Wikipedia talk:Article titles

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Apostrophe-like characters[edit]

WP:TSC says

* Characters resembling quotes or accent marks (avoid them): The characters ʻ ʾ ʿ ᾿ ῾ ‘ ’ “ ” c, and also combining diacritical marks with a "space" character, should generally not be used in page titles. A common exception is the apostrophe ' (e.g. Anthony d'Offay), which should, however, be used sparingly (e.g. Shia instead of Shi'a). See also Wikipedia:Manual of Style (punctuation).

Now, I have to repeat the question from /Archive 20#Avoid accent-/quote-like characters: Why? That debate from 2009 ended without a clear answer or outcome. The guideline just lumps together a number of glyphs, based solely on visual similarity, and is desperately out of sync with our current practice, good typography practice, and common names. It also refers to Wikipedia:Manual of Style (punctuation) but it is in apparent conflict with it. Let me first dissect this broad and barely related collection:

  • ‘ ’ “ ” – MOS:QUOTEMARKS says that typewriter-style quotation characters should be used rather than „low-high“, guillemets (« ») or “typographic” characters. Thus, I agree, they shouldn't be used in Article titles.
  • Per MOS:QUOTEMARKS, grave and acute accents or backticks (`text´) should not be used. No problem here as well.
  • Also per WP:', typographic apostrophes are to be avoided, (’)


  • ʻOkina is a regular letter of Hawaiian and other Polynesian alphabets, often used in English borrowings, as can be seen in ʻIʻiwi, ʻAnianiau, or ʻOkina itself. There is no technical reason to discourage its use. WP:HAWAII could sort out usage of English vs. Hawaiʻian rendering (similar to e.g. MOS:JA), but this page should not stand in their way. Replacing ʻokina with an apostrophe is IMO a crime against encyclopedia.
  • Per WP:', transliterated Arabic ayin ( ʿ ) and alif ( ʾ ), are represented by their correct Unicode characters (that is, U+02BF MODIFIER LETTER LEFT HALF RING and U+02BE MODIFIER LETTER RIGHT HALF RING respectively), despite possible display problems. (bold mine). They are proper parts of Arabic transliteration and are sanctioned in our texts – why discourage them in article titles?
  • Also, the Shi'a vs Shia example should be removed and left to other guidelines such as WP:COMMONNAME to sort it out. There is no technical or typographic reason to prefer one or another.
Proposal. Replace the text in question with

* Use straight apostrophes (') and quotation marks ("). Variations such as typographic quotation marks (“...”), typographic apostrophes (), "low-high" quotation marks („...“), guillemets («...»), grave and acute accents or backticks (`...´) should be avoided in titles, just as in article text. See Wikipedia:Manual of Style (punctuation).

No such user (talk) 10:29, 31 July 2014 (UTC)

  • My guess is that the limitation was initially included for technical reasons... reasons that had nothing to do with style. Some characters are used in programming language as commands ... and thus using them in an article title can confuse the program that makes Wikipedia run. I know the program has been tweaked over the years... and that some characters can now be used... but we would need to check with the programmers to know which characters are OK, and which still cause difficulties. Blueboar (talk) 11:47, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
Part of the answer is outlined in MOS:QUOTEMARKS ("Consistency keeps searches predictable" section), but as far as I know other than these reasons, the listed characters have never posed a technical issue, as the WP:AT confirms: Technically all other Unicode characters can be used in page titles; but some characters should still be avoided, or require special treatment... Yes, some symbols are inconvenient to type, such as − or –, or the accented letters, but that's why we provide ASCII-style redirects. However, it is odd to single out only the above subset out of the vast array of Unicode characters. No such user (talk) 13:20, 31 July 2014 (UTC)

No, the reason is to have, for instance, "Brokeback Mountain" (as it should be according to MOS) at Brokeback Mountain (short story). Part of the reason is that all the quotemarks would look silly in Category:Short stories and related (sub)categories. Similar, "Summertime"Summertime (song), listed in Category:Songs-related (sub)categories. etc... I think ""Heroes"" is about the only exception to that while yes, the actual title apparently includes quotation marks. Further, if quotation marks are not (or almost never) used in actual page titles, they should not be replaced by less common glyphs that an average user would not type in the search box (as an escape to the actual policy that is to avoid quotation marks). Avoiding an unwanted scare quotes effect (for instance for quoted sentences that are page titles, e.g. "veni, vidi, vici"veni, vidi, vici) is another reason to generally discourage quotes in page titles.

Re. "the ... example should be removed and left to other guidelines such as WP:COMMONNAME to sort it out" - this is the talk page of the COMMONNAME policy: that example is sorted out by that guideline (in fact: policy). For transliterations, generally, even if some transliteration systems present an abundance of additional marks there is a general preference for the simpler transliteration systems. There has been considerable discussion over which is the most ideal transliteration system for several languages, e.g. Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Arabic and Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Cyrillic) ... both pages "proposals" for as long as I know for lack consensus. So there's no possibility yet for these languages to defer to a romanisation guideline (in other words, indeed yes, keep the instructions on this page) — for some other foreign script languages like Chinese there is Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Chinese) which could be deferred to for page titles. --Francis Schonken (talk) 14:55, 31 July 2014 (UTC)

See also recently archived discussion at Wikipedia talk:Article titles/Archive 47#Quotation marks in article titles using <q> tag --Francis Schonken (talk) 15:37, 31 July 2014 (UTC)

OK, I see your point – that quote marks of any kind are discouraged – and I agree with that part, so I'm striking my proposal as inadequate. Still, the current wording is awful, and should be replaced with something in that effect. 'Okina, alif and ayin should be just left out, as they are not quotation marks, as outside of scope. No such user (talk) 08:56, 1 August 2014 (UTC)

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)

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)

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)
  • 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)


People familiar with how WP:DIFFPUNCT, WP:NATURAL (and any other applicable policy) should apply in deciding between Janet. and Janet (album) are requested to participate here:

Thanks, --В²C 17:30, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

The above is thankfully neutral, and I suppose other editors may have done it too, but B2C, you have been asked several times by several different editors to not post RMs in which you are generating enormous blocks of text here at WT:AT. At least I have only seen you be asked not to do it, I haven't seen anyone thank you and ask you to continue doing so. My own view agrees with those who have asked you not to, or at least do so less. In ictu oculi (talk) 23:28, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
I don't think "People familiar with how my favorite recently-made shortcut to so-called policy should apply in my current dispute is exactly neutral. Dicklyon (talk) 01:16, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
No, you're right I suppose it isn't, I was being generous, struck. It's WP:CANVASS again again again again. In ictu oculi (talk) 05:21, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
Yeesh, this is totally inappropriate. No RM should be listed here unless it raises serious issues about AT policy interpretation that are not liable to sort themselves out without broader input. Every RM is vaguely relevant to AT, simply by virtue of being a discussion about article titling, but if we listed them all here we would just merge WP:Requested moves into WP:Article titles as a section, and obviously we're not going to do that, ergo, stop canvassing misc. RM discussions here. Same things goes for listing RMs at WT:MOS; just because style has come up doesn't mean all MOSwatchers need to be asked to jump in; only mention RMs at MOS if they raise serious MOS interpretation questions. Basically, if there isn't a strong possibility that something in AT or MOS needs to be clarified, or is being grossly violated or misconstrued by a LOCALCONSENSUS problem, don't post RM notices to AT or MOS, please.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:32, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Propaganda names[edit]

Often users choose military propaganda names as titles for articles about military conflicts, as was the case with Operation Protective Edge for the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. It would be helpful if we had a section here making clear that this is explicitly not wanted: Propaganda names are usually chosen to let the own military appear heroic, and they are often euphemist, such as "Operation Iraqi Freedom" for the 2003 Iraq War.--Galant Khan (talk) 23:53, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

The distinction is between using the topic's name as our title vs. using a descriptive phrase as our title. We usually prefer names over descriptive titles (but not always).
When using names, we should use the names that the sources use, per the principle of Recognizability (see WP:COMMONNAME). This does mean that we sometimes use non-neutral, "propaganda" sounding names (see the WP:POVNAMING section of our WP:Neutral point of view policy for more on this). For example, lots of historians have pointed out that the Boston Massacre was not really a massacre at all; and that calling it a massacre was a bit of colonial propaganda. However, we still use it as our article title, because sources overwhelmingly use that name when discussing the event. Another example is Holy Roman Empire, which has famously been described as "neither holy nor Roman nor an empire".
So... if the sources routinely use "Operation Iraqi Freedom", then so should we... if they routinely use "2003 Iraq War", we should use that. If the sources are mixed (ie no one name stands out as being used significantly more frequently), then we are free to choose which of the various names we think is best, or use a descriptive title, based on other criteria. Blueboar (talk) 11:55, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
One issue bring overlooked here is that the Boston Massacre and the Holy Roman Empire are historical events separated by hundreds of years from present time (The more recent Boston Massacre being over 260 years ago) so historians have long since settled on the names. That is not necessarly the case with the military conflicts, with the oldest starting 11 years ago so that may not be as strong an argument as it first appears.-- (talk) 03:08, 22 August 2014 (UTC)