Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (geographic names)

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Please post discussions about Railway station names at Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (stations).
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Q: Why is the article on Georgia named Georgia (country), and Georgia is instead a disambiguation page?
A: The consensus is that there is no primary topic for the term "Georgia". Supporters of that position successfully argued that since the country is not significantly more commonly searched for than the U.S. state of the same name (and is in fact less commonly searched for), it cannot have primary topic over a state with roughly double its population. Opponents argued that internationally recognised countries should take precedence over sub-national units like the U.S. state. Some opponents even argued that this current setup conveys a U.S.-centric bias. Attempts to rename the articles to a natural disambiguation title like "Republic of Georgia" or "State of Georgia" have not reached any consensus (see the list of archived discussions).
Q: Why is the Ireland article about the island, while the article on the country is named Republic of Ireland?
A: The naming of Ireland articles dates back to 2002. Previously, content for both the island and country appeared on the same page,[1] but it was then decided to move content and the page history about the country to its official "Republic of Ireland" name, while keeping content about the island at "Ireland". Ever since, this issue has been heavily disputed, but there has not been any consensus to change this status quo. Previous failed proposals have included making the country the primary topic of "Ireland" instead, or using parenthetical disambiguation titles like "Ireland (island)" and "Ireland (country)". According to an ArbCom ruling on 2009, any further discussions relating to the naming of these Ireland articles must now occur at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Ireland Collaboration.
Q: Why is Macedonia a disambiguation page, and Republic of Macedonia the article about the country?
A: There is current consensus that there should be no primary topic for the term "Macedonia". As determined by various reliable sources, referents other than the modern country, including the ancient kingdom, have a comparably high prominence. In addition, "Republic of Macedonia" was chosen instead of "Macedonia (country)" because it is also the self-identifying official (constitution) name. This consensus was reached following an ArbCom ruling, and a subsequent centralized discussion in 2009, where several options were presented. An ArbCom amendment request clarified that any further move requests should take place as normal on one of the article talk pages.
Q: Why do articles on populated places in the United States primarily use the [[Placename, State]] "comma convention" format? Why are those cities listed in the Associated Press Stylebook as not requiring the state modifier exempt from this guideline?
A: This is an issue where different rules of Wikipedia:Article titles conflict with each other, thus consensus determines which ones to follow. Most of these articles were created by User:Rambot, a Wikipedia bot, back in 2002 based on U.S. Census Bureau records. When creating these pages, Rambot used the "Placename, State" naming format, initially setting a consistent naming convention for these articles. Supporters of keeping the "Placename, State" format argue that this is generally the common naming convention used by the Associated Press (AP) and most other American reliable sources. Opponents argue that this format is neither precise nor concise, and results in short titles like Austin redirecting to longer titles like Austin, Texas. After a series of discussions since 2004, a compromise was reached in 2008 that established the "AP Stylebook" exception rule for only those handful of cities listed in that style guide as not requiring the state modifier. There has been since no consensus to do a massive page move on the other articles on U.S. places (although individual requested move proposals have been initiated on different pages from time to time). This is now considered a perennial proposal.

Archive 1Archive 2Archive (settlements)Archive (places)September 2012 archivesSeptember 2013 archivesOctober 2013 archives; February 2014 archives; Archive 3 (current)

WP:USPLACE: May 2004 discussionJune 2004 discussionJuly 2005 proposal (not passed)December 2005 proposal (not passed)August 2006 proposals (not passed)Aug 2006 proposal to use one international convention (not passed)September 2006 proposals (not passed)October 2006 proposal to use the AP Stylebook for major US cities (not passed)November 2006 proposal to mirror Canadian city conventions (not passed)November 2006 straw pollDecember 2006 proposal (not passed)January 2007 proposal to use the AP Stylebook for major US cities (not passed)January 2007 discussionJuly 2007 discussionJuly 2007 proposal to use one international convention (not passed)October 2008 decision to use the AP Stylebook for major US cities (passed)March 2010 discussionJune 2010 discussionJanuary 2011 RFC (consensus to maintain status quo)April 2012 discussionOctober 2012 discussion on whether to initiate another RFCDecember 2012 Collaborative WorkspaceDecember 2012 RFC (consensus to maintain status quo)February 2013 RFC (no consensus)June 2013 discussion

An RfC which would ban local names in Indian-language scripts in the infobox[edit]

Here's the link to this RfC: Wikipedia talk:Noticeboard for India-related topics#RfC on Indicscript in infoboxes. This RfC would ban local names in Indian-language scripts in the infobox (currently, they're already banned from the lead). Advertising this here since it's very much relevant for the geographic naming conventions here. ʙʌsʌwʌʟʌ тʌʟк 18:58, 24 April 2017 (UTC)

What are, or should be, the disambiguation guidelines for buildings?[edit]

A request for conversation around these questions: Are buildings "places" such that article titles fall under WP:PLACE? If not, should we have a separate guideline for them? If yes, what should it say? Herostratus (talk) 04:50, 1 May 2017 (UTC)

Exposition of the issues[edit]

Are buildings "places"? What about rooms in buildings, and statues? What about other immovable things with a single fixed location -- are they "places", or "things"? What about HMS Victory? Is it a "ship" -- it doesn't float and can't move -- or a "place"? After all it has a fixed {{coord}} location. What about institutions? Is Harvard University a "place"? What about Harvard Yard?

But let's just stick to buildings for now. An editor is claiming that buildings are places and fall under WP:PLACE for disambiguation purposes. Let us consider Douglas County Courthouse (Wisconsin) which is a Requested Move right now.

If Douglas County Courthouse is a "place" it would be a WP:USPLACE and so the title should be "Douglas County Courthouse, Wisconsin" (comma-delimited). We don't usually do this, which indicates that buildings are mostly not considered to fall under WP:PLACE. (But look at Victoria Memorial (disambiguation), a dog's breakfast -- you have "Victoria Memorial, London" side by side with Victoria Memorial (Montreal). So consistency is lacking.)

Anyway, continuing with Douglas County Courthouse... the building is in the town of Superior, so the hierarchy of location goes USA -> Wisconsin -> Douglas County -> Superior -> Douglas County Courthouse. We don't jump levels (I think) so the proper place name would be "Douglas County Courthouse, Superior", assuming there isn't another Douglas County Courthouse in another state which also happens to be in a town named Superior (there isn't).

However, this is IMO not necessarily optimal. I think that buildings are different from places, because even big ones are so small, that even the next step up in their location hierarchy is liable to quite small also. Therefore buildings often benefit by a second level of disambiguation even when this is not strictly required.

"Bank of America Plaza (Atlanta)" is OK since Atlanta is large city. But lots of times this doesn't work. Let's take Old Stone House (Vale, Oregon)

"Old Stone House (Vale)" doesn't work well. Vale where? "Old Stone House (Vale)" doesn't work while Vale, Oregon does because Oregon is not obscure. Vale, Oregon (population 1,800) is. Might as well title it "Old Stone House (Main Street)". That, like "Old Stone House (Vale)" serves the minimum technical need of disambiguation, a unique title. But nothing else. It bigly violates Recognizability IMO. We do not want readers to look at our article titles and be scratching their heads and saying "Well, but where is it?"

And in fact editors recognize this, because if you look at Old Stone House there are 12 Old Stone Houses listed; 11 of them use "Old Stone House (Town, State)" and the other is in Brooklyn which is a great city.

However, "Old Stone House (Oregon)" could work. It depends on how attached you are to titles being as short as humanly possible. Anyway, that is jumping a level of geographic heirarchy and so a guideline specifying that we want this would be helpful IMO.

IMO WP:AT is unclear about this. WP:AT wants Conciseness, and no more Precision than necessary. But then Recognizability might militate for "Building (Town, State)" as I have said, and maybe that's the minimum Precision. So it's arguable. And we are arguing over it, and there have been move wars and so forth. So IMO we need a guideline for buildings, and let's start making one.

So I offer these four questions to my colleagues:

  • Buildings are not places for our purposes -- yes or no.
  • Buildings require their own titling guideline, WP:BUILDINGS -- yes or no. (Maybe WP:AT is all we need).
  • If yes, what should be in WP:BUILDINGS?
  • What does WP:BUILDINGS cover? Statues? Schools? Shopping malls? Other large man-made objects fixed in place?

I didn't enable a voting section and I don't expect "support/oppose" type votes. The first questions are are just to see if there is reasonable support for creating a guideline page, working on it, and formally proposing it, which would be the next step; and the last two are open-ended.


  • I don't think this is really much of a problem. Buildings have never been considered places. When buildings need disambiguating and it's not clear from the name precisely what the topic is, we should use qualifiers like Lyndhurst (mansion) for buildings, vice Lyndhurst, Victoria to specify a "place". When what is already clear from the name, we usually use qualifiers simply indicating where, like Grand Hotel (Taipei) or Grand Hotel, Birmingham for buildings, to distinguish them from each other and from non-building topics like Grand Hotel (1932 film). In cases where the building is in an American location other than the largest cities, the full "town, state" qualifier is usually used: James Brown House (Manhattan) but James Brown House (Riverdale, Iowa). Where the relevant location is already part of the name, though, and/or where the building has special significance beyond its city, just the state usually suffices as a qualifier: Douglas County Courthouse (Wisconsin) or Old State Capitol (Kentucky). I don't know if any of this needs to be put in a guideline, though; most editors tend to follow these conventions already and we need to be careful about instruction creep. Station1 (talk) 06:43, 1 May 2017 (UTC)
Maybe. But I mean look at Category:County courthouses in Wisconsin for instance. At this writing, of the ten requiring disambiguation, 8 are just "(State)" and two are "(Town, State)". Which I guess you're saying "whatever", and see the benefit of that: just let the person naming the article decide what to call it.
Except that 1) some people would prefer consistency on general principles, but more importantly people fight over this, and move them back and forth, generate Request Move discussions, and it's a waste of time. And since there's no guideline and no clear right-or-wrong, its hard to adjudicate these things. If "most people follows such-and-such convention" then let's put it into a guideline to point to. And I think it's reasonable to give people creating articles some guidance, although I can see the benefit of "just do what you want" also.
And I mean one example you give above -- Grand Hotel (Taipei) or Grand Hotel, Birmingham. They are delineated differently. If Grand Hotel, Birmingham is not a place, why is it comma-delineated? It's an invitation for pointless moves and pointless move wars and Requested Move discussion where there's no guideline to point to and so really not satisfactory conclusion possible. Herostratus (talk) 07:06, 1 May 2017 (UTC)
Well, perhaps you're right. I'm not dead set against a guideline, just unsure so far. Re the County courthouses in Wisconsin, I'm definitely not saying "whatever", but most if not all of the cases where a county courthouse uses "(Town, State)" (in any state) seem to be the work of just one particular editor who often edits against consensus, whereas the eight articles at "(Wisconsin)", for example, were written by at least 5 separate editors (if I counted correctly) who followed WP:AT with no problem. In 2 or 3 Wisconsin cases, that one editor moved the articles to the longer title but still another editor reverted to the original shorter titles. That can and should be done for the two outstanding articles as well. But I doubt an editor who doesn't follow WP:AT and requests on his talk page would be any more likely to follow a new guideline. I haven't noticed any other fights or RMs on this issue.
As to comma versus parentheses, that has long bothered me too, but, unless I'm mistaken, it seems to be a WP:ENGVAR type of situation. Generally, British topics seem to use the comma while American topics use parentheses. If changing that solely for consistency leads to any kind of contention, I think it better to let sleeping dogs lie. I don't remember noticing any move wars on that issue either. Station1 (talk) 08:05, 1 May 2017 (UTC)
  • I'd point out this is a weakness in WP:NCDAB: That guideline only endorses "where" disambiguation for places. Parentheses seem to be for type-specific disambiguation only, and as written they aren't allowed for "where" disambiguation, except when WP:PLACE says to.
By "building" I think we should include all human-made objects with a static location - so things like bridges, memorials, radio masts. However, do not include statues or other public works of art, as we would use the artist's name to disambiguate (David (Michelangelo)).
Comma vs parentheses does seem to be ENGVAR, compare Category:Grade II* listed churches in Nottinghamshire to Category:Churches on the National Register of Historic Places in Michigan. Seems like a waste of time to make thousands of moves for the sake of consistency alone, especially when the British commas do reflect sources (eg [2] or [3]).
In terms of putative guidance the following could be a starting point:
  1. Only disambiguate if necessary
  2. Use building type in parentheses, if sufficient
  3. Otherwise use the location:
    1. The relevant section of WP:PLACE to provides the correct string (USPLACE in the US, UKPLACE in UK ...). That means US buildings will typically use "town, state", while those in other countries just "town".
    2. If the building name includes the location name, just use the higher-level unit mandated in PLACE to disambiguate. This avoids obvious repetition.
    3. If the default title for the location is ambiguous, meaning the actual article on the place is disambiguated (eg Arnold, Nottinghamshire not Arnold), do not also disambiguate the building (eg St Mary's Church, Arnold not St Mary's Church, Arnold, Nottinghamshire), unless the resulting title is still ambiguous.
    4. Use of commas or parentheses should reflect local practice.
    5. Allow other exceptions for specific classes of buildings.
I think that covers most things. I sense there is an existing convention for US County Courts (State-name only), which wouldn't be overruled by the above.--Nilfanion (talk) 11:48, 1 May 2017 (UTC)
OK, thanks, nice exposition. Addressing only your last point right now, yes I can see an exception for US county courthouses (and similar), because the county location is already in the name. Thus under WP:PLACE "Douglas County Courthouse, Douglas County" would arguably be your first stab at disambiguation, but obviously useless, so then you go to "Douglas County Courthouse, Douglas County, Wisconsin" but that's silly because of course its in Douglas County. Pinging @Born2cycle: who has given much though to titling issues. Herostratus (talk) 17:19, 1 May 2017 (UTC)

OK. Regarding "do not include statues or other public works of art, as we would use the artist's name to disambiguate (David (Michelangelo))"... yes of course for that statue but anyway that is indoors. For most outdoor statues, I think the location is the most important characteristic. Thus we have Queen Victoria Statue, Bristol and not Queen Victoria Statue (Joseph Edgar Boehm) and that works for me.

I don't think I agree with using building type as the default.

Let's suppose we have two buildings with the common name "John Hancock Building". One is in Boston and is a skyscraper, the other is in Cleveland and is concert hall. Which is the best disambiguation:

It's not an easy question to answer! Each gives a benefit. For my part I slightly prefer the disambiguation by location. I can't prove it is better. My guess is that maybe more people will know it city than by function, although I could be wrong about that. Interesting question.

I just disagree about St Mary's Church, Arnold being better than St Mary's Church, Arnold, Nottinghamshire. As I said above, my response is "Arnold, where"? The title doesn't tell me where it is so in that sense it doesn't tell me what it is, and titles need to do that. I'd guess maybe Arnold, Missouri since that's the only one I've heard of. Of course if I dig down into the article I will find out where it is, but the point of a title is not to have to do that. We don't take the approach "Oh, name the article any old thing, they can always read the article to find out what its about" (I'm not accusing you or anyone of this, just making the point). Lots of times your looking at article titles in a list (of search results, say) and want an immediate clue as as if it's what you're looking for.

OK. Here's an offering by me:

  • Names of buildings should follow all article title rules, particularly those specified in WP:AT. The following addresses some special considerations of buildings.
  • "Buildings" are not considered to be geographic places in the sense of being covered by Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (geographic names) for titling purposes.
  • "Buildings" usually covers outdoors statues, monuments, and stadiums. It does not necessarily cover schools, institutions, non-statue art installations, shopping malls, embassies, or other man-made entities fixed in place (although it may be considered to in cases where this is helpful).
  • "Buildings" does not cover things which are indoors, such as indoor statues, furniture, or rooms in buildings.
  • Buildings change name more often than most fixed entities. Do not assume a change in legal name mandates an immediate change in article title. As with all entities, use the common name first. In determining common name, the current most-used name is the most important indicator, but the name used in historical documents may merit some consideration. If no common name can be determined, the legal name or some variation thereof is usually the best choice
  • Unless there is a reason otherwise, as a general rule buildings should usually be disambiguated by their city or town location.
Example: Old Stone House (Vale, Oregon) (not Old Stone House (built 1872) or Old Stone House (museum))
Note: this is a general guideline and a weak prescription. If good reason exists to use another diambiguation -- such as type, previous owner, or other, its OK to use that.
  • Buildings in locations that use the town and city for disambiguation should use use two levels of geographic description, such as (Town, Province), except for famous cities considered likely to be known by the city name alone (e. g. Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, Samarkand). [N.B.: the AP stylebook lists these, but I don't if it covers the whole world... this needs to be considered some more... it is possible that for instance (Shah Alam, Malaysia) might be better than (Shah Alam, Selangor)...]
Example: Old Stone House (Vale, Oregon) (not Old Stone House (Vale) or Old Stone House (Oregon)). But Bank of America Plaza (Atlanta) since the city of Atlanta does not require further elucidation
In rare cases where the town or city has three levels of geographic description, usually only two are required for building disambiguation: thus Gieger Building (Panola, Alabama) not Gieger Building (Panola, Sumter County, Alabama), even though Panola, Sumter County, Alabama has three terms of geographic description.
  • Buildings which contain a location name as part of their name usually require only a single other location for disambiguation.
Example: Perth City Hall (Australia) and Perth City Hall (Scotland), not Perth City Hall (Perth, Australia) and Perth City Hall (Perth, Scotland).
United States courthouses are disambiguated by state only, since they contain their county location as part of the name: Douglas County Courthouse (Wisconsin). Similar logic should be used in similar cases.

Oh I would maybe add one more thing. As a matter of practical fact, many buildings are disambiguated with parentheses, many are not. It may be partly a WP:ENGVAR thing, or it may be that some people think of buildings as "places" and some don't. But in recognition of that fact, I would allow both.

  • Unlike most entities, buildings may be disambiguated either by commas or parenthesis -- Grand Hotel (Taipei) and Grand Hotel, Birmingham are both and equally acceptable. Choice is left to the article creator or disambiguator, and editors are strongly discouraged from changing from one format to the other, absent some other overarching reason.

Some might find this untidy. But the alternative is a big war over which is to be used, and a crusade to change over all the articles on the "losing" side, which we don't need. Herostratus (talk) 21:21, 3 May 2017 (UTC)

I would not exclude certain classes of buildings (schools, malls and the like). Its not worth adding an exclusion, all it does is complicate things. Furthermore, when it comes to things like Schools, if they are ambiguous, the location is the best way to do clarify
The stuff about change-of-name can be covered by COMMONNAME - it doesn't need repeating IMO.
I would not expand USPLACE (<town>, <state>) outside of the US, remember it is the exception globaally and outside the US, just <town> is preferred. A second placename is not necessary in most cases, and if we are fine with article titles like Carburton, I can't see why we would insist on St Giles Church, Carburton, Nottinghamshire instead of St Giles Church, Carburton.
To switch back to the Arnold church, the title tells you the subject of the article (a church called "St Mary's"). If you are looking for a specific St Mary's church, then the qualifier "Arnold" is sufficient to tell you if that's the church you want or not. Its not the purpose of the article title on St Mary's Church to tell you where Arnold is, as Arnold isn't the subject.--Nilfanion (talk) 23:03, 3 May 2017 (UTC)
Well, the common name stuff is just because buildings do change their names a lot-- particularly sports arenas, in the US at least, but also office buildings -- in a way that people, places, and other things mostly don't. So it's a particular issue for buildings. And there's a tendency for people to go change the name as soon as the new owner (or naming-rights owner, for stadiums) announces the name change. For my part I would prefer to discourage that... But I mean yeah, its under WP:COMMONNAME. But people do it anyway and probably always will.
Yes OK I'm fine with including schools and stuff. The only thing is I'm leery of the school people going "I object to this new guideline" (if it ever gets that far). Schools are in buildings, but they aren't really buildings themselves. Is St Andrew's School (Adelaide) etc. really an article about a building? It is and yet it isn't... But yes, schools are usually disambiguated by location anyway, so why not. Point taken.
OK I understand that for place names Britain uses just the name of the town, and fine. Britain doesn't really have provinces or states like the USA or Germany or France etc. I gather, just counties, and maybe doesn't refer to them that much. So fine, for the UK, that's fine. Non-USA non-UK place names I'm not up on. Will have to look into. Places like Russia with large provinces, you would think the benefit there would be "Town, Province", but not sure of that.
Since buildings aren't places (we are saying), we aren't necessarily stuck with the UKPLACES rule. But it exists for a reason I assume and as you say maybe ought to be carried over to UK buildings. Herostratus (talk) 04:07, 4 May 2017 (UTC)
You are right that schools are organisations, not buildings, but as location will be the disambiguation used by default it makes sense to include them. Singling them out may draw objections, but there's no reason to single them out. Just clarify that the guideline also includes things that aren't strictly buildings (like monuments) and move on.
Every country except the US uses <town>, not <town>, <region> for placenames. That is unless disambiguation is required, and the local guidance tells you which second term to use in those cases. With regards to the UK, the counties are not analogous to US counties, in terms of recognition they are comparable to the US states. You are right that the PLACE guidelines do not apply to buildings, but its silly to say buildings must have two locations, when the location itself only needs one.
A case could be made for saying US buildings only require a single locality: We aren't bound to follow USPLACE for buildings, so why add the state? However that's a change from the status quo and IMO the initial guideline should just document and mirror existing practices. Once its established, then working out what to change (if anything) is a separate discussion.--Nilfanion (talk) 09:17, 4 May 2017 (UTC)
We add the state mainly because the US is quite large, I guess. (California is much bigger than England and not much less populous, and that's one state of 50.) So we are in the habit of referencing the state name, in the same way one would add "France" rather than just "Europe" when drilling down on a location, I guess.
Old Stone House (Vale) tells us little about the subject. Sure, "Vale" serves as a text string so that the software can differentiate it from other Old Stone House articles. But any string would do that -- Old Stone House (Main Street), Old Stone House (97 square meters), Old Stone House (built 1872), even Old Stone House (1 of 12) or whatever. There are eight Vale's in the US, and this is typical -- as I say, the US is large -- and all are obscure, so "Vale" doesn't tell much.
So if we must disambiguate, we should add a string that tells the reader something about the entity, and helps her pick it from a list, search results list or whatever. Old Stone House (97 square meters) tells her how big it is and Old Stone House (built 1872) tells her how old it is, and are probably unique strings. And in fact that could be key info and maybe it'd be reasonable to differentiate buildings on date built, size, or function actually. But going forward with place... Old Stone House (1 of 12) doesn't add much, and Old Stone House (Vale) doesn't add much, unless she's already is familiar with the subject. It doesn't even tell her what continent it's on. It's just a random string pretty much. Old Stone House (Vale, Oregon) tells her, if she's familiar with the concept "Oregon", that it is in the USA and even narrows down the location a lot. So it's more useful I think, although longer.
As to schools, OK. Theoretically I can imagine people wanting to differentiate along the lines if "X School (Methodist)" or "X School (secondary)"... but probably a non-issue in reality. Herostratus (talk) 04:41, 6 May 2017 (UTC)

River disambiguation[edit]

Re-enabling archiving?[edit]

This page is very long, and archiving has been disabled for quite some time. Any objection to my re-enabling it? I'll increment the archive page counter and clean up the links to old archive pages when I'm at it. Power~enwiki (talk) 22:47, 24 July 2017 (UTC)

Auto-archiving re-enabled, a bunch of threads should move to "Archive 3" tonight. Power~enwiki (talk) 16:33, 28 July 2017 (UTC)

Disambiguation of article titles re built environment[edit]

Comma vs parentheses. Please see Talk:Statue of Margaret Thatcher (London Guildhall)#Requested move 2 October 2017. -- Necrothesp (talk) 10:36, 19 October 2017 (UTC)

State abbreviations[edit]

Is there a guideline on whether we should use the two-letter state abbreviations instead of the full state name? I think they are obscure for non-US readers. USPLACE doesn't use them, but nor does it discourage them. Thanks! Spicemix (talk) 18:57, 17 November 2017 (UTC)

MOS:ABBR applies generally. Basically, we do not use them for the exact reason you give. Not even Americans can always keep them straight (especially the M states: MA, MI, MO, MS – they're pretty arbitrary). We could add specific mention of them to MOS:ABBR but it hasn't really seemed necessary.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  20:39, 18 November 2017 (UTC)
That's very helpful, thanks. I think a line at USPLACE would be a good thing—I was recently reverted by an editor who said they weren't specifically deprecated there. Cheers! Spicemix (talk) 21:29, 20 November 2017 (UTC)
USPLACE makes it clear that Placename, State is the convention to be used, not Placename, ST (AP exception notwithstanding). I don't think any more guidance is warranted. -- Tavix (talk) 21:36, 20 November 2017 (UTC)
Probably worth mentioning at MOS:ABBR, and in more general form – we also do not use Canadian (ON, NB; Vanc., N.S.) or British (Staff., Hants.; LNH, HWR), or anywhere-else postal codes. They're meaningless to most non-residents of the country in question.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  21:54, 20 November 2017 (UTC)
  • Agree... although there are exceptions... for example, in List of US state abbreviations we obviously should include the abbreviations... since that is the article topic. Blueboar (talk) 22:26, 20 November 2017 (UTC)
    • Sure; MOS:WAW is generally going to be an exception for anything of the character of discussing a term or symbol as a thing unto itself, by necessity.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  23:23, 20 November 2017 (UTC)

@SMcCandlish, Blueboar, and Spicemix: As the editor who made the revert, let me give some context: The abbreviation in question was used in the "location" parameter of a footnote. It had long been my understanding from previous discussions that USPLACE's conventions, while indisputably applicable to body text, were not universally understood as applying to use in purely informational parameters of footnotes, like the rarely used "location" parameter in the {{cite}} family (In this case I used it because it might not be immediately clear to readers that the TV station cited for that story is relative near where the homicides in question occurred; they would otherwise wonder why some TV station somewhere that could not be identified was reporting on this and perhaps doubt the reliability of the information).

This is analogous to their use in agate type sections of newspapers, where the double capitals make them easier to distinguish from surrounding text. I note that sometime ago, we decided to deprecate "½" in favor of the more-readable "12" despite the latter requiring a template to type (OK, the former is a member of the extended character set, but we made it easy by putting it in that little menu below the edit window.

I can see where some of the counterarguments above come from, although some admit of easy responses.

First, if people link "city, ST" to the appropriate article (i.e. "Evansville, IN", a mouseover alleviates the confusion (although, granted, that's not something that can be done in print, but not every stylistic decision here takes in "as understandable in print as it is on screen" as much as we like to think it does (and frankly, since people rarely read footnotes online, why should we worry about what they look like in print, where the full URL is going to be printed out anyway?

Second, those two-letter codes have been in use now for years, certainly since I was a kid; it doesn't seem to me like too many people get anything other than Montana (MT) and Minnesota (MN) confused these days. And lastly, the fact that people don't use the similar two-letter Canadian provincial abbreviations doesn't, to me, mean that we should necessarily discourage the use of the more widely used American ones; the same arguments I've made above exist, I think everyone would agree, for allowing their use in the limited context of footnote text. Also, another problem we've had is bots, or more often editors determined to show that even the most clumsily coded bot can still be smarter than at least a few humans, who go through articles and replace all two-letter abbrevs with the corresponding state's full name. Sometimes, they do this in image filenames as well. I am not alone in using those two-letter abbreviations in my image filenames, and this editing has sometimes left an article with little redlinks glowing in the middle of a frame where once a picture I worked hard on creating and editing with the article in mind in, and then later another editor coming back and removing the image syntax completely out of the mistaken but entirely forgivable belief that the image was deleted. Or we could just decide that the "location" paramater in {{cite}} is deprecated and get rid of it ... Daniel Case (talk) 22:57, 20 November 2017 (UTC)

The same rationale applies: "Clovis, NM" is as meaningless to millions of readers in |location=Clovis, NM in a citation as it is in running prose in the article text. PS, re: 'Or we could just decide that the "location" paramater in {{cite}} is deprecated and get rid of it' – Off-topic for WP:Naming conventions (geographic names). You could propose that at WT:CS1, I guess, but I predict the outcome will be rejection of the proposal, because location of publisher is integral to citation data, especially when a publisher name is not unique or is obscure. We're already usually omitting it when the publisher is well-known or when the publisher's name already indicates the location ("University of Chicago Press"), so there is no problem to solve.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  23:20, 20 November 2017 (UTC); rev'd.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  00:02, 21 November 2017 (UTC)
I'm not 100% sure that I understand the question, but please remember that this is en.wikipedia, not USA.wikipedia. If you use local abbreviations, many people won't understand them. Which is more important, saving a few letters or being understood by more people? Zerotalk 04:28, 21 November 2017 (UTC)
@Zero0000: My point is that the abbreviations I'm talking about are in footnotes, which aren't widely read, and the seldom-used location parameter even less so. I get this idea that the people who check that are not the sort of people who would be confused by a two-letter US state abbreviation. I get the feeling this is more about being consistent within ourselves, and I can't help but think of what Emerson said about that.

Frankly, speaking of off-topic, this really should be at one of the MOS talk pages, not here. Daniel Case (talk) 21:54, 21 November 2017 (UTC)

And the MoS regulars would say "take it to WT:CITE", and the CITE people (to the extent they're different people on any of these pages these days) would say "we've been over this before", which is what we're already saying here. Anyway, "the people who check [citations] ... are not the sort of people who would be confused by a two-letter US state abbreviation" doesn't track. Why would an American be more likely to check citation details that someone from South Africa or Hong Kong? Why would a reader from .za or .hk who looked at citations be more familiar with postal codes in another country than one who did not (or vice versa)? What evidence is there of any correlation? It's difficult to imagine one being real. PS: Please see WP:EMERSON. His quotation about consistency is very rarely understood by those who cite it. Of course WP should be internally consistent in following its own style guide, or having a style guide would serve no purpose, like having a WP guideline on how to comport oneself while playing World of Warcraft or how to bake cookies.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  00:08, 22 November 2017 (UTC)