Places that change over time

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Redirects for place name changes

Postby ritcheymt-p40 » Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:01 pm

kmatthia wrote:I converted Konitz, Westpreußen, Preußen, Germany page to a latitude / longitude page name to see how it would work. You can see that Konitz has a rich and disputed jurisdictional history. I think this method will better avoid offending people (e.g., what will you name the Formosa page). See:

How would I find it? I'm pretty sure one branch of my family came from some part of what is now called Germany, so I'm trying to imagine myself searching the database for a place whose title is a latitude/longitude coordinate. If the coordinate I entered in the search engine was only slightly off, I wouldn't find the article. I'd have to become somewhat of a geography expert to find the place I wanted. And how I'd get the latitude and longitude of a place which preceded latitude or longitude would be a real trick, so I couldn't rely on the name of my ancestor's place being a latitude/longitude coordinate. I'd have to guess each time.

Wikipedia's answer to place name changes is to use redirects. So if a place were called several different names over its lifetime, you'd create basically an empty page for all but one and redirect all those pages to the one you want to serve as the main page. Anybody doing a search on one of the secondary or tertiary names will find it no problem, and be redirected to the one that serves as the main page.

  • Search for "Peking" on Wikipedia. The search works fine; you are redirected to the Beijing page.The page that shows how to create redirects is
  • There's a category of pages that were redirected because of name changes. It's at The small size of the category makes clear that most redirects due to name changes are not yet associated with the category. There are a lot more name-change redirects in Wikipedia than the category shows.
  • To overcome the problem of offending people over which name is used for a place, Wikipedia avoids inconsistency. When you're consistent in order to achieve clarity, people tend to accept your standards a little better. Wikipedia uses the current name of the place used by the locals. Jake Gehring spoke of this a bit in one of our usergroup meetings.

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Postby jbh001 » Mon Apr 14, 2008 4:02 pm

ritcheymt wrote:Wikipedia's answer to place name changes is to use redirects.
I agree. All previous names should redirect to the modern/current name. The change in names over time can be handled with a "name history" section within the article.

In th case of Prussia or Yugoslavia, as a novice I would be looking for the country article (Prussia) to contain links to relevant constituent geopolitical subdivisions (i.e. provinces, counties, parishes, boroughs, etc.) which redirect to the modern name. If the target article has a "name history" (or similarly titled section) I could then see how Chojnice, Pomorskie, Poland changed from being part of Prussia to Germany to Prussia to eventually Poland.

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