[WikiEN-l] Getting smarter about surnames

charles matthews charles.r.matthews at ntlworld.com
Fri May 5 15:40:44 UTC 2006

 "Guettarda" wrote

> Do you think that a WikiProject Surnames might be in order?

There is certainly enough to do - an essentially unlimited field, you could 

There are projects and projects.  What is most urgently needed is to get 
under control the most common names on the wiki.  There are inevitably 
'Anglo': Smith, Jones, Brown, Robinson, lots of Irish and Scots names as 
found all over Canada and Australia, that kind of thing.  Almost the first 
discussion would have to be what to do about these.  For example Smiths are 
listed under [[List of people by name: Smi]].  We don't really want to start 
off with a schism between people who think that the [[List of people by 
name]] pages should be maintained, and those (like me) who think that that 
is the wrong approach, that writing it "Smith, Adam" is to be deprecated 
because it confuses search engines, and anyway with biographies into six 
figures we have to do something other than 1000 pages averaging more than 
100 names on.

That's one issue.  Another is that WikiProjects can appear much better at 
prescribing rules to do the work, than at actually doing it.

On the other hand, if there's a chance of getting together people who know 
their onomastics, with those with theories on how to integrate and present 
some genealogical information here (for example the boxes turning up on 
[[Arnold J. Toynbee]] to show the relation to [[Polly Toynbee]]), and others 
who want to 'add value' to raw lists of names, it could be interesting.  I'm 
pretty much a 'raw list' man myself; but a template for a surname page ought 
indeed to take into account a bit more.


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