Wikipedia:State route naming conventions poll/Old

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In the interests of harmonious editing of state route road articles we endeavour to hold a community-wide naming conventions poll to get an idea of where people stand on this issue. The format is as follows:

  • One week of discussion ending 7 days from 20:35, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
  • One week of polling starting 7 days from 20:35, 26 May 2006 (UTC) and ending 14 days from 20:35, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

The first week of discussion will be used for the people who are heavily involved in this dispute to make their case, to the community, over which naming convention they feel should be preferred site-wide. Once the week of discussion is over the week of polling commences, during which Wikipedians decide from a number of naming conventions as proposed during the discussion period.


Question: Should a poll be used to establish a binding decision for the naming of U.S. State Highway articles? Note that the poll in question is, based on past discussions, almost certain to not reach consensus; rather, we'll have to take a simple majority. "Binding decision" means administrators will be empowered to block people who strive to violate the chosen naming convention.


  • I support this. These naming move wars are very disruptive and in my view the actual name used is fairly unimportant, so just picking one seems fine. —Bunchofgrapes (talk) 21:21, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
    • The actual name used matters, as it is what people end up linking to and bolding at the start of the article, whether or not this is actually correct. So we have articles about State Route X beginning "Washington State Route X is foo" and talking about "Washington State Route Y". --SPUI (T - C) 21:25, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
      • Maybe if when people move warred and moved articles that used to be titled "Washington State Route X" to "State Route X (Washington)", they also bothered to change the text in the first paragraph, the above wouldn't be a problem. Before Freakofnurture made the latest batch of moves, the articles in question were titled "Washington State Route X", and started out with "Washington State Route X is foo".
        • That's exactly what I said. --SPUI (T - C) 21:36, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
          • No, it isn't. You said we have articles named "State Route X" that begin with "Washington State Route X is foo." What I said is that two weeks ago, before Freakofnurture entered the move war, the article title and the first sentence of the article matched--both were Washington State Route X. What I said is that if you and Freakofnurture actually cared about using the correct names, you would also edit the text of the article when you moved the article to a new title. -- Northenglish 21:45, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
            • No - I said that one problem with disambiguating with the state name first is that people then put it first in text, even when everyone agrees that the name is really "State Route X". --SPUI (T - C) 21:49, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
              • What is the problem with fixing the link? But I see what you mean. - Ta bu shi da yu 07:04, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
              • I believe it is possible to hold that the name is officially "X" but what Wikipedia chooses to call it is "Y". —Bunchofgrapes (talk) 04:01, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
                • That may be true - but this is a case of no one - officially or otherwise - calling it "Y" except when disambiguating. --SPUI (T - C) 05:33, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
                  • I do agree with you there. However, there is more than one way to disambiguate on Wikipedia (WP:D): more complete names. -- Northenglish 16:28, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
              • I apologize for over-simplifying your comment. Regardless, we said two very different things. -- Northenglish 16:28, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Support True, the name of the article isn't whats important anymore, it's these disruptive wars. DGX 21:24, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Support per Bunchofgrapes. One way or the other, end this thing already. --Cyde↔Weys 21:24, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Support. Unity is good. -- Grev 22:56, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Support. If the Arbitration Committee has to decide this dispute (and I strongly doubt they will), then it will reflect poorly on those who made it do so. Content disputes don't belong in Arbitration. Mackensen (talk) 01:02, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Support. This really shouldn't be given to ArbCom, unless it becomes so controversial and protracted that it isn't going anywhere. If that does happen and I start seeing disruptive page moves, I must give due warning that I'm tempted to get a group of admins to decide on a naming convention and then protect the pages against page moves. - Ta bu shi da yu 07:04, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
  1. Support Jaranda wat's sup 18:05, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Support. Though I've seen no evidence to indicate SPUI won't find some way to get around it, and get 'Names per SPUI' applied at the state level, given SPUI's success at ignoring 'common names' and longstanding conventions regarding U.S. Highways, to end up with U.S. Route 1, etc.[1] [2]. 00:19, 30 May 2006 (UTC)


  • Oppose, reluctantly, for now. As much as I welcome anything that would be binding, I believe at this time that, with two three votes in favor and none opposed, the pending request for arbitration in this matter is likely to be picked up by the ArbCom, which will then either make a binding ruling on the naming convention or will appoint a neutral third party to mediate and make a binding decision. If that happens, having a parallel effort at binding resolution like this one in the pipeline would be profoundly counterproductive and may only serve to magnify the overall problem. If the tide were to turn against the arbitration case being picked up, I would change my vote here from Oppose to Support. phh (t/c) 21:33, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose in favor of phh's rationale. Arbcom looks poised to rule on this. JohnnyBGood Flag of Mexico.svg t c 21:36, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose per PHenry above. I think the last thing we need right now is to move this debate to a sixth forum. Plus, if I recall correctly, this has been tried and failed before, before I got involved with the issue. If people feel the need to debate this issue further, I think they should debate it on one of the many pages where debate is already in progress. Like PHenry, I would consider changing my vote to support if Arbcom failed to issue a decision. -- Northenglish 21:42, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose assuming that this will indeed be picked up by ArbCom. --InShaneee 21:56, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose we have arbcom? --Rschen7754 (talk - contribs) 01:52, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose but I think it's weasely to say "let arbcom handle it." I simply think that "binding" decisions shouldn't be required, that instead we have a nice long chin-wag and keep doing it until we get consensus. After that, if someone keeps moving things around we don't need to fall back on a "binding" decision, we just behave as we normally do for disruption. - brenneman {L} 03:50, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
    • I agree but the normal methods are not working. Sadly. --Rschen7754 (talk - contribs) 03:53, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose The result of a "binding" poll is enforced how long... in perpetuity? Bad idea. Wombdpsw 05:52, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
    • Why is that a bad idea? This is not a poll about the contents of the Arab Israeli Conflict you know! This is about a naming convention, for goodness sake. Really, the controversy is ridiculous. Pick one convention and stick with it please. We all have better things to do with our time. - Ta bu shi da yu 07:01, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
    • It would be binding only until consensus decides otherwise, perhaps through another process like this, not in perpetuity. —Bunchofgrapes (talk) 22:00, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose. You can't have a binding vote where one of the options is invalid. Any move away from a formal name is moving Wikipedia towards becoming a populist website, and away from being an authoritative encyclopaedia. Noisy | Talk 09:05, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Rather than having a blanket decision affecting all the state highway wikiprojects, including those that haven't had any NC-related problems, we should let each of the wikiprojects decide their conventions on their own. If an individual wikiproject can't come up with a decision then there should be a poll just for it, and even then it shouldn't be permanently binding.-Jeff (talk) 21:45, 27 May 2006 (UTC)


STATE_NAME State Route NUMBER[edit]

For example, Washington State Route 26

I'm still not entirely sure it's a good idea to participate here while this matter is still pending before the ArbCom, but I suppose it's good to get all the arguments out there, anyway. (Note: If you think you've seen this before, it's because I simply copied over the argument I made at WT:CASH, because why reinvent the wheel. I'm sure there's room to refine this argument, but it's good to go for now.)

WP:D defines disambiguation as "the process of resolving ambiguity—the conflict that occurs when a term is closely associated with two or more different topics." In addition, the parenthentical method of disambiguation is used to differentiate article titles that would otherwise be identical. Now, it may appear as though I just said the same thing twice using different words, but there's actually a subtle difference between the two.

As Nohat notes, Wikipedia actually uses several different methods to "disambiguate" similarly named topics. For example, there are seven kings named Charles I on Wikipedia, and not one of them gets parentheses. There's an article at Watergate scandal, while Watergate (scandal) doesn't even exist as a redirect. Turning our attention back to California, we can see that Proposition 13 redirects to a disambiguated page… but it's disambiguated by the date, not the location: California Proposition 13 (1978). I could go on like this all day, but I think my point is made.

So why do some disambiguated articles get parentheses, and some don't? I believe there's a method to the madness.

In proper English usage, a parenthetical phrase within a sentence can be dropped and the sentence will still be gramatically correct. Likewise, an unwritten (as far as I know) but widely followed convention has evolved at Wikipedia that holds that parentheses are used for articles that, for lack of a better term, "wish" they could exist at the undisambiguated title. Probably the most well-known example of parenthetical disambiguation on the English Wikipedia is Georgia (country) vs. Georgia (U.S. state). The state in the American South and the country in the Caucasus have the misfortune to share exactly the same verbal identity. Atlanta is the capital of what? "Georgia," period, end of discussion. Tblisi is the capital of what? "Georgia," period, end of discussion. They get disambiguated with parentheses because each one has an equal, logical claim to the undisambiguated article title and neither one can have it. Just as dropping a parenthetical phrase from a sentence should allow the sentence to stand on its own, it should be possible to ignore a parenthetical disambiguation and have the remainder of the article title stand as a full, accurate, and logical descriptor of the article's subject matter.

Governor of California doesn't have the same kind of claim on the name "Governor" as either of the Georgias does on "Georgia," nor does Charles I of Spain have the same kind of claim on "Charles I." In both cases, the location is an important part of their verbal identity. Try answering the question: What is Arnold Schwarzenegger's job? "He's the governor." I assure you, that answer leaves a lot to be desired up here, where we have a governor of our own and it's sure as hell not Arnold Schwarzenegger. "He's the governor of California"—now we're getting somewhere.

(stay with me--this is the important part)

The practical application of this convention is that when parentheses are used to disambiguate articles, it should be at least somewhat plausible that someone looking for one of the disambiguated articles would go to the "root" page first. If someone's interested in the state of Georgia, is it believable that they might go to Georgia first? Absolutely. If someone's interested in the governor of California, is it believable that they might go to Governor first? No. They would go to "Governor of California." I challenge anyone anywhere to prove me wrong. Imagine a disambiguation page at Governor:

The word governor has several meanings.

I hope we can all agree that this would be, to put it lightly, absurd. Is this not also the case with, say, "Route 8"? I can think of exactly three state (i.e., non-Interstate, non-U.S.) highways in the United States that someone who doesn't actually live in the state might search for at an undisambiguated title: Highway 1 in California, Highway A1A in Florida, and maybe Highway 17 in California. Everything else, jeez, you'd have to be crazy to seek out an article called "Route 8" except out of some weird listcrufty desire to find out how many locales have a highway designated "8."

I recognize that not everyone is going to see this "verbal identity" thing as I do, and for what it's worth I think the other side's arguments have considerable merit as well. This is merely my attempt at an explanation of my own thought process on the matter, and I hope it helps people understand it better. phh (t/c) 17:01, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

State Route NUMBER (STATE_NAME)[edit]

For example, State Route 26 (Washington)


For example, State Route 26 (WA)


For example, Washington Route 26

The official name, disambiguated if need be as OFFICIAL_NAME (STATE_NAME)[edit]

(Disambiguate only if the official route name, as defined by the state, does not include the name of the state.)

What does "official name" mean? Do different states name their highways differently? Can we get some examples? --Cyde↔Weys 21:02, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

They certainly do; it's not a Federal function. SPUI of course has more detail on this than I do. —Bunchofgrapes (talk) 21:03, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
I'd like to see the full range of official names before I come to any tentative conclusions, but when it's necessary to disambig in parantheses an overloaded official name, such as "State Route 10", it seems to me like it makes more sense to just use a uniform site-wide policy of something like "STATE Route Number NUMBER". --Cyde↔Weys 21:06, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
I think states name them like the above Washington State Route. I believe the official name is State Route 26, not Washington State Route 26. So this example would make the title appear as State Route 26 (Washington). Although thats already a option above, I believe Bunchofgrapes is saying is that not all states have 200 State Routes, so we should only disambiguate the ones that need disabiguating and the other the can give the Offical name to. DGX 21:08, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
No, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying some official state nomencatures include the name of the state in the route name, and some don't. And to Cyde, one of the fundamental choices to be made here is whether having a uniform naming scheme or using official names is more important: there are good reasons to do both, and they can't both be done. —Bunchofgrapes (talk) 21:11, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
If disambiguation is necessary though, isn't "Washington State Route 10" nicer than "State Route 10 (Washington)"? The collection of state route articles with the former naming format will sort lexigraphically by state name, which seems desired, while the collection of articles with the latter naming format will sort lexigraphically by route number ... which doesn't seem desired. --Cyde↔Weys 21:11, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
That's the next option down, right? —Bunchofgrapes (talk) 21:13, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Seems to be. I'd still like to see the whole range of state route naming though. If it's all just variations on the theme "State Route" or "Route" a common naming scheme for all of them in the form of "STATE_NAME State Route NUMBER" might make sense. If they're quite different to the point that it's not even called a "state route" in some states, then this universal format won't work. --Cyde↔Weys 21:14, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
There's a lot of variation - Michigan for instance uses only "M-X" - nothing else. Not even "Michgan X". See Talk:List of highways in Michigan#Naming?. --SPUI (T - C) 21:29, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
It would be if "Washington State Route X" was actually a common name for the road - but it's not. --SPUI (T - C) 21:23, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Please stop saying this over and over again after you've been disproven. (See my comments of 4 days ago on Talk:List of Washington State Routes.) -- Northenglish 21:49, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Please stop being wrong - it's bad for your health. --SPUI (T - C) 21:50, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
How am I wrong? -- Northenglish 16:19, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
CAn you give an example of what the last one would look like? DGX 21:15, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia:WikiProject Highways/U.S. state highway naming conventions has a lot of the names. --SPUI (T - C) 21:34, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

This seems to be the most sensible one to me. I canot for the life of me see why we'd name something other than what it's actual name is. Redirects and disambiguations follow, of course, because people will search for "Texas Route 2469" or whatever, but the actual article shold be as "State 2469 (Texas)" or even "T-2469 (Texas)". - brenneman {L} 03:59, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

Why are you guys discussing this up there?

Bunchofgrapes - I agree that it's possible and do realise that there are times when we chooe to name something other than it's name, but would you agree that in the vast majority of cases the "real" name is the article's name? - brenneman {L} 04:13, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

The vast majority of cases across what scope? I'm not sure what you're asking. If you mean "the vast majority of all Wikipedia articles", well, no, I wouldn't agree: most things don't really have "official names". If you mean "the vast majority of Wikipedia articles whose subjects have official names", I'm not even really sure there, either: I'd have to think about it. (A great number of plant and animal articles use common names, not the "official" binomial nomenclature, for example.) If you mean "the vast majority of State Highway articles", that doesn't tell me much since that's the area that's having all the trouble to begin with.
Let me be clear regarding my thoughts right now on the naming problem: I don't have an opinion at all right now. I like the idea of having a totally consistent naming scheme for all US state highways, but I also think there may be onto something to this "true names" business (apologies to Vernor Vinge). At this point, I'd most like a growing circle of people including myself to more completely understand the issue, and for all parties, especially SPUI, to make their arguments more in terms of "which option is best (and why)" than in terms of "which option is right". —Bunchofgrapes (talk) 04:24, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
Naming conventions differ, sometimes significantly, from one state to another. It would be best to use the official names, then disambiguate by "...(State)" whenever the official name is non-unique, i.e. identical naming conventions being used in more then one state, or other geographical area. For example: Route 1 (New Jersey), Route 1 (Hong Kong) — both are officially named "Route 1". A more interesting case: M-80 (Michigan highway) vs. M-80 (explosive). Again, this is analogous to Mark Davis (golfer), Mark Davis (talk show host), Mark Davis (porn actor), etc. Everything outside of the parentheses is the proper name of the subject. Everything inside of the parentheses is only necessary due to multiple topics with the same proper name. We don't have articles at titles such as "Golfer Mark Davis" because "golfer" is not part of his name, however, some users might consider this format useful as a redirect, and indeed, it might help prevent the accidental creation of a duplicate article, and redirects are cheap. — May. 27, '06 [05:10] <freak|talk>
Related question: Why is our page named Virginia, not Commonwealth of Virginia? —Bunchofgrapes (talk) 05:17, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
For the same reason that "Virginia (disambiguation)" is not at Virginia. Blame systemic bias. — May. 27, '06 [05:23] <freak|talk>
I don't think its systemic bias; I think its a realistic assessment of the common name of the state. That name is used in almost all sources, too. Part of my worry is that picking the "Official name" is the wrong way to go, if the official name a state applies to its roads isn't in common use. What if we agreed to go by the name used for State highways by the largest newspaper in the state, or similar? —Bunchofgrapes (talk) 05:30, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
That has some merit, but I still don't see the disadvantage in having the page under the "proper" name with a redirect, perhaps from a disambiguation. By the way, crow eating to follow: My perception about "real names" was based upon the articles that I'd been involved in, and was clearly skewed. When I say BoG's response way above, I went "No way!" So, being the smartarse that I am, I thought I'd present a nice table showing how right I was... notice that no such table is forthcoming? - brenneman {L} 03:14, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
I probably could have made more headway If I'd gone and actual read relevant policies first. Alai had to point this out on the talk page: Biasing towards official names is against current policies. Wikipedia:Naming conventions#Use common names of persons and things. —Bunchofgrapes (talk) 03:19, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
What I meant, BoG, is that if we suddenly decided that Virginia (the U.S. state) was not the most common meaning of the word "Virginia", then the article about the state could very easily end up at Commonwealth of Virginia (cf. People's Republic of China). While Virginia (commonwealth), Virginia (U.S. state), and Virginia (United States) would also be plausible titles, "U.S. State of Virginia" would not be. — May. 30, '06 [04:48] <freak|talk>

The official name, disambiguated if need be as STATE_NAME OFFICIAL_NAME[edit]

(Disambiguate only if the official route name, as defined by the state, does not include the name of the state.)

Leave the decisions up to the individual state highway WikiProjects[edit]

Rationale: Each state has its own legal names for state highways, and possibly for their common names as well. For example, Minnesota state law defines it as "trunk highway", but in common use, nobody says "trunk highway". People just say "Take Highway 100 south to the Crosstown, then go east until you hit Highway 55 near the airport. Then, look for the sign saying 'Fort Snelling'." Someone in New Hampshire might say, "Take Route 87 east to Route 85, then take Route 85 north to Route 108, then look for the old water tower." Local residents of each state are probably best suited to figure out what's the most common usage. --Elkman 04:26, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Comment: Not all states have WikiProjects --Polaron | Talk 04:30, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
If you build it, [they] will come. — May. 30, '06 [04:41] <freak|talk>
If an individual state doesn't have a WikiProject, then I suppose some default naming convention could be defined, or the existing articles for that state (if any) should be used as a reference. If a state highway WikiProject is organized later, then they could define the naming convention. --Elkman 04:51, 30 May 2006 (UTC)


Add more sections of naming conventions if someone comes up with any.

There are a bunch of other variations not mentioned above, like State Road X and State Highway X. Basically, there are lots of ways to refer to a state road/highway/route, and even the state highway departments themselves aren't always consistent about them. I don't have a really strong opinion between them, but I really wish we'd come to some set of reasonably consistent rules and stick to them without further edit warring. *Dan T.* 15:51, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

Rename THIS discussion[edit]

State route naming is ambigious, surely U.S. State route naming would be more accurate? Markb 12:40, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

In there a reason it can't apply to Australian (and other countries') states? --SPUI (T - C) 14:57, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
Indeed, and also provinces, e.g. Highway 401 (Ontario), and national roads of other countries, e.g. Highway 1 (Israel), which you'll notice is not titled "Israel Highway 1", though some may find the latter useful as a redirect. — May. 31, '06 [04:36] <freak|talk>