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No consensus in primary topic discussionsEdit

One change to primary topic discussions I would like to see considered is that when a discussion involving a primary topic results in a no consensus, that should be taken as evidence that there is no primary topic, regardless of what articles were initially under discussion. For example, the move discussion about moving Avatar to Avatar (Hinduism) and Avatar (disambiguation) to Avatar, there was no consensus, which defaulted to no move. Instead, I'd like to see such discussions focus primarily on whether or not there is a primary topic. This way, if there is no consensus, that would mean there is no primary topic at all, and the result would be that the DAB page would displace the article occupying the primary topic. Thus in Avatar case, the pages would have been moved if there had been no consensus that there was a primary topic. I realize this would be a major change to how consensus involving primary topics is decided. However, currently, it takes a clear move consensus to move an article away from a primary topic title, which means an article will stay at the primary topic simply because there's no consensus to move it, when consensus points to there being no primary topic. By focusing the discussion on whether or not there is a clear primary topic instead of whether or not to move, we have a better chance of actually determining if there is a primary topic or not. - BilCat (talk) 07:21, 31 May 2019 (UTC)

I agree that should be the case (at least up to a point) I think the main argument against it is that it breaks external incoming links and means editors have to fix many DABlinks. But yes I think while the burden does generally lie on those wanting to move an article from its long-standing title, it should always the responsibility on those wanting a PT and a no consensus should actually mean there's no consensus to have a primary topic and thus the DAB should be at the base name, see this comment and this. Likewise when there is a consensus that there is no primary topic as here what should be done? In this case there was clear consensus that the place in Scotland wasn't primary for "Lewis" but no clear consensus if "Isle of Lewis" was actually the best title, arguably one could suggest that by "defaulting to the status quo" we should move it to Lewis, Scotland since that would reflect the article still being called "Lewis" but simply having a qualifier however as noted there was some support for the new title anyway. See also the open RM at Talk:Mull#Requested move 27 May 2019 where there is a proposal to put the island at "Isle of Mull" per COMMONNAME and the DAB at "Mull" per NOPRIMARY. Crouch, Swale (talk) 09:43, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
"No consensus" implies that two or more options are well supported, and the best outcome depends on what those options are. If it's "X is the PT: put X at the base name" versus "no PT: put dab at base name" then, although I usually !vote for the dab, the present process is probably correct. If "X is the PT: put X at the base name" and "Y is the PT: put Y at the base name" are both credible options then that indicates strongly that there is no PT and the dab merits the base name. That's not even a compromise solution: neither readers seeking X nor readers seeking Y deserve to be taken to the wrong article, especially when they could easily mistake it for the right article. (What's the population of New York?) Even as a resident of Scotland, I'm surprised to see [Isle of] Mull as PT given its more general use for a headland (Mull of Kintyre etc.) I'm also delighted that I couldn't find any bad incoming links, though I suspect some kind gnome may have fixed them once the debate started. Certes (talk) 10:39, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
In principle, this is probably right... but I think we might run into problems. Imagine if someone just really thinks a particular topic shouldn't be primary. Since "No Consensus" results are fairly common (and potentially easy to force), they could keep requesting RMs over months/years until they get one. Seems weird that, even though their RM lost, they won by getting their desired outcome of NOPRIMARY. -- Netoholic @ 10:47, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
That's not always a bad thing. Two years ago, the article on NY state was titled New York. Several of us went into its RM believing the city was a PT and came out with the dab at the base name, which I think was the best result for the readers. Certes (talk) 11:02, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
Yes, it was a good result, but it was also the one that challenged my whole thinking on Primary Topic. It shouldn't have been so hard to get a good result! We always had consensus that New York State was not the Primary Topic. But it took eleven years and multiple RMs to convert that consensus to a page move. Reread wp:NYRM2016#Discussion by panelists, especially the two who found no consensus to move. There needs to be a better way. Andrewa (talk) 13:13, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
"We always had consensus that New York State was not the Primary Topic. But it took eleven years and multiple RMs to convert that consensus to a page move. " Exactly! - BilCat (talk) 18:50, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
Are there any cases where it benefits readers to have a recently created article at an ambiguous name? Andrewa (talk) 13:13, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
You mean have the new article take over the base name? Only when a new topic becomes primary, such as next week's pop sensation sharing their name with someone who has a stub for playing one cricket match in 1832. Certes (talk) 17:50, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
I mean any time a new article is created at a name that we know to be ambiguous... that is, there is another encyclopedic topic that could be at that article name. I was hoping for an actual example.
But let's take that hypothetical example... suppose Hairy Harry and the Half Headless Horsemen were a new band, named after a children's book on which we already have a stub. They both appear to be notable. I say, we have no idea which is P T now or in the future. So, what do we do? Currently, there's nothing to stop the book being boldly bounced to a disambiguated name, and the new article being created at the base name over the redirect (hopefully with a hatnote). Or if the band was given a disambiguated name but then got lots of traffic, there would be an RM and it would be moved to the base name, and again the book disambiguated. Both of these seem bad outcomes to me. Andrewa (talk) 20:30, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
@Certes: the Mull move was successful, I fixed all but 1 links and they were all for the island. The last is at Battle of Loup Hill which is probably for the island but since it mentions Kintyre its not clear. There was 1 link for the geographical term in 2010 though. Crouch, Swale (talk) 05:51, 4 June 2019 (UTC)
Thank you. I've fixed Battle of Loup Hill as I'm confident it refers to the Isle of Mull. Certes (talk) 09:45, 4 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Support this proposal. No consensus on whether there is a primary topic, or on what the primary topic is, should be reason enough to have a DAB (or a redirect to a DAB) at the base name, and we should then move on. (And hopefully as a result it will never take eleven years again, see above.) Andrewa (talk) 13:13, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Side remark - "no consensus", in my opinion, was the most problematic implementation in discussion closing results (and pretty stupid one) on If something has no consensus, then obviously even the current "object" (name, guideline, policy, etc), has no consensus for it to be kept; that it came before is meaningless if it can't keep showing that it has a community consensus to back it up. Currently stuff just linger around with at best, a small vocal minority managing to achieve a no consensus (even with by a head-count it might not even have a 1/3 majority). I guess I support this proposal. --Gonnym (talk) 13:20, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
    • Agree that no consensus is problematic. It is to be avoided wherever possible! The object of all talk page discussions should be to achieve consensus, and IMO going for a no consensus close should be seen as gaming the system. And I still stick by Andrew's Principle. But I also think that by handling no consensus closes more logically, we'll reduce their number, and make playing for draw less attractive without needing sanctions (and see User:Andrewa/Rules, rules, rules for more on that). Andrewa (talk) 14:06, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
  • I'm inclined to Agree as well, but: WP:NOCONSENSUS is a policy and so "trumps" WP:D. The discussion (and probably RfC) would probably have to happen there. -- JHunterJ (talk) 14:12, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
    • I'm simply raising an idea here. This isn't an RFC, and isn't intended to be. - BilCat (talk) 15:47, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Wow. I can elaborate on my comments later, but this would change 15+ years of precedent on Wikipedia concerning the meaning of "no consensus" and how discussions operate. No consensus has long meant the status quo remains in place. I cannot get on board with such a radical proposal. Calidum 14:22, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
    • I'm not making a proposal at this time. This is primarily just a discussion at this point. I fully realize it is radical, and pretty much said that. However, you seem to be missing my specific point, which is that in discussions involving primary topics, the point shouldn't be whether or not to change the status quo, but if there is actually a primary topic in the first place. It's a change in perspective when dealing with primary topics specifically more than a change in how discussions operate in general. - BilCat (talk) 15:47, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Weak support per my arguments above, I think at least either a stricter criteria for PTs or a requirement for a stronger consensus in favour of retaining a PT than removing it. I think if we followed the strict rule that no consensus always means we move the DAB to the base name then it would create problems with breaking too many links that would likely get reverted at a later RM (or at MR). I think closers need to find a sensible balance between "no consensus" meaning there is no PT and "no consensus" meaning keeping things as they are. In response to the 2 previous comments some policies such as WP:BURDEN do indeed require one side to show something over the other and WP:NOCONSENSUS does give "In disputes over external links, disputed links are removed unless and until there is a consensus to include them." which could also be used for primary topics. Another way of doing it is that a "move DAB to base name" takes place in cases where the arguments on both sides are equal (example although in this case the page was moved first), a case where the arguments for keeping a PT are slightly stronger results in "no consensus" (example) and a "not moved" (example, page hits there showed 1,556 for the current PT and the other 2 combined get 6) happens when there is clear consensus to keep a PT. Crouch, Swale (talk) 16:39, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
    • Thanks! This is exactly what I was looking for: Good ideas on how to improve the process and discussion involving primary topics. That's why I'm saying this is a discussion, not a proposal as such, though I'm happy to see many supporting my original statements as written. - BilCat (talk) 17:01, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
    • (edit conflict)Surely this is just common sense though, WP:PRECISION specifies that titles are usually unambiguous but that primary topic is a (rather common) exception. While a primary topic does make it slightly easier to find that one, it makes it significantly more difficult to find the other topics, so yes generally if there's no consensus to "privilege" one article at the expense of all the others we generally shouldn't do. Crouch, Swale (talk) 17:04, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose, largely per my main point in the previous section. I believe there is an irrational bias against finding a primary topic because "primary topic" is a misnomer and many people reasonably believe it implies "most important topic". And, so, in many cases, yes including Apple, the topic users are most likely seeking when they search with a given ambiguous term (like "apple") is not where they are taken. Changing outcomes in RM discussions per what is suggested here would just exacerbate this problem. To clarify, I certainly agree that in cases like New York where no topic is clearly the most likely to be sought by a significant margin the dab page should be at the base name, but with situations like Apple I think the community is really misguided by the misnomer. Even with the fruit at the basename the corporation is consistently getting at least four times as many hits [1]. While it may not be a surprise to land on the fruit, how are the vast majority (4 out of 5, or 80%) of "Apple" searchers served by being taken there instead of to the article they are seeking? --В²C 18:01, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
    Would that not be an argument to put the DAB at the base name instead? Personally I'd make both Apple and Windows primary so that readers and editors can easily find both (by putting both major topics at the top of the DAB). And at Wikipedia talk:Requested moves/Archive 18#The process of determining the consensus decision and User talk:RegentsPark/Archive 8#Cambridge review you appear to have argued that a lack of consensus for a PT means no PT, although I know that was a long time ago surely that view is correct and is best applied currently. Crouch, Swale (talk) 18:11, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
    No, when as many as 80% of those searching with a term are looking for a particular topic, then that's an argument to put the article of that particular topic at the base name. Not a dab page. --В²C 18:20, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
    If we did that with Apple we would land many readers coming from external links onto the wrong page, a DAB page makes most sense for both even if its as high as 80% that's not a significant order of magnitude especially when the fruit is probably better known and has more long-term significance even though (unlike Pink) Apple (the company) is well known globally. Crouch, Swale (talk) 18:28, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
    I don't know why you keep raising the external links issue. That applies to any move that results in one article replacing a previous one at a given title, and is simply a reason to leave a hatnote link to the new title for the previous article. But we never can be responsible for breaking external links when we move our articles. That's a problem everywhere. For example, news sites reconfigure their articles fairly regularly, breaking links to the previous location. In fact, that's much of what maintenance to links to external sources on WP is all about. That's just the reality of the web. It's not a reason to avoid title changes. --В²C 19:23, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
    Landing readers on the wrong article is surely a bad idea even if other sites don't worry too much about URL stability. Crouch, Swale (talk) 19:49, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
    Exactly. But that's a survivable problem... Two mouse clicks at worst. If they don't find the article they want (because it's at an ambiguous name that they don't associate with what they want, or because an incoming external link takes them to the wrong page for example) that is far more serious. Andrewa (talk) 20:50, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
    But we have no way of measuring what people are looking for. Page views tell us what they found, not what they were looking for. Andrewa (talk) 20:50, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
    • The New York situation is one of the primary reasons I finally put forth this idea. - BilCat (talk) 18:46, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
      • New York was ultimately resolved on the basis of a consensus formed by a strong showing of evidence of ambiguity. Doesn't that mean that the system now in place ultimately worked? bd2412 T 18:59, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
        • It means it worked badly. It took eleven years, during which time thousands of bad wikilinks were created (which you fixed, thank you) and presumably thousands more bad incoming external links were created, many (perhaps most) of which will never be fixed. Andrewa (talk) 21:12, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
          • @Born2cycle: could you please clarify why you don't think that a lack of consensus for a PT means no PT is a bad idea for cases like Apple? Unless you're talking about cases like Nosedive where many editors are surprised to find a topic at a title that is actually likely to be primary by PT#1 and that they may be able for force a "no primary" case its surely better for readers to have the DAB at the base name. If this was the case we would probably have Plymouth at the base name, something you've tried to get for years. Crouch, Swale (talk) 18:52, 2 June 2019 (UTC)
            • Sure. In my experience, once PT has been established for a given article, unless there is clear consensus that it is no longer primary, it almost certainly still is. For example, I've recently seen editors opine that a given article is not primary even though it's undisputed that it's getting 85-90% of the page views and everyone agrees none of the uses of the ambiguous term are primary by long-term significance. See Talk:Bruce_Smith#Requested_move_14_May_2019. Thankfully, the closer in that case agreed that the topic was primary and it was moved accordingly. But if there is another proposal to disambiguate it based again on the claim that it's not primary, and there is "no consensus" on that, it should be disambiguated? I don't think so. --В²C 18:15, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
              • Yes it should be disambiguated if there isn't consensus to keep the PT at a later RM. Although again that probably requires a weaker consensus than to create a PT. Crouch, Swale (talk) 18:22, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
              • Thanks for bringing that to my attention. It is a classic case of an unnecessary move that achieved nothing for the reader or for the contributor, and will probably lead to problems in the long term. Discuss at User talk:Andrewa/P T examples and scenarios#Bruce Smith. Andrewa (talk) 03:03, 14 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose as worded. This appears to say that even the absence of consensus that a topic is ambiguous renders the topic ambiguous. As I recall, there have been proposals in the past to eliminate the idea of base page name ambiguity altogether, and assign one sense as a primary topic for every term (so that even John Smith would have one topic selected as "primary"; on the opposite end there have been proposals to eliminate primary topics altogether, and have a disambiguation page at every title (so that even a title like Pennsylvania or Barack Obama becomes a disambiguation page, with the state and the president moved to titles with disambiguators). I think both extremes are equally absurd, and prefer to remain at the balance that we have presently struck, rather than moving more towards either of them. bd2412 T 18:27, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
    • If a consensus can't be reached that a topic is unambiguous, then isn't that proof it is ambiguous? That's what I'm trying to say here. Yes, as others have pointed out, there is a danger of gaming the system as worded, but again, this isn't a proposal per se. It's a discussion to see if we can find a better way to determine whether or not there is a primary topic as it affects DAB pages. - BilCat (talk) 18:41, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
    • What wording would you prefer?
    • Agree that both extremes are equally absurd. But neither this proposal nor my latest one goes to the extreme (I confess I did suggest that once, but I've changed my mind, which is a very good thing to do on occasions). Andrewa (talk) 05:42, 1 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Perhaps we need to have to separate RM discussions into two distinct types:
    1. The first type is only to determine what the best title for a particular topic is - this is where arguments like WP:COMMONNAME and other WP:CRITERIA come into play.
    2. The second type of RM that is only focused on the question of primary topic - this would be where we'd compare all articles using a particular name and decide which, if any, is WP:PRIMARYTOPIC.
They could be clearly marked something like "Title discussion" or "Primary topic discussion", and by separating the issues, we don't have an RM that has to try to do both at the same time, and we might see fewer "no consensus" results. -- Netoholic @ 18:59, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
  • I don't think it would be worth splitting and some like the Mull one focus on both, note that CFD deals with deletions, merges, renames, splits and converting into lists. Out of those only renames are relevant to the RM process. And RFD deals with both deletions and where a redirect should target thus like the PT types of RMs. Crouch, Swale (talk) 19:04, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose as written. I support lowering the threshold for a DAB page, increasing the threshold for PrimaryTopic to if there is no clear PrimaryTopic then there is no PrimaryTopic, but "No consensus" means "do nothing". If the discussion were informed by the guideline advocating if there is no clear PrimaryTopic then there is no PrimaryTopic, then I would expect consensus would be more readily found to have the DAB page, and this achieves the same objective without undermining the wiki way --SmokeyJoe (talk) 01:05, 3 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - As far as I'm concerned, 'No consensus' in move discussions means 'no consensus to move'. Moving the article anywhere would be, in my opinion, ignoring consensus. There is nothing stopping the original proposer, or anyone else, making a follow up request to move the article to a dab page so what is the problem?--Ykraps (talk) 18:03, 3 June 2019 (UTC)
  • I have not had a chance to read through the whole discussion, but I wanted to make a point about this being "radical" or changing 15 years of precedent. Actually this has been done on a case-by-case basis for over 10 years now, although it might have become less frequent since the implementation of move review, since there are some editors who feel it's out of process. Dekimasuよ! 23:07, 3 June 2019 (UTC)
  • That said, I am also not really on board with changing anything explicitly that would result in a bunch of new arguments over the border between "not moved" and "no consensus to move", both of which used to frequently be called "no consensus to move" before the supplementary RM page added the part about "three outcomes". Dekimasuよ! 23:10, 3 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose as written WP:IFITAINTBROKE   —  Hei Liebrecht 17:54, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
    • I remain fascinated that others and now you think there is nothing to fix. The New York base name pointed to the wrong article for eleven years, during which time there were repeated attempts to move it, there was consistent consensus that it was the wrong article, and predictably, thousands of mislinkings were created. Not broken? Really? Andrewa (talk) 02:22, 14 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Support in part. Ultimately, "no consensus" is a range, and in the end one of the two sides will be slightly stronger than the other but the closing admin has decided that the difference is not significant enough. I think there should be a bias in favor of disambiguation, such that an RM held to declare a primary topic should be held to a higher standard than an RM held to remove one. That is, an RM to declare a primary topic should only be successful if there is clear consensus that it is primary, while an RM to disambiguate a term which is currently occupied by a specific topic will be successful if there is slightly more support for no primary topic, even if it doesn't rise to the level of traditional consensus. However, the latter will not be successful in the case of a "no consensus" where there is slightly more support to retain the primary topic. -- King of ♠ 23:45, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Support in part. Lack of consensus implies (in the colloquial rather than the formal logical sense) that the term is ambiguous and that the base name should lead to the dab. I wouldn't go so far as to mandate a dab whenever there is no consensus, but there should be a presumption in favour of it. Certes (talk) 12:15, 9 September 2019 (UTC)

The two ways to see "no consensus" regarding Primary Topic RMsEdit

There are two ways to look at a discussion outcome of an RM that proposes moving an article to a disambiguated title and the dab page to the basename when it results in no consensus.

  1. The current way is to presume community consensus previously established that the topic of the article currently at the basename is the primary topic, and that the RM discussion did not change that. Furthermore, just because the tiny fraction of the community participating in that RM did not form a consensus that the topic is primary does not mean that reflects community consensus. Only when there is a clear local consensus based in policy do we overturn previously established community consensus.
  2. The proposed way is to decide that no consensus by the participants in the discussion reflects a community consensus that there is no primary topic.

I think the second/proposed way gives far too much weight to WP:LOCALCONSENSUS over presumed previously-established community consensus. --В²C 19:42, 31 May 2019 (UTC)

  • How is this different from literally any other consensus-based process in Wikipedia? You are just arguing to reverse the normal process to make an absence of consensus in favor of a change mean that the change is favored. You could make the same argument at, for example, AfD, that the absence of a consensus on whether to keep or delete an article should result in its deletion because only a handful of people will participate in the process to favor keeping it. Incidentally, you could also reverse the argument in disambiguation page moves going the other way. If a proposal is made to make a particular topic the primary topic of a disambiguation title, the absence of consensus on an outcome could just as easily be read as an absence of consensus that the title is ambiguous, leading to a presumption that the proposed topic should be moved to the primary topic title. bd2412 T 21:20, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
    • It is different in that in the case of P T discussions, the absence of consensus is itself directly relevant to the outcome. This is not the case in other discussions. Andrewa (talk) 21:27, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
    • BD2412, you wrote, in reply to me, "You are just arguing to reverse the normal process ...". What specifically did I write that caused you to think I was arguing "to reverse the normal process"? --В²C 21:42, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
      • Andrewa, how is the the absence of consensus not directly relevant in other discussions? --В²C 21:42, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
        • Depends I suppose by what we mean by directly. I was struggling for the right term. The absence of consensus in P T discussions directly supports the view that there is no P T, because if there were one, that would mean that most Wikipedians would expect to see an article on that topic at that name, and we'd have rough consensus. This doesn't apply to any other discussion, only to P T discussions. Andrewa (talk) 21:56, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
          No, that's not true. No consensus means no consensus, it doesn't mean "those arguing that there's no PT are actually correct because there is no consensus on the matter". Typically this will be a borderline case where one article of the set *might* be primary, but not quite enough to get everyone on board. In such a scenario it's right and proper to maintain the status quo, whatever that may be.  — Amakuru (talk) 22:21, 2 July 2019 (UTC)
          Agree that No consensus means no consensus, it doesn't mean "those arguing that there's no PT are actually correct because there is no consensus on the matter". That last bit is not what I was trying to say at all! But the absence of consensus is evidence (not proof) that there is no primary topic, and that's an important difference between P T discussions and others (probably all others). Andrewa (talk) 00:54, 3 July 2019 (UTC)
          Morning/Evening Andrew, and thanks for your reply. Well, yes and no. The absence of consensus means there is some evidence (that presented by those arguing for a dab page) that there is no primary topic. But equally, there is some evidence (by those arguing for the ptopic) that there is a primary topic. By definition, assuming the closer assessed the discussion accurately, and in line with policy, this is a borderline case. So I don't personally see a reason to carve out a special exception to the normal rule of maintaining the status quo for this particular borderline scenario. This would only be valid if it could be demonstrated that having no primary topic is somehow objectively better than having a primary topic, a proposition which has not garnered consensus, even in this discussion right here.  — Amakuru (talk) 10:11, 3 July 2019 (UTC)
          Agree with most of this. But I contend that having no primary topic is somehow objectively better than having a primary topic in borderline cases (at the very least), for several reasons. Just for example, loading a DAB which takes you quickly to the right page is far better than loading the wrong page, which may be long and may not lead to finding the right page at all. Andrewa (talk) 23:41, 3 July 2019 (UTC)
          • because if there were [a primary topic], that would mean that most Wikipedians would expect to see an article on that topic at that name, and we'd have rough consensus. Andrewa, what? Just because a handful of self-selected and potentially biased editors can't agree on a rough consensus does not mean there is no more community consensus on the matter. The result is meaningless unless there is a firm consensus on the issue one way or another (and even then a local consensus does not necessarily reflect community consensus especially if their decision goes against policy in which case hopefully the closer is on the ball and has the balls to do the right thing). But no way should a no-consensus finding be considered deterministic about anything. --В²C 23:56, 2 July 2019 (UTC)
          • Agree that no way should a no-consensus finding be considered deterministic about anything. But in P T discussions it is evidence and should be considered alongside other evidence. Andrewa (talk) 00:54, 3 July 2019 (UTC)
            • I appreciate your candor. But lack of consensus is not evidence of anything other than that particular group of participants not having consensus. —В²C 06:49, 3 July 2019 (UTC)
              • True but that is itself significant evidence. It tells us that even within that small sample space, there is an important (to the participants) disagreement over the term's meaning. In some discussions (but not all) we could take it further... if there are several views as to what the Primary Topic is, that's a significantly different case to the one in which it's agreed what the Primary Topic would be if there is one, but disagreement over whether or not this topic is significant or popular enough for there to even be a Primary Topic. (And these two cases are not exhaustive.) There are problems with putting an article at the base name in each case, but different problems. Andrewa (talk) 05:04, 4 July 2019 (UTC)
    • (edit conflict) Actually, a "no consensus" in an AfD is a default "Keep", because the article is not deleted. A Move discussion is different, because all we're doing is trying to do is determine what is the most appropriate title for an article. What makes it complicated is when there is or is not already a primary topic for an article. - BilCat (talk) 21:47, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
      • WP:CONSENSUS is very clear on this. "In discussions of proposals to add, modify or remove material in articles, a lack of consensus commonly results in retaining the version of the article as it was prior to the proposal or bold edit". No consensus means we maintain the status quo, not make the change that has failed to gain a consensus. bd2412 T 22:09, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
        • Yes. But P T should be an exception to this... if we really must retain it. Andrewa (talk) 22:23, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
        • Yes, BD2412, and I'm agreeing with what it says. If the proposal is to move A → B because A is not the primary topic, and there is no (local) consensus about whether A is still the primary topic, I'm saying the article should not be moved. Andrewa and others think there should be an exception and it should be moved despite the lack of consensus to move, because there is also no consensus about primary topic, which to them indicates there is no primary topic. I disagree. Like I said above, I think that gives (far) too much weight to LOCALCONSENSUS over previously established consensus. --В²C 19:32, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
          • My proposal would not move in this scenario. That's part of its beauty. It eliminates an enormous number of unproductive and sometimes damaging article moves. (The worst of these being of course when the primary topic changes, by consensus, from one topic to another.) Andrewa (talk) 02:09, 14 June 2019 (UTC)

My advice is still, solve this completely by getting rid of P T, but grandfathering old articles as described in User:Andrewa/Primary Topic RfC. Andrewa (talk) 21:27, 31 May 2019 (UTC)

  • I'll try to read it this weekend. Even if I end up not supporting it, there may some good ideas there that we can incorporate into this discussion, and see what happens. - BilCat (talk) 21:47, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
    • Thank you! It's just a draft for discussion and development at this stage.
    • And again I urge people to reread wp:NYRM2016#Discussion by panelists. Bear in mind that this was a carefully chosen, highly qualified panel, including even an ARBCOM member, and we had justifiably high hopes. But they got it hopelessly wrong, and reading between the lines they knew that it was wrong... one of them almost said so explicitly, and they dawdled over the closing until an uninvolved editor had to do it for them, which is also indicative.
    • If even they (and many before them of course) couldn't get it right, then there is a serious problem with the way we are doing things, and one we still have not addressed. That's my point referring back to that discussion. Andrewa (talk) 22:09, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
      • That problem is not exclusive to PT-related RMs; nor is it indicative of a problem with PT. I address the more general problem at User:Born2cycle/Yogurt Principle. --В²C 23:40, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
        • That essay has been raised by you in many discussions, and I have not yet seen it gain any support at all. But yes, if it had been adopted, it might have ended the NYRM fiasco far more quickly, if the closers had understood and applied it (three big "if"s).
        • It doesn't seem relevant here apart from that. It's a completely different approach. It's logical, certainly, but wordy (I perhaps should throw no stones there!) and I doubt that many people would find it helpful. And perhaps that's why it has received so little support.
        • And even if it were relevant here, it hasn't any chance of adoption IMO. Andrewa (talk) 02:45, 1 June 2019 (UTC)
          • That essay has been used by others such as myself and at Talk:New York/Meta for example. Basically if a bad title remains for a long time and the opposers are able to hang onto it because there isn't enough consensus for the proposal but once the move is made its unlikely that there would ever be consensus to move back and it will be stable. Crouch, Swale (talk) 18:52, 2 June 2019 (UTC)
            • Indeed, it is mentioned four times on the page you cite, by three editors including B2C. Let me quote one of the others: Editor Born2Cycle, of Yogurt Principle fame, will surely be delighted that the New York horse from 2001 was finally revived. Note that the page was explicitly for off-topic tangents to the NYRM discussions.
            • I have mixed feelings about the YP as I indicated above but perhaps not clearly. It is valid and logical. But it's a rather subtle point, and shouldn't be necessary. It's only potentially helpful if we want to recover from a failure in our other procedures and practices. Much better to fix them instead. See wp:instruction creep.
            • And I see no evidence that it has ever helped even in that, notably in the NYRM fiasco, or ever will. It was just another tangent. Not nearly so bad as the ridiculous suggestion by one of the panelists that we had a Condorcet paradox, but still an unproductive tangent. Sorry if that's all disparaging, but I think we need to face some challenging realities. Andrewa (talk) 01:57, 14 June 2019 (UTC)
              I do find the yogurt principle somewhat useful myself, and as I recall it was a factor in getting some people's support in the NYRM. I view it more as a principle to consult when dealing with perennial proposals that never get over the line, than something we should adopt as a guideline or policy. I wouldn't have a rule saying "you must move this article because people keep saying we should", but I would point people at the essay by the time of the third of fourth iteration, and suggest to them that its application could put the matter to bed. The main opposition to the yogurt principle is from people who for whatever reason like to protect poor long-term article names, and get irritated by B2C's never-say-die attitude to trying to fix things.  — Amakuru (talk) 22:31, 2 July 2019 (UTC)
              It's potentially useful if it were very carefully explained and/or adopted by consensus. It's logical, as I said before. But I'm not convinced that it made any actual difference at NYRM. There were much better arguments, and those who couldn't see those for whatever reason were not likely to be swayed by the yogurt principle as it was and is. Were they? Andrewa (talk) 01:28, 3 July 2019 (UTC)
              Well, the main thrust of the Yogurt Principle doesn't really need to be "adopted by consensus", since it simply highlights two existing rules/observations about Wikipedia, neither of which is particularly contentious on its own. Namely: (1) RM discussions should be closed by viewing the !votes through the lens of policy, not just through a headcount, and (2) if a proposal is being made perennially, the move arguments are plausible, and once moved, one can reasonably predict that nobody will ever consider moving it back, then we that's strong evidence get on and move it. These two points applied very clearly at Yogurt and New York, as well as others that stuck around at less-than-ideal names for a long time, such as Hillary Clinton and Washington. Most likely Sarah Jane Brown is somewhat in that category too, although it fails to achieve full yogurthood due to the fact that we lack a fully-suitable and obvious alternative name for the article. Thanks  — Amakuru (talk) 10:25, 3 July 2019 (UTC)
              But isn't it easier and simpler just to apply those existing policies etc.? I don't see how appealing instead to an obscurely worded failed proposal helps at all! Andrewa (talk) 00:08, 4 July 2019 (UTC)

BilCat, did you get a chance to read User:Andrewa/Primary Topic RfC over the weekend as planned? Any comments?


for my latest thoughts. Andrewa (talk) 01:54, 11 June 2019 (UTC)

Where toEdit

There seems some dissatisfaction with P T as it currently is, but as yet no consensus on a way forward. It's not even clear to me whether there is yet consensus that any change is required. (Although I supported and still support the original proposal as a step in the right direction.)

Some feel that we should raise the bar in some way, but keep P T for clearcut cases. My view is of course that we should raise the bar so high that the only P Ts remaining are existing well-established articles (but be prepared to make the occasional exception, as with all rules). I think it's the simplicity of this that most appeals to me. But I also like SmokeyJoe's suggestion if there is no clear PrimaryTopic then there is no PrimaryTopic. [2] Definitely another step in the right direction.

And we have the Yogurt principle and Andrew's Principle which both go outside the square. I admit I was a bit surprised at the support expressed above for the Yogurt Principle, should we perhaps reinstate at least one of the seven deleted or retargeted Project Namespace redirects? [3]

My proposal is now backed by a great deal of case evidence and is looking better and better. But a detailed analysis of this evidence is lacking. When I find time to do that (or someone else does) then we maybe can think about an RfC along those lines. I think there's still a long way to go but that we'll get there. Happy to be proven wrong. Andrewa (talk) 03:37, 6 June 2019 (UTC)

Some editors are dissatisfied with PT as it currently is, and there has always been disagreement over where to "draw the line" (or even if a line should be drawn) between primary topic vs. no primary topic. As I noted above, the way forward for this particular (partial) definition of the line would be at WT:CONSENSUS. -- JHunterJ (talk) 13:18, 6 June 2019 (UTC)
Good point that we would want consensus at wt:consensus to make an exception for article title discussions. RM discussions are already explicitly a special case at wp:consensus.
But both the original proposal here [4] and my one under development completely avoid that complication. Mine in particular would remove the need for the vast majority of P T discussions.
Another point I'd make is that the problem with NYRM2016 (which motivated another editor to start this particular discussion) wasn't so much achieving consensus as assessing consensus. Consensus was assessed as achieved by one of the panel, and in glorious hindsight their assessment stands up very well (just read it). But not the other two panelists, unfortunately... they seem to have been swayed by some patently discardable !votes and arguments. I doubt I will ever understand why. Andrewa (talk) 01:24, 7 June 2019 (UTC)
New York is a closer case than this analysis would suggest. There were reasonable arguments for the state having primacy which would be impossible to make for titles like John Smith or Scale or even Washington. There are some articles, like Apple and Mouse, for which similar arguments could be but probably would not prevail. bd2412 T 02:30, 14 June 2019 (UTC)
reasonable arguments for the state having primacy... Very interesting suggestion. Such as? Andrewa (talk) 03:26, 14 June 2019 (UTC)
Such as the city being a fully contained component of the state, so that everything that happens in New York City technically happens in the State of New York. By definition, the state covers a higher population and has vastly more land area, and has a history that includes the history of the city plus numerous events throughout the state that had little or nothing to do with the city. Also, the proper full name of the city is The City of New York, which, if applied rigorously, would be self-disambiguating from the state. I was one of the strongest proponents of disambiguating the names, after I went through all the links, but frankly if there had not been a substantial number of hits intending specific sports teams, the magazine, and occasionally the song, I wouldn't have been as confident in supporting the move. bd2412 T 03:55, 14 June 2019 (UTC)
That first argument seems to be the HLJC. It has no basis in policy, and failed to gain any support for adoption when proposed. The page currently reads in part This essay emerged from July 2016 discussions of the New York case, as an effort to find compromise over primary-topic status of New York State vs New York City vs absence of primary topic for this name. Numerous counterexampleswere provided, making this criterion impossible to apply without contradicting extant titling practice, WP:PTOPIC and WP:AT policies. This page is retained for historical purposes only and should not be invoked in titling discussions (except to prove its impracticality). So that argument is discardable.
The second is also discardable. The fact that there are other names available for the city does not make the name New York available for the state.
These arguments and many others were proposed in NYRM2016 of course. But no valid ones. There was a basis for the claim that if there was no consensus, then there should be no move. That logic is sound. The only problem is that (apart from that argument) there was consensus, strong consensus in fact, so it doesn't apply. You can't pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.
Or are there others you'd like to propose as valid? Perhaps the argument that Wikipedia will be irreparably harmed by moving the State article away from the base name? (;-> Andrewa (talk) 10:08, 14 June 2019 (UTC)
Don't forget one billion Africans! But seriously, the main arguments against were status quo/no consensus, higher-level jurisdiction, and (to some Americans) NY=state NYC=city. All were reasonable, but were rightly considered less compelling than arguments in the proposal such as no PT. Certes (talk) 10:18, 14 June 2019 (UTC)
Agree that these were the main arguments. I guess you could call them all reasonable, but not sure that this is helpful... in terms of our long-established (by consensus) policies and procedures, both the status quo argument and the HLJC are discardable, and should not have been considered in determining whether there was consensus to move. The status quo argument is logically fallacious, by circularity... It's only relevant after it's established that there is no consensus, so you can't use it in determining whether or not that consensus exists, any more than you can pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. The HLJC has been rejected, again by (strong) consensus.
But that last one is the one that is very interesting, and was discussed in the NYRM discussions, but not nearly so much as it should have been in hindsight (but the signal to noise ratio was daunting). New York means different things to different people. To most people it means the city, and that's both the most significant topic and the one most people want. But is that good enough? I now say, no. That's what we have established at NYRM, and why I eventually decided (to my surprise) that Primary Topic had reached its use-by date, rather than proceeding to NYRM2018 as I originally proposed. Wave means one thing to a surfer or sailor and probably also to any primary school student, another to a physicist and probably to anyone who has progressed to western secondary education or beyond, and still a third thing to the Pope or any royal princess. Macedonia means different things to different groups, and here there is a strong POV in supporting any of them, but there's also a POV in denying any or even all of them primacy. We are saying, in Wikipedia's voice, that the (various) nationalists are all wrong.
So... it's Primary Topic that is busted. Not consensus. Andrewa (talk) 17:45, 14 June 2019 (UTC)

It seems inevitable that this will go to archive with no immediate action.

But I'd like to thank User:BilCat for raising it. It seems to have stirred some discussion at User talk:Andrewa/P T examples and scenarios which is helping me refine my own proposal still further. I'm hoping that someday, some action will come of it all. Andrewa (talk) 14:11, 19 June 2019 (UTC)

IMO its too easy to keep a primary topic, those such as Lewis and Washington should have been moved years ago, primary topics should usually be obvious and clear to the vast majority of people, such as London, Paris and Energy. Crouch, Swale (talk) 20:58, 19 June 2019 (UTC)
primary topics should usually be obvious and clear to the vast majority of people??? Where do you get this idea? The policy pretty much says the exact opposite. See Wikipedia:BUTIDONTKNOWABOUTIT. --В²C 22:20, 19 June 2019 (UTC)
Exactly. But that's not good. Is it? Andrewa (talk) 00:11, 20 June 2019 (UTC)
I think we have long had rough consensus that there is a problem, and the NYRM fiasco has just highlighted it. Talk:Isle of Lewis is a similar sad story to NYRM, just not quite so newsworthy, and there are sure to be others. Not sure what the point is about Washington.
To me the best example of P T we don't want to touch is Mathematics. Again, there are others. But very few of these are going to be created in the future, because if they're that generally known we already have an article! One every ten years? Or for a topic as clear cut as Mathematics, maybe even one every few centuries? Even if it's one a year, these can and should be dealt with case by case, with commonsense and allowing the occasional exception.
But just how to best raise the bar, and how far? I'd like to do something very simple and low-cost, but a bit radical, and so far there have been many contributions that have led me to refine the proposal (including three complete rewrites from the ground up, so far) but none that have seriously challenged its basic premises. And so rather than do either you'll do something else that neither likes at all - Enry Iggins. Andrewa (talk) 00:17, 20 June 2019 (UTC)

Here's another thought... is Primary Topic even consistent with article title policy? Article titles should be recognizable...... Isn't an unambiguous title intrinsically more recognizable than an ambiguous one?

This has been addressed in past discussions I think, and consensus was that ambiguous titles are OK (I'm looking at archives to see where, help with that would be appreciated). So essentially I'm wanting to revisit that in line with more recent experience. Andrewa (talk) 23:57, 21 June 2019 (UTC)

"Florida" is technically ambiguous, because there are other things called that besides the state, but "Florida (state)" would not be much of an improvement, because it could be confused with Florida State. Of course, we could call it Florida (U.S. state), but that seems excessive. bd2412 T 01:11, 22 June 2019 (UTC)
Yes, Florida (disambiguation)#Places alone has eleven subsections each with multiple entries, so Florida is highly ambiguous... as one would expect, it's Spanish for flowery so it's similar to George Street in the formerly British colonies only worse, in both cases there are lots and lots of others for which we don't yet have articles and may never have.
I wouldn't touch Florida. Moving it is perhaps still more damaging than leaving it where it is, and just pity the mobile or slow connection users who load that large page in error. The generation after next may do something more logical (;-> but I can't think of what, so for now grandfather it and just fix what we can.
We should definitely have a redirect from the unambiguous Florida (U.S. state), and do, it was created about ten years ago. It would be interesting to know exactly why, but the creator is inactive. Andrewa (talk) 02:14, 22 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Florida has a very strong claim to the base name primary topic right due to holding the claim for the first use, in English, for the name of something, with all other uses being derivative from it. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:25, 22 June 2019 (UTC)
    • Agree. And some of those reasons are reflected in current policy, some not, but all are valid, and are reasons that some people will just assume that Florida = Florida (US state) (both ways). Which is the concept of Primary Topic I think.
    • But not everyone will make this connection. That's the problem. It's more of a problem with some articles than others, for all sorts of reasons.
    • As I've been saying for some time, I think articles such as Florida and Mathematics should stay right where they are. But to put new articles at ambiguous names, or move existing articles to ambiguous names, is another thing entirely. At the risk of deliberately misquoting B2C, the more I look the more it seems there is no excuse [5] for it. Andrewa (talk) 05:30, 22 June 2019 (UTC)
      • I agree, new articles should certainly not be put at ambiguous titles. There are very few missing articles for topics that even some people think should already be covered. The Florida, Paris and avatar were written very early in the history of Wikipedia. Most of these justified primary topics are historically and sociologically important, long term, unlike commercialized derivative concepts such as Ultima IV, or the 2009 movie. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:18, 22 June 2019 (UTC)
        • The year an article was created plays no direct role in determining how likely it is to be sought relative to other uses of its ambiguous name. If it’s much more likely to be sought than all the others combined, why would we send everyone to a dab page, or to a use deemed to have more “long-term significance”, when we know the vast majority searching with that term are looking for a particular article? Because it happens to be new? Why discriminate against the new like that? Why hinder users like that? —В²C 08:54, 22 June 2019 (UTC)
              • Why insert a very restrictive “direct” and then spin half logic into flawed logic into misleading rhetorical questions? —SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:01, 24 June 2019 (UTC)
          • True but not the point. If anything we are discriminating against those looking for these older articles, many of which are likely to remain at their undisambiguated, ambiguous names indefinitely.
          • The reason for putting some users to the slight inconvenience of one mouse click is that it avoids far more significant impacts on other users. Loading a large wrong article, or failing to find the correct article at all, are much more than an inconvenience. They may even make Wikipedia unusable for the affected users. I explained this all to you here and here. Andrewa (talk) 16:26, 22 June 2019 (UTC)

It's an important point, so I'm going to spell out the explanations I offered to B2C (diffs above).

They described their way of working, and they're right, if we were to do it my way, and if other users follow B2C's way of working (and I'm sure some do), and if they agree with us on the primary topic, they'll load a DAB page, and will then need to identify the article they want on it, and click on that link. And they will then be taken there, reliably and naturally. That's acceptable IMO.

The problem is, as we now do things, if other users don't agree with us on the primary topic, these others will be taken to the wrong article. This may be much longer than a DAB, and pose a problem for slow connections and mobile devices. But worse still, this user expects to be take to the topic they're looking for, because that's what they think the primary topic is. So when they don't find any content there that matches their use of the term, it's logical for them to conclude that Wikipedia doesn't cover the topic at all, and give up. Both of these outcomes are avoidable and unacceptable IMO.

Those are not the only harm of the way we now do things. Just two examples.

And of course B2C's is not the only way of working. And new ones will continually arise, as the web etc changes. That's another reason to be as logical as we can be in deciding article titles. And deliberately choosing ambiguous article titles is not in any way logical. It is contrary to the spirit of WP:AT, and can be expected to cause problems. And does.

Primary topic served us well in the early days. But all the evidence indicates that it is now well past its use-by date. Andrewa (talk) 01:40, 23 June 2019 (UTC)

It gets worse than that. When New York led to the state article, a reader might assume that its information referred to NYC, and vice versa if New York were a primary redirect to the city. Certes (talk) 09:42, 23 June 2019 (UTC)
Good point. And it's a no win scenario. If (as previously) the destination of New York is the State, then the demographics in the infobox, for example, might well be logically assumed to apply to the city by someone who regarded the city as the Primary Topic. But it cuts both ways. If we were now to make the city the destination of New York (as current policy would have us do IMO, and NYRM2018 was to test this, as well as debunking that Condorcet nonsense as a byproduct), then someone who regarded the State as Primary Topic (and the many RMs showed that there are many such people too) would (wrongly but logically) assume that they referred to the State. It doesn't matter who is right, having an ambiguous name point to an article rather than a DAB is a bad idea in any case. Andrewa (talk) 12:05, 23 June 2019 (UTC)
Oh, poppy cock, Andrewa. First of all, it’s not merely some users that are put at an inconvenience when a dab page is at a term despite that term having a primary topic, it’s the vast majority of those who search with that term with WP search/GO. Users using Google are taken directly to their article regardless of what the title is (by selecting their desired article from the search previews). Users with slow connections and loading issues can quickly learn to use Google or WP Search (to see article previews from which to select their desired destination) rather than GO. And, we’re not talking about cases like “New York”, for which there is no reason to believe that the significant majority searching with that term is seeking either topic. And even if someone is taken to the wrong article in any such case if they can’t immediately tell from the hatnote, intro text and captions that they’re on the wrong article, they’re not going to get much from any article. An ambiguous term with an undisputed primary topic is a better example, like “Paris”. Consider someone searching for the Texas town with that term. They can use Google or WP search and find it in the search results and click on it, which would take them directly to the article they seek, or they can enter “Paris” in the WP search box and hit GO, which will take them to the French city. Oh, the horror! And you think the tiny number looking for a relatively obscure use of a topic with that term and GO won’t realize they’re on the primary topic article and figure out to use the hatnote or re-search? This is the “problem” you’re trying to address? Primary topic has not outlived its usefulness. It provides the exact same utility today as it did in the early days. It generally improves the experience of those using WP search/GO. —В²C 15:31, 23 June 2019 (UTC)
Andrewa is quite right, and this obsession with the Go box is seems to be causing you a blindness to what makes a good title for an article. Google does the Go box concept way better, Wikipedia should get rid of it. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:07, 24 June 2019 (UTC)
Perhaps just redirect to a search engine such as Google? Allow users to select their search engine in their user profile, and prompt them to do so the first time they search. But the simple, fast search we do have works really well for articles at unambiguous names. Andrewa (talk) 11:12, 24 June 2019 (UTC)
The Go function originated when the Wikipedia internal search engine was really crap. The internal search engine used to return pages seemingly carrying the most occurrences of the words search for regardless of where or context. The Go function was just go to the title entered, with auto complete, and then with options 1 or 2 character misspellings accommodated. It really is a high school sophistication level, and it works really well if you know what it is doing, and everyone knows and agrees that titles list the most important words in sequence order. This often works, but can also lead to very tortured title phrases, and in response to that Wikipedia has moved in the direction of extreme parenthetical titling. The worst thing about the Go box is that it hides access to the actual internal search engine, although hidden in plain sight, as all you have to do is hit the go button with no characters entered to get the search page. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:32, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
I use the search box many times on a typical day, and it almost always gets me to what I want which is why it is first stop. Second stop is the search page, which probably should be easier to get to. Third stop is either Google or DuckDuckGo depending on how political I feel (I like DDG in theory, but Google delivers more often). The external search engines with do sometimes deliver what our internal searches have not, so maybe there's room for improvement. I'm skeptical, it's not too bad now, and we're primarily about content, so I say let Google do what they do best.
But the more of our articles are at unambiguous names, the better the search box will work. Andrewa (talk) 03:58, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
Sticks and stones, В²C. You don't seem to have addressed the issues. But you raise a good point about hatnotes. Where they exist (and in many cases they don't) they help recover from the problem of being taken to the wrong article, which can happen for many reasons, most if not all of them caused by an ambiguous article name. But it would be even better if readers weren't taken to the wrong article in the first place. And getting to the wrong article may itself give the impression that we don't have the right article at all, particularly if the hatnote is just the otheruses template. Andrewa (talk) 11:12, 24 June 2019 (UTC)
If I didn't address something, it was inadvertent. What did I miss? Anyway, a dab page is never the right article, by definition; it's always the wrong page. The idea of primary topic is that sending a majority to the sought article and only a minority to a wrong page is preferable to sending everyone to a wrong page. And that's just as true and valid today as it was in the early days. --В²C 18:18, 24 June 2019 (UTC)
There are degrees of wrongness. Sending a reader to the wrong article is worse than sending them to a dab page, just as giving someone wrong directions is worse than admitting I don't know the way. Suppose it's three times as bad, to pluck a number out of thin air. Then we break even if two out of three readers want the PT: putting the PT at the base name would inconvenience one reader three times as badly as a dab would inconvenience all three. Maybe that number is two or ten but there's a threshold somewhere. Certes (talk) 18:36, 24 June 2019 (UTC)
Okay, there are degrees of wrongness. Fair enough. So let's consider someone searching for the town in Texas called Paris. They search with "Paris" and are sent to Paris, the article about the city in France. How wrong is that, really? Assessing the level of wrongness about this stuff is highly subjective, but I think the wrongness of being taken to a dab page is comparable to the wrongness of being taken to an article about another subject with the same name. If the result of a given search term was rated on a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is landing on the article being sought, 1 is plainly wrong (article topic doesn't even have the name, e.g. searching with "cat" takes you to Abraham Lincoln), I would rate being taken to a different article with that name, or to a dab page, as both being about 5. But even if you're more tolerant with dab page landings, and give them say a 7, you still have to do the calculations based on likelihoods. If 80% searching with a given term are looking for article A, 10% for B and 10% for C, if we take them to a dab page we get an average of 7. If we take them to A, then 80% are 10s and 20% are 5s... that's an average of 9. Much better overall. --В²C 19:29, 24 June 2019 (UTC)
Nobody is proposing moving Paris. Andrewa (talk) 20:57, 24 June 2019 (UTC)
That was just an illustrative example and besides the A,B,C point I just made, but I also don't see why the reasoning presented above wouldn't apply to Paris. --В²C 21:50, 24 June 2019 (UTC)
You deliberately gave an illustrative example that is not an example of what is under discussion? Why?
The A, B, C point seems to be attempting an objective criterion for deciding P T, as has been attempted unsuccessfully and repeatedly both by yourself and others. Andrewa (talk) 02:59, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
A DAB is not a wrong page in anything like the same sense that the wrong article is the wrong page. A DAB is an excellent navigation aid. It's fast, reliable and convenient, and should take the reader immediately to the right article, with one mouse click.
If technology ever changes this (and maybe it has, I'm not a mobile user and may never be as my home is in a satellite-only area of the Australian outback) then we need to revamp them, maybe for example give mobile users a different view of DAB pages (not hard to do). So your input as a mobile user is valued.
But I'm not convinced that it has yet changed or ever will, and if and when it does, having articles at unambiguous names is likely to help. It is logical, it is commonsense, and it is the spirit (but not yet the letter) of our existing policy. Andrewa (talk) 20:57, 24 June 2019 (UTC)
Like I said, it's highly subjective. But when I search with "the americans" I find landing on the dab page that is currently at The Americans to be just as wrong as landing on The Americans (1961 TV series) would be. --В²C 21:50, 24 June 2019 (UTC)
I'm not sure exactly what you think is highly subjective. I think Primary Topic is sufficiently subjective that it is reaching and in some cases exceeding its limits of usefulness. That New York (as an actual example) means different things to different people was the reason that we had the wrong article at that name for many years, and as a direct and predictable result thousands of mislinkings were created. That's the example that started this whole discussion.
I agree that Mathematics should stay where it is, but part of that is I can't think of an acceptable disambiguator anyway. Long term we may want to refine the criteria for articles that are genuine Primary Topics. Not for the fainthearted. There's also the downside of moving well-established articles. So for now, just grandfather them all.
But what we can and should do is to stop regularly putting new articles at ambiguous names. Immediately. And similarly with RMs.
Agree that if it's unacceptable to load a DAB, then we shouldn't have a DAB at the base name. In fact, we shouldn't have DABs at all. But I think most of us find them useful. (;->
How about a quick straw poll? B2C was searching for The Americans (2013 TV series) and got the DAB at The Americans instead (or try The Americans (disambiguation) in case B2C's RM has been done). For me that would have been a win. For him that seems to have been a loss. Other opinions? Would getting to the DAB be a win for you, or a loss? Andrewa (talk) 03:40, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
What’s highly subjective is “assessing the level of wrongness about [landing on a DAB vs. landing on a different use of the search term].” You still haven’t answered why Paris should not be disambiguated per your reasoning, nor why the utility of primary topic in the early days no longer applies today. What has changed that’s relevant to this? -—В²C 06:42, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
One good question at least! At least two things have changed. We now have experience that should lead us to question the concept of P T. We didn't have that case history before. And, we now have articles on the vast majority of articles (such as Paris) that will ever have the strongest claims to being P T. Not all of them, but enough of them to cover the rest with commonsense and the occasional exception.
But I didn't realise that you were asking for my justification for not moving Paris. Have you read the proposal? Did you think that I was advocating moving Paris? I explicitly say that I am not wishing to move articles such as mathematics and London, and give reasons. Must I repeat them here?
And agree that assessing the level of wrongness about [landing on a DAB vs. landing on a different use of the search term] is highly subjective. But I think that your experience of finding it so inconvenient (ie highly wrong) to land at the DAB at The Americans may well be unusual, and finding that out is the reason I asked for a straw poll. Andrewa (talk) 13:38, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
Interesting. I think we agree that it's not reasonable for "the americans" to take readers directly to The Americans (2013 TV series). Dab The Americans has an easily discovered link to the 2013 series. As it happens, so does The Americans (1961 TV series), but that hatnote is really a mistake per WP:NAMB because "The Americans (1961 TV series)" can't possibly mean the 2013 series. In the general case, there are too many alternative meanings for a hatnote and a good number for a dab. Certes (talk) 08:19, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
I'm going to risk taking that as a win. You would find it OK to arrive at the DAB, as would I. Any other opinions?
And I certainly agree that this is interesting. It helps me and I hope others to understand why some users might want to keep Primary Topic as it is, despite (as I see it anyway) all evidence indicating that it's causing problems, and these problems being so easily solved. But that doesn't mean I can (yet) produce a consensus for solving them.
The only reasonable destination for The Americans is the DAB. Same applies to New York IMO.
But our current policies probably put New York City at the base name, and possibly The Americans (2013 TV series) as well (the RM on that question has arguments by highly experienced users going both ways). Are these occasional exceptions? Or are they part of a pattern (as I believe)? Andrewa (talk) 15:12, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
Andrewa, to be clear, I wouldn't say landing on the DAB is "highly wrong" (I put it at a 5 on a scale of 1-10). I'm just saying it's about as wrong as landing on the article about some other use of the term with which I'm searching (which for me is also about a 5). Speaking of 1-5 and the A,B,C thing, I think you misunderstood the point there. I was not proposing anyone actually using such a system for determining primary topic. It's a thought experiment to help get clarity in this discussion about where we are on the relative wrongness of landing on DAB pages vs landing on articles that match the term with which we're searching, but are not about the topic we're seeking. It's also about getting a better feel for the role likelihood of being sought plays in all this. I'll review your reasons for not moving London, etc. I'll just point out whatever those reasons are, they have not been presented in this discussion. That is, the reasoning you and others have presented here all suggests London, Paris etc. should be disambiguated. So if that's really not what you want, you might consider presenting your reasoning accordingly whenever you're talking about changing primary topic. --В²C 17:16, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
about as wrong as landing on the article about some other use of the term with which I'm searching... Disagree. The DAB is short and contains a link to the article I want. The wrong article may be long and may not contain any such links. No comparison IMO. Andrewa (talk) 18:38, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
Yes, it's quite clear we disagreed on this point, and I tried account for it by assigning 7 to landing on a dab page, and still 5 to landing on the "wrong" article, above. Maybe you think that be more like 8 and 2? I don't know. I can't speak for you. Just saying we can use this model. You plug in the your preferences for the wrongness values and we go from there. --В²C 22:11, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
I don't think we can come up with any values that will make this model useful. Getting the right article would be a 10 of course. But getting the wrong one could be anything from a 0 to a 7 or even 8, zero for if they give up, seven or eight for a short article with a clear hatnote to the right article, and all values in between are possible depending on both the article and the user. Similarly, getting to a DAB could be anything from a 0 to a 9.8, the 9.8 if the DAB is short and has the right article clearly identified near the top (such as your experience with The Americans), the 0 if it's not identifiable or not there at all (it happens). Andrewa (talk) 07:11, 26 June 2019 (UTC)
Andrewa, okay, so the main if not only reason you wouldn't favor disambiguating London, Paris, etc. is because it would be disruptive in terms of breaking links, etc. But, if it wasn't for that, you acknowledge your reasoning does suggest all topics with ambiguous names, no matter how well known, how relatively likely to be sought, or how historically significant, should be at a disambiguated title. Only if they happen to be already established at an ambiguous title they should stay? Is that right? --В²C 17:34, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
No. Andrewa (talk) 18:32, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
@Andrewa: re: "the dab is short". Really? Meet John Smith. Or even Victoria. bd2412 T 04:26, 2 September 2019 (UTC)
See #Relative length of DABs below. Andrewa (talk) 10:12, 3 September 2019 (UTC)

Relative length of DABsEdit

BD2412 (who is rightly renowned for hard work and diligent research) said re: "the dab is short". Really? Meet John Smith. Or even Victoria. [6]

I was taken aback. Here's my subsequent research.

Sorry about the URLs, I know it's a quick and dirty!

All the DABs I looked at, even the John Smith one to which BD2412 had previously referred us twice above, are shorter than all of the articles. As I expected.

John Smith is an outrider as is to be expected, given its unique status as an extremely common name, even to the point of being used in English culture as the prototypical common name. It's almost half the length of the article on the explorer. But I'm guessing that's not typical.

Victoria seems more typical, but even that's long for a DAB. New York is likely even more typical IMO.

And AFAIK that is without taking images into account... only the source bytes of the file name are counted. In practice, the articles will be significantly longer again for the purposes of this discussion when the sizes of the images are considered. I guess other things are missing as well... transclusions for example. But I think you get the picture.

Am I missing something? Andrewa (talk) 10:26, 3 September 2019 (UTC)

And this seems to support my view too. Andrewa (talk) 20:45, 3 September 2019 (UTC)

  • I am dubious that every single John Smith on the list is longer than the disambiguation page, John Smith. In any case, the point is that this is a non-consideration. bd2412 T 00:10, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
    • I am equally dubious. There are even likely to be stubs there. Agree it is a non-consideration. The point is just that a DAB is typically much shorter than an article, and we have now seen that. Andrewa (talk) 05:59, 4 September 2019 (UTC)

Why DAB length mattersEdit

#Relative length of DABs above may explain something that has long puzzled me.

I have always assumed that landing on a DAB instead of the sought article was a minor inconvenience at worst. A DAB is, or should be, an efficient way of finding the sought article.

But others and notably Born2cycle have taken the opposing view. [7] [8]

In particular, they contend that landing on what they call the wrong page (which includes DABs in their thinking) is just as bad as landing on a wrong article (which to my way of thinking does not include DABs). This has led to some for me frustrating discussions at User talk:Andrewa/wrong article and related user and user talk pages where I have tried and failed to clarify the difference that I see.

If they are correct then much of my thinking needs to change, and perhaps much of Wikipedia's current treatment of ambiguous page names too. And if BD2412 is correct that DABs are not generally speaking shorter than articles they may well be correct. But I cannot see any chance of this view being correct. I would appreciate other comments. Andrewa (talk) 18:41, 3 September 2019 (UTC)

If with my search term I'm searching for a particular article and I'm taken anywhere other than that article, then that's not the article I'm looking for. If it's a DAB we can quibble about it being the "wrong article", since it's technically not an article (though it is a page in article space), but it most definitively is not "the right page" and it is therefore the "wrong page". I also don't see it being better or worse if that "wrong page" is a DAB page with a link to the article I seek, or another article with a hatnote link to the article I seek. --В²C 18:47, 3 September 2019 (UTC)
I personally really hate long disambiguation pages. When I'm navigating as a reader, I find they eat serious time in looking for the correct page, particularly as it often happens that the usage I want is near the bottom somewhere, buried underneath a shedload of placenames across the various US states, or lists of people etc. As such, I actually myself think (and I may be in a minority of one on this) that even our convention of redirecting partial dabs to the more general dab is wrong. We should have a separate dab page at the partial dab, which lists the same things as are found pertaining to that topic in the main dab. It causes a maintainability hit, but for the considerable benefit of giving users interested in one of the 2-3 topics in question a short dab page to look at.  — Amakuru (talk) 19:00, 3 September 2019 (UTC)
Agree. But I think that's a different issue. At the risk of repeating myself, a DAB should be an efficient way of finding the sought article. And I think they can be. Yes, splitting the long ones might be a good move. Andrewa (talk) 19:15, 3 September 2019 (UTC)
Excluding redirects, pages beginning with "A" have an average size of 6325 bytes. Disambiguation pages beginning with "A" average 659 bytes. Certes (talk) 19:03, 3 September 2019 (UTC)
That seems to back up my quick and dirty figures above.
Are these figures wikitext only, or the whole page load? It's the page load that is more significant IMO, although I now concede that both do matter. Andrewa (talk) 19:33, 3 September 2019 (UTC)
Thanks for joining in. I have no wish to quibble. Use whatever terminology you wish, and I'll try to follow it.
The point is just that landing on a DAB isn't nearly as bad as landing on an article that isn't the sought article (of course I'd like to simply call this the wrong article but that meaning seems to be disputed so let us just avoid the term).
That's even part of the reason we have DABs!
There are two main reasons that it's better to land on a DAB. One is that the DAB is likely to be shorter, and that's what we're discussing here. The other is of course that a DAB is specifically designed for this purpose. The article isn't. (And if some DABs aren't very well designed, as suggested above, then they should be fixed.)
Yes, articles and DABs are both in the same namespace. IMO that's completely irrelevant. Andrewa (talk) 22:34, 3 September 2019 (UTC)
Same article namespace is only relevant to the semantic issue of whether it's reasonable to say landing on a DAB is landing on the wrong article. Whatever you call it, it's not the article the user is looking for; in that sense it's wrong. I don't agree it matters that the DAB is likely to be shorter. Unless you're on a 1990s dialup modem, the load time difference is negligible. There is no need to fully load the article. You only need to see the intro to know that it's not the article you seek, and the hatnote on the article is also at the top and loaded and rendered first, so what does article length matter? It's not like you need to scroll down and fully load the article page. That said, I do agree that landing on long DABs is even more problematic than landing on short DABs, but not because of load time. As noted above, it's because of the pain of finding the article you're seeking is usually more challenging the longer the DAB. Hatnote links at the top of articles are much more efficient and far preferable to wading through an annoying DAB page, IMHO. --В²C 22:58, 3 September 2019 (UTC)
Hatnote links at the top of articles are much more efficient and far preferable to wading through an annoying DAB page, IMHO.. I completely disagree. Hatnotes are a cost to every reader. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:31, 3 September 2019 (UTC)
the load time difference is negligible wrong -- it is quite noticeable on phone or tablet even with good connection. And I very much agree with SmokeyJoe that a dab page is much better than hatnote in most cases other than completely obvious primary topics. olderwiser 23:37, 3 September 2019 (UTC)
Hatnotes are a cost to every reader for who the page is the right page. Hatnotes are a benefit for many readers for whom the page is the wrong page, and that is usually due to the ambiguous title. If titles were PRECISE and RECOGNIZABLE, there would be rarely a need for hatnotes and all readers would be better served.
DAB pages are generally pretty nicely structured. The most likely topics are usually listed at the top. They are usually structured logically, with a view to both logic and likelihood. And if disambiguation pages were to all be titled with the "(disambiguation)" suffix, very few would be landing on them unexpectedly. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:28, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
The "cost" of the hatnote at the top is zilch. Here's what's at the top of Paris, for example:
This page is about the capital of France. For other uses, see Paris (disambiguation).
Oh, the horror! What a cost!! --В²C 00:54, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
В²C completely ignores the cost of a hatnote. If hatnote cost were zilch, why are there output formats that strip them? Wikipedia:Article size is a good starting point for reading about reader considerations.
The Paris hatnote is 14 words. At a typical reading speed for unexpected words of 3 words per second, that's ~5 seconds to read. At 5750 page views per day, assuming a pageview is a reader who reads at least the hatnote, that's 20 hours of wasted reader time per day. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 05:47, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
I’m ignoring the “cost” of reading a oneline hatnote, and you’re ignoring the cost of reading a much larger DAB page, like 14,000 bytes of Victoria. --В²C 07:10, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
I have never ignored that, and I have no idea how you can feel justified to say that. Of course, downloading, and reading to the point of satisfactions or realization that you didn't want it, is a cost, and is a much higher cost than 5 seconds reading time for a one line hatnote. However, few people go to DAB pages who didn't want to, and that number would be far smaller if the DAB page were PRECISEly titled using "(disambiguation)". I would put Victoria at Victoria (disambiguation), WP:MALPLACED be buggered.
The hatnote cost is relatively small, but it is forced on a very large number of readers. The DAB page, at least it is helping a confused reader or rescuing a reader from bad navigation aids. The hatnote is clutter, in prime real estate, for every reader who has exactly the page they wanted, and it is all negative. Interesting notes about similar topics will be in the text body, wikilinked, but the hatnote is slapped on top as if it is part of a hastily cobbled boilerplate page design in anticipation of mistaken arrivals.
The use of PRECISE titles would reduce reader costs all round. The overuse of PRIMARYTOPIC creates small hatnote costs for the majority, a massive pain for screenreaders, and difficulties for readers who assume that another topic cannot be a the PRIMARYTOPIC for the ambiguous basename. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 08:15, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
The simple fact is (as I've said a few times now) that having ambiguous article titles is asking for trouble. And those are all ways in which we cause trouble for our readers when we do. And there will be others, see below. Andrewa (talk) 11:46, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
  • few people go to DAB pages who didn’t want to. Nobody wants to go to a DAB page. People want to go to an article. Sometimes DABs are unavoidable, but they’re never the intended destination. It’s trivial to ignore a one line hatnote at the top. It’s like the top margin crap of any document (perhaps repeated title on every page and page number); it’s there if you need it, but easily ignored if not. A DAB page is impossible to ignore. Precise titles despite primary topics would send far more to the unwanted DABs. -В²C 14:00, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
    • Nobody wants to go to a DAB page. Disagree. But some people, such as yourself, do evidently get very annoyed. In your case with The Americans, you almost threw your tablet across the room, and even after several occurrences of landing on the DAB you didn't bother to bookmark the page you wanted to avoid further annoyance. And I guess we need to assume others will do the same.
    • For myself, I regard landing on a short DAB which has a clear, unambiguous link to the page I want as a win. Am I alone in this?
    • On the other hand, I'd regard loading a long unwanted article as a lose.
      • If there was a hatnote to the article I wanted, it's still an unnecessary diversion. I love to learn so it's not an annoyance, but to some I'm sure it would be.
      • If the hatnote pointed to the DAB, I've gained nothing (other than perhaps a pleasant diversion and distraction!) compared to getting straight to the DAB, but that one extra mouse click doesn't worry me. It takes no significant time and requires only very basic skills.
      • If there's no hatnote at all, I think I'd be justified in concluding that Wikipedia had no article covering what I wanted. I wouldn't personally draw that conclusion, because I know how slack our navigation aids are, but I fear others might! And there is no guarantee that there will be a hatnote. Perhaps there should be.
    • Precise titles despite primary topics would send far more to the unwanted DABs. Very common assumption and good question. Would they really? How? I think the opposite! Precise or unambiguous itles should make articles easier to find. And if they don't, there's something wrong with the search techniques, not the titles. Andrewa (talk) 21:08, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
      • The search technique relevant here - the one WP:D attempts to improve - is entering a search term in the "Search Wikipedia" box and clicking on Go. Using precise titles for primary topic articles would send such searchers to an unwanted DAB page. Someone entering "paris", for example, would end up at the DAB page instead of at what is currently at Paris. (yes I know in your proposal you wouldn't move Paris but we're talking in generalities here, not about your proposal). --В²C 21:32, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
You’re assuming the DAB page is ambiguously titled. Which it is, but need not be. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:52, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
I'm warming to the idea of disambiguating all DABs with (disambiguation). It might even be worth adding to any eventual RfC. The two proposals do each enhance the other to some degree, so they're not entirely independent. Fix it all at once.
Discuss at User talk:Andrewa/Primary Topic RfC#DAB titles. Andrewa (talk) 00:30, 5 September 2019 (UTC)
DAB pages are generally pretty nicely structured. Agree. The only problem raised yet (not by me) is that some of them are too long. That can and should be fixed if it's a problem. Andrewa (talk) 05:40, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
Victoria is long. Is it too long? Would it be better split into multiple pages? Would you reduce the Victoria page to essentially the current Table of Contents, and make each level 2 heading section a subpage? Is there a rule for or against this? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 05:50, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
I find it fine. Wikipedia talk:Article size is fairly active, that might be a good place to ask. Andrewa (talk) 06:15, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
Same article namespace is only relevant to the semantic issue of whether it's reasonable to say landing on a DAB is landing on the wrong article. Agree. You raised the fact that they're in the same namespace, and it was a waste of your time and ours to do so. It's irrelevant.
it's not the article the user is looking for; in that sense it's wrong... Well, I said I'd adopt your terminology, so I guess you can call it that if you like. But similarly, is every DAB always wrong however it is accessed? And is the whole index of every paper encyclopedia wrong in that same sense? (In the one I most used as a boy, the index was an entire full-size volume.) In none of these cases are they the article the user is looking for, but just like a DAB, the index is there to help the user to find the article they want. Is it really wrong for them to use it to find the article they want, as you use the word wrong? I'm fascinated.
And I suppose Google Web Search is wrong too, as the page it generates is not the page the user is looking for. We must tell them that. I'm sure they'll be very worried. (;->
But a DAB is not as wrong as the wrong article. Is that an acceptable compromise of terminology? Andrewa (talk) 05:40, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
A dab is not as wrong as the wrong article. That's worth repeating. Until 2017, I could look up the population of New York and find it to be 19 million. Wow, that city is more crowded than I thought. Then I use that factoid and make myself and Wikipedia look foolish, or worse. Now that title leads to the dab rather than the state article and I can pick the area I meant from the handy list of common meanings right at the top. I may even realise that the question was ambiguous and check whether I should be researching the state or the city before I make similar mistakes. Certes (talk) 08:10, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
The simple fact is (as I've said a few times now) that having ambiguous article titles is asking for trouble, and that's another good example of the sort of trouble we cause our readers when we do it. But there will be other problems that we don't guess until we notice them happening. Unambiguous (or PRECISE if you like) article titles are quite simply more logical, and will avoid problems that we cannot imagine and don't need to. Andrewa (talk) 11:46, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
"Having ambiguous article titles when there is no primary topic is asking for trouble." There; I fixed it for you. The problem with having the state at New York is not that "New York" is ambiguous, it's that it's ambiguous and the state is not the primary topic. If "having ambiguous articles titles" for primary topics was truly "asking for trouble", then having the respective primary topics at Paris, Albert Einstein and even the recently-moved The Americans would be asking for trouble. But it's not. Going back to the point I was just making with SmokeyJoe above, had we left the DAB at The Americans then every time anyone searched on WP for the epic 2013 TV series with "the americans", they would get taken to the DAB instead of to the article they sought. With the current configuration, with the 2013 series at the base name, the vast majority of "the americans" searchers for whom the 2013 series is the sought topic has to "endure" the one line "for other uses..." hatnote at the top, but isn't that better than having them needlessly load the DAB page, scan it for the topic they seek, click on that, and then finally present them with the article they seek? And yes, the tiny minority looking for one of the other (relatively unlikely to be sought) topics associated with the "the americans" search term does have to go through that, but it's a tiny minority. Isn't that our goal, though? To get as many WP searchers as reasonably possible to the article they seek as quickly as reasonably possible? Isn't that why we have primary topics? --В²C 16:21, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
We have Primary Topics because of the foolish MALPLACED practice, and because Larry Sanger thought it a good idea in 2001 for titles to be what people would wikilink mid-sentence. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:55, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
And Larry was right. But we've failed to take subsequent experience into account in our implementation of the principle. If the destination of the ambiguous term is a DAB, then the editor gets a warning, and wikignomes can easily find and fix the mislinking if they don't, using the pipe trick of course. But if the mislinking is to an ambiguously titled article, nobody gets any warning at all, and as a result we just publish rubbish in ignorant good faith.
But now inclined to agree about wp:MALPLACED. Andrewa (talk) 07:51, 5 September 2019 (UTC)
There, I fixed it for you. Words fail me. No. Give us a break.
The problem with having the state at New York is not that "New York" is ambiguous, it's that it's ambiguous and the state is not the primary topic. That was the initial problem, yes, many years ago, but it developed into Wikipediagate. In this matter at least we are a laughingstock. People are entitled to ask, if NYRM2016 is the best an impeccable panel containing a senior functionary can do, what is the rest of Wikipedia worth? I still believe in Wikipedia, but it still raises serious questions for me. Not for you?
If "having ambiguous articles titles" for primary topicswas truly "asking for trouble", then having the respective primary topics at Paris, Albert Einstein and even the recently-moved The Americans would be asking for trouble. But it's not. Moving Paris or Albert Einstein would create more problems than it would solve IMO, and there is no perfect and magic solution. The jury is out on The Americans IMO. If we do move it back someday, your successful RM will then have caused a great deal of needless trouble.
isn't that better than having them needlessly load the DAB page, scan it for the topic they seek, click on that, and then finally present them with the article they seek? Not significantly, no. The article is 87,266 bytes of wikitext, plus three images (and transclusions etc). The DAB is 1,046 bytes of wikitext with no images. Andrewa (talk) 05:29, 5 September 2019 (UTC)
NYRM2016 is a manifestation of the reluctance to clearly and simply define primary topic exclusively in terms of the likelihood-to-be-sought criteria. But that kind of ridiculous debate is hardly exclusive to RMs focused on determining primary topic, or to RMs at all. It's certainly not evidence against having primary topics at base names. Regardless of the issues with moving Paris or Albert Einstein, your arguments support the position that if we were starting over with a clean slate, we should not have any ambiguous titles at all, and that those two titles would be disambiguated. If that were the case, then users searching with "paris" and "einstein" (currently a primary redirect to Albert Einstein, appropriately) would be taken to DAB pages rather than to the articles they seek.They would not be an improvement by any reasonable measure, and doing anything similar just to new articles is just as flawed for the same reasons. --В²C 16:57, 5 September 2019 (UTC)
That seems to have about 0% new material, so those who have been following the discussion can probably skip my replies.
NYRM2016 is a manifestation of the reluctance to clearly and simply define primary topic exclusively in terms of the likelihood-to-be-sought criteria. That might have helped, but if they couldn't see the merits of the move case as it was, I'm skeptical that page views would have convinced them. But I admit I do not understand. The two judgements that found no consensus almost look like text written under duress.
But that kind of ridiculous debate is hardly exclusive to RMs focused on determining primary topic, or to RMs at all. It's certainly not evidence against having primary topics at base names. Complete non sequitar IMO.
Regardless of the issues with moving Paris or Albert Einstein, your arguments support the position that if we were starting over with a clean slate, we should not have any ambiguous titles at all, and that those two titles would be disambiguated. Agree. But when we do consider these issues, it's a different ball game. So can we give that straw man a rest?
More to follow. I need to save regularly as my connection is flakey. Andrewa (talk) 01:29, 6 September 2019 (UTC)
Likelihood-to-be-sought criteria is, intellectually, stupid, when viewed in isolation. It ignores the purpose of encyclopedia as a structurally organised repository of information in favour of a very primitive emulation of a component of a search engine.
New York was difficult because, among other reasons, it is not a pure PrimaryTopic problem. The state and the city are far from independent from each other. Each article presents a manifestation that derived from a colony, each with a good claim of direct descent. What do people mean when they think "New York" is a non-factual question that is best handled by artificial intelligence, and a modern search engine is doing that very well. An encyclopedia present comprehensive coverage with navigation to narrowly defined topics. New York is a good candidate for the Broad Conception Notion that sidesteps the very problematic PRIMARYTOPIC conundrums. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 01:33, 6 September 2019 (UTC)
Agree except it is not a pure PrimaryTopic problem. The complications you list are some of what made it a PrimaryTopic problem. But what we mean by Primary Topic is, whatever belongs at the base name, and deciding that is sometimes problematic. Andrewa (talk) 01:44, 6 September 2019 (UTC)
No more to follow after all. The rest is just follow-up on the straw man argument, or in other words that I'm somehow obliged to let B2C choose what evidence I'll disregard in deciding what I recommend. Andrewa (talk) 03:04, 6 September 2019 (UTC)


The most important thing abut NYRM (which started this whole section) isn't that a group of editors, by whatever means, succeeded in keeping the New York State article at the base name New York, where it clearly didn't belong, for many years. The most important thing is that they did have a case in terms of reader experience, but not under current policy.

The case they did have was that the New York City article didn't belong there either, even if (as I and many believe) it is the Primary Topic. It's much better to have the DAB at the base name. But that is contrary to current policy.

We now have another case at Talk:The Americans (2013 TV series)#Requested move 18 June 2019, with strong arguments both ways. There has also been some discussion of this case above. I'm not wishing to canvass !votes either way there, and have no intention of !voting there myself. My point is that there are good arguments there both ways, under current policy. Nor have I posted a heads-up at the RM to the relevant discussion above. I can argue that both ways too.

Rather I maintain that in both of these cases and many others, the reader is better served by having the DAB at the base name, even if one of the articles is Primary Topic, and that we should change our policies and procedures to reflect this.

Perhaps (as originally proposed above) we should also change the no consensus rule, but that is not necessary to fix the problems with either of these articles. It should be a separate issue. Andrewa (talk) 16:49, 25 June 2019 (UTC)

These are very different cases. In NYRM there are two topics that can at least vie for PT. Anyone searching with "new york" could easily be looking for either the state or the city. In The Americans, one use decimates the others in terms of likelihood of being sought by anyone searching with "the americans". Today, and for the foreseeable future, it's clearly the 2013 TV series. It's the epitome of no contest. How the reader is better served with the DAB page at the base name is beyond me. We do agree on one general point: current policy is problematic. I believe the problem is it's way too vague - that's what allows so many reasonable opposing arguments. That's policy/guideline failure. --В²C 19:48, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
That's not a failure at all. Minimal rules are what has allowed WP to evolve towards its best self through true consensus, that is through the millions of edits and thousands of individual discussions among large numbers of editors, not straightjacketing rules decided by the relative handful of regulars who frequent policy talk pages. Too many rules stifle growth and discourage editors. If there are "many reasonable opposing arguments", that means there is no true consensus. Making New York a dab page has hurt more readers than it has helped, but has both hurt and helped only to a small degree, even for such highly viewed articles. In the end, it doesn't really matter that much if some true primary topics (whatever that means) are at their base name and others are not. Usually everyone finds what they're looking for, even if it takes an extra click or two. The far greater danger is a culture of some editors telling all other editors how to do things, at a macro level. Station1 (talk) 20:27, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
Minimal rules? We're way beyond minimal rules, and that's what often leads to all the unnecessary conflicts. We need to minimize the rules and make them more clear; less contradictory. --В²C 20:33, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
Conflicts are not always unnecessary or 'bad'. They often clarify consensus incrementally. My fear is that when rules are made more clear and less contradictory, they may well be in a direction that neither you nor I nor large numbers of other editors may agree with. Then we're stuck. Station1 (talk) 21:06, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
Well said. Have you seen User:Andrewa/Rules, rules, rules? I'd be very interested in your comments. Andrewa (talk) 06:25, 26 June 2019 (UTC)
Agree that New York and The Americans are very different cases. That's the whole point. In both cases, P T has been a failure. Andrewa (talk) 22:10, 29 June 2019 (UTC)

The Arericans has now been moved with the closing summary The result of the move request was: moved per WP:PRIMARYTOPIC criteria. WP:PRIMARYREDIRECT wouldn't work per WP:PRECISION. If the article enters into the predicted slow decline and later is no longer the primary topic, the articles can be rearranged then. [9]

It will be interesting to see whether the predicted slow decline actually takes place, and what happens if it does. It's possible this will become a classic case of a move that is supported by the current policy despite not being in the best interests of readers. Andrewa (talk) 11:40, 30 June 2019 (UTC)

And it's possible (even likely) that this is a case of a move that is support by the current policy because it is in the best interests of the readership, and that's why the current policy is the current policy. -- JHunterJ (talk) 13:03, 1 July 2019 (UTC)
Agree (except I'm skeptical that it's even likely, but that's not the main point IMO). And your input at User talk:Andrewa/P T examples and scenarios#The Americans, where I will answer this in more detail, would be very welcome. IMO the RM was a good call given the current policy. Consensus can change of course, but I have yet to claim or achieve consensus support for my rather radical proposal on Primary Topic. And the proposal has itself changed radically since it was first formulated, and will probably change further before any RfC is moved by myself. Andrewa (talk) 22:58, 1 July 2019 (UTC)
I'll be happy to participate in the eventual RfC, but there too it will be a repeat of the simple statements I've made here. -- JHunterJ (talk) 11:48, 2 July 2019 (UTC)
Possibly, but hopefully not! (;-> I won't be moving an RfC until and unless I have more evidence, such as the eventual result of the RM discussed at User talk:Andrewa/P T examples and scenarios #The Americans, and analysis of more of the examples on that page. I'm sure you would respond to the evidence presented. Andrewa (talk) 01:04, 3 July 2019 (UTC)
That page is dauntingly long, but the most interesting cases can now be discussed at User talk:Andrewa/P T test cases... the name says it all. There are only four listed currently, but they include The Americans. Discussion there more than welcome... as I've often said, I see changing my mind as a way of building it, not diminishing it, so discussion that helps me to do this is always welcome, and one of the benefits of editing Wikipedia. Andrewa (talk) 15:02, 12 July 2019 (UTC)

Primary topic and Incomplete disambiguation conflictsEdit

The following discussion is an archived record of a request for comment. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
There is a consensus in favour of Option 2, and that the standard for making disambiguated titles such as Foo (bar) a primary topic among all Foo's that are Bars should be tougher than the standard for titles that don't have any disambiguator. (non-admin closure) IffyChat -- 21:00, 3 September 2019 (UTC)

Hi all. I have recently closed a requested move discussion on Steve Smith (cricketer) (located here) which I determined there was no consensus. In short, those supporting the move to a further disambiguated article title argued that the current title was an incomplete disambiguation. Those opposing the move argued the article subject was the primary topic, and similar to some other cricketer articles (e.g. James Anderson (cricketer)), should be titled without their year of birth. Through reading this guideline, I was not able to determine how to title articles when there is a conflict between WP:INCDAB and WP:PRIMARYTOPIC, so I am opening an RFC to see if we can determine which takes precedence in future discussions. The options forward I see (there may be others) are:

  • Option 1: INCDAB takes precedence over PRIMARYTOPIC
  • Option 2: PRIMARYTOPIC takes precedence over INCDAB

I would appreciate the community's thoughts on this matter. Steven Crossin Help resolve disputes! 07:56, 23 July 2019 (UTC) replaced references to PRIMARY with PRIMARYTOPIC --В²C 21:23, 23 July 2019 (UTC)

IMO a similar argument applies where there is no, or another, PTOPIC, and a qualifier is needed; as with e.g. Steve Smith and James Anderson. If one topic with a qualifier is overwhelmingly better known than others with the same partial qualifier, then it is PTOPIC to that limited extent. I am more reluctant than many to argue for a PTOPIC: they collect bad incoming links which are difficult to find and fix. That said, I agree with your reasoning and the result in that recent RM. Narky Blert (talk) 08:31, 23 July 2019 (UTC)
  • There is no "primary" for a qualifier. So once a page uses disambiguation any primary discussion is just pointless and ego-driven. Whatever option from the option list says what I said, I support that. --Gonnym (talk) 08:35, 23 July 2019 (UTC)
  • weak Option 1 In the above example I did participate and vote with a primary topic rationale, Steve reasonings for no consensus do raise an issue and an order of precedence does seam a logical idea, but I have a concern with WP:PRIMARYTOPIC. Primary is about Wikipedians conducting their own research(WP:OR) and deciding that one is more significant than all others(WP:NPOV). WP:5P2 says Editors' personal experiences, interpretations, or opinions do not belong, to me thinking about Primary thats is an exact description of how it works, we take our personal experience Steve Smith was a National Captain, National Captains have longer careers, are generally the more talented players. Then with we look to justify our opinion with Google hits, and other sources, while we can produce lots of numbers to support our opinion we wouldn't dare write in the article, Steve Smith former Australian cricket captain is the most notable Steve Smith to have played cricket because its original research and not something that has been written about by a third party we can cite. In any order of precedence Primary should be well down the list, possibly not on it at all. Gnangarra 08:43, 23 July 2019 (UTC)
    My understanding of this RfC is that the proposal meant to reference WP:PRIMARYTOPIC, not WP:PRIMARY. Station1 (talk) 20:49, 23 July 2019 (UTC)
    sorry, fixed Gnangarra 23:34, 24 July 2019 (UTC)
    I just fixed the PRIMARY/PRIMARYTOPIC problem. --В²C 21:23, 23 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Misapplying "primary topic" It's never been my interpretation that a parenthically disambiguated title, e.g. one that already ends in (cricketer), could be a "primary topic" of an already partially-disambiguated title. The primary topic would be just plain "Steve Smith". There are no other quasi-primary titles like "Steve Smith (cricketer)". The other reason there should not be a "Steve Smith (cricketer)" if there is more than one cricketeer is that the policy WP:PRECISION would fail: Usually, titles should unambiguously define the topical scope of the article ... There should not be multiple levels of "primary" for "Steve Smith".—Bagumba (talk) 12:38, 23 July 2019 (UTC)
    There are actually quite a few similar titles, such as Alabama (band), Lemmings (video game), Jane Seymour (actress), Lohengrin (opera), etc. There are not large numbers of these because it's fairly unusual for something to be the primary topic for a disambiguated title, but when they happen, they should not be treated differently from any other primary topic. Station1 (talk) 20:49, 23 July 2019 (UTC)
    Those would not comply with policy WP:PRECISION. Imagine being the reader that is redirected to a dab, think that you picked the "right" article, just to go there to find out it's the wrong (ambiguously-titled) article, and having to disambiguate yet again (if you haven't given up already).—Bagumba (talk) 14:25, 24 July 2019 (UTC)
    They do comply with WP:PRECISION. If they didn't, no primary topic ever would. WP:PRECISION clearly says "Exceptions to the precision criterion may sometimes result from the application of some other naming criteria. Most of these exceptions are described in specific Wikipedia guidelines or by Wikipedia projects, such as Primary topic...". Your example makes my point: Imagine someone seeking "Steve Smith (cricketer)" instead being redirected to Steve Smith the dab page. There is no benefit to anyone, even to the one person in a hundred who wants the other cricketer. Station1 (talk) 18:33, 24 July 2019 (UTC)
    I’m not convinced that a sufficient number of people would search for “Steve Smith (cricketer)” to warrant the incomplete disambiguation. Only 0.7% of visits to Thriller (Michael Jackson album) came through the redirect Thriller (album), and that is with several internal links to the redirect. I don’t think users are likely to type in parentheses in a search field, and internal links that are redirected to dab pages would be retargeted to the appropriate article, just like any link to a dab.--Trystan (talk) 19:28, 24 July 2019 (UTC)
    Certainly to the extent this whole issue affects only the relatively few people who would search for or link to something like "Steve Smith (cricketer)" it's relatively unimportant. But if the only benefit is to make an extremely rare mislink more obvious to editors, I think those few readers take precedence. Station1 (talk) 21:16, 24 July 2019 (UTC)
    @Station1: Steve Smith (cricketer) should be redirected to the specific dab section, Steven Smith#Cricket, where there are three specific cricket possibilities. I agree, readers should not be sent to the top of the generic long list.—Bagumba (talk) 08:02, 26 July 2019 (UTC)
    But even if that were done (and the anchor never broke), instead of 99%+ of those readers being at the right article automatically, 100% of those readers will have to decide whether they want Steve Smith (cricketer, born 1989) or Steve Smith (cricketer, born 1961). Most will decide correctly, but perhaps fewer than 99%, so we wind up with more readers on the wrong article than if there were no dab page involved. In addition, those who still get to the right article had to go through an unnecessary extra step. The <1% who really want the older Smith are no better off than clicking on a hatnote. Another consideration is that many people do search Google with strings like "steve smith cricket" and Google will show the primary topic for that string no matter what we title the article. If we title the article Steve Smith (cricketer, born 1989), there will likely be no hatnote on that article per WP:NAMB, ironically making any other cricketers named Steve Smith on WP more difficult to find. Station1 (talk) 07:33, 27 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Option 2. Reading the guideline as a whole and considering the logic behind the concept of recognition of a primary topic, INCDAB comes into play only when there is no primary topic. There will be no primary topic in most cases, but certainly not all, and Steve Smith (cricketer) is a good example of the latter. Chances are better than 100 to 1 that someone searching for or linking to "Steve Smith (cricketer)" wants the famous one who is the subject of the article. By placing a hatnote on that article, no one searching for the famous Steve Smith (cricketer) is inconvenienced by landing on the dab page, while the rare reader who wants the other Steve Smith (cricketer) simply clicks on the hatnote. That is the same logic behind all primary topic article titles. Station1 (talk) 20:49, 23 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Option 2. I don't know how the INCDAB wording slipped in, but I thought this was settled at WP:PDAB long ago, which to this day lists many examples of partially disambiguated titles, all of which, like Jane Seymour (actress), are perfectly fine, despite Jane Seymour (Canadian actress). The current wording at INCDAB is misleading and needs to be corrected. --В²C 21:20, 23 July 2019 (UTC)
    • Jane Seymour (actress) fails WP:PRECISE and is not perfectly fine. At best i It is grudgingly fine. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 21:45, 23 July 2019 (UTC)
      • She "fails" PRECISE to no greater degree than any other primary topic does; that's fine, by definition. More to the point, I would argue that disambiguating her further would make the topic less recognizable than it currently is. The actress named Jane Seymour is widely known. Add more precision by way of a country of origin and/or birth date in there and you only raise questions about whether that's the Jane Seymour, since such details about her are not nearly as well known as her being an actress, and could cause many to suspect that it's some other Jane Seymour. --В²C 23:27, 23 July 2019 (UTC)
        • Yes, I agree with that. It implies degrees of how Primary is the Primary Topic. It is unfortunately a really bad term. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:36, 23 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Extreme cases should not set precedent. "Smith is often regarded as one of the best batsmen in the world and considered the "best since Bradman" due to his high batting average". This Steve Smith eclipses the other cricketers. Where there is no primary topic, certainly no primary topic for Steve Smith, the title should err towards precision. However, even if there were a rule against parenthetical primary topics, this would be an exception. No one who knows anything about the other cricketers will not know about this one. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:33, 23 July 2019 (UTC)
There is no PRIMARYTOPIC v. INCDAB conflict to resolve. WP:PRIMARYTOPIC does not apply because there is no PRIMARYTOPIC. The challenge is INCDAB: "it should redirect back to the main disambiguation page". Note that the word "should" is not "must". The INCDAB text could be improved, or it could be accepted that "should" allows for many exceptions. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:40, 23 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Option 2, in rare and narrowly defined circumstances, such as Kiss (band). bd2412 T 23:43, 23 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Option 2, I suppose, although I think WP:PRIMARYTOPIC doesn't really apply. WP:INCDAB should probably be rewritten and simplified to indicate that a disambiguation page shouldn't have a disambiguator in its title (other than "(disambiguation)" if there's a primary topic). The naming conventions for various topics might specify whether to support things like "Thriller (album)" and "Thriller (Cold Blood album)" or whether to always further qualify the qualifiers. But that should be up to the naming conventions, not the disambiguation guidelines. The technical problem that disambiguation exists to solve is solved either way, and WP:PRIMARYTOPIC should just be concerned with where Thriller (or Steve Smith) lands, not where Thriller (album) (or Steve Smith (cricketer)) lands. -- JHunterJ (talk) 12:08, 24 July 2019 (UTC)
    • Option 3: WP:PRECISION, being policy, takes precedence over naming convention guidelines. (WP:PRIMARYTOPIC simply does not apply to qualified titles, and WP:INCDAB needs to be rewritten to address only the avoidance of disambiguation pages with qualifiers in their titles, and to point to WP:PRECISION and topic naming conventions for non-disambiguation titling guidance.)
    Topic projects that want to have "levels" of qualifiers when one instance overwhelming dominates (that is, that want a primary-topic-like qualifier) would get broader community consensus for the policy exception, per WP:LOCALCONSENSUS. -- JHunterJ (talk) 15:21, 24 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Option 1 should be the default. As with all rules, exceptions are appropriate in rare cases. In general, once we go to the effort of adding parenthetical disambiguation, we should make that disambiguation complete. The standard test for a primary topic should not be sufficient to make an exception (i.e., significantly more likely to be sought than any other topic.) The appropriate standard to make an exception here would be something like “overwhelmingly more likely”.--Trystan (talk) 13:43, 24 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Option 1 Trystan wrote basically what I had planned to. I am not sure I have anything additional to add beyond what they said. CThomas3 (talk) 14:56, 24 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Primary partial disambiguation is good and should be encouraged, not avoided, when there is such a clear differentiation in notability. Alan Davidson (cricketer) and Peter Bell (footballer) are two more Hall of Fame members that are obscurely located at Alan Keith Davidson and Peter Bell (Australian footballer, born 1976) because of the existence of a borderline notable namesake. Modify whichever guideline page you need to make this happen. The-Pope (talk) 11:38, 25 July 2019 (UTC)
    • I think this is a really good point - full disambiguation of what should be a partially disambiguated primary topic leads to obscure titles with unknown middle names, or accurate but little-known specifics within the parentheses. This practice is not helpful. --В²C 20:09, 25 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Option 2. WP:CONCISE is one of our naming criteria. Thriller (Michael Jackson album) is a good example of a title that runs afoul of concise because some users' opposition to putting it at the preferable Thriller (album) even though someone searching for an album named Thriller will almost undoubtedly be looking for MJ's album. In this case, Thriller (album) is also WP:PRECISE enough. Calidum 01:09, 26 July 2019 (UTC)
    • That example is not typical of what Option 2 would lead to. An article only needs to receive a simple majority of traffic to be made a primary topic (more likely than all the other topics put together, as well as significantly more likely than any other individual topic). If the standard PT rules take precedence, you would have situations where up to half the traffic going to a title that is already disambiguated would arrive at the wrong article. I think a user seeing a title with parenthetical disambiguation - such as in our search box autocomplete - should be able to be virtually certain that they are getting the right article.--Trystan (talk) 13:34, 26 July 2019 (UTC)
      • I agree with you that instances where "partial disambiguation" is allowed should be limited. My concern is that unless we say explicitly that such exceptions are allowed, they won't happen in practice, so the status quo won't change at all. Calidum 23:11, 26 July 2019 (UTC)
  • This might be a good discussion to advertise at WT:AT as well as the more-used NC talk pages. --Izno (talk) 21:09, 27 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Option 1 for simplicity's sake. Always give perfectly unambiguous disambiguators. Red Slash 21:15, 27 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Generally option 1 since PRIMARYTOPIC only deals with terms however its not unreasonable in clear cut cases like Thriller for a PDAB to be treated as primary but by default (even more so than "general" primary topics). Readers who know about how we title things would probably try including qualifiers if they know the term is ambiguous and that's likely for Thriller. However its less clear still if a PDAB can host an article or it has to redirect to the fully disambiguated title, I'm not certain what's best but I have usually opposed to it. In favour of PDABs hosting articles is not having a simpler title redirecting to a more complex one (WP:CONCISE). Against is is WP:PRECISE suggests that only primary topics can be at the base name but its less clear if it allows PDABs. Crouch, Swale (talk) 18:48, 29 July 2019 (UTC)
  • It depends. In some cases, WP:CRITERIA are best met by a partially disambiguated title (i.e. Option 2). The list of extant examples at WP:PDAB shows that there's some consensus around this practice. I'd like to see WP:INCDAB updated to make this clear. Given the potential for confusion, I think the threshold for primary-ness should be even higher than normal. Colin M (talk) 03:16, 1 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Option 2 because it is without a doubt the most helpful to readers. If someone is searching for e.g. Alabama (band) they are almost certainly going to be looking for the most famous band of that name and should be taken directly to the article they are looking for. Those relatively few looking for the lesser known band will expect expend less effort getting there from the hatnote at the bigger band's article than they would have to to pick the listing out of the 11 entries in the relevant one of 7 categories at Alabama (disambiguation). Very large numbers of our readers know how we title articles, and very nearly everybody who is looking for the article about the country music band will also know about the state. As such those people who fall into both groups will naturally search for "Alabama (band)", however it is likely that most of those people do not know that there was a different band with that name so will not know of the need to add additional qualifiers, or indeed what other qualifiers would be necessary - (Alabama band), (1980s band), (band formed 1969), (country band), (country music band) even assuming they know these facts before reading the article. Thryduulf (talk) 13:51, 1 August 2019 (UTC)
What about cases where it isn’t "almost certain", but just "significantly more likely", which is the standard for identifying a primary topic? For example, a couple of possible RMs:
Readers seeking House of Cards (TV series) are significantly more likely to be seeking House of Cards (American TV series) (90%) than House of Cards (British TV series) (10%), so move the American series to the "(TV series)" title.
Readers seeking Battlestar Galactica (TV series) are significantly more likely to be seeking Battlestar Galactica (2004 TV series) (75%) than Battlestar Galactica (1978 TV series) (25%), so move the 2004 series to the "(TV series)" title.
One might question whether those particular RMs would go through, but many ones like them would if we apply the standard PT test to disambiguated titles.--Trystan (talk) 14:45, 1 August 2019 (UTC)
If there is a primary topic (as determined by the usual means) for a given search term, then that search term should lead directly to that article because that is what is best for readers. Only when there is more than one search term an article is the primary topic for should this equate to a redirect. It is entirely irrelevant whether this will lead to 10 or 100,000 instances of titles like Alabama (band)/Alabama (Canadian band). The only thing that matters is that we maximise the chances of a reader finding the article they are looking for with as little hassle as possible. If the US and 2004 TV series are primary topics, they should be moved as you suggest. Thryduulf (talk) 15:17, 1 August 2019 (UTC)
Those moves would be quantitatively, objectively worse for getting readers to the right article. Incdab redirects with no incoming links get very minimal traffic. Yesterday, the 30-day stat for the House of Cards one was 43, and 1 (!) for the BSG one, compared to tens of thousands of views for the related articles. If those moves were made, an extremely small number of readers would get to the article without seeing the dab (and of course not all would be at the right article). But far greater would be the number of readers who would now arrive at the wrong article because they picked the incdab title out of the search autocomplete, having no way to tell it’s not the one they are looking for.--Trystan (talk) 13:53, 2 August 2019 (UTC)
Trystan, realizing this is what prompted me to start the #Article space descriptive shortcut redirects to articles with parenthetically disambiguated titles section below; such redirects are more likely to be actually used as search terms in many cases than the parenthetically disambiguated titles. That said, I don't see why the light direct usage of the PDAB titles would make "getting readers to the right article" "quantitatively, objectively worse". --В²C 16:58, 2 August 2019 (UTC)
The benefit of the hypothetical moves described above is that most people currently going to the incdab title (eg, BSG (TV Series)) would get to the right article without going through the disambiguation page. The cost is that people looking for the lesser-accessed article, like the 1979 BSG or the UK House of Cards, are more likely to end up at the wrong article, for example by picking “BSG (TV series)” from the search box autocomplete (where as now, the autocomplete offers up fully-disambiguated options). Because the people currently going through the incdab redirect (up to dozens) is so minuscule compared to the views that these lesser-viewed articles get (10-20 thousand), the cost will be much higher than the benefit.--Trystan (talk) 18:45, 2 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Option 2 per Thryduulf, although I agree with bd2412 and Calidum that the usage should be limited and narrowly defined. -- Tavix (talk) 14:09, 1 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Option 1 – Bagumba got it exactly right, up-thread. That said, I could see a very limited number of exceptional cases to this formulation, but the number of these should be very small, and only as a result of a clear consensus at a WP:RM discussion. --IJBall (contribstalk) 16:13, 6 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Option 1 with rare exceptions. WP:PRIMARYTOPIC is about the best destination for a word, name, or phrase, which to my mind includes Steve Smith but not Steve Smith (cricketer). Like most rules, a few exceptions are justified, but the threshold for joining that list needs to be set much higher than for a normal primary topic. Certes (talk) 16:27, 6 August 2019 (UTC)
    • In what way is "Steve Smith (cricketer)" not a phrase? If someone is familiar with the way we title articles and knows of multiple people called Steve Smith but only one cricketer (very likely) this is exactly the phrase they are most likely to use. Thryduulf (talk) 12:58, 7 August 2019 (UTC)
      • It's not a normal English noun phrase in the way that Steve Smith is, in that we don't insist on finding it in sources or necessarily expect to. See #Important questions below. Andrewa (talk) 07:35, 14 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Option 2 per Thryduulf, also echoing the concerns of bd2412, Tavix, et al. The bar should be set higher for these titles, but there are many cases like "Alabama (band)" or "Thriller (album)" where we really know what users are looking for. Yes, perhaps unfortunate that the term "primary topic" suggests it's all or nothing, but it's never been within our ideals to put bureaucracy over service to readers. ("Ideals" being a key word there. Not planning on watching this discussion, so ping me if needed.) --BDD (talk) 22:55, 15 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Both, aka the Thriller (album) compromise. The title, if parenthetically disambiguated, should be fully precise in specifying the subject. However, we should recognize primary topics when they exist (even if it's just for the scope of a partially disambiguated title) and make them a primary redirect to the fully disambiguated title. -- King of ♠ 23:07, 30 August 2019 (UTC)

Important questionsEdit

There are some really good points made above IMO. I'm not yet ready to !vote on the RfC, but I'd like to discuss. All of the following is said above or at least hinted at.

There's a critical difference between natural disambiguation and parenthetical disambiguation, and the rules may not necessarily be the same, and aren't, and our current policies and guidelines do say this but perhaps not clearly enough.

A natural disambiguation is an English noun phrase that can be expected to appear in reliable secondary sources, and it isn't even a candidate for an article title unless it does appear in them. Our disambiguation conventions (by which I mean any construction with which we disambiguate which is not a natural disambiguation) on the other hand produce titles that will not necessarily appear in sources at all, although comma disambiguation in particular may.

So our disambiguation conventions give titles which we may adopt even if they do not ever appear verbatim in sources. All such conventions should probably follow the same rules... parentheses, commas, are there any others? I guess we should look to see whether the pipe trick recognises any others.

This should be reflected in our article title policy and already is implicitly but perhaps not even consistently. And it seems to me that this RfC is seeking to clarify exactly this. Andrewa (talk) 00:38, 15 August 2019 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


The recent changes to the WP:INCDAB guideline do not match the consensus of the above discussion. Participants were nearly evenly split between whether parenthetically qualified titles should have primary topics. There was some middle ground. Several contributors who thought that qualified titles should have primary topics supported a significantly higher standard than the normal PT test. Several contributors who thought that qualified titles shouldn’t have primary topics allowed for rare exceptions. An addition to the guideline based on the above discussion should reflect this middle ground.

However, as implemented in the guideline, it’s straight Option 2: apply the standard primary topic test to qualified titles. It states that such instances are rare, but stating they are rare doesn’t make them so. There is no reason to think they will be rare as the guideline is written.--Trystan (talk) 13:39, 11 September 2019 (UTC)

Agreed. The guideline needs to reflect the whole of the (concise) closing statement, not merely one part of it. Certes (talk) 14:17, 11 September 2019 (UTC)
I have re-added a sentence to INCDAB which sets out the consensus that a higher standard applies to qualified titles.--Trystan (talk) 12:48, 12 September 2019 (UTC)

Articles that exist and could existEdit

This is probably (I hope) a very quick discussion (for a change).

It's claimed here that We disambiguate article titles based on the articles that exist and could exist.

I don't think that's even remotely true. Very interested in other views.

It's now a moot point at the RM, as the contributor has agreed to create the stubs they say they have the sources to support. Just interested in the principle. Andrewa (talk) 21:09, 29 August 2019 (UTC)

Huh? We do have guidance on putting red links in disambiguation pages (MOS:DABRED). Or are you saying that we never set up disambiguation pages pre-emptively when there is (so far) only one article occupying a title that is ambiguous for multiple encyclopedic subjects? I find that hard to reconcile with your opinions about primary topics. We definitely don't put red links in hatnotes (WP:REDHAT), so what is supposed to be done when an existing article is accumulating links meant for a topic that does not yet have an article?
Category:Genus disambiguation pages contains many examples of disambiguation pages with a single blue link and one (or more) red links; e.g. Bonellia, Calopteryx. Plant and animal genera can share the same name. Species and genera are generally presumed notable (WP:SPECIESOUTCOMES). I'm generally loathe to confer primary topic status when genus names are shared; most genera of plants and animals are niche topics. I suppose a butterfly may more likely to be primary than a moss, and a tree more likely to be primary than an insect. But we still lack articles for many genera, and articles for a moss or fly may well be written before articles for a buttefly or a tree. I don't see any reason to leave the moss at the base title, accumulating links meant for the butterfly just because the butterfly article hasn't been written yet. Plantdrew (talk) 23:09, 29 August 2019 (UTC)
Thanks, very interesting! So there are circumstances in which it's best to anticipate that these other articles will be created (perhaps despite wp:ball). Good point.
And that could arguably be the case in the RM in question, in that the supporters had undertaken to create the other articles, and claimed to have sources to support these articles. And we assume good faith in this of course.
I still think the RM is out of process, and the argument invalid. These other articles should be created first. Andrewa (talk) 22:57, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
I've seen something very like the sentence you quoted in a guideline somewhere. Naturally enough, I can't find it again.
I may come across five or ten redlinks a day on DAB pages which are orphans or which link to deleted articles, and delete most of them with enthusiasm. However, per WP:IAR I do not delete orphan redlinks where the DAB page itself makes a plausible case for notability (e.g. a river or mountain which does exist, but doesn't seem to have an article in any Wikipedia).
I've seen numerous DAB pages which included a redlinked genus. On almost all of them (or nearly), the genus entry could be justified per WP:DABMENTION by a bluelink to a family (biology)-type article which mentioned it; which I added if it was lacking. I don't recall seeing a DAB page which included two redlinked genera each in a different kingdom (biology); though it wouldn't surprise me if such exist.
There is also the issue of unaccepted names, which are present in the older literature and are therefore both plausible and very necessary search terms. I have seen DAB pages which contained both an accepted and an unaccepted name within the same kingdom. As an unusual example, the DAB page Baeria contains two unaccepted genera, one a plant and the other an animal; and a see-also from a misspelling, which was how I came across it. Narky Blert (talk) 19:48, 31 August 2019 (UTC)
Also very interesting! Yes, I think it used to be in policy or guidelines but may have been removed. With so many policy and guideline pages, and so many editors discussing and changing them, and no easy way of searching the histories that I've found (suggestions welcome), it's a configuration management nightmare.
The problem I see is, while we assume good faith we can't always assume competence. The contributors concerned in this RM seem to have limited English and I suspect they don't have a good grasp of what sources are required to support an article... I've tried to gently question this. I haven't even suggested that the article instead be rescoped to include all the various meanings of the current title, but it does seems a possible BCA candidate.
Of course we're here for all English speakers, not just native speakers, and sources don't need to be in English. But we haven't got that far at the RM either, and I don't see that we will. I still think that the obvious course of action is, create the foreshadowed articles (good non-deletable stubs will do) and take it from there. Andrewa (talk) 20:15, 31 August 2019 (UTC)

An article that could exist but does not yet is fairly likely to meet WP:DABMENTION somewhere. bd2412 T 20:29, 31 August 2019 (UTC)

Yes, but sometimes those topics may be mentioned in two or three or even more articles. With the one bluelink per entry "rule" stringently enforced by a lot of editors, I think it's usually better to let the search engine do its job. Station1 (talk) 02:51, 1 September 2019 (UTC)
For quite a few terms, particularly multi-word phrases, the search engine does not do it's job at all. It turns up many irrelevant results and buries the relevant ones. bd2412 T 12:15, 6 September 2019 (UTC)
Tell me more. An example would be good. Andrewa (talk) 06:19, 7 September 2019 (UTC)

The contributors concerned in this RM seem to have limited English : it is not my case. For lots of contributors, if the article could be created, there are no reason for using a title without a parenthesis, despite the fact the others articles does not exist at this time. --Panam2014 (talk) 16:33, 1 September 2019 (UTC)

despite the fact the others articles does not exist at this time... I would say despite the fact that the other articles do not exist...... Do you get my meaning? There are many similar mistakes in the discussion.
My point was not that you're in any way disqualified from contributing here. But where it comes to understanding the finer nuances of policy, you're at an obvious disadvantage, and I think that shows in the discussion too. Andrewa (talk) 11:34, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
I think that if someone involved only in this disambiguation discussion, and not in that of the article under RM discussion, considers him/herself sufficiently uninvolved in that discussion, then it would be helpful to everyone if s/he could close the RM for those of us who are involved, rather than let it drag on infinitely... :) Boud (talk) 03:04, 6 September 2019 (UTC)
  • This is a version of the old discussion, "does the world outside Wikipedia exist?"... which is answered each day when the content contributor slaves below decks chained to the oars create new notable articles from the real world of reliable sources. In ictu oculi (talk) 09:34, 6 September 2019 (UTC)

Talk:Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery#Requested move 21 August 2019 supports the view that we do anticipate article creation. There are no other articles on Parliamentary Press Gallery at present, but there are other Parliamentary Press Galleries. I stand corrected. Perhaps this could be clearer in policy and guideline. Andrewa (talk) 16:11, 10 September 2019 (UTC)

While this wasn't a formal RfC and I couldn't close it even if it was, I'm seeing a consensus above that we do disambiguate article titles based on the articles that exist and could exist, and that latest RM result (comment immediately above) confirms this too.

And it wasn't short discussion. So I was wrong on both counts.

Very interesting! Discuss the impact of this at User talk:Andrewa/Primary Topic RfC#Articles that exist and could exist. It might surprise you as much as it does me. Andrewa (talk) 17:00, 10 September 2019 (UTC)

Not disambiguation in that case; "Canadian" is part of the name. "The Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery (CPPG) is a self-governing corporation that consists of accredited journalists who cover Parliament and other Ottawa-based governmental organizations and institutions." [10] [11] - Station1 (talk) 04:57, 11 September 2019 (UTC)
Disagree... "Canadian" is part of the name... Well, yes, in the sense that any natural disambiguation is part of the name. But Parliamentary Press Gallery is also a perfectly good name for the article, except for being (potentially) ambiguous, as the existence of the redirect shows. Andrewa (talk) 10:41, 12 September 2019 (UTC)
No, Parliamentary Press Gallery would not be a good name for that article, anymore than Canadian Mounted Police would be a good name for Royal Canadian Mounted Police, even though it redirects there. It's not a description of a press gallery that happens to be at the Canadian parliament, it's a proper noun name of an organization. Station1 (talk) 20:28, 13 September 2019 (UTC)
  • I disapprove of all the talk above of "Articles that could exist". That set is too large, and includes articles that could, but should not, exist. Instead, much of the above is agreeable if read as "Articles that should exist". The standard for articles that should exist is written into WP:Red link. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:35, 11 September 2019 (UTC)
    • Agree that Articles that should exist (my emphasis) is a better phrase. But disagree that the two phrases differ significantly in meaning in this context. By an article that could exist we mean one that would survive AfD, and that article should exist as well. Wikipedia is incomplete without it, so the set is no larger or smaller. And IMO that's exactly what WP:Red link says too. And on the other hand, could carries the extra connotation that these articles don't currently exist, which is the intended meaning, while should doesn't IMO carry that connotation quite so strongly. (And just BTW, could wasn't my choice of term, it was the term used in the RM comment that started all of this.) Andrewa (talk) 10:29, 12 September 2019 (UTC)
  • I'd say we don't disambiguate articles, we disambiguate topics. Most of the time the topic will have its own article, sometimes it won't have an article yet, and at other times it will never have one because it's not notable by itself, but it's still treated at sufficient length within another article. – Uanfala (talk) 12:16, 12 September 2019 (UTC)
    • Interesting observations. I'd say that strictly we disambiguate article titles. A topic that's not notable enough, or for which we just don't have enough material, for an article still needs to meet a sort of notability standard, otherwise we are giving it undue weight by having a redirect by its name. I very much like the idea that we disambiguate titles that are potentially ambiguous, that is there are other articles that should exist and hopefully will, someday, but don't yet, or even redirects by that name that should exist. But I thought that was contrary to our practice and policy. It seems it's not contrary to current practice and consensus. I'm unconvinced about policy, so far. Andrewa (talk) 13:08, 12 September 2019 (UTC)
    • It's the title that's ambiguous but this is really about relationships between titles and topics. If they corresponded 1:1 then life would be easy. Redirects mean that having many titles for one topic is no problem either. The problem we're solving occurs when a reader searches (broadly defined) using a title which has multiple title:topic relationships. Certes (talk) 13:44, 12 September 2019 (UTC)
      • Exactly. (Although I suggest you avoid describing a bijection as 1:1, as this may be confused with a one-to-one function which is injective but not surjective... maybe that's a quibble and perhaps unusually IMO this is the fault of my beloved mathematics rather than just another illogical quirk of English, but I have often seen these terms confused.)
      • More specifically, the problem occurs whenever a reader seeks (is that a better term than searches?) a topic using an ambiguous name which they do not consider ambiguous (that is, it has multiple title:topic relationships but they regard one of these as what we call a Primary Topic, which trivially includes the case that they think that there is no other possible meaning but isn't restricted to that case), and we have (at some point in history) chosen a different topic to be primary. Andrewa (talk) 21:34, 12 September 2019 (UTC)

@Andrewa: for all of the others articles, all should exist. So I will create the others articles but it is not necessary to create the others articles to move the first article. --Panam2014 (talk) 19:36, 14 September 2019 (UTC)

This discussion continues at #Pre-emptive disambiguation below. Andrewa (talk) 19:54, 14 September 2019 (UTC)

The case in pointEdit

The RM that started this is closed leaving the article at the undisambiguated name. So no pre-emptive disambiguation has occurred.

And nor have any of the other articles been created. Sovereignty Council of Sudan (1956–1958), Sovereignty Council of Sudan (1964–1965) and Sovereignty Council of Sudan (June–July 1965) remain redlinks at this time.

And nor has the scope of the article at Sovereignty Council of Sudan been expanded to include these other bodies. Andrewa (talk) 06:50, 16 September 2019 (UTC)

INCDAB - Dubious assumptionsEdit

WP:INCDAB currently says:

In rare cases where a qualified title is still ambiguous and has a primary topic, it should ...
More often, a qualified title that is still ambiguous will have no primary topic, and ...

I do not see why a partial disambiguation should be less likely to have a primary topic than would an undisambiguated title. What’s the thinking here? —В²C 21:52, 6 September 2019 (UTC)

I agree that, as the guideline is written, they are not likely to be rare. Stating they are rare certainly doesn’t make them so.
However, as stated in the close of the above RFC, there was consensus that the standard should be higher for finding that a parenthetically disambiguated title has a primary topic than normal. That’s what would make it rare.
I propose adding the following sentence to the start of INCDAB to better reflect the consensus:
A parenthetically disambiguated title may have a primary topic, but the threshold for identifying one is significantly higher than for a title without parenthetical disambiguation.
I’m not clear how the closer above found consensus for Option 2, given the nearly even split among participants. Leaving that aside for the moment, there was a fair amount of middle ground. Whether you get there by saying that primary topic takes precedence, but with a significantly higher threshold than normal, or by saying that parenthetically-disambiguated titles shouldn’t have primary topics, but allow for rare exceptions, the result is about the same.--Trystan (talk) 22:47, 6 September 2019 (UTC)

Very interesting.

There are two types of disambiguation, natural and what I'll call formal disambiguation.... parentheses, commas and any other conventions we use (are there any?). And there are significant differences.

The purpose of any article title is twofold... to make the article easy to find, and to make it easy to wikilink to it.

Now we don't require that a formal disambiguation should be used in sources (it may be, but we don't care), or that it be a likely search term (and those two things are much the same thing really). We do of a natural disambiguation. And similarly, nobody is likely to want to wikilink the formal disambiguation, instead they wikilink the base name by using the pipe trick.

So the bar for Primary Topic might not even be the same for formal as opposed to natural disambiguations. We should not assume that it is. Andrewa (talk) 02:58, 7 September 2019 (UTC)

  • The purpose of any article title? What about the purpose of titling the article? To state what the topic is. In journalism, the style is for a title to be a hook (like DYK). In fiction, the purpose of the title is to tantalise. In scholarship, the purpose of a title is to simply and directly state the topic of the content below. Easy wikilinking can be achieved with redirects, like shortcuts. If Paris were to redirect to the PRECISE Paris, France, editors can easily wikilink Paris, no need to compromise the article title. If the purpose is for logical searching, if you want to complement the superior AI search engine algorithms, then what you are looking for is keywords. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:18, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
    • So you're saying that one purpose of the article title is to give the article a title? Yes, that's trivially true... sort of, like x=x, which is a profound truth in some contexts... but I don't see the significance of the statement that an article title is an article title in this context.
    • This is not journalism or fiction. Scholarship, hopefully yes. And yes, the purpose of a title is to simply and directly state the topic of the content below. But I'd add clearly, and if the title is ambiguous, then its meaning is unclear. That's the whole problem. And yes, wikilinking can be by shortcuts.
    • For the umpteenth time, nobody is proposing to move Paris! So agree no need to compromise the article title.
    • Good point about keywords. We should probably make more use of them. Perhaps include the non-hidden category names in the HTML metadata of an article page? Or do we already do this? It seems logical to do so.
    • The Wikipedia article title has two consequences of which I'm aware in the outside world. It appears in the URL, and it appears in the title HTML tag for the page (and in both cases it's the whole title, not just the base name). I'm guessing that's not likely to change, and that it's the title tag that has most impact on external searching. Our internal search of course uses the article title directly. Andrewa (talk) 12:53, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
  • I was the one who added "rare" since it was clear from the consensus and the closing statement that PDABs have a higher threshold than base name primary topics. I would note that naturally disambiguated topics can have primary topics in the same way as other articles at their best title since natural disambiguation is use of another term. Comma disambiguation for settlements in the US (and to a lesser extent in Australia and Canada) is often considered natural disambiguation (and sometimes for UK churches and streets) but for other topics like settlements in other countries (and similar) comma disambiguation is the same as using brackets, see Harris, Outer Hebrides for example. Crouch, Swale (talk) 08:46, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
    • Yes, comma disambiguation can be a form of natural disambiguation if it appears in sources, as in theory could parenthetical but that is less likely.
    • And that's not at all surprising, is it? These conventions weren't pulled out of the air, they were and are themselves natural English similar to what we'd seen elsewhere, and which we hoped and believed that English speakers would understand.
    • But the point is that we don't require any sources for these (full) titles anyway, because of our own naming conventions. In this sense they are treated as formal disambiguations, and so that's what we should call them whenever they could be either formal or natural and are therefore in a sense both. Andrewa (talk) 22:33, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
  • There's no reason to say they're rare. That gives the impression the practice is discouraged, which it isn't. If they're rare then let them be rare, but we don't have to explicitly say so. I suggest this be reverted.  — Amakuru (talk) 22:51, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
    • It is discouraged to the extent that the RFC consensus was for a higher standard than for regular primary topic. Without that, the guidance is not reflective of the consensus.--Trystan (talk) 23:39, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
    • I agree that there is (and should be) a higher standard for PDABs (particularly talking about parenthetical disambiguators here). I believe that has also been evident in the RM discussions in recent years, not just in the mentioned RFC. —BarrelProof (talk) 21:59, 13 September 2019 (UTC)

Why a higher standard?Edit

I don’t understand. Let’s say there are two uses of Foo and they’re both films, but one is a well known American academy award winner and the other an unrelated obscure Korean film. The page views are about 4,000/day vs three a day. So the well known one is the primary topic and is at the base name while the foreign obscure one is disambiguated. Okay, but now say there is a third use of Foo, say a major well known city with 12,000 views per day, and that is the primary topic at the base name. So now the American film does need disambiguation and the decision is about whether it’s the primary topic for Foo (film). Why should the standard be higher than in the previous scenario in terms of how it was decided that it was the primary topic of Foo? —В²C 06:32, 8 September 2019 (UTC)

Because PDABs add an unnecessary layer of complication and confusion and there was a clear consensus that the standards are higher. Crouch, Swale (talk) 07:45, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
With a an undisambiguated title, the main consideration is how to direct the significant number of users that search for and end up at "Foo". But if you have "Foo" (the city and primary topic), "Foo (American film)", and "Foo (Korean film)", virtually nobody will search for or end up at "Foo (film)". So where it redirects to doesn't really matter much.
Let's say "Foo (US film)" gets 4,000/day and "Foo (Korean film)" gets 1,000/day. That meets the standard primary topic test; the first film is significantly more likely to be sought than the second. So we move the US film to "Foo (film)", which is a slightly shorter title. It doesn't help anyone get to their article any faster, and in fact will mean some increased portion of the 1,000 people seeking "Foo (Korean film)" will now end up at the wrong article. (For example, "Foo (film)" will now show up in the search box autocomplete. Users looking for the Korean film would likely click that, where they would not have clicked "Foo (US film)".)
So in choosing a primary topic for "Foo", the question is about how best to direct people searching for "Foo". In choosing a primary topic for "Foo (film)", the question is whether slightly shortening the title for one topic is worth the increased number of users reaching the wrong article. Totally different considerations, hence totally different standards.--Trystan (talk) 15:46, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
Trystan put it well, in my opinion. —BarrelProof (talk) 21:59, 13 September 2019 (UTC)

Search box algorithmEdit

Where do I find the search box algorithm?

Because I think it could be improved.

In particular, it seems to discriminate against redirects. If I start to type in a title that exists as a redir, it doesn't even appear in the dropdown list until the exact match is complete. See

for an example... the upper screenshot has only one letter still to type, but no hits. But when I add the last letter (lower screenshot), bingo, there it is.

Surely, that could be improved upon? Andrewa (talk) 21:42, 8 September 2019 (UTC)

mw:Help:CirrusSearch has an overview and links at the bottom to further details. Lieutenant General of the Armed Forces was only created three hours ago and may not yet have filtered through to the index of titles close to search strings. Certes (talk) 22:00, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
Awesome, thank you!
But the timing doesn't seem to be the problem... try Wikipedia:Alternatives to deletion for example. Same result exactly. Andrewa (talk) 22:08, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
When I type "Wikipedia:Alte", that redirect appears as suggestion 8 of 10. When I type "Wikipedia:Alternatives to d", it is the only suggestion. Certes (talk) 22:13, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
Curiouser and curiouser... I wish I'd taken screenshots! Because now that's what happens for me too.
But it's not what happened when I first looked for that redirect (relevant to another discussion). Nor when I immediately retried it just to be sure. Thanks for the links above, I will investigate further. Andrewa (talk) 22:48, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
Information on your “search” box behaviour can be found at Special:Preferences#mw-prefsection-searchoptions. Note that it is very short of a search engine search, it is title auto-complete allowing for two typos, by default. It is very useful, it is good for what it is, but it is not “search”, but goto. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:23, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
I think that to call it not “search” is just confusing... I use it as a search regularly, and the box I see is labelled "Search Wikipedia". I take your point that the type of search is different to say Google, but it's still a search so far as most people are concerned. Andrewa (talk) 08:08, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
I think the labelling of the “Go to title” box as “search” has been and is horrendously confusing. If you enter text and go, it does not invoke the search function, but does precisely as described in your preferences. To access a real search, you have to scroll down below all the suggestions, or you can invoke the GUI with no entered text to get to the real full search function interface. Usually, it is far easier to use google with a “+wikipedia” term. If you do that, google will remember your personal unarticulated preferences. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:50, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
You can do a real search by preceding the title with a tilde, e.g. ~wave, but that's not intuitive. Certes (talk) 22:58, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
Where is that documented? Andrewa (talk) 23:38, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
Help:Searching#Search box. Certes (talk) 23:54, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
Thanks, got it! Andrewa (talk) 00:37, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
I think it's only confusing to those with some background in computing science, and not even all of those. We're a general encyclopedia. Most of our readers understand search Wikipedia without confusion or difficulty. Andrewa (talk) 23:38, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
I am skeptical of that. I believe that most readers are familiar with searching by google, which is a powerful AI dynamically learning search engine. The confusion I allude to is with editors, and I believe that most editors have some computing knowledge. I believe in precise titling and labelling. For the Go box, it should be labelled "Go to title". The magnifying glass should be reserved to a real search, pressing it should always invoke a real search engine. At least, if you attempt to go to a non-existing page, the search function is invoked, but if there is a bad title, a bad redirect, or an overzealous PRIMARYTOPIC decision, a Go box user who think they are searching for something will be waylaid. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:11, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
That reminds me of dealing with IBM... occasionally, when they couldn't fix a problem for which they'd accepted an APAR, they'd close it as "Documented as a restriction" and eventually the manuals would be updated to say that the bug existed.
I think our users want a search box. I certainly use and value it as such. If we can improve it we should. But it's not just a go to and most users wouldn't even know what that meant, although they would guess close enough maybe. Andrewa (talk) 00:37, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
Au contraire, it is barely more than a GOTO. It is more in that it handles 2 typos and has some redirects functionality when generating the JAVA dropdown lists of suggestion auto-completions, and in the case of zero matches it invokes the search function. For what it is, it is great, but it is mislabelled, it is not a search box. The criticism are: (1) it can suck readers down holes of bad, imprecise titling, if they really wanted to do a search; and (2) it is causing editors to misuse the word wikt:search. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:44, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
Very interested in how it can suck readers down holes of bad, imprecise titling. Certainly agree that imprecise titling is bad. We should fix it! Andrewa (talk) 01:39, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
It's also possible that yesterday's denial of service attack is still having effects or is being repeated. That might prevent your partial title from being transmitted to Wikipedia's servers, or the suggestions from being returned. I briefly had timeouts a few minutes ago, though the problem may lie elsewhere and everything works smoothly for me now. Certes (talk) 23:37, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
Curiouser and curiouser... I wasn't even aware of that DoS attack. Andrewa (talk) 08:08, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
A Dutch friend (not an editor) saw a news report on 6 September that Dutch (but not English?) WP was down, possibly an attack. I suspected an attack on English WP at about that time, I couldn't load any WP pages (I tried in those two languages). Narky Blert (talk) 14:53, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
Wikimedia handled the DoS in a low-key way: see WP:VPT#Wikimedia down and the Phabricator report. If the Twitter account (now suspended) is to be believed, those responsible soon moved on to various gaming servers but gave no details of their methods. (I suspect a botnet abusing IoT, which is an accident waiting to happen.) NCSC seem to have a clue and may be able to prevent a recurrence. Certes (talk) 16:19, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
The same minute I suggested above that DoS may be the problem, Phabricator was updated to confirm that there had been more disruption. The problem seems to have gone away and, if it recurs, it will be a symptom of a more widespread problem. Certes (talk) 18:57, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
Now working for me: suggestion 5 of 10 for "Lieutenant General o" and sole suggestion for "Lieutenant General of the A". I think that either new pages take a while to index, or there were connection problems. One thing I have noticed is that redirects are suppressed when their target is shown: typing all or part of "Adipocyte" doesn't suggest Adipocytes. That feature seems sensible. Certes (talk) 13:26, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
I can see the logic, but that feature seems to me to be undesirable in at least some scenarios. It means that if a surfer types in wave wanting the physics article, this is what they see. It would be far better for them if wave (physics) appeared on that list.
And that is probably an example of the problem I see with our treatment of Primary Topic. We have been unimaginative. Someone recently said that the search box is not even an example of a search. To many of our readers (myself included) it is the normal way of searching Wikipedia. More important, we assume that everyone agrees on the default meaning of a term... and we call this meaning Primary Topic of course. But for many if not most ambiguous terms, some of our readers will assume a different default meaning. And that will be true whatever criteria we use for Primary Topic. Andrewa (talk) 21:19, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
I can see the advantage of suggesting Wave (physics). On the other hand, we don't want to fill the list with ten redirects to the same article, to the exclusion of other topics, especially if five of them are misspellings. There are possible solutions but they may require more effort than the benefits merit. For example, we could introduce a concept of "main qualified title" – the title we'd use if the topic were not primary – but someone would have to identify and mark that redirect for millions of articles as well as modifying the software to display them. Showing no redirects is probably less bad than showing them all. Certes (talk) 21:54, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
All good points. Redirects are already categorised. Redirects labelled R from misspelling, R from incorrect name etc should be sorted last in the list. But R from alternative name should be above them. Redirects from article moves should be shown unless specifically excluded, and a template and category should be set up to allow this... R excluded from searches perhaps. And probably an explicit R included in searches for completeness. I don't think any other new concept would be needed. Andrewa (talk) 23:38, 9 September 2019 (UTC)

Missing linesEdit

As well as wave (physics) there's another important omission here, and that's wave (disambiguation). It would be really helpful to let the reader know that this exists... and maybe to tag it in some way so they get a hint that it's a list of the articles they might want. I'm not convinced that every reader, particularly a new reader, will correctly guess the meaning of (disambiguation). Andrewa (talk) 01:22, 10 September 2019 (UTC)  

  • To see Wave (physics), you need to have entered the "(" character. When you do that, you also get to see the Wave (disambiguation) as a suggested autocompletion. There is a fair bit of random-like behaviour going on. The short JAVA autocomplete suggestion list implies that that's all there is, but there is actually many more titles than shown. One of the reasons I like MonoBook skin is that it gives you the explicit option of "Go" versus "search", but the frustrating JAVA suggestion list covers these buttons, limiting your options to "Go". Also very frustrating is that if the device or connection is weak, the JAVA list is delayed and erratic. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:24, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
    • Exactly. But do we really expect our readers to know to enter the "(", let alone change their skin? The default skin should make the whatever-you-want-to-call-the-box-now-labelled-"Search-Wikipedia" as easy and effective to use as possible. Andrewa (talk) 06:06, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Wave is a failure of WP:PRECISE, and a poor application of PRIMARYTOPIC. It should be moved to Wave (physics). It fails as a PRIMARYTOPIC because it is not the PRIMARYMEANING, but a derivative of that. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:58, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
    • The problem with considering terms is that they go awry in the search box whenever a second word or more is introduced. Consider as simple a phrase as "Kiss Me". We have a disambiguation page, Kiss Me. But if you were to search in the search window, look how many close-but-irrelevant results you would have to go through. Now consider what would happen if you were to add the multiplier of a third word, for example with Kiss the Sky versus the search for that phrase". bd2412 T 04:08, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
      • So the Go Box is best with single word searches and titles, and so some editors would like all titles to be single words, as far as possible? That seems to be an unintended objective that's a consequence of making the Go Box work.
For searching Wikipedia mainspace, I much prefer to google "Kiss the Sky +Wikipedia" for example. I pretty much only use the internal Wikipedia search engine for searching other namespaces. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 05:06, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
I use it often in the main namespace. It almost always works better than Google, in my experience. Suppose I want the chemical element krypton. Why would I type krypton (which just took me to Krypton (TV series) with no hatnote, no idea why) or even just krypton wikipedia (which takes me to the element as the second hit, after the TV series) when typing krypton in our search... sorry, non-search labelled search... box takes me straight to the correct article? Andrewa (talk) 06:06, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
You use what, the "Go to title" function, or the Wikipedia internal search engine. The "Go to title" function works great when you know what you are looking for and are confident that a page on it exists, and it has a simple title. It works poorly for something less tangible that might be covered in a section in some other article, or if you have the name wrong. Google is great for when you are searching for something common but you are using the wrong words, google somehow "knows what you mean". The Go to box is useless if your words are on the tip of your tongue and wont come off.
Parenthetically disambiguated articles, like Krypton (TV series), don't get hatnotes. You are supposed to know to remove the parenthetical part from your url to get to the DAB page, or the unexpected primarytopic. This is easy on a desktop, annoying on an iPad, and a right pain in the arse on an iPhone in mobile view. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:15, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
I type krypton into the box labelled Search Wikipedia and press the enter key. Almost always works well. Am I the only one who does this? It seemed rather intuitive.
And I'm not for one moment suggesting that Krypton (TV series) should get a hatnote just because Google is wrongly taking readers there. The point is just, Google is not God. We easily can and should do far better with our own internal navigation aids. (And quibbling about whether these are really "search" or not... words fail me. Our own documentation pretty consistently calls it search, and I think that's what our readers understand it as. But if we form consensus to change what we call that box, fine.) Andrewa (talk) 06:40, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
Is it "quibbling", or do words matter? Using the Go Box is not like doing a search. Using the Go Box is like going to the alphabetically listed contents and choosing a quick match. That is not a search by any reasonable definition, but Wikipedia is teaching readers and editors alike that it is. If we are to accept the Wikipedia interface as beyond the influence of mere mortals, than we need to recognize the creation of yet another word with multiple conflicting meanings (Contronyms). They should be avoided. There has been a lot of talk of "what readers will search for", which is firstly a psychoanalysis of a hypothetical person, and secondly uses a word that carries contradictory meanings. Even if that can't be fixed, is should be recognized. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 07:10, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
Words do matter a great deal. I'm very much a fan of Benjamin Whorf et al in that regard. But trying to impose this esoteric distinction is quibbling. We know what we mean by search, and if English is sloppy in this regard this is not the place to fix that.
But just to repeat, if you can establish a consensus to change the text from Search Wikipedia to something else, I'll go along with it. I probably won't support it, depending on the exact proposal, but you can still form a rough consensus. Have a go by all means. Andrewa (talk) 09:39, 10 September 2019 (UTC)

The above is such a mess re stringing that I'm giving up with this particular reply. See MOS:INDENTMIX and User talk:Andrewa#Mixed indents.

But replying to Wave is a failure of WP:PRECISE, and a poor application of PRIMARYTOPIC. It should be moved to Wave (physics). It fails as a PRIMARYTOPIC because it is not the PRIMARYMEANING, but a derivative of that. [12]

Exactly. Except it's not an unusual failure, just a good example. To the point that I have now of course come to the conclusion that we have such a poor idea of what we even mean by Primary Topic that it would now be better deprecated.

Any ambiguous article title fails WP:PRECISE and is just asking for trouble. Articles that are already at ambiguous names (or are at names that later become ambiguous) shouldn't be moved, that's also just asking for trouble. But just deprecating P T for new names is almost as good, and very little trouble indeed. Andrewa (talk) 07:11, 10 September 2019 (UTC)

Is Dorotheus a DAB or a name page?Edit

Dorotheus is currently more of a name page than a disambiguation page, though it has a {{hndis}} template, and Dorotheus (disambiguation) redirects to Dorotheus. I'm thinking that the best option would be to move Dorotheus (weevil) (and its blue link) to Dorotheus (disambiguation), add the names that are just 'Dorotheus', and include a link to Dorotheus (of course). What would be the appropriate template to put on Dorotheus given that it includes given names and mononyms? Does {{given name}} take care of it? Leschnei (talk) 13:46, 10 September 2019 (UTC)

Technically the weevil (which doesn't even have an article) makes it a dab but in spirit it's a name page. I would say that {{given name}} covers mononyms. (Even if there were surnames, {{given name|type=both}} would suffice.) A hatnote can deal with the weevil: we don't need a dab just for ONEOTHER meaning. Certes (talk) 14:14, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
@Certes: thanks for the input. I've replaced {{hndis}} with {{given name}}. However, I didn't add a hatnote because Dorotheus (weevil) is a red link. I moved it to See also; maybe not the best solution but I'm sure that someone will put me right. Leschnei (talk) 01:04, 11 September 2019 (UTC)
Yuck! what a mess! part given name, part hndis (everyone on the page seems to have a mononym), part dab. Why can't people and things arrange themselves into tidy categories?
I suggest leaving the page as a {{given name}} page with the weevil as an SA. Messy and unstylish, but it has the merit of containing all the relevant information to point readers to what they might be looking for. Narky Blert (talk) 18:58, 13 September 2019 (UTC)

Pre-emptive disambiguationEdit

I thought there was a place in this guideline that clearly said not to perform pre-emptive disambiguation – e.g., not to use an article title like "Foo (in Canada)" unless there is some other identified article on Wikipedia where some kind of "Foo" is discussed that is not the Foo found in Canada. The issue is when some editor says that there is some other important kind of Foo, and thus asserts that article title disambiguation is needed, but does not identify any article on Wikipedia where that other kind of Foo is discussed. I see such a discouragement clearly stated in WP:SONGDAB, but I haven't found it here as a clearly stated general principle to apply outside of music subjects. Is it just me – am I missing it? I think this principle is somewhat implicitly expressed, but not as clearly here and in WP:AT as it is in WP:SONGDAB, which flatly says (in its most recent revision, after a further clarification by me]) "Do not pre-emptively disambiguate pages from topics that do not exist, that are not discussed anywhere in Wikipedia, or that are not notable." This came up in an RM discussion that is currently being held at Talk:Tax-Free Savings Account (Canada), and I wanted to refer to the relevant guideline. —BarrelProof (talk) 23:42, 13 September 2019 (UTC)

Maybe somebody will find something relevant in the guidelines, but in my opinion it's all down to common sense. If you have one article with a potentially ambiguous title, the question is how likely is it for another article to be created. If 1) the topic area is one that's relatively saturated with existing articles (pop culture), 2) there is a very large number of similar entities that are judged not to be notable (songs), then yes, it's not usually likely that disambiguation will become needed at some point. If on the other hand, you're creating an article in a topic area with relatively few articles (say, geography of Southeast Asia), and there is a very large number of notable entities that dont' yet have articles (say, populated places), then pre-emptive disambiguation might be a good idea. Another factor is how likely the name is to be distinct. Long name with unusual consonant sequences or short name made up of common sounds?
As for the case in the RM discussion, I think it's a matter no so much of pre-emptive disambiguation as of the title's appropriateness with respect to the scope of the article. If the title were "Retirement compensation arrangements" (a generic term), but the article were about Retirement Compensation Arrangements (the proper name for a particular kind of savings account used in Canada), then there would be a mismatch in scope. In such cases I think it's best to have the scope clearly declared with a parenthetical disambiguator (like "(Canada)"), rather than rely entirely on the surreptitious use of title case. – Uanfala (talk) 00:55, 14 September 2019 (UTC)
This is somewhat off-topic, but I feel obliged to say that Wikipedia uses sentence case, not title case, for the names of its topics, and Retirement Compensation Arrangements is not a proper name. The mere fact of it being plural is a strong clue about that. As stated in the article on the subject, a proper name identifies a single entity, and there are many retirement compensation arrangements, just as there are many individual retirement accounts. A class of entities, such as the class of retirement arrangements that are defined under subsection 248(1) of the Canadian Income Tax Act or the class of retirement accounts defined in subsection 401(k) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, is not a proper noun. —BarrelProof (talk) 00:48, 16 September 2019 (UTC)
I also thought that pre-emptive disambiguation was explicitly prohibited, which is why I thought that the discussion at #Articles that exist and could exist would be short and simple. This is exactly the question i was asking there.
But can't find where. One of the things missing from Wikipedia is the ability to search previous versions (or if it's there I haven't found it, either). I guess we'd want to throttle such a search carefully to avoid colossal server loads (and creating a DoS paradise!).
But the more I think about it the more I think pre-emptive disambiguation is a good idea, anyway. If you think that an article title is ambiguous in the most general sense, you shouldn't use it. That was the letter of the very first cut of WP:AT and perhaps has never changed.
Wikipedia:Unnecessary disambiguation links to at least one other relevant page and the related talk pages might be of interest too. And RMs regularly remove unnecessary disambiguations. Perhaps we are not entirely consistent in this. Andrewa (talk) 20:01, 14 September 2019 (UTC)

@Andrewa: for some subjects, pre-emptive disambiguation is really necessary when both articles have the same importance. --Panam2014 (talk) 16:03, 15 September 2019 (UTC)

Agree. But I don't think that's the question here. The questions are, what is our current policy and practice when (for example) only one of two articles currently exist, and what should it be? And there seem to be various opinions on both of these questions. Andrewa (talk) 20:33, 15 September 2019 (UTC)
Yes, I don't think the term "pre-emptive" applies when there are already two articles on Wikipedia. Pre-emptive disambiguation is about what to do when only one of the hypothetically confusable topics is currently discussed on Wikipedia. —BarrelProof (talk) 21:25, 15 September 2019 (UTC)
Exactly. It's a very good term, and that's one reason this section is so much more productive than my attempt at #Articles that exist and could exist above. Andrewa (talk) 21:53, 15 September 2019 (UTC)
(I have been involved in exactly such a case. There was a WP:RM to move a song with a fully-qualified title to the less-qualified title on the grounds that it was the only one with an article. The result was not-moved; I put the article up for WP:AFD as failing WP:NSONG; and it is now a redirect.) Narky Blert (talk) 17:08, 17 September 2019 (UTC)
I'd like to see the specific example, but yes, it sounds like a good use of preemptive disambiguation.
The reason for wanting the specific example is, I'd like to consider whether it was within current guidelines to preemptively disambiguate in this case, and if not whether it's adequately covered as an example of the occasional commonsense exception. Andrewa (talk) 10:48, 18 September 2019 (UTC)
My memory was imperfect. It was Tomorrow's Dream (song), where the RM was to remove the qualifier. There may or may not be preemptive redirects relating to entries in the DAB page Tomorrow's Dream (I haven't checked everything), but all seven entries could have a useful qualified and categorised redirect (four songs, one album, two novels). Narky Blert (talk) 19:06, 18 September 2019 (UTC)
That discussion was all about readers coming in blind using the searchbox, trying to find an article.
It did not address the problems caused by bluelinks which point to the wrong place. (This is a widespread and well-known problem with WP:PTOPICs, WP:SIAs and {{surname}} pages, among others.)
A reader who clicks on a bluelink in an article should be taken to the right place, not to an ambiguous or – still worse – a misleading and wrong place.
An editor, an enthusiastic fan of the band Tarfu, adds a link in that article to "Snafu" (song), their best-known number. However, the band Fubar recorded a completely different song called "Snafu" – and "Snafu" (song) already exists, either as a standalone article or as a redirect to Fubar. Confusion worse confounded. Narky Blert (talk) 21:57, 18 September 2019 (UTC)
Songs are somewhat of a special case, because they often share titles with other songs and are sometimes only mentioned very briefly in articles (e.g., in a list of tracks on some album). I'm trying to bring up here the wider question of pre-emptive disambiguation as a more general issue across Wikipedia. Anyhow, that RFC has been archived, and is found here. The headline for the discussion is misleading, because it assumes that any song that does not have a stand-alone article written about it is therefore a non-notable song. In some cases, a song might be discussed extensively in an article that is about a band or about an album, perhaps because the song was particularly important to the history of the band, and we should not jump to the conclusion that the lack of a separate article about the song means, ipso facto, that the song is not notable. I don't think a separate (largely duplicate) article should be created about the song just to prevent it from being considered non-notable on Wikipedia. That creates a maintenance headache. But I have no problem with the idea that if only one song with a particular name is really discussed to any significant degree anywhere on Wikipedia, then it should be considered the primary topic among the other candidates where a song might just be mentioned once somewhere in a list of tracks in some discography. —BarrelProof (talk) 00:00, 19 September 2019 (UTC)
An actual example. I've just cleaned up the mess which was 99.9 FM#Argentina (it took 24 minutes, which included some cleanup in other articles). 20 links; formerly, about one-third each redlinks, bad links, and links to DAB pages; now, 100% redlinks. I used preemptive disambiguation in a few cases, purely from gut feeling. (1) 99.9 redirects to 99.9 FM. Even though 99.9 (radio station) doesn't exist, I changed the bad link 99.9 to 99.9 (Mar del Plata) for precision. The frequency is used everywhere, with many countries having several stations. (2) Pop (Argentine radio station) and Top (Argentine radio station). Even though Pop (radio station) and Top (radio station) are redlinks, I could foresee possible problems with them; those names look very generic. Narky Blert (talk) 07:21, 19 September 2019 (UTC)
A reader who clicks on a bluelink in an article should be taken to the right place, not to an ambiguous or – still worse – a misleading and wrong place. Exactly. And surely that's a good reason not to have articles at ambiguous (or just plain wrong) titles? A topic that's primary for some is not primary for others, however we choose P T. Editors who assume a different P T (including those who don't even think that the term is ambiguous) will of course innocently wikilink to the wrong article. If the mislinking is to a DAB we can warn them and we do and mostly they'll fix it themselves, and even if they don't fix it the wikignomes can easily find and fix mislinkings to DABs and they do, and the pipe trick makes it easy and natural to do so. But on the other hand, if the mislinking is to a wrong article then nobody gets any warning. Andrewa (talk) 23:24, 20 September 2019 (UTC)
WP:PRECISION is the guidance against premature disambiguation. If there's not yet Wikipedia ambiguity, there's to be no Wikipedia disambiguation yet either. If there is some ambiguity of topics but just not a second article, then the base name can be the disambiguation page linking the one article with the qualified title and the other article(s) that MOS:DABMENTION the other topics. Incorrect blue links in the article space just get fixed like any other incorrect blue links in the article space. -- JHunterJ (talk) 19:38, 23 September 2019 (UTC)
Incorrect blue links in article space do not get fixed. They tend to remain for ever, unless a DABfixer with a suspicious mind investigates them. As an example from my to-do list, Orel, Russia: 13 bad incoming bluelinks.
An editor once posted on my Talk Page, requesting that I refrain from posting {{dn}} in a particular infobox because they made the article look ugly, and members of a specialist WikiProject would spot and fix such errors soon enough. Two days later, I checked and corrected a bluelink which had triggered my spideysenses in a different instance of the same infobox. Guess who the most recent editor had been, a week or two earlier?
It may be about time I checked Tetrahedron again. It usually has a few links-in intended for Tetrahedron (journal). Narky Blert (talk) 04:13, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
Although it has little to do with pre-emptive disambiguation, I've listed some of the most commonly mislinked articles in User:Certes/misdirected links#Examples. Certes (talk) 11:02, 25 September 2019 (UTC)

Talk:Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha#Requested move 13 September 2019 seems an example. Andrewa (talk) 12:17, 24 September 2019 (UTC)

Incorrect blue links do get fixed. They may tend one way or the other, but editors edit. Regardless, errors elsewhere are a bad reason to make errors here. -- JHunterJ (talk) 17:25, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
I assume this is in reply to this edit above by Narky Blert. Yes, of course they do sometimes get fixed, but only when editors stumble upon them by accident. On the other hand, links from articles to DAB pages are detected by DPL bot, and are far more likely to be fixed as a result. Andrewa (talk) 00:49, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
Incorrect links do not get fixed unless someone takes specific trouble to go looking for them.
Earlier this year, Certes and I ran a project to repair links to surname articles for taxonomists in articles about species. There were about 1,500 of them, and it took two weeks and one trout. They included several explicitly linked to (surname) and (disambiguation) pages through those qualifiers. The task included a fair amount of multilingual searching. As a bonus, we were able to find by eye and repair some other bad links which turned up in those articles and elsewhere; e.g. to Amman, Baker, Chiron, Hedge and Jordan. I don't know how long those links had been around; but on looking at our worklist again, I found one error which had been introduced in 2011, and I doubt that was the oldest. We didn't even attempt to look at mononymic footballers, where the problem may be at least as bad.
That was the tip of only one iceberg. Narky Blert (talk) 10:22, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
If you're just going to go with hyperbole, nothing ever gets improved on Wikipedia unless someone takes specific trouble to improve it. We call those someones "editors". But we don't degrade the encyclopedia for the users to benefit the editors, and pre-emptive disambiguation is a degradation of the encyclopedia. -- JHunterJ (talk) 13:45, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
Which element of my post was hyperbole? Narky Blert (talk) 21:28, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
that incorrect link do not get fixed unless someone fixes them. Perhaps "tautological" would be a better description. Wikipedia does not get edited unless someone edits it. -- JHunterJ (talk) 12:36, 27 September 2019 (UTC)
Incorrect links get fixed when someone notices them. This can happen in (at least) two ways. Links to dabs get noticed because DPL bot flags them, both in talk page messages to the adding editor and in a convenient daily report. Links to the wrong article don't; we have to go looking for them. This is harder and takes longer than going through the DPL list. I've fixed quite a few recently but each group means thinking up a new search criterion: I'm currently fixing links to surnames from templates which don't list surnames. I'm sure I've missed far more than I've fixed, and I fear that no one else has found them either. Certes (talk) 14:01, 27 September 2019 (UTC)

Disambiguation isn’t needed unless there is another topic dealt with on Wikipedia to distinguish. [13] (my emphasis) Interesting comment. WP:Precision isn't cited but is it a valid interpretation of that policy? Andrewa (talk) 00:57, 26 September 2019 (UTC)

Precision is defined at WP:AT as "The title unambiguously identifies the article's subject and distinguishes it from other subjects." The implied scope must be something like "the set of subjects covered on Wikipedia" or "the set of subjects that could be covered on Wikipedia, according to current content guidelines." It becomes meaningless if the title needs to be sufficient to unambiguously identify the topic among all possible subjects in the world.--Trystan (talk) 01:56, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
Exactly. There are in fact three sorts of topics...
  • Those that have articles (and presumably deserve them).
  • Those that don't deserve articles.
  • Those that do deserve articles but don't yet have them.
The question is, where and how do we discuss that third sort? I think if there's evidence that a topic is of the third sort, then that evidence should be enough to create a non-deletable stub, and that's what we should do rather than produce that evidence at an RM. It doesn't take appreciably longer, and improves Wikipedia. And it helps to weed out claims that the evidence exists by people who are guessing or worse (but possibly in complete good faith), so that (assuming again that they're here) they can instead do something more useful. Andrewa (talk) 04:38, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
WP:AT tells us "Usually, titles should unambiguously define the topical scope of the article, but should be no more precise than that." and (in the section about disambiguation) "According to the above-mentioned precision criterion, when a more detailed title is necessary to distinguish an article topic from another, use only as much additional detail as necessary." And WP:DISAMBIG defines as its scope "there is more than one existing Wikipedia article to which that word or phrase might be expected to lead". DMacks (talk) 05:03, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
Exactly. WP:PRECISION and WP:DISAMBIGUATION are the policy and guideline against pre-emptive disambiguation (not just an interpretation of them). Otherwise we have William Shakespeare (English playwright born 1564) just in case another English playwright named William Shakespeare explodes on the scene next year. Future Wikipedia can handle its issues, and moves for changes in ambiguousness and primaryness are cheap. -- JHunterJ (talk) 13:45, 26 September 2019 (UTC)

Pre-emptive disambiguation sounds like a good idea in order to pre-empt any naming wars and disagreements, see Talk:Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha as case in point. Gryffindor (talk) 13:47, 27 September 2019 (UTC)

I think it would lead to endless unresolvable conflict regarding article titles. It’s relatively easy for editors to agree when a title is ambiguous between two or more existing articles. When one editor can say “We need to disambiguate this title, because it conflicts with some non-notable topic I am familiar with”, there is no common foundation on which editors can build consensus.--Trystan (talk) 14:05, 27 September 2019 (UTC)
That case is relatively easy... the non-notable topic doesn't need an article, so we just need rough consensus that it is non-notable. The problem is when there is a notable topic that doesn't yet have an article but should have.
And it seems to me, rereading the above, that then the question is not so much how we decide this (as in what evidence we consider) as where we decide (as in, is an RM a suitable place for the notability discussion even if the article in question doesn't yet exist). WP:DAB seems clear on this... Disambiguation is required whenever, for a given word or phrase on which a reader might search, there is more than one existing Wikipedia article to which that word or phrase might be expected to lead. (my emphasis) But WP:AT#Precision is not nearly so clear... Usually, titles should unambiguously define the topical scope of the article, but should be no more precise than that. No mention of whether this ambiguity arises whenever notable topics exist, or whether it's only if the articles on them exist. Does the policy at WP:AT override the guideline at WP:DAB? Or does the fact that the policy fails to say let the guideline override it? Do they need to be completely consistent? Why have guidelines at all if we're going to put everything in the policy?
I still think that, on practical grounds, these discussions shouldn't be part of WP:RM. If the evidence exists that there's another notable topic, then create that other article before going to WP:RM. Neatest procedure by far, and what WP:DAB already says. Andrewa (talk) 16:56, 27 September 2019 (UTC)

How much more likely is "much more likely than any other single topic"?Edit

How much more likely is "much more likely than any other single topic"? In a recent RM discussion (Talk:Kawésqar#Requested_move_4_September_2019) with a TWODABS situation in a dispute about whether there was a primary topic both sides acknowledge that one topic was favored 1.64/1 in terms of page views. In your experience and opinion is that always/often/usually/sometimes/rarely or never enough of a ratio to meet the "much more likely than any other single topic" criteria? In my opinion it's always, and it seems like the community agrees much more often than not. Am I wrong? --В²C 18:58, 2 October 2019 (UTC)

For example, if one topic is getting 60% of the hits, and the others are getting 40% all together, doesn't that make the one topic "much more likely" to be sought "than any other single topic"? Maybe this should be clarified at WP:PRIMARYTOPIC. --В²C 19:30, 2 October 2019 (UTC)
Well let's consider the extreme case where there's only one other topic. If I mix up 6 red balls and 4 green balls in a bag, and pull one out without looking, would I be "much more likely" to pull out a red ball than a green ball? I probably wouldn't use that language. I would agree with Certes that 2:1 is about where that phrase starts becoming appropriate. Colin M (talk) 19:34, 3 October 2019 (UTC)
I am dissatified with the decision at Kawésqar#Requested move 4 September 2019 (a discussion in which I participated). Closer seems to have considered only pageviews (a ratio of 1.64:1, on what is known to be a poor guide to PTOPIC) and WP:TWODABS (which nevertheless explicitly says "if an ambiguous term has no primary topic, then that term needs to lead to a disambiguation page"), and to have ignored arguments based on WP:NCLANG ("Where a common name exists in English for both a people and their language, it is most often the case that neither is the primary topic"). Narky Blert (talk) 21:37, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Colin M, great analogy and analysis! In that 6:4/red:green mix, red is 1.5 times as likely to be picked as is green. If we have 62 green and 38 red then we're at a 1.63 ratio. With a distribution of 51/49 (1.04) certainly red is is merely more likely. But I think anything above 1.5:1 crosses the line into much more likely. I mean, is 62 merely more than 38, or is it much more than 38? If you had pay of 38/hour and it was bumped to 62/hour, would that much more pay, or merely more? --В²C 21:53, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
  • The words "likely" and "probably" do not have precise quantified numerical definitions. They are words used when not only the answer is uncertain, but so is the question. Is it likely that a meteorite killed the dinosaurs? Trying to quantitative these adjectives is to miss the point. Read more at --SmokeyJoe (talk) 05:22, 3 October 2019 (UTC)
    • I’m aware of the ambiguity in the current wording. That’s the point. Is there consensus about a more precise meaning that the wording should reflect? That’s what I’m asking. —В²C 06:38, 3 October 2019 (UTC)
      • It's better to first consider page views of all involved as illustrative, and then to look closely at long term significance. Page views are very easy to obtain, and often correlate with long term significance, but where they don't its probably because of recentism or bias due to certain users having cheaper, easier and more frequent access. Then, if there's any doubt, there's no primary topic. I see you are still pushing the argument that no primary topic means the DAB page is at the base name and the DAB page is the wrong page for many. I agree, and the answer is to repudiate MALPLACED, never put a DAB page at a base name but instead PRECISEly title DAB pages with a "(disambiguation)" suffix. No more unexpected DAB pages from Go box autocomplete selections! Do this and the problems causing you angst will go away. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 08:00, 3 October 2019 (UTC)
        • The weighting of the long term significance criteria relative to the likelihood of being sought criteria is a separate issue from the question of exactly how likely is "much more likely than any other single topic"? It's also separate from the issue of what to do once no primary topic is established. --В²C 16:28, 3 October 2019 (UTC)
  • I know most people are wont to avoid giving specific numbers here, but I think it's good to have some sort of benchmark. for me, if one of the articles in a twodab situation receives twice as many views as the other one, then it's likely to be a primary topic. I wouldn't consider a ratio of 1.65/1 as sufficient. – Uanfala (talk) 10:27, 3 October 2019 (UTC)
    That sounds about right. If only two topics have significant interest then I'd put the dab at the base name unless the ratio is at least 2:1; perhaps more. Reading WP:PRIMARYTOPIC literally, a ratio of 1.01:1 can suffice if the 49% is spread thinly amongst several other topics, but I'd be reluctant to follow that advice. Certes (talk) 10:43, 3 October 2019 (UTC)
    Interesting. In my experience the community tends to be more lenient with the likelihood criteria in a two-dab scenario than in multi-dab scenario. After all, even if the split is 51/49, at least 51% are taken directly to the article they're seeking, while the remaining 49% are only one hatnote link click away from the article they are seeking. But if we find no primary topic in that situation and put a two-dab dab page at the base name, then 0% are taken directly to the article they're seeking, and 100% are one dab page link click away from the article they are seeking. Everyone is worse off or neutral; no one is better off. Why do that? --В²C 16:28, 3 October 2019 (UTC)
    Because being taken to an article on a different topic is worse than being taken to a dab. The dab is shorter and clearly a dab, whereas the "wrong" article may well be long and look superficially similar to the article sought. To take the hackneyed example of New York, a reader seeking the city who is sent to the state will load 2.4 MB of text and graphics and might well pluck out a statistic believing it to apply to the city. Suppose, by way of analogy, that someone asks me directions but I'm a tourist here myself. A dab is like admitting that I don't know and pointing at a nearby map; a bad primary topic is like sending them in the wrong direction. Certes (talk) 16:42, 3 October 2019 (UTC)
    Because being taken to an article on a different topic is worse than being taken to a dab. So, I think our disagreement comes down to that. I understand your position in theory, but I can only imagine it happening in practice. Never actually experienced it. Even with New York City/state the first lines are "The City of New York, ..." and "New York is a state in ..." respectively. The language in most of our articles requires a level of intelligence and comprehension much higher than what is required to make the distinctions necessary for this. Even if I granted landing on a different topic is a little bit worse than being taken to a dab, which I would only do for the sake of argument, that wouldn't come close to making up for the cost of sending more than half to the dab page instead of directly to the article they are seeking. --В²C 17:35, 3 October 2019 (UTC)
    I agree with the first sentence. If an article on a different topic is barely worse than a dab then we should put borderline primary topics at the base name. If there's a bigger gap then we should be stricter about only doing this for very clear primary topics. Certes (talk) 17:42, 3 October 2019 (UTC)
    Agree but note the if in If an article on a different topic is barely worse than a dab.... And that antecedent is not generally true. NYS/NYC may be hackneyed but it's a spectacular example of what can go wrong. B2C says I can only imagine it happening in practice. Never actually experienced it. But in practice that's exactly what happened at New York. Readers wanting NYC were being taken to a long article. They are now taken to a much shorter DAB, and that's an improvement. But under our P T guidelines they should be taken straight to NYC, which is almost certainly the P T. This would then send those wanting NYS to an even longer article. Having the DAB as the destination of the base name is the current and best solution. But is this an occasional exception, or does it (as I have concluded) indicate a more general flaw in the way we have long treated ambiguous article titles? Andrewa (talk) 18:26, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
    First of all, no, the city is not the primary topic under our P T guidelines. Despite the significantly higher page views there is no evidence that those numbers reflect relative likelihoods of being sought between the city and the state. Since any searcher for the city is likely to know "new york" is ambiguous with the state name they are likely to search with "new york city" or "nyc". But if it was the P T, if most people searching with "new york" were looking for the city, then yes, the minority looking for the state with "new york" would be penalized by being taken to the large city article rather than to a dab page. Once. Presumably they'd remember to type "new york state" next time... And the one time they had to wait to load the city article, at least they'd have the hatnote link to take them to the state article once it did load. BFD. Furthermore, if anyone is on such a slow connection that this even matters (a cheap motel in Wyoming with SnailPace WiFi?) they should be clicking Search, not Go, after entering "new york" or whatever their search term is. That way they get to see search results and decide what to do from that instead of htting Go and loading the matching page. This whole large article loading consideration that you and especially SmokeyJoe love to bring up sure seems overblown to me. --В²C 19:33, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
    I'm not sure I agree with you on the hypothetical scenario of 51% vs. 49% thinly sliced. At least in the case where the 51% topic is something that people are widely aware of. If all the other competing topics are very obscure, then readers and editors will generally know better than to think that they can search for or link to them without a disambiguator. (I'm not sure how often scenarios like this come up in practice though. John Adams (disambiguation) has a lot of links, but their summed views are more like 15-20% rather than 50%. Curious if someone can think of a better example - maybe an acronym?) Colin M (talk) 19:50, 3 October 2019 (UTC)
    Kawésqar, Kawésqar language. --В²C 20:27, 3 October 2019 (UTC)
    That looks sensible as the article at the base name is obviously not about the language and has a direct hatnote to the one other, closely related, topic. However, several similar cases have changed recently to a two-entry no-PT dab. There's also at least one bad incoming link (from KBF via the questionable redirect Kakauhua) that I'm not sure how to fix (Spurious languages#kbf?) Certes (talk) 20:35, 3 October 2019 (UTC)
    But that's just two pages. The scenario I was talking about (which Certes raised as an aside above) was one article having a little over half of the overall views, and the remaining 50%-ε being spread thinly over many other topics, each having a very small number of page views. Colin M (talk) 00:43, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
    C. elegans (disambiguation) could be an example. It lists a primary topic and about 1750 alternative meanings. Certes (talk) 11:28, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
That’s a great example of needing to look at introductory no-context use versus repeated in-context use. In every case, “C.” refers to the C. things being talked about, and elegans (a common Latin word, elegant) is one of many of these things. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 12:22, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
Surprisingly, the primary redirect C. elegans has incoming links from only 17 articles. Seven mention Caenorhabditis; ten have no explicit context saying what C. stands for. All links seem correct. The worm is the standard organism for many types of research, and may have well over 51% of C. elegans references. Certes (talk) 12:39, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
Other candidates are Ace, Atlas, Herald, Star, Telegraph and popular names such as James Brown and John Williams. Certes (talk)
  • New to this thread, but to answer the original question the simple answer is that there is no fixed page-view percentage at which primary topic is asserted. Page views are just one of many things we consider when determining what, if anything, is primary. Each situation is assessed on its own merits and WP:PRIMARYTOPIC suggests looking for two things - common usage in sources and long-term significance - neither of which is directly answered by raw page-view counts. I don't deny that page views are a useful tool and sometimes, as at Talk:Fernandinho_(footballer), I find myself arguing a PTOPIC on 90% pageviews while others seem to prefer a dab. But each case is individual.  — Amakuru (talk) 12:55, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
    So, in other words, the answer to the question — How much more likely is "much more likely than any other single topic"? — is.. "it depends"? That is, in some cases it might be 50% more likely and in other cases it has to be twice as likely or perhaps even ten times more likely to be considered "much more likely"? So, then, what determines that in each case? Note that the question here is not asking about primary topic - it's a more specific question; a sub-question if you will. Are you saying that you want flexibility on this question so that you can justify your sense (based on who-knows-what) about whether a given topic is or is not the primary topic? Wouldn't it be better to identify exactly what that who-knows-what is, document it, and just go by that? --В²C 17:15, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
    Amakuru, here is my problem with your answer, and that of others. WP:NWFCTM notwithstanding, since editors are human we are apt to intuitively decide an issue, and then use reasoning to justify our intuitive decision. That applies just as much to deciding primary topic as to anything else. That's just how the human mind works. The best way to counter this tendency is by tightening up the decision-making criteria to discourage post hoc rationalizing. I'm not saying we need a specific fixed page-view percentage, but I do think it would be helpful to come up with as tight a range as we can achieve consensus for. That said, in the real world many decisions are made by choosing arbitrary lines. Most notably the voting ages, driving ages, draft ages, drinking ages... They are all arbitrary lines that are within the "about right" range. Having specifics helps make decisions about which the correctness does not matter nearly as much as having some clear line. Imagine if we did say it's 60% of all page views. Would that be so bad? Maybe that would mean some topics would be primary that we felt shouldn't be, and some wouldn't be that we would feel should be, but so what? We would agree because the page views would dictate whichever it was, not our subjective opinions. And so all these cases that we go on and on about despite there being no one right decision would be resolved very simply. Wouldn't that be better? --В²C 18:53, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
Well, if we introduced that rul then one of the first moves would be Apple Inc. to Apple, and the fruit article to Apple (fruit). Some might argue that's correct, but I personally think an encyclopedia has a different set of ideals than a pop-culture directory, per WP:5P1, the most fundamental rule we have. It might just be my liberal western bias coming to the fore, but I feel like there's something empirically right about prioritising the fruit over the tech company, and systemic bias aside, I don't actually think that Wikipedians are that bad at making these calls.  — Amakuru (talk) 19:14, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
I don't think so; certainly not necessarily. That's the point. We would still have the long-term significance criteria to consider. I'm just saying that long-term significance should not affect how we interpret how likely "much more likely than any other single topic" is. Even if we recognize that Apple Inc. is much more likely to be sought than is the fruit (and surely it is), we can still decide to override that with long-term significance. But wouldn't it be better to at least make the likelihood assessment less subject to personal and systemic bias? Let's be clear that that is what we're doing, overriding with long-term significance, rather than redefining the likelihood of "much more likely" at every turn. --В²C 19:24, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
...closely followed by the likes of Prince (musician), Monopoly (game), Billboard (magazine) and Arsenal F.C.. Certes (talk) 19:29, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
A separate issue is the guidance we provide about how to decide what to do in all such cases when the two criteria conflict, leaving that decision to the whims of whoever shows up, every time. In this supposed guideline, we provide practically no guidance on this. But, that is a separate issue to the question I'm asking in this discussion. --В²C 19:59, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
WP:PTOPIC is not clear; but IMO the two tests (usage and long-term significance) should be cumulative not alternative. You have to pass both to be a PTOPIC.
There was a recent discussion/kerfuffle at Wikipedia talk:Article titles#RfC about articles on three digit numbers on this sort of topic. My conclusion from it: if a three-digit number has a PTOPIC, it is the AD year; if the year is not PTOPIC, then there is no PTOPIC. Narky Blert (talk) 23:20, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
Narky Blert, by that interpretation nobody searching with “Boston” (for example) would be taken to the article they seek (most likely the Massachusetts city, Boston) but to the dab page. That’s not the community consensus. —В²C 03:14, 8 October 2019 (UTC)
@Born2cycle: IMO too much emphasis is placed on reading rather then editing. People typing into the search box will always get where they want, sooner or later. One more or fewer click is neither here nor there. The danger and damage arises from bad bluelinks. Readers who click on bluelinks should always be taken to the right place – and that's the end of the matter.
UK readers who type 'Boston' into the search box might be mildly surprised to find themselves looking at an article about Boston, Massachusetts rather than the better-known Boston, Lincolnshire (not to be confused with Boston Spa, Yorkshire – a common mistake; it's often called just 'Boston'); but they can get to the article they want soon enough. Similarly, UK readers who type 'Perth' into the search box might be expecting to land on Perth, Scotland not Perth, Australia; but they can deal with it. However, bluelinks like this one are intolerable. Narky Blert (talk) 04:27, 8 October 2019 (UTC)
Narky Blert, I definitely agree that bad bluelinks are far worse a reader going to a DAB page. A reader going to a DAB page implies, or should imply, to the reader that they misconstrued their topic as being a global primary topic. Or there's a good chance that they actually wanted the DAB page to get to what they wanted. Perth is one of a great many PrimaryTopic mistakes. I think people simply can't disentangle the concept of importance. Perth should be a redirect to Perth (disambiguation), it should never be suggested as a potential article of interest. Perth, Australia, or Perth, Western Australia, is a perfectly good title for the large city, Perth is not perfectly good. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:01, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
In the last year or so, I've corrected 133 articles which linked to the wrong Perth. Clearly I'm not the only editor fixing such problems, and there will be more that we've not spotted. Certes (talk) 00:11, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
That itself is a compelling reason to put Perth WA at a PRECISE title. Another rationale is that editors mislinking to Perth are an indicator of many readers who are similarly confused. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:23, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
Narky Blert, thank you. This may be of interest to SmokeyJoe and Andrewa as well. This really helps understand your perspective. I think it comes down to a difference in priorities. You're primarily concerned with bad bluelinks, and believe reducing the chances of bad bluelinks should be a higher priority than maximizing the chances users get directly to the article they seek when searching with a given term. Right? I too am concerned with bad bluelinks, but I think existing primary topic criteria already handles it well enough, and do not think polishing the bad bluelink turd (pardon the expression) is worth reducing the chances users will get directly to the articles they seek when searching with a given term. There is no way to eliminate all bad bluelinks, and we have practices that mitigate the problem. First and foremost, since anyone can edit WP, anyone who encounters a bad bluelink can fix it, just like you did with Perth in the diff above. Secondly, hatnote links, like the one to Perth, Scotland at the top of Perth, allow users to get back on track quickly when misguided by the occasional bad bluelink. WP is by definition a constant work in progress, and nobody should be surprised by hiccups like occasional bad bluelinks. Trying to reducing the incidence of bad bluelink occurrence is certainly admirable, but adding measures that do so marginally with the side effect of making navigation to countless highly sought articles less efficient is, IMHO, not a tradeoff beneficial to most users. --В²C 16:17, 8 October 2019 (UTC)
@Born2cycle, Certes, SmokeyJoe, and Andrewa: This is a hypothetical example, expanding on my idea of searchers and readers. I haven't seen an actual example; it would be difficult to locate one; but it's pounds to pennies that they exist.
Imagine that we have several articles on people called Joe Schmuck. One of them was a well-known American politician around the turn of the 20th century and is WP:PTOPIC; all the other articles have qualified titles, and are on the DAB page. Readers clicking on links to Joe Schmuck from non-political articles might be surprised to learn that this multi-talented man also was a moderately successful boxer, played two seasons of professional baseball, starred in silent films, wrote erotic novels, described a species of beetle found in the Amazonian jungle, and was an early advocate for the legalisation of cannabis. They are likely to assume that his other talents have been omitted from the PTOPIC article, and to go away with totally the wrong idea. Narky Blert (talk) 19:33, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
The whole concept of primary topic is designed to avoid exactly such a scenario. That's not to say something won't ever slip through the cracks, but, in general, if primary topics are selected correctly, per the criteria, it shouldn't happen. Also, I think we should give our readers a little more credit. If they only know of a Joe Schmuck as a politician in the early 20th century, and when they click on his linked name they land on an article with "(actor)" (or whatever) in parentheses, plus nothing about him being in politics, and dates likely not lining up, we have to assume they will figure out that's a different Joe Schmuck. --В²C 19:59, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
"we have to assume they will figure out that's a different Joe Schmuck". Why? we are an encyclopaedia, not a party game. Narky Blert (talk) 22:11, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
James Brown was born in 1862 after a brief career as a newspaper editor. Although best known for his musical career, he was also a notable basketball player and gridiron quarterback. Certes (talk) 20:18, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
He also acted in The Dirty Dozen. Narky Blert (talk) 22:07, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
At least that one links to the right guy. The articles I mentioned link incorrectly to the singer at the base name. (Yes, I should just fix them.) Certes (talk) 23:08, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
  • My gut instinct is to refer to the 68–95–99.7 rule. 50.1-68% is more. 68-95% is much more (and is the PT discretionary range). 95-99.7% is very much more. >99.7% is almost certainly. A PrimaryTopic may be found at 68%, and may not be found at 95%, Pageviews are an unreliable easy statistic and other things need serious considerations. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:04, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
“More” means more than all independent others combined, not just the next strongest. Non-independent others may be excluded from consideration, or may be taken as contributing the claim of the strongest. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:07, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
In general, yes, but the clause in question here says "much more likely than any other single topic". So it's explicitly excluding any others. --В²C 22:21, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Regarding the 68% rule... So 67% is just "more", not "much more"? If one has 67% the most the other could have is 33%. So 67 is not much more than 33? If I said a bike ride is 33 miles and it turned out to be 67 miles, would that be much more, or just "more"? If your pay jumped from 33 units to 67 units would that be more, or much more? If the price for a meal of fish is 33 and for lobster it's 67, does the lobster dish cost much more than the fish, or merely more? Maybe it's just me but in every other context I can think of, 67 seems to be much more than 33... If one dog weighs 33 lbs and the other 67 lbs, does the larger dog weigh much more, or just "more" than the smaller one? --В²C 22:21, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
I think it is not reasonable to compare quantities and probabilities in terms of the same “more”. Consider uncertainties. 33 miles is much more than 32 miles if you are talking about measuring 32 miles to the nearest foot. Probabilities, or likelinesses, don’t work like quantities. 33 miles will be larger than 32 miles everytime. If Pageviews A-B are 67-33, the probability of the next view being A is only 67%, there is a 33% chance of being wrong. That’s pretty bad. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 12:56, 5 October 2019 (UTC)
Sure, SmokeyJoe, but the likelihood of being wrong is 100% if you send 0% to the article they seek. I'll take being wrong 33% of the time over being wrong 100% of the time. Every time. --В²C 16:15, 7 October 2019 (UTC)
Could you please rephrase that? Sending no one somewhere is like a division by zero error. Is your wrong article the imprecisely titled disambiguation page? Who is "sending"? Why not empower the reader to make informed choices, by having PRECISE titling? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:57, 8 October 2019 (UTC)
Every time a user enters a search term and clicks Go we send them somewhere by virtue of how we arrange our articles and choose our titles. That somewhere is either the title they’re seeking (right place), or somewhere else (wrong place). Our goal should be to arrange our articles and select our titles to send the most people to their right place the highest percentage of times we can. If using a particular base name search always results in the user being sent to a dab page, then none (0%) are sent to the right place. That’s not a good result especially if it’s possible to send more than half to the right place by locating the most likely to be sought article at the base name. —В²C 03:02, 8 October 2019 (UTC)
The "wrong place" can only happen, without the reader knowing, if the title is ambiguous, and is a problem if the reader has a different PT assumption to editors. I disagree with your "Our goal should be to arrange our articles and select our titles to send the most people", that's presumptuous and patronizing, the goal should be to provide titles that inform the reader of what page they are selecting. That means PRECISE titling, including for DAB pages. I think you are mostly referring to DAB pages being the "wrong page"? If so, I agree, I personally dislike going to a DAB page that I anticipated being an article. "If using a particular base name search always results in the user being sent to a dab page" is obviously a failing of using a basename for a DAB page, the solution is to not use basenames as DAB pages, the solution is not to force a PT decision where there is no PT. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:42, 8 October 2019 (UTC)
Yes. The problem occurs when the reader has a different PT assumption to editors. This happens more often than you might think. Having heard that a concert featured Madonna, Prince and Fish, it's easy to presume that those might be the titles of musicians' biographies. The first one is a dab, with the entertainer listed prominently. The others have non-musical PTs which are obvious when you stand back and think but are not what you might presume when your mind is preoccupied with the context. Certes (talk) 10:29, 8 October 2019 (UTC)
SmokeyJoe, how is that goal presumptuous and patronizing? We simply do our best to determine what anyone searching with a given term is most likely seeking. If there is a topic that is most likely sought with a term, then searching for that term should take users to that topic. What's the alternative? Sending them all to a dab page. How is that better? It's certainly no better for the majority who could have been taken directly to the article they're seeking, and it's no better even for the minority that will end up one click away from their destination either way (by either dab page link or hatnote link). A much smaller minority will be an extra click away - but isn't it better to add clicks for a small minority than for the majority of those seeking with the term in question? How is it patronizing or presumptuous to send people searching with "boston" to Boston? And I don't see how not using basenames as DAB pages is a solution to anything. So we move Mercury to Mercury (disambiguation). What does that solve? What do we do with Mercury? We must redirect it to Mercury (disambiguation), right? So what difference does it make to not have the basename Mercury as a DAB page, but rather a redirect to the DAB page? --В²C 16:17, 8 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Links to ill-chosen PTOPICs damage the encyclopaedia, are difficult to find, and rarely get fixed. Saving even a majority of readers one click from the search box is as nothing compared with the confusion or misleading information imparted by clicking on a bluelink which points to the wrong article. It's all about the readers. I generally look for a ratio of at least 8:1, and preferably at least 9:1, before agreeing to a PTOPIC.
Some examples. (1) Tetrahedron is without doubt a PTOPIC; but every time I've looked at its what-links-here, I've found and corrected a few links intended for Tetrahedron (journal). That isn't too bad: the only readers likely to click on a link expecting to find the journal but instead find themselves looking at the article about the Platonic solid are organic chemists who will understand the mistake, even if they don't correct it. Sloppy, but not appalling. (2) If you live in India, especially West Bengal, bluelinks to Esplanade or Salt Lake City will not always take you where you expect. In Kolkata, the PTOPICs for those are Esplanade, Kolkata and Salt Lake City, Kolkata. The only reason that such bad links are few is that a couple of editors have undertaken the mindblowingly tedious task of checking and correcting those bluelinks.
I have corrected well over a hundred thousand (possibly close to one hundred and fifty thousand) links to DAB pages. They are easy to find; User:DPL bot flags them up. While doing so, I have also fixed several thousand bluelinks which pointed to the wrong place, because my Spidey-Sense suggested that something was wrong: most obviously, things like bluelinks to newspapers called Star or Sun. Errors like that only get fixed if an editor spots one of them, and takes the trouble to look and see what others there might be.
I remember sorting out two articles about people from India which were differentiated only by the presence or absence of a fullstop after a personal initial; inevitably, the links-in were a mess. I have a bookmark folder in my browser called 'To-do' which contains potential problems of that sort which I haven't got round to looking at yet. (It currently includes, among others, Tiempo de amar, Tiempo de Amar and the redirect Tiempo De Amar, where the capitalisation may be a false way of distinguishing between two topics; but until I've dug into Spanish Wikipedia, I just don't know.) Narky Blert (talk) 22:40, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
  • One thing I'd like to point out here is that WP:PTOPIC#1 talks about "likelihood to be the topic sought when a reader searches for that term". Even if we reached some consensus for a numerical threshold for "much more likely", it would be of limited utility, because, for any given case, we can't measure the probabilities directly. Pageviews are often a decent proxy, but there are some major confounds that are rarely acknowledged. Here are some potential problems with saying "X has 2 times the page views of Y, therefore it's twice as likely to be the topic sought for term T":
  1. It implicitly assumes that the % of pageviews that come from a search is the same across all articles. This is certainly not true. For example, in this RM, I argued that articles on TV episodes are much less likely to be arrived at via search (rather than from wikilinks, or links from outside Wikipedia, including search engines), for the simple reason that the titles of individual TV episodes are not widely known (even among people who have watched the episode).
  2. It assumes that the likelihood that someone looking for information about X will use T as their search term is the same as the likelihood that someone seeking Y will use T as the search term. In some cases, this is far from true, and leads to inferences of relative probabilities that may be off by one or more orders of magnitude from reality. For example, close to 100% of readers looking for information about Dockers (brand) will search for "Dockers". However someone searching for information about the profession might search for "Dockers", or "Docker", or "Stevedore", or "Stevedores", or "Longshoreman", or "Dockworker", or.... Of the readers arriving at Stevedore via search, perhaps 1% or less will have used the search term "Dockers" to get there.
Pageviews are a useful piece of evidence when evaluated in their proper context, but I think it's a bad idea to try to uncritically plug them into some math formula to make a ptopic decision. Colin M (talk) 03:25, 5 October 2019 (UTC)
  • To answer the question of how we should interpret "much more", I think we need to understand what the purpose of that requirement is. And now that I think about it, I don't know. A primary topic needs to be searched for more than all the others combined, and much more than any one other topic. The first part isn't ambiguous, and just requires a simple majority. Consider two potential primary topic discussions, A & B. In both, the potential primary topic is likely to be sought 55% of the time, so it meets the first part of the test. In A, the remaining 45% is split between 9 other topics at 5% each. In B, the remaining 45% is all for a single other topic. So A clearly passes the primary topic test, while B (arguably) does not. But why treat these cases differently? In both A & B, the same percentage of people will end up incorrectly at the primary topic. The potential for incorrect links appears to be similar in both cases.--Trystan (talk) 13:46, 5 October 2019 (UTC)
    A difference is that in the 55%/45% case, some readers (and editors) may assume that the 45% topic is primary and expect to find it at the base name (or mislink it using the base name). In the 55%/5%×9 case, although it's unclear whether there is a PT or not, there's only one contender for the role. Certes (talk) 14:00, 5 October 2019 (UTC)
    Good point, Certes. A 55/45 situation is more likely to create bad bluelinks than is a 55/20/20/15 situation. However, I don't think an occasional bad bluelink is reason enough to not send the 55% to the article they seek, which is the result of putting the dab page at the base name. And, yeah, in the 55/45 situation anyone seeking the 45% one is more likely to expect it to be at the basename than is someone seeking a 20% or 15% target in the other scenario, but, again, I don't think the occasional sending of a user to the unexpected article is reason enough to not send the 55% to the article they seek. --В²C 16:23, 8 October 2019 (UTC)


I think Born2cycle has hit the nail right on the head with this edit in which I was pinged (thank you).

Narky Blert, thank you. This may be of interest to SmokeyJoe and Andrewa as well. This really helps understand your perspective. I think it comes down to a difference in priorities. You're primarily concerned with bad bluelinks, and believe reducing the chances of bad bluelinks should be a higher priority than maximizing the chances users get directly to the article they seek when searching with a given term. Right? I too am concerned with bad bluelinks, but I think existing primary topic criteria already handles it well enough, and do not think polishing the bad bluelink turd (pardon the expression) is worth reducing the chances users will get directly to the articles they seek when searching with a given term. There is no way to eliminate all bad bluelinks, and we have practices that mitigate the problem. First and foremost, since anyone can edit WP, anyone who encounters a bad bluelink can fix it, just like you did with Perth in the diff above. Secondly, hatnote links, like the one to Perth, Scotland at the top of Perth, allow users to get back on track quickly when misguided by the occasional bad bluelink. WP is by definition a constant work in progress, and nobody should be surprised by hiccups like occasional bad bluelinks. Trying to reducing the incidence of bad bluelink occurrence is certainly admirable, but adding measures that do so marginally with the side effect of making navigation to countless highly sought articles less efficient is, IMHO, not a tradeoff beneficial to most users.

The fundamental disagreement here is, they regard landing on a DAB as a loss, even if that DAB leads explicitly and obviously to the wanted article, with one more mouse click. I regard it as a win.

And that underlies all the rest. To me the that one mouse click is a trivial task that takes almost no time and no thought, and follows loading a DAB that takes minimal time and bandwidth. But to them it is an unacceptable burden.

I doubt that we can ever resolve this. It reflects a fundamental difference in our ways of reading Wikipedia, and our expectations of the way others do so. But we can at least understand it. I think I now do. Other comments? Andrewa (talk) 20:44, 8 October 2019 (UTC)

For a DAB page that’s just a few lines I suppose it’s not unreasonable to characterize the cost of having to land on it as “one mouse click [that] is a trivial task”, though I, for one, still find it to be annoying and definitely not a win. I’m much less bothered by landing on another article with a hatnote link to my desired article at the top because it’s just one line to scan; that truly is a trivial task, every time. But wading through the larger DAB pages riddled by categories with seemingly random headings organized in some unfamiliar fashion is a much more significant task which can be very annoying and time consuming. I think it’s important to spare our users from that as much as reasonably possible. And that is arguably the main purpose of identifying primary topics and arranging our articles accordingly. —В²C 15:53, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
You don't seem to be consistent in this. The DAB at The Americans (disambiguation) (formerly at The Americans) has nine entries in all, and one subsection, a See also with four entries. It all fits on my screen without scrolling. To call it one of the larger DAB pages riddled by categories with seemingly random headings organized in some unfamiliar fashion would be ridiculous.
Yet you argued forcefully (and successfully) that it was better to have The Americans (2013 TV series) moved to the base name. As I said at the time, this seems rather bizarre to me. It benefits very few readers, and makes things more difficult for many more.
I can now see why you like it that way, but I don't see any reason to think that many readers had any problem before. Most of those who will now find the article at The Americans would have found it just as easily or even more easily at The Americans (2013 TV series). Andrewa (talk) 02:46, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
We agree that the Americans DAB page falls into the category that you characterize as requiring "one mouse click [that] is a trivial task". But how am I inconsistent in not wanting that DAB page at the base name? Remember, I characterize landing on it as "still ... annoying and definitely not a win". There is no way the article about the epic 2013 TV series could be easier to find than it is now: enter "the americans" and click Go. When doing that took you to the (even relatively small) DAB page, that made it harder. And annoying. Which is arguably why it was fixed. --В²C 19:44, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
Because you seem to be relying on assumptions on the way people use Wikipedia. There is no way the article about the epic 2013 TV series could be easier to find than it is now: enter "the americans" and click Go. Yes, that's your way of getting there. But you're a bit unusual in that you already know exactly what the article you want is called, and have returned to it frequently but can't be bothered bookmarking it, even when you find it so annoying to be taken to a DAB. Most unusual in fact.
But the most significant thing there is that you already know what the article you want is called. We also need to deal with the more common situation, that people don't know the article name. They may have a guess at it, and if for them the meaning of the base name is the same as Wikipedia's decision on Primary Topic, they may get it right. At the moment, you get it right for The Americans, not surprisingly because it was your idea to move the TV series article there. But if ever the P T changes (as was foreshadowed as an obvious possibility in the RM close) then you'll be taken to the wrong article. If it's a long, wrong article, you say that won't matter any more to you than being taken to a short DAB, but for most users it will.
Another way of getting there is to start to type The Americans and look at the drop-down list to see whether there's an article name that matches what you want. Previously, people who did this got The Americans (2013 TV series) on the list, a name which they were most likely to recognise as the article they want, but now they don't.
So it has become more difficult for these users. Do you see that now?
We could fix the "search Wikipedia" box (which some I know say isn't a search box at all - whatever) to always show redirects, and to always show DABS, and have hovertext or the like to explain what (disambiguation) means for those who may not know. But we have no control over other search engines etc.. The other way is, have the article at an unambiguous, recognisable name. That solves it all, except for those with a strong and to me unreasonable aversion to DABs. Andrewa (talk) 08:58, 14 October 2019 (UTC)

Perspectives 2Edit

First of all, no, the city is not the primary topic under our P T guidelines. Despite the significantly higher page views there is no evidence that those numbers reflect relative likelihoods of being sought between the city and the state. Since any searcher for the city is likely to know "new york" is ambiguous with the state name they are likely to search with "new york city" or "nyc". But if it was the P T, if most people searching with "new york" were looking for the city, then yes, the minority looking for the state with "new york" would be penalized by being taken to the large city article rather than to a dab page. Once. Presumably they'd remember to type "new york state" next time... And the one time they had to wait to load the city article, at least they'd have the hatnote link to take them to the state article once it did load. BFD. Furthermore, if anyone is on such a slow connection that this even matters (a cheap motel in Wyoming with SnailPace WiFi?) they should be clicking Search, not Go, after entering "new york" or whatever their search term is. That way they get to see search results and decide what to do from that instead of htting Go and loading the matching page. This whole large article loading consideration that you and especially SmokeyJoe love to bring up sure seems overblown to me. - comment above by Born2cycle [14]

That's all very interesting.

So, it's P T by page views. OK. No surprise that.

But is it P T by significance too? I think that's a no-brainer. NYC is one of the most important cities in the world, some even say the most important. You say any searcher for the city is likely to know "new york" is ambiguous with the state name. I say, ridiculous claim. How many of the States of India can you name? I've known about New York (city) since I stayed in a hotel there as a five year old, but I can remember that I knew it existed even before that. I can't remember when I learned that there was a state of the same name but it was much later and I can remember how surprised I was to learn at the time that NYC wasn't the capital. Not every user of English Wikipedia has studied American geography.

You seem to want everyone to follow your example in how to use Wikipedia. Won't work.

More to follow. Andrewa (talk) 07:39, 12 October 2019 (UTC)

No, it’s not P T by page views. There is no such criteria. Page views being higher does not necessarily mean it’s P T by usage either. The question relevant to the usage criteria is what are people most likely seeking when entering the term in question as a search term. Page views are a clue to that answer, not always definitive. Regarding your memories from age 5... see WP:BUTIDONTKNOWABOUTIT. As to typical American knowledge of the states of India compared to non-American English speakers knowledge of the state of New York, don’t be silly. Here, for example, is a BBC article referring to “New York” as a state in the headline and article content without qualification. —В²C 17:51, 13 October 2019 (UTC)
Whenever arguments like WP:BUTIDONTKNOWABOUTIT appear, I think of using a dab. Why? Because it indicates that different editors have different opinions, or more precisely that in some contexts A is the PT, and in others it's B. Neither is wrong, and neither deserves to be sent to the "wrong" article. Certes (talk) 18:27, 13 October 2019 (UTC)
The problem with using a dab at the base name is that then nobody searching with that term is taken to the article they seek. The dab page is the “wrong article” for everyone. More benefit if we send everyone to one article even if it’s “wrong” for some as long as it’s “right” for most. We can’t be perfect, but we can minimize the number of wrong landings for the maximum possible of users. You don’t do that by putting a dab page at a base name. —В²C 22:12, 13 October 2019 (UTC)
Exactly how are you searching? When I search on an article and it's at an unambiguous name, I get there straight away. But when it's at an ambiguous name, I have to guess what that ambiguous name means to Wikipedia. I can't see how anyone benefits from having an article at an ambiguous name, but obviously you do. But how exactly? Andrewa (talk) 00:28, 14 October 2019 (UTC)
The missing piece in B2C's logic is, how does having a DAB at the ambiguous name, and the wanted article at an unambiguous one, inconvenience anyone? We know it inconveniences B2C, but it's not obvious how. Surely, if you see a results list and two of the entries are The Americans and The Americans (2013 TV series), and you want a TV series from 2013 or thereabouts, you'll click on The Americans (2013 TV series)? Not to do so makes no sense to me at all. But maybe I'm falling into the very trap I'm accusing B2C of falling for, and assuming that others think like me. It's easy to do. Andrewa (talk) 01:33, 14 October 2019 (UTC)
There is no such criteria. (sic) I think this is playing with words, and amusingly so. Page views are your own favourite test of P T when you want them to be!
NYC was always clearly the P T both by long-term significance, and by the likelihood that it was the wanted article. Agree that page views don't prove anything, see User:Andrewa/The Problem With Page Views. But as they're so often quoted (particularly by yourself) they're just the last bit of evidence that could possibly be needed.
So far as my experiences as a five-year-old go, and your knowledge of States of India goes, the point is just we are not isolated cases. You claimed any searcher for the city is likely to know "new york" is ambiguous with the state name. That's sweeping, false and, as I said before, ridiculous. Andrewa (talk) 01:15, 14 October 2019 (UTC)
NYC was the best candidate for PT. Hypothetically, if the base name couldn't have a dab we'd put (a primary redirect to) the city there. Although I originally spoke up for NYC to be PT, we agreed that no candidate was primary enough to go at the base name. After hearing from several, mostly American, editors who give the state more prominence than I would, I think that was a good decision. Certes (talk) 08:36, 14 October 2019 (UTC)
Totally agree. And that has been my journey too. I started out thinking, NYC is the P T, so we need to move it to the base name. Where we differ is, you seem to now think there's doubt as to whether NYC is in fact primary, and that justifies having a DAB at the base name... and I agree with the last part but not the first. The fascinating thing to me is, NYC is very clearly P T, but it's still better to have a DAB at the base name. So the question for me then became, is this the occasional exception to a guideline, or is the DAB guideline in need of a tweak? And the more I think of it and discuss it, the more I think it's not just a tweak that is needed but a major change.
New York isn't exceptional at all in having different groups of people assume a different P T. Rather, that is typical of any ambiguous name. And that's the basic problem with the whole concept of Primary Topic (as Wikipedia (mis)uses the term, which has a completely different but rather esoteric meaning in linguistics). And it's a bigger problem than it first seems, because those of us who !vote at RMs aren't typical of our readership, so our choice of P T typically doesn't even reflect that of our readers. This was part of the problem with New York... for eleven years and including of course NYRM2016, the Americans (misinking deliberate, please don't fix it) dominated the discussion. Andrewa (talk) 09:28, 14 October 2019 (UTC)

Andrewa your conflating the usage criteria with your made-up "P T by page views" explains much. They are not one and the same! Yes, page views are an important consideration in deciding whether a given topic is P T by usage, but it's not definitive. And "New York" is one of those rare cases where page views don't necessarily indicate most usage. In other words, although having more page views is a strong indication that that topic is "highly likely to be the topic sought when a reader searches for that term", there are exceptions, and "New York" is one, for reasons I've explained. You can laugh all you want, but I stand by my assertion that any searcher for the city is likely to know "new york" is ambiguous with the state name. Don't ignore the "likely" in that assertion. That doesn't mean "every searcher will know 'new york' is ambiguous with the state name"; it's just "likely" for any given searcher that they will know. Of course anyone who has been in grade school in the US will have learned the states including New York, and I already cited a BBC article which obviously presumes its readers know New York is a state. I don't doubt that there are some readers who don't know, but they are undoubtedly a small minority of English speakers using WP to search for New York City; therefore it's likely a given user does know about the ambiguity. The page views support this anyway: The daily average for New York is 703, while for the state and city it's 5,000 and 16,000 respectively. So, yeah, if it were not likely that users knew about the ambiguity, the numbers for the dab page would be much higher. Finally, regarding the inconvenience of landing on the dab page, it's solely because it's landing on a page that is not the article being sought. It's irrelevant how easy it is to find the page one is seeking among the entries on the dab page and click on it; the inconvenience has already been experienced at that point: the user is looking at a page that is not the article they are seeking. Compared to landing directly on the article they are seeking, that is an inconvenience. And landing on a dab page rather than on the page you're seeking is quite an annoying inconvenience. Thankfully, by way of recognizing primary topics and titling our articles accordingly, the community continues to strive to minimize how often our readers have to experience such an annoyance. --В²C 16:47, 14 October 2019 (UTC)

Quite a mouthful.
Have a look at Talk:Powder#Requested move 27 February 2018 yeah, seems obvious, but I decided to double-check. Surprise! The film (I never heard of) demolishes the substance in page views, by a ratio of 6:1 to 10:1 on most days, sometimes 300:1, but always several times higher. No way is the substance the primary topic. [15]
So, why are page views relevant there, and in your post above? And please, don't just accuse me of some vague logical error with a name none of us understand (including yourself).
they are undoubtedly a small minority of English speakers using WP to search for New York City; therefore it's likely a given user does know about the ambiguity. (my emphasis) Yes, we know you think that. But why you think that remains a mystery to me. Saying undoubtedly doesn't make it true, it just underlines what a shaky assumption it is. Just to repeat, we haven't all studied American geography, any more than you have studied the states of India. Your background is not shared by enough of our readers to conclude that those ignorant of NYS are undoubtedly a small minority, there is at least some doubt. So it seems to be a baseless assumption on your part, not undoubtedly at all, and quite possibly a false one. And in the BBC source you quote, it's quite clear from the context that they don't mean the city, so there's no need to say New York state. It would be unnecessarily clumsy, and poor journalism. Andrewa (talk) 08:56, 15 October 2019 (UTC)
I've already explained why page view counts are unreliable for determining primary topic in the New York case. Those reasons clearly do not apply to the powder case. "New York state" and "New York City" are WP:NATURAL disambiguations of the state and city respectively - and so it's reasonable to expect many searchers to use those natural disambiguations when searching for the respective topics. That is, they will get to the articles, and bump the page views, without searching with plain "new york". That is not the case for any use of "powder" - there is no natural disambiguation for the names of these topics. Anyone searching for any use of "powder" is likely to search with just "powder". By the way, another common natural disambiguation for the city is "New York, New York", establishing further my contention that most English speakers know of the state of New York and thus of the ambiguity between the two topics. I can't believe you're seriously questioning this, and I won't address again. --В²C 17:25, 18 October 2019 (UTC)
I agree with Andrewa that this is a highly dubious presumption. It typifies the sort of systemic bias built into many of your arguments (i.e., inability to comprehend that not everyone thinks the same way or uses search the same way or has the same knowledge base or sees the function of article titles in the same way. I would not be surprised if there were significant number of Americans, let alone world-wide English speakers who are unaware that the name "New York" also refers to a state named (or for whom it is a distant afterthought compared to the city). olderwiser 18:18, 18 October 2019 (UTC)
Apparently I was unclear (my apologies), since I too "would not be surprised if there were significant number of Americans, let alone world-wide English speakers who are unaware that the name "New York" also refers to a state". But 2% of users would be arguably "significant"; 10% would certainly be. That would leave 90% who were aware and therefore likely to qualify their search accordingly, whether for city or state. Regardless of the actual numbers, they are likely to be sufficiently significant to distort the page view counts from being as accurate a measure of determining "likelihood of being sought" for each use of "new york" as they are for other terms, like "powder". --В²C 19:30, 18 October 2019 (UTC)
(ec) 90% who were aware and therefore likely to qualify their search accordingly that is precisely the dubious part of the presumption. On the one hand, 90% is a ridiculously high number among world-wide English speakers/readers/users of Wikipedia. But even among any who might be aware that a state exists with that name, it is again completely presumptuous to assume they are therefore likely to qualify their search accordingly. Nonsense and poppycock. olderwiser 20:48, 18 October 2019 (UTC)
I would think that virtually all of the 20 million that live in New York State are aware that New York refers to both the state and the city, but would not presume most of them would automatically qualify their search because to up-staters, New York refers first to the state while down-states believe the opposite. MB 19:59, 18 October 2019 (UTC)
Indeed, among the myriads who are aware of both city and state certainly many would nevertheless search for either one with just "new york". But that still does not refute my position: there are sufficient numbers who are aware of the ambiguity and would qualify their searching accordingly which would "distort the page view counts from being as accurate a measure of determining "likelihood of being sought" for each use of "new york" as they are for other terms, like "powder"." --В²C 20:45, 18 October 2019 (UTC)
Bkonrad, by "likely" I simply mean "not unlikely". Do you disagree? Do you think that it's unlikely that a significant number of the people who are aware of the ambiguity of "new york" would qualify their searches accordingly? --В²C 21:15, 18 October 2019 (UTC)
Well ok, but so what? As you suggested 2% of users would be arguably "significant" -- what sort of guidance can be based on such fluid and speculative numbers? olderwiser 11:45, 20 October 2019 (UTC)
The only point is that New York is an unusual case in that we can point to a good reason (searchers are likely — not unlikely — to know of the ambiguity and avoid using it as a search term, especially for the city very well known as New York City) for why the page views might not track likelihood of being sought as well as they do for other situations. --В²C 20:23, 21 October 2019 (UTC)

An alternate perspectiveEdit

I think I've noticed an inadvertent aspect of the disambiguation process that may be causing us problems, and where the policy as written is not directly helping us take the best decisions.

There are two causes of ambiguous titles which *are* different in significant ways; ambiguity may appear because:

  • two different topics, largely unrelated (or only indirectly related), happen to be recognized by the same name; such as Madonna, Dock, Ford (disambiguation)...
  • or, we have several articles for topics directly related, as they share the name *because* they derive from the same origin; e.g. geographical places, media franchises - such as New York, Planet of the Apes, All That Jazz... (maybe Madonna as well, but with a much loose and indirect relation).

This difference is not entirely novel; I've seen it appearing here and there in previous discussions in some form, but it has never have ended affecting our common practice. We may have decided to put a primary topic or keep a disambiguation page based on other criteria, but I believe the current policy, as written, doesn't properly address how the two situations are different.

Sure, we have the "long-term significance" vs "usage" distinction, which sometimes helps in solving the ambiguity (and which I think exists in part because we have subconsciously identified the significant differences in dealing with homonyms from those in remakes). But this distinction is often just a proxy for things we usually look at, and in the end there are common situations where it's simply not enough - in cases where long-term significance and usage are both high, but for different articles, we end up discussing in circles which one is the most important.

I think that it's worth exploring this new criterion (topics with the same origin vs unrelated topics that happen to share names) to find out whether we can find cases that can help us make better decisions. Sometimes maybe we will see specific details that matter when we are dealing with a historic subject vs a popular item, that are irrelevant for deciding between several versions of the same story; or vice-versa. (For example, my gut feeling in particular is that, for unrelated topics, the bar to have a primary topic by usage should be much higher than in the other case, where having as primary topic the most popular version of a film remake wouldn't be hiding any historic definition of the term. Also, in the second case there's a higher probability that we could write a broad concept article instead of a DAB page). If we can find such cases where the distinction is relevant, we could refine the policy as written to provide better guidance.

So, what do you think of this approach? Please try to be constructive, I feel there may be some value here if we can collaborate to find it, even if we need to address this exploration with a slightly different approach than the one I'm suggesting here. Diego (talk) 11:36, 18 October 2019 (UTC)

Until we added the long-term significance criterion, which I think was a big mistake and muddied the waters, none of this mattered. What mattered was likelihood of being sought, period. It didn't matter how the uses were related, which came first, whether one was derived from the other or that they had separate origins. All that mattered was maximizing how many people got to the article they were seeking in the fewest possible number of clicks. Trying to fix this without removing the long-term significance criteria is fruitless. --В²C 17:15, 18 October 2019 (UTC)
Many of us think that long-term significance is essential to define what an encyclopedia is, and this is how content was ordered in paper encyclopedias - when there wasn't such a thing as "likelihood of being sought". We may as well remove this popularity-contest criterion (which is subjective and for which we don't even have proper tools to assess anyway) in order to get rid of the conflict; yet since we're not going to remove either, we'd better be looking for extra information that we can use to solve such conflicts. Diego (talk) 19:26, 18 October 2019 (UTC)
Despite being the first entry at WP:NOT, WP:NOTPAPER still seems to get overlooked by many editors. WP is very different from traditional paper encyclopedias, including covering many times more topics, thus having many more naming clashes, having a search mechanism, and the requirement for that mechanism to work efficiently for our users. The concept of long-term significance ignores all that reality, and not to the betterment of this enterprise, IMHO. --В²C 19:35, 18 October 2019 (UTC)
I know very well we're WP:NOTPAPER, and I was not suggesting that we organized our content as if we were ;-) Otherwise we'd be dumping all the topics with a same name in the same page, one after the other. :-P
Still, there's this requirement to give a prominent position to topics which are important in relation to the core structure of all knowledge (see Wikipedia:Vital articles for the ultimate example). Your insistence on using mere popularity (or amount of use) ignores all this other reality, that knowledge is organized in a way that depens not just on the necessity to use a particular bit of it at a particular point in time, but on the long-term relations existing between the different parts.
I'm all for easing readers' access to the part of knowledge they need to , but that job is based not merely on how much a specific topic is used, but in how stable the pyramid of knowledge is - and how close some topic is to the pillars of the pyramid. That's where long-term significance fits in. Even commercial websites that specialize in bringing users to popular pages need to define a good information architecture, and don't rely exclusively on their search box (and yes, that includes even Google home page). Diego (talk) 20:01, 18 October 2019 (UTC)
I'm not ignoring the importance of long-term significance. I'm recognizing it, but I'm also aware of how subjective determining that importance is. Users decide how important it is, based on how often they land on its article, whether it's by direct search, or through a link, or whatever. And we should trust their judgement about that, not impose our own. --В²C 20:39, 18 October 2019 (UTC)
I strongly agree that relatedness of the main topic ptopic candidates is an important consideration, and that when they're closely related, the threshold for there being a ptopic should be lower. I think I've invoked this in a few RMs. This is the first one that comes to mind - nominator proposed making Giant Steps a dab page on the grounds that the album and the title track were close in prominence. I opposed the move, reasoning that someone searching for the song and landing at the album (or vice versa) will suffer little astonishment, and will ideally have a quick path to their desired article via links in the article they land at (without having to even go to the dab page). Colin M (talk) 22:52, 18 October 2019 (UTC)
I like 'relatedness' as a name for this intuition! It's concise and descriptive. Diego (talk) 11:27, 20 October 2019 (UTC)

Using both natural and parenthetical disambiguation when the former is not enough but the latter would be?Edit

James Gunn (astronomer) currently redirects to James E. Gunn (astronomer), and he appears to be more commonly known by just his first and last name without the middle initial (I first noticed the matter because of this, a Google search supported my conclusion). Should the page just be moved, or am I missing something? Hijiri 88 (やや) 05:18, 3 October 2019 (UTC)

Most wikilinks use the middle initial but that may just be because it's the article title. If the common name omits the E. then the page should move. It will need a WP:RMTR because the redirect has history as a stub duplicate article. Certes (talk) 08:06, 3 October 2019 (UTC)
I've WP:BOLDly moved the article to James Gunn (astronomer). I don't see many sources using the middle initial.  — Amakuru (talk) 13:07, 4 October 2019 (UTC)
You have missed nothing; you have made a gud catch.
As Certes says, the first place to post is at WP:RMTR. If you gain confidence in both identifying and knowing how to solve problems like this, and wish to take on the responsibility, study WP:SWAP and WP:PAGEMOVER, and post a reasoned request at Wikipedia:Requests for permissions/Page mover. Even if you're granted PAGEMOVER rights: if you're in any doubt, post at RMTR. Narky Blert (talk) 22:54, 4 October 2019 (UTC)

Some help with potential controversial move that relies on WP:PRIMARYTOPICEdit

I've been preparing a move of the article climate change, which now refers to climate changes in general. I strongly believe the primary topic of this term is current climate change, which is now found under global warming. The argumentation for this can be found at User:Femkemilene/sandbox. Because this discussion will probably prove to be a hornets nest (overturning 15 years of hotly debated consensus and/or no consensus status quo), I'd like to have a full understanding of all policy and would like some help checking I'm using the guidelines entirely correctly. Anybody willing to have a peek? I've also got two specific questions:

  1. Previous discussions about renaming have focused on definitions of global warming and climate change, with many of our most reliable sources giving a general definition of climate change (often, but not always alongside a definition of CC being the current human-caused CC). Are definitions also typically used in the determination of a PRIMARY TOPIC?
  2. I've struggled with finding a better title for the climate change article. Can anybody think of other examples where the general definition is completely overshadowed by a specific use. The potential article name climate change (general) doesn't sound right to me, as general could still refer to other generalities (the human, animal and physical aspect of current climate change for instance). What type of titles are used in these cases? Femke Nijsse (talk) 07:42, 6 October 2019 (UTC)
What you have prepared so far looks very reasonable to me. Some comments:
  • Re #1: No, typically not. Ptopics are ultimately chosen to help the reader get where they want to go. If an overwhelming majority of readers think of term T as referring to topic X, then T should at least be a WP:PRIMARYREDIRECT to X, if not the title of X. This is true even if there are some RS that say that actually by definition T refers to topic Y.
  • Re #2: The best other example I can think of is Holocaust.
  • What about just Climate variability as the new title for the current Climate change article? Another one that occurred to me was Climate changes. It doesn't exactly fit with any of the criteria for WP:NCPLURAL, but hey, it'd be a natural way to disambiguate.
  • The number of mistargeted links to Climate change is IMO the strongest evidence that the current primary topic is badly chosen. Using Special:WhatLinksHere has the issue of bringing in a bunch of navbox inclusions, but these search results paint an even clearer picture. (I used User:PrimeHunter/Source links.js to generate that query)
  • At User:Femkemilene/sandbox#First_rename_climate_change you say The climate change page will be either a disambiguation page to both this article and global warming at the end of step 1, or a redirect to global warming.. To be clear, I think it's important that this be decided as part of that RM (and ideally your nom should take a stance on which option you're advocating for).
Colin M (talk) 15:46, 7 October 2019 (UTC)
Thanks for that list of mistargeted links and the rest of the comment :). Really hope this will work out with the sometimes heated discussions around this topic.
Climate variability in scientific terms means something else, so doesn't really work in terms of precision. I think I'll go for climatic changes. I fear there will be consensus to move, but no consensus how. There's even people not wanting the topic as a separate article at all. Femke Nijsse (talk) 21:06, 8 October 2019 (UTC)

Requested move discussionEdit

An editor has proposed moving Rebelde (Mexican TV series) to Rebelde, which is currently a disambiguation page. As the proposal involves a disambiguation page, editors familiar with disambiguation practices may wish to cast an eye over the discussion and comment if they fell it necessary. The discussion is at Talk:Rebelde (Mexican TV series)#Requested move 5 October 2019. --AussieLegend () 13:09, 6 October 2019 (UTC)

Requested move 9 October 2019Edit

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review after discussing it on the closer's talk page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

The result of the move request was: No consensus. There is no consensus for a blanket move. Specific article move requests may be immediately made on their talk pages without prejudice to this discussion. (closed by non-admin page mover) Sceptre (talk) 20:14, 16 October 2019 (UTC)

– Following the previous discussion regarding this issue, and the recent consensus over at Talk:Friendly Fire#Requested move 22 August 2019, I believe it's safe to say that the community has made its decision on pages of this nature. I'm also starting this discussion here since the previous discussion regarding these kinds of pages took place here and I feel it would be inappropriate to single out a specific article talk page to host this discussion. Per WP:DIFFCAPS, all of the above pages can be moved to their capitalized versions alone without the "(disambiguation)" qualifier and still be adequately distinguished from their lowercase generic terms. As many editors have said before, anyone who bothers to capitalize these items will probably be looking for a proper name rather than a generic term. In the interest of getting these readers to their intended destination as quickly as possible, these moves should be made. Eventhorizon51 (talk) 19:45, 9 October 2019 (UTC)

  • Generally oppose, as I think this proposal sweeps too wide. There are some specific categories of titles for which the capitalized form should redirect to the lowercase form due to common usage, including names of animals (e.g., Sea Urchin), names of dates or events (e.g., Blue Moon, Summer Solstice, Winter Solstice), job titles (e.g., Head of State), and terms commonly abbreviated as capital letters (e.g., Artificial Intelligence). bd2412 T 19:59, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
    • BD2412 and Amakuru, if someone searches with, say, the term Sea Urchin (making the effort to capitalize both words), don't you think they are almost certainly looking for one of the uses of Sea Urchin currently listed at Sea Urchin (disambiguation) rather than for the generic Sea urchin? If so, why send them to what is almost certainly the wrong article? If not, why not? --В²C 20:11, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
      • I think that it is entirely plausible that someone may think "Sea Urchin" is the formal name of the animal. I certainly think it is likely that someone will think "Winter Solstice" should be capitalized every bit as much as Valentine's Day, and that "Head of State" should be capitalized every bit as much as Chief Justice or Secretary of State. bd2412 T 20:22, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
      Personally I do regularly search for terms with capital letters, because I'm from a generation where title case meant title case. That's not to say I'm against Wikipedia naming conventions re sentence case, it's quite sensible, but lots of people won't be familiar with that. The incoming links tell you that lots of editors aren't aware of this distinction either. I'm not saying there are no cases where DIFFCAPS makes sense, but for cases where the main topic is so clearly primary over all others, it doesn't make sense to do anything other than a WP:PRIMARYREDIRECT.  — Amakuru (talk) 20:25, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
No offense, but I feel like you're trying to generalize something that is more personal than general with this "I'm from a generation" statement. Even the physical encyclopedias of yesteryear used titles like "Arctic fox". -- Fyrael (talk) 20:52, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
@Fyrael: no offense taken, and yes that line does look a bit silly in retrospect. I'm not even sure what "generation" I thought I hailed from! I guess I just had my angry-Wikipedian hat on for a while as I tried to make sense of the developments here and at Friendly Fire, and how 18 years of common sense redirects seem to be suddenly thrown out in the name of a "rule" that makes no sense to me. But there we are. I'm trying to cool off by writing prose in my current space that nobody else is inhabiting instead! Thanks  — Amakuru (talk) 21:32, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
@Amakuru: No offense, but that is the saddest excuse for an "angry Wikipedian hat" I have ever seen. I can't feel any of the seething hatred for having the audacity to hold a different opinion. If you won't come back here and fight me, then I don't even know what the purpose of these talk pages is. Just disgraceful. -- Fyrael (talk) 02:36, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose. Thanks for the ping, Eventhorizon51, but I can't support this RM. All of these are clear primary topics for their terms, capitalised or otherwise, per WP:COMMONSENSE.  — Amakuru (talk) 20:03, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
How COMMONSENSE could it really be when there is clearly a discussion with a large number of participants, all but two of which agree that capitalization differences suffice in distinguishing disambiguation pages from articles? The discussion took place, so you're gonna have to explain your reasoning in more detail. Eventhorizon51 (talk) 20:09, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
No, you're going to have to explain in more detail why you think "Artificial Intelligence" doesn't mean what the current redirect says it means. The onus is on those proposing a change to state their case. You have failed to make any case.  — Amakuru (talk) 20:19, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
My proposal is in line with the outcomes of recent discussions. Artificial Intelligence" doesn't mean "Artificial intelligence" in the same way that Union Station doesn't redirect to Union station and Friendly Fire doesn't redirect to Friendly fire. It's the rule established through discussion. Eventhorizon51 (talk) 20:33, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
So that's the best explanation you have? "It's the rule". Well WP:IAR then, because none of these proposed moves make the encyclopedia better. They will just add an extra click for readers, for no good reason.  — Amakuru (talk) 20:42, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
Are you really going to just IAR the Wikipedia policy of discussion and consensus? These moves follow the convention that has been discussed and agreed upon, so moving these pages make the encyclopedia more consistent. And in general, consistency is better. Eventhorizon51 (talk) 20:53, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
  • On closer inspection, a few of these do make sense: for Jury Nullification, Love Song, Blue Moon, High Voltage I think the alternative meanings are sufficiently close in primacy to the sentence case meaning that the disambiguation page can sensibly be put there. So I support for those cases, but oppose the others, in which the current redirect is to the highly sought-after encyclopedic topic.  — Amakuru (talk) 20:48, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong support. Per nom. What all these have in common is that the proposed destinations all have the second word capitalized and are currently redirects to an article for a generic topic without that second word capitalized. All these moves are in line with policy (WP:DIFFCAPS) and recognize that although people normally don't distinguish much between caps and not caps, in the particular context of typing in a search term, if someone bothers to capitalize the second word in each of these they are almost certainly looking for a topic with that name, not for the generic topic which is normally uncapitalized. So in some cases that means putting the one and only primary topic for that (capitalized) name at this base name, while in other cases it means putting a dab page containing all uses of said name at the base name. That's exactly what is proposed here. For example, someone searching with "artificial intelligence" is likely looking for the general article at Artificial intelligence, but someone searching with "Artificial Intelligence" is probably looking for something named Artificial Intelligence and listed on the dab page (currently at Artificial intelligence (disambiguation), and proposed here to be moved to Artificial Intelligence. Well done; a big improvement. --В²C 20:05, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
    The question is what is WP:PRIMARYTOPIC for the term in question, though. Just because the term is a redirect with alternative caps, doesn't mean it's not a contender. By long-term significance and common usage, Artificial Intelligence refers to the topic it currently redirects to, which is correct per the WP:PRIMARYREDIRECT policy. I'm not sure which other topics you think are contenders.  — Amakuru (talk) 20:17, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
Per WP:DIFFCAPS: "The general approach is that whatever readers might type in the search box, they are guided as swiftly as possible to the topic they might reasonably be expected to be looking for,... small details are usually sufficient to distinguish topics". It's generally agreed that whenever a reader capitalizes a title, they can be reasonably expected to be looking for a proper name rather than a generic term. That's what eliminates the lowercase forms as contenders. Eventhorizon51 (talk) 20:25, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
That just isn't true. The vast majority of our readers don't know in detail whether our titles are written in title-case or sentence-case. The WP:PRIMARYTOPIC policy, which mandates that readers should be taken to the topic they most wish to visit, and the most encyclopedic term for their title, applies for title case terms as much as any other. DIFFCAPS only tells us that we *can* differentiate based on capitlisation if it's sensible to do so, and there are some cases where it's valid. But it doesn't tell us that we *must* do so.  — Amakuru (talk) 20:30, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
No one knows exactly what each reader knows, so it's impossible to achieve the absolute fastest way to get to every topic sought for each individual reader. I would like to know which cases you consider "valid", since as it stands now, some dab pages have "(disambiguation)" and some are only distinguished by capitalization. And they seem quite arbitrary. Eventhorizon51 (talk) 20:42, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Amakuru, our difference in opinion seems to center on how likely people searching with title case are nevertheless looking for the generic use rather than one of the topics named after the generic use. Not sure how to resolve that. But I will point out I don't think knowledge of WP conventions matters much. I think most people on the internet in general have learned to search in all lower case. Those people are unaffected by this proposal. It's the minority that bothers to capitalize when entering a search term that we are concerned with here. Whether they capitalize naturally because it's the name of a film or because they know WP doesn't capitalize the generic title doesn't matter. The only ones not treated ideally if this proposal passes are those who use title case as a search term even though they're looking for the generic use, like BD2412's hypothetical user who looks for the ocean animal with Sea Uchin. But even for them it's not so bad, as in each case they're taken to a DAB page or article with a link to the generic use they're seeking at the top. Plus once that happens once or twice then they too will learn about case sensitive searching on WP... bonus! So, what's the real problem here? --В²C 20:45, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I concur with BD2412. Jc3s5h (talk) 20:33, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose per Amakuru. These names have primaries no matter how they're cased. Hatnotes are our friend. Randy Kryn (talk) 20:50, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Support per В²C. I think it's quite a small minority of users that will search for a general usage topic with title case. Some exceptions might be a person researching a title they've seen somewhere like the name of a college course or lecture that reads "Artifical Intelligence". Again, I think that's a pretty darn small use case though. -- Fyrael (talk) 21:00, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose per BD2412 and Amakuru. Where there is a clear and obvious primary topic, we shouldn't be trying to guess someone's intent based solely on a difference in capitalization. CThomas3 (talk) 21:03, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
    • But Cthomas3, aren't you guessing either way? If you oppose, aren't you guessing most people searching with title case are nevertheless seeking the generic primary topic article without a title case proper name? Why? Why would most who bother to search with title case not be looking for a topic most commonly referred to in title case? If they're looking for the generic primary topic, not commonly referenced with title case (like sea urchin or dry cleaning, to take the first two in the list as examples) why would they bother to search with title case (like Sea Urchin or Dry Cleaning)? Granted a few might, but most? --В²C 22:04, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
      • I don't consider it really guessing (or perhaps I consider it to be the most logical guess) that someone typing a word or phrase that matches a primary topic, differing only in capitalization, is looking for that topic. Otherwise we'd be saying, "Yeah, I see what you typed there, but juuuuuuust maybe you meant this other thing. Did you? No? Oops, sorry." CThomas3 (talk) 01:30, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
        Upon further reflection I would consider Dry Cleaning, Jury Nullification, and Mob Mentality per DIFFCAPS. But if all we are going to do is send someone to a DAB page, I'd rather send them to the primary topic first with a hatnote, as we know no one is ever really looking for a DAB. CThomas3 (talk) 01:48, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose per BD2412. Egsan Bacon (talk) 22:38, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose removal of "(disambiguation)" from any disambiguation page. It is needed to identify that the page is a disambiguation page. This is extremely so for ambiguous titling (and for readers, Wikipedia capitalization style is not to be assumed), and in all cases for PRECISE and CONSISTENCY. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:55, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
    You disagree with WP:DABNAME in addition to WP:DIFFCAPS. -- JHunterJ (talk) 01:49, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
    JHunterJ, I disagree with WP:DABNAME, and one of the bad consequences of the bad DABNAME is that it creates apparent DIFFCAPS crises. If it were not for DABNAME, I would have no problem with DIFFCAPS. Related is the other bad consequence of DABNAME, which is the overzealous push for PRIMARYTOPICS where one does not exist to avoid the DAB page sitting on the basename. Many of the proposed moves above will put DAB pages on basenames and readers will not recognize the DAB pages as DAB pages. I believe that you are one of the ancient proponents of DABNAME? Do you really believe in it, that XYZ must never redirect to XYZ (disambiguation), even if it means that DIFFCAPS must be compromised? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 05:29, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
    WP:DABNAME, like WP:DIFFCAPS, is the consensus. I just wanted to be sure you were !voting contrary to the guidelines, and that the closer takes that into account. To answer your question though, no, I do not support compromising diffcaps, but yes, XYZ must never redirect to XYZ (disambiguation) (and that conclusion does not require any compromise of DIFFCAPS). Readers will indeed recognize dab pages as dab pages, unless they are illiterate and cannot recognize encyclopedia articles either. -- JHunterJ (talk) 21:00, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
    Why do you believe XYZ must never redirect to XYZ (disambiguation)? —SmokeyJoe (talk) 21:33, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
    Your ancient opposition to it has come up several times and never gotten consensus. XYZ should never redirect to XYZ (qualifier) either. -- JHunterJ (talk) 21:58, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
    You are one of the ancient instigators of the practice, and as far as I can find it was never justified, just a practice that started up. Please correct me if I ma wrong. Some take interest in the idea of reversing the DABNAME/MALPLACED practice/policy, few comment against, and when they do it is along the lines of "sometimes people suggest this, and it would be a shocking change for us, it could be too much work". In the meantime, readers are being disserviced by being sent unexpectedly to poorly titled DAB pages. I guess the place to take this further is WP:VPP. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:35, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
    If we have no better purpose for A than to be either the title of, or a redirect to, one particular page, then A is sufficiently precise, natural and recognizable by definition, and is the preferred title of the page over any A (x) title of that page because A is more concise than A (x), period. Good luck finding consensus to reject that reasoning; you'll need it. --В²C 23:02, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
    I believe the wider community holds the titling aficionados in disdain, and a concise presentation of the pros and cons will be helpful.
    A is frequently, easily, obviously misrecognized as an article, from Go Box auto-complete suggestions, wikilinks, hovertext, search engine headings, when it is a DAB page and most definitely not a readers presumed "Primary Topic" (a Wikipedia term they probably don't know). Concise is not achieved by the absence of essential information. The problem frequently manifests with readers being sent to the wrong page, a DAB page, a point frequently made by yourself. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:19, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
    "I was confused/hindered/misled/fooled/bamboozled/bothered/annoyed because a dab page title was an unadorned base name", said no one, ever. You're proposing a solution to a supposed problem that nobody else even agrees is a problem. --В²C 23:36, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
    "I was annoyed and delayed getting the page I wanted because there was a DAB page at the basename" is something that personally annoys me. Othertimes, I *want* the dab page, but the fact that it is a DAB page is hidden. I clearly have slower internet that people like you who don't mind downloading large pages to read a hatnote to rescue you. DAB page title at an unadorned base name is a root cause of people getting an unwanted DAB page, which is a cause for people like you pushing with zeal to assign a PT to the basename excessively. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:26, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
    You never answer this question. What difference does it make in terms of your slow internet issues if the dab page is at A, or A redirects to the dab page at A (disambiguation)? --В²C 00:35, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
    For me, when I am on slow/unstable internet, and/or a poor device, I take care what pages I download. I will check the url of a link and open it in a new tab so as to not clear the current one. If the DAB page is at "A", I can't know it is a DAB page without downloading it. Downloading a DAB page is a small curse, but on the other side, when I want a DAB page, and I guess wrong, and "A" turns outs to be a heavy media-loaded page, that is considerable trouble for me. If the internet cuts outs, or pauses, mid download, the whole device becomes non-functional. I like to know precisely what page I am considering to download. Mercury and Paris, one is a DAB page the other is not, one downloads easy, the other is a catastrophe if I need the answer before the next tunnel. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:08, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
    In what context? There shouldn’t be a link to any dab page from an article. So maybe you’re on a talk page and someone links to it? So you’re saying if they link to A (disambiguation), or even if they link to A which is a redirect to A (disambiguation), you will be able to see that’s the case and know it’s safe to click? But don’t you have that problem all the time? Any link in an article can be to a short or long article, and you have no way of knowing which unless you are sufficiently familiar with the topic to make a reasonable guess. Just seems like we’d be addressing only a tiny part of the loading problem with your idea. —В²C 04:53, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
    As requested, letting you know you are incorrect. The common-sense idea that you don't put a qualifier on a title that doesn't need a qualifier was like that when I got here. No one argues against it as being too much work, and certainly not me; I'm all in favor of doing the work to improve the encyclopedia (see the fixes for using sentence case for bird names and for removing the unneeded qualifiers from NYC subway station article titles). The arguments against adding useless qualifiers are not that it would be too much work, but that it would unimprove the encyclopedia. -- JHunterJ (talk) 14:20, 12 October 2019 (UTC)
    Thanks. So you arrived and picked up the tradition. I think I found the origin in a 2001 User:Larry Sanger pronouncement on using simple titles. Common sense? "Common sense" can be simplistic and inadequate in complicated cases. I am certainly trying to make the case that a disambiguation page needs a qualifier or else it may be misrecognized as one of the topics. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:41, 15 October 2019 (UTC)
Also Oppose most due to independent criticism of DIFFCAPS where it crosses title case alternatives.
Having looked at some specific RMs, such as Absolute Zero, ("Oppose. Absolute Zero has a primary meaning / primary topic of -273.15 °C"), DIFFCAPS that corresponds to a choice of the several title case alternatives is not reasonable to expect a reader to understand. Titles are not just about Go Box use, titles stand alone in many places, on Wikipedia and in downstream uses. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:32, 14 October 2019 (UTC)
No. Anyone searching with title case is far more likely looking for one of the topics with a proper name on the dab page, not the generic topic, and we should send them there accordingly. —В²C 15:57, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Support while some of these changes seem a broad stroke within this single move request, all of the proposed capitalization change seem reasonable to me, especially as many of them are both proper nouns in English and should be capitalized while also warranting their own pages without disambiguation needs. --- FULBERT (talk) 12:20, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
    • @FULBERT: are you sure you have understood this proposal? It is not about giving its "own page" to the subject, rather, it is moving the disambiguation page to a page without (disambiguation) in the title. The problem this is causing for some of us is that that will overwrite the pre-existing redirect to the primary topic. My apologies if you already understood that. SpinningSpark 13:20, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose for those cases where their is a strong primary topic for the uncapitalized form. I agree with those that say many readers are likely to search for the primary topic with capitalisation, or even in all-caps. Most readers are not so anal about capitalisation as Wikipedia editors. By definition, primary topic means that most readers will not be misdirected; it is only the minority that will need the extra click to get to the dab page.
Also, as stated by others, many on of the primaries on this list either could be, or are, given in sources capitalised, or the reader thinks they are. I came here from the notification at High voltage. This is not just a generic term. It is formally defined by standards bodies and will often take the capitalised form because of that. SpinningSpark 13:11, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
But Spinningspark, in the specific context of searching you really believe anyone who bothers to capitalize it as High Voltage is more likely looking for the primary topic for "high voltage" at High voltage? They are not more likely looking for one of the uses with proper names (title case) that are listed on the High voltage (disambiguation) dab page? I get that it's possible that someone searching with the title case term is nevertheless looking for the primary topic. But that it's more likely that they're looking for that rather than they are looking for one of the other topics? --В²C 17:11, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
Yes, I do, and are you going to try and WP:BLUDGEON everyone who opposes? People are likely to capitalise the search term if the source they are looking at capitalises it, as this, this, and this one did. That last one is a job advertisement – please don't tell me people don't look up technical terms on Wikipedia they see in job applications. Looking at an ngram over the date range from the beginning of domestic electricity to just before the earliest term being disambiguated (so the results aren't polluted with false hits) shows that the capitalised form is a small, but significant, proportion of the results. SpinningSpark 18:35, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
High Voltage was originally about an album (see the redirect's history) before being moved and targeted to the lower case, while this probably made sense in 2004 its probably not correct now even if its sometimes written in upper case and as noted even if someone wants High voltage they'll still have it on the 1st line of the DAB. Let's not guess what our readers want. Crouch, Swale (talk) 20:08, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - There might be a couple that need a closer look, but most of these require an firm oppose. Dry Cleaning, Winter Solstice, and Lunar Eclipse are big nos! I often capitalize every word in searches, here or google, and that would create an extra layer for what I'm looking for. This is a case by case argument, not something that should be mass produced. Fyunck(click) (talk) 23:14, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - not every reader uses "correct" ( style title capitalization) when searching; Not every editor links to correct disambiguated articles. Having 2 links that differ in one uppercase letter is not remotely helpful. --Gonnym (talk) 11:39, 16 October 2019 (UTC)
    If someone is searching with the upper case looking for the general concept they will still find that on the 1st line of most DAB pages, if someone is linking incorrectly then the DPL will be notified so that the link can be corrected either to a lower case link or to the correct proper noun's article. If there's a redirect from the wrong capitalization to the lower case then such links won't get fixed and readers searching using the correct case are inconvenienced. Crouch, Swale (talk) 13:21, 16 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose per BD2412 and Amakuru. -- Necrothesp (talk) 15:33, 16 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose per WP:TRAINWRECK. Calidum 18:10, 16 October 2019 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

Requested move aftermathEdit

Well, I definitely did not expect this to be such a contentious issue. Furthermore, after multiple lengthy discussions, there still doesn't seem to be any agreement either way. The question remains: Do differences in capitalization alone sufficiently distinguish between disambiguation pages and articles? The following are some discussions within the past few months that relate to this issue:

  1. Talk:Union Station#Requested move 14 August 2019
  2. Wikipedia talk:Disambiguation/Archive 51#Application of WP:DIFFCAPS to WP:DABNAME
  3. Talk:Friendly Fire#Requested move 22 August 2019
  4. Talk:Absolute Zero (disambiguation)#Requested move 11 September 2019
  5. Talk:Dark Matter (disambiguation)#Requested move 11 September 2019
  6. And of course, the requested move directly above this section

In discussions 1-3, consensus was that capitalization alone was sufficient, while in discussions 4-6, there was no consensus either way and from what I see, very noteworthy opposition. If there's a given article Article title, there's no consensus as to whether the disambiguation page for "Article Title" should be at Article Title or Article Title (disambiguation).

Arguments for having "(disambiguation)"Edit

Capitalized titles generally have the same WP:PRIMARYTOPIC

Many argue that in most cases, capitalization alone isn't enough to rule out the lowercase form as a primary topic. And, in cases where there is a primary topic, the disambiguation page should carry "(disambiguation)". This is certainly the case with most of the pages discussed in the above section.

Some readers search for all topics in title case

For readers who search for topics in title case, with every word capitalized, it's more efficient to direct them to the generic topic rather than a disambiguation page.

Arguments against having "(disambiguation)"Edit

Capitalization alone is enough per WP:DIFFCAPS

DIFFCAPS states:

"The general approach is that whatever readers might type in the search box, they are guided as swiftly as possible to the topic they might reasonably be expected to be looking for, by such disambiguation techniques as hatnotes and/or disambiguation pages. When such navigation aids are in place, small details are usually sufficient to distinguish topics."

With this policy in mind, "(disambiguation)" is not necessary.

Readers searching in title case are likely looking for a proper name

Opponents of having "(disambiguation)" have argued that anyone searching for something in title case will likely be looking for a specific thing with that title, which will surely be listed at a disambiguation page. Even if they are looking for the topic at the uncapitalized title, they will be guided there quickly by the DAB page.

Examples of differences in applicationEdit

Capitalized disambiguation pages where there is a primary topic at the uncapitalized title

Disambiguation pages carrying "(disambiguation)" where all non-primary topics are capitalized


  • It appears that right now, there is no standard for disambiguation pages of this nature. I was originally on the side of "(disambiguation)" is required to differentiate DAB pages from articles. However, after the recent discussions and reading over the arguments for not having it, I'm unsure. Nevertheless, I believe that not having a general rule and having each DAB page be evaluated individually is a horrible option. Usually with naming conventions, there is a generally accepted way to name every different kind of page, with IAR applying for exceptional cases. If there's no guideline here, we'll just keep debating this forever. I'd very much like to see what the community thinks here. Eventhorizon51 (talk) 23:35, 16 October 2019 (UTC)
    • I think you missed the prevailing argument in the discussion above which can be summarized as, "it depends". A large number of participants expressed the opinion that some of those primary topic subjects are much more likely to be sought using title case than some of the others. This opinion being as prevalent as it is suggests we're stuck with looking at these on a case-by-case basis. In fact, that's what the closer essentially said. Our only hope is maybe we can convince a consensus that it's okay to send title case searchers to the dab page. Then they'll learn. Not sure why there is resistance to this. Like you said, the primary topic will be easy to find as it will be listed at the top. --В²C 01:57, 17 October 2019 (UTC)
  • "Do differences in capitalization alone sufficiently distinguish"?
A. It depends. Homoglyphs (0 and O; 1, l and I) are not good enough. DIFFCAPS where the difference is between title case alternatives is not good enough. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:43, 17 October 2019 (UTC)
  • On

    "(disambiguation)" is required to differentiate DAB pages from articles

    what are the counter arguments? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:47, 17 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Why, Eventhorizon51, did you create so many editable section headers. Is each meant to be a thread starter? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:49, 17 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes, this is almost unreadable. The close asked nominators to nominate RM's on each item separately, not to continue debate on this topic on this page. Randy Kryn (talk) 03:05, 17 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Removed some section headers. There is that better? Eventhorizon51 (talk) 03:10, 17 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Just because the closer stated that there is no restriction on making individual RM proposals immediately does not mean general discussion here cannot continue. That said, I don't think there is much interest in a general solution because of a desire to support title case search for at least some but not all primary topic topics even though they don't have proper names. --В²C 17:22, 17 October 2019 (UTC)
  • My opinion, which I've stated in many of the recent discussions, is that title difference in capitalization, is not sufficient. Creating two different targets for basically the same title is a wrong approach. Whether the target should be the PT or a dab page, is less important to me (I do have an opinion on that as well though), as long as both result in the same target. I'll also point to the RFC from least year at DIFFCAPS which while resulted in no consensus, had a majority of editors in favor of its removal, so I find it hard quoting a policy which does not even have majority community consensus. --Gonnym (talk) 17:31, 17 October 2019 (UTC)
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