Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Disambiguation pages/Archive 15

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Is Grosse Pointe a dab page or something else?

Given the recent discussions, I wonder where opinions will lie regarding Grosse Pointe. It obviously departs considerably from the MOS. I think I originally created this as a simple dab page, but it has accumulated a lot of information since then, that is pretty much all directly relevent to the topic. This term may be somewhat unique in that all of the uses of the term are really tied to a single geographic area. Perhaps this should remain as an article and a separate Grosse Pointe (disambiguation) be set up that conforms more closely to the MOS? olderwiser 22:01, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

Not a dab page. Unlike real dab pages all the meanings are closely related. Most of the information on the page could refer to any of the meanings. I'd suggest taking off the disambig template and, if desired, reorganizing it (although there's no rule that a non-dab page can't resemble a dab). —Wahoofive (talk) 22:50, 4 January 2006 (UTC)
Speaking as a Michigander familar with the area, Grosse Pointe should be the main article, with the usual disambiguation link. Don't forget Wikipedia:summary style.
--William Allen Simpson 04:10, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

Italicizing and bolding subject in leading line

Lately, I've noticed somebody changing the "Thing may ..." to "Thing may ..." with an edit summary of "When writing about a word rather than using it to write about what it refers to, italicize it." Certainly this is contrary to this MoS, and all of its examples. What should be done?

--William Allen Simpson 05:12, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

Bold is just as appropriate as italic for this kind of emphasis. Gdr 21:38, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

I don't think the italics rule can be applied here. While it could be argued that the "sentence" is about the word, it would still seem logical to me to leave it unitalicised (unless it is, and is nothing but, the name of a book/album/ship etc.) Hence, it would seem acceptable to me to leave a note on his/her talk page and revert those changes (checking briefly that they are not, and are not nothing but, the name of a book/album/ship etc.) Neonumbers 10:08, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

Don't be too hard on him/her. After all, the MoS says "Use italics when writing about words as words", and does not specifically say not to italicize in leading lines of disambig pages, although the examples in MoS:DP do not use italics. It may be a good idea to change MoS:DP to discourage the use of italics in leading lines except for book/album/ship/play/film/train. Chris the speller 16:00, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

Whoops, sorry — I was meant to include a note saying not to be too hard on them (or say it nicely with a comforting smile, or something like that) — well, yea, you get the idea. Neonumbers 05:42, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
Clarifications done.
--William Allen Simpson 18:01, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

What to include on a dab page

After reading through Wikipedia:Disambiguation referenced in the above discussion #Parallel policy, I found a section which seems to contradict the way many dab pages are being created (from Wikipedia:Disambiguation#Examples):

On a page called Title, generally do not disambiguate:

  • Title County
  • Title City
  • Title Hospital
  • Title University

You may want to disambiguate on the same page:

  • TITLE and Title
  • Title town and Title township

"Title Island", "Title River" or "River Title" may be worth listing in cases where the "Island"/"River" part is often omitted.

In most cases, do not list names of which Title is a part, unless the persons are very frequently referred to simply by their first or last name (e.g. Galileo, Shakespeare).

Take Morgan for example. There are many people who aren't "frequently referred to simply by" the name 'Morgan'. There are two 'Morgan City' and eleven 'Morgan County' listings as well as other 'Morgan Things'. And there are also things which really aren't Morgans: Morganton, Morganville, Morgantown. —Mike 07:38, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

Morgan County, Morganton, Morgantown, Morganville etc are all just contractions of "Morgan" and "town", really. It wouldn't suprise me at all it they were called Morgan locally. Thanks/wangi 13:53, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

I think the guidelines should allow a bit more latitude for inclusion of people under their surname. It is common for scientists, philosophers, politicians, writers etc etc to be referred to by their surnames only. Anyone who's imported a 1911EB article will recognise the problem of decoding the many surname references, and good disambiguation pages can be very helpful here. Here's a randomly selected example:

In the later years of Lord Liverpool's administration, after the death of Lord Londonderry in 1822, strong dissensions existed in the cabinet. The Liberal section of the government was gaining ground. Canning became foreign minister and leader of the House of Commons. Huskisson began to advocate and apply the doctrines of free trade. Roman Catholic emancipation was made an open question. Although Lord Palmerston was not in the cabinet, he cordially supported the measures of Canning and his friends.

Let's see how well we do:

So that's one and a half out of five, which is pretty poor. It seems to me that this is exactly the question people turn to encyclopedias for ("this article talked about a Huskisson who was in the British government in the 1820s: who was he?") and our disambiguation page guidelines should be aimed at helping these people. Gdr 22:02, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

I see your point, although not all your examples require a change in policy. We could have dab page for titles like Lord Londonderry without a change in policy. Same for Lord Liverpool. The Palmerston page can be updated with correct dates without a change in policy. If you do a search [1] for "Huskisson" (rather than clicking go) William is the second entry. That leaves Canning, to which I can make no response. You might be on to something there. —Wahoofive (talk) 23:00, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

Ship index pages

I changed about 1,200 ship index pages to use the {{shipindex}} template instead of {{disambig}}. Hopefully this means that enthusiastic editors will no longer try to "fix" them. However, there are no doubt many other ship index pages I missed; if you spot them, please make the appropriate change. Gdr 22:23, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

Nice work. A round of applause is due for a wikipedian who fixed a large problem instead of just complaining, arguing, insulting. I will be glad to look for any articles that Gdr may have missed. I don't know all the ins and outs of having id="disambig" in the shipindex template, either. You might want to take another look at that. Chris the speller 16:29, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

Following up on my promise of assistance, I have swept the oceans clear of British, Dutch and Norwegian ship index pages still tagged as disambig, dab or Disambiguation (by hand, about 40). I will continue with Australia and Canada. Haven't looked at USS yet. Any other prefixes to check? Chris the speller 17:55, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

Should USCG cutters have disambig or shipindex? There are only three that I could find, after much digging: USCGC Mackinaw, USCGC Triton, USCGC Vigilant. I finished Australia and Canada. Chris the speller 19:41, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes, please. --William Allen Simpson 22:53, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, but it was not a yes-or-no question   :-)   Chris the speller 00:51, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
I know, but I looked and saw that you had already put disambig, and assumed you just needed encouragement, rather than actual help. Shipindex works fine, too ;-)
--William Allen Simpson 03:44, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

I think {{shipindex}} makes a lot of sense. I took a look at HMS Hood. This lists three warships with the same name, named after the same family, in the same navy. It seems reasonable that anybody interested in one of them will have some interest in the others, so putting the additional background info in the article is useful. On the other hand, Hood is a classic dab page (which I've just cleaned up a bit). The subject matter in Hood ranges all over the map. It is unlikely that somebody who was looking for Clitoral hood would care much about secretary of state for Florida, or british warships, or that somebody looking for the army post wants info about software engineering. So, short and sweet makes sense here. -- RoySmith (talk) 22:26, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

Agreed that true disambig pages should be short and sweet, with "hood" pointing to the ship index page "HMS Hood", "Essex (disambiguation)" pointing to ship index page "USS Essex", so the ship index pages can be as inflated as they like. Chris the speller 00:51, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

I've been lurking on the discussion of ship dabs, watching it with interest. Initially, I felt that I was firmly in Ceyockey's camp: that the guidelines for dab pages were well established, and that the ship pages should probably come more or less into line with the MOSDAB. However, gdr's eloquent description of shipindex convinced me: he argued that these articles weren't dabs, but "capsule histories of the use of a ship name in the navy." This sounded like an intriguing and neat idea.

Unfortunately, my review of the articles produced to date hasn't convinced me that this description is being realized. I expected articles that really described the history of the name: how and why the name was introduced, the fate of the ships, why another ship was commissioned with the same name, differences and improvements between subsequent generations of the same name, who led the movement to reuse the name, whether the distinctions of one ship's performance added prestige to the name, etc.

Sadly, though, what I see in actuality is a very brief description of the name's origin followed by a list of ships. These lists, IMHO, have a generally appropriate amount of information to help a reader identify the correct article, but far too many links. They are essentially overlinked dabs, not capsule histories. If I could turn back the clock on this decision, I would vote that these pages use the disambig template, that the same amount of information be given for each ship, that the amount of linking be reduced, and that these pages should break the MOSDAB guidelines only slightly in order to explain the origin of the ship name.

These comments are offered with the greatest respect for the various individuals who have labored earnestly to come to a consensus decision. dpotter 01:36, 9 January 2006 (UTC)


I have to disagree, Dpotter; in my opinion, the consensus decision was correct (and kudos to those who came to the decision gracefully). I agree that there's much more that could be done with the ship index pages, and your description of an ideal one is inspiring, but the answer is {{sofixit}} (or allow others time to fix it now that the guidelines have changed), not to try to reduce an essentially different type of page to the brevity that good disambiguation requires. — Catherine\talk 02:03, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
Allow me to echo Catherine's kudos to those who amicably and resolutely participated in defining this solution. I'll be interested to see whether, in the long run, these pages actually become a "different type of page," or whether they remain glorified dabs. I am hopeful. Jinian's point below is well-taken: this solution is yet young, and no doubt these pages have not yet had the opportunity to grow into their potential. dpotter 03:42, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
As someone who writes a fair number of ship index articles, I'll have to say that what Dpotter says is true. The articles don't include much additional information. Not because we couldn't or shouldn't do this, but because they were disambig pages - at the time. Now that they are shipindex pages, I'll work at including the information Dpotter is looking for. Jinian 01:48, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

I am one who has ripped out beautiful prose from the ship articles in the name if disambig-fixing, so I think that's the answer. Now they are all set to make Dpotter's dream a reality, and maybe he will want to join them. See the talk page for WP:Ships to see how many are in favor of the new template. Chris the speller 02:12, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Why are you edit warring this page?

Ok, so User:Uncle G keeps editing the page to change "XYZ may mean:" and "ABC may refer to:" to be consistent as "XYZ may be:" and "ABC may be:", and then others keep changing it back. Why has this been reverted back and forth 3 times without anyone posting to the talk page? Uncle G's desire for consistency makes sense to me, whether or not the guide to writing better articles is invoked - what's the argument for inconsistency? -GTBacchus(talk) 02:22, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

  • Where to start? Although Uncle G has stopped citing it, when he began making these edits, his edit summaries linked to Wikipedia:Guide to writing better articles as justification. However, that explicitly states This article does not offer advice on lists, disambiguation pages, or images. See Wikipedia:Lists, Wikipedia:Disambiguation and Wikipedia:Picture tutorial. In disambiguation articles, I think it is rather stilted English to say "Foo is" followed by a list of alternate entries. In the context of disambiguation, the user has arrived at the disambiguation page because the precise reference was incorrectly linked. However, we as editors do not know in advance what the reference "is". It is quite appropriate (and produces more grammatical English construct) to say something like "Foo may refer to". olderwiser 02:38, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Far from not posting to talk pages, I began a talk page discussion of this four months ago, on Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Disambiguation#.22refers_to.22, to a resounding silence. Once again: Using "refers to" puts encyclopaedia articles on the wrong side of the use-mention distinction. Encyclopaedia articles don't tell readers what their titles refer to. They tell readers what their titles are. Disambiguation articles, in particular, don't tell readers what words or phrases refer to. That way lies dictionary articles. "Refers to" and "means" encourage the growth of dictionary articles, exactly what we don't want. Uncle G 02:50, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

"Resounding silence" is a strange way to refer to this lengthy debate — the topic was moved to this page after Uncle G introduced it on the WP:D page. —Wahoofive (talk) 05:16, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Sorry, but invoking use-mention distinction in this context is pedantry on steroids. Dab pages are not typical articles. Dab pages are primarily aids to help users find the correct article. To say "Foo is" following by a list of alternate options is simply stilted English. It is perfectly correct in the context of a disambiguation page to say "Foo may refer to" followed by a list of options. It is extremely rare that we can say with certainty that the list of options is comprehensive. Hence the qualification "may" is much more appropriate than baldly asserting certainty with "is". olderwiser 03:02, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia:Guide to writing better articles and this manual aren't meant to be consistent. Disambiguation pages are not articles, full stop. In fact, it even explicitly specifically says it doesn't apply to disambiguation pages, for that very reason.
    1. Disambiguation pages aren't meant to teach. I don't care if Mercury can be a planet or some space mission, I just want to learn about the chemical element. It's not the job of disambiguation pages to educate.
    2. Rather, it is the job of disambiguation pages to point the user to the page he wants; this is a job "refers to" works fine for. So while I support the use of "be" rather than "refers to" in articles, for disambiguation pages which have a totally different purpose, "This can refer to:", to show different options, can work fine.
    3. Arguably, disambigation pages have to shift a bit towards dictionaries in order to fulfil their purpose. While flat out dicdefs are inappropriate, we provide a short description of the different options' natures. Neonumbers 03:21, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Thanks for coming to the talk page, Uncle G. I wasn't a wikipedian 4 months ago, and sure as heck wasn't a dismabig-fixer then, so don't be surprised that some of us missed that exchange of opinions. I have heard both sides, and feel much of the style for articles does not apply to disambig pages. We just had a clarification of the use of italics in the leading line, and apparently use-mention does not apply there in the same way it does in an article. Another reason - look at The Birds. Sure, the film and play should be in italics, and the short story should be in quotes. But would it allow the reader's eye to scan down the list any better, or would it interfere? Italics and quotes are good for setting terms off from surrounding text, but are not pretty in a list. The disambig page should be a tool to help the reader, not a battleground. Why not put a proposal up for a vote? Chris the speller 03:19, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Likewise, I was an anonymous IP editor for about 3 years whenever I found a serious error in a Google search, but not bothered to actually signup until recently, and I just followed the guidelines here as written. Now that I'm trying to follow such discussions, it would help to see the options being proposed, rather than revert wars. I can be as pendantic as anybody, I've worked as a professional in the field, and have to say I'm agnostic on the choices I've seen here so far....
--William Allen Simpson 03:51, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
Saying "foo is" is far more eloquent than "foo may refer to". Bensaccount 05:00, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
Eloquence, like Beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. The "Foo is" construction for a disambig page is to me stilted English and is technically inaccurate because "Foo" is NOT the list that follows; the term Foo (indicated by bolding) might refer to any of the items in the list. olderwiser 13:33, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
Don't confuse things. With either variation you have to say "any of the following". "Foo is any of the following:" "Foo may refer to any of the following:". Eloquence is not only in the eye of the beholder. There are certain ways of saying things which are inherently more eloquent. Bensaccount 17:36, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
There are certain ways of saying things which are inherently more eloquent. What theory of language is this from? Eloquance is a very highly context-dependent phenomena. The eloquence of one generation induces snores or inappropriate laughter in later generations. Those paragons of eloquance that remain highly regarded for longer periods of time are appreciated because the situation they addressed has remained significant enough to be meaningful. For example, the eloquance of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, or the Declaration of Independence, or MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech are all appreciated because of the uniquely moving way they addressed circumstances that are still important to many people. For those not familiar with the context in which Lincoln or MLK spoke, or the exigence of the situation around the Declaration, those persons would most likely not find those texts particularly eloquant. Invoking eloquance as a deciding factor in the choice between "is" or "may refer to" is laughable.
In the context of a diambiguation page, saying "Foo is" followed by a list of entries is stilted English and is not entirely accurate. If you find that to be eloquant, that is your perogative, but don't make some ridiculous appeal to it being inherently eloquant. olderwiser 22:22, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
  • There is no need for "any of the following", as the colon already implies that a list follows. Besides, "Foo may refer to:" the following, or to something that is not yet in Wikipedia, or to an article that has been created but not yet added to the disambig page. In the same way, "Foo is:" makes a claim to completeness that may not be justified. Has any reader ever failed to find the correct article because the leading line was "Foo may refer to:" and lacked the words "any of the following"? I think not. Has any reader ever failed to find the correct article because a number of editors were warring over unimportant words instead of fixing the disambig pages? You betcha. If there is a needed change to the MoS that will help the editors produce disambig pages that will really help the readers on their merry ways, please discuss it. OK, everybody, break's over, get back to work! Chris the speller 18:07, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
Do you know what a double standard is? Bensaccount 20:29, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
And your point is ... ? olderwiser 22:22, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
  • To be honest, I do find the overall number of variants to be a bit annoying (and there are many more out there than listed in MoS:DP), and I'd be interested in limiting to fewer. However, "is" isn't it. Maybe I'm not opposed to "X may be" and "X may also be" — "X could be:" and "X could also be:" could be OK.
--William Allen Simpson 09:58, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

Place names

I've sometimes added a country to the end of a place name, judging case by case where appropriate. This is normally appropriate in pages where you have a couple of places from (say) Australia, a few from United States, others here and there; basically, where I reckon the country would help the user. The entry looks like this:

The country is not linked because it doesn't need to be (on a dab page).

Would it be worth including note saying, it might be appropriate to add countries, that are not linked, to the end of place names where appropriate? (possibly a broad definition of "appropriate", e.g. where there are just a few place names each of different countries? Neonumbers 11:14, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Anyone? Neonumbers 09:57, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes, of course. olderwiser 13:14, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
I agree that it would be worthwhile to add such a note. I have often added country names as context in article introductions. Is there any exception for U.S. states or Canadian provinces? Should "Fooville, California" be followed by U.S. or U.S.A or USA? Few English-speaking readers would be stymied by the location of New York or Quebec, but Nunavut might throw a few people off course. Chris the speller 16:20, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
This is why Neo's suggestion of "appropriate" is, well, appropriate. We'd like to trust editors' judgment. I'm not convinced myself that it's necessary to add this, because the guideline already allows additional words for description, and only says that in place names, the article title "may" be sufficient (i.e. it may not be). But in any case, don't try to define "appropriate". —Wahoofive (talk) 18:00, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
If, for example, each and every place name on that page is in the United States, then there's no point adding "United States" to the end of each one (btw, I add "United States" rather than "U.S.".) If you have 20 U.S. places and 1 from England, one from China, then you'd do that for England and China but for the U.S. ones you'd just go, "In the United States:" as an extra lead line and then just list the article names.
I'll add the note, with one example, and not define "appropriate". Thanks, all. Neonumbers 01:09, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

Misspellings, the "Foo (dab)" redirects and the see also section

Take a look at Kimberley and Kimberly. As you do, I listed each in the other's "see also" section, them being common misspellings of each other. And then I realised that, to make life easier for link-sorting editors, I should create Kimberley (disambiguation) and Kimberly (disambiguation) and link to them instead. Now, because I know that those (disambiguation) pages are redirects (being the one who created them), I piped the links, so the see also section says, [[Kimberly (disambiguation)|Kimberly]], in line with the principle that the link's name should be the page's name.

First question: do you think this was the best option?

Second question: if so, should

  1. "if you link to a generic topic disambiguation page, remember to link to (and create if necessary) 'Foo (disambiguation)' which is a redirect to 'Foo', in order to sort ambiguous links from intentional"; and
  2. "pipe the link so that the piped link is the same as the page, e.g. '[[Kimberly (disambiguation)|Kimberly]]'"

be added to the "see also section" section of the manual? Neonumbers 09:53, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

I think what you have done is best practice. However, even though I know what you are talking about, it's probably a little to specific and complicated to go in this style guideline.--Commander Keane 10:07, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
The page on redirects mentions this use already. BTW I wouldn't pipe "(disambiguation)" as this describes the page you are linking to. -- User:Docu

When there are two similar spellings like this, I think it's best practice to disambiguate both on the same page. It must be extremely common for someone to type "Kimberly" when they were looking for "Kimberley" and vice versa. (And in some cases the two spellings are alternatives.) It would be wrong to force the reader who is uncertain of the spelling to look through two pages. Gdr 14:44, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

If Commander Keane describes your process as too complicated for the MoS, will the next editor know how to maintain it? Perhaps we should at least suggest going to WP:R and reading about Reason "Facilitate disambiguation". A clever editor might figure it out from there. Is it important to add the template ((R to disambiguation page)) to "Kimberly (disambiguation)"? I agree with Gdr that two names with such close spellings are probably best combined. Chris the speller 17:09, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
  1. It's best practice, and it should be written down. I've just added something similar to "Generic topics" section on the other page.
  2. Since this is on the disambiguation page in the "See also" section, I'd follow the usual rules and not pipe (per Docu).
  3. I disagree that both should be on the same page. Way too cluttered, not actually mispellings. I prefer distinguished names in distinguished spaces. But then, I'm a computer scientist ;-)
--William Allen Simpson 19:00, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
I don't think the spellings should be on the same page. Aside from raising the issue of what to call the page, it also clutters the page. It's fair to expect someone who's looking up something to know how to spell it, but of course if they don't, we give them a helping hand (not clutter the page for those that do). The helping hand is the see also link.
The reason I suggested piping was because the page name is not "Kimberly (disambiguation)", but "Kimberly". So, someone clicks on a link "Kimberly" and arrives at a page "Kimberly" — so I see this as the equivalent of not piping. However, this is arbitrary (and is one of those things that can be decided by 51% vote, imo). Neonumbers 03:23, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
Oh, I prefer to see that I'm about to go to another disambiguation page, especially when I'm "looking" for something. They're what I want first, so something to catch the eye is good.
--William Allen Simpson 06:55, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
Either way works, I guess. Neonumbers 01:19, 12 January 2006 (UTC)