Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Disambiguation pages/Archive 10

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Neglected dab using generic dab templates

I am tired of me being the only one using certain dab subcategories and spinoff templates. I want to round up some Wikipedians to change from the generic {{disambig}} template to one of the spinoff templates. There are just too many generic dabs, and most dabs that fit in one of the subcats only carries the generic template. I want Wikipedians to get rid of generic dab templates for select dabs on sight! --SuperDude 04:02, 3 November 2005 (UTC)

  • Why, why do you think there are "too many generic dabs". What are you trying to accomplish? If it is just to reduce the size of the generic dab category, plenty of arguments against that being a necessary thing have been made and you are just laboring under a misapprehension that the dab category should "play by the same rules" as any other category. What are you trying to accomplish ... in concrete terms. Courtland 05:43, 3 November 2005 (UTC)
  • Dude, I think the reason nobody else is using these spinoffs is because you have not been able to convince anybody that they should. What value do they add? What problem do they solve? How do they improve things for either readers or editors of the encyclopedia? You seem to be concerned that the generic dab category is too big, but you haven't explained to anybody why its size is a problem. Some of categories you've created, such as Category:Three-letter acronym disambiguations seem like the kind of thing that if you really wanted such a list for some reason, you would be better off building it through some automated query against the SQL database. Even assuming there is value in such a list, maintaining it manually is a pointless exercise in busywork. --RoySmith 14:24, 3 November 2005 (UTC)
    • Side comment about mechanical dab categories: With all due respect, some mechanical categories, such as the TLA category, are useful; but when we get into things like 4-letter acronyms and 5-letter acryonyms and letter-number combinations, that is getting a bit too mechanical I think. The reason why categories for one-, two, and three-character terms might be useful is that they can be comprehensive; all one-character pages exist, I think all two-character pages exist, and most but not all three-character pages exist .. when you hit 4 or 5 the coverage gets miniscule and you get into the blurry area of "codes" vs. "words" where the majority of the titles denote the latter for 4 and 5 while the majority of the titles denote the former for 1, 2, and 3. I am planning myself to make use of the 1, 2, and 3 letter dab groupings for some genetics-related disambiguation (albeit after I've done some enhancement of content here) that has impact on the functioning of query interfaces that support text-input based queries as opposed to selection based ones (querying a very large database with a single letter has a lot of ways of being handled, most of which involve not allowing the query to proceed ... which is unacceptable in some contexts), so I support some of these on practical use grounds --- but by no means all or most of the new categories fall into that category of 'practically useful'. Courtland 23:58, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
    • Well, stub categories use the {{verylarge}} template and are having spinoffs being made, so why do people think dabs should be different from stubs in terms of category population control? SuperDude 03:37, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
      • Generally, Categories are for navigation - finding stuff on taxinomic basis. But dabs use the dab category to make robots easier. Noone wants to find all the ambiguous names of Gods, or ambiguous Military groupings, or ambiguous film titles. Josh Parris # 03:53, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
      • In addition, stubs are articles, and stub categories are children of article categories that are candidate lone parents for the articles after they have graduated from stub-dom; dab pages are not articles and their topical categorization is usually not of use. There are topical cases, though, where dab page groupings might make sense, such as ship names or schools or other similarly specialized terms. However, the creation of those shouldn't just be on a whim from a bold person, in my opinion, and shoudl be rare. Courtland 23:58, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
  • It's hard to subcategorize disambiguation pages precisely because they are disambiguation pages. If you find subcategories that don't lead to the same page being categorized in several subcategories of "Disambiguation", I think it's worth doing. However the main disambiguation page is likely to remain quite large. -- User:Docu
  • Well, since the dab category makes robots easier, I had a plan to accomadate both reduction and robots, just reprogram the mediawiki software to allow robots to the spinoff cats as well. (unsigned comment from anon)


The template {{2LCdisambig}} was nominated at TFD recently, the record is at Wikipedia:Templates for deletion/Log/Not deleted/November 2005#Template:2LCdisambig. No consensus was reached on whether or not to delete it, and there was considerable criticism of the current guidance to use a separate template for three-letter abbreviations but not for two-letter ones. It therefore seems a good idea to consider changing it.

One suggestion that was made was to have a {{Abbreviation disambig}} template. Personally, I dislike this, because it means creating separate disambiguation pages for abbreviations and non-abbreviations with the same spelling, differing only in capitalisation. This creates an additional overhead for users using disambiguation pages, and raises additional complications when different capitalisations of the same term are in common use. Susvolans 18:41, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

Has anyone actually found a practical use for separate 2LC or 3LA disambiguation categories? If not, let's keep it simple, and reduce the number of disambiguation templates. As Suslovans mentioned, three-letter acronyms are often but not always also three-letter words, so the template doesn't clarify. These templates all look the same, and after seeing them once or twice I doubt that anyone reads them ever again. Michael Z. 2005-11-23 19:12 Z
I too can't see any reason why abbreviations, no matter how many letters, need to be disambiguated separately, let alone have their own template. Disambiguation pages are simply tools to help users find what they're looking for - splitting disambiguation across more than one page, adding multiple templates, and the like just adds unnecessary complexity and confusion for readers and editors. Just use {{disambig}}, delete all the others. CDC (talk) 19:40, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
I agree; I don't really thing the disambig category needs any subcategories. I don't care if the well-entrenched TLA one remains, but unless there's a technical reason (beyond ease of browsing like other large cats) that Cat:Disambig should be subdivided, it just creates needless work and clutter. — Catherine\talk 20:26, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
{{Abbreviation disambig}} was my suggestion, and it makes sense if we're to keep {{TLAdisambig}} - i.e. why get rid of one without getting rid of the other? To be honest I wasn't thinking of the whole abrev/no-abrev capitalisation issue - it's the same difference really... Thanks/wangi
I can see one reason for being able to quickly identify all 2-letter or 3-letter abbreviations. Suppose a print version is being made, it might make a lot of sense to handle these articles in a consistent way, somehow differently from how other disambiguation pages are handled. Maybe one would want to collect 2LCs and 3LAs beginning with 'A', and print them all on a page together, or something. It would also be a way to be consistent about such pages; for example, why are some 2LC pages titled "XX" and others are titled "Xx"? It would be much easier to make that consistent, if all 2LCdisambigs could be found in one category somewhere. -GTBacchus(talk) 01:28, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
If I really wanted to make a set of disambiguation pages whose titles consisted of 2 or 3 letters starting with 'A', I'd start with the set of articles in the category "Disambiguation" and write some kind of script to process the titles programatically. That's the real heart of the problem here -- TLA, 2LC, etc, are all categories whose members can (and should be) be defined by purely mechanical means. If it really was important to find all the 2LC dab titles (for some reason which I can't imagine, but for the sake of argument I'm willing to consider might exist), you would be foolish to trust some human-maintained category to be correct and complete. Imagine if I came along and said to you, "You know, someday somebody may want to find a list of all filenames on your computer which are three letters long, so every time you make a filename which is three letters long, I want you to add its name to this list here". If you had any sense, you'd tell me I was daft and write me a quick perl script to do the job. --RoySmith 02:16, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
Well... I can't disagree with that. I've run into these disambiguation categories, and never knew quite what they were for, but apparently, it has to do with making it easier to fork and print and that sort of thing. If it really is just a case of instruction creep, then let's just have {{disambig}} and {{disambig-cleanup}} (surely it's got a use), and get rid of all the others. If any categorization scheme has no real use, it won't catch on, and then it's inconsistently applied, and therefore useless, so let's be rid of it.
So is the status that we're lacking an answer to Catherine's "unless there's a technical reason that Cat:Disambig should be subdivided,..."? I guess I think of a print version. If we were designing such a thing, would we want to handle all disambiguation pages equally, or deal with some in one way, and others in some other way? I imagine you'd want to exclude some, keep some, reinterpret some, etc. Is that a useful enough ground on which to split the category, and what would that look like? -GTBacchus(talk) 04:18, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
I agree that the only dab templates should be {{disambig}} and {{disambig-cleanup}}. If you need to subdivide the cat, do it alphabetically, with a bot. --Commander Keane 05:32, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

A comment: If you are going to get rid of all the dab templates except for {{disambig}} and {{disambig-cleanup}}, that means that most of the dab articles are going to dumped into Category:Disambiguation. I don't know if anything has changed with the last MediaWiki update, but I know that very large categories (<1,000?) such as the old Category:stub were causing a significant hit on server performance. Before any decisions are made, you should find out the current size of Category:Disambiguation, and then talk to the m:developers and ask their advice.

A question: Does getting rid of everything but {{disambig}} and {{disambig-cleanup}} mean that there are plans to get rid of {{geodis}}? BlankVerse 10:57, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

Oh, my. Yes, it should be eliminated. I didn't even realize that had sprung up. --RoySmith 19:25, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

{{4LA}} and {{5LA}} certainly need to be considered in this discussion too. Plus what happens to the other disambiguation sub-categories? Thanks/wangi 11:15, 24 November 2005 (UTC).

I can't find any documentation saying that large categories are a problem. Please explain. —Wahoofive (talk) 17:27, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
Judging by Template talk:disambig, it seems to have been why categories were changed to be reported 200 at a time, but that has been in place for a year now. Susvolans 08:38, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
I can't remember where it was discussed, but the problem with large categories was the reason that the stub category was removed from the {{stub}} template around the same time the Stub-sorting WikiProject was started.
I asked developer Ævar about this on his talk page -- copying his answer here:
Also, at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (disambiguation pages)#Abbreviations, we've been discussing whether to provide sub-categories for Category:Disambiguation. Are there any performance reasons that this very large category should be divided? Most feel that sub-division is unhelpful, since this is not a reader-oriented category, but it would affect our decision if there are any technical complications to leaving everything in a single massive category. Your opinion would be valuable. Thank you very much! — Catherine\talk 16:52, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
Since paging was introduced for categories having many items in them is not taxing on the servers, so no. —Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 18:50, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
[end quote]

My personal opinion is that I do not want to see {{geodis}} deprecated. If for no other reason, I have a project in my personal todo list that has to do with geographic disambiguation pages, and I'd rather not have to go looking for them hidden among the v-e-r-y l-a-r-g-e disambiguation category. BlankVerse 18:36, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
Just out of curiosity, what's the project? --RoySmith 18:43, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
I want to create a template to go in an External links section that would be something like the template for displaying map and satellite images from Google, etc., but it would be for connecting to a number of the different geographic nameservers on the internet. BlankVerse 19:00, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
OK, noting the comments at Template talk:geodis, should or shouldn’t Aida (disambiguation) be tagged with {{geodis}}? Susvolans 10:57, 27 November 2005 (UTC)
It sounds like an interesting project, but this is the wrong way to go about doing it. What you want is some way to identify all articles which mention geographic locations. Putting a {{geodis}} tag on a dab page only identifies those disambig pages which are about locations, which is a very small subset of articles which are about locations, and an even smaller subset of articles which contain mentions of locations. I think this is a symptom of a larger problem. There is no doubt that catagorization is a good thing, but trying to turn {{tl}disambig}} tags or {{stub}} tags into a general scaffolding on which to categorize the entire world is insane. They are orthogonal concepts. {{disambig}} and {{stub}} describe an article in a structural way -- it's a navigation tool for picking between things with similar names, or it's a very short article which needs expanding. Neither of these have anything to do with what the article is about. --RoySmith 13:41, 27 November 2005 (UTC)
Roy's right, and it's especially true for dab pages, which are often (in fact, usually) about many different subjects; that's the whole point. Many dab pages have some geographical links and some non-geographical links. There's no way to categorize them by topic. —Wahoofive (talk) 16:23, 27 November 2005 (UTC)
Don’t forget {{coor}} if you’re thinking of something like that. Susvolans 10:56, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
I've been away for a few days--I just want to chime in in support of keeping the number of disambig templates and categories to a minimum -- {{disambig}} and {{disambig-cleanup}} are the only ones I see as really necessary. And I also agree with the comments of Wahoofive and RoySmith regarding {{geodis}}.

Personally, I think some of the categories included in the templates (e.g. {{TLAdisambig}}), {{2LCdisambig}}) make distinct subsets of disambiguation pages, that may be worth looking at separatley. As categories provide an easy way of to go through them, we should use them. Not sure what would be the inconvenience to other editors of having such templates or categories. If one wants a exhaustive main (Category:Disambiguation), just put that category on the templates as well. -- User:Docu

In the end, I agree with Docu -- no harm in having more than one category on the template. Although I must say, I personally dislike having the differences in the text of the template: "This human name disambiguation etc." -- I don't think readers care about that, and I prefer the simple, uniform look. Any reason we couldn't have different templates with identical text, just adding different sub-categories? Or (gasp) add the sub-categories by hand? It's no harder than changing a template. Come to think of it, even better would be to add these editor-oriented subcategories on the Talk pages instead. — Catherine\talk 23:21, 3 December 2005 (UTC)


Someone just went through and added a period to the end of each entry on Venus (disambiguation), where before, there had been a mix of periods and non-periods. I was about to go through and take them all out, citing this page as a guideline, but discovered there is nothing on here about that. The examples here consistently lack periods, but nothing is explicitly stated one way or the other. Shall we add something about it? —Wahoofive (talk) 17:45, 25 November 2005 (UTC)

I've seen many instances of period-augmenting and period-purging on dab pages. In extreme cases, there's even been punctuation revert wars. It's a silly waste of time. My personal preference is to have periods, but in the scheme of things, it's really just a matter of style and rather arbitrary which way we go. More important that we have one style and stick with it. Let's pick one, add it to the MoS, and then at least everybody will do it the same way. In the interest of being bold, and with nebulous authority to do so, I hereby declare a vote (Wahoo, I hope you don't mind that I voted for you). Voting ends 0000 UTC 3 December 2005 (a week from now, more or less).
  • Entries should end with a period.
  1. RoySmith 18:09, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
  • Entries should not have a period after them
  1. Wahoofive (talk)
  2. Yes.--Commander Keane 17:54, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
  3. RoySmith 19:20, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
  4. Catherine\talk 19:51, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
  5. jiy (talk) 21:12, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
  6. Support. However, there is another option that I think looks nicer: End all entries with a semicolon except for the last, which gets a period. This makes the disambiguation page read as one fluid sentence. However, I've tried this in the past, and it tends to get shot the instant someone else adds an entry to the page. I thus support the easier of the two presented options. --BrianSmithson 12:51, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

Sorry Wahoofive, not wanting to piss on your fire or anything but doesn't Help:List#Title of list cover this (it is linked to under Other guidance in the infobox on WP:MOS)? I'd certainly agree with that - if it's a sentence put a full stop, if it's a fragment don't. I know it refers to here, and there's nothing here about it... But the examples here without periods are all sentence fragments. (oh, and Commander Keane I reformated your vote a bit - that is whate you voted for, yeah?) Thanks/wangi 18:47, 25 November 2005 (UTC)

When I voted for ending with a period, I was unaware of the existance of Help:List#Title of list. I agree with wangi that it does cover the current situation, and in fact at this point I'd say the vote I began is probably moot since it's already dealt with. Wikipedia:Manual of Style (disambiguation pages) should just cite Help:List#Title of list. --RoySmith 19:20, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
Here is what that guideline says: "As a matter of style, list items should start with a capital letter. They should not have a punctuation mark such as a period, a comma or a semi-colon at the end, except if a list item is one or more full sentences, in which case there is a period at the end. (However, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (disambiguation pages) for information pertaining specifically to lists on disambiguation pages.)"
I think that is a perfectly sensible solution. We might want to strike or at least modify the last sentence (in parentheses) so we don't have each page defer to the other. Jonathunder 19:47, 25 November 2005 (UTC)

Seems like the problem has now evaporated. —Wahoofive (talk) 01:12, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

But will a disambiguation page ever have full sentences for an entry? It seems that a dab is a special case of the rules at Help:List where every entry will be a fragment. Seems we should write here that entries should not have terminal puncuation, which conforms to the rules at Help:List, and keeps all of the dab guidelines in one place. --BrianSmithson 12:58, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

Order in structure

First I must confess, though you probably don't want to hear this, that I sincerely believe to belong to a silent minority of contributors and -ultimately most important- readers failing to see (we may be wrong in some respects) much point in strictly formal rules into apparently excessive detail for what is in terms of content nothing else then a multiple choice: which link(s) does the reader need to follow to read about the subject he's looking for.

This being said, I dare insist that when you do apply the ton of rules, please DO NOT undo the structured order, which I seem to read to be perfectly within your guidelines: grouping similar meanings, such as within one discipline. I often found this got completely destroyed in the course of a formal(istic) overhaul - the consequence being that content-focussed Wikipedians like me are likely to undo your work, without knowing your other rules or caring much for them - thus we are likely to keep making each-other miserable needlessly.

Meanwhile if you keep the grouping principle intact (overhauling all the bullets and typefaces etc. you see fault in), the disambiguating remains far more functional (the reader sees immediately which meanings to choose from) and your work is less likely to be undone. A win-win, save every time, I hope you can agree. Fastifex 21:16, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

As a longtime member of this project, I agree strongly. While this guide provides suggestions for order and grouping, they are intentionally flexible; the primary consideration must be convenience for the reader. Please alert WikiProject Disambiguation if you find someone is editing dab pages clumsily and claiming this guideline as a basis. —Wahoofive (talk) 21:43, 26 November 2005 (UTC)
I share your views in some ways and don't in others; it depends which ones you're talking about.
The guidelines listed on this page in the entry types section are rather elaborate; they are actually intended to keep dab pages as simple as possible! The convention of not piping links, for example, is there in order to help the reader make his decision quickly. We discourage writing anything more than a place name for a place to reduce the amount of text on the page (which slows down the reader). These parts, I assure you, have a purpose — we try to make things easier for the reader.
The guidelines for order are much more flexible and, in fact, will have to be applied with elasticity in most (if not all) cases. Of course, when someone edits a dab page to conform to this manual, the result must always be better than how it started — if it turns out worse then the editor did not judge properly. The order suggested here should not be followed foolishly, just roughly.
The biggest change in dab pages when I edit them, I find, is that I shorten most or all of the descriptions — again, this is to reduce text, on the principle that someone that arrives at a dab page doesn't need an in-depth explanation of the subject she is looking for, just a simple description is sufficient. Most other aspects of this manual are already adhered to (the manual was designed to reflect both current and ideal practice.)
That's how I see it — if you have further concerns regarding all this, then feel free to bring them up. But please know that everything here has a reason. Neonumbers

unwikify + delete dictionary like meanings?

I saw at least one wikipedian unwikifying most of the links (or all except one per article). I reverted. See Additional some entries classified by the user as dictionary-like where removed. Because there are no articles for them, the meaning is completly removed. Any comments? Tobias Conradi (Talk) 17:03, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Tedernst was removing links to things that aren’t called AM. Disambiguation pages are meant to link to things that are. Susvolans 17:19, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
if it contained other things, then maybe it's just not simple dab page but a mixture of a dab page and article page? Tobias Conradi (Talk) 18:13, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
Before the AM example started to be cleaned up, it had about twenty-five links which disambiguated "AM", and about thirty-one links to other things. A disambiguation page is not encyclopedic content or an exploration page—every one of those extra links dilutes its function as the quickest route to the article the reader was going to. In this case the page had more noise than signal.
Remember that a disambiguation page is ideally never seen, if all links go directly to the articles they mean to go to. Seeing a disambiguation page is essentially a failure of the interface which turns a link-click from a 1/2-second operation into a five-second task, and we want the reader to be able to locate that one link and move on as quickly as possible. Any additional information at all just distracts from the task at hand. If there is something interesting to say about AM, then it belongs in the destination article, and not in this interface element. Michael Z. 2005-12-2 17:33 Z
I've cleaned that page up. Compare the old version to this relatively neat list of links. I also disambiguated all links pointing to this page from articles (see the page's what links here). The only links from articles are generic "two-letter combination" links (there are also links from discussion, Wikipedia documentation, user pages, and meta-pages, but those may not be encyclopedic links). In theory, if someone is looking for one of the linked articles, they should never see this disambiguation page anyway. Michael Z. 2005-12-2 19:14 Z
Guess what... AM is back to its messy old state... wangi 17:51, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
It's not you ignorant guy! Tobias Conradi (Talk) 18:10, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Pages with abbreviations are bit different from standard dab pages, as the generally need to mention the context an abbreviation is used in. -- User:Docu

seconded Tobias Conradi (Talk) 14:05, 8 December 2005 (UTC)


We've gone around and around in circles on the Congo page. Anyone else want to try? Tedernst | talk 21:52, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Interesting crowd that hangs out on Congo. I made what I thought were some reasonably conservative changes and got called a "style-guide fascist" :-) --RoySmith 18:27, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Template advisory for dab pages that don't follow these guidelines?

Has anyone made a template which advises people that a dab page doesn't adhere to these style guidelines? Among other things, people could then be directed to discuss the guidelines on that article's talk page instead of here. It could also advise that more entries exist and someone with more time should look into it (e.g., Taylor which is missing the various Bobs and Bobbys and doesn't link to the Robert dab and probably has many more omissions). wknight94 15:20, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

I think what you want is {{disambig-cleanup}}, which also puts the article in Category:Disambiguation pages in need of cleanup, which is trolled by people willing to help fix these pages up. --RoySmith 16:23, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
I think you are correct! wknight94 17:17, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
I hope fixing does not mean unwikifing everything that does not fit the idea of the dab-crew here. Tobias Conradi (Talk) 18:34, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

whats on a dab page

  • links to dabbed articles
  • alternative: link to the closest related item if no article exists
  • explanation with comma, stating where the item belongs to
    • larger topic, geographic region...
  • explanation in brackets
    • especially for 2LAs + TLAs etc citing code sources
  • ...

Maybe this structuring helps to understand the dab texts better. Tobias Conradi (Talk) 17:03, 5 December 2005 (UTC)