Wikipedia talk:Article titles/Archive 31

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FYI: Proposal to bring U.S. city naming into compliance

I've made a proposal at WP:PLACES to bring the titles of articles about U.S. cities with names that are unique or primary to be brought into better compliance with the general naming criteria specified in this policy.


--Born2cycle (talk) 01:30, 19 December 2010 (UTC)

Rewording common name

Old wording:

ambiguous or inaccurate names for the article subject, as determined by reliable sources, are often avoided even though they may be more common. For example, tsunami is preferred over the arguably more common, but less accurate tidal wave.

Suggested reword:

An inaccurate title can be replaced with an equally common but more accurate title as determined by reliable sources.

With the old wording, transparent armor would replace bullet-proof armor even though hardly anyone uses that term. Marcus Qwertyus 04:40, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

I think your reword defeats the purpose of the clause. The point is that even if an inaccurate term is more common, it is to be avoided. Under your reword, an inaccurate term would be considered the correct title if there is no equally common title that is more accurate. Heimstern Läufer (talk) 05:39, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
That is the point. Otherwise there would be two references for one thing and millions for the other but it wouldn't matter because of this policy. If we don't get this thing repealed were going to have weird articles like fruit soup. Marcus Qwertyus 05:48, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
If multiple reliable sources use a term, it's not an inaccurate term and therefore isn't covered by this clause at all. This clause is talking about totally inaccurate terms like "tidal wave" (as this kind of wave is not produced by tides at all), which are not used by reliable sources but are commonly used. The wording you've proposed could allow commonly-used misnomers to become article titles, and that's not acceptable, so I oppose this reword strongly. I also don't think the situation you describe is in fact a problem because the policy explicitly says we are talking about terms that are inaccurate as established by reliable sources. So if there's just a few sources for something and all the others for another, this clause won't apply to it unless those few sources are the only reliable ones (in which case it should apply). Heimstern Läufer (talk) 05:53, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
"If multiple reliable sources use a term, it's not an inaccurate term and therefore isn't covered by this clause at all." isn't what the the policy says (though I would support that amendment). Under the current wording Chicago should be called The Windy City. It's verifiable, well used, and more accurate than Chicago (literally "wild onion" or "wild garlic,"). Marcus Qwertyus 06:45, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
That is one of the worst slippery slope arguments I have ever seen on wikipedia. Please make a better argument on behalf of your point. john k (talk) 07:16, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
Well what would you do in the case of the transparent armor example above? It is more accurate because bullet-proof glass isn't necessarily bullet-proof and not all bullet-proof glass is made of glass. Marcus Qwertyus 07:29, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
I don't know. What do the sources say? If reliable sources use "transparent armor" substantially more, then it should be used. If not, it should not. Contrary to what you say, the policy does expressly say that it's referring to terms that are inaccurate "as determined by reliable sources". Heimstern Läufer (talk) 07:36, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

(ec) There may in fact be good reason to get rid of this clause - it's been sitting around in the policy since who knows when, and I suspect it's not really true - if most reliable sources called tsunami "tidal waves", we'd probably do the same, despite their not being tidal - but we observe that even newspapers now tend to talk about "tsunami". At the very least we should get a better example.--Kotniski (talk) 07:40, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

Um... you do realize that we actually have a page entitled Tidal wave. It is a dab page. It notes that the term "tidal wave" has multiple meanings and usages. This leads me to the conclusion that this example was added to show how we sometimes must balance commonality with the need for disambiguation. Since there are less ambiguous terms for the various types of tidal waves, we use those less ambiguous terms for articles on the specific type of tidal wave we are talking about. In other words, "correct" vs "incorrect" has nothing to do with it. Blueboar (talk) 13:37, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
Except it is about correctness. That very dab page you mention points out that "tidal wave" is an incorrect term for "tsunami", not that it is "imprecise". Perhaps indeed we should use a better example, but precision is not the point of this section at all. Heimstern Läufer (talk) 13:51, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
You misunderstand the intent of the paragraph in question... the paragraph starts off: "The ideal title for an article will also satisfy the other criteria outlined above..." Neither "correctness" nor "accuracy" are outlined as one of our criteria... precision and the need for disambiguation are. The reason we use Tsunami isn't that it is "correct" (which implies a value judgment of "right" and "wrong")... we use it because it is more precise than other terms when we are referring to a specific type of wave. Blueboar (talk) 14:17, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

Alternate proposal:

(proposed change marked)

  • The ideal title for an article will also satisfy the other criteria outlined above; ambiguous or inaccurate name ambiguous or less precise terms are often avoided, even though they may be more common. For example, tsunami is preferred over the arguably more common, but less precise and ambiguous accurate tidal wave.

I think this is more in line with what the section is trying to say. Blueboar (talk) 14:29, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

Makes sense. It's not perfect but it works. I presume you have read about the difference between accuracy and precision? Marcus Qwertyus 01:56, 25 December 2010 (UTC)
No, I don't think this is an improvement. The concern about tidal wave is not that it is ambiguous or imprecise, but that tsunami aren't tidal; the usage of tidal wave for bore or storm surge is so rare that the primary usage of "tidal wave" would still be tsunami. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:44, 26 December 2010 (UTC)

Here is the original wording as it was when it was added on 16 October 2009 w/o consensus. Sometimes silence means consensus for little changes but this was an overhaul:

<!-- Section title:Descriptive names -->

"Where articles have descriptive names, they are neutrally worded. A descriptive article title should describe the subject without passing judgment, implicitly or explicitly, on the subject. Titles which are considered inaccurate descriptions of the article subject, as implied by reliable sources, are often avoided even though they may be the most common name. For example, Tsunami is preferred over the less accurate Tidal wave.

For instance, a political controversy in the United States was nicknamed "Attorneygate" by critics of the government, but the article title is the more neutrally worded Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy. Another example is that the term allegation should be avoided in a title unless the article concerns charges in a legal case or accusations of illegality under civil, criminal or international law which have not yet been proven in a court of law. See Wikipedia:Words to avoid for further advice on potentially controversial terminology."

The part we are discussing needed separate paragraphing but that was a symptom of a lack of copyediting. The obvious intent was that titles should be descriptive not accurate. Marcus Qwertyus 05:15, 26 December 2010 (UTC)

This statement really belongs in the Precision and disambiguation. Here is the original draft proposal:

<!--Precision and accuracy-->

"Articles titles usually merely indicate the name of the topic. When additional precision is necessary to distinguish an article from other uses of the topic name, over-precision should be avoided. For example, it would be inappropriate to name an article "United States Apollo program (1961–1975)" or "Nirvana (Aberdeen, Washington rock band)". Remember that concise titles are generally preferred.

Titles which are considered inaccurate descriptions of the article subject, as implied by reliable sources, are often avoided even though they may be the most common name. For example, Tsunami is preferred over the less accurate Tidal wave." Marcus Qwertyus 05:28, 26 December 2010 (UTC)

This tsunami thing was in the guidelines for a long time before 2009 (I don't remember exactly where - possibly in one of the subguidelines that got merged into this page). But I'm happy for it to be removed - if this principle is applied "often" (as the policy stated) then it shouldn't be hard to find another example where it's more clear that this principle and not some other is being applied. Maybe William IV of the United Kingdom would be a good one - Google Books reveals that "William IV of England" is a far more common phrase, but we prefer the more factually accurate title.--Kotniski (talk) 10:40, 26 December 2010 (UTC)
Given how controversial the WP:naming conventions on nobility are, I think we should avoid that. I would rather try to find a clear cut example (or simply have no example at all). Blueboar (talk) 15:00, 26 December 2010 (UTC)

At ... of ... in

Logistics at the Battle of Pusan Perimeter just showed up for an A-class review. Logistics is, roughly, the management of personnel and materiel. I'm leaning toward a recommendation of "in" instead of "at" or "of"; thoughts? - Dank (push to talk) 13:35, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

Sounds right to me. Herostratus (talk) 05:15, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
Would "Battle of Pusan Permieter logistics" work? I was considering this title for it to be consistent with the other background article, Battle of Pusan Perimeter order of battle, but we don't have an established MOS nomenclature for battle sub-articles. I've seen a lot of "Battle of X order of battle" and "order of battle at the battle of X". I'd suggest we create some kind of standard for these. —Ed!(talk) 05:44, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
Works for me. - Dank (push to talk) 05:48, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

Non-Latin letters in article titles

It has come to my attention that we have an unknown number of article titles (not redirects) that contain Greek letters, where the letter name (as opposed to a Greek word or name) is part of the title. Some examples are Congenital adrenal hyperplasia due to 11β-hydroxylase deficiency, Φ29 phage, Γ-convergence, and Ithica 27 ϕ 9. The guidelines are clear about transliterating non-English names (if no conventional English name is available), but perhaps not so clear about whether this includes names of Greek (and Hebrew? other?) letters that are conventionally used as elements of larger names. I've searched pretty widely (including this page's archive) for discussion on this, but didn't find any. Is such a discussion in order? (Pending the answer to this question, I have not yet advertised such a discussion.) Unconventional (talk) 19:13, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

From my experience in the world of chemistyry, α, β, γ, and δ (I'm not sure if they go up any higher) are all used in the names of highly complex organic molecules. It is an IUPAC thing and has most definitely entered common usage, at least in the topic of chemistry.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 19:21, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
I would say that these are articles where it would be logical to invoke WP:IAR. Indeed, I would suspect that we could probably find at least one specific article that is an "exception to the rule" ... no matter what "rule" we start with. This is why we made WP:IAR one of the "rules" in the first place. An exception does not invalidate the policy statement. The general rule against non-latin lettering still makes sense... there is no need to dump it just because a few articles don't fit. Blueboar (talk) 20:16, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
There is a lot of variation in these, as in real life. Some people publish papers saying "λ calculus", some people write the more abominable "lambda calculus". The key point is that both of these are English names; it just happens that the English name for this concept includes a Greek letter. Similarly, the English name for ε₀ is "ε₀"; it doesn't have any other English name, and it is not written "Epsilon naught" in any article I have ever seen. Because there is so much that varies from one specific name of this form to another, in terms of which usage is established in the literature, I think the guiding principle should be to keep the established article name unless there is a very strong consensus to change it. — Carl (CBM · talk) 20:25, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

Bear in mind that the great majority of such articles (e.g. Gamma globulin, Phi-X174 phage, Chi-square distribution, Epsilon Eridani) do seem to spell out the Greek letter name, presumably because of the ease of entering it thus as a search term. However, as long as there are corresponding redirects from a spelled-out form of the title, I (as a humble editor) am not particularly invested in consistently titling articles on similar topics, despite the policy's Consistency criterion. Unconventional (talk) 21:13, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

There was a convention for a while that we always spelled them out; this has changed over time, but articles that were created early are especially likely to be spelled out. There was also a longstanding tradition in computer circles to spell out all these things on computers, because of a lack of support for foreign alphabets. I think this is the reason that e.g. "lambda calculus" is often written that way. I agree that the redirect from the "other" form should always be created. — Carl (CBM · talk) 21:33, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

Lower case first letters

I don't know where else to bring this up but here, so if someone has the proper forum to air this, tell me.

For a while I have been discovering that if a band parses their name in all lower case letters every single time, then per whichever one of the naming guidelines there is, it has to be given a capital letter first, and this is almost always the case with every band which has this set up (and the bands are generally from Japan). But when it comes to individual people such as,, k.d. lang and the like, it's perfectly allowable to use {{lowercase}} and refer to the individual throughout the article without capital letters in the name.

Why do we have this selective treatment of lowercase letters?—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 01:07, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

I would ask at WP:Manual of style. Blueboar (talk) 03:19, 1 January 2011 (UTC)
Thank you.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 03:26, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

Treatment of !

We have the article Yahoo! but over at Security Now! 'avoid punctuation in titles' is being used to prohibit correct article naming. The special characters section only talks about excluding some characters for technical reason but doesn't deal with other situations. Regards, SunCreator (talk) 12:05, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

Comment on WP:MOSTRADE added there. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:02, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

"Non-language characters" like 〜

There is currently a discussion concerning this entity at WT:MOS-JA. Basically, is 〜 a "non-language character" when it is a more or less standard punctuation mark in Japan?

The 〜 seems to be used entirely only at the Japanese Wikipedia in places where it replaces the ~ more commonly used in titles of Japanese media. I have been arguing that either item is a punctuation mark and not a "non-language character", and can be approximated by the single tilde, unless there is a technical restriction in place to avoid using the ~ in article titles as well.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 06:48, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

The term "non-language character" seems to be a Wikipedia invention that's not really defined anywhere; the Unicode term for them is simply symbol. I thus would suggest amending the Special characters point in question to read:
  • Do not use symbols: Symbols such as "♥", as sometimes found in advertisements or logos, should never be used in titles. This includes non-Latin punctuation such as the characters in Unicode's CJK Symbols and Punctuation block.
Opinions? Jpatokal (talk) 09:16, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
This still does not cover whether or not the 〜 or the ~ (or approximating it to be the ~) counts as a "symbol" that should not be allowed in an article title.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 09:21, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
That's a separate issue, but I'd say no, since ~ is not standard English punctuation. Jpatokal (talk) 12:06, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
Then why is it on a QWERTY keyboard?—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 19:37, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
Because it's used for composing characters that use the tilde diacritic, an entirely separate use from punctuation. Jpatokal (talk) 21:33, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
Just for clarity: We're talking about several separate characters here. The combining tilde (used as a diacritic) is not the swung dash (used instead of a blank or space). The swung dash is not found on the QWERTY keyboard. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:57, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
But why can't the swung dash/Japanese nami dash be approximated with the keyboard tilde?—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 20:02, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Why can't Japanese "ココロ" be approximated with English "CCO"? Jpatokal (talk) 22:02, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Because those are parts of the Japanese syllabary which have explicitly known pronunciations which causes that string to be read as "kokoro". They are nothing at all like a punctuation mark in Japanese orthography, so I do not know what point you are trying to make here.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 22:05, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Because—exactly like Jpatokal's Japanese vs English example—the names, meanings, sizes, and shapes aren't the same. (The swung dash is also at a different height.) Additionally, using the wrong character (even if it looked exactly like the correct character) breaks the search/find features that many users rely on. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:56, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
~ and 〜 and ~ seem to be used interchangably in Japan (and are all on the same line). Jpatokal made an entirely inaccurate comparison by picking out two katakana that vaguely resemble English letters because I used them in an example elsewhere. And we already use the wrong character, by changing these items into parentheses in song titles and eliminating them in favor of a single colon in album titles.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 23:58, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Since the point is not sinking in: we are already translating the title from Japanese to English. In the same way that we change Japanese kana into English letters, Japanese punctuation also has to be changed to English punctuation.
And (while this is quite irrelevant) the height of the tilde will depend on your font: in many, it's at the same height alone (~) as it is when combined with a letter (ã). Jpatokal (talk) 00:31, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Punctuation is something that is not really the focus of the translation. Japanese song titles are not formatted the same as English ones. So why should Wikipedia change the formatting to a format that is never used that often in English for something that is extremely common in Japanese?—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 00:44, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Because this is the English Wikipedia and we use English formats, not Japanese ones. Ring a ring o' rosies... Jpatokal (talk) 03:28, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
But there's no common English format, and this would only affect a small group of articles.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 04:00, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
This is the English language Wikipedia. Only standard English should be used here. Something that is widely used in Japanese has no relevance on what is used in English. Nouse4aname (talk) 09:47, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
It's a symbol that still exists in some form in English punctuation. What can be said is that the format that is currently in use is rarely ever found in standard English anyway.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 00:44, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

@Jpatokal & Nouse4aname: I'm tired of arguing with the same people on different pages on the project. The reason I have come here, you two, is to get an outside opinion from someone who has not been involved with the various debates on talk pages elsewhere. If you already know my opinion, why do you go to a different talk page and tell me I'm wrong, again, when I've already heard you say that you think my proposal is wrong?—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 00:50, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

Because I'm also interested in outside opinions. Jpatokal (talk) 03:28, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

Policy vs Guideline

The british peerage naming convention is trying to userp and superseed this policy of Wikipedia. I believe a full discssion on the merits of all of the implications this has on Wiikipedia must be discussed or else where do we stop in drawing up guidelines which then lead to the total ignorance of Wikipedia policy. Please adivse on which discussion board if it is not here, that this issue should be discussed on.--Lucy-marie (talk) 10:37, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

The peerage people are a well-organized group who have a quite different approach to article titles than the Wikipedia community does as a whole, but since they just turn up at articles when their subjects get ennobled and rename them without asking anyone, they tend to get their way. The encyclopedia would no doubt be improved slightly (more recognizable and consistent titles) if this practice stopped, but unless a huge number of people can get together at one time and tell them it's not acceptable, they're just going to carry on doing it, whatever we may say about policy and guidelines and so on. Start an RfC at the village pump maybe, though I wouldn't expect any different result than the 50-50 split we have on the topic of American city names, where again the interested group insist on deviating from Wikipedia's normal naming practices, and won't stop or compromise until there's a large majority against them, which there won't be because most people don't care that much... --Kotniski (talk) 11:12, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
The reason that peerage articles get named differently to others is simply that people with peerages are named differently to others. Wikipedia documents things as they, not how we would like them to be.
Some peers, such as Roy Hattersley explicitly disclaim their titles outside the House of Lords, so are exceptions to the rule, but once given a peerage most peers use their title.
The guidance at WP:NCPEER reflects this fact, and its existence fully accords with Wikipedia:Article titles#Explicit_conventions. Before ranting about "ignorance of wikipedia policy", Lucy-marie should read the policy at Wikipedia:Article titles#Explicit_conventions, which she has been pointed to many times, but completely ignores.
The reason that editors working on peerages are attentive to these things is that there repeated bouts of people with a bee-in-their-bonnet popping along to try to disrupt the naming scheme, sometimes with some sort of agenda right outside policy. One recent example was a rampage by the editor who started this thread in which she renamed dozens of articles on peers, and when challenged proclaimed the merits of WP:COMMONNAME ... yet repeatedly refuses to explain why, for example, she moved Thomas Galbraith, 2nd Baron Strathclyde to Thomas Galbraith (Born 1960) when he has been for nearly all his adult life as "Lord Strathclyde" and has at times been quite prominent. Whatever the reason for that was, it was nothing to do with any of our naming policies ... yet the editor who did that is still shamelessly accusing others of "trying to userp and superseed this policy".
When a proposal is advanced by someone whose actions so blatantly contradict her own strident demnads, it is best not to waste any more time on it. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 11:50, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
This is not a place for personal comments this is a place for content discussions. Do not bring up your views of any other users edits simply comment on the topic being discussed. Please remember BrownHaired Wikilawyer comment on content and not the contributor.--Lucy-marie (talk) 11:52, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
You launched a discussion on your claim the guideline is "trying to userp and superseed this policy". That's what we are discussing.
If you want to explain why you believe that the article on Lord Strathyclde should omit his title, but denounce others for not applying COMMONNAME, then let's hear your explanation for why you renamed Strathclyde. Without that explanation, the only logical conclusion is that you yourself "userp"ed the policy, ... and this blatant bad faith is central to any assessment of to your proposal. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 12:36, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
"Wikipedia documents how things are, not how they should be..." Yes. At least it should. But "how they are" is that people with peerages ARE NOT commonly called "John Smith, Baron Smith of Wopton", just as Tony Blair isn't commonly called "Anthony Charles Lynton Blair" and Bill Clinton isn't commonly called "William Jefferson Clinton" and so on. By adopting one philosophy for the Blairs and Clintons and virtually all other subjects on Wikipedia, and randomly adopting a quite different philosophy for people who happen to have been given this type of title, is... well, not wrong as such, since all the information is in principle there (as it would be in any case), but certainly misleading and confusing. (Note the "Lord Strathclyde" case further demonstrates the ridiculousness of this convention - you say the fellow's well known as Lord Strathclyde, which he is - but then you claim this fact supports an article title which doesn't even include the phrase "Lord Stratchclyde".) --Kotniski (talk) 12:05, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Kotniski, you really should read up more on this before sounding off. In many cases there have been 7 or 10 "Lord X"s, and in some cases more than 20, and in the complex naming schemes adopted by those who create peerages there are many instances where the 5th Lord X is the 1st Earl X, the previous holders having held a lesser title; that's why the grade of title is used in the name. As to the numbering, "Lord Stratchclyde" is ambiguous, because he is the second holder of the title; it would have taken you only a few seconds to find that out by clicking the link provided, yet despite the proclaim the "ridiculousness" despite not doing any of the basic research.
Your "William Jefferson Clinton" parallel would be "Thomas Galloway Dunlop du Roy de Blicquy Galbraith, 2nd Baron Strathclyde". That's not what the guidelines recommend, and not what I advocate. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 12:26, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Can you not get quite so personal about this? What's ridiculous is that the peerage people say "look, this person's called Lord X" but steadfastly oppose any attempt to name articles "Lord X", preferring the "Baron" that is virtually never used. There are multiple ways of disambiguating names when necessary, but the peerage people insist on doing this sort of thing even when no disambiguation is necessary, or when another method would be far more helpful and in line with general practice. And as to exactly what William Jefferson Clinton is parallel to, let's say that plain William Clinton would be parallel to what you advocate - but it's still not what Wikipedia does.--Kotniski (talk) 12:34, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
No, it's not ridiculous if you do the research. All you need is here on wikipedia, and I have no intention of writing a detailed account of the naming and numbering systems for peerages just because you prefer to call the opposing view "ridiculous" rather than do the reading. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 12:41, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
What's to read? I know all about these cherished systems of which you speak, but that doesn't mean that Wikipedia has to use them in its article titles when there's a better alternative (and I'm not objecting to their being used in those cases where no-one can suggest a better alternative).--Kotniski (talk) 12:51, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
BHG your comments demonstrate the inflexibility and personal nature you are showing to editors who show an opposing POV to you. It also shows that you are unwilling to even entertain any form of common sense in the application naming titles of peers. The inability to show anything other than what you consider to be the "way it must be done" is unconstructive and unhelpful. Unless you can accept that not everyone agrees with this convention (not policy) you will be marginalised when the discussion develops and the general principles of the policy and the convention are discussed.--Lucy-marie (talk) 12:43, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
@Lucy-marie, given your repeated failure to justify your renaming of Strathyclyde, I am delighted to be entirely excluded from your notion of "common sense".
@Kotniski, I don't cherish these systems at all, quite the opposite; my interest is in documenting some aspects of them. Very different matter. So I would be very interested to hear what your "better alternative" is. Presumably it will not be original research or synthesis, so where is this alternative? Do you have a proposal for a structure, or do you just want editors to spend their time arguing whether E. F. L. Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax should be called Lord Halifax, E. F. L. Wood, or 1st Earl of Halifax (which is itself ambiguous)?
Don't forget too that the House of Lords is broadcast on television, so many current peers are most likely to come to the attention of viewers through that chamber, where their titles are used. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 14:20, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Just how many people actually watch BBC Parliament? You also seem to be taking this far too persoanlly and as I have said if you wish to continue making persoanl commnet please direct them to my personal user page here. Otherwise do not comment on the users instead of the content baceuase as you are a wikilawyer you should be well aware of the policy of Wikipedia regarding personal attacks and civilty.--Lucy-marie (talk) 14:32, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
(ec)My proposal would be to title all articles on life peers with their common name, whatever that may be, with helpful disambiguators where needed, whatever they may be. Hereditaries can mostly stay as they are, though we should be more prepared to make exceptions for the very well-known ones, as we have with Byron and Tennyson. (And I certainly think these systems should be documented, but within the articles - at the very start, in fact, which is where we generally document people's full formal names - the title of the article doesn't serve that purpose.)--Kotniski (talk) 14:39, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
OK, you'll mostly leave the herediataries alone. Obviously that would means keeping a large chunk of NCPEER intact.
NCPEER does not recommend using people's "full formal names". Never has done. I see no-one advocating article titles like Thomas Galloway Dunlop du Roy de Blicquy Galbraith, 2nd Baron Strathclyde.
You want to restrict your COMMONNAME plan to life peers, so how do you propose to determine the common name of Lord Evans of Temple Guiting and Baroness Royall of Blaisdon and Baroness Young and Baroness Young of Old Scone? What disambiguators do you propose other than their title? The current format is "Personal name, Ordinal (if appropriate) Peerage title", which for life peers means "Personal name, Peerage title" ... but here we have four people who have been significant players in the Lords who are not well-known outside the place. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 15:26, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedians have a lot of experience in identifying common names (and as is pointed out below, I mean commonly used, not necessarily non-noble), so I don't think that will be a problem (at least, not one that requires any new method). Same with disambiguators - if we need a disambiguator in parentheses, we'll always find one, though in some cases the name-comma-title form might be found to work best. The annoying thing is people who comment in move discussions (or simply make moves) for no other reason than "NCPEER says..." (or WP:WHATEVER says), without stopping to consider why or whether the guideline is appropriate for the particular instance.--Kotniski (talk) 16:41, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
The guideline WP:NCPEER is appropriate because they are peers or baronets, and I have yet to see an RM where NCPERR was cited for someone who did not fit the for groups listed in NCPEER. The whole point of guidelines such as this is to collect the information and consensus in one place, so that it does not have to be repeated at length every time somebody decides to go on a strip-the-titles-from-pagenames rampage. Naturally, there are occasional exceptions to guidelines; but unless the onus is on those claiming an exception to explain why a particular case is an exception, those knowledgeable on the the topic are required to repatedly waste time examining everything from first principles. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 05:48, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
First... the word common in WP:COMMONNAME has nothing to do with "common vs. noble"... we are referring to common in the sense of "most frequent".
Second... Remember folks, the purpose of an article title is to clearly and uniquly identify the article's topic... So, the question is this: when it comes to bio articles on peers, is the topic of the article best identified by the subject's name (Clarence Threepwood) or by a description (9th Earl of Blandings) or by a combination of name and description (Clarence Threepwood, 9th Earl of Blandings)? The peerage naming conventions are a great guide to help us determine this... but we must remember that they are a guide, not inflexible Law. There will always be exceptions to any convention. There may even be a lot of exceptions. Ultimately it comes down to... what will the reader expect the title to be? Blueboar (talk) 15:41, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
(left) And in practice we normally use both name and title, because either one can be ambiguous. Take a look at Earl of Essex or Earl of Devon and see how many 1st and 2nd Earls there are. On the other hand, look at Marquess of Ailsa and see how many Archibald Kennedys have been notable (at least as members of a national legislature); disambiguating at least some of them as 11th Earl of Cassilis and 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th and 8th Marquess of Ailsa is "using a natural form of disambiguation", which is what the policy recommends. Most fictitious titles were created once, and have stayed in the same family; and the family has had a decent diversity of given names; non-fiction isn't that neat. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:48, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
PMAnderson is right. Also note that with life peers, many (maybe most?) of them will have been widely known under untitled names ... but in the House of Lords and in reports of its proceedings they are all referred to solely by their title. The only way to combine both these namings is per the guidelines at WP:NCPEER.
Take the example of the Barbara Young, the former NHS manager who from 1991 to 1998 was Chief Exec of the RSPB, the largest wildlife conservation charity in Europe.[1], and Baroness Young of Old Scone, the life peer who was chief exec of the Environment Agency and then chair of the Care Quality Commission. They are actually the same person, but neither alone nor "firstname lastname" alone are enough to identify her to those who have encountered mentions of her her in one sphere but not the other. The confusion is avoided if we call her Barbara Young, Baroness Young of Old Scone, combining both the forms in which is known.
Making that format the default saves having to endlessly explain these rationales whenever the issue arises and argue everything from first principles. Having a guideline which sets out this format as the norm places the onus on those wanting to use one form or the other to justify why that particular case should be an exception to a format which includes both the person's widely-used names. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 06:08, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
The examples given above are an unrepresentative view only there to further the notion that we must interpret NCPEER as a law. Also the claims that the proceedings of the House of Lords are widely viewed on the same scale as other TV channels are viewed and the reports are read on the same scale as newspapers (even local) is just simply without any foundation and is false. I am aware those claims weren't made explicitly but they were implied in the comments. The discussion has moved on from quoting individual cases and is now looking at the broader role of naming of the articles, such as weather life peers traand heredities should be treated the same and how to disambiguate with common sense. Also the discussion is moving on to discuss when it is appropriate to use NCPEER as it clearly cannot be used all of the time in all circumstances over other policies of Wikipedia as it is not an inflexible law but merely a guideline (not a policy). This discussion needs to avoid the distractions of individual cases and look at the broader problem, or this circle and circus will never finish.--Lucy-marie (talk) 10:24, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
What exactly is the "broader problem"? Blueboar (talk) 15:18, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
The interaction between Policies of Wikipedia and Guidelines of Wikipedia, when they contradict each other and how to resolve conflicts and contradictions in the policies and guidelines. The first place to start is how to resolve the now brewing and potentially explosive issue of WP:COMMONNAME and WP:NCPEER. Can they either be reconciled or what needs changing, and if there is wide and broad based community consensus for the current Status Quo or what the community consensus is going forward on this specific issue.--Lucy-marie (talk) 15:34, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
But the policy itself allows for some conflict with WP:COMMONNAME... according to WP:Article titles#Explicit conventions, some topic areas don't have to follow WP:COMMONNAME. These have their own Explicit conventions (WP:FLORA is the example). Can't we say that WP:NCPEER is one of these "Explicit conventions" that says to not follow WP:COMMONNAME? Blueboar (talk) 16:10, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
That gets to the heart of the whole discussion. I vehemently oppose NCPEER usurping COMMONAME in the way it currently does and I vehemently oppose the imposition of NCPEER as the inflexible law it is currently being imposed as. There needs to be a common since approach to this. I firmly believe NCPEER is just a way of naming pages that heave been deemed to have the common name as the ennobled title and not to impose the ennobled title on all pages regardless of whether or not it is the common name. There needs to be a discussion on this issue to establish what the current community consensus is on this issue.--Lucy-marie (talk) 16:25, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
Straw man: like any Wikipedia guideline or convention, NCPEER is not "inflexible law". It sets out the usual approach for naming peers, and explicitly allows for exceptions.
NCPEER addresses a class of articles which are different from the general rule, because the people involved have name in two parts ("firstnane lastname" + title), either of which may be used as a standalone identifier, or may be used jointly.
If an editor believes that an particular article should be treated as an exception to NCPEER, the onus is on them to explain why they believe that particular article should be an exception to the general principle of the guideline, which is to assist the reader by ensuring the the article includes both "firstnane lastname" and the title by which they will be referred to in some contexts.
Lucy-marie declines to engage either with the examples provided of the issues with peers or with the broader point of this being a class of people known by two different names, and her arguments set out an objection to NCPEER which applies equally to all the other topic-specific naming conventions. Her objection is therefore a general objection to Wikipedia:Article titles#Explicit conventions.
She should therefore be proposing the removal of Wikipedia:Article titles#Explicit conventions and all the 67 topic-specific naming conventions in Category:Wikipedia naming conventions, rather than this one specific guideline. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 18:05, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
First... I would like to suggest that as we go forward, we define some terms. When we use WP:COMMONNAME in this policy we mean "the name most commonly used when referring to the subject"... That said, I could see some people confusing "common" (ie frequent) for "common" (ie non-peer). So for the sake of clarity... may I suggest that if we are referring to a Peer's first and last name we use terms like "Family name", or "Christian name".
Now... in reply to Lucy... WP:NCPEER doesn't usurp WP:COMMONNAME... it may claim to to be an exception to WP:COMMONNAME per the Explicit conventions clause of this policy (note... the Explicit conventions section does not yet have a short cut... do we need to create one?). To determine whether this is justified, we need to examine why the convention says not to follow WP:COMMONNAME. In this case the main reason seems to be the need to disambiguate. The question is: Is the need for disambiguation enough to claim an exception to WP:COMMONNAME? I think there is a very good case to be made that it is.
I agree with BrownHaredGirl here... Peers are different. With the possible exception of modern Life Peers, peers tend to be most commonly referred to by their title of nobility (Earl of Essex) and less so by their family name (Robert Devereux). The convention of combining both name and title, however, resolves any dilemmas. Creating a descriptive article title (as opposed to a strictly Proper Name article title) that combines both family name (Robert Devereaux) and title of nobility (Earl of Essex) and merging them together (Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex) we know exactly who we are talking about. I do understand the argument that with more recently made Life Peers (Margaret Thatcher as a good example) few people refer to them by their title... and so they could be seen as exceptions to WP:PEER... but again, I don't think it harms anything to use the descriptive name, title format even with them (although "Margaret Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher" gets a bit repetitive). Blueboar (talk) 19:02, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
I slightly disagree there, Blueboar. The titles do help to disambiguate, and you are right that this is often needed. But the overriding reason is that peers are often referred to solely by their title of nobility. I agree that the use of the peerage name is nearly always dominant for hereditaries but less so for life peers, but as above even the life peers are frequently referred to just by the title. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 20:12, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
I agree you need both name and title to disambiguate... you need the title to disambiguate between two peers with the same name (this can be true for Life Peers as well as Hereditary Peers) and you need the name to disambiguate between two peers with the same title. With Hereditary Peers, you also may need the number to distinguish which "Archibald Charles George Beauchamp-Smith, Viscount Snoot-in-air" we are referring to. Because disambiguation is going to be needed for the vast majority of peers (historical and modern), I support the convention of using both name and title.
The only issue is what to do in situations where there is no need to disambiguate ... these are situations where there is no possibility of confusion (where there is only one person we could be referring to, whether we use the name or the title). In such cases, I see no harm in following WP:COMMONNAME if that is what the consensus of editors at the article want (I also see no harm in following the convention's "name, title" format. To me it really is a matter for consensus at the article level.
However, as I said above, opting to follow WP:COMMONNAME in these cases does not necessarily mean using the persons christian name (as Lucy seems to imply) ... I agree that quite often following WP:COMMONNAME will mean using the title of nobility as the article title and not using the person's name. If the sources show that a specific peer is most commonly referred to as "Lord Bumfuck" (rather than the name "Percy Jones-Smith"), then the article title should be "Lord Bumfuck". If, on the other hand, the sources show that the name is more commonly used than the title (as in the case of Margaret Thatcher) then we should use the name. I would agree that the latter is rarer than the former... but they do exist. Blueboar (talk) 21:19, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
It seems to me that there is harm in applying COMMONNAME without qualification to such cases, because it is a recipe for instability, as editors argue over whether someone was better known as "Percy Jones-Smith" or "Lord Bumfuck", or whether Auberon Wotsit, 7th Marquess of Blandings should not have his firstname-lastname included. In most cases they will have been known as both, and we are much more likely to achieve stability if we continue to reserve usage of one or the other for the extreme cases where people were overwhelmingly known by one or the other, but default to using both.
Stability is important, because it increases the likelihood of internal and external links going to the right places, and allows editors to spend their time improving the content rather than arguing on project pages :) --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 21:45, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
Editors should not argue over whether someone was better known as "Percy Jones-Smith" or "Lord Bumfuck"... instead they should dispassionately examine the usage in sources (as per WP:COMMONNAME). If the sources show a clear preference for one or the other, that is what we should use as the article title. I would agree that if the examination of the sources do not indicate a clear preference, then the standard NCPEER format makes for a very acceptable tie breaker. Blueboar (talk) 13:47, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
If you want stability, then with life peers you should support not including their titles in the article titles, since then we wouldn't have to rename a whole bunch every year when the latest set of cronies get elevated.--Kotniski (talk) 08:07, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
I think this discussion is showing a lack of consensus for using NCPEER.--Lucy-marie (talk) 09:57, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
@Kotniski, rather than comment on the merits of peerages, our job here is to document the stuff whether we revere or despise it. Can we focus on that?
Renaming the articles once when they get their titles is not a problem. Got a peerage? Rename article. Even in a year like this where there's a big influx it's only 15 to 50 minutes work to do them all. Job done, don't need to look at it again: one stable place to another stable place. Since there no more hereditaries are being created, we no longer have any live cases of career progression being marked by successive name changes, which even a century ago could be a journey of many steps Jimmy Smith → James de Vere (posher) → Sir James de Vere → Sir James de Vere, 1st Baronet → Baron Emmerdale → Viscount Walford → Earl Felpersham → Marquess of Borsetshire
However, if we don't use the formulation of firstname-lastname+title, then we are in a permanently unstable zone where good faith editors who weigh the balance a little differently will reach difft conclusions, and POV warriors on both sides have scope for creating drama.
It seems to me that this discussion has narrowed the scope of disagreement a lot. If I read things right, there seems to be broad consensus on keeping the firstname-lastname+title for hereditaries other than in exceptional cases, and for life peers where disambiguation is required.
But I come back to a point which both Blueboar and I have made before. What exactly is the harm in using firstname-lastname+title? I have yet to see any clear answer to that, apart from one editor whose position here (tho not elsewhere) is simply nothing-but-commonname. I have yet to see any clear answer to that. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 15:01, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Lucy-marie (and others): You might like to read Wikipedia:The difference between policies, guidelines and essays. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:28, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
I think the simplest way forward on this issue is that all moves of pages to peerage titles must go through a move request as this discussion has shown them to be controversal and needing of discussion--Lucy-marie (talk) 13:11, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
I disagree that the discussion shows a lack of consensus for using NCPEER... What it shows is a consensus that we should not blindly follow NCPEER as if it were inflexible "Law". There are exceptions to every guideline... these exceptions don't negate the good advice given by the guideline. As for requiring move requests... I think you are exaggerating how controversial all this is... sure, the titles of specific peerage articles may be controversial... but most are not. If a specific article title is controversial, then a discussion can be set up. Blueboar (talk) 13:47, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
I think that summarises things fairly well, tho of course the "inflexible law" tag never the case. All guidelines permit exceptions, but the onus is on the person proposing the exception to justify it. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 15:07, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
OK, so can you justify the exceptions that NCPEER attempts to make to Wikipedia's normal article titling practices? (I.e. that we don't use two names, just one; we use common names rather than official or formal ones; we disambiguate with tags that help people recognize the subject rather than by using unfamiliar forms of their name.) I can see why the system for hereditary peers generally gives good results (because of the duplication of names and the fact that most hereditary peers are known primarily - or exclusively - for being peers), but applying it to life peers seems not to be motivated by any such problems. --Kotniski (talk) 16:24, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
The flaw with that is in your premise that the title is an "unfamiliar form of their name".
John Taylor, Baron Taylor of Warwick is a life peer. He had a brief burst of notability 18 years ago as a Conservative candidate damaged by the racial politics of his own side, then became a relatively obscure life peer, and is now in trouble over expenses claims. There are lots of people listed in John Taylor (disambiguation), but a google search for "Taylor of Warwick" shows that the title is widely used, and that in the reports of his expenses scandal that's what's used. In other words, if you want to find this guy, whether on wikipedia or elsewhere, use his title. But if you are looking for the candidate in the Cheltenham election, you'll be lloking for John Taylor ... so we need both names.
You may feel that Taylor is a poor example, because he hit the headlines over his expenses long after being ennobled. So take another example: Alan Howarth, Baron Howarth of Newport: an MP for 18 years, who got a lot of recognition as "Alan Howarth" by being a Tory minster who defected to Labour and became a Labour minister, and has been a low-profile peer since 2005. That 18 years as a high profile MP followed by 5 years as an obscure peer ooks like a case for omitting the title, doesn't it? But not when you check it out: a search for "Alan Howarth" throws up 45,000 hits, many of them for other people ... but a search for "Howarth of Newport" throws up 64,400 hits, and the first two pages of 20 hits are all about him.
If you like, we can repeat this exercise with lots more life peers, and get similar results.
This is what happens with life peers: they are known by two names. That's why NCPEER makes an exception to COMMONNAME, because these people have two common names and there is a long-standing convention outside wikipedia of combining them.
Since you live Poland, you may be unfamiliar with how this stuff is actually used. That's no reproach: many editors are in the same situation, just as I am unfamiliar with ancient Romans or chemistry. But that's exactly why we have naming conventions: so that those unfamiliar with a topic don't have to research it all from first principles, and those who know the topic don't have to spend their time rehashing the same principles on dozens of RM discussions. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 05:00, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
I'm just as familiar with all this "stuff" as you are, but this two-name things is by no means unique to peers - if we're going to do double naming, why not do Derry/Londonderry, Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay), Mobile phone/Cell phone, and so on? I'm not saying this would be a bad idea, but since it isn't what we do, isn't it likely that people will be misled in various ways (both as to who articles are about and as to what those people are commonly called) if for certain articles the titles are formed using a completely different philosophy than for the vast majority of others?--Kotniski (talk) 10:49, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
Hmmm... Marion Mitchell Morrison, John Wayne?... Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain?... lots of potential double names. Blueboar (talk) 23:25, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
@Blueboar, those are examples of a change of name. That's not what happens with life peers: they don't substitute one name for another, they add an extra bit to their existing name, and then use both parts, either jointly or separately. Chopping that extra bit off and insisting that they be known as one bit or the other is like saying that the boxer should be called either Muhammad or Ali, but not both. As to Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain, well he was overwhelming known as Mark Twain, and adding "Samuel Clemens" is as pointless as adding "Eric Blair" to George Orwell.
@Kotniski, I really don't know what you mean about when you say that "that people will be misled in various ways (both as to who articles are about and as to what those people are commonly called)". How exactly does "Alan Howarth, Baron Howarth of Newport" mislead anyone? Or Jenny Tonge, Baroness Tonge? Or Chris Smith, Baron Smith of Finsbury?
You say that you are just as familiar with all this "stuff" as I am, but so far the evidence suggests otherwise. You refer above to NCPEER using "unfamiliar forms of their name", but I have shown above how both "first+last" and "title only" forms are widely used ... and the joint format is used elsewhere, e.g. by Encyclopedia Britannaica (see Roy Jenkins).
Question for both of you. What do you propose doing with Alan Howarth, Baron Howarth of Newport? Do you want to drop the "Alan Howarth" or the "Baron Howarth of Newport"? Leaving aside all the slippery-slope to mobilephone/cell phone stuff for a mo, and concentrating on potential readers of that one article, why do you think that choosing either one of those widely-used terms is better for the readers than using both? --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 02:05, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Either would be fine with me (as the other would be mentioned as an alternative in big bold letters right at the start of the lede sentence of the article)... to decide between them, I would need to know which is the more common usage of the two?
Actually, I may be wrong... but I would think the most common usage would be "Lord Howarth" (or Lord Howarth of Newport" if disambiguation is needed). So that would be a third acceptable option to me. I can understand why "Lord X" would not work for hereditery peers, as there is no way to tell which Lord X we are talking about ... but for new creations where the current holder is the only Lord X (and for life peers, the only likely Lord X), I don't see why that would not work. Blueboar (talk) 02:24, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

BrownHairedGirl, in between the insults, you mentioned Chris Smith, Baron Smith of Finsbury. Surely even you can see why this is a bad title (in exactly the same way that Chris Patten's article had a bad title before it was changed some time ago). It mixes the colloquial form of the first name ("Chris", not Christopher) with the hyperformal form of the title ("Baron", not Lord). Can you at least agree that titles of this type are genuinely ridiculous? --Kotniski (talk) 14:31, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

As was asked earlier can the exceptions that NCPEER attempts to make to Wikipedia's normal article titling practices be justified? (I.e. that we don't use two names, just one; we use common names rather than official or formal ones; we disambiguate with tags that help people recognize the subject rather than by using unfamiliar forms of their name.) If a satisfactory answer can be provided to that then i think it may bring some closure to this discussion.--Lucy-marie (talk) 21:33, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
They're not exceptions; they're implementations. Anybody who thinks WP:COMMONNAME is the whole of our naming policy should be required to read it; beginning with the first section. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:54, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Still doesn't answer if NCPEER can still be justified.--00:03, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Of course it can. A peer's name is [Forenames], [Title]. For instance, the man born Thomas Galbraith who is now Leader of the House of Lords has since acceding to his title been named Thomas Galloway Dunlop du Roy de Blicquy, 2nd Baron Strathclyde. Note that his surname is not in there anywhere. However, leaving out the surname completely is not necessarily a great result, and neither is including all those middle names. As a result, we use Thomas Galbraith, 2nd Baron Strathclyde. It is logical, defensible and all that. In fact, the conventions for peers and royals have both been justified at length, as can be seen from the archives. You may not like the current conventions, in fact it is doubtful anyone supports all of the conventions, but what is currently there is what currently has a consensus in favour and had to be justified when implemented. The people who edit at that naming convention are fussy people who don't agree about everything, so it is unlikely that anything there has not been debated at length at least once. In the end, you don't like (or even seem to fully understand) the peerage. We get it, but naming conventions should not change or cease to exist because you don't like their subjects. -Rrius (talk) 00:18, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Why is it that people try to defend the royal and peerage naming conventions so often find it necessary to take personal digs at their opponents? I couldn't care one way or the other about the peerage (I'm not keen on the idea of an unelected parliamentary chamber in a modern democracy, but if the members of that chamber want to give themselves titles that imitate those of the people who used to sit there for a different reason, that's fine by me), but I understand it perfectly well enough to be able to discuss the article titles of its members, and I still see no reason (either in this discussion or in the past discussions at WT:NCROY that I've participated in) to be so categorical in adding the peerage titles to the titles of articles on life peers. (I generally agree with the way it's done for hereditaries, since they have serious ambiguity problems.) And I certainly don't see a "current consensus in favour" of this practice.--Kotniski (talk) 08:53, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Kotniski, you say that you "see no reason" to include the titles of life peers. I set out a bundle of reasons above, using evidence of actual usage, but you prefer not to engage with that.
Additionally, your stated POV has led you to either misunderstand or misrepresent the nature of life peerages. You say "if the members of that chamber want to give themselves titles that imitate those of the people who used to sit there for a different reason" .... but a) the people who sit there do not "give themselves titles"; b) the titles of life peers don't "imitate" those of hereditaries, they follow the same format as other peers; c) life peers don't sit there for a difft reason than other peers. Both are there because they hold a peerage. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 19:26, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Kotniski, I'm afraid you have no idea what you are talking about. My comments about Lucy's understanding are not "digs" but are observations more than adequately supported by what she has said on numerous occasions about titles and the like. If she makes it clear she doesn't understand a thing, it is not being uncivil to mention it. As BHG points out, your own remarks seem to show a lack of understanding about titles, but I'm not sure whether you actually meant what you said or were just being deliberately provocative. If in fact you honestly believe that peers "give themselves" titles, however, you actually don't know enough to be able to discuss the article titles. -Rrius (talk) 20:30, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
The above comments clearly show a level of re-reading of comment on content not the contributor is required or maybe a first reading wouldn't go a miss.--Lucy-marie (talk) 22:14, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes. Obviously I didn't mean that peers formally give themselves titles (it was just an off-the-cuff remark about the way the system works, as anyone could see), so there really is no reason to seize on that sort of thing to make baseless ad hom attacks. (I would take issue with BHG's "both are there because they hold a peerage", in fact, since holding a peerage is neither a sufficient nor necessary condition for Lords membership, but this is all very much off topic - what we're concerned with is how these people are called). Can we at least try to reach agreement on the "Chris Smith" type of case as I mentioned above? What do we do with someone who is best known by an informal forename that doesn't sit well with "Baron"?--Kotniski (talk) 09:33, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
Do you want to have an are-Lords-Spiritual-actually-peers discussion? Or a similar one for Law Lords? Sorry, but I'm not playing. Them apart, being a peer is a necessary condition for being in the Lords, though not, as you say a sufficient one, and hasn't been sufficient for at least 300 years. However, I don't see what any of that has do with the fact that life peers are there because they are peers, just as the hereditaries are there because they are peers.
So, Chris Smith? Why not just do with him, what we do now, and call him Chris Smith, Baron Smith of Finsbury? The "informal" forename seems to me to no problem at all; it's the same as what we'd do with E. F. L. Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax, or with peers who used their second forename. In both cases, it combines a close approximation of the formal version of their name by combining the most recognisable version of their forenames with the title by which they were later known. What's the problem? --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 15:23, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
You think life peers are there because they are peers? Or are they peers because they are there? (Well, most hereditary peers are not there, the hereditaries that are there are mostly there because they were "elected", which they sometimes get smug about... Anyway my original point, which was pretty much off topic anyway, was that, in a house which is no longer composed mainly of hereditary peers, it makes little sense for the people who are going there to require titles which are essentially imitations of the established hereditary titles... anyway, doesn't matter.) The point about Chris/Baron was pretty clear, I thought - by using them in juxtaposition, it makes it look as if we think that they belong in the same register, which would imply that either Chris is his formal name or Baron is a colloquial form of the title, or simply that Wikipedia is stupid.--Kotniski (talk) 11:51, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
Again, wouldn't the most common way to refer to this person be Lord Smith of Finsbury? Blueboar (talk) 14:17, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
@Blueboar: No. In his 22 years as an MP and govt minister, he was never known as Lord Anything of Anywhere, because he wasn't a Lord. In many contexts he will now (since 2005) be known as "Lord Smith of Finsbury"; but it does no service to our readers to remove from article title any reference to the name by which he was distinguished from the many other Smiths in politics.
@Kotniski: your musings on the merits or otherwise of life peers being peers rather than senators or whatever are indeed off topic. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 05:27, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
But my musings on the mismatch between "Chris" and "Baron" are most definitely on topic - perhaps you could address those (instead of telling me something I already know because I said it myself)?--Kotniski (talk) 10:38, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
BHG, I don't understand your comment that using Lord Smith of Finsbury (or one of the other options) "does no service to our readers". Perhaps we have a different concept of what the title of an article is for... could you expand on this. Blueboar (talk) 14:16, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
If I can interject, I agree that any title that doesn't include the phrase "Chris Smith" is going to be a poor choice, since that's the name by which (recentism aside) he is easily best known. Where BHG and I probably disagree is that she considers it axiomatic that the formal peerage title is going to be the best way of distinguishing him from other Chris Smiths, whereas I would say that a standard disambiguating tag like "(British politician)" is in many cases going to communicate to more readers who it is the article is about. (Or at least the better known form of the title, something like Chris Smith (Lord Smith of Finsbury), if we think that's going to identify him to more readers than a description would, which in his case I doubt would be the case anyway.) --Kotniski (talk) 15:32, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
Kotniski, I don't agree with you that there's a disconnect between using informal names with formal titles. Prince Harry of Wales mixes both together both in the article title and in day-to-day real world usage and peer names as discussed here seem quite analogous to the Prince Harry case. As for the rest of the discussion, the arguments made in favour of the NCPEER guidelines make sense and seem to justify its existence. Naturally they're guidelines rather than concrete rules, but nobody was contesting that from the outset. (talk) 03:37, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
I would say some users while they may not be explicitly stating that NCPEER is a law they are certainly trying to enforce it in that manner. As for NCPEER arguments making sense they just don’t for life peers, they do though make more sense for hereditaries. There is no common sense in the implementation by the pro NCPEER users. The point is if people are known as John Smith by everybody except when they are gazetted and when they are in the Lords chamber is just absurd. This is because it is not a name they are known by and not at name they are recognised by. If they are called John Smith Baron Smith of Anytown, most people will go who? and won’t have the foggiest clue who is being talked about or why it is titled as it is.--Lucy-marie (talk) 09:17, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
The problem with your argument is that you assume that because you don't like the fuller versions of the titles, they are never used and serve no function. You seem to think that Lord Hunt of Kings Heath is always known simply as Lord Hunt. That is not the case. He is not the only Lord Hunt, so he is often called Lord Hunt of Kings Heath. Just as importantly, it is important for us to be clear about whether we are talking about him, Lord Hunt of Wirral, Lord Hunt of Chesterton or Lord Hunt of Westwell. When "of X" is included in the substantive title of a peer, it is the because the disambiguator was needed. It is frankly silly to pretend they don't exist when we need a disambiguator ourselves. -Rrius (talk) 11:05, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
I think to hold either extreme position is frankly silly. Of course these disambiguators are available should we decide to use them, but they're not the only available method of disambiguation, and we can't assume a priori that they always will, or always won't, be the best method to use in a particular case (similarly as with middle initials and other sometimes-used additions to people's usual names). And of course disambiguators aren't always required (when the shorter name is unique or the person in question is the primary topic for it).--Kotniski (talk) 13:15, 25 January 2011 (UTC)


Off-topic thread - moved to User talk:Lucy-marie.--Kotniski (talk) 07:29, 14 January 2011 (UTC)


It seems that we need a clarification that "title" means the "bold-thingie on top", and not the first line of text in the intro. Thoughts? Choyoołʼįįhí:Seb az86556 > haneʼ 00:17, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

I think most people understand the difference between the "title" and the "lede sentence". Blueboar (talk) 13:50, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Probably so, although confusion results from comparison with other encyclopedias - people sometimes claim that our titles should correspond to those used by other encyclopedias (e.g. by including people's full formal names), while in fact it is the bold text in our lead sentences that tends to correspond to the "titles" that printed reference works use, and those works normally don't have anything that corresponds to our "titles".--Kotniski (talk) 14:50, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

Is "Wikipedia" Academic?

I ask the group, is "Wikipedia" academic, or educational? I ask because I am using my local Community College Computer, and the rules state that they (the computers) are not to be used for "chat(ting)," but for academic (or Educational) reasons.

Please, don't take offense. I enjoy the "community" spirit of discussing or creating policy, I applaud group "editing" efforts, but really...

[I will use my humor here...] Question: What is "Edu-entertainment?" Answer: An Encycolpedia that doesn't care about facts, research, primary sources, or the author's (or artist) intent. C-ritah (talk) 21:38, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

What is being created here is a tertiary source and the talk pages are not part of that source. The talk pages are part of the process towards creating the tertiary source. So if all you are allowed to do is use the computers at you local Community College, is for academic (or Educational) reasons, then while at collage don't read or edit the talk pages, just read the articles. This thread ought to end and not be developed further, because your question on this talk page is inappropriate as it does not help develop the policy page to which it is coupled. -- PBS (talk) 21:56, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

Name vs. Usage

I have been thinking about why WP:COMMONNAME keeps causing such angst and confusion... and I think it is because the section still focuses people on the subject's name (which is a concept that causes high emotion)... but what we really mean is that we should follow common usage. So lets make this clearer... How would people feel if we renamed the provision... WP:COMMONUSAGE? Blueboar (talk) 15:35, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

Common name has other problems (1) because of scientific usage and (2) because of the combination of names and titles for nobility. If we are going to change the label then what about "WP:FREQUENTUSAGE"? -- PBS (talk) 20:39, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
You can make another redirect at will; but the real problem is to finish the job of writing name out of this policy, since it is so frequently misunderstood. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:59, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
I don't think "name" is such a bad word - the problems arise not from claims that things have names, but claims that they have "true" names.--Kotniski (talk) 08:56, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
"Name" is accurate and easily understood, it is just frequently a source of contention because so many narrow minded intrest groups try to circumvent it to push thier own POV.--11:49, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
And to that extent, it is inaccurate. The recent - and now closed - fuss to move Ganges away from what most English speakers call it to its (Hindi) "name" is typical. Name or description would be less misleading. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:09, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Kotniski that "name" is not such a bad word, and with anon that it is accurate and easily understood.

The problem is that there are two types of articles in Wikipedia. Those with topics that have names, and those with unnamed topics that require descriptive titles for which there is not even a description in common usage (e.g., "List of ..." articles). WP:COMMONNAME can only apply to those topics with names. If a description of a supposedly unnamed topic is in common usage, then that description is arguably the common name of that topic. If we have anything that comes even close to a universal truth in WP, it is that an article's topic has a single clear, natural, concise, unambiguous and commonly used name, then that name should be the title of the article, and that's essentially what WP:COMMONNAME should clarify.

So I suggest all that is needed is a clarification that WP:COMMONNAME does not apply to articles with topics that don't have names. --Born2cycle (talk) 22:29, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

Well... descriptive titles should take the concept of WP:COMMONNAME into account... we have List of towns in Rhode Island not List towns in The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Blueboar (talk) 19:42, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
I don't think that shows compliance with COMMON NAME... since "List of towns in Rhode Island" is not the common name for the topic of that subject (there is none). That title, especially compared to your redlink example alternative, simply shows compliance with natural and concise from WP:TITLE. Certainly WP:TITLE applies to all article titles in WP article space, but I still think COMMONNAME can only apply to titles of articles about topics that have common names, and not to articles with descriptive titles.

Can you or anyone else think of any reason to not clarify this at WP:COMMONNAME? --Born2cycle (talk) 22:13, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

I think Blueboar's point is valid, even if the particular example might not illustrate it unequivocally. If a descriptive title is going to contain a name for something, then the choice of which name to use is going to be governed (largely) by commonness, just as it would be if the title were going to consist of a name alone.--Kotniski (talk) 08:04, 26 January 2011 (UTC)
I have added a one line sentence that should resolve this. Blueboar (talk) 01:26, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

Summary style?

It says: "Even if an article is considered subsidiary to another (as where summary style is used)". Apart from the incorrect grammar, I was under the impression that summary style is used in all WP articles, regardless of how broad or narrow the scope of the topic is. Tony (talk) 03:21, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

Likely referring to WP:SS on how to break out parts of larger (>SIZE) articles to smaller ones, not the idea of writing in a summary format. --MASEM (t) 03:27, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. It needs to be clarified in the wording, then ... Tony (talk) 03:39, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

Italicised title with bracketed disambiguator

If a title which needs to go in italics has a disambiguator in brackets, am I right in thinking that the disambiguator doesn't get italicised? I've just used "DISPLAYTITLE" on William H. English (bust). Might it be useful to mention this scenario in the policy? PamD (talk) 17:16, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

Yes, that's right. In fact the {{Italic title}} template is supposed to handle this behaviour (though when it's done on individual articles, rather than en masse through the code of an infobox, it's no doubt more server-efficient to do it directly with DISPLAYTITLE like you did).--Kotniski (talk) 04:56, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
Ah, looking now for the first time at {{italic title}}'s documentation, I see it's a case of RTFM! The template is cleverer than I'd credited it - I should have guessed. Thanks. PamD (talk) 09:06, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

Use of adjectives

In the "format" section we include the following:

  • Use nouns: Titles should be nouns or noun phrases. Adjective and verb forms (e.g. democratic, integrate) should redirect to articles titled with the corresponding noun (Democracy, Integration), although sometimes they will be disambiguation pages, as at Organic. Sometimes the noun corresponding to a verb will be the gerund (-ing form), as in Swimming.

This seems to conflict with the fact that we allow descriptive titles (in which adjectives may be appropriate)... Titles such as "Wars between democratic nations", or "List of people receiving Presidential pardons". Blueboar (talk) 19:53, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

I don't see a conflict - those titles are noun phrases. It doesn't say that titles shouldn't contain other parts of speech.--Kotniski (talk) 04:58, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

The argument from accuracy

There seem to be an increasing number of reasonable move requests arguing that what is a clear common name should nevertheless be avoided on the grounds that it is inaccurate or words to that effect.

One good example from Talk:Mad Hatter:

Mad HatterHatter (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) — The name of the character that this article is about is "the Hatter" and he is never called "the mad Hatter" by Carroll. Even if this name has currency (which of course it does), it is not his actual name, so the most appropriate means for handling that is via re-direct. WP:COMMONNAME is not a "rule" which trumps WP:IGNORE when in fact the question is one of accuracy. This is an encyclopaedia, not a measure of linguistic popularity. "The Mad Hatter" misleads users of the encyclopedia, which is why Hatter (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) is the more appropriate name. Many other Carrollian articles are already named this way—in fact, most of them are. "The Mad Hatter" is not "better" because it is inaccurate, even if that term is common, and users of that term are not disadvantaged by having the article reflect the character's actual name. -- Evertype· 15:27, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

See Talk:brig#Requested move for more of the same... harder to pick a particular piece to quote... and also many discussions regarding diacritics, see for example Talk:Lech Wałęsa/Archives/2012/April#Requested move, and note in particular the many mentions of dumbing down Wikipedia if we adopt a common name for the article. The Walesa discussion links to several other similar ones.

Related to this is the question of what sources are reliable. The policy to date has been that mainstream news sources are reliable, but there's a growing tendency to cite academic sources and to regard a few of these as overruling any number of news sources, the recent discussions on diacritics being cases in point.

Comments? Is this a good time to review and either affirm or modify the policy on common names? And if so, where is the best forum for this discussion? Andrewa (talk) 18:13, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

This idea is not helpful and should be discouraged. Whatever Carroll's usage, the character is normally referred to as "the Mad Hatter" by other people - see for example Martin Gardner's annotated Alice. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:40, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
This is incorrect. Gardner identifies Theophilus Carter as a person known (and known to Carroll) as "The Mad Hatter", but Gardner refers to the character in question as "the Hatter" throughout. That is, he uses the character's actual name. Apart from that, I would like to point out that the "policy on common names" is not binding per WP:IGNORE and people should use common sense. -- Evertype· 18:54, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
WP:IAR is true of all guidance; it is equally true that we should not follow (alleged) accuracy out the window, ignoring what most readers will reasonably expect the article to be called. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:01, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
Sure, but it is a matter of fact that the Hatter is not called "the Mad Hatter" in the book. It is the Tea-Party which is Mad. In terms of the Wikipedia, the overwhelming majority of articles about characters from these books have their article titles as XXX (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) so the request for accuracy here is not unreasonable. Moreover, I would like to point out that the original title of this article was Hatter (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland), and in 2006 this was moved to Mad Hatter on foot of a mere four-day poll with only three comments. The present proposal is not particularly unusual in the light of that weak consensus. -- Evertype· 19:06, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
"Mad Hatter" or "The Mad Hatter" is the common name for this character, regardless of its actual name. Wikipedia's articles are at Bill Clinton and Joseph Stalin, not William Jefferson Blythe III/William Jefferson Clinton and Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili for good reason. Jayjg (talk) 19:11, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
Nowhere in Carrollian scholarship is he called Mad Hatter. He is called Hatter or the Hatter. "The Mad Hatter" is a common misnomer for this character. But it is not his name. An encyclopaedia should instruct. Mad Hatter should redirect to the article which bears the character's proper name. (I don't find your Clinton or Stalin examples convincing as they are not analogous). -- Evertype· 19:23, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
OK, but what of the more general issue? The discussion above seems to be focussed on Mad Hatter and probably belongs at Talk:Mad Hatter#Requested move rather than here. Talk:Long case clock#Requested move has been quoted as another case in point, but there were other issues here, notably the scoping of the article to include grandmother clocks. Andrewa (talk) 19:39, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
And what of the discussion at Talk:brig... Brig (ship) I will never agree with because it is simply wrong for example? Is this a valid argument, and if not can we improve the current guidelines to be a bit clearer?
Personally I'm very happy with the common name even if inaccurate overall approach, but I can see it's under challenge. Andrewa (talk) 19:46, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
Common name is not the most common name in all sources it is the common name as reflected in English language reliable sources. If in the case of "the hatter" or the "mad hatter" it can be shown that a clear majority of reliable sources favour one usage over another that is what we mean by common name. If there is no clear common name then we look further. "Brig" is a good example of when we have a term that is not necessarily well know outside its area of expertise. I have and I am sure many others of us have at times been surprised that our well know meaning in an area that interests us may not be the sole or primary meaning of a word. That is why common name (in reliable sources) is such a useful part of the policy. -- PBS (talk) 21:05, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes, but that has changed and is changing... Once it read Generally, article naming should give priority to what the majority of English speakers would most easily recognize [2]. Now there's a tendency to prefer some reliable sources, such as academic press and other encyclopedias, to others, such as mainstream news sources. If we do that, we'll have broken completely from the earlier convention, as academic sources aren't nearly as widely read as news sources. Currently we seem to be somewhere in the middle.
And this isn't necessarily a bad thing. I just think it's timely for us to be intentional about it. Hence the discussion. Andrewa (talk) 22:44, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
Recognition is still one of the key criteria. The reason why we look to reliable sources is to help determine what is likely to be the most recognizable. Blueboar (talk) 00:31, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
That isn't at all clear from the current policy and guideline pages. The key sections of this page are Generally, article titles are based on what reliable English-language sources call the subject of the article, and Recognizability – an ideal title will confirm, to readers who are familiar with (though not necessarily expert in) the topic, that the article is indeed about that topic. One important aspect of this is the use of common English names as used in reliable sources on the subject and in Wikipedia:Naming conventions (use English) The title of an article should generally use the version of the name of the subject which is most common in the English language, as you would find it in reliable sources (for example other encyclopedias and reference works).
To my mind, these policy and guideline pages as they are now justify using an academically accepted name, even if this name is virtually unknown to the wider public, who know the subject by a different, common name. Perhaps that was not the intention, but it seems to be the effect, arguably at least.
That's one thing I think we need to clarify.
And it's subtle. For example, if we were to add mainstream news sources to the list of examples of reliable sources given in the quote above from Wikipedia:Naming conventions (use English), then the effect would be changed considerably.
I'm happy to go either way. But I think we're wasting a good deal of time at present because the current policy is unclear. Andrewa (talk) 01:39, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
We don't say that you should "use an academically accepted name, even if this name is virtually unknown to the wider public, who know the subject by a different, common name". We say to use the most commonly used name as found in all reliable English language sources. News sources already included in that. Blueboar (talk) 03:27, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
You may well be right, but many are interpreting it differently, and I don't blame them. It's not as clear as it needs to be. Andrewa (talk) 04:16, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
I read it as saying reliable English language sources for the topic. I don't care if there is a vast corpus of reliable sources out there that use "Mad Hatter" as an idiom while talking about something completely unrelated to Carroll's works. I only want to know what the character is called by the reliable sources that one would actually consult and use when writing an article on it. For this reason, if Evertype's statement that "Nowhere in Carrollian scholarship is he called Mad Hatter" is true, then I would support a move on those grounds—for reasons of usage not accuracy. But I don't believe Evertype's assertion is established as true at present. Hesperian 04:26, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
Andrewa you seem to have missed the phrase in the policy that says: "Common usage in reliable sources is preferred to technically correct but rarer forms". This would seem to directly contradict your concern that "these policy and guideline pages as they are now justify using an academically accepted name". I too like you Hesperian had assumed that we were talking about "sources for the topic". -- PBS (talk) 11:24, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
<- outdent

Agree that this is an important phrase, but I don't think it helps in all cases, and particularly in the cases of Mad Hatter and Ship. Andrewa (talk) 17:35, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

anchor for ease of editing

I agree with the thesis that some concept like "accuracy" should be, and sometimes is, a factor in naming decisions, to be thrown into the mix along with recognizability, consistency, conciseness etc. It perhaps comes down to giving certain sources (the more academic or encyclopedic ones, I suppose) greater weight than others - we don't have to base our decisions on raw google counts. Whether that would lead to "Hatter" or "Mad Hatter" I don't know - it would depend how much relative weight the participants in that discussion felt it appropriate to give to recognizability vs. accuracy - but certainly I think most Wikipedians would recognize the accuracy argument as carrying a not insignificant amount of weight. Maybe we can find a better term than "accuracy", but I certainly think this should be added to the list of factors in the first section of the page.--Kotniski (talk) 09:45, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

I don't mind arguing for the, seemingly extreme, view that we should always set accuracy before popular usage. Redirects can serve for helping users get to where they want to go, in terms of searching. Last I checked encyclopedias and indeed this project, strove for accuracy. unmi 10:02, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
You would advocate moving Gulliver's Travels to Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships? Hesperian 10:12, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
Absolutely. Redirects are the convenience which would make such a move unproblematic as near as I can see. unmi 10:24, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
If PMA were here, no doubt he would have some cogent observations to make on what a field day the nationalist trolls would have over this. All of a sudden we're not arguing about what Macedonia is called; we're arguing about what its name is. That way lies madness. Hesperian 10:38, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
Well, I don't think that we can solve those issues here, where the 'proper name' is contested local debates perhaps helped along by various dispute resolution venues can hopefully find a solution. As a matter of principle I am for accuracy and I think that for 99% of our articles it can be served without incident or unreasonable friction. unmi 10:55, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
I do think there's some amount of difference between the nationalist Macedonia-esque disputes and the kind mentioned under "accuracy". Place names can't really have an objectively accurate or inaccurate name, so the concept of accuracy is not that applicable. It is objectively known fact, though, that tsunamis are not caused by tides, and as such "tidal wave" is an objectively inaccurate term for them. I can understand the concern, though, and I think that once again, the critical point is that accuracy or inaccuracy must be based in reliable sources rather than our own research (I could find you good reliable sources that "tidal wave" and "bass violin" are inaccurate names; whether I like it or not, I could not do the same with "Burma", for example). Heimstern Läufer (talk) 11:01, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
It's also an "objectively known fact" that the whole world was not involved in World War II. Hesperian 11:40, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
That's why come reliable sources/stuff I said up there. ^^ Heimstern Läufer (talk) 11:48, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
Which brings us back to 'Screw accuracy: just do what reliable sources do. If reliable sources use an inaccurate name, so be it.' Which is where we were before this lame idea got raised for the gazillionth time. Hesperian 11:59, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
Not really; I'm sure we do prefer "accurate" names (i.e. we tend to give greater weighting to sources that use names we consider more factually accurate in some way), so it's not a lame idea or even a new idea - we just want to record it somehow in the policy.--Kotniski (talk) 13:45, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
Unomi what makes you think that redirects takes care of "helping users get to where they want to go". While that is true when they search within Wikipedia have you any evidence that this is true for popular search engines outside Wikipedia? I recently did a Google search for "Popski's Private Army" and the Wikipedia page it was not returned in the first 10. The reason was that the page had moved to No. 1 Demolition Squadron. I moved the article back to "Popski's Private Army" and within a day a Google search of the common name (as used in most reliable sources) returned the Wikipedia article as its first article. -- PBS (talk) 11:05, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
I appreciate that we are interested in googleability for our articles, I don't think that this should be our primary concern though, I think that such issues can be resolved either via communication with google, as they seem interested / are structured towards ranking wikipedia hits highly, or via various technical solutions; redirect names in meta tags, keywords should be simple enough and there are likely more thorough and/or effective ways. unmi 11:21, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
A primary concern of Wikipedia is to make our pages widely available, using common names -- rather than names used by a specific group such as an academic discipline -- is an effective way to do that. You are taking a simple rule that helps move Wikipedia pages up the ranking of all search engines and suggesting complicated solutions "communication with google" (Google is only one of many search engines) and "redirect names in meta tags" that are not available to lowly editors such as ourselves. We can however help the project by making sure that this policy encourages the use of names that are likely to be returned by search engines external to this project. -- PBS (talk) 11:44, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
The meta-tag / keyword would be a technical solutions to the issue that would be transparent to lowly editors. I appreciate your comment regarding the "communication with google" the point was to find how we can get ranking for the terms used as redirect such as "popular names". If we are going to mandate search engine rankings over other concerns then I suggest that we also have a policy for how many times certain keywords should appear throughout the text, etc. unmi 12:24, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

Interesting discussion. Back to Hatter and Mad Hatter though, the thing is that "reliable" sources will show both. Now, nearly all Carrollian scholarship (which one imagines would be considered authoritative in articles about Carrollian topics) uses Hatter. Even if other secondary material uses the misnomer, that doesn't invalidate the accuracy and reliability of the use of the name Hatter. So unless "mob rule" is to be the determining factor, it would seem reasonable to be able to "weight" reliable sources. I mean... hm... Let's say that Koala bear were very widespread. Wouldn't it be reasonable however to keep the article at Koala since they are not bears? I don't object to Mad Hatter redirecting to the article. But it's not his name, and as a Carrollian I don't see a single good reason for google popularity to trump accuracy. The article should be Hatter or Hatter (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland). I know, this is up for discussion on the relevant Talk page, but there seems to be a difference between Koala- and Hatter-type names on the one hand and Popski/Demolition types on the other. -- Evertype· 12:46, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

Hesperian, Carrollian scholarship enjoys sequels and pastiches and parodies, as well as films and various other derivatives. But journals like Bandersnatch and Knight Letter and The Carrollian as well as Martin Gardner's Annotated Alice do, genuinely, respect Carroll's nomenclature and indeed tends to bemoan inaccurate reference and treatment. -- Evertype· 13:12, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

To the general issue: I think that accuracy should be primary, unless there are very good specific reasons to prefer a more "popular" term. "Josef Stalin" would be an example: It would be silly to have the article under his full Georgian name. But then, he himself preferred the "popular" name. -- Evertype· 13:14, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

So what should "Betty" be under should it be her name with all her titles or those used under English law, or those used in Scotland, or those used in other dominions, or "Queen Elisabeth" or "Queen Elizabeth II" or Elizabeth II? I will now go to the counter purchase a large fizzy drink and popcorn, and take my seat to enjoy the show! -- PBS (talk) 13:33, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
I don't really think this discussion was meant to sort out the title for every existing article one by one, off hand I would say that this person is in fact Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, generally we don't use titles. unmi 14:09, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
I don't see that what we are calling "accuracy" is relevant to that - none of those proposed titles are factually inaccurate. But if it were proposed calling her "Elizabeth II of England", even though it's a common enough phrase on Google (probably, I can't be bothered looking it up), then it would, I'm sure, attract widespread opposition on the grounds of correctness or accuracy or however people chose to phrase it (because she's queen of the UK not of England). That's the sort of issue we're talking about here. --Kotniski (talk) 13:40, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
She may be queen of the UK, but English and Scottish law are distinct. So it is quite possible for her to have different titles or ordering of titles under laws of the two nations ;-) -- PBS (talk) 18:09, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

It is important to remember that there is a distinction between an article's title and the subject's name. While we can discuss "correctness" when it comes to names... when it comes to Article titles the discussion is centered on different criteria... recognizably being the key one. Article titles do not need to be based on what is "correct" or "official"... Indeed, Article titles often ignore what is "correct" or "official" in favor of recognizably. My favorite example: We choose Rhode Island as our article title, not the more correct and official name of "The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations". Why?... because "Rhode Island" is more common and recognizable. Blueboar (talk) 15:44, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

Yes, and we choose William IV of the United Kingdom over William IV of England because it's more... what? Certainly not more recognizable, concise, precise, natural or (if his predecessors and successors were to be treated the same way) consistent - there's clearly another factor at work that we don't currently list. I'm not saying recognizability isn't the "key one" (it is, and that should perhaps be made clear), but the policy tries to list the other factors besides recognizability that often come into play, and there's clearly a factor here that does operate in practice but is currently missing from the list. --Kotniski (talk) 17:09, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
Personally, I have always hated the conventions for royalty... they are a hold over from the bad old days when we did equate article titles and names. and it never got updated when we shifted this policy away from that concept. If I had my druthers, the article title would simply be William IV (UK) ("William IV" being how the subject is most commonly referred to in reliable sources, and the "(UK)" added for disambiguation purposes so we know which William IV we are referring to). I would drop the whole "of nation Y" concept as being overly pretentious and pedantic. Blueboar (talk) 17:41, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes, and that's getting to the core of the problem... The current guidelines could well justify moving to The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and even more so the example above of Gulliver's travels. Andrewa (talk) 17:35, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
I don't see why you think the current policy would justify moving those articles... I see the current guideline as supporting "Rhode Island" and "Gulliver's Travels". Blueboar (talk) 17:41, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
Especially since the State has changed its official name.Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:05, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
And what about the British monarchs: if it turned out (as superficial investigation suggests) that they are called "of England" more commonly than "of Great Britain"/"of the United Kingdom", would the encyclopedia be improved by retitling their articles accordingly?--Kotniski (talk) 08:15, 29 December 2010 (UTC)
I strongly suspect that the real situation is that the British monarchs are most commonly called "Henry VIII" or "George III", ie without any "of Someplace". If so, that should be the article title. As I said above, if there is a need to disambiguate then we can stick in a parenthetical "(England)" or "(UK)"... (of course, people will probably still argue about the England/UK disambiguation, but the debate moves one step away from arguing about whether the subject's name is "correct"). Blueboar (talk) 13:30, 29 December 2010 (UTC)
George III and Henry VII are ambiguous (Henry VIII is much less so, since Heinrich is not a Habsburg name - and therefore there is no Emperor Henry of that number). This raises two questions:
  • Should we change the disambiguation of Henry VII of England?
  • Should we extend the system which works for seven Henries to the eighth; for predictability if nothing else? This last is confunded by the certainty that there are other Henry VIIIs - among the Princes of Reuss if nowhere else. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:43, 30 December 2010 (UTC)


There does seem to still be a rough consensus that in article titles a common name known to the general public should be preferred over a more technically correct name used in academia, but it is a rough consensus, with some dissenters.

There also seems to be a general feeling that the current policies and guidelines do support this, but the consensus here is even rougher.

Do the guidelines need more backbone regarding common name? Have we gone a little too far in the (easily observed IMO) shift towards preferring scholarly sources to common ones? Andrewa (talk) 17:35, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

With the exception of user:Born2cycle I can think of no other editor who supports common names as known to the general public (and B2C may have modified his position on this), most support names as used in reliable English language sources. This was a modification made to the policy a couple of years ago and it has allowed a simplification some of the guidelines which used to have workarounds to emulate the usage in reliable English language sources when popular sources diverged from them (eg Bloody Mary). The use of reliable English language sources means that often the name is the same as that of the experts, but not always. The problem with "correct" names is that like standards there are often so many to choose from,[3] and it is often a subjective opinion. It is usually far easier to agree on the relative frequency of usage of a name in reliable sources than it is on whether "Zurich" or "Zürich" looks better and which is the more "correct". So by relying on the frequency of usage in reliable English language sources, we can help readers find a topic and we can reduce the amount subjective things that editors can bicker about over article titles. -- PBS (talk) 18:38, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
Also a good summary (with some new material) and makes some important points IMO. Andrewa (talk) 18:51, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
  • The general article title naming criteria most relevant to common name is that titles are supposed to be recognizable and natural to our readers. Now, since what is recognizable and natural to readers is largely determined by what reliable sources say, there is not much difference. That is, when newspapers and magazines refer to a topic most commonly with a certain name, then that name is likely to be the natural and recognizable name of that topic to our readers.

    Where this gets sticky is about topics where scholarly/academic sources (closer to primary sources) differ with usage in secondary sources like newspapers and magazines (and movie and TV show screenplays for that matter). This is where I lean towards following usage in the secondary sources rather than the scholarly primary sources, because that's what most likely to be recognizable and natural to our readers. But, again, this is only where that distinction exists. --Born2cycle (talk) 20:22, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

  • Here is my question, why is it important that the article title is "recognizable and natural to our readers"? Apart from the search engine rankings issue. unmi 21:47, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
It's useful, when you're looking for information about something, to be able to see straight away that you've come to the article about that thing (and the title will only serve that purpose if it's a term you recognize). However I half agree with you, since we also expect titles to perform a second valuable function - give people information about how it's appropriate to refer to things in a fairly scholarly (though not pedantic) register. So we don't title the faeces article "Shit", because that's not at all scholarly; we don't use William IV of England because a careful (not simply pedantic) scholar would know his realm was the United Kingdom not England; we don't use the full title of Gulliver's Travels because even the most serious and careful writers would happily use the short form; we have boundary cases like Heart attack/Myocardial infarction where the title's two functions are at odds and consensus has to decide which way to go. This is the point here - there is no single rule (it's not "always common name", it's not "always correct name" whatever that would mean) but there are different (and sometimes competing) factors that have to be weighed up.--Kotniski (talk) 08:27, 29 December 2010 (UTC)
  • (edit conflict)Good question. One way to think about it is to consider what would happen if titles were just automatically generated meaningless strings. First, search would have to be based entirely on article content, for the titles would be useless in that regard. Second, linking would be very difficult, because you would have to look up an article to find out its unique title string to link to it. So, the reason we use meaningful titles instead of meaningless titles is primarily for searching and linking. But of course meaningful titles are also useful in other contexts, like when looking at categories. I think that it's that last context where recognizable and natural is very important. When readers look at categories, what they see is more useful and helpful to them if the names they see are recognizable and natural. If they're obscure technical terms they'd be of little more use in that context than meaningless strings. Finally, I suggest it's valuable to have WP indicate what the most common, natural and recognizable name is for a given topic by way of its article title. That's off the top of my head. I'm sure others can come up with other benefits too. --Born2cycle (talk) 08:31, 29 December 2010 (UTC)
As I’ve followed this discussion, I keep pondering what this phrase recognizable and natural to our readers really means. What readers--All readers? As editors, we see the world (and WP) through our own ethnocentric eyes. So what may be recognizable to one reader, may be unrecognizable to another. When it comes to names of things there are Common Names, Local/regional names, Official names, Scientific names, Scholarly names and terms etc. All these names may be in sync or they may not. Take for instance Black crappie, Pomoxis nigromaculatus, papermouth, strawberry bass, speckled bass or specks, speckled perch, calico bass and sac-au-lait. All those names refer to the same thing. Among those, if I lived in Louisiana, sac-au-lait would represent the most recognizable and natural name. From a sourcing standpoint, one could find reliable sources—trade, scholarly and mainstream press that use all these names. Imagine the NY Times travel writer in New Orleans interviewing a local fishing guide—According to Bubba, the Sac-au-lait are hot right now! or a fisheries biologist commenting in a regional biology journal that Both species of Pomoxis—nigromaculatus and annualis were unharmed by Katrina in the New Orleans delta.
Even under the best of circumstances, naming articles so that the title is: recognizable and natural to [all] our readers is probably impossible. But in my view, what is possible is something like this: Article titles should reflect the most commonly used name for the article’s subject as covered by a wide range of reliable sources—trade, scholarly, government and mainstream press. The title should result in the highest probability that a high percentage of readers will recognize it and associate it with the article’s subject. Redirects and DABs should exist to ensure any alternative names supported by sources bring the reader to the correct article.
Given the above, there is no right or wrong title, no accurate or inaccurate titles, only titles that result in the highest probability that a high percentage of readers will recognize it and associate it with the article’s subject. That should be what guides us. --Mike Cline (talk) 14:41, 29 December 2010 (UTC)
There are inaccurate names. See this diff. Here is the current policy:
The ideal title for an article will also satisfy the other criteria outlined above; ambiguous or inaccurate names for the article subject, as determined by reliable sources, are often avoided even though they may be more common. For example, tsunami is preferred over the arguably more common, but less accurate tidal wave.
I believe that tidal wave may have been more popular in the past. I bet more and more publications started using tsunami even though their readers may not have recognized the word at first. Encyclopedias should avoid inaccuracy. Encyclopedias are what people look to for accuracy.
Now as for other naming problems it may not be a question of an accurate name versus an inaccurate name. It is a matter of preference and common use in the various fields of readership in question. That is where the difficulty lies.
Also, our purpose is not to increase Wikipedia's Google rankings. Where is that written in a policy? Google rankings are just one of various tools in Wikipedia decision-making, but the purpose of Wikipedia is not to start doing SEO changes (search engine optimization).
Also, there is this concerning accuracy: Talk:Non-lethal weapon#Mediation sought on inaccurate name. Concerning accuracy there are few things clearer than "dead" and "not dead". Maybe the military and "collateral damage" is where we should get our ideas for naming.
For past discussion: Wikipedia talk:Article titles/Archive. Precision and accuracy. --Timeshifter (talk) 13:36, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
Names can be considered accurate or inaccurate ... but Article titles are not necessarily the subject's name (whether accurate or inaccurate). Blueboar (talk) 13:39, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
Huh? I don't know what you are trying to say, but I just think we should lean toward accuracy concerning objective things like tsunami and tidal wave. Subjective things and systemic-bias things like the names of cities, countries, etc. are not based on accuracy since technically there is no 'accurate' worldwide naming for cities and countries in many cases. English publications and maps oftentimes use different names for cities and countries than are used in other languages. And even within the English-speaking world there are different names. I have various atlases, and the names vary. --Timeshifter (talk) 15:39, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
Timeshifter - You've got it wrong on the geographical names. In the U.S. there is the US Board of Geographical Names, in the U.K. there is The Permanent Committee on Geographical Names for British Official Use and at an international level there is the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN). These bodies provide Official, thus accurate names for geographic features at least in the English language. Their data is based on long-standing historical data and board decisions. Its not arbitrary stuff. I don't know how much consistency there is between them but they do provide an official place to start. The fact that authors and mapmakers have used alternate names (intentionally or by mistake) in the past, does not make those names correct or accurate. There is an interesting quote from Confucius that goes like this:

One day, a disciple asked Confucius: “If a king were to entrust you with a territory which you could govern according to your ideas, what would you do first?” Confucius replied: “My first task would certainly be to rectify the names.” The puzzled disciple asked: “Rectify the names?…Is this a joke?” Confucius replied: “If the names are not correct, if they do not match realities, language has no object. If language is without an object, action becomes impossible - and therefore all human affairs disintegrate and their management becomes pointless and impossible. Hence, the very first task of a true statesman is to rectify the names.”

— Confucious


--Mike Cline (talk) 17:14, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
Citation? :) Just kidding. I am not sure we can go by what Confucius said. Especially as it relates to this concerning the accuracy of old history:
Some people consider the Bible to be the last word on everything.
And what about this from Burma (I wonder what Confucius called it): "Burma, officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar ..."
--Timeshifter (talk) 17:41, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
Ah! We encounter the multi-dimensional realm of history. Burma is the official name of the nation that preceded the Union of Myanmar which is the official name of the current nation. Both are accurate. Since WP articles cover both the past and present only one of the official names can be used in a single article. I do not know why one was chosen over the other, but given the length of time Burma existed as Burma compared to the time that Burma existed as Myanmar, Burma is more common in the locus of sources available on the subject. Official name does not neccessarily imply a singular one name fits all. The multi-dimensional realm of history allows for many Official (thus accurate) names when viewed over a span of time. --Mike Cline (talk) 18:10, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
Of course, the fact that some governmental agency or department has declared a name to be "Official" does not mean it will be the name that is most common... when that occurs, Wikipedia opts for what is most common. (We don't ignore the "Official" name, we mention it in the lede, but we base our Article title on what is most common.) Blueboar (talk) 17:28, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
The article title is not always based on what is most common. --Timeshifter (talk) 17:39, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
It should be... if it isn't, then it is not following this policy. Blueboar (talk) 17:43, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
Not necessarily, since this policy (which aims to reflect reality rather than prescribe, since there would never be consensus for prescribing any rule for all articles) notes other factors besides commonness which are taken into account in the naming of articles.--Kotniski (talk) 18:13, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
BB - With regard to geographic names, how do you determine most common? What is the practical application of that concept? Also, regarding this the fact that some governmental agency or department has declared a name to be "Official" ignores the fact that we're not talking about an arbitrary agency (some agency) but agencies that have been specifically chartered to review historical evidence on place names and make a board decision as to the correct name for the geographic feature. If you applied that some agency decides to scientific names you could also ignore decisions by the international agencies that rationalize binominal nomenclatures into a consistent set of data. --Mike Cline (talk) 17:48, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
We have a significant body of advice on how to determine most common name, which is widely quoted.
As for the rest of this, consulting the collective wisdom of " agencies that have been specifically chartered to review historical evidence on place names and make a board decision as to the correct name for the geographic feature" is - at best - accepting the POV of a government. At worst, it is proclaiming the self-defensive nationalist justifications of thugs with a flag and an army; precisely what Wikipedia is not supposed to do. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:49, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
Exactly... or to put it in a nut shell... you take all reliable (English Langauge) sources into consideration... maps, gazettes, books, newspapers, scholarly papers, government sources, etc. etc. I would say that 99% of the time, governmental sources will use the same name for places as everyone else. But... in those few cases when the government refers to something as X but a significant majority of non-government sources refer to is as Y, then we defer to the significant majority (as being more recognizable). My point is that we don't favor the "Official" name when another name is clearly more common. To give an example... our article on the avenue between 5th and 7th avenues in New York City is entitled Sixth Avenue (Manhattan) despite the fact that its "Official" name is "Avenue of the Americas". Why do we use that title? Because a significant majority of sources have rejected the "Official" name, referring to it as "6th Avenue" despite what is "Official". Blueboar (talk) 19:02, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
BB, trust me I am not arguing for a different title for the 6th Avenue article because 6th is just as accurate as AOTA, but I am a believer in putting good advice to the test. Using criteria #2 to test for Widely used that Pmanderson referenced above (Google Books and Scholar) I got the following results: "6th Avenue" Manhattan - Books - 642, Scholar - 4210; "Avenue of the Americas" - Books - 693,000, Scholar - 60,900. The ratios exceed the recommended 3:1 by a wide margin in favor of "Avenue of the Americas". So where does a significant majority of sources have rejected .. come from? --Mike Cline (talk) 19:38, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
Ah... that is a very specific problem with relying on Google tools... one that affects this specific naming issue... Google does not give you context. As it happens, a lot (if not most) of the publishing houses in NYC are located on the Avenue in question ... and since the post office uses AoTA, that is what will be listed as the address on the publisher info page of every book that published by one of those firms... even those books that use "6th Ave" consistently within their text will list AoTA on that one page. It skews the results. Blueboar (talk) 03:08, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
BB-Although both are accurate titles, the 6th Ave – AOTA example is proving to be a very poor example for testing the idea that a common name is more widely used than another name. Arguing that the Google results are skewed (for whatever reason) is really disingenuous when the purpose of the comparison is to measure use of the phrase. You can’t simply discount a certain type of use (an address in this case) because it doesn’t return the results you want. The ratios don’t lie—nearly 100-1 in favor of AOTA in the Google searches. But, I wanted to test this further. In 6 different printed Atlases, AOTA was used in each and 6th Ave was not. A London Times search returned a ratio of 1:1 6th to AOTA. And most interestingly, a page traffic test comparing WP reader views of 6th Avenue (Manhattan) in March, June and Oct 2010 with AOTA in the same months revealed: 6th Ave – 154 views, AOTA – 3130 views. Clearly AOTA is more recognizable and natural to WP readers. I have found no evidence that 6th Ave is more widely used than AOTA. Which brings me back to my original question. Where’s the evidence that: a significant majority of sources have rejected… the official name? and that 6th is the most widely used (or commonly used) phrase? I am searching for practical applications here. --Mike Cline (talk) 14:55, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
Yeah... I guess it was a bad example. Hmmm... have you compared hits on Google news? I would expect (although I may be wrong) that you will get more hits for 6th. In the meanwhile, I will try to find another example. Blueboar (talk) 20:05, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

AndrewA said "There does seem to still be a rough consensus that in article titles a common name known to the general public should be preferred over a more technically correct name used in academia, but it is a rough consensus, with some dissenters." I am certainly a dissenter. -- Evertype· 11:32, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

Test case?

How about this for a test case of common name vs. accuracy? Googling (books and scholar) reveals that the subject is more commonly referred to as Duke of Bavaria, whereas his "real" title translates as Duke in Bavaria. What do we do - follow the herd or try to be accurate?--Kotniski (talk) 11:22, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

I have suggested that the solution to this issue is to go with a more descriptive article title: Karl Theodore (Bavarian Duke). I think using a descriptive format ... Henry IV (English King), Henry IV (Holy Roman Emperor), Elizabeth II (British Queen), etc. ... would sidestep a lot of the debates over "correctness" when it comes to articles about nobility. Blueboar (talk) 14:16, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
I see little advantage to this change; parenthesized forms are always clumsy and often long.
Nor is it likely to reduce volume; the recent move of Elizabeth II was energized by a bunch of Canadian monarchists, for whom it is vitally important that she is a Canadian Queen as much as a British one. This will not appease them; it will merely hand them the cry "who writes of Elizabeth II, British Queen?" - and so with the others. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:35, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

It is worth pointing out that Mad Hatter has now been moved to The Hatter. Accuracy has won out over assertions about "common name". -- Evertype· 14:49, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

No, two masters of infinite repetition have prevailed. Whether or not we should indeed give extra weight to the more passionate, that is the effect; I would regret writing thia anomaly into policy. Test cases must be representative. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:46, 21 January 2011 (UTC)
Not that I would personally make a request since I find instability of titles un-encyclopedic, but I think a special consideration must be made in cases of topics that have received an enormous amount of cultural significance beyond their original context. Is a user searching for the Mad Hatter searching for information about the Carroll character or the archetypal idea of the Mad Hatter which has become part of popular (I use the term with hesitation because it seems like popular is equated with low-brow, which is not my implication at all) culture. I'd say 50-50. I think the degree of popularity of an alternate name and how much other material has been built up around the alternate name must be considered. Of course, I suppose my distinction would hold less ground if the article was "The Hatter (Alice in Wonderland)" or if the content of the article was not predominantly about the cultural life of the character beyond the book. Jztinfinity (talk) 08:27, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

Help! Is Wikipedia non-acidemic? Will my local community college kick me off the computer for non-academic "work-chat?" Is "wikipedia" the new pseudo-intellectual chat page? I am at my local community college, and I wonder, am I violating the term of the college's "computer use rules" by being on Wikipedia?

Question: What is Edu-entertainment? Answer: An Encycolpedia that doesn't care about facts, research, primary sources, ot the authors or artists intent. C-ritah (talk) 21:28, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

Fortunately, we are not such an encyclopedia. We care a great deal about facts, research, and primary sources. Less so about author's intent; we can only report that which the reliable sources report. But this is not the talk page for that topic; this talk page is about article titles, and what we title an article has nothing to do with what the subject's proper name is. Powers T 15:20, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

Requested move: Special:PrefixIndex/Wikipedia:Naming conventions

Special:PrefixIndex/Wikipedia:Naming conventionsSpecial:PrefixIndex/Wikipedia:Article titles — Everything in that category should be move to Wikipedia:Article titles (Foo) etc. as a result of this move and to ensure the consistency of names. These are all pages that branch off this one similar to a subpage structure. See also this thread that I've attempted to start at the village pump. :| TelCoNaSpVe :| 04:17, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

You can't move Special: pages. All you can move are "Wikipedia:Naming conventions" pages to "Wikipedia:Article titles" pages.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 04:18, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I'm well aware of that. That's why I suggested moving everything within the category, not the category itself. Please restore the template; I placed a move request here so that it would be listed at WP:RM by the bot. :| TelCoNaSpVe :| 04:21, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
But you're suggesting that 236 pages (including the redirects because I don't feel like counting them) be moved. This is not something a WP:RM request is to be used for.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 04:26, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Do you have a better venue in mind? Discussions about that should probably go to the Village Pump. :| TelCoNaSpVe :| 04:31, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
  • As regards the proposal, it makes sense to me. Unless any of the pages really are about how we name things in our articles in general, not specifically in their titles.--Kotniski (talk) 08:59, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Support... yes it will be a major task, but one worth doing. Blueboar (talk) 14:19, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose for now. The problem with the previous arrangement, when this page was called "Naming conventions", was that it lead to confusion in some peoples minds between what was policy and what was guidance. Some people seemed to think that when "naming conventions" was a used in the policy it also included the wording in the guidelines -- this lead to a lot of confusion and a lot of talk page chatter. The rename of the policy page (to a name I did not and no not think is ideal) at least removed that confusion. Moving the guidelines to just dab extensions of the policy page is going to reintroduce that confusions particularly for editors who only read them infrequently. The relationship between this policy and its guidelines is different from that of the MOS because all of the MOS is a guideline including the central page, so using dab extensions for the MOS is less of a problem than it would be here. -- PBS (talk) 22:11, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
I really don't understand any of that - perhaps the problem is that this page ought to be marked as a guideline too, like the central MOS page is?--Kotniski (talk) 10:35, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
No it should not a guideline (for all the reasons we have been through in the past). What is not clear in what I have said? Take for example an earlier version of this page that started "Naming conventions are Wikipedia's policy on how to name pages. The conventions are supplemented and explained by the guidelines linked to this policy." Lower down the page there was the statement "Except where other accepted Wikipedia naming conventions give a different indication, title an article using the most common name of the person or thing that is the subject of the article" Yet many people ignored the first sentence and assumed that because the guidelines were titled "naming conventions (dab)" the wording in the guidelines was included as part of policy by that sentence, and this caused no end of bother, particularly when the wording of those guidelines contradicted policy. Currently this confusion does not exist, but is likely reoccur if this proposal is implemented. -- PBS (talk) 18:59, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
I still don't get it (and never have when you've spoken on this matter in the past). We have this page, which gives general information on how we title articles. We have other pages that give more specific information on how we title articles. Is this page qualitatively different from all the others, except in as much as it's general rather than specific? To me it seems that these are all the same type of page (and the MOS pages are of that same type as well), and it makes sense for the more specific pages on the same topic as this one to have titles that indicate that that's what they are. If there's some contradiction between these pages, then that needs to be sorted out as a problem in itself.--Kotniski (talk) 07:38, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
"Policies explain and describe standards that all users should normally follow, while guidelines are meant to outline best practices for following those standards in specific contexts" (WP:POLICY). -- PBS (talk) 11:19, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

semi-exception to common names for logical hyphenation

In the spirit of ambiguous or inaccurate names for the article subject, as determined by reliable sources, are often avoided even though they may be more frequently used by reliable sources, IMO we should explicitly make an exception for logical hyphenation. These are, after all, arguably not even distinct names, but simple variation in punctuation.

In academic jargon, hyphens are often dropped from familiar expressions such as reverse transcriptase inhibitor and main sequence star. The literature varies widely on this, but the forms without hyphens are generally the more common. However, this is often confusing to the naive reader (our primary audience as an elementary reference work), who may take these literally and think that there is transcriptase inhibitor and reverse transcriptase inhibitor, or sequence stars and among them a main sequence star. It is only for those familiar with the technical concepts of reverse transcriptase and the main sequence that it's obvious that what these actually mean are reverse-transcriptase inhibitor and main-sequence star.

(See for example nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor–induced myopathy in Current diagnosis and treatment in neurology (Brust 2006:396), a reference work, but the near universal lack of hyphenation in medical journals, which assume familiarity with the subject.)

As user SpacePotato said at WProject Astronomy when I brought this up, The literature has a mix of "pre-main sequence star" and "pre-main-sequence star" (also, "main sequence" is occasionally capitalized.) The expressions "pre–main sequence star" and "pre–main-sequence star", with an en dash, also occur but are rather less common. This shows you that astrophysicists do not spend their spare time reading style manuals.[7]

Exceptions would need to be made for legally mandated spellings such as official or trademarked names, of course.

IMO, this is similar to logical punctuation within quotations trumping ENGVAR because we are an encyclopedia and place a premium on precision. Could we add an example of logical hyphenation alongside tsunami / tidal wave, just to be clear? — kwami (talk) 17:49, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

There is a huge debate going on right now at WP:MOS on the use of hyphens, dashes, n-dashes etc... we should wait until that debate is settled before we add anything about the issue to this page (the last thing we need is yet another conflict between MOS and this page.) Blueboar (talk) 21:03, 4 February 2011 (UTC)
That's only about en-dashes, which I wasn't thinking of including anyway. But sure, we can wait. — kwami (talk) 23:20, 4 February 2011 (UTC)
There's no magic bullet in blindly accepting whatever crappy typography some tin-pot local authority wants to use. Even on company websites you can find inconsistencies in the way they themselves render their name. Tony (talk) 02:54, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
I was thinking of cases where an official agency deems the en dash unacceptable, or where a name is legally defined that way, not just that some web site uses a hyphen. Basically, cases which would also force us to use odd capitalization. — kwami (talk) 08:09, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
I think kwami is referring to cases like "iPhone" "iPod" or "Coca-Cola" and other cases where that is unquestionably the trade mark. Correct me if I'm wrong. WMO 08:15, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Exactly. We also have a case where the govt of British Columbia has stated that en dashes are never correct in their district names (though dashes are used in some park names), and they have carefully typeset documentation which is legally binding. I think if a govt or company says that the dash is wrong, we should stick to a hyphen. But IMO we shouldn't go by GoogleBook/Scholar counts or by websites, even official websites. Most of the time if you asked they could care less one way or the other. — kwami (talk) 08:45, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
On the contrary; see our paragraph on common names. Whatever the Government of British Columbia may presume to do, they control at most the spelling of their own employees; English spelling is not run by any government whatsoever but by the consensus of anglophones - which may or may not choose to adopt this convention. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:01, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
But this is distinct from whether we should hyphenate the parks; we probably should; the question is whether most reliable sources do and whether there is an issue of consistency. I don't think there is a consistency issue - and it is clear none of our other principles apply. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:53, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

MOS has rarely settled anything, and even more rarely settled it sensibly. One purpose for having two pages is to ignore them when useful - as here. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:57, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

Lloyd Oscar

<Apparent autobiography removed> — Preceding unsigned comment added by Umarfaroukumar (talkcontribs) 05:35, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

This is a talk page for discussing Wikipedia's article naming policies. The text of an article does not belong here.--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 05:41, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

noun adjuncts

Noun adjuncts without a head noun have the same unfinished feeling as adjectives without nouns, and indeed CMOS and many other guides call them adjectives. I figured we should be explicit about this, so that a naming debate does not turn into an argument over what an "adjective" is. Something along the lines of,

But "Anti-war" turns out to be the title of an article. Any thoughts? — kwami (talk) 21:24, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

Not helpful, because nobody except linguists will understand it; everyone else will understand the existing provision as covering this. As for the example, it may be useful to suggest Anti-war movement; there seems to be an underlying content dispute whether anti-war and peace mean the same thing - and there may be an intention to write an article (this title dates to 2003) broader than only movements or organizations. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:40, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Except they won't: people have argued that such terms are not adjectives and therefore do not conflict with this guideline. — kwami (talk) 11:43, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
Does noun adjunct convince them? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:01, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

Project guideline in conflict with WP:NAME being unilaterally rolled out

Hello NAME contributors. Please participate in a discussion over the possible conflict between WP:ALBUMCAPS and WP:NAME. We have a user who has moved several dozen pages quoting WP:ALBUMCAPS to de-capitalise foreign language single and album titles, which is in direct opposition to clear evidence from WP:RS. I'd appreciate some views from this camp? Here is the discussion. Thanks all. The Rambling Man (talk) 17:56, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

"Single" common name

The wording in Wikipedia:Article titles#Neutrality in article titles uses "single common name" to make a distinction that I don't believe is intentional. My understanding of the intent of the policy is that if we are using a "made up" name ("descriptive" name), like allegations of xyz in early American history or some such thing, then we use a neutral, non-judgemental name. If we are using a "real" (not "made up") name, then we use the most common name, "as evidenced through usage in a significant proportion of English-language reliable sources". The current phrasing presents a problem if there are two "common" names, but the overwhelmingly more common name is not neutral. By having the word "single" in there, this policy opens it up for it to be (incorrectly) argued that we should, instead of using the overwhelmingly more common name, use the "neutral" name. My contention is that we should change "a single common name" to "a single common name, or a name that is used disproportionately often". For an example scenario, consider American Civil War. It could be wikilawyered that another name for the conflict (like "War Between the States") is more neutral and therefore should be used, even though "American Civil War" is overwhelmingly more common. (Full disclosure: Though I really DO NOT want to add another front to the current war, which has spilled over into a lot of related articles, I don't want to give the false impression that I'm pulling this idea out of thin air. This is currently a bone of contention in the article pro-life. The term pro-life is overwhelmingly more common, but anti-abortion is alleged to be more neutral. Even though, as a non-descriptive name, it would seem that the more common name is the one to use, the word "single" is being taken out of context to justify renaming the article.) For reference, this was the edit that added "single" and this is the discussion on the issue. --B (talk) 14:58, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

Yes; though there seems to be a problem here with two conflicting uses of "common name" - in the introductory paragraph to that section we use "common name" to mean any name that isn't a descriptive (i.e. Wikipedia-invented) title, while later (and of course elsewhere in the policy) we think it means a "most common" or "very common" name. --Kotniski (talk) 16:25, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
I can see the problem... and the suggested solution sounds good to me. The word "single" was added to indicate that this isn't a simple matter of counting up the frequency of use and going with the majority ... if there are two names, used with relatively equal frequency, we should go with the one that is more neutral. But that does not mean we ignore significant differences in frequency. Even when creating a descriptive title, our title should utilize terms and names that occur in sources with significant or overwhelming frequency. Real neutrality means that we don't reject commonly used terminology simply because we think it sounds non-neutral. It would actually be non-neutral of us to go against a significant majority of sources by substituting some other term that we happen to like better. Blueboar (talk) 17:21, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
I agree with the idea that we don't want to shoot ourselves in the foot by using whichever gets 50% + 1 of the g-hits. How about in addition to replacing "single" with "most", right after that sentence, we insert the wording, (If two alternate names occur in relatively equal frequency, the more neutral name may be used instead of the less neutral, albeit more common, name, subject to consensus.) That allows for the possibility that a the general preference to use the more common name may be overridden if there is a good reason. --B (talk) 18:13, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
It's really disingenuous of you to try and change the policy/guideline (not sure which at the moment) to allow for your interpretation during a renaming discussion. WMO Please leave me a wb if you reply 18:14, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
I gave full disclosure in my proposal that this was relevant to a current dispute. How is that "disingenuous"? My proposal is to change the wording so that it accurately reflects both what was the stated intent of the wording change and what has been accepted policy for years. For an arbitrary old version of the policy, see this from 2008. The intent is clear - if there is a common name, we use it; if there isn't, we make up a neutral descriptive name. Making up a neutral name has always only applied to cases where we are making up a "descriptive" name. --B (talk) 19:39, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
M, I too frown on editors trying to change policy in order to win disputes... however, in this case I don't think B is suggesting a change as much as he is suggesting a clarification. As someone who was intimately involved in writing the policy section in question, I can tell you that B's take on it accurately reflects the intent of what we were trying to say when we wrote the policy. His suggestion does clarify the language in a way that better reflects our intent. Blueboar (talk) 19:55, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
I'll second that. I think the general intent of the policy (which is stated more generally at WP:NPOV#Naming) is that when using established names to refer to something, we give commonness of use (in reliable sources) a much higher priority than perceived neutrality. What that might mean in a given situation should be discussed in the appropriate place.--Kotniski (talk) 11:11, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

Removed the first instance of common name. It's wrong as well as confusing; for example, American Civil War is a proper name. We can restore the continuity of the section by saying something like When the names of the subject are all uncommon in the literature, they should be only be used as article titles if they are not tendentious. If Boston Massacre were one author's invention, we would not use it; but it is what the event is customarily called in English. Similarly, we say single because we would probably use a descriptive phrase if there were a large body of reliable sources which used "Boston Snowball Incident". That is not the case for the Civil War, which is what histories on both sides call it (a compromise between them, btw); neo-Confederatism ain't reliable.

If we were going to use an uncommon name for the Civil War, my vote would be for the one incorporated in the semi-official history in 127 volumes: War of the Rebellion. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:48, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

Perhaps a better example is something like Counter-Reformation. That's arguably not neutral (countering reformation is bad, I guess?) but it's more commonly used than Catholic Reformation, so it's the title that we use, even though it's (arguably) less neutral. Or consider the Eucharist aka the Lord's Supper aka Holy Communion. All three terms basically mean the same thing and the latter two redirect to Eucharist. Under the current wording of the policy, "when a subject or topic has a single common name ...", it could be argued that we should not consider which term is more common because there is not a "single" common name. A fix for this is to change the wording to something like what I have suggested above. The whole point is to clarify that we're mostly concerned with popularity for non-made-up names and mostly concerned with neutrality for made-up names. --B (talk) 03:26, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
I agree with B's view of the problem, but I think it would be simpler to address it by changing "single common name" to "most frequently used name."--SaskatchewanSenator (talk) 08:32, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

Pro life example

On B's example, I saw someone renaming articles from (pro-life) to (anti-abortion) the other day, and ultimately decided to close my eyes and pretend I hadn't seen it. I do think it was inappropriate (and hugely inappropriate when the subject is also anti-death penalty), but I'm just not convinced that it's worth the inevitable fight over "neutrality". (But just imagine the screams if you renamed organizations as "pro-abortion" rather than "pro-choice", even if their sole purpose was to advocate for unrestricted access to abortion services.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:20, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

That's been going on a lot over the last week ... it's unfortunate and in large part, there's no reason for it. With a disambiguation title for the article, the sole purpose is because we can't have two articles with the same name. We could serve the technical need by naming it Whatever organization name (asdfasdfasdfasdfasdf) - we don't have to mention abortion in the name. So in a lot of cases, the articles can just be Whatever organization name (organization), Whatever organization name (Christian organization), or some such other neutral and undisputed name. --B (talk) 05:32, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
I'd have thought "anti-abortion" and "pro-abortion" were much clearer than the slogany "pro-life" and "pro-choice" in descriptive titles (including descriptive parts of titles, i.e. most disambiguating tags). Though if we're referring to an actual organization called "Pro-Life this and that", then obviously that's the name we'd use.--Kotniski (talk) 08:14, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
There are three separate cases to consider - (1) the main article name pro-life or anti-abortion, the (disambiguation name) - (2) for articles that need to be disambiguated do we use article name (pro-life) or article name (anti-abortion), and (3) how we refer to the article in test - "article name is a pro-life organization ..." or "article name is an anti-abortion organization ...". The first question is settled. For the second question, WP:NCDAB says that we should prefer the generic class or subject. So if there is only one organization, just use Article name (organization), not Article name (pro-life organization). Only in the case of there being multiple activists or organizations with the same name do we need to differentiate. Even then, we may be able to eschew the problem by using an indisputable description like Article name (Christian organization). For the third question, I don't think we should put words into their mouths. If an organization calls itself pro-life or anti-abortion, we should refer to them that way. In some cases, they don't characterize their own position and so we shouldn't either. We can say "XXX is an organization which provides services to mothers in lieu of abortion" or "XXX is an organization noted for its opposition to abortion" or some such thing. But in any event, the only one of these three questions that the portion of the policy in question covers is question #1. --B (talk) 14:42, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
Or maybe we could just call them what neutral and reliable publications like the New York Times, Associated Press and other reputable newspapers generally refer to them as... that could solve a lot of problems. WMO Please leave me a wb if you reply 20:45, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

titles with acronyms

Currently, Avoid Abreviations in the Article title format section briefly discusses acronyms in titles. I'd like to extend that with the following:

Avoid abbreviations: Abbreviations and acronyms are generally avoided unless the subject is almost exclusively known by its abbreviation (e.g. NATO and Laser). The abbreviation UK, for United Kingdom, is acceptable for use in disambiguation. It is unnecessary to include both the subject's name and an acronym or abbreviation in the title (e.g. Springfield School of Basketweaving (SSBW))

In patrolling new articles this comes up frequently, especially with articles on organizations. In some cases it appears to be an attempt to make the organization sound a bit more notable. Also, this use of the parenthesis in titles conflicts with its use for disambigation. --RadioFan (talk) 12:56, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

Works for me. Blueboar (talk) 16:09, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
How about It is undesirable to include both...; it's verbose. ? It violates Concision and has no advantages. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:36, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

National varieties

I am reverting the changes Bluebore made to National verities of English because "the variety of English appropriate for that nation" has been changed to "spelling appropriate for that nation" variety of English is much more than just spelling to suggest otherwise is just not cricket. For example it is the Royal Navy, the British Army and the Royal Air Force, these are more than just spelling differences from the United States Navy, United States Army, and United States Air Force. Also I am not at all sure when "nor does Wikipedia necessarily follow the majority or plurality of local English usage against the consensus of the rest of the English-speaking world." was tacked on the end but the last time we discussed this there was no consensus for it so I am removing it.-- PBS (talk) 08:26, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

PMA inserted the change on 29 November 2010 and as far as I can tell there was not agreement on the talk page for this change "nor does Wikipedia necessarily..." (Wikipedia talk:Article titles/Archive 30#Conflict between WP:AT and WP:MOS. -- PBS (talk) 08:41, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

Isn't it evidenced by the fact that we chose Ganges rather than Ganga?--Kotniski (talk) 08:53, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
No it only shows that when there is no agreed local name that we also look further afield, and most probably will end up using the traditional name, but if the local consensus in reliable sources was to use a different name then we should respect their name. See for example Eastern Caribbean Defence Force in the section in the archives discussion I linked at the start of this article. -- PBS (talk) 09:22, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
OK, so if there is a consensus (i.e. almost universal usage) of local sources then we follow it; but if there's only a majority usage in local sources (as was claimed to be the case with Ganga) then we don't necessairly follow it, but also consider recognizability to non-local readers. I think that was the point being made with this addition.--Kotniski (talk) 09:43, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
Do we define "common names" in this policy as as "almost universal usage"? Rathere say "If there is not a common name among local national reliable English language sources then look to see if there is a international common name" -- PBS (talk) 09:55, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
I think most people understand "common name" to mean "most common name", not "almost universally used name" (otherwise the oft-repeated "use common names" mantra would make little sense in the great majority of cases considered). Hence: "If there is not a common name..." is not what we want to say.--Kotniski (talk) 10:18, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
I think it is and if there is no clear common name in local English sources then weighting is given to the name used in international English sources. -- PBS (talk) 19:29, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
By "clear common name", do you mean "obviously most common name" or "overwhelmingly most common name"? My understanding was that "Ganga" was accepted by everyone to be the most common name in local English sources, so it was "clearly" the most common, although it wasn't so overwhelmingly used in those sources as to make us feel obliged to use it. --Kotniski (talk) 08:36, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
We must also factor in WP:COMMONALITY. If one name is acceptable everywhere, then that name should be sued rather than the name that only the locals use. Also, how do we define an international topic? Football is English, but because it's classified as an international topic, the article is at Association football. Is a well-known river an international topic?

PBS... I am not sure I understand your concern re: Royal Navy, the British Army and the Royal Air Force... How are these examples a "national variety"? Even in American English, these entities are referred to by these names, and spelled the same way. There is no "variation" between nations. Blueboar (talk) 17:50, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

As I've asked several times before, it would be nice if we could get some explicit opinion on ENGVAR vs. COMMONALITY. IMO the latter obviously needs to take precedence, or we'll get articles with names that hardly anyone recognizes. — kwami (talk) 21:11, 19 February 2011 (UTC)

No, the people of the relevant country will recognize names chosen by ENGVAR; that's not hardly anybody. In fact, COMMONALITY itself leads past Fixed-wing aircraft directly to names hardly anyone will know; if it is allowed to reign unbalanced, we will have cases in 99.99% of Country A uses α; 99.99% of Country B uses β; and the remaining 00.01% use γ. COMMONALITY will support γ, even when the subject is tied to Country A. What we need is balance between both of them and plain Recognizability. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:46, 20 February 2011 (UTC)
Balance... yes... exactly. ENGVAR is a perfectly good default policy, until it conflicts with overall recognizably. The vast majority of English speakers will recognize "defense" and "defence" (or "aluminum" and "aluminium", etc.) as being the same word spelled differently (depending on national preference). Most will recognize "torch" and "flashlight" as different national variety words for the same object... However, the majority of English speakers will not recognize "Ganges" and "Ganga" as referring to the same river. Blueboar (talk) 19:14, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Actually torch is a bad example since it is rags wrapped around a stick, cover with a flammable material and lit. Vegaswikian (talk) 19:36, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
In fact, do people really think that fixed-wing aircraft is such a great example? I would far rather that article were called either "airplane" or "aeroplane", regardless of the fact that there's a national variety clash - either of the two would surely be vastly more recognizable than the alternative that's been chosen.--Kotniski (talk) 19:45, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Maybe just aircraft (yea it's ambiguous)? I'm also learning that there are a lot of terms and phrases that are used on the programming of BBC America that Americans just don't understand. I'm beginning to think that you need a copy of the OED to understand some of those shows. Vegaswikian (talk) 20:02, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
But as an article title that would include blimps (and helicopters). I am uncomfortable with changing article scope to solve dialect problems. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:50, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
I was listening to an American pod-cast, the leader of the "pod" mentioned that their next pod-cast would be in a "fortnight". The members of the pod-cast then spent 15 minutes discussing whether it was an archaic expression or still in use and some of the "pod" thought their leader was teasing them when he said it was common in British English. -- PBS (talk) 21:23, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Kotniski to answer your question: By clear common name, I simply mean the name that would be selected using the same criteria as is used when the term common name is usually applied. Obviously sometimes there can be a couple of names (or more) that are more frequently used than the rest of the herd, in which case there is no clear common name, but several common names. I do not want to try to put a percentage on precisely what is meant by "common name" or when one is clearly more common than the rest. This is because at the moment we have not defined those in the "Common names" section, so I would rather use the same criteria as we use for all naming but for the locale rather than for the set of all English language sources. BB here is an example involving more than just spelling: If we were to use all reliable English language sources "Derry" would be called "Londonderry", it is not because we defer to local sources and a local compromise. --PBS (talk) 21:23, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
I haven't looked into the percentages and google hit count in the Derry/Londonderry case (nor do I really want to), but my perspective as an American is that both "Derry" and "Londonderry" are extremely recognizable ... it is common knowledge that both names both refer to the same city. I have no problem using ENGVAR (or some other form of consensus solution) in that situation. My concern is with situations when the local version of a name is essentially unrecognizable to the bulk of the English Speaking world. Blueboar (talk) 22:45, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Like Kolkata (which we apparently use in preference to "Calcutta")?--Kotniski (talk) 08:35, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
Don't mind me, but isn't there another reason we use "Kolkata" and "Mumbai"?—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 08:44, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
No, or we would use Bengaluru. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:11, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
The article in question seems to point out that the new name has not been made official yet, so everyone still calls it "Bangalore".—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 20:17, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
The first point depends on what is "official"; it is not our business to decide whether an action of the State of Karnataka is official enough. The second point has determined our article titles. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:29, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
In balancing ENGVAR and COMMON, I like to use what I will call the "Principal of least surprise" (an implied application of the principal of Recognizably)... simply stated, if the average Wikipedia reader searches for an article on something, and ends up being surprised by the title of the article he ends up at... then we have the wrong title. To give three examples... If the average reader searches for "British Navy" and ends up at an article entitled Royal Navy, will they be surprised? (extremely unlikely). If the average reader is searching for "Bombay", and ends up at an article entitled Mumbai, will they be surprised? (Possibly, but unlikely... "Mumbai" has been used in enough news reporting about events in the city that we can expect that the average reader recognizes the name). If the average reader is searching for an article on the Ganges, and ends up at an article entitled "Ganga" will they be surprised? (very likely... few outside of India are aware of the local name). Blueboar (talk) 14:47, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
"the average Wikipedia reader" is an American so should we move tram and aluminium? The reason why Tram and Gasoline are at the name they are is because that was first usage under ENGVAR (not "Principal of least surprise"). There are too many terms which fall into this category, Utility knife (Stanley knife) Goods wagon (Freight car)--in-fact it seems to me that that nearly everything invented for transport between the US deceleration of independence and the advent of television have slightly different names. Moving articles to US terminology on "Principal of least surprise" has been rejected. So unless we are going to show a bias towards the US and the UK, I don't think you can argue against strong national ties with the "Principal of least surprise". For the consistency and for the sake of harmony in the project (and out of respect for smaller (in numbers) English Speaking counties) we should not adopt the "Principal of least surprise" over "strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation" particularly as we are only talking about a small number of non US and British titles that differ from the common international name. -- PBS (talk) 06:45, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
Not sure who's being ironic, but it's PrincipLE of least surprise.--Kotniski (talk) 06:52, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
Whoops! I was not being ironic, my spelling checker did not red-line it, so it was cut and past ("Monkey sees monkey does"). -- PBS (talk) 22:58, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

Spanish/Catalan double names

Speaking of international vs local names, I take from the fact that we don't have an article named Gdańsk/Danzig that we are opposed to doubled names. Are we? Is there a specific paragraph used to justify that?

See e.g. Talk:Elche and the move discussion at Talk:San Vicente del Raspeig. We have articles on numerous towns in Catalonia/Valencia with dual Spanish/Catalan names, some of which I've been cleaning up after naming conflicts. Do we really want to establish a convention of using Spanish/Catalan in the article names for such places, a convention which I'm sure would spread, or should we pick just one?

There seems to have been a similar problem with Spanish/Basque. I'm not familiar with how that was resolved, so never mind if this is no longer an issue. But it would probably be best to coordinate or at least notify Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Catalan-speaking Countries if we have anything to say. — kwami (talk) 21:18, 19 February 2011 (UTC)

We don't have an article named Gdańsk/Danzig, but there is the Swiss city Biel/Bienne, in a proper multilingual country.
(Is German official in the city of Gdańsk as much as Valencian is official in the Land of Valencia? Gdańsk article says: Since the 16th century, the majority of the city's inhabitants were German-speakers, who called it Danzig [ˈdantsɪç]. It doesn't say German is official there, is it? -Valencian is official, and protected by internal laws; say, Valencian Statute of Autonomy-.
I clarify dual naming tendency is more common in the Land of Valencia than in the rest of Catalan-speaking areas. I'd say most places in Catalonia and the Balearics only have one official name (in Catalan, or Occitan in Val d'Aran): Lleida, Magaluf, Andratx, Bossòst (Occitan), Vielha e Mijaran (Occitan).
Well, contrary to Catalans and Balearics, Valencian places seem to be more ambiguous with many having two official names, normally separated by a slash (e.g. Villajoyosa/La Vila Joiosa). This convention is also seen in other bilingual places and territories, e.g Biel/Bienne, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Iruña de Oca/Iruña Oka. Additionally, like Navarre, the Valencian territory is divided into traditional Valencian and Spanish-speaking areas.
IMO double names with slashes are not that bad (they shouldn't be banned), they can avoid exclusions, and linguicism.
See BOE Peníscola/Peñíscola.
I could give some suggestion to represent Valencian official placenames that haven't been adapted into English. Jɑυмe (xarrades) 02:38, 20 February 2011 (UTC)
See WP:NCGN#Multiple_local_names - and WP:LAME under Bolzano. Having double names only gives the competing linguicists a place to argue about which comes first; the point of Biel/Bienne is that it is consensus - in Wikipedia and AFAIK in Switzerland. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:49, 20 February 2011 (UTC)
Basque & Navarran municipalites use slashes and hyphens in Official names.
E.g. list of municipalities in Álava, list of municipalities in Navarre.
IMO when there is not an English exonym, we can use official forms with slashes (splitting official names) or hyphen (fusing official names -Basque Country-): Alegría-Dulantzi, is not Alegría de Álava or Dulantzi. Jɑυмe (xarrades) 04:03, 20 February 2011 (UTC)
In the Land of Valencia we know which official name comes first and second, and when the official name is only in Valencian or Spanish. In this particular case; e.g. BOE Peníscola/Peñíscola, the Valencian form comes first. In most cases, though, the Spanish form usually comes first (e.g. Villajoyosa/La Vila Joiosa, known locally and unofficially as La Vila). Jɑυмe (xarrades) 05:12, 20 February 2011 (UTC)

What are these places actually called in English? Using multiple names should not be done to settle a dispute between national or linguistic points of view; it should only be done when the double name is actually what English-speakers call the place.

Who thinks English has exonyms for all municipalities of the Land of Valencia, Navarre and Basque Country?!? It may have for main cities and towns e.g. Alicante, Valencia, Castellón, Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Pamplona, instead of bilingual/dual official names. But do you think there is an English exonym for every locality; e.g. Benitachell/El Poble Nou de Benitatxell, Torremanzanas/La Torre de les Maçanes, Iruña de Oca/Iruña Oka? I don't think so, therefore in cases when there is not an English exonym, dual naming (official names) with forward slash fits very well. Jɑυмe (xarrades) 20:31, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
There is nothing wrong with using the "official" name as an article title... what the policy says is that we should not favor "official" names over other names that are used more frequently. Blueboar (talk) 20:59, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
Then there is nothing wrong with Valencian, Basque and Navarran municipalities :) Jɑυмe (xarrades) 21:29, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

One problem I found cleaning up some of the pages by merging their page histories: WP thinks that Peníscola/Peñíscola is a subpage of Peníscola. Not knowing this, I clicked 'yes' on moving subpages, and ended up with new duplicate titles like Peníscola/Peñíscola/Peñíscola. If I clicked 'no', I'd risk stranding something. That is of course a defect in WP programing, since some official names do contain slashes, but is worth bearing in mind. — kwami (talk) 22:48, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

If duplicates can be deleted i don't think this should be a major problem (copied discussion to Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Catalan-speaking Countries). Jɑυмe (xarrades) 23:55, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
Of course. It's just a complication that needs to be considered. — kwami (talk) 02:12, 25 February 2011 (UTC)

Disambiguated Common Name vs. Formal Name

In cases where using a common name in a title must be disambiguated, is it preferable to use the subject's disambiguated common name or the formal name without need for disambiguation? (Hope that made sense!) --Blackbox77 (talk) 07:55, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

Before we answer, I just want to make sure you are not misunderstanding what we mean when we use the word "Common". We do not mean "informal" ... we mean "most frequent". We do not object to using a formal (or "official") name as an article title... we simply say that if another name is used more frequently, we should use that name instead. Does this explanation resolve your question? Blueboar (talk) 15:00, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
And generally speaking, we do seem to prefer recognizable names requiring disambiguators over less recognizable but unique names. For example, if a golfer's commonly called Reg Smith, but has the full name Reginald Martin Smith which is rarely used, we would prefer to title his article "Reg Smith (golfer)" rather than "Reginald Martin Smith" or "Reginald M. Smith". --Kotniski (talk) 15:48, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
Blueboar, I took "common" to mean "most frequent" as well but thank you for still making the point clear. And Kotniski, if what you say is true, that may be the answer to my question. So it is preferable to use a disambiguated but more frequently used name than it is to use the formal name without disambiguation? --Blackbox77 (talk) 03:22, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
Generally speaking, yes, though it's all relative - if the "formal name" (or just a name not requiring disambiguation) is practically as recognizable as the most common (but requiring disambiguation) one, then the former might still be used as a neater alternative. --Kotniski (talk) 12:33, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
Or to put it another way, if the difference in the frequency of use between the two potential titles is reasonably close, then one name is as good as the other, and editorial choice (as determined by consensus) can decide the issue. We would need to know specifics as to which article you are talking about to advise you further. Blueboar (talk) 13:17, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
But if the formal name (like Martin Luther King, Sr.) is the normal way English-speakers distinguish one notable person from another, we should use it, rather than making up a disambiguator. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:55, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

Italics for foreign phrases

I note that in the sectin Wikipedia:Article titles#Italics and other formatting, this is also applied to "foreign phrases". This is (presumably) the reason that italics were applied to e.g. Floruit and Circa (I removed it on both before checking the actual guideline). I am now wondering what is eactly intended with "phrases". Single words, like floruit and circa? Two-word combinations, like Ex nihilo (not italicized) or Sub rosa (italicized). Or longer ones, like Ex aequo et bono (not italic), Pars pro toto (not), In vino veritas (italicized) or Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (not). I would argue that certainly for things like circa, it usually doesn't get italicized, and we shouldn't be doing it either. Floruit is used both italicized and not italicized, but the latter seems to be the most frequent in current literature (e.g. [8][9][10]).

Should the part on "latin phrases" be removed, clairified, ...? Are single Latin words covered by this as well? Fram (talk) 14:46, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

I would say that we should italicise any foreign word or phrase that has not been absorbed into the English language. "Circa" and "et cetera" have but "floruit" and "exempli gratia" have not (only the abbreviations are really used). McLerristarr | Mclay1 15:39, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

name dispute - Haida Gwaii v. Queen Charlotte Islands

Rather than re-summarize what I just posted on WP:IPNA please see here. Mediation/decision needed, the paranoia and anger and accusatory invective is getting nasty (nastier even than me ;-0). Locally-official name vs. prevailing global usage is what the core issue is, though also the intent of those wanting the name change is to get Wikipedia to promote the term within the English-speaking world.Skookum1 (talk) 20:30, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

I see that there was a successful requested move to Queen Charlotte Islands a couple months ago. It doesn't seem like you want that reconsidered. What is that you are asking for here?--SaskatchewanSenator (talk) 22:24, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

ENGVAR consistency across titles

A current discussion on Talk:Windscreen wiper seems to be trending toward favoring WP:RETAIN (the principle that an article without strong national ties to its topic should retain the spelling or usage that was used when it was first created) over the principle of consistency in article titles. Specifically, windshield is at the "American" usage while windscreen wiper is at the "British" usage (other countries use one or both versions; I've assigned "American" and "British" for convenience).

To me, this is odd to say the least. I'm having trouble imagining a professional encyclopedia that doesn't standardize on one usage or the other. It makes us look amateurish to my eyes to have the differing usage across two related articles.

Am I nuts, here?

-- Powers T 15:48, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

You are not nuts... You are discussing the principle of "Consistency" (ie articles within a topic group should use consistent forms and terminology). Of the various principals we discuss in the policy, "Consistency" probably has the weakest consensus, but it does have consensus. My advice... address the issue jointly for both Windscreen wiper and Windshield. Argue that "Consistency" implies that both articles should use the same term, but leave it to consensus to determine which term they should use. Blueboar (talk) 16:23, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes, consistency would seem to apply, but then ENGVAR also applies, so people have to make up their minds which consideration matters most in this case. Personally I think it's quite cute to have inconsistent titles in cases like this - it underlines that Wikipedia is consciously not wedded to any particular national variety of English - though I can see why some people might find it annoying.--Kotniski (talk) 16:47, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
It may be "cute", but inconsistent titles make things unnecessarily difficult on readers and editors alike. Yes, redirects take care of most such issues, but not all. Powers T 18:26, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes changing windshield to windscreen would make it all much more consistent. Dmcq (talk) 19:18, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
Do you prefer that particular change versus the converse? If so, why? Powers T 19:49, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't oppose the move because I think commonality is reasonable here but I would like to point out that this is not a 'professional encyclopaedia' and I think arguments on that basis miss a very important point about Wikipedia. It is written by volunteers who spend their time writing article like 'Windscreen wiper' and they tend to look after them too. They are not quite so completely egoless as WP:OWN would exhort and need just a a tiny amount of sweeties in return and WP:ENGVAR is in effect one of them. The first to start an article gets it in their national variant. Dmcq (talk) 20:09, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
Same here... I don't care which gets used, I just think the two articles should use the same one. Blueboar (talk) 20:32, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
I think "Consistency trumps Engvar" is a dangerous slippery slope. Where would it stop? All uses of "Theater/Theatre" in titles? "Color/Colour"? No, don't go there. This is an international encyclopedia, and there will be some inconsistencies between articles. Live with it. PamD (talk) 08:07, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. The only way to truly standardize would be to choose one variety of English and always use it throughout Wikipedia, which is what most print encyclopedias do (using the variety of the country in which they are published). Wikipedia isn't tied to a particular country (at least not editorially). Consistency could be achieved, but whose? US, because its population is the highest? Hardly Wikipedia-like to use pure numbers. UK, because "English is from England"? Origin hardly makes authenticity (really, both US and UK English are evolved versions of a now-obsolete form of English that was held in common between them). Standardizing only titles hardly works; it would require standardization of all articles with said titles. So I can't support consistency in this case. Heimstern Läufer (talk) 09:05, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
It strikes me that if there are still significant numbers of nationalistically motivated editors around who actually feel aggrieved at "losing" articles to the "other" variety of English, and there aren't enough of us to convince them that it doesn't really matter, then those who feel consistency is important might propose some kind of barter system - you lot have windscreen (or windshield), and in return you other lot get airplane (or aeroplane) - that sort of thing. Though as I say, I don't consider it essential to have consistency between titles that just happen to contain the same word - windshield and windscreen wiper aren't part of a "series" of articles - I would agree it would look sillier if we had a series like windscreens in the 1930s, windshields in the 1940s etc. and those titles kept switching randomly between two forms.--Kotniski (talk) 10:13, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── The problem is what is a set? Why make a set of car parts why not the set of all vehicles and include rail transport, shipping and aircraft? If not then there are inconsistencies, what then happens with things like gasoline is it in the set of transport or oil products? Well to make sure there are no inconsistencies lets include oil products.... -- The logic of changing from consensus in articles to consensus for sets of articles leads I think inevitably to abandoning our current policy of Engvar. -- PBS (talk) 07:50, 10 March 2011 (UTC)