CZ:Proposals/Naming Conventions for Biographies/Proposal2

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Naming Conventions for Biographical Articles

To prevent lengthy (and repetitive) arguments about what name a person is 'best known by', we will instead adopt a system whose principal goal is determinism; i.e. it will be easy to determine, in a perfectly mechanical way, what page name an article for a given person will be placed at.

Specific fields (for example royalty, actors, and authors) may adopt any reasonable rule, as long as it meets this principal goal of determinism.

For all others not covered by one of these field-specific rules, an article about a person will be placed at the person's formal or legal name, with redirects from all common alternates. Where a person is better known by some other name, that should be stated in the first sentence in the article, and the "best known as" name should be used throughout that article, and any others which refer to them. For example, the article on Jimmy Carter would begin

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

If a person legally changed their name, use the legal name they had at their death. If they are still alive, use their current legal name.

If two people have the exact same legal name, it should be disambiguated in the normal way, with "(<disambiguator>)" (where <disambiguator> should be profession, or reason for being well known, or something similar) added to the end of the article name. E.g. John Quincy Adams (President) and John Quincy Adams (politician) (his grandson). (In this particular example, we do not use simply John Quincy Adams for the grandfather because of the forthcoming proposal on disambiguation.)

People with titles of nobility or royalty

This proposal is similar to the system for names and titles that the Royalty and Nobility Work Group at Wikipedia have developed, except to expand its use beyond western Europe. This guideline applies to people who have held offices which are normally hereditary, even if their specific tenure was not the result of hereditary succession.

In general:

  • Monarchs of nations or other political units: "{Monarch's first name and ordinal (<Country or unit>)"; the <Country or unit> should be the same as the title of the Citizendium article on that entity. So Charles V (Holy Roman Empire), and Elizabeth II (United Kingdom). Family names should only be used where necessary to distinguish between two monarchs with the same name, ordinal and country.
  • 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}".

Exceptions to the general Wikipedia policy:

Other titles

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 Wilson Reagan, not President Ronald Wilson Reagan, and Rowan Williams, not Archbishop Rowan Williams. (Though possibly Archbishop Makarios.)

Rules for people who are not covered by a field-specific rule

People from English-speaking countries

Use the full first, middle, and last name, where known. If the person commonly is addressed by or discussed by a nickname, describe that in the opening sentence of the article. Create redirects from common forms and variants of the name. Thus, some U.S. presidents:

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

Articles for people who have diacritical marks in their name should be placed at the page name which uses 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 alphabetize him as Garcia Marquez, Gabriel, not Marquez, Gabriel Garcia).

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 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.)

Similarly, until a guideline for Japanese is developed at CZ:Romanization/Japanese, Japanese names should be transliterated using the Revised Hepburn method. The family name should stay in front.

People whose culture has family name first

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 any literature which has the names in English order.


When more than one person is known by the same name, there are two different methods to handle the namespace conflict: This needs to be tweaked slightly to be in compliance with my forthcoming proposal on disambiguation.

  1. If one of the persons is far more notable than all the rest sharing the name, then the article on that person has that person's name, and the article has a hatnote which mentions that other persons with the same name can be found at the disambiguation page. For example, the second president of the United States should have an article at John Adams, and there should be a page John Adams (disambiguation), which lists all the other people named John Adams who have articles here.
  2. If there is no one outstanding person who has a particular name, then the article titled with just the name should have a list of all the persons with that name who have articles. Thus the article on Robert Ford will list all the Robert Fords who have articles in Citizendium.

Except for the most famous person in case 1 above, all articles about people with names shared by other people with articles will be titled with some distinguishing characteristic; usually what the person was best-known for. Thus the various Robert Fords would be discussed in articles titled Robert Ford (poet), Robert Ford (outlaw), Robert Ford (politician), and Robert Ford (author).

When creating a disambiguation list, include people whose names may not strictly require disambiguation - thus on the Robert Ford disambiguation page, Bob Ford and Robert Stephen Ford should also be listed. On the John Adams (disambiguation)page, John Quincy Adams (President) should be listed along with the plethora of other famous and infamous John Adamses.