Disambiguation pages on Wikipedia are used as a process of resolving conflicts in article titles that occur when a single term can be associated with more than one topic, making that term likely to be the natural title for more than one article. In other words, disambiguations are paths leading to different articles which could, in principle, have the same title.
For example, the word "Mercury" can refer to several different things, including an element, a planet, an automobile brand, a record label, a NASA manned-spaceflight project, a plant, and a Roman god. Since only one Wikipedia page can have the generic name "Mercury", unambiguous article titles are used for each of these topics: Mercury (element), Mercury (planet), Mercury (automobile), Mercury Records, Project Mercury, Mercury (plant), Mercury (mythology). There must then be a way to direct the reader to the correct specific article when an ambiguous term is referenced by linking, browsing or searching; this is what is known as disambiguation. In this case it is achieved using Mercury as a disambiguation page.
There are three principal disambiguation scenarios, of which the following are examples:
- The page at Joker is a disambiguation page, leading to all the alternative uses of "Joker".
- The page at Rice is about one usage, called the primary topic, and there is a short message at the top of the page, called a hatnote, guiding readers to Rice (disambiguation) so other uses of the term can be found.
- The page at Anita Hill is about the primary topic, and there is only one other use. The other use is linked directly using a hatnote; no disambiguation page is needed.
Occasionally readers may follow a link which ends up at a disambiguation page rather than at one of the links shown on that page. The original page can be edited to ensure the link goes directly to its intended destination. Feel free to do such edits; everyone is welcome to improve Wikipedia, including you. It could be you who makes the overall experience of Wikipedia that much better.