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CZ:Proposals/Naming Conventions for Biographies

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Complete explanation

The text below is intended to stand as a guideline for naming articles about people. The general rule I propose is that an article about a person ought to live at the name at which the person is best-known to educated English-speaking people, with redirects from all common alternates. This will mean some inconsistency measured against other possible rules, but I believe will create the most easy-to-use compendium of knowledge.

How to name articles about people

In general, an article about a person ought to live at the name at which the person is best-known to educated English-speaking people, with redirects from all common alternates. The first sentence of the article should contain the full legal name (or other formal equivalent), along with other basic biographical information. For example, the article on Jimmy Carter begins

James Earl Carter, Jr. was President of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

People from English-speaking countries

Use the full first name and last name, unless the person is well-known by some other form. If a person commonly is given a middle initial to distinguish them from another person with the same first and last name, use the middle initial. If the person commonly is addressed by or discussed by a nickname, use that. Where more than one form is common, there should be redirects from the others. Thus, some U.S. presidents:

However, some people "part their name on the left", or are known by a stage name, or a single name. In general, the form the person uses in writing is the form which should be used for the article title, with some redirects. For example:

People from other Latin-alphabet-using countries

In general, the same rules apply, though care should be taken to get the correct surname when doing default sorts and choosing disambiguation. For example, a former president of Colombia is Julio César Turbay Ayala. His last name is Turbay Ayala, and should be alphabetised under "T", not "A". It may be useful, in such cases, to create a redirect from Julio César Turbay

Note: This is likely more controversial than most of what else I'm proposing
Names of people who have diacritical marks in their name should be listed using the diacritical marks, with a redirect from the unaccented version, plus any other redirects which would be appropriate. So, to use a more famous Colombian example, Gabriel García Márquez, with a redirect from Gabriel Garcia Marquez (and remember to list him as Garcia Marquez, Gabriel, not Marquez, Gabriel Garcia). The exception to this is for people who have been much discussed in the English-language press using a spelling without diacritics, thus Hermann Goering rather than Hermann Göring, but Kurt Gödel not Kurt Goedel, because the best-known work about the mathematician spells his name with the umlaut. (Of course, in both cases, the other choice ought to exist as a redirect.)

People from countries which do not use the Latin alphabet

In general, the rules for English-speaking countries still apply, except for the issue of transliteration. Transliteration should be performed first in accordance with the expressed desire of the subject of the article, and secondly following the guidelines at CZ:Romanization where a guideline for the appropriate language exists.

For languages with fairly standard transliteration, such as most of those using the Greek or Cyrillic alphabets, this shouldn't be problematic; except to point out that transliterations should be into English, not German or French: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, not Tschaikowski or Tchaïkovski. Particular care should be taken with transliterations from Greek, as Ancient Greek was not, according to the scholars, pronounced as Modern Greek is. Thus Eleftherios Venizelos, not Eleutherios Venizelos (nor Benizelos), but Euripides, not Evripidis.

Until a guideline for Chinese is developed at CZ:Romanization/Chinese, Chinese names should be transliterated in the way most familiar to literate people in the English-speaking world. For people from the Republic of China, or major figures of Nationalist China or the Chinese Empire, that is likely to be the Wade-Giles method. For people from the People's Republic, that is likely to be the Pinyin method. For both, the family name should stay in front. So Mao Zedong (with redirect from Mao Tse-Tung), but Sun Yat-Sen. However, Confucius, not Kǒng Fūzǐ or K'ung-fu-tzu. (As always, redirects should exist from both of those, and from Kong Fuzi and Kung Fu Tzu.)

People whose culture has family name first

Except where such people have come to be known in the English-speaking world with their names re-ordered to the English standard, the name should be written out in the way which it appears in their culture. Thus Mao Zedong, not Zedong Mao. Redirects need not exist unless there is some substantial literature which has the names in English order.

People with titles of nobility or royalty

  • If there is no ambiguity, then {Monarch's first name and ordinal}, such as Louis XIV. The name should usually be English, thus Charles (not Carlos)
  • If there are multiple monarchs with the same English name and ordinal, then add the country in parenthesis: Charles II (England). Charles II (Spain)
  • Avoid "King," "Queen", etc
  • Patriarchs and Popes: "Patriarch/Pope {papal name} {ordinal if more than one} of {episcopal see}". When the episcopal see is Rome, it should be omitted.
  • Hereditary nobility: "{Commonly used name}, {ordinal (if appropriate)} {title} (of) {place}".

A couple of possible exceptions:

However, where a person is much better known by some other usage, the article should live at that name; thus Charlemagne, Cardinal Richelieu.

People who have held elected or appointed offices, even life-term offices, should not have their title in their article name, nor should bishops or archbishops of the various Christian churches which have that office. Thus Ronald Reagan, not President Ronald Reagan.

Reasoning

This proposal is offered because some standard is necessary. The most important part of the proposal is that whatever the actual article title, there should be redirects from the common alternatives which people might use.

The basic idea is that, as stated in the introduction, an article about a person ought to live at the name at which the person is best-known to educated English-speaking people. People consult an encyclopedia to find out information like Madonna's full name, or that Sun Yat-sen is known as Sūn Zhōngshān in Pinyin transliterations; they shouldn't need to remember that Madonna's family name is Ciccone, or the current transliteration of the name of the father of modern China to read his biography.

That said, there are some standard conventions in English, and in other languages, and those should largely be respected.

Implementation

The proposed conventions, as modified through discussion, will be placed onto CZ:Naming Conventions/People, with a link and brief summary on CZ:Naming Conventions.

Discussion

A discussion section, to which anyone may contribute.

Stage names that are no longer desired

A recondite point: We all know that Roy Rogers was Leonard Sly (redirect needed) and that Cary Grant was Archibald Leach or some such (redirect needed); they will, of course, be listed as Rogers and Grant as the names of the articles. What, however, about those such as Linda Lovelace? There was a bitter, on-going argument about this for *years* at WP. Common-sense people such as myself argued that since this was the name she was known by, this should be the name of the article. A very vocal (and tireless) minority, however, insisted that since, years after her brief notoriety, she repudiated her past career, as well as her nom de theatre, and insisted that she be called Lucie Whatever Her Real Name Was. It was eventually settled that the article be called Linda Loveland, but only after an enormous amount of emotion had been spent on the subject. There are, I suppose, *other* instances like this that will crop up; the only one I can think of off the top of my head is the fine old AFL-NFL quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs (he played in the second Stoopid Bowl) Len or Lenny Dawson. He tried to insist that his name was Leonard, but I doubt if anyone except his wife ever called him that.... As I said, a minor point, but eventually, I imagine, it will crop up. Hayford Peirce 17:15, 14 February 2008 (CST)

In a case like Linda Lovelace, I'd say that unless the article spends more space discussing her life outside the career in which she used the stage name, that the article should be titled after the stage name. If she'd gone on to do something significant in a later career, then it might be worth using her real (or newly-assumed) name for the article. If, for example, Shirley Temple had been a stage name, then it would be arguable over whether her article should be under the stage name, or the name used in her political career. As for nicknames and diminuitives, like Len Dawson, or Jimmy Carter, that's harder. I do remember that in 1976, he was Jimmy Carter on the ballot, but in 2000 he was James Earl Carter, Jr. I'm not sure how I'd choose to name those articles. Anthony Argyriou 18:31, 14 February 2008 (CST)
The English DJ Pete Murray changed his name to Peter towards the end of his career, insisted on it, but WP has him at 'Pete', rightly, I think, though it has 'Peter' to begin the article. And it must be Jimmy Carter, surely? Ro Thorpe 18:52, 14 February 2008 (CST)
"Jimmy Carter" makes sense and is indeed used formally see his Library , so the article mentions his formal name only in passing. Richard Jensen 10:40, 11 March 2008 (CDT)
Ooh, good one! I find Linda Lovelace an interesting case, as the issue seems to be, really, whether or not the poor woman deserved a chance at living as a non-harlot. Or at self-empowerment, depending on whether you bought her story or not.
She was actually pretty hypocritical about it. She argued bitterly for many years that she should be called Lucie Whatever. But whenever an opportunity came along for a new autobiography or bit role or personal appearance or whatever that would bring in a little cash, guess what? she suddenly rebecame Linda Lovelace....Hayford Peirce 19:47, 14 February 2008 (CST)
In Wikipedia terms, Linda Boreman whatever wasn't very notable, while Linda Lovelace was. I suspect an article about Linda Boreman which didn't include her career as Linda Lovelace may be maintainable (which is our standard), but there won't be much there.
Shirley Temple is, in fact, arguable, Anthony. When I was little I thought Shirley Temple and Shirley Temple Black were two different persons. Shirley Temple was the little kid in the movies, and Shirley Temple Black was some other person in my child's mind. (I also wondered if she were, indeed black and that was a well, what would you call it--political irony or something?) The ambassador, as I later realised she was, was never referred to as just Shirley Temple in the professional/diplomatic circles my parents frequented, nor in the papers.
And, if you really want an argument, you can always deal with Cat Stevens.
Aleta Curry 18:56, 14 February 2008 (CST)
Better examples, now that I think of them, are Pancho Gonzales and Pancho Segura, the great old tennis players, both of whom already have articles here. In these P.C. days, no one in the world would *dream* of calling anyone Pancho, particularly a big, dark, mean, dangerous guy like Gonzales, hehe. I believe that when I did the original articles on both these guys at WP someone briefly tried to change the Pancho Gonzales article's name to Ricardo Gonzalez or Richard Gonzales, or whatever the hell he was actually named. He himself didn't know if he was Gonzales or Gonzalez. Anyway, I doubt if we'll ever have to worry about an article these days about, say, a great young Mexican golfer named (called) Pedro Lopez or some such.... Hayford Peirce 19:44, 14 February 2008 (CST)
Ha! Well, I thought it was silly at the time, but I guess Tiger Woods did us a favour when he changed his name legally. ...said Aleta Curry on 15 Feb 2008 (talk) (Please sign your talk page posts by simply adding four tildes, ~~~~.)
Women are of course always going to pose problems (don't even start with the wise cracks). Miss Helen Brown later Mrs Charles MacArthur was only known to her husband, to her good friends her children and I daresay their teachers, everyone else knew her as Helen Hayes. ...said Aleta Curry on 15 Feb 2008 (talk) (Please sign your talk page posts by simply adding four tildes, ~~~~.)

Looking at all this commentary, it's clear that my proposal won't end all disputes about how to name biographical articles, but it should limit them to the more difficult cases.One option this proposal will not allow, however, is Sanger, Larry as a title. Anthony Argyriou 12:58, 15 February 2008 (CST)

Hi Anthony, looks interesting, but the summary on CZ:Proposals/New needs to be more detailed. It doesn't make any definite proposal at all, at present. Could you add one, please? --Larry Sanger 19:11, 14 February 2008 (CST)

Hopefully I've taken care of that. It's rather hard to summarize this detailed a proposal. Anthony Argyriou 12:58, 15 February 2008 (CST)

In the case of Linda Lovelace, you respect her and name the article by her preference, as far as it can be determined. These are real people and their heirs we are handling here! Stephen Ewen 20:58, 12 March 2008 (CDT)

An addition

I've added the sentence "The first sentence of the article should contain both the name used in the article title, and the full legal name (or other formal equivalent), along with other basic biographical information." to the beginning of the proposal. It's not, strictly speaking, policy regaring the article title, but it is important to either accept or explicitly reject. Anthony Argyriou 13:09, 15 February 2008 (CST)

Final review?

The discussion above seems to show a general consensus supporting this proposal. There are a few specific points I want to make sure people are aware of and in agreement with. (If there is significant disagreement, the proposal can be changed to match the consensus.) These are:

  1. Use the name which the person is best-known to educated English-speaking people, not necessarily their formal name.
  2. There should be redirects from all common alternative names, including formal/legal name when that is not the article title.
  3. Names of people who have diacritical marks in their name should be listed using the diacritical marks, with a redirect from the unaccented version.
  4. Ancient Greek and modern Greek are transliterated differently.
  5. Wade-Giles and Pinyin transliterations are appropriate in their particular spheres.
  6. For titles of nobility and royalty, we essentially use the Wikipedia system.
  7. For other titled individuals, we do not use their title in the article title.

If anyone has objections to any of these, please speak up now; I'll be trying to move this along soon. Anthony Argyriou 12:09, 3 March 2008 (CST)

It looks fine to me. As I think a number of us have noted in the above discussions, there are *always* going to be exceptions to various rules -- in those cases there is generally a commonsensical solution; if not, editors and authors will just have to discuss the different proposals and come to an ad hoc decision. Hayford Peirce 13:59, 3 March 2008 (CST)
So Shirley Temple & Cat Stevens are the names of those articles, with redirects from Ms Black & Mr Islam? Fine. Ro Thorpe 16:02, 3 March 2008 (CST)
Oh, and Jimmy Carter has 'formally James Earl..' which strikes me as verbose: better to begin the article with the formal name, as an interesting contrast, in such cases, no? Ro Thorpe 16:11, 3 March 2008 (CST)
Yes, Ro, I agree that looks good. Jimmy Carter begins James Earl Carter &c.
Anthony, re bullet no. 6 above, 'royalty', is this spelt out somewhere? I didn't understand, for example, about Emperors of Japan.
Aleta Curry 18:19, 3 March 2008 (CST)
Ah - that's a very good question. I don't have a strong preference either way; I'm willing to rewrite the proposal either to clarify or remove the Emperors of Japan and Cardinals issue. There's also the possibility coming up that Wikipedia will change King/Queen to require including that title; I'm indifferent there, too, but if we adopt the older practice, we should link to a specific version of the WP policy, rather than the current, or copy it over here. I'll think about wording; please let me know (you and other interested parties) if you have opinions regarding those specific issues. Anthony Argyriou 19:02, 3 March 2008 (CST)
Possibly to answer a different question regarding the Emperors of Japan, see [1]. Anthony Argyriou 16:28, 4 March 2008 (CST)
Hirohito is a really bad example to use for the Japanese Emperor rule, as can be seen by the constant battles over the 'correct' name for his article on Wikipedia. The problem is that the rule proposed here directly contradicts the 'name they are best known by' opening principle. Almost nobody outside Japanese specialists knows him as the Showa Emperor (or Emperor Showa - another source of argument). So let's pick someone non-controversial, like Meiji, OK? J. Noel Chiappa 19:51, 10 March 2008 (CDT)

There is now a proposal regarding Romanization of names from non-latin-alphabet languages; if that proposal is adopted, I will change some of the above to mention the guideline/policy, and possibly cut some of the discussion regarding those issues in this proposal. Anthony Argyriou 16:28, 4 March 2008 (CST)

name sorting

Should I include instructions on using the abc= section of the metadata to properly alphabetize by family name? Something like this:

In the metadata template of every article created with subpages is an entry for alphabetization, abc =. This item should be filled with the family name of the article subject first, thus abc = Sanger, Larry or abc = Garcia Marquez, Gabriel (note that Spanish family names usually include two names). In languages where the family name is traditionally first, such as Chinese, the same order should be used, thus abc = Mao Zedong to ensure that Mao is alphabetized near Karl Marx, not near Grigory Zinoviev. Diacritics should not be used in the abc = entry.

Anthony Argyriou 16:39, 4 March 2008 (CST)

A plaintive note

This is probably too late to have much influence, but... I've always been unhappy with Wikipedia's 'best known by' rule, and had hoped we could avoid the same mistake here. It just seems to be nothing but a source of never-ending disputes (see, for example, Hirohito, which goes on to this day, with an annual, or semi-annual, flare-up), as to what the 'best known' and/or most proper name is.

Given that a redirect from X, with the article at Y, works just as well as the other way round (and if you need proof of that, look at the rule on diacritical marks - what vanishingly small percentage of people do you think will actually type the name with those diacriticals - so clearly having articles at the 'less commonly looked up name' is perfectly fine, at least in those cases), it seems to me it makes no sense at all to do anything other than 'article at full, formal name', with redirects from more informal variants.

I mean, there is absolutely no upside (as shown by the rule on diacriticals), and a huge downside (constant arguments). What, precisely, are the advantages we gain that are worth the waste of time and energy in those disputes? J. Noel Chiappa 19:51, 10 March 2008 (CDT)

I hope to hear more discussion regarding your suggestion. I'm much more interested in there being a standard than I am in the particulars of the standard I've offered. There are some ideas I don't want to become the standard, but using full formal name is not one of those.
However, I do have a question for you: what do we do where the "full formal name" is not known or difficult to ascertain? What, for example, was Queen Victoria's full name? Alexandrina Victoria Hanover, or just Alexandrina Victoria? Should we really list Juan Carlos I as Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias? Do Sukarno and Suharto really only have one name? Is it Pope Benedict XVI, Benedictus, or Joseph Alois Ratzinger? For that matter, Hirohito is an interesting case - it cuold be argued that his formal name became Emperor Shōwa upon his death.
So - I'm not opposed to your idea, but there are some details which should be worked out if we are to adopt it; I also think there should be some consensus among those participating in this discussion if we are to make that change. Anthony Argyriou 22:05, 10 March 2008 (CDT)

You make a number of good points. First, I completely agree with you that the most important thing is to have a system which we all follow.

I also cheerfully concede that I may just be having 'grass is greener' thing going, seeing very clearly (through painful experience) the problems with the WP policy (which the current proposal basically emulates), and not seeing as clearly any problems with the suggested replacement. Indeed, there may always be some problems, no matter what system is in use. My idea is just to try and have a system which is less based on judgement (which 'best known as' will always inevitably have), and hopefully therefore produces a lot fewer long debates - which do nothing except waste time and energy, and upset people.

The specific cases you mention don't really bother me too much; Queen Victoria and King Juan Carlos I are not an issue for me because I'm fine with the system for royalty; for Popes, I can go with either birth names or accession names, whichever people prefer. And it would definitely kill the Hirohito problem; he'd be at Emperor Showa, just like all the other dead Japanese emperors.

It's certainly true that even in the West, a person's 'full formal name' can be variable, e.g. for people who legally change their name, etc. But we can have fairly simple policy solutions for many of these; e.g. for the "legally change their name" case, we always use their name at death, or the current name (for people who are still alive).

However, your examples do point out that I didn't phrase my concept well - I guess what I'm saying is not so much 'use their full formal name' (which can, as you point out, be problematic) as much as I'm saying that I don't like the 'best known as' standard because it is somewhat less mechanical - and therefore open to debate. So I'm fine with the royalty/pope naming systems precisely because they are deterministic (that's the jargon word I was looking for). So maybe a better name for my preference is 'formal' rather than 'full'.

Finally, some sort of formal names are more serious, and given that CZ wants to be (and be seen as) serious and professional, I think William Jefferson Clinton is more serious and professional than Bill Clinton.

So maybe my proposal is best described concisely as 'deterministic and formal'. And yes, of course, we need to get everyone to consider this and let us know what they think before proposing such a change. (I'll post something on the forum, to highlight it.) J. Noel Chiappa 08:44, 11 March 2008 (CDT)

Noel makes some good points. CZ's goal is accuracy not formality. CZ did not name him "Bill Clinton" -- that is HIS choice and we reflect that. Richard Jensen 10:32, 11 March 2008 (CDT)
I agree with Richard that Noel makes some good points. I would definitely argue for the use of regnal names for the popes, considering that information about their baptismal names is spotty until around the turn of the first millennium, but beyond that, using deterministic, formal names seems like a good idea.
But beyond royalty and the popes, I don't know what to do about Suharto or Hirohito either, although this may be a puzzle to me mainly because of my ignorance of Indonesian and Japanese politics. Another argument would be that the "best known as" name frequently has a political subtext, and using the formal version of someone's name would be more neutral and better here, too. Brian P. Long 11:19, 11 March 2008 (CDT)
I don't object to very prominent mention of Bill Clinton's usual 'handle' being "Bill Clinton" (e.g. "William Jefferson Clinton (born xxx), usually known as Bill Clinton"), nor do I object to having a redirect from that. I'm merely concerned with a simple, deterministic system for the naming of articles.
Hirohito's not a problem under my scheme (see above). As to Suharto, I know there are cultures where people have only one name, and I think he's from one, so as long as that's his real name, that's where we'd have him. J. Noel Chiappa 11:15, 12 March 2008 (CDT)

Hey Anthony-- Just so I'm on the same page as you, what exactly are you referring to when you mention (below in the poll section) "some difficulties with determining formal names"? Are you referring principally to the Hirohito example? Before casting my vote-- I'm leaning towards the formal names refinement-- I would sort of like to see how many names we can enumerate where figuring out the formal name proposes a real problem. Thanks, Brian P. Long 23:23, 12 March 2008 (CDT)

There is primarily the case of European nobility and royalty; there will also be issues with medieval figures where the documentation would not have been as exact, as well as people whose only written existence is in documents written by people who didn't speak the subject's language. There may also be a problem with contemporary figures: what is Sergey Brin's full legal name? How do you know?
But in general, I agree with Noel regarding the determinacy of his proposal; for most people - for more than the alternate - there will be one unequivocally right name to choose. If we adopt the Nobility and Royalty proposal as well, we will eliminate a significant amount of the remaining indeterminacy. What we lose is a small amount of clarity, which the rule about redirects should minimize. Even though under Noel's proposal, the article will be Wladziu Valentino Liberace, there will be a redirect from Liberace, so most people will be able to find it, provided article authors create the proper redirects. Anthony Argyriou 15:43, 13 March 2008 (CDT)

Stop the presses

I just wrote an article called Kingston Trio for today's write-a-thon, about the v. famous folk group of the late 50s and early 60s. (Hey, they had *4* albums in the Top 10 at one point, something that Garth Brook finally matched 40 years later!) Anyway, in the old days, except for when their name led off the sentence, they were called "the Kingston Trio". When one of them, John Stewart, died a few weeks ago, the New York Times called them that. *However*, at some point, the Trio evidently trademarked their name, or whatever you call it, and it was done as "The Kingston Trio", with a capital T on "the" at all times. I had a *bitter* fight at WP for a couple of weeks about this. I dug out all of my old albums, some of them nearly 50 years old, and found liner note after liner note that said stuff like, "When the Kingston Trio are on the road, they etc. etc." Now, however, except mebbe for me and the NYT, they seem to be The Kingston Trio. What are they going to be for CZ? It seems to me the height of foolishness for me to write a sentence (and I very nearly did) like, "At the height of their success, The Kington Trio were more popular than the Weavers, who had preceded them, or the New Christy Minstrals, who followed them." What say, gang? Hayford Peirce 15:46, 5 March 2008 (CST)

So that's why it wasn't there when I looked. All the pages, without any content, have been made by me, under Kingston Trio, as you had them. But you're talking about the text. I had the same problem at WP, with the same unsatisfactory solution. As we need to be able to link articles like this: the Kingston Trio, I think posterity will ignore anyone's insistence on a capital The. There was once a pop group called The The - but we can leave that to the still unborn... Ro Thorpe 16:05, 5 March 2008 (CST)
I've just made redirects for The Kingston Trio, The K-Trio, and K-Trio. Okie, so you're saying: Ignore what The Kingston Trio Institute and Official Home Page or Whatever call themselves, and just call them the Kingston Trio, the way the New York Times does? That's the way *I* want to do it, but I wanted to make sure that it fell within CZ policy. As this question come up concerning the Beetles or the Beach Boys or whoever? ...said Hayford Peirce (talk) (Please sign your talk page posts by simply adding four tildes, ~~~~.)
I agree--The The and e. e. cummings aside perhaps, names of people and groups should follow similar capitalization guidelines. --Larry Sanger 16:27, 5 March 2008 (CST)
I've checked the Beatles & they are thus. And, although my Penguin copy of his poems has 'e. e. cummings' on the spine, it seems he preferred plain ole 'E.E.' Ro Thorpe 16:31, 5 March 2008 (CST)
I've got a similar problem with the Kennel Club. So are they Kennel Club, the Kennel Club, or The Kennel Club? Would you believe, I've even written to the Kennel Club and not gotten a straight answer? Aleta Curry 19:35, 5 March 2008 (CST)
I've got a cousin named Michael Peirce who got so tired of people spelling his name Pierce that he simply gave up correcting them.... Hayford Peirce 20:36, 5 March 2008 (CST)

One more question

As I was coming home today, I thought of a category of people whose names we have not touched on at all (which I think will prove far less contentious than other categories). What are we going to do about the names of Ancient Greeks and Romans-- particularly when those names overlap? (I think the naming of Roman emperors is largely uncontentious, though). My suggestion, since they already have to deal with it, would be to follow the naming conventions of the Oxford Classical Dictionary. In the event that Citizendium has an article on a figure who is too obscure to merit an entry in the OCD, we can extend the OCD system (i.e. 'X of Y') or use parentheses: X (minor Roman writer). Let me know what y'all think, Brian P. Long 18:35, 6 April 2008 (CDT)

And what when they *don't* overlap, Brian? Will it be St. Paul, Paul the Apostle, Paul of Tarsus, Saul of Tarsus, Saint Paul the Apostle?
Okay, it's official: my head hurts.
I think, like Hayford, I am fast getting to the call-'em-whatever stage.
Aleta Curry 19:39, 6 April 2008 (CDT)
Keep it simple: St. Paul. I assume this is what the OCD does. Catullus, Xenophon, Pliny the Elder, Seneca the Younger, right? Ro Thorpe 09:32, 7 April 2008 (CDT)
Need to think about this - and it also interacts with whether we adopt the page-name/article-title separation. For what it's worth, Romans of the higher classes did have full legal names similar to the modern forms in the West, didn't they?. (On the road, no reference books!) I don't remember the Greeks; I think they did "X son of Y, of the deme Z", if I recall. I don't think we'd want to use that formulation. J. Noel Chiappa 09:49, 7 April 2008 (CDT)
Yeah, with most Romans who had a public career, they had a praenomen, nomen and cognomen. For these, I would argue for the deterministic format (using all three) even when the most common name in the English-speaking world is only one of these. The issue with classical names is really the Greeks, and those in the Roman world where we don't have the full Roman nomenclature (i.e. Paul of Tarsus). I'm going to have to check in my reference books, and also the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Christian Church (or whatever it's called)-- you'd be surprised, Ro, how many "St. Pauls" there are! Brian P. Long 11:02, 7 April 2008 (CDT)
Yes, and I won't have a guess, but there is only one who can elegantly be called St. Paul. Otherwise you can argue about alternatives for ever. Ditto Ovid, Publius Ovidius Maro I think he was, but we don't need that until the intro. Ro Thorpe 11:57, 7 April 2008 (CDT)

Poll regarding suggested change

J. Noel Chiappa suggests CZ:Proposals/Naming Conventions for Biographies#A plaintive note above that rather than "the name the person is most commonly known by", we use "the person's full legal/formal name, so far as that is ascertainable". He would maintain the nobility/royalty proposal. The argument is that making the change he proposes would making article naming more deterministic, and lead to fewer debates over article names. Unchanged from the original proposal, he would have redirects from common alternatives. In practice, this would mean that the article on the former president would be William Jefferson Clinton rather than Bill Clinton, though either link would lead to the article in either case.

I would like your opinion on the issue of "most commonly known by" versus "full formal/legal name". If there is a consensus that we should use "full formal/legal name", I will rewrite this proposal to conform (hopefully) to that standard, and then submit it for review before passing it on to the Editorial Council for final adoption. Please start your opinion with a "*", so that it comes as a separate bullet point. This poll is only for the question above; further discussion of the details can go CZ:Proposals/Naming Conventions for Biographies#A plaintive note above. Thanks, Anthony Argyriou 13:57, 12 March 2008 (CDT)

A quick interjection: I don't mean to exempt only the nobility/royalty exemption; basically any group where there's a deterministic rule can have an exception, as far as I'm concerned. It's the determinism which is the important part. J. Noel Chiappa 15:18, 12 March 2008 (CDT)
  • My own opinion - I am very slightly in favor of the "best known by" standard, if only because there are some difficulties with determining formal names, and some of the sub-policies (royal/noble names) would be inconsistent with the rest of the standard. Or maybe it's because I didn't think of the "formal name" idea first. Anthony Argyriou 14:00, 12 March 2008 (CDT)
    • The sub-policy inconsistencies don't bother me, and in any case they're going to be inconsistent in the original proposal, too. J. Noel Chiappa 15:18, 12 March 2008 (CDT)
  • This is stuff that can be endlessly argued about with valid positions on all sides. I myself *hate* the idea that POTUS is called Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton but I guess it's something that we're gonna have to live with, at least until we get a president named William James Peirce and he declares in an angry voice that his name is *not* Billy Jim Peirce. In the meantime, I think that CZ articles should be called by what, I'm pretty sure, the average person is going to use when they want info about someone. Ie, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, but, marginally, Gerald Ford rather than Jerry Ford. And, of course, Abraham Lincoln rather than Abe Lincoln. And I doubt if anyone, including his wife or mother ever called Georgie Washington that, hehe. There will, I'm sure, be names that CZ people will argue about, but why not? Learned discussion stimulates the brain and probably aids arterial activity.... Hayford Peirce 14:19, 12 March 2008 (CDT)
    • But the original proposal isn't using the names an average person would type - see the section above about Spanish/French names using accents. And if the arguments were learned and productive, that would be fine, but experience on Wikipedia is that they go round in the same old circles. J. Noel Chiappa 15:18, 12 March 2008 (CDT)
  • Jimmy Carter works for me. [How much do you pay?] His presidential library is the Jimmy Carter Library. His books are signed Jimmy Carter. Scholars call him Jimmy Carter. It's so unlikely many CZ users would search for James Earl Carter, Jr., or want to use that name in anything they write. Richard Jensen 14:28, 12 March 2008 (CDT)
    • With redirects, if someone does type Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton it's going to wind up at the right place. The only issue is where we stick the actual article. J. Noel Chiappa 15:18, 12 March 2008 (CDT)
  • Please, let's not make the same mistake Wikipedia made. J. Noel Chiappa 15:18, 12 March 2008 (CDT)
  • Anthony, thanks for asking me to comment. I haven't changed my view that one should be able to type in Bill Clinton & see an article called that, but I'm not too bothered if the majority prefer the formal name, as I recall Clintstone did at his inauguration. As for accents, many people don't have them on their keyboard, but I think a good-looking article should, so typing in Alain Juppe would get you Alain Juppé. Ro Thorpe 15:58, 12 March 2008 (CDT)
    • Agree completely with all of that. J. Noel Chiappa 16:19, 12 March 2008 (CDT)
  • CZ aspires to be a standard source for students. That means they will copy our style decisions, so what we decide is important to them. I think we should therefore use the name that most scholars, editors, and publishers use.Richard Jensen 16:37, 12 March 2008 (CDT)
    • And I agree with that. Do I detect the alluring aroma of consensus? Ro Thorpe 17:52, 12 March 2008 (CDT)
    • The only question is 'would scholars, editors and publishers' agree? The classic example (again) is Hirohito, where you can find a long list of people who have picked any position you chose! And I can also see a scholarly biography having a full name in the title, and a more popular work using a shorter name. J. Noel Chiappa 23:13, 13 March 2008 (CDT)
  • Weighing in in favour of the formal, legal name, on the grounds of taking one lone, final stand against the collapse of all standards in Western Civilisation. Yes, things changed for The Greatest Generation, but there's no excuse for the iconoclastic mess that their offspring, the "baby boomers" have left for my generation to deal with. (There is no doubt in my mind that my daughter's generation will of necessity fix a lot of this, but meanwhile, I, raised in civility and living in anarchy, feel cheated.) I seem to remember that it was a really big deal when Carter took the oath of office as "Jimmy". Ah, yes. All very nice and folksy for him, but I do think these things should be exceptions.. Aleta Curry 18:42, 12 March 2008 (CDT)
    • Aleta is riught in spotting a strong trend toward informality in the last 40 years. Times change and we should reflect the standard practices of today, not the ideals of some past era. Richard Jensen 23:28, 12 March 2008 (CDT)
      • This isn't about what we call people in articles; it's only about where we put the article. Feel free to call him "Bill Clinton" in article text. J. Noel Chiappa 23:13, 13 March 2008 (CDT)
      • Oh, Richard! I wasn't even born yet in 1958! And these things so tend to be cyclical--Socrates had the same complaints I do. Aleta Curry 00:33, 13 March 2008 (CDT)
        • So when were you born? (snicker) --Robert W King 08:51, 13 March 2008 (CDT)
          Yer cruisin' fer a bruisin', Mr King! Aleta Curry 16:08, 14 March 2008 (CDT)
          • well i started college in 1958--at Notre Dame--and had to wear a suit and tie. (what did the girls wear? who knows; the best American schools did not have girls.) Richard Jensen 00:58, 13 March 2008 (CDT)
            • Ooh--ouch! Well, I hope that the girls who went to the Seven Sisters would argue with you. Anyway, years later, when I started school, my male classmates had to wear ties--and this was in primary school. AND we had to wear full uniforms with blazers in high school. I never thought this was such a terrible thing--made us all equal. My only problem was that our high school uniforms were so dashed ugly. Aleta Curry 04:41, 13 March 2008 (CDT)
              • my twin daughters graduates from Seven Sisters colleges last year and had a TERRIFIC education. Better than mine. Richard Jensen 14:22, 13 March 2008 (CDT)
                • "What is this "coat and tie" whatever-it-is you keep referring to, anyway? Stephen Ewen 06:00, 14 March 2008 (CDT)
                  • It's a costume males had to wear in the days they were called James Early Carter, Jr. 13:32, 14 March 2008 (CDT)
  • It looks like supporting the "formal name" we have J. Noel Chiappa and Aleta Curry, with Richard Jensen strongly favoring the "best known as", and everyone else (including me) pretty much neutral to indifferent. That doesn't look like much of a consensus either way. There are definite advantages either way, so I won't presume to choose for everyone, at least not yet. I'll try to put together (with Noel) a worked-out proposal for the "formal name" variant, and ask people to vote between that and the original proposal in the next few days. Anthony Argyriou 00:39, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
    • there's not much point in a discussion with so few people. Richard Jensen 01:13, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
      • Good point; I'll send a message to the mailing list, that should get people to come weigh in. Richard, please note that I am not saying that we have to refer to "Jimmy Carter" as "James etc" in articles; I'm perfectly happy with calling him "Jimmy Carter" in text. All this is about is where we put the article. Does that make a difference? J. Noel Chiappa 08:30, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
  • Just so we're clear, I am voting in favor of the "formal name" proposal, along with the Nobility and Royalty proposal. Brian P. Long 05:10, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
  • I'm in favour of the 'best known by', Jimmy and Bill, option, but with the article starting with the formal name only. I think that is a good compromise. I'm very tempted to do a long and silly version of my name here, but shall resist. Ro Thorpe 10:10, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
    • I don't care what's in the article. I'm only interested in where it is. J. Noel Chiappa 11:12, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
  • Here's another point for you all to consider: with many names, if you put the article at the 'common' variant, you wind up having to have the article elsewhere anyway, because there's more than one person with that name. E.g. take 'David Clark' - there are several important people with that name. So you wind up with articles named David Clark (computer scientist) and David Clark (business man) - is that really any better than David Dwight Clark? Sure, we'll still have some collisions with articles at 'formal' names, but a lot less. J. Noel Chiappa 11:49, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
    • So you're saying that Jack Crawford, the great Aussie tennis player of the 1930s should be listed as (name of the article, that is) John Herbert Crawford? I suppose his mother knew that that was his name and, for all I know, called him "Herbie", but I wager that no one else in the world does or even did back in the '30s. I do understand the problem, though. Several years ago at WP I wrote the original Jack Crawford article. As soon as it appeared, someone popped up with an article about a heroic 18th-century British sailor named Jack Crawford who, dare I say, is even more obscure and forgotten then the tennis player. He made the sailor boy the main article and relegated the poor Aussie to secondary status. We discussed fairly politely, I believe, and eventually, if you look in WP, you will find a disambig. page with six Jack Crawfords listed. "My" J.C. is now Jack Crawford (tennis player), the other one is Jack Crawford (sailor), and so forth for the other four. I do think that this is preferable to calling the article John Herbert Crawford. And who knows? There may be two of them also! Hayford Peirce 12:17, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
      • Right, but we wouldn't have to have an extensive debate over who gets Jack Crawford - and I can point you to many much longer (and more acerbic) debates over where so-and-so's article should be. J. Noel Chiappa 15:01, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
      • And then there's the little question of jazz musicians - Ro 'The Unicorn' Thorpe 13:00, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
        • Sorry, I'm not sure of what the issue is there? J. Noel Chiappa 15:01, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
          • 50 years of usage, Jimmy Carter, Dave Brubeck, Pancho Gonzales, Duke Ellington, Bob Dylan, Count Basie, & that's not to mention non-Americans... Ro Thorpe 17:10, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
            • The problem is that these are all easy cases, in which 'best known as' works fine. J. Noel Chiappa 20:44, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
    • I'm happy with the Jimmy Carter article as it stands, Why change it? To roll back the last 50 years of usage seems a poor idea for an encyclopedia that reflects the standards of 2008. Richard Jensen 14:15, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
      • I am not proposing changing one word in the Jimmy Carter article!!!!!!! J. Noel Chiappa 15:01, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
  • CZ has a responsibility not to mislead users. Giving a title to an article that is misleading would be a mistake, and students will copy that mistake. Richard Jensen 17:04, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
    • The point isn't to change people's everyday usage, but merely to ensure the smooth functioning of the encyclopedia-writing project. As Sanger is always quick to point out, the point of CZ is to put out the best encyclopedia possible. That's it.
    As a way to reduce the amount of time article writers spend thinking about article naming and similar things, having a deterministic article naming policy will make it easier for article writers when they're trying to get something written. Do I personally think 'Jimmy Carter' sounds less stilted than 'James Earl Carter, Jr.'? Yes. If I were making the B-Lo-ipedia (or -endium, I suppose), I would name the article 'Jimmy Carter'. But there are many, many more people whose names are ambiguous, where reasonable people could go either way on their estimation of which name is more common. We don't want to have contributors spending a lot of time arguing just what the criteria are for using the less formal name, or how in the heck we figure out how someone is "best-known to educated English-speaking people." All of this would be counterproductive. Naming conventions may be a case where we forgo personal preferences so that CZ might run better.
    Furthermore, JNC's proposal isn't that we should have the text of the article read "James Earl did X or Y", but merely that the article should be named 'James Earl Carter, Jr.', and located there. Brian P. Long 18:05, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
      • I fail to see how titling an article James Earl Carter, Jr. is in the least bit misleading. Anthony Argyriou 18:09, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
        • because students will copy it, unaware that no one uses that name. The "Jimmy Carter" version is used by Encyclopedia Britannica, Encarta, World Book, the White House, the Jimmy Carter Library, Time Magazine see 1976 cover story, major book publishers, and leading scholarly journals; it is explictly recommended in the AP Style Guide. Why CZ should take an oddball position is a mystery to me. I think we should follow the well-established policies of reputable sources.Richard Jensen 19:33, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
          • Well, in this particular case, that's certainly a valid issue, one that needs thinking about. Let me ponder that one for a while. But as I've mentioned before, there are many cases in which the 'reputable sources' algorithm will fail, because there is no generally-accepted answer (Hirohito, again, being a case in point). J. Noel Chiappa 20:52, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
  • Much as I appreciate your position Richard, I think the point still stands that Time, Britannica, the Jimmy Carter Library and so on are all traditional, top-down organizations. The editor (or whoever) of Time can say, we're calling him 'Jimmy Carter' and everyone else has to toe the line. We do not have one person who can determine usage guidelines by fiat-- we have a large number of volunteer-contributors, writing a free encyclopedia in their spare time. Anything that frees up more of their time to write is a good in my book, and strongly to be preferred. Brian P. Long 19:44, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
    • Could there be anything more ridiculous than typing in 'George Orwell' and seeing an article called 'Eric Blair'? We'd be a laughing stock. Ro Thorpe 19:49, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
      • If it started "Eric Blair (xxx - yyy), the writer known as George Orwell", would that be that ridiculous? J. Noel Chiappa 20:44, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
        • If not ridiculous, a little wacky. George Orwell (born Eric Blair xxx...) is the time-honoured way. Ro Thorpe 13:48, 18 March 2008 (CDT)
    • Supporting Brian and Noel here. I hope no one is labouring under the impression that I'm trying to change how people write about people, what people may or may not call themselves, etc. This is only about where articles live.
    I honestly don't see the problem. If someone types in the 'known by' name, it redirects without fanfare to the formal name. So?
    I do see the issues that Hayford raises. To me, Jack Russell is only a person who (unintentionally) lent his name to an interminably cute type of pooch. Others don't see it that way. So what do we do? We have to have discussions and disambiguation anyway, so I think coming up with a sensible CZ style is best.
    Just to give all you "best known-by name" folks something else to think about. Sometimes the best known by is just wrong. For example, that poor lady who died in a car crash in a Paris tunnel was not "Princess Diana". It wasn't her name. It was *never* her name. It WAS, however, the name by which tens of millions knew her. We still can't put her biographical article at Princess Diana. It's just WRONG. (And before someone chimes in with "yes, but she was a royal, that means she's under our royalty rules" well, a) she was the only and best example of what I meant that came to mind and b) actually, she wasn't. She wasn't a royal at her birth, nor, technically, at her death, God rest her soul.
    Since I started typing this, Ro has reminded us of something else. It might seem like the same thing, but it isn't. We might want to think about a policy for noms de plume, professional names, stage names, that sort of thing. Not the same thing as Bobby Kennedy or Robert F. Kennedy Aleta Curry 19:56, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
    • The authoritative Dictionary of National Biography calls her article simply "Diana." As for "princess" or "king" etc, CZ policy is not to include that as part of the article name. So we have Louis XIV not King Louis XIV. Richard Jensen 20:34, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
      • Yes, but we couldn't use plain Diana anyway. (If nothing else, the Greek - or was she Roman, I always ghet them mixed up :-) - goddess of the hunt might not approve! J. Noel Chiappa 20:52, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
  • If you all want to know what the 'deterministic, not best-known-as' policy would save us: look at this debate, and then multiply it by like 1000, going on and on and never ending. That's what Wikipedia is like, because every N months a new group of editors have joined, and you have to have the same argument about 'what name is Hirohito best known by' all over again. J. Noel Chiappa 20:44, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
  • PS: It's not that I'm really big about 'formal names' - I certainly recognize that it has issues. It's just that I want something that's deterministic (i.e. one follows a mechanical process to arrive at the title, so there's really no need for debate), and simple (not a long, long list of 'special case' rules for different kinds of people). My problems with 'best known as' are that it's not very deterministic (and also lacks professionalism in some cases). I suggested 'formal' simply because it met the 'deterministic' and 'simple' criteria - but I'm not wedded to it, as a means of achieving those two goals (which are what are really important, to me). If someone else can come up with some other rule that's both deterministic and simple, I would be most interested in it. J. Noel Chiappa 22:15, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
Noel, I think can understand what you're concern is here - you want to eliminate this kind of debate. You are afraid that unless there is a concrete rule, there will be endless discussion over whether it should be Abe or Abraham Lincoln. My suggestion is, in being different than WP, allow the editors of the workgroups in question make these determinations. That is what sets us apart, is it not, that we have certified experts in their fields who should be able to determine what the name of an article is? --Todd Coles 23:03, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
Geez, how many gazillions of words, and hundreds of man/woman hours, have already been spent/wasted on this discussion!? Haven't we anything better to do!? I personally have my own preferences, but I've come to Noel's point of view: I don't really care *what* it is, but just freakin' DO it! As Eliza sang, almost screamed, "Words, words, words, words, that's all you blighters can do!" I don't really care if every article about Christians is called Jimmy Carter, Authentic Christian and articles about others are called Sukarno, 666 Mark of the Beast, just as long as it's reasonably structured! Isn't it possible to come to some sort of agreement about this and then just start writing articles, whatever they're called? Redirects will get anyone above the sub-human cretin level to whatever article they're looking for. And although I personally agree with Prof. Jensen in his comments about Jimmy Carter and how ubiquitous that name is, I REALLY DON'T CARE if a million cretinous students mistakenly think that James Earl Carter is how he should be written about. Let them use that -- and be marked down! Come on, people, let's PLEASE move on to something else! Hayford Peirce 22:49, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
to follow up on Noel's thoughts. In 99+% of CZ articles there is no dispute. The issue comes up with celebrities or authors who have a "stage name" or a "pen name", and also with politicians who insidt on using nicknames to show their informality. In most cases the stage name/pen name is much better known and should be the article title. As for live politicians, I suggest looking at their web pages to see what they call themselves now. This came up with Hillary Clinton, who has several times changes her political name. (Hillary Rodham/ Hillary Rodham Clinton/ and now Hillary Clinton). We should NOT say that we know better what name they "really" should have (no one here has any expertise on that issue). Richard Jensen 23:08, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
I vote with Joel. Using formal names (see how I always use my middle initial) avoids all of the arguments that I just had to read this morning. David E. Volk 09:02, 18 March 2008 (CDT)

I believe that that if discussion is reaching the point of diminishing returns, then given that the decision is to be made here on this page, the next step is to actually take the vote. This should be done free of any remarks whatsoever, just as Editorial Council votes are taken. Please consult Jitse for assistance (if necessary) in setting up the vote itself. --Larry Sanger 10:35, 18 March 2008 (CDT)

I agree that we're into DR on the 'formal names' proposal. However, is it OK if we hold off on your suggested next step for just a few days, to see if anyone can come up with an alternative 'deterministic' scheme? That's because I think almost everyone who likes 'formal names' prefers it because of the determinism, not because they particularly like formal names; and I think some of the points about the downsides of formal names do have merit. So if someone can come up with a different 'deterministic' scheme (I'm racking my brains :-), it may meet with a more-general and happier reception. J. Noel Chiappa 13:20, 18 March 2008 (CDT)
I'd go for 'usually known' names, except in a few cases, like Princess Diana, which is plain wrong. Diana (goddess) & Diana, Princess of Wales would disambiguate. In cases like 'David E. Volk', Robert E. Lee & Franklin D. Roosevelt I believe are the usual versions. And as with J. Noel Chiappa, so F. Scott Fitzgerald. As for the person originally published as 'I. Compton-Burnett' who ended up as 'Dame Ivy' we already have Ivy Compton-Burnett. Ro Thorpe 13:53, 18 March 2008 (CDT)
I think Joel is right that people who are in favor of the formal names variant are in favor of it because it will give future users a way to avoid arguments about Jimmy Carter, to use a fresh example. And Ro/Aleta totally have a valid point that we might want to consider some kind of professional name policy, though there are probably a number of messy issues to get hammered out there. It should be a separate proposal, though, and we should settle this proposal first.
I still think that the formal names proposal is probably the best thing going, because it short-circuits arguments about which name is "best-known to educated English-speaking people." The problem with the Anthony's proposal as written is that, at a given point in time, CZ will only have access to a small sample of the entire set of "educated English-speaking people." As that sample changes over time, or as members of that sample become more or less active, you are putting a system in place which will almost assuredly generate acrimony. If I write the first draft of the article on Diana and call it 'Diana Frances Spencer', and a few months later, when I'm not paying attention or something, and Ro moves it to 'Diana, Princess of Wales,' I would probably be a annoyed, much as I might try to be charitable. The point is that continual discussions of this kind are a waste of energy.
If we want to come up with a way to figure out the 'usually known' name in a deterministic way, we have to scrap our current formulation. "Best-known" is far too vague to be sorted out deterministically. There is, however, a precedent. I have hung out with linguistics folks long enough to know that linguists are constantly trying to figure out usage statistics for a given phrase, and they can do so with a limited amount of pain. I.e., they don't just go around and ask the people they know, which is the way the current CZ proposal works. Linguists use a corpus.
My understanding is that corpora are rather expensive linguistics research tools, which probably means it will not work for us to get ahold of one. (Maybe there's a way, I don't know) But I feel like it would probably be possible for some of our tech folk to whip up something comparable, setting up a script that would comparatively analyze the frequency of usage from a range of materials. We would have to design it carefully, but we would probably want to include google news, Britannica, the historical archives of the NY Times, etc. You see where I'm going. When someone thinks an article is misplaced (or when someone is naming the article in the first place) we run the script, figure out what our ersatz corpus is telling us (which name is the most frequently used), and name the article accordingly. This would be a method of naming articles that does not rely on subjective judgment or trying to intuit what's in the minds of all "educated English-speaking people."
I also agree with J. Noel, contra Larry, that although this argument is dragging on a bit, we should hold off calling a vote for a little while yet. Brian P. Long 16:42, 18 March 2008 (CDT)
we do not use "subjective judgment" at CZ, we use expert judgment. A mechanistic formula designed primarily to avoid debates is a bad idea because it circumvents the expertise we have -- our greatest asset--and produces bad results that no one actually wants (like articles titled "James Earl Carter, Jr." which ill be copied by unsuspecting users).Richard Jensen 16:54, 18 March 2008 (CDT)


Vote coming soon

In my copious free time, I will polish slightly more the original "best known as" proposal, and the "formal name" proposal, and submit them for a vote. Anthony Argyriou 18:59, 18 March 2008 (CDT)


another deterministic method

  • Actors - use the name given in film and TV credits (SAG name = Carry Grant)
  • Musicians - name given in their latest albums (Cher)
  • Scientists- name used in most recent publications
  • Writers - use name given in film credits (SWG name), book covers, TV credits, playbills
  • Politicians - name used on politic ads (Bill Clinton), not official election ballot names
  • Athletes - name commonly, and most recently, used by newspapers, magazines, etc. Ie, Pancho Gonzales during his playing career, not Pancho or Richard or Ricardo Gonzalez as he sometimes was called essentially after his career ended.
    • This is, however, an enormous can of worms when it comes to women athletes and their married names. At Wikipedia there has been a *long* and bitter argument about the Aussie player Margaret Smith, or is it Margaret Court Smith, or even Margaret Court-Smith? Hayford Peirce 12:47, 7 April 2008 (CDT)
I agree with David's deterministic approach, & all his examples. Margaret is always Court alone now: indeed at Melbourne they have the Margaret Court Arena (as opposed to the Margaret Arena Court). It has to be ad hoc: for example, unlike Margaret, Nancy Richey, not her married name. Ro Thorpe 17:04, 7 April 2008 (CDT)
Well, it took the embittered tennis "experts" at WP a couple of months to come to some conclusion or other about Margaret, and there was a lot of acrimony exchanged, and about 10,000 man-hours of research devoted to each side trying to prove its point. On the other hand, we still have Billie Jean King, even though Ms. Moffitt hasn't been married to Mr. King for lo! these many years now.... So, as you say, I think it's gotta be ad hoc. Hayford Peirce 17:45, 7 April 2008 (CDT)
Larry King - but not the CNN one! Ro Thorpe 18:04, 7 April 2008 (CDT)
I think there ought to be a law against professional women being known by anything other than their professional names. Or maybe just actresses, athletes, starlets and anyone else likely to change husbands like underwear. Honestly, *socially* you may call yourself Ms/Miss or Mrs Jane Bloggs-Doe-Smith-Brown-Black, Mrs Black nee Bloggs, Dr Brown Black, Prof Bloggs formerly known as Bloggs-Doe-Smith-Brown-Black, with my blessing, but why should the rest of us need to turn cartwheels trying to remember your current preference?
And that reminds me: when God is in his heaven and all's right with the world, we will all be known as simply Mr or Ms, and all the other titles can be used in one's professional capacity only, and I will be happy. Happier, at any rate.
</rant> Aleta Curry 19:44, 7 April 2008 (CDT)
But when da Queen knights me for my contributions to Humanity at large, can't I call meself Sir Hayford Peirce 20:54, 7 April 2008 (CDT)?
So if a scientist publishes in two journals, one which abbreviates to first and middle initial, and one which spells out first name, how often do we switch? How about Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler? The first case is harder, because it's not what the person chose, it's what his publisher chose. Anthony Argyriou 21:35, 7 April 2008 (CDT)
Why should this be a problem? I'm just baffled by all this on-going discussion! I'm sure that it can't be hard to determine that any given scientist normally prefers to call himself Jean Paul Jones Brown or A. J. P. Taylor or whatever. If one, or two, or three journals prefer to reference his articles as by J.P.J. Brown or some other combinations of initials, WHY DO WE CARE?! Redirects, redirects, redirects, redirects! Do we care if a Brit journal once published something by R.A. Heinlein or A.C. Clarke? To the rest of the world they are known as Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. To me this is an absolute non-issue that can be resolved, and I repeat myself, by redirects. We're just an encyl. project, not an attempt to rewire the entire world in a single nomenclature template.... Hayford Peirce 23:09, 7 April 2008 (CDT)
One would think, wouldn't one? (That it shouldn't take such lengthy debate...)
Hence my fondness for a purely mechanical rule about where the article goes - to get rid of all that debate. Opinions would have no weight, the only thing that would matter would be more legal data. Redirects would take care of all the variants, as you point out.
The problem with your examples is that you seem to be picking the easy ones. Anyone will concede that Arthur C. Clarke is known far and wide as Arthur C. Clarke. You need to instead consider how your proposal would work for the hard ones. J. Noel Chiappa 08:08, 8 April 2008 (CDT)

The most deterministic rule ever

If you want ease, no arguments, then this is rule. "He who first creates the article decides the name". This has no exceptions whatsoever. :) David E. Volk 08:12, 8 April 2008 (CDT)


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