Wikipedia talk:Disambiguation/Archive 3

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In response, to Toby, above: a page like Virginia shouldn't be a disambiguation page unless a large percentage of Wikipedia readers and contributors feel that putting Virginia (the US state) at that location is counterintuitive. If it became obvious that a large number of contributors were linking to the current Virginia article because "Virginia" was also the name of a famous ancient Babylonian city, then that would be a pretty good indicator that the existing situation was not ideal. The point here is that what's obvious to Wikipedians should be the determining factor in naming an article, not the preferred terminology of the Irish or the Babylonians. And the proliferation of bad links is both and indication and a result of a non-intuitive situation.

In the case of Munster, people are accidentally hitching their articles about the German city to an article on an Irish province. And it's only going to continue in the future. Maybe those people should be linking to Münster (though I don't think accent codes should be part of an article title), or maybe to Munster, Germany. The problem is, the Wikipedia naming conventions say it's ok to link to Munich or Cologne, so people don't expect a totally screwy result when they link to Munster. Worse yet, when I click on "What Links Here" for Munster, I don't necessarily know at a glance which articles need to have their links fixed to point somewhere else. When I click on "What Links Here" for a disambiguation page, I know right off the bat that every single link needs to be fixed. Now imagine that 1000 pages link to a given article. Are we supposed to go through every single one on a regular basis?

I'll also elaborate on what I said above: in a perfect encyclopedia (as Wikipedia will one day become), there should be no disambiguation pages or blocks. Users will enter a term in the search box and pick the correct meaning from there. This means that disambiguation text is really a sort of a relic of the development process, one that we're eventually going to have to sweep up. Keeping disambiguation on separate pages will make this sweeping-up process simple, as we need just identify a disambiguation page and have the software point out all 5000 pages that incorrectly link to it. Putting disambiguation junk on article pages means that some human being is eventually going to have to clean this gunk off by hand and identify which links are incorrect. Over a few years that could be hundreds of thousands of hours of unnecessary work, just so that we can avoid a few parentheses! — Dachshund—Preceding undated comment added 19:31, 20 September 2002

I really only disagree with the last paragraph: The key fallacy here is the assumption that Wikipedia will one day be perfect. It won't; it will never be perfect, and it will never be finished. People will be working on Wikipedia up until the fall of civilisation! (or the creation of something better that makes it obsolete, much as Wikipedia will make EB obsolete over the next century). As such, we'll always have people making spontaneous links to ambiguous titles, and so we'll always need disambiguation. Now, this doesn't mean that we can't handle disambiguation in the future with more software tricks. But we have only text now, and we'll have to transfer that into the software by hand later in any case. We shouldn't limit ourselves now by what we hope the software might do in the nebulous future. -- Toby 12:37 May 14, 2003 (UTC)

Here's an idea: Force all articles to have a parenthetical disambiguation in the title (for example, "Munster (cheese)"). The page reached if someone simply typed, "Munster", would be auto-generated by the software. If there were only one sense for Munster (say "Munster (cheese)"), the page "Munster" would be an automatic redirect. If there were more than one sense (say "Munster (cheese)" and "Munster (Irish province)"), there would be an auto-generated disambiguation page with text like:

There is more than one article about Munster.
Which sense of the word do you mean?
* Cheese
* Irish Province

Ajwitte 00:40 Mar 19, 2003 (UTC)

Support for reader-friendly disambiguation blocks

(from Talk:Jimmy Carter)

The standard at Wikipedia:Disambiguation is to put disambiguation links at the top rather than the bottom. I certainly favour this, so that people don't need to scroll through an entire article to find them. Why aren't we doing that here? — Toby 10:11 Oct 29, 2002 (UTC)

We are now. --Brion 10:15 Oct 29, 2002 (UTC)
At the top they look ugly and jarring to me. I think they should be at the bottom, and Wikipedia should have no set policy on the matter; on the bottom is where I would naturally look for them.
I actually think we should be using more disambiguation pages, so that this issue basically doesn't arise. --Larry Sanger—Preceding undated comment added 21:21, 30 November 2002

Hmm, mav changed it back so no one will ever see it. --Brion 23:36 Oct 31, 2002 (UTC)

No big deal really. Change it back if you feel strongly about it. My reasoning is the same as given in the edit summary; Primary meanings of a term are supposed to occupy a certain page title, therefore the primary meaning should be, well, first. The general Wiki style now is to only use rule lines to separate different meanings in an article and separate talk threads on talk pages. Therefore the presence of a line is a dead give-a-way that there is a separate meaning. Several others have noted the ugliness and distractive nature of disambiguation blocks at the top of articles. I now tend to agree even though I am one of the first to use this format of disambiguation blocks. When making these blocks and deciding their placement we should ask ourselves just how dominant a particular meaning of a term is. We must weigh the harm caused to the minority of people who land on a page title that does not have their intended article vs the harm caused by the mass majority of users who are at the correct article but who are first distracted by an ugly disambiguation block. Me changing the placement of disambiguation blocks on several articles was my way of testing the waters to spur discussion on a possible change in disambiguation policy. --mav

I'm not sure how strongly is "strongly", but I feel strongly enough about it to change it back if told "Change it back if you feel strongly about it.", so I'll change it back.

As for the larger discussion, I do really think that disambiguation blocks should go at the top as a matter of general principle. If somebody links to the boxer with "Jimmy Carter", then anybody following the link will see our page on the former US President and think ‹Well, of course, this is a page on the former US President, far more important to the world than some crummy boxer. Obviously they don't have an article on the boxer, so I should go back to the previous article and (if anything) edit it so that it no longer contains the link.&rsaquo. Now admittedly, any writer that makes this link or any reader that draws this conclusion is either new to Wikipedia or not thinking straight that day. But we have newbies coming all the time, and disambiguation is largely for them. Disambiguation blocks therefore need to be prominent, that is at the top.

As for the ugliness, I've worked on several articles that contain disambiguation blocks, and I don't mean just to put the block up. These are articles that I watch, that I view every edit of to make sure that I agree with it or at least can accept it, generally speaking articles that I try to keep in top shape. And I don't find the disambiguation blocks at all uncomfortable; they read to me like an appropriate, inobtrusive way to keep the encyclopædia running smoothly. ‹Make sure that you're on the right page. OK? Then here we go ...›.

Toby 05:50 Nov 3, 2002 (UTC)

Valid points all around (that is exactly why I originally pushed for the convention of placing disambiguation blocks at the top). What is really needed is some way to place disambiguation blocks above the heading 1 title but still below the language links (maybe just below the heavy line). I really like the way the language links are presented and their placement is not distracting at all to me - yet they are still obvious. That is the way I want disambiguation blocks to be presented. Perhaps we could have magic links for this; [[alternate:Jimmy Carter (boxer)]] or [[alternate:Jimmy Carter (disambiguation)]] This thread should be moved to Wikipedia talk:Disambiguation --mav

Actually, I have never found the magic language links very visible at all '_`. — Toby 17:21 Nov 3, 2002 (UTC)

You know how it should look? Like this (as well as I can approximate it):

Main Page |

Recent changes | Edit this page |

History |
Special pages Go
Printable version
Toby Bartels (Talk)
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Other languages: Esperanto | 한국어 (Hangukeo) | Nederlands | 日本語 (Nihongo)

This article is about the US President. For the boxer, see Jimmy Carter (boxer).

Jimmy Carter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

James Earl Carter, Junior (born October 1, 1924) was the 39th (1977 to 1981) President of the United States, a Democrat. He is better known as Jimmy Carter, and sued for the right to have his name appear on the ballot in that form.

Then I could see it! — Toby 17:46 Nov 3, 2002 (UTC)

Yes, I like that. --mav

This looks good to me, too. --Larry Sanger—Preceding undated comment added 21:22, 30 November 2002

What if when you wrote an entry like this:

#REDIRECT Paris, France
#REDIRECT-MSG This article is about the city in France.
For other places and people called Paris see Paris (disambiguation).

And that would behave like a normal redirect, except that the second line would be put at the top of the entry. That way, you'd put the main entry at Paris, France and people linking directly to Paris, France would get info on Paris with no ugly disambiguation block. Meanwhile people linking to Paris would get the same info on Paris, but with a disambiguation block just in case a different Paris was meant. -Martin—Preceding undated comment added 16:35, 24 December 2002

Why has the format for disambiguation blocks changed, as on Rome (but not on Cream)? It seems less clear to me now, but others may disagree -- my problem is that I can find no discussion of it, so I'm inclined to just change things back. So the real question here is if there was such discussion, so that I should stop changing them back. (Of course, the really good solution is what mav, Larry, and I all liked just above here -- but that requires coding.) -- Toby 04:59 Feb 9, 2003 (UTC)

Common practice got in the way. I got fed-up with newbies changing it to the prettier format and just gave in. I really don't like the hr lines. I've taken this to an extreme by keeping it very simple so that people who are where they intended to be are least harmed (see Peanuts for an example). Of course supporting this in the software would be even better. --mav —Preceding undated comment added 10:40, 16 February 2003

A special case of using a "context" to disambiguate is when the context is a book or other creative work, such as with articles about fictional characters. For example Dagny Taggart (Atlas Shrugged). If there is a choice between disambiguating with a generic term or with a context, choose whichever is simpler. For example "mythology" rather than "mythological figure". Use the same disambiguating phrase for topics within the same context. -- Why? If Dagny Taggart is sufficiently unambiguous, why does it need to have the title of the work it's from tacked onto the article title? -- Zoe—Preceding undated comment added 10:24, 16 February 2003

I don't read that paragraph of saying that one should use the disambiguation here if the bare name is sufficiently unambiguous. Rather, this paragraph tells how to disambiguate when you do feel the need to disambiguate: Dagny Taggert then becomes Dagny Taggart (Atlas Shrugged) and not Dagny Taggart (fictional figure), Dagny Taggart (railroad manager), Dagny Taggart (woman) or whatever else you could think of. Andre Engels 17:08 Mar 19, 2003 (UTC)

I am reasonably new to Wiki, but I think it is high time I weighed into this debate. I have read most of what has been said already on this subject, at least what I have found in the various Talk pages. The crux of the argument is whether you have a disambiguation page or whether you place a disambiguation block at the top/bottom of a "main" page. IMHO the very notion that there can be a "main" page is POV. It implies that a value judgement has been made. This in an encyclopedia. We are not here to make value judgements.

IMHO, again, the Paris page must be Paris, France. The Munster page must be Munster, Ireland or if you will Munster (Irish province). This also implies that Paris and Munster become the disambiguation pages, allowing for the removal of the ugly and confusing Paris (disambiguation). I use the word "must" here not in the context of a command, more in the context that if we are to be NPOV, then there really is no other option.

Furthermore, I have issues with the term "disambiguation page" (sorry LMS). These pages are really "General Term" pages. These pages serve not only to remove an ambiguity, but also to expand the knowledge of the reader (and writer!). Recently I stumbled on the General Term article for Echidna. Being an Australian, I naturally assumed that it would take me directly to an article about the Monotreme. I was amazed to learn that there was another Echidna. The Echidna page is the article dedicated to resolving the ambiguity of the word "Echidna", by listing the various uses of that word. As such, the article should exist in its own right, for as long Wikipedia exists.

...and that is my POV. - Gaz 15:18 4 Mar 2003 UTC

Yes, Gary, good points, and a very rational point of view. I'm going to put my Black Hat on and argue the opposite for a moment, then try to sum up my own feeings on this. (I'll double indent the Devil's Advocate stuff to set it off from my actual thoughts.)
An encylopedia should always aim to surprise the reader as little as possible. We, as readers, have the right to find articles in the place where common sense suggets they should be. It's probably possible to think of isolated instances where almost every single article title is "wrong" - "wrong" in the sense that we are reading (e.g.) the entry London but we want to be reading about London. It's just not possible to make every single title unique and unambiguous.
Given that the task is impossible in the first place, then, we should be most unwise to attempt it.
Given that (at a guess) 95% of people searching for "London" are indeed interested in the city of London, it is only common sense to title the city entry London (thus getting it right 95% of the time), rather than having a disambiguation page called "London", and be sure of getting it wrong 100% of the time.
Article titles should always be the most common usage (e.g., London), and secondary usages must be titled some other way. For example, London (Author), London (bridge), and so on. (Bad examples to choose, as both are much better dealt with by simply using the full common title - London Bridge and Jack London - but they will do to illustrate the point.)
Hmmm... I've nearly convinced myself. But there are certainly exceptions to the argument above. For example, football. The is no clear, overwhelmingly most common use of "football". Even the most common single use is controversial. Among native English speakers, it's probably football, but if we count ESL people too, then it is said to be football, and we haven't even started on the greatest code of all, which is (of course) football, not to mention the game they play in Paradise, football!
Clearly, "football" needs disambiguation. Equally, the primacy of London, Melbourne, and kiwi (to pick just three) is obvious, and it would be an absurd perversion of good sense and good language to call them London, England, Melbourne, Australia, or (most horrifing of all), Kiwi bird. Paris is Paris. There is only one Paris. If we want to talk about minor things or places, such as plaster of Paris or Paris, Texas, then these must be satisfied with subsiduary names.
In fact, as you and I have discovered - after wasting a perfectly good hour that could have been spent doing something useful - Brisbane is another example. There were ... what? ... about 15 or 20 seperate links to Brisbane? And every single one of them was intended to link to Brisbane! Here is very strong evidence that the Brisbane entry should be about the Brisbane that sits on the Brisbane river and starts calling to me about this time of year, saying "I am beautiful, and full of things to do and friends to visit! Come visit me again and stay a while."
The rational thing to do, of course, would be to fix this error that you and I have just committed. But to hell with it. I've done enough mindless cut & paste for one night. And in any case, you are the Main Man when it comes to Brisbane (though I bet you never made quite so intimate an aquaintance of the Story Bridge as I did!) and I am a great believer in not arguing with the head pastry chef about pastries. So (as far as I am concerned) Brisbane is for you to do as you see fit with. (Mind you, there are policy matters to bear in mind as well, so I'm only speaking for myself in this.)
One other thing, speaking of cut & paste, when you move a page, don't cut & paste it, because that breaks the history. Use the "Move this Page" function. That is heaps easier and makes a better job of it. If in doubt, read the help, and you will see that it's quite straightforward. Cheers -- Tannin 13:06 Mar 5, 2003 (UTC)

Ok, last things first. Thanks for the tip on Move this Page. My editting skills are not yet fully developed, but I'm getting there. Next, sorry about the mix up on the Brisbane links. Seems I jumped in and made too big a splash, when I should have waded in slowly. Sincerest apologies on that. I'll be more careful in future.

On the notion of an encyclopedia not suprising the reader. I was very (pleasantly) suprised by the Echidna example above. Not being a student of Greek mythology, I had always assumed that Echidna was an Aboriginal word. I know there are few suprises in the Brisbane page, but that is just the way it goes.

On the ideas you put forward about London. I don't see that having a disambiguation page called London with the page for the city as London, England as being "wrong". It is inherently unambiguous and unbiased. It is NPOV to the core. I'm just glad I don't live in Brisbane, California and get relegated to also-ran in the Wiki Stakes. Have a look at the "What links here" for London. There are roughly as many links coming to the basic name as there are to the redirect at London, England. This says that there is no clear case that the "most common usage" is in fact London. I think it is erroneous to think that people expect to find data for London, England in London. They expect to find it at the other end of the link they just clicked upon. If I go to the search engine looking for the London in England and the search engine returns (amongst others) two links, London and London, England I would always click on London, England first.

Dons red hat... Then please let us touch on Paris. There is not just one Paris. It is very much a biased POV to relegate this Paris to the abomination that is Paris (disambiguation). ...removes red hat. Don't misunderstand me here, I think that the content of Paris (disambiguation) is great, it just has the wrong title. The title for the context resolution data should be the basic name Paris, and all the fine content in Paris should be in Paris, France.

And finally lets touch on the sheer number of links that this would upset. My view on this is that it is better to upset these links earlier rather than later. If we let this confusion continue the linkage problem will only get worse. PS: Its a pity Qld has forgotten how to play football. Regards - Gaz 14:48 Mar 5, 2003 (UTC)

You can't fix the links once and for all, because people will continue to link to London and Paris expecting that the article on the other end of the link is the obvious one. (In fact, if I recall correctly, all the London links were changed to London, England at one point. That's why there are now so many London, England links.) It's a fact that when people link to Paris and London they (almost?) always want the capital cities. Moving the articles elsewhere will simply increase the number of incorrect links that people make, which is something we could really do without. --Zundark 16:26 Mar 5, 2003 (UTC)
My favourite solution would be to have the data at London, England, and to redirect London to London, England. That way the title of the london article is consistent with other cities, but accidental links to London still go to the right place. Ideally, the link to London (disambiguation) should only appear if people are following the redirect - but that's a feature request, of course. Martin—Preceding undated comment added 16:46, 5 March 2003
No, that's not consistent with other cities. In the past we have put the cities that way, but since about half a year, cities are put without any addition, except when such is needed for disambiguation. See Wikipedia:Naming conventions and its discussion page(s). There are some rare cases where the country is still unnecessarily added (leftover from a different, old habit), and quite a bit more where the US state is added (I don't think there is an official decision on those yet), mostly through bot additions. Andre Engels 17:08 Mar 19, 2003 (UTC)

I think Hull could do with becoming an disambiguation page - at the moment it is about the hull of a boat, whereas there's also a few places called hull liked to at the bottom of the page.

i might do this myself, but i've only just started out here and don't want to tread on people's toes.

what to do?

(also when clicking discuss this page i got the editing jimmy carter page. Most odd.)

Kylet 22:23 Mar 26, 2003 (UTC)

I'd agree with that. I first thought of the city, rather than the boat part... :)

Can anyone help me with a redirect problem? I'm trying to create a page for the Turk, a 19th century chess playing machine (which was actually a fraud).

Anyway, as you can see from the link above, it redirects you to info on Turkey. It would be nice to have the choice to go to either info on the turk chess playing machine or Turkey when clicking on a "Turk" link. Is this possible in a redirect?

Or does anyone think that the "Turk" page should be info only on the chess machine?

Tommertron May 4, 2003.

What is possible here is Wikipedia:disambiguation. There are two options in this case:
  1. Equal disambiguation: Convert the Turk page to something like Jupiter. With two wikilinks, one called Turk (machine) and another Turk (nationality). You can think up a more descriptive modifier within the parenthesis.
  2. Primary topic disambiguation: On the Turk page, write about the machine, but on top of the page, place an ambiguation block in italics, noticing the reader of the use of "Turk" as a nationality. For examples, see Asia and China.
To me, both options have their merits. Turk the machine isn't what people usually think of upon reading the word (favour option #1). On the other hand, Turk the nationality is probably not going to get a page of its own with words on it anytime soon, if ever (favour option #2). I say this because it's the way it is with all major and minor nationality words. The exception is Chinese. What's your opinion?
It seems clear to me that primary topic disambiguation is a bad choice here. In my opinion, primary topic disambiguation is only a good idea if almost all links to the page are about that topic. Here, Turk the (fake) chess machine has fewer links (if any?) than Turk the nationality. That there is no own page for Turk the nationality does not seem like an objection to me - just have Turk be an equal disambiguation page with (as I now see it) the following disambiguations: Turk (machine), Turkey and Turkic people. I don't see why the fact that those last too are not of the form [[Turk (blabla)]] would be a reason to choose primary subject disambiguation. Andre Engels 15:59 May 5, 2003 (UTC)
By the way, you can sign your name by typing ~~~, and sign your name and date and time by typing ~~~~. If you have any further doubts or questions, ask away. --Menchi 05:32 May 4, 2003 (UTC)


Moved from Wikipedia:Village pump on Thursday, June 12th, 02003.

Multiple things with the same name. The Kings Highway article refers to one use of that term -- not the oldest or most frequently used. How do you handle other places with the same name? The existing Kings Highway article is about the British road up the East Coast. Another, older road by the same name ran from Florida to Mexico. And there is another one of interest in Jordan. How are these multiple meanings handled so that when someone goes to "Kings Highway" they can find the one they were looking for?

Wikipedia:Disambiguation goes into details on these kinds of situations. --Brion 02:30 9 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Just a suggestion, changing the block text to having a link to list of disambig pages would remind you to link your disambig page and make it easier for random person looking for new things. It would also allow a random surfer an easy opportunity to see if the page they found it on actually got into the list (although if you're putting it in, you should remember that yourself :P )

This is a disambiguation page; that is, one that just points to other pages that might otherwise have the same name. If you followed a link here, you might want to go back and fix the link, so that it points to the appropriate page. This page should also be linked here.

I only found out about correctly linking this today, and JohnOwens didn't do that linking when he corrected Falco (putting in the normal disambig text).

~ender 2003-08-17 15:40:MST