Help talk:Description

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I agree by and large with these recommendations (I should have read this page before making similar comments on the projet chat ;). A few comments thhough :

  • Italian municipality", may not always be sufficient. At least "a commune in France" is not always sufficient as it sometimes happen that two communes have the same name, which raises a questions: in the vast majority of cases where it is sufficient, should we also add "a commune in the XX departement" for uniformity sake ?
  • "Egyptian (Q50868): oldest known indigenous language of Egypt and branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family", does not follow the recommendations: it is too long, and the "oldest known" language of Egypt may change. I wouuld rather say "language spoken in Ancient Egypt" (possibly add "Afro-Asiatic" at the bebinning, but having it in the propoeries is probably sufficient).
  • (slightly off-topic) I am not sure we should have items for disambiguations pages. Replacing Wikipedia disambiguation pages with calls to Special:Disambiguations may be a better solution. --Zolo (talk) 11:01, 21 November 2012 (UTC)
    You're right about descriprion about Egyptian (Q50868). I'm going to change it. About disambiguations pages I think they can stay as long as we decide what to do on this page. In Italy, every municipality has a name different from the other by law so there is no problem for Italian municipalities. Instead, for the French communes there are several local communes with the same name so I agree with you that we have to specify "in the XX departement". The example given about italian municipalty is a general case. The help page can not include all the exceptions which vary depending from the situation. Cheers! Raoli (talk) 15:22, 21 November 2012 (UTC)
I've changed the description for Bolognano on the German help page. --Kolja21 (talk) 18:51, 21 November 2012 (UTC)


I do not think we need colored backgrounds for the titles. At least please let's remove the gradients that are even different for the three cases. --Leyo 16:23, 23 November 2012 (UTC)

There is more on Help talk:Label#Colors. --Leyo 00:04, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

Confusion in the proposed advice[edit]

Currently the suggestion is:

  • Giorgio Napolitano (Q1220)
    NO President of Italy (next year could not be so anymore)
    YES 11th President of Italy

... but:

  • Margaret Thatcher (Q7416)
    NO Longest-serving (1979–1990) Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of the 20th century, and the only woman ever to have held the post. (description too long)
    YES Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

The second suggested text goes against the first one. I also disagree with the reasoning, and I think it's because they lack articles ("the President of Italy" will clearly date, whereas "a President of Italy" is simpler) - and this probably is a translation from a language where it's clear which one you mean. :-) In general, I've been using "Fooian politician and President" as a way of combining more than just a single facet of their existence, which has worked well - what do you think? James F. (talk) 19:38, 23 November 2012 (UTC)

I think that, the correct example is the second and in the first the correct form is "President of Italy". I'll correct it! --Raoli (talk) 20:26, 23 November 2012 (UTC)
I don't know, I think that specifying "11th President of Italy" makes sense. It's a very small addition, that makes the description completely uniquely identifiable as the individual, as was discussed in PC. --Yair rand (talk) 08:01, 26 November 2012 (UTC)


Shall we put a link to this page in Special:CreateItem? Now editors may be confused about how to write descriptions when they create items.--Stevenliuyi (talk) 00:09, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

  • Symbol support vote.svg Support It's a much-good idea! --Raoli (talk) 02:48, 24 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support, and Help:Label also and maybe instructions how to mark duplicates for deletion. --Stryn (talk) 06:17, 24 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support Be bold. ;-) --Leyo 08:16, 24 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Symbol support vote.svg SupportZolo (talk) 08:19, 24 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support Kaldari (talk) 12:36, 24 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support -- It seems very helpful, especially for new users. Wagino 20100516 (talk) 18:11, 24 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose It is a proposal, not policy or guildline yet. I'll change my opinion when status of the page would be changed. --Zanka (talk) 20:59, 24 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support, along with Help:Label. --Yair rand (talk) 17:19, 2 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support Can someone find a better German translation for item than "Datenelement" (Gegenstandseintrag?), see: Wikidata:Glossar. --Kolja21 (talk) 17:27, 2 December 2012 (UTC)
So, should we file a bug for this? --Yair rand (talk) 17:19, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
The message is at MediaWiki:Createitem-summary, feel free to change it! Jeblad (talk) 09:57, 31 December 2012 (UTC)

page layout[edit]

As far as I can tell, the "recommendations" is essentially an "example" section. I think it would be clearer to call the "descriptions" section "recommendations" (or "conventions" or whatever) and merge "recommendations" with "examples"). --Zolo (talk) 08:25, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

✓ Done - Ypnypn (talk) 17:48, 26 November 2012 (UTC)

Description when Label is pretty descriptive[edit]

Hi! What should the description contain when the Label (and the title of the article) pretty much describes what the article is about? I think along the lines of "en:List of features removed in Windows Vista" or "en:Features new to Windows Vista"? Syp (talk) 11:08, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

In both cases I would write: "List of features". Why is the description in the cases shorter than the label? Because there is enough info to identify the item. --Kolja21 (talk) 11:57, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

Word order[edit]

We need to agree on some rules for word order; here are my suggestions:


Use the country's adjective, followed by "city" (or "commune", "municipality", etc.)

Bordeaux - French city
Shanghai - Chinese city
Plymouth - British city (although it may be better to use "U.K. city", or else "English city")
Chicago - American city (although it may be better to use "U.S. city")

If there are multiple cities in one country, follow the above by "in", then the province/state/region/county.

Springfield - American city in Kentucky
Springfield - Canadian city in Ontario
Springfield - Australian city in New South Wales
Springfield - British parish in Essex, England (or maybe just Essex, or maybe English parish in Essex)

For capitals, use the country's adjective, followed by "capital".

Moscow - Russian capital
Cairo - Egyptian capital
Jakarta - Indonesian capital
Ankara - Turkish capital

If the person spent his notable career in one country, use that country's adjective, followed by most important profession. Use the name of the country in use during his career.

René Massigli - French diplomat
William Shakespeare - English playwright (also poet, but less notably so)
Thomas Edison - American inventor
Duong Van Nhut - Vietnamese general (not North Vietnamese; similarly Korean, not North or South Korean)

However, for positions which are proper nouns, use the position first.

Tony Blair - Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
David Tod - Governor of Ohio (no need to specify country)
Qin Shi Huang - Emperor of China
Jean-Yves Le Drian - Minister of Defense of France (although maybe this should be an exception because of the two "of"s)

These guidelines are obviously incomplete, so any more suggestions would be nice. -- Ypnypn (talk) 04:58, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

I think that your suggestions are way, way to specific. There are multiple correct ways to convey the same information, forcing people to use one formula isn't a good idea, and will never really be widely adpoted. Better to tell people what should be included and let them worry about how. This is also Sven Manguard 21:15, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

Which is best of the following: "Finnish municipality", "municipality of Finland", or "municipality in Finland"? Sorry, but my English is not perfect. --Stryn (talk) 12:26, 12 December 2012 (UTC)


As I did and am still doing at Help:Label, I overhauled this page. Comments and suggestions are welcome. This is also Sven Manguard 21:15, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

Why do you think that there is currently no consensus on initial articles? --Leyo 07:50, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
See Help_talk:Label#Layout_sample_of_a_Wikidata_page. Where is the discussion about it? --Stryn (talk) 07:55, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes, it was discussed at Wikidata:Project chat/Archive/2012/11#Placing articles at the beginning of descriptions. Not many people particpating but a consensus nevertheless. --Zolo (talk) 08:25, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
Amended. --Leyo 08:38, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
Weak consensus, my opinion... but I agree it, no initial articles. --Stryn (talk) 08:40, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
New discussion started at Wikidata:Project chat#Initial articles (a, an, the) in English language descriptions to try and get additional consensus. This is also Sven Manguard 16:14, 29 November 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for your work. It is nice to have explict justification, but if we want people to really read it, we should make it as short as possible. For instance, I do not think that the paragraph about edit-warring is really useful. You do not need any wiki experience to understand that we should follow rules and should not revert someone else's edits without any prior discussion, and telling that here sounds unlikely to affect change much about editor's behavior, and it does not feel very nice and welcoming to say; "Wikidata is not a forum for pushing points of view" (there has not even been any real edit war yet). --Zolo (talk) 08:25, 29 November 2012 (UTC)

How's this? This is also Sven Manguard 16:16, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes I think it is fine thanks. --Zolo (talk) 17:23, 29 November 2012 (UTC)


I think there should probably be a short section saying that descriptions should not have a full stop (period) at the end. Example:

  • city in Russia (corrrect)
  • city in Russia. (incorrect)
  • city in Russia. Biggest city in the country. (incorrect)

Or something along those lines. Delsion23 (talk) 10:53, 1 December 2012 (UTC)

<checks notes> Yep, that was in there for me to do, I don't know how/why I forgot. Doing now. Sven Manguard Wha? 16:04, 1 December 2012 (UTC)

Bot auto updating description: disambiguation[edit]

I would like to ask the community if my bot should automatically set the description to "disambiguation" if he creates a item with the title "Foo (disambiguation)"? He currently only removes the (disambiguation) from the title. --Sk!d (talk) 00:45, 2 December 2012 (UTC)

Symbol support vote.svg Support. --Stryn (talk) 07:12, 2 December 2012 (UTC)
Symbol support vote.svg Support and for German, if possible, "Begriffsklärungsseite". --Kolja21 (talk) 08:05, 2 December 2012 (UTC)
For German i already do this. (The rules on Help:Beschreibung are clear for this). --Sk!d (talk) 11:36, 2 December 2012 (UTC)
Symbol support vote.svg Support but only if the English description is "Wikipedia disambiguation page" to make it less ambiguous. An layperson may not understand the context of just the word "Disambiguation" in the description. Per Help:Description#Non-article_items. Delsion23 (talk) 13:53, 2 December 2012 (UTC)
In German i add "Begriffskärungsseite" (disambiguation page). --Sk!d (talk) 14:31, 2 December 2012 (UTC)

There is a second feature my bot could do (and already did for german description), running trough en:Category:All disambiguation pages look up if the item exists here if so, look up if there is a en-description set. If not setting automatically the description "disambiguation". --Sk!d (talk) 11:36, 2 December 2012 (UTC)

Support, makes sense. Better than having it in the title, and there shouldn't be anything else in the descriptions for those pages. Ajraddatz (Talk) 15:11, 2 December 2012 (UTC)
I think the description "Wikipedia disambiguation page" is missleading. It should say "Wikidata disambiguation page". Wikidata items are not reserved for Wikipedia articles. We might need in future disambiguation pages for actors, athletes or places that have no Wikipedia page at all. (Example: see here.) --Kolja21 (talk) 16:50, 2 December 2012 (UTC)
I dont think there will be "Wikidata disambiguation" pages, as Special:ItemDisambiguation is designed to avoiid that. So those are really Wikipedia disambiguation pages, ie a bunch of links to Wikidata disambiguation pages. I wished we would not handle those Wikipedia disambiguation pages as normal items, but if we do, having a bot add the description makes sense. Zolo (talk)--17:50, 2 December 2012 (UTC)
This bot is going create items that have interwiki links to Wikipedia pages that are all disambiguation pages. Thus it makes sense for the description to say that they are specifically Wikipedia disambiguation pages. Delsion23 (talk) 22:23, 2 December 2012 (UTC)
So you think it would make sense to have some pages called
Louis Dumont: Wikipedia disambiguation page and an other pages
Walter Dumont: disambiguation page or
Walter Dumont: IMDb disambiguation page
if there is no Walter Dumont disambiguation page in Wikipedia? I still think an item is an item and not a Wikipedia article. There will be more links in phase 2 and the items will still be the same items. --Kolja21 (talk) 06:12, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
IMDb, and -I believe- the vast majority of databases do not have hardcoded disambiguation pages the way Wikipedia does. For instance there are several movies called "Paris" in IMDb, but if you search for Paris, what you get is a list of matches, not a standalone entry with its own ID. It should not be linked from Wikidata--Zolo (talk) 11:09, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Afaik items will only contains interwikilinks. So there should be only "wikipedia disambiguation pages" and no IMDB or what so ever disambiguation page. This is also a reason why in German ther is no "wikipedia" prefix. --Sk!d (talk) 11:49, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
There will be much more than just interwiki links in Wikidata items (see for instance meta:Wikidata/Notes/Data model primer), and I think IMDb links or the like could be extremely useful, just not on disambiguation pages. --Zolo (talk) 14:13, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes but this is only data this will come in phase 2 and will not be Items but Propertys. So all the "Q..." stuff are only interwikiitems. --Sk!d (talk) 15:07, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Please note, that later also e.g. Wikiquote disambiguation pages will be added to these item. Merlissimo (talk) 16:23, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
I thought this ment there where only more interwikilinks but off course this would mean the item were not only wikipedia disamb. sites. --Sk!d (talk) 10:29, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
We had some "Q..." stuff that was not interwiki items already and I'm sure we will have a lot of them in the future. Their are for example authority control records for more than 5 million persons. And not only persons, every film and every book can be a q item. That's why we wrote Wikidata:Notability: The "main namespace content is currently determined by ..." Currently means this rule will change when Wikidata is fully working. I think in future it will be possible to create an item for a tiny little place in the world where only ten people live first in Wikidata and than, if it is relevant enough, in Wikipedia. --Kolja21 (talk) 19:27, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Why should this be in the Q namespace and not in the P namespace? P is desined for this. Q is desined for interwikilinks. --Sk!d (talk) 10:29, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
That would be quiet confusing. A small town would first be a property (p) and later, when there is a Wikipedia article, it would change into an item (q)? Or should there be duplicates? And will we need disambiguation properties? I'm really looking forward to phase 2 when the fog lifts. --Kolja21 (talk) 18:34, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
I thought all of the Q... stuff would be only interwikiliinks and there would be a link between Q... and Entities but i am currently not sure about this. I will start my bot now setting the description to "Wikipedia disambiguation page" (as it currently does with new items). --Sk!d (talk) 20:44, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
Well, it's true that some pages may also eventually contain Wikisource or other links, I think just "disambiguation page" (or pages?) would be best. --Zolo (talk) 08:43, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Personally i would prefer "disambiguation page" too. (It is one page in several languages) --Sk!d (talk) 09:54, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Symbol support vote.svg Support --CENNOXX (talk) 19:38, 2 December 2012 (UTC)
Symbol support vote.svg Support  Hazard-SJ  ✈  00:00, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

Disambiguation page vs. surname[edit]

How we do this: here is surnames, which are not disambiguation pages, like Björk. And then here is Björk, which is "real" disambiguation page. But because surname's description is "Wikipedia disambiguation page" it's not possible to set the same description in to Q1776621. --Stryn (talk) 13:10, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

Björk (Q879505) = Swedish surname. (The bot can't see the difference, the work has to do by hand.) --Kolja21 (talk) 13:27, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
I could run my bot to change the en-description of every existing Item for an article in w:Category:Surnames to "surname". --Sk!d (talk) 13:31, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
I think they should be more specific than "surname", especially since we haven't resolved how to deal with Wikipedias that split surnames by language. --Yair rand (talk) 13:43, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
The related articles seem to be about both the Swedish surname and the Icelandic name, though. Shouldn't the description say this? --Yair rand (talk) 13:48, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

Q717430 is about Finnish given name, and it's disambiguation page in itwiki and in nowiki. --Stryn (talk) 15:37, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

I created Q2287267 for the disambiguation page. --Sk!d (talk) 15:52, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Except [[Q17430} isn't about the Finnish given name in any of those Wikipedias. In each case it is a Disambiguation page disambiguating the various people with that name. None of these wikipedia pages in any language discuss the origin of the name, it's etymology, the extent of it's use. They are all Disambiguation pages for people with the name 'Arvo'. The en. page even has a 'see also' with a couple of other uses for Arvo which are unrelated to the Finnish name. I think they should all be labelled 'Wikipedia disambiguation page for people with this name' or just 'Wikipedia disambiguation page'. Filceolaire (talk) 21:16, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
Btw, these are not disambiguation pages in any Wikipedia's. There is not disambiguation template. Fi-wiki article contains only category "given names". --Stryn (talk) 21:33, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
They may not listed in the disambiguation category but if you look at the pages that is what they are.
Be careful how you use your bot as there are many pages in the 'surnames' category in en:WP which do discuss the name and are not just a list of people. There are even some pages which are both - a discussion of the name and a list of people on en:WP with that name. Should they be linked from 2 separate pages on Wikidata - one linking to pages about the name and another linking to other language pages which are just for disambiguation? Filceolaire (talk) 21:40, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
Thinking about this for the last few weeks I guess we should follow the usage on the Wikipedias, as Stryn suggests above. If the Wikipedia calls it a disambiguation page then that links to a Wikidata page with links to other disambiguation pages. If the Wikipedia page doesn't call itself a disambiguation page then it links to a wikidata page with links to other WP surname/family name pages which are not called disambiguation pages, even if the WP page does not yet have any info on the origin/usage/etc. of the name yet. We really need the See also link between these pages as bugzilla 44092 Filceolaire (talk) 00:04, 27 January 2013 (UTC)
+1. I've sorely missed the "See also" field yesterday when separating desk (Q1064858), secretary desk (Q3666631), writing desk (Q3512772) and - still unsolved - en:writing table. --Kolja21 (talk) 00:11, 27 January 2013 (UTC)

Added section "Place names at the end"[edit]

I just added a section "Place names at the end". This reflects what I have found works having spent some hours adding Labels and Descriptions to random pages today.

Doe anyone think this is ok? Filceolaire (talk) 15:13, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

I think that those are mostly ok. But maybe some native-English speaker knows better. Maybe Hungarian given name would be better than given name from Hungary? --Stryn (talk) 15:29, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
I'm a native speaker and that was the one I thought most about. "Hungarian profession" is probably better English than "profession from Hungary" but the thought of having one rule for all the descriptions seduced me, especially since it means we can have "profession from the Netherlands' instead of "Dutch profession" and "profession from the USA" instead of "American profession"!. Filceolaire (talk) 00:38, 9 January 2013 (UTC)
I don't see any substantive difference between "Brazilian football player" and "football player from Brazil". We don't need one rule for all cases, so long as the exceptions are clear cut (for example, we don't make xkcd into Xkcd because it's actually capitalized as xkcd). Sven Manguard Wha? 14:56, 31 January 2013 (UTC)
I don't agree with this section. The argument that "American" and "Dutch" have special meanings in some languages is only a good reason for being careful with their use in those languages, not for prohibiting their use in every language under the sun. The attributive forms (American, English, French, Chinese, etc) have the advantage of brevity; the alternative "from XXX" wording often sounds stilted, as well as making the description longer (which we don't want). The section also contradicts examples given elsewhere on the page (e.g. "Japanese artist, author, and peace activist", "Argentinian footballer", "Wikipedia disambiguation page").
Often it is also simplest to write about "Michigan's Upper Peninsula" or "New Zealand's South Island", for instance, not "the South Island of New Zealand". So I think requiring places to always be listed in order (from most specific to least specific) is unhelpful rule creep. --Avenue (talk) 11:47, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Why “Argentinian footballer” and “Japanese artist” still remain in examples? Ain92 (talk) 10:33, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

fourth president of Nintendo[edit]

Beware of some problems when describing a person in a long line of succession: The current king of Sweden: "Charles XVI Gustave de Suède" is according to frwiki the "68e roi de Suède". There are som problem with that kind of description. Some of the persons in this line are maybe not really "roi's", and some are maybe not "de Suède". Some maybe have never existed, or has only been kings of small parts of the country. The longest line of Swedish kings ends around the year 1 CE, and includes some pagan gods. -- Lavallen (talk) 15:05, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

DOB (or rather YOB/YOD)[edit]

I've added, born xxxx to the end of the descriptions of several items and xxxx-xxxx to the start if the person isn't alive. Is that fine? --Rsrikanth05 (talk) 12:13, 29 January 2013 (UTC)

If there is not more than one person with that name, this is unneeded. The year of birth and death will be included in the infobox data that may be added soon. --Leyo 12:41, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
Hi Rsrikanth05, we don't care if a person is retired or even dead. Why? Because there should be no need to change the description from "American baseball player" to "former American baseball player" to "deceased American baseball player". --Kolja21 (talk) 17:27, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
I was purely referring to DOB, not the retired status. --Rsrikanth05 (talk) 13:02, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
This was just an example, but I think the answer was clear anyway. --Leyo 13:35, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
I agree with the proposal by User:Rsrikanth05 for year of birth. For people with the same name, we need to add them somewhere. This a fairly sane way to do it. Special:Search/Max Weber shows Q63149 and Q11691670 probably about the same person. --  Docu  at 12:33, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

Avoiding controversial claims in descriptions[edit]

I added the following two sentences to the "Statements to avoid" section: "If possible, you should also avoid including controversial claims in descriptions. For example, it is better to describe the Pinnacle Islands as a 'group of islands in East Asia' than a 'group of Japanese islands' or a 'group of Chinese islands'." Let me know if this seems like a good or bad idea. Cheers. Kaldari (talk) 19:02, 13 February 2013 (UTC)

This sounds pretty much impossible. Whether something is controversial or not is frequently very controversial itself. --Yair rand (talk) 19:43, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
If it's edit-warred over (or likely to be edit-warred over), it's controversial. The alternative to this is introducing an edit warring policy. Kaldari (talk) 22:42, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

Make translatable[edit]

Please make this page translatable. I see there are translations with template hacks, it's rather horrible. Thanks, Nemo 09:17, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

I think that we should not mark this for translation. See also Help_talk:Aliases#Delete_translation_tool_from_this_page. --Stryn (talk) 09:22, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

One more confusion in the proposed advice[edit]

I think, as long as the rule suggests that 'descriptions should not contain information that is likely to change', the example from the next paragraph 'German politician, currently serving as Chancellor of Germany' does not look quite good, does it? Андрей Романенко (talk) 00:29, 2 April 2013 (UTC)

Proposal to adopt as guideline[edit]

I've proposed designating this Help page as a guideline at Wikidata:Project chat#Proposal to make Help:Description an official guideline. Kaldari (talk) 08:11, 2 April 2013 (UTC)

Updates as part of documentation overhaul[edit]

Hi all, I recently made some edits to Help:Description as part of a larger sitewide documentation overhaul (more info on this here).

To compare my edits with the previous version please see the diffs here

Major changes include the following:

  • changed guidelines for describing people and featured examples (under "Common formulas") so they are more in line with recommendations on placing the location at the end
  • removed old screenshot - I have replaced it with a newer one (knowing full well that this too will soon need to be replaced as per the UI redesign)
  • updated content so it now refers to Wikimedia sites more generally vs. just Wikipedia articles which was the case before
  • moved around content and update section headings to be similar to that of the Help:Label page (i.e. first cover general principles and then language-specific guidelines)

Please let me know if you have any concerns about these changes or suggestions on further improving the documentation. Here are issues I would also like specific feedback on:

  • are there too few screenshots? Is the one in there helpful?

Thanks. -Thepwnco (talk) 21:09, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

Maybe a screenshot of search results (or search box suggestions) containing items with the same label but different descriptions would demonstrate the description's necessity in a picture.
Some other thoughts on how to improve the page:
  • In This page in a nutshell: "A description describes and disambiguates the label" while in the first sentence of the body text "The description on a Wikidata entry is a short phrase designed to disambiguate pages with the same or similar labels".
    That demonstrates the inconsistency of the basic glossary. Probably, the term "item" should be preferred to "entry" and "page" here and in the whole document since the concept of "item" is more specific than that of "page": "A description describes and disambiguates an item" and "The description on a Wikidata item is a short phrase designed to disambiguate items with the same or similar labels".
  • In This page in a nutshell: "Descriptions have some accepted style guidelines" is not very useful and, in my opinion, misses the point of "in a nutshell". Instead, each guideline should be listed in a single phrase.
  • I would propose adding that using the word "and" in a description might indicate that an item needs splitting. For example, Berlin (Q64) features the description "capital city and state of Germany" while there should, in fact, be two separate items - one for the city and one for the state (just for reference: for example, the city has a different date of foundation than the state).
  • Language independent general principles > Avoid information that is likely to change: Wouldn't "president of Nintendo" instead of "fourth president of Nintendo" be fair enough to achieve disambiguation and to grasp what the label refers to? "Fourth" already seems like unnecessary clutter. What number does Tim Cook (Q265852) have as CEO of Apple Inc. (Q312) and why would that be important enough to include in the description?
  • Maybe a mistake: In Guidelines for descriptions > Length > Common formulas > For a person: Shouldn't "Chancellor" be lowercase?
  • Guidelines for descriptions > Capitalization > Examples: In the first example (Lionel Messi), the note underneath the example ("This example begins with...") does not seem to match the example.
  • In general, the page layout should be improved and it might make sense to include negative examples. For example, the Italian help page and others are definitely catchier.
  • Overall thought about the guideline: Always adding the location at the end might make sense in terms of consistency for items of specific nature (e.g. geographic items like cities). However, I doubt it being common phrasing for other items. "Argentine footballer" is easier to grasp than "footballer from Argentina" and users will enter the data in the phrasing they are used to. Not sure how this guideline is supposed to be enforced and I doubt Wikidata should be an application where you need to read a manual first. For geographic items, the guideline makes sense, but overall, it seems to miss reality. Descriptions are a human-exclusive interface. In what way does it support useful consistency when there are two persons with the same name, one being "footballer from Austria" and the other being "race driver from Norway" instead of "Austrian footballer" and "Norwegian race driver"?
    In the same sense, I do not get Guidelines for descriptions in English > Place the location at the end > Examples last example's note ("[...] because the words "Dutch", "Irish" and "American" have multiple meanings in some languages") since the rules are supposed to be exclusive for the English language anyway. English language guidelines should follow the common patterns of English language.
Random knowledge donator (talk) 11:43, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
@Random knowledge donator: Thanks for all your thoughtful feedback! I will attempt to address it point by point.
  • I've added your suggestion for a screenshot to both the Description and Label pages. That was a great idea. If you have similar ideas for improvement in the future, feel free to just jump in and add such content yourself.
  • I agree that there is a need to clarify in the glossary and standardize across the Help pages the use of the terms entities/entries/pages/items/properties. I have this as an unresolved issue in my notes here and want to address this once I have completed an initial review and update of all the core documentation pages.
  • My understanding is that the nutshell template only allows 3 bullet points in the 'in a nutshell' notice but I have updated the content to be (hopefully) a bit less vague
  • I will make a note of this proposal - I don't disagree but it would be good to get a bit more feedback from other contributors on this idea
  • I also think this should be discussed with the wider community
  • My understanding is that Chancellor of Germany should be capitalized because, as a unique title, it is a proper noun (i.e. not just one chancellor of many chancellors); for comparison consider the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom vs. ministers of the United Kingdom. Chancellor is also always capitalized on the Chancellor of Germany (English) Wikipedia page.
  • Thanks for catching this! I've since changed it
  • Thanks also for pointing out the Italian Help pages. They do appear more dynamic but I'm not sure whether or not they are actually more helpful or informative. My focus is really on making sure we have the best content before tackling aesthetic appeal, although I am happy to discuss further, especially if a case can be made that this will improve the overall usability of the documentation.
  • I also agree that the geographical guidelines are a bit confusing and definitely aren't easy to enforce. You may have noticed that I did change some of the content on this in my first update and posted to the Project Chat after noticing an inconsistency among the examples featured on Help:Description. I personally feel that the "adding location at the end" guideline makes more sense outside of any geographical focus and when explained in the context of going from less general to more general information (i.e. Zamora, Castile and León, Spain). I'll also add this to my notes for further discussion by the community.
Thanks again! -Thepwnco (talk) 21:47, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

Dictionary for bot's auto descriptions[edit]

For unifying bot's descriptions we should have a dictionary which shows descriptions on different languages for example

            DisambiguationPage:{'en':'Wikimedia disambiguation page','fa':'صفحهٔ ابهام‌زدائی ویکی‌مدیا'},
            CategoryPage:{'en':'Wikimedia category page','fa':'صفحهٔ ردهٔ ویکی‌مدیا',...}

Yamaha5 (talk) 06:13, 8 October 2014 (UTC)

Follow Wikimedia namespace conventions[edit]

Do the examples mean that "Wikimedia category page" (or disambiguation page, portal, etc) should be the English-language description, or its opening words, for every item that represents a category (or disambiguation, etc)?

Today I added many Description --and some Label and Also known as-- to pages that are hits for Search 'Kansas City Blues' and Search 'Kansas City Cowboys'. At least four of them are categories, or items that link Wikipedia categoriesː [1] Category:Kansas City Cowboys(Q8570454) [2] Category:Kansas City Cowboys players(Q8570464) [3] Category:Kansas City Blues players(Q8570419) [4] CategoryːKansas City Blues (PBLA) players(Q6193495).

[3], [4]. The third and fourth are categories for player pages, namely players who were members of a minor 1940s professional ice hockey team called Kansas City Blues and a minor 1960s/70s professional basketball team called Kansas City Blues. We do not have these categories at English wikipedia; the items are here because has the basketball players cat and has the ice hockey players cat. I added English-language labels--by modification of names for similar pages-- because we English-language users see only En-lang labels in the search report, which is inscrutable without En-lang information (and these two search reports are long onesǃ).

[1], [4]. For the first and fourth items I preserved Description "Wikimedia category page" (as this Help page instructs, maybe) and used Also known as for descriptions that are useful in my opinion; hence the useful descriptions are not in the search reports. [2], [3]. For the second and third I used Description for descriptions that are useful to me (violating these Help instructions, maybe); hence those useful descriptions "baseball players ..." and "ice hockey players ..." are included in the search reports.

--P64 (talk) 23:44, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

Putting usage instructions in descriptions[edit]

I've noticed that it has become common to add instructions about how to use Wikidata items into descriptions. This causes a lot of confusion when these descriptions are displayed outside of the context of Wikidata (for example, in Wikipedia App search results). Here are some examples:

  • banana - the fruit (for the best-known species, use Q10757112; for the genus, use Q8666090)
  • male - person who is male (use with Property:P21 sex or gender). For groups of males use with subclass of (P279).
  • fictional character - fictional person in a narrative work of arts (for human fictional character use Q15632617)

I think that this practice should be discouraged and such instructions should be given on the talk page (or within a new field). Kaldari (talk) 21:30, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

There is no other scheme to display this information to contributors. I once proposed Wikidata:Property proposal/Property metadata#property usage to allow explicit handling of such "recommended usage". Of course the infrastructure to display them when needed (pop-ups?) does not exist either. -- LaddΩ chat ;) 02:36, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
I think it depends on entity that uses the description:
  • for properties, I think it's a good idea to include usage descriptions;
  • for items, it depends on the nature of the item. For more technical items such as "fictional character", I'd include it. --- Jura 04:36, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
+1 for a new field. This could be part of {{Documentation}}, or an equivalent of the curent "description" and "alias". Or we could make it a property; taht might be a usful work-around in the short term, if other solutions will not happen quiclkly. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 10:57, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
The proposal for a new property is already there, but I don't think it's planned to display that when adding/editing statements on items. --- Jura 11:02, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
If the Qid numbers could be replaced with links then we could probably rewrite all these descriptions so they work as usage hints but also work as descriptions when exported. In most cases the usage instructions are indications of what is included in or excluded from the item and that is information that is ok to put in descriptions. Filceolaire (talk) 12:35, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Usage instructions in descriptions are unsystematic and may cause problems outside WD, but unfortunately currently there is no efficient to display these instructions to contributors (nobody will read talk page of item). So at the moment they make WD better by reducing incorrect usage of items. Removing these instructions without comparable way to inform contributors will cause much more incorrect usage of items. --Jklamo (talk) 14:45, 30 April 2015 (UTC)

As far as I am concerned, you can ditch all descriptions because they will never be properly available in our languages. Automated descriptions provide a much better use of our energy. Insisting on specific types of descriptions because of external use is exactly one other reason why having descriptions is not that useful in the first place. Thanks GerardM (talk) 20:00, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

For me it is the same as for GerardM. The first example says
Label: Top Gear
Description: Wikipedia disambiguation page
Here the "instance of" value will already say that it is a Wikipedia disambiguation page. Why repeat? The properties can describe an item. Also the requirement that no two items can have the same label and same description is weird: You can have 50 items with same label, 2 of them might be of a specific class. It would already help in the search-result-preview to see which belong to that class. Current policy forces people to insert "." ore something like that to be allowed to enter two descriptions. FreightXPress (talk) 13:19, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
There are many, many use cases where a short description of the item is useful (for example providing disambiguation in Wikipedia search results). Discarding the description isn't a helpful suggestion, IMO. Just because there are cases where they are redundant, doesn't mean they aren't useful. Kaldari (talk) 00:53, 9 May 2015 (UTC)

Just a note for anyone coming to this discussion that there's been some progress on this issue; see phabricator:T97566.--Eloquence (talk) 05:11, 14 July 2017 (UTC)

No initial article - exceptions are possible[edit]

User:Succu at [1] invoked "exceptions are possible". Could it be clarified in the policy when? FreightXPress (talk) 20:33, 2 May 2015 (UTC)

Links to relevant discussions on descriptions[edit]

Douglas Adams with Wikidata-generated automatic description ("autodesc")
Wikidata "description" shown on Wikipedia.
„Live“ vandalism from 9. December 2014 to 29. January 2015

Please add. --Atlasowa (talk) 12:39, 15 June 2015 (UTC)

Done. --- Jura 12:45, 15 June 2015 (UTC)

--Atlasowa (talk) 13:21, 15 June 2015 (UTC)

  • meta:Research:Wikidata_gap_analysis
    • RQ2: Missing descriptions/missing articles: "... there are a large number of sitelinks that lack descriptions - almost 73%. These are widely distributed between different language projects (Fig.3), and have implications for (e.g.) multilingual search."
    • Recommendation: "The incredible growth of Wikidata is a testament to the interest it has generated in its ecosystem, and to the strength and commitment of its community. However, the content and software have not reached the level of maturity required for widespread and deep integration with Wikimedia Foundation products. Our recommendation is that the Wikimedia Foundation not look into additional opportunities to integrate products with Wikidata at this time. Surgical integration of very specific types of content in very specific environments may be considered on a case-by-case basis, only after investigating that the appropriate content and tools are present, usable and reliable."
    • Proposed Wikidata improvements (2): "A focus should be put on description localisation, which is currently lagging substantially behind the unstructured data on our projects and the structured labels on Wikidata"
    • Wikidata:Project_chat/Archive/2015/06#Evaluation of WD by WMF "... it's a complete mess to advice to focus on descriptions. Descriptions don't contain any valuable data. We should rather focus on adding more and more statements to our items and then generate descriptions based on these statements. I fear that the author of that evaluation does not have the best understanding of what we need at Wikidata. However, we have to remember that they mainly focused on how Wikidata can help the Foundation's projects and not how Wikidata can be improved in general. -- Bene* talk 11:37, 8 June 2015 (UTC)"
    • meta:Research_talk:Wikidata_gap_analysis#See this discussion on wikidata "How trustworthy are these wikidata "descriptions" according to your gap analysis, currently? Because Wikipedians see that WMF is silently pushing these wikidata "descriptions" into official Wikipedia apps and Wikipedia mobile and that they are vandalised and hardly patrolled, and that WMF is doing this without consensus or even consultation of the community. Who needs a "wikidata description" anyway between the WP article lemma "Adventskalender" and the intro "Ein Adventskalender (in Österreich Adventkalender; auch Weihnachtskalender) gehört seit dem 19. Jahrhundert zum christlichen Brauchtum in der Zeit des Advents."? This doesn't really add value to Wikipedia but rather adds a new vandalism entry point, from a Wikipedian perspective. Now to the wikidata perspective. It is not wikidatas goal to build a free-form text mini-wikipedia, but to build a free database of structured data. Automatic descriptions can be constructed from wikidata statements ( "13M items x 287 languages = 4 billion descriptions to fill in manually." "a little developer time can save megahours (new unit!) of volunteers performing needless work.") And if you want natural language, there is from Wikipedia articles. So why is WMF pushing for manual wikidata descriptions? And i don't see why they are needed for multilingual search anyway? --Atlasowa (talk) 14:59, 15 June 2015 (UTC) "

--Atlasowa (talk) 09:48, 30 June 2015 (UTC)

--Atlasowa (talk) 16:58, 30 June 2015 (UTC)

--Atlasowa (talk) 22:53, 1 July 2015 (UTC)

Vandalism problem[edit]

Porphyrie = Albanisch?
„Live“ 23. May 2014 - 21. May 2015
  • Wikidata:Project chat/Archive/2015/06#Patrolling changes
  • Wikidata:Administrators'_noticeboard/Archive/2015/06#A suggestion "Over the past few weeks we've seen issues both in Wikipedia and OTRS with people reporting inappropriate content like this in Google searches. As far as I know (and oddly enough) these only show up in mobile. The Wikidata community might want to think about how to counteract this, perhaps defaulting to some kind of semi-protection. (...) I can see this being a potentially large problem that might blow up in the future if some clever troll finds the right combination of data and matching Wikipedia article(s) to manipulate. Wikipedia has a lot of eyes and a refined counter-vandalism system, but Wikidata has a far smaller number of actively engaged users since it's not by and large a user-edited resource. Just something to think about. I don't know that we need yet another attack vector and possible source of embarrassment. §FreeRangeFrogcroak 18:40, 10 June 2015 (UTC)"
  • Wikidata:Project_chat/Archive/2015/06#Revert_analysis "I analyzed all 2073 reverts of IP edits during the last 30 days and identified the country of origin of the IP's. In the graph below all countries with more than ten reverts are listed. Remarkably, seven out of the ten top countries are Spanish speaking countries. In total, IP's from these seven countries are responsible for 1117 reverted edits or 55% of all reverted edits during the studied period. I hypothesize that many IP's are coming from Spanish Wikipedia articles with a [editar datos en Wikidata] link as in es:Jesé Rodríguez. Such links are one hand very welcome as Wikipedia authors can faster improve the connected Wikidata item, on the other hand they open a new playground for vandals. I checked if the vandalizing IP addresses from Spanish speaking countries are also active on Spanish Wikipedia. Though only 14% of these IP's have also reverted edits on Spanish Wikipedia. This means that vandals on Wikidata and Spanish Wikipedia are different people but most probably many Wikidata vandals are coming from Spanish Wikipedia --Pasleim (talk) 20:26, 15 June 2015 (UTC)"
  • Towards Vandalism Detection in Knowledge Bases: Corpus Construction and Analysis SIGIR’15 : "Our corpus is based on a database dump of the full revision history of Wikidata until November 7, 2014 (...) about 85% of revisions are made automatically by bots approved by Wikidata’s community. (...) As we are interested in detecting ill-intentioned contributions by humans, and not errors in bots, we base our corpus on the 24 million manual revisions."
Vandalized Item Categories: "Table 1: Top vandalized items Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, One Direction, Portal:Featured content, Justin Bieber, Barack Obama, English Wikipedia, Selena Gomez (...) the least vandalized category Places gets almost 4 times as much attention by all editors (31%) (...) The focus of vandals deviates significantly from typical editors (...) while categorizing the revision samples, we noticed that 11% of the vandalized items concerned India, cross-cutting all categories, compared to 0.5% overall."
Vandalized Content Types: "About 57% of the vandalism happens in textual content like labels, descriptions, and aliases; and about 40% happens in structural content like statements and sitelinks.
Vandals: "About 86% (88,592 of 103,205) of vandalism on Wikidata originates from anonymous users. (...) Unregistered users primarily vandalize textual content and sitelinks, whereas registered users primarily vandalize statements and sitelinks."

--Atlasowa (talk) 09:24, 30 June 2015 (UTC)

Automatic vs. manual wikidata descriptions discussions[edit]

--Atlasowa (talk) 11:32, 21 August 2015 (UTC)

Given that none is going to write 255*20.000.000 descriptions .. --- Jura 11:52, 21 August 2015 (UTC)
+ rewriting those descriptions regularly to update (CEO of...? )
+ vandalism patrol in 255 languages of this additional "short-text-wikipedia"
But i'm afraid those decisions about wikidata descriptions are made based on power and self-interest, not based on community consensus or reason, maintenance burden, sustainability... The WMF mobile developers want manual wikidata descriptions, and they push it through because they are in power. They prominently push wikidata descriptions everywhere they can (mobile WP article heads, search results, share-a-fact, nearby, ...), because they can, and because they find it more convenient. More convenient than cleaning up Extension:TextExtracts of templates, in cooperation with the community (the horror!) to automatically get short natural language text from WP intros. More convenient than working with and working on automatic descriptions. It is just so much more convenient, if they bully the community into being responsible for a bloody billion manual wikidata descriptions (+... +... ). Wikipedians don't want to see the wikidata description "fick deine mutter" displayed on top of their handcrafted Wikipedia article? Hush hush, you better go write + patrol at wikidata then! That's a community problem! WMF is not responsible for the crap content! >:-( --Atlasowa (talk) 12:24, 21 August 2015 (UTC)
This comment is way to much written in a way to much accusatory tone for my taste. Manual descriptions were the initial plan of Wikidata and autodescription is not yet into integrated into Wikidata, and it's a natural stuff for developpers to use mainly official WMF tools and not real on non officially supported one like those of Magnus. author  TomT0m / talk page 12:51, 21 August 2015 (UTC)
  • It is part of wikis that texts can be vandalized. This isn't specific to manual descriptions. It can look bad, but if you think of other content issues, it's probably overrated.
    As for any feature, it's there so one might as well try to make use of it. The interesting thing about wikis is that frequently several approaches are possible and contributors are free to choose what they prefer (ok, some waste our time with advocacy rather than actually contributing anything and others are paid to do this or that).
    For most cases, the actual number of descriptions needed might be much lower. If people view primarily 1000 articles from English Wikipedia and 400 of them are well known topics, 600 English descriptions might be the only ones that matter. Besides, most current "manual" descriptions are not manual descriptions, but bot generated ones. As Tom once mentioned, one might needs to define (for each P31 I assume) which type of autodescription applies. To some extent that is what bots currently do. --- Jura 06:17, 22 August 2015 (UTC)

Description of disambiguations[edit]

I tried to merge several items, i. e. Q12133812 and Q194747. The merging didn't succeed at first, because description is not the same for two items. My question is what description is preferred: "wikiPedia disambiguation page" or "wikiMedia disambiguation page"? --Jarash (talk) 11:08, 18 November 2015 (UTC)

"M", but if you use the gadget, the merge will go through. See Help:Merge.
If you delete both descriptions, eventually a bot will add the correct one ;) --- Jura 11:25, 18 November 2015 (UTC)

questions about the nutshell[edit]

in "Keep it short—descriptions need to only be long enough to allow people to easily grasp what an item's label refers to" I'd delete label as it seems useless or misleading to me. We just wand to know what an item is about. author  TomT0m / talk page 13:38, 9 December 2015 (UTC)

Change to translatable page?[edit]

This page is now mentioned in a message in the Wikipedia Android app. See

It might be good to change this to a translatable page, so that link can be updated to use Special:MyLanguage and a static anchor.

Description of "description "[edit]

"The description on a Wikidata entry is a short phrase designed to disambiguate items with the same or similar labels": to disambiguate items by whom/what? By human? By bot? --Fractaler (talk) 07:49, 8 November 2017 (UTC)