Wikipedia:Disambiguation

Disambiguation in Wikipedia is the process of resolving conflicts that arise when a potential article title is ambiguous, most often because it refers to more than one subject covered by Wikipedia, either as the main topic of an article, or as a subtopic covered by an article in addition to the article's main topic. For example, the word "Mercury" can refer to a chemical element, a planet, a Roman god, and many other things.

There are three important aspects to disambiguation:

  • Naming articles in such a way that each has a unique title. For example, three of the articles dealing with topics ordinarily called "Mercury" are titled Mercury (element), Mercury (planet) and Mercury (mythology).
  • Making the links for ambiguous terms point to the correct article title. For example, an editor of an astronomy article may have created a link to Mercury, and this should be corrected to point to Mercury (planet).
  • Ensuring that a reader who searches for a topic using a particular term can get to the information on that topic quickly and easily, whichever of the possible topics it might be. For example, the page Mercury is a disambiguation page—a non-article page which lists various meanings of "Mercury" and which links to the articles that cover them. (As discussed below, however, ambiguous terms do not always require a disambiguation page.)

This page discusses the standard ways of handling the above issues. For detailed advice about the format of disambiguation pages, see the style manual.

Deciding to disambiguate

Disambiguation is required whenever, for a given word or phrase on which a reader might search, there is more than one existing Wikipedia article to which that word or phrase might be expected to lead. In this situation there must be a way for the reader to navigate quickly from the page that first appears to any of the other possible desired articles.

There are three principal disambiguation scenarios, of which the following are examples:

  • The page at Joker is a disambiguation page, leading to all the alternative uses of "Joker".
  • The page at Rice is about one usage, called the primary topic, and there is a hatnote guiding readers to Rice (disambiguation) to find the other uses.
  • The page at Michael Dobbs is about the primary topic, and there is only one other use. The other use is linked directly using a hatnote; no disambiguation page is needed.

For how to decide which of these scenarios is appropriate in a given case, see the following two sections:

Broad-concept articles

If the primary meaning of a term proposed for disambiguation is a broad concept or type of thing that is capable of being described in an article, and a substantial portion of the links asserted to be ambiguous are instances or examples of that concept or type, then the page located at that title should be an article describing it and not a disambiguation page. Where the primary topic of a term is a general topic that can be divided into subtopics, such as chronologically (e.g., History of France) or geographically (e.g., Rugby union in the British Isles), the unqualified title should contain an article about the general topic rather than a disambiguation page. A disambiguation page should not be created just because it is difficult to write an article on a topic that is broad, vague, abstract, or highly conceptual. Where there are additional meanings that are not instances or examples of a "Foo" primary concept or type, those should be included on a "Foo (disambiguation)" page.

For example:

  • Particle (previously a disambiguation page) is a broad and abstract concept used to address many different ideas in physics, generally relating to small units from which larger things are composed. Although there are many different kinds of particles at levels ranging from the subatomic to the macroscopic, the broad concept is properly susceptible to explanation in an article. Truly unrelated meanings, such as Particle (band), are only presented at Particle (disambiguation).
  • A Supreme court, National Trust, or Finance minister (or Ministry of Finance) is each a kind of entity occurring in multiple countries and possibly in other political entities and serving the same purpose in each. Rather than having disambiguation pages at these titles linking to existing articles on these entities by nation, each should contain an article describing in general terms what the concept is and how the different examples of this concept relate to each other.
  • Central Asia, Northern Europe, and Southern United States are geographic designations that have been used with respect to different specific boundaries over time. Varying uses for broad geographic terms can be discussed in the context of an article describing the overall agreement of which areas definitely fall within that designation and which areas are only occasionally described as falling within that designation, for certain purposes.
  • The Nokia Lumia is a cell phone with many different design models. The fact that different models in the same series of product by the same manufacturer may have the same name, or the same combination of name and number, does not make them ambiguous. The relationship between these design models can and should be discussed on a page describing products created by or licensed by the same manufacturer.
  • Football may refer to one of a number of team sports which all involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball with the foot. Although the word "football" can apply to whichever form of football is the most popular in the regional context in which the word appears, all of these variations share some common elements and can be traced to a common origin. Thus, the history and development of the general concept of football can be explained in its own article. Football (disambiguation) describes the various literal uses of the word including the actual balls.
  • Many definitions of triangle center are used in Euclidean geometry, which coincide only in the special case of equilateral triangles. The article lists a dozen of these and also gives a validity criterion applicable to various definitions of "center".

In writing articles on these subjects, it is useful to directly address the scope of the term and the history of how the concept has developed. Each of the examples of the concept or type of thing should be included at some point in the article, possibly in a list, so that no information is lost from what would have been presented in the disambiguation page format. Consider using summary style to incorporate information about the subtopics into the main article.

Pages needing to be expanded to describe the concept may be tagged with .

Other Languages
Bân-lâm-gú: Wikipedia:Khu-pia̍t
Basa Banyumasan: Wikipedia:Disambiguasi
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Вікіпэдыя:Неадназначнасьць
Bahasa Indonesia: Wikipedia:Disambiguasi
Lëtzebuergesch: Wikipedia:Homonymie
norsk nynorsk: Wikipedia:Fleirtyding
Nouormand: Aide:Frouque
Simple English: Wikipedia:Disambiguation
slovenščina: Wikipedija:Razločitev
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Wikipedia:Razvrstavanje