Wikipedia:CamelCase and Wikipedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The navigation bar of Wikipedia in July 2001, which used CamelCase links.

When Wikipedia was founded on January 15, 2001, it used the wiki engine UseModWiki, which only supported CamelCase links at that time. These links took the form of plaintext camelcase words, such as "WikiCase", and the displayed title of the page this linked to would split this text at each capital letter, producing "Wiki Case".[1] This was a feature inherited from Ward Cunningham's WikiWikiWeb and thereby ultimately the programming language Smalltalk. However, on February 19, 2001, Wikipedia enabled and recommended free links. In the past, unwanted automatic linking had been escaped with doubled bold markup, e.g. Wiki''''''Pedia, which is now interpreted by MediaWiki as bold italic markup followed by an apostrophe (i.e. six apostrophes are split into two for italics and three for bold, with one left over). For an example of this, see the 2001 version of the "Apple" article from the Nostalgia Wikipedia (which uses MediaWiki), particularly the text that's supposed to be presented as "McIntosh" after the word "Jonathan". The CamelCase page on the Nostalgia Wikipedia recommended the use of nowiki tags to suppress unwanted linking.

A year later, with the introduction of the Phase II software in January 2002, support for the automatic linking of CamelCase links was dropped altogether, and an automated conversion script was run to convert CamelCase names to new-style names, although by this time almost all CamelCase links in articles had been removed anyway.

CamelCase can still be found in the non-encyclopedia parts of Wikipedia, such as Talk pages, where the links have not been updated. Many Wikipedians have CamelCased user names, either as a leftover from the early days, carried over from other wikis, or simply because they choose to use them. In addition, special pages with multi-word titles, such as AncientPages, NewPagesFeed, and RecentChanges, are titled in CamelCase, although their display titles are in multiple words. The Wikipedia wordmark shows the 'W' and 'A' taller than the other letters (WikipediA).

Historical details[edit]

On January 27, 2001, Clifford Adams, the programmer of UseModWiki, the wiki engine originally used for Wikipedia, posted the following to the Wikipedia mailing list:

I've done a lot of thinking about WikiLinking recently, and I'm not sure that the WikiName (capital letters) convention is a good fit for the encyclopedia. The AccidentalLinking is a nice feature, but it has a price in harder-to-read links and confusing conventions.

For instance, when I recently wanted to link to "democracy", I first did a search to see if someone else had linked the name (I thought someone might have already used "DemoCracy"). I found that nobody else had linked that name, so I made the link "DemocracY" (to follow the new convention of last-letter-capitalized). In short, it took me far more time to make that link than it would have to just type [[democracy]]. Someone unfamiliar with the local wiki conventions might guess otherwise on another page and link to a separate "DemoCracy" or even "DeMocracy". Ick.

To make a longish story short, I added code (about 150 new lines of Perl) to my development copy to allow (site-optional) "Free" linking within [[double brackets]]. You can use spaces, numbers, commas, dashes, and the period character in these kinds of links. Valid link names include [[George W. Bush]], [[China-Soviet Relations]], [[Physics]], [[music]], and [[Year 2000 bug]]. User names can also use these new links. Internally and within URLs the spaces are replaced with _ (underline) characters, which are translated back to spaces for display purposes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Wiki Case". WikiWikiWeb. 2014-10-17. Retrieved 2020-10-01.