Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Disambiguation pages/Archive 19

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Archive 15 Archive 17 Archive 18 Archive 19 Archive 20 Archive 21 Archive 25

Leading line: variations of capitalization and punctuation

It is not necessary to repeat all the possible variations of capitalization or punctuation: "AU may refer to" is preferable over "AU, au, Au or A-U may refer to".

I added the above to this page today; just want to make sure everyone has a chance to review and approve. I've been seeing people adding leading lines like this, which don't help the reader at all, they just water down the text, usually without covering all the possible variations, or even all of the ones present on the page. Michael Z. 2006-02-10 02:37 Z

and I just reverted. This is contrary to the practice on thousands of existing pages! Principle of least astonishment would indicate that redirects to a page are listed. Watering down a meaningless sentence fragment is the least of my worries. Heck, those stupid sentence fragments have been such a source of contention: less is more!
--William Allen Simpson 03:22, 10 February 2006 (UTC)
I don't understand what you're saying. If "less is more", then why do you want to add more meaningless variations?
This is the leading line, which is supposed to list the disambiguated word in bold text.
  1. Most pages do not list trivial variations, and no page lists all possible variations
  2. Listing four or six variations whose differences are essentially meaningless is confusing, not clarifying
  3. In some cases, there may be a dozen or more variations
  4. If you think completeness is clarity, then it will always be wrong anyway, the moment an entry with a different variation gets added to the list
Let me illustrate. Please tell the following examples are not what you envision a good disambiguation page starting with. Michael Z. 2006-02-10 03:57 Z
For Dnieper (disambiguation)
Dnieper, or Dnieper River, or Dnipro River, or Dnipro, or Dnepr, or Dnepr River, or Danaper, or Dniepr, or Dniepr River, or Dniapro, or Dniapro River, or Danapris, or Danaper may refer to:
For AAA, listing only existing redirects, and not all possible variations
AAAor Aaa or AaA or Triple-A or Triple A or Triple a may refer to:
For Ca (current page is "incorrect", because it's missing ".ca" and "C&A"):
C.A., CA, Ca, cA, ca, c.a., .ca or C&A may stand for:
For Kamyanets (and target [1]), and this doesn't even represent all the common romanization systems (see talk:Kamyanets):
Kamenets or Kamyanets' or Kamianets or Kamieniec or Kamianets' orKamianiec or Kam'yanets or Kamenetz may refer to:
Michael Z. 2006-02-11 17:05 Z

What about pages that have James Grubenhofers and Jim Grubenhofers? Is two variants too many to mention? How do we help the reader who is unfamiliar with nicknames like this, and doesn't know that Jim may be short for James? I don't like a rule that prohibits naming any or all variants. Chris the speller 05:05, 10 February 2006 (UTC)

I wrote the rule specifically not to prohibit anything, and to allow the application of common sense, while discouraging blindly listing meaningless variations as I've seen done too many times. Michael Z. 2006-02-10 15:20 Z

Every redirect should be listed! That's the purpose of the leading line. It has no other purpose. See WP:MOS "... when an article has alternative titles, each of which an editor puts in bold...." Also, WP:SECT#First sentence "If the subject of the article has more than one name, each new form of the name should be in bold on its first appearance."

As to your specific examples:

  • AAA and CA — add anything missing (I just did). There should be subsections (rather than parentheticals). BTW, these are not disambiguation pages, they are abbreviation expansion pages, and in particular need a list of the abbreviations to be expanded!
  • Kamyanets looks like a minor screwup, as the "standard" transliteration would be 'j' not 'y', while the trailing apostrophy would only be in Russian, which is not listed anywhere on the page. Still, I'd list the various redirects that exist — presuming that they arose from actual disambiguation in the past — as that is what is required by the MoS.
--William Allen Simpson 15:16, 11 February 2006 (UTC)
Listing every redirect will often be silly. Listing variations of capitalization and punctuation is very silly. Sub-categorizing the page by capitalization and punctuation, as in a recent version[2] of the CA disambiguation page, is downright bad for the page, obviously reducing its usability:
When someone comes to CA, they don't necessarily know what the right capitalization and punctuation is, and there may be more than one correct variation for what they are seeking. Dividing it up into six lists by criteria that are relatively meaningless just makes the task of searching the list, now six lists more arduous for the reader. This turns navigating a simple list into a an exercise in library sciences!
Kamyanets is not a screw-up, in fact it's missing a number of standardized transliteration forms (see Talk:Kamyanets). What is the "standard" transliteration? A j would be used in scientific transliteration, ISO 9, or a German phonetic transliteration. If anything can be considered close to "standard", it would be ALA-LC, BGN/PCGN, or a simplified version of one of these, as used for in-text transliterations in Wikipedia. The trailing apostrophe would be used to represent the soft sign ь in a number of transliterations of Ukrainian or Russian names, although it's only present in this name in Ukrainian. See Romanization of Ukrainian, Romanization of Russian. If every redirect and possible variant was added to the leading line of Kamyanets, it would end up as a page with about twenty items in the leading line, and three links in the list.
"I'd list the various redirects that exist—presuming that they arose from actual disambiguation in the past—as that is what is required by the MoS": surveying all the actual disambiguation in the past would be onerous, impractical, and ineffective they are. It does not say that in the MOS. And how are we supposed to determine what "arose from actual disambiguation in the past", since links to disambiguation pages are supposed to be changed to point to the correct target—go through the page history of every possible linking page? This is not how I interpret what it says in the MOS at all.
Finally, please stop adding obsolete disambiguation templates to pages. The MOS says to use template:disambig. Don't add 2LA and others. And please enter an edit summary that reflects all of the changes made, especially when they may be controversial. Michael Z. 2006-02-11 16:20 Z
[toned down my own comments above Michael Z. 2006-02-16 01:34 Z]

It's difficult to reply to these long screeds covering many topics, so I'll just reply to those without personal attacks:

  • Subsections are recommended where there are more than thirty entries. The lengthy list (you reverted my tidy subsections) at CA is unacceptable. Where there is a demonstrated need to qualify the name with a parenthetical, or a parenthetical description in the list, it makes sense to have it in its own subsection. Yes, I have great respect for library sciences. This is an encyclopedia.
  • I see the recently added Talk:Kamyanets. Admittedly, due to my background, I'm more familiar with "scientific transliteration". Just as in other places in the world that have changed hands, there is only one that should be used here — pursuant to Wikipedia:Naming conventions (places)#Follow local conventions: "Generally, use the official English name for the place and its type." Thus, please move the article to official simplified Ukrainian National and ALA-LC Kamianets (rather than the obsolete BGN/PCGN variant from a half century ago), and add redirects to cover those variants used by other articles.
  • Of course, I almost always bring up the page history and the What links here before editting! I wasn't aware speed was a serious concern and prefer accuracy. Yet, over the course of several years, I've probably done around 5,000 edits (currently and officially, more than 2,500 since mid-November on this account).

Please desist with silly accusations....

--William Allen Simpson 00:15, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

And to beat a dead horse, looking at the page history, note that it took 1 hour and 9 minutes for me to read the screed, check all the references, and reply.

--William Allen Simpson 00:23, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

I strongly disagree with some of your opinions about what makes a good disambiguation, but nothing I wrote was meant to be a personal attack. I have amended my comments above, and I'm sorry for offending you with these remarks.

Regarding adding subheadings to very long disambiguation pages: I agree that this is a good principle. But the categorization has to be according to some conceptual system that is likely to be helpful to the reader. Orthographic variations are usually ephemeral, and I don't think they're likely to be very helpful. It's easy for us to place something under the presumed "correct" orthographic form, but incoming links are likely to come from other variations, or from a completely different linked word, and once the reader arrives at the disambiguation page he may not even remember what word had been linked. We should practice the library sciences in compiling a logical list, possibly subdivided into clear conceptual or functional categories so the reader can take advantage of it without a second thought.'

Regarding romanization systems, also see the WP convention under development. BGN/PCGN is far from obsolete—Wikipedia uses a simplified variant of it for most Russian names and it is used for Ukrainian and Russian in many modern publications, because it is the most intuitive for general English-language readers to pronounce—and the National system is used only for place names in Ukraine, and with a number of exceptions. Scientific transliteration is used in linguistics topics, but then there are grey areas where they mix with history, etc. There is no one absolutely correct system. The disambiguation page in question refers to Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Bulgarian places, a couple of which have strong historical associations with their Polish and Russian names too. I think that every variant at talk:Kamyanets may currently be in use somewhere, and a serious researcher could also need to search for romanizations of the name from languages farther removed from the subject. Michael Z. 2006-02-16 01:34 Z'

I've attempted to subdivide the list at CA into conceptual categories. Michael Z. 2006-02-16 01:48 Z

"Abbreviation expansion pages"

"BTW, these are not disambiguation pages, they are abbreviation expansion pages, and in particular need a list of the abbreviations to be expanded!"—of course they are disambiguation pages. They happen to include abbreviations, and there are some specific guidelines on a separate page at Wikipedia:Disambiguation and abbreviations. As discussed here and there, abbreviations are often also full words, and we do not distinguish them as some new kind of non-disambiguation page. Michael Z. 2006-02-11 22:23 Z

Linking to a primary topic

This manual says:

The link on the main article should be similar to:
For other uses, see school (disambiguation).

The obnoxious "otheruses" template is objectionable for a variety of simple reasons. (I recommend the "dablink" template instead.) One of those reasons is that, although the "otheruses" template (usually) is phrased just as above, it will not allow the editor to choose judiciously between a capital and a lower-case initial letter in the name of the disambiguation page to which it links. That a technical software difficulty. I reported it as a bug some months ago. It's no reason why this manual should be similarly handicapped. Accordingly I've changed it to lower case.

"Other uses" can easily be misunderstood to mean other uses of the thing the page is about (e.g. "For other uses of Jews, see Jew (disambiguation)"). Especially when you consider that Wikipedia articles are supposed to be about their topics, not about the words that name them (i.e., the article titled "dog" is not supposed to be about the word dog and how it evolved from some Old English word used 1000 years ago, etc., but about the animals called dogs).

One difficulty with avoiding the "otheruses" template and typing in something intelligent instead, seems to be that the page does not then get listed in some standard lists of disambiguation pages. I think the "dablink" template takes care of that, and, unlike the "otheruses" template, it at least allow the user to type something intelligent. Michael Hardy 23:33, 12 February 2006 (UTC)

Could you clarify what you mean by the page does not then get listed in some standard lists of disambiguation pages.? Dablink doesn't categorize the pages that it is used on. As for the rest, you know I disagree, but if there is a consensus for something else, I'll respect that. olderwiser 23:47, 12 February 2006 (UTC)


This manual page prescribes this usage:

A school is an institution for learning.
School may also mean:

But elsewhere in the Manual of Style, it says that when writing about a word or phrase, rather than using it to write about what it refers to, one should italicize it. That is a widespread convention among publishers. Why must we make an exception for the case of disambiguation pages? This should say:

A school is an institution for learning.
School may also mean:

Making a special exception for disambiguation pages just complicates things for no reason. Michael Hardy 21:29, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

It is what it is; it's been that way for a long time; and all the current disambiguation pages conform to it (the ones that follow the manual of style anyways). At this point, making a change requires a very strong reason; and "to conform with the other standards" isn't strong enough. However, if you're going to pursue this you need to be prepared to update all the disambiguation pages to conform with this change. And educating all the editors currently working on disambiguation pages wouldn't be a bad idea either. Ewlyahoocom 22:25, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

Italics are one type of emphasis, used to make a word stand out in a line of text, for any number of reasons, including to refer to a word itself. But this word is already emphasized even more by being bold, enough to make it stand out as special on the whole page. It doesn't need still more emphasis, and incidentally this is also why we don't use bold text on any other parts of the page. Michael Z. 2006-02-15 22:40 Z

I don't think the purpose is to emphasize when one italicizes a word because it is being mentioned but not used. Emphasis is not the point. Michael Hardy 00:12, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
But how do you know that the word is being mentioned but not used? Because it is visually emphasized (by being italicized). It's not the point, but it is the method. Michael Z. 2006-03-11 00:42 Z
With a lot of the MoS, consistency is the hobgoblin that will just drive you mad. :-) If you think about it, the titling boldfacing we use in the introductory paragraph of article space really should be italics as well, if you want to be pedantic, since we're referring to the word itself and saying what it means. But we don't, introducing a slight inconsistency, and for disambiguation pages, we have chosen to be consistent with the style of the introductory paragraph of articles rather than with the style for other references to words. A more interesting question to me is why we boldface every introductory use of the word (i.e., both schools above) rather than just the first. I can't answer that, but I think for disambiguation pages, consistency really is more important than solid rationale. --TreyHarris 02:49, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

Semi-disambiguation pages

saved from Village Pump (policy)

There are quite a few disambiguation pages that are stubs or even sizable articles that have a list of links below to more specific terms. For example, hose has two small paragraphs explaining what they are and then links to things like fire and garden hoses. I don't like this example very much because almost everyone knows what a hose is and it is not as long as some other articles, but hopefully you'll be able to get the idea. When making a link, this kind of disambiguation page is often the most appropriate (like if you wanted a link about hoses in general). The problem is that links to disambiguation pages are discouraged and the pages tend to have unrelated disambiguations. Hose is not too bad. It just has pantyhose and a village named hose. Should these pages just be linked to as is, should the disambiguation tag be removed (if all of the disambiguations are subtopics of a main topic, either naturally or by moving related terms to a new article) or should a new page for the overall topic be created, like "hose (tube)"? -- Kjkolb 22:59, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

A better example of this is pseudoprime, which discusses pseudoprimes in general, then links many specific kinds of pseudoprimes. I think you really have to look at things on a case-by-case basis. It definitely seems odd to me to talk about X in general then link 7 unrelated uses of the word; in this case, I would either remove the general material if it's completely obvious, or create a separate article for it if it isn't. Deco 23:15, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
Personally, I always liked what I think of "older" style pages (I certainly made many) with a brief description followed by a list of alternatives. Presumably, the definition now goes in Wiktionary. Probably need some text on these conversions.
--William Allen Simpson 23:06, 15 February 2006 (UTC)
I am of the opinion that in many of these cases what is really needed is a merger. For the hose example, half of the supposed entrys are redlinks and what's left is Fire hose and Garden hose -- both of which are less than stubs and could be merged with hose to make a half-way decent articles about hoses. Ewlyahoocom 13:14, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

Agree with Ewlyahoocom, but I note that the link to the village is a footer dablink, which is now deprecated. Combining that with the clothing examples, there's probably enough to make Hose (disambiguation) while keeping this page as a primary topic; it should have the {{disambig}} template removed, since the bulleted list is really a list of examples and not a disambiguation. With regard to pseudoprime, the "See also" section isn't a dab list at all, and that page properly doesn't have the disambig template. —Wahoofive (talk) 16:38, 17 February 2006 (UTC)


Is there a general consensus with respect to whether or not to include images on disambiguation pages? Referring specifically to Corn, Plasma, and Zephyr but I'm sure there are others. Like excessive overlinking, images could be considered needless clutter. But if others like the images and/or see a valid need for them, I don't really care either way. Just looking for consistency. -- Krash (Talk) 04:44, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

My preference is not to have a picture. If pictures really help the reader find the page they're looking for, then why not add images for every entry? Sometimes this happens because an editor feels that one entry should really be the primary topic/main article for that topic -- in which case they should be making that argument (although it can be a real challenge to get agreement on what should be a main entry). See also the Semi-disambiguation pages discussion above. Ewlyahoocom 13:14, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
Generally, it seems like an image should not be included in a dismbiguation page, but there are some occasions where it is useful. For disambiguation pages where the main definition is a dictionary defition and therefore there is only a link to Wiktionary, it can be nice to have a small picture of that dictionary definition. Field is a good example of this. Since there is no article about a field of grass, there is the link to Wiktionary, and then a picture of a field (not as random as it sounds). This is just my personal preferences, though. -- Natalya 17:23, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
Now that you mention it, that picture of field would go great in Wiktionary (I assume their policies allow images). Here, it's just a substitute dicdef. —Wahoofive (talk) 17:29, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
Put me down as strongly against images on disambiguation pages (but feel free to bend the rules when it would help the reader), and I have removed at least one that I can remember. The purpose of the disambig page is to help the reader on his or her way, and images would seldom speed things up. Not everyone has broadband access, and not every reader can see an image. Chris the speller 22:56, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
Agree 100%. No images in disambig pages. There's absolutely no need for them. -- Necrothesp 12:32, 18 February 2006 (UTC)
Agree 99%. Images can be useful if they show the difference between two of the meanings, and so help disambiguate: see Congo (disambiguation) for a good example. Eugene van der Pijll 12:43, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

The Congo dab page is a good example of an exception that can be helpful. The image is mercifully small (7 KB), and is designed to show just the geographical relationship between the two countries, so it's appropriate for a dab page, but less appropriate for each article. The dab page is nice and clean, too. I remain strongly against images on dab pages, but if you find another case this good, and can pull it off this well, go ahead. I just don't think there will be many such occasions. Chris the speller 16:49, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

Agree. Most images should be avoided, but Congo is an excellent case for an exception. —Wahoofive (talk) 17:33, 18 February 2006 (UTC)
Would it be appropriate to put something in the guidelines along the lines of "unless an image will assist in clarifying the disambiguation, images should not be included on disambiguation pages"? In a more eloquent manner, though, of course. -- Natalya 17:39, 18 February 2006 (UTC)
Images should be discouraged in cases where a few words can do the job, but describing the borders of the two Congos is obviously impossible, or at least silly. The guidelines should allow images as a last resort, and should request that the size be kept to a minimum, perhaps trying to keep them under 10 KB. I don't think the Corn page is a good example, because the image is rather large at 31KB, the caption does not indicate which disambiguated article it applies to, and the huge pile gives no indication of the scale (is each ear an inch or a yard long?) A close-up photo of wheat and maize together might be helpful, but not this. Chris the speller 18:55, 18 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Chris. Gflores Talk 14:04, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

TfD nomination of Template:3LC

Template:3LC has been nominated for deletion. You are invited to comment on the discussion at Wikipedia:Templates for deletion#Template:3LC. Thank you. Michael Z. 2006-02-20 03:27 Z

Please read and vote if you haven't already. There seems to be an opinion that this template belongs on "abbreviation pages" which are separate from disambiguation pages. Michael Z. 2006-02-26 00:09 Z

External links in disambiguation pages

What is the consensus on external links in disambig pages? The intro hints that they should be avoided, but it never really addresses it directly. I've always assumed that there generally shouldn't be external links in disambig pages, as Wikipedia is not a web directory, among other points. If no one objects I'll make a small change to reflect this eventually. --W.marsh 05:08, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

Once in a while it makes sense to include one in footnote form (like [3]), to explain a red link. This is so rare, that it should probably be covered by the "break the rules" rule. As a rule, they should be avoided. Michael Z. 2006-02-22 07:04 Z
I'd prefer that this not be codified as rule. While the prohibition on being a web directory is apt, there are many cases where a stub article doesn't exist and it may be unclear whether a stub article is appropriate. For example, if I'm setting up a disambiguation page and I Google a phrase to see if there are other senses that might have been overlooked. If there are some for which there are no articles or stubs yet AND it looks like there could reasonably be something on it at some point, I'll add a red-link to the disambiguation page along with an external link. I suppose I could create a stub for the item, but personally I really dislike sub-stub one-liners. I'd just assume leave them as potential stubs (red-links) with a pointer (external link) to additional information in case anyone down the line feels motivated to dig into the topic more deeply to create a proper stub rather than a one-line with an external link. olderwiser 13:25, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
Very considerate of you, but a future author of the article would probably be better served by a fresh web search than a stale external link. I hate the little stinkers on a dab page, and agree with Michael Z that the rule should be to avoid them. How about a guideline to put external links in invisible comments, perhaps with a date? This would help the future author, but not distract the readers. Chris the speller 18:07, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
That is a fantastic idea! External links on disambiguation pages are not very appropriate, but putting them into such a comment would allow red linked articles to be created more correctly (provided people realized there was a link to it). -- Natalya 13:05, 23 February 2006 (UTC)


What is the consensus on disambiguating to wiktionary links?

For example - A term like Yahoo disambiguates to Yahoo! and other wikipedia entries. Sometimes, the term is used in the meaning of a crude person on wikipages (edit)pointing to this disambiguation page(/edit). Given that the term is not very common, what should happen to this kind of link?

  • Disambiguate to wiktionary:yahoo
  • Remove the link
  • Keep the link to a dab page that does not mention it

What about more common non-encyclopedic terms? -- Ravn 14:05, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

The standard is to include {{wiktionarypar}} or one of its variants at the top of the disambiguation page, so a person who carelessly seeks a dictionary definition in an encyclopedia has an easy way to navigate to the dictionary. I don't need an encyclopedia article to discover all there is to know about "crude people". Chris the speller 16:42, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, but I fear, I did not make myself clear. My question was what to do with the links pointing to that disambiguation page (meaning wiktionary:yahoo)? Do you mean to keep them? -- Ravn 16:55, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
I could not easily find an article which has such a link, but my opinion is that we should avoid cluttering up articles with dictionary links. Many people will know what a yahoo (crude person) is, and putting a dictionary link in an article can be disruptive, especially for readers who don't see well, and are using special software for reading. For anyone with a limited vocabulary, looking up less-common words in the dictionary will be a fact of life. I might feel insulted reading an article where the editor has decided in advance what words might trip me up. Unlink them, unless you find an example of a clear-cut need, and I can't imagine one right now. Chris the speller 17:44, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
Nice job on the Yahoo dab page, by the way. My only criticism is leaving unnecessary links in the descriptive part of each line. You handled the dictionary aspect just fine. Chris the speller 16:48, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
Ravn, your question is often asked at WP:DPL (example) and Chris the speller's answer conforms with the consensus over there. Wikipedia:Only make links that are relevant to the context is also relevent.--Commander Keane 18:35, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
Thank you Chris and Keane. -- Ravn 16:26, 25 February 2006 (UTC)