Wikibooks:Policies and guidelines/Vote/Naming policy

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Wikibooks:Naming policy


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Currently Wikibooks has no official naming policy. We cannot enforce any naming convention on new books, there is no clear guideline for new users how to name pages. This proposal is an attempt to introduce a minimal, simple set of rules. It does not cover all cases - things like naming of templates, categories, book name shortcuts etc. will be discussed later (if neccessary) and please do not connect them with this proposal.


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  • New books - only slash is allowed as delimiter for page names. Page names must be in format <Bookname/Chaptername>. Colon as delimiter is reserved to Cookbook only.
  • Existing books - Any convention can be used, provided that book name is included in every chapter title. Consequently, we don't allow chapters with generic names like Contents anymore that don't also have the book name in the title. No cleanup boxes regarding page naming will be used on any existing books. Existing books must provide their own backlinks on all pages (except slash convention which automatically provides the backlinks).
  • Enforcement - Polite cleanup request can be put on the discussion page (not the module page) of nonconforming new books. There is no enforcement for existing books.


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  • is widely spread with existing and mostly used with new books
  • consistent, clear, easy to understand for readers and editors naming policy
  • slash convention provides pre-formatted automatic backlinks to the higher level pages (bookname, chaptername)
  • slash convention provides exclusive possibility to use fast links to subchapters ([[/chapter/]]) and sibling chapters ([[../sibling/]]), saving the time for typing the longer form ([[bookname/chapter]])
  • colon convention: only one applicable for namespaces (which Cookbook is)
  • removes status quo where:
    • two completely different books may link to the same chapter without knowing it (like Contents)
    • automatics tasks (use of bots to fix errors) are hard
    • it may confuse readers and contributors (if a contributor sees two books with completely different naming conventions)
    • two different naming convention in one book are allowed


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  • does not let book authors decide which naming convention is best for them
  • forces book section names to look like computer file names, such as: Windmills/Australian farms
  • if authors want to use a better book section title, such as "History of Windmills on Australian Farms" then the page appears to have two large-font titles
  • slash convention inserts a mandatory (no option to turn it off) second line of text on each page with the pre-formatted backlink, which is unnecessary if pages include their own backlinks or book contents template such as Botany example.

Only registered users with at least 20 edits can vote. Vote ended at March, 1st 00:01 GMT with the result that the motion had passed with a margin of 14 to 2.

  1. Aye Krischik T 17:42, 12 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Yes Plus existing books should be encouraged (though not, for now, mandated) to adopt the format that would be mandatory for new books, Jguk 15:40, 13 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Yes Although I'd like to see the colon convention included as an option for new books as well. We need some sort of policy at the moment, and the debate over allowing colons can take place as a separate issue and vote. --Rob Horning 16:17, 13 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Yes - Works for me. -Matt 18:00, 13 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Yes - We need consistency, this is a start, but should be expanded to all books. Gerard Foley 22:09, 13 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Yes I'm also adding a comment (existing books) below in the Discussion section. --JMRyan 22:57, 13 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Yes Although I'd also like it to be extended to all books at some time in the future. Consistency is important. ManuelGR 22:48, 14 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Yes --Kernigh 00:27, 15 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Yes As one of main supporters of this policy I am of course for it ;-) Derbeth talk 09:23, 15 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  10. Consistancy is as important as getting it exactly right. --LV (Dark Mark) 02:45, 17 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  11. Aye But see note below. --kwhitefoot 11:22, 17 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  12. Yes For existing books, we may want to consider changing them but keeping redirects around for links --Gabe Sechan 22:27, 17 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  13. Yes The Doc As we done in it:wb, all bookpages should be renamed 12:01, 19 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  14. Yes though I wonder the possibility of, say, "Programming" namespace...(?) - marsian 04:45, 21 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]


  1. No- A vote of No means authors may use the slash convention, or they may use the colon convention or other acceptable convention. KHatcher 16:36, 21 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  2. No- I disagree to being forced to use a naming convention that has definite disadvantages (See Discussion below). Authors must have options open when they start a wikibook. BDB 18:37, 24 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]



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Very long discussion was carried out at Wikibooks talk:Naming policy.

I noticed Rob Horning's vote and how he said he wanted colon convention for new books but that it could be discussed later. I thought this vote was quite solid on the stance of new books with respect to colon convention in that it will not be allowed. Period. I personally want colon convention as a guaranteed final no with this vote. Do others think this topic is still open, because I certainly didn't think it was after all the discussion? -Matt 18:05, 13 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Anyone can propose any modification they want after this policy is adopted (assuming it gets adopted). Whether such a modification is accepted, though, is another matter, and will come down to whether there is consensus for it, Jguk 18:29, 13 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
You got it spot on Jguk. I want a naming policy of some sort to already be an enforced policy, regardless of where it goes from there. Matt and I can argue over the use of colons as a separate issue, and I guess we have two different opinions here. We should not have the tyranny of the majority forcing concepts and issues onto everybody, and just because I feel that some sort of policy needs to happen doesn't mean that I agree with the whole thing. This policy is going to be amended eventually at some point in the future, and it should be. New users are going to come to Wikibooks and older ones (perhaps myself) are going to leave. Policies of this nature should not be "set in concrete" with no possible chance to be reviewed for being relevant later on. The current policy of almost everything goes, slash, colon, caret, asterix, kumquat, parenthesis, midi-chlorian, or no naming convention at all is IMHO unacceptable and something that needs to be changed. --Rob Horning 13:00, 19 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]

existing books

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I have voted "Yes" above. I am, however, uncomfortable with the wording for existing books. My preference is for the slash policy to apply to all books but to leave it unenforced for existing books that meet the stated minimum requirements. That way, we at least begin to process of phasing out or deprecating non-slash namings. I understand and am happing to support leaving the existing books issue as a problem to be solved later: we need to start making decisions somewhere. But even with this, I would prefer the policy sounding more explicitly like we're leaving the existing books issue as a problem to be solved later and less like a decision to grandfather in existing books' names. --JMRyan 23:15, 13 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]

talk page

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I have started to use the talk page to mark violations - as suggested in this vote. And I feel that it does not work. NC violations are often done by new users which are not in the habit of checking the talk page. Of course I stay with yes as I believe this minimalistic approach is a very good start and if something does not work out as hoped we can much easier sort that out later. --Krischik T 11:51, 15 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]

User talk pages are also a good place to turn to if you want to get ahold of new users. That orange banner ("You've got new messages") is usually sufficient to get a new user to pay attention. --Rob Horning 13:24, 19 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
That only works if the user is actualy registered. Which is a argument for restricting top level creation to registered user only. --Krischik T 06:52, 25 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Disenfranchisement by obscurity

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I think that the whole issue is being discussed in terms that make it almost impossible for those who are not well versed in computing to understand it, which means that only those people will vote. Also as the proposed structure fits what most such people deal with every day dissenting opinions will appear to be rare not because other possibilities do not have merit but because the population that feels competent to discuss the question is selected from a population that is likely to vote for one particular alternative. In fact many of the terms seem vague even to me and I have over thirty years of computer experience. Is there a page that actually clearly defines the terms 'name space', 'title', 'bookshelf', 'bookname', etc.? The title of the book that I have contributed most to is 'Visual Basic Classic' but I suspect that 'bookname' refers to 'Programming:Visual Basic Classic'. If I replace the colon with a slash what is the 'bookname' then? Perhaps we need to take an even stricter computing stance and define a formal syntax. It isn't enough to talk vaguely of 'computer file names', not every file system uses a hierarchical structure and many users of such systems don't understand them when they do. I hope some of that made sense. --kwhitefoot 11:48, 17 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I read the proposal as meaning that all pages in the book "Book Name" must start with "Book Name/". After that, individual books are free to do anything sensible that best fits in with that book. I don't agree with you that your book title there would be "Programming:Visual Basic Classic". It would still be "Visual Basic Classic" - it would sit on a "Programming" or "Computer Programming" bookshelf, Jguk 12:17, 17 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
If I remember correctly, there was some discussion earlier about the naming of "Programming:Foobar" books. I didn't pay much attention to it at the time since I don't work on those books. I think (others may have more accurate information for you) that this was at least semi-resolved in favor of renaming the "Programming:Foobar" books to names like "Foobar" or "Foobar Programming". The books Programming:Ada and Programing:C# were moved to Ada Programming and C# Programming while Programming:Prolog and Programming:Visual Basic .NET were moved to Prolog and Visual Basic .NET. In addition, Programming itself was moved to Computer programming. If you should follow along, then you would move Programming:Visual Basic Classic to "Visual Basic Classic" or (less likely) "Visual Basic Classic Programming" or even "Programming in Visual Basic Classic". Although the colon in Programming:Visual Basic Classic was originally intended as a delimiter, it can no longer properly serve as such because there is no longer a "Programming" book. This does, unfortunately, leave the status of your title somewhat vague. (1) Perhaps your books is best regarded as a subook within the now non-existent (except as a redirect) book "Programming"—an unfortunate status. In this case, your bookname is "Programming". (2) If you replace the colon with a slash, then your bookname is unambiguously "Programming" and your book is unambiguously a subbook of the non-existent "Programming"—again an unfortunate status. (3) Perhaps the colon in your book should be interpretted as just a colon (as in Harbison and Steele's "C: A Reference Manual"). Then your bookname is "Programming:Visual Basic Classic". In that case, your book at least partially follows the slash convention because of pages like Programming:Visual Basic Classic/Strings. My guess is that the lack of a space following your colon makes (1) the more likely interpretation. In any case, your book is on the Programming languages bookshelf because that bookshelf has links to your book. My advice—free and worth every penny you paid for it— is that it would be best to rename the book to "Visual Basic Classic" or "Programming in Visual Basic Classic". If there are multiple active authors, this would require a consensus among them. If you like, there is a bot,, that can help with the drudgery. It's assistance has to be requested, I don't know how such a request proceeds. I hope this ameliorates the obfuscation and renders everything perspicacious. :-) --JMRyan 20:38, 17 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Naming Policy or Naming Guideline

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As I see it, Naming policy is soon going to be an enforced policy. Wikipedia and wikibooks, in addition to being sources of information, are also about freedom - freedom to write an article or a book the way you want. This freedom underlines the beauty of variety in our life. I believe most of the Wikibookians have forgotten what the fifth and most important pillar of wikipedia (Please see Five pillars of wikipedia) is all about. Making more rules and enforcing them will make wikibooks more uniform but will impose more restrictions on newcomers and existing authors. This is my basic objection to enforcing Naming policy. Secondly, the proposed policy of using slash as a delimiter for pagenames has a few disadvantages that supporters have ignored. In a subject like Medicine, topics may appear under several chapters because disease or the human body unlike man-made software or anything else overlap with each other and may not be clearly distinguished from one another. Technically speaking, medicine deals often with continuous variables unlike the discontinuous variables that students of engineering or computer science deal with. For specific examples, a topic like Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy may appear under the Chapters Hand and Microsurgery, Paediatric Surgery and Sports Medicine. The colon convention makes it easy to list the topic under the various chapters without repeating! The colon helps to identify and link with the book it belongs to. This way there will be no internal links between books. I would rather look at the books as a collection of articles on a topic rather than a didactic and dogmatic collection of strictly named chapters conforming to an enforced policy. Thirdly, the automatic link-back is no justification for following the slash convention. More cleaner and attractive navigation templates have been created by authors ( See Botany) and there is no reason to curb this creativity by providing an auto link-up. Fourthly,the least important of the reasons, the slash convention will make the heading of each page long, and if the hierarchy is deep, if I may say so, UGLY. The colon will keep the title of each page short, succinct and tidy. I concede that there are books where the slash may be a better option, hence I support the idea of allowing authors to dedcide for themselves what would serve the purpose of their book better. --BDB 19:47, 24 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]

The proposed policy would only effectively mandate that all pages in a book begin with Book Title/. After that, page organisation is very much up to the individual authors. On your comparison to wikipedia, I'd note that this is a separate project, and we are free, and should be free, to have separate rules where appropriate, Jguk 07:38, 25 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
I'm not so sure that the current proposed policy is necessarily that free with the idea. Cookbook is an example of how something came from a pseudo namespace to a full namespace within this project, and the colon was a critical part of that. I don't know if the full namespace was necessarily critical to the Cookbook as a WikiProject, but it does give that book a distinctive flair. If the Cookbook is given an exemption, it is just a matter of time before other book projects start screaming for the same "equal treatment" as well, and I fail to see why Cookbook is some unique position, other than it is the pet project (that is not necessarily a problem here on Wikibooks) of a couple of administrators who got ahold of some developers to make it a namespace.

I strongly encourage individuality on the part of authors, and the fact that the Colon is naturally a logical separator makes it seem like a reasonable alternative. I tend have the philosophy that policies, rules, or laws should only be enacted when somebody has been seriously abusing the situation and you want to make sure you can effectively punish idiots in the future if they try to do the same thing that has hurt people in the past. The rule about some sort of naming policy is valid, as naming modules anything under the sun (like pretending this is Wikipedia and you can have chapters like Table of Contents, Index, or Appendix) just doesn't make sense, and it is a pain to try and relink orphaned content that has been named like that. Orphaned modules are a very serious problem here at Wikibooks, and it will be considerably worse in the future. As to the specific style beyond having the name of the book somewhere in the module title (preferably in the beginning for search purposes) I am prepared to fight that battle and allow other standards as well. --Rob Horning 08:03, 25 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]

"Wikipedia and wikibooks, in addition to being sources of information, are also about freedom - freedom to write an article or a book the way you want" – no, it's not freedom, it's an anarchy. In Wikipedia you cannot write article however you want - there are standards for biographical articles, articles about countries etc. I don't think that having free choice for naming pages is important for book authors. As I have written before, book authors should write books not try to invent new naming scheme. Naming scheme is something completely irrelevant, most readers don't look what is the actual name of page, they read the content. "Making more rules and enforcing them will make wikibooks more uniform but will impose more restrictions on newcomers and existing authors." If I were a newcomer wanting to contribute I would get really confused when I found many books using completely different page naming. And what if a book uses two different styles? "Fourthly,the least important of the reasons, the slash convention will make the heading of each page long, and if the hierarchy is deep, if I may say so, UGLY." This shows you don't understand the proposition. You can have book hierarchy as deep as you want and have page name consisting only of two parts: book name and chapter name. Slash convention is not about showing internal book structure in page name, its about showing book name in the page name, nothing more. "I would rather look at the books as a collection of articles on a topic rather than a didactic and dogmatic collection of strictly named chapters conforming to an enforced policy." Books are not loose collection of articles. Try to print and then read such "book". Consciousness studies is a good example of well-constructed wikibook. --Derbeth talk 11:55, 25 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Jguk, though you mention that it mandates changing only the title/subpagename, the changes you have made in Orthopaedic Surgery extends into title/subpagename1/subpagename1 as in Orthopaedic Surgery/Basic Sciences/Bone Injury and Repair. Are we implementing the policy because we want or need to be different from wikipedia? Wikibooks is a different project and will but not necessarily have a separate set of rules. The point I am trying to raise is whether we need naming guidelines instead of rigid policies.
Derbeth, I will be back soon to answer the points you have raised.BDB 17:07, 25 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
I'm quite happy to see any other structure you want implemented on the Orthopaedic Surgery pages as long as each page in the book starts with "Orthopaedic Surgery/". I was trying to preserve the existing structure of that book, whilst renaming it. Unfortunately, it soon became clear to me that I wasn't quite sure what that existing structure was (there appeared to be two competing structures, but if I'm wrong here, I apologise). This is why I stepped away from making lots of other changes. If you can tell me what the structure is that you think should happen for the book, I'd be happy to help implement it. On the Wikipedia point, we are different from wikipedia - this means that we do not necessarily have the same rules and structure as wikipedia, not that we deliberately set out to have different rules and structures - we should do whatever is appropriate to wikibooks, Jguk 18:01, 25 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
I am still not clear on this. The structure I prefer is Orthopaedic Surgery: and not Orthopaedic Surgery/. Why is this rule being enforced when it is still a proposal? The naming policy is still listed under Proposals and not under the Enforced column and are we not discussing on the vote? But probably because some of us do not want namespaces like Cookbook to exist we would prefer Title/ structure over Title:. I am not decided on what is best and thats the reason for being here. Probably, Title/Chaptername: would serve the purpose. I have also found difficulty in piping with the slash structure while it is simpler with the colon. I would imagine, searching for a topic in wikibooks would be very inconvenient with the slash convention. I would love to hear from you on these. Going back to wikipedia, I would like to add to what you said: "we should do whatever is appropriate to wikibooks" - irrespective of whether it is from wikipedia or not. -BDB 18:24, 25 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
To be honest, the first ones I saw and changed were in the format Page title (orthopaedic surgery), had I seen things entirely consistent on Orthopaedic Surgery: Page title I'd have left it alone. Whatever happens, I trust we agree that there should be consistency, and it's better that the book title comes first, Jguk 21:03, 25 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Yes I was quite undecided on how the book should be structured at that point of time and there were pages that were named Subpagename1(Title). I totally agree with you that the book title should come first followed by chaptername or subpagename. -BDB 06:55, 26 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Derbeth, with freedom comes responsibility, anarchy arises when we stop being responsible. And I think wikibook authors have been far from being irresponsible. Do not mistake the seemingly chaotic activity in wikibooks as anarchy. There are always patterns in chaos and it takes a while for them to become clear. I was of, and still am of the opinion that the lesser rules we force on authors the more beautiful wikibooks will turn out to be. Let us have guidelines but not enforced policies. Wikipedian standards evolved over a period of time. They were not implemented overnight. An author should exercise as much right to the structure of the book as he does to its contents. Whether everyone is interested is not relevant. What naming convention a book should have ideally must be decided by its authors not by you, me or any admin. I sincerely did not understand this part - "You can have book hierarchy as deep as you want and have page name consisting only of two parts: book name and chapter name. Slash convention is not about showing internal book structure in page name, its about showing book name in the page name, nothing more. ". Could you explain this to me more clearly? Lastly, though the goal of wikibooks would be to look like a printed book, I believe it is quite different from printed matter. -BDB 18:47, 25 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Ok. Let's have a fictional Medicine book. You want to write a chapter "Thymus". You don't name page like: "Medicine/Immunology/Organs of the Immune System/Thymus", although this is how this chapter is located in hierarchy of your book. You just call it "Medicine/Thymus". Is it really long? You write: "An author should exercise as much right to the structure of the book as he does to its contents." But Wikibooks has nearly three years, there was a lot of time for the authors to play and see how different naming conventions work. Now slash convention is the most popular and I don't see any reason why we should allow more naming conventions which don't have advantages this one has. Freedom is important thing, but what for do you need the freedom in choosing delimiter you use in your book? Is choice between colon and slash important for you? I don't accept freedom just for freedom, we are not here to give anyone freedom to do whatever he wants, we are here to write good books. Wikipedia is not a democracy, neither is Wikibooks. In Wikipedia, you cannot name page "Cobra - snake" or "Cobra, snake", such page would be renamed immediately without even asking you and noone says Wikipedia is not free. --Derbeth talk 15:36, 26 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Derbeth, I am compelled to follow the pagename structure you propose. Thumbs up to Medicine/Thymus!! But I completely disagree with your freedom concept.Though you mention - "wikipedia is not a democracy", and this is an official policy (see Wikipedia is not a democracy), I would request you to read further and see Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy, and I quote - "Disagreements should be resolved through consensual discussion, rather than through tightly sticking to rules and procedures. Instruction creep should be avoided. Follow the spirit, not the letter, of any rules, policies and guidelines". I rest my case! -BDB 18:42, 26 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
But we are discussing here. You are giving a very wrong example. Yes, we shouldn't produce tons of guidelines and policies, but they are always some rules that have to be obeyed to keep order on the project. Consider disambiguation pages naming convention at Wikipedia - are you allowed to ignore it? No, because it is fundamental. I see naming policy as such fundamental rule; fundamental because in fact there aren't many policies here and we are not demanding much. Just name pages how we require and everything is ok - that's what we are saying. Proposed naming convention is really simple, in a nutshell: "add bookname-slash to name of every page you create in your book". Consider it - we give book authors a vast area of freedom, naming policy does not prevent them from organising book as they want. In my opinion page names are not part of creative work, it's like filenames on the computer - it's not important how they are named, the important thing is what's inside. Imagine operating system which allows you only to start file names with a capital letter. This is some kind of restriction, but does it have any practical meaning what is the first letter of a file name? If I edit or print it, it's completely irrelevant. --Derbeth talk 22:06, 26 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]