Wikipedia talk:Disambiguation and abbreviations

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What is this page meant for[edit]

What is this page meant for ? The 1st para says the abbreviations are likely to be ambiguous. It also says "no need to disambiguate the abbreviations". What happens on this page ? Jay 10:24, 10 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Actually it reads "no need to disambiguate the abbreviations here".
It mainly helps you finding additional meanings for abbreviations, when you click e.g. at DC on [What links here]. Obviously, if we set up all list as state codes (which currently links both DC and District of Columbia), we wouldn't need it.
An advantage of keeping it out of the article namespace, is that the lists wont affect the work on Wikipedia:Disambiguation_pages_with_links.
I had thought about breaking it down by sub-lists, e.g. into:
What do you think about it?

Today is a fresh new day, but it isn't helping me look at the page in a new light. I re-read the metapage and Docu's comments above and am still lost as ever. So here are some questions:

  1. "This page serves as tool to maintain them." - How are they maintained ?
  2. "It mainly helps you finding additional meanings for abbreviations, when you click e.g. at DC on What links here" - Why would anyone click on the 'what links here' link unless to fix incorrect redirects ? What has fixing incorrect redirects got to do with finding additional meanings ? I wasn't able to find any meanings for the 'DC' abbreviation on this page, so how is this page helping.
  3. "Obviously, if we set up all list as state codes (which currently links both DC and District of Columbia), we wouldn't need it." - We wouldn't need this page ? I didn't understand this line. But firstly I need to understand how this page is used.
  4. "...the lists wont affect the work on Wikipedia:Disambiguation pages with links" - this is a repeat of the 2nd question. How are the lists on this page related to the work on 'Wikipedia:Disambiguation pages with links' ? The latter page is generated using the assumption that any page linked from 'Wikipedia:Links to disambiguating pages' is a disambiguation page. Since 'DC' has the disambiguation statement on its page, it would ideally be made an entry in the 'Wikipedia:Disambiguation pages with links' page and dealt separately.

Jay 04:35, 11 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Maybe Wikipedia:Disambiguation is a better starting point. -- User:Docu

<moved from User talk:Docu>

I went through the Wikipedia:Disambiguation page but couldn't find any topic with relevance to abbreviations except the "See also" link on the last line. What is it that you wanted me to look on the page ?

In fact I have read the page before too and have done quite a bit of disambiguation of a few pages. It seems I'm not able to see something u're able to see. So if you can answer my questions on Wikipedia_talk:Disambiguation_and_abbreviations that will sort things out. Jay 06:38, 12 Nov 2003 (UTC)

There isn't much of a difference between page title with ambiguous words and ambiguous abbreviations. Abbreviations are just more likely to be ambiguous.
If you have a set of fairly common abbreviations (e.g. List of elements by symbol), it can be helpful to make sure that the abbreviation links to the abbreviated article title (if such an article exists). You can do that with the lists included on Wikipedia:Disambiguation_and_abbreviations. I think it's somewhat unusual to do that in article namespace (see state codes, compared to List of initialisms).
Disambiguation usually doesn't bother with pages outside the article namespace and is done by looking for pages linking to disambiguation pages. I'm not sure if I can help you further with your questions, maybe it's time to re-phrase Disambiguation and Disambiguation_and_abbreviations. -- User:Docu

</moved from User talk:Docu>

template message for acronyms[edit]

On MediaWiki talk:Disam, I suggested a wording that could replace {{msg:disambig}} for two/three letter acronym pages -- User:Docu

(talk moved here) The suggest is the following:

For two-three letter pages, we still need a wording that is slightly different from {{msg:disambig}}, e.g. This page expands and disambiguates a two or three-letter abbreviation. If you followed a link here, you might want to go back and fix that link to point to the appropriate specific page.
A place for the note could be MediaWiki:DisambigExpandAbbr. This allows to search for msg:disambig and find this one as well. --User:Docu
I don't think two and three letter acronyms are any different. It still looks like disambiguating to me if they stand for more than one thing. I don't see why the wording should be any different to distinguish the two cases. Dori | Talk 02:11, Jan 6, 2004 (UTC)
I agree with Dori. I can't see a reason to differentiate TLAs from other disambiguations. DisambigExpandAbbr wouldn't be a very easy to remember term if that were used. Angela. 03:23, Jan 7, 2004 (UTC)

Based on discussion elsewhere, it was better to have separate descriptions for {{2LC}}, {{3LC}}, and {{4LC}}. They link to different lists, and are very easy templates to remember. These replace disambiguation pages, as they are considered encyclopedic. Most folks linking here will learn the expansion of the abbreviation, rather than clicking through to another article. (See later comments.)

--William Allen Simpson 14:54, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

Abbreviations, Acronyms and Wiktionary[edit]

It seems that using Wiktionary as a disambiguation resource, at least for Abbreviations and Acronyms, might be a viable alternative if a method for easy cross-referencing can be identified. Thoughts? ~ Courtland (user Ceyockey @ 16 Jan 2005)

revisiting the "one page for all cases" rule[edit]

Usually, there should be just one page for all cases (upper- or lower-case), e.g. MB for MB, mB, mb, Mb.

Based on Wikipedia:Votes for deletion/SAR (which ended pretty much without a consensual conclusion), I'd like to have this statement here clarified. What does "usually" mean exactly?

In the case of SAR and Sar, the former is an acronym that expands into eleven meanings (to date), while the latter is not an acronym and it links to two words, one of which isn't exactly the same (it has diacritics stripped due to various reasons).

Should we have a poll here regarding what constitutes an exception that can apply instead of the "usual" situation described in the example? --Joy [shallot] 21:14, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Exceptions are probably rare. SAR/sar seems like a good sample where you need just one disambiguation page (at least to me), even when there would be an article at one of the two page names (SAR/sar). In that case, a third page could have been at sar (disambiguation), but let's not exaggerate.
(Some of the two letter combination have not been merged yet (or have been de-merged), maybe you can find a reasonable sample there (e.g. one with more than clearly distinguishable items on each page, but it's more likely that one can tell apart a list of TLA from a list of three-letter words)). --User:Docu
  • "usually" means usually. A poll is pointless, because whether a situation is an exception depends from the individual case, the exact meanings, similarities, and distinctions of the words and the abbreviations concerned. A case in point is LOL. lol overlaps with LOL (Internet slang) because of the common false conflation that people make between the Dutch word and the English acronym, and because the English Internet Slang acronym is often typed in lowercase. However lol does not overlap with "Little Old Lady" or "Loyal Orange Lodge" or any of the other expansions of the acronym which only occur in uppercase. Therefore lol redirects directly to LOL (Internet slang), rather than being merged with LOL. Uncle G 14:13, 2005 Mar 22 (UTC)

(William M. Connolley 22:30, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)) I'm against merging SAR and Sar, for the reasons given over there.

Where does one find Wiki abbreviations?[edit]

I was looking for help with abbreviations commonly used on Wikipedia--like dab and rv--and stumbled across this article, which isn't on that topic. Is there such a page? Thanks. --JButler 11:45, 27 August 2005 (UTC)

WP:ESL and/or WP:G will provide what you are looking for. It didn't take me 5 months to compose the answer, I just noticed your question. Chris the speller 17:15, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
Thanks just the same! --Jeremy Butler 21:23, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
...and don't forget WP:WOTTAWahoofive (talk) 23:11, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

Lists of Abbreviations and Links to Disambiguation pages[edit]

The guidelines currently suggest that links to disambiguation pages be redirected to more appropriate targets, with which I agree. I've come around to thinking that on lists of abbreviations where both an abbreviation and an article title are linked, it is more useful for the reader to have the abbreviation link to the appropriate disambiguation page (as it is in the vast majority of cases) than redirected to the more appropriate target. For example, this would apply to the page List of IOC country codes. My reasoning is that it is useful to have a direct link to instances of potential confusion, in addition to a link to the article topic of the abbreviation thesaurus line. If this is something that seems useful to have for most people, then I would suggest addition of an exception for this to Wikipedia:Disambiguation#Links to disambiguation pages. I will add a link to this discussion thread to Wikipedia_talk:Disambiguation. Thanks for considering this; regards Courtland 17:03, 15 October 2005 (UTC).

There's no reason, IMO, to have links to anything from the three-letter codes on List of IOC country codes. Do you have other examples? If we're going to make an exception there should be a widespread need for it, not just a couple of pages. —Wahoofive (talk) 23:07, 15 October 2005 (UTC)
Almost every list of abbreviations has this similar issue and there are dozens of those; the IOC codes are an example only. Courtland 00:54, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

Abbreviations that are also words and disambiguation pages[edit]

I believe that the bullet point:

  • Usually, there should be just one page for all cases (upper- or lower-case), e.g. MB for MB, mB, mb, Mb.

is confusing, as it does not explain its scope when the abbreviation is also a word. For instance, should SAGE (disambiguation) necessarily be merged with Sage (disambiguation) because the former is a different casing from the latter? I think no, as "sage" is a word, while "SAGE" is an initialism. On the other hand, if a third abbreviation variant existed, say SaGE, it should go to the same place as SAGE does. I would like to change this bullet point to read something like:

  • Usually, there should be just one disambiguation page for all cases (upper- or lower-case), e.g. MB for MB, mB, mb, Mb. When the all-lowercase or initial-caps case(s) are words with articles in their own right, the word form should be a separate article. Cf. Sage (disambiguation), which includes all articles disambiguating "sage" as a word, and SAGE (disambiguation), which includes all articles disambiguating "SAGE" (and other capitalizations thereof) as an abbreviation. In the rare case where an abbreviation is usually spelled in all-lowercase (cf. pig (disambiguation)), this abbreviation can go on both disambiguation pages.

This would be much clearer. Again, the point of dab pages should be to get the reader to the correct article as quickly as possible, not to hew closely to formalisms. --TreyHarris 23:40, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

Rather than "should be a separate article", how about "may be a separate article". If there are only a couple of meanings, it's easier to have them on the same page. In fact, I'd suggest the guideline should specify that this action should only be taken if there are many meanings for each version (without providing an exact number); this stems from your last point. If I type in "Spam", really looking for Spaghetti & Pulsar Activating Meatballs, I have to take an extra click just because I didn't capitalize correctly when I typed it in. —Wahoofive (talk) 03:01, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

Disambiguation terms should not be categorized or separated by criteria that the reader may not know. People, and possibly places, may be separated on the page, but capitalization, US/UK spelling, and status as abbreviation, acronym, or word may be unknown or variable. A reader looking for, say, "uncle" doesn't necessarily know whether it was the man from U.N.C.L.E., UNCLE, Uncle, or unclE he was looking for; likewise SABRE/SABER/Sabre/Saber. Are HEAT, lidar and NASA words or abbreviations? The reader may have just heard the name, or may have clicked a link which was capitalized differently, or was pipe-linked from a different term altogether. Michael Z. 2006-01-04

Also see #revisiting the "one page for all cases" rule, above. —Wahoofive (talk) 03:07, 4 January 2006 (UTC)


I think getting the reader most quickly to the right page is the consensus goal of dab pages here (though I know there are some on Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (disambiguation pages) who disagree). I think Mzajac is right that when there's apt to be confusion, the dab page should assist them. But I also think that when the number of items on either the word or abbreviation exceeds a handful, say seven plus or minus two, that splitting them up will assist the reader more than just throwing everything on one page. (I'd like to see dab pages fit on a single screen as often as is feasible.)

So how about this (taken from the current text of the respective pages):

SAGE (disambiguation)

SAGE may refer to:

The word sage also has a number of articles. See: Sage (disambiguation)


Sage (disambiguation)

Sage can refer to:

The abbreviation SAGE also has a number of articles. See: SAGE (disambiguation)

Since that text is in italics, I think it could also go at the top without disrupting the flow too much, I'm ok with either. I'd then rewrite the bullet point referenced above as a new section:

Abbreviations and words spelled alike

Usually, there should be just one disambiguation page for all cases (upper- or lower-case), e.g. MB for MB, mB, mb, Mb. However, when the all-lowercase or initial-caps case(s) are words with articles in their own right, and there are several articles being disambiguated for both the word and the abbreviation, the word form and the abbreviation form should each have a separate article.

In the rare case where an abbreviation is usually written in all-lowercase (cf. pig (disambiguation)), this abbreviation should be included on both disambiguation pages.

Each page should reference the other, using the {{dab-word|word|word dab page}} and {{dab-abbrev|abbrev|abbrev dab page}} templates, (after the disambiguation list/at the top of the page).

See, for example, Sage (disambiguation), which includes all articles disambiguating "sage" as a word, and SAGE (disambiguation), which includes all articles disambiguating "SAGE" (and other capitalizations thereof) as an abbreviation.

Maybe too complicated? It splits the difference, though, and accelerates getting to the right page for the largest proportion of cases. --TreyHarris 06:57, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

This separation into two separate pages is confusing, and just makes it harder for the reader to disambiguate; in fact may make it impossible for him to find the right link target. Two of the items in SAGE don't even have easily-determined expansions—they may be rendered in all-caps, but they are not S.A.G.E., ess-ay-gee-ee, they are sage. Quick, why are SAGE Computer Technology and the Sage Group on two different pages? Okay, take your time, and figure out why they are not on the same sage disambiguation page. Say you click on a link to "sage software"—then why on Earth should the page you get to have one and not the other on it? This is a good example of why disambiguated items should not be separated by capitalization or assumed status as abbreviations or full words. Michael Z. 2006-01-4 08:30 Z
How can it make it "impossible" to find the right target? There's a link from one to the other, and vice versa. If they can't click a link, then they're not going to get to the right target regardless. In any case, your zeroing in on the things with proper names of Sage and SAGE is missing the point (perhaps your example should be on both dab pages). It seems pretty darn clear to me that the items in the top box (minus the computer company) are all of a sort, and the items in the bottom box (minus the software company) are all of a sort, and they're not of the same sort.
My point here is to try to reduce cognitive load. The items under the word "sage" and the items under the acronym "SAGE" are each of a sort. If we were to order a merged page by the MOS:DP, we would have:
Sage or SAGE may refer to:
Do you really find that easier to navigate than the two pages above? For me at least, the cognitive load of that list makes my head spin. Sorting into sections doesn't help in this case, as the items are too scattershot (at best, we could create a "companies" section that contained two items). I suspect one of the first sectionals that someone would create is "SAGE as an abbreviation", and then we're back where we started. --TreyHarris 09:12, 4 January 2006 (UTC)
While I don't feel that strongly about this either way, your last example is sort of a straw man. There's no reason you couldn't create separate sections on the page for different types of usage; in fact the WP:MOSDAB explicitly encourages this when there are lots of links. —Wahoofive (talk) 22:56, 4 January 2006 (UTC)
I mentioned that, but what sections would you use? Each item above (except for The Sage Group and SAGE Computer Technology, which are both companies) are different types of things. One section for each link? What good does that do over having two pages, besides just spacing things out a bit? Maybe I'm missing the point; why don't you show me what a well-organized, MoS-following, easily-navigable merged dab page would look like? --TreyHarris 23:18, 4 January 2006 (UTC)
Response to section proposal called Abbreviations and words spelled alike: Good, but too long. How about just the first paragraph? Everything else is subsumed under use common sense. And I still vote for "may" rather than "should". —Wahoofive (talk) 23:14, 4 January 2006 (UTC)
How's this?
Sage or SAGE may refer to:
  • Sage, any of a number of plants of genus Salvia; herbs, ornamental, medicinal
  • Sage (comics), a superhero, X-men member (Marvel Comics)
  • Sage Francis, an underground rapper out of Providence, RI
  • Sage Gateshead, a new centre for musical education and performance, in Gateshead in England

in technology:

SAGE may also be an abbreviation for:

Sage may also mean:

  • Wise Old Man, a person in possession of wisdom
  • Rishis, sages (in Hinduism) who speak to the Devas
Wahoofive (talk) 23:30, 4 January 2006 (UTC)
I like this one - the subheads make it easier to read even though it dumps a common meaning at the bottom. JackyR 01:11, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

I'd keep the descriptions just complex enough to distinguish, and put the most basic meanings first: Michael Z. 2006-01-4 23:34 Z

Sage may refer to:


I have merged SAGE (disambiguation) into Sage (disambiguation), following Wahoofive's model. --TreyHarris 04:08, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

You done good. You BOTH done good. Chris the speller 17:35, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

Yes, that was a good thing to do, but shouldn't it have been at SAGE? I've been following the literal convention on the page (that is, "MB"), and found that most existing redirects from the two and three letter combination pages are from mixed to all upper. Was this chosen because the Primary topic is "Sage"? (That seems to be reasonable, but wasn't spelled out here, and should have a {{Primary}} in that case.)

--William Allen Simpson 15:25, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
  • The guidelines specify listing a primary topic (i.e., the primary topic when one exists) in a sentence as the first line of text. {{Primary}} is inconsistent with this, and should not be used on Dab pages. Expect to see it on TfD this week.
    --Jerzyt 19:53, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

Consensus of one[edit]

Mr William Allen Simpson is trying to sneak in a new policy instituting "abbreviation expansion" pages. Please express your opinion for or against the idea at Wikipedia talk:Abbreviation expansion. Michael Z. 2006-04-02 04:36 Z

Are disambig pages part of the encyclopaedia?[edit]

Is there any consensus over whether disambig pages are themselves supposed to be encyclopaedic, or are they simply a practical tool for encyclopaedia readers? In particular, should a TLA disambig page reference all possible interpretations of that abbreviation (as would be encyclopaedic), or only those that a reader would likely search under (as would fit the latter interpretation)? Should redlinks ever be included in a disambig page? How much other information should be included on it? Stevage 12:34, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Standardisation of names of two-letter combination pages[edit]

Currently, about 90% of the various 2LC dab pages use upper case for both letters; the remaining 10% use upper then lower. I'd like to see this standardised to both upper and have commented to such effect at Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions#Standardisation of names of two-letter combination pages. Please comment there if you wish to voice an opinion! Grutness...wha? 12:16, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

abbreviations should usually be expanded beforehand ??[edit]

From intro: "abbreviations should usually be expanded [...] beforehand". Beforehand? Before what? Nurg 22:29, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

"Abbreviations pages replace disambiguation pages" ??[edit]

"Abbreviations pages replace disambiguation pages". What does this mean? Does it mean there should not be disambiguation pages for acronyms or abbreviations, but rather that acronyms and abbreviations should be disambiguated by "abbreviations pages", whatever these are? Nurg 22:53, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

I also found this odd. Abbreviations pages are a type of disambiguation page. -- JHunterJ 23:32, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
I find this whole page odd. I just clicked a link here, read it through, and have absolutely no idea what it's about. (Well if I concentrated hard enough I might be able to guess pieces of it.) If there is wisdom concealed here, there needs to be a major rewrite in order to bring it to the surface.--Kotniski (talk) 15:39, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

Proposed demotion[edit]

Proposing merging this page (or at least, the information on it that makes any sense) with Wikipedia:Disambiguation. Most of the information is there already anyway.--Kotniski (talk) 11:06, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Actually, I propose removing guideline status from this page, and then either deleting it or retaining it as a historical page. All the guidance here (if any of it is meaningful) is duplicated or superseded at WP:D and WP:MOSDAB; the only potential added value is the list of lists of abbreviations, but that hardly justifies maintaining the page as a guideline.--Kotniski (talk) 19:42, 22 August 2008 (UTC)
I siupport removal and deletion/archiving. Tony (talk) 05:49, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done changed to "historical"--Kotniski (talk) 07:43, 25 August 2008 (UTC)


Shouldn't WP:TLA point to the same page as WP:WOTTA, rather than here? / habj (talk) 21:45, 16 November 2008 (UTC)