Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)

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The policy section of the village pump is used to discuss proposed policies and guidelines and changes to existing policies and guidelines.
If you want to propose something new that is not a policy or guideline, use the proposals section.
If you have a question about how to apply an existing policy or guideline, try the one of the many Wikipedia:Noticeboards.

Please see this FAQ page for a list of frequent proposals and the responses to them.

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Create a BOT to alphabetize and organize categories automatically[edit]

There is no consensus for this to be implimented as a bot editing pages on a global scale. For those who wish to have sorted categories, some custon Javascript is being discussed below that should help. --Mdann52talk to me! 15:01, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Discussion was recently opened at Wikipedia:Bot requests/Archive 61#Create a BOT to alphabetize and organize categories automatically however it was closed off arbitrarily within 24 hours without allowing for fuller exchanges of views and examination of the core issues, just based on initial negative reactions without allowing decent time and a forum for this important discussion that would only benefit Wikipedia! The user who closed the discussion was requested to re-open the discussion, see User talk:Mdann52#Create a BOT to alphabetize and organize categories automatically, he then suggested that the discussion should be on this VPP page. I am therefore re-posting the original question/request with some initial responses to the prior negative responses. Please do not close off this discussion, this is not a vote, it is an attempt to deal with a problem that supposedly involves a "policy" issue that is in fact very weak. Thank you in advance. IZAK (talk) 22:30, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

As someone who has been doing this manually for years, I hereby dutifully beg of anyone who is technically proficient and knows how to create and run a bot that will:
1 Automatically sort all Categories on each article and category page alphabetically;
2 Create a uniform system for where to place categories on each article and category page that commence with numbers, such as years of birth/death, centuries, and any category that starts with a number/numeral.
(A) 1 To see an example of just how tedious this process can be, see this article I just alphabetized the categories manually: before and after. 2 Whoever will undertake this will be doing Wikipedia a great service because it will create order out of the growing chaos as tens of thousands of categories are added and mushrooming, and instate a built-in system for finally automatically alphabetizing categories (after they have been inserted by an editor of course) and placing them in the correct alphabetical and number sequence thus making it easier for any users and readers who search and read categories to locate any categories in a rational manner that are now often just a hodge-podge jumble of scrambled categories, the more notable the topic the more categories on that page and the more jumbled they all are. 3 Wikipedia has all sorts of bots to check spelling, wikify some things, check on citations and even fix them, etc, so it would be greatly appreciated by us poor "categorizers" who just cannot keep up with this at this rate. Thank you so much to anyone who will finally undertake this long-needed improvement that stands to benefit all editors, users and readers of Wikipedia. I will (again) re-notify a few related talk pages about this discussion in order to centralize it. Thank you IZAK (talk) 22:30, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
(B) In response to some prior "objections": 1 While many editors expressed their opposing POVs not really based on solid established fixed WP policies, just on so-called nebulous "conventions" while this subject is important in light of the massive proliferation of categories causing confusion in articles. 2 Many of the POV's expressed assume that what they have to say is "well-known" but it is not! I have been categorizing articles and creating many categories since the inception of categories about ten years ago on WP and I have NEVER come across ANY requirement to abide by ANY rules for all WP categories, that is reflected in the wide array of opinions as to how to categorize. 3 Some say "do it more or less like this" and others say "do it more or less like that" while others say "it would interfere with something" or "it does not interfere with anything", all very confusing just like the state of categories are themselves. 4 Unless there are "mini infoboxes" on each article about how categories are to be applied and used, right now the system is a total unholy mess and no one is willing to do anything about it. IZAK (talk) 22:30, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
(C) Additional comments: 1 All the objections that claimed to cite "policy" were very weak and just seemed to indicate an attitude of WP:ITBOTHERSME & WP:IJUSTDONTLIKEIT and mentions nebulous and undefined "precedent/s" more than anything else. 2 From what I have experienced in the realm of policies about categories, they are rather weak and have perhaps been formulated in the by-gone times of a decade ago when one or two categories started being placed on articles, now it's a case of many articles getting a blizzard of new categories to the point where they are not practicably usable. 3 Something must be done to rectify this situation. No other system uses "random chaos" or "whatever any random editor desires as criteria" as a "method" for organizing names of anything that makes it impossible to locate a subject when looking for it by category. Millions of articles are suffering from this situation. 4 Even the internal structure of each and every category itself requires that every article be listed in it alphabetically, often with the help of the {{DEFAULTSORT}} template so that it would be insane to claim that alphabetization as the most basic method of organization is not a sine qua non on Wikipedia at this stage. 5 Anyone who has ever used a telephone book or an index or bibliography knows this. It is taught to young children as requirement! People have been brainwashed by the ease of Googling and easy access to "search engines" large and small posted everywhere, but that does not help when visually looking for something and searching for categories on article or category pages. It is just a confusing mess and it's detrimental. Like looking for a needle in a haystack more and more. Thanks you, IZAK (talk) 22:30, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
This is not a !Vote but rather an attempt to gather information and arrive at a rough WP:CONSENSUS from as many users as possible about this proposal regarding a BOT that would primarily organize categories on all pages alphabetically in a systematic and systematized manner.
  • Question Does it have to be a bot? From what I see, a simple Javascript would be sufficient to sort the categories on a page. Paradoctor (talk) 23:04, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
  • @Paradoctor: 1 Since I am not a "techie" I cannot answer that question in the technical sense. 2 What we have here is a huge problem, the more important an article or a category is, the more categories are placed at the bottom of those pages and the more confusing it is to to zero in on anything. 3 Now while there are those who think that categorizing should proceed via a system of "clumping" groups of "generally-related" categories while ignoring the fact that most educated and literate people assume that they will be able to access information or leads to educational sources (which is what this is about) by simply relying on the alphabetization of names, as anyone would expect from an old-fashioned "basic" telephone directory or as "Indexes" or "Bibliographies" work in all academic works, but that are just missing from something as basic as categories that WP has been kind enough to provide but that in effect are functionally useless. 4 Obviously it is too time-consuming and frustrating to either search for things easily or to do the job of alphabetizing, but that is all part of the problem. What is needed is a solution to this problem that will be solved by whatever automatic system will be deployed to create order out of the current chaos within millions of pages that is just, well, the best word is, unprofessional for such a world class encyclopedia. By the way, classical encyclopedias list all articles in strict alphabetical order as is well known! Thank you, IZAK (talk) 10:05, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
@IZAK: I asked because a Javascript would allow you to have alphabetized categories without having to do any edits to articles. You don't need to ask for permission or cooperation from anyone for using a script. If that would solve your problem, I'd gladly write it for you. I could throw in some nice formatting, too, like displaying the categories in a vertical list, or in columns. Paradoctor (talk) 11:35, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
@Paradoctor: Thanks! Personally I would need some coaching in this, but the broader issue still remains will the people objecting accept this and is this in fact the best over-all universal solution? My feeling is that this is still a manually-driven activity that requires too much human labor and many man-hours of application, while on the other hand a BOT would be able to sweep along the length and breadth of WP and create standardized alphabetical uniformity that everyone could benefit from, from simple beginner users and casual readers to advanced scholars and editors. Thanks also for illustrating this below, but as I say, the discussion is still at its early stages. If nothing comes of this then I would like to know more about your simpler solution. Thanks again, IZAK (talk) 12:41, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support: [Reproducing here my comment originally posted at "Wikipedia:Bot requests/Archive 61#Create a BOT to alphabetize and organize categories automatically".] I'm going to be contrary here and suggest that the problem with ordering categories according to some "logical" scheme is that such a scheme is often not obvious to other editors. Unless some conventions develop (e.g., for biographical articles, dates of birth and death come first, followed by categories related to the subject's education, and so on), an alphabetical arrangement of categories would arguably make it easier for editors to scan through the list. Even if the first part of the proposal does not pass, I agree with the proposer that it would be helpful for a bot to ensure that the block of categories is in a consistent place in each article. — Cheers, JackLee talk 23:10, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
    • Basically the bot proposal to alphabetize was shot down and any discussion here to change that close should be quickly shut down! As to the other point of making sure that categories are in the correct place. I'm not sure. Is this really a problem? I have seen more problems with external links, references and see also being in the wrong order. Add to that the fact that {{commons}} is almost always in the wrong place in categories and that {{coord}} is almost always surrounded by extra blank lines and I could say we need bots more in other areas. Vegaswikian (talk) 23:18, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
      • @Vegaswikian: Indeed, 1 Wikipedia is not perfect and many things need fixing and upgrading and improvement so your argument is very weak. 2 You are applying a reverse-logic of WP:OTHERSTUFFEXISTS that somehow "since other things are broken on WP, let's not fix this major broken item". 3 Remember WP:NOTPAPER and there is no limit on what can be created and deployed on it! WP is advanced and sophisticated enough to create solutions for many things, we have come a long way from the early days of WP when anyone could just enter any old information. Now there are WP:ARTICLEWIZARD to help in creating articles, various templates to help with inserting citations. Various bots that pick up and warn users about the most minor spelling mistakes or broken links or copyright violations. None of this stuff and tools existed when WP started out, and with time and good will various features have been created, added and deployed for the betterment of WP and readership. 4 You forget that ease of use and easy access is important for the hundreds of millions of readers who spend time on WP pages and when they see a mess they don't use the categories since who has time to skim through the blatantly mixed-up listing of 51 categories on the Frank Sinatra page for example when all you want is one bit or type of info. 5 Why do you want to cut off this debate? Is there something that frightens you about it? Keep your cool. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 10:20, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
        • There was no reverse logic used. How is changing something that is not broken a useful task? It is now clear to me that your reason for wanting to do this is WP:IDONTLIKEIT. As for cutting off the debate, you are WP:FORUMSHOPPING. You had your discussion and the suggestion was soundly rejected. If you want to discuss the other points that is fine. But the alphabetizing task should no longer be on the table especially here which is clerly not the best place since it is not clear how many interested parties follow this discussion. Vegaswikian (talk) 17:48, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
          • @Vegaswikian: In response, quoting you: 1 "How is changing something that is not broken a useful task?" Nothing is being changed, the majority of users do strive to alphabetize categories in any case, but due to the huge growth in articles and categories even those efforts are not sufficient to maintain that standard, hence the need for help such as via a BOT that would save lots of time and labor that is in short supply. 2 "It is now clear to me that your reason for wanting to do this is WP:IDONTLIKEIT." Not at all, if you scan the vast majority of articles you will clearly see that they all strive for alphabetization of categories because that is what most educated people automatically do when dealing with disorganized titles. 3 "As for cutting off the debate, you are WP:FORUMSHOPPING." No I am not, the previous discussion was cut off barely 24 hours after it began, had it run at least a week I could live with any results. 24 hour cut-offs are not only an insult to human intelligence it's also rude. 4 "You had your discussion and the suggestion was soundly rejected." There was no "discussion". Just one-way reactions, I, or anyone else, was not given an opportunity to discuss anything. 5 "If you want to discuss the other points that is fine." There are no other "points". I am being very clear and at least now there has been an opportunity for the various options to begin to be addressed. Democracy is very refreshing. 6 "But the alphabetizing task should no longer be on the table especially here which is clerly not the best place since it is not clear how many interested parties follow this discussion." Alphabetizing categories is the default choice of the majority of essentially all users (check it out all over for yourself) but it is an imperfectly completed task that needs help because too many categories -- when users choose to focus on organizing categories on pages -- are still left disorganized. I have done my best to bring this discussion to as many concerned people and centralized it here as advised by the user who had hastily closed the prior 24-hour discussion. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 22:26, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
            • The simple answer is bull. I have mostly been working in category section within articles for about 2 years now. I will say, and this is OR, that the vast majority are not alphabetized! There are a few here and there that are, and many users try to respect that, especially if there is a request to do that. Vegaswikian (talk) 23:35, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
              • @Vegaswikian: In ten years of creating hundreds of categories and alphabetizing even more categories I have never had to either "request" to do so nor have I ever encountered any opposition to alphabetizing categories, until I ran into this brick wall over here. And I can tell you I am mighty surprised because having crossed paths with hundreds of editors and creators of articles and categories not once has anyone ever objected to my alphabetizing categories ever! In fact often-times when I arrive at good articles someone has already done that job well and I follow their lead/s! And by the way, just look at most WP articles and you will see they all veer in the direction of the categories on their pages being alphabetized, just with over 4,500,000+ articles and categories & growing, just that the task has become impossible for humans alone to do without some serious assist from the right computer program and software that a BOT could do. So I don't know where you are coming from on this, as you say, maybe just your own "OR". Take care, IZAK (talk) 10:03, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
                • So let me understand this. Your statements are not OR. My changing categories in maybe 50,000 to 100,000 articles may produce a sample that has different results then your smaller sample and is likely wrong. I accept the fact that you have a problem with the opposition to a bot alphabetizing categories. That is something you really need to deal with. While consensus can change, in this case that change, if memory serves me correctly is that the opposition to this change is much stronger. So I don't see why we need to read through this ever lengthening discussion with nothing new really being added. So let's just accept the fact that we don't disagree. Vegaswikian (talk) 17:57, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
                  • @Vegaswikian: Please see the updated #Compromise proposal section below by User Paradoctor (talk · contribs) where we have made quantum leaps of progress and have arrived at a workable solution and hence hopefully agreement that will benefit Wikipedia and all its editors, users and readers, and will supply us with the kind of workable functions we wish to see in categories. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 09:15, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose this is something that is built in to the interface, and can be directed as needed from articles; the task is not well fitted for a bot as the pages would still need to be tagged as to how they should sort in to each category. — xaosflux Talk 23:31, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose - This should not be done project-wide. I think this covers it well: "The order in which categories are placed on a page is not governed by any single rule (for example, it does not need to be alphabetical, although partially alphabetical ordering can sometimes be helpful). Normally the most essential, significant categories appear first." -- Netoholic @ 23:37, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
    • @Netoholic: 1 This is precisely the core of the problem, vague and grossly self-contradictory non-practical policies from yesteryear that no one even hears (when last was anyone blocked or a case made for "violation" of such obviously ridiculous non-rules?), that is causing sheer havoc for users of categories and needs to be updated and changed and solved. People get used to living with problems when simple solutions could make life a lot easier! In any case the type of thinking you reflect dates back to the days when there was not a blizzard of categories raining down each day on articles with no system in place to make them usable for end-users. 2 As an example, just take a look at the 51 (yes, that's fifty one) categories at the bottom of the Frank Sinatra article (no doubt over the next year or two it will swell to a few dozen more categories!), it's basically useless to even try using one's eyes to scan for any category because the eyes just swim away from it -- dizzyingly. 3 Some of the categories were alphabetized at some point by someone, but then as is typical it's let go, and then what happens is people use the easy way of adding categories via the "Add a new category" Wikipedia:HotCat tool (also a form of bot or whatever they call such an easy tool!) that just lets any random users (experts and no-experts alike) plop another category at the bottom of the categories lists at the bottom of the article without any logic of where it should go, and there it sits in a hodge-podge "alphabet soup mix" until someone cares enough to fix it which may be never, since it's asking too much of overworked editors to do this kind of "housekeeping" chore. 4 So how anyone can justify such a situation of proliferating chaos and bedlam is beyond belief. Thank you, IZAK (talk) 10:05, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This kind of proposal comes up periodically but I still have no idea why anyone would think it's a good idea. Alphabetical ordering of categories is little better than jumbling them up randomly. It does not help readers find them nor give them any sensible ordering because their names follow various rules depending on the subject, and categories embody every possible subject. Alumni categories, for example, follow the form of "[SCHOOL] alumni", so alphabetizing would necessarily split up a biographical subject's education-related categories. Career-related categories also follow different forms depending on what is being subcategorized; writers, for example, follow forms that include "[XX]-century writers", "[NATIONALITY] writers", "[GENRE] writers", and "Writers from [LOCALITY]". So alphabetizing does not help insure that related categories will be grouped nor would it help a reader locate them (and are we pretending that a reader is going to be looking for a particular category on an article rather than browsing which ones are there?).

    The proposer points out that articles within individual categories are alphabetized, but 1) that's not strictly true given that we need to pipe different sorting on everything from people's last names to lists or topic articles where the relevant noun is pretty far into the article title ("History of X" or "List of Xs that Y"); and 2) where we don't need to pipe, that's because such articles will all be of the same kind so that alphabetical is a meaningful ordering, e.g., we're sorting countries with other countries.

    Also, as noted in the previous thread opened by the same proposer, bots should only be used for mass edits that are clearly consensus-supported. This obviously is not. postdlf (talk) 23:50, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

    • @Postdlf: Could you please explain how on Earth this makes any sense?: "Alphabetical ordering of categories is little better than jumbling them up randomly. It does not help readers find them nor give them any sensible ordering because their names follow various rules depending on the subject, and categories embody every possible subject." Any clear thinking person would be aghast to say that "alphabetization = jumbling up" or "alphabetized categories = no rules"?? Thanks, IZAK (talk) 10:05, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. IZAK's summary of the previous discussion (and the rationales provided) is inaccurate. Those opposing the proposed bot task did so on the basis that it's inconsistent with the relevant guideline (a product of longstanding consensus) and explained why the current setup exists (and why uniform alphabetization would be counterproductive). There's nothing "nebulous" about that. No one used the word "precedent", and I don't even know how WP:ITBOTHERSME and WP:IJUSTDONTLIKEIT are relevant (unless IZAK believes that they apply to any instance in which someone expresses disagreement with an idea). —David Levy 00:29, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
    @David Levy: So you admit that there is no clear "policy" to back you, only some nebulous "consensus" from by-gone simpler days that is not officially enshrined anywhere, and certainly does not work as dozens of categories are added to important pages. IZAK (talk) 10:05, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
    I mentioned "the relevant guideline" (Wikipedia:Categorization, to which you were directed in both the original discussion and this one). Are you attempting to draw a distinction between policies and guidelines, wherein the former are "officially enshrined" and the latter are not? —David Levy 13:18, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
    @David Levy: You miss the point and that is why we are having this discussion here at WP:VPP (that last letter stands for "Policy" -- a place to thrash it out anew or afresh if need be) because whatever "guidelines" there are or aren't, they are not succeeding in facilitating changes. There is stagnation. Most users when inserting categories veer in the direction of alphabetizing them because it's the default mode practiced by most educated humans when confronted with a jumble of names that are out of order. Step A for most people is always to alphabetize and if you look at most articles that's the way categories generally tend to veer. The problem however is that there are now so many articles and multitudinous categories piling up that far too many categories in articles are just a scrambled mess that reflect neglect and confusion and hence the usefulness of the categories is lost. I am trying to rectify this and propose a solution that will ensure the most basic constancy based on ABC->XYZ. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 22:46, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
    You miss the point
    I replied to your comment – purported to describe an admission on my part – "that there is no clear 'policy' to back [me], only some nebulous 'consensus' from by-gone simpler days that is not officially enshrined anywhere".
    and that is why we are having this discussion here at WP:VPP (that last letter stands for "Policy" -- a place to thrash it out anew or afresh if need be)
    Do you sincerely believe that I require such an explanation? In the original discussion, I stated that "it's reasonable to propose that categories be ordered in a uniformly alphabetical manner" and explicitly cited this page as an appropriate forum.
    At no point have I asserted that the guideline (in its present form) is sacrosanct and cannot be changed. If and when consensus for a different approach (uniform alphabetization or another alternative) is established, the guideline will be modified accordingly. Until such time, the current version remains in effect, and I (among others) have tried to explain to you that the proposed bot task is inconsistent with it. You've responded with a claim (incorrectly attributed to me) that it "is not officially enshrined anywhere" (the meaning of which you've declined to clarify). —David Levy 00:42, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
    @David Levy: "If and when consensus for a different approach (uniform alphabetization or another alternative) is established, the guideline will be modified accordingly." And that is precisely why we have commenced this discussion! Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing! There is nowhere else such a discussion can be held if not here and now. Thank you, IZAK (talk) 10:18, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
    @IZAK: No, you gave this discussion the title "Create a BOT to alphabetize and organize categories automatically". It's therefore about tasking a bot to enforce alphabetical sorting. It is not about modifying the guideline. --Redrose64 (talk) 15:06, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
    Such a bot could only be allowed after a corresponding change to policy. Presumably, this proposal is framed in terms of a bot because that would make indeed sense if the proposal gets accepted. Note that IZAK came to VP/P, not VP/T. See also this edit. The name of this section can be changed if you insist. Paradoctor (talk) 15:21, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
    Framing the discussion in that manner would make sense. Instead, IZAK denies the guideline's existence/validity, claims that "alphabetization of all categories is the preferred choice of almost all WP users", and insists that "nothing is being changed" under this proposal (purported to merely ensure consistent application of a system already in use). —David Levy 18:45, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
    And that is precisely why we have commenced this discussion!
    And I recommended that the matter be discussed here. But how do you expect to effect change when you explicitly assert that no change is proposed? —David Levy 18:45, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
    @David Levy: Please see the updated #Compromise proposal section below by User Paradoctor (talk · contribs) where we have made quantum leaps of progress and have arrived at a workable solution and hence hopefully agreement that will benefit Wikipedia and all its editors, users and readers, and will supply us with the kind of workable functions we wish to see in categories. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 09:15, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
  • No, and furthermore categories should be sorted logically rather than alphabetically. In the example you gave, you have "Communication ministers - Culture ministers - Democratic socialists - Education ministers". You have an ideology (Democratic socialist) mixed in among their cabinet-level positions. This is not optimal. For a typical article, you're going to have "American science-fiction writers" separated from "Writers from Austin, Texas" by the entire list of all the other things she is -- what school she went to and so on. I do not this this is best. "Writers from Austin, Texas" should be grouped either with other categories relating to the person being from Austin or categories relating to the person being a writer -- there's an art to this and and ideally you could get it close to both groups. But to sandwich "Writers from Austin, Texas" in between "Wentworth Military Academy alumni" and "Xavier University alumni".... don't do that. Alphabetization has its place and it's preferable to complete randomness (for one thing, logically connected categories have some tendency to cluster alphabetically -- "American this", "American that" -- but it's a weak tendency), but it's not optimal. Herostratus (talk) 02:32, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
I mean, I don't want to discourage anybody from sorting alphabetically if the categories in a given article are a random mess. It's quicker than logical sorting (no decisions to make), is not subject to error, gives some sort of order to the mess, and probably improves the logical ordering too, over mere randomness. Furthermore, I can't prove that that alphabetic sorting isn't better. It varies between readers I suppose. My gut feeling is that logical ordering is better. It's not something that could easily be proven either way.
So it the categorization is a random mess, fine. But if it's already logical ordered leave it alone, and it it's one of the articles I'm watching I'm liable to reverse it based on not being an improvement. Herostratus (talk) 02:54, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
    • @Herostratus: Please see the updated #Compromise proposal section below by User Paradoctor (talk · contribs) where we have made quantum leaps of progress and have arrived at a workable solution and hence hopefully agreement that will benefit Wikipedia and all its editors, users and readers, and will supply us with the kind of workable functions we wish to see in categories. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 09:15, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose – as pointed out already, editors and projects often have good reason for their placement of categories. The nominator's argument that alphabetically sorted categories help readers to find categories they're interested in is a furphy because category names follow no regimented naming system. I also consider edits like the one the nominator offered at Shulamit Aloni disruptive: the revision history tells me that 44 characters have been added, but the total jumble of the categories in the diff view make it impossible to ascertain what was added; I would probably revert such an edit. (Yes, this is a copy of what I wrote 2 days ago at Wikipedia:Bot requests.) -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 04:32, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
    • @Michael Bednarek: 1 You say "editors and projects often have good reason for their placement of categories" -- and this is precisely part of what is causing mass confusion because there is no uniformity. 2 You are justifying the chaos of a "Tower of Babel" (i.e. "...Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth... —Genesis 11:4–9") because 3 your end result is not order it is just people talking at cross-purposes and cross-wires and no one one knows which system applies anywhere without "consulting" other editors who have set themselves up as "experts" of confusing readers who just want simple rational easy to locate access to information, and not a "theory" of how subjects got mixed up or how to mix up subjects and then you expect everyone to unravel a "rubik's cube" set-up of categories on every page. IZAK (talk) 10:05, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose (Copying in my original comment that alphabetisation is not beneficial when searching for unknown elements - as is the general usage of category navigation). Categories are better when sorted semantically, with the most relevant first. This is because a reader (using this system for navigation to similar articles) will often not be looking for a category that already have in mind. As a result, alphabetising categories serves little purpose because that is a useful arrangement only when trying to locate elements that are known. That said, I would approve of a proposal that births/deaths/living people categories should always be first listed on biographies as a standard. SFB 06:39, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
    • @Sillyfolkboy: What does "Categories are better when sorted semantically" mean? Does it require a degree in semantics? Most users arrive with far more basic assumptions and expectations. When searching or researching through a good text book you head straight for the Back-of-the-book index and not for the "semantics" of it. IZAK (talk) 10:05, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
      • @IZAK: It means moving the most relevant and similar categories to the top and the less relevant ones to the end. (You can read semantics if you want to learn more.) A reader will view categories from start to finish. No reader goes to the index to read it from A-Z. Readers use an index because they are already looking for a certain term. It is only in that instance where alphabetising gives a navigational benefit and known elements can be located more quickly than in an non-alphabetised list. SFB 06:41, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
        • @Sillyfolkboy: Granted, there can be only ONE category at the top of any list of categories that I will say, and that is an eponymous category that matches the exact name of an article, just as all category pages aim to have their equivalent {{main}} article at the top of each category's page. Other than that, as they say "one man's bread, is another man's poison" and what one person may consider to be the best and hottest "theme" or "semantic" "guideline" for a category grouping will drive another editor up the wall. There will never be any solution or agreement about such things because people have subjective criteria for what they hold to be important to themselves. To people from California coming from that state it may be more important than being a band leader, etc. Take care, IZAK (talk) 10:18, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
          • @IZAK:Placing eponymous categories at the start would be another proposed guideline that I would support. There is certainly some subjectivity in the preferred order of the semantic groups, but (at least in biographies) there are often high level choices with a sound basis. See Usain Bolt as an example: birth/living leads, followed by occupation categories, then competition categories grouped (the remainder are more assortive). I hope this helps to show how a non-alphabetised system can make a lot of sense for a reader looking at previously unknown categories. SFB 18:12, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
            • @Sillyfolkboy: Please see the updated #Compromise proposal section below by User Paradoctor (talk · contribs) where we have made quantum leaps of progress and have arrived at a workable solution and hence hopefully agreement that will benefit Wikipedia and all its editors, users and readers, and will supply us with the kind of workable functions we wish to see in categories. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 09:15, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose—per above and the fact that there a number of logical ways to organize entries, and alphabetical is only one. It is also not always the best one. Imzadi 1979  06:53, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose This proposal is putting the cart before the horse. Per most of the above !votes there is no consensus (or even a really good argument) for alphasorting categories at all. Proposing a bot to do <something> automagically when there is no consensus that the <something> even should or needs to be done at all simply makes no sense. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 07:07, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose What I said at Wikipedia:Bot requests/Archive 61#Create a BOT to alphabetize and organize categories automatically still stands, and see also Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Categories/Archive 4#re alphabetizing categories on the article pages. --Redrose64 (talk) 08:45, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
    @Redrose64: 1 Your "see also Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Categories/Archive 4#re alphabetizing categories on the article pages" basically sounds like a group of people saying WP:ITBOTHERSME & WP:IJUSTDONTLIKEIT because it does not address the current situation whereby dozens of categories are being added to articles all the time and 2 with the "opinions" expressed on that talk page, basically only the users who place their jumbled-up groups of categories on a given article would know how to use it. 3 This is like arguing for the acceptance of an esoteric and secret language or mysterious "code" that requires something on the level of "code breaking" to figure out the random no rhyme nor reason for the way categories are clumped up in groups all over the place and no one knows how to easily and quickly reach the related contents they may be looking for in any article. 4 It also overlooks that Wikipedia users include basically all school-children who can read, college students, and just ordinary people (hundreds of millions of end users) all of whom have been educated and trained to find things in an orderly alphabetical fashion. That is the way the world works. 5 In fact ALL Wikipedia categories internally list ALL articles alphabetically automatically sorted based on either the first letter of an article's name unless corrected by "|" sign in a category that then directs the article to its correct position in the alphabetical listing within the designated category. 6 The same alphabetical rules and methodology and system should apply to categories when placed on any article or other category pages, and this is what a BOT could easily solve and thereby make life easier for the hundreds of millions of the global READERSHIP of WP who are not WP "experts" nor are they editors with their own turf to protect for whatever reasons. Thank you, IZAK (talk) 11:38, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
    The order that pages are listed in a category has nothing to do with the order that categories are listed on a page. The rules of one do not apply to the other. Please also note that WP:BOTREQUIRE, fourth and fifth bullets, means that no bot will be approved to carry out the task you want, since it is far too controversial. You're also not going to get many people to change their minds by bashing off a 1,000-character response to each of the responders here; WP:TLDR applies. --Redrose64 (talk) 13:15, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
    It's become clear that you regard your preferred method as self-evidently correct and intend to dismiss any contrary views as "people saying WP:ITBOTHERSME & WP:IJUSTDONTLIKEIT". Editors have attempted to explain why they regard the current approach as more practical, but you're so convinced that it results in sheer pandemonium that you characterize others' arguments as advocacy of such. This is unhelpful. —David Levy 13:18, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
    @David Levy: To repeat, if you review the vast majority of articles on WP you will see that no matter all the opposition being expressed here, all of that is a minority view because simple alphabetization of all categories is the preferred choice of almost all WP users, just the task is not being completed and performed proficiently and far too many articles are looking like they are "schizophrenic" in the categories department. It's also becoming clear that while most users are expressing themselves and I am taking the time to respond as fully as I can and we are having a frank exchange you are choosing to respond by violating WP:AGF. Please cut me some slack and don't be "strict" with me, we are not in "high school" and you are not the "headmaster" to crack the whip at me. If you wish not to respond fine, but to just read me the riot act gets us nowhere. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 22:59, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
    To repeat, if you review the vast majority of articles on WP you will see that no matter all the opposition being expressed here, all of that is a minority view because simple alphabetization of all categories is the preferred choice of almost all WP users,
    You've begun asserting this continually. I just viewed twenty-five random articles, of which four contained categories listed alphabetically. Of those, one contained five categories (and the alphabetization appeared deliberate) and the other three contained two or three categories each (so the alphabetical order might have been coincidental, but let's assume that it was intentional). Note that I excluded two articles (containing one category each) from the sample. Also note that had I encountered an article containing a large quantity of alphabetized categories with some deviations, I'd have counted it too (but that didn't occur).
    just the task is not being completed and performed proficiently and far too many articles are looking like they are "schizophrenic" in the categories department.
    And I assume that this is your explanation. (In your view, apparently, categories not arranged alphabetically are inherently disorganized and serve only as evidence of chaos.)
    It's also becoming clear that while most users are expressing themselves and I am taking the time to respond as fully as I can and we are having a frank exchange you are choosing to respond by violating WP:AGF.
    Please quote the message(s) in which I accused you of acting in bad faith. For the record, I believe no such thing.
    Please cut me some slack and don't be "strict" with me, we are not in "high school" and you are not the "headmaster" to crack the whip at me. If you wish not to respond fine, but to just read me the riot act gets us nowhere.
    I opined that your approach has been dismissive of others' views. You're entitled to disagree, but I'm baffled as to why you interpreted that criticism as something analogous to the above. —David Levy 00:42, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @David Levy: No David, you are simply proving my point there is NOTHING "coincidental" about what the "alphabetical order might have been" of categories in articles, as you have seen for yourself from your field trip across WP (surprised you have not noticed this before) while I can tell you from hands on ten years of experience that almost UNIVERSALLY the "default" practical methodology of organizing categories is alphabetically-motivated and as you rightly point out it's an over-all disorganized, and thankless, situation and task, that is in serious need of a remedy and therefore as I suggest let a BOT do the sorting and stop all the disorganization you have just borne witness to yourself. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 10:33, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

How carefully did you read my reply? Yours is a non sequitur (bordering on self-parody). —David Levy 18:45, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
@David Levy: To Repeat: Please see the updated #Compromise proposal section below by User Paradoctor (talk · contribs) where we have made quantum leaps of progress and have arrived at a workable solution and hence hopefully agreement that will benefit Wikipedia and all its editors, users and readers, and will supply us with the kind of workable functions we wish to see in categories. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 09:15, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose When creating new biographies, the first two categories I always list are year of birth, then either living people/year of death. These seem to be the most important. Then I'll add the most relevant categories related to the subject (IE - the defining aspects of why the bio was created in the first place) and then add the semi-trival ones last. A-Z doesn't really serve much purpose, unless the article literally has dozens and dozens of categories. Lugnuts Dick Laurent is dead 09:39, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
    • @Lugnuts: 1 You have obviously not read point two of my proposal that deals with precisely your concern, "Create a uniform system for where to place categories on each article and category page that commence with numbers, such as years of birth/death, centuries, and any category that starts with a number/numeral", by creating a BOT that will simultaneously alphabetize the categories and put any categories beginning with any sort of number (such as years, decades, centuries) into one rational systematized order across all WP pages. 2 Right now many users have no clue where to place such number-categories, sometimes they are at the bottom of the list and sometimes at the top or in the middle. 3 The easy to use Wikipedia:HotCat buttons at the bottom of every article's and category's pages add to the problem because if a user wishes to add a category beginning with a number (like a date or year or century) it simply gets placed at the bottom of the existing categories list on an article's page awaiting some kind-hearted editor to come along and put it at the top or wherever it should have been in the first. 4 That's like making a big mess and waiting for an adult figure with sense or responsibility to clean up after the mess-makers and enablers, and it's gotten out of hand, which is why I have finally brought up this untenable situation. Thank you, IZAK (talk) 10:58, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
      • @IZAK: You have obviously missed the point. Read my post again. And again. It's about not having the Category:Living people buried in a mess of other categories, when that is clearly the most important. Got it now? Good. Lugnuts Dick Laurent is dead 11:28, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
        • @Lugnuts: Totally absurd. You mean, for example, that even a very minor living French pop-singer who may have a {{stub}} about themselves should be more WP:N than, say, the long-dead Napoleon? Who came up with such a "rule" that if someone is alive they get "top-billing" on Wikipedia? All people do die, so what happens when people die off, do you then go around and "demote" them to the realm of the "dead" on their WP pages? You do realize how absurd such a system sounds don't you? That is why alphabetization is used by all humanity everywhere since it does not "discriminate" between those who are dead or alive, because there cannot be system of "favorites" where people who favor one subject get to choose where a clump of categories goes on an article while those who favor another way put the clumps somewhere else. One group alphabetizes and another reverts them, that is setting up WP:EDITWARS over NOTHING! This is totally bizarre and in all of my ten years of active categorizing articles and creating hundreds of new categories, I have never heard of such a non-proposal. Thank you, IZAK (talk) 11:55, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
          • Lugnuts meant that Category:Living people is more important in the context of a living person than most other categories are (with a "year of death" category the equivalent in an article about a deceased person, as noted above). No comparison between living and deceased people was made. —David Levy 13:18, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
            • DL has it correct. The below example of Frank Sinatra is a good one. Let's say he is still alive. The Category:Living people would sit snuggly between Cat:Kennedy Center honorees and Cat:Male actors from New Jersey. D'oh! Lugnuts Dick Laurent is dead 14:13, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @David Levy: @Lugnuts: That is why it is bad precedent to set up arbitrary "rules" of "living" or "dead" since there is absolutely no way to arrive at a consensus for such things, while simple alphabetization is the simplest universal default choice and the manner of doing this for most people, and it is hard to believe such a truism would need so much "proof" it is just so self-evident. I had cited the Frank Sinatra article as an example of chaotic categories before it is changed to suit anyone's POV. "sit snuggly"?? IZAK (talk) 23:17, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

That is why it is bad precedent to set up arbitrary "rules" of "living" or "dead" since there is absolutely no way to arrive at a consensus for such things,
That isn't even an on-topic response; you simply dropped relevant keywords into yet another reiteration of your argument, presented as though it somehow refutes something written above.
while simple alphabetization is the simplest universal default choice and the manner of doing this for most people, and it is hard to believe such a truism would need so much "proof" it is just so self-evident.
And that's the crux of the problem. You regard your preferred method as self-evidently correct, struggle to fathom how anyone could fail to recognize something so blindingly obvious, and can only conclude that we must be a bunch of anarchists rebelling against the practice that all sensible editors employ. —David Levy 00:42, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
@David Levy: I am not "struggling" with anything. I am just amazed that in my ten years of creating hundreds categories and alphabetizing hundreds of them if not more, with not so much as peep to oppose what I have diligently been doing, if anything most people tend to neglect this area of categories (no wonder when they are so confused and confusing) having spent basically a decade trying to sort out the mess. Now comes this discussion and about half a dozen or so editors are adamant that alphabetizing categories is equivalent to the "original sin". Don't worry about me, whatever happens as a result of this discussion it will not be in vain for "Rome was not built in a day" and neither was Wikipedia or its way of organizing categories. So now I have met the people who like to organize by "theme" or "semantics" or who just prefer what they imagine to be "random chaos" or just go by the theory of "if it ain't broke don't fix it" no matter that categories are seriously broken as they pile up in articles following no rule or method of organization and it is fascinating to watch the scorn that people heap on the power of the simple alphabet to get us all out of the growing quagmire. Oh sorry, some think it's a "paradise" -- take your pick. Either way, I am not worried, life will go on. Thanks, 10:54, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
I am just amazed that in my ten years of creating hundreds categories and alphabetizing hundreds of them if not more, with not so much as peep to oppose what I have diligently been doing,
Are you under the impression that others' position is that alphabetizing categories is never appropriate and must be stopped?
Now comes this discussion and about half a dozen or so editors are adamant that alphabetizing categories is equivalent to the "original sin".
That answers my question, I suppose. —David Levy 18:45, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose default alphabetization, bot or not I sorted the Sinatra categories with the following result:

This is clearly no better than the current situation. Having said that, it is clear that there is considerable room for improvement in this matter. Paradoctor (talk) 11:51, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

  • @Paradoctor: Thanks! That's one down and four and half million articles plus who knows how many more tens of thousands of categories to go on the English WP alone! Thanks for admitting that "Houston we have a problem" though, much appreciated, it is definitely a step in the right direction for solving the massive unholy mess. By the way, why do you oppose a BOT so much, since after all by now no human being or even a group of willing and able editors can fix the millions of pages with the jumbled up categories. Thank you, IZAK (talk) 12:03, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
  • "you oppose a BOT" Hein? It's not the bot I have a problem with, it's the proposal to require "default alphabetization", which should have been clear from the bolded description of my !vote. For articles with few categories alphabetization makes no difference, and for articles with many categories there always a more useful way of arranging categories. This means that alphabetization is either useless or detrimental, depending on where it hits. That is why the guideline says "it does not need to be alphabetical". This means that what you propose has already been discussed by the community, and has been rejected, by wide consensus. For a nice and clear example of how non-alphabetic order beats alphabetic hands down, see the Stephen Hawking example below. Paradoctor (talk) 18:26, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
  • @Paradoctor: The way I read "it does not need to be alphabetical" is that "of course most people would and do alphabetize categories since that's the normal rational and simplest way such things are done, but if someone comes up with unorthodox or alternate ways of categorizing it is not a violation either." It is just giving wiggle room for the thankless task of organizing categories, which may have been good for a bygone era when there were fewer articles and categories. Now we have millions of articles and related categories. With most users as evidenced by perusing most WP article pages striving for alphabetization of categories, but because of the vast numbers involved huge numbers of articles are being bombarded with unsorted categories that makes Wikipedia look unorganized. "Hein"?? IZAK (talk) 23:17, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
  • WP:CATDEF "Normally the most essential, significant categories appear first." (my emphasis) This is similar to MOS:DABORDER, and contraindicates alphabetical order for the vast mojority of cases.
"Hein" wikt:hein#French Face-wink.svg Paradoctor (talk) 10:14, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose Categories have enough issues without worrying about order. JMJimmy (talk) 12:00, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
    • @JMJimmy: Very puzzling comment. While you admit that categories have many problems you are unwilling to support the creation of a BOT that would alphabetically automatically sort out categories reducing the need for human intervention beyond the creation and application of a WP:BOT. Pray do tell what you are thinking. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 12:07, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
I don't see any value in organizing them alphabetically. The only sorting value I could see is a hierarchical one and doing that properly would require a code update not a bot. The only possible value I might be convinced of is on pages with insane number of categories, however, in those cases I'd prefer to trim rather than sort. JMJimmy (talk) 12:17, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
@JMJimmy: 1 You say "The only possible value I might be convinced of is on pages with insane number of categories" so you do partially agree with me, because as things stand right now the problem is growing and the question of what is an "insane" number is left out in the open. 2 Someone may find ten categories on a page "insane" while another user may think that anything under 50 is "normal" and anything above that is "insane" so who gets to decide what is "sane" or"insane" on WP? 3 However, a BOT that automatically organizes all categories in alphabetical order without prejudice to any other criterion would impose sanity on what is an over-all insane situation. 4 When you say "however, in those cases I'd prefer to trim rather than sort", as anyone who has been on the front-lines of categorization knows people get very touchy and possessive in WP:OWN manner of what they regard as "their" favorite way of listing categories and any long-term attempts at making sweeping changes will land you in a WP:EDITWAR with someone monitoring those pages, all this contributes to a stalemate where categories get neglected and other users are afraid and couldn't be bothered to make needed upgrades and positive changes. Thanks again, IZAK (talk) 13:00, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
1) I don't agree with you - when something like this happens I think they should be gutted as categories like that are better served by list pages. 2) not important 3) I'd much rather a human editor who can sort them by subjective importance than alphabetically. 4) see 1, people get touchy about everything here, it's nothing new. There's an in-crowed who can do what they want and an out crowd who have to justify every action. It is what it is. JMJimmy (talk) 13:15, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
@JMJimmy: Love your response, at least you make sense from your POV. IZAK (talk) 23:33, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
@JMJimmy: Please see the updated #Compromise proposal section below by User Paradoctor (talk · contribs) where we have made quantum leaps of progress and have arrived at a workable solution and hence hopefully agreement that will benefit Wikipedia and all its editors, users and readers, and will supply us with the kind of workable functions we wish to see in categories. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 09:15, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose per @Imzadi1979: who makes the case most succinctly. --Rosiestep (talk) 13:28, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. alphabetization is a standard organizing principle. But beyond that, automatization frees up the brain cells of humans to do other things. If at a future time further adjustments need to be made to the relatively simplistic system of organization by alphabetical order, those adjustments too should be made by bot. For instance perhaps articles need to be addressed differently by type of article. Bots can be made just for WP:BLPs, for instance. Bots can be made just for articles on geographical locations, for instance. And a general bot can be set loose on everything that does not fit into neat areas set aside for special treatment. Bus stop (talk) 11:37, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
So you are saying we should not put the most important/relevant categories first, except when they begin with "1" or "A"? That would be the consequence of requiring alphabetization. Paradoctor (talk) 13:09, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
Who is deciding the order of importance for Categories? Presumably a Category is important or it would not be used. The prose portions of an article are written according to conventions of good writing. Our Manual of Style or other style guides can tell us about how to write an article. But what is guiding us in the organization of the collection of Categories found at the bottom of a page? I think alphabetization is a good method of organization. I think the Category box at the bottom of the page would be easier to peruse if all Categories were stacked in single file, one above the other. Just as we have [show]/[hide] options we could have an [organize Categories vertically] option above the box containing the Categories. It would not be hard to peruse a vertically organized collection of Categories and alphabetization would rationalize the order in which Categories appear. Bus stop (talk) 14:23, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
"vertically organized" Copy #mw-normal-catlinks li,#mw-hidden-catlinks li {display:block} to User:Bus stop/common.css, that should do the trick.
"Who is deciding" I think you mean "which criteria decide". Since the category box is there to enable navigation, the answer is: Whatever makes navigation easiest. This situation is pretty much analogous to disambiguation, so MOS:DABORDER applies in spirit, if not in the exact letter. All things being equal, the category that will take the most clicks to their intended destination comes first. Paradoctor (talk) 16:34, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Sorry to pile on, but this is a bad idea. Enforced alphabetization does not help readers. I firmly agree with Lugnuts on this issue, and I do the same exact thing. We should logically group related categories and prioritize the most important ones. If someone is alive, that is a (maybe even the) defining characteristic of the person. Within logical groupings, it is entirely reasonable to alphabetize them, but it is wrong to compulsively force everything into alphabetical order. NinjaRobotPirate (talk) 23:47, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The funny thing that I have requested something similar many many years ago. I realised at some point that this is not a good idea. It's impossible to create a generic law for that kind of things. For instance if the page title matches the category (for example: Stephen Hawking and cat:Stephen Hawking) it is better to have this on the top IMO. Similar things may apply to other things such as cat:Living people which makes more sense to be after xxxx births cat. Same applies for Year of birth missing cat which makes more sense to rename it as soon as the birth year is found instead of replacing it and moving it. Probably, there are more examples but I think I made my point. I do not recall any epic edit wars for category sorting. I would not like to see one starting now. -- Magioladitis (talk) 22:57, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Of course any Category that is identical to the title should come first. All who have commented on that have agreed with that. But the other Categories actually don't have any "right" order or any "preferable" order. These Categories are found in a box at the bottom of the article to be used as the reader sees fit and we editors haven't the foggiest idea how a reader will see fit to use Categories. It is humorous to think that we know the reason a reader is using our encyclopedia. The more important purpose of an encyclopedia is as a source of pure knowledge as opposed to applied knowledge. Wikipedia is not an instruction manual or a "how-to" guide. Among our purposes is not the training of automatons. I for one would like to think that I am writing an encyclopedia for some readers who have original ideas. I wouldn't think for a minute that I could contrive an arrangement of the Categories that would facilitate their research. We should not delude ourselves into thinking that we know, on an article-by-article basis, the best order for displaying Categories. Bus stop (talk) 01:01, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose I'm unsure of the value of categorization in the first place. Organizing them via some arbitrary system strikes me as completely unnecessary. Protonk (talk) 14:56, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Identifying types of articles for which alphabetical arrangement of categories is undesirable[edit]

I see a lot of editors using biographical articles as an example of why categories should not be alphabetically arranged. Perhaps, then, we should think about reaching some consensus on how categories should be arranged in biographical articles. Are there other types of articles for which an alphabetical arrangement of categories would not be desirable, and if so, what is the best order for arranging their categories? If these particular situations can be identified, then perhaps an alphabetical arrangement would be all right for other situations. — Cheers, JackLee talk 10:38, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

  • In all articles some or other thematic arrangement is best. Alphasorting within a "thematic cluster" of categories might make sense if such a cluster is large enough to make it worthwhile. Simple alphabetic-only sorting is undesirable in all cases, unless there is no discernible thematic cluster - very unlikely to be the case with articles that have more than 5 or 6 categories - sorting such short lists of categories is pretty pointless anyway. I don't see how it would be possible to even identify any "types" of articles where alphasorting would be preferable over any other arrangement. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 11:39, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
    • @Dodger67: Question: Who came up with this notion of sorting categories by "theme" and who decides what themes are good and what themes are a no-no? when internally ALL categories sort all the articles they hold alphabetically and it's even alphabetically facilitated across the board by the {{DEFAULTSORT}} template found on many pages that pushes any other "system" aside. Thank you, IZAK (talk) 12:13, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Helpful would be a few concrete examples of articles with a lot of categories, where the arrangement of the categories is generally agreed to be close to optimal. This would help determining what rules are useful in arranging categories. Do such examples exist? Paradoctor (talk)
  • @Paradoctor: Now that is one heck of a request because it touches on the core problem -- that there is NO such "optimal" set of articles or method, it's everyone doing as they please and when it does not suit someone they just revert as they please, something an automated BOT sorting ALL categories alphabetically would finally put a stop to and create simple order of vast bedlam. You are dealing with trying to discover and aggregate something out of over 4 million articles and countless category pages. Just choose random articles all over the place of notable topics and you will see for yourself that what you ask for does not really exist, just mountains and mountains of self-contradictory unhelpful chaos in categories to the point that their usefulness is lost as the tide of more categories are added to pages each guided by the whims and fancies of any particular editor who just has his or her own way of placing categories! Thanks, IZAK (talk) 12:19, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
  • I'm afraid you misunderstood me. I did not ask for a set of articles jointly conforming to some rule of ordering categories, I asked for examples where each article on its own is considered to have a nicely organized set of categories. Comparing these pages then might permit to find general rules worthy of discussion as a proposal to improve upon WP:CATDEF.
"vast bedlam" Lots of people around the globe find our bedlam rather tasty, I daresay. It's kind of like democracy: much messier than monarchy, but people still seem to prefer it. Face-wink.svg Paradoctor (talk) 18:39, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
@Paradoctor: Needless to say my love of Wikipedia is as great as anyone's else's, why else would I still be editing here and getting into discussions like this after over 11 years on the job as a pure labor love? But from what I can tell, you are now saying, the heck with everything because WP:IGNOREALLRULES is now the new "law of the jungle" by which to "sort out" categories on Wikipedia. IZAK (talk) 23:33, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
"as great as anyone's else's" Nobody doubted that. The way you talk, though, one can get very easily the impression that you are intent on imposing a single simple ruleset on everyone, when numerous members of the community give you reasoned arguments to the contrary. Your reaction above is a point in case. You framed my request in terms of a single rule, rather than seeing the possibility that I could've meant to evaluate pages individually. You mentioned that Wikipedia has grown and matured quite a ways from the CamelCase days. Maybe it would be a good idea to apply that argument to our policies. They evolved, too, which makes it rather likely that any single rule in it represents WP:CONSENSUS hashed out very thoroughly. Paradoctor (talk) 10:33, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
@Paradoctor: Neglect does not "equal" "consensus" and an open discussion does not mean the end of the world either. Hang in there! IZAK (talk) 10:54, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
More than 500 watchers and ≈400 views/day pretty clearly negate any idea of "neglect".
If you talk about the individual articles, you might want to consider WP:SILENCE. As long as nobody objects, there is absolutely no problem with you alphabetizing categories. Paradoctor (talk) 13:43, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
      • Isak... What's wrong with editors at each article ordering the categories as they think best? Why do we need a system? You call the current situation bedlam... I call it flexibility. The current situation is only a problem if you think categories need to be in some sort of uniform system. If you don't care about the order (and most of us don't) then there is no need a uniform system. My take... If editors want to list categories in alphabetical order at article X, fine... if they want to use some other system at article Y, that's fine too... and, if at article Z, they want to have no system at all (and just have the cats be random)... that's also fine. Blueboar (talk) 12:54, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
        • @Blueboar: 1 While your comments are well-meaning, what you say applies to simpler days when categories first started about 10 years ago and in that early era a couple or more categories pasted in any which way did not matter in any way because anyone could take a look at the articles and use the categories. It still works that way for many simple articles. 2 But the situation has drastically changed since those early days because as articles have evolved in complexity, and richness of content is improved, like-wise proportionately one finds that such articles become loaded with bloated amounts categories that are so randomly sprinkled about that no one can make heads or tales of them without looking at them through a "microscope" as it were. 3 The problem is compounded with the Wikipedia:HotCat tool on every page that simply lets anyone add categories that are then placed at the bottom of any list of categories at the bottom of any page, without them ever getting sorted into any schemata whatsoever, something an automated BOT that could place all categories in alphabetical order would solve. 4 Here are just a few random examples of the chaos in categories I am talking about, see these articles: Leon Trotsky (49 totally scrambled categories); Dean Martin (with 29 jumbled-up categories); Alfred Hitchcock (23 confused categories, with some sorting); Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (32 categories spread around); Jane Fonda (37 categories, about 15 are totally out of order). 5 While here are good examples of how alphabetization helps: Napoleon; David Ben-Gurion; George Washington (one is out of place at the bottom); Adolf Hitler; Marlon Brando; Golda Meir; Walt Disney. 6 This dissonance and variance needs a way to be standardized so that one system of alphabetization of categories prevails. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 14:05, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
  • I disagree... If editors desire to place the categories listed on those pages in some sort of order, I have no problem with them doing so... but there is no pressing need to do so. And if the desire exists, why choose alphabetization over some other ordering system? To be honest, I would find an alphabetized order to be just as confusing as leaving the cats in random order. An alphabetized list of cats certainly would make it any easier for me to navigate to other articles on similar subjects (which is the whole point of categorization) than a random order would. If I felt the desire to order the cats, my gut instinct would be to organize thematically. Blueboar (talk) 15:32, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
  • An arrangement for David Ben-Gurion clearly better than alphabetic:
Paradoctor (talk) 19:24, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
  • And how is this sequence from Adolf Hitler sensible?
  • Austrian writers
  • Chancellors of Germany
  • Conspiracy theorists
  • Fascist rulers
  • Flag designers
Paradoctor (talk) 20:00, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @Paradoctor: Because it's alphabetical and people know how to spell way before they can figure out complicated "themes" and "semantics". IZAK (talk) 23:33, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

That would be an argument if we left the readers to their own devices. In that case, alphasorting might indeed be marginally preferable to, say, the order in which the categories were added. But, as has been pointed out several times to you, even rather broad grouping beats alphabetic by a wide margin, and requiring alphabetic order would interfere with this. This kind of grouping gives the reader those themes and semantics exactly so they don't have to figure them out themselves. The Hawking example does this, and sorting it would completely destroy the assistance this arrangement provides to the reader. Paradoctor (talk) 10:43, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
  • An example of thematically sorted categories.

I added small text annotation to identify the theme of each group. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 13:14, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

Good example. Blueboar (talk) 13:38, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @Dodger67: @Blueboar: And who is now going to do this new job? Can't wait to see the arguments over placement of which categories in what order. A total waste of time and useless spinning of wheels when simple organization by alphabetization is in any case preferred by almost all Wikipedia users, just look around and see, just that the task has become too overwhelming and now needs technical help from a BOT since we live in the digital information age & cyber age whereby computer programs are designed to make our lives easier and we are not meant to fight the obvious. Life is complicated enough as it is, no reason to make it more so or settle for a chaotic work environment on WP. IZAK (talk) 23:33, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

Who is going to do this new job? The editors who work on each individual article.
Remember that There is no deadline. Deciding how the categories should appear on the bottom of any specific article may not be a priority, but eventually someone will come along and do it... if only because each of these articles will get to a state where the only thing left to do are "tweaks" like putting the categories attached to the article in some sort of logical order.
One final thing... your state that "simple organization by alphabetization is in any case preferred by almost all Wikipedia users"... given what others have said here on this pump page (which is a good random sampling of users), I have to question that assertion. It seems that alphabetization is not actually preferred. At least not over thematic ordering. Blueboar (talk) 11:33, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
@Blueboar: Please see the updated #Compromise proposal section below by User Paradoctor (talk · contribs) where we have made quantum leaps of progress and have arrived at a workable solution and hence hopefully agreement that will benefit Wikipedia and all its editors, users and readers, and will supply us with the kind of workable functions we wish to see in categories. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 09:15, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
We also should be mindful of the different perspectives that people hold—both readers and editors. There can be disputes among editors over the seemingly most minor of things. "Thematic ordering" may not represent the best of organizing principles in this collaborative editing environment. Bus stop (talk) 11:59, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
True... I am not saying that "Thematic ordering" will always be best... just that sometimes it will be. "What is best" is a decision that should lie with the editors at each individual article, not a bot. If the choice of system becomes an issue, the editors can discuss that issue and reach a consensus on which system they think is best (for that specific article). As I have said, I have no problem with alphabetization - if that is the choice of the editors at the specific article. However, if the editors reach a consensus to use some other ordering system, they should be free to do so. A bot will not recognize situations where editorial consensus is to use some other system. Blueboar (talk) 12:22, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
And even if it did, what IZAK is asking is not giving the choice to use any ordering but alphabetical. "Bedlam" aka deferring to local consensus is already policy. Paradoctor (talk) 12:44, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
Please give me an example in which "thematic ordering" is clearly preferable to an alphabetically ordered list of Categories. One need only glance over the twenty or so odd Categories to see ones that might be of interest. To make this even easier there could be an option of viewing the alphabetically organized Categories in a vertical stack. Just as we have a [show]/[hide] option we could have a [view vertically]/[view linearly] option. I think it is very easy to peruse entries when they are stacked vertically. Bus stop (talk) 14:40, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
@Bus stop: Please see the updated #Compromise proposal section below by User Paradoctor (talk · contribs) where we have made quantum leaps of progress and have arrived at a workable solution and hence hopefully agreement that will benefit Wikipedia and all its editors, users and readers, and will supply us with the kind of workable functions we wish to see in categories. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 09:15, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Already done. The Sinatra and Hawking examples. If you wish, I will present a thematically ordered list for Sinatra. "Glancing" works only for articles with not too many categories, the Sinatra case is clearly a "searcher", not a "glancer". And let's not forget that not all our readers are quick readers. Thematic ordering helps skipping stuff.
Also, one might want to notice that of the Hitler categories, 1889 births comes first alphabetically. Compare this fact to [1] [2] [3]. With these numbers, Recipients should be presented before 1889 births. Even 1945 deaths edges it out. Paradoctor (talk) 16:58, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

  • Comment IZAK asked for my opinion here. I think his original proposal has a good point, and it is seen more clearly in typical examples with a medium number of categories. Looking at University of Florida, the first 8 categories are in alphabetical order; the last 3, which may have been added separately, are not. I do not think the ones in the alphabetic listing are at all confusing--the others are the ones that are confusing. Looking at Gainesville, Florida, the categories are at random. To see if an article is in a specific category would be easier if they were alphabetic.
But this mis-states the problem. They would be easier if they were in any logical consistent arrangement. By far the easiest one to accomplish is alphabetic, which is a very simple sort. Anything else is far more complicated. The arrangement above by [[User:Dodger67{|Dodger67{]] is a very good one, and better than plain alphabetic. I think many of us could probably find alternative equally good ones,(and, knowing Wikipedia, I expect elaborate discussion over just which one to adopt). But how would it be accomplished without manually coding every individual one of our categories into groups (and, knowing Wikipedia, dealing with the disputes about how to do so in specific cases) Looking just at BLPs I can think of algorithms for some groups (such as "born in" and "died in" before everything else. I can't think of many others--even "People from" is often a multiple, but perhaps it doesn't matter "Alumni" is also distinctive . But how we're going to pull out the occupational categories without listing every one, or separating the various awards, I do not know. And, as mentioned elsewhere non-BLPs are more difficult, though for organizations there could probably be a similar scheme; and for places we could put the purely geographic location categories first.
The question is whether it is worth the trouble. That of course depends if someone wants to do it. (I certainly don;t, and do those supporting it intend to volunteer?
I propose a hybrid solution:
  1. Sort all categories alphabetically programatically. Any further work on them will be easier if they are in a consistent order. Could be done in a few days, depending how fast the bot is permitted to go. (There would need periodical additional runs , of course)
  2. Gradually arrange the categories in a manner similar to that suggested, going by type of article, as those people who want to work on it. There would be a flag to indicate that this had been done, so the alphabetic bot would skip them. There would need to be followup work as people add categories or mess them up, but that's normal for any process. This would still fail the moment someone devised a new category. so there would be continuing maintenance. And continuing arguments. This step would go as fast or slow as people did the work, which probably means it would start off well, but never finish.
  3. Devise something better than the existing system of categories. This is the key step. I understand the potential for category intersection is available in MediaWiki. I think there are some practical difficulties, but I don't know details. We'd still have to sort the unit terms that would intersect, but the work would be much smaller. (deciding on the unit terms' may not be quite so simple.). There may also be other solutions than intersection, but I'm not immediately aware of any. Since as a librarian I do know a little information science, I'd be willing to work on something better. Personally, I think it's folly to spend any substantial time on the present system. DGG ( talk ) 16:23, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
I took a look at the Featured and Good article criteria pages, neither even mentions categories, so I'm not convinced that the order of categories is really worth fretting about at all. WP:HotCat, which practically everybody except newbies uses, just puts them down in the order they are added anyway. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 19:03, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment After reviewing the comments and suggestions, I have to say that DGG's suggestion corresponds best to what I would have suggested on my own. IZAK's proposal to alphabetize works best on articles with fewer categories. As DGG points out, it's articles where the subject falls into a large number of categories where thematic grouping can be an extremely useful alternative to strict alphabetization. The examples from David Ben-Gurion to Frank Sinatra are typical of these exceptional cases. Alansohn (talk) 04:27, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

@DGG:@Dodger67:@Alansohn:: Please see the updated #Compromise proposal section below by User Paradoctor (talk · contribs) where we have made quantum leaps of progress and have arrived at a workable solution and hence hopefully agreement that will benefit Wikipedia and all its editors, users and readers, and will supply us with the kind of workable functions we wish to see in categories. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 09:15, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

  • Comment I can't help thinking this is a solution desperately searching for a problem. The orderly arrangement of categories is way down near the bottom of the list of things that need fixing on en:WP - we have far bigger fish to fry, so this whole thing looks a lot like "make-work" (keywords: deck-chairs, Titanic, iceberg). As I remarked earlier, the GA and FA criteria don't even mention categories at all. HotCat, the tool most used to add categories doesn't order them at all. Oh and don't forget that entropy always wins. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 07:21, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

OK, OK, the proposal is not gaining a lot of acceptance, and fine, but let's not get carried away. I think it is almost certainly true that alphabetizing categories is preferable to the categories being listed completely (or mostly) at random. Right? There are two reasons for this: 1) it imposes some sort of order that at least some readers might find useful, and 2) it will tend to increase the logical order somewhat compared to mere chaos -- all the "American such-and-such" will be grouped together and so on, which is an improvement over mere randomness.

Alphabetizing has advantages from production point of view -- it's much easier, so it could be done by a bot or an editor working quickly and mindlessly (as opposed to having to cogitate on the best logical or semantic order). It's not subject to error or opinion and removing those factors reduces time spend in argument. And it is true that ordering by semantics or logic means there will be some mistakes -- not everyone is good at that, while everybody can alphabetize correctly.

So it's not like it's a crazy idea. It's a reasonable idea. If most of our articles had categories in essentially random order (or in some unhelpful order like length of category name or whatever, or organized logically by a person who is very bad at logic) then a bot to alphabetize them would be a net improvement. However, I suppose that many articles are probably reasonably OK already. Herostratus (talk) 16:02, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

We should be aiming for a completely arbitrary method for organizing the layout of Categories at the bottom of an article, and all articles should employ the same arbitrary organizing principle. This is not an area that should have any human input at all, beyond agreeing from the outset, on the arbitrary method to be used. There is nothing special about alphabetization. Its only virtue for our purposes is that it is arbitrary. It should simply be a project-wide principle that the Categories at the bottom of all articles are organized alphabetically. Bus stop (talk) 21:54, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
Why? Why is any arbitrary system (i.e., any system based on willful ignorance) better than a thoughtful one?
I saw one a while ago. The categories were something like Grammy Award-winning artists, Female rock singers, People from New York, and Breast cancer survivor. The breast cancer claim wasn't even mentioned in the article. In what intelligent system would you deliberately put the least important category first?
Contrary to the comment above, I think that alphabetizing short, easily managed cats is worse than alphabetizing long ones. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:48, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
I'm sorry but I see absolutely no logical reason for making Category:Articles created via the Article Wizard as the first listed category in many articles! Vegaswikian (talk) 23:23, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
We are not writing articles for a hypothetical average person. We do not know a hypothetical person's reason for using this encyclopedia. Our aim should be to provide knowledge for knowledge's sake. The body of an article is distinctly different from a collection of "Categories" at the bottom of an article. Categories are only names of boxes containing factors that articles have in common. We don't have to make editorial decisions concerning the order of importance of those boxes. We fundamentally don't know how a reader may choose to use Categories. It is presumptuous of us to think that we know which boxes (Categories) are most important to a given reader. We never let the number of boxes (Categories) grow so large that they cannot be perused visually without great difficulty. I don't think looking at 50 Categories is enormously problematic for most readers. The information conveyed by our Categories is supposed to be present in our articles, with sources provided. The Categories serve the purpose of showing other articles embodying similar factors. We do not know which of these factors is of greatest interest to a given reader. Are our editors really going to get bogged down in ordering Categories as we think is best? I don't think that most editors rearrange the order of Categories. Human input is definitely a part of creating Categories meaningfully. And human input is definitely a part of judiciously placing articles in only those Categories in which they belong. But we should stop at that point and allow an arbitrary system to array these Categories in a vertical display for easy perusal. The most familiar arbitrary system I know of is alphabetization. Bus stop (talk) 00:01, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
And being arbitrary is a key point. If one or more editors arrange categories in a particular order, since it makes sense, how can a bot change that to a different arbitrary arrangement? I prefer the human touch. Vegaswikian (talk) 00:09, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
It should be arbitrary and all articles should conform to the same system. The information which is "Categories" is processed information. You say "one or more editors arrange categories in a particular order, since it makes sense". It makes sense to them. That is a problem. That is their bias. It is their fairy tale. Those "one or more editors" should not be trying to make sense of categorized information. It is not the same as information found in sources, from which we construct articles. We have already created those Categories. That information which is categories is processed information. The best analogy I can think of is taking Velveeta cheese and then trying to make an artisanal food product from it. It is foolhardy. It is best to handle information in a way appropriate to that information. We are no longer in the mode of writing an article when it comes to arraying a collection of Category boxes. Alphabetization is appropriate to the processed information that is Categories. Bus stop (talk) 00:34, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
"not the same as information found in sources" That is entirely incorrect. WP:CAT#Articles requires categories to be verifiable, just like any other claim in an article. Actually, the requirements are narrower than for prose statements, as the characteristic assigned by the category must be used "commonly and consistently" in the literature. Paradoctor (talk) 14:07, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
@Herostratus: You are missing the point of IZAK's proposal. If editors at some page decide to alphabetize their categories, that is entirely fine with the current guideline. What IZAK wants is to make alphabetical ordering mandatory across all of Wikipedia. That is the bone of contention.
"as opposed to having to cogitate on the best logical or semantic order" Face-surprise.svg Are you really proposing that we go down the path of least resistance? What kind of argument is that?!? Paradoctor (talk) 01:05, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
It is not necessary to have the "best logical or semantic order" when placing Categories in a box at the bottom of an article and in fact it is better to avoid this imposition by the editor on the reader because there is an element of fiction to such ordering of Category boxes. The Categories themselves are already of our creation. We have in many cases already had lengthy discussions and debates about the existence of these Categories. And then we have in many cases had lively debates concerning whether or not an article warrants placement in that Category. These Categories are sometimes in a sense creations of Wikipedia editors. We should not be parlaying the results of a Categorization process into another form of article-writing. The proper (and only) place for article-writing is in the body of the article. That takes place in prose form. And that is directly supported by sources. Bus stop (talk) 01:44, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
Your argument here sounds an awful lot like "Editors are too stupid to figure out the most salient and WP:DUE categories, so we should force them to never put the most relevant category first (except by accident)" with a side order of "Readers don't mind sorting through a disorganized mess". I'm not buying it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:10, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
@WhatamIdoing: First of all while the single most eponymous category -- meaning sure, it is acceptable that if a category matches an article's name exactly, it can be listed first, as the only exception, such that only if main article = main category 100% that a BOT could do as it alphabetizes all other categories on every page, but ALL other categories should be alphabetized for easy access. Note, editors are NOT "too stupid" it is just that READERS and end users are too busy in real life and do not have the time to go searching for needles in haystacks. But were they to see and know that WP uses the simplest of criteria to organize its categories, namely the alphabet, it makes WP categories that mush more user friendly and quicker to access than having categories remain diffused all over the place of organized into "thematic" clumps that only the creators of those "themes" are privy to their usefulness. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 09:12, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @Herostratus:@Paradoctor: "What IZAK wants is to make alphabetical ordering mandatory across all of Wikipedia. That is the bone of contention." -- indeed, Bingo! IZAK (talk) 09:12, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

The difference between the cats on the page and the cat page[edit]

Someone (Izak, probably) said something above about it making sense to alphabetize the categories in an article, because articles are alphabetized on the cat pages.

This is not logical. Not everything is reciprocal. The fact that the telephone company has assigned me an account number does not mean that I need to assign them an account number. The fact that Category:X alphabetizes pages in Category:X does not mean that all pages need to alphabetize the categories on them.

Furthermore, it is not sensible. For some pages, it is clear to any reader that some categories are very important, and that others are relatively unimportant. Nobel Prize winners and US Presidents ought to have those categories listed prominently. People born in the same town or on the same date? It's just not that important. Someone might want to find that category, but 99% of readers just won't care.

Any category's importance to an article's subject can cover a wide range, from extremely important to barely relevant, but most pages listed in a category are going to have approximately the same relevance as the other pages in the category. The contents of "Grammy Award-winning artists" are approximately all equal to each others, but when you look at a biography, winning a Grammy may be far, far more important to the musician's history than the university she attended or the town he was born in or the exact year of her birth.

This fact is not specific to biographies. It is more important to get readers of Golden-crowned sparrow to the category for the genus Zonotrichia than to send them off to look at "Animals described in 1789". It is more important for Jeep to link to its eponymous category or to Category:Off-road vehicles than to link to "Auburn Hills, Michigan". WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:49, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

  • @WhatamIdoing: You say 1 "Someone (Izak, probably) said something above about it making sense to alphabetize the categories in an article, because articles are alphabetized on the cat pages. This is not logical. Not everything is reciprocal." What is not logical about that? Not only are ALL categories organized alphabetically internally, but WP even provides the template {{DEFAULTSORT}} to make sure and ensure it happens! 2 "The fact that the telephone company has assigned me an account number does not mean that I need to assign them an account number." Wrong analogy and comparison. No one is assigning anyone anything if we stick to the alphabet which is the most common denominator for organization by anyone. It is those who are assigning "themes" and "semantics" to category names who are changing the established rules assumed by most people and are deciding to assign "order" in an esoteric away that is based on the way they prefer. 3 "The fact that Category:X alphabetizes pages in Category:X does not mean that all pages need to alphabetize the categories on them." Why not? Now that would be very logical! 4 "Furthermore, it is not sensible. For some pages, it is clear to any reader that some categories are very important, and that others are relatively unimportant. Nobel Prize winners and US Presidents ought to have those categories listed prominently. People born in the same town or on the same date? It's just not that important. Someone might want to find that category, but 99% of readers just won't care." The problem is what if you have ten "important" categories, who gets to decide which comes first? or second? or third? etc, it is a recipe that invites WP:BATTLEGROUND& WP:WAR reactions. Someone from Ohio will feel that coming from that state is more important than being a congressman etc. 5 "Any category's importance to an article's subject can cover a wide range, from extremely important to barely relevant, but most pages listed in a category are going to have approximately the same relevance as the other pages in the category. The contents of "Grammy Award-winning artists" are approximately all equal to each others, but when you look at a biography, winning a Grammy may be far, far more important to the musician's history than the university she attended or the town he was born in or the exact year of her birth." Again, who is going to decide all this? Since every user and reader may have a different set of values and criteria for what they deem to be important. 6 "This fact is not specific to biographies. It is more important to get readers of Golden-crowned sparrow to the category for the genus Zonotrichia than to send them off to look at "Animals described in 1789". It is more important for Jeep to link to its eponymous category or to Category:Off-road vehicles than to link to "Auburn Hills, Michigan"." While this sounds nice, and I can agree with ONE eponymous article having its mirror-image named category being at the top of a list of categories as many articles with fully alphabetized categories in fact do it, with main article=main category, just as every category with a basically eponymous matching article has a {{main}} template at the top to link that category with its main article. But categories are NOT like articles, they do NOT require "WP:LEDES" to be useful. On the contrary, different human beings value different things and would obviously prefer to have what they value get top billing over others' preferences. And that is precisely what happens when grouping categories by "theme" which is essentially what almost all users avoid if you look across the length and breadth of Wikipedia's millions of articles. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 09:40, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
What is not logical about that?
As explained repeatedly, it ignores real-life usage. Readers often view categories to find articles whose inclusion they anticipate, so alphabetization (with some tweaking to account for titular deviations) is helpful. The likelihood of someone seeking Frank Nabarro at Category:People educated at Nottingham High School far exceeds the likelihood of someone seeking Category:People educated at Nottingham High School at Frank Nabarro.
The problem is what if you have ten "important" categories, who gets to decide which comes first? or second? or third?
The article's editors. You know, like a wiki.
it is a recipe that invites WP:BATTLEGROUND& WP:WAR reactions.
Can you cite actual examples of this occurring, or do you still maintain that uniform alphabetization of categories is used at Wikipedia "almost universally"?
Someone from Ohio will feel that coming from that state is more important than being a congressman etc.
You give Wikipedia's editors very little credit. —David Levy 18:45, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

Articles may be alphabetically sorted in categories by default, but it's simple enough to override this. Don't give us an edit-warring bot that thinks Category:Roads in X County, Y state is more important than Category:State highways in Y state. --NE2 09:57, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

  • @NE2: Thanks for your comments, but they appear to be self-contradictory, while you say that "Articles may be alphabetically sorted in categories by default, but it's simple enough to override this." Okay that's great since a BOT would be perfect for this task! but you also say that "Don't give us an edit-warring bot that thinks Category:Roads in X County, Y state is more important than Category:State highways in Y state." (You know you just made those fake categs up for this argument.) That just does not have to be so! Most cases are not like this, as can be proven by the majority of Wikipedians' attempts to organize all categories alphabetically, albeit imperfectly in many instances. For example everyone accepts alphabetizing in books that have both a Back-of-the-book index and a bibliography, it's also the way any dictionary and encyclopedia is organized in alphabetic order! Take a tour for yourself all over WP and see for yourself. A BOT would not create any issues of "edit warring" whatsoever. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 10:54, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
    • A bot would certainly edit war with someone who tries to revert it. I've seen it happen before. PS: no, I didn't make up the categories. Peep and weep. --NE2 23:12, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
      • @NE2: Please see the updated #Compromise proposal section below by User Paradoctor (talk · contribs) where we have made quantum leaps of progress and have arrived at a workable solution and hence hopefully agreement that will benefit Wikipedia and all its editors, users and readers, and will supply us with the kind of workable functions we wish to see in categories. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 09:15, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Collation: alphabetical order & numerical order[edit]

IZAK's position more in depth:

Main articles: Alphabetical order and Collation

"Alphabetical order is the basis for many systems of collation where items of information are identified by strings consisting principally of letters from an alphabet. The ordering of the strings relies on the existence of a standard ordering for the letters of the alphabet in question.

To decide which of two strings comes first in alphabetical order, initially their first letters are compared. The string whose first letter appears earlier in the alphabet comes first in alphabetical order. If the first letters are the same, then the second letters are compared, and so on, until the order is decided. (If one string runs out of letters to compare, then it is deemed to come first; for example, "cart" comes before "carthorse".) The result of arranging a set of strings in alphabetical order is that words with the same first letter are grouped together, and within such a group words with the same first two letters are grouped together and so on.

Collation is the assembly of written information into a standard order. Many systems of collation are based on numerical order or alphabetical order, or extensions and combinations thereof. Collation is a fundamental element of most office filing systems, library catalogs and reference books.

Collation differs from classification in that classification is concerned with arranging information into logical categories, while collation is concerned with the ordering of items of information, usually based on the form of their identifiers. Formally speaking, a collation method typically defines a total order on a set of possible identifiers, called sort keys, which consequently produces a total preorder on the set of items of information (items with the same identifier are not placed in any defined order).

The main advantage of collation is that it makes it fast and easy for a user to find an element in the list, or to confirm that it is absent from the list. In automatic systems this can be done using a binary search algorithm or interpolation search; manual searching may be performed using a roughly similar procedure, though this will often be done unconsciously. Other advantages are that one can easily find the first or last elements on the list (most likely to be useful in the case of numerically sorted data), or elements in a given range (useful again in the case of numerical data, and also with alphabetically ordered data when one may be sure of only the first few letters of the sought item or items).

Numerical and chronological order

Strings representing numbers may be sorted based on the values of the numbers that they represent...A similar approach may be taken with strings representing dates or other items that can be ordered chronologically or in some other natural fashion.

Automated collation

When information is stored in digital systems, collation may become an automated process. It is then necessary to implement an appropriate collation algorithm that allows the information to be sorted in a satisfactory manner for the application in question. Often the aim will be to achieve an alphabetical or numerical ordering that follows the standard criteria as described in the preceding sections. However, not all of these criteria are easy to automate.

The simplest kind of automated collation is based on the numerical codes of the symbols in a character set, such as ASCII coding (or any of its supersets such as Unicode), with the symbols being ordered in increasing numerical order of their codes, and this ordering being extended to strings in accordance with the basic principles of alphabetical ordering (mathematically speaking, lexicographical ordering). So a computer program might treat the characters a, b, C, d and $ as being ordered $, C, a, b, d (the corresponding ASCII codes are $ = 36, a = 97, b = 98, C = 67, and d = 100). Therefore strings beginning with C (or any other capital letter) would be sorted before strings with lower-case a, b, etc. This is sometimes called ASCIIbetical order.

...It is therefore often applied with certain refinements, the most obvious being the conversion of capitals to lowercase before comparing ASCII values."

Thank you, IZAK (talk) 11:19, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

You forgot to discuss the advantages of trees, which is what grouping amounts to. Face-wink.svg More to the point, this made me realize that this "sorting vs. grouping" is a battle between apples and oranges. Sorting is good when you already know the name of what you are looking for. Grouping is better at finding articles by thematical relation, or simply finding out the name of the category you want, and we can put more useful categories first. See below for more. Paradoctor (talk) 14:52, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
Well said, and with far less text than the OP. postdlf (talk) 15:59, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @Paradoctor: Wow, thanks, I really think you are on to something here. Personally I have always found {{Category tree}} & {{Category tree all}} (click on those to see how they work alphabetically!) highly useful and I have even deployed the former on Category pages from time to time. Let's keep thinking, and working, and solving along these lines. I like it! IZAK (talk) 18:29, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

Compromise proposal[edit]

Discussing this proposal, I realized that pretty much all of the debate rests on the assumption that this is an either/or situation. Which does not seem to be the case. It should not be too hard to whip up a couple of templates and/or an ECMAScript gadget that provides the ability to switch between sorted and grouped display, and to set one's preferences. One can set defaults Wikipedia-wide, for individual articles, and for articles in this or that category. So, yes, we can have our cake and eat it. This would it also make that much easier to offer more display options for categories, like inline vs. vertical list vs. sectioned list vs. grid. Are there any reasons we should not do that? Paradoctor (talk) 14:52, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

Sounds good, if it can be easily done. — Cheers, JackLee talk 16:09, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
Or to put it another way, toggling between alphabetical sorting and sorting by the editor-determined order the tags appear in the article markup. I don't see a problem with that, except to the extent it would be a waste of time to implement given (as has been explained ad nauseum above) how little value alphabetization of categories contributes. postdlf (talk) 16:31, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
"Easily" is of course subjective, but I see no blocking concerns. The actual functionality is simple HTML+CSS+ECMAScript stuff, no worries here. Most of the work would be finding out how to integrate it into the surrounding software ecotope, and addressing compatibility and usability issues. Lots of hair, but no Gordian hairball, if you get my drift. Much less complex than HotCat, and I know where to find the source for that. Face-wink.svg
"waste of time" Compared to the amount of time already spent discussing this, implementing the sort functionality part will be insignificant, I assure you. Face-grin.svg Paradoctor (talk) 16:51, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
What does "sorted" mean? What does "grouped" mean? Bus stop (talk) 16:49, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
I don't understand your question. Surely you know the meaning of "sorted" and "grouped"? Examples of sorted and grouped lists have already been provided above, did you overlook them? Paradoctor (talk) 16:53, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
Paradoctor—you refer to "sorted", but "sorted" is meaningless. "Sorted" is no more meaningful than "arbitrary". Can we please discuss "Categories"? What are they? Categories are boxes that contain factors that articles have in common. That is all that they are. Categories do not say something about the topic of an article at which they are found, except of course that a factor found at this article is also found at the other articles contained in that Category-box. Rearranging these boxes is like rearranging the deck chairs on the sinking Titanic in that doing so is pointless. Nothing can be accomplished by a so-called "thematic" arrangement of Categories. The "theme" is the commonality of articles vis-a-vis a given factor. A reader uses Categories as they see fit, and there are as many uses for Categories as there are readers. We are not in the business of spoon-feeding pseudo-information to readers. You are not at liberty to extract "themes" as you see fit. We provide information. We don't provide guidance on what to do with that information. Consider for a moment our article on Adolf Hitler. There are many Categories at the bottom of that article. The only one that deserves primacy is the Category:Adolf Hitler. The importance of all other Categories are determined by what a given reader is looking for. We don't determine a reader's interests. We should not suggest to a reader what they should be interested in. That is why "thematic sorting" is fundamentally wrong. As an encyclopedia we do not ever direct a reader's interests. We only supply the readers with good quality information. To the greatest extent possible we are unbiased. You are arguing to re-add bias back into the article. A researcher interested in Category:20th-century Austrian painters does not necessarily have to have it suggested to them that they really should be interested in Category:Holocaust perpetrators. This is where we should be taking a hands-off approach. We are suppliers of information to be used in any way a reader sees fit. Bus stop (talk) 16:55, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
"we do not ever direct a reader's interests" Nobody is suggesting we do that. What we're looking to do is facilitate finding what the reader is interested in. Since different readers have different interests, we have to compromise. Arranging categories in some fashion is a tool to improve upon random placement. Which arrangement is best is determined by how much effort the readers have to spend to find what they're interested in. Category:Holocaust perpetrators has about four times as much traffic as Category:20th-century Austrian painters, which makes a clear case for putting the former before the latter on the unavoidable search path. Depending on the situation, a well-constructed presentation can greatly reduce the time spent on looking up things. See optimum binary search tree for more information.
"That is why "thematic sorting" is fundamentally wrong." If you want to propose forbidding it, please make a proposal of your own. In this section, this is off-topic. I only want to know whether there is something that speaks against implementing my proposal. To the best of my knowledge, it is fully compliant with current policy, so discussion is expected to mostly revolve around practical issues. Paradoctor (talk) 18:05, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @Paradoctor: Mostly (very mostly) agree, just please try to explain a bit more to us non-technical folks what you are saying so we can be absolutely sure. Thanks. I assume by "sorted display" you presumably mean "alphabetical display" of categories (either horizontal or vertical, although I think that vertical [up-down] individuates each category and makes it easier on the eye to spot and read and comprehend) as happens when clicking on either of {{Category tree}} & {{Category tree all}}) -- but while one can see the ease of creating a mechanism that will facilitate an option to sort categories alphabetically (which contrary to assertion @Postdlf: It has a LOT of value!), the question remains though how to set up criteria for "groupings" within that would be universally applicable to any and all categories, and who determines how to create such "groupings" by theme of "meaning/semantics" given the huge range of options and variances between so many fields and topics? But hey, at this rate you are about to earn some serious awards given the amazing quantum leaps you are helping us out with here! Over-all this is the kind of progress I was in search of that is really at bottom an attempt to plug a big hole in the way categories are working, or more accurately are being neglected and not working, compared to so many other features on WP that have been upgraded and streamlined over the years. So, THANKS SO MUCH! Love ya, IZAK (talk) 18:48, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

"please try to explain a bit more" By all means, if my rambling becomes incoherent again, sling as much fish as you consider adequate.
""sorted display" you presumably mean "alphabetical display"" Yes, though it is a snap to add more sort criteria.
"how to set up criteria for "groupings" within that would be universally applicable" That's the beauty of it: We don't need to decide. What makes you think there can be such universal criteria, anyway? Presumably, categories on Category:living people articles would be grouped differently from, say, categories on Category:cities articles. If the set of categories on an article is sufficiently large, I can easily imagine that it could be sensibly grouped in three different ways. Which is not a problem. We just offer them all to the reader.
Arranging categories is to a great a degree uncharted area, so I think WP:CATDEF's refusal to proscribe an arrangement makes sense. I expect to people will experiment, and feedback will determine which arrangements work and which ones will fade into edit history.
"THANKS SO MUCH" You can show me your gratitude later, in my private chambers. Face-tongue.svg Paradoctor (talk) 19:36, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
@Paradoctor: Thanks again! I do not see people objecting, so would it be possible for you to start the process so that we can see the solution in action? I am really looking forward! Sincerely, IZAK (talk) 08:51, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
@IZAK: I have already begun. With a little luck, I have something to play with by Monday evening. Paradoctor (talk) 13:49, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
  • On the fence I like the idea so long as the default is Wikipedia's sorting. The reason I am on the fence is that I see potential performance issues and technical conflicts which would sway my view on the subject. I'd be open to seeing a test script/template/etc but would request a re-vote before it's implemented widely. Finding edge cases/unusual categories would be a good place to start to ensure proper development. JMJimmy (talk) 09:28, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
"default is Wikipedia's sorting" Absolutely.
"potential performance issues and technical conflicts" I can't imagine there could be dealbreakers, but would appreciate it if you could point out specific issues.
"before it's implemented widely" Face-grin.svg It's going to start life as a user script, and I aim for producing an opt-in gadget. If it turns out popular enough, it would make sense to merge it with HotCat, but that is something that can be discussed if and when the issue arises.
"edge cases/unusual categories" I'm not sure that is relevant. The script would not analyze the categories, it simply pulls grouping and sorting information from the the article, and then displays the categories the way the user want to see them. Paradoctor (talk) 13:54, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
It's not clear that it will be 100% scripted, there's mention of templating which, due to the nature of categories in the code/db the wrong kind of template could put significant stain on resources. If pulling category data (like number of visits) every time the page loads/is refreshed/etc could cause a fair amount of extra traffic to deal with (again, depends on how lean the code is or if this is within the scope of what you're talking about). On the scripting end, the DOM navigation/manipulation might be problematic due to the HTML for categories, it may be too much processing/re-rendering on larger pages and/or a large number of categories. Fringe categories like "¡All-Time Quarterback! compilation albums" "Æon Flux" come to mind (both break in UTF-8 and JSON encode/decode) - not really sure what your idea is from a technical standpoint so it's hard to judge what exactly to look at. These are just some of the things that immediately came to mind reading the brief description at the start of this section. JMJimmy (talk) 16:28, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
"templating" The templates to be used here merely format descriptions of category arrangements, nothing complicated. And WP:PERFORMANCE is generally not much of an objection, there is always a way of doing it that doesn't precipitate our Downfall.
"pulling category data" Doing that on each page load might be a problem. But let's not cross that bridge before it's built. Right now, I'm not aware that any algorithm even exists that would produce useful results, so there is no need to worry about implementation.
"DOM navigation/manipulation" We're talking about milliseconds here, don't worry. Besides, that is something I would notice long before it gets released.
"break in UTF-8 and JSON" Huh? Javascript can handle UTF-8 just fine, and JSON is not even involved here. Collation may introduce some hair, but that can be handled.
If you have further technical concerns, I suggest we continue discussion at User talk:Paradoctor/CatVisor. Here, I'm interested in possible problems with policy I'm not aware of, and objections for other reasons, these are the unknown unknowns that tend to blindside you. Face-wink.svg Paradoctor (talk) 01:49, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
As I say, it's hard to know without a full description. Wiki may have people who deal with performance but that doesn't mean they get it right all the time. By example I just tested the United States page and it took 26.72 seconds to trigger the onload event. I refreshed, getting 1.3mb of 1.4 mb from cache, it still took 11.21 seconds to trigger onload. Adding on DOM manipulation/traversal to a document with over 2000 nodes and the re-renders that come with that manipulation... it could get very heavy very fast on the users side given the existing slowness. It's not clear whether you'll be pulling additional data or not (for sorting by popularity, or parent categories, etc) JMJimmy (talk) 11:01, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
"tested the United States" You make me giggle. My old, well-worn laptop did it in ~10 seconds, 8.5 for reload, and my connection is rather pedestrian by today's standards. You need to upgrade, my friend. Face-grin.svg
Really, this is all WP:CRYSTALBALL stuff. Should permance issues arise, they will experience extreme prejudice, rest assured. Paradoctor (talk) 17:56, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
@Paradoctor:, @JMJimmy: The error that both of you are making is opting for the default being Wikipedia's sorting. This should not be the default. In fact this should not even be permitted. Editors should not be tinkering with the order in which Categories appear at the bottom of an article. The only exception to this, is in the case in which there is a Category with the exact name as the article. Thus at the article Adolf Hitler, the Category Adolf Hitler should appear at the top of the list of Categories. But that is where we run out of reasons for tinkering, on an article-by-article basis, with the order in which Categories appear at the bottom of an article. We are not, or should not be, directing the consumption of knowledge. This is solely the province of the reader. Categories are navigational tools. "Categories allow readers to navigate through Wikipedia and find related articles." The reader needs only to know the system(s) that we use at Wikipedia for determining the order in which Categories appear. More than one system, or "view", can be available to the reader, though I personally don't see the importance of this. The system(s) should be automatic and consistent project-wide. A simple sentence above the Category collection can inform the reader as to the system(s) in place. Alphabetical order is just one such system. Another system would order Categories by the amount of traffic they receive. This would be more complicated to implement but I think it should be perfectly acceptable to all. If two systems are used, a reader should be able to toggle between them, or somehow set a default for one or the other. This should be mindless. Essentially, once this is set up, there should be no more editorial reordering of Categories on an article-by-article basis. Bus stop (talk) 12:04, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
@Bus stop: Adding options that have no effect unless the user wants it to have an effect is never a bad thing. It's also not going to be added wiki wide just cause one or two of us want or don't want it. It won't go into wide spread use unless there's significant acceptance of it. Besides, some of it already exists like the CategoryTree extension. Also, the page you link... did you know there are 17 hidden categories already being influenced? It's also very rare for categories to be sorted in any meaningful way, it's usually just first come first serve. JMJimmy (talk) 14:22, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
@JMJimmy: There is no preferred order for Categories. The correct order in which Categories should be presented is the order which follows a rule which the reader understands. Notice the amount of explanation that is accompanying the "thematic" ordering of the Categories for Stephen Hawking on this page. @Dodger67: notes (on this page) "I added small text annotation to identify the theme of each group." Please look at those "small text annotation[s]":
  1. "BLP and EGRS categories"
  2. "Occupational categories (the stuff he is notable for)"
  3. "Alma mater catégories"
  4. "Career categories"
  5. "Professional memberships categories"
  6. "Professional awards and honours categories"
  7. "Civil honours categories"
It takes too much thinking for a reader to quickly grasp how the "Stephen Hawking" Categories are organized. The reader presumably has in mind their own inchoate "themes". I think that editorially presented "themes" would be only an encumbrance. Categories should be organized by a simple scheme, such as alphabetization, that applies project-wide. This can easily be conveyed to a reader in a short sentence above every collection of Categories. The identical sentence should be found at every article, explaining to the reader the scheme governing the order of presentation of Categories. I think that alphabetization is by far the easiest to implement and the easiest to understand. Bus stop (talk) 08:42, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
@Bus stop: consensus disagreed with you. JMJimmy (talk) 16:06, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
@Pong: "sorting. This should not be the default" Just for the hell of it: How do we not order the categories when displaying them? Even arranging them in a circle around the article involves an ordering. Tell me what you think should be done, and I'll add it to CatVisor. Paradoctor (talk) 18:08, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

@Paradoctor:—you bring up an ordering scheme that is just as acceptable as alphabetization. I find it perfectly acceptable but I doubt that a computer program, bot, Javascript, or any other means could result in an ordering of Categories by the amount of traffic received. This is the problem. You say: "Arranging categories in some fashion is a tool to improve upon random placement. Which arrangement is best is determined by how much effort the readers have to spend to find what they're interested in. Category:Holocaust perpetrators has about four times as much traffic as Category:20th-century Austrian painters, which makes a clear case for putting the former before the latter on the unavoidable search path." The idea of ordering Categories by the amount of traffic they receive is a great idea. But I don't think you are suggesting that. Nor do I think that is practicable. Nor do I think that is warranted given the enormous difficulty in writing a program to accomplish that. But if it were possible, I would enthusiastically support this scheme. I couldn't even write a program to order Categories alphabetically. But I think that writing a program to order Categories according to the amount of traffic they receive, from greatest traffic to least traffic, would be much more difficult. But again I don't think you are suggesting that Categories be automatically sorted by some sort of computer program according to the amount of traffic received. I am not dedicated to alphabetization as the only acceptable, computer-determined, automatic system for arranging the Categories at the bottom of an article. But I am opposed to editorial tinkering in what is supposed to be a navigation device, in place solely for the reader's use. We, as editors, can make our job much easier if we leave the ordering of Categories to some sort of program. And we would be making our product much more consistent if it were free from article-by-article tinkering by editors in what some are defending as "thematic ordering". All articles should be following the same ordering scheme project-wide as pertains to Categories, and this should happen automatically. The reader should simply be apprised in a brief but explicit sentence near the listing of Categories as to the system we are using for ordering Categories. Bus stop (talk) 12:35, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

There are already external tools that do that sort of thing, not that exact thing, but computationally similar. It's not as complicated as you think here's an example from a page you recently edited: grabs the data and parses/computes/graphs/etc in seconds. This is the type of thing that is theoretically possible, it's just a matter of how lean you can make it to have as little impact on the server as possible (esp important for this issue due to virtually every page having a category) JMJimmy (talk) 12:57, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
"ordering scheme" This is off-topic in this section. CatVisor is about offering options. The decision which one to use is left to the user. Even editors don't really need to argue about that. If some editors think ordering A is the shit, they can put the corresponding order template on the article, and the ordering appears among the available display options for the user. If some other editors think A is the pits, while B will usher in a golden age, they can do exactly the same for B. No need to get into each other's hair.
"reader should simply be apprised in a brief but explicit sentence" Added to the feature list. Paradoctor (talk) 14:10, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
  • I support this gadget idea. It allows alphabetical viewing while continuing the use of a rough category relevancy hierarchy on articles (as I do currently). If I've understood Bus stop's idea correctly, this presupposes that it is possible to have an automatic sorting, with every category having a hierarchical value in relation to every other category in the system. If Stephen Wolfram can't get close to this kind of programmatic relational knowledge system, then a laymen's volunteer network like Wikipedia will surely flouder! Ordering by traffic on the other hand would actually be trivial, though fundamentally flawed as a popular category may be of high relevance to one subject, but a minor aspect of another. Programs will never stop "editor tinkering", at best they can only amplify certain editor's tinkerings over other's preferences. SFB 13:01, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
@JMJimmy:—can you please explain explicitly what you mean by "I like the idea so long as the default is Wikipedia's sorting"?[4] Thanks. Bus stop (talk) 14:55, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Default (computer science) HTH Paradoctor (talk) 15:23, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Hi @Paradoctor: I'm not surprised by the way in which "default" is used in computer science, but thanks for that link. I didn't know it had a technical usage. But what I was really looking for was an explanation of "Wikipedia's sorting". Bus stop (talk) 15:41, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
@Bus stop: I mean that the average user, taking no action, will not see any change from the current norm. Sorting will only take place if the user specifically requests it (applies chosen sorting one time) or sets a new default (applies chosen sorting all the time) JMJimmy (talk) 15:38, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
@JMJimmy: Can you please describe "the current norm" in your own words? I wasn't aware until about 96 hours ago that there was any system in place governing the order in which Categories are arrayed in the box at the bottom of all articles. I simply never thought about it. I don't know how many other editors gave it any thought. Bus stop (talk) 15:52, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
@Bus stop: The current norm is that the first category listed (top to bottom) when editing is the first category to appear (left to right) JMJimmy (talk) 16:28, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

I just want to make sure I understand how CatVisor works... It makes it possible for individual users to choose how they want the cats to appear on their computer screens. If user X wants to see the cats at the bottom of pages in alphabetical order, he can click on a button and see them in alphabetical order... meanwhile... and at the same time... if user Y wants to see them in (say) grouped order, she simply clicks a different button and sees them in that grouped order. What X sees has no connection to what Y sees. Yes? (If so... I heartily support). Blueboar (talk) 11:35, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

@Blueboar: You refer to a "grouped order". I actually have not seen this. Can you point me to an article at which we find a "grouped order"? Bus stop (talk) 12:08, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Sure... look at how the cats are listed at our Stephen Hawking article (to understand the groups, see Dodger's breakdown above... it's in the box marked: "Here are the categories of the Stephen Hawking article in thematic groups"). If I correctly understand how CatVisor is supposed to work, Editor X could choose to see these rearranged in alphabetical order, but Editor Y could choose see them in the current grouped order. And Editor Z might choose to see them in some other order entirely. The order that X sees on his computer screen will be different from the order that Y or Z sees. Yes? Blueboar (talk) 12:43, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
@Blueboar: Grouping Categories "thematically" is treating Categories as information. Categories are not information. Categories are navigational tools to be used by a reader. The way in which we empower a reader to use Categories is to tell them how Wikipedia project-wide orders its Categories. We accomplish that very easily with a sentence in the box in which the Categories appear. No reader should be burdened by article-by-article "thematic" ordering of Categories, however well-meaning an editor's efforts are in this regard. Wikipedia should have a consistent product as concerns the way in which it orders its Categories. This can be alphabetic. This can employ other schemes. A good one that has been suggested relies on the amount of traffic a Category receives, with the most trafficked Categories appearing first. It is possible that other schemes can be arrived at. This is not a big deal. Alphabetic ordering is simple to implement. A reader interested in a topic can easily peruse 30 or 40 or 50 Categories. One way to make this easier is to simply arrange Categories in vertical columns. There is a limitation as to how easy we can make truly creative encyclopedia use. No matter what we do, the reader has to expend the energy to read the Category names. The reader must be pursuing an area of inquiry about which they are truly motivated. Our editors should write the articles. The articles should contain good quality information and they should be written well. Our computer software should take care of arranging the order of the Categories. Bus stop (talk) 23:55, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
@Blueboar: "What X sees has no connection to what Y sees. Yes?" Yes, that's exactly right. Opt-in separation of concerns, I don't think it can be made more unobtrusive without violating Noether's theorem. Face-wink.svg Paradoctor (talk) 18:28, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Then I heartily approve. If the writing editors reach a consensus to order the cats thematically, but a reading editor wants to view them alphabetically... they can. Everybody wins. Not sure if it would work going the other way (where the writers have ordered alphabetically, but the reader wants to view it thematically... how would a bot know what themes apply?)... but that isn't a major concern. Blueboar (talk) 12:06, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
@Blueboar: "Not sure if it would work going the other way" Not a problem. Editors can use a template which is invisible to the reader, but contains data that the script can use to construct various views of the page's category set. This makes the ordering that is used in the wikisource completely irrelevant to CatVisor users. Paradoctor (talk) 17:33, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
@Blueboar: What is a "reading editor"? Some people don't "edit" Wikipedia. For the purposes of this discussion, can't we speak of "editors" and "readers"? You say "If the writing editors reach a consensus to order the cats thematically, but a reading editor wants to view them alphabetically... they can." I am concerned with those readers who do not edit Wikipedia. I am concerned that they understand how Categories are ordered on Wikipedia in general and/or at the article they are reading at that moment. I am concerned with a hypothetical person who is using the Internet and who lands at a Wikipedia article. What assumptions can they have about how Categories are ordered and how can they receive their understandings of how Categories are ordered? Bus stop (talk) 13:22, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Sorry... I meant readers ... some readers will find an alphabetical order helpful in navigating to cats... others will find a thematic order helpful in navigating to cats (I know I certainly do). CatVisor would give each reader the choice of viewing the cats in whichever order he/she thinks is most helpful to him/her. I am completely in favor of giving both readers and writers choices, and letting them decide what they think is best for themselves. Blueboar (talk) 13:35, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
@Blueboar: You say "others will find a thematic order helpful in navigating to cats (I know I certainly do)." Can you give me another example of an article which displays this "thematic order" concerning Categories? (You have already mentioned the Stephen Hawking article.) Bus stop (talk) 13:53, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Sure... as it happens, a few days ago this discussion inspired me to put the cats at the Dean Martin article into a rough thematic order. FYI... The themes are: 1- a few general bio cats, 2- Cats relating to causes of death, 2 - Cats relating to singers and musicians, 3- Cats relating to actors, 4 - other Cats that didn't fit into any of the previous themes. I think it makes sense to lump cats related to singers together, cats related to actors together, and cats related to cause of death together. This way readers who came to the Martin article because they are interested in his singing career (for example), and now want to navigate to other singer related articles will find a bunch of singer related cats, helpfully place all in a row at the bottom of the page. Blueboar (talk) 14:34, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
@Blueboar: Categories are navigational tools. Why should the reader have to know about any "themes" that you feel that you have detected in navigational tools? Are you going to communicate to the reader the "themes" which you feel apply to the collection of Categories found at this article? You write that "The themes are: 1- a few general bio cats, 2- Cats relating to causes of death, 2 - Cats relating to singers and musicians, 3- Cats relating to actors, 4 - other Cats that didn't fit into any of the previous themes." Is the reader apprised of this, or is this tinkering with the order of Categories supposed to take place unbeknownst to the reader? Bus stop (talk) 14:57, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
The reader doesn't really need to know what the specific themes are ... a reader will never the less find it helpful to find cats that relate to similar topics listed together. Lets say I am reading the Dean Martin article because I am interested in actors... At some point I might want to navigate to other articles on other actors... finding all the listed cats that relate to actors and acting lumped together allows me to start my navigation easily. I don't have to search through a bunch of cats that don't relate to actors and acting (and thus don't interest me) to find the cats I am interested in exploring Furthermore, lumping all the actor related cats together makes it less likely that I will inadvertantly skip over the one that might interest me the most). The key here is that the cats are not thematically ordered to give information about the subject... they are thematically ordered to make navigation to categories easier, by listing similar categories next to each other. Blueboar (talk) 15:30, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
@Blueboar: You say "how would a bot know what themes apply" - CatVisor won't be a bot. It's a script, activated on demand by the reader to reorganise the display of the list of cats. It won't edit the actual page source. This means that other readers will be unaffected by your preferred display order and layout. --Redrose64 (talk) 15:46, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
@Blueboar: You are making presuppositions. You are saying "Lets say I am reading the Dean Martin article because I am interested in actors". In fact you do not know why the reader is "reading the Dean Martin article". Furthermore the reader is not told of your "thematic" analysis in your proposal for Category ordering. You are saying "The reader doesn't really need to know...". Alphabetization by contrast is an organizational scheme that is easily communicated to everyone and therefore "transparent". From Wikipedia: "Transparency is operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed." I'd say we should not be tinkering with the ordering of the navigational tools without informing the reader about this. Bus stop (talk) 15:52, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
It doesn't matter what the reader is interested in... the fact that similar cats are lumped together will aid navigation, no matter what the reader is looking for.
OK... let's run a simple experiment... I just thematically ordered the cats on the John F. Kennedy article. This time, I am not going to tell people what the themes are ahead of time (I think you will figure it out). Read the article without looking at the cats first (as a reader would do), and then pick something (anything) that sparked your interest. Now try to find the categories that relate to that interest. Then revert my edit back to an alphabetical listing... pick something else that sparked your interest and try to find the related cats. Which was easier? Which helped you to navigate to the cats that interested you?Blueboar (talk) 16:50, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Go to the John F. Kennedy article, start reading it, and when you find something that sparks your interest try to find all the cats that relate to that interest. Not easy, right? Now... go to this version of the article (which I have self-reverted), and try to find all the cats that relate to your interest. Which version was easier to navigate? Blueboar (talk) 17:01, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
@Blueboar: A reader is not allowed any insight into your reasoning concerning thematization. I favor preventing any editorial input into the ordering of Categories beyond setting up the software to do that. This is an area of the project that should be carried out by the software of the project. The governing principle of the organization and ordering of Categories should be consistent across the project and should be clearly and simply communicated to the reader. The most obvious governing principle is alphabetization. But other possibilities exist. Most importantly we should move away from article-by-article tinkering. There is no transparency in this. The reader should understand whatever scheme is in place governing the ordering of Categories. Bus stop (talk) 17:15, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
There doesn't need to be transparency because the default is wiki's style. It's not changing the ordering in the article, it's changing the display to the individual user preference. The ordering remains intact otherwise. Anyone can currently do this type of modification on ANY webpage anywhere on the internet with a simple Greasemonkey script - you're really discussing a problem that doesn't exist. JMJimmy (talk) 17:39, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
@JMJimmy: What is "wiki's style"? Wouldn't "wiki's style" include "thematic ordering" of Categories? Bus stop (talk) 17:47, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
@Bus stop:No, at least not that I'm aware of, it only includes consensus ordering. I can think of no policies or guidelines for the ordering of categories within an article. JMJimmy (talk) 17:54, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
@JMJimmy: As you said up above on this page "It's also very rare for categories to be sorted in any meaningful way, it's usually just first come first serve."[5] This is the problem in a nutshell. Categories are either arrayed without rhyme or reason, or they are arrayed in what an editor might genuinely believe is a thematic order. Why not tell the reader the governing principle behind ordering Categories (for instance alphabetization) and have software automatically order Categories that way? This could be done project-wide. And this could easily be communicated to every reader with no ambiguity. Bus stop (talk) 18:10, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
@Bus stop: Yes, I want the consensus method to be the default, what do I care if someone wants to override that local to their settings only (just like adding an extension or greasemonkey script or any of the settings already in "preferences". Initially the talk was about creating a bot to change it globally, that I opposed, this has no effect on your typical user or anyone not logged in so it's of no impact. My only remaining concerns are performance and are rather minimal. JMJimmy (talk) 18:58, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
WP:CATDEF "The order in which categories are placed on a page is not governed by any single rule" Paradoctor (talk) 17:59, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
This means that there is community-wide consensus that no single rule has global consensus, so category order is determined by local consensus. Paradoctor (talk) 18:05, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
@Bus stop: I asked you before, how can we not order the categories? What you fail to realize is that alphasorting introduces its own bias, and is guaranteed to make navigation harder than other arrangements. Also, you are in error if you believe that alphabetical order is the simplest. Besides being biased towards languages with (more or less) phonetical alphabets, it requires more from the mental effart from the reader than a random order. Even sorting by length would be preferable by your criteria.
Lastly, but not leastly, what has this to do with CatSort? Please let me remind you that the purpose of this subsection is to find possible objections against CatSort that I may have overlooked. There don't seem to be any, so this section has served its purpose.
If you wish to change policy with respect to category order, the appropriate approach would be to start your own proposal. As a counterargument to IZAK's proposal it has become moot, and it is irrelevant to CatVisor. Paradoctor (talk) 17:59, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


The kid has a name now. Discussion of the tool, rather than the pros and cons of various sorting and grouping schemes can be done at User talk:Paradoctor/CatVisor. Paradoctor (talk) 13:44, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

  • @Paradoctor: Amazing! Welcome to the aptly and brilliantly named CatVisor. And a hearty and genuine Mazel Tov! on the "new arrival" may it and your efforts in this regard be blessed from up on High and grow up to be strong and wise and helpful and a source of only pride and joy and genuine usefulness to Wikipedia and all Wikipedians, users, editors and readers of this great online encyclopedia! Thanks a million! IZAK (talk) 23:44, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
If this project should falter, it won't be for lack of good wishes. Face-grin.svg I'll try to live up to the Vorschusslorbeeren. Face-wink.svg Paradoctor (talk) 00:07, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
@Jimbo Wales: Welcome to something new to improve the world of WP:CATEGORIES! Please review and direct to the right people at the Wikipedia Foundation who can help out here because User Paradoctor needs all the assistance he can get to bring to perferction and finally complete this complex undertaking that directly improves the usage of Wikipedia, and interface between users and Wikipedia. Thank you so much, IZAK (talk) 03:21, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
Please see my comments below regarding calling in the WMF for a local matter. --Redrose64 (talk) 08:32, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

JQuery workaround[edit]

This jquery snippet can be added to your Special:MyPage/skin.js it will sort the categories alphabetically. Sold as seen, no warranties.

jQuery( document ).ready( function( $ ) {
    var $cats_ul = $('#mw-normal-catlinks ul');
    var $cats_li = $cats_ul.children('li');
    $cats_li.sort(function(a,b) {
        if(a.children[0].textContent > b.children[0].textContent) return 1; // needed for Firefox
        return -1;

(Edited by Paradoctor: Use textContent in sort, available in a browser near you.)

Hope its some use.--Salix alba (talk): 19:17, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

I think it will be, thanks. Added to the CatVisor page. Paradoctor (talk) 23:52, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Update requested[edit]

@Paradoctor:@Salix alba: Thank you both for the amazing productive input. For the rest of us who are not so technically proficient but have full faith in your capabilities, could you please provide a brief update where things stand and how your efforts are progressing? Thanks in advance! I have tried to alert some others via relevant WikiProjects, but I don't know if anyone has contacted you, and if we need to approach specific WP:EXPERTS with request for more help. Best wishes for success! Sincerely, IZAK (talk) 23:11, 14 August 2014 (UTC)

I'm working on it. I just had very little time the past few days, that's all. Right now I'm ironing out an issue with the toggle buttons, so you can expect something usable quite soon. Paradoctor (talk) 23:38, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
@Paradoctor: Yes! I thought I heard those "wheels" humming and grinding away! I had not wanted this long thread to go to waste, so thanks for the update and looking forward. Take your time and be well! Thanks! IZAK (talk) 01:24, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
@IZAK: There you go: CatVisor alpha 0. Paradoctor (talk) 02:29, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
@Paradoctor: Thanks! 1 Now please could you run us through what we are supposed to be looking at and what we are supposed to do or not to do? 2 My understanding is that the "upgraded" features for categories would be "installed" in the "universal" software running on all Wikipedia pages, or what? 3 Does that need special permission from the technical "powers that be"? 4 Pardon my technical ignorance, that is why we need more direct and clear guidance from you as to what is going on! 5 For example, by looking at the main Germany article and its categories, what am I supposed to see or do, since the categories on that page do not seem to be 100% consistently organized by any clear-cut system, mostly alphabetical though manually done over the years, so how and where does your new technical improvement kick in here? Please help us out! Take care and looking forward to your professional guidance. Sincerely, IZAK (talk) 17:04, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
@IZAK: 1,2,5: You need to install the script into your skin. Please read the instructions at User:Paradoctor/CatVisor#alpha 0. If they are unclear, or you need more information, let me know. I've added usage instructions.
3: No
4: I shall endeavour to be as clear as humanly possible. Face-wink.svg Paradoctor (talk) 17:40, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
@Paradoctor: Okay thanks, but please tell me what's going on. 1 I have installed the code as you instructed [6] -- is there anything else I should add, for example "User:IZAK/common.css" and how do I do that? 2 Then looking at the Germany article I see that I now have "CatVisor column row sorted unsorted" reading above the categories, but I when I click on any of them I get some slight "shuffling" but nothing actually happens. For example, when I click on "column" -- no "column" (of the categories) appears of takes place. Why is that? what's supposed to happen? 3 I then manually fixed the categories on the Germany article page [7] placing two latterly added categories in their correct alphabetical positions where they obviously should have been placed, but why couldn't I do that with the new "CatVisor" tool? Or isn't that the purpose of the CatVisor tool? 4 What is the purpose and function of the CatVisor tool? 5 Are you sure that CatVisor works for everyone, or are there differences according to browsers and type of software different users use? Sorry to bother you, but like many others presumably will, I am going through a learning curve here. Thanks in advance for all your help and patience. IZAK (talk) 22:54, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
1: You did it right, nothing more to do.
3,4: What? No, it's the exact opposite. CatVisor (once it is finished) gives you the possibility to arrange the display of categories in any way you fancy, but does not touch the article source. I will include a tool to edit arrangements, and a template will allow editors to offer pre-made arrangements to readers using the tool, but this will not change the order of the categories for non-CatVisor readers, or anything else about the rendered page. I'll update the description. BTW, as mentioned several times in the above discussion, the "slight shuffling" is all the difference you'll get with a handful of categories that are mostly in alphabetical order to start with. Try it on a page with many categories, like Frank Sinatra.
5: No, and I mean NO webpage is displayed the same in all browsers, so there will be differences. Right now, this program at the first stages of being written. What you have is a fragment to play with, not a finished product. The current development goals are described at User:Paradoctor/CatVisor#Planned features.
Everything else: That "column" doesn't work is a bug. Please go to User talk:Paradoctor/CatVisor and a start a new section, and tell me what browser (don't forget the version) on what OS you use, and which skin, if it is not Vector. Paradoctor (talk) 23:25, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
@Paradoctor: Thank you for the follow-up information. 1 I had not realized that we still have a long way to go. My hope and objective is that the final product will be an automatic intrinsic feature built into every page of Wikipedia just as all "general" features are, as basic as one's own user page appearing upon logging in. That would be an ideal goal so that everyone can benefit from the work you are doing. 2 What is the approximate time-frame you are working within? A month or more or alternately how much time will the project take to be complete? I do not mean to impose on you in any way, so please proceed at the pace you are most comfortable with. 3 By the way, are you sure this is a one-man project, wouldn't it be better if more technical-type folks got involved? 4 (& @Jimbo Wales:) How about official help from the paid technical folks at the Wikipedia Foundation who raise money specifically for the purpose of implementing technical improvements that help Wikipedia become a better and more usable and organized online encyclopedia? I am sure we should find a way to approach them sometime soon (started: [8]), because this is for the benefit of everyone at Wikipedia, especially if we want to do this right! Thanks again, IZAK (talk) 03:07, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
1: That would be nice, yes.
2: I wish I knew. One month will clearly not suffice to achieve all I want. The functionality you asked for should be working for you pretty soon, though. You could expedite this quite a bit by providing the information I asked for. You seem to use a browser with incomplete flexbox support, so knowing which one it is would be really useful.
3: "more technical-type folks" Diplomacy is not your strongest suit, it seems. Face-tongue.svg
4: After the crap the WMF just pulled at the German Wikipedia (German), I'm quite certain I don't want the kind of "help" the WMF has to offer. Ras.gif Paradoctor (talk) 19:54, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
@Paradoctor: Thanks again! 1 Please understand that like many users my strengths are in the English language, writing and academic research but I lack the information technology background and abilities of "techies" or "technical types" there is no offense meant by that I assure you! 2 That is why I so much appreciate what you are doing and also why I feel that in order to make sorting categories either alphabetically and/or by topic is something that needs to be installed on all Wikipedia platforms in order to be a feature on all Wikipedia pages something we need the "higher ups" to get involved with in order to bring to reality. 3 I have no idea about the incident/s you mention, as it is impossible to know what goes on in the vast universe/s of Wikipedia in all languages. Yet we have commenced something very positive and for that reason I think it is worth it to request that the top people help out. After all what is WP:CONSENSUS all about if it cannot be applied to improve WP itself. Let's see what can be done! Thanks again, IZAK (talk) 01:23, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
"no offense meant" I know, just razzing you a little. Face-wink.svg
"appreciate what you are doing" Nice to hear that.
"needs to be installed on all Wikipedi" Let's not get ahead of ourselves. We don't even have a beta fit for general release. Give people a chance to try a working version and tell us whether they like it. As you saw for yourself, using CatVisor does not require integration into MediaWiki, so that would be mere frosting on the cake. The real effect that would achieve is promotion, and that would be premature right now.
"worth it to request that the top people" If you think the WMF are the "top people", you don't understand how the Wikipedia community works. The problem with WP:Superprotect is exactly that they introduced it for the sole reason of overriding consensus at the German Wikipedia. It is their position now that how we configure the software is their decision, not the community's. Welcome to New Wikipedia Order. Face-sad.svg
Having said that, do what you feel you must, just don't expect my support in involving the WMF. Paradoctor (talk) 05:27, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
@Paradoctor: Thank you for your feedback! Obviously as the hands-on "architect" of this innovative program you have a better sense of the bigger picture. But as someone who is trying to follow what you are trying to do, lacking your obvious technical expertise, there are always surprises that this is going to be a longer process than most would have assumed. I am not into the "politics" of how WP works behind the scenes, nor do I want to go there. My only concern always is to improve WP content and functionality, something that obviously needs a lot of improvement in the area of WP:CATEGORIES something we both agree on. My efforts at this stage were merely to do a little "jump starting" and "prodding" so please do not misunderstand that effort. I hope to be able to support you fully if any questions or challenges arise. Sincerely, IZAK (talk) 22:32, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
"longer process than most would have assumed" There is a MediaWiki bug requesting a category intersection feature that has been filed almost a decade ago. And that one would be really important, IMHO. Anyway, expect a new feature added or two this weekend. Face-wink.svg
"hope to be able to support you" You can! Head over to User talk:Paradoctor/CatVisor and tell me if the newest version works for you or not, and what browser you use. Feedback is important for software development, unless you are an entomologist. Face-wink.svg Paradoctor (talk) 22:57, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

Help from Wikimedia Foundation requested[edit]

This is the start of a formal process to request help Wikimedia Forum#Help Needed: For Project started to improve CATEGORIES on WP; Talk:Tech/News#Help Needed: For Project started to improve CATEGORIES on WP; Tech#Help Needed: For Project started to improve CATEGORIES on WP, from the Wikimedia Foundation, the parent body that runs Wikipedia, to provide help in the successful completion of the above, see #CatVisor; #JQuery workaround; #Update requested and everything on User:Paradoctor/CatVisor. Hopefully we can get some meaningful responses going here. Thank you, IZAK (talk) 02:18, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

I think that posting to Meta and calling in the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) is a very bad idea for what is a purely local (i.e. within English Wikipedia) matter. If Paradoctor (talk · contribs) needs any help in writing the JavaScript, I'm sure that they will ask those script developers that they have previously worked with; and if necessary, will ask in local venues - such as WT:US and WP:VPT.
The feature being developed by Paradoctor can be used straight away by any registered user by following the installation instructions, but they need to be aware that it is still in development. Once it is out of the alpha stage (and ideally out of the beta stage too), it can be made available, on an opt-in basis, to all registered users of English Wikipedia by setting it up as a WP:GADGET. None of these actions require WMF intervention, but setting up a gadget requires local consensus. If it's made opt-out, there will be outcry (especially so if it's not passed beta testing); you just need to follow WP:VPT for a few weeks to see what happens when an opt-out feature is enabled. --Redrose64 (talk) 08:28, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
I think we've got at least two currents going on at the same time. I am interested in the initiative that was expressed at the top of this thread. It was to replace editor-controlled ordering of Categories with an automatic, software-controlled ordering of Categories. I think that the simplest criteria by which software might control the ordering of Categories might be alphabetical but I don't think alphabetical ordering is the only possible criteria that could be used, and I admit to having no expertise in this area. But I think we should keep it simple. I see this as no big deal. Just take it out of the hands of editors and be done with it. Communicate to the reader in one simple sentence in the Categories box the criteria that the software is using. This isn't the article; this is navigation. Bus stop (talk) 12:45, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
I can see above no general enthusiasm or even consensus for the idea of "automatic, software-controlled ordering of [c]ategories". -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 13:09, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
The idea definitely does not have consensus. As I have said above, I can support an Opt-in gadget (which give the choice of how categories appear to the individual editor), but not an automatic bot. Blueboar (talk) 13:48, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
@Michael Bednarek: There is no rationale behind the tinkering with the ordering of Categories but you are invited to present such a rationale. There is just a jumble of reasons that vary by editor. The reader has no way of knowing what thinking was going on in the mind of the last editor to tinker with the order of Categories at an article. How does that help the reader? We haven't the foggiest idea what the reader is looking for, and we should stop being so presumptuous as to think we can "help" the reader with something that we know nothing about. We should be aiming for uniformity. The whole project can have one means by which Categories are ordered. That consistency is of value in and of itself. It allows the reader to use the encyclopedia with predictability. The alphabet is familiar to all. But I am open to other systems by which software can unify, project-wide, our layout of Categories in the Category box. Bus stop (talk) 14:09, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
@Blueboar: Once User Paradoctor made his subequent suggestion/s above and started to implement his "CatVisor" solution no one has objected, in spite of what was said in initial discussions, therefore this means that as things stand, people are in agreement with the latest most recent postings and work by Paradoctor and not with the initial objections to the concepts I had proposed at the outset. Please let us know, and this goes for anyone else, if anyone truly objects to the improvements that Paradoctor is creating and implementing. At this stage we still do not know how far his program/s will be implemented simply because as he reports, it is a "work of art in motion" and needs time to be appreciated for its functionality, usability and full worth and value. Thank you, IZAK (talk) 22:42, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
I have no objection to CatVisor either... In fact I heartily approve of it. CatVisor gives each editor who uses it the ability to see the cats ordered as they wish. The best part is that it is optional. If someone does not like it, they don't have to use it. What I was saying does not have consensus is the original idea of an automatic (as opposed to optional) bot-controlled ordering. Blueboar (talk) 23:52, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
I do not object to any script or gadget that changes the display order of categories for the person who is actually using that script or gadget. If any script, gadget, bot or other automated tool changes the order for all people - i.e. if it alters the saved wikicode of the page - then I certainly do still object, and for my original reasoning. --Redrose64 (talk) 05:38, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

Change the name of reviewers to "Pending changes reviewer"[edit]

Hi. I'd like to suggest changing the name of reviewers to "Pending changes reviewer" on policy pages, like WP:PERM. This is to prevent confusion among newcomers about what this WP:UAL does- like Zhaofeng Li said, "This has caused some misunderstandings of its purpose among new users who are eager to request this right when it's not actually needed for their work.1 2 and more ". See the preliminary discussion at WP:VPI#Changing the name of reviewers. (Zhaofeng Li: sorry if I'm stepping on your toes, I had a bit of free time on me and decided to use it on bringing discussion here. If you think this isn't the same proposal as yours or otherwise don't want me proposing this here, I'll revert and let you start the discussion.) Cheers and Thanks, L235-Talk Ping when replying 15:15, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

Much appreciated. Thanks for bringing it up here. Face-smile.svg Zhaofeng Li [talk... contribs...] 01:41, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
RfC tag added Support as I said over at VPI, this is an issue causing a lot if confusion. IMO, the criteria are far too generous, but that is a different issue. --Mdann52talk to me! 06:52, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
Comment I agree that this is a source of confusion, as "review (reviewer, reviewing)" is used in so many ways on Wikipedia. How about removing the word altogether in this case and calling the user right "pending changes approver", or "pc-approver" for short (there are other kinds of "approver" as well): Noyster (talk), 07:38, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
The problem with "pc-approver" is it creates a view that all the right allows you to do is accept revisions. "PC-reviewer" seems to be a better name to use. --Mdann52talk to me! 07:53, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
"Pending changes reviewer" or "pc-reviewer" would be fine with me. However, before changing all that stuff, how about putting a big banner at the top of RFPERM telling people to read WP:Reviewing first, so they understand what's happening? Seems like a simpler solution to me. BethNaught (talk) 07:44, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
Expand on my comment: When I say fine, I mean that is the name I would prefer iff consensus is found to change it. I do not support changing it – per 2Flows below, a short name is better and improved explanations will suffice. I never got into this sort of confusion anyway, so I suppose my tendency to keep things "steady-as-she-goes" is winning out. BethNaught (talk) 21:34, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
@BethNaught:I'd like to copy something I wrote below, just so you're aware of it. "But the thing is, you can't advertise it all over. For example, there's been a time when someone went to ANI to say that a non-reviewer was reviewing AfC drafts. You want to put "Reviewer is only for reviewing pending changes" on ANI? Where? Also, where's the disadvantage in "pending changes reviewer"? As OccultZone said below, we have "mass message sender", why not "pending changes reviewer"?" Cheers and Thanks, L235-Talk Ping when replying 23:05, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
@Lixxx235: Your arguments are very valid. I have no rebuffal to them except to question how fast the change would percolate the community and so end the confusion we saw at ANI? It would depend on the implementation. As to new users I still think a big banner at RFPERM would suffice. BethNaught (talk) 05:46, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
It will help, but changing the name may clear the confusion in whole. The situation is that not only new users are confused about its purpose, experienced editors do too: An ANI post where the OP thought the right was required for reviewing AfC submissions (Note that I do not want to attack or offend the OP in any way). The user reported did mess up, but that's a different story, and reviewing AfC requires far more knowledge and experience than that required for the vandal-righting tool. Zhaofeng Li [talk... contribs...] 11:37, 7 August 2014 (UTC)


  1. Support "Pending changes reviewer". I'm not quite sold on "PC reviewer". PC is an overused initialism and will only muddy the waters. NinjaRobotPirate (talk) 00:29, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
  2. Support "pending changes reviewer" Per NinjaRobotPirate. Since this impacts mostly WP:NEWBs, WP:ACROs should be avoided. Paradoctor (talk) 15:08, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
  3. Support Reviewer term confuses people. When you have a big name like 'Mass message sender', when it could be just 'Messenger', I find 'Pending changes reviewer' to be as good. OccultZone (TalkContributionsLog) 03:41, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
  4. Support Pending Changes Reviewer. I personally was confused when I wanted to become an Article Reviewer, I put my request in the WP:PERM (No, I'm not an Article Reviewer due to time constraints, but at the time, I didn't have those), and by the looks of it, I wasn't the only one confused. Looking over WP:CREEP, the first point in support of an addition is "There is an actual problem to solve, and not just a hypothetical or perceived problem", and this confusion would count as an "actual problem". Supernerd11 Firemind ^_^ Pokedex 01:37, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
  5. Comment: Since no articles are to be placed under PC2, wouldn't it be better to just eliminate the user right, or name it something like "unused"?—Kww(talk) 04:57, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
    Remember articles are still under PC1, so reviewers need to review edits to them by IPs/new editors. BethNaught (talk) 06:56, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
  6. Support Sensible suggestion, if not very pressing. Agree with those above saying a faster and easier method to lessen confusion would be a big header box as at WP:PERM/R. All of PERM attracts new and inexperienced users so the more info and warnings we have there, the better. benmoore 13:06, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
  7. I think it won't matter much, the complexity is ours and there is little we can do to lessen the burden for outsiders, but I would at least call it 'pending change reviewer' and not changes. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 14:04, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
    Well, the actual software has long been referred to as "Pending changes", so "pending changes reviewer" to me sounds the most natural. Mz7 (talk) 20:13, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
  8. Support. The reviewer-right solely pertains to pending changes, but the word review or reviewer is used in a lot of contexts. (WP:Review and WP:Review/Articles lead to Peer review; Articles for Creation has a reviewing instructions subpage, Did You Know has a reviewing guide; etc. Good Article Nominations addresses those that would asses the nominations as reviewers ("This page has a backlog that requires the attention of willing reviewers."; "ATTENTION NEW REVIEWERS: PLEASE READ THE INSTRUCTIONS PAGE BEFORE REVIEWING ARTICLES."), as does DYK ("d) In practice, articles longer than 1,500 characters may still be rejected as too short, at the discretion of the selecting reviewers", etc.) Featured articles has a process called "Featured Article Review"; Good articles has "Good Article Reassessment" but frequently uses the word "review" in its context. WP:Review/Categories is a shortcut to CFD; WP:Review/Message boxes to TFD. There is also the historical WP:Review Board. The WP:Reviewer Summary is a script that shows a summary table of "reviewers" for the whole bunch of Featured-somethings. There are many other examples of this, but I believe that quite clearly demonstrates where the confusion comes from. Because there are so many processes using review or reviewer in a different context, I strongly support renaming the userright to something that more clearly defines its scope. AddWittyNameHere (talk) 16:00, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
  9. Support. I knew before I got here from CENT that there would be opposition based on the fact that it complicates the name, but I see it more as specificity, when the tool, in reality, is for a very specialized task. It is not, for example, reviewing at WP:AFC, or at WP:DYK, or WP:GA or WP:FAC. It's a very narrow user right, and I've seen no shortage of editors with the right treating it like it's a big shiny big deal, but it isn't. And frankly, a long-time pet peeve of mine is that the reviewer flag was originally given out much too carelessly, to editors some of whom shouldn't even be reviewing PC. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:15, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
  10. Support. Seeing this on WP:CENT, I expected to oppose with a rationale such as "what's the point, since changing a name for aesthetics isn't worth the effort". However, since the name itself has caused confusion, we ought to change it for the sake of new editors. Nyttend (talk) 18:51, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
  11. Support, Disclosure I have this. The current name is over broad, and thus would tend to cause confusion. Alanscottwalker (talk) 13:28, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
  12. Support "pending changes reviewer"; "PC reviewer", as others have stated, includes an unclear acronym. This would go a long way towards clearing up the confusion between the types of reviewing (PC, AfC, and otherwise) on Wikipedia. APerson (talk!) 22:31, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
  13. Support - I've actually thought about this scenario for a long time. Will the name of the "reviewer" right mislead the less experienced editors into thinking it's for "reviewing" something else? Apparently it has, and this change will provide the necessary clarification that this user right is specifically for reviewing pending changes. Mz7 (talk) 01:46, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
  14. Support "Pending changes reviewer" - At the moment simply "Reviewer" doesn't entirely tell you what you'd be reviewing whereas It's a bit more clearer with "Pending changes reviewer" - I'm still not overly convinced with the new name but least it's a step up from previous. –Davey2010(talk) 15:04, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
  15. Support It's been a source of confusion, and there's no real reason not to change it. Reventtalk 14:43, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
  16. Support The term is much more descriptive and is a decently concise title. Spirit of Eagle (talk) 21:16, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
  17. Support For anyone of the opinion that names don't matter, just look at all the heartache referring to our inclusion guidelines as "notability" causes. Protonk (talk) 15:03, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
  18. Support "pending changes reviewer". It's less ambiguous, which should reduce confusion, especially with newer editors.- MrX 14:51, 31 August 2014 (UTC)


  1. Oppose There is no need to change the name, just make sure it is explained better on the appropriate pages what the permission is about. Keeping the name short is best in my opinion. 2Flows (talk) 21:25, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
    @2flows:But the thing is, you can't advertise it all over. For example, there's been a time when someone went to ANI to say that a non-reviewer was reviewing AfC drafts. You want to put "Reviewer is only for reviewing pending changes" on ANI? Where? Also, where's the disadvantage in "pending changes reviewer"? As OccultZone said below, we have "mass message sender", why not "pending changes reviewer"? Cheers and Thanks, L235-Talk Ping when replying 23:05, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
    Malformed ping above because I used lowercase f. Repinging: User:2Flows. Cheers and Thanks, L235-Talk Ping when replying 23:07, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
    I have nothing against "pending changes reviewer" but if I had to choose between the two, I'd go with the shorter one. However, I do agree that the term "reviewing" is used at many places on Wikipedia, so it may be confusing for people who don't know what the permission is about. 2Flows (talk) 09:43, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
  2. Oppose as this over-specifies what the right is used for and prohibits it from other uses (such as if AFC decided it wanted to use it to restrict access to the helper script, the project isn't there yet, but there have been a large number of issues with the current method and people have apparently been using the script anyways) which would then require other uses to have a new userright group created specifically for them contributing to a perceived hat shopping problem. — {{U|Technical 13}} (etc) 14:12, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
    IMO, AfC and PC are two completely different processes, and bundeling them into one would not really work. Reviewer is handed out like candy nowadays with far lower requirements than have been established over at AfC, and using one right to manage both is not a reliable solution. A better one may be to, of there is consensus, to create a special userright for AfC, and remove if it is not used for x months (similar to the admin bit). However, that is another discussion entirely. --Mdann52talk to me! 16:35, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
  3. Oppose. Will lead to more confusion than it solves. It would be better to add a note to PERM and the relevant subpage explaining what the user right is. Yaris678 (talk) 22:01, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
    What kind of confusion will it lead to? I would rather have prospective pending changes reviewers wonder "what is pending changes?" than have them mistakenly think the user right is for a different purpose (i.e. a general "article reviewer"). Mz7 (talk) 00:39, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
    Any name change will cause confusion. This is mitigated by the name being similar but with more specificity, but it is also exacerbated by the name being longer. This could lead people to shortening the name in some situations. Don't get me wrong. I am not saying this extra confusion is the be all and end all. There seems to be a majority who think that it's worth it and I'm not going to start a big argument about this. Yaris678 (talk) 11:29, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
  4. Oppose as noted above. Increased explanation should be tried first. BethNaught (talk) 12:20, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

Guideline for terminology on immigrants[edit]

I just spent a while writing a project page, then discovered that I was supposed to submit this here first — which I'm happy to do, since, while I tried quite hard to replicate the structure and tone of other proposals, I also don't know what I'm doing.

Below is what I've written, for your feedback. Thanks!


This is a proposed guideline for use of terminology to refer to people who live in a legal jurisdiction without legal authorization. It is intended to supplant another, earlier proposed naming guideline, Wikipedia:Naming conventions (immigration), because (a) both that proposed guideline and the ensuing discussion are too long & unwieldy to be easily engaged with, and (b) that proposed guideline is now eight years old and has been abandoned. This guideline will, however, at times lift language from the earlier guideline.

The proposal is to strongly recommend against using the term "illegal immigrant(s)" in favor of other terms, except in direct quotations, and against using the term "illegal alien(s)" except in direct quotations or in legal terminology.


A Google search for pages including the term "illegal immigrant" on English Wikipedia comes up with 454 results, the majority of which appear to be Wikipedia articles that use of the term "illegal immigrant" outside of direct quotes in the main text — including at least two articles with the term in their page names: Illegal immigrant population of the United States and Economic impact of illegal immigrants in the United States.

A search for the term "illegal alien" comes up with 453 results, but most uses outside of direct quotes seem to be in the context of legal terminology, and there are no articles with the term in their page names where the term is not being used as a direct quote.

This proposal would apply to the use of the term "illegal immigrant(s)," but not to the term "illegal immigration," which is used much more widely and is less objectionable (see below). It would also apply to use of the term "illegal alien," other than in legal terminology, where the term (while perhaps still offensive) has specific legal meaning. In both cases, the proposal would not apply to direct quotations.

Suggested replacements include "undocumented immigrant(s)" (especially in the U.S. context), "unauthorized immigrant(s)," and "irregular (im)migrant(s)."


Overall argument

I believe that the term isn't reconcilable with Wikipedia's neutral point of view policy ("opinions should not be stated in Wikipedia's voice" and "prefer nonjudgmental language"), and its "words to watch" guideline ("strive to eliminate expressions that are... disparaging... or that endorse a particular point of view").

Act vs. person

The terms "illegal immigrant" and "illegal alien" have been criticized as derogatory towards immigrants, because they apply the term "illegal" to a person in their entirety, rather than to a specific act. Hence why "illegal immigration" is not being included in this proposed guideline: it refers to the criminal act itself, which is illegal, and thus is a fair and NPOV description.

Widespread criticism of the terms

Views & norms on these terms have shifted in the eight years since the earlier proposed naming guideline Wikipedia:Naming conventions (immigration) was written, and are building towards a consensus against use of the term.

  • The AP Stylebook was edited in April 2013 to recommend against use of the terms: "Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant. ... Except in direct quotations, do not use the terms illegal alien, an illegal, illegals or undocumented."[9]
  • USA Today stopped using the terms in April 2013 as well: "The term illegal immigration is acceptable, but do not label people as illegal immigrants, except in direct quotes. ... Avoid using the word alien to refer to immigrants, except in quoted matter or official government designations."[10]
  • Numerous other journalistic entities have stopped using the terms as well.[11][12][13][14][15] (See here for an article on the overall trend in the U.S. news media.)
  • The U.S. Supreme Court, beginning with the case Arizona v. United States, discontinued the use of the term "illegal immigrant(s)" in its rulings in favor of more neutral terminology.[16] Sonia Sotomayor, the Court's only Latino/a Justice, has explicitly spoken out against use of criminalizing language in reference to immigrants.[17]
  • While most discussion of the term has been in the U.S., there has been debate about it in Britain as well.[20]

The use of the term is still under debate, and it's hardly a matter of consensus — but the very fact that the use of the term is under such debate, and that the debate has been cast in such political terms, is a clear indication that the term can't be considered to be NPOV.

Disputes on Wikipedia

The fact that the term has been so widely argued about already on Wikipedia is also a clear sign that it isn't a neutral term. See especially Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (immigration), Talk:Illegal immigrant, Talk:Illegal immigration, Talk:Illegal immigrant population of the United States, Talk:Anchor baby, and Talk:Illegal alien, among others.

Thus, in addition to the rationales already listed, this guideline would also ensure that we wouldn't need to keep rehashing this same argument, on many different Wikipedia talk pages, over & over again — there would be a clear guideline that could be pointed to in the case of disagreement.

Thanks in advance for any & all thoughtful & constructive feedback. CircleAdrian (talk) 07:55, 18 August 2014 (UTC)


  • Strong Oppose This is a binary POV issue. The terms the proposal seeks to ban are not neutral, but banning them is also not neutral. The proposal seeks to ban the words favored by one side of the immigration debate, while not banning any words used by the other, or even proposing what supposedly neutral language should replace the words. I have to oppose this attempt to enshrine as a guideline the position of one side of the debate. This is no different than if someone proposed a policy of banning references to someone being a "felon" because an action can only be considered a felony, not a person. Monty845 12:37, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Grammar is bunk "Illegal immigrant" is a compound noun derived from the phrase "illegal immigration". By your reasoning, we'd have to stop using "wide receiver" and "shot putter", because the former are not generally wide, and the latter are rarely shot even when they deserve it. I'd say focus on the real argument, namely the claim that term is loaded. Paradoctor (talk) 13:28, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment "Naming conventions" are about article titles, and we don't normally write them to cover just a few pages. I think your best bet might be mentioning this in WP:Words to watch. (I agree that the grammar argument is weak. By that logic, "unauthorized immigrant" is also bad, because only actions can be "unauthorized", not people. Also, the term is applied to people in other contexts: China has illegal second children, India has a problem with illegal child brides, we have an article about an illegal plumber and it appears that illegal landlords are not unknown in the UK. I could go on, but the claim that only immigrants get called "illegal" is obviously false.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:21, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment Okay, thanks for the feedback. I took out the argument on grammar — y'all are right, it's weak (I mostly lifted it from the existing 2006 proposal, and that person was wrong about it too).
I do want to point out, though, that I do propose several "supposedly neutral" terms to replace these ones: "suggested replacements include 'undocumented immigrant(s)' (especially in the U.S. context), 'unauthorized immigrant(s),' and 'irregular (im)migrant(s).'" The term "undocumented immigrants" is the preferred term of most immigrant advocates, but "unauthorized immigrants" and "irregular migrants" are both terms that have been proposed as specifically neutral middle ground — the former in the U.S., the latter in Britain. The term "unauthorized" is probably best to suggest as a "neutral" middle ground, as it suggests wrongdoing but not permanent criminality. (See the argument of linguist Otto Santa Ana here.)
Yes, this is a normative issue, and I expected the "your proposal is POV" argument to come up — but honestly, I wrote this proposal because I found a usage of the term that was pretty clearly a POV edit by someone whose intent was to use the term "illegal alien" in a derogatory way, and I then looked to see what Wikipedia's policy on derogatory terminology is, but wasn't able to find one, which I have to say surprised me. If my proposal was a guideline against using the term "n****r" to describe African-Americans, couldn't you analogously argue that a guideline against its use would ban a word favored by one side of the "white supremacy debate," while not banning any words used by the other? And my point in outlining the shifting perspectives on use of the term among journalists (especially the AP Manual), rather than among immigrant advocates, was intended to demonstrate that it's not just a matter of one side (immigrant advocates) against another side (immigration restriction advocates) — it's a matter of wider public perception about the effect of the term. (And again, this is a guideline, not a "ban" — I'm not proposing any consequences or anything like that for anyone who uses the term, I'm just trying to write something that editors can point to when it gets used.)
WhatamIdoing: I think you're right that this is a words to watch issue rather than a naming convention — but I'm not sure how I would go about proposing this as a "word/term to watch"?
Thanks for your feedback, all. CircleAdrian (talk) 18:25, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
Usually, you first figure out if it could be added to an existing section. Then you post your proposed change to the wording on the talk page, people discuss it, and something about it is ultimately either added or it's not. The bias on that page is usually towards being as brief as possible, so keep that in mind when you think about possible changes.
Another option (which might be desirable regardless of the outcome of a WTW discussion) is to write an essay. That requires no "permission" or "consensus", and can be very useful for explaining more details or collecting lists of sources. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:04, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support If it's a WP:MOS thing, and not a ban, as the style guides quoted indicate where possible there is serviceable neutral terminology. Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:37, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose... for one thing there is no need for the proposed gudeline. Terms like this are already covered in one of our core policies ... see WP:POVNAMING, section of our NPOV policy. We do not need yet another "style guide" that contradicts core policy (or worse, intentionally seeks to circumvent policy by saying "oh, this is just a style issue, and not within the scope of policy). If you don't like the policy, you can work to change the policy. But don't pretend that there isn't a policy. Blueboar (talk) 01:00, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support as an WP:MOS suggestion, I guess. Don't much care, and my inclination on these things is usually to let editors write as they like as long as the meaning is clear. Also, this Google Ngram shows "illegal immigrant" ahead of the other three combined and, if anything, gaining. So I guess I'm undermining my own vote. But it seems like the right thing to do. You know? "Illegal immigrant" is kind of insulting. It's not just insulting but sort of inflammatory. It frames the matter, at least in undertone, in a way that's not necessarily helpful to our readers understanding what's going on in the events under discussion. Which matters. Sure, we're supposed to follow preponderance of sources... but why? There's no reason for that. Yeah we have to use reliable sources for statements of fact. For style we can do whatever we want. So its OK with me if we get a little ahead of the curve here, since the curve seems to be bending toward less inflammatory language. If I'm reading this New York Times thingy correctly the curve is bending fast at the Times, for instance. Let's not be left behind the Grey Lady for goodness sakes. Herostratus (talk) 02:00, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support- This proposal would align MOS more closely with both WP:NPOV and the majority of non-WP authorities on style, so it's a good idea. Reyk YO! 00:15, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
Again... no, it wouldn't. It would, in fact, contradict WP:NPOV. See the WP:POVNAMING section. Blueboar (talk) 12:02, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
You're claim that it contradicts is rather absurd -- NPOV exists to have the goal of neutrality and POVNAMING, says that in exceptional occasions a naming although non-neutral can be used, it does not say always choose the non-neutral, or always prefer the non-neutral, or blatantly ignore reliable style sources that show that there is a more neutral style for many uses. Alanscottwalker (talk) 19:06, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
WP:POVNAMING explicitly states: If a name is widely used in reliable sources (particularly those written in English), and is therefore likely to be well recognized by readers, it may be used even though some may regard it as biased. The name "illegal immigrant" is certainly widely used in reliable sources (in fact, in the context of the USA, it is overwhelmingly the single most widely used name for someone who has entered the country illegally), and therefor, according to WP:POVNAMING it may be used. The rational behind POVNAMING is this: For us, as Wikipedians, to ignore what an overwhelming majority of sources call the subject makes us non-neutral... even when our actions are done with the intent to appear neutral. The way to actually be most neutral is to follow the sources. Blueboar (talk) 20:49, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
That's not following reliable sources; you are expressly NOT following the reliable sources on neutrality of style, you are following and introducing POV and selecting the irrelevant (because it does not address neutrality of style), or relying on the unreliable. As I said, "may" be needed on occasion according to POVNaming, so the proposal does not contradict it. Alanscottwalker (talk) 21:11, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
You misunderstand. I'm not ignoring the fact that a few style guides may say don't use "Illegal immigrant"... they are POV sources that express an opinion just like other sources... however, when assessing source usage they are outweighed by the literally hundreds of thousands of other reliable sources that actually do use the name "Illegal immigrant". We are not the one's ignoring the style guides... its the real world that is ignoring the style guides. We should be reflecting the real world. The style guides represent an extreme minority view (I would almost classify it as a Fringe view). It becomes non-neutral for Wikipeida to favor an extreme minority view (expressed by a few style guides) and non-neutral to ignore the reality of the majority view (indicated by what all those hundreds of thousands of other reliable sources use). Blueboar (talk) 01:44, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
The style guides don't say "don't use," they indicate where possible there is a more neutral style. They can't be outweighed by other sources that do not address the neutrality of use, so it's not the "real world" that is ignoring the style guides, it is you. Your position is nonsensical. It amounts to 'always pick loaded terms because they are common' , but we are writing a neutral encyclopedia, not sensationalistic yellow journalism nor pulp fiction. Alanscottwalker (talk) 10:11, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Again, you miss the point of POVNAMING... it isn't about the neutrality of the name, its about our own neutrality, as Wikipedia editors. Names don't have to be neutral. Names like Boston massacre and Holy Roman Empire are not neutral... yet we use them anyway. Why? Because so many sources use them that it would be non-neutral for us to not do so as well. We would be substituting our own POV if we used anything else. As for my position, you have it backwards... it isn't "always pick loaded terms because they are common"... its "Always use the most common term, even if it happens to be appear loaded." That's true Neutrality. With true Neutrality we do not pass judgement on whether a name or term is "loaded" or not. We simply use what the majority of sources use. Blueboar (talk) 11:32, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
That's not "true neutrality", because you are not using sources for what they directly address. You are imposing your POV, by misusing sources for what they do not address, where they do not address the word usage. You can't do your original research and come to your own conclusion without introducing your POV. You just said it again, always pick the term that appears loaded because it is common, but we're not in the work of picking the apparent loaded term, quite the opposite. Alanscottwalker (talk) 11:49, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
The flaw in your reasoning is that we don't start by always picking the loaded term... we start with picking the most common term (and it needs to be significantly more common). Whether that common term is "loaded" or not is irrelevant to the issue of commonality. About fifty years ago, I would have argued that we should use "Undocumented alien" - because that term was what was most commonly used in sources. Today the sources use "Illegal alien". If, next year, the majority of sources shift and use some less loaded term, I will argue just as strongly that we should change our usage to match the sources, and use that less loaded term. The policy is that Wikipedia uses the names that the the majority of sources use... even if those names seem "loaded" to us. If you don't like that policy, you can work to change it... but policy it is. Blueboar (talk) 12:22, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
The flaw in your reasoning is that you start with original research, and we forbid original research because it introduces POV. If you don't like policy you can work to change it, but what you should never do is make a fetish of a small section of policy and not apply it in context. Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:34, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
No... I start with an examination of source usage. That's called "sourced based research", not "original" research. Blueboar (talk) 18:29, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
No. You use your personal research to come to a claim not directly made by those sources concerning word usage. That's original research, entirely in support of your POV. Alanscottwalker (talk) 11:41, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Yup, basically what Alanscottwalker says. Reyk YO! 22:10, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Herostratus: we should, in general, use the most common term when describing something, and Herostratus's research indicates that the most common term for someone who entered a country while bypassing its immigration controls is "illegal immigrant". --Carnildo (talk) 00:50, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Let's not set up a conflict between different WP:MOS pages. Lots of sources use euphemisms such as "passed away", "sightless", etc., but per WP:EUPHEMISM, we use "died", "blind", etc. Why should we care that the euphemism "undocumented alien" is used by lots of sources? It's still a euphemism, a verbose softener for a clear and direct expression that causes no unnecessary offense. Nyttend (talk) 18:57, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Strong support When the most common term in use is derogatory or condemnatory, we should look for a neutral equivalent. If we were in a period when the most common terms for people were "kike" or "nigger", would we use them? nor, doe we use the wood "crook", however well deserved and widespread. This is especially the case when the standard of current outside use is itself changing to more neutral language. The analogy with "died" is not relevant: it does not apply to living people. More specifically, "illegal" implies a conviction or judgment, and ity is in practice more often just a presumption when applied to a particular individual. DGG ( talk ) 03:12, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Your argument about "kike" and "nigger" is ridiculous. Those terms are strictly derogatory and slang in nature, while the term "illegal alien" is rooted in legal jargon that is accurate, neutral and inoffensive. Should we not call a felon a felon because that word has negative implications? A word referring to a negative action is likely to have negative connotations, as logic would suggest. It seems to me that you are ignoring the fact that the illegal immigrants have in reality broken the law. A word that reflects their breaking of the law, the primary distinguishing factor between that group and the group of legal immigrants, is necessary. "Illegal immigrant" and "illegal alien" fulfill their purpose of contrasting illegal and legal immigrants. The notion that an opposite should not be used to refer to an opposite simply because that word holds negative connotations is absurd. "in practice more often just a presumption when applied to a particular individual" This comment is baseless and irrelevant. Your assertion that the term is empirically used incorrectly is both unsupported and highly location-sensitive. You are changing the term, albeit without saying so, to specifically refer to Hispanics in the United States region. StainlessSteelScorpion (talk) 04:06, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support per the sources provided above. The heart of WP:NPOV is still to reflect, as close as possible, the usage of mainstream, reliable sources. The OP has made a clear case that mainstream, reliable sources proscribe the use of "illegal immigrant" (and similar) to refer to people (rather than acts) and Wikipedia usage should reflect the same. The MOS should be brought in line with the rest of mainstream media. --Jayron32 03:40, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose "Illegal immigrants" is a term to properly describe people that, at the end of the day, are in a country illegally (without the proper paperwork etc.) I will note that this is, to some extent, a hypothetical concept in that factually that the person has absolutely no paperwork that allows them to immigrate into the country, but from the standpoint of actually having the evidence or the lack of evidence to this point may not always be there. That it, just because a person cannot immediately show they have evidence of legal immigration does not make them illegal. Importantly, this generally means speaking to the general term and not in reference to any single person. The US may report that increases in illegal immigration increased by some number, that's a completely appropriate use of the term since we are talking abou immigration against the law. On the other hand, unless a person has specifically been charged and enforced as an illegal immigrant, calling the individual as such is not proper. --MASEM (t) 03:54, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose This whole proposal is so US centric, and assumes a view of the world as a US citizen in America. The Rationale section shows this with nearly all the selected sources being American in origin, the one for the UN takes the Micky out of the idea of using "irregular migrant" and also observes "A murderer, for example, might instead be a 'person accused of unlawfully ceasing the life of another'." If you assume that anyone can be any illegal immigrant in any country then the phrase is not "derogatory". I once I worked in South Africa for a US company that had lawyers up at Jo'burg International Airport at least once a month because of mistakes an American had made in filling out the landing/immigration form provided in Afrikaans and English on the plane (the English being a translation). As one read the form in English there was a section for "the reason for visiting South Africa". That section of the form was a multi columned tick box list (you know the sort) "tourist" etc. The first first applicable box for the executives flying in for meeting at the Jo'burg for a business meeting was "work" so people ticked that (if they forgot the warning they had received via email). However further into the tick box was "Trade". In Afrikaans apparently the difference was obvious, but in English it is not. As far as the South African authorities were concerned those Americans who ticked "work" were illegal immigrants, as they did not have the necessary work permit to "work" in South Africa, hence the need for lawyers to try to plead that their clients were there for a trade/business meeting and they had made an innocent mistake. Sometimes these illegal immigrants were forced to use the return leg of their business class ticket to return to the US on the next available flight, and sometimes their illegal status was adjusted to legal and they were allowed to stay for the few days they needed for their business meetings. -- PBS (talk) 12:00, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment Irrespective of the legality terms, "immigrant" and "emigrant" imply a specific national viewpoint, contrary to wp:WORLDWIDE unless qualified by "from Lower Nonexististan" or "to Paradisia", e.g. LeadSongDog come howl! 15:48, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
    I disagree take a look at this article (25 July 2014). Unless one is resident in one's domicile one is both an "immigrant" and "emigrant" and that is the general world wide view and is irrespective of if one's residency is legal within the territory in which one resides. If a person's domicile status is a political football (which is unusual) -- such as the descendants of refugees from what is now Israel currently residing in Gaza and the West Bank -- then the situation is more complicated. -- PBS (talk) 10:49, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
The use of the terms "immigrant" and "emigrant" obviously depends on context. If someone moves from Canada to the US... we would appropriately refer to them as being an "emigrant" when discussing their move in a Canadian context, and just as appropriately refer to them as an "immigrant" when discussing their move in a US context.
When someone leaves a nation, contrary to the laws of that nation (example, a defector from the Soviet Union, who left the USSR contrary to Soviet laws), we could accurately describe them as being an "illegal emigrant". However... while "illegal emigrant" might be an accurate description for someone who leaves a country against the laws of the country they are leaving, it would not qualify as a NAME for such a person. The term "illegal emigrant has not entered common usage in English language sources. Unlike the term "Illegal immigrant", which is extremely common, and is used as not just a description but as a name. Blueboar (talk) 11:57, 24 August 2014 (UTC) Blueboar (talk) 11:18, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment @CircleAdrian: can you please clarify if this proposal is meant to cover all national varieties of English or just articles written in American English. If it is for all varieties of English what evidence is there to support your suggested wording in each verity of English? -- PBS (talk) 10:20, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
    Good question... If "Illegal immigrant" is a purely US variety term... then it would be appropriate to limit its use to articles that relate to the US (and to use other appropriate terms in other contexts). Blueboar (talk) 12:08, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
    Illegal immigrant is common terminology in the UK media and bureaucracy. The conversational term tends to be refugee. ~ R.T.G 01:15, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
    @RTG: They are not synonymous. Refugees are people seeking refuge, typically from wars, oppressive governments or natural disaster; they often have the intent of returning home when the danger has passed. Immigrants are people who have entered a country with the intent of living there, having left their previous homeland for any reason. Illegal immigrants are immigrants who have not first obtained authorisation from the country that they are moving to. --Redrose64 (talk) 17:08, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
    @Redrose64:Perhaps. My intention was to respond to the assertion that "illegal immigrant" is a US-centric term, but that only seems so because of their issue with cross border migration, making it a more recurrent theme in their media. "Migration" means the moving from one place to another. "Immigration" means the intent to remain there permanently. "Illegal" means contrary to legislation. I wrote and deleted a toolong paragraph about the definition of the word refugee. Suffice to say though, my view is that we must rely questionable resources on every level, from every intention. The compromises are not always pertinent to the issue yet defended as such. I'm pessimistic, even in my support. ~ R.T.G 22:00, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose While the use of the term 'illegal immigrant' these days does often betray the writer's POV, so do the proposed replacements. And while most 'mainstream media' use other terms, that is not the case of all of them, and the disparity is not overwhelming. Until a term comes to fore which does not immediatly tend to betray the speakers POV, I oppose changing the guidelines regarding this term. Marteau (talk) 17:48, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose "Illegal immigrant{s}" and "illegal alien(s)" are accurately descriptive. They are NPOV. I doubt anyone disputes the legality or not of such immigration. We don't need euphemisms or convoluted language. Maurreen (talk) 08:27, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment I'm going to go ahead & say that I think this proposal has failed — folks have posted several different disagreements about it, and I don't see any way that I could edit the proposal that would satisfy all of them. I had thought this might be something of a Sisyphean task, but wanted to try anyway. Thank you all for your thoughtful comments. (Also, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with this proposal & these comments at this point — hopefully a more experienced editor can either tell me, or move/edit it themselves.) CircleAdrian (talk) 04:29, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support "Illegal immigrant" and "Illegal alien" get roughly 2950 hits combined in article space. I've heard "undocumented.." this or that more than a few times. I think there is a better word than undocumented still, but undocumented is definitely recognisable. What to combine it with I don't have several ideas and believe there are several more. Not certain to that part. Maybe someone can convince me in the comments above. But yes, genuine neutrality and objectivity is half of what I think this site is all about so add me, conditionally, to the one. (conditionally that it is well finalised whatever that might mean) ~ R.T.G 22:00, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment Did you know, that there is no wiki article on neutrality? It is a redirect to Country neutrality (international relations), a position toward war. ~ R.T.G 22:20, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose I feel that the proposal seeks to change the term due to the term's general use while referring to derogatory actions of that group. The term is not offensive in itself; rather, it is used so often in context with derogatory actions that the author of the proposal feels that the term has been tainted by the negative comments surrounding it. I also feel that this stems from some element of personal offense taken when the term is used: the reference to Justice Sotomayor, herself of Hispanic background, demonstrates that Hispanics as a group have come to be offended by a term that is used to refer to a small subset of that group. This appears to be an issue of personal pride rather than neutrality, and as stated frequently above, the term is used descriptively, accurately, and passively in the context of Wikipedia. The choice of the author to draw attention from the word "illegal" to "undocumented" is an apparent effort to portray the group in a more favorable light. Drawing attention away from the criminality of the immigrants more closely aligns the group with legal immigrants, which in turns furthers distrust of immigrants in general. The proposed shift in terminology would not alleviate any concern of ill intentions, but rather push the burden onto an undeserving group that already takes heat in society. StainlessSteelScorpion (talk) 03:57, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
    The law states that the accused be considered innocent until proven guilty. It also supports that an undefined number of undocumented visitors are legally acceptable, i.e., refugees and, strictly speaking, those for whom a claim to citizenship rights would be accepted. The wider implications can be described in detail, but that should not be up for debate here. The fact is that there are "illegals" who are not contrary to the law and Wikipedia policy could reflect that. If that is true, it must mean that current policy does not reflect it. Whatever the intricacies of the debate going on here, those are the simplest implicating facts, and to differ in further implication, you must first differ to the simplest implication. If our complicity with simple fact is held to imply something more afterwards, for something else, well, guess what, we didn't do that, until we have pandered to it in some way, and much as the debate wishes to suggest the opposite, once we pander to it, that is the point at which we had a part in doing it. The nature of legality is something which is finalised, not something which is prospective of finalisation. The reason the media says "illegal" is because they sensationalise information to draw your attention to the aspect they want you to consider, and that is very important, but it should have no place on Wikipedia content, except when describing the situation to exist. This policy could not affect direct quotation. The nature of quotation is irrelevant to its notability. It's already policy. it's just not defined yet. ~ R.T.G 12:10, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Strong support I'm a little stunned that this proposal is seeing this much opposition. Protonk (talk) 10:45, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose Using the most commonly used term as per the naming standard should be what we do. There is no need to add complication, and push one biased point of view that differs from other points of view by enshrining it in a policy. Having such a policy or guide is non-neutral. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 12:02, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose The terms we use should be simple to understand.
    • illegal immigrant an immigrant whose immigration was or is against the immigration law of the country or territory they migrated to.
    • undocumented immigrant one who's immigration was or is not documented, or possibly one who has no documents. They may be legal or illegal. Similarly an immigrant can arrive with full documentation, be recorded by the immigration authorities and put in some kind of holding custody for deportation - documented but illegal.
    • unauthorized immigrant one who is not authorised by whom? Is authorisation the same as legality? It seems to me that in the United States it isn't. Moreover someone immigrating successfully on false documents is an illegal immigrant, but they have been authorized.
    • irregular immigrant just too vague.

All the best: Rich Farmbrough16:31, 1 September 2014 (UTC).

"Dynamic" web news articles[edit]

I have been doing a lot of work with refs using web-based news articles and I have noticed a phenomenon that alarms me. For developing stories that unfold over a number of weeks, some sites update and revise the same URL. For example, take this New York Times article.

When this article was added as a ref on August 14, it had these identifying characteristics:

Title: Obama Calls for Open Inquiry Into Police Shooting of Teenager in Ferguson, Mo
Date: August 14, 2014
Authors: Julie Bosman, Michael D. Shear, Timothy Williams

It now has these identifying characteristics:

Title: New Tack on Unrest Eases Tension in Missouri
Date: August 14, 2014
Authors: John Schwartz, Michael D. Shear, Michael Paulson

In this particular example, the article still supports the very simple statement that the ref was created for. But I'm not at all certain that would be true all the time for all news sites that use this practice. I don't know of a web journalism principle that would preclude changing or deleting parts of the article, so we could lose the source without knowing it.

Regardless, the changes in this example have broken the title and author parameters for the ref created on the 14th. That alone is a concern. I don't see any editors going back to reverify existing ref parameters, and I've never read or heard anything about the need to do that. In any case, I doubt many editors would do it even if they were aware of the need, judging from the fact that so few bother with equally important things such as archive.

I don't have a proposed solution, and I wonder whether anyone else has any thoughts on the subject. ‑‑Mandruss (talk) 09:54, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Some kind of bot to tag or update and tag? Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:30, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
This is one of the reasons why we have WP:NOTNEWS... breaking news reporting is often inaccurate or incomplete, and later versions of the report may be changed, based on more up to date information. Note... this does not make the entire media outlet unreliable (in fact, updating a story in light of updated information is one of the things that makes a media outlet reliable in the first place)... but we would consider the updated report to be more reliable than the original. Any information we took from the original version, that was taken out of the later version would have to be considered unverifiable, and unreliable. Blueboar (talk) 18:44, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Thanks for the responses. I'm not sure what Alanscottwalker meant. Since we feel the need to respond to developments almost as fast as our sources do—and the world expects us to do that—it sounds like the only solution is to iteratively keep going back to the source and reverifying everything, including whether it's still a good source (not a trivial task in many cases). Sadly, it's quite clear that we don't have the time to do that, so it's not a solution, practically speaking. So we'll live with this illusion of verifiability—good articles sporting lots of impressive superscripted citation numbers—and lord help us if anyone with some public credibility ever takes to the time to do a large-scale audit of our refs. ‑‑Mandruss (talk) 09:33, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

Beyond the NOTNEWS policy, remember that our sourcing standards heavily restrict the use of primary sources, and a late-breaking news article is a perfect example of a primary source. Nyttend (talk) 15:16, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
That's an odd definition of "primary source" you have there, and feeds primary source paranoia. But I don't blame you, since our sourcing guidelines make the same mistake: thanks to the heuristic that "primary" sources are less likely to contain the sort of analysis and discussion we can cite leading to a discouraging of "primary" sources, "primary source" has become a synonym for "some source we shouldn't use" in many cases.
WP:NOR would be more clear by focusing on only saying what the source says, without paying any attention to the nature of the source. WP:N would be more clearly phrased by focusing on independentness from the subject rather than the nature of the source. WP:RS should focus on peer review, not the nature of the source. The heuristic would be best described in an essay, to avoid people trying to enforce it as policy. Anomie 11:06, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
There have been over the years several attempts to get automatic archiving of cited sources, to varying but largely disappointing effect. Webcite or Archive-It seem largely reliable, but each has had problems. Another option would definitely be interesting. LeadSongDog come howl! 23:11, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
LeadSongDog I've been using Wayback Machine exclusively and have no experience with Webcite or Archive-It. Would anyone with the necessary experience recommend a switch to address this problem? ‑‑Mandruss (talk) 21:09, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
I just found this entry on Wikipedia at which suggests there are limitations at this end too. Webcitation will archive on demand, as will the "save" function at the way back machine. Without.specific requests, the time at which a snapshot is taken will either be arbitrary on the way back machine, or using it can be periodic as often as once per day. Is there not a Wikipedian-in-Residence there? LeadSongDog come howl! 06:43, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
COMMENT archiving sites like Wayback do have issues. They can verify that X website stated "Y" on Z date... but they do not verify the accuracy of "Y". whenever X website has removed "Y" from its webpage (after Z date), we always need to ask why they did so... and we need to find the answer before we cite the archived page. Blueboar (talk) 14:28, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
Right, and since that's completely impractical from a manpower wo/manpower standpoint, the only workable solution would be to delay articles on these developing stories until they have stabilized considerably, citing WP:NOTNEWS. While the way the world uses us for these stories may be quite valuable, I don't think it meets any definition of the word encyclopedia. Perhaps that function could be served by some adaptation of Wikinews (and then we would just have to educate the world about the change). ‑‑Mandruss (talk) 15:51, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
"accessed on" is a common citation element for web sites or any other non-fixed resource, not just in Wikipedia but in the APA and MLA guidelines. In each case if the citation is changed (because the title or authors or whatever changes) the access date should change. This process is (IMO) completely sufficient for the problem. We shouldn't be in the habit of versioning other sources where they don't provide a mechanism to do so, as that can be brittle or may rely on third party services which might not be available even if the link itself is still available. Protonk (talk) 16:27, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
That was way over my head, but I'll stop worrying and continue doing what I have been. Thanks to all. ‑‑Mandruss (talk) 18:56, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
Sorry about that! Ok, so in {{cite web}} there's a parameter for "accessdate" which when filled out will include something like "Retrieved 2009-02-12" in the citation text. This is similar (and probably flows from) the practice of the APA which notes that when retreiving sources from the web a researcher should note the date that they accessed it (the MLA has a similar, though less clear format). This means that if the content changes (or more likely disappears) the author can say "hey, it said this when I checked it". Now that doesn't preclude malfeasance--an author could potentially misquote a source that doesn't have any externally available versioning and argue that it said something different in a previous version. And in all cases if a versioned document is available, linking to a fixed version is preferable. But I just made the comment to point out that for normal practice the use of {{cite web}} is pretty much sufficient to handle this issue. Protonk (talk) 19:12, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
So, essentially, you're saying that we shouldn't worry about losing a source, since we have accessdate to point to. "This is what the source said on August 27, 2014, and we're sorry if the information was reported to be false after that date." Arguing that point is above my pay grade, and anyway the date parameter would seem more appropriate for that purpose than accessdate. I once asked a senior editor, then my Adopt-a-user mentor, the following question: "Let's say I happen to access an existing ref for whatever reason. Should I update the accessdate? In other words, is a more recent accessdate preferable to an older one?" Her answer: yes. ‑‑Mandruss (talk) 19:52, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
I mean, it's the nature of the beast. Web publication is more fluid than print. Absent some explicit versioning system we have basically two options. First, maintain an external record of the page somewhere, maybe in an archiving service or in a screenshot, then use that in conjunction with a link to the source to note exactly what the source said at the instant we grabbed it. Second, cite the source as we always do, noting when we found the source. If we update the citation, we then update the access date appropriately. Sometimes it's more appropriate to update the date of the article (especially when the source does so), but in most cases it's basically fine. The first option has a few problems. First, it requires that we depend on an external archiving system because wikipedia cannot host screengrabs of copyrighted content solely for the purposes of verification. is the most obvious choice, but it's entirely possible that they may not catch rapidly evolving stories in time and as noted above there are problems with using their service for this specific purpose. Second, it requires that editors capture the content of these pages when first citing them. Which means to be effective we'd have to do it for all web cites or all web cites which are likely to change rapidly. That's a lot of extra editorial work and a lot of extra work for whatever archiving system we're depending on for what strikes me as little actual benefit. Here's the bigger issue. What matters on the web is the URL. That is our (hopefully) permanent pointer to a resource on the web. And what we care about in that resource is that the cited source supports the claim we make in the article. Those two things comprise our concern with web resources. The rest is, quite frankly, window dressing. If an editor finds that a cited source has changed titles then they should go ahead and update the cite with the new title. Great! But no crisis was averted. If instead they find that the cited source no longer supports the claim in question, that's a bigger issue. And that is not something which a bot will help us solve, nor will it be solved by an archiving service, because our claim (usually) isn't "the NYT said this on 20:45 (UTC) August 24 2014" but "the NYT says this". If a source is updated removing materials that supports a claim, the article should be updated to reflect that! Not maintained because we have a screengrab of a claim that the source no longer stands behind. And that problem should be relatively rare. If we find ourselves in the position of updating our articles as a source changes their position, we should use a different source. Protonk (talk) 20:36, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
If the claim were to be "the NYT says this," then that claim would be plain wrong. The claim should always be made in the past tense: "(at suchandsucha time) the NYT said that." Our CS1 citation templates provide for not only an |accessdate= parameter, but an |archive-url=, an |archive-date=, and a |dead-url= parameter. Together these can deal with most of the variations. A touch of care is needed when the live site continues to use the same url for changed text. In such cases it may require two similar citations for the different versions, only one of which has |dead-url=yes (i.e. the citation of the archived pre-change version). The issue raised by @Blueboar: is addressed by careful citation, without undertaking the wp:OR that he proposes. It is not up to Wikipedians to determine why the publisher changed the text, but nor is it necessary. Cites describe "who" said it, "what" they said, "where", and "when". "Why" isn't within the scope of a citation. Dewey Defeats Truman e.g. LeadSongDog come howl! 19:44, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

What's the correct way to give a page number in a scanned document?[edit]

Page numbers on a physical document don't always match those in a PDF; for example page 56/61 of [22] is labeled 19cc (as the 29th page inserted between 19 and 20). (It also has a third number, 329, which refers to the position in the entire year (beginning in mid-1986), and is probably not worth including.) The actual page number, 19cc, is definitely relevant, but 56 is more useful for locating the page in the PDF. How do I give both in a reference? --NE2 23:36, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

  • The PDF is just a convenience link; the only important thing is the original published page number. Remember, existing in electronic form is a fully optional thing for a reference to be; had no one scanned it, it'd still be a perfectly valid reference. Artifacts of the scanning process aren't really all that relevant in my opinion. Had you never linked to the PDF, it wouldn't be a bad reference, so the fact that the link exists shouldn't make any difference as to how you cite it. If you feel the need, you could include a note, inside the <ref></ref> tags but outside the citation template, that says something like "Citation can be found on page 56 of the scanned PDF file" or something like that; there is no standard rule for this, and there's no law against you being more helpful. --Jayron32 03:59, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
  • What Jayron said. I wouldn't bother with PDF pagination when the page numbers are clearly visible in the scanned document, though. Paradoctor (talk) 09:29, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
  • If you want to include the "56" in the url so that it loads the pdf file pointing at the page, go ahead. I don't remember the format, but I've seen that. "19cc" is appropriate for the stated page number. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 16:21, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
You can do this, but be advised that this requires cooperation from the reader's browser as well as the server hosting the document. Doesn't work for arXiv, for example. Paradoctor (talk) 16:35, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

I don't have an example handy, but what if the actual page numbers repeat or are otherwise not in increasing order? This could happen if a PDF has multiple documents, or if a document is attached inside a larger one (as here, 19cc is the 29th page of the FY 1986-87 budget, but original page numbers may have been kept rather than the new 19* numbers). --NE2 05:30, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

PDF readers just sequentially number pages, whereas typical periodicals will have several preface pages numbered with lowercase roman numerals. In this case, you would use the title of the publication (the pdf title), then use the title of the budget under the volume or section parameter (if I'm not mistaken). Then provide the page number given in the actual document. As for linking, add #page=xx to the URL. - Floydian τ ¢ 13:13, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
When creating a PDF, you can assign arbitrary labels to pages. Paradoctor (talk) 14:14, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
Thinking about it, I recall some documents in which pages are renumbered from 1 in each chapter or section (for those which don't have chapters). Some of those have page "numbers" like III-7, but some just display "7" on the 7th page of the 3rd chapter. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 14:33, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
The point of page numbers is to assist in finding text. If the publisher fails to provide a useful pagination, and you can't link directly to it, just add plaintext pointing to the relevant page. If the source is searchable, pagination is only frosting anyway. Paradoctor (talk) 20:39, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

Can he do that?[edit]

See User_talk:LungZeno. I am not familiar with English Wikipedia. --LungZeno (talk) 13:44, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
Yes I can. I'm telling you you are not allowed to make the changes you want to make because multiple people disagree with the changes you want to make. Until people agree with you, you can't make the changes you want.—Ryūlóng (琉竜) 13:46, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
No other reply to me. Only you disagree with my points.--LungZeno (talk) 15:27, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
That doesn't preclude me from telling you that you're wrong. To those who are not aware, I informed this user that he did not have a consensus to make a change he wanted to on two particular articles to include Hong Kong under a list of "Countries" within the articles because Hong Kong is not a sovereign state, which is what the articles say they mean by "Country". This is also compounded by the fact that the articles in question were attacked by several sockpuppets of a user who has the same change in mind but has been argued to death every time the banned user returns.—Ryūlóng (琉竜) 15:30, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
LungZeno, what you are doing is called POV pushing. Please stop. Blueboar (talk) 16:00, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
@LungZeno: You may wish to read Wikipedia:BOLD, revert, discuss cycle. You made a bold edit and someone else reverted it. The next step would be to review the article's talk page for prior discussions on the same topic and add to the discussion. If there aren't any, you could add a new section on the article's talk page. GoingBatty (talk) 16:25, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
I had stop the edit already and add to the discussion. Thank you for polite and welcome. I think that the edit and revert of other hong kong people may be also because the practice in that articles are not the practice they see generally from the third party. Of course, I may guess wrong. --LungZeno (talk) 16:45, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

You guys should really stop humoring this banned user's sockpuppet.—Ryūlóng (琉竜) 18:01, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

From "Talk:List_of_metro_systems#How_do_you_group_Hong_Kong_when_it.27s_still_a_british_colony". Two users of wikipedia are impolite to me. And they use non-discussion trick. What policy, guideline or system of English Wikipedia can help me? Or I can just face them by only my personal ability ? They say that I am another user of wikipedia. I am not. I know that Wikipedia can "check user". Could I apply in this situation? I feel bad. I feel that one of them tramples my home.— Preceding unsigned comment added by LungZeno (talkcontribs)
Stop POV pushing and acting like a banned user, then.—Ryūlóng (琉竜) 18:36, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
I don't know the banned user. I can not know to whether I act like him/her or not. I want to disprove it. --LungZeno (talk) 19:07, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
You don't need to disprove it. If it's not true, then nothing will come from it. Rob (talk | contribs) 11:15, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

I have suggested a simple solution that will resolve the conflict... these articles are about cities with various forms of mass transit. The issue of what country to list Hong Kong under goes away if we simply omit the "Country" column completely. There is no need for it in the context of these articles. The various cities listed are all blue-linked to articles about the city... and if someone wants to know what country a city is in, they can simply click the link. There is no need to list the country in these articles. If we don't list the countries (at all) then the POV pushing goes away... there is nothing to argue about. Blueboar (talk) 11:58, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

There is no need to humor a banned editor's whims.—Ryūlóng (琉竜) 13:33, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
Ryulong, this isn't a competition. Winning battles with other users (banned or not) is not a goal; the goal is to make Wikipedia better, and if Blueboar has a way to do that, it doesn't matter if the banned user may or may not also like it. Good solutions are good regardless of who would or would not "like" them. It doesn't become a bad solution to a problem merely because someone you don't like also would regard it as a good solution. --Jayron32 19:19, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

Note:User:LungZeno has been indeffed as a sock of a banned/blocked user. All the best: Rich Farmbrough17:24, 1 September 2014 (UTC).

Notifying without canvassing - advice sought[edit]

Greetings, hope I'm in the right place for this question. I want to notify folks involved in a recent AfD about a SPI that at least one of the contributors asked for. Is it OK to post a note to all the AfD contributors? I want to not run afoul of canvassing guidelines. — Brianhe (talk) 21:23, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

In my experience, canavising isn't a what you're doing, it's more a how you go about doing it. Just present the discussion in a neutral way, regardless of your feelings on the matter, and be sure to notify all participants, not just the ones that agreed with you. --NickPenguin(contribs) 22:35, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

Notification of RfC[edit]

People are cordially invited to participate in a discussion about the notability guidelines as it pertains to YouTubers. CRRaysHead90 | #RaysUp 16:13, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

RfC on renaming Notability[edit]

You're invited to participate in a request for comment on renaming notability at Wikipedia talk:Notability. Protonk (talk) 17:14, 30 August 2014 (UTC)

Prod then speedy[edit]

I was under the impression that, in general an article that had been prodded and de-prodded, could not subsequently be speedied. Was I wrong? If not where its the policy/guideline? All the best: Rich Farmbrough17:13, 1 September 2014 (UTC).

There's nothing at WP:DELETE, WP:CSD or WP:PROD that says that an article that has been prodded and de-prodded, cannot subsequently be speedied. However, an article that has been prodded and de-prodded cannot then be prodded again. If any of the speedy deletion criteria apply, one or more of those may be used at any time, even if a prodded article's seven-day grace period is not yet over. --Redrose64 (talk) 18:50, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
Yeah... think of an article that has multiple CSD issues. Someone prods, listing just one of them... that issue is addressed and thus the article is (correctly) de-prodded... yet there are still those other issues (not listed) that might result in a speedy. Blueboar (talk) 20:51, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
A Prod article cant be sent to speedy as " PROD is a fallback for deletion proposals that do not meet the strict criteria for speedy deletion." first lines on Wikipedia:Proposed_deletion. By using prod this user already gave notice that speedy rules dont apply on the article. Mion (talk) 06:27, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Nope. If an article meets one of the CSD criteria, then it can be speedy deleted whether or not it has previously been prodded. Reyk YO! 06:49, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
That would be absurd, a second user de-prodded it, so 2 contributors stepped into discussion, the prodder would evade discussion with the de-prodder by shortcutting to try to have a 50% chance on a consenting admin with speedy. The only logical route would be AFD next so more users can bring up arguments. Mion (talk) 06:55, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Suppose someone prods an article for some reason or other and the article's creator removes the prod. If I show up later and discover the article is a copyright violation or that the article creator is the sockpuppet of a banned user, I can still speedy that article accordingly. Or if it's a re-creation of an article deleted at AfD- PROD doesn't apply at all since it's previously been at AfD but I can still speedy it per WP:G4. Reyk YO! 07:01, 2 September 2014 (UTC)