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This has come up in discussing this question.

Originally I used the name "the RF" in the title because I was choosing between "the RF" and "the Russian Federation" and I thought that a longer title would look too awkward.

I didn't want to use "Russia" because it just felt too familiar. And when discussing legal issues (as this question was) familiarity seemed out of place.

Someone suggested that they had difficulty figuring out what RF was. But if such a difficulty was present, it was hard to explain given that

  • the question was tagged "russian-federation" and
  • the fact the question body used "Russia" and "the RF" interchangeably.

I think in general any one of the 3 names is an acceptable form of referring to The Russian Federation.

It maybe possible that some people haven't gotten used to the more formal usage. This should still be an author's choice unless there is a very compelling case that it's ambiguous in the context in which the name is used. Such a compelling case could not be made here for the reasons above.

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    If we need RF to be edited to Russia(n Federation) because the tags and context are not enough, we must insist on getting USA changed into United States of America and US downvoted because it isn't clear if they mean the United Society or United Synagogues..
    – Nij
    Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 8:43
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    @Nij "we must" Really? USA is much more common than RF and one has to draw a line somewhere. Typically all abbreviations need to be written out at least once, unless they are super obvious. This question here is if RF is sufficiently obvious or not. That USA is obvious doesn't change this a single bit. Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 10:09
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    @NoDataDumpNoContribution I think Nij was being facetious.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 10:14
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    I think it RF is acceptable and not complain-about-able. Tags are our friends; if for example you put the title of a movie in the title to your question in Movies SE, they will remove it as redundant because the movie title is tagged. In Stack Overflow you don't need to put "in Python" in the title of your questions about how to do something in Python. We check the title, we check the tags and we read the post fully before we consider complaining, flagging or down voting. Those who think a questions title IS the question are wrong.
    – uhoh
    Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 11:46
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    @NoDataDumpNoContribution If someone asks for USA to be spelled out and there is room in the title there is no reason that it shouldn't be spelled out. There is no reason that we should be forced to use an abbreviation when we have the ability to spell something out.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 12:24
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    @JoeW With this you would completely ignore the existence of abbreviations. Their advantage is that the reader and writers save time, but only if people are actually familiar with the abbreviation. For the USA this is undeniable true and therefore there is no reason for spelling out USA (I'd argue). For RF this is much less clear to me. Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 14:11
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    @NoDataDumpNoContribution I am not ignoring the exitance of abbreviations just stating the fact that they are bad when they confuse people. There is no reason to require or force the use of abbreviations when they lead to confusion.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 14:37
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    @Nij but RF could also refer to République française, which is a country (unlike your examples). If it's clear from the context them there's no need to spell it out. If it isn't clear then there is.
    – phoog
    Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 22:16
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    As noted multiple times, I'm not sure how discussion of an ongoing war with Ukraine with a tag of russian-federation could ever be insufficient context to understand RF as Russian Federation instead of a French acronym.
    – Nij
    Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 23:09

2 Answers 2

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I would argue that clarity trumps formality, and there two conflicting issues here.

One is that the Russian Federation prefers to refer to itself by that name, and not "Russia" (this UN document is useful for seeing what countries prefer to be called).

The other is common usage of names and abbreviations in English. For the former, I'd argue that "Russia" is used far more than "Russian Federation". For the latter, I'd argue that "RF" is extremely uncommon as an abbreviation for Russian Federation (indeed, I initially thought it referred to France - République française).

(And this does come down to what will be understood by the average reader here. US, USA, UK, GB and other abbreviations/initialisms for country names are common. RF is not.)

So I would definitely avoid "RF", as that is likely to create confusion. If "Russia" is unacceptable (and personally I think it's fine), then use Russian Federation.

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    It should be noted that the question title was originally edited to be Russian Federation by myself and it was rolled back and later updated to Russia by a diamond mod.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 16:27
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    "other abbreviations/initialisms for country names are common. RF is not" I agree but this is also a self-defeating argument. If an abbreviation shouldn't be used because it is uncommon, then it will never become common. We would be limited to all existing common abbreviations. "Russian Federation (RF)" would be an additional possibility, I think. Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 6:35
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    @NoDataDumpNoContribution Except that Politics.SE can only follow common usage elsewhere. If news media started using "RF", then we might follow here. But in the meantime, I agree with your suggestion that if you're going to use an abbreviation that may be unfamiliar to the reader, you should always define it first. Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 8:26
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    Agree, "the RF" is absolutely unclear without sufficient context. "Russia" seems fine, everyone knows what you're talking about. "Russian Federation".. why not? "the RF" - at least until it gets a lot more recognition, like "the US" or "the EU" - no. Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 22:48
  • I edited the title of the question, referencing the overwhelmingly positive votes on this response.
    – Philipp Mod
    Commented Aug 2, 2023 at 12:19
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    @Philipp even I upvoted this meta answer, but not because I fully agree with it. It makes good points. I still don't with agree it. But then I don't use UV/DV exclusively as agree/disagree, as one shouldn't. And yet you've said on a few occasions that you will continue to interpret the votes this way. Let me remind you then votes are how the Community signals great content and rewards its members for their contributions.. This is tagged "discussion," not "survey."
    – wrod
    Commented Aug 3, 2023 at 0:42
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    @wrod On meta posts tagged as discussion (among other tags) the votes are used to signal as agreeing or disagreeing with what is in the question/answer. I am not sure why you are so opposed to having the full name in the question title.
    – Joe W
    Commented Aug 3, 2023 at 1:57
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We should never be abbreviating the names of countries as that can cause confusion for readers. I edited that question to make it clear what was being talked about as when it was abbreviated as RF instead of Russian Federation it left me confused as to what was being asked and I am sure I am not the only one.

I am confused as to what the problem is with spelling out a countries name when people have made comments that they don't understand what the question is about when it is abbreviated.

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