Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (settlements)/Archive 2

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(Comments from the Canada bit in the archive that were responses to the below discussion)

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)

I want to state for the record my opposition to the "City, Country" format. It's been mentioned several times around here that people outside the United States don't use this format. It seems to me that the idea here is that we in the US think of the name "Lincoln, Nebraska" much like we think of the name "Abraham Lincoln". "Lincoln" is a first name, and you don't refer to the city by that name alone (except in a specific context, such as within Nebraska) if you want to be understood, anymore than you'd refer to the person as "Abraham" (again except in a specific context, such as within the Lincoln family). I know that I, a native of the US (and of Lincoln, for that matter) think of the comma name as a city's full name in much this way.

In contrast, "Paris, France" is not like this. It is a monster, invented by ignorant Americans, where the French (and the English, for that matter, and this encylcopaedia is as much for the English as for the Americans) say simply "Paris". If there are other "Paris"es (and there are), then we should use Wikipedia's standard disambiguation system, saying "Paris" but linking to Paris (France). And since the French city is the main Paris, we'd actually put the article on Paris alone, with a disambiguation block, not on Paris (France) itself, which is not needed as an example to anybody.

Some will charge that this treats American cities differently. Not so! "Paris" is the full name of the French city, but it is not the full name of the Texan city. The full name of that city is "Paris, Texas". If there were another "Paris, Texas" in, say, Zimbabwe, then we would disambiguate them in the same way as usual, as Paris, Texas (US) and Paris, Texas (Zimbabwe). This is very unlikely ever to happen, but that is a reason to rejoice, not to object.

Presumably there are other countries besides the US where the comma system is used. I believe that Canada is such a country. If Canadians feel that "Edmonton, Alberta" is the full name of a city, while "Edmonton" is not, then their cities can be treated like ours. And again, should those crazy Zimbabweans ever decide to name one of their cities "Edmonton, Alberta", then that necessitates disambiguation as with anything else, although again this is quite unlikely.

Toby 03:34 Aug 9, 2002 (PDT)

Very well put, Toby. A couple of further points: maybe we shouldn't disambiguate until it's necessary: eg Lille -- is there another city named Lille? Secondly, things are getting hairy in the UK -- I have seen pages named "CITY, England" and "CITY, United Kingdom".... eeeek! (and further, there's at least one wikipedian (whose name escapes me) who contests that cities in Cornwall are not strictly in England) -- Tarquin

For consistency's sake, I suggest that ALL cities should be in the city, country format except the American ones since we've already gone through that... There are many entries for smaller towns and cities where there is almost no way to tell what country they're even in, and using the city,country format means that at least you can look at the header and KNOW that Islamabad is in Pakistan and not in Turkey or Iran etc... that's what I'm doing anyway. KJ 05:07 Aug 9, 2002 (PDT)

Why consistency here? I think using common English names is far more important. I agree with Toby: only use disambiguation when necessary. I've previously been under the impression this was agreed "policy", but it appears there has never been any agreement on this.
And just because it's useful to see where a city is from its title isn't a really good argument. Just because George W. Bush (US President, born 1946) gives a lot of information doesn't mean it's a valid article title... Jeronimo 05:18 Aug 9, 2002 (PDT)

Could people please stop moving cities which appear to have a unique name, such as Lille or Cape Town? Let's not disambiguate until we need it. Places like Madrid are showing quite clearly that the "CITY, STATE" page name system breaks easily. Having Madrid, Spain, Madrid (province) and Madrid (autonomous community) is awkward and clumsy -- they are all in Spain, so the first page seems very peculiar in contrast with the other two. -- Tarquin 01:08 Aug 10, 2002 (PDT)

For consistency sake! :) This has all been gone over extensively on the list already. The consensus was that there should be consistency in naming within each nation. What that consistency is will be determined on a case by case basis (Canada is a valid point and I have already made a proposal to the list that maybe the nation should have the [City, Province] format due to internal naming conflicts and Canadian usage -- there was no reply to my question though). The "England" vs "UK" thing was a mistake -- UK is the nation not England (I'm sorry I missed that obvious fact). Besides redirects take care of things like Paris and disambiguation blocks make it obvious that "Paris redirects here" (I don't expect people to use pipes for the famous cities by particular names - just the more obscure ones).

The whole reason there are specific conventions is so that a person wanting to make an article about the Alexandria in Egypt doesn't have to know that there are a couple dozen cities by that name in the world - all they have to know is that the one they are writing about is in Egypt so it should be titled Alexandria, Egypt. And "Texas" is in no way a part of the name of any Texas city I know of -- all it is, is a natural disambiguator (just like "of England" is to Edward I of England). Naming conventions exist to make linking predictable - that's it. And treating the most famous Paris in a similar way as the less famous ones is more NPOV than giving the most famous examples exclusive rights to a name (as if Paris, France owned the name). However reality dictates that we can't be 100% neutral in these matters and have to make redirects for the famous examples -- since they get linked a lot by the [City] format, they get priority over the use of the non-disambiguated title. And if you don't turn the famous cities into examples on how you want most cities titled you don't encourage anybody to title any cities in a naturally disambiguated state to begin with.

Contributors first and foremost follow the examples they see long before they even look at the naming convention page. And of course the most famous cities will be the ones they see and they will (and have) follow that format to name their own hometown. If consistent conventions are followed then everything links, everyone gets to where they need to go and all is peachy. Specific conventions are for certain similar things that have numerous naming conflicts -- such as Monarchs, movies or cities. Without some kind of consistency chaos is the result.

With that said, I am open to a better ideas -- maybe even using parens since LDC has coded the cool pipe trick. So for many nations outside of North America we might have the format; [[Paris (France) | ]] -> [[Paris (France)|Paris]]. But I think this is messy and the pipe trick is non-obvious and most newbies will end up writing the whole thing out (commas are also easier to find for most people on their keyboards and one comma is less to type than two opposing parens -- there is also the issue that so dang many cities are already in the [City, Nation] format, ugh!). There may be the other undesired side-effect that parenthetical disambiguation may become more prevalent where it is not at all needed for disambiguation (remember exclamation mark (punctuation)? Shudder). Anyway, all that is really important is consistency within the nation in question -- but there should be one convention that works in most cases. Power to the Wiki! --mav

While it is quite debatable whether there was any agreement (pointed out by, I think, Brion Vibber earlier somewhere else), consistency is a weird reason. Just because there are some (ok, maybe a lot) of disambiguations to solve here, we just add the format to everything? So then, I propose, we should have pages such as moon (moon), because most other satelletes have to be disambiguated form their name givers. And we should put some field after each person's biography, since there are many people with the same name around. And we should (as pointed out on the talk:history standards) give *all* monarchs the same way of naming. But we're not going to do that, are we?
As for "ease" for newbies: the current format is totally unexplainable (I've tried) to newbies. Jeronimo 02:06 Aug 10, 2002 (PDT)
I've already stated why in great detail above. Names of people are varied enough so that there are not scores of famous people by the same name with just about any name you can think of -- this is the case with city names. As for ease of use for newbies -- I've seen quite a few pick up the conventions very quickly after seeing the example of Paris, France. As I said I am open to Paris (France) as a possibility. There are many other points I made above. --mav

First, let me explain why I made this comment. I only saw the tail end of the debate on the mailing list, and I didn't participate. But I thought that the Americans were pushing for the comma convention without paying much attention to the objections of Europeans that said that it sounded strange to them and wasn't used. I thought that the issue had been settled then, however wrongly, and I never expected to spark debate here. I just wanted to set the objection down here since there was no mention of it on the page. (The page noted some dissent, but none this far reaching.)

However, now that debate has been sparked, I should reply to mav. Most of what mav writes doesn't really apply, of course, because it's predicated on the assumption that "Paris, France" and "Oslo, Norway" are reasonable names. But that's precisely what's at issue; Europeans have written that they aren't. If we do go with the comma convention, then of course we put the article for Paris at Paris, France, and of course Paris gets redirect priority, and of course we make exceptions on a country by country basis to include regions within a country instead of whole countries. I'm not arguing with that — if "Paris, France" is the way to go in the first place.

OTOH, if the comma convention is bad and we go with the usual disambiguation practice (which is, after all, the most globally consistent, as somebody pointed out on the mailing list I believe), then Paris (France) is on the same level as worm (biology), which is to say, silly. The ordinary worm is biological, just as the ordinary Paris is French. Just as worm mentions computer worms at the top in a disambiguation block, so Paris would mention other cities and the Trojan at the top. Indeed, it's things like worm (biology) that inspire nonsense like exclamation mark (punctuation). Showing good examples of disambiguators used when needed and not used when not needed is the way to teach people to use them properly.

As for whether "Texas" is part of the name of Paris, Texas, I can only repeat that "Paris, Texas" sounds to me, a native American, just like the full name of a person. "Paris, Texas, USA" sounds off, and "Paris, Lamar, Texas" is just wrong. But "Paris, Texas" has a certain ring of correctness to it, as does "Lincoln, Nebraska" and even "Chicago, Illinois". If mav doesn't see things this way, then I can hardly argue against him on the basis of reason. But if it's true that "Paris" alone is the full name of the Texan city, then consistency with Wikipedia's normal disambiguation practice still requires Paris (Texas). Not that that's much of an argument, but there it is.

Toby 05:09 Aug 10, 2002 (PDT)

Very well reasoned. I will put some thought into this since my previous very strong objection to parenthetical disambiguation was a motivating factor behind the particular comma convention. However with Lee's pipe trick parentheticals are no longer so tedious. But then there is the issue of actual need... On the other hand, we shouldn't use the fact that because Europeans don't use commas the way Americans do that that is reason enough not to use them. Usage by the totality of all native English speakers is more important than regional differences.

It was my impression from what I remembered of discussion before that English speaking Europeans (that is, residents of England and its neighbours to the north and west) were precisely the people complaining that they didn't use the comma convention. We really need some Brits (etc) to speak up here!Toby

Remember also that within the context of Europe there is no question which city London is or Paris while in the US these names are used in half the states (this is even more important for the non-famous examples). So a balance has to be drawn between all the different considerations; what would be usable by a majority of English speakers, what is linkable in a predictable way, and making sure articles are named in such a way that they are naturally disambiguated (exm: George H. W. Bush vs. George W. Bush).

The trouble is we can't agree on what is most natural. For North Americans (who are used to numerous naming conflicts) the comma convention works perfectly fine for all cities. Much of the rest of the doesn't have any where near the amount of naming conflicts so the [city] convention is desired

But Europe does have such naming problems! And they seem to use rivers to do their disambiguation. Certainly this is used in France and Germany (not English speaking countries, but do Brits follow suit?), and everybody's heard of "Stratford-upon-Avon". Asssuming that this is standard English practice and not just some conceit (again we need Brits to weigh in!), then why use the American convention instead of the British? We should say "Paris, Texas" and "Stratford-upon-Avon", and these are our natural disambiguators. There's no rule that says that all natural disambiguators must look alike; "Bruce Lee" and "Lee Teng-Hui" are both disambiguations of "Lee", but we don't expect them to put "Lee" in the same spot. — Toby

But when you try to throw all those [city] names in one box there is bound to be trouble. The rest of the world normally doesn't have to deal with these type of naming conflicts so they have not devised a consistent method of preemptively disambiguating cities. But here in Wikipedia all these articles have to live side-by-side so the naming conflicts that exist in North America now affect the whole world -- thus the need for a consistent way to name city articles. --mav

First as the one who first raised the [Paris, Lamar, Texas] format I agree that it would usually be wrong. It's purpose was intended only for those situations when a name is used more than once in the same state. That does happen!
In the "comma vs. Parentheses" issue I would ask whether this is in fact a North America / Europe issue or is it an English / non-English usage issue. When the use of Canadian province names came up I understood that commas were the appropriate format. This is the typical English Canadian format. French Canadian publications use the parenthesis format, and a lot of Federal government publications will often show both forms of an address on the same page.
One of the key rules that we all accept here is that this is an English language encyclopedia. I've just looked up address formats for organizations in Australia, South Africa, India and Malaysia (all politically subdivided English speaking countries) and none of them use parentheses in their addresses. The more I look at this, the more it seems that the use of parentheses this way is an EU peculiarity. Eclecticology 13:05 Aug 10, 2002 (PDT)

I'm not sure links can ever be predictable -- I recently spotted an unlinked reference to the 1870 Franco-Prussian Was, and I had to do a search to check the capitalization, presence of a hyphen, etc. I very often see a term and know I've seen a page on it, but I have to go hunting for the link. -- Tarquin 13:32 Aug 10, 2002 (PDT)

This should go into the 'Naming conventions (city names)' talk page, but that's grown so big I cannot edit it.

I think that the problem is that different people have different ideas as to what is "most natural". Europeans have trouble with "Paris, France" while Americans, used to there being a multitude of Parises and Viennas, find it much more natural. In the Washington, D.C. area, anyone talking about "Vienna" with no qualifier would much more likely mean Vienna, Virginia than Vienna, Austria. People in Europe, relatively close to Vienna, Austria, obviously mean it when they say "Vienna," since the other Viennas are an ocean's width away.

But I think a lot more damage is caused by "Paris" redirecting to (or containing) an article about Paris, France with only a mere footnote saying that there are all these other Parises, than by its being a disambiguation page that says something like "Paris generally refers to Paris, France. There are also Paris, Kentucky, Paris, Texas, ..."

As to such possibilities as "Paris, Texas, United States of America" I would not have any problem with the convention going that way. Remember, by using brackets and pipes (or or-bars) you can make the text of the article say simply "Paris" (whether, from context, you mean the one in Texas, the one in Kentucky, or the one in France!) so the length of the article name is not that significant. If "Paris" were a properly-prepared disambiguation page, only one more mouse click would get you to the right one anyway.

We don't want people to go to disambiguation pages; that's why the creators of disambiguation pages are supposed to disambiguate all of their articles. Nobody will ever be able to link to Paris, Texas as simply Paris. And using pipes is annoying -- unless you use parentheses, because we have a trick for that. This is an argument for using parentheses.
But there is an additional squabble, and that's over what to call the article itself. I argue that Paris should refer to the city in France for the same reason that worm should refer to the animal.

But I'd suggest that for the US, Canada, and any other federal countries that commonly use state/province names, the "City, State/Province" form be used, while for all others the "City, Country" form would be. If I were running things, I'd go with "City, State/Province, Country" but I know nobody else seems to like that.

-- BRG

Much of the above seems reasonable to me BRG. I also think you pretty much have succinctly hit the nail on the head far better than I; Americans and Canadians are used to naming conflicts and we have devised a way to deal with that in a sane mannor, while Europe doesn't have to deal with this as much. Your last paragraph has finally convinced me to fully advocate the use of [City, Province] for Canada and maybe some other countries (I find your mention of "federal countries" intriguing and that may be a good way to sort these things out). However the [City, State, Nation] format might be a bit much (the "Nation" part not ever being needed for disambiguation). Redirects are for more or less backwards compatibility and convenience and the disambiguation block format at the top of articles is minimally obtrusive and doesn't force those that are lost to go to the end of the article. --mav

I'm still not convinced that we should be consistent; in fact, we're not. The USA and Canada have [City, State/Province], the rest has [City, Nation]. That is not consistent. So why trying to force "consistency" for these [City, Nation] when not needed. Something related: what to do with the proposed format if [City, State] or [City, Nation] is not sufficient? I know there are some US states with two towns of the same name, and these are more numerous in other countries, even though not that problematic as in the US? Jeronimo

Have you read everything that has been said since your last message? I personally am intrigued by the idea of treating federal nations in the [City, State/Province] format and unitary nations in the [City, Nation] format (for English speaking countries at least). The fact still remains that having a whole bunch of things with the same name forces us to disambiguate those things. The most fair way to do this is to treat everything within that group of things in a similar and consistant way (consistency being within the borders of the nation in question).
Also important is that we find a way to naturally disambiguate titles -- now Europe, especially non-English speaking Europe, hasn't really had to deal with naming conflicts like the US or Canada has so a natural way of disambiguating city names never developed. The main reason why naming conflicts are not such a problem to warrent natural disambiguation is because most nations in Europe are unitary (correct me if I am wrong), has their own languages and has named their cities in those languages. Therefore naming conflicts within each nation are relatively rare and since each nation has its own language (with a few exceptions) then naming conflicts between nations within Europe are rare.
That's why Europeans think its odd to have the UK after London -- because within Europe there is really only one London to speak of. But this encyclopedia is not just for Europeans -- it is for the entire English speaking world. Now when you place those European names in the same box as say the 12 or so other London's outside of Europe then you have to disambiguate (preferably in a natural and consistent way). And since a very large number of city names in Europe are used elsewhere this leads to systemic naming conflict -- thus the use of the natural method of disambiguation already in wide use in North America. --mav
Yes, I've read the stuff in between, but haven't really found a real answer to my questions. I agree that Europe doesn't really have the problem of disambiguation like in some other places, though that need not have to do with the unity/federation thing. In France, there's tons of places with the same name, but they've all included (at some point) some disambiguatory notice, such as Bouillabasse-sur-Seine or Villeneuve-en-Provence (or whatever). The point seems that most colonists and discoverers were little imaginative when finding new land and places, naming them after their cities or countries, although this does not explain all differences. Also, a federation like Germany hasn't got that many dupblicates, with the Frankfurts being differed on basis of the river they're on.
The fact that many US/Canadian/etc. towns, villages and hamlets have the same name as towns in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, etc. still doesn't give need for formatting everything in the [x, y] way. There's no "The Hague" in the USA, nor a Beijing in Malaysia or a Cape Town on Cape Horn. So why include the country name there?
Consistency would be to follow common Wikipedia principles followed throughout the site:
  • use the most common name
  • if there are more subjects with the same name disambiguate. Use natural disambiguators if possible, otherwise parenthesis.
  • if one of the disambiguated subjects really is THE subject most people will expect there (making for a lot of links to the disambiguation page), consider to put that subject there with a brief mention of the other articles.
In this case:
  • use the plain name of the city as an article
  • in case there's more towns on this earth with the same name, disambiguate. Common US practice is to have [City, State] - that's a great disambiguator. We could even decide to use it in all cases (so even for the non-US towns) and even for all US towns that don't need disambiguation
  • in the case of Paris, Athens, London, Rome, Sydney, etc: use the block-format or some similar solution (I'd even prefer no redir to Paris, France, but that's just a matter of personal taste, and I don't really care).
Since this topic is so controversial, we may consider to set up a vote or something? Jeronimo

What shouldn't be missed here is that there are thousands of disambiguations that will have to be done individually if we allow the [City] convention to continue. My point is to avoid this by preemptively disambiguating all cities -- we shouldn't expect a person writing an article on the Oakland in California to know that there are over 20 Oaklands in the US alone and then have to research whether the Californian Oakland is the Oakland and should therefore exist at simply Oakland. It is far simpler to naturally disambiguate that city to Oakland, California. What really is wrong with having the most famous Paris at Paris, France and have Paris be an obvious redirect to that Paris for backwards compatibility? Paris, France does not own the word "Paris", why should it not be disambiguated just like the other Paris's and not to mention the Trojan? --mav

For the same reason that worm should not be a disambiguation page. In a generic context, there is a primary meaning of "Paris", and in a generic context, there is a primary meaning of "worm". Of course, you might argue that this just isn't true of "Paris", but if so, then the current system in which Paris redirects to Paris, France is wrong. Redirect priority, as such, is necessary when there is naming priority to begin with, as is the case with worm. (Of course, if Paris, France is the correct title for other reasons, such as because we decide to keep the comma convention, then this doesn't apply, and I realise that this is much of what we're discussing now. But the fairness argument is not an issue.) — Toby

Nobody that ever writes an article about someting actually has to know whether there are more similarly titled articles. If I write an article about nirvana with it's meaning in Buddhism, and I don't know about the rock band (or two, now I read the article), that's fine. Somebody else that does know about it can later make the disambiguation page (or not, as in this case). In the case we use the [City, Nation] format, however, a person is almost obliged to also create a disambiguation page called Oakland (to take your example here), because otherwise people may link to that page, find no article and write a new one themselves. As for the rules of disambiguation, I only take the ones from disambiguation: "If there is clearly one most important or central meaning of a term, the simple title can contain the full article on that topic (or be redirected to it) as well contain pointers to the other senses, which should appear at the top of the article if possible." That's clearly the case with Paris and others. Jeronimo 23:41 Aug 11, 2002 (PDT)

How's about we get rid of the whole problem with the titles and move disambiguation to the background? Is it perhaps an idea to make every contested title appear the same, but with a hidden component that diambiguates the different pages? I would imagine this would involve a special character that makes the identifying part of the title disappear in the visible table. E.g. [[Paris #France#]] would link to an article called "Paris" about the French capital. A link like [[Paris #Texas#]] would refer to a page called "Paris" about the Texan town. I realise this would require more maintenance on the part of editors, but this could all be explained on the disambiguation page, where the singular name would refer to (in this case [[Paris]] would be a disamb page). This may of course also force editors to make the correct link, as long as they bother to check their own links ;)
I don't see what the difference is between [[Paris #France#]] and the current [[Paris (France)|]], except that you add another level of complexity to the wiki language to get the comma instead of the parenthesis. — Toby
The difference is that the article would simply appear to be called "Paris", not "Paris, France" or "Paris (mythology)". The idea is to make disamb invisible to the reader and only give smaller hints outside the title to the other instances of the name. -Scipius
That's exactly what happens already with [[Paris (France)|]]. It looks like this: Paris. — Toby 22:46 Aug 14, 2002 (PDT)
This likely isn't a completely ideal situation; I can imagine there being cases where concepts are so similar, yet different that a full title would be needed (like Limburg, or possibly some administrative divisions named after their principal city). But it would get rid of situations where two concepts have the same name, but are wholly different and not related. Maybe we could have some small links in the top or bottom of the page (similar to the other language wikis) to concepts that some may confuse? Anyway, just a thought. -Scipius
Your idea does sound interesting but it is also non-obvious. Perhaps some character can be used to mark-out part of link from being displayed within an article; Thus [[Paris#, France]] would automatically be converted to [[Paris, France|Paris]] when the article is previewed or saved. --mav
Good point, the masking of the disamb could probably best start right at the link, if this method would be clearly explained on the Edit Help page of course. Please note, the choice of # was unintentional, I have no idea what character would best be used -Scipius

I've said it before and I'll say it again - CONSISTENCY AND USABLE INFORMATION IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING! Ignore the fact that there may be one city named Paris or ten thousand. That doesn't really matter... If somebody were to look at the wikipedia and see an entry labelled 'Paris' they might not know where it actually was without reading the article carefully. But if they see Paris, France then they KNOW!

I agree with Jeronimo's reply to this when you first mentioned it. Article titles shouldn't fit in all the information that they can; that's the job of articles. If somebody writing an article on the Olympics doesn't remember where Lillehammer is, then they should still be able to link to Lillehammer. And if somebody reading the article wants to know where Lillehammer is, then they can just follow the link to its own article, just as they would do if they wanted to know what elevation it is (which is just as relevant to an article on the Winter Olympics!). — Toby

And if they really wanted a different Paris well then they don't need to read that particular article. For that matter, if I was looking for 'Paris' I'd expect to find an entry on the Greek hero. He was the first 'owner' of the name... Paris the city came much later. If you put Paris the city under 'Paris' then where does the article on Paris the Greek hero go? Also, I very much doubt that anyone's going to sit there making useful entries on every tinpot country hamlet in the world, or even just in the USA. I keep on seeing people saying 'but X or Y or Z HAS to be in the wikipedia because it's important American information'. There's more to the world than just the US of A. As it stands, the entries on many US counties are totally and utterly useless because they don't contain any information. But that's moving to another debate... KJ 23:45 Aug 11, 2002 (PDT)

That argument works at least as well in the other direction: Suppose I want to know things about Paris, then I look up the Wikipedia page on Paris. But if the text is under Paris, France, I will not find any. So basically the question Where is Paris? could not be answered by Wikipedia - you'd have to know the country before you could look. And in some cases someone may have interesting information on a city without even knowing in which country it is - especially with historic information. In general, the [City, Country] format is in my opinion a good format, but should only be used for disambiguation. As long as there is only one use of the name in Wikipedia, there is no reason to add the , Country part.Andre Engels
As for consistency: show me this is consistent, please, because I don't see it (see my earlier talk entries). And for information: yes, we should include information in the article in stead of having stub articles. But no in the title. Just because not everybody knows that Eritrea is a country means that we should include that in the title like Eritrea (country) or Eritrea (Africa) or whatever. That's just silly. Jeronimo 23:54 Aug 11, 2002 (PDT)

We keep on using the example of Paris here - yet there are obviously many things named Paris. In Europe Paris is meant to unambiguously mean Paris, France. In Southern California Paris is a Californian city, in an article on mythology Paris is unambiguously a Trojan. You see in different contexts the term can mean different things. Therefore all those things should be disambiguated in order to estabish context. (and establishing context is a centraly important naming convention). Nuff said. --mav

I'm not saying we shouldn't disambiguate. Just saying we should follow current disambiguation rules as layed out at Wikipedia:disambiguation. And if it happens that the Paris in France is cannot be reasonably established as THE Paris, I'm cool with that, and we'll have a disambiguation page, with a link to Paris (France) or Paris, France and to all the other Parises. That's the normal way of dealing with disambiguation. But I say we should not disambiguate when there's nothing to disambiguate. If there's just one thing on the world called X, there's no reason calling it X (city) or X (person) or X (whatever). And that's what the city naming convention proposes. So having a page called Paris, France or London, United Kingdom is fine, because there are obviously other uses of the name. But not for Beijing, Kuala Lumpur or Cape Town. Jeronimo
Hear, hear!Andre Engels

Scotland, England, Wales and NI bear the same relationship to the UK as the various states bear to the US or provinces bear to Canada. Thus, it's inconsistent to say London, Ontario and not London, England. But then I'm not sure why consistency is a big issue here. Why should anyone care whether we use commas or brackets, state names of country names. The important point is disambiguation, not consistency, so we should just use whatever disambiguating feature is most natural in the context, whether nation, province or county. Reading the article should clear up any minor confusion caused by the title. After all, if the wiki software allowed forty articles all called Paris, there would be no problem. -- Derek Ross

OK, let me summarise the issues in the debate, and my opinions on them.

  1. Do we write Canadian cities in the same way as US ones, whatever that may be? I think that everybody agress yes. So we shouldn't have to talk about this, and we move on.
  2. Do we use parentheses or commas for ambiguous cities like the Memphis in Egypt? Mav may be coming around to saying that we should use parentheses. Let's assume that we decide to go with this. Then:
  3. Do we continue to use commas for cities like Memphis, Tennessee? I say yes, and I say that this is not inconsistent with Memphis (Egypt), because the disambiguation is being done at the level of the country.
  4. Do we use disambiguation for cities like Lillehammer that have no ambiguity problems? I say no, because Lillehammer (Norway) would be as evil as exclamation mark (punctuation).
  5. Finally, how do we denote the Paris in France? I am myself undecided, but I see two possibilities:
    1. The French city gets priority on the name. Then its article is at Paris, and this has a disambiguation block, and other Paris's use commas (that natural disambiguator) if they are North American cities and parentheses if there is no natural disambiguator.
    2. They're all on the same level. Then the French city is at Paris (France), and Paris is a disambiguation page.
This is simply a decision as to whether Paris is more like worm or more like analysis. But what is not a good option IMO is the current situation where Paris redirects to (in effect) Paris (France), claiming that Paris has some priority over the name, but not complete priority. We don't need those sorts of fine distinctions.
I agree - the current situation means that someone who is looking for some other Paris will end up on a page called Paris, France; not a desirable situation, in my opinion. Andre Engels
I don't see why - the author of the original article should have the wit to know that the most common referent of Paris is Paris, France, and write their links accordingly. It would be the height of arrogance/foolishness to have just a bland Paris and think that that should go straight to Paris, Texas.
(A foolishness I'm guilty of myself - I mentioned Cornwall in an article on the Saint Lawrence River, forgetting that the Cornwall in Britain is the more common referent. Mercifully, someone changed it to Cornwall, Ontario.) - montréalais

Please note that much of this list is predicated on the assumption that we choose to go with parentheses for disambiguation at the level of countries. I do agree that, if we use commas at that level, so that even Lillehammer is at best a redirect to Lillehammer, Norway, then the current set up for Paris is correct (at least assuming that we would choose item 5.1 had we gone with the parentheses). — Toby 03:54 Aug 12, 2002 (PDT)

I'm completely with you, Toby. The above is completely according to the current disambiguation "policy", with an additional naming convention that US and Canadian cities are disambiguated using the state as a natural disambiguator. As for the decision between 5.1 or 5.2, that should be decided on a case to case basis, as you also point out. Jeronimo
Someone asked above about how Canadians really call their towns. We usually say Toronto, but Toronto, Ontario often appears in such things as addresses or datelines of letters to the editor. It's not as obviously wrong as, say, Madrid, Madrid, Spain.
Here's a question: previous discussion of "federal states" has hinged around Canada and the US. But would we say Sydney, Australia or Sydney, New South Wales?
Finally, I don't think there's anything wrong with a link to Madrid giving Madrid, Spain. Anyone providing a link in an article to Madrid, New York should have the wit to realize there's a more famous Madrid out there and write the link as Madrid, New York or at least Madrid.
Furthermore, I think the argument that it should not be Madrid, Spain because the other Madrids (the province and the autonomous community) are also in Spain is specious. Nobody ever means the province or the autonomous community when they say "Madrid, Spain." (Does anyone even say "Asturias, Spain", or "Galicia, Spain?") Hell, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say "New Brunswick, Canada" by itself.) - montréalais
But if you use that argument, using "Madrid, Spain" for the city is also a bad idea - At least I would be looking strange at anyone using this to denote the city. -- Andre Engels
Right, which is why we're sort of compromising now - Madrid points at Madrid, Spain. The city is the most common referent of both Madrid and Madrid, Spain, so it has precedence for the term Madrid over Madrid, New York, and it has precedence for the term Madrid, Spain over Madrid (autonomous community). That's the practical effect of the structure we have now. - montréalais