Wikipedia:Overcategorization/Intersection of location and occupation

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The following was originally posted to the discussion page of WP:OCAT as a personal short essay explaining handling the subdividing Category:People from California into occupational groupings within Category:California people by occupation. At the suggestion of some editors I'm archiving the post here as an essay for reference.

Regarding interesection of state and occupation[edit]

I've been in the process of reviewing and completing the scheme for Category:California people by occupation which was set up a while back as a way to index the exceptionally large Category:People from California by occupation. Since the work I'm doing on that category is somewhat related to the recent discussion of intersection by location, I thought I'd share some comments on the goals of a scheme like Category:California people by occupation and how it relates to OCAT.

OCAT is obviously correct that in most cases you don't need to divide topics by geographical boundary. That's especially true for topics whose categories aren't particularly large and for geographic boundaries that are particularly small. For example, I don't think most cities or even most states need a complete by-occupation subdivision because the number of articles involved isn't really large enough to make it all that useful. And for some occupations the fact that the person is in one city versus another city doesn't make a big difference.

However, for really, really large geographical categories of biographies it can be useful to create a subdivision scheme by occupation. Think of it from a reader's perpective using the category system. If I'm a reader interested in perusing articles on notable Californians, for example, I'm fairly likely to want to view bios about people in similar professions rather than just a big alphabetical list by name. (Another likely scenario would be that I'd want to view people within specific cities or counties, but I'll stick to occupations here.) I might want to read about artists from the state, or about businesspeople or military people, etc., depending on what my specific interest is. So rather than present the reader with a massive phonebook like directory of names of Californians, it's useful to group those names into broad occupational subcategories. Thus instead of placing someone in Category:People from California, they would appear in Category:California writers.

For such a scheme to be useful, it needs to completely cover all the biographies, meaning that theoretically all bios should fit within one of the subcategories. In order to achieve this, the categories need to be broad, top level occupational groupings similar to those in Category:People by occupation. In fact, using top level groupings from Category:People by occupation is a way to make sure that the scheme is consistent with similar occupational schemes. The goal is to keep each of the occupational categories as broad as possible while still covering all the bios. (The current set seems to do a pretty good job on that front.)

So in regards to avoiding category clutter and overly specific categories, I think the keys here when considering occupational subdivision schemes for a region are:

  • Is the region large enough to warrant it? If there aren't a ton of biographies in the regional parent, it's probably not worth pursuing subdividing them.
  • If a complete subdivision appears to be useful, keep the occupational groupings as broad as possible. I'd recommend modelling them after categories listed under Category:People by occupation, and using a category description such as "This category holds people who fall under Category:People from California and whose occupation falls under Category:Entertainers". These broad subcategories should usually not be further subdivided unless there's already a well established scheme (e.g. Actors and Musicians are already subdivided by state, so those subcategories exist under the parent of Category:California entertainers.)
  • Do not replace national categories with state ones or city ones within an article because not all states and cities have occupational groupings. For example, a California writer should be under both Category:American writers (or a subcategory) and Category:California writers. Keep in mind that the goal here isn't to subdivide the occupation, but is simply to subdivide the geographical area.
  • Most biographies will only fall under a single state category, sometimes two, but a rare handful will have three or more state categories. (It's quite uncommon, but really large biographies of people who moved around a lot sometimes have a lot of state categories.) In those instances I'd suggest using only the most appropriate occupational category within a given state, meaning that you should probably use the occupation of the person while they were living in that state. Also, I've seen three or maybe four articles with four or five state categories where California, for example, was only mentioned once and only in a trivial way (i.e. they lived in California for a couple of years doing something non-notable). In those cases you can probably safely remove that state category altogether since the person isn't apparently at all notable for being from that state in the first place.
  • If you do subdivide a large regional category, I'd suggest sticking to mainly subregions and occupations for the biographies. The reason is that subregions are an obvious subdivision of regions, and a person's occupation is almost always their most notable trait (people are usually known for things they did in the course of their occupation). And occupation is universal - all bios have an occupational category (or, if they're unemployed, can go under "Celebrities" which covers famous individuals with no notable occupation). Other traits are either not universally categorized (e.g. most articles don't have an ethnicity or religion or political category) or are not something the person is known for (e.g. most people aren't known for their gender or date of birth). Therefore I recommend that if you consider dividing a region into subcategories, stick to just subregions and occupational groupings. They are the ones that are most universal, natural and that represent defining traits.

Anyway, I thought that with all the back and forth in the last few days on this guideline on the wording for Intersection by location, I thought I'd provide a specific example of an exception to the rule and how I've been handling it to help reduce potential conflicts and maintain a scheme for a particular state that is hopefully more useful to the reader than just a huge list of names. I think you really have to look closely at any given state or city case by case before pursuing a complete subdivision. And likewise you'd have to carefully consider whether

Well, back to the cleanup I've been doing. But hopefully this is some food for thought on things to consider regarding specific occupations-by-state and occupations-by-city schemes. Dugwiki 16:12, 16 August 2007 (UTC)