There has been a lot of discussion recently on whether to use the official English-language name of a city, or whether to use the most common English name of that city. This discussion has mostly centered on Indian cities (Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata or Bombay, Madras and Calcutta). Due to many arguments, it is time to call a referendum on whether people agree with changing articles to official English-language names. You can read the FAQ beneath the votes for more clarification on what will be changed and what will not.
There are two questions in the referendum. To vote in the referendum, please place your username beside your desired answer.
1. Do you believe that Wikitravel should use the official English-language names of cities or places (YES), or the most common variant (NO)?
If a majority of YES votes are recorded, this would mean changing Bombay to Mumbai, Madras to Chennai and so on. It would not mean changing articles to their native language name, for example, Prague would not be changed to Praha, Bucharest would not be changed to Bucureşti and Lisbon would not be changed to Lisboa. If the result turns out to be positive, the Article naming conventions of Wikitravel will also be changed.
Will this affect Wikitravel in a major way?
No. This is a relatively minor decision regarding simple name changes. This does not however mean that your vote doesn't count, or is unimportant. It is an issue that constantly pops up, so we need to decide it once and for all.
Will the Czech Republic article be moved to Czechia?
Yes. If the vote for Czechia is approved, all places will use official English-language name. The official short name for Ceska republika in English is Czechia. If the referendum of official naming turns out a YES result, but the majority of people disagree with changing Czech Republic to Czechia, the article will remain at Czech Republic.
My dictionary does not have Czechia as a word. The nearest I get is Czech - of the Czech Republic. I would caution against using Czechia as it sounds like Chechnya and could cause confusion. Also what Official publication is the reference point for this "Official" name? - Huttite 07:25, 10 May 2004 (EDT)
I thought this issue would come up, and that's OK - I will explain it in detail. Firstly, the fact that Czechia sounds like Chechnya is a comparison I didn't think of, but, upon close thought, it can be argued (but then again, what grounds is that for not implementing a perfectly good name change!?). OK, now to the reasoning. Czech Republic is by quite a significant margin the most common name, and it is correct and official. However, there is one problem with it. Czech Republic is akin to The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or to the Hellenic Republic. That is, Czech Republic is the long, official name of this country. The short name is Czechia, akin to the United Kingdom or Greece, using the examples above. This is because the Czech government declared Czechia the standard and official short form of the name. Yo u can read about this at http://www.czechia.org/. Therefore, if the referendum were to pass, we should use Czechia, instead of the Czech Republic, unless we would decide to use long names for everything (like using the United Mexican States, People's Republic of China, Republic of China for Taiwan, etc.). However, I agree that, as of the current moment, Czechia is a fairly pedantic chance - it is, in strict matters, the most correct term, but again, I agree that it would be a bit strange to use it (I have accustomed myself to using it now, instead of the Czech Republic, but it isn't commonly accepted). Therefore, we can exempt this from the future official naming policy, if the majority of people want to do so. That would be fine. I have therefore placed a second question above relating to the Czechia issue. I know it may sound like a minor issue, but I think with this referendum we can finally sort out a problem that has been popping up all over the place for a long time. Ronline 08:08, 10 May 2004 (EDT)
Where is this "Czechia" thing coming from!? The CIA World Factbook (current as of Dec 18, 2003) gives "Czech Republic" as both long and short form. This referendum also says nothing about whether the long or short form should be used for naming articles, as I don't think any Czechs think saying "Czech Republic" is wrong -- it's a direct translation of Ceska republika! Jpatokal 06:30, 10 May 2004 (EDT)
I explained the reasoning behind Czechia above. CIA World Factbook is actually incorrect on this matter. Even though it is the one resource that I trust most usually, it gives Czech Republic incorrectly, for no apparent reason. You're right, the referendum doesn't talk about short or long, but it does talk about stadardisation, and, as I mentioned above, of course we could use Czech Republic, but then we would have to name all of the other countries to names such as Hellenic Republic, Commonwealth of Australia, etc. to conform to this long-name usage. Like Bombay, I think using Czech Republic is a bit discriminatory - I will ask the Czech Wikipedia about this since they are Czechs, but anyway, it is a bit discriminatory to use the long name of a country for no reason, when the short name is shorter, easier to pronounce, more logical and more standard. Ronline 08:16, 10 May 2004 (EDT)
If the YES vote is successful, will that mean that there will be no article named Bombay?
Yes and no. While there will be no actual article with the name of Bombay, users will still be able to access the article on Mumbai by typing in, or searching for, Bombay. This is due to the fact that Bombay, and all links to it, will redirect to Mumbai.
Does this referendum affect the Romanian and French Wikitravels?
No. The Romanian Wikitravel will not be holding a referendum on this issue because it already uses official names like Mumbai, etc. The French Wikitravel does not use official names, and can hold a referendum if it desires. Just because the English Wikitravel is using a certain policy does not mean the others have to follow. However, if a YES result is reached, then it would be beneficial if the French Wikitravel would also use official names, since then all of the Wikitravels would use the same naming scheme.
I only half-approve of the changes. What should I do?
Some people, for example, would like to see Bombay changed to Mumbai, but not the Czech Republic changed to Czechia, or Calcutta changed to Kolkata. That is perfectly fine, you can choose the best answer (YES or NO) and then explain it on this page.
Remember, this referendum is not a strict one - it would be great if people could give their opinion on this issue, give feedback on what and what not to change, etc.
I disagree with the idea that simply holding a referendum on this issue will resolve it. These sorts of guidelines should be reached or agreed upon by consensus, not a simple majority - (though I would accept >80% support as indicating a consensus). Using the official name, especially if it is not well known and there is a well known or historically accepted alternative name will confuse people. Also what Official publication is the reference point for the "Official" names that will be used? Currently the reference is a Google Search on the alternative names. The most used name, of the alternatives, then becomes the article name. Under the current scheme, once the official name becomes the most popular it can be accepted as the article name. This way a little known official name does not get used without careful thought and good reasons. There may be situations where there are good reasons not to use the official name - such as a native land dispute make the official name offensive. I think locking the policy down to the official name is undesirable. Where alternative names exist, the article title should be justified in some reasoned way. The official name and popular usage are factors in that justification process. Article name changes should be proven as valid and widely accepted with a well argued case. -- Huttite 07:25, 10 May 2004 (EDT)
I should've cleared these things up before the referendum, but anyway... this referendum is not binding in the sense that even if a simple majority says YES, changes will not necessarily take place absolutely. The referendum is here to validate the usage of official names by public concensus, so that it can be faired. This is because technically, we should be using official names because they are the most correct. No matter what Wikitravellers think, these names are the most correct. Now, this of course, sounds fairly aggressive, that's why we're holding a referendum. Again, "official" in this sense refers not to some obscure naming, but to the correct, fair name that countries set themselves, not some biased or old name that some English speakers use. It is by no means binding in the sense that we work by the rule of specificity. Eve after applying this rule, exceptions can be made to specific articles by reasoning and discussion. That is OK. But we still need a referendum to gauge Wikitravellers' response to this deeply dividing and controversial topic. Ronline 08:16, 10 May 2004 (EDT)