Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (settlements)/Archive 5

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Archive 4 Archive 5 Archive 6

Right now, I'm in the middle of a revert fight with Mintguy. I'm asking for comments on this.

When there is a multiple-place name, there are several different ways they are handled. Usually, a disambiguation page is found under Cityname. When there is a major city of that name, the disambiguation page is under Cityname (disambiguation). In that latter case, the Cityname page at least has a link to the Cityname (disambiguation) page. In a few cases (also major cities) the disambiguation information is on the Cityname page itself. There are some cases where there are redirects, and the Cityname page redirects to the Cityname, Countryname (or Cityname, Statename) page; even there the page that the redirect sends you to has a link to the Cityname (disambiguation) page, so you can get back. (I'm not very fond of using redirects in these cases, because if you happen to be looking for one of the smaller places, it can take you a lot of time to get where you're going.)

Mintguy has been replacing the Exeter disambiguation page by a redirect to Exeter, England. That is to me a pernicious thing, and I've been repeatedly reverting it when I find it. Exeter, England is hardly a major city in the category of London or Paris; it's a small place with about 100,000 people that nobody outside the UK is likely to be interested in. It certainly seems to me that this is comparable to other cases where one city may be larger than the others, but not so significantly large that it deserves the redirect treatment.

I want to see what the majority thinks. I think I'm being the neutral one, but I hate to spend my time reverting Mintguy's reverts. -- BRG July 10, 2003


With 2000 years of history, Exeter is one of the oldest settlements in Britain. The name Exeter for the other placenames is directly derived from the original Exeter. We have a long established convention that where ever one place name is predominantly associated with one location, we use that and create a placename (disambiguation) page. With its long history the vast majority of references required for Exeter mean the British town. BRG seems to be under the impression that a town with a population of 100,000 is insignificant. This only show a mis-understanding of the demographics of Britain (which is understandable). As such Exeter is as insignificant as Cambridge, Oxford, St Albans and Canterbury. Mintguy 13:49 10 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Hmmm ... Now I feel persuaded the other way. Guess I'll go play with the fauna articles again :) Tannin


I have no problem with someone's putting a note on the Exeter disambiguation page to indicate that Exeter, England is the original. Some other places have that kind of note. What I find to be offensive is Mintguy's (and some other Britons') attitude that some little town of 100,000 is major just because it's in Britain. Certainly a city like Syracuse, N. Y. (population much more than that) doesn't get the kind of treatment that he wants for Exeter. BRG July 10

You are still failing to get the main point which is not so much about populations as to what the majority of people in the world (not just the USA) associate with a particular name. Boston, in England is relegated to make way for the one in USA. Do you have a problem with that also? Mintguy

BRG. Now you are just getting nasty. I'm sure Brighton famous enough, even in the USA to have its own page. Please revert your change. Mintguy 14:25 10 Jul 2003 (UTC)

To me I think it is clear that the only places in England that deserve to be under "Cityname" rather than "Cityname, England" are London, Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham (and perhaps not the latter, because Birmingham, Alabama is a pretty big city!) I think that we nood to think of the world outside the UK, as you talk about the world outside the USA. --- BRG

Look we had this discussion over Durham (population 87,709) a long time ago and a convention was established. See the talk page for Durham (disambiguation), and now you want to upset the applecart. Exeter is equally if not more historical than Durham with a larger population, an International airport, an historic cathedral, a large university. It is also the administrative centre of Devon. It is NOT (as you persistantly and insultingly phrase it) a "jerkwater town". Mintguy 14:33 10 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Rockville, Maryland is the administrative center of Montgomery County, Maryland, which has a population of 800,000 (not much less than Devon's million). I would hardly call Rockville a major city, though it is important to _me_ (as I live in Montgomery County). So when I call Exeter a "jerkwater town" I am not insulting; I'm stating a fact. NO city of less than half a million deserves to be called major; Exeter's population is less than a quarter of that half-million figure. -- BRG

The "Town, State"-phrase is for me a marker of USA-ishness. When used for locals outside of the US, I would believe also a lot of other readers than me get confused. I am sure it would be sufficient to use the "Town in Country"/"City of Country" notion when the context isn't enough to avoid ambiguities. It does also ought to be important in respect to style of prose. (Personally, I would most certainly prefer [[Town (in Country]] as page-titles, which would not have the unwished influence on writers of referring texts inducing them to employ the US-style for towns otherwhere.) The discussion above has a very bad taste of Nationalist cock-length-competition, which I think is unworthy, and an unfortunate consequence of the Town,Something-convention, which maybe ought to be reconsidered. -- Ruhrjung 14:47 10 Jul 2003 (UTC)


Quite right, Britain has a small cock in this argument, our towns arn't as big as American ones, but there are more per square mile than the US (so our balls hang lower). The demographics of the countries are different. (Apologies for the vulgarity).

Again, I'll repeat it. The point is whether or not the name is predominatly associated for one thing or not and with Exeter in Devon, this is the case. 2000 years of history throws up an awful lot of references you know. Mintguy

Eden (the town in New South Wales) has a population of about 2000. In Eden, there is a rather nice garden. Obviously, I better write it up, as the place in the Bible called the Garden of Eden had a population of only 2. Clearly, the garden in the town of Eden on the south coast of New South Wales is vastly more important than that other, jerkwater so-called Garden of Eden
(PS - don't take my population of Eden as gospel. I've never been there so I just made the number up. But my argument stands as we can be absolutely certain that Eden's population is more than two. Tannin 15:00 10 Jul 2003 (UTC))


BRG, by your definition Edinburgh is a "jerkwater town", Zurich and Geneva are "jerkwater towns", Lisbon is a "jerkwater town", Cork is a "jerkwater town", Lyon, Nice and Toulouse are all "jerkwater towns", Mintguy.

Mintguy, when Exeter becomes a national capital (like Lisbon), a regional capital (like Edinburgh; some would call that one a national capital too!), the headquarters of a major UN agency (like Geneva), or the like, I will withdraw the "jerkwater town" characterization. The real equivalent is New Haven, Connecticut, a city a little larger than Exeter, with not just one but two universities, one of which is of national reputation, corresponding to Oxford in your country, an airport, a rail junction, etc. We do not see "New Haven" alone for that city. So we shopuld not see "Exeter" alone for the English mini-city.-- BRG July 11

The population (or other arbitrary significance measure) of a place is not relevant to this discussion: the important thing is the "what links here" list. When somebody creates a new link to the name, is it likely to be referring to one place in particular? ( 14:38 11 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Precisely. But New Haven isn't 2000 years old with all the relevent history and and neccesary links to go with it. New Haven wasn't the site of a battle 1000 years ago, it wasn't occupied by the Romans. It isn't the place that was the centre of power for Alfred the Great. It isn't the place Danile Defoe called 'large, rich, beautiful, populous and was once very strong' It isn't the place that in the 18th century it was the 6th largest town in England. It isn't the place where civil war between king and parliament began. Exter is all of these. Mintguy 14:42 11 Jul 2003 (UTC)
New Haven, Connecticut has a decent number of links: the disambiguation can probably be skipped for this one too. ( 14:50 11 Jul 2003 (UTC)


New Haven is not 2000 years old; nothing in the USA is. It is over 300 years old, which makes it very old by US standards. Exeter may have been the 6th largest town in England in the 18th Century, but New Haven is currently the third largest town in Connecticut (or perhaps the second)! And none of these great distinctions of Exeter is recent, while New Haven was until the 1960s the headquarters city of the biggest railroad in New England and is currently, as I mentioned, the site of one of the three most umportant universities in the USA. - BRG July 11

The point is not how Exeter compares to New Haven, but how it compares to the other Exeters. And I'm sorry on that it wins hands down. This isn't the case for plenty of other towns in Britain which are disambiguated, but Eexter, like Oxford and Cambridge AND Colchester(which is also one of the first Roman settlements in Britain) is one of those exceptions. Mintguy

This seems fine to me, I fixed New Haven ( 15:04 11 Jul 2003 (UTC)

"The point is not how Exeter compares to New Haven, but how it compares to the other Exeters." My point is that just as we put New Haven under "New Haven, Connecticut" we should put Exeter under "Exeter, England" or "Exeter, Devon" or "Exeter, UK" (your choice), not just under "Exeter." And the same for Brighton, Colchester, and all other cities in England except perhaps for two or 3 of the largest. -- BRG July 11

Ok if that's what you think. tell my why you think that? What is the logic behind your position? Mintguy 15:24 11 Jul 2003 (UTC)

What I actually would want would be for every article whose title is the name of more than one city to be a disambiguation page so you don't run into the sort of thing where an article means to refer to one and you get to the wrong one. But I was overruled on that many months ago; it was felt that for places like London and Paris there woulkd be almost no chance that someone really meant London, Ohio or Paris, Kentucky. So I am simply making a compromise. It is not so logical because I have had to accept the consensus that for major cities the majority do not want to go all the way. -BRG


Major or not is irrelevant. Major is just a convenient way of expressing how many links can be expected for particular ariticle. That is what the convention is. You might want to note that since you changed all of the links for Exeter to Exeter, England. Two more links have been created for Exeter, both of which mean the one in Britain. Mintguy

One of those, Fosse Way, was done by your partner in crime, G-Man, who undid my change.

How many links are expected depends on who is writing articles. A lot of my articles are disambiguation pages that refer to tiny little places that have the same name as others -- BRG

Normally New Haven, Connecticut would be at New Haven. But it comes under the special exception for USA cities (see the main article) ( 15:25 11 Jul 2003 (UTC)

BRG I'm not going to discuss this any further. You are in a minority of one and this page is getting too big. Mintguy 16:15 11 Jul 2003 (UTC)

How am I in a minority? It seems like it is you against me. Nobody else is expressing an opinion! BRG

Exeter in England should be at Exeter. For Americans who can't conceive of placenames written without commas, we can have Exeter, England as a redirect. Exeter (disamb...) can list the others. -- Tarquin 16:28 11 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Ditto. Tannin
Didittotto. :-) Physical population is often an artifact of local politics (the most famous part of Las Vegas, Nevada, the Las Vegas Strip, is entirely outside the city, and deliberately so), and so the "population" that really matters is the number of references from within the encyclopedia. Stan 18:08 11 Jul 2003 (UTC)
It's strange. I can see plenty of expressed opinions above.
The important thing is that an article on a British or European town shall not have comma+nation, nor comma+country. (On the other hand, I'm actually disturbed over the redirect from Frankfurt am Main to Frankfurt, it ought to be the other way round. :-)
-- Ruhrjung 11:24 13 Jul 2003 (UTC)

I agree with Tarquin, Tannin, Stan and Mintguy. BTW I absolutely hate the use of commas in city names. It is phenomenon unique to American english and makes wiki articles sound as though they are written by Americans for Americans. We do have to be careful to avoid creating linguistic structures that seem exclusive to any one group on wiki, whether it be British people, Irish people, Japanese people, American people or whatever. Using (disambigulation) where we have to disambigulate seems far more neutral and acceptable to all forms of english used on wiki, whether it is British english, Australian english, Hibero-english, American english or whatever. FearÉIREANN 19:16 11 Jul 2003 (UTC)


Certainly Canadians and Australians use commas too. I've seen "Clayton, Victoria" and "Vancouver, British Columbia" in postal addresses emanating from those countries. BRG July 12
Oh, yeah, right, duh. That's what a postal address is - a list of geographical locations, ordered from most-specific to least-specific, sperated by commas or new lines. Tannin
The commas are a response to the unusual situation of a large country composed of quasi-independent states each with a very large number of small towns. I'm sure Russia, India, and China must have the same problem, dunno how they solve it though. Stan 20:32 11 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Alternatively, one can see the commas as the result of the massive immigration. One reason is that many US place names are copied from the original lands of the immigrants, and duplicated names became not unusual (within USA). At the same time, the immigration led to a great flux of people (within USA), differently than in other parts of the world, and hence people in the US needed to keep track of places all over USA. -- Ruhrjung 11:24 13 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Yeah I understand. Certainly in Europe saying things like Paris, France, Dublin, England, London, England are seen as distinctly American and have long been describing as "annoying" by english speakers in Britain, in Ireland and elsewhere. How we solve the problem I don't know but there is a problem there. FearÉIREANN 21:43 11 Jul 2003 (UTC)

The convention is we put all cities in the US and Canada as [City, State] or [City, Province], but in the rest of the world we use [City], unless there is a disambiguation page in the [City] namespace, in which case the format is [City, Country]. Therefore unless Exeter is a disambiguation page, it should be used for the city in Devon, with Exeter, England redirecting there. I think the rule of thumb should be if a place is (A) significatly larger & (B) significantly older than any other of the same name, than it should occupy the main namespace (which is curtainly the case for Exeter in England). However, his does not mean that a place that is larger but younger can't occupy the main namespace if it is prodominet enough (eg Boston which does and should redirect to Boston, Massachusetts). - Efghij
I thought that this was the general rule of thumb that was agreed some time ago, and that instances are reviewed on a case by case business, but this doesn't appear to have been written up on the meta page. Can we please do this so we don't get new occurrences of users like User:BRG trying to upset the applecart with their perceived interpretation that this rule applies to few cities other than London and Paris. Mintguy 08:03 12 Jul 2003 (UTC)

No one seems to have mentioned it, so I'll point out that Exeter in England also has other things recommending it as "the" Exter, notably the existence of a hereditary title and historical figures who held that title... including Shakespearean characters. --Dante Alighieri 19:05 19 Jul 2003 (UTC)


You know, I keep seeing comments from Europeans that "City, Country" looks strange to them, including one person's comment that "people in the US are used to seeing things like 'Durham, NC' but people in Europe are not used to 'Durham, England.'" This makes me wonder what they do. Certainly in the UK it is not necessary to put "UK" in any more than it's necessary to put "USA" in addresses of letters mailed here. But suppose you're sending a letter to Bergen (the name of a city in Belgium as well as one in Norway). How do you make sure it goes to the right one? Don't tell me you use "Mons" instead of "Bergen." The city has two names because Belgium has two languages, and the Flemings have as much right as the Walloons to have their name for the city used. And suppose you're sending a letter to a place small enough that the postal personnel in your own country may not have heard of it. If you are in England and you want a letter to go to Heidenreichstein, do you expect the postal sorting fellow to know that it's in Austria (and not Germany or Switzerland)? Now of course there are postal codes, but I mean of course before they started using codes prefixed by A, CH, or D. -- BRG

Postal addresses still have the name of country on it; the American peculiarity is to use "Durham, NC" as a normal equivalent of just "Durham". I think things are being overstated on both sides; ordinary Americans are just as likely to say "Durham" or "Durham NC", the comma thing being partly something promoted by government to make it easier to control us :-), and I have plenty of British covers with addresses like "Wankers Corner, Countryshire", although the "England" will usually be on a separate line, thus finessing the use of a comma to separate. Stan 17:34 12 Jul 2003 (UTC)
in addresses, there's a line break between city name and country / state / county / whatever. In speech and writing, in the UK we'd use "in", if context was not clear. "I'm going to Heidenreichstein in Austria." -- Tarquin
Kingston is one of the most common placenames in Britain some of them are disambiguated thus:
Kingston upon Thames,
Kingston upon Hull, (usually just Hull)
Kingston near Lewes
Kingston-by-Ferring
Kingston by Sea
Kingston on Soar
Kingston on Spey
Mintguy 21:38 12 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Question: How does our policy of [Town, County] apply to towns in Cornwall? Cornwall is, strictly speaking, part of England, but most towns seem to be in the format [Town, Cornwall] rather than [Town, England]. Is this inconsistent with our policy, or is this some kind of exception? (And if the later, could some one right that somewhere obvious?) - Efghij 05:40 13 Jul 2003 (UTC)

It seems to be a bit of an open question, Efghij. Similarly, should we have Launceston (Australia) or Launceston (Tasmania)? I'm not sure if there is a policy on these things yet. Tannin
I think that falls into the [City, Country] catigory; therefore it would be Launceston, Australia. - Efghij 16:28 13 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Is that good or bad? -- Ruhrjung 21:04 13 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Cornwall, has a small (some would say insignificant) independence movement. According to some members of this movement, Cornwall has never officially been part of England and any claim that it is, is illegal. On Wikipedia this opinion is held by User:sjc. A number of attempts to modify articles on Cornwall and places in Cornwall, describing it as being in England have met with opposition from sjc and others. We've ended up compromising over Cornwall. Mintguy 10:07 13 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Another thing about commas. New York, New York doesn't bat an eyelid for Americans, but at first sight it looks strange for the rest of us. We would not expect to see "Durham, Durham", which I think looks bizarre and makes me think of an 80s band rather than a place in the north of England. Mintguy 12:06 13 Jul 2003 (UTC)

For this American, New York, New York sounds like something out of a song, or a TV ad telling me where to write for my free Ginsu knife that slices, dices, and make Julienne fries. :-) These days "New York" almost always means NYC, and one says "New York state", as in "I'm going to Albany next week" "Where's that?" "New York state" or "upstate New York". If one just answered "New York", the response would be "never heard of it - is it like a neighborhood of Manhattan?". 1/2 :-) Stan 13:46 13 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Then why not New York City, New York so as to match Oklahoma City, Oklahoma? And why are we using commas for disambiguating city names in places where commas are not commonly used (such as in the UK)? IMO when there is a title conflict in non-US/Canadian/Australian cases we should use standard parenthetical disambiguation. So instead of Durham, Durham we get Durham (Durham) or something similar. Otherwise the use of commas is confusing because it implies that preemptive disambiguation is also the rule for those nations (like the UK). --mav 20:04 13 Jul 2003 (UTC)
I think the "city" in "New York City" has evolved as the informal disambiguator; it's not an official part of the name as it is for "Oklahoma City". Stan 20:40 13 Jul 2003 (UTC)
It certainly sounds better. --mav
I think we should keep the using commas for placenames, and parentheses for objects. It would look weird if we had:
Durham, in any case, would be Durham, England if it needed to be somewhere other than Durham. - Efghij 20:21 13 Jul 2003 (UTC)
But Lincoln, Nebraska is very commonly used in the US as if it were the proper name of the city. This is not the case for "Durham, England" and if fact is just an extension of an American convention to a place where it is not used. And I also recall that a great many cities within England share the same name so "England" by itself would not be enough in many cases. My other points above still apply. --mav
It seems rather premature that User:Efghij, who July 11th had the opposite opinion, and still 14 hours before wrote here without any hints on a changed opinion, now this evening updates the metapage Wikipedia:Naming_conventions_(city_names) to:
For cities in the United Kingdom local disambiguators will be used when possible (Kingston upon Hull, Kingston upon Thames). When there is no local disambiguator, they will be disambiguated with a format of City, Country, with "Country" being England, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, or Northern Ireland. Cities which need additional disambiguation will be disambiguated with their County (St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, St. Ives, Dorset).
I can't help getting curious. Which arguments have been THAT persuasive?
-- Ruhrjung 21:23 13 Jul 2003 (UTC)
It was odd that Efghi changed the convention seemingly unilaterally. --mav
I've reverted Efghi's edit for two reasons.
  1. Nobody agreed to this change.
  2. It uses bad examples. My choice of Kingston Upon Hull and Kingston Upon Thames etc.. earlier was to illustrate how certain placenames have become disambiguated historically. But '..Upon Thames' etc.. have now become part of the actual place name. Mintguy
I'm sorry, I understood that these were, for the moment, our accepted standards. They certainly seem to be in use throughout the articles on British cities. I never really expressed an opinion on this (except on the issue of commas vs. parentheses), I was seeking clairification of what the standard was in regards to Cornwall. Mintguy indicated that a comprimise had been reached on that issue, so I thought that this should be noted on the page. - Efghij 22:22 13 Jul 2003 (UTC)

OK, so does everyone agree that we should use commas rather than parenthesis for cities outside the US as well as inside the US? - i.e., Armidale, New South Wales, not Armidale (New South Wales)? (I don't really care either way, but it would be nice to know which one to use.) Tannin 00:03 14 Jul 2003 (UTC)


I thought that this issue had been agreed ages ago, and this is what I had understood was the agreed consensus.

  1. Where a placename is well known and no other articles exist to conflict with it, no disambiguation is required. Should new articles cause disambiguation to become necessary, the placename should become a disambiguation page and the claimants to that name should be suitably disambiguated. If the one of the claimants to the placename is of much greater significance, (judged, roughly by the number of links expected for that place), then it may claim that placename and disambiguation should be moved to placename (disambiguation).
  2. For places outside of the USA; commas will be used by default, where disambiguation is essential. However the choice of words used for disambiguation should be decided on a case-by-case basis (as there are likely to be too many exceptions to any clearly defined or hard and fast rule).
  3. Placenames of the US, will use automatic disambiguation with commas, as per the normal practice in the USA.
Mintguy 00:30 14 Jul 2003 (UTC)
The only problem I have with this statement is the decision as to when "one of the claimants to the placename is of much greater significance." It is hard to go by "number of links expected for that place" because that depends on who is creating articles and what articles one creates. You will find a large number of links to "Schenectady, New York" (many of them placed by me) not because of the great importance of that city in general, but because there was a series of articles on New York State counties I created, with historical information that (because the same information belonged in the articles on a lot of them) was duplicated essentially in toto. And this information contained a reference to Schenectady to give a geographic definition of the boundaries of one former county. This is the reason for over 30 links to Schenectady. -- BRG July 14, 2003
OK, a few points about this: Do we have a disambiguation issue with Schenectady? It appears not. Ok, so I guess you are using this as a general example rather than as a specific case. Well firstly, the Rambot created about 40,000 articles about places in the USA, so for many places the current count of references to them outweigh their actual relative significance. (There are plenty of UK town as yet undocumented like Basingstoke(pop. approx 90,000), Blackburn(pop. approx 115,000), and Middlesbrough(pop. approx 150,000)). Secondly, as has been pointed out countless times the use of comma disambiguation is not only common for US place names, it is the norm. Thirdly, note my use of the word "expected", (I've highlighted it), in the above para. As Duffy points out below, if a placename is of "international recognition" you would 'expect' to get a large number of links. Mintguy 08:17 15 Jul 2003 (UTC)

The answer is simple. To each nation, a local city is the one with the name. But internationally, people usually identify a name with one location. When people see Dublin internationally they think Ireland. All the other Dublins just have a national, not an international recognition so they need to be disambigulated, Dublin in Ireland doesn't. London worldwide means London in England, so all the other Londons require disambigulation. Washington worldwide means the capital of the US, so all the other Washingtons need disambigulation. Ditto Paris, Berlin, Navan, Sydney, Berne, Little Rock, Exeter, Truro etc etc. If one place has an international recognition under that name, it gets it. Size doesn't come into it. Navan in Ireland has 25,000 residents. Another Navan I heard of has 1.5 million. But internationally Navan in Ireland is the name, known worldwide for reasons of history, its assocation with internationally known 19th century politican Charles Stewart Parnell, because of its famed Navan Carpets that are bought worldwide and its close situation to the worldwide famous tourist site Newgrange burial chamber. Similarly Kells in Ireland is known worldwide for the Book of Kells, which hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world come to see. So the American Kells, and the other Kells in Ireland need to disambigulate as they do not have the same name recognition factor. The scale of the recognition, not the size of the entity, is what decided which gets first call on the name. FearÉIREANN 19:19 14 Jul 2003 (UTC)

There is a point where the choice has to be a judgement call, because sometimes the raw numbers, in either Wikipedia or Google, do skew the results, and you may or may not know that they're skewed. I look at the back links, see if there's an obvious theme, maybe see if a single user is involved and ask that user, and of course there's always the pump. New articles have something like a 30-50% chance of being moved, so I just create and then wait to see if anybody has a better idea. Most of the time, if somebody goes to the trouble of moving somebody else's article, it's because they have specific knowledge about the names. Stan 19:24 14 Jul 2003 (UTC)

So it is definitely commas? Or not? Tannin

I would prefer not, with the use of brackets instead, at least for non-American locations. The [x, y]] form is a style used mainly in American english and certainly Europeans dislike are not exactly fans of such a system to put it mildly. (The famous M. Monroe Paris, France line always grates on the ears of people. As did listening to people in Friends talking about visiting "London, England".) But as it is a form used in the US, I don't see why Americans should have to abandon their beloved comma. We are learning step by step just how different english is used in different parts of the world. This seems another example. Personally I'd much prefer to use [[Cork (Ireland)]] than [[Cork, Ireland]], which is a form that nobody but American tourists use and is a linguistic equivalent of the Big Mac, only less unhealthy! :-) A rule that says, In the US, people use the comma, elsewhere they don't. So when referring to US locations use the American comma, elsewhere use a bracket disambigulation is perfectly workable. And again it avoids wiki appearing americocentric to international readers, which is always a danger and which might make wiki less' appealing as a sourcebook to non-Americans. Worldbook was damaged in the 1970s when it allowed itself to come across in effect as Americabook, using American english, American grammar, capitalisation etc and focusing far too heavily on what appealed to Americans rather than something that had a broader appeal. It is in our interests to show the sensitivity it lacked, if we want wiki to be as accessible and as acceptable in Canberra as in Chicago, Dublin and Dubai as in Detroit, etc. User:Jtdirl

Australians and Canadians also use comas - or at least that is what some Australians and Canadians have told me. But then, what do they know? ;-) That said I do not support the use of commas where they are not already common. --mav

I think there are plenty of reasons given in the 36 kilobytes above for avoiding the commas in the titles of articles on European towns and cities. Commas might come in handy in exceptional cases, but that's another thing.
-- Ruhrjung 06:27 15 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Has anyone provided any argument at all for using commas for disambiguation outside the US and Canada? I strongly support the standard and almost universal Wikipedia convention of using parentheses for disambiguation unless there are good reasons to make an exception. Refering to places as "City, Country" is, as far as I am aware, only a US/Canada thing. I've skimmed through the above discussion looking for any rational arguments for extending the US/Canada convention to any other countries, but I can't see one. I may have just missed them, though. If there are any, could someone please summarise them very briefly? And if there aren't, I think we should make it official policy to use the comma convention only for the US and Canada. -- Oliver P. 12:12 15 Jul 2003 (UTC) P.S. - Oh, and possibly Australia. I'm getting mixed messages about Australia from the above...


I have no objection to using commas. We do see it here in Oz from time to time. (Mind you, we also see McDonalds stores, and morons with baseball caps on backwards, and various other unwelcome imports, so that ain't telling us much that is useful.) On the whle, I probably lean the tiniest bit toward commas anyway - but I have no objection to parenthesis either. Whatever people decide is fine by me. Essentially, I'd just like to see one style or another adopted as the rest-of-the-world convention reasonably promptly so that I know what to do next time a city disambiguation crops up.
By the way, just in case anyone has missed the point, this is not about disambiguating every place name in sight, it is only for situations where we have two places with the same name. Tannin

I note that Googling for "exeter england", with "co.uk" to prune out most American refs, turns up a number of comma-separated instances. Some are probably written with an American audience in mind, but many uses are in addresses, as in "17 Lyndhurst Road, Exeter, England EX2 4PA". Many uses are also comma-less, just "Exeter England". I didn't see any that said "Exeter (England)" :-) The same trick with "brest france" was less consistent, with lots of "Brest-France" or just "Brest France", some "Brest (France)", and shock horror, even a native Dane using "Brest, France" [1], also a Scottish company [2]. Stan 13:50 15 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Addresses don't count.They always use commas. How else could you write an address if you didn't use commas? Tannin
That Google search only returns about 610 results (compared with about 213,000 if you remove the "england"), so I think that proves that it's quite rare. In the case of addresses, there is no dispute, as Tannin says. An address is a comma-separated list of placenames which by convention we use on envelopes to ensure that they get to the right place. We don't normally speak in envelopese, though. ;) In the cases that aren't addresses, a lot are in headings, which often follow strange rules - whatever the "house style" for that particular website is. And a lot of the matches are on pages belonging to holiday companies, travel companies, and international organisations that may just be trying to be American-friendly or something... But I don't think anyone is seriously claiming that British people call Exeter "Exeter, England", so I don't know why I'm even arguing this. I suppose an argument could be made that if the Americans call Exeter "Exeter, England", and if they make up a larger proportion of Wikipedians than the British people do, then their naming convention should take priority. But I don't really like that argument. :) -- Oliver P. 14:24 15 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Hmm, perhaps Exeter wasn't a good example, since it's already been argued over; I'm in complete agreement that the Exeter in England is famous enought to be just "Exeter". I was thinking more about how people title places uniquely when they absolutely have to, and one of the things that some Europeans seem to do in practice is to use commas to separate city and place. Perhaps it's by analogy to postal addresses, perhaps it's because they find the American practice convenient (omigod, Europeans thinking an American habit is good? naw, can't be :-) ). I don't really have a strong feeling for commas over parens - Google will find the articles either way, we just need a reliable rule. So here's a more realistic example - should it be Boston, England or Boston (England)? Stan 17:21 15 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Wouldent putting the (England) or (Scotland) in brackets instead of using a comma mean that every single article about a place in Britain would have to be changed, who's going to volenteer to do that....certainly not me. I personally dont have any problem with the comma G-Man 19:19 15 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Quite a lot of the articles will have to be changed anyway, G-Man. But the sooner we arrive at a consensus for commas, parenthesis, or something else, the fewer articles wil need changing. Tannin

Who's going to volunteer? Me. I volunteer. I think it'll be quite fun moving all those pages. :) Boston (England)! -- Oliver P. 23:19 15 Jul 2003 (UTC)

I think we should have a vote. Personally as much as I hate commas, I've got used to them. I think the parenthesis looks ugly. What's wrong with Boston in England. Or actually as there is Boston Spa to contend with - Boston in Lincolnshire. Mintguy 23:31 15 Jul 2003 (UTC)
What do the foreign Wikis do? Mintguy....2 mins later... I looked up Boston and find the the German wiki uses de:Boston (Massachusetts).

On the issue of American comma usage, when researching an article for wiki last night I came across a speech made by an Italian cardinal which was taken down by the American organisation he was speaking to. They called him (I forget his name) Cardinal (whatever he name was), Vatican City, Europe. And no it wasn't as an address to contact him at. They were just saying where he was from for the reader in americanese. That was the first time I ever saw Vatican City, Europe!!! Re Stan's google search above, the basic point is that only in addresses do most people outside the US, Can & Aust use commas. I for example would never say I ws going to Frankfurt, Germany (as American friends of mine do) but Frankfurt in Germany. In fact, even if the accent doesn't reveal it or their size (or if they are tourists to Ireland, their wearing of green trousers, "kiss me I'm Irish" hats and a plastic "made in Hong Kong" shilleaghs - I'm not kidding. That's what American tourists wear over here, oh and Aran jumpers, while drinking guinness) hearing someone say "I am going to Frankfurt, Germany" shows they aren't European and are almost certainly American or Canadian. FearÉIREANN 23:49 15 Jul 2003 (UTC)

You know, a remarkable number of your talk page comments repeatedly bring up all these complaints about American tourists in Europe. Are you wishing that all the American tourists would just go away and spend their money elsewhere in the world, or are you saying they should all try to pretend not to be Americans? You're sounding just like those American yahoos who grumble about visitors "spikkin' furrin langwidges raht in front of everbody". I guess prejudice is universal. Stan 00:30 16 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Only a little gentle teasing, my good man! :-) I love American tourists (and their dollars!). But everyone finds their preoccupation with green trousers comic. Believe me, it is a sight to behold. I was waiting at a bus-stop beside a tourist office on O'Connell Street once and in six minutes counted nine couples in their 60s and 70s, the women extra-large, the men wearing identical green trousers, all speaking with american accents. Hardly any Irish people wear green. American tourists wear green blazers, ties and trousers (though where they buy them I don't know. I have never ever seen a pair of emerald green trousers for sale anywhere in Ireland!) But then tourists all have their unique features. Spanish students visiting Ireland are very very loud. German men in their 30s seem to love leather trousers (and standing waiting for a 'cross' sign before they cross the road, even when there is not a car within 100 yards). And the Irish seem to love drinking Busweizer at home and guinness abroad! wikilove, FearÉIREANN 01:10 16 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Nonsense! My prejudice is better than your prejudice. :) Tannin

BTW I think using Cornwall is wrong. Some Cornish people may will they were independent, but they aren't. Factually they are in England. That is the NPOV reality. Accepting Cornwall is POV. It may be a POV some of us would like, but it is still POV. After all, parts of Northern Italy want independence, but we don't give them a separate reference to the rest of Italy. What do we do about the Basque country in Spain? I suspect we use Spain. So Cornwall is unambiguously wrong on wiki. FearÉIREANN 23:49 15 Jul 2003 (UTC)

I warn you Duffy, you are openign a can of worms there. As much as I am in agreement with you about the status of Cornwall, user:sjc isn't and has reverted Cornwall et al very many times when challenged on its status. Mintguy
And I can think of several Bavarians, who would react somewhat similarly: If [[Town, State]] is the rule, then why not for the German states? (Luckily, I've not yet seen any traces of such people in this English language Wikipedia: [[Nuremberg, Bavaria]], [[Bayreuth, Bavaria]]...)
[[Town (in Country)]] or [[Town (Country)]] remain my preferences,
although "(Country)" when needed ought to be substituted by more suitable entities. I don't understand why it should be neccessary to fixate requirements on sovereignty or degree of autonomous government or...
-- Ruhrjung 06:18 16 Jul 2003 (UTC)

I just thought I should draw people's attention to this fine argument by Toby Bartels, which explains the American point of view about the "City, State" format. It seems that to an American, "Lincoln, Nebraska" is the full name of that town, in much the same way that "Abraham Lincoln" is the full name of Abraham Lincoln. (Or that "Kingston upon Hull" is the full name of Hull, I suppose. Or that "Exeter" is the full name of Exeter.) Which would mean that the "City, State" format isn't really disambiguation any more than "Forename Surname" is for people. And so the American placenames shouldn't be thought of as an exception to the usual Wikipedia disambiguation rules, and so there is no reason at all to cast aside the usual Wikipedia disambiguation rules for places in other countries! Oh, all right, I haven't explained that very well. Just read Toby's argument, and you should be convinced. -- Oliver P. 04:29 16 Jul 2003 (UTC)


Yup. I've always had no problem with using the comma in the case of the US - my feeling is that if the US does things that way we should respect that. But Toby's argument has convinced me even more strongly of the sense of allowing the US (and Canada and Australia) to use their beloved comma. I do not know of any other country that uses commas like that; maybe we should compile a list. For those on the list, the rule would be comma orientated. For everywhere else, only if it needs disambigulation should one be provided, and then in parentheses. Good work finding Toby's comment, Oliver.

FearÉIREANN 05:00 16 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Seems like a good arguement. That does not apply to Canada. Canadians use commas when nessiccary for clairity, but no one considers Toronto's full name to be "Toronto, Ontario". May Torontonians prefer "Toronto, Canada", but no one would call LA "Los Angeles, United States". If we do adopt the format of [Town], [Town (Country)] when nessiccary, I sugjest that it should apply to Canada too. - Efghij
The first name / last name explanation is interesting but I don't think it quite captures the situation - for instance, the official full name of a city does not include the state name. It's more that USians have learned to disambiguate. If I'm in Texas but outside Lamar County, and say "I'm from Paris" the instant reaction will be "You don't sound French - you must mean Paris, Texas." As you can see from disambig pages, a large percentage of names have been reused, and so if I'm from a small town and visiting another state, I preemptively add the state name just to avoid confusion. The need for disambiguation changes over time and with context; if I'm at an Apple show in Boston and say "I'm from Cupertino" the reaction is likely to be "Cool, did you go to high school with Steve Jobs?", and having been primed by that :-), I'll say the same thing to the hotel clerk, who gives me a blank stare - I have to add "in California" and probably "near San Francisco". If I'm talking to a govt official, I'll say "Cupertino, California" because I don't expect the official to have the vaguest idea where Cupertino is, and chances the state will be needed on a form. But if I said "New York, New York" to the same official, that would be borderline smart-alecky, implying lack of IQ - "New York City" would be a better answer. Also, there is considerable variation among individuals; the only behaviors that would excite comment would be to add state name always, or to never add it even when obviously needed. Stan 13:34 16 Jul 2003 (UTC)



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