Category talk:Shapeshifting

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Why is Lycanthropy alphabetized under "C"? --Jim Henry 22:10, 25 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Merger suggestion[edit]

Subcategories Category:Fictional shapeshifters and Category:Shapeshifting in fiction seem to be splitting hairs as well as being confusingly sounding similar. Maybe we should recombine these into this category (Category:Shapeshifting) which seems to have growth potential.----Tokek 10:16, 12 November 2005 (UTC)

Hm. I think it'd be better to subcategorize "fictional shapeshifters" under "shapeshifting in fiction", since fictional shapeshifters is specifically for articles about fictional characters whereas "shapeshifting in fiction" has articles about all kinds of other stuff. I don't think it's splitting hairs to separate out fictional characters from the works they appear in, for example. Bryan 05:28, 13 November 2005 (UTC)
Still confusing is the part where the category for shapeshifting characters are put under the category for works (stories, books, etc.) that feature shapeshifting. Is a character a book? This also doesn't make sense.--Tokek 12:32, 30 November 2005 (UTC)
This is an age-old problem that's dogged categories in general since they were implemented; do they represent an "is-a" relationship or do they represent a "has-a" relationship? (using object-oriented programming terminology there). The solution that Wikipedia seems to have settled on is that they can represent either, with only the context telling them apart. For example towns wind up in categories based on the counties they're in without actually being counties, which in turn are in country categories without themselves being countries. Down another branch you can find "music of" categories under country categories that contain articles on songs despite the fact that songs aren't countries either. Way back when categories were first implemented I tried to create a tagging scheme but there wasn't enough general interest in it to make it stick, unfortunately. Bryan 16:56, 30 November 2005 (UTC)


I wasn't objecting to a method of categorization on the basis of whether it uses an "is-a" or a "has-a" relationship, nor did I use such language when opposing the current method. Even if it's an acceptable "is-a" or "has-a" type, some categorizations regardless can be less intuitive and therefore less useful. Let me demonstrate with an example of what I think is a similar but more decent categorization hierarchy:

  • (country A)
    • (regions of country A)
      • (region X of country A)
        • (cities of region X)

(Replace the word "region" with "state" for a US-centric example.) It makes sense to put each cities category under the corresponding region category instead of listing them directly below the country category, since the cities categories are partitioned by regions. If the cities weren't partitioned by regions as above but by countries, it would make more sense to list cities categories directly under the country categories, because there's a natural association. I would expect a "cities of country A" category to be directly listed under the "country A" category and not under the "regions of country A" category. While for cities and regions there's a clear hierarchy, it's not as clear which one should be the parent category - if either - for the "shapeshifting works" category versus the "shapeshifting characters" category. Unlike the cities-regions relationship, a shapeshifter can appear in multiple works, or a work may contain multiple shapeshifters.

Currently there's a usability problem - if people don't see the "shapeshifting characters" category directly under the shapeshifting category, people might assume that it doesn't exist or that the shapeshifting category is already the shapeshifting characters category. If that happened, people simply won't find that category. If people can't find a category, that's a navigational problem for users and it can lead to miscategorization of articles by editors.

Also we should be careful not to over-categorize. Not only would that cause visibility issues, we don't need to over-emphasize that these are in the realm of fiction because it's assumed that shapeshifters don't exist. We don't have to create a hierarchy structure that could accommodate for shapeshifters in non-fiction.--Tokek 11:03, 9 December 2005 (UTC)