific enough. You asked a question, which I've answered, but now people are supporting without it being clear what they are supporting. I think I must therefore oppose or we risk creating a situation that is worse than before. Please make a specific proposal in favour of EITHER John Smith 1947-1953 (which I would oppose) OR 1947-1953 (book) which I would support. Thanks. Samsara (FA  FP) 21:21, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
    I think that decision would be on a case-by-case basis. John Smith 1947–1953 if WP:NATURAL is applicable, or 1947–1953 (book) if not, for instance. — (talk) 21:52, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
    Just to clarify - do you support 1947-1953 (book) only if there is another topic called 1947-1953, or do you support it even if there is no other topic with that title? Dohn joe (talk) 00:14, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
    @Dohn joe: Sorry for failing to notice this question for so long. In my estimation, the years between 1947 and 1953 are the primary topic of “1947–1953”. So I guess the answer to your question is… yes. (See elsewhere throughout this discussion for more on whether that should be relevant.) — (talk) 05:42, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support: Precision is almost always more important that conciseness, within common sense limits.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:39, 20 August 2014 (UTC) PS: Samsara's question/objection is adequately addressed, in my view, by's response to Dohn joe's response to Samsara, immediatley above, that specific formatting is a case-by-case matter determined by WP:NATURAL and other criteria. The proposal here is not to change the criteria, but to disambiguate date range titles because they are naturally ambiguous and everyone by WP:AT/MOS:NUM experts will expect such an article title to be about the real-world date range, not about a work titled for that date range. Dohn joe's own objection is again addressed adequately by the proponent in a comment below: 'it’s really not “preemptive disambiguation”; such a title is already ambiguous by its very nature'.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  13:25, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. If there isn't a primary topic that would take the same name, disambiguation is inappropriate. To quote WP:Disambiguation, "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" (my emphasis). These article titles aren't printed out somewhere, where someone is given no context, but somehow has to figure out what the date range refers to. They are used as links within other articles, and typed in to the search bar by people looking for particular content. So unless you have an actual topic that would have an article or redirect for that date range (I'm thinking something like 1939-1945 would maybe, maybe be a plausible redirect to World War II), there is no user context for the disambiguation to become necessary. Note that this would mean that albums with names like "1960-1969" would be disambiguated, as the date range would be a plausible redirect to a well known and studied cultural era, i.e. the 1960s. VanIsaacWScont 01:50, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
Many of us oppose that interpretation of WP:Disambiguation, particularly when it leads to titles that are too short and ambiguous to be precise enough to point out the topic. The precision criterion suggests that being precise enough to point out the topic is a good thing: The title is sufficiently precise to unambiguously identify the article's subject and distinguish it from other subjects. Dicklyon (talk) 04:26, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
Unfortunately, there is nothing inherent about "short" titles that makes something fundamentally ambiguous: ambiguity comes when there's a completely separate topic that would be referred to by the same name, no matter the length. "The one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people-eater" was both a song and an old purple car my aunt and uncle used to own; length ≠ unambiguous. What this proposal is implying is that any article title which does not invoke its subject domain, whether there is another article topic that can be named the same or not, should be disambiguated, but the implications of that standard are absolute chaos - disambiguation would be the default, not the exception for when there is ambiguity. Staying within album titles, and to take a single artist, Bridge over Troubled Water would need to be disambiguated because there is nothing inherent in the title that says it's an album and not an infrastructure project; Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme needs disambiguation because it could be a spice mixture; Wednesday Morning, 3 AM could be taken for a certain time of the week; Sounds of Silence would be disambiguated against a possible Zen kōan or an auditory effect; and Bookends happens to be a primary topic, but it's the one Simon and Garfunkel album that is legitimately a target for disambiguation right now (a hatnote points to the library device). In the end, this argument for disambiguation is actually an argument about overturning long-standing policy and understanding of how disambiguation works and what it is for, and trying to wiggle it in under something that superficially might be confusing because we don't normally put numbers in the same domain as music is neither wise nor is this venue or its visibility sufficient to take on such a fundamental change to Wikipedia policy. Since having every article that doesn't explicitly state its subject domain within the title is a pretty unambiguously bad standard to have, it's a precedent you shouldn't make unless there are critical consequences to not doing so. This doesn't even come close. VanIsaacWScont 21:24, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
Re: What this proposal is implying is that any article title which does not invoke its subject domain, whether there is another article topic that can be named the same or not, should be disambiguated. Thank you ... I have been trying to figure out what it is about this proposal that bothers me, and your comment hit the nail on the head. Yeah... we are not talking about titles that need disambiguation here... we are talking about titles that don't "invoke their subject domain clearly".
We tend to think of parenthetical notations in titles as being "disambiguation"... but they have a second use... "clarification". The thing is, determining whether there is a need for clarification in a title is a matter of consensus, and not something that has been addressed in this policy. Sometimes the consensus will be that adding a parenthetical clarification of the title will be a benefit to the readers... and sometimes the consensus will be that it won't be a benefit. In other words... the need for clarification may be a valid concern, but it is one that has to be hashed out on an article by article basis. We can't look to policy about this, because there is no WP:CLARITY... no policy or guidance on how best to clarify a title that might (or might not) need clarification... the only way to deal with it is the messy process of consensus building. Blueboar (talk) 23:06, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
I think you’re right about what’s being proposed, though I still believe it would be a Good Thing. But I guess a side question that I’m asking here is… should there be a WP:CLARITY? (Edit: There is… but you get my point.) And to Vanisaac: Wikipedia does not only exist as this website, and one of the project’s goals is for a traditional paper encyclopedia to be included among the countless forms it may take. We can’t assume anything about context. — (talk) 01:25, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Seeing as the very first item on the policy page telling us what Wikipedia is not is that WP:Wikipedia is not paper, yet another argument for adding unnecessary disambiguation seems to be in direct contradiction with the basic philosophy of how this site works. But even if we were to take that as a real concern, I think the two things I would do before anything else, in compiling a paper version of Wikipedia, would be to 1) find a heuristic for substituting wikilinks, eg The Wars of the Roses → The Wars of the Roses (English dynastic conflict, 1455–1487) and 2) I would organize things by category, probably by establishing equivalence between Wikipedia categories and LCC call letters. But in the end, disambiguation for a print edition still has no limiting concept, inevitably implying the madness of disambiguating every article. VanIsaacWScont 04:21, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Um, that bit of the policy concerns size and breadth limitations, and nothing else… and I’m not proposing here that we disambiguate whenever possible; just that we clarify ambiguously titled works, and that works named for year ranges are ambiguously titled works. — (talk) 05:06, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
I'm well aware of what the policy says, what I am doing is applying the principle upon which it is based. Wikipedia is not constrained by the pragmatic concerns of paper encyclopedias, and it is fallacious to argue for something because that's how it would be done in a paper encyclopedia. The fundamental problem is that your conception of an "ambiguously titled work" is completely at odds with all current practice on Wikipedia, and defines the ambiguity of a title in such a way that nearly every article would need to be disambiguated. As far as I can tell, your proposed principle for disambiguation is that an article title must not only name the article subject, but also has to evoke the subject domain in some way. It removes any context or cultural knowledge whatsoever, and demands that the article title without that context could not possibly be considered for any other subject. The Great Awakening would have to be disambiguated as a religious movement, Crito would have to be identified as a philosophical dialogue, and the Trail of Tears as a native genocide; the implications of your standard of what is an "ambiguous title" is absolute madness. VanIsaacWScont 09:00, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
I never said we should do something under the assumption that it would be on paper. I said we shouldn’t do something under the assumption that it would be on this website, in response to your arguments implying that Wikipedia articles are never seen outside of this website.
True, one could admittedly make the argument that the titles you list are not entirely unambiguous. But I don’t think one could argue that any of your suggested alternatives are the primary topic for the respective title, and never have I suggested ignoring that fact. However, the primary topic for a range of years (where WP:DIFFCAPS can’t possibly apply) is arguably that range of years. It’s more akin to your Bookends example than anything else, or any other subject that’s named for a common noun (which none of your other examples are). — (talk) 09:49, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
That's just it. Without an event, or cultural era, or something that took place in that time period and would be identified by that range of years, the album is not only the primary topic, it is the only topic. VanIsaacWScont 10:55, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
I respectfully disagree. The range of years itself is a topic that would more reasonably be expected under such a title in an encyclopedia, since that’s what it unambiguously is, so I’d argue that it’s misleading to use it for anything else. What I’m advocating here is that such titles follow the principle of least astonishment (article, project essay). To the best of my knowledge, there are no other nouns or noun phrases used to title articles that are not about what those nouns or noun phrases primarily represent—i.e. Bodybuilding is about what bodybuilders do, Fermat's little theorem is about a theorem by Fermat, etc.. These year range titles are an exception. I say they shouldn’t be. That’s all. — (talk) 11:37, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Bridge over Troubled Water is neither about bridges nor waterways in unfortunate circumstances; To Kill a Mockingbird is not an article about ornithocide; Mt. Gox is not an article about a geographic feature; Barenaked Ladies is not an article about female naturism; et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum. VanIsaacWScont 23:05, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
And the capitalization makes it clear that, for instance, To Kill a Mockingbird is about something by that name (not to mention the fact that we never title our articles with infinitive phrases). Does a bridge by that name exist? Does a mountain by that name exist? The span of time between one calendar year and another calendar year is a thing that exists. Please use better fitting examples, or respond to the points I have made. — (talk) 01:39, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
  • Capitalisations distinguish "Bridge over Troubled Water", "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Barenaked Ladies" as composition titles, and not descriptive titles. "1979-1983" carries not hint that it is a composition title, and is easily read as a descriptive title.
Mt. Gox could use more clarity. It is poorly recognizable, and is easily mis-recognized as a geographical feature. It would be better titled as Mt. Gox, bitcoin exchange, noting that reliable sources commenting on it feel the need to clarify it that way in its first mention. It fits into the large group of commercial things trying to own short catchy names. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:08, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
All capitalisation tells you is that it's a proper name of some sort. And artists and authors have been known to purposefully not capitalise, as well, leading to MOS issues with forcing capitalisation. But even if capitalisation were a perfectly applied metric, it neither limits the possible domain, nor does it distinguish between items inside and outside of literal interpretations, e.g. Bridge over Troubled Water vs Bridge of Sighs. VanIsaacWScont 10:03, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
Whether proper name or composition title, the capitalisation tells you that it is not a descriptive title. This means that for titles using title case, there is no strong reason to disambiguate from the topic implied by the reading of a descriptive title. This is not the case for "1979-1983".
Going back to your !vote of 01:50, 7 September: Disambiguation is obviously required when technically necessary, but to limit disambiguation to technical necessity means to ignore the needs readers to read a title for the traditional, expected, purpose of a title, which is to identify the topic covered. Article titles are printed out somewhere, Wikipedia articles are able to printed, and excepts of multiple articles have content pages, and titles populate the content pages, and these are suitable for printing. You appear to be working under the apprehension that periods of time are only of interest if they are well known and studied, and this is contrary to the aim of the project to be comprehensive. Only a couple of authors need be published writing about the period 1979-1983 and voilà, "1979-1983" is a viable article topic. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 10:37, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
I’m afraid I must admit that I’m not even sure what you’re arguing at this point, Van. Are you criticizing my position for not taking it to unreasonable extremes and applying it to titles that already unambiguously identify their subjects? — (talk) 19:12, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
I realize we've gotten quite far away from the main point, but if you don't understand that bad precedents get set by these edge cases, that a policy requiring disambiguation when there is not another article topic with which it would be confused implies that there is a justification for disambiguating in almost any circumstance, then you probably shouldn't be making large forays into site policy like this. The problem is that there just isn't a usage scenario in which unnecessary disambiguation provides a benefit even remotely justifying the wikilawyering that would result. Even the most anachronistic presentation - a paper printout - has the article content right there for you to see that it's about a compilation album and not an abstract general span of time. The fact is, you have to go out of your way to purposefully remove all context and contributing information from the article title for this ever to relieve anything more than a moment's transitory confusion. Bad precedent, capricious reversal of basic site architecture, and no realistic usefulness to any user or editor is more than enough to oppose this idea categorically. That's really all I have to say on the matter. VanIsaacWScont 21:51, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
I understand no such thing. I see no slippery slope in requiring disambiguation when the obvious primary use (the date range) does not have a Wikipedia article, whether or not it should have a Wikipedia article. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 00:01, 11 September 2014 (UTC)
Could someone move this thread down to the next section? Feels way too long for where it is. Anyway, “a policy requiring disambiguation when there is not another article topic with which it would be confused” is not what is being proposed here, but rather, a policy requiring disambiguation when there is a primary topic with which it would be confused, which in my opinion is far from “unnecessary.” This is rather more limited than the open-ended policy you seem to have read into it. And sure, the same logic could potentially be applied to our article about The Bridge on the River Kwai if the Khwae Yai River had a bridge known by that name—and that would be an argument worth considering. To further counter your slippery-slope argument, the example I just used is the only working example other than year ranges that the group of us have been able to come up with; all of the other examples in this thread have been unambiguous or the primary topic. — (talk) 02:16, 11 September 2014 (UTC)
  • Support – Year ranges don't naturally disambiguate. Epicgenius (talk) 21:34, 13 September 2014 (UTC) (Corrected. Epicgenius (talk) 22:11, 14 September 2014 (UTC))
    What does that mean? Please explain. Dohn joe (talk) 21:57, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
    "What does that mean? Please explain"? Trollers' bait. It is quite clear what he means. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 01:34, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
    I'm sorry - maybe I'm being dense, but I really do not understand what the point of "Year ranges don't naturally disambiguate." I simply asked the poster to explain. And if you wouldn't mind striking the bit about calling me a troll, I'd appreciate that as well. Dohn joe (talk) 01:51, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
    Withdrawn with apologies. I now realise that I have little idea what Epicgenius means. I had thought he obviously meant "Year ranges [such as "1979-1983"] don't disambiguate [topics such as the topic of the five years 1979-1983 from the topic of a commercial product titled 1979-1983]". --SmokeyJoe (talk) 04:12, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
    @Dohn joe: I struck what I didn't mean. Epicgenius (talk) 22:11, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
    If I understand Epicgenius correctly: Year ranges are naturally ambiguous, and should never be used as titles when unambiguous titles are desired. — (talk) 21:57, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
    @ I was wrong. Year ranges do naturally disambiguate, and that's what I meant to say in the first place. My apologies. Epicgenius (talk) 22:11, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
    That's no more clear. Do you mean that they naturally require disambiguation, and that's why you said "support"? Or maybe you didn't understand the question, or have some view that we can't discern from your words? Dicklyon (talk) 00:35, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
    Argh! I am one confusing guy. Face-smile.svg

    I mean that pages like 1979–1983 do not need moving to 1979–1983 (album) because they already distinguish themselves naturally; the year range itself is not notable, but the album is, so the article can stay at the title "1979–1983". Epicgenius (talk) 01:55, 16 September 2014 (UTC)

    Then I think you meant to oppose, since I proposed that we should do that because albums (especially non-notable ones, or ones from obscure bands) are not the primary topic. — (talk) 17:55, 16 September 2014 (UTC)

Date-range disambiguation discussion[edit]

Question for opposers: What, if anything, is a drawback to making ambiguous proper names slightly more concisely descriptive? What's the downside to a title like Away (play) as compared to Away? There are objecting editors here, but unless I missed something, they've all objected as a matter of principle where a number of supporting editors have pointed out how it benefits the user. How can a concise bit of extra precision, a mention of the creator or the format of the work or whatever, hinder the user? — (talk) 21:10, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

The short answer is, any waste of editor time and resources hinders the user, because those resources could have been spent in improving the encyclopedia. The point that the !supporters are missing, is that this kind of preemptive disambiguation, doesn't actually benefit the reader. In the real world, essentially nobody is confused by a date-range title going to a compilation album. The system works fine as is. It's a simple idea: if there are two or more encyclopedic topics with the same name, disambiguate. If not, there is no need. If we go around changing thousands of articles for no benefit, then we've wasted our time, and the user suffers. That's the downside - that's the hindrance.

I realize, by the way, that I lost most of the !supporters about three sentences back. I know that you all believe that the extra bits help the user. I disagree (and have explained at length elsewhere why). That irreconcilable difference in starting points makes it impossible to answer your question as posed - I disagree with the premise. Hope that helps explain a bit. Dohn joe (talk) 00:14, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Counterpoint: I am confused by a date-range title going to a compilation album, or any similarly ambiguous title (including ones that would seem to have no business being in an encyclopedia) going to something that seems completely unrelated. I sincerely doubt that I’m unique among Wikipedia users, and the avoidance of that confusion is the benefit of choosing titles more carefully. But I appreciate your efforts to explain your perspective. I’d hate to resign to simply agree to disagree, but if you think the differences are that fundamental… — (talk) 02:38, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Okay, one more try at reconciliation... :) I really don't think you or anyone else would ever be confused in real life. That's the thing. Say we have a book, 1947-1953 by John Smith. Someone who knows the title of the book will type "1947-1953" into the search box, see 1947-1953 pop up, and go merrily to their article. But here's the key to all this: no one else will search for "1947-1953", because it's not an encyclopedic topic. No one will ever come across 1947-1953 and not know immediately that it is the title of a book. They will see it in Google results, or they will see it as a link from another WP article, surrounded by context. The only people who see context-less titles disembodied from their content are denizens of WP:AT and WP:RM - i.e., us.

If you still disagree, please - show me how you or anyone could reasonably be confused by this title - when you are actually using WP, not just in the abstract. Dohn joe (talk) 14:51, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

So… our article titles are only useful as search keywords? I’m sorry if I misunderstand, but you seem to be implying that. And I respectfully disagree. Also, yes, I continue to be confused by the fact that 1983–1991 is about a release of goth music. But since you asked for a use case: If a friend sent me a link to 1947–1953, I would be confused once I read past the title, because that title would lead me to expect the article to be historical in nature. That wouldn’t be the case with John Smith 1947–1953 (obviously a work title) or 1947–1953 (book) (ditto). — (talk) 03:53, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
You must have awfully cryptic friends, to only send links to bare titles with no explanation. "Psst, hey, friend: 1947-1953!" I don't understand the search keyword thing you're imputing to me, so I don't know how to respond to that. Dohn joe (talk) 21:30, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
I meant off Wikipedia, so it would be a pasted URL (and yes, that does happen). And about search keywords, I meant that you seem to think the primary purpose of article titles was as things to be typed into the search box; I don’t know how accepted this is as true, but I don’t agree. — (talk) 22:42, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
It seems that having a redirect solves that problem. I didn't understand the proposal as saying there shouldn't be a redirect. Samsara (FA  FP) 03:37, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, à la 1979–1983 (natural DAB, but same point), a redirect to “… (album/movie/book/whatever)” makes sense. An album/movie/book/whatever at an ambiguous title does not, in my opinion. — (talk) 04:18, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Many folks in this thread have elsewhere argued strongly to remove date ranges as redirects, actually. Dohn joe (talk) 14:51, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
You'll note that I opposed the motion because I felt it wasn't sufficiently clear. It might be helpful to know what venue "elsewhere" refers to, if it isn't suppressed because of some previous incident. Thanks. Samsara (FA  FP) 16:35, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Elsewhere includes here, as well as at the various discussions listed at the top of that discussion. Dohn joe (talk) 20:34, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
By the way, it’s really not “preemptive disambiguation”; such a title is already ambiguous by its very nature. It’s only “preemptive” if you mean it in the Wikipedia jargon sense of disambiguating between articles rather than the actual meaning of the word. — (talk) 04:38, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I focused on ambiguity between encyclopedic uses, mainly because this is an encyclopedia.... :) Dohn joe (talk) 14:51, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Dohn joe had the only opposing argument that I thought worth thinking about above. That is until I realised he said, But here's the key to all this: no one else will search for "1947-1953", because it's not an encyclopedic topic. But it is, there's Cold War (1947–53) and History of the United States National Security Council 1947–53. As for his reference to previous discussions, as I have already noted, the actual articles either had additional ambiguation added, or were considered non-notable and merged. So I repeat, ongoing consensus is in favour of this proposal. --Richhoncho (talk) 21:07, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
User:Richhoncho - can we start with the potential common ground - what was the argument of mine that you felt was worth considering? Dohn joe (talk) 21:30, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
Richhoncho, "1947-1953" is at best a partial title match for Cold War (1947–53) and History of the United States National Security Council 1947–53 - it's not a competing use of that title. The way we decide whether anyone is like to search for a topic with a given term is by looking to see if reliable sources refer to that topic with that term. And in this cases there are no examples of reliable sources that refer to either of these topics as "1947-1953". --В²C 22:47, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
В²C. As you missed the irony I will have to spell it out. What the opposers are arguing is that nobody searches for something that is not there. Go tell that to people searching for yeti, bigfoot, gold at the end of the rainbow et al. Something is there providing you can find it. Let's make it easier to find and stop all this absurdity.--Richhoncho (talk) 08:46, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
The criteria for deciding whether something is ambiguous are not the same as the criteria for the contents of a DAB page. Those are not partial title matches; they’re historical topics that coincide with the example date range. He was illustrating that date ranges are ambiguous, and not just in the jargon sense of the word. — (talk) 03:31, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
When you say "not just in the jargon sense", the "not just" implies "date ranges are ambiguous" in (at least) the (WP) jargon sense. But that's not true. The date ranges are not ambiguous in the WP jargon sense, because we have no topics (other than the albums) covered on WP that are referred to as those date-ranges in reliable sources. Whether they are ambiguous in the dictionary sense (not the WP jargon sense) is irrelevant on WP. --В²C 17:25, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
I meant I was referring not to the WP jargon sense. And no, it is not irrelevant, per WP:NC. — (talk) 18:54, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
My opposing argument is based on the premise that both titles are reasonable and neither benefits the user more than the other to any significant degree. If you don't accept that premise, then we can talk about that separately. So the opposing argument is not about user benefit because it dismisses the user benefit argument as non-applicable at the outset. Instead, it is based on the need for a consistent, predictable and stable method for making title decisions so editors don't have to debate and re-debate titles, but can work on article content. So, yeah, principle is at stake here, but there are practical implications associated with how well these principles are followed. The more title decision-making is left to the subjective opinions of those who happen to participate in these discussion, the less definitive and less stable our titles becomes. And the way you achieve title stability is buy adopting clear and unambiguous rules on how to decide titles, whenever it is reasonable to do so. --В²C 22:47, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
I think it would be fairer to say that you consider editorial benefit to be a higher priority here than reader benefit. Your proposal of using as little disambiguatory language as possible would admittedly achieve that end—assuming it would not be a subject of constant debate. However, my proposal of using a little bit of precision would achieve both ends. You would have us name the article about the book 1947–1953 and have done with it. I would have us use WP:NATURALDIS or name it 1947–1953 (book) and have done with it. Our approaches are equally predictable, consistent, and stable, assuming universal editorial support for each (which can never be expected anyway). So I’m not seeing any benefit to yours over mine. If your measure of success is whether everyone agrees on something, it doesn’t matter what the thing they agree on is. — (talk) 19:07, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
"I think it would be fairer to say that you consider editorial benefit to be a higher priority here than reader benefit." No, I consider something of considerable editorial benefit, like title stability, to be a higher priority than something of marginal reader benefit (a more descriptive title), especially when the editorial benefit is savings in time which can be converted to improving articles which is a considerable reader benefit. Born2cycle — continues after insertion below
Yes, this is what I meant by “a higher priority here”. I intended no judgement, just pointing out that we were bringing different priorities to this debate. — (talk) 02:47, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
My proposal is to follow clear and consistent general titling principles (like disambiguate only when necessary to resolve conflicts with other uses on WP) consistently across all titles, as much as is reasonable, for the ultimate goal of title stability. Your proposal affects only these titles immediately, but also dismisses the principles that get us more title stability... leading to more title instability. There is nothing predictable, consistent, or stable about using WP:NATURALDIS in a case where disambiguation is not necessary. If we decide to do that here, how do we decide whether to use it in the myriads of other cases where disambiguation is not necessary? And no matter what those participating in some case decide, what's to keep another group of participants from deciding otherwise next time? If we don't follow clear and simple principles to decide how to title articles, then those decisions are ultimately up to the whims of those who happen to be participating, and are therefore subject to change, back and forth, endlessly. That's not stability. That's the opposite. --В²C 19:23, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
I still fail to see how your preference, to use extra precision only when the name is used by other articles, offers any more stability than mine, to always use extra precision when the name is a date range. You say stability comes from clear and simple principles; I am suggesting clear and simple principles. (Whether we should always use extra precision when the name is a common word is another question worth considering, but not what I’m proposing here [though I would support such a proposal].) — (talk) 02:47, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
Using extra precision only when when the name is used by other articles offers more stability than always use extra precision when the name is a date range because the latter introduces an exception to the former, based on an underlying principle that can, arguably, be used to justify more and more exceptions. The principle underlying the latter is to use extra precision whenever the name is recognizable as a reference to something that not only does not have a use on WP, but may not even have an actual use outside of WP. That may not be your intent, but once we have justified disambiguating the date ranges, anyone can reasonably point at any of them as an example to follow for the more general cases. And in each such situation that view will be subject to debate. Further, once we have more and more of these moved, now we have a growing number of examples of titles that are more descriptive due to the unnecessary disambiguation, and these can be used to justify unnecessary disambiguation to improve "recognizability" on the title of any article with a topic that is otherwise not broadly recognized to the public in general. In other words, the vast majority of our titles. You may believe you're drawing a clear line by limiting the scope of the proposal to broadly recognized titles with date ranges, but the unintended consequences, manifested in widespread title instability, will be enormous. --В²C 16:38, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
In my book, disambiguation to better satisfy precision and recognizability is not unnecessary. And if we’re stable with so many vague titles, maybe that stability is a bad thing. — (talk) 17:52, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
Let's not confuse the discussion with semantic banter. I purposefully linked to WP:UNDAB to be clear about how I was using "unnecessary". You may believe adding precision to the title is "necessary" for some other reasons, but it's clearly not necessary to distinguish it other uses on WP if there are no other uses on WP.

Nobody has identified a single significant problem with "vague" titles. If you don't understand and appreciate the problem of title instability, that explains everything. We currently seem to be getting 2 to 4 dozen new proposals per day at WP:RM. Apparently that's manageable, though it seems much higher than it needs to be, especially considering almost all of them don't affect user experience one iota one way or the other. But how many per day do you think would be a problem? I presume you agree 1,000 would be far too many. What about 500? 200? 100? What's tolerable? What's necessary? What's not? --В²C 19:06, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

UNDAB appears to be written almost entirely by you (I humbly suggest you avoid citing it yourself). I’m afraid I am not interested in your personal definition of unnecessary as explained in your essay, so I admit to not abiding by that definition. I was using unnecessary in the sense of not needed to achieve desired goals (precision and recognizability). This of course runs contrary to an assumption that disambiguation may serve one and only one goal.
I think the significant statistics would be the number of successful and unsuccessful RMs. A high number of unsuccessful RMs might indicate the problem you suggest, or possibly indicate that the cited project pages need rewriting to better reflect the consensus that rejects those moves; but a high number of successful RMs indicates something else entirely—that consensus is taking its course, as well it should. — (talk) 20:59, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
If you're not interested in interpreting the words I use in the way that I intend them, and insist on interpreting them how you want, then communication is impossible. How about this - I'll interpret your words the way you intend them, and you interpret my words the way I intend them? If there is any question or ambiguity about meaning, then ask. Okay? Born2cycle — continues after insertion below
Alternatively: Let’s all use language in the way that speakers of the language have generally agreed upon, rather than inviting miscommunication by using words to mean things they do not. — (talk) 22:51, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
I disagree that a big number of successful RMs necessarily indicates that consensus is taking its course. It could be that WP:JDLI is taking its course, with results depending largely on the whims of whoever happens to choose to participate in each RM, and interpret vague policy and guidelines however necessary to support their particular preference. --В²C 21:39, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
It’s true that that is a possibility, but I’d prefer to assume good faith of any given consensus and assume that the closing admins were being responsible and competent. Any serious study would require investigating the actual discussions rather than just looking at raw numbers. But my point stands that we can’t assume anything from a simple gross count. — (talk) 22:51, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

B2C writes "If you don't understand and appreciate the problem of title instability, that explains everything." I, too, don't understand or appreciate B2C's preoccupation with this concept of "title instability". It seems to be a concept unique to him. Can someone else who understands it please explain why it so important? I do understand that if B2C succeeds in getting WP to accept strict algorithms for titling, that titles will be stable, but so what? That seems like the wrong goal. Dicklyon (talk) 01:09, 16 August 2014 (UTC)

That’s easy, it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy and the extent to which two of those opposing will go to make article titles unstable can be summed up by two quotes:-
Between two titles that are reasonable for a given topic, the shorter one, by character counting, is more concise, by definition - В²C – at Talk:Madonna (entertainer)
But here's the key to all this: no one else will search for "1947-1953", because it's not an encyclopedic topic. - Dohn joe above.
So we have one who will reduce language to a mathematical equation and the other who does not understand people spend longer looking for things they cannot find! That's two of the three opposing this proposal. The rest are in general agreement (and it appears, many other editors who avoid these discussions like the plague).--Richhoncho (talk) 09:15, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
What about the editors - different ones for each article - who created these articles, uniformly without adding "(album)"? What about the thousands of readers of these articles, who have yet to raise any concern about the titles? This issue simply does not exist outside of WP:AT and WP:RM. Dohn joe (talk) 16:47, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Response to Dohn joe. Same reason that there are nearly 400,000 articles in Category:Redirects from other capitalisations, let alone other redirect categories. Same reason we keep editing articles. Same reason we have an AfD process, same reason we have a RM process. As you are now clutching at straws without any thought, nor comprehension of what you saying and have no intention of entering a discussion nor changing your mind, consider this conversation finished. --Richhoncho (talk) 19:37, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
“What about the thousands of readers of these articles, who have yet to raise any concern about the titles?”—You mean the silent majority? We can’t read anything into their continued silence. — (talk) 18:04, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
  • The Wikipedia search engine and external search engine are far superior at helping readers find what they want than editors who think they know making redirects.
"1979-1983" could well be an encyclopedic topic. Readers cannot reasonably be expected to know the limit of encyclopedic topics. If seen as a title (in the category system, in a link, in hovertext, in a downstream reuse, etc) the existance of the time implies that it is an encyclopedic topic. There must have been something significant 1947-1953, a reader should think. They have a look. Damn, fooled again by advertising. It's an obscure commercial product masquerading as an encyclopedic topic.
These few editors who have technical theories on titles should be asked to go away. The project is to serve the readers. Readers will expect the titles to be like titles in the real world. Real world non-fiction titles are not so terse. Titles should reflect the content of what they title. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 10:42, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
"Readers will expect the titles to be like titles in the real world." - I agree. In fact, this is my whole point. Dohn joe (talk) 16:47, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
But as titled for a broad context. Not following the establishment of a narrow context. Wikipedia titles sit at the broad context. Obscure albums only get mentioned after, with the context of, discussion of the band. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 21:53, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
That's exactly wrong. WP titles are not intended for a broad context. No one scans raw lists of WP titles to find anything. WP titles are used in narrow contexts, usually to specify the name most commonly used to refer to the topic in question (presuming most people arrive at articles via search engines or links), but also as an internal WP search key by someone who is familiar with the topic (and is thus searching for it). --В²C 23:28, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
You obviously exist solely in the world of your own experience. You deny that Wikipedia can be downloaded and reused. Have you seen the “Download as PDF” link? Have you ever perused the category system? Have you never read an offsite document that makes explicit reference to a particular Wikipedia article title? Titles are the big text that dominate the top of the first page of the document, text that a readers reads before deciding whether to read the next text. Typically, in Wikipedia article PDFs, the next text is very far below a infobox image. Wikipedia titles are NOT used in a narrow context if you count the ways others use titles. You seem to think the main purpose of the title is to identify a particular page, which ignores the use of the title as the title at the top of page. Titles are only a part of what the search engine uses to answer search queries, and even if they were the only part, more information helps, less information hurts. Someone familiar with a topic is probably not “searching” for it. They are “going” to it, already knowing it is there. You are devaluing readers really searching, or researching, readers seeking knowledge they don’t really have. Your objectives are at the expense of wider and easier dissemination of the knowledge, an in favour of users who are the most common users who already know what they are coming for. Your objective, if algorithmic and minimalist titling at the expense of community consensus decision making and serving the widest readership is contrary to the objective of the project. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:58, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

The role and import of title stability[edit]

In theory we don't need title policy, guidelines or conventions. We could just vote on what title each of us thinks would be most helpful to the reader, and go with that. The very reason we don't do that, and go with policy, guidelines and conventions instead, is title stability. Title stability is an important goal - to minimize time consuming pointless debates about which of two reasonable titles to use: pointless because it doesn't matter very much. The rules should indicate which to use so we don't have to argue about it. In the real world we have traffic rules and conventions. It doesn't really matter whether we choose to drive on the left or the right, but it's important that we all choose one or the other. So, every country has a convention: right or left. Same with what color means stop and what color means go. Or whether the accelerator is on the right or left. Titles are the same. It doesn't really matter whether we use most commonly used names or official names (when applicable), but it is much more important that we decide which one we use, and use that consistently. That doesn't mean there can't be exceptions, but they have to be for good reason. Just like emergency vehicles are allowed to drive on the wrong side of the road and run red lights, and it's allowed to cross the center in order to pass (when safe) but, in general, we have rules that are consistently followed. The alternative is inefficient chaos. Or title instability. --В²C 23:22, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

There is no real problem with “title stability” any different to “content stability”. You have imagined a fantasy and generated an even more fantastic solution to an imaginary problem, at the expense of consensus decision making an empowerment of all contributors to contribute.
Pointless debates would be greatly alleviated if you personally and singularly would stop initiating pointless debates.
For example: Talk:Janet_(album)#Alternative:_re-evaluate_Janet. Six weeks after a unanimous rejection of the same proposal, you re-propose it in the middle of another discussion, just to see more editors unanimously reject it again. At explained on my talk page, you appear incapable of understanding the concept of consensus.
Your argument from analogy is off-point. Your false dichotomy is nonsense. I submit, again, that your contributions to the project-space are a net negative, time wasting and misleading. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:44, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
  • SmokeyJoe wrote immediately above, I submit, again, that your (B2C) contributions to the project-space are a net negative, time wasting and misleading. Quite. B2C has made 106 edits in August, of which only one is on article namespace, an article that was subject to an RM. --Richhoncho (talk) 07:52, 18 August 2014 (UTC) Removed sentence which could be interpreted as POV on request of another editor. Left statement of fact. --Richhoncho (talk) 09:06, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
  • I'm sorry, but you have this entirely wrong; stability is irrelevant. The reason to have guidelines on article naming is for consistency. It doesn't matter if an article changed its name between yesterday and today, or what it will be named tomorrow. Those are taken care of automatically by redirects. But consistency means that if an article has a certain name format, you can find the article on a similar related topic by applying the same formatting - you will either end up at that article, sometimes via redirect from unnecessary disambiguation, or a disambiguation page or hatnote from which you can access that article. Either way, the name of the article doesn't matter, as long as it has a discernible relationship to the article topic, and other articles on similar topics have names that can be derived in the same way. VanIsaacWScont 03:03, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
  • We have articles on NASCAR races for which the article title changes every single year, when a new sponsor takes over sponsorship of the race. We have an expectation that the name of a cardinal will change when they become Pope, that people will change their names when they change gender identities, possible when they marry, or in adopting a stage name, or dropping the same. Stability is neither a listed goal of our title conventions, nor one particularly consistent with our other listed goals. bd2412 T 03:42, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
    • Okay, point made. But that's different. Those are not changes subject to debate. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about Yogurt or Yoghurt. Mustang, Mustang (horse) or Mustang horse. Cork, Cork city or Cork (city). Chicago or Chicago, Illinois. New York, New York or New York City or New York City, New York. Madonna or Madonna (entertainer). Most proposals at WP:RM. All these titles are equally "good" in terms of user experience. The only reason to debate about them is for consistency in the rules. And a big reason to have consistency in the rules is for title stability. It's pointless to move a title back and forth between two equally "good" titles. With clearer rules, there would be less debate, and more time to make contributions that improve that encyclopedia. --В²C 18:06, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
      No one is forced to debate when he would rather contribute to articles. Anyone who feels that way should probably limit himself to one or two posts in administrative discussions (such as RM discussions) and then get on with editing articles to otherwise make them better, and trust consensus to take its course. — (talk) 06:08, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
If only.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:28, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
  • WP:TITLECHANGES is about stability. A simple set of mechanical rules for all moves does not work because people use judgement on each and every article title. In most cases it is obvious what the title shoudl be for example "Battle of Waterloo" is not likely to be a name that many people would consider inappropriate. However for some titles there are different considerations to be weighed and which of the various choices depend on the consensus at the time and given time' consensus can change. What is disruptive is asking for another RM too soon after a previous one. Personally as a rule of thumb I think that at least six months should pass between requests to move to the same name, because such repeated moves become such an editorial time sink, and that effort could be used more constructively in other areas of the project. -- PBS (talk) 07:12, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Choosing the best title for an article is always based on consensus. This policy outlines what factors and goals we should consider when reaching that consensus, but how we balance these various factors and goals (which factors and goals we give more or less weight to) will change from article to article, and discussion to discussion... and, of course, consensus can change.
Yes, consistency is one of the factors/goals we should consider... but we are free to give consistency less weight (or no weight at all) if the consensus is that doing so will better achieve the other goals (we do this all the time).
Yes, a good title will be stable... but that does not mean the current title is necessarily stable, and thus must be kept (a different title might end up being more stable than the current one).
It is never disruptive to propose a title change. What can be disruptive is proposing a title change immediately after a consensus discussion has been held (an exception can be made when someone raises a new argument for the change... one that was not discussed in the recently ended discussion). What definitely is disruptive is a) changing a title without consensus, and b) edit warring to change/keep your preferred title. Blueboar (talk) 12:30, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

Stability is not one of the WP:CRITERIA. Precision is. It says a title "is sufficiently precise to unambiguously identify the article's subject and distinguish it from other subjects." Year ranges without any clue to the actual topic do not identify the article's subject. Dicklyon (talk) 04:26, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

A much more effective way "to minimize time consuming pointless debates" would be for B2C to shut up. He drives these discussions relentlessly, as a look at any relevant talk page history, or at his history in AN/I, makes clear. Dicklyon (talk) 04:30, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

  • Maybe B2C is our Socrates. bd2412 T 03:27, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
    • In a weird way… that actually makes sense. Discussing my disagreements with him, à la Socratic questioning, is what helped me realize I wanted to propose disambiguating date-range titles. — (talk) 03:40, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
  • @Born2cycle:: Your reasoning doesn't hold up, due to affirming the consequent, if I recall my logic fallacies correctly. While it's a correct statement that "It's pointless to move a title back and forth between two equally 'good' titles" (or, for that matter, to move them back and forth at all, instead of just once, after a good consensus discussion arrives at the most sensible name), the rest of what you said does not follow from that. There is no connection between a) moving titles back and forth, which is an issue of editwarring, and b) how our rules about what titles should be are written. The fact that editwarring over titles is WP:LAME does not prove, in any way, that the (or a) raison d'etre of our titles policy is to prevent movewarring. We already have WP:EDITWAR policy for that, and our policies are not redundant with one another, so the idea is essentially disproven. [They sometimes reinforce and interpret the relevant application of one another, and WP:AT does this at WP:TITLECHANGES. But note that not only is it not among the WP:CRITERIA, it's very narrowly tailored to "[c]hanging one controversial title to another without a discussion that leads to consensus", an interpration of WP:EDITWAR + WP:CONSENSUS + WP:NPOV as applied to WP:AT.] The principal actual reasons we have naming standards are a) to prevent time wasted in recycling the same kinds of disputes (e.g. most common name vs. official name, etc.) over titles because they suck up precious editorial time, and b) much more importantly to steer us away from problematic titles that confuse or offend readers. I don't mean to be personally critical, but a large proportion of your edits that pertain to article titles (which actually seems to be about 99% of your edits, at least within recent memory) evince an explicitly (though possibly subconsciously) "editors come first" mentality that's completely inimical to WP's purpose and operation. This is a case in point.

    Readers couldn't give a flying crap whether an article title is changed, as long as it's not changed to something misleading, ambiguous or POV-pushing. Hardly any of them will ever notice any other kind of move. The average reader never even hits the same article twice, unless it's a "utility" article that is updated over time, e.g. "List of some TV show episodes". After even a few uses of WP, disambiguations are "transparent" to the reader; anyone who uses this site even causally doesn't even think twice about an article being at "Pat Smith (footballer)" or "Pat Smith (chef)" instead of at "Pat Smith". WP:NOONECARES.

    Again, AT policy matters for two reasons and two only: Not messing with the readers' heads by picking stupid names, and not recycling the same stupid arguments about the same kind of naming question again and again. (We still do it anyway, because AT isn't clear enough in several places, especially where its vagueness permits a few people to perpetually make up nonsense about an imaginary conflict between AT and MOS).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:28, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

So back to the question[edit]

Are we doing this? Seems to be widely supported here by experienced editors. — (talk) 03:30, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

Since the original question was neutrally worded, but discussion has petered out with only enough input to probably conclude "no consensus", I put an RfC tag on this to draw in more commenters. The previous discussion at Wikipedia_talk:Article titles/Archive 47#Date ranges as titles went the same way: A clear majority in favor of disambiguating these names, but just enough opposes that consensus wasn't clear. Let's get it done right this time.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  13:36, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
I wasn't aware Wikipedia_talk:Article_titles/Archive_47#Wikipedia:Naming_conventions_.28numbers_and_dates.29_approach had been restarted here as a RFC. I proposed an Estonian compilation album at Talk:1994–1996#Requested_move for (album). In ictu oculi (talk) 23:47, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

Cart before the horse?[edit]

Something we should probably have looked into before we got all hot and bothered over date-range titles... how many of these articles actually pass our various notability guidelines?
A lot of the above discussion relate to various "best of" albums for music groups... but looking at our WP:NALBUM guideline, I am not at all sure that these albums are actually considered notable enough for their own articles (the individual songs on the album, yes... but the album as a whole, no). There is no point in worrying about the titles if the articles themselves are questionable. Blueboar (talk) 12:13, 16 September 2014 (UTC)

Parenthetical clarification[edit]

This came up in one of the discussions above... and I think it is worth its own discussion. This is NOT about disambiguation. In situations where disambiguation ISN'T needed. Can parentheses be used in an article title to better clarify the topic/subject of an article. For example... Suppose there is a unique song title by the name of "Love is Super-de-do", performed by a band called the Wikipeida Quartet... is it appropriate or beneficial to clarify that the article about that song is about a song... by adding a parenthetical remark: Love is super-de-do (song) or perhaps even: Love is super-de-do (Wikipedia Quartet song).

My own reading of policy is that parentheticals could be used this way (at least we don't have a rule saying they can't)... so perhaps it's more a question of should they be used this way. It's essentially a blending of the song's name into a DESCRIPTIVE title... Thoughts and comments? Blueboar (talk) 21:38, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

Normally you would use appropriate caps to signify that it's a composition title or trademark or something (e.g. A New Thought for Christmas), and that's usually enough, except when it is inherently very ambiguous, as with many one-word titles (Big (film), Yesterday (Beatles song)). We argue about those and they don't always come out consistently (see 5.0), but I'd think they need the extra parenthetical info whether you prefer to call it disambiguation or not, because they're too ambiguous. Dicklyon (talk) 00:26, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
Possibly a better case to look at for this question would be something like To be, or not to be—should that title include (quote) or (phrase) at the end? It’s arguably not necessarily clear from the title what that article is about. — (talk) 02:01, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
Errm, I think you both might have missed the point -- This is NOT about disambiguation. In situations where disambiguation ISN'T needed. That is, when some sort of parenthetical is required, should we opt for a more descriptive term? olderwiser 02:39, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
I don't think he was asking whether just (song) or (Wikipedia Quartet song) would be preferred. Dicklyon (talk) 02:44, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
I thought the question was: when some sort of parenthetical isn’t required for disambiguation, but the title still does not make the subject entirely clear, is one appropriate? (Which if it isn’t the question, Blueboar, please delete this post.) — (talk) 04:00, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
Yes... "when some sort of parenthetical isn’t required for disambiguation, but the title still does not make the subject entirely clear, is one appropriate?"... that is a good summary of my question. Blueboar (talk) 10:27, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
There are a few cases where round brackets are useful other than for disambiguation. See for example the ancestors of Oliver Cromwell who were known as Williams but used a legal alias of Cromwell, the simplest way to include that in the article title was to include it in round brackets eg Richard Williams (alias Cromwell) the other choice was to use Richard Williams, alias Cromwell. Of course Williams is a very common name so without the alias Cromwell a dab extension is needed for Richard Williams eg Richard Cromwell (courtier) . -- PBS (talk) 08:58, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
WP:PRECISION has the beginnings of a list of the topic projects that have formed consensuses to use parenthetical descriptors where disambiguation isn't necessary: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (UK Parliament constituencies) and Wikipedia:Naming conventions (U.S. state and territory highways). IMO, WP:PRECISION is otherwise opposed to that, and the topic projects represent WP:LOCALCONSENSUS, but nothing's come of it except heat. -- JHunterJ (talk) 10:32, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
A local consensus is fine... as long as it does not contradict a broader consensus (such as a project wide RFC consensus, or a policy). In this case, I don't see any broader consensus discussions... which is why I ask about it here. I suppose I am asking whether we should have a broader consensus or not? Blueboar (talk) 12:21, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
B2C's attempt to push the concept of "unnecessary disambiguation" certainly didn't achieve consensus, so I'd say no. Dicklyon (talk) 14:18, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
But again... I am not talking about disambiguation at all... I am talking about adding a parenthetical description... in situations when just using a simple name is not enough to really let the reader know what the article is about. The motivation for adding the parenthetical isn't that the name is in some way ambiguous... it's more that the name is obscure and uninformative on its own. Blueboar (talk) 14:52, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
This has the potential to provide ammunition for all kinds of arguments about article titles. For example, it could be argued that using scientific names as article titles isn't enough for the "ordinary" reader to know what the article is about, so an English name or an English description (e.g. "flower" or "dinosaur") should be added in parentheses. The article explains the title, not vice versa. Peter coxhead (talk) 18:41, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
This what? What are you saying has the potential to provide ammo for some silly strawman argument? Anyway, I don't see any movement that way. I was referring to things like "Big" and "Yesterday", which, whether they need disambiguation or not, do not point out the topic of the article even for someone familiar with the field, since they are too common in various fields and don't point out what field they mean. I realize these are not good examples of not needing disambiguation, since they do, but the same question comes up a lot on primarytopic claims, where people want to make one use of a very ambiguous term primary and title the article very ambiguously as a result. I think the "precision" criterion provides the reason to not do that. The example that Blueboar provided is not close to any actual question I've ever seen come up, so this whole discussion is kinda trolling, don't you think? Dicklyon (talk) 18:56, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
Echoing Peter coxhead: the article lead is there to let the reader know what the article is about. The title is not the lead. -- JHunterJ (talk) 17:35, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
OK... I am obviously not being clear as to what I am thinking about... so let me try to ask my question in another way:
Are there any circumstances where a parenthetical description would be used in a title other than for disambiguation purposes? If so, what are they? Blueboar (talk) 16:04, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
@Blueboar: As JHunterJ already said: "WP:PRECISION has the beginnings of a list of the topic projects that have formed consensuses to use parenthetical descriptors where disambiguation isn't necessary: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (UK Parliament constituencies) and Wikipedia:Naming conventions (U.S. state and territory highways). IMO, WP:PRECISION is otherwise opposed to that, and the topic projects represent WP:LOCALCONSENSUS, but nothing's come of it except heat." WP:PRECISION and it being against this sort of thing does in fact represent precisely the "contradict[ion of] a broader consensus (such as a project wide RFC consensus, or a policy)" about which you somehow say "I don't see any broader consensus". It's kind of hard to miss. @JHunterJ: Your words were prescient. For more "heat", see the mass RM I just posted a link to a few minutes ago in a separate thread.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  16:36, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
Yep. And post-scient. I have a list of past discussions, some with heat, at User:JHunterJ#Local consensus vs. precision. -- JHunterJ (talk) 17:35, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
Hit me enough times and I begin to get it. So would it be fair to say that (barring a few rare exceptions) we should use a parenthesis in a title only in situations where we need to indicate disambiguation? Blueboar (talk) 21:11, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
It would be fair to say that we should parentheses in a title only when needed for disambiguation, yes. There exist some exceptions, but it has not yet been determined whether it's fair to say that those exceptions should exist. They appear to me to be WP:LOCALCONSENSUS and should not be continued. -- JHunterJ (talk) 02:31, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
Parentheticals theoretically can be used this way (see, e.g., the above discussion about titles of works in the form of date ranges), to ensure that a title is properly precise, or to satisfy one of the other WP:CRITERIA, but WP:NATURAL tells us to use natural phrasing when possible instead of resorting to a parenthetical construction. Thus 103rd United States Congress not United States Congress (103rd). It's generally always better to have an article title of the form "Foo bar" or "Bar foo" than "Bar (foo)", unless the subject is almost always referred to as "bar" without the "foo" being present at all (which is the case with most of the articles we disambiguate parenthetically); the parenthetical form is usually more awkward, and adds unnecessary characters, so shouldn't be used if we don't have to use it. We don't even use it for disambiguation proper, unless necessary (e.g. American football, not Football (American)).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:56, 20 September 2014 (UTC)

There's a bunch of ongoing, related WP:RM discussions testing such distinctions right now; WP:AT regulars way wish to comment on them, as they're rather obscure, and have little input yet, but have implications for several hundred article names at least, with tensions between various different WP:CRITERIA:

These two may also raise related questions:

Normally I don't draw attention to RMs at WT:AT, but this talk page presently has two concurrent discussions about the same issues raised in the RMs, indicating continued unclarity about the same point. All or most of these discussions should start showing a consensus in the same direction, one way or the other, or nothing will be resolved.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  04:08, 20 September 2014 (UTC)

What are "exceptions to criteria"?[edit]

The WP:CRITERIA say a lot about what makes a good title; they are not "rules" with "exceptions". But when I tried to explain better, avoiding the rejected "unnecessary disambiguation" theory of B2C, JHunterJ reverted me here. Maybe someone else can find a better way to explain how consistency and precision live together in various titling guidelines? Dicklyon (talk) 20:57, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

Correct... This is why we call the WP:CRITERIA "goals" in the policy and not "rules".
What people often have difficulty understanding is that this policy is all about flexibility. Unlike most of our policies, this one is all about intentionally NOT setting firm and fast "rules". In fact, I would say there are only two real "rules" in the entire policy: 1) titles must be unique. 2) titles are ultimately chosen by consensus.
OH... and just for the record... sometimes consistency and precision don't live together. Sometimes they conflict... and as the policy says, sometimes we must choose between them. What a lot of people don't understand is that we intentionally don't say how to choose between them, nor which should take precedence when they do conflict. That's because the answer to the question "which is more important, consistency or precision?" will be different from one article to the next. Blueboar (talk) 00:47, 16 September 2014 (UTC)

An interesting question at the junction of conciseness and common name.[edit]

More perspectives would be helpful in the discussion at Talk:Urging the Government of Burma to end the persecution of the Rohingya people and respect internationally recognized human rights for all ethnic and religious minority groups within Burma (H.Res. 418; 113th Congress), where the question is not so much whether to shorten the title, but what to shorten it to. bd2412 T 00:42, 17 September 2014 (UTC)

Uggh. We need some general guidance on how to title members of Category:United States congressional resolutions like Calling on Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., to appoint a special counsel to investigate the targeting of conservative nonprofit groups by the Internal Revenue Service (H.Res. 565; 113th Congress) (I wonder what the technical limit on title lengths is). A name like United States House of Representatives House Resolution 121 has two issues: "House" is redundant to "House of Representatives" and I think they start renumbering resolutions every two years, hence a disambiguator like (113th Congress) is needed. I think we should probably avoid resolution numbers in titles. First, we need "US" to disambiguate from another country's House or Senate. So I would by convention begin all titles in the category with US House resolution or US Senate resolution. Disambiguate by year of the resolution only if necessary. Then, for the rest of the title, what are reliable sources calling it? If we can't answer that then maybe it's not a notable resolution. There are hundreds of such resolutions by every Congress, and we cover only a very small number of them apparently. – Wbm1058 (talk) 13:02, 17 September 2014 (UTC)
Before we worry about the article title... I have to question whether a non-binding House resolution like this is really notable enough for its own article. I think the topic should be covered in Wikipedia, but I wonder whether it wouldn't be better covered if pared down and merged into a section of some related article. The point being, we don't have to worry about the article title if we don't have a dedicated article about it. Blueboar (talk) 15:02, 17 September 2014 (UTC)
I must admit, I had not really thought about that. The article as it stands could be reordered and turned into an article on responses to the persecution of the Rohingya people in Burma. There is also Persecution of Muslims in Burma, which notes in the lede that this is primarily the Rohingya people. A possible merge is now being discussed at Talk:Urging the Government of Burma to end the persecution of the Rohingya people and respect internationally recognized human rights for all ethnic and religious minority groups within Burma (H.Res. 418; 113th Congress)‎#‎Questionable notability. bd2412 T 15:54, 17 September 2014 (UTC)
As a former professional political activist, I would say that "H. Res. 565 (113th Congress)" looks right to me. The abbreviation is standard, not something WP is making up (in the real world, virtually no one ever writes "House Resolution 565"), the disambiguation is pretty much exactly how anyone would do it off WP (it is natural despite being parenthetic in form), it's concise, and it sufficiently identifies the topic. Its use this way in the real world also makes it the common name. If we really wanted it to be longer, then "House Resolution 565 (113th Congress)" is it, and such a redirect should work, anyway, as well as one from the long title. In a few rare cases some resolution may come to be known by a popular short name in the political press, and a case can be made that such a name is the common name for that resolution (esp. if it starts being used more broadly), but this would be an exception.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:47, 20 September 2014 (UTC)

Intuitive links to: Use commonly recognizable names[edit]

On 23 August 2014 @SmokeyJoe: edited the Policy shortcut for this section to cut reference of WP:COMMONNAME with WP:UCRN[2] with justification: Replace problematic shortcuts with one matching section title. NB. All existing shortcuts will forever work, but need not necessarily be displayed as if recommended)

Also on 23 August 2014 @Peter coxhead: added WP:RECOGNIZABLE to Policy shortcuts.

On 19 September 2014 I added text: "The longer form link, WP:Use commonly recognizable names, is also available" with justification "Following comment on "COMMONNAME": The longer form link, WP:Use commonly recognizable names, is also available".[3]

This edit was reverted by @VQuakr: but I'm not sure if this was done with an awareness of section history.

The problem of COMMONNAME is explained in the reference that says: "Where the terms "COMMONNAME" and "common name" appears in this policy they mean a commonly or frequently used name, and not a common name as used in some disciplines in opposition to scientific name."

The text of the project page still states: 'This is often referred to using the Wikipedia short cut term: "COMMONNAME"'

I propose a less suggestive edit to say something along the lines of: 'Possible Wikipedia short cuts include: "WP:UCRN", "WP:Use commonly recognizable names", "WP:COMMONNAME".[1] and "WP:RECOGNIZABLE".'

How does this sound? Sequence of presentation of links?

Links like WP:UseCommonlyRecognizableNames OR WP:CommonlyRecognizableNames could alternatively be created.

  1. ^ Where the terms "COMMONNAME" and "common name" appears in this policy they mean a commonly or frequently used name, and not a common name as used in some disciplines in opposition to scientific name.

Gregkaye 16:39, 19 September 2014 (UTC)

"WP:UseCommonlyRecognizableNames" is not short. The point of a short-cut is that it is short. -- PBS (talk) 19:55, 19 September 2014 (UTC)
The mention in the policy text is not actually referring to the short cut... it is noting that the term "COMMONNAME" (spelled as one word, in all caps, to distinguish it from the term "common name") has become a "term or art" here on Wikipedia. Even when not linking to the policy, we routinely say things like "This is the COMMONNAME" or "We use the COMMONNAME here on Wikipedia, not the official name." Blueboar (talk) 21:40, 19 September 2014 (UTC)
  • Broadly oppose. The point of a short cut is to be short, easy, and easily understood by the in crowd of editors. Unhelpful to this is long shortcuts, and a multitude of shortcuts to the one thing. Attempting to use a shortcut as a ONEWORD summary is much more misleading for newcomers than a single simple shortcut. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 21:57, 19 September 2014 (UTC)
  • Opposed as well. The point of shortcuts is they're short and mnemonic. "Longcuts" aren't used anywhere, and are routinely WP:RFDed.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:26, 19 September 2014 (UTC)
  • Having WP:Use commonly recognizable names be a blue link makes sense, since it is based on the section name. Including mention that this redirect exists within the policy text, however, is unnecessary. Policies should be written tersely. Agree with the others that the links without spaces are not useful as shortcuts. VQuakr (talk) 04:01, 20 September 2014 (UTC)
  • Sorry, my misunderstanding. Gregkaye 17:29, 20 September 2014 (UTC)

Question on consistency in spacing of initials[edit]

I just came across Robert N.C. Nix, Sr. and Robert N. C. Nix, Jr.; as you can see, one of them has a space between the "N." and the "C.", which suggests to me that one of them needs to be moved so that both will have a consistent usage - but which one? bd2412 T 04:20, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

Spaces after periods are normally required, except for affectations and weird compressed formats. Dicklyon (talk) 04:51, 22 September 2014 (UTC)
OK. But why? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 04:57, 22 September 2014 (UTC)
Why would you ever not put a space after a period? That's pretty much not done, except in the old typewriter typography. Dicklyon (talk) 05:35, 22 September 2014 (UTC)
  • ec. Off the top of my head... Go with most common style in the best sources. If that doesn't work, go with the first nonstub version. Personally, I prefer no space between initials. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 04:56, 22 September 2014 (UTC)
We could compromise and go with sources like this one that use thin spaces. Dicklyon (talk) 05:02, 22 September 2014 (UTC)
I moved it already before seeing your note. It is impressive how often this guy (Sr.) gets no space in there while his son (Jr.) is more often spaced. But some sites like this one use the space in N. C. but not in U.S. in the same headline, so there doesn't seem to be a strong feeling about this. In my opinion, the "better sources" are the ones with sensible typography. But others may disagree. Dicklyon (talk) 05:07, 22 September 2014 (UTC)
I should also note that in the days of typewriters, leaving out spaces between initials this way was pretty common on typed documents, since it would look too spaced out otherwise, with the period being allocated as much space as a letter. Dicklyon (talk) 05:13, 22 September 2014 (UTC)
One might also ask why in Robert N.C. Nix, Sr. Federal Building we don't have the matching comma after "Sr." A few sources do it this way, but most either use both commas or neither, since it's not really a senior federal building we're talking about here. Like with Leland Stanford Jr. University or Leland Stanford, Jr., University; in sources it's either both commas, or none. Dicklyon (talk) 05:33, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

According to this guide, "Spacing between initials in name" is a Chicago versus AP style difference (AP being for newspapers, one those "weird compressed formats" I mentioned). I see there are other guides that go with the old typewriter style, too. I'm surprised. I hope we stick with Chicago and other good guides on this. I don't think it has much to do with the particular person, as I see no consistency about that. Dicklyon (talk) 05:50, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

We don't just need to hope, we can set the standard via a consensus here. So how about we agree that initials, should have a space after a . where text follows. We should not specifiably a thin space in a document title, instead that should be left to a style sheet type formatting on display. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 10:15, 22 September 2014 (UTC)
I agree with "where text follows" but I interpret this differently – another initial is not "text". So I believe we should agree on no spaces between initials. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:51, 22 September 2014 (UTC)
Comment: If I am understanding this right. In my opinion there should not be space between two letters (initials) of two names, and I do not use them so, B.A. Johnson Jr. and not B. A. Johnson, Jr. The use of the initials Sr. and Jr. are part of a legal name and a comma is not generally warranted.
This would mean "Robert N.C. Nix Sr. Federal Building" would be more correct in general writing, however, according to sources I observed there is a comma after Sr., and may be the legal given name of the building.