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Wikipedia's Five Pillars, which is a non-binding summary of some of the guidelines and policies of Wikipedia, presently states that "Wikipedia combines many features of general and specialized encyclopedias, almanacs, and gazetteers".
However, this should not be misunderstood as stating that Wikipedia IS a gazetteer. Wikipedia is very different from, for example, GNIS, or the National Land and Property Gazetteer, in that it does not simply include articles on every single place, populated or not, regardless of the notability of the location. Wikipedia policy specifically excludes that it should be a "indiscriminate collection of information", "dictionary", or a “directory”, which is what it would be if it simply included the kind of information that a classic gazetteer such GNIS does, since a gazetteer is ultimately a "geographical dictionary or directory used in conjunction with a map or atlas".
Articles about locations must pass the WP:GEOLAND notability guideline as a minimum requirement. Even where WP:GEOLAND is passed, such articles may still be merged or redirected for better accessibility and presentation of information. The mere existence of a geographical location does not mean that an article must be written about it if there is, in fact, nothing really to say about it that can be sourced to reliable sources.
Typically this becomes relevant in discussions at articles for deletion where one side wishes to keep an article on the grounds that "Wikipedia is a gazetteer" and where the references cited are a bare mention in a gazetteer, or in a similar source listing locations that does not distinguish between legally-recognised populated places and other places. Writers of articles about geographic locations that fail WP:GEOLAND, and about which it is not possible to write encyclopaedic articles, may instead contribute to Wikivoyage, GeoNames, or similar open-source gazetteer or gazetteer-like projects.
Commonly-used gazetteer or gazetteer-like sources edit
Census data edit
Census data, particularly that from censuses which are from cultural, linguistic, or historical contexts that are unfamiliar to the editor making use of them, should be treated with extreme care. Not every location listed in a census will necessarily be a "populated, legally recognised place" as required by WP:GEOLAND. For example the Iranian 2006 census listed ābādī, which are essentially a class of rural location, that includes mills, pumps, wells, factories, and farms, as well as rural villages, meaning that many of the ābādī are not what would generally be consider "populated places", still less "legally recognised" since the census by itself does not confer legal recognition. Similarly Turkish census data lists mahalle, which is variously translated as quarters/neighbourhoods, but which also includes village-type populated places, and not every one of which is necessarily a legally-recognised populated place.
Lists of post-offices, police stations, and other government-operated services should also be treated carefully. This is a form of census-like data and may have the same pit-falls, particularly as post-offices may be mobile or simply the adjunct of a store that isn't necessarily co-located with a community, and police stations may be located outside populated communities.
Best practise when handling census data from a context you are unfamiliar with is to seek help from editors more familiar with it (for example people fluent in the language of the country whose census you wish to make use of). Particularly where you wish to create a large number of such articles, a consensus to create the articles should be sought first at a relevant Wikiproject, even if you do not plan to use automated tools to create them.
GEOnet names server (GNS) edit
The GEOnet Names Server (GNS) is a database of locations outside the United States operated by the United States Geological Survey in cooperation with the United States Board on Geographic Names. It is compiled primarily from US military maps, at least some of which incorporate systematic errors. As it covers locations outside the USA, errors in it are also much less likely to be corrected. For example, a 2008 survey of South Korea toponyms on GNS found that roughly 1% of them were actually Japanese names that had never been in common usage, even during the period of Japanese colonial rule in Korea, and had apparently come from a 1946 US military map that had apparently been compiled with Japanese assistance. In addition to the Japanese toponyms, the same study noted that "There are many spelling errors and simple mis-understanding of the place names with similar characters" amongst South Korea toponyms on GNS, as well extraneous names of Chinese and English origin. As such it suffers from much the same problems as GNIS (see below) with the added burden of covering countries for which data is much more scarce and older, and from which they are much less likely to receive requests to update or correct the data within their database.
GNIS (the Geographic Names Information System) is a database of over 2 million natural and man-made features within the United States of America operated by the United States Geological Survey in cooperation with the United States Board on Geographic Names. A significant portion of these are labelled "populated places" within the database. Even ignoring the accuracy problems seen within this data, simply being listed as a "populated place" within GNIS does not demonstrate that the place has legal recognition as GNIS does not confer legal recognition of populated places. Instead legal recognition of populated places within the US is conferred through state and federal law through e.g., incorporation.
GNIS is, however, one useful way of discovering locations to write about within the US prior to locating further references related to the topic further confirming that it is notable (either as a legally-recognised populated place, or otherwise as a WP:GNG-pass) as part of the article-creation process.
At AFD edit
Arguments to make edit
- Keep - Jageshwar is an easy WP:GEOLAND pass per these sources (1 2). I Heart Notability (talk), 04:04, 25 April 2021 (UTC)
- Delete - Bare listings as a "populated place" on GEOnet Names Server do not make this a WP:GEOLAND pass. Passing Mention (talk), 04:04, 25 April 2021 (UTC)
- Keep - I saw this place was a populated place on GNIS and then used the alternative names on GNIS to find more sources (1 2 3) confirming that it is a WP:GEOLAND-pass. I Checked (talk), 04:04, 25 April 2021 (UTC)
Arguments to avoid edit
- Keep - This place is listed as a populated place in GNIS, GNIS is a gazetteer and so is Wikipedia per WP:5P1. GNIUS (talk), 04:04, 25 April 2021 (UTC)
- Keep - This place appears to have been listed as an ābādī in the Iranian 2006 census. A Bad Eye (talk), 04:04, 25 April 2021 (UTC)
- Delete - Not listed in the national Gazetteer, so not notable. GAZer (talk), 04:04, 25 April 2021 (UTC)
See also edit
- Park, Kyeong (July 2008). "A Study on Japanese and Foreign Place Names in Google Earth Satellite Images and GNS Database on South Korea". Journal of the Korean Geographical Society. 43: 188–201. Retrieved 9 November 2021.