Talk:Brighton, Boston/move discussion

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This article was just moved back from Brighton, Massachusetts to Brighton, Boston, Massachusetts, with the rationale "This is the naming convention for city districts and neighborhoods, regardless of length." Is that true? Consider Dorchester, Massachusetts, West Roxbury, Massachusetts, East Boston, Massachusetts, Charlestown, Massachusetts, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts; and outside of Boston, Newton Highlands, Massachusetts, Hyannis, Massachusetts, Oakland, Massachusetts, and dozens of CDPs. Are all these articles misnamed? If so, that naming convention seems misguided. AJD (talk) 22:21, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

For example, see Hollywood, Los Angeles, California and La Jolla, San Diego, California and the extensive discussions regarding the issue on their talk pages. Trorov (talk) 22:55, 23 February 2009 (UTC)
(ec)Allston, Brighton, Roxbury, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Charlestown: these communities are sufficiently distinct from Boston and do not need extended titles. Locals think of them as separate even though they are administratively part of Boston. Residents receive mail addressed to Brighton, rather than Boston or Brighton-Boston. Most of the communities have long histories independent of Boston. Perhaps the editor who moved the page would like to indicate which naming convention he is citing and discuss here why he thinks these communities need extended titles. I for one would like to see this article moved back to Brighton, Massachusetts. Aramgar (talk) 22:59, 23 February 2009 (UTC)
And so would I. When the result is especially cumbersome, I think we might invoke WP:IAR in the interest of furthering the overall WP-building project. Hertz1888 (talk) 23:20, 23 February 2009 (UTC)
I too would like to see the page returned to Brighton, Massachusetts. AJD, Hertz1988 and my friend Aramgar all make excellent points: the current article name is unwieldy and cumbersome and fails to reflect common usage. I can find no guideline or policy requiring this format at Wikipedia:Naming conventions (geographic names), and it seems to me that the precedents set by Dorchester, Massachusetts, West Roxbury, Massachusetts, etc (and yes, there are plenty more examples) are more numerous than those decided for the Hollywood and La Jolla articles. The article should be moved back, and the article on Allston should be renamed in a similar fashion. Kafka Liz (talk) 00:27, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
If the reason for a change is because of "unwieldyness", other editors have suggested the formulation of [neighborhood, city] without the state, e.g. "Brighton, Boston". If the reason for the change is to reflect that the U.S. Postal Service allows "Brighton" to be used as a city name in addresses even though it is part of Boston, the article will only perpetuate the false notion that Brighton is an independent entity. Note that the article is not just for locals, who may understand this distinction, and note also that it is perfectly acceptable by the USPS to write "Boston, MA 02135" in a Brighton address. Every major city across the country is composed of many neighborhoods, some more distinct than others. Every major city also has grown by annexing surrounding areas, some of which previously had their own unique identities. In most cases, these areas have taken on the identity of the city they have become a part of and relinquished a claim to "independence", while still maintaining an identity as a distinct neighborhood within that city. You don't ever see a reference to "Georgetown, D.C." or "Northern Liberties, Pennsylvania" - both were contemporaries of independent Brighton and were annexed around the same time Brighton was. They are both now firmly a part of the cities of Washington and Philadelphia, respectively. I do not understand why residents of Massachusetts think differently from the rest of the country in this regard. Brighton has now been part of Boston twice as long as it ever was an independent entity. Trorov (talk) 01:20, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
There is no need to create an artificially verbose, hyper-specific name when the common name - that is to say, the most widely-used and easily understood - is perfectly sufficient. Non-locals should be able to ascertain Brighton's municipal status clearly enough by reading the article's first sentence or taking a quick glance at the infobox.
On a side note, does it really come as that great a surprise to you that residents of Massachusetts think differently from the rest of the country? It's been all over the news for at least twenty years. ;)Kafka Liz (talk) 02:00, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
If your so-called "common name" were perfectly sufficient, we wouldn't be having this discussion. This is an encyclopedia - just because a slang term for something might be common doesn't mean it should be used as the title of an article about it, when it has a formal name that might be less common. There is also a need to be consistent with other articles. Besides the ones mentioned above, we also have examples such as Flushing, Queens (not "Flushing, New York" - which by the way is postally acceptable) and Bensonhurst, Brooklyn (not "Bensonhurst, New York"). These are not "artifically verbose" or "hyper-specific". I submit that "Brighton, Massachusetts" is common only because of the Postal Service's inconsistent practices. People see an address written a certain way a few dozen times and it becomes very difficult for them to imagine anything different. If the USPS had insisted that "Boston" had to be used when it created the ZIP code 02135, the formulation "Brighton, Massachusetts" would probably sound as funny as "Georgetown, D.C." and would not be common. Why should the article's title be based on a 40-year-old whim of a postal bureaucrat? Trorov (talk) 02:24, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
The thing is, it's not the case that "Brighton, Boston, Massachusetts" is a "formal name that might be less common"—it's a basically nonexistent name; nobody refers to Brighton as "Brighton, Boston, Massachusetts". There are less than 900 Google hits for "Brighton, Boston, Massachusetts". And "Brighton, Massachusetts" is not a "slang" term; it's just a name, which people use every day. Your 40-year-old postal bureaucrat is a red herring; virtually everything that has a common name has it because of some arbitrary decision made by some unidentifiable individual sometime in the past. We shouldn't use Northern Liberties, Pennsylvania as an article title, but it's because people don't call it "Northern Liberties, Pennsylvania", not because Northern Liberties is part of Philadelphia. (Aside: why then are West Philadelphia and Northeast Philadelphia article titles, instead of West Philadelphia, Philadelphia or West Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania?)
Titling the article Brighton, Massachusetts does not "perpetuate the false notion that Brighton is an independent entity"—there are hundreds if not thousands of article titles of the form Placename, State for places that have no independent legal existence: aside from the neighborhoods of Boston, Newton, Barnstable, and Taunton listed above, there are places like Housatonic, Massachusetts, Pascoag, Rhode Island, Storrs, Connecticut, Morrisonville, New York, Havertown, Pennsylvania—none of which is a legally independent entity, each of which is merely a "neighborhood". And I could go on. Placename, State is the general pattern—the rule, not the exception—for sub-local neighborhoods in Wikipedia.
I've read the archived discussion at Talk:La Jolla, San Diego, California, and I agree with Serge that it should be La Jolla, California. Lord knows I've had my disagreements with Serge—I favor the comma convention and think Boston should redirect to Boston, Massachusetts; he takes the opposite position—but he's absolutely right in this case. AJD (talk) 03:44, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
AJD sums up exactly the point I wished to make. I should have written "artificial and verbose" - because the name "Brighton, Boston, Massachusetts"is just that: artificial. Nobody uses it. It is not a less common formal name, nor is "Brighton, Massachusetts" "slang". I could go on, but I'd just be repeating the points AJD made above. Kafka Liz (talk) 11:00, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
I agree with "Brighton, Massachusetts." The "common name" principle should take precedence. Google Books has 717 published examples of "Brighton Massachusetts" vs. only 42 for "Brighton Boston Massachusetts"; and with "Mass." it also runs better than 2:1 in favor of no Boston. Wareh (talk) 19:23, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
A balance has to be struck between using "common names" and achieving a level of consistency. Part of the goal of an encyclopedia should be to organize information, and that includes referring to like things in a consistent fashion. Chaos may exist in the real world; Wikipedia should document it and explain it, but not contribute to it. There should be one way of formulating the title of articles about Boston neighborhoods, not several different ways. "Brighton, Massachusetts" may have some claim to legitimacy due to the inconsistent practices of the Postal Service, but "Back Bay, Massachusetts", "Chinatown, Massachusetts", and "South End, Massachusetts" do not, and besides, these are not the "common names" for those neighborhoods. Trorov (talk) 21:08, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
No one is arguing here that Back Bay, Chinatown, South End, or North End ought to be moved; these are neighborhoods in Boston proper. Brighton, however, is very much its own place. Please let it go. The naming conventions are flexible. Wikipedia:Naming conventions (common names), along with Wikipedia:Use common sense I might add, suggests that the article be titled Brighton, Massachusetts. Aramgar (talk) 21:50, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
"These are neighborhoods in Boston proper" - what do you mean? According to the "city limits" article, which redirects from city proper, this means that these neighborhoods are within Boston's city limits. But so is Brighton! and has been for 135 years! Your argument shows how muddled "common" perceptions are regarding this, which is only perpetuated by the formulation "Brighton, Massachusetts". If being "its own place" makes Brighton eligible to be referred to as if a separate city, then what about Chinatown? Chinatown is a very distinct place. More people would be able to distinguish Chinatown from another Boston neighborhood than would be able to distinguish Brighton from another neighborhood. Trorov (talk) 22:13, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
Sorry if you find common perceptions "muddled". They may just have a different kind of logic. I doubt that city limits have much to do with the perception of distinctness. Those in the outlying communities, such as Brighton, may think of downtown as "Boston". Going intown would indicate "going to Boston", despite already being there in terms of city limits, whereas a resident of Chinatown would have no doubts about being in Boston. We need to be flexible. A strong vote for "Brighton, Massachusetts". Hertz1888 (talk) 22:35, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
I have no particular opinion on whether Brighton, Dorchester, and so on should be considered part of "Boston proper" or are "their own place" more than the South End and so on are. My point is twofold: One, the common-names principle argues against using an artificial term that nobody ever uses such as "Brighton, Boston, Massachusetts". "Brighton, Massachusetts" is at least a name that is used. And two, the pattern Placename, State is very common in Wikipedia for names of neighborhoods, so the principle that article names should follow consistent patterns does not exclude "Brighton, Massachusetts" as an article name. There are other possibilities consistent with those two points, such as Brighton (Massachusetts), Brighton (Boston neighborhood), and so on, but Brighton, Massachusetts is superior to those because article names with parenthetical disambiguation are dispreferred to those with unambiguous common names. AJD (talk) 23:01, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
The use of Brighton (Boston neighborhood) would allow for a consistent convention, i.e. Chinatown (Boston neighborhood) is more appropriate than Chinatown, Massachusetts, etc. However, where this has come up elsewhere on Wikipedia, the consistent conventions of [neighborhood, city, state] or [neighborhood, city] are more common. Trorov (talk) 23:28, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
The "rules" can not be applied as rigidly as that. Not everything in the real world follows perfectly logical systems, nor is it Wikipedia's role to force an artificial appearance of such. Chinatown, the North End, Back Bay, etc. are all relatively amorphous areas within the original city of Boston. The areas considered part of these neighborhoods are not precise and may shift over time. Neighborhoods such as Allston, Brighton, Dorchester, etc. were once separate towns with their own borders, which, I believe, is why the the names have been retained in the "town, state" both by the postal service and by their residents.
I would remind you as well that WP:NCGN offers no suggestions in cases such as this, urges "the use of common sense, with the occasional exception", and clearly states that by following modern English usage, we also avoid arguments about what a place ought to be called, instead asking the less contentious question, what it is called. Kafka Liz (talk) 23:48, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
Loodog essentially accepted my edits, but fine:
Why the article should be titled "Brighton, Boston, Massachusetts"
  1. Consistency with other neighborhoods and neighborhoods of other cities
  2. Reinforces Brighton's status as a Boston neighborhood and does not suggest otherwise
Why the article should be titled "Brighton, Massachusetts"
  1. Fact that Brighton was distinct from Boston in its history (but only one-third of its history)
  2. Common use - many residents use "BRIGHTON MA 02135" in their addresses, even though "BOSTON MA 02135" is completely accepted by the U.S. Postal Service
As far as "rigidity" goes, Wikipedia can be as "logical" as its editors want it to be. It is not unreasonable or overly "rigid" to have a consistent naming convention. As far as neighborhoods being amorphous, Brighton is no different than those you mentioned: some people say "Brighton", others say "Allston-Brighton" - when is one appropriate and not the other? Precisely because things "change over time", we should not be perpetuating, in essence, something that has not existed in 135 years. Trorov (talk) 00:17, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
Again: "consistency with other neighborhoods and neighborhoods of other cities" argues in favor of Brighton, Massachusetts: a large number of other neighborhoods of Boston, every neighborhood as far as I can tell in Newton, Barnstable, and Taunton, and every census-designated place in the country, many of which are neighborhoods of incorporated municipalities, has an article title of the form Placename, State. A few neighborhoods in major cities like Los Angeles and Philadelphia don't outweigh the predominant pattern of Placename, State. (And, by this argument, most of those LA and Philly articles are misnamed too.)
I'm not arguing in favor of article names like Back Bay, Massachusetts, simply because "Back Bay, Massachusetts" is not a name in common use for the Back Bay the way "Brighton, Massachusetts" is for Brighton. I favor the comma convention when doing so creates a name which is actually used for a location, not indiscriminately. The Back Bay should probably just be at Back Bay, for instance. AJD (talk) 05:41, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
In the above argument, only cities in Massachusetts are named. There are 49 other states, all of which have cities that are composed of sub-entities... As far as census-designated places go, please read the very second line of the corresponding article. It defines CDPs as "statistical counterparts of incorporated places", i.e. the Census has developed the concept of a CDP to deal with places that are not incorporated, or part of an incorporated place. When a CDP is incorporated as a new municipality, or annexed by an existing municipality, the Census ceases to collect data for the former CDP separately and instead collects data for the new incorporated municipality under its new title ("city", "town", etc.) or for the enlarged municipality as a whole that now includes the former CDP. In other words, the CDP ceases to exist. The name of the CDP may live on in "common" usage as "former CDP name, state" - most likely due to postal practices - but it is no longer a CDP. With few exceptions, CDPs are not sub-entities of municipalities, thus it is entirely reasonable that they are referred to as "CDP, state". Trorov (talk) 17:11, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
Why it should be at Brighton, Boston, Massachusetts
  1. Ease of editors
  2. consistency with other neighborhoods and neighborhoods of other cities
  3. Reinforces Brighton's status as a Boston neighborhood and does not suggest otherwise
Why it should be at Brighton, Massachusetts
  1. Ease of readers
  2. common use
  3. fact that Brighton was distinct from Boston in its history
  4. fact that many residents and indeed, addresses given by postal services refer to "Brighton, Massachusetts, 02135", more than "Boston, Massachusetts, 02135"

WP:NAME states: "The names of Wikipedia articles should be optimized for readers over editors, and for a general audience over specialists." Based on this, I vote for Brighton, Massachusetts.--Loodog (talk) 23:12, 24 February 2009 (UTC)


Options are

  1. Brighton, Boston, Massachusetts
  2. Brighton, Massachusetts.

Reminder, this is not a vote. I'm just trying to get a survey of where we are. I'll start.

  • Option 2. As per all my reasons above, specifically "The names of Wikipedia articles should be optimized for readers over editors, and for a general audience over specialists."--Loodog (talk) 23:56, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Option 2. The most common name for the place. Aramgar (talk) 00:03, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Is a poll actually necessary? I see a pretty clear consensus of six editors - seven if we count Ktr101, who initiated the page move to Brighton, Massachusetts -- that the page belongs at Brighton, Massachusetts. In any case, count me as Option 2. Kafka Liz (talk) 00:05, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
    • It makes things like that a little more manifest.--Loodog (talk) 00:10, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
      • Fair enough. :) Kafka Liz (talk) 00:12, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Option 2 (no surprise). Loodog's tallied reasons for this option far outweigh those for the other. Hertz1888 (talk) 02:50, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Option 2, naturally. Names of Wikipedia articles should be common names for their topics whenever possible. AJD (talk) 05:24, 25 February 2009 (UTC)