Forums: Index > Help desk > Question marks causing problems

Full of enthusiasm for the 90(+)% perfect forms entry system, I clicked on someone's red-linked mother and got invited to do this:

Add Person: Mary Boyd (

OK, I know how to change it to Add Person: Mary Boyd (?-1793), but I note it here so that the experts are alerted to it (again?) and have it on their to-do list.

Robin Patterson (Talk) 04:18, January 29, 2010 (UTC)

PS - the URL has it right:[given_name]=Mary&Showfacts_person[surname]=Boyd&Showfacts_person[joined_with]=David%20McGregore%20%281710-1777%29&Showfacts%20children[children-g1]=Margaret%20McGregor%20%281740-1793%29

Robin Patterson (Talk) 04:21, January 29, 2010 (UTC)

PPS - I carried on, getting the relatives all automatically in their right boxes. The resulting pagename was, regrettably, as first displayed rather than as in the address bar. But it was easy to move. Had I instead started again with the proper dates using "Create new article", I would probably have had to insert the relatives by hand: much slower. — Robin Patterson (Talk) 04:47, January 29, 2010 (UTC)

Sensor pages[]

The complexities of sensor and ancestor tabs are made even more difficult when the person has a question-mark in the page name.

I'm looking at

Add Sensor page: John Haddy (1821-
From Familypedia
The page could not be moved: a page of that name already exists, or the name you have chosen is not valid. Please choose another name, or ask an administrator to help you with the move.
Please do not manually move the article by copying and pasting it; the page history must be moved along with the article text

Of course, I wasn't trying to move anything. A newbie could give up in disgust at that point and tell all his or her relatives not to use Familypedia. "the name you have chosen is not valid" - I didn't choose that stupid truncated name. "...ask an administrator to help you with the move" - I hope they don't ask me!

I had recently used the "edit on stupid truncated name then move it when done" bypass (followed in the top example of this page) to get a working page for John. His full link appears on his child's page. Am I going to have an impossible task creating a sensor page for him?

Robin Patterson (Talk)

I've solved it[]

Not nice but it works. When you get that page name that ends with an opening parenthesis, go up to the address bar and change the question-mark to :



Hit "ENTER", and the pagename should fix itself.

Robin Patterson (Talk) 14:15, March 3, 2010 (UTC) at 0314 hours local time

I didn't solve it completely and nobody should have to try[]

Last night I had to create a redirect so that a link from Wikipedia (using %3F, not an actual question-mark) would work.

Today I get another invitation to create a page for someone whose name ends with "(".

Nobody has proposed a solution.

Proposal to get rid of them[]

  1. Birth year unknown: do an estimate (using "c"). Make it the same as spouse birth year if any unless there's contrary indication such as parent or child birth year; if none, make a stab at it. If we later find we have a duplicate, we can fix one or other to distinguish. Better than a question-mark, which would be more likely to create a duplicate and has its own problems. Even a fairly wrong estimate doesn't actually matter, because we don't take date from pagenames as a rule.
  2. Death year unknown: omit hyphen and question-mark entirely, just as we do for people known to be still living. Do an estimate if you think you're within a few years but otherwise nothing.
  3. Both unknown: do just the birth year estimate as above.

Do it gradually as pages come up for edit. Move existing pages; change redlinks on sight.

Robin Patterson (Talk) 07:57, April 12, 2010 (UTC)

See continuation at Forum:Proposed change to name/date conventions.

Is this still a problem?[]

Before I ask a new keen user not to use question-marks, I want to be sure they are still bad. -- Robin Patterson (Talk) 05:39, December 24, 2012 (UTC)