Wikipedia:Categorization/Ethnicity, gender, religion and sexuality
|This page documents an English Wikipedia editing guideline. It is a generally accepted standard that editors should attempt to follow, though it is best treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply. Any substantive edit to this page should reflect consensus. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page.|
|This page in a nutshell: Categorizing by ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexuality should be done only as appropriate.|
Categorization by ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexuality can be the subject of controversy. Articles are sometimes classified by:
- Ethnicity – e.g. Category:African-American poets, Category:Black Canadian people, Category:American people of Indian descent.
- Gender – e.g. Category:Female bullfighters, Category:Male pornographic film actors, Category:Women composers
- Religion – e.g. Category:Christian theologians, Category:Hindu poets, Category:Unitarian Universalists.
- Sexuality – e.g. Category:LGBT sportspeople, Category:Lesbian politicians, Category:Bisexual actors
These discussions occasionally pop up on Wikipedia:Categories for discussion, tend to be controversial, and wildly varying in their outcome. Cross-categories are typically used to split larger categories (e.g. Category:LGBT sportspeople is used to reduce the size of Category:LGBT people).
This advice applies only to the main namespace (articles, including lists, disambiguation pages, navigation boxes, and templates normally used in articles). It does not restrict categories that are used for WikiProjects, e.g., articles supported by Wikipedia:WikiProject LGBT studies, or on other project pages.
General categorization by ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexuality is permitted, with the following considerations:
- Do not create categories that are a cross-section of a topic with an ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, unless these characteristics are relevant to the topic.
- For example, most sportspeople should not be categorized by religion, since e.g. being Catholic or Protestant is not relevant to the way they perform in sports.
- Terminology must be neutral.
- Derogatory terms are not to be tolerated in a category name under any circumstances, and should be considered grounds for speedy deletion. Note that neutral terminology is not necessarily the most common term; a term that the person or their cultural group does not accept for themselves is not neutral even if it remains the most widely used term among outsiders.
- For example, "AIDS victims" is not an appropriate term for HIV-positive people. When in doubt, err on the side of respect.
- Subcategories by country are permitted, although terminology must be appropriate to the person's cultural context.
- As to the inclusion of people in an ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexuality related category, please remember that inclusion must be based on reliable sources.
- For example, regardless of whether you have personal knowledge of a notable individual's sexual orientation, the article should only be added to a LGBT-related category after verifiable, reliable published sources have been provided in the article that support the inclusion.
- In almost all cases, gendered/ethnic/sexuality/religion-based categories should be non-diffusing, meaning that membership in the category should not remove membership from the non-gendered/non-ethnic/etc parent category. Note that the parent can still diffuse on other criteria (see Category:American politicians for an example of a category that has been fully diffused to sub-categories, but that has non-diffusing children like Category:African-American politicians - meaning membership in Category:African-American politicians should not preclude membership in other diffusing subcategories of Category:American politicians).
Ethnicity and race
Ethnic groups are commonly used when categorizing people; however, race is not. Ethnic groups may be used as categorizations, even if race is a stereotypical characteristic of the ethnic group, e.g. with African-Americans or Anglo-Indians. See Lists of ethnic groups for groups that are typically considered ethnic groups rather than races.
Citizenship, nationality (which country's laws the person is subject to), national origin, and national self-identity (which country the person feels closest to), although sometimes correlated with ethnicity, are not the same as ethnicity and are not addressed on this page.
A gender-specific category could be implemented where gender has a specific relation to the topic. For example, Category:Women contains articles such as International Women's Day, Women's studies, and female-specific subcategories. Similarly, Category:Men contains articles such as father, men's studies, boy and human male sexuality, as well as male-specific subcategories. Neither category, however, should directly contain individual women or individual men.
As another example, a female heads of government category is valid as a topic of special encyclopedic interest, though it does not need to be balanced directly against a "Male heads of government" category, as historically the vast majority of political leaders have been male. Both male and female heads of government should continue to be filed in the appropriate gender-neutral role category (e.g. Presidents, Monarchs, Prime Ministers, Governors General). Do not create separate categories for male and female occupants of the same position, such as "Male Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom" vs. "Female Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom".
As most notable organized sporting activities are segregated by gender, sportsperson categories constitute a case where "gender has a specific relation to the topic". As such, sportsperson categories should be split by gender, except in such cases where men and women participate primarily in mixed-gender competition. Example: Category:Male golfers and Category:Female golfers should both be subcategories of Category:Golfers, but Category:Ice dancers should not have gendered subcategories. Category:Actors and Category:Actresses, and Category:Male models and Category:Female models are also divided by gender.
Categories regarding religious beliefs of a living person should not be used unless the subject has publicly self-identified with the belief in question (see WP:BLPCAT), either through direct speech or through actions like serving in an official clerical position for the religion. For a dead person, there must be a verified consensus of reliable published sources that the description is appropriate.
Categories regarding sexual orientation of a living person should not be used unless the subject has publicly self-identified with the belief or orientation in question (see WP:BLPCAT). For a dead person, there must be a verified consensus of reliable published sources that the description is appropriate.
For example, while some sources have claimed that William Shakespeare was gay or bisexual, there is not a sufficient consensus among scholars to support categorizing him as such. Similarly, a living person who is caught in a gay prostitution scandal, but continues to assert their heterosexuality, can not be categorized as gay.
Categories that make allegations about sexuality – such as "closeted homosexuals" or "people suspected of being gay" – are not acceptable under any circumstances. If such a category is created, it should be immediately depopulated and deleted. Note that as similar categories of this type have actually been attempted in the past, they may be speedily deleted (as a G4) and do not require another debate at Wikipedia:Categories for discussion.
Dedicated group-subject subcategories, such as Category:LGBT writers or Category:African-American musicians, should be created only where that combination is itself recognized as a distinct and unique cultural topic in its own right. If a substantial and encyclopedic head article (not just a list) cannot be written for such a category, then the category should not be created. Please note that this does not mean that the head article must already exist before a category can be created, but that it must at least be possible to create one.
Generally, this means that the basic criterion for such a category is whether the topic has already been established as academically or culturally significant by external sources. If this criterion has not been met, then the category essentially constitutes original research. Although there are exceptions, this will usually mean that categories relating to social or cultural subjects are more likely to be valid than others.
Remember as well, that a category is not automatically a valid substitute for a list. If the category's head article could never be anything more than a bulleted list of individuals who happen to meet the criteria, then a category is not appropriate.
For example, LGBT writers are a well-studied biographical category with secondary sources discussing the personal experiences of LGBT writers as a class, unique publishing houses, awards, censorship, a distinctive literary contribution (LGBT literature), and other professional concerns, and therefore Category:LGBT writers is valid. However, gay people in linguistics do not represent a particularly distinct or unique class within their field, so Category:Gay linguists should not be created. For similar reasons, Category:African-American musicians is valid, but Category:African-American economists should not exist.
Similarly, an "(ethnicity) politicians" category should only be created if politicians of that ethnic background constitute a distinct and identifiable group with a specific cultural and political context. There is no significant or notable difference in context between being a German American politician and a Swedish American politician. But an American politician of Native American descent is a different context from an American politician of European background. Thus, Category:Native American politicians is valid, but Category:German American politicians and Category:Swedish American politicians should not exist. The basis for creating such a category is not the number of individuals who could potentially be filed in the group, but whether there's a specific cultural context for the grouping beyond the mere fact that politicians of that ethnic background happen to exist.
Whether such a grouping constitutes a positive or negative portrayal of the racial or sexual group in question is also not, in and of itself, a valid criterion for determining the legitimacy of a category. At all times, the bottom line remains can a valid, encyclopedic head article be written for this grouping?
People who occupy the grey areas are not a valid argument against the existence of a category; if they do not fit, they simply should not be added to it.
Concerns about the neutral point of view status of a particular category must be weighed against the fact that not having such a category may also unacceptably advance a particular point of view. Your personal feelings should not enter into the matter: if a category meets the criteria defined above, then it is permitted, and if the category does not meet the criteria, then it is not permitted. This is the only way in which the myriad points of view on the matter can be realistically reconciled into a relatively neutral position.
Be aware as well, that under these criteria, categories may change over time. Something that is not currently an appropriate category may become a valid one in the future, or vice versa, if social circumstances change. The criterion of whether an encyclopedic article is possible should be the gauge. If a new field of social or cultural study emerges in the future and lends itself to an encyclopedic article, the related categories will then become valid even if they have previously been deleted.
Whenever possible, a valid occupational subcategory should be structured and filed in such a way as to avoid "ghettoizing" people, but at the same time, Wikipedia rules about redundant categorization should also be respected. It is entirely possible to meet both of these expectations simultaneously; if you can't, consider alternative ways of defining the category. For instance, if you cannot create "Gay politicians from Germany" without ghettoizing people from Category:German politicians, then it may be more appropriate to eliminate the more specific category and simply retain Category:Gay politicians and Category:German politicians as two distinct categories, or to refile people from the parent category into more specific subcategories based on the particular political body their career is associated with (e.g. "Members of the German Bundestag", "Chancellors of Germany", "German Bundesland presidents" or "Mayors of Berlin").
Also in regards to the "ghettoization" issue, an ethnicity/gender/religion/sexuality subcategory should never be implemented as the final rung in a category tree. If a category is not otherwise dividable into more specific groupings, then do not create an E/G/R/S subcategory. For instance: if Category:American poets is not realistically dividable on other grounds, then do not create a subcategory for "African-American poets", as this will only serve to isolate these poets from the main category. Instead, simply apply "African-American writers" (presuming Category:Writers is the parent of Category:Poets) and "American poets" as two distinct categories.