Questions? See my FAQ.

A goal: naming stability at WikipediaEdit

Decisions about what the titles of our articles should be is an area that some editors try to avoid, but is a big interest of mine at Wikipedia (we all have our roles). In particular, my main interest is to bring stability to the area of article naming. What I mean by naming stability is that the number of articles moved per day, and especially the number brought for discussion to WP:RM, is reduced to a trickle compared to the torrent that it is today.

Having this interest in article titles means, as my edit history clearly shows, that I am heavily involved in article naming discussions, with respect to policy and guidelines as well as individual article naming discussions. I have been criticized numerous times for spending too much time and energy posting comments and not enough editing content, and my defense has always been that we all contribute in different ways, and my chosen primary area of interest, focus and expertise, at least for now, is stabilizing article titles.

I am convinced that true title stability ultimately comes from having rules that are clear and unambiguous as reasonably possible, and titles chosen to adhere to those rules as much as reasonably possible. This is because actual practice sets precedent on Wikipedia, and influences how the rules are written and how related decisions are made. So every title that is inconsistent with the rules can influence other titles to be inconsistent, and the effect can ultimately snowball. This is why it's important to "fix" inconsistencies with the rules. Ironically, making progress towards the goal of title stability includes moving articles that have been stable at their titles for a very long time.

The role of title criteria on stabilityEdit

Because I seek stability in naming, I am a strong proponent of having all article titles in Wikipedia each adhere to the naming criteria listed in policy at WP:TITLE -- Recognizability, Naturalness, Precision ("only as precise as is necessary to identify the topic of the article unambiguously"), Conciseness, and Consistency -- as much as is practicable.

In the countless arguments I have encountered in page move discussions, one stands out as particularly compelling. In the WP:RM discussion about whether to move Victoria of the United Kingdom to "Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom — Or even better, Queen Victoria", DrKiernan argued in terms of how each of the alternatives being considered, including the status quo, adhere to the naming criteria[1]:

  • Support The current title is ambiguous with Princess Victoria of the United Kingdom, and is the least used of the three alternative names. [Google results: "Queen Victoria" (3 million ghits, 1.2 million gbooks, 72 thousand gscholar) "Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom" (107 thousand ghits, 2.2 thousand gbooks, 99 gscholar) "Victoria of the United Kingdom" (20 thousand ghits, 1.2 thousand gbooks, 48 gscholar)]

    "Queen Victoria" redirects here, which indicates that it is primary usage currently, even though there are other Queen Victorias.

    So, "Queen Victoria" meets three of the five WP:AT criteria: recognizability, naturalness, conciseness. If "Queen Victoria" is or becomes ambiguous, then "Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom" is still more common than "Victoria of the United Kingdom" and meets two of the five WP:AT criteria: recognizability, preciseness. "Victoria of the United Kingdom" is the least common name and meets one of the WP:AT criteria: consistency.

    My choices are "Queen Victoria" first (most common name, meets 3 WP:AT criteria), "Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom" second (second most common name, meets 2 WP:AT criteria), and "Victoria of the United Kingdom" third (least common name, meets 1 WP:AT criterium). DrKiernan (talk) 08:43, 3 October 2010 (UTC)[

I was the one who closed that proposal, and, persuaded by DrKiernan's argument, found in favor of Queen Victoria.

I believe maximizing adherence to this criteria, as demonstrated by DrKiernan's analysis, promotes stability because the reasons someone may reasonably have to move an article are minimized and usually eliminated once an article is at the title that meets that criteria as much as it reasonably can. Time and time again I have seen years of disputes over titles be resolved once the article in question is moved to the title that best meets that criteria. For example, when my Queen Victoria decision was protested primarily on the procedural grounds that it was closed by a non-admin (several non-admins knowledgeable about naming policy and guidelines try to help out with the backlog when it gets big), the subsequent proposal to move it from Queen Victoria to Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom failed.

This is why I am also an advocate of having specific naming guidelines provide guidance only when the primary guidance at WP:TITLE falls short of clearly indicating a name, usually in order to indicate how an article should be disambiguated if disambiguation is required so that similar articles are disambiguated similarly. For categories of articles for which a single natural and most common name is not obvious, like for U.S. highways, specific guidelines are also helpful. But when a title is clearly indicated for a given article by the criteria at WP:TITLE alone, then specific naming guidelines should have no application. I find that most naming disputes (not including those centered on which topic, among several, if any, is the primary topic) are ultimately caused by more specific naming guidelines (or sometimes undocumented conventions) indicating a title that is different from the one indicated by the criteria at WP:TITLE (most often the specific guideline or convention indicates one title, even though a natural and more concise name is available).

As straight-forward as this reasoning may seem, many do not agree with me. Most who disagree with me seem to find appealing the idea of having every article in a particular area named in the same way. They point out that readers are unaffected (thanks to redirects), and these consistent naming conventions make it easier for editors working on those articles to create links to the articles. For example, here is a classic discussion from 2006 about whether all Lost TV series episodes should be disambiguated with either (Lost) or "(Lost episode)". The idea of not disambiguating those not needing disambiguation is not even initially considered, though later in the discussion the idea is introduced, and through much debate and consternation all documented in the archives of WT:NC-TV, and which eventually went to Arbcom, reason eventually prevailed with the guideline for TV episode names that states: "For an article created about a single episode, add the series name in parentheses only if there are other articles by the same name". TV episode names have been stable ever since. Same with the guideline (at least what is in essence regarding disambiguating only when necessary). If you look at the guideline history, you will see dozens of edits in 2006, but once this was resolved, relative stability. This is also reflected in the stability of the names of the articles that fall within this domain. I see this pattern over and over again for all sorts of articles.

All the evidence I am aware of supports the position that maximal adherence to WP:TITLE criteria is ultimately the only path to true naming stability at Wikipedia. From U.S. cities on the AP list to city names in Canada, Australia, Philippines, etc., to names of TV series, TV episodes, movies, films, military bases, company names, car models, actors, sports figures, etc., etc., the natural law of Wikipedia is clear: if naming stability is sought, disambiguate only when necessary; otherwise, use the plain natural concise name of the subject. I know of no reason for this natural law of Wikipedia to not apply to any article in Wikipedia, except possibly articles about plants where a strong case has been in made for using scientific names over common English names. If the topic has a clear, natural and concise unambiguous most common name (which plants usually do not have, and that is the basis of the argument to use scientific names there, except for the rare plants which do have names that meet this critieria), if the title is that name then it will be stable; if the title is some other name than it will not be stable.

Please do not misunderstand. My call for following this "natural law" is not contrary to other policy and guidelines, such as Wikipedia:Article_titles#Explicit_conventions, which refers to guidelines that sometimes "recommend the use of titles that are not strictly the common name". It should be noted that this guideline also cautions against doing so, which I essentially implicitly recognizing the very "natural law" I'm referring to here. The guideline goes on to say, "this practice of using specialized names is often controversial, and should not be adopted unless it produces clear benefits outweighing the use of common names". Basically it's saying if you have good reason, then go ahead, per WP:IAR. But, in general, it's not recommended to go "against the grain". This part of the naming policy is perfectly consistent with the natural law to which I refer.

But resistance to accept this remains strong at the start of 2011, particularly by those who prioritize the value of naming all articles within some group similarly over using the natural and most concise name for those articles to which it is available. The names of articles in those few categories of articles where that thinking still prevails, such as names of royalty (WP:NCROY) and names of U.S. cities that are not on the AP list (WP:PLACES#United States), therefore remain unstable and rife with conflict.

I welcome comments, questions, suggestions and relevant evidence about this to be shared on my talk page.

  • I like your idea of having clear and simple guidelines, to avoid endless and needless move warring. You are probably aware of the endless fights over diacritics in titles. You may find the RfC here of interest. Best regards. LittleBen (talk) 16:08, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

Some favoritesEdit


Essays on Wikipedia BehaviorEdit

Sometimes editors will undo a change, justifying their revert merely by saying that there is "no consensus" for the change, or by simply asking the original editor to "first discuss". Except possibly on pages that describe long-standing Wikipedia policy, this is not very helpful. After all, that you reverted the edit already shows that there is no consensus. But you neglected to explain why you personally disagree with the edit, so you haven't given people a handle on how to build the consensus with you that you desire.

"Ignore all rules" is not in itself a valid answer if someone asks you why you broke a rule. Most of the rules are derived from a lot of thoughtful experience and exist for pretty good reasons; they should therefore only be broken for good reasons.


Favorite QuotationsEdit


I have made this letter longer than usual, because I lack the time to make it short.

-- Blaise Pascal

Good advice for meEdit

If you're quite sincere, Born2cycle, that your memory is insufficient to keep the identities of your fellow participants straight, given the vast amount of such dialogue you engage in, then perhaps that too is an element in why some editors don't respond well to you: you don't respect them enough to think of them as individuals, they're just verbal grass to mow over.

--User:Cynwolfe [3]
  • When you post something on Wikipedia, ask yourself, "Is this likely to ease tensions or escalate tensions?" If you can reasonably anticipate that it's going to escalate tensions, it's time to reword or not post it.
  • Explain a point once or twice, but probably not more. If you're in a content dispute with someone and you explain the same point once or twice, either the other person is going to get it or not. If something didn't convince someone the first couple times, it probably never will. The more an argument gets repeated, the more likely it will be ignored.
--A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 00:24, 18 January 2012 (UTC) [4]

If you find yourself repeating the same point more than twice, the other parties have seen it, and aren't buying it. A change of wording might help, but two other options might help, depending on the circumstances. Option 1 is when you think you understand their point, but there clearly isn't a meeting of the minds, you might try summarizing their point in your words. It might help you understand their point, or , if they disagree with your summarization, it might help you see the differences more clearly. The other option is the mirror image; ask them to summarize your argument, so you can see it through their eyes. Not always successful, but can be enlightening.

--SPhilbrick(Talk) 13:38, 19 January 2012 (UTC)[5]

Recommendation: When arguing a position, take your time and formulate the best possible reasoning in your first post. Where applicable, prefer diffs over rhetoric, and the shorter and tighter you can make your writing the better. Do this well, when other editors post opinions, you won't have any need to reply because you've already anticipated and addressed their points. If they simply disagree, don't respond unless you have good reason to believe to you can change their minds (part of AGF is assuming they read and understood what you wrote in the first place). Wikipedia policies/guidelines/essays are numerous, vague, and contradictory, editors are going to end up disagreeing what to do in particular circumstances. Despite what the idealism of consensus says, sometimes it just comes down to numbers; win some, lose some. The confident editor is willing to let the other party have the last word because they know their argument is better.

The ideal way to contribute to a debate is one and done.

--Nobody Ent 03:16, 20 January 2012 (UTC) [6]

No. These things are not such high-stakes. If an article is badly titled, then it's likely to be disregarded as precedent. We're good at disregarding bad precedent. Precedent is, empirically, not a very powerful force here. There is no instance I've ever witnessed of a bad title causing anything like a flood. Have you? This is not something to worry about. Bad titles are corrected later; they don't cause all the other titles to go bad. It's advisable to let things go at least 80% of the time. Very rare cases deserve RFC's. Very rare.

Please take care, and remember that these things just don't matter very much. Treating them as if they matter very much has been the entire problem.

--GTBacchus(talk) 16:19, 21 January 2012 (UTC) [7]

Article titling is a low-stakes game, where we can afford to let time take care of most problems. The best strategy for handling a stone that's out of place is sometimes to leave it alone, keep placing other stones properly, and let its out-of-place-ness speak for itself. Letting others make corrections is so much more powerful than making them oneself, so much of the time.

--GTBacchus(talk) 16:30, 21 January 2012 (UTC) [8]

Born2cycle, if you are genuinely a bit bewildered by why people react the way you do, and are only just beginning to realise that how they are reacting is not primarily to do with the content but to do with the delivery, then this is your challenge.

--Elen of the Roads (talk) 14:20, 22 January 2012 (UTC) [9]

Titles (US cities)Edit

Support Here we go again. While the arguments in support of mandatory disambiguation (yes, that is what it is) for US cities etc. grow ever more convoluted and byzantine, they still remain nothing more than exercises in special pleading. "US cities are different ... well just because ... it's America!" It has always appeared to me that the proponents of mandatory disambiguation decided on their position based on little more than "I like it" and then searched around for arguments to support their preference - including redefinition of standard English words! When "Bothwell, Washington" is considered more concise than "Bothwell" (both of which uniquely identify the topic) then we definitely have jumped the shark. There is zero evidence that US places are any different than every other topic in the encyclopedia - which all manage to live within the general naming guidelines. If this practice of mandatory disambiguation wasn't already happening, we would never, ever consider introducing it. Its continued existence is a simple case of bureaucratic inertia. It is well beyond time it was done away with and the naming of US city articles brought into line with the naming principles across the rest of the encyclopedia. Let's just do it. -- Mattinbgn (talk) 20:08, 8 January 2014 (UTC)

Mattinbgn (talk) [10]

Titles (general)Edit

Comment - Since I closed the last move request, I won't be closing this one. I would comment, however, that the arguments for using the state name in this case seem to me somewhat officious and bureaucratic. I don't think anyone intends that, but we should remember that according to WP:5P, "Wikipedia does not have firm rules". We all know about WP:IAR and WP:WIARM. Guidelines are not decided in an ivory tower and then applied to articles; they are decided at the article level, on a case-by-case basis, and then the guidelines are abstracted from those individual cases once a "best practice" becomes apparent. I would be inclined to give very little weight to any argument that boils down to "follow the rule because it's a rule". If there's no specific advantage to adding ", Michigan" to the title of this article, then I don't see why we should do it.


GTBacchus(talk) 19:18, 12 January 2011 (UTC)


Oh, and if it really is simplicity you are looking for, then I can't think of a more simple solution than to just do away with all exceptions, and name all US cities in accordance with WP:title.

TheFreeloader (talk) 19:09, 12 January 2011

  • Oppose reverting the move, per WP:TITLE/WP:PRECISION. U.S. cities don't need special naming conventions not found anywhere else in the world, the AP Style guide isn't Wikipedia policy, and that section of the guideline in any event is just the view of a very small number of editors, without wide consensus. Jayjg (talk) 20:50, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
Your comment makes no sense. Of course, US cities have the naming convention of US cities (which is City, State) because US cities are not found anywhere else in the world. Alanscottwalker (talk) 04:14, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
On the contrary; there is nothing inherent in the nature of U.S. place names that makes them require unnecessary disambiguation using state names. Many other countries have states or similar political sub-divisions (e.g. provinces, territories), yet we do not demand this WP:PRECISION violation for them. Roughfort, a village of 200 people, apparently doesn't need disambiguation because it's outside the U.S., but Ann Arbor, a uniquely named city of 113,000 people does, because it's inside the U.S.? It's just Gahlai, not Gahlai, Uttar Pradesh, but the uniquely named cities of Yonkers, New York (pop. 202,000) and Schenectady, New York (pop. 62,000) must disambiguated by state? That makes no sense. Jayjg (talk) 04:41, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

How remarkable. Those who favor the current convention believe that a lack of consensus means that we need to keep it!

john k (talk) 15:56, 7 January 2011 (UTC) [11]

In response to: "Rather than an endless cycle of RM discussions about PRIMARYTOPIC, the neutral and common convention in this subject area provides stability for article names. That saves editors from wasting time discuss the primariness or otherwise of one topic after another, and fixing the resulting links.".

Rather than a not actually endless cycle of RM discussions about PRIMARYTOPIC, which has, in most cases, already been resolved by the question of whether "City" redirects to "City, State" or is a disambiguation page, we have an endless cycle of RM discussions and guideline discussions as it is. I find it astonishing that anyone would say that the current guideline is saving anybody any time and preventing any arguments. I will add that I generally don't even understand the idea about "saving editors from wasting time." If anybody doesn't want to "waste time" with move discussions they are free to, you know, not waste time with move discussions. Either the location of the article is important or it isn't. If it is important, then it's not "wasting time" to debate where pages should be. If it isn't important, then there's no reason to argue because you shouldn't care about where the article is.

john k (talk) 13:48, 6 January 2011 (UTC) [12]

There is an issue here that needs to be addressed, and it will be eventually. The issue is that this guideline as written causes disruption, here by being the subject of recurring debate and across the concerned talk pages in the form of stifling RM discussions that could normally procede based on criteria used by the whole of the encyclopedia. The problem is not that 70% or however many pages will likely need disambiguation, that is a technical consideration, and it can't easily be acted upon until the editorial process of the rest of the encyclopedia is allowed to function in this currently walled garden. Furthermore, I agree with the positions taken by B2C and others. There is no coherent reason this guideline should have the effect of overwriting policy and, as has also been said by others, interested editors should be able to discuss and choose titles for the articles that they are writing based on hierarchically superior policies and use guideline pages for counsel—not mandates—concerning their selections. They should be able to do this without being continually affronted with combative rhetoric backed by references to an irresolute consensus-by-status quo.

Synchronism (talk) 02:23, 6 January 2011 (UTC)[13]

In response to: "Why does concision take precedence over commonality?"

If I want more information I would dwell on the body of the article. Although the AP style does mention that there are 30 U.S. cities that "do not need to be followed by the state name", it appears that the exceptions are intended for the datelines, or a "must" that should included on the article bodies. It does not state that it should be applied on the headlines or article titles. Please see (owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/735/02/). This is an example of a news story from CNN (edition.cnn.com/2010/US/10/28/michigan.bank.robbery/index.html). I have yet to see a news article that includes state name Michigan for Ann Arbor. At the very least, there is no consensus from media outlets that headlines should always bear the state name. They know the importance on keeping their article titles short and would not likely keep their headlines from becoming overloaded or complicated. Encyclopedia Britannica (www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/26041/Ann-Arbor) uses only Ann Arbor for its title. Hence, Ann Arbor, Michigan as an article title cannot be considered as common at all. Appending state name is an unnecessary redundancy since the article can provide that information. Ann Arbor can stand on itself so let it be. Disambiguate only if necessary.

--JinJian (talk) 15:33, 5 January 2011 (UTC) [14]

Generally speaking, cliques of specialists shouldn't be allowed to make their own little rules that override a fundamental community principle.

--User:Kotniski [15]

I have argued that the WP:RM process has a built in bias since the discussion happens on the talk page of the article proposed for the move. This means that the people interested in the article are the predominate participants in the discussion. Naturally they are the ones that would be inclined to think that the article as is properly belongs at the main name space.

--Vegaswikian (talk) 01:34, 29 October 2010 (UTC) [16]

And, recognizing B2C just kind of came up with the Yogurt Rule, I think there's a very real chance that it will prove to be a valuable principle, and that a Hillary Clinton title would be more stable.

--BDD (talk) 21:31, 24 June 2013 (UTC) [17]


We are, actually, obligated to try to incorporate dissenting views; that is the essence of consensus.

Actually, Ring, that's my point: we are not "obligated to try to incorporate dissenting views". We are actually obligated to (politely) tell WP:Randy in Boise to take a hike. We are obligated to omit tiny-minority views altogether. We are obligated to omit any and all views that can't be supported by suitable reliable sources. "All legitimate views" is not a longwinded way of saying "all views". We don't have to accommodate all dissenters. We don't even have to accommodate a "majority of dissenters". NPOV requires us to care about a "viewpoint's prevalence in reliable sources, not its prevalence among Wikipedia editors". That means that the prevlance of a viewpoint among dissenters is explicitly rejected as a factor that can be considered in determining the consensus for an article's content.

--WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:02, 13 January 2012 (UTC) [18]


Dear editors: I have no involvement in the discussion, article, or even the topic. My interest is curiosity only and I am completely uninformed as to the issues involved. But I do see an edit war going on and I think blanking is not the way to resolve any issue. Accordingly, I urge the contentious editors to WP:RELAX.

--S. Rich [19]

Making anything personal in a WP discussion, other than praise, is a no-win situation.

--Mike Cline (talk · contribs) [20]

I agree with the sentiments of User:Torchiest. Far too often on Wikipedia, weird (read: naive and unwise) little practices are instituted by little cabals of editors who are interested in a remote, backwater specialty subject. All it took was 20 editors some years back and we had “256 mebibytes (MiB) of RAM” instead of the “256 megabytes (MB) of RAM” the rest of the planet used. They were well intentioned editors, thinking that they could use Wikipedia to help effect change in how the real world worked by being first to adopt a proposed standard. All that idiocy with “mebibytes” and “kibibits”, which affected hundreds of articles nearly overnight, was the product of 20-to-6 vote to do something foolish. Even less-wise things are being done today on Wikipedia that are the product of still smaller cabals at RfCs. The only way to correct these wrongs is to widely advertise the RMs and RfCs so that enough editors might weigh in and drown out the cabal wearing their Star Trek uniforms. I am sorry if this simple inconvenient truth offends, but it is still a truth. It would be nice if there was a better way to get wider participation than someone getting an atomic wedgie at an ANI; but I’ll take the proper outcome, no matter how it came about.

--Greg L (talk · contribs) 23:48, 9 December 2011 [21]

Some least favoritesEdit

Bad policy EditsEdit

The beginning of the end for naming consistency within Wikipedia arguably occurred with this edit to the common names guideline on June 4, 2006. This perhaps seemingly innocuous change made the exception the rule, and consistency (with general naming conventions) the exception. What it allowed is the creation of specific naming guidelines that are specific to any group of articles to not use the most common name for the topic of each article as the title of that article, but whatever name is specified is by that particular naming guideline.

Prior to September 22, 2008, WP:AT had the following wording about the situation in which there are two topics for a term but neither is considered the primary topic: "a disambiguation page may be used; an alternative is to set up a redirect from the term to one of the topics, and use disambiguation links only." But on September 22, 2008, the "alternative" was removed, without explanation (nor discussion so far as I can tell), in this edit.

Bad RM decisionsEdit

  • Yogurt RM #3

    There were six bad RM decisions in the history of Yogurt, but the worst one, closed by Tariqabjotu (talk · contribs), had to be RM #3 which, based on a no consensus result reversed the move to Yogurt result of RM #2 in which closer Mets501 (talk · contribs) determined community consensus favored the move by properly evaluating the arguments in terms of how well they were based in policy (which is what closers are supposed to do). Had the result of RM #2 not been reversed by Tariq's dubious finding and decision in RM #2, that saga would have been resolved five years earlier.

  • Gangsta.Gangsta (manga) The closer, Kwamikagami, claimed "WP guidelines and multiple precedents" in this terrible non-admin close clearly contrary to consensus, but it was later easily overturned on review[22], and a subsequent RM[23] also showed there was no consensus to change the title from Gangsta.. However, eventually it was moved to Gangsta (manga) (no period).
  • Hillary Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton at Talk:Hillary_Clinton/Archive_19#Requested_move_7. This no consensus finding has to be one of the worst RM decisions in the history of WP, and was thankfully eventually corrected. The problem wasn't that the closing panel (Adjwilley, TParis, BrownHairedGirl) went against the 70% majority favoring the move, but that they underweighed the significance of CONCISE as a tie-breaker in a situation where indeed COMMONNAME was well argued to be a wash, using a poor excuse to do so: giving HRC more COMMONNAME weight because of supposedly more usage in "scholarly secondary works", even though even fewer opposers mentioned that than supporters mentioned CONCISE which they discounted because of how few supporters mentioned it. Also a good example of where they should have applied the Yogurt Principle, since it could have been easily seen that once it was moved to HC (as it has been since), there would be no good reason to move it back to HRC (as there isn't now).
  • Film industry in GeorgiaFilm industry in Georgia (U.S. state)

    There is no article about the film industry in the country of Georgia. There is nothing to disambiguate. The new title absurdly suggests there is a U.S. stated named Film industry in Georgia. Ridiculous.

True naming consistencyEdit

*'''Support''' - For true consistency across Wikipedia, [[WP:TITLE|the principal criteria]] that applies to all articles with respect to title determination should not be trumped by a desire for consistency with similar articles. Consistency with similar articles should only apply when [[WP:D|disambiguation]] is required and the principal criteria that applies to all articles does not clearly indicate what title to use. That is not the case here because [[WP:COMMONNAME]], [[WP:PRIMARYTOPIC]] and [[WP:PRECISION|"only as precise as necessary"]] clearly indicate XXXXXXXXXXX. Since disambiguation is not needed, consistency with similar articles is not applicable. --~~~~

Great RM decisionsEdit

Reading consensus based on strength of arguments rather than counting !votesEdit

  • YoghurtYogurt
    • In this second of eight RMs regarding this title, the closer, Mets501 (talk · contribs) actually analyzed the reasons given, and discarded irrelevant !votes. In so doing, he determined consensus was in favor of the proposed move, despite a lack of majority of participants favoring the move. Unfortunately, after being barraged with complaints, he relented and allowed for another (#3) RM discussion. That one resulted in "no consensus" from counting !votes and that closer decided to restore the title prior to the previous RM, back to Yoghurt. Had Mets501's finding of consensus held, the debate over that title would have been resolved five years sooner than it ultimately was.
  • Yom YerushalayimJerusalem Day by User:Fuhghettaboutit: Talk:Jerusalem_Day#Requested_move
    This one sentence summarizes how the closer justified overriding the "consensus" (simply read) of the participants by reading WP:CONSENSUS through weighing of arguments on well they were based on policy and guidelines:
    The nays outweigh the yays in number but the arguments in support are based in guideline and those relied on in opposition are in large part outside of guideline; were debunked and yet repeated without change; are based in classic examples of fallacious arguments we even have pages here describing (often in the context of deletion arguments); and most critically, pertinent evidence was provided which was never met by any counter evidence.
  • CorkCork (city) (after many "no consensus" decisions)
    This is a great example of a compromise accepting parenthetic disambiguation that nobody was very thrilled about. But it too has withstood the test of time.
  • Mark Jackson (basketball)Mark Jackson by JHunterJ: Talk:Mark_Jackson#Requested_move_15_May_2019
    • I think the closer was generous: "while the !VOTES are evenly split, the supports' policy-and-guidelines-based reasons tip the balance.". He clarified further at the move review:
      the opposers citing guidelines were in the minority, and the guidelines cited by the opposers did not support the claims (that is, the criterion about long-term significance was being used in a logical fallacy: "A topic is primary for a term with respect to long-term significance if it has substantially greater enduring notability and educational value than any other topic associated with that term." does not equate to "A topic cannot be primary for a term unless it has substantially greater enduring notability and educational value than any other topic associated with that term.". There was no WP:SUPERVOTE, just an assessment of the consensus in the discussion and in the guidelines cited (per WP:LOCALCONSENSUS)
    • And I expanded on that:
      No one opposed the nom's claim that the subject in question was getting 90% of the pageviews (one support said it was more like 85%). The opposes argued long-term significance (of what???) or just blatant JDLI ("Mark who?"). I too never heard of this (or any) Mark Jackson, but let's be clear, 85-90% of the people searching with "Mark Johnson" are looking for this one particular article, and the opposition thinks policy supports leaving the dab page there? Preposterous. The oppose votes were given too much weight as I would have dismissed them entirely for being utterly devoid of policy basis. Mentioning long-term significance in a discussion where long-term significance has no relevance is not policy basis. The opposers should all be trouted, as well as anyone not endorsing this close should be.
  • Cameron Smith (rugby league, born 1983)Cameron Smith by Steven Crossin: Talk:Cameron_Smith#Requested_move_30_May_2019
    • ... those opposing the move have largely argued that the subject of this article does not fulfil the requirements of WP:PRIMARYTOPIC to merit residence at the name without any disambiguation or qualification. That argument has largely been rebutted by those who support the move, among other arguments, noting an analysis of pageviews for the article titles that have this name, that this subject has a majority of views over an extended period of time.

Decisions based on SMALLDETAILSEdit

No consensus decisions related to deciding primary topicEdit


The majority of people who are not editors of this page are more likely to be familiar with the term "Ivory Coast." When they type that in they will see exactly what they were looking for right away and will know they are in the right place. Anyone searching "Côte d'Ivoire" will almost certainly already be aware that "Ivory Coast" is another common name for this place and will not suffer that same confusion. As is indicated in the discussion, many of the sources that use Côte d'Ivoire are not journalistic sources but rather governments or NGOs. It would be impolitic of them to use Ivory Coast, but we do not need to worry about that.

The weight of the evidence, per NGrams, book searches, and searches of news sources, is that *more* reliable sources used Hillary Clinton, and that this usage had been increasing over time. The ngram demonstrated that very well, as did someone's analysis of the book titles. Thus, per WP:COMMONNAME, we should prefer HC. But that wasn't enough in my opinion. Several oppose votes more or less agreed, and said that the usage is in the same ballpark, so other considerations must be taken into account. In defense of HRC, as Wasted Time R says, "correctness, formality, best sources' first references, official use, and self-identification should all outweigh whatever hits differences there are". In defence of HC, you have precision and conciseness. In this case, precision and conciseness are currently part of policy, the others are not. Thus, what swayed the balance was WP:PRECISE and WP:TITLE, which argue for conciseness, and Hillary Clinton is clearly both precise enough and more concise by the definitions given in the policy.

The result of the move request is the initial move of the article to "Chelsea Manning" is reverted, returning the article to the original title, "Bradley Manning.

The panel of administrators convened to review and close this discussion has unanimously reached the following determinations regarding this requested move:

  1. The title of the page prior to the events in dispute was "Bradley Manning"; this was a long-term, stable title, and the brief and limited discussion prior to the initial page move to "Chelsea Manning" does not constitute the formation of community consensus to move the page. Therefore, the default title of the page absent a consensus to move the page is "Bradley Manning".
  2. The discussion following the move request provided a clear absence of consensus for the page to be moved from "Bradley Manning" to "Chelsea Manning".
  3. WP:BLP is applicable to article titles and the desire to avoid harming the subject presents a reasonable basis for supporting "Chelsea Manning" as the title; however, BLP does not require having "Chelsea Manning" as the title. It is not a BLP violation to maintain the title at "Bradley Manning" so long as the prior use of this name by the subject is public knowledge and can be found in reliable sources. Furthermore, the application of BLP to avoid harming the subject is mitigated by the subject's own acknowledgment that "Bradley Manning" will continue to be used in various fora, and by the fact that the name, "Bradley Manning", will inevitably appear prominently in the article lede. Therefore, BLP is not a basis to move the article in the clear absence of a consensus in favor of titling the article, "Chelsea Manning".
  4. MOS:IDENTITY is not expressly applicable to article titles, and is therefore not a basis to move the article in the clear absence of a consensus in favor of titling the article, "Chelsea Manning".. The panel acknowledges that MOS:IDENTITY is applicable to pronouns as used in the article, and that the reversion of this title in no way implies that the subject should be addressed in the article by masculine pronouns. Although some may perceive this as leading to incongruity between the subject's name and the pronouns used throughout the article, such incongruity appears in numerous articles about subjects whose common name appears to differ from their gender.
  5. WP:COMMONNAME remains the basic principle by which article titles are chosen. This policy provides several factors which are weighed in the determination of a proper article title. In the requested move discussion, a number of editors noted that "Bradley Manning" was the name under which the subject became notable and performed the actions which led to her notability; and that readers interested in these actions would be likely to search for this subject under the name, "Bradley Manning". Competing examples were provided of some reliable sources changing their usage, while some retained their previous usage. The change that did occur was not sufficient to persuade the majority of editors, including some who indicated that their minds could be changed by sufficient evidence of changed usage. Although WP:COMMONAME provides that "more weight should be given to the name used in reliable sources published after the name change", it does not provide that no weight should be given to reliable sources published before the name change. The total mass of sources is weighted towards "Bradley Manning", and it is too soon to determine whether usage following the subject's announced name change represent an enduring trend, or a blip occasioned by reports in the news surrounding the name change itself.
  6. A comparatively small number of editors premised their opinions solely on Manning's legal or biological state. These arguments are not based on anything in Wikipedia's policies, and are contrary to numerous precedents. Such arguments were expressly discounted in this determination.
  7. A number of editors who supported reverting the title back to "Bradley Manning" also expressed the opinion that the common name of the subject is likely to change over a relatively short time span, this close is without prejudice to a new proposal to move the page to "Chelsea Manning" being initiated no less than thirty days* from the date of this determination, at which point those advocating the move of this page will be able to present all evidence that may arise during that time demonstrating a change in the common name of this subject as used by reliable sources. In the interim, editors may propose moving the page to a compromise title such as "Private Manning" or "Bradley (Chelsea) Manning".

* The sole point as to which the closing administrators were not unanimous was the length of time that should be required to pass before a new move request to "Chelsea Manning" is proposed; one member of the panel would have required ninety days.

This was by no means an easy process, and the closing administrators recognize that any conclusion to this discussion would engender further controversy; however, we are in agreement that this result is the only proper interpretation of the discussion conducted with respect to this dispute. bd2412 T 03:50, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

The result of the move request was: moved as proposed.

I'm closing this per a WP:ANRFC request.

Numerically, a few more editors oppose the proposal than support it. That would amount to no consensus. After, however, discounting the opinions that appear to be motivated by personal opinions about the underlying political situation rather than by Wikipedia policy (my favorite is the "only ignorant foreigners" one), as well as the one in which everything is underlined because it is visually painful to read, I must conclude that consensus as informed by Wikipedia policy and practice is in support of the proposal.

Quite a number of the opinions opposed to the move do not or only superficially address the "most common name" or "consistency" arguments advanced in favor of the move, but instead focus on comparisons with other difficult cases like "Macedonia", or on the political history and recognition status of the country, which isn't very on point. Some opinions are also barely comprehensible to me. Finally, there are credible and not seriously contested allegations of canvassing among people that can be expected to be mostly opposed to the proposal, which also cause me to give the "oppose" side less weight.

Consequently, the articles are moved as proposed. Sandstein 20:32, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

Community persistence paysEdit

All these articles were at titles where they were controversial but the moves were stubbornly opposed usually by just enough defenders to thwart achievement of clear local consensus multiple times, sometimes for years. In each case eventually community consensus prevailed, and they are all now uncontroversial at their stable titles.

Hopefully some day...Edit

  • Sarah Jane Brown → ??? (Sarah Jane Brown is not used by RS to refer to this person)
    • NOTE: 12-month moratorium on RMs ends on 1/29/2018.
  • BeetrootBeet

Current violations of WP:PRIMARYTOPIC (topics treated as primary that are not primary):

Current violations of WP:PRIMARYTOPIC (topics not treated as primary that are primary):

ENGVAR (Variety of English is disputed, cannot be resolved, and does not match original variety)

Examples of naming consistencyEdit

Below is a list of examples of pairs of titles from similar articles, each of which is consistent with general naming principles, but doesn't appear to be named consistently with the other. Note that these are not cherry-picked exceptions, but were mostly found by simply clicking on SPECIAL:RANDOM a few times, and exemplify the status quo.

What this illustrates is that it is normal for titles of similar articles to not follow the same format, and that when the titles of two similar articles don't follow the same format (typically, one is disambiguated while the other is not), that doesn't mean something is wrong that needs to be fixed.

In each case, the reason for the apparent inconsistency is the same:

Because in Wikipedia we strive for titles to be consistent with disambiguate only when necessary.

Articles I've startedEdit

Essays I've writtenEdit

Is Bothell, Washington more concise than Bothell?Edit

While there are a variety of arguments made for why titles of US city articles in the form of City, State should be favored over City, a rather unusual one is that concise should be interpreted such that, for example, "Bothell, Washington" is more comprehensive and thus more concise than "Bothell", because the longer one more comprehensively describes what the article is about and comprehensiveness is a key aspect of conciseness. Per the same reasoning, Hillary Rodham Clinton is more comprehensive and more concise than Hillary Clinton, and Ebro River is more comprehensive and more concise than Ebro, and so each of these longer title variants should be favored as well.

By the way, the argument against this view is that comprehensiveness in the context of title determination is not measured in terms of how well the article topic is described, but in how well it is identified. Most articles have a title that is merely the most common name used to refer to that topic; that title does not describe the article content, it merely identifies it. From that perspective, Bothell, Hillary Clinton and Ebro are just as comprehensive as are Bothell, Washington, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ebro River, because they identify the respective article topic just as comprehensively. However, since the shorter titles are shorter, they are also more concise, as brevity is the other aspect of conciseness. That is, if two titles identify a topic just as comprehensively, but one is shorter, then that one is more concise.

Now, if a topic does not have a name, then we are required to use a so-called descriptive title. Similar considerations are made when a name is ambiguous and requires disambiguation. For those types of titles we go beyond mere identification and delve into the realm of describing the topic in the title to some extent, but even there we are limited by policy and guidelines, including WP:PRECISE, which says titles are only precise enough to unambiguously define the topical scope of the article, but no more precise than that. Bothell, due to its uniqueness, unambiguously defines the topical scope of the article just as well as does Bothell, Washington.

Primary TopicEdit

Over the years I've wrestled with how primary topic is often misunderstood to mean "the most important topic" rather than "the most likely to be sought". This week I've noticed a similar misunderstanding associated with Time's Person of the Year. I've seen a trend in conservative social media promoting Gary Sinise as a more appropriate Person of the Year[34] than the targeted journalists Time has selected. It strikes me that these people misunderstand that the criteria for Person of the Year much like many on WP misunderstand the criteria for Primary Topic. The Person of the Year recognizes subjects that have "done the most to influence the events of the year". Gary Sinise, no matter how much GOOD he has done, does not even come close to meeting that. People forget that even Hitler and Saddam Hussein were Persons of the Year (Man of the Year for Hitler), because, for better or for worse, they influenced events in those years. It has nothing to do with whether they did any GOOD at all.

Anyway, I continue to believe we would improve WP by restoring primary topic to its clear original meaning which was entirely about likelihood to be sought, and no explicit consideration for "historical significance" (to the extent that historical significance needs to factor into deciding primary topic, it's inherent in likelihood of being sought).


Link to Jamal_Khashoggi article before his disappearance: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jamal_Khashoggi&oldid=854111142


Markup signatureEdit

This is a signature I used for a few days. I like the rendered look, but the source is unwieldy: