Disambiguation in Wikipedia is the process of resolving the conflict that occurs when articles about two or more different topics have the same natural title. It is important to fix any mis-directed links yourself when making disambiguation pages.
Wikipedia thrives on the fact that making links is simple and automatic: as you're typing in an edit window, put brackets around Mercury (like this: [[Mercury]]) and you'll have a link. But were you intending to link to Mercury the element, the planet, the car or the Roman god? Solving this ambiguity involves three steps: first, appropriate (and distinct) titles are chosen for the more specific topics; then, any existing links to the general title should be replaced by links to the specific topics; finally, a short article should be written under the general title that points to those specific articles, perhaps explaining the differences among them.
If there is clearly one most important or central meaning of a term, the simple title can contain the full article on that topic as well as pointers to the other senses, which should appear at the top of the article if possible. For example, the article Rome should contain the full article about the Italian city, after listing links to Rome, New York or other articles.
A warning, though: people have a tendency to create disambiguation pages without fixing all the links to them.
The result is that Wikipedia is left in a worse state than it was before the page was split. Before creating a disambiguation page, click on "pages that link here" to find all the pages that link to the page you are about to change. Make sure those pages are fixed or that they won't be adversely affected before you do the split.
A code of honor for creating disambiguation pages is to fix the mis-directed links that will be created when the disambiguation page is made.
For creating the specific topic pages, a few options are available. If there's an alternate name or more complete name that is equally clear, that can be used. For example, Java programming language, Titan rocket. Otherwise, a disambiguating word or phrase can be added in parentheses. The word or phrase in parentheses should be one of two things: a generic noun describing what the specific title is an instance of (for example, Mercury (element), Seal (mammal)); or the subject or context to which the term applies (for example, Union (set theory), Inflation (economics)). Rarely, an adjective describing the title can be used, but in this case it's usually better to rephrase the title to avoid parentheses. If there's a choice between using a short phrase and word with context (for example, "Mathematical analysis" vs. "Analysis (mathematics)", there is no hard rule about which is preferred, and one can often create both, one redirecting to the other.
A special case of using a "context" to disambiguate is when the context is a book or other creative work, such as with articles about fictional characters. For example Dagny Taggart (Atlas Shrugged). If there is a choice between disambiguating with a generic term or with a context, choose whichever is simpler. For example "mythology" rather than "mythological figure". Use the same disambiguating phrase for topics within the same context.
To conform to our normal naming conventions, the phrase in parentheses should be treated just as any other word in a title: normally lowercase, unless it is a proper noun that always appears capitalized even in running text (such as a book title).
The disambiguating page
There is some flexibility in creating the disambiguating page itself, or even whether it is necessary to create one at all. As mentioned earlier, if the title clearly has one central most important meaning, and one or two lesser-known meanings in narrow contexts, it is probably better to have the full article about the primary meaning under the simple title, after Plymouth brief links to the special uses. For example, the poker article covers the card game; it is unlikely that there will ever be an encyclopedia article on fireplace pokers, but if we did create one, it could be linked to from the existing poker article without having to move that article to "Poker (game)".
If a disambiguating page is merited, it can be as simple as a bullet list of specific articles with links and perhaps a brief one-line description of each (saving details for the specific articles), or it might have some explanatory text of its own if differences need to be explained, or if there is interesting history of the term itself independent of the specific topics. If each of the topics themselves only has a sentence or two, it may be simpler just to put all of them together in one article.
Which method is appropriate will depend on the nature of the subject. The articles below serve as examples of what can be done (and a few examples of what shouldn't be done, but hopefully not many). Note that a disambiguating page may look a lot like a dictionary entry. We try to maintain a policy that Wikipedia is not a dictionary, so resist the urge to make such pages even more dictionary-like than they already are (for example, there's no need to put etymologies or pronunciations, unless those serve to clarify the topics).
You may want to include a note such as the following (which you can copy and paste) at the bottom the page:
- ''This is a [[wikipedia:disambiguation|disambiguation]] page; that is, one that just points to other pages that might otherwise have the same name. If you followed a link here, you might want to go back and fix that link to point to the appropriate specific page.''
Links to disambiguating pages
There is rarely any need for links directly to disambiguating pages--in most cases links should point to the article that deals with the specific meaning intended, and not to a disambiguating page. Before making a page into a disambiguating page one should first look at each page that links to it (using the "pages that link here" feature of the software) and correct the links as appropriate. Of course, the whole point of making a disambiguation page is so that accidental links made to it will make sense, so it's not a major problem
Plymouth if there are still links to it--indeed some may argue that finding unexpected things is part of what makes Wikipedia interesting (as long as you can still find the expected things as well).
The new Wikipedia software has a feature that lists "orphan" pages; that is, pages that no other page links to. But for disambiguating pages, that's perfectly correct: we usually want pages to link to the more specific pages.
So, in order to make the orphans list more useful by not cluttering it with intentional orphans, disambiguating pages are linked from here. If you create a disambiguating page, put a link to it here.
A: Aa - Abendana - Abydos - Action - Ada - Adams County - Aelian - AIM - Albert - Albert III - Alexander - Alexander I - Alexander II - Alexandria - Alexius - Alice in Wonderland - Allegany County - Alleghany County - Alphonso I - Alphonso II - Alphonso III - Alphonso IV - Alphonso V - Alphonso VI - Amalric - Amalthea - Amazon - American Pie - Amherst - Amp - Analysis - Anastasius I - Anastasius II - Apollo - Arabic - Arms - Arsinoe - Ass - Atlas - Atomic - Augusta - Aurora
C: Cabinet - Cadillac - Callisto - Cambridge - Capital - Carroll County - Carrying capacity - CDC - Ceres - CFG - CGI - Champagne - Charles I - Charleston - Charon - Chester - Christchurch - CIS - Cistercian - Clark County - Clarke County - Clay County - Clue - Coen brothers, the - Coil - Coke - Columbia - Columbia County - Columbus - Comic - Congo - Conservatory - Constantine I - Constantine II - Coptic - Cordoba - Cork - Cornish - Court - CPM - CPR - Crack - Crap - Cream - Cricket - Crusader - CSS - Cuthbert - Cyrus
G: Ga - Game of Life - Ganymede - Garbage collection - Gary - Georgia - Georgian - German - Gettysburg - Glendower - Goya - Graeco-Roman mythology - Graph - Greene County - Green money - Groningen - Groton
H: Hackers - Halifax - Hamilton County - Harlingen - Hartford - Hash - Henry County - Henry IV - Henry V - Henry VII - Hieroglyph - History of East Asia - Hockey - Hop - Horror - Houston - Howard County - Huey
L: Lake County - LART - La Salle County - Latvian - Lancaster - Las Vegas - Lawrenceville - Lexington - Libertarian - Liège - Lima - Limburg - Limerick - Lincoln - LMS - Lock - Lockport - Loop - Lucas Cranach - Luke
M: M. A. - MAC - Mach - Macintosh - MAD - Madison County - Madness - Madrid - Magic - Magic Lantern - Management - Manilius - Manowar - Maquis - Marathon - Marion County - Mars - Mary - Mary I - Matthew - Maya - Melbourne - Memphis - Mercury - Metis - MM - Mole - Monastir - Monroe - Monroe County - Montgomery - Montgomery County - Monticello - Moon - Mount Vernon - Moria - Mozart
P: Palestrina - Palm - Pasadena - Pascal - Pepin - PCP - Phobos - Phoenix - PHP - Pica - Pine - Pitch - PKD - Pluto - Plymouth - Po - Poop - Pop - Port Arthur - Portland - Portuguese - Pot - Progressive - Prince - Program - Puck - Putnam - Putnam County
S: SA - Saint Petersburg - Salem - Sandwich - San Jose - Santiago - SAS - SAT - Saturn - Saxon - Scale - Schumann - SDL - SDS - Seal - Sealion - Sequoia - Sex changer - Sexual behaviors - Shell - Siena - Shiraz - Singer - Singularity - Slave - Smyrna - Snare - Snuff - Solaris - Somerset - Somerset County - Somerville - SOV - Spam - Sprouts - Squash - SSRI - St Albans - Station - STD - Steuben County - Sting - St John's - Stratford - Subjectivism - Suffolk County - Sullivan County - Summer time - Sunfish - SVO
W: War of Independence - Warren - Warren County - Washington County - Wayne County - Wellington - Welsh - West Point - Wikipedia:Unsuccessful searches - William of Orange - Wilmington - Winona - Work - World - WTO - WWF