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I'm not sure that i understand the reason for this particular discussion. This strikes me as a very theoretical problem from when the site first started up. Since then the Founder has gone in one direction, and this site has gone in another. If it was just the discussion here, then it wouldn't really matter, but the discussion has gotten included into the article itself, where it seems irrelevant. Any thoughts on killing the portion of the article itself concerned with "multipurpose names such as Adam"? Right now it seems to distract from the real issues of "Naming Conventions". Bill 16:13, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

Trimming now done (yesterday). Thanks for encouraging the tidy-up. Robin Patterson 01:00, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
I was somewhat uncomfortable trimming this myself, as it amply predates my involvement in the wiki. Given the extensive discussion, it seemed important to someone(s) at sometime, just didn't see the relevance now. Since the thrust of this is preserved in the discussion, I thought it reasonable to remove it from the actual article. Just didn't feel comfortable doing it myself. When and if we ever get the "portal" thing working right, we probably need a portal for religious lineages---of all stripes. Would be paralleled I suppose by "political leaders lines of succession". Bill 01:08, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

Multipurpose names, such as "Adam"[]

(Discussion copied from Project page on 17 December 2005 then got another paragraph written here before saving; refer to that page's history up till then.)

Statement of possible problem[]

We have a page for the original "Adam". OK so far.

Soon, however, someone with an interest in that first name and/or the matching surname may want to create a separate article about it, along the lines of "Khan" and "Ferguson". Which one gets the plain single four-letter word as its page name?

Can we make a universal "rule" for it (to minimise confusion and rewriting)?

Much of this initial offering can be relegated to its Talk page once we firm up some rules.

Option 1: let the person have the simple page name[]

Following one of the Wikipedia principles, calling something by its common name, I suggest that the individuals have precedence. So we leave Adam the progenitor as "he" is, and create (linked from his page by a sort of disambiguation note (a standard Wikipedia template, which I can't immediately put my finger on)) a page called something like "Adam (name)". A bit like "Adam Surname", but I think it would be too confusing if we made it just "Adam Name" or even "Adam name".

If there were a single famous person named "Khan" we would thereby need to change our current "Khan" page to "Khan (name)". Maybe we should do it anyway to minimise confusion. Do it as a redirect so that users can still just type Khan for a link. Then if that single famous "Khan" person ever materialises and needs his or her own page we can just rewrite the redirect to cover him or her with the "disambig" note at the top just as for Adam (and gradually rewrite the links that said "Khan").

Option 2: rename "Adam" as "Adam (person)" or "Adam (Bible)" or "Adam (?-?)" or ...[]

Not very comfortable-looking? Some have obvious distinctions possible, such as the recently-created Lamech (son of Methuselah)", so that the problem won't affect them. But most aren't going to be so easy.

I vote for option 1.

Robin Patterson 00:28, 20 Oct 2005 (UTC)

Comments/votes/queries[]

(How might this fit in with your GEDCOM program, Brian?)

The Gedcom has a master list of surnames. This is translating into the Surname pages. But generally there is no information on the name apart from what is in the notes field. Gedcom is more interested in linkages between individuals. These end up relating to the URL links on the web site. Yewenyi 10:52, 3 Dec 2005 (UTC)

Robin Patterson 00:28, 20 Oct 2005 (UTC)

I've been wondering about this too. Since Adam is such a common name, it would be helpful to have an identifier, but there's no obvious one that won't lead to confusion for anyone searching for his page. I say, go with option 1.
Since we're on the subject, do you think my current way of differentiating Biblical figures is sustainable? It's somewhat difficult when there are no reliable dates. - Mu Cow 01:03, 21 Oct 2005 (UTC)
My mention (above) of your "Lamech (son of Methuselah)" was meant to be with approval. So keep it up! One day you may find there are two people called Joshua (Son of X) and then you can change one of them; it's easy enough to change page names, as I think you know. Robin Patterson 04:52, 21 Oct 2005 (UTC)

I think that the whole idea of Adam Surname was just to provide a list. The issue of where to store the history was not resolved. One of the problems is that there can be many spellings. So Reed and Reid are in some, but not all cases, just different spellings of the same name. Also names like De Harley were shortened as per the fashion of the time to Harley. So even if you have a name, it can be confusing where to record it. Yewenyi 10:50, 3 Dec 2005 (UTC)

If you look at Wikipedia, they have also dealt with the problem of multiple things with the same name with with ship names. So you end up with many ships called Enterprise. You need to add the bit in brackets to differentiate. It is not elegant, but it works. Individuals can have single names. The brackets are needed to differentiate. If there are no years, as in the case of your biblical adam, then Adam (Bible) is a good option. Yewenyi 10:50, 3 Dec 2005 (UTC)

The Adam in the bible is not a surname. It is a given name. I have always wondered if we should have another category of Adam Given Name. Surnames in England did not commonly exist until the 1200's (if my memory is correct). In other countries, it was much later and in some, they are still uncommon. Also, in some cultures, people have different names at different times of life. This is particularly so in Asia. So in the end I think a pragmatic approach is needed. No one approach can work everywhere. Disambiguation and link pages will probably always be a necessary evil. Yewenyi 10:50, 3 Dec 2005 (UTC)

Now MC has given us another potential ambiguity: Salmon. Unlike Adam, that name would not have most English-speaking adults thinking of the Biblical one. They will think of the surname when the word has its initial capital, and if they want the surname and "Go" for it here using just the single word they will be disconcerted and will certainly want a disambiguation link at the top of the page. So I'd better look at disambiguation-type templates to simplify our job. Robin Patterson 03:33, 17 Dec 2005 (UTC)


Despite a line urging people to continue the discussion on this project page, some contributors added more to the Watercooler in mid-2006. Here it is, moved from there in September 2006:


Was a rule ever created for this? Because the decision is "upon us" as they say, with the recent creations of more single-name pages. My suggestion is Adam (Bible) or Noah (Bible) As a further note, I suggest that someone may eventually want to do a page for Jesus, and that, I suggest, should be named Jesus (Bible), since "Jesus" ("hey-ZOOS") is a Latin name that could be confused with the Biblical one, the same as other Biblical names could be. - Nhprman 20:35, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
See Genealogy:Page_names#Let_the_person_have_the_simple_page_name. Robin Patterson 06:11, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

Jesus (Bible)[]

Wouldn't a Jesus page be more accurately named Yeshua bar Yosef haNotzri (4/5 BC-30 CE), since you generally call people by the name their parents gave them in genealogies, rather than by some anglicized version of that? --Briantice 16:29, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps, but 99.9% of people seeing that would have no idea who that is, so the entry would not be at all useful. in addition, "(ca. 4 BCE-30 CE)" may be a better, more standard, way of displaying the dates. The proper name should, of course, be one of the first things mentioned in the article. - Nhprman 20:01, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
Couldn't you set up a redirect to allow "Jesus (Bible)" to get you to "Yeshua bar Yosef haNotzri (4 BCE-30 CE)"? There are all sorts of issues connected to this particular example (for instance, why 4 BCE-30 CE, when if we're taking the Bible as primary source, as I'd expect we'd do for constructing the Adam-on-down ancestry, I'd expect 1 CE-33 CE, or perhaps 1 AD-33 AD), but the issue of a person being born with one name and having another name that they become more well-known by is a general one. Wouldn't a redirect be a good solution for the general issue? -- TomChatt 07:37, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
It's not a Biblical error which led to the incorrect dating in the Gregorian calendar, but a Church error. We know now that the date given by the Gospelwriters, referring to the census and the people in governance, that the Gregorian calendar miscalculated the date of Yeshua's birth. We also know from the Babylonian Talmud that 40 years before the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple (70 CE), God stopped accepting the azazel sacrifice (atonement), as it is there recorded that the crimson cord around the neck of the azazel (scapegoat), which had always turned white as a sign of God's acceptance, ceased to do so in 30 CE. I agree with the redirect idea. That would be the best way to treat this, I believe. --Briantice 08:18, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
I also agree with the redirect idea. It's a good solution. The dating is problematic, since no firm date is accepted, and anything regarding that *particular* individual's information is going to be controversial, unless handled correctly. It would probably be best to leave any dating off this particular entry. That said, ca. 4 BC is now accepted by most scholars and many religious people who study and care about such things. - Nhprman 00:35, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

Needless propagation of redirect articles[]

The more data you put in the title that can change as research progresses, the more the need to rename. At first they don't know the middle name and do not know the birth or death date. Then they know the approximate birth, then the approximate death, then the exact year of birth then the exact year of death. OK, so (?-?), then (bef1760-?) then (c1756-aft1795) then (c1755-c1795) then .... Now consider middle names. First they didn't know the middle name, then just the initial then the full middle name. Ok so that's 3 renames for middle name, 3 renames each for birth and death date (not known, approximate, exact).

All said and done- if the person was following this convention, the wiki database would at the end of the process could have as many as 10 dead articles with redirects. Sure- you encourage folks to correct links after a move, but you know that very few will.

Ok, and what does all this overspecification fiddling buy you?

Inability to search.

Consider typing in a name into the search box. Say someone is looking for John Haugen. Type it now in the search box. "John H" It autocompletes displaying John Hans, John Harrison. No John Haugen. Right? Well no, because they didn't know the middle name is John Mark Haugen (1945-?). So if you want to make it hard for novices to find articles, go ahead- overspecify and put in the middle name.

Excuse me - some people are less lazy than that - they finish typing the name they want. And in this case thay get a short list containing their man. See below. So that totally disproves your point about the middle name making it hard for novices to find people through our search box. (As there are already two John Haugens, maybe you want us to add a disambiguation page. We already invite users to do that.) Robin Patterson 14:53, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
You avoid the point. The proposal defeats autocomplete. You have not refuted that.~ Phlox 18:03, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

Google.


So what happens when someone (like the couple hundred million folks who could benefit from using and adding to the genealogy wikia but don't know it exists) just uses google to find an ancestor? You got it. They don't know the middle name. And so they won't get a hit on the article. Why not put the short name without middle name in the body instead? Because engines assume that all other things being equal, if there is a hit on the exact search string within a title, it is a better hit. So if you want to hide your site from large volumes of people, think up titles for articles using words that no one will search for.

So I have to say with Page names, KISS. Keep it simple. Think about accessibility and only add discriminators if there is a disambiguation problem. ~ Phlox 05:19, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

Well, your "John Haugen" is a perfect example of "a disambiguation problem." So KISS doesn't get us any further with those two individuals. Robin Patterson 14:53, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
There are many ways to disambiguate. You need to make the case for why the particular proposal of inserting middle names is so much more desirable that it is worth the cost of making us invisible on the web.~ Phlox 18:03, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

Possible rebuttal[]

Phlox, I think you are displaying unjustified pessimism. Have you checked what happens to those allegedly dead articles? They remain (as you say) as redirects (unless someone - contrary to recommendations - deletes them). They work. See Help:Double redirects and try searching for its real example of John Langan (1831-?). Report back on what happens - I haven't tested it because I trust the system!

If I search for John Haugen here as you suggest, (and maybe even on Google), don't I hit any pre-middle-name-known John Haugen page that your developing researcher created and get redirected? And don't I get every page that contains those two words even if something separates them? I have just tried it with John Haugen and got this:

You searched for John Haugen 


There is no page titled "John Haugen". You can create this page. 

For more information about searching Genealogy, see Help. 

Showing below 5 results starting with #1.


View (previous 25) (next 25) (20 | 50 | 100 | 250 | 500). 
Article title matches
John Caleb Haugen (1983-?) (3,761 bytes) 
John Mark Haugen (1945-?) (2,359 bytes) 
Page text matches
List of most common surnames (53,180 bytes) 
John Caleb Haugen (1983-?) (3,761 bytes) 
John Mark Haugen (1945-?) (2,359 bytes) 

How long have they been on this wiki? Google hasn't found them (or at least it hasn't on the first 20 pages it has shown me, and was getting into "separated" names such as "The Best of Keith Haugen, Volume One ... John Berger, who has covered the local entertainment scene since 1972, writes ...") but I expect it will eventually.

Robin Patterson 06:04, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

Sure, redirects work! Consider what 10X number of noise article names does though. Ok- 9 different articles for John Harigan simply due to date changes. So I am looking for John Hariman but the screen is filled with 9 John Harigans. Sound good to you? I didn't think so.
(EDIT- I noticed that redirect articles do not appear in the drop down suggestions list for the search box- so this portion is not a problem- and I have struck the incorrect information. ~ Phlox 20:50, 28 September 2007 (UTC))
Google? Just try it. I know there are a lot of canonical Willis articles with the middle name, so using that as an example, user wants to search for Thurston Willis. They type in Thurston Willis. No hits. Then type it with quotes "Thurston Willis" Still no hits. Oh, but if only they knew the middle name, "Thurston Leroy Willis", well heck yeah, genealogy wikia is top of the list. [1]
Excuse me, I've just:
  • tried the link you gave to Google (with full name in quote marks), confirming that SUCCESS
  • tried the same removing the "Leroy ", and (contrary to your "no hits" experience, I suggest) got this Wikia on hit 14 - genealogy.wikia.com/wiki/Evelyn_Francis_Morrow_(1913-2005) - OK, not the actual page for him (maybe the quick Google search doesn't look at page names?) but a link to his wife's page on this Wikia is not to be lightly dismissed
Why not? It could have been "Thurston Willis" on the first hit page, like "Ann Maplesden", "Anastasia Tattersall" "Annie Alford", or "Arthur Whyman" or any of countless articles that had the good fortune of not having their middle names specified. No- we have article names like "Ann B Milson". What does that mean. Oh I get it- we are requiring folks to not only know what the middle name is, but require them not to spell it out because if they do we maintain our cloak of invisibility. You try "Ann Milson" and you won't find a hit on a single one of the 54 hits returned. Oh- but rootsweb and other competitors have hits. Without quotes- the user is buried in non hits. Silly us. Hey- but we have middle initials! ~ Phlox 07:14, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
  • tried the same without Leroy or the quote marks and saw that the first page was "Results 1 - 10 of about 167,000 for Thurston Willis"; I rather doubt whether you checked even 16,000 pages, and you would have needed to check rather more than that to justify your "No hits" claim; did you? (In case Bill or anyone else wants to try a few hundred, I got to http://www.google.com/search?q=Thurston+Willis&hl=en&lr=&as_qdr=all&start=590&sa=N)
I'm confused what point you are trying to make. Is your point that I did not exhaustively check 167K hits? That is self evident. No one is going to exhaustively check pages. You are lucky if your target audience even gets to the 3rd page of hits. The user will find no hits- we can't engage in wishful thinking that if people try really really hard, they can find us. That is a recipe for failure. If something doesn't jump out at them, they are going to move on. No hits. Failed search. And why is it a failed search. Simply because of an ill concieved recommendation to damage search targets by inserting words between the terms that your audience will mostly likely use in their search.~ Phlox 07:14, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Robin Patterson 14:21, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
I think I responded to this one. So we are going to limit ourself to the 5% of users who know about the all in title option? Why are we giving up the other 80-90% who don't? Look- I'm not saying ban anything- if folks want to stick middle name in, well by golly, let them go right ahead. I'm just saying that this suggestion that they do put in middle name between first and last is counter to our goal of having our pages rank highest in the web searches that users are most likely to make. ~ Phlox 07:14, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Ok, now search for "Samuel Messerly" [2]. Top of the hit list. You think the articles aren't getting hits because they haven't been indexed yet? Well, that would be mistaken. The Samuel Messerly article has been there less than a month. I just knew that you got to think about findability of information.
Which is better? How likely do you think it is that folks will know the middle name of an ancestor?
You think redirects fix this problem? Hey- you don't need me to answer this. Just try it. I am telling you, the google engine is not stupid. Consider Inga Pedersen (1885-1927). We have a perfectly good Page name following my recommendation and it has a redirect. How well does that plan work. Try googling "Inga Pedersen".[3] No genealogy hits. Wouldn't it be a little silly for google to rank an empty article high, or even consider a page that immediately jumps to a new location as a valid page? Well- google engineers thought so, plus they came up with 7,638 other obscure rules to weed out spam from good web pages.
What do you mean "No genealogy hits" - hit number three is genealogy. Robin Patterson 14:21, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
Anyway, we will be in luck if our hoped for guest knows to search on Inga Karoline Eldora Pedersen, because then, well- we're top of the list.


So what's your choice? Use standard genealogy notation and relegate genealogy wikia to obscurity, or understand that we must be flexible to succeed against online genealogy competitors? ~ Phlox 08:08, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
Phlox, you seem not to have done what I asked you to do. But as you go on quoting Google searches I just tried a Yahoo search for Inga Pedersen. Hit number 4 of a million and a quarter had a Wikipedia page with Inga Karoline Eldora Pedersen on it, and there were lots of genealogy pages. Putting the full name in puts that WP page at hit 1 and a page of this wiki at hit 16. So Google doesn't like genealogy? Maybe you can set out precisely what you are suggesting, now that you and I have both proved that some of what you thought would happen doesn't. Robin Patterson 14:10, 1 October 2007 (UTC)
From your comment on my talk page, it is clear that you have forgotten the one single procedure I asked you above to carry out: "See Help:Double redirects and try searching for its real example of John Langan (1831-?). Report back on what happens". You may have done the search, but you have not reported back on this page. Only when you have reported back, will I know whether I may want to do more on that aspect of the matter. Robin Patterson 12:45, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
This is not concrete. Search using what? If you mean search using wikimedia search, why does it matter. If it means using Yahoo search, then why does it matter. Robin, I certainly didn't forget it this double redirect comment. I continue to have no idea why has any bearing whatever on what we are discussing. You certainly didn't spell it out. It seems to be important to you but it continues to be obscure to me why you consider it relevant.
Here's what I said to you on your talk page:
On the person name convention, I don't understand why you felt what I said was unresponsive to your inquiries. What you were asking questions about has to do with the wikia engine, but this isn't about the wikimedia engine at all. It is only about how easily folks can find us. As I pointed out, a lot depends on how we name things. Maybe Yahoo or MSN search works better, but just as no one formats pages so they look ok only on Macs, we can't "format" our articles so they are effectively invisible to the search engine that most folks use. If you think I was being evasive on some point, give me a concrete list of things to answer and I will answer them directly, point for point.
So what do double redirects have to do with anything? To they have any bearing on google searches?
Your request for me to done a search is equally obscure. What's your point? For me to verify how google indexes these articles, how genealogy's seach does? It's your point, so with respect, why can't you do the search and report back to us? I have no idea what idea you are trying to bring forward.
The point I have been making had to do with our invisibility on the web.
That has become the main point. But this whole discussion is under the heading (which I believe you wrote) "Needless propagation of redirect articles". (A little impertinent of you, therefore, to claim "this isn't about the wikimedia engine at all. It is only about how easily folks can find us.") I showed why the redirects were not needless and invited you to check one. You didn't; now I can see why. But my later saying (with total accuracy) "you seem not to have done what I asked you to do" should not have led to your rather wildly paraphrasing as "I don't understand why you felt what I said was unresponsive to your inquiries" and "If you think I was being evasive on some point...". I've now myself done what I invited you to do; it works, bringing up "John Langan I (1832-?)" as it should. Robin Patterson 14:53, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
Become the main point? Sorry, but inability to search was so important to my first note on the subject that I bolded it and only it. So your charge of shifting the context of the discussion is unfair. If you refer again to my first note #Needless propagation of redirect articles, you will see I highlighted Inability to search as a major cost of this sadly mistaken proposal for naming person articles. ~ Phlox 18:03, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

Finding us on Google[]

Moving on, now that I see that (like me) you don't really care about the number of redirects: You then gave examples of Google searches that didn't find us. Now you still (over a week later) seem to have made no apparent response to my (bulleted) detailed reports of successful searches dated "14:21, 2 October 2007 (UTC)". I'm satisfied that I have disproved the alleged invisibility. Maybe not. You certainly haven't proved it. Either way, I asked you what your solution is, to whatever invisibility there may be (in bold display near the end of my 1 October message above). Your response has included the somewhat confirmatory "a lot depends on how we name things" but has not offered your solution, your "how we [should] name things". Please spell it out. (If you still want us to omit middle names, look at http://www.google.com/search?as_q=Thurston+Willis&hl=en&num=100&btnG=Google+Search&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&lr=lang_en&as_ft=i&as_filetype=&as_qdr=all&as_nlo=1913&as_nhi=1991&as_occt=title&as_dt=i&as_sitesearch=&as_rights=&safe=images - again?) Robin Patterson 14:53, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

I am willing to go along with a variety of proposals and I can enumerate them. But it is pointless if no one agrees that there is a significant problem. You don't. As far as I know Bill and AMK don't. So why bother enumerating possible solutions to a problem no one agrees exists?
Your contorted search above proves my point perfectly. Yes, you can get google to figure out how to ignore the horrible names we are generating. It can be done. But the contortions you had to go to proves my point. Shall we be content to wait until that far future when folks learn how to use the advanced search interface features like allintitle? Are we going to expect that folks that are curious about genealogy and search for their ancestor that they already know their birth and death dates? You are kidding.
Number of redirects themselves don't matter. But I see no point in these huge names that encourage folks to fiddle with renames rather than genealogy. Renames work! So what. You have encouraged folks to put a date in a name. The article used to refer to Todd Jensen (bef1560-?) Ok. Over the years, 15 articles that reference Todd Jensen using the article name. Then you find out that "before 1560" was wrong- it was actually around 1572. This is part of the crazy fiddling being encouraged, because even though redirects work, because you have put information that is potentially wrong in the title, you are now requred to go back to all the 15 inbound articles and fix the links. If you want to make a lot of needless maintenance work, you have succeeded.
You're not required to change any of the 15 unles you do yet another redirect. And the system makes that fairly easy. Robin Patterson 03:46, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Oh? The standards are requiring data to be stored in the title- data like birthdate that could be wrong. EG: we have a redirect from an article that says William was born in a certain year which was wrong. Ok. Sure the redirect mechanism worked, but all the articles using that link says he was born in the wrong year. Editorially, a person is certainly required to go back and change them, but take a bet on how often folks will do that. Sure double redirects can be fixed, but how about when we have a hundred users online simultaneously, and they are all changing around stuff to conform to their evolving understanding of their ancestors. It will be a mess.
"I'm satisfied that I have disproved the alleged invisibility"
Do I understand you correctly? If 80% of people are using Google, but a search works on Yahoo, that you aren't invisible to the 80%(or whatever the figure is?). If you use search features that 90% of folks have never heard about, or rely on the expectation that people already know a lot about their ancestors, then you have narrowed the footprint of your potential market radically. I mean, if you were deliberately trying to hide under a rock you would do exactly this silly naming. Google is by far the dominant searcher. If there are trivial things we can do to significantly improve our rankings as I have shown, we should do them.
The later parts of my rebuttal were not based on Yahoo. Look at those bullets again. I would like you to answer each point directly, though I see that some of what you've just said was an indirect response to a couple of them. I would particularly like your response (including an answer to the quiestion) on "tried the same without Leroy or the quote marks and saw that the first page was "Results 1 - 10 of about 167,000 for Thurston Willis"; I rather doubt whether you checked even 16,000 pages, and you would have needed to check rather more than that to justify your "No hits" claim; did you?" Robin Patterson 03:46, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Ok. This is the first time I saw that inline comment. They are really easy to miss.
What are the possible steps? They are disagreeable for different respects because they don't look genealogical. Don't get me wrong. I like the full information a long name provides at a glance.
  • Never place anything between first name and last name. Absolute ban on that. Middle names don't have to be banned, just not between the first and last.
  • Use WP KISS standards for naming. Keep it simple. If Fred I of England is good enough for WP, ours shouldn't be Fred I, Earl of Smith's City, 6th Viscount of Wherehouse, Duke of Barclay's. If the root name doesn't match WP's, then a good case should be made why not.
  • There is a need to disambiguate names, so I can see putting at least one number in there. Much better if it were a number like Familysearch's approach using AFNs. But I can go along with a single date. So on that score, we could include
    • birth date only
    • Last 4 digits of guid.
  • It's probably not a big deal if it is either of these or some other single number or equivalent. I can probably go along with any alternative. Currently I use birth only.
~ Phlox 17:25, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
(Copied from User talk page to here:)
What about for people whose death dates are known and their birth dates are unknown? -AMK152(TalkContributions 21:29, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
It's not a special case. Birth is always (befDEATHDATE), so you can specify in this instance as well. When both are unknown, Foo Bar (?-?) disambiguates no better than Foo Bar (?). In any case, at best your point makes guid more attractive, not the insanity of the current proposal that will propagate double redirect situations etc. ~ Phlox 17:36, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

Match the Wikipedia name (where there is one) exactly?[]

I'm happy with that idea. Robin Patterson 03:46, 15 October 2007 (UTC)


Gallery of horror names[]

  • Henry Brie Blois Chart, Count Champagne (1015-1102)
    this is nonsense. Why do we need all this junk in the name? What is being disambiguated here? ~ Phlox 22:01, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Seems to be not a page on this wiki, so I would say we don't need it - but if that's the Wikipedia name, I'd have it as is. Robin Patterson 13:58, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
It's not on WP that way, it's that way because we have a message urging people to use middle names. That recommendation is being examined here, and there has been no support given for why it should remain as it is, and many reasons why it should be abolished. ~ Phlox 17:16, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Elvis Aaron Presley (1935-1977)
    • Do we really think people will more often search for Elvis Aaron Presley? Excellent way to bury our article amid search results with hundreds of Elvis genealogy articles.
  • Warren Gamaliel Bancroft Winnipeg Harding (1865-1923) (referenced in this list.)
    • You guys are joking, right? ~ Phlox 17:11, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

Search engine technology[]

Part of the problem here has been the failure to understand technology, and interpreting what I am saying as an opinion about what sorts of word arrangements work better for attracting internet traffic. Actually, it is not an opinion. What I have been expressing is a factual matter about how search technology works.

  • "Term Proximity" is one of the most fundamental notions in the operation of full text search engines. If two words are closeby, then it is more likely that a retrieval unit with those closeby terms is more relevant than one where the terms are further apart.
  • Terms in title- It is a factual matter that if terms appear in a title, there is a common sense association among search engines that the retrieval unit is more relevant.


Other sites will have the terms "Elvis", "Presley" or "Warren", "Harding" in their titles like us. Articles will rank higher than ours if the terms are adjacent. This is not an opinion, but a fact.

For more information on what factors help attract more vistors from search engines, this article covers many of the bases. ~ Phlox 17:07, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

Phlox proposal[]

  1. Keep statement that these are guidelines, not blanket rules.
  2. Recommend that users NOT insert middle name, initial (or anything else) between first and last name. Putting middle name elsewhere is ok, if desired.
    Lower priority recommendation:
  3. Omit death date unless birth and death date are certainly known. Otherwise, only use birth date.
~ Phlox 17:27, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

Extensions and consequences[]

I presume we would lift Google rank even further by omitting birth date too (thus in most cases matching the WP name if any). That would multiply by a few hundred the likely number of disambiguation pages necessary; not a problem, a difference of degree not of kind, because the omission of the death date already multiplies the likely number by several dozen. How about it? Robin Patterson 13:03, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

If the disambiguation pages contain merely links to the pages for individuals, will that affect Google ranking? If so, I expect we could make a practice of adding detail such as birthplace to each link. Job for PhloxBot? Robin Patterson 13:03, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

I agree with omitting the dates, like the Wikipedia name. However, some people are known for their middle name (like John F. Kennedy or Warren G. Harding) and alot of my Dutch and German ancestors are known to researchers by their full name. Like Gerrit Hendrik te Kolste (1794-?). Calling him Garrit te Kolste would be confusing. Anyway, omitting the dates to get something like William I, King of England instead of William I, King of England (1027-1087) or William I, King of England (1027). Of course, doing this, we would eventually develop many disambiguation pages. We are at a point in the Wikia where there are only a handful of contributors. As the number of contributors grows, so will the number of people who understand the use of disambiguation. So, people will be able to find us quicker and those who stay will gain knowledge in the use of disambiguation, and use them if neccessary. -AMK152(TalkContributions 13:16, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps this example: John Isaac Smith III (1902-1985)
1. Name the page John Smith
2. There is more than one John Smith
3. Name the page John Isaac Smith
4. There is more than one John Isaac Smith
5. Name the page John Isaac Smith III
6. There is more than one John Isaac Smith III
7. Name the page John Isaac Smith III (1902)
8. There is more than one John Isaac Smith III born in 1902
9. Name the page John Isaac Smith III (1902-1985)
10. There is more than one John Isaac Smith III born in 1902 and died in 1985
11. I doubt we'd get this far, but what would be next?
AMK152(TalkContributions 15:34, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
Thank you for taking time to set out a possible process. But I think we can make it shorter than that.
  1. Create disambiguation page designed as the target of simple googling: John Smith. It has template:disambig and it lists all the John Smiths in the wiki by whatever complex page names they currently have, eg John Isaac Smith III (1902-1985).
  2. Every John Smith (including every John Isaac Smith etc) in the wiki can be given a full page name (in the style recommended) as soon as he is created, with a link to him on John Smith. No need for quite as many pagename changes as listed above: ideally none.
So a person finds our John Smith page very near the top of the hit list on Google, possibly with a context extract showing that there are several people on our page, so they come to us and can read the list then go off to find one that seems to match their one. Not unlike a RootsWeb search, but our one-liners will need less scrolling than the multi-line tables each hit can get on RootsWeb.
Robin Patterson 02:27, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

I think I mentioned disambiguation pages were one reason I was producing for each page an info subpage. When I get all pages with info pages we can do the DPL disambiguation pages: EG:

Note that I made the second table on these pages sortable. EG: Click on the little arrow button in the Birth Place column, and all the John Smiths would be clustered into the location the person is interested in. Clearly for this reason, I would want to display these locations in reverse Country-State-County-city order so they would cluster in the most useful way for users. ~ Phlox 04:24, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Surely a page called Barack Obama (disambiguation) will rank lower in a Google search than Barack Obama? Why complicate things? Can't we use the simple system proposed above, which your subsequent comments have not specifically disagreed with and which matches Wikipedia's prime method of disambiguation? Or are you saying we will have both? I know that this wiki has several pages with names ending in "(disambiguation)" but most of them are that way because their creator had not properly studied the way WP makes that sort of thing as simple as possible with only a few defined exceptions. Robin Patterson 05:35, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Fine with me. I like simple- I just followed wp style. I don't care whether it has the term disambiguation or not. My point didn't have to do with the name of the page but what was on the page. (Dynamic queries)- So that they are always up to date. I don't know whether it matters to google whether "disambiguation" is in or not I suspect it doesn't matter much. What matters is how many inbound links there are to the article. I think I posted a pointer to a good discussion of google's alghorithm, but it takes into consideration a lot of other things. My earlier point with google only had to do with not inserting extraneous terms between first and last name, so that our pages would be eligible for the most common kinds of searches. ~ Phlox 10:23, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

I think I discussed some of that a little further with Phlox before he went on "political leave". Recent growth, and the detailed explanations of puzzlement from the new member who's a Stockton expert, lead me to try to get this issue resolved. So - see Forum:Standardising page names for individuals. Robin Patterson 13:24, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

Titles[]

I didn't find anything on this page about titles in names. I realize from the discussion that we're trying to remove erroneous junk from page names, are titles like 'sir' or 'dr.' erroneous? Would they inhibit the searchability of the page? Plcoffey 19:06, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

I'm satisfied that they would lower the ranking in a Google search. They would also complicate the finding in a surname category (just as they do in my Family Tree Maker program). But I haven't changed my g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-uncle Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658). If we agree on the two-stage structure above, making a simple (potentially disambiguation) page to attract search engines, there will be no problem for an outsider finding him (from the Oliver Cromwell page) and those other titled ancestors of you and me. Robin Patterson 00:56, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
I prefer not to have Dr., Sir, Rev., Capt., Lt., etc. in the article name. The only people I usually add titles is royalty, like "Name, Earl of Place," etc. -AMK152(talkcontribs) 03:03, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

Middle Initials[]

Should Middle Initials have a period or not? Douglas M. Kastanotis (1953)

Dougkast 20:25, 13 August 2008 (UTC)

People articles where only one date (not birth or death) is known[]

If only one date about an individual is known should the page name be written as '(bef1879-aft1893)' (for example)? Or should some ages be assumed (that, I don't know, maybe it can assumed that a woman was born at least 15 years before she had her first child? But that's pretty fuzzy and I wouldn't support the idea.) I've seen this situation solved elsewhere with the use of 'fl.' (floruit), which would give page names such as Mary Gilmour (fl1879) (of course, the 'l' next to the '1' looks odd). — Sam Wilson ( TalkContribs ) … 01:17, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

"fl" is a good solution, Sam; better than "?-?". If you are looking through a list of Mary Gilmours (or "Mary Unknown in Xyz County") and know that yours was around in the 1870s you will pick that one but you could miss her if she has only question marks. The "l" and "1" should maybe lead to an exception to the "no spaces" guideline, which is mostly for uniformity and time-and-byte-saving and has only slight value in searching or browsing (by minimising duplication). In a long list, the "(1879-" and "(c1879-" and "(bef1879-" and "(aft1879-" and "(?-1879" will be so far apart that searchers will need to skim much of the list anyway. If we get lots of these we should have categories for them, maybe by decade and listed at the top of a decade category and maybe the previous decade (allowing for childhood), so that searchers not knowing an exact year have a fair chance of hitting Mary. Robin Patterson 14:26, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

People articles: major edit[]

I've just rejigged the people articles section, bringing in all the points that AMK152 listed on Forum:Standardising_page_names_for_individuals#Proposal, which Robin said were pretty much what people follow anyway. Hopefully I haven't stepped on anyone's toes in doing this! But I've tried to keep the spirit of it the same, and to clear up a few of the ambiguous or missing cases. There's a few things in Genealogy:Page_names#Unresolved_issues that need talking about (maybe). — Sam Wilson ( TalkContribs ) … 06:35, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

Good. "Tomorrow" or later I may read it again but my first run through gave a good impression apart from a spelling error or two. (Maybe still too much emphasis on eliminating some middle names; different contributors might choose different names to chop, leading to unnecessary duplication.) Robin Patterson 14:34, 12 October 2008 (UTC)
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