Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Disambiguation pages

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WikiProject Manual of Style
This page falls within the scope of WikiProject Manual of Style, a drive to identify and address contradictions and redundancies, improve language, and coordinate the pages that form the MoS guidelines.

Repeat primary linksEdit

What is the consensus on repeating primary links in lower sections of a DAB page (such as listing Twiggy as the primary topic at Twiggy (disambiguation) and repeating it in the lower Twiggy (disambiguation)#People section)? I feel that MOS:DABPRIMARY is saying to list the topic once (at the top), but other editors feel the repetition is not explicitly prohibited. Can we clarify this aspect of the guideline? Hoof Hearted (talk) 14:52, 20 November 2019 (UTC)

It seems we've worked out our disagreement at Twiggy (disambiguation), but should the guideline be made clearer anyway? Hoof Hearted (talk) 14:54, 20 November 2019 (UTC)
Seems to me that what you quoted in your discussion, "it should not be mixed in with the other links", is quite explicit. Oddly though, when I think about the scenario in which this would come up, it kind of makes sense to repeat. If I'm a user looking for this person named Twiggy and have arrived at the disambiguation page already, then I must have assumed (mistakenly) that they aren't the primary topic and skipped the base name. So that means I would also skip the introductory line because, again, I've assumed the person isn't primary. I don't think we should start duplicating things, but it's not a crazy notion. -- Fyrael (talk) 15:11, 20 November 2019 (UTC)
Agreed that skipping over the introductory line is a strong possibility. However I think the scenario of arriving at "Foo (disambiguation)" when looking for "Foo" - either by typing in the term or a following a wikilink - is highly unlikely (where "Foo" is a real topic and not a redirect to the DAB). If we want to speed navigation to the correct usage, DAB pages should be kept short and duplicates removed. Hoof Hearted (talk) 15:23, 20 November 2019 (UTC)
There are a variety of ways for readers to arrive at the dab page without first visiting the primary article: they might have decided to go straight there because the don't expect the entry they're looking for to be the primary topic, or they might have followed a link from another dab page or an external link. As for the issue at hand, I don't think it's usually needed to repeat the primary entry, but there are situations where doing so makes sense: when the existence of a primary topic is not immediately obvious (as with Twiggy), or when there's a group of entries that are closely related to the primary article (e.g. a city as a primary topic, with the associated administrative and electoral units). – Uanfala (talk) 15:44, 20 November 2019 (UTC)
Your scenarios are certainly possible, but I can't see them as likely at all. If a user didn't expect the entry to be primary, then we didn't do a good job of determining the primary topic. If you feel it's not obvious for this case, should Twiggy be moved to Twiggy (model) and Twiggy (disambiguation) be moved to Twiggy? this is a sincere question. As written today, MOS:DABPRIMARY is pretty cut-and-dry that "Foo" is intrinsically the primary topic of "Foo (disambiguation)"
But if the consensus is to allow a repeated listing for a primary topic, should we ammend MOS:DABPRIMARY with the exceptional cases that you mentioned? Hoof Hearted (talk) 20:57, 20 November 2019 (UTC)
I don't think anything substantial needs to be added to the guidelines: pretty much every rule documented there will have numerous exceptions, and instead of attempting to enumerate them all it's best to leave it to editors to exercise common sense in ignoring the rules when needed (the last section of the guidelines covers all that: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Disambiguation pages#When to ignore the guidelines). Maybe the wording can be softened though: instead of it should not be mixed in with the other links we could have it should not normally be mixed in with the other links. As for Twiggy, I don't think it needs to be moved: save for the small number of really obvious cases, we can't really expect of our readers to have knowledge of the encyclopedia's topic structure. – Uanfala (talk) 01:37, 21 November 2019 (UTC)
I like Uanfala's idea of softening the language with "normally", so cases where it makes sense to do this don't cause this discussion to be repeated. As all long-time dab editors know, the determination of a primary topic is often fraught; re-listing the topic covers our bases at the expense of, at most, one extra entry. This sort of repetition is more useful for common meanings, which are not quite the same thing as primary topics, but it has its value for some primary topics as well. —swpbT • go beyond • bad idea 14:38, 21 November 2019 (UTC)
I can live with that. I'll make the change to the guideline. Full disclosure, editors repeated the primary topic Rolling Stones album at Black and Blue (disambiguation) so often that I added an invisible comment to discourage. In light of this discussion, that seems like another case that could warrant a repeat (and in my opinion, a pretty iffy WP:PTOPIC). Hoof Hearted (talk) 15:53, 21 November 2019 (UTC)
Unusually (at least from the point of view of someone who's never edited articles about music), the primary topic Black and Blue is about an album, but Black and Blue (album) redirects to the dab page. – Uanfala (talk) 15:59, 21 November 2019 (UTC)

Not to get lost in the weeds here, but I think the (album) redirect to the dab is correct (although it should probably go to the #Albums section). Since there are several other articles on albums named Black and Blue, if anything, the Stones album should be moved to Black and Blue (Rolling Stones album), but I don't have enough of an issue with it to change the status quo. I just see it as another gray area. Hoof Hearted (talk) 16:18, 21 November 2019 (UTC)

Sorry to bring us further into the weeds, but has consensus for the Black and Blue (album) redirect ever been affirmed? I can't find any discussion of it on the relevant talk pages. It seems to me like a straight-up bug. If the album is primary for Black and Blue (the current state of affairs - I have no opinion on whether that should change), then shouldn't it ipso facto be primary for the more specific name Black and Blue (album)? I feel like this follows pretty directly from the definition of WP:PRIMARYTOPIC and its purpose. Are there other examples of a name of the form "Foo" having a primary topic, but "Foo (disambiguator that applies to the ptopic)" redirecting to a dab? Colin M (talk) 21:32, 22 November 2019 (UTC)

  Undone It appears other editors feel the common sense clause will suffice for this aspect of the guideline. Perhaps it was my own personal interpretation of this section that was too strict. So be it. Thanks all for the clarification. Hoof Hearted (talk) 18:33, 21 November 2019 (UTC)
Swpb re-did the addition of "normally", but I re-undid it because I'm currently dubious about whether exceptions to the rule truly exist, and if so, whether they're common enough to merit even this minor softening of the language. This discussion was prompted by Twiggy (disambiguation), but it seems like there is now consensus not to include a repeated primary link in that case (which I happen to agree with). The only other example that's been mentioned is Black and Blue (disambiguation), but a) the Rolling Stones album isn't listed there currently and b) the reason to possibly repeat the ptopic in that case has to do with a WP:INCDAB redirect which I find dubious, and a primary topic designation which others have found dubious. I'd be more inclined to support the wording change if we could find at least one example for which there's clear consensus for repeating the primary topic (not dependent on a bad ptopic, or some other problematic state). Colin M (talk) 21:52, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
@Colin M: I just ran across Moulin Rouge (disambiguation), which has had the primary topic, Moulin Rouge, duplicated under "Enterprises" for over a year - presumably because it appears to be missing when listing the other theater and hotel. That appears to be a good ptopic to me. Any thoughts? Hoof Hearted (talk) 16:47, 16 December 2019 (UTC)
I agree that it's a good ptopic, but I'm not convinced that the duplicate entry is good in this case. If it is good, that suggests that either all dab pages that have a section that encompasses the ptopic should list the ptopic (e.g. listing Friends under Friends (disambiguation) § Television), or there's something special about the Moulin Rouge example. I don't think the fact that the entry has stood for over a year is very strongly suggestive of consensus, since, like most dab pages, this one has few watchers and a sparse edit history. Colin M (talk) 22:08, 16 December 2019 (UTC)

DABSEEALSO and "broader-subject articles"Edit

MOS:DABSEEALSO lists the kinds of entries it is appropriate to have in the "See also" section. One of them is for Broader-subject articles that treat the topic in a section. The illustrative example given has varied over the years, from Medieval art as part of a Fresco dab page, to Bromeliaceae as part of a Moss dab page, to the current Brewing as part of a Hops dab page.

Now, Fresco (disambiguation) has no entry for Medieval art, and neither does Hop (disambiguation) link to Brewing. As for Bromeliaceae, it is not related to mosses at all, and the only apparent connection is in the name of one of its constituent species of Spanish moss, which is already listed in the body of Moss (disambiguation) because of its name, not its topic.

I think it's clear that all of these are good examples of entries not to add to a "see also" section. And the principle involved strikes me as really odd: why would we want to link to broader-subject articles? Dab pages aren't there to provide topical navigation. If a topic (treated in an article of its own or within another article) is known by the ambiguous name, then it should be listed in the body of the dab page (not the "see also section), and if it's not, then it shouldn't be listed anywhere (within the "see also" or without). If the content about hops at Brewing is relevant, it should be linked from a section of the article Hops, not from the dab page.

Are there legitimate uses for this rule at all? I can think of cases where it's normal to include "see also" entries for pages that are only related by topic (rather than by name), for example the way Negative (disambiguation) has a "see also" link to Positive (disambiguation), or Tertiary (disambiguation) links to Quaternary (disambiguation). Should we have a rule for these? – Uanfala (talk) 16:36, 22 December 2019 (UTC)

I'm baffled. Not that there is no Hops (disambiguation) (it's really at Hop), but if I got to Hop, I would find Hops, click, and not come back to Hop. Who would make it down to "see also" of the dab and need general brewing info?—Bagumba (talk) 17:17, 22 December 2019 (UTC)
I am not aware of any appropriate applications of this rule either, and if no one can provide any, it seems reasonable to remove the rule. I'm less sure about the type of entries you gave examples for, which are either opposites in some sense, or adjacent in an ordered series. It seems like, again, the appropriate place for these links would be in the topic pages, not the dab, but maybe they serve a purpose on the dabs that I'm not appreciating. Regardless, I think we can deal with that separately from the "broader-subject articles" question. —swpbT • go beyond • bad idea 16:51, 26 December 2019 (UTC)
This might provide insight into how people think it should be used.
what links to MOS:DABSEEALSO
But I tend to agree - I don't see this "rule" helping with disambiguation at all. --John (User:Jwy/talk) 23:48, 26 December 2019 (UTC)
I agree with removing this rule as contrary to current practice and the purpose of dab pages. Colin M (talk) 02:07, 27 December 2019 (UTC)

Piping in biographical disambiguationEdit

I propose the addition of an item under "where piping may be appropriate" as follows: "In disambiguation of biographical subjects, piping is encouraged if it reduces repetition, provided that the explanatory text is clear in informing the basis for disambiguation, e.g. "John Chalmers (trade unionist) (1915–1983), Scottish trade unionist" should be piped "John Chalmers (1915–1983), Scottish trade unionist". Using of piping in this way must be consistent for all entries on the page. A recent discussion on my talk page (thanks to Jweiss11) may be of assistance in considering this proposal. sirlanz 04:34, 12 January 2020 (UTC)

Dab pages, as done here on the English Wikipedia, should make the titles of the linked articles as explicit as possible. I really don't see the case for an exception either for some class of articles (biographies) or for stylistics reasons. If some part of the article title would end up being duplicated in the description, then the preference is to trim the description: In many cases, the title of the article alone will be sufficient and no additional description is necessary. If the type of entry is identified in a header (e.g. songs, films), it usually does not need to be repeated verbatim in the description. (MOS:DABENTRY). My own personal view is that such kind of redundancy isn't necessarily such a bad thing: people use dab pages differently, it's likely that some scan through the links and ignore the descriptions, while others go through the descriptions alone without looking at the links. – Uanfala (talk) 05:04, 12 January 2020 (UTC)
There is no obligation to repeat the disambiguator in the description. Keep the link visible and use the description to add distinguishing information and/or rephrase. For example, "John Chalmers (trade unionist) (1915–1983), Scottish labour official".—ShelfSkewed Talk 05:20, 12 January 2020 (UTC)
Both suggestions are not practical. These are the choices before us now:
John Chalmers (orthopaedic surgeon) (born 1927), Scottish orthopaedic surgeon
John Chalmers (orthopaedic surgeon) (born 1927), Scot
John Chalmers (orthopaedic surgeon) (born 1927), Scottish bone doctor
John Chalmers (born 1927), Scottish orthopaedic surgeon
These are, respectively, the current version espoused by Jweiss11 (repetitive); the simplified version suggested by Uanfala; the alternate descriptor version suggested by ShelfSkewed and the version proposed by me. Take your pick. sirlanz 10:35, 12 January 2020 (UTC)
I'd suggest:
John Chalmers (orthopaedic surgeon) (born 1927), Scottish surgeon
No piping, adds one extra disambiguating fact, doesn't jar, shorter than full repetition.
And why isn't he just John Chalmers (surgeon)? PamD 11:45, 12 January 2020 (UTC)
Come to think of it, orthop(a)edic is not a good word to use in disambiguation if it can be avoided, anyway! PamD 11:47, 12 January 2020 (UTC)
I've moved him to the more concise title. PamD 11:51, 12 January 2020 (UTC)
And I've made a WP:RM to move the dab page to John Chalmers as there hasn't been a primary topic since the coach was moved on 22 Dec. PamD 12:02, 12 January 2020 (UTC)
Piping on a dab page is less than useful, just fit the wording around any dab that exists. -- PBS (talk) 17:56, 12 January 2020 (UTC)
Chiming in late, but there's no need for this. Leave the parenthetical in the link alone; there's no need to repeat it after the vital years. —swpbT • go beyond • bad idea 15:49, 14 January 2020 (UTC)
Also late two cents - there's no problem whatsoever with the occasional bit of repetition. "John Chalmers (surgeon)" is the Wikipedia article title, "(born 1927), Scottish orthopaedic surgeon" is the short description. Sharing a bit of description is fine and not at all an issue that needs to be "fixed". SnowFire (talk) 16:20, 14 January 2020 (UTC)

DABMENTION discussionEdit

I believe the standard is way too lax. Shersby is being kept because a failed candidate and one of a myriad of recipients of a minor medal are mentioned once in their respective articles. The exact same thing happened a while back for a wife in her husband's article. I feel the bar should be explicitly raised to preclude single mentions. Clarityfiend (talk) 20:14, 19 January 2020 (UTC)

I generally agree, but Shersby is a surname page, not strictly a dab page, so the guidelines differ somewhat. Station1 (talk) 00:47, 20 January 2020 (UTC)
I don't think name pages should have different inclusion criteria from dabs. But yeah, I often see dab entries for all kinds of ephemerally mentioned entities that have no place among the encyclopedia's access points, so maybe a light infusion of common sense into the text of the guidelines might not be a bad idea. For me a rule of thumb is always add an entry if the topic is notable (regardless of how much content there is), otherwise only link if the target has a decent amount of text on the topic. – Uanfala (talk) 01:31, 20 January 2020 (UTC)
I reject the premise that the Sheriff of Canterbury is not a sufficiently notable dabmention to sustain the page with one other name. Furthermore, ideally this article, being a surname article, would provide some anthroponomic information about the origin and relative popularity of the surname. BD2412 T 03:44, 23 January 2020 (UTC)
I'm not suggesting that all "one-mentions" should be excluded (notice I didn't list the sheriff with the other two?). What I'm saying is that simply being mentioned in an article should not be sufficient to warrant being added to a dab page. There should be some indication of notability, and holding the office of sheriff of Canterbury qualifies. Clarityfiend (talk) 09:01, 23 January 2020 (UTC)
That's right. The sensible DABMENTION stays, the other two go. The page can either stay with two entries, be expanded with e.g. etymology, or be replaced with a hatnote. As for the criterion:

Current: "If a topic does not have an article of its own, but is mentioned within another article, then a link to that article should be included."

Proposed: "If a topic does not have an article of its own, but is mentioned within another article, then a link to that article may be included if it would provide value to the reader." (no emphasis in final)

Honestly, I think that's how most of us have been treating it already. —swpbT • go beyond • bad idea 14:25, 23 January 2020 (UTC)

I have always thought that a mere mention is too low a bar, but I think anything else we propose is going to be less clear cut and lead to heaps of debate. The wording suggested above is completely logical, but is going to mean something different to every editor. Simple, very common example: a song that appears in a track list but will never have its own article. Does linking to that provide value? Difficult to say. I would, however, love to start removing entries where the term just barely appears in a linked article, but with no description of any kind. -- Fyrael (talk) 14:58, 23 January 2020 (UTC)
Well for better or worse, explicit criteria usually get shot down here in favor of treating on a case by case basis. This at least puts the debate in the right frame: is any given entry valuable or not? I'm not opposed to more specific criteria, but I think they'll be hard to get agreement on. Criteria for dab mentions could fill a whole supplement, and maybe they should, but I don't want that to sidetrack us from establishing the basic point. —swpbT • go beyond • bad idea 15:10, 23 January 2020 (UTC)
I agree with the proposed wording. It's consistent with the most common current usage and it leaves enough for the exercise of common sense. And the old wording should definitely go: I don't think there'll be many editors who would agree with its implication that any mentioned entity, no matter how trivial the mention might be, should be linked to. – Uanfala (talk) 15:16, 23 January 2020 (UTC)
I also agree with the proposed wording. A small but definite improvement. The use of "may" instead of "should" is in line with the practice of many dab editors. Station1 (talk) 21:17, 23 January 2020 (UTC)

  Done Consensus has been reaching, and swpb has added the changed wording, so we're done here. Clarityfiend (talk) 20:07, 24 January 2020 (UTC)

Canned Search, and ordering in See also sectionsEdit

There seems to be a recent propensity to add {{canned search}} to the See also of disambiguation pages. Guidance doesn't appear to appear to advise either for or against it. My view is that we shouldn't: that's what the Search box is for. Also, MOS:DABSEEALSO has an example which I think has entries in an order contrary to common usage: I'd say the common usage is (1) look from/intitle, (2) other disambiguation pages, (3) other pages. What do we think? Shhhnotsoloud (talk) 19:23, 7 February 2020 (UTC)

Any comments, otherwise I'll make the change... Shhhnotsoloud (talk) 09:48, 15 February 2020 (UTC)
I don't think we should explicitly guide for or against using {{canned search}}. Sometimes it's appropriate, sometimes not. At worst, it saves typing in the search box, and reminds readers that the search algorithm is there, in case the dab didn't get them what they wanted. —swpbT • go beyond • bad idea 14:04, 18 February 2020 (UTC)

  Done I've made a change about ordering but not about canned search. Shhhnotsoloud (talk) 10:08, 23 February 2020 (UTC)

Handling people's common nicknames vs legal namesEdit

MOS:DABINT allows for dab pages to combine entires of the page title and its variants. For example, Jim Carey redirects to dab James Carey.

  1. In cases like this, what is the rationale for listing entires under a non-common name of "James" instead of their page title, as in the MOS:DABREDIR example of listing Jim Carrey under James Carrey instead?
  2. If there were enough entries to justify a standalone Jim Carey disambiguation page, would the James Carey dab still need to duplicate entries for all the Jim's (e.g. Jim Carrey, Jim Carey (ice hockey), Jim Carey (basketball)) or would a "see also" to Jim Carey (disambiguation) be sufficient?—Bagumba (talk) 11:09, 27 February 2020 (UTC)
In answer to your first question, there is absolutely no reason to list the "Jim" articles under "James", other than a foolish devotion to consistency. It does not help the reader to see a list of people commonly known as "Jim" hidden under "James". They have searched for "Jim Carey", we've sent them to "James Carey"; are we worried it would shock or confuse them to see links to "Jim Carey"? I would suggest getting rid of the last bullet at MOS:DABREDIR, or significantly narrowing it if there are any situations where it is actually helpful.--Trystan (talk) 13:57, 27 February 2020 (UTC)
MOS:DABINT allows combining variations of a name, but it doesn't require, or even encourage, the practice. Combining is most appropriate when several of the listed items are commonly referred to by multiple variations; otherwise, dual listing or "See also" links are more appropriate. Jim Carey and James Carey seem to fall in the later case. If you believe this sort of over-combining is happening a lot, we can look at addressing it in the MoS, but I'm not sure it's a widespread problem. —swpbT • go beyond • bad idea 16:00, 27 February 2020 (UTC)
I think the concern is partly with duplication and resultant gaps. That is, in many cases, a subject may be commonly known in reliable sources by multiple names (e.g., both Jim and James). If separate pages are provided for both Jim Xxx and James Xxx, should subjects known by both names appear on both pages? Or do we force readers looking for a James Xxx whose article title happens to be at "Jim Xxxx" to go to first to the James Xxx disambiguation page and then somehow intuit that they need to look at the Jim Xxx disambiguation page? olderwiser 16:18, 27 February 2020 (UTC)

Showing related wordsEdit

Sometimes you can obtain interesting derivatives of the word you are disambiguating, by adding one letter or by doubling letters. For example at Vale:

I think it's interesting for the reader to find such derrivate words Is there any way to show such derivative words in a compact way (i.e. not displaying one per line and with (disambiguation) text in the name)? Maybe there is some template that can be used for such things? —  Ark25  (talk) 23:55, 30 March 2020 (UTC)

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