Talk:Alexander Vasiliev (historian)

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I really appreciate the information you added. I was deeply frustrated by how little I could find in English. However, I must admit I feel a little cheated by the redirect. First of all, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell's, and the bookstores that list his books on ABEbooks all use at least his middle initial. He is sometimes listed as "A.A." - see [ an eBay auction] (dunno why it showed all the garbage; sorry) that just closed and sometimes as Alexander Alexandrovich, but I can recall exactly one listing that used his first name alone. I suggest that English speakers will be looking for the middle initial or name; that's why I put the full name at the beginning of the content.

It may be a bit petulant on my part, but your redirect just took the information I spent 5 or 6 hours painfully winnowing from the web, added stuff I didn't have access to - which I had hoped would happen - and made a new page (which I hadn't even imagined anyone would do!). Wouldn't it have been easier to edit my page? You had to edit my stuff anyway to add in yours. I intended to do pages on some more Russian authors whose works are highly regarded in the west, while I'm still focused on the Middle Ages. This is not going to encourage me to do all the work required, trust me. Maybe I should just make stubs. Then you can do an article, and make a redirect from the stubs?

By the way, every time I do a preview, the software complains at me about the length of your page. Am I mistaken that it is usual to delete old information? You've got stuff that's 6 months old in here. I've left the welcome message in mine because I don't think I need 19 different welcomes. As soon as there's other stuff in there, it'll go. I guess my experience working with scholarly manuscripts has something to do with my drive for tidyness. :-P --Tygerbryght 06:53, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

Hi, thanks for the article.
No, I have not done much with the article, I just merged it with the pre-existent Alexander Vasiliev article created on December 15 by User:Ghirlandajo. The patronymic Alexandrovich is still there it is the second word of the article: Alexander Alexandrovich Vasiliev (Russian: Александр Александрович Васильев) (1867-1953) was considered the foremost.... So my redirect has not taken it. If you think it is important to stress that in the western sources his name is usually abbreviated as Alexander A. Vasiliev - I (or you) can add it, although I think it is kind of a trivial info.
Here we have a convention for the titles of Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian biographical articles - it either not spelled the patronimic at all or spell it completely. The only exclusion I am aware of is D.S. Mirsky, but the S. initial in his pen name is not a patronimic, but a contraction of his real name Sviatoplk-Mirsky.
Usually we use the combination of First_Name+Last_Name for the title, unless the patronimic would help to distinguish between equally notable people. Thus, according to the convention, the title should be Alexander Vasiliev and in the event there is an equally notable Alexander Stepanovich Vasiliev, then the name of the article becomes Alexander Alexandrovich Vasiliev and Alexander Vasiliev becomes a disambig. The reason for doing this is that abbreviating patronimic but not the first name looks absolutely weird for the Russian eye. We can argue if the convention was a good idea from the very beginning, but thousands of articles were named according to it and nobody would change the convention without a good reason.
Thanks for pointing out the problems with the length of my talk page. I personally do not have problems with it so far (what software you are using, anyway), but i will archive some staff. Thanks for pointing me. abakharev 07:31, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for your speedy response. I guess my nightowl hours make it more convenient for people on the other side of the globe. I worked - or at least I thought I did - from the stub. I had gone looking for information once I made the decision that Vasiliev was where I should start reading Byzantine history (to date I've been reading almost entirely about medieval western Europe). As I said, the conventional representation (in the U.S., at least) is, if a middle name or initial is known for for a prominent individual, it is used. That is, unless they show a strong preference for it not to be used, as the first President Bush did. There are several other authors named Vasiliev whose works have been published in English, including another whose first name begins with A. As I said, it's the convention here. I'd want to ask some of my British friends before stating categorically that they do it the same way. However, most of my male Brit acquaintances use their middle initials. Maybe we should ask someone to referee? :) I'm perfectly willing to have someone else make the decision. I'm a newbie here. I do, however, have a rather long history with both computers and the web (since Arpanet days). I hope I'll be able to master the conventions/customs here soon. I can see a number of areas where I can usefully contribute.
I would suggest that Russian naming conventions should be followed (and I assume they are) on the Russian language Wiki, and that perhaps our naming conventions should take precedence in the English language Wiki. I don't know how the pages for any of my favorite authors appear in the Russian Wiki, although I'd be very interested to know how Lois McMaster Bujold's and Mary Doria Russell's pages look (if they exist), since each of them identifies herself using her maiden name for a middle name!
How would you feel about my creating stubs for the Russian authors not in the English Wiki, for you (or another Russian-speaker) to fill in? I could let you know that I'd done it, and place a watch on them. After they'd been written, I could then go back to see if there was any commentary that could usefully be added for western readers of those authors' works (and double-check the English, not that you seem to need help in that regard!). As I said in my intro (I think dated Sunday; it's hard to keep the Greenwich time in my head to be sure when I did it), I've been reading medieval history for more than a year now, and there are several Russian authors whom I feel should have pages here. I plan to go back and check to make sure that the other medievalists whose works I've read are also represented here. That is likely to take some time, even without the other areas where I hope to contribute.
Oh yes, sorry if I sounded snarky in my earlier comments. Since I asked for others to look at it, I expected to hear from them before they made changes. Maybe that was foolish of me. --Tygerbryght 08:09, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, for your reply. I see your point, but still not convinced. There is a formal procedure to request an article move (if the place is already taken). Please see Wikipedia:Requested moves. I am copying the discussion into the Talk:Alexander Vasiliev, lets ask other people to have discussion there. abakharev 10:12, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
I just want to offer my support for Alex's point of view—we indeed only use the FirstName+LastName for article titles, unless there is another person with the same FN+LN, in which case we add patronymics (spelled in full) to both titles: FN+Patronymic+LN. I am not strongly against using a middle initial instead of the full patronymic, but it would break the naming scheme consistency, and I don't really see any benefits to substantiate mass renaming of already existing articles.—Ëzhiki (ërinacëus amurënsis) 15:19, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
Then it's probably not worth any further fuss. My personal preference would be to use how the booksellers do it (in English, at least), as that's how most users are likely to look for it. I will say that I think that the practice in place is a poor one, from the POV of a lifelong bookworm (approaching 60 years of literacy). Case in point: There is, to the best of my knowledge, absolutely no other person in the world named Robert Heinlein who has ever had a book published. Nevertheless, you will not see a copy of any book by that author which does not show the author's name as Robert A. Heinlein. I could provide a very long list of other authors, notable ones, whose names were/are at least unusual, if not unique (e.g. L. Sprague de Camp). They nevertheless use(d) additional letters, etc., in their names. The publishing industry, including sellers of books, both new and used, tend to use any distinguishing characteristic available to them. I suspect that, save for the length, they'd prefer to use Alexander Alexandrovich Vasiliev, but it's a bit long to fit into most data fields (IIRC, most name data fields are limited to 13 or 16 characters {rarely, I've seen 25 char fields, but only for last names; bizarre}, with middle initials or names usually put in the first name field). I do think that the English version of Wikipedia should consider conforming to the practices of the field of endeavor from which a person comes, whatever that field may be - even if it means using a single name for a sports or media star (e.g., Pele or Cher - showing my age). :) However, I'm deeply aware of how long Wikipedia's been going on without me.
By the way, I just checked Mary Doria Russell's page, and all three names appear. IIRC, that's also true of Lois McMaster Bujold. That would seem to me a precedent indicating that it would be entirely proper for this page to appear as Alexander Alexandrovich Vasiliev. I suspect that anyone who dared to edit either Dr. Russell's or Ms. Bujold's pages to remove their maiden names would find their edit reverted in short order by one or another of their fans. Oh yeah, and Heinlein's page has that A. in the title. I just checked the Dorothy L. Sayers page as well, and the L. is there.
Well, gentlemen? Anyone for making it Alexander Alexandrovich? :) --Tygerbryght 08:55, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Well, no. While these are all fine points (some of which did not occur to me), I am afraid this is not the best place to bring this up. If you are truly serious about amending the naming policy, you will have to bring it up at, for example, Wikipedia:Naming conventions. This way you will get feedback from many more people, and it's likely to be of higher quality, too. Before you do, however, please review the following list of objections, as these are the issues you will undoubtedly be asked about right away:
  • Wikipedia is not paper. There is no need to conserve symbols in the title if it sacrifices clarity.
  • Current policy mandates using the most common names of the person (i.e., since Robert A. Heinlein is better known with the middle initial, this is where the main article is located, but Fyodor Dostoevsky is hardly ever referred to as "Fyodor M. Dostoevsky", so the article title omits the initial). I don't know if you've been with Wikipedia long enough to learn about the redirects, but the latter are extremely useful for covering all alternative names (i.e., Robert Heinlein (without the initial) will still redirect you to the main article, whether you click on the link or type the shorter name in the search box). The combination of "the most common name" and the redirects has worked extremely well so far.
  • Creating a new convention for the names of the authors alone would unnecessarily complicate the naming system. The system of common names+redirects covers all human names, not only those of book authors. A separate naming convention would require creating a set of rules to distinguish dedicated book writers from other people (when Al Gore wrote a book, should the title had been immediately changed to "Albert A. Gore" since he effectively became a writer? What about cases which are even more borderline?).
I hope this gives you something to think about. I by no means aimed to poo-poo your idea (it does have some merits), but as someone who's been with Wikipedia for almost two years (even though I am undoubtedly a lot younger than you), I hope I've been able to paint a bigger picture. As a bookworm, by the way, you may want to take a look at Wikisource—last time I checked they could still use help of a seasoned booklover like yourself.
Anyway, if you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact either me or Alex—we'll both be more than happy to provide further comments. Hope to see you around!—Ëzhiki (ërinacëus amurënsis) 15:05, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
I appreciate that link. I may just do that, but not today, nor likely even "Real Soon". I've got to pay more attention to several ongoing projects outside Wiki. I may do a bit more work on authors, but at the moment, I'm much more interested in the brouhaha over the Danish newspaper. You may have realized that we aMURakins tend to have strong beliefs about freedom of speech. :)
BTW, I suspect that when Mr. Gore published that book, he was assuming the formal name more because his father had died as for any other reason. While alive, his father was "Albert A. Gore" and he was "Al". That's a common American practice; two of my cousins have done that very same thing (just reciprocating in sharing cultural practice regarding names). :) Gore may continue to use the more formal styling, but I suspect that he'll never become known to the public or media by the formal name; he's entirely too well known by the shorter version. --Tygerbryght 19:29, 1 February 2006 (UTC)