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This page is for vetting ideas regarding the conventions or best practices we should provide to help contributors create clear, unambiguous, intuitive titles.

Contents

Decisions made

Ascending order

The vote for using ascending order when adding place names to an article title was 13:3 in favor.

Avoiding abbreviations

The vote for avoiding abbreviations in place names added to an article title was 10:1:1 (in favor:opposed:wanted another solution) in favor of renaming or "moving" any articles that have abbreviated place names.

Using the word "County" in identifying counties

The vote for this was 8:3 in favor.

Using uppercase exclusively

An 8:0 vote was made that if a page's title was exclusively in uppercase, it should be renamed or "moved."

System constraints/behavior

Several constraints of the MediaWiki software that runs this site influence our decisions. They are:

  1. Every title must be unique. The software uses titles as the identifier for each article rather than using some sort of unique identification number. This does not mean that a category and a page cannot have the same title. When a category is created, the string "Category:" is added to the title. Therefore, the system can have a page named "England" and a category named "Category:England."
  2. The Exact Match search, which is the same as Wikipedia's Go search, is case sensitive for all words in the title after the first. So articled titled "Vital Records" and "Vital records" are different to the Exact Match search. For this reason, Wikipedia created a convention whereby all words in a title other than proper nouns must be lowercase. However, Wikipedia uses Go/Exact Match as their search default, where FamilySearch Wiki does not. Therefore, case may not be as big an issue to FamilySearch Wiki.
  3. If there is a page named "Kings County, New York" and a page named "New York," and the user searches on the terms "New York" all the articles whose titles begin with "New York" are listed first in search results and the articles which begin with "Kings County, New York" is listed later. If the Kings County page is named "New York, Kings County," the search results page will have it mixed in with all the articles that begin with the terms "New York."


Decisions Needed

  1. Whether to use jurisdictional identifiers (the word "county," "parish," "township," etc.) in place names.
  2. The number of jurisdictional levels to include in a place title. For example, should one title an article "Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland" or "Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland, United States?"
  3. When to use historical vs. modern names. In covering information on Utah before it became a state, is it wise to create a new article on "Utah Territory, United States?" This may be less an issue of naming conventions than an issue of when to fork an article in two. Therefore, I will probably make this the subject of a new article.
  4. The use of upper or lowercase in titles. Exact Match on this MediaWiki search engine is case sensitive. For that reason, Wikipedia organizers have created a naming convention that all words in the title after the first which are not proper nouns must be lowercase. This site, unlike Wikipedia, uses the case-insensitive Search rather than case-sensitive Go or Exact Match as its default for searches.
  5. The use of special characters, such as commas, colons, parenthesis, and hyphens.
  6. Whether to use abbreviations or acronyms, such as "MD" for Maryland, or "Co." for county.
  7. Whether to name a place in ascending order ("Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland") or descending order "Maryland, Montgomery County, Rockville").


Principles

Musts

  1. Names must be unique to a place. This is enforced by the wikimedia software.
  2. Names must be human readable. Names show in lots of places on the page. People have to know what they are looking at, and make sense of how the page title relates to the place they are looking for.

Shoulds

  1. In writing mailing addresses, users are accustomed to identifying a place from smallest to largest jurisdiction, such as "Rockville, Maryland, United States." Since this pattern is customary, it may be more intuitive for users.
  2. Shorter titles can be better, but only if they help the user understand an article's subject matter without having to read the article. So an article titled "Jefferson," while wonderfully short, would not tell users which of 114 places the article is about.
  3. It can be helpful to users unfamiliar with a place's location to include more jurisdictional handles.
  4. Including all jurisdictional handles in a title tends to result in many undesired search engine results. Thus, if towns are named like "Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland, United States," an article on tax records of the town might be titled "Tax Records of Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland, United States." But under such a system, if a user trying to find United States federal tax records searches "United States tax," the search engine results will list every article on tax records for every town in the U.S. rather than just articles on United States federal tax records.
  5. Names should be computer readable. Generally, if names are human readable, they are also computer readable, but this is not always the case.
  6. Names should include a hierarchy. Hierarchical names facilitate navigation, and also point to higher and lower level places related to the place. For example, the bare name 'Washington' does not indicate whether it is a part of a larger state, or a county, nor does the name indicate if it is a link to a smaller place like a city, or a larger place like a state.
  7. Names should be accessible by the search function. It does no good to name a place a cool name, then prevent users from finding it because the search engine can't.
  8. Names should allow for smaller divisions. Currently, we are looking at states and counties, but we may add cities, wards, districts, neighborhoods, families or other smaller organizations.
  9. Names should allow for dates. Looking for records in NY in 1770 is very different than looking in 1970. This structure should allow that.
  10. Names should be easy to differentiate. A user should not have to look to the 70th character of a name to decide if it is a state, or county.
  11. Names should show in the search page approximately ranked such that a users intended result is very near the top. A search for 'Washington DC' should show the district article in the first few articles listed. If it shows further down, or on additional pages, users will have a hard time finding it.
  12. Name structure should be easy for people to remember. It should be possible for an experienced editor to manually enter a link to an article without having to search the wiki first.


Should Nots

  1. Names should not ignore places outside the US. Eventually we WILL have to build a structure for the whole world.
  2. Names should not show in the search box if they are not relevant to the search entered. Getting a bunch of search results named 'Not Washington DC' is not going to help you find 'Washington DC'. Additionally, including the entire hierarchy in the name of the page may result in getting lots of detailed articles (county and city level) when looking at a much higher lever (federal)
  3. Names should not contain abbreviations or acronyms. Shorter names means fewer characters to differentiate names, and may confuse users.
  4. Names should not contain redundant information. Names like 'Utah County, County, Utah State, State' are hard to read, and difficult to type and search for.

Resources

General

Category:Wikipedia naming conventions
Wikipedia:Naming conventions
Wikipedia:Naming conflict
Wikipedia:Naming conventions (technical restrictions)

Special rules for templates

Spaces in the name are allowed, e.g. {{train topics}}. The first character (only) is not case-sensitive, so {{cleanup}} and {{Cleanup}}are the same template, but {{cfd}}and {{cfD}}are not.

The template name in general should be short. Many on Wikipedia are abbreviations.

Criticism: how are templates used? If this is explained elsewhere perhaps we could have a link?

Special rules for namespaces

Only a system admin can create a namespace. Namespaces should be created only after much discussion. The name should be a single word.
Criticism: A definition of a namespace would be useful to the reader, particularly the new reader.
Headings:
Wikipedia:Manual of Style - Section headings
Help:Section - Creation and numbering of sections

Categories:
Wikipedia:Naming conventions & categories

Proposal to move page to FamilySearch Wiki namespace

This page is a style guideline page and belongs in the FamilySearch Wiki namespace. Are there any objections to moving this page? -Fran 16:09, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

On 8 June 2009 there was a proposal to move this page to the FamilySearch Wiki namespace. The proposal was supported by another user on 16 October 2009. The proposal was posted on the FamilySearch Wiki talk:Manual of Style page. Therefore, I believe this page should be moved ASAP and no further discussion is needed and I will add the "move" template to the page. --Fran 18:09, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
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