User:Alan Liefting/Essays/On categorisation

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On Categorisation


An Essay


Categorisation is one of the methods in which readers can navigate their way around Wikipedia. Categories receive much lower number of hits (visits) compared to the related articles but they are a good way of quickly moving through the hierarchy of articles on Wikipedia. With the huge sum of 4,604,327 articles efficient methods of finding an article of interest is important to the reader.

Since categories are text based the pages load faster than if images were present. This allows for rapid searching of an article for which the topic rather than the article name is known. Also, it is a more convenient way for those with a slow internet connection to home in on any article of interest. Navigating via links in article can be slow due to the need to load images and the time taken for the servers to render the HTML code.

Examples of incorrect categorisation abound - although in the consensus driven model of Wikipedia to say it is "incorrect" is merely an opinion. What follows are but a few examples of what most editors would consider to be cases of incorrect categorisation.

Louisiana is one of the Southern United States that was involved in the history of slavery in the United States. However since most of the US states had official census figures showing the presence slaves there is no need to add Louisiana to Category:Slavery in the United States.[1] The main article documents this fact. If all the states that had slaves were added to the category it would add needless clutter and reduce the the benefits of the category as a means of navigation.

Wikipedia has many sub-categories in Category:Categories by country. If we take the example of Category:Agriculture by country it can be seen that most countries have their own sub-category. Now since agriculture is an important part of the economy of a country it makes sense to categorise them in the appropriate economy category. If an agriculture category exists it should be the agriculture category that that is included in the economy category (it will become a sub-category). The agriculture article itself does not need categorising in the economy category.[2] Of course, if no agriculture category for a particular country exists, it is the agriculture article itself for that country that should be in the economy category.

Another example of incorrectly categorising country-related articles is when the eponymous articles of all of the sub-categories are included in the main category i.e. the Agriculture in Afghanistan article should not be in Category:Agriculture by country as well as Category:Agriculture in Afghanistan. This is redundant since with one extra click the reader can go to the article of interest as well as viewing related topics. Also, since there is a limitation of only 200 pages per category and there are more than 200 countries, the category will have up to twice the number of articles that it should have making navigation less efficient.

A method of determining whether an article should be included in a category is by asking the question "Should this article be in this category?". If we ask the question whether "Should the fly species Haigia nevadana be in the entomology category?"[3] The answer is no since there 100s of 1000s of fly species let alone all the other species studied by entomologists. Cluttering up the entomology category with unneeded entires hides all the article directly relating to entomology.

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References


Alan Liefting


August 2010