Naming pages properly

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Naming Pages Properly


Naming pages properly is important, because naming them improperly makes it difficult to find pages, and also to create other pages which may have similar meanings. This page will talk some about why this is important, and also give some conventions for good naming.

Need help with naming pages properly? Start a new thread in the Wiki Helpdesk forum.

Unique Names

Imagine each page's name is its own telephone number (with area code and country code, of course, because we're an international community!). If your phone number is 1 (555) 555-1212, no one else can have that phone number, right? Because if they did, you'd be sharing a phone line, which is never good for conversation.

So too, here on the Wiki, each page's name is its own unique identifier. Your first priority in naming is always to keep this in consideration.

  • Right: Enterprise shuttlebay
  • Wrong: Shuttlebay

Specificity

Let's use an example here, with my character name: Tristan Wolf. I can be known by any number of variations of this, right? Perhaps "Tristan," or "Wolf," or maybe even by parts of my rank: "Fleet Admiral," or "Admiral." If you're feeling brave, maybe even "Fleet Admiral Tristan Scott Wolf."

Now, our goal in naming a page is first, as we said above, to make it unique. But we also need to make it easy to find the page. Sure, search would probably pull up my page as long as you had one of the variations above in it, but search is inconvenient and sometimes annoying because other responses may come up. So we need to decide what is the best variation to use for simplicity and efficiency.

We need to be careful, however, not to be too specific. While my rank, for example, will not be changing because I can't be promoted any higher, just about everyone else in the club is pretty much guaranteed a promotion at some time in the future. So, we probably don't want to include the "Fleet Admiral" part of the name because we want conformity with others, and others don't want to use their rank because that would mean the page name would have to change in the future, which is always bad.

This leaves "Tristan Scott Wolf," as my character name. We probably don't need to use the "Scott" part, because most people don't know that's my character's middle name. So we're down to "Tristan Wolf." But do we do it forward, or backward?

As such, the general guideline is:

  • Generally, you would title it First Name Last Name like Tristan Wolf
  • If say, your character is a Bajoran, such as Kira Neyrs, even though Kira is the last name, you would title it Kira Neyrs. The same goes for any culture where last name first name is written. (Such as Ishikawa Keiko)
    • Of note, you should probably not include middle names. It is exceedingly unlikely they will be commonly referred by it.
  • For characters that have more specificity about them, you would add it in parenthesis
    • Mirror universe characters get (mirror)
    • Alternate universe characters get (alternate)
    • Clones get (clone x), where x is the number. Try to resist putting descriptors there - for example, if you have Tristan Wolf (good clone), and the clone becomes evil, that name may become confusing!
    • Double characters (such as Bynar) should get something like 11001010 (01010111) to indicate they are a double character.

Lowercase second and subsequent words

Do not capitalize second and subsequent words unless the title is a proper noun (such as a name) or is otherwise almost always capitalized.

  • Right: John Wayne
  • Right: Computer game
  • Wrong: Computer Game

Due to technical limitations inherent to the MediaWiki software, the first letter in an article title always needs to be a capital letter. Ordinarily this isn't a problem, but it poses an issue when a proper noun's first letter is lowercase (for example, eBay).

Prefer singular nouns

In general only create page titles that are in the singular, unless that noun is always in a plural form in English.

  • Right: Scissors
  • Right: Trousers
  • Right: Enterprise shuttlebay
  • Right: Phaser
  • Wrong: Enterprise shuttlebays
  • Wrong: Phasers

Redirect adjectives to nouns

Adjectives (such as democratic) should redirect to nouns (in this case, democracy).

Use gerund of verbs

Use the gerund of verbs (the -ing form in English) unless there is a more common form for a certain verb.

For example, an article on swimming is better than one on swim. The plain form of the verb can be a redirect to the gerund. Existence is an example of such a "more common noun form". (More common than "existing," of course.)

Use English words

Name your pages in English and place the native transliteration on the first line of the article unless the native form is more commonly used in English than the English form.

Use simple titles

Remember that a link is the title of the page it links to. Titles should be as simple as possible without being too general. For example, the page about jazz should simply be called "Jazz", not "Jazz music", because "jazz" does not refer to anything other than music, and the simpler title makes linking easier. Adding the word "music" is redundant. On the other hand, country music should be on a page called Country music because the word "country" has other referents besides the musical genre. If we ignore potential ambiguity, the ideal of simplicity can be at odds with the ideal of precision.

Use common names of persons and things

Use the most common name of a person or thing that does not conflict with the names of other people or things.

Here are some examples:

  • George W. Bush (not "George Walker Bush")
  • Bill Clinton (not "William Jefferson Clinton")
  • Jimmy Carter (not "James Earl Carter, Jr.")
  • Occam's Razor (not "Ockam's Razor")

Middle names should be avoided unless they are the most common form of a name (as in, say, "John Wilkes Booth").

Initials in names should each be followed by a period and a space; for example: "H. G. Wells".

Don't overdo it

In cases where the common name of a subject is misleading (For example: "tidal wave" would be a misleading title since these phenomena have nothing to do with tides), then it is sometimes reasonable to fall back on a well-accepted alternative ("tsunami", for example). Also, some terms are in common usage but are commonly regarded as offensive to large groups of people ("Eskimo" and "Mormon Church", for example). In those cases use widely known alternatives ("Inuit" and "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints"). When in doubt, check a mainstream reference work.

This does not mean that we should avoid using widely known pseudonyms like "Mark Twain", "Marilyn Monroe", "Billy the Kid", or widely known common names of animals and other things. But it does mean that we need to temper common usage when the commonly used term is unreasonably misleading or commonly regarded as offensive to one or more groups of people.

Be precise when necessary

Please, do not write or put an article on a page with an ambiguously-named title as though that title had no other meanings. For example:

  • Apollo -> Apollo program
  • Nirvana -> Nirvana (band)
  • Pipe -> smoking pipe

Prefer spelled-out phrases to acronyms

Avoid the use of acronyms in page naming unless the term you are naming is almost exclusively known only by its acronym and is widely known and used in that form ("laser", "radar", and "scuba" are good examples).

Avoid the definite article ("the") and the indefinite article ("a"/"an") at the beginning of the page name

Except in titles of works ("The Old Man and the Sea", "The Lady or the Tiger?", "A Clockwork Orange") or in official names ("The Hague"), avoid the definite ("the") and indefinite ("a"/"an") articles at the beginning of a page name. This applies even if the subject of the page is usually preceded by the definite article "the" in speech or writing: Thus, for example, "White House" is preferred over "The White House" and "Middle East" is preferred over "The Middle East".

Do not use an article name that suggests a hierarchy of articles

Since Transportation in Azerbaijan could just as well be considered a subdivision of Transport as of Azerbaijan, do not use a name like Azerbaijan/Transportation. Instead, use "Transportation in Azerbaijan", then categorize in "Transportation" and "Azerbaijan".

Be careful with special characters

Some special characters either cannot be used or can but cause problems. For example you should not use a piping character (|), an asterisk (*), an ampersand (&), a plus sign (+), curly braces ({}), or square braces ([]) in a name.

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