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Wikipedia: The Missing Manual by John Broughton

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Chapter 16. Getting Readers to the Right Article: Naming, Redirects, and Disambiguation

With more than 2.5 million articles on the English Wikipedia, how do you get to the one you want? For example, when a reader types “mercury” into the search box, what article does she expect to be displayed? And if she wanted the article “mercury (element)” but put a comma instead of space between “mercury” and “(element),” would Wikipedia’s search engine find it? What if someone creates an article called “Mercury (Roman god)” when there already is one called “Mercury (mythology)”?

Wikipedia depends on editors to fix naming errors, to create pages (redirects) that automatically correct typing errors, and to set out guideposts to readers to help them find their way (disambiguation). The cumulative effort of millions of editors has created web of articles and links that get virtually all readers to the right place within one click.

Naming and Renaming

The best way to deal with an error is to not make it in the first place. That’s why Wikipedia has a naming convention for just about any kind of new article. The more you and other editors follow these conventions, the less renaming you’ll have to do. But with so many naming conventions (see Figure 16-1 for a sampling), new editors can get confused and name articles incorrectly.

The table of contents of the policy Wikipedia:Naming conventions (shortcut WP:NAME), only partly shown here, gives you a sense of how detailed the policy is, including the related pages such as Wikipedia:Naming conventions (people) (shortcut: WP:NCP). Fortunately, while new articles often get renamed, name changes thereafter are rarely needed.

Figure 16-1. The table of contents of the policy Wikipedia:Naming conventions ...

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