How to recommend naming a town within an article title?

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How should we recommend users name towns within an article title?

Poll ended at Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:52 pm

Rockville, Maryland
2
17%
Rockville, Montgomery, Maryland
6
50%
Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland
4
33%
 
Total votes: 12

ritcheymt-p40
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How to recommend naming a town within an article title?

Postby ritcheymt-p40 » Sat Apr 05, 2008 8:51 pm

How should we recommend users name towns within an article title?

  • Rockville, Maryland
  • Rockville, Montgomery, Maryland
  • Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland

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Recommendation -- not enforcement

Postby ritcheymt-p40 » Sat Apr 05, 2008 8:57 pm

Although, I think we should recommend contributors add the county to the town name in an article title (Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland), I don't think admins should spend time "moving" or renaming articles that don't follow the convention. Enforcing the inclusion of the county in town names in article titles seems a contentious chore and is, at least, something the Wikipedia community seems to have chosen not to do. In life outside genealogy, too, most people identify a town as [town], [state] rather than [town], [county], [state]. I’ve lived in Grantsville for several months now, and if someone from out of state asks me where I live, I say “Grantsville, Utah,” not “Grantsville, Tooele County, Utah.” In fact, if I told someone I live in Granstville, Utah and they asked me what county Grantsville is in, I’d have to think about it for awhile. So I don’t know that it matters much whether users include the county in a town’s place name – whether they identify a town in an article’s title field as “Grantsville, Toole County, Utah” or “Grantsville, Utah.”

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Case against including the county

Postby ritcheymt-p40 » Sat Apr 05, 2008 9:30 pm

Even though I've thought about this subject quite a bit over several days, a case just occurred to me as to why not to recommend including the county in a town name in an article title. If we include the county, then someone searching for "Montgomery County Maryland" will see in the search results not only articles about the county, but all the articles about the towns and townships in that county, as well. What a mess!

Having looked at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_most_common_U.S._place_names#Franklin_.2837.29
... it appears that Wikipedia chose not to add the county to town names in article titles -- at least for common town names. Now I understand why.

Wow, yes, this is major, gang. I wanted to find out whether Wikipedia used only [town], [state] in naming even towns with uncommon names. It is clear they did. They leave out the county to clarify search results for county-related pages! Take a look at Category:towns in the United States. Click any one of the subcategories, such as Towns in Alabama, and you'll see they leave out county names in town article titles system-wide. I'd never noticed that before. It appears they add the county only when there are two towns of the same name in a state.

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Postby JBParker-p40 » Sat Apr 05, 2008 11:00 pm

ritcheymt wrote:Even though I've thought about this subject quite a bit over several days, a case just occurred to me as to why not to recommend including the county in a town name in an article title. If we include the county, then someone searching for "Montgomery County Maryland" will see in the search results not only articles about the county, but all the articles about the towns and townships in that county, as well. What a mess!

Having looked at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_most_common_U.S._place_names#Franklin_.2837.29
... it appears that Wikipedia chose not to add the county to town names in article titles -- at least for common town names. Now I understand why.

Wow, yes, this is major, gang. I wanted to find out whether Wikipedia used only [town], [state] in naming even towns with uncommon names. It is clear they did. They leave out the county to clarify search results for county-related pages! Take a look at Category:towns in the United States. Click any one of the subcategories, such as Towns in Alabama, and you'll see they leave out county names in town article titles system-wide. I'd never noticed that before. It appears they add the county when there are two towns of the same name in a state.


OK, I can see their arrangement. Most towns do not have a large amount of genealogical records, so maybe it's not too critical to have the county designation. However, there is a major complication in New England, where many of the genealogical records are kept on the town level. And we'll have to deal with probate districts in Vermont and Connecticut, as well.

Townships (see comments on that thread) in New York are a little like the Towns of New England, in that there is a system of Township Historians in place in that state, and they compile records of genealogical interest for genealogists.

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Postby aebrown » Sun Apr 06, 2008 4:46 am

ritcheymt wrote:Even though I've thought about this subject quite a bit over several days, a case just occurred to me as to why not to recommend including the county in a town name in an article title. If we include the county, then someone searching for "Montgomery County Maryland" will see in the search results not only articles about the county, but all the articles about the towns and townships in that county, as well. What a mess!


This is a good point, and I also would vote for the simpler title just for simplicity's sake. A title should unambiguously identify the subject, but long titles can obscure, rather than clarify the subject. Although a stickler for accuracy may love the title The Life and strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pyrates. Written by Himself, I think most of us would prefer to just see Robinson Crusoe. At a glance we know what is being talked about.

Finally, I would note that categorization is a key component of searching in a wiki. We don't have to use the title to make the search engine return all relevant results, because that may make it too difficult to sift through a large result set. Rather, we can easily move from "Rockville, Maryland" to "Montgomery County, Maryland" or vice versa by using the category "Cities in Montgomery County, Maryland" which should be referenced from both articles.

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Postby ritcheymt-p40 » Sun Apr 06, 2008 9:13 am

Alan_Brown wrote:This is a good point, and I also would vote for the simpler title just for simplicity's sake. A title should unambiguously identify the subject, but long titles can obscure, rather than clarify the subject. Although a stickler for accuracy may love the title The Life and strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pyrates. Written by Himself, I think most of us would prefer to just see Robinson Crusoe. At a glance we know what is being talked about.


LOL! Yes, as I've been creating these polls and thinking a lot about title ambiguity vs. simplicity, I've thought a lot about the marathon-length titles of 19th-century books. This is a great example, Alan.

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Postby jbh001 » Sun Apr 06, 2008 12:46 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:The Life and strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pyrates. Written by Himself
That's not a title, that's title page. Playing the devil's advocate, who is Robinson Crusoe?

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Postby aebrown » Sun Apr 06, 2008 3:49 pm

jbh001 wrote:That's not a title, that's title page. Playing the devil's advocate, who is Robinson Crusoe?


Actually, that is indeed the full title, and not the title page. It was one of the earliest novels, before many people thought of the value of short titles. I wasn't trying to fork the thread, but just to give a humorous example that I was familiar with of a really long title. For details, please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robinson_Crusoe#Reception_and_sequels

My opinion is that a title should be as simple as possible to still communicate unambiguously the topic of the article. I would only include the county in the title if it is necessary for disambiguation. The introductory paragraph and the categorization should of course detail the context, such as mentioning the county. But I guess I'm not very persuasive, as mine is the only vote for "Rockville, Maryland."

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Postby jbh001 » Sun Apr 06, 2008 7:03 pm

In name it is a title, in function it is a title page. Just to beat a dead horse, I live on the corner of Avenue Road and Boulevard Street, in Township City, located in Parish County. :D

In a different note, I think that the county name should be included for defunct communities. For example, you may not know where to start looking for Eldorado, Utah. But it narrows down pretty quickly if you refer to Eldorado, Salt Lake, Utah.

(Okay that was superfluous, I really just wanted to show off.) :D

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Postby The_Earl » Sun Apr 06, 2008 8:53 pm

ritcheymt wrote:Even though I've thought about this subject quite a bit over several days, a case just occurred to me as to why not to recommend including the county in a town name in an article title. If we include the county, then someone searching for "Montgomery County Maryland" will see in the search results not only articles about the county, but all the articles about the towns and townships in that county, as well. What a mess!


Yes, a search would show all of the cities included in the county. I do not think this is a problem. On the FS wiki, the search you state above will show the county record at the highest ranking, and the related cities below it. I again assert that 'Boston, Montgomery County, Maryland' is relevant to a search of the county.

On Wikipedia, a go search for [city,state] will most likely get the city you are looking for. However, Wikipedia fails often to let you easily navigate between county and city level records. To demonstrate this, go to the city of your choice and attempt to find the county record it is in.

ritcheymt wrote:Having looked at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_most_common_U.S._place_names#Franklin_.2837.29
... it appears that Wikipedia chose not to add the county to town names in article titles -- at least for common town names. Now I understand why.

ritcheymt wrote:Wow, yes, this is major, gang. I wanted to find out whether Wikipedia used only [town], [state] in naming even towns with uncommon names. It is clear they did. They leave out the county to clarify search results for county-related pages! Take a look at Category:towns in the United States. Click any one of the subcategories, such as Towns in Alabama, and you'll see they leave out county names in town article titles system-wide. I'd never noticed that before. It appears they add the county only when there are two towns of the same name in a state.


I think that for the FS wiki, city entries will be rare, and often not directly navigated to. I would think that most users would go to the county or state page / portal, or search on the city name. All of these work just as well with the county name included. Without the county name, you would have to predict how we differentiate between cities and counties with the same name. (Albany County, New York vs. Albany (city), New York).

Many of these navigation issues can be solved with a good info-box template. The county box for the state portals shows how well this works.

Any guesses as to how many city / town articles the wiki will end up with?

The Earl


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