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Move namespace outside title
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Description

Currently, namespace is displayed as a prefix in the title.

It is problematic because of the following points:

  1. Readers have to be able to distinguish the real page title (without the prefix (example in a user page), or including it in a different way (“Help about link” is friendlier than “Help:Link”; “Strasbourg Portal” is friendlier than “Portal:Strasbourg”)).
  2. They also need to better understand if they are reading an article or a meta-page. See for example T62973: Make Draft namespace visually distinct from articles.

So, I think we should think about a design where the namespace would be more visible, but not as a title prefix.

However, the namespace prefix indication is useful for editors who want to link toward the page, especially when they just have to copy-paste it.
→Extending T18691 to level 1 titles could solve this question.

This issue is especially understandable on multi-language wiki: as a translator, I never know if I should translate the namespace, the title or both.

Event Timeline

@ovasileva @alexhollender does this make sense to work on while we're still redesigned the top of an article?
e.g.

Screen Shot 2021-05-26 at 8.48.46 AM.png (400×968 px, 48 KB)

instead of

Screen Shot 2021-05-26 at 8.48.37 AM.png (258×852 px, 18 KB)

If not please add to tracking.

Note there is the same question for subpages.

Actually, I think we should distinguish between technical page title and display article title. The first one is useful to make a link. The second one should be the only one displayed to visitors and to be fully customizable (without namespace, this task, but maybe sometimes without parent pages, or without text between brackets).

I think that's something we can consider during the later stages of the project - adding as a subtask there

Help about X makes sense in English. But you need to think on other languages that wouldn't use the Help part as the first word or that would need to decline one of the words so the sentence makes sense. There are lot of implications here.

Help about X makes sense in English. But you need to think on other languages that wouldn't use the Help part as the first word or that would need to decline one of the words so the sentence makes sense. There are lot of implications here.

That’s why I think display title should be fully customizable. For consistency, we should let communities draw guidelines instead of having technical constraints.

You can also hide it by default if the community wants to do that. It can be done via .js.

You can also hide it by default if the community wants to do that. It can be done via .js.

Please do not do this.

JavaScript should not be used to change the visible layout. That would degrade performance for every user. Doing this with MediWiki:Common.css would be acceptable, however that would require a few tweaks in the code.

I think there are 2 (or more!?) distinct issues here, and combining them is confusing things.

Importantly for all issues: Copying the rendered <H1> page-titles to use as a link elsewhere is a very common editing-pattern/workflow. Therefor changing this globally would have very widespread effects for a potentially huge number of volunteer editors.


  1. [Separate topic?] Some translators at multilingual-wikis can be confused about whether to translate the namespace-prefix literally or not.
    • E.g. at https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Help:Notifications/fr someone has manually translated the page title so that it shows as Aide:Notifications,
    • However if an editor tries to copy&paste that translated page title to use it elsewhere, e.g. writing within French Wikipedia [[mw:Aide:Notifications]], then that will not work as they might expect it to.

Personally, I agree this underlying-problem needs further discussion and thought, but I don't think this task is the right place for it. Perhaps translators-l@ or Meta talk:Babylon would work?


  1. There is also a suggestion that some readers and/or editors might be confused by namespace-prefixes and/or subpage-slashes, and that changing how those are displayed might help them.

Personally, I think this is highly subjective, and there are pros/cons to any option.
I.e. Some people intuitively understand the idea of "the prefix: or slash makes a significant difference", some don't (See also this related recent article at theverge.com discussing problems that the youngest generation of college students are having with learning directory structures).
I.e. Some people are helped by the consistency and logic of namespace-prefixes and subpage-slashes, some are not.

If we did start changing things manually, then there would be a significant concern about inconsistency - I.e. between pages which had been updated, and pages which still had their default display - and we would likely want to add/show a hatnote to each page that used a manual-change, to indicate the actual title - E.g. this is what is currently happening at Portail:Strasbourg where someone has added the {{Correct title}} override to the page so that it currently shows as Portail de Strasbourg.

Personally, as both a reader and editor, I would not be happy if we changed this current setup globally, and I am occasionally confused and frustrated when people use the {{Correct title}} override at pages which didn't have technical problems displaying the accurate page-name - E.g. At the Portail:Strasbourg example, due to the override, I would initially assume when I started reading the page that I was reading a Wikipedia article about the topic of "Gate to Strasbourg", similar to Portail de Levignac.
However, I also understand that many people might be confused by namespace-prefixes and/or subpage-slashes. I agree it's worth further discussion. I am just concerned about any widespread changes having unintended negative effects, which I think the current title/proposal in this task would result in.

Indeed, my initial proposition was not sufficiently matured.

I would rephrase it like that: “Distinguish between displayed title and technical title” or something like that.
I mean:

  • Readers should see a clear and readable displayed title (in same language than page content).
  • Editors should still be able to see and copy technical title.

Rephrased in this way, do you still think this covers several distinct issues, @Quiddity?

Note Wikipedia is pretty saved from this issue, since “reader space” is mainly in main namespace, without subpage use.

@Pols12 That rephrasing is clearer, thanks!
If I understand correctly, the overall request in this task & discussion is focused on thinking about possible ways to improve the situation, so that we can help the people who are currently confused, without inconveniencing the people who appreciate the current system.
Is that accurate? If yes, do you have any specific suggestions on what an implementation could look like?
Or do you endorse the idea of using a setup similar to how {{Correct title}} currently works? (I.e. with an override, + a hatnote, at every page with a namespace prefix)
For example, my own quick ideas (and their problems):

  • E.g. Namespace-prefixes issue - We could add CSS 'styling' to just the namespace-prefix, such as a bold-font or a light-grey background. I.e. (faking it with Phab's limited styling-options) :
    • Wikipedia:Foobar
    • One potential problem with this idea, is the styled-text would possibly still be copied if pasted into some rich-text editors (e.g. Google-docs) which might frustrate some people.
    • Another potential problem, is people might think they need to copy this styling when writing links in other pages.
  • E.g. Subpage-slashes issue - We could add visual-spacing before & after the slashes, but in a technical-way that didn't interfere with copy&pasting (?!). I.e. A page's H1 title could look like:
    • Wikipedia:Artículos solicitados / Solicitudes / Humanidades
    • One likely problem with this idea, is people might be confused into thinking they need to add spaces manually when they do page-moves or page-creations.

TLDR: I like the idea of making things clearer for more people in non-disruptive ways, I'm just not sure how that could be accomplished.

The idea of making the namespace visually different is interesting. A grey color or a lighter font would do great, and can be done with css so copying it wouldn't be necessarily affected.