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[Suggestion] Toward a unified coding system for Systems and Stations

Background

Abbreviations, acronyms, codes or initials have been part of language and communication for millenniums. Without further exploration, they facilitate communication and its creation is based on the phonemes (i.e., phonetic, sounds) or graphemes (i.e., orthography, writing). Common methods include three-letter or four-letter code systems – sometimes six-letter to reduce conflict (i.e., same code for different words), and because they almost read themselves.

The problem with this systems, specially the phonetic, is that they might have different representations for different languages and its writing codes. This leads to confusion and the purpose of facilitating communication by allowing the substitution of known words is lost, as using them requires further learning of new words.

In Tau Station, in a user-perspective, they're frequently used for Systems and Stations with no consensus. Even if one knows all the names, it's not certain that you know every initial. At least three methods are used:

  • three-letter codes – from TBA (Wiki);
  • four-letter codes – used in the Space Waybill Number for each shipped item (Wiki);
  • free-letter codes – used between users.

Several conflicts are easily identified in the three-letter code system:

  • Tau Station = TAU, Moissan Station = MOI, but Taungoo Station = TNG and Bordeaux Station = BDX;
  • København = KOB, but Daedalus = DDL;
  • Alpha Centauri Jump Gate = ACJ, Barnard's Star Jump Gate = BSJ, but YZ Ceti Jump Gate = CJG;
  • Yards of Gadani = YOG, Spirit of Tianjin = SOT, but Spirit of New York City = NYC.

Several conflicts are easily identified in the four-letter code system:

  • Tau Station = TAST, but Moissan Station = MOIS, Taungoo Station = TAUN and Bordeaux Station = BORD;
  • København = KBHV, but Daedalus = DAED;
  • Paris Spatiale = PARS, but Cirque Centauri = CIRQ and Asimov Freehold = ASMV;
  • Yards of Gadani = YARD, but Spirit of Botswana = BOTS, Spirit of Tianjin = TIAN, and Spirit of New York City = SONY.

Several conflicts are easily identified respectively between the three-letter and four-letter code systems:

  • Nouveau Limoges as NVL and LIMO;
  • The Ghost of Mali as GOM or MALI;
  • Estación de Amazon as EDA or AMAZ.

Free-letter codes further adds variability, both by phonemes, graphemes, and one-word code system (that excludes important parts of the name):

  • Moissan Station = Moissan, Taungoo Station = Taungoo, Asimov Freehold = Asimov, Yards of Gadani = YoG, Spirit of Tianjin = SoT, and Spirit of New York City = SoNYC.

Proposal

An exclusively rule-based three-letter code system to be available as an optional reference for users. The three-letter code system fits better this purpose of word simplification, has already a natural community usage, and the list of Systems and Stations is short. The four-letter code was added in the 2020-03-31 update and is used in the Space Waybill Number for each shipped item, which goes beyond the purpose of this proposal. Nonetheless it could also be preferred as the rules described below can still roughly apply to this code system. The six-letter code system may not be necessary given the short list of Systems, Stations, and conflicts.

Rule-based three-letter code system

  • Words in the names of Systems and Stations are parts of the name separated
    by spaces, but not hyphens as they only apply to numbers in "726-8". E.g.: "Alpha Centauri A" and "L 726-8 A" have three words.

  • If these rules are just applied to the current list of Systems and Stations, then the only exception is the word "The" at the beginning of the name (not considered a word), as they are frequently neglected for sorting, and (additionally) disrupt the meaning of the code in the only two examples of "The Ghost of Mali" and "The Maid of Orléans". Therefore, "The Ghost of Mali" and "The Maid of Orléans" have three words;

  • One-word names: use the first three letters, or use the entire name if it has less than four letters. E.g.: Sol = SOL, Daedalus = DAE;

  • Two-word names: use the first two letters from the first word, and the first letter of the second word. E.g.: Barnard’s Star = BAS, Asimov Freehold = ASF;

  • Three-word names: use the first letter of each word. E.g.: Alpha Centauri A = ACA, Spirit of Botswana = SOB;

  • More than three-word names: use the first letter or the first three words. E.g.: Alpha Centauri Jump Gate = ACJ, Spirit of New York City = SON.

  • Unique special case of conflict: Tau Station and Taungoo Station both lead to TAS. Usually when conflict happens both names do not use the rule-based code to avoid confusion. But given that it's a single conflict in this list, and that TAU has an increased meaning that goes beyond a Station's name, Tau Station stays exceptionally as TAU and Taungoo Station assumes the rule-based code of TAS.

Full list of names and three-letter codes

  • SOL – Sol
  • ACA – Alpha Centauri A
  • BAS – Barnard’s Star
  • L7A – L 726-8 A
  • YZC – YZ Ceti
  • TAU – Tau Station
  • KOB – København
  • DAE – Daedalus
  • TAS – Taungoo Station
  • NOL – Nouveau Limoges
  • SJG – Sol Jump Gate
  • ACJ – Alpha Centauri Jump Gate
  • MOS – Moissan Station
  • PAS – Paris Spatiale
  • GOM – The Ghost of Mali
  • CIC – Cirque Centauri
  • SOB – Spirit of Botswana
  • BOS – Bordeaux Station
  • YOG – Yards of Gadani
  • BSJ – Barnard's Star Jump Gate
  • CAS – Caen Stronghold
  • HOL – Hopkins' Legacy
  • EDA – Estación de Amazon
  • MOO – The Maid of Orléans
  • L7J – L 726-8 Jump Gate
  • ORS – Orwell Stronghold
  • SOT – Spirit of Tianjin
  • YCJ – YZ Ceti Jump Gate
  • ASF – Asimov Freehold
  • CVS – Cape Verde Stronghold
  • SON – Spirit of New York City

Conclusion

This proposal aims to a simplification and unified system of codes of Systems and Stations to be available for the community. The key rule is to always keep present the beauty and uniqueness of every name, and if one knows them then for sure knows the code.

Suggestions and adaptations are always welcome.

Comments

  1. Added to Trello.

  2. The problem with three- and four-letter codes is that they require intimate knowledge of Tau Station to make sense of.

    Currently, that's not such a big deal, but if you consider that Tau Station is supposed to grow significantly in number of systems and stations, I'd like to proposed System/Station shortcut system.

    The international airport code system comes up with some weird things that don't make sense to anybody except those that are happened to used with them (PDX for Portland International Airport? There's neither a D nor an X prominent in that name; similar for LAX).

    The shorthands I use for the Universal Tau Tracker can be seen on the station overview, and my experience with them has been pretty good.

    Some examples:

    • The jump gates all end with /JG, so Sol/JG, AC/JG, BS,L726/JG, YZ/JG
    • Some are a bit funny, like BS/AMZ is after the Amazon Inc. stock ticker, AMZ

    Having the system shorthand in the station shorthand makes it much easier to place a station mentally without having to search your memory where something is located, and alleviates the pressure to come up with unique, three-letter codes that can feel very forced.

  3. I think the goal of my post might have been taken the wrong way, and we (probably) have different conclusions on this matter (not regarding airport codes!! :p). The proposed coding system was intended for a baseline to be further improved.

    So, in terms of the number of letters, three was an initial suggestion, and your suggestion of adding the System code I personally really like as helps organize mentally all Stations. The total number of letters, per System or Station, space or hyphen, all should fit. Personally would go for the same number of letters for Systems and Stations separated by an hyphen, as in SOL-TAU.

    I really like the Jump Gates coding baseline idea. To make it consistent with the proposed coding system (just keeping three letters for consistency) would add the Systems’ first letter followed by JG, as in SJG, AJG, BJG, LJG, and YJG.

    Where we have different opinions is regarding a rule-based coding system requiring a intimate knowledge, as its purpose is the other way around – unless you were mentioning this regarding the Stations’ System (answered above). The initial point is knowing or not a System or Station real name (i.e. full name). If one don’t want/need/care of knowing the full name, then any thing in writing that is understandable is enough. OTOH, if you want to know (I don’t thing that’s intimate knowledge; detailed knowledge maybe) one can only use two methods: writing the full name or writing a representative shorter rule-based code – as used, for example, with this exactly purpose, in the field of Biology and Microbiology as taxonomy terms easily go to hundreds. And also this fits the possible scenario of increasing Stations up to infinity.

    That said, I agree with your Tracker codes, they are functional indeed, but (most importantly) not representative of the full name, linguistic dependent, and with inconsistent number of letters – if one knows the full name might not necessarily know the code.

  4. "I really like the Jump Gates coding baseline idea. To make it consistent with the proposed coding system (just keeping three letters for consistency) would add the Systems’ first letter followed by JG, as in SJG, AJG, BJG, LJG, and YJG."

    Mr. OCD over here points out that this would not differentiate between, say, Sol Jump Gate and Sirius Jump Gate.