Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (settlements)/Archive 1

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From talk:Kiev

I am so confused! What is the policy regarding names of towns? Is it "City, Country/City, State" or just "City". Do we have to check Google every time to see if there is another city, town, hamlet, or truckstop with the same name? My vote is to decide on a practical, universal convention, i.e., City, Country (or State or Province). Anyone? Danny

Danny, there's no real policy. If there is a name which is widely used for one very famous city (e.g. Paris, Rome, Athens), then the article with that name should be about that city. Link to any other cities with the same name at the bottom. However, some cities (like, f.e. Cordóba) have a number of equally well-known (or badly-known), make a disambiguation page. You can then make the page as "City, Country" (or, in the case of US, "City, State"), to make them different.

In the case of Kiev, I'd say the Ukrainian city deserves it's own page. However, you may still make a Kiev, Ukraine redirect page (as I have done), for those still linking there. Hope this is clear enough, otherwise say so. jheijmans

Actually, I have a problem with this. Yes, Paris, Rome, and Athens immediately bring to mind great European cities, but why should we play favorites? Paris, Texas (don't know if it's a real town, but it was a fun movie) and Athens, Georgia (the home of the B52s and REM) are both legitimate sites that deserve articles. Are we to say that they are second to European cities, whose names they share? What about Memphis--which is the famous one: Tennessee or Egypt? Sure, disambiguation pages make it easier to select, but I also think (and back this with some experience as an editor of print encyclopedias) that there should be uniformity among all the articles. In that case, "Rome" should be a disambiguation page, linking to all the different cities with the same name. Under what you propose, a person would have to go through an entire article on Rome, Italy just to find a disambiguation notice. Now, there may only be one Kiev (Kiiv is the new spelling, btw), but for the sake of uniformity, I think the title should reflect a common nomenclature for all articles about cities. Just my $0.02. Danny

This topic has been discussed in length before (can't find it, however). Point is, that the cities of Athens, Georgia and and Paris, Texas, are not really the cities that are most likely to be meant when somebody places a link Athens or Paris. Therefore, it is a Wikipedia policy to do it as I explained above. Of course, the borders here are very vague. In case of Memphis, I'd say that is a typical candidate for a disambiguation page, since there's no way to make out which is the most famous or most likely to be linked to. But in case one of the topics really stands out, don't make a disambiguation page. Otherwise, there'd have to be a disambiguation page for almost any major city in Europe, since there will be a town named the same somewhere in the US. Also, since most of these cities to be disambiguated are in the US, this fits nicely with naming them "City, State". jheijmans

Where, then, would the disambiguation notice go? I don't think it should be confused with a major article, as any of these cities is bound to be. Finally, I still think there is something to be said about uniformiy. As I recall, that was what happened when Zoe did her work on the capitals: City, Country. Danny

I don't have much time to comment so here are my thoughts: Ukraine's Kiev is easily the most notable and famous Kiev in the world and therefore the word "Kiev" by itself unambiguously means Kiev, Ukraine for the vast majority of English speakers. Because the word "Kiev" has this quality, there is no need to have a disambiguation page at Kiev because there is no reasonable ambiguity. This isn't playing favorites, but is just a reality of the world that we have to deal with (when two famous cities share the same name, such as the noted Memphis example, then a disambiguation page is warranted).

However, for consistancy and newbie training purposes I would prefer having the article on Kiev, Ukraine at Kiev, Ukraine. But because of this particular Kiev's 'most famous' status I would have the page Kiev be a redirect to Kiev, Ukraine (thus the article Kiev, Ukraine would have what I like to call "redirect priority" over the use of Kiev). Any minor Kiev's could be listed at the bottom of Kiev, Ukraine for the rare individual who gets lost and also for general interest. BTW, the person making a disambiguation page is responsible for fixing all the links that would be misdirected by the creation of the disambiguation page. For example, if Paris where made into a disambiguation page and Paris, France were moved to Paris, France, the person making such a page would have to fix all the links to the city so that they point to Paris, France and not to the disambiguation page at Paris. Of course, I feel that the Paris/Paris, France article/redirect order should be the opposite of what it is, but you should get my point on the potential seriousness of making these types of cities into disambiguation pages.

OK, so I guess that wasn't brief. Anyway, here is a copy of a city naming convention proposal I just submitted to the wikipedia mailing list (note that it skates around the issue of the [[city]] format for now at least -- one step at a time):

On Friday 21 June 2002 08:50 pm, Karen wrote:<br> > I would think that the best policy is consistency... no, Australian<br> > placenames do not repeat from state to state (much). Not to the extent<br> > that it would interfere with entries... but at the same time I think<br> > that if the policy for other countries is city,state then we should<br> > stick to that. I know that whenever I refer to an Australian city in<br> > writing an entry I refer to it with that format because I've seen it<br> > elsewhere. But then I generally link to them as [[Sydney]], [[New South<br> > Wales]] rather than as a single phrase because there IS only one Sydney<br> > (and one Melbourne, one Darwin etc)!<br>

Unfortunately, there is a Sydney in Canada, Florida, and Virginia; a Melbourne in Florida, Arkansas, and Iowa; and a Darwin in Minnesota, California, Nevada and Illinois (there are probably several more of each). In all these examples there was only one non-American city and in my search I couldn't find a single additional Australian city by any of these names.

The reuse of city names in the US is just too big an ambiguity issue to ignore and therefore city names in the US should be treated differently than city names for other nations. The general trend for US cities in wikipedia is to name them in the format of [[city, state]] (which is what they are actually specifically referred to within the US and abroad). I agree with and encourage this trend because of the need to differentiate between US cities and to have predictable names for them.

Consistency in city naming should be within a nation and not for all nations in my opinion. But since most other nations don't have internal ambiguity issues that even begin to compare with the United States, I propose that those cities should be in the form [[city, nation]] (as most non-US cities are specifically referred to -- at least according to a sampling on Google and my own experience) or just [[city]] for noted exceptions (there are important consistency and minor ambiguity issues with the [[city]] format though....). There might be some nations other than the US that are exceptions to this proposed naming convention, but these can be explored on a case-by-case basis.

BTW, before we revisit it, [[Melbourne, Florida, United States of America]] and [[Melbourne, Arkansas, United States of America]] are both WAY too tedious and would hardly ever be directly linked to because the long form (even with USA or US) is not really used much at all ("United States of America", USA or US not being needed to disambiguate). Likewise, [[Melbourne, Victoria, Australia]] is probably just as bad ("Victoria" not being needed to disambiguate). In short, "simplify, simplify" - but be internally consistant.

Technical fixes such as redirects are just that -- technical fixes that skirt the main issue (in my experience, users who prefer needlessly long article names are notorious for not providing redirects and if we encourage long names these users will soon outnumber more sane individuals wanting to preserve easy and natural linking).


End Kiev discussion

Problems with the [City, Nation] naming convention for Canada

Note to Eclecticology: Hum, you just brought to my attention a naming conflict for two cities named Paris over at List of places and things named Paris. Are their other such conflicts within Canada? And if so are most of these between Ontario and the rest of Canada? The city naming convention was debated and worked out on the wikipedia mailing list and in several other places ? it would have been nice to know of any possible systemic internal naming conflicts within Canada. Maybe this is one of the few exceptions that we can disambiguate on a case-by-case basis? What is the population of each of these Canadian Paris?? Is it at all likely that either of these will become encyclopedia articles? --maveric149

The issue here does touch on Canadian sensitivities. Paris may not be the best example to work on; it just happened to be the one that conveniently presented itself, (London didn't work since there is only one Canadian London.) Paris, Ontario has a population of about 11,000 and some historic comments are a clear possibility. Paris, Yukon is far more obscure; its post office was open from 1904 to 1943. I haven't found a population listing for it, but 1904 takes us back to gold rush times -- that's a possibility. I live in Richmond, British Columbia (pop. 125,000); my sister used to live in Richmond, Quebec (birthplace of Mack Sennett of Keystone Cops fame); there are another six Richmonds in Canada. There are many more other ambiguities. The involvement of Ontario is not significant; it merely reflects the fact that it is the most populous province.
Your facetious comment elsewhere about Ontario notwithstanding, many of us sometimes want Ontario to go away, but that view is on a par with the view of those Americans who look forward to the time when California will drift off into the Pacific. The simple fact is that Canadians typically refer to their communities in the (city, province) format in much the same way that Americans use the (city, state) format. Using the (city, Canada) format seems like just another American imposition, unless, of course, the format (city, USA) were the standard for unambiguous American names. That latter approach would be clearly impractical. I hope this adequately explains my strong Canadian feelings on this issue.
As much as I really like the new layout for this and similar articles, there are three points that I would like to raise (but without the emotional content of the above. 1. The article title seems unnecessarily long-winded; surely something shorter is available. 2. Using the word "city" for all of these places may not be correct when some of them are much too small to qualify as cities. 3. The latitudes and longitudes are given to five decimal places. That makes the location accurate to the nearest metre! Overkill? Eclecticology, Monday, July 8, 2002

Hum, much to consider. The [City, Nation] format was devised so that countries that do not have hideous internal naming issues like those found in the United States could be named in a consistent and predictable manor. I am open to having Canada lumped in with the US in a [City, State/Province] format if I can be convinced that there are at least several major internal naming conflicts for Canadian cities (there already seems to be a major issue with Richmond). I?ve already worked with a couple of Aussies and have determined that no major internal conflicts exist there, so it appears, at least, that [City, Nation] stands in Australia. Canada could be different ? might be something about North America that encourages the needless reuse of city names? ;-) I do not, however, want to start significantly chipping away at the general [City, Nation] naming convention for increasingly minor internal conflicts (it's bad enough that we've had to do so for the United States). For example, I really don't see the need to have cities in England in a [City, County] format (the English seem to have a better imagination when naming their cities - same for every other European nation I can think of). Like what I stated in wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (city names), all that is needed is the minimum amount of info to disambiguate between internal and external naming conflicts and to make sure naming consistency within a country is preserved (and whatever is determined is the best format for that nation would then be placed in wikipedia:naming conventions).

Other issues: I agree that that title of the list page (not an article mind you) is a bit long winded. But this really shouldn't be a problem because the only place I foresee linking these types of pages would be at Paris, France, London, England, Rome, Italy or any other place where the [City] format page name redirects to the most famous city by that name. I at first had these lists at simply [City/List], but I do hate the look of / pages so I changed it. If you think it would be useful for people to link to these lists directly, then how about [City (list)] (for example, Paris (list)? Whatever we decide to name these lists it is important to be consistent and clearly demarcate them as being lists and not encyclopedia articles.

The precision of the long/lat coordinates is just a carryover from that presented in US Census data I obtained via I think they are of the exact geographic center of places and are also used in all their exactness by a variety of sources (esp. in geographic information systems. I don't see any reason to arbitrarily decrease this precision when the easiest thing to do is just copy the info wholesale - people looking a paper map will only use the number of digits needed to find the place, while others will need the exact center. The 'city' designation is a legal one determined by the US Census and their definition is in-line with the common definition in almost all cases. --maveric149

Thanks Mav for your thoughtful reply. I'm content to limit my pushiness to the Canadian situation for now. Since you've mentioned them the Aussies are big enough to look after themselves. Although I'm not of the opinion that ambiguous names are limited to North America, the other countries that are likely to have that problem are not English speaking. (How many San Juans in a Spanish speaking country?) I'm not about to look for problems in other places just to prove my point. I don't expect difficulties regarding other countries until there is significant participation from them, so their possible problems can be left alone until there is a real need.
One point that I've seen come up with US communities is what to do when there is more than one in the same (e.g. about 100 Centervilles with 8 of them in Pennsylvania alone). I would suggest the format {Place, County, State} for those situations where there is more than one place with the same name in the same state.
The longitude/latitude issue was more in the way of an observation, than a proposal for action. The "city" issue too is not a big one. I've looked at the US Census Bureau site, and perfectly understand your approach, even if it does seem odd that a village of 2,000 people can be called a city. Nevertheless some of the Paris' in the list do not shown as cities, and I would propose only the minor change in the heading from "Cities in the US" to "Places in the US"
The {Name (list)} format strikes me as an improvement, There are aspects of this issue where one use of the term is ovewrwhelmingly common that are fluid in my own mind, so I'll reserve further comments until a later time. Eclecticology, Tuesday, July 9, 2002

OK, at this point it will take little convincing to get me to change the convention for Canada and make a modified proposal to the list. But I still am hesitant until I see more evidence for internal ambiguities within Canada. If there are a lot of these types of naming conflicts, then Canada would have to follow [Place, Province] format for all city articles. However, if this is only an issue with a small minority of cities, then we could maintain the general [Place, Nation] format and disambiguated the resulting ambiguities as [Place, Province, Nation] (disambiguating at [Place, Nation]).

Now, the left side of my brain wouldn't like that approach if it affected more than say half a dozen or so somewhat, at least, important cities and kinda hopes a more elegant (and actually used by Canadians) format can be used for all Canadian places -- but the right side of my brain needs to be convinced that it is logical to break with the general [City, Nation] convention for Canada (I understand that Canadians refer to their cities/places in the [Place, Province] format but Europeans use only [City] and hardly ever anything else -- we all can't be totally happy and also have consistant naming conventions).

Your [Place, County, State] idea for multiple places with the same name in the same state seems reasonable (there shouldn't be many of these that will ever become encyclopedia articles -- alternatively, we could use [{City of X}, State], [{Township of X}, State] or [{Village of X}, State] and then disambiguate - either by block or full - at [{X}, State]).

This city naming issue is far more complicated than I first thought! --maveric149

A quick look at a postal code directory gave me 8 different names beginning with the letter A that are used at least twice. This, of course, does not include places too small to have their own post office.
With Canada having the second largest land mass in the world simply saying {place, Canada} does not do much to locate a place.
The Washington State Department of Highways does use "Vancouver, B. C." on its highway signs tto distinguish it from Vancouver, Washington. Eclecticology, Wednesday, July 10, 2002
FWIW, I'm interested in the, "What's the city really called?" point raised below (the Paris in France is called Paris, the Paris in the US is called Paris, Texas). Canadians rarely refer to "Toronto, Ontario" or "Montreal, Quebec", although they would refer, for example, to "Sydney, Nova Scotia" or "Kenora, Ontario". Even less would we refer to "Toronto, Canada" or "Montreal, Canada", except maybe to Americans who may be unaware that Quebec is not a state.
I would recommend that "Montreal" be an article, as indeed it is, and if someone insists on making an article about Montreal, Missouri (or Montreal, France), they can go ahead and do so under that name. - montréalais
As an American, I don't normally say the full name "Chicago, Illinois", just as I don't normally say the full name "John Aschcroft". There's essentially only one "Chicago" in my life and only one "Ashcroft", and their importance to me isn't idiosyncratic either. Nevertheless, if somebody says either of these full names, it doesn't sound at all weird, it just sound a little bit more precise. Is "Toronto, Ontario" like that to Canadians, or does it just sound wrong as (I've read) "Oslo, Norway" sounds wrong to Europeans? — Toby 21:35 Aug 9, 2002 (PDT)

End Canada city naming issue