Zappa, Dweezil, and Naming Conventions

So, let’s say hypothetically, you’re working on this thing called a wiki, right? Let’s say it’s a wiki on Frank Zappa, and you’re setting up a basic structure (bio, discog, videog, …). All goes well until you hit a bit of a brick wall: naming conventions.

When setting up an alphabetical index of names for instance, how do you list them? The way a librarian would — that is “Zappa, Dweezil”? An inbetween form, like “Zappa Dweezil” (no comma)? Or just plain jane “Dweezil Zappa”? For reading through the list and quickly finding what you’re looking for, I’d say the former is the way to go — there’s a reason why librarians do it that way.

The downside of this however is that it also forces you to mention those names in this form for every article about the person. An article on the Dweez would then read: “Zappa’s first son, Zappa, Dweezil, went on to become an acclaimed guitarist.” Bit awkward that, eh? Same would go for songtitles. You’d have sentences such as “There’s a track on Chunga’s Revenge called “Clap, The”. Hmmm…

So my hypothetical question: how should this be handled in your view? Any librarians outthere reading HotPoop?

15 Responses to “Zappa, Dweezil, and Naming Conventions”

  1. Duncan says:

    I see no problem with D Z in a body of text (with a link to the DZ article).
    The problem comes when you are presented with an list of names (think phone book) when I wold instinctively look under Z for Z D (and any other related Zs that might be there. I would have strong doubts about the quality of a resource that did not do this.

  2. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    You’re suggesting we use the wiki-type link only for lists of names, and “free” links for any pages where the name comes up. This defeats the very purpose of wiki-links which is to ease the creation of links in article-pages to other pages already in the wiki.
    As an example, this is how a “free link” is formatted:
    [ my description]
    By contrast, this is how a “wiki-link” is formatted:
    [[my description]]
    Wiki-links are “smart links” because they will show up in pages as red when the linked-to page does not exist yet, and show up in blue to indicate the linked-to page exists – making it easy to see where editing/creation needs to be done.
    Free (or “regular” links if you prefer) do not provide this information, and therefor make it impossible to determine if a link on any page needs yet to be created.
    See what I mean?

  3. Duncan says:

    I see. Is there no way to make the wiki link point at a particular page?
    If not…
    If this is the way a wiki works then we should work with the wiki. Abandon preconceived ideas of lists of names/albums and build the links into the body of texts. Start with a bare bones biography page (which has too much detail in at the moment) and build out from there into ever expanding layers of obscure information.
    Biog by decades
    albums from decades
    musicians from albums Lyrics from album Details of album
    something like that.
    Late for work!

  4. mediocre says:

    I’d say stick with the ‘normal’ writing, like Dweezil Zappa, for better reading.
    There is a distinct difference between a library and a wiki or any internet ‘thing’: Ctrl-F.
    Yes, you have alternative search options and don’t *have* to read all the lists.

  5. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    Note to self: read the links you post. :)
    The link to wikipedia in my post above mentions the following:
    “[[page name|display name]] — the piped link: hide the page name and display something else (but use this sparingly, and never “click here”!)”
    In our case, that would be [[Zappa Dweezil|Dweezil Zappa]].
    Still, for novice contributors, this is just complicating things, I think.

  6. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    Mediocre: indeed — I’m starting to lean toward the “normal writing” option…

  7. mediocre says:

    I agree with using [[Zappa Dweezil|Dweezil Zappa]] is complicating things for novice users.

  8. SOFA says:

    Were this reference a hard-copy reference – like Duncan’s phonebook, or Barry’s Librarian covetted Encyclopedia – then going with a “alphabetized by last name, or first definitive word, would make lots of sense.
    “How would a Librarian handle this?” is a question that has been posed a lot in the last few days. A Librarian of today would tell you that the method in question was created because humans read too slow (Forget the “The”. “A”, or article; what’s the last name – the IMPORTANT one). Well, computers don’t have that problem, so maybe that convention is not well placed in a cyber environment?
    And no matter what anyone thinks, I am not taking this opportunity to say, “I loving TOLD you so”

  9. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    What a good thing this was only hypothecially speaking, eh? ;)
    Seriously though; yes you did loving tell me so, and you were right — mea culpa…

  10. Balint says:

    What if the LISTs themselves are made in alphabetical order (Dweezil Zappa, Moon Zappa, This Zappa, That Zappa) using this: [[Zappa Dweezil|Dweezil Zappa]] only for this list, and if it seems to be difficult, there would be 3-4 “webmasters” to correct them, but otherwise everyone could use “Dweezil Zappa”, like in “normal life”. Still too complicated? Maybe… no more ideas…
    And what if we’d accept that some songs begin with “the”? (Huh, the next problem: some songs has this ” mark in them (“Dark Water”).
    Well,well – its easier in hungarian, we use the last name first…
    MAROSI Bálint

  11. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    Balint: as to your first suggestion, yeah I had considered that. Bottomline though: contributor-friendliness and consistency therein looks to be more important from where I stand.
    As for track titles which have double quotes in them: I believe the wiki system handles those graciously right out of the box, meaning you could go [["Dark Water""]]. And even if not, don’t you think double quotes are quantité négligable in this context? You could do something like “[[Dark Water]]” to alleviate the issue…

  12. Duncan says:

    Far be it from me to also say “I told you so” but even the cyber world can get it right sometimes.
    Go to…
    and find Frank Zappa

  13. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    But that’s a directory structure, not a wiki structure…

  14. Duncan says:

    Is not a list of names sorted alphabetically a directory structure? Are we not building a wiki upon a list of names sorted alphabetically?
    But I am confused now :-/
    What are we talking about? (please type slowly so even I can understand :-)
    Dweezil Zappa will be listed as….
    A; Dweezil Zappa (under D)
    B: Dweezil Zappa (under Z)
    C: Zappa, Dweezil (under Z)
    D: None of the above (please explain)

  15. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    Copy/pasted from our “other” discussion-list:
    I see no other way to initiate the creation of single articles other than by using a list (whether alphabetical or by shoe-size is a moot argument) as a starting point. Again: if the single articles we’re creating each contain proper wiki-links, the more articles we have the less need there will be for a general list.
    The google directory is – guess what – a directory; not a wiki. Directories rely on heavy hierarchic structuring, wiki’s rely on a pretty much flat structure where the cohesion is obtained by hyperlinks. Why attempt to shoehorn a wiki into a directory?
    It’s like FZ singing country! :-)