FamilySearch Wiki:Disambiguation

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Disambiguation in FamilySearch Research Wiki is the process of resolving conflicts in Wiki article titles that occur when a single term can be associated with more than one topic, making that term likely to be the natural title for more than one article. In other words, disambiguations are paths leading to different articles which could, in principle, have the same title.

For example the word Delaware may be of interest to genealogists as an American Indian tribe, that tribe's language, a United States colony-state, county, town, township, river, or a river cut through a mountain.

There must then be a way to direct the reader to the correct specific article when an ambiguous term is referenced by linking, browsing or searching; this is what is known as disambiguation. In this case it is achieved using the Delaware (disambiguation) page.

Two methods of disambiguating are discussed here:

  • disambiguation links – at the top of an article (hatnotes), that refer/link the reader to other Wiki articles with similar titles or concepts.
  • disambiguation pages – non-article pages that refer/link readers to other Wiki articles.

Deciding to disambiguate

Disambiguation is required whenever, for a given word or phrase on which a reader might use the "Go button", there is more than one Wiki article to which that word or phrase might be expected to lead. In this situation there must be a way for the reader to navigate quickly from the page that appears on hitting "Go" to any of the other possible desired articles.

There are three principal disambiguation scenarios, of which the following are examples:

  • The page at Georgia is a disambiguation page, leading to all the alternative family history uses of "Georgia".
  • The page at Iowa is about one usage, called the primary topic, and there is a hatnote guiding readers to Iowa (disambiguation) to find the other uses.
  • The page at New Brunswick is about the primary topic and there is only one other genealogical use. The other use is linked directly using a hatnote; no disambiguation page is needed.

Is there a primary topic?

When there is a well-known primary topic for an ambiguous family history term, name or phrase, much more used than any other topic covered in Research Wiki to which the same word(s) may also refer (significantly more commonly searched for and read than other meanings), then that term or phrase should either be used for the title of the article on that topic or redirect to that article. If the primary topic for a term is titled something else by the naming conventions, then a redirect for the term is used. Any article which has primary usage for its title and has other uses should have a disambiguation link at the top, and the disambiguation page should link back to the primary topic.

Disambiguation page or disambiguation links?

If there are three or more topics associated with the same term, then a disambiguation page should normally be created for that term (in which case disambiguation links are desirable on the specific topic articles – see below). If only a primary topic and one other topic require disambiguation, then disambiguation links are sufficient, and a disambiguation page is unnecessary. However if there are two topics for a term but neither is considered the primary topic, then a disambiguation page is used.

For more about disambiguation links, see Disambiguation links below. For rules about naming disambiguation pages and combining similar terms on a single page, see Disambiguation pages.

Disambiguation links

Users searching for what turns out to be an ambiguous genealogical term may not reach the article they expected. Therefore any article with an ambiguous title should contain helpful links to alternative Research Wiki articles or disambiguation pages, placed at the top of the article (hatnotes). Always indent such notes. The format the hatnote disambiguation link could take should be either:

This article is about [brief description of TOPIC]. For other uses, see [TOPIC] (disambiguation).
This article is about [brief description of TOPIC#1]. For [brief description of TOPIC#2], see [TOPIC#2].

For an example of the first kind of disambiguation link (used when there is a disambiguation page), see Iowa County, Wisconsin.  For an example of the second kind of disambiguation link (when a disambiguation page is not used), see New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Disambiguation pages

Combining terms on disambiguation pages

A single disambiguation page may be used to disambiguate a number of similar family history terms.

When a combined disambiguation page is used, hatnotes should be set up from all the Wiki pages involved.

Naming the disambiguation page

The title of a disambiguation page is the ambiguous term itself, provided there is no primary topic for that term, as in Georgia. If there is a primary topic, then the tag "(disambiguation)" is added to the name of the disambiguation page, as in Delaware (disambiguation).

When a disambiguation page combines several similar terms, one of them must be selected as the title for the page (with the "(disambiguation)" tag added if a primary topic exists for that term).

Page style

Each disambiguation page comprises a list (or multiple lists, for multiple senses of the term in question) of similarly-titled links.

  • Link to the primary topic (if there is one):
Alabama, a southern state of the United States
  • Start each list with a short introductory sentence fragment with the title in bold, and ending with a colon. For example:
Alabama may refer to:
  • Try to start each entry in the list with a link to the target page.
  • Each bulleted entry should, in almost every case, have exactly one navigable (blue) link; including more than one link can confuse the reader.

Add a template to show page status

Include the template {{Disambig}} on the page as an indicator of the page's status.

Template position

Position the {{Disambig}} template at the bottom of the screen.

Related pages

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