|It is proposed that this informational page become a policy or guideline. Please see the discussion on its talk page or the project chat.|
The following is a proposed Wikidata policy or guideline. The proposal may still be in development, under discussion, or in the process of gathering consensus for adoption.
|This page in a nutshell:
The label is the most common name that the item would be known by. It does not need to be unique, in that multiple items can have the same label, however no two items may have both the same label and the same description.
There is no requirement that an item's label be the same as the page name on its corresponding Wikimedia site. In fact there are several cases, discussed below, in which it is actually desirable for the Wikidata label to be different from the Wikimedia page title. The examples below are general examples. While they try to give guidance for the majority of cases, they are not bright-line rules. If a compelling reason can be given, any of these guidelines can be bypassed.
It was recognized very early on in the conception of this project that people with strong points of view might try and shift Wikidata labels, descriptions, and even data points to fit their own point of view. Wikidata is not a forum for pushing points of view, and should try to reflect information both accurately and neutrally. Edit warring over labels is not acceptable.
Note that an item will have multiple labels in different languages. Labels in different languages may be unrelated to each other (one language uses a person's birth name as a label and another uses their pen name). Including aliases means an item can have multiple labels in the same language. If there is something important about a particular name then that name should be in a statement as well as in the label, even if this looks like the same information is being given in two different ways - we have a lot of different properties for names of items.
Language independent general principles
Labels can be ambiguous
As stated above, a label does not have to be unique. Descriptions add to items being distinguishable.
Reflect common usage
Because the aim is to use the name that an item would be known by to the most readers, labels should reflect common usage. When it comes to scientific names, for example, of a species, labels should use a species' common name, however items must always also have the scientific name listed as Alias. If a species has several common names, a reasonable effort should be made to determine which of them is the most commonly used, e.g. by consulting references. The other names should be placed in the alias field along with the scientific name. If a species does not have a common name, the scientific name can be used as the label. Note that individual breeds do not have scientific names. Every breed of dog, from the Siberian Husky to the Chihuahua, is part of the species Canis lupus familiaris.
Wikimedia page title may give orientation
To figure out the most common name, it is good practice to consult the corresponding Wikimedia project page (for example, the title of a Wikipedia article). In many cases, the best label for an item will either be the title of the corresponding page on a Wikimedia project or a variation of that title. There are a few pitfalls to be aware of.
Disambiguation information belongs in the description
When a page title includes disambiguation, either through commas or parentheses, the disambiguation should not be included in the Wikidata label. Disambiguation information should instead be part of the description. For example, the Wikipedia article for London, Ontario has the label London (Q92561) and the description "city in Ontario, Canada" on Wikidata. The Wikipedia article Michael Jackson (writer) corresponds to Michael Jackson (Q167877) with the description "English writer and journalist". Nor should this rule be observed with too much zeal. New York is probably the best label for a state on the American east coast, even if "New" originally was a kind of disambiguation. "(6415) 1993 VR3" is the official designation of an asteroid. The parentheses is here not a disambiguation. The parenthesis of "Hemsjö (norra delen)" is a part of the designation Statistics Sweden has assigned this entity. And the commas in "Edshult, Hulskog, Lida och Bäck", a group of villages in Sweden, can neither be regarded as a disambiguation.
But note that for other client wiki namespaces like "Category" and "Template" the labels should be identical to sitelinks (the disambiguation parts shouldn't be removed), as these types of pages usually have only one common type of descriptions and there may occur API errors of non-unique pair consisting of label + description when trying to set descriptions to other items.
Drop dates unless significantly important
Depending on the specific case, dates either should or should not be left in the label. For cases where the date is of significant importance, including regularly scheduled sporting events (2006 NBA Finals (Q170590), Switzerland at the 2008 Summer Olympics (Q128127)), annual seasons or time periods (1992 Atlantic hurricane season (Q170613), 2008–09 FC Barcelona season (Q170605)), or events where the date is part of the common name (Great Blizzard of 1888 (Q170652)), the date should be included in the label. If the date is incidental, it should not be included.
Follow Wikimedia namespace conventions
Wikimedia sites can contain several types of pages that are found outside of the main namespace (for example, non-article pages in Wikipedia). These include templates, category pages, help pages, and Special pages. If a page normally displays on a Wikimedia site with a namespace in front of it, you should keep that namespace in the label. If the label begins with "Wikipedia:", "Category:", "Template:", or "MediaWiki:" you should also include the page title without "Wikipedia:", "Category:", "Template:", or "MediaWiki:" as an alias if the namespace exists in Wikidata. This is important because Wikidata includes some of the same namespaces as other Wikimedia sites and consequently the Wikidata search will not function properly when trying to search for an item with a label that begins with an existing namespace on Wikidata. For a list of namespaces in Wikidata, see here.
- Wikipedia page: Wikipedia:Blocking policy
- Wikidata label: Wikipedia:Blocking policy
- Alias(es): Blocking policy
- Wikipedia page: Portal:History
- Wikidata label: Portal:History
- Wikidata does not have a "Portal" namespace. Consequently, adding "History" as an alias is not needed.
Labels in English
Labels begin with a lowercase letter except for when uppercase is normally required or expected. Essentially, you should pretend that the label is appearing in the middle of a normal sentence, and then follow normal language rules. Most terms would not be capitalized if they appeared in the middle of a sentence, however proper nouns such as the names of specific people, specific places, specific buildings, specific books, etc., should be capitalized. In the rare case that something intentionally breaks capitalization rules, the capitalization on Wikidata should reflect this, and not try and correct it.
Wikipedia article: The Velveteen Rabbit
Wikidata label: The Velveteen Rabbit
The Velveteen Rabbit is the name of a book, so the letters that are capitalized in the title of the book are capitalized in the Wikidata label.
Wikipedia article: Xkcd
Wikidata label: xkcd
xkcd is a webcomic that intentionally doesn't capitalize the first letter, despite being a proper noun. Wikidata reflects this by also not capitalizing the first letter.
Fonts and characters
Wikidata does not support italics, subscript or superscript in labels, descriptions and aliases via HTML/markdown or wikitext formatting. At this time the development team has indicated that they have no intention of adding that feature. Instead unicode characters can be used. If unicode characters are used in the label, an alias should also be created using standard characters.
Wikidata label: Evidence suggesting that Homo neanderthalensis contributed the H2 MAPT haplotype to Homo sapiens
Wikidata description: scientific article
Items without pages on Wikimedia sites
Even if an item does not have a page on English Wikipedia, or any other English Wikimedia site, there are instances when that item should still have an English label and description on Wikidata. When creating a label for an item with no English Wikipedia page, the following five step procedure should be adopted:
- If the item has a name that it is commonly referred to in English, or a translation or transliteration that is commonly used already, then that should be used.
- If the item is a proper noun that has an article on a Wikipedia from another language using a Latin-derived alphabet, then that should be used.
- If the item is a proper noun that does not have an article on a Wikipedia from another language using a Latin-derived alphabet, use the most widely accepted transliteration method to convert the title into English characters. You should always transliterate using the language that the item was first named in. Therefore if you have an article on a town in South Korea and there are Wikipedia articles in Korean, Chinese, and Japanese, you should transliterate from Korean. Google Translate automatically does transliteration for many common languages; the transliteration appears in grey text directly below the blue box that you input text into. Do not use this method for items that are not proper nouns.
- If the item is not a proper noun and you feel confident in your level of familiarity with an item's native language, you can attempt to do the translation or transliteration yourself.
- If the item is not a proper noun and you do not feel confident in your level of familiarity with an item's native language, leave it for someone else.
Wikipedia article: None
Wikidata label: Robin Swinkels
Robin Swinkels doesn't have an article in English Wikipedia, however he does have one in Polish and Dutch, which use the same alphabet as English. Since his name is a proper noun, it won't change from one Latin-derived alphabet to another, so we can use it as is.
The default label for some review articles consists of a data dump of bibliographic information about the work. These should be shortened to "Review of <title of work>".
Default label: Digital Baroque: New Media Art and Cinematic Folds, by Timothy Murray. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008. 320 pp. $25 (paper). ISBN 978-0816634026
Wikidata label: Review of Digital Baroque: New Media Art and Cinematic Folds
Default label: Robert A. Beauregard, When America Became Suburban. University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, 2006. ix + 271pp. 14 figures. 3 appendices. $57.00 hbk; $18.95 pbk
Wikidata label: Review of When America Became Suburban
Labels in other languages
Every language within Wikidata can have its own guidelines. When in doubt refer to the version of this page in the respective language.
For related Help pages, see:
- Help:Items, which explains what items are and what rules they follow
- Help:Aliases, which explains what aliases are and what rules they follow
- Help:Description, which explains what descriptions are and what rules they follow
- Help:Multilingual for information on setting language preferences
- Wikidata:WikiProject Disambiguation pages/guidelines
For additional information and guidance, see:
- Project chat, for discussing all and any aspects of Wikidata
- Wikidata:Glossary, the glossary of terms used in this and other Help pages
- Help:FAQ, frequently asked questions asked and answered by the Wikidata community
- Help:Contents, the Help portal featuring all the documentation available for Wikidata