Wikipedia talk:Article titles

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Proposal to use recently coined vernacular names instead of scientific names for fossil species[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere

Those familiar with how we name articles (and why) on species only identified in the fossil record may be interested in this discussion: Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Birds#English name vs. Scientific name,  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:23, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

Clarifying that common (vernacular) name doesn't mean COMMONNAME[edit]

I have commented there... but what the discussion highlights is that some editors are still confused by our use of the word "common". The underlying problem is that the word "common" has multiple meanings. It can mean "frequent" (which is how we use it)... but it can also mean "non-expert" (ie "vernacular"). I know we already mention that (as we use the word) a scientific name can actually be more "common" than a vernacular name... but perhaps we need to make it even clearer. Blueboar (talk) 13:26, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
Hi @Blueboar:. Can you please commment on the latest post at the linked page? I'm trying to get guidance on how we should "search" the literature. Thanks, MeegsC (talk) 20:15, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
@Blueboar: Agreed, it cannot possibly hurt to clarify this here.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  09:52, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
PS: It doesn't seem to be covered here at all, only at MOS:LIFE and by extension at WP:NCFAUNA and WP:NCFLORA. Keeping these in synch is always a challenge, but synching them on this in particular point would seem to be a good idea. I'd give it as the vernacular ("common") name, with "common" in scare-quotes, and maybe not even use that word at all in either of the NC pages, just to avoid any hint of confusion with COMMONNAME.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  09:56, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
See 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.. That footnote seems clear to me. So I see no need for a change. -- PBS (talk) 18:57, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
NB MOS:LIFE is part of the MOS guidelines and as such is of no direct relevance to this policy page. WP:NCFAUNA and WP:NCFLORA are naming conventions and ought be read in such a way that they enhance and explain this policy page and do not contradict it. -- PBS (talk) 18:57, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

The language in the footnote is clear, but who reads the footnote? Bring the footnote into the main text. Previous discussions 5 years ago (Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (common names)/Archive 3#Hesperian paragraph) concerned a more verbose and controversial version of the text explaining the difference between a vernacular name and a commonly used name. User:PBS ultimately developed a more succinct version of the proposed text and put it as a footnote in this diff, which is has survived largely unchanged. Get the footnote (or similar language) into the main text where people will actually see it. "King tyrant lizard" is an English "common" (vernacular) name, but not the commonly used name for Tyrannosaurus rex. Plantdrew (talk) 02:36, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

Absolutely, move the footnote text (which is admirably clear) into the main text. Peter coxhead (talk) 06:11, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
  • It would be better to do away with the shortcut "COMMONNAME" as it misleads. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:00, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
    Sadly that genie is out of the bottle. Peter coxhead (talk) 06:11, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
    The redirect is entrenched, but it doesn't have to stay prominently advertised on the policy page. There are better, shorter, shortcuts, such as WP:UCN. The practice of of using allcaps words as policy catch cries is detrimental to understanding policy. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:23, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

To understand where the text is now one has to understand that there used to be a naming convention (common name) that Kotniski turned into a redirect in October 2009. So the redirects such as COMMONNAME and UCN used to redirect to the naming convention. The use of "common name" came about because before the use of reliable sources this policy really did advise using the common name (and no one raised the issue that it was confusing). I would support SmokeyJoe's suggestion the removal of advertising "COMMONNAME" as a link in the section, but would suggest a replacement one such as FREQUENTLYUSEDNAME, unfortunately FUN is taken, so a shorter name for a redirect is needed such as FRQNTNAME, but perhaps some one can suggest a better short name. Or how about WP:COMMONUSAGE and WP:CU? -- PBS (talk) 07:58, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

I do not think it necessary to place the text of the footnote into the main body for three reasons. One only has to read it once to understand it (after that it is clutter). It is a minority issue which only affects discussions of a few scientific disciplines (for example neither historians or physicists need to know about this issue -- let alone those who write articles about Muppets). The advantage of a footnote is that it is easy to link to the specific sentence (as I did here) if it is needed in an external conversation. -- PBS (talk) 07:40, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

Concur with SmokeyJoe. The genie might be out of the bottle, but that doesn't mean we have to keep feeding it. If Wikieditors have been confused by the phrasing of the rule then of course it should be fixed. SmC's proposal (SmC's second post in this thread) looks good to me. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:58, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

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

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)

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 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)

An RfC and an RM involving imaginary "conflict" between WP:MOS and WP:AT[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussions elsewhere.

Please see Talk:Artpop#RfC: Should a song title be listed with non-standard capitalization?, which raises WP:COMMONNAME, WP:OFFICIALNAME, and MOS:TRADEMARK issues. While the song in question is at this moment only treated inside the article on the album on which it was released (and thus in a formal sense involves no WP:AT issues like COMMONNAME and OFFICIALNAME_, it's likely, as with so many Lady Gaga songs, that it will soon enough have its own article, and the RfC ongoing might as well get the title right now rather than later. The RfC is being "advertised" because it was noted that the discussion was circular between two or three participants, and even after RfCization, it's still mostly the same parties, and so needs broader input. See also Talk:Ultra high definition television#Requested move 4 (ongoing), which involves much of the same sort of question.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:26, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

This has been discussed lots of times. Article titles do not follow arbitrary rules made up by a few passionate editors who dominate the conversations on the MOS talk pages, but instead follows common usage in reliable sources. It was arguments about this issue that brought about the Arbcom ruling so why not let sleeping dogs lie and just drop the insistence that article titles MUST follow MOS rules? If the insistence is dropped then there is no conflict imaginary or otherwise!
For most article titles there is no difference between the tile dictated by following the AT policy and naming conventions, and the title that would be derived by following the MOS rules. However there is be conflict if some editors insist on following the MOS rules when the sources dictate an alternative name which is supported by the AT policy and naming conventions. If those editors who inappropriately cite MOS guidelines when this happens were to stop doing so, then there is no conflict between the outcome dictated following the MOS guideline and the outcome reached by following the AT policy and its naming conventions. -- PBS (talk) 18:28, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Doesn’t our MOS ultimately say to follow the sources, anyway? I know MOS:TM does at least. — (talk) 20:18, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
No, it does not; that would be the antithesis of a style guideline. MOS:TM doesn't quite say that, either, but says follow standard English text formatting and capitalization rules, even if the trademark owner considers nonstandard formatting 'official', and recommends to choose the most normally styled English-like rendering of a trademark that can be found in sources (that is, we don't follow what most sources do, but we also don't style things in a way that sources don't; if a trademark is always all-caps, we need to accept that, but if some sources render it more normally, we can, too; see for example Talk:Lego/Archive_6#Move?). Dicklyon (talk) 17:25, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
Not quite... Yes, they both say follow sources... but while WP:AT says to favor the most commonly used version (the COMMONNAME), MOS:TM says to favor the style that most closely resembles standard English. Now, usually the COMMONNAME takes the style that most closely resembles standard English. But occasionally it doesn't. That's when we get conflict and confusion between this policy and the MOS. Blueboar (talk) 20:36, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
There's no conflict. We follow COMMONNAME to choose a title, but the MOS tells us how to style it. That sometimes affects caps and punctuation a bit. Dicklyon (talk) 01:52, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
The MOS guideline covers content it does not affect this policy for which there are additional naming conventions (so there is conflict if someone insists on a style of title using a Wikipedia self created style guideline over the policy of following usage in reliable sources). As Blueboar says this is not usually a problem because common usage and the MOS derived style are in harmony but occasionally they are not. -- PBS (talk) 07:56, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
Dicklyon... if there were no conflict, we wouldn't keep having discussions where people note that there is a conflict. A lot of editors (myself included) reject the idea that NAMEs and STYLEs can (or should) be separated as sharply as you try to separate them. If the various MOS pages were to adopt a COMMONSTYLE clause, the debates would end. Blueboar (talk) 12:31, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
I should clarify what I meant by "no conflict". I mean that most editors see that there's no conflict between TITLE and MOS; that both can always be applied without contradiction. The conflict is between these most editors and the few that want the styling guidelines of the MOS to apply only in the article text but not in the article title; trying to change this will certainly lead to add contradictions, like the lede sentence using different caps or punctuation than the title. If anyone is suggesting that titles be sharply separated, it's you. And COMMONSTYLE, letting sources weigh in on how each word, phrase, or article is styles, would lead to endless chaos and arguments. Dicklyon (talk) 17:15, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
"most editors" "trying to change this" are those an intentional rhetorical construct or an unintentional ones? Have you forgotten the failure of your Rfc (7 January 2013) on this issue to gain a consensus (Wikipedia talk:Article titles/Archive 40#RfC on COMMONSTYLE proposal)? I think that by using those construct of rhetoric you are implying that there has been an agreement and that only "some" are trying to change a status quo while there is no evidence either of a minority of editors (some) or that there has been a time when there was no difference between the AT approach and the MOS approach. I have repeatedly asked where there was ever agreement for the statement in the MOS "The guidance contained elsewhere in the MoS, particularly in the section below on punctuation, applies to all parts of an article, including the title." no such agreement to this statement on the AT policy page has ever been provided (quite the opposite see that RfC), indeed there does not seem to be much evidence of agreement for it in the talk pages of the MOS. Besides "letting sources weigh in on how each word, phrase is styled" is common practice when there is a dispute irrespective of the title of an article: is it "an historian" or "a historian" is it "an herb garden" "a herb garden", "The Americans captured the town", "The American patriots captured the town" or the "American Patriots captured the town" etc. -- PBS (talk) 11:41, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
Maybe the narrow majority supporting that RFC doesn't quite justify my "most editors" claim, but I do still believe it's true that most editors see that there's no conflict between TITLE and MOS. The RFC tried to make an explicit statement that should not be necessary, which is what caused some of the oppose votes. You agreed that article titles should usually be styled in accordance with the MOS, but wanted to leave room for exceptions on consensus. But guidelines always leave room for exceptions on consensus, so I'm not sure why you opposed it. Reviewing that RFC, it looks like it might be time to try again to get something like that made explicit. But I'll let someone else... Dicklyon (talk) 05:41, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
Reviewing the RfC, I sense that a consensus was very near, just around a bend, over a hill, or behind a tree, just not sure which. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:27, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
Comment – the "MANiCURE" song listing styling question is an interesting one, but is not about an article title and so has no relation to WP:TITLE. If there are conflicts within the MOS between treating it as a trademark or something else, or about the implications of what those sections say, then the MOS is the place where it will be hammered out. And if anyone eventually makes an article out of it, of course the same styling will apply to the article title. To go the other way, and write so-called "policy" about how to title articles, and then argue that the odd styling there developed relatively independently of the MOS should apply to text in articles, would sound rather crazy, no? Dicklyon (talk) 17:32, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
There is and has long been a section in WP:TITLE dealing with style: WP:TITLEFORMAT including trade marks. -- PBS (talk) 11:55, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
The subsection on trademarks in title, WP:TITLETM, specifically defers to the MOS for more information. Most of the rest about title-specific considerations, none in conflict with the MOS. And none is this is relevant to the MANiCURE question, since it's not a title anyway. Dicklyon (talk) 05:52, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
The "Manicure" vs. MANiCURE" case doesn't legitimately raise WP:AT issues, but they are being raised nonetheless, probably on the basis that at any given moment that song may have its own article. My post here isn't to direct people to that RM/RfC, but rather to point up some examples in a long string of them of a need to clarify that AT does not make up its own style rules that contradict MOS. A surprising number of RM regulars are convinced that it does, and it doesn't seem to matter how many RM discussions fail to go their way, they still insist on it. So, AT needs to explicitly say otherwise so this disruptive, time-wasting, temper-exacerbating nonsense draws to a permanent close. We don't need another ten years of this tendentiousness.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:02, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
Part of the problem, I think, is the absence of a shared understanding of what "style" means in this context. It's easy to say that we use AT to choose the title and then MOS to style it, but my experience is that editors can agree with this proposition but then fail to agree on specific cases because they don't agree what transformations are just changes to "style". The "specialist style" issue can be involved, because a change that may appear to be just "style" to one editor can represent a change of meaning to another editor with more familiarity with the conventions of the domain. So I think that clarifying AT in the way suggested (although worthwhile) isn't enough. Perhaps an essay might be a way of providing "worked examples" and so building consensus. Peter coxhead (talk) 20:15, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
Comment – on the Ultra-high-definition television article, I also don't see how WP:TITLE has anything to say. This is about MOS:HYPHEN (and about the odd process by which current hyphenless title was chosen by a RM closer even though nobody had ever requested it). HYPHEN suggests Hyphens can help with ease of reading (face-to-face discussion, hard-boiled egg); where non-experts are part of the readership, a hyphen is particularly useful in long noun phrases, such as those in Wikipedia's scientific articles: gas-phase reaction dynamics. There is no reason in this article to not help the reader by styling with the hyphenation that best indicates to the reader how to parse it. This styling is among many used in sources, and is not uncommon. Dicklyon (talk) 17:37, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
This is the point Blueboar and myself have been making -- that usually the style in sources and the MOS are in agreement or at least do not contradict each other. More to the point is what would you support if the use of hyphens was uncommon among the majority of sources? Would you then argue that they should not be used because they are uncommon among sources or would you argue that editors should ignore common usage and follow the MOS style guide? -- PBS (talk) 11:51, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
In general, sources are very mixed about such things as hyphen usage, as the data section at the RM shows for that case. Typically, publications written for a narrow or specialist audience omit hyphens more, since they are not needed for clarity for readers who already know the relations between words in common phrases. For example, small-cell carcinoma, which needs the hyphen to let readers know that it's not a cell carcinoma that's small, is an example in the AMA style guide that got modified in a recent edition; it became common enough in the medical community that they now recommend dropping the hyphen. So should WP drop it? Of course not; we want readers to understand it. Dicklyon (talk) 05:52, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
Agree that hyphens should be used in titles if the use of the hyphen is important to reader comprehension. In such cases, it should not be required that a majority of quality sources use the hyphen, just that a number do, and we can use editorial judgement to say whether the hyphen is used for wide-audience comprehensibility. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:24, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
Maybe its a verity of English thing, but I really really do not find "south east England" any harder to comprehend than "south-east England". If Brits did then presumably South East England would usually be "South-east England" or like the Americans concatenated to Southeastern United States. -- PBS (talk) 14:36, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
Since in this case "south (east England)" means essentially the same as "(south east) England", it's to be expected that they are as easy to parse. The relevant cases are like "small (cell carcinoma)" and "(small cell) carcinoma", where a hyphen makes the second parse clear. Peter coxhead (talk) 20:26, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
And in the case of "Ultra high definition television"? -- PBS (talk) 10:43, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
Personally, I'd hyphenate it, but neither "ultra" nor "high" obviously applies to "television" as opposed to "definition", so not hyphenating is acceptable, whereas "small" could equally well be applied to "carcinoma" or "cell". Peter coxhead (talk) 13:01, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
Comment – in regards to the Ultra high definition television article the only two article titles it has had since 2010 that followed Wikipedia policy were "Ultra High Definition Television" and "Ultra high definition television". As for hyphenation it varies based on the term, the country, and the time period since some terms have lost hyphens over time. There is no guideline in Wikipedia that mandates the use of hyphens for article titles so unlike capitalization which has Wikipedia:Naming conventions (capitalization) I would say that hyphenation does fall under WP:COMMONNAME. --GrandDrake (talk) 21:26, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
Indeed, we have no mandates, and no styling guidelines specific to titles. But are you saying that the recent title Ultra-high-definition television somehow did not follow policy? Dicklyon (talk) 00:22, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
Wikipedia policy states that if a move is contested that a requested move is needed. --GrandDrake (talk) 22:23, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

Frequently disputed move request at Wolverine (character) with potentially wide repercussions[edit]

FYI: Pointer to a relevant discussion elsewhere.

There is a discussion at Talk:Wolverine (character)#Page move back discussion, again concerning whether the page in question should be named Wolverine (character) or Wolverine (comics). This has long been a contentious issue—the page has been moved back and forth several times, and has had several discussions at both Talk:Wolverine (character) and Wikipedia:Naming conventions (comics). The outcome will likely have repercussions throughout WikiProject Comics, especially in light of the result of Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Comics#RfC: Proposed rewording for instructions for disambiguation.

There are also concerns regarding WP:CANVASSing for the discussion. Curly Turkey ⚞¡gobble!⚟ 02:23, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

Differentiation between two band articles of similar names[edit]

Hi there, there are two band articles that have very similar names, these bands are:

While the two bands are very different in both style and origin their article titles have a mere "!" to differentiate the two, noticing this I moved the articles to these titles; Attack Attack! (American band) and Attack! Attack! (Welsh band) however has since been reverted by User:Sock who believes that the simple "!" is enough to distinguish between the two articles, while I disagree I would appreciate some third opinions to gain a clear consensus whether they should be moved or not, thank you for your time and hope you can contribute to this discussion here. SilentDan (talk) 01:38, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

  • WP:DIFFPUNCT is applicable, although it is of dubious applicability. The correct procedure to follow at this point is to make a multi-move request as set forth at Wikipedia:Requested moves. bd2412 T 02:46, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Disambiguation is a technical necessity, not a stylistic feature. We use disambiguation if two articles would otherwise have to occupy the same article name. The correct procedure for this case is to not use disambiguation and have the bands' articles refer to each other using hatnotes ("For the Welsh band, see..."). —chaos5023 (talk) 12:55, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
    @Chaos5023: That’s only looking at it from the technical side. Disambiguation is also a means of precision and recognizability, two of the naming criteria. In addition to the technical limitations, we have to look at whether the titles are sufficiently distinct to be recognizable from each other. — (talk) 01:25, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

Fascinating RM - concise v consistency[edit]

Hi all! You might want to peek at this RM and see what you think... Talk:Erhai Lake#Requested move #2 Red Slash 03:29, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

  • What we need is some language explaining what "consistency" means and how it should be applied and weighed against other factors. Fortunately, I have been drafting just such language, and this is what I have so far:

Consistency in titles means that titles for the same kind of subject should not differ unnecessarily.

Where a topic has been determined to be the primary topic of a term, then subtopics of that topic should generally follow the same primary topic determination.

For example, the primary topic of the term "China" has been determined to be the Asian country formally titled "The People's Republic of China", the primary topic of "Florida" has been determined to be the U.S. State, and the primary topic of "Paris" has been determined to be the city in France. Therefore, despite the existence of other topics sharing the name (like the "Republic of China", "Florida, Uruguay", and "Paris, Texas", titles for subtopics relating to these places should be at "Military of China", "Government of Florida", and "History of Paris", and not at "Military of the People's Republic of China", "Government of Florida (United States)", and "History of Paris, France".

Disambiguators should also be consistent:

The terms "surname", "given name", and "family name" could all be used to indicate that a article is about the portion of a name that reflects a person's ancestry. However, historically, these articles have used "(surname)" as a disambiguator. This term is also more concise, and is more precise because it avoids some potential ambiguity (in some cultures, the surname comes before the given name, and therefore is not "last"; sometimes people change names, so that they have a chronologically "first" and "last" surname; sometimes a given name is used in several generations of the same family, and is considered a "family name"). Therefore, the universal convention in Wikipedia is that all articles about this portion of a name use "(surname)" as a disambiguator where a disambiguator is needed. If an article on a surname is created at a title using "(last name)" as a disambiguator, it should be moved to a title using "(surname)" as a disambiguator.

The terms "film", "movie", and "motion picture" could all be used as disambiguators, but the convention is to use "(film)". Although this may arguably be a more ambiguous term, given the many meanings of film", circumstances where confusion is likely are rare, and it is more concise. This disambiguator is used even where a film could be identified by its genre or year of release; where two films share the same name, we consistently disambiguate them by using the year of release followed by the word "film", as in The Last Stand (1984 film) and The Last Stand (2013 film), not The Last Stand (1984) and The Last Stand (2013), even though nothing else occurred in these years that is ambiguous to films.


Shorter forms for subtopics names

Usher (entertainer); but Usher discography, not Usher (entertainer) discography

Brandy Norwood; but Brandy discography, not Brandy Norwood discography

Subjects noted in multiple fields may have a disambiguator only reflecting one of those fields. Subjects may relevant to multiple fields, as with Wolverine (character) (not Wolverine (comics) because the character is well known in media other than comics.

WP:ENGVAR - we do not change titles so that all say Center versus Centre, or Labor versus Labour.

  • This is what I have so far, but I'm sure something useful can be expanded out of it. Cheers! bd2412 T 04:15, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
The term film was agreed upon back in 2005. I think this proposal is a mistake. Consistency is by far the less important of the principles that we use for naming an article, and a side product of bullet pointing it in the "Deciding on an article title" -- that section was far better as a paragraph -- as if it is of equal consideration with common name.
As a bullet point it is used by people spotting patterns of groupings (like the canals on Mars) to promote a descriptive name over a common name, as for example happened with the article titles "Military of [State]" instead of the actual common name of the armed forces see for example Talk:British Armed Forces#Requested move - 2005. A better idea would be to state that while consistency is important it should not be promoted in favour of the other criteria. You are doing exactly the same thing with "Military of China" as part of a pattern (based on the article China) because although you are using it to propose names under China, its effects are to suggest (because it is another case of consistency) that Military of the United Kingdom is the best article title for the British Armed Forces.-- PBS (talk) 09:23, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Consistency (which is useful to readers searching for related articles) can be satisfied via redirects, and doesn't have to be in the actual article title. So it's good to have redirects at "Military of [State]" regardless of the common name of the military in question. Similarly where a film is at its 'bare' title there should be a redirect with "(film)" added. I agree with PBS that the proposal over-emphasizes consistency. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:51, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Redirects are useful for editors, but they do not show up in Google Searches, as Google ignores redirects and picks up on strings in articles. As to "useful to readers searching for related articles" If a reader wants to find an article on British Armed Forces are they more likely to search for "British Armed Forces" or know that Wikipedia uses consistency and have placed it under "Military of the United Kingdom"? I think only editors who have a deep knowledge of WP:AT would make that association. -- PBS (talk) 10:04, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
I work with plant articles, where the alternative titles used as redirects generally appear in the article (e.g. English names when the article is at the scientific name); Google searches aren't then a problem. But generally, yes, I agree this is an issue. I don't agree about needing a deep knowledge of WP:AT. If you've read the article Military of Guatemala you might be interested in the military of its neighbours; an obvious search then to use within Wikipedia is Military of Mexico. Anyway, all I'm arguing is that where there is partial consistency, it can be extended via redirects rather than article titles. Peter coxhead (talk) 12:00, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Consistency is in some ways the weakest of the five goals... it is absolutely a valid goal, but we do make a lot of exceptions once we start balancing it against the other four criteria. If we have two potential titles, X and Y... and X is significantly more Recognizable than Y, but Y is more Consistent with the titles of similar articles... we usually tend to down play Consistency in favor Recognizably. Not always... but usually. Blueboar (talk) 12:08, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
I agree with that. This is what I get for rushing out a draft. My point about Military of China is not that the article should necessarily be titled that, but that the title "Military of China" should be (or lead to) an article on the Military of China (and not on the military of something else interpreted to mean "China"). Recognizability does trump consistency, but the biggest part of consistency that I deal with is in disambiguators and titles that are asserted to be ambiguous, so to a degree my thinking is focused on that. It is important, however, that if the primary topic of Paris is the city in France, and the article on that city is titled Paris, then an article on the history of that city should be titled History of Paris, and not History of Paris France, and an article with the title History of Paris should be expected to be about the history of Paris, Texas, nor should it be a disambiguation page about things called "Paris" that have a history. Military of the United Kingdom is not the best example, because it is an entity with a specific more common name. Consider, rather, History of the United Kingdom. An article with that title should not be about the history of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands or the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves, nor should it be a disambiguation page listing these possibilities. bd2412 T 12:55, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

I have rewritten my draft to accommodate the concerns raised thus far:


Consistency in titles means that titles for the same kind of subject should not differ unnecessarily. Where multiple titles are available, and where titles are otherwise equally usable in terms of recognizability, naturalness, preciseness, and conciseness, then the title to be used should be the one most consistent with titles used for similar or related topics in Wikipedia.

Topic names should be consistent. Where a title has been determined to be the common name of a term, then subtopics of that topic should generally follow the same common name determination. For example: For example:

Conversely, where a topic has been determined to be the primary topic of a term, subtopics should follow that primary topic determination. For example, the primary topic of the term "China" has been determined to be the Asian country formally titled "The People's Republic of China", the primary topic of "Florida" has been determined to be the U.S. State, and the primary topic of "Paris" has been determined to be the city in France. Therefore, despite the existence of other topics sharing the name (like the "Republic of China", "Florida, Uruguay", and "Paris, Texas", titles for subtopics relating to these places should be at "Football in China", "Government of Florida", and "History of Paris", and not at "Military of the People's Republic of China", "Government of Florida (United States)", and "History of Paris, France".

An exception to this rule is where a specific subtopic has its own common name. For example, the common name of a national legislature or military is likely to be the formal name of that body. Therefore, although we have Military of Guatemala and Military of Turkmenistan, the title Military of the United Kingdom redirects to British Armed Forces and Military of China redirects to People's Liberation Army. Although the city of Gdańsk is at the title determined to be the common name of that city, the formal name Free City of Danzig is used for the article on a specifically named historical period of that city. Where a subtopic does not have a distinct common name, the title should be at a name consistent with the common name of the topic; for example, Sport in China, not Sport in the People's Republic of China.

Exception: Shorter forms for subtopics names:

Where a topic has a long or disambiguated title, unambiguous subtopics of that topic may incorporate a shorter form of that title for conciseness. For example:

Exception: WP:ENGVAR

WP:ENGVAR supports having regionally appropriate spellings. We therefore do not change titles so that all consistently use one regional spelling. For example, United States labor law, but Indian labour law; Sport in the Australian Capital Territory, but Sports in Washington, D.C..

Disambiguators should also be consistent:

The terms "surname", "given name", and "family name" could all be used to indicate that a article is about the portion of a name that reflects a person's ancestry. However, historically, these articles have used "(surname)" as a disambiguator. This term is also more concise, and is more precise because it avoids some potential ambiguity (in some cultures, the surname comes before the given name, and therefore is not "last"; sometimes people change names, so that they have a chronologically "first" and "last" surname; sometimes a given name is used in several generations of the same family, and is considered a "family name"). Therefore, the universal convention in Wikipedia is that all articles about this portion of a name use "(surname)" as a disambiguator where a disambiguator is needed. If an article on a surname is created at a title using "(last name)" as a disambiguator, it should be moved to a title using "(surname)" as a disambiguator.

The terms "film", "movie", and "motion picture" could all be used as disambiguators, but the convention is to use "(film)". Although this may arguably be a more ambiguous term, given the many meanings of film", circumstances where confusion is likely are rare, and it is more concise. This disambiguator is used even where a film could be identified by its genre or year of release; where two films share the same name, we consistently disambiguate them by using the year of release followed by the word "film", as in The Last Stand (1984 film) and The Last Stand (2013 film), not The Last Stand (1984) and The Last Stand (2013), even though nothing else occurred in these years that is ambiguous to films.

Individual projects may develop their own standards for naming subjects within a given field, although it must be noted that some topics are of importance to multiple fields, and may have a disambiguator only reflecting one of those fields.

I hope this moves things in the direction that people are thinking. I would also like to note that in writing this draft, I was motivated in part by the recent discussions at Talk:Mikhaylovsky (last name)‎#Requested move and Talk:Wolverine (character)#Page move back discussion, again. I would like to avoid the kind of strife that comes from a lack of guidance on the role of consistency. bd2412 T 19:46, 2 September 2014 (UTC)