User:Jsummers/Article names

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Naming things is hard. It's not unusual for me to spend more time deciding on an article's name, than writing the article.

There's some discussion on the Community Portal, but it falls short of a consensus naming policy. For future reference, and at the risk of seeming to obsess over something that is not important in the grand scheme of things, these are my thoughts.

If there is no perfect name for an article, I prefer the name that people would actually use when referring to the format. E.g. GIF, not Graphics Interchange Format. I prefer short names over long names, no doubt to a greater degree than most of the other editors of this wiki. Just because a name looks like an abbreviation, doesn't mean it's a good idea to expand it out to what it originally stood for. Abbreviations don't always mean what they stand for.

To put it another way, I prefer the name that articles about other formats would prefer to use. For one thing, it makes it easier to link between articles. If we find ourselves writing "[[Graphics Interchange Format|GIF]]" a lot, that's an indication that the article may have a bad name.

(I have no opinion about whether it's good form to link to redirects. But if we're going to reserve the abbreviation as a disambiguation page, we can't do that anyway.)

Name conflicts

If two or more formats have the same name, then we have some decisions to make.

If one of the format named "GIF" dominates, I say it should be awarded the "GIF" article. The other contenders will just have to use different names. Whether an article about a non-dominant "GIF" format is named as "Giraffe Identification Format", or "GIF (Giraffe Identification Format)", or "Microsoft Giraffe Identification Format", or "GIF (Microsoft)", or "GIF (zoology)", is a judgment call. The non-dominant articles can be listed at the top of the "GIF" article, or we could do like Wikipedia and create a "GIF (disambiguation)" page.

If no format named "GIF" dominates, then the "GIF" article, if it exists, should be a disambiguation page.

How do I decide if a format dominates? For one thing, I'll probably do a web search for "GIF format". If the first page of results are all about the GIF format I'm writing about, then "GIF" is probably a strong candidate for the article name. If not, it might not be the best name.


In my opinion...

  • AES is a better name than Advanced Encryption Standard.
  • SVG is a better name than Scalable Vector Graphics.
  • TNEF is a better name than Transport Neutral Encapsulation Format.
  • PE vs. Portable Executable, and NE vs. New Executable, is a close call. After some research and consideration, I chose the short PE and NE. This is a wiki about file formats, so these topics don't have to compete with articles on Physical Education.
  • UDF is a better name than Universal Disk Format.
  • CDF should probably be a disambiguation page, though that may not have been the case when the article was originally created.
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