The so-called “asterisk method” is used by some alternate historians, notably Jared, as a way of speaking (or rather typing) during timeline discussion to convey that an alternate equivalent of a given country, movement, people, etc., either has the same name as its OTL counterpart but is significantly different, or that it is (almost) identically named but not the same as its OTL counterpart.
For example, the United States of America in Jared's Decades of Darkness TL is a slave-holding imperialist state which is both politically and ethnically different from the OTL USA, but is still known by the exact same as the OTL country; referring to the United States in Decades of Darkness as the *USA and its inhabitants as *Americans helps to avoid confusion. Another example is, in a discussion pertaining to a country occupying the same area as the United Kingdom but not being a constitutional monarchy can be referred to as the *UK rather than the “Great English Empire,” for instance. Another common use is for alternate monarchs: for example, “WI Elizabeth I had been born a boy?” Given the name Edward, he would become Edward VI of England, and to avoid confusion, the writer might say *Edward VI. Other examples include:
As made clear in the examples above, the asterisk method is used simply by adding an * at the beginning of a word. Other writers also use the asterisk method for footnoting.