Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (abbreviations)/Archive 2

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MHO is that acronym pages should, in most cases, be mere pointers to other fully-spelled-out pages. APA means many different things, and many of those things will have encyclopedia articles, sure. (Some meanings of acronyms, however, won't, and in that case, there's no point in our listing those senses, because we aren't going to have encyclopedia pages about those senses. I shall explain on Larry Sanger soon, I think... --LMS

This seems right to me, although it is worth noting the exceptions. I think that WYSIWYG, for instance, has become a word unto itself. --Janet Davis
I agree with the "word unto itself" argument, especially for things like the programming languages Algol, COBOL, FORTRAN, perl, etc. Also the POSIX standard, and even Unix itself. Each of these have not simply become "words unto themselves" but are the official names of something. I doubt if one person in one hundred knows or cares that the names are acronyms. There are also a lot of jargon words which are acronyms; "modem", "radio", and "RADAR" come to mind. Further, just what kind of "main title" would you use. Most sensible thing seems to be to use the the acronym as the entry and include the expansion in the article (but not as a link).
OTOH, the link "Ada" should lead to a disambiguating page (as I write, it is about the Ada programming language. There are at least three things it should point to (not in any particular order). They are the Americans with disabilities act; the Ada programming language; "Ada" as a proper name (no link, possibly omitted); and the Lady Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace, generally referred to as Lady Ada Lovelace. --buzco
Just for clarification, Ada and ADA are two different disambiguation pages. The Americans with Disabilities Act would only be refered to by the initialism ADA. -- Reinyday 06:05, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
It's possible, however, that someone might search for the Americans with Disabilities Act in lowercase — "ada" — so all definitions for "ADA" and "Ada" should be on the Ada page. Since a search for "ADA" is probably not ambiguous, the ADA page probably doesn't need the definitions for "Ada" — but does it really help to have two pages on the same thing? ᓛᖁ♀ 04:23, 27 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I ran into this editing DMCA and Digital Millennium Copyright Act. I created a section above based on my own take of what's going on.
<>< tbc


It would be nice to see some examples for acronym naming conventions:

  • Inline text
  • Parenthetical
  • In titles

Thangalin 04:16, 31 December 2006 (UTC)

Changing article titles from XXXXX (US) to XXXXX (United States)

This discussion is about the correct title for articles on subjects that are ambiguous, with one instance of the subject being in the United States. For example, Sierra Nevada (US), Glacier National Park (U.S.), Great Northern Railway (US).

On 26 Feb 2005, User:Eequor moved a large set of these articles to have "United States" in their title, rather than "US" or ("U.S."): Sierra Nevada (United States), Glacier National Park (United States), Great Northern Railway (United States).

The goal of this discussion is to come to a consensus about which usage is considered correct for Wikipedia. -- hike395

I'd like to argue in favor of "US" in the titles, for several reasons:
  1. Most importantly, it's easiest to type. I'm constantly adding Sierra Nevada (US) to infoboxes, etc.
  2. The article titles have been of the form XXXX (US) for years --- there was no compelling reason to move the articles: people know what "US" or "U.S." is.
  3. I don't find redirects from the form XXX (US) to XXXX (United States) to be acceptable, for two reasons:
    1. I believe that it breaks the "Related Changes" feature. Now, there are hundreds of pages that link to Sierra Nevada (US) where that feature may be broken.
    2. (minor point) The redirection notice at the top may be confusing for some people.
My position is to leave things as they were before 26 Feb. I don't see a need to enforce uniformity on the article titles --- "US", "U.S.", "United States" are all fine. If we do decide to make the policy "United States", I would suggest making it an optional style suggestion, rather than a full policy, so that people are encouraged to use it, but not required.
-- hike395 16:08, 27 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Comments on the above points:
  1. You can still type [[Sierra Nevada (US)|]] if you like. The redirect will be adjusted later by somebody who likes to do such things.
  2. Search engines, however, are not very good at distinguishing between "US" and "us", and the results are generally better if they don't try to.
  3. Noted, however:
    1. If page moves do break "Related Changes", we should expect every page move to cause problems. Something like that ought to have been fixed by now. (Unfortunately, it hasn't... how obnoxious)
    2. The notice probably appears often enough from using the search box; most people may be used to it.
ᓛᖁ♀ 17:15, 27 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Google (the most common search engine) seems to distinguish between US and us. Take a look at ... The only articles that aren't USian are "All you base are belong to us" and "contact us", probably because both are strongly about "us". So, I don't believe that this move will substantially help search of Wikipedia. People won't likely type "United States" for searching anyway. They'll type the ambiguous article title ("Sierra Nevada"), end up at the disambiguation page, then select the right one from there.
  • I think that breaking "Related Changes" is pretty bad. In general, people don't expect well-linked-to articles to change names. The "move page" even has a warning:
WARNING! This can be a drastic and unexpected change for a popular page; please be sure you understand the consequences of this before proceeding.
and I think that breaking Related Changes is one of those drastic unexpected changes. If I use [[Sierra Nevada (US)]], I'll continue to break Related Changes, which is just plain bad.
So, I have a proposed compromise: make "(United States)" be the preferred article title going forward, but revert the changes on 26 Feb to not break Related Changes. -- hike395 17:59, 27 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I would have to agree for much of the same reasoning. I don't think that too many people would confuse (US) with anything other than (United States). One other point is that of consistency. If we're going to make it Southern Railway (United States) instead of Southern Railway (US), then we'll also have to make it Southern Railway (United Kingdom) instead of Southern Railway (UK).
My reasons are really more for clarity and, hopefully, to make searching easier. A search engine will get confused by US, and may even ignore the word entirely (see stop word); on the other hand, "United States" is not ambiguous, and "U.S." probably not.
Consistency is a good ideal to strive for. Changing "UK" to "United Kingdom" for consistency seems reasonable, and if "(United States)" is the more common style, shouldn't that be preferred? ᓛᖁ♀ 16:49, 27 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I dislike that all the articles I've been writing and contributing to (such as Pioneer Zephyr) now point to a redirect. Nearly four screenfuls of article names ([1]) now point to a redirect page. Who's going to update all those links to avoid the redirect? slambo 16:29, Feb 27, 2005 (UTC)
There are bots written to do this, though I don't recall who runs them. ᓛᖁ♀ 16:49, 27 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Using (United States) instead of (US) is completely pointless. Nobody is going to confuse the difference and the search engine argument is bogus ; if these titles did not need disambiguation, then there were be neither (US) or (United States) and 'United States' should be linked in the article as a full term anyway. Thus the longer term just makes it more difficult to link to by adding needed letters.

I'm going to move all the pages Eequor moved, back to the (US) titles in 24 hours. And from this point forward, '(US)' should be used as the standard disambiguator when the natural disambiguators of 'U.S.', 'United States', or 'of the United States' don't make sense. --mav 01:09, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Done. --mav

Rethinking this decision

This decision seems to have been made a little hastily. "US" is generally considered to be a non-standard abbriviation; "U.S." is the common one. Perhaps we could hold a straw poll? Neutralitytalk 15:12, Apr 19, 2005 (UTC)

I'm not sure what criterion is required for going to a straw poll. I still stand by my preference for (US), because
  1. It's easy to type. I type Sierra Nevada (US) a great deal: periods or the full country name would be pretty annoying.
  2. Moving articles to conform to some standard breaks "Related Changes", unless links are also fixed. There are some articles (like Sierra Nevada (US) that have many in-links: a bot is required to fix all of the links.
  3. The exact disambiguation string usage does not seem to matter to readers --- they would understand that the articles are about the United States by reading the body.
  4. Search engines don't care, because they are largely case sensitive.
So, it seems that the benefits are minor, but there are definite costs. I would still be opposed to it. One compromise I had suggested, above, is use (United States) going forward, but not move existing articles. -- hike395 05:51, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Neutrality - this is about disambiguation, not the 'correct' title of things. When and where an abbreviation is used as part of an actual title, then U.S. is appropriate. But parenthetical disambiguation needs to be clean and easy, so US is best. --mav 10:46, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I would be more in favor of using (US) instead of (U.S.) because (US) is much easier to type. Typing (U.S.) slows me down considerably because I have to hold the shift key for the ( and the U then remember to let go of the shift for the . then press shift again for S then let go of shift again for . then hold shift again for ). Even if I turn on caps lock, I've still got to hold the shift key for the parentheses. It's much easier to just press shift once and hold it throughout the entire (US) than to jump on the key while typing. Besides, how many other common country abbreviations do we put periods in? What about UK (or GB), UAE or USSR? Are we going to insist that they use periods as well? This seems more trouble than it's worth. Keep it as (US). slambo 10:52, Apr 20, 2005 (UTC)
I'd favor "(US)" too. The situation is confused because we have articles like U.S. 1st Infantry Division, where spelling out "United States" puts articles in contention for longest title ever, but "US" is not so desirable because it's not the "official" abbreviation used by the article's subject. However, by definition, a "(foo)" disambiguator is something that we invent to work around limitations of the software - one could imagine a future generation of Wikimedia where disambiguation is done by, say, an additional field in the database, it displays at the top of the article but in in a different font, etc. So that says to me that we can pick the shortest and most convenient string to use in the meantime, which would be "US". Stan 12:27, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I also favor "(US)" without the periods for disambiguation purposes. I think that U.S. is appropriate as an abbreviation in a name such as U.S. Supreme Court. Keep it as it is. 17:20, Apr 20, 2005 (UTC)

FYI, I recently (June 2, 2005) moved one article and all its links to a U.S. from a US title. I will cease doing so since I have located this discussion. BUT, for the contents of an article, I will continue to follow the "Manual Style: U.S. not US" and continue editing articles to comply with that statement. I'll work on a different project.

Guy ML.V. (soapbox) 23:02, Jun 2, 2005 (UTC)
There are some interesting instructions here:
[9.9] United States must be spelled out when appearing in a sentence containing the name of another country. The abbreviation U.S. will be used... except in formal writing... and covers and title pages.
[9.10] With the exceptions in the preceding rule, the abbreviation U.S. is used in the adjective position, but is spelled out when used as a noun.
I don't see that they've used "US" at all except in longer acronyms such as USA (U.S. Army). Should Wikipedia follow this style guide? ᓛᖁ♀ 02:09, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Just want to point out that the current Wikipedia style is to use (US) only for disambiguation headers, nowhere else. So, everything Guy did was just fine..
Notice the logic in this style --- Wikipedia disambiguation is a unique feature: the extra tag need only be long enough to disambiguate the article. Because it is constantly being typed, people (including myself) like the extra tag to be short and not have periods. So, Guy, did a good thing. Just please don't move XXXX (US) to XXXX (U.S.).
-- hike395 05:07, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Capitalizing Acronymed Titles (CAT)

Should Unmanned Aerial Vehicle be moved to Unmanned aerial vehicle? It's not a proper name like USA, but it's usually abbreviated UAV. - Omegatron 00:21, Mar 25, 2005 (UTC)

Yes it should. --mav 10:46, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Add Head-Up Display to the confusion. Phil Harnish (Info | Talk) 08:23, 23 December 2005 (UTC)

Policy for plural acronyms?

Is it CRT's or CRTs? I know that acronyms that are commonly lower case are made plural normally, like modems, but ones that are upper case seem inconsistent. Where is the Wikipedia policy on this? --A D Monroe III 03:35, 8 October 2005 (UTC)

I don't know what WP policy is, but grammar would say CRTs. Apostrophes are not used to denote plurals. --Blackcap | talk 03:46, 8 November 2005 (UTC)

Mount or Mt???

I am fairly sure that there is universal agreement on this, but nowhere can I find a style reference to how everyday shorthand such as Mt, St, Rd, Ave, is to be handled in article titles. I would propose adding a section to this article that spells it out for idiots like myself who are not sure.SauliH 05:41, 9 November 2005 (UTC)


Go to Talk:NBC and look at the proposed move to National Broadcasting Company. Go to Talk:Public Broadcasting Service and look at the proposed move to PBS. Is there any general rule on how articles like these should be named?? Georgia guy 01:39, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

Based on the discussion a while ago at Talk:National Public Radio, the rule is to avoid acronyms if the full name is still official, even if the acronym is more well-known. How is this rule sensible?? Georgia guy 00:28, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

Simple. Read this guideline: Avoid the use of acronyms in page naming unless the term you are naming is almost exclusively known only by its acronyms and is widely known and used in that form. Neither PBS nor NPR are almost exclusively known only by the abbreviations. The proposal to move NBC to National Broadcasting Company was inappropriate since that is no longer the official name of the entity. olderwiser 03:18, 18 February 2006 (UTC)
Please note the phrase "almost exclusively", not simply "exclusively". Regarding PBS, anyone who knows it by its full name "Public Broadcasting Service" besides:
  1. People who remember its ident from long ago. (This is the second ident at PBS idents.) This ident has not been used since 1984 except on reruns of old shows, and 1984 was very long ago.
  2. The people who use corporate names at phrases such as "Copyright 1995-2006 Public Broadcasting Service, Inc."??

Georgia guy 14:36, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

US vs. U.S.

In reading this page, I completely missed the section specifically mentioning US is preferred to U.S., and I moved a bunch of articles from XXX (US) to XXX U.S. Personally, I prefer "United States" over an abbreviation (to be consistent with the general policy, and to improve the clarity of links and titles) and U.S. over US (for consistency with body-text style). For some of the articles, I used "U.S." instead of "United States" because the title was getting too long.

With regard to search engines, Google actually does a bad job with "U.S." because it strips the dots and is case-insensitive. Yahoo does a better job with "U.S.", finding only pages about the United States on the first page. With "US", it co-mingles American content with things like "All your base are belong to us" and "". I think there's a strong argument in favor of "U.S." to help current and future search engines disambiguate.

I also favor "United States" because there are just too many TLAs out there, and you don't always (instantly) realize the disambiguator is geographical. (And you aren't always looking at the article page itself when you read the title.)

Anyway, I thought it would be better to change the recommendation to be consistent with other recommendations, rather than change all the titles back. (That cleanup request had been sitting around since Dec 2004, and I had just gotten around to implementing it.) -- Beland 07:56, 12 February 2006 (UTC)

I went ahead and changed all of the titles back, sorry. If you look at the discussion, above, all of the arguments against changing are still valid:
  1. Moving the pages breaks "Related Changes", given the hundreds of articles that point to XXXX (US).
  2. People don't typically search for "Sierra Nevada United States". People almost always use short queries, like "Sierra Nevada", which sends them to the disambiguation page where they can select the correct article.
  3. As you point out, "XXX (United States)" makes for very long titles, which are very annoying to type in wikilinks.
  4. Disambiguators are purely Wikipedia-internal --- we can use whatever style we like.
Is there really a strong compelling reason to change? Out of courtesy, we should re-consult everyone who participated in the discussion above and see if they want to change. This would be the third time for this discussion --- the second time we re-visited this discussion. If you feel strongly, we can go ahead, but I hate to pester people about the same issue again and again.
-- hike395 07:45, 13 February 2006 (UTC)
The moves likely accomplished one important thing—no matter which is used, there should be a redirect from the other. IMHO, they all should be at "U.S.", but it isn't going to matter much if somebody checks once in a while to see if the requisite redirects are there. Gene Nygaard 17:42, 11 March 2007 (UTC)
Indeed. At the end of the day though, all that really matters is that we are consistent with any particular disambiguator. That said, I still have a preference for US vs anything else due to it being fast and easy to type. --mav 13:52, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
Discussion continued below at #(US) vs. (U.S.) disambiguation: the final discussion?

Suggestion for change in acronym policy

I recently engaged in a discussion at Talk:NASA on whether NASA should be renamed and moved to National Aeronautics and Space Administration; I was a strong proponent of such a move. I made my case somewhat belligerently and thus not as convincingly as I could have, so here I will put forth my suggestion for a change in the acronym naming convention policy. (Note that I am using the NASA case as an example.)

What I suggested was that, since the name of the United States' space agency was set forth by a statute (the National Aeronautics and Space Act), and that name is in fact National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the article's title should be National Aeronautics and Space Administration as well. It is certainly true that NASA is used far more often, even in official documents, than National Aeronautics and Space Administration - engineers and scientists aren't going to use 14 syllables when two would suffice. This makes sense, and it is obviously this common usage that led to the article being called NASA rather than the long name. However, I feel that there are several problems with this. If you'll bear with me for a moment, I'll explain...

Even though NASA is a very, very well known acronym (since it stands for a very well known organization), it is somewhat U.S.-centric to expect that everybody knows what it stands for. In fact, I would imagine that quite a few people in the U.S. wouldn't know what it stands for, either. Thus, using an acronym short-changes readers right in the beginning of an article, which is the part of the article that should include the most general information. Yes, the full name is stated in the first paragraph, but to be consistent, the article's title should be the name that is first stated, and then acronyms can be used freely thereafter (once it is completely clear what they refer to.) Wikipedia should strive to provide the most information possible to readers, especially in the beginning of articles. Just as you wouldn't start the article by saying, "NASA works closely with the USAF and other elements of the DoD...," you shouldn't use an ambiguous acronym as its title (even an acronym that is widely known, because widely understood does not mean universally understood.)

Thus, for acronyms in article titles, I propose the following...

  1. Their use is unavoidable at times, but it should always be discouraged when possible.
  2. An entity named in law or other official form - such as a government agency or corporation - should always use the full name as the article title, regardless of how common the acronym for it is.
  3. Consistency should be encouraged at all times, especially in cases of abbreviating "United States" (where U.S. and US are both used.) This is not to say that periods should always be used or always be omitted. For example, the Wall Street Journal might have an article headline that reads, U.S., EU regulators agree to ban foo. Thus, the United States is always U.S. and the European Union is always EU. The important point is that whatever is used, be used consistently, which is not the current state of things.
  4. For use within an article's text, acronyms should never be linked, since a term is linked in its first usage in that article. If it is the first usage, an acronym should not be used (even acronyms that everybody knows, like NASA, CIA, etc.)
  5. Laser, radar, CD-ROM and other such acronyms - those that are not contained in a statute or otherwise officially defined - are acceptable when they are clearly the most common usage.

As it stands now, this policy is very inconsistent. While acronyms in article titles is really not Wikipedia's most pressing issue, it is something that can be made far more consistent with very little effort and thus would improve the appearance and clarity of the information presented. Yes, adding references and citations is far more important than whether to use the acronym or not, but for a simple task such as bringing all acronyms into line, the improvement in Wikipedia's aesthetics and ease of use would be, imho, great. Kthx Paul 19:11, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

I frankly don't understand this whole "common usage" thing. It makes decisions on whether to move a page or not way to difficult. Why not simply use the expansion in all cases? It won't hurt anyone, would solve a lot of move debates, and improve consistency. I'd also like to add that people usually use acronyms just because they're lazy or ignorant, neither of which would make a good argument to accept it as the title of an encyclopaedic article. It also doesn't change the fact that the expansion is in fact the original and principal name. Shinobu 01:46, 13 August 2007 (UTC)