Wikipedia talk:Categorization of people/Archive 2

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Bypassing NPOV policy by the use of categories

retrieved from Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive#Bypassing NPOV policy by the use of categories 16:45, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

In articles whose subjects are controversial and disputes exist, the NPOV policy requires that we describe the controversy, present conflicting views without asserting them, without advocating any one of them, and with the understanding that views held only by a minority should not be represented as though they are significant minority views, and perhaps should not be represented at all, etc.

I bolded article in the preceding paragraph. Please appreciate that the wikipedia:NPOV tutorial makes distinction how to apply NPOV in "main" or "article" namespace and in category namespace (for that matter, NPOV tutorial also distinguishes how to apply NPOV for article naming). --Francis Schonken 06:51, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

What happens when we create a category that is based on a POV? For example: Category:Charismatic religious leaders. This category states: :This category contains religious leaders whose main basis of authority was or is based on charismatic authority, following's classification of authority. The creator of this category then proceeds to add a number of people to this list. My concern are several:

  • No attempt is made to provide sources that state that these people are considered "charismatic religious leaders', bypassing Wikipedia:Cite sources
    From Wikipedia:Categorization of people#Additional categories: Categories are only assigned as the result of an individual assessment of the content of an article, which should exclude categorisation in that category if the assignation is doubtful, certainly if it is unreferenced for sensitive topics. --Francis Schonken 06:51, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
  • In cases in which there is a dispute about a person fitting such categorization, the opportunity to present all POVs and describe the controversy as needed for NPOV is bypassed. When placing a person in this category, we are in fact bypassing NPOV by not allowing this necessary step to take place.
    The POV/NPOV issue should for each of these persons be treated in the article on this person, the article on the person then can only be added to the category if it can be considered to be part of a set of representative and unquestioned examples (Wikipedia:Categorization of people#Additional categories). So, if doubtful/disputable: don't categorise in such sensitive category. --Francis Schonken 06:51, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
  • Some editors are claiming that if one source describes a person as a "charismatic religious leader", that is sufficient for including that person in the category. Again, this bypasses NPOV by presenting a minority POV as significant, and in this case, the only POV.
    Indeed, categories cannot be as inclusive as, for instance, lists: see also wikipedia:categories, lists, and series boxes - on a list such person could be included, giving the source reference(s), leaving it to the encyclopedia reader to make up his own mind what (s)he thinks about the value of such references. See also topic above about #Lists and references--Francis Schonken 06:51, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
  • In addition, there is a very likely element of WP:NOR, as many of the people included in this category by the editor that created it is based on his assessment of these people and his interpretation of Weber and the application of that characterization to certain people.
    I'm not that experienced in this topic, but if the Weber method for distinghuising this type of characterization is precise, and generally acceptable, and if it is clearly indicated in the category definition (that is the text on the category page), it should be usable. But still, that would not on itself justify the inclusion of all articles on people that fall under that definition: for each of the persons the case should be undisputed (as mentioned above), and also, again according to Wikipedia:Categorization of people#Additional categories, the "charismatic" epithet should for each of the persons included in the category be one of the 4 or 5 words that best characterize this person. Someone might be charismatic, but if (s)he didn't go down in history for being charismatic, the categorization would better not be applied. For instance, Mussolini "might" be charismatic according to the Weber definition, but he went down in history as a dictator very much more than as a charismatic authority. Madonna "might" even be both a "charismatic authority" in the Weber definition, and using religion as part of that exercing of "charismatic authority", yet (up till now) these aspects are not likely to be the characteristics that spring in mind foremost when describing this person. --Francis Schonken 06:51, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

In summary, my concern is the use of categories to bypass the non-negotiable policy of NPOV. ≈ jossi fresco ≈ t@ 12:45, 18 October 2005 (UTC)

Note this category was recently nominated for deletion although it was closed with no consensus reached. Deletion discussion archived at Wikipedia:Categories for deletion/Log/2005 October 3#Category:Charismatic religious leaders. I myself shared jossi fresco's concerns above. Hiding talk 12:57, 18 October 2005 (UTC)
See also Wikipedia:Categorization of people ≈ jossi fresco ≈ t@ 14:48, 18 October 2005 (UTC)
  • I have no favor for or against this category. I just wish to point out something in your statement. You questioned "cite sources", yet you provided 2 articles on Wikipedia which they say they are referecing: Max Weber and charismatic authority. The latter source also revokes the WP:NOR, as it must be encylocpedic or it would not have a Wiki article. As for the question of it not being deleted. Based on the discussion, some of which I stated above, the rules for consensus state that some find consensus at above 50% or 2/3 majority, and others find it at 70% or above. Due to the amount of controversy and complaints received over categories just being deleted "at will", I chose to use the 70% or above consensus. I take in account all the comments and votes of the discussion and try to weigh in where the consensus is. This particular discussion, I fealt there was not consensus to delete, so I closed it as no consensus. CFD policy states that you can bring the category back for deletion approximately after 1 week, and if you feel that strongly about it, then I urge you to do so. Thank you. «»Who?¿?meta 21:56, 18 October 2005 (UTC)
Note that I am not advocating here for the deletion of this Category:charismatic religious leaders (even if I believe that this category should be deleted). I am raising a concern (that has been explored somewhat at Wikipedia:Categorization of people and Wikipedia_Talk:Categorization of people) regarding the bypassing of NPOV by the use of categories. As per your comments please note that although there is a source charismatic authority, that is a distinction made by Max Weber, these sources do not specifically labels a person to be a "religious charismatic leader". A good analogy could be Pathological_liar. The fact that there is such an article does not means that you can create a Category:Politicians pathological liars and add (politician name) to it. So, if there is a distinction called "charismatic authority", we could only add a person to that category if notable sources have labeled that person to be such, otherwise it would be WP:NOR. And if the case was that the "charismatic authority" of such a person was disputed, we are not allowing NPOV by the fact that there is no possibility of presenting the controversy and all sides of the dispute. That is my point. ≈ jossi fresco ≈ t@ 00:58, 19 October 2005 (UTC)
That's understandable, and my comments were mostly meant for the broader audience, as I believe yours were as well. I do, however, feel it is POV, but there is little to be done about the inclusion of articles on CFD, but we have many categories like that, that often get thrown on CFD just for that reason. But I agree with your other assessments as well, they do lack sources, I was just pointing out that the ones referenced were better than none, albeit they may have not been used properly. «»Who?¿?meta 10:33, 19 October 2005 (UTC)
(comment to Jossifresco's comment above:) Well, I suppose that I think the "explored somewhat" in the expression explored somewhat at Wikipedia:Categorization of people to be a serious underestimation of Wikipedia:Categorization of people - there have been serious attempts to make categories more inclusive than the limits now expressed in that guideline, but none of these alternative proposals seemed as likely to saveguard NPOV: "lists" is still defined as the way out for also including the more doubtful cases.
If Weber has a "workable" definition for "charismatic authority" that would maybe make a better category name (using that definition as a category definition) - If I understand you correctly, you also would feel more at ease with category:charismatic authorities, than with the present category name adding the "religious" epithet? --Francis Schonken 06:51, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

"Consider making a list"

The article advised making a list for "for very sensitive material (such as racial or religious categorizations of people)." But because there are categories for, e.g., African-Americans and Baptists, and because "very sensitive material" is impossibly vague, I deleted that bullet point. --zenohockey 17:01, 10 November 2005 (UTC)

Categorization of a person by a person's name

I noticed recently that an article about a person, David Bowie, has been categorized by the person's name. In other words, David Bowie has been placed in Category:David Bowie. David Bowie has not been placed in any other categories. Category:David Bowie contains just five articles about people and things associated with David Bowie. Category:David Bowie has been made a sub-category of fourteen inappropriate categories, for example Category:1947 births. I believe this is illogical and have proposed the deletion of it (and another example I found, Category:Winston Churchill). This has been universally opposed, the main reason being that the practice is well established and is widely used. Personal categories for ten US presidents was given as an example.

The implementation in the case of the US presidents is different. Take Abraham Lincoln for example. The article Abraham Lincoln is in Category:Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln has also been placed in 16 other categories not specifically associated with Abraham Lincoln, e.g. Category:1809 births. Category:Abraham Lincoln contains 42 articles associated with Abraham Lincoln. Category:Abraham Lincoln has been made a sub-category only of Category:Presidents of the United States.

My proposals for the deletion of Category:David Bowie and Category:Winston Churchill are likely to be rejected and thus the categories will remain. Proponents of personal categories have indicated that they would like them to be used more extensively. It is therefore appropriate for this guideline to provide guidance about the use of personal categories to categorize people.

Personally, I think the practice should be avoided where possible. I believe (and comments in the deletions proposals support this) that it is in some cases being done to reduce the number of categories at the bottom of an article, in order to make the appearance of the article more pleasing. The real problem here is over-categorization. The solution is already in this guideline, that is, to reduce the number of categories to the 4 or 5 things for which the person is most notable. I added words to this effect to this guideline, but a user has reverted this because it had not been discussed. I've no doubt discussion can bring forth a better form of words. Whatever that is, I think this guideline needs to say something about this approach to categorizing people.

Alan Pascoe 23:19, 26 December 2005 (UTC)

  • The solution is to change the ill-considered guideline. Look at it from the point of view of category completeness. A category should contain all relevant articles. Winston Churchill should not be omitted from numerous categories of which he is one of the most distinguished members. What the guideline should say is that people should not be placed in categories which are not important to them, eg, a politician should not be classified as a lawyer just because they qualified as such if his legal career lasted only a year or two before he was elected to office and gave it up. Osomec 03:50, 27 December 2005 (UTC)
  • The motivation behind having a category named after a person (like Winston Churchill) is not reducing the caategory clutter at the bottom of Winston Churchill, it's a matter of gathering together articles directly about a person with no other more obvious or useful placement into one category. In this example, for articles like Blood, toil, tears, and sweat and Never was so much owed by so many to so few, there simply is no better way to categorize them. Overcategorization is an entirely seperate issue, and can be addressed seperately.
    The argument that these categories are flawed because their contents don't belong in the category's parent is also flawed because the category structure is not strictly vertical. Whether the various births and deaths by year categories should contain any subcategories at all is somewhat of a murky question, but it's incorrect to argue against the existence of a category because it contains an article which does not belong in the category's parent. siafu 14:29, 27 December 2005 (UTC)

National and occupational categories interaction

I've been adding categories to articles lacking categories, but I'm not sure I've been doing it right. I've been adding every category that applies, such as American people, Musician, American musician, Hip hop musician, and American hip hop musician. But after seeing how few people are listed in the American people category, I'm wondering if the intention was to just list the most detailed categories, such as American hip hop musician. If this is so, please respond and I'll go back and fix the ones I've added. I also think this article should be fixed to explain this point. --JeffW 21:22, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

BTW, I found the discussion of the fooian fooers template completely unintelligible. Is it something a newbie ought to be able to understand? --JeffW 21:49, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

Never mind. I found the paragraph in the main Categorization page that talks about this. It seems that there is some dispute but in the People space not being frugal can lead to so many categories that from now on I'll only place the articles in the lowest category on the "tree". --JeffW 14:39, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

Why retract? The discussion or policy is not clear; if logically clear somewhere it is spread over too many pages to be clear. Categorization of people refers to articles such as nationality, and that one explains that there are multiple meanings of nation and nationality. But should every article on someone Irish be put in one or more Irish-named categories? And if so which definition of Irish should be used? Depending on the answer we may need Irish politicians and Irish American politicians? (That is nationality Irish, occupation American politican; to distinguish from both politicians in Ireland and Irish-American politicans in America.) --P64 16:11, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Order of the categories

I have just discovered that there is a piece of software (Wikipedia:AutoWikiBrowser) which is being used to put the categories in alphabetical order. This also means that the years of birth and death come first. I don't think it is even possible to make any sort of sensible case that years of birth and death are the most important or useful categories for a person, so they should not go at the top of the list. The most relevant categories should come first, eg for a President of France, it would be category:Presidents of France, not Category:1837 births or category:1902 deaths.
The great iniquity here is that a few users who support this policy are able to wipe out vast amounts of effort put into presenting categories in the most useful way using automated software, while doing the opposite takes much more effort. The programmer of this software is taking a hardline, so I think we need to amend policy to have something to challenge him with. I would like to add something along the lines of:

The categories in a biographical article should be organised by degree of relevance. Thus the first categories should be those which define the main reasons why the subject has an article, or contain those people with whom he or she shares the most defining characteristics. Thus the first listed category for a President of France would be category:Presidents of France, rather than a year of birth category, or say Category:Recipients of the Royal Victorian Chain (which is one of Charles de Gaulle's categories). When an article is in many categories it may not be straightforward to choose the best possible order, but think about what is most likely to be useful to the reader.

Any comments? Osomec 23:09, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

Look at virtually any biography, birth/death categories going first is by far the most common, this is a clear fact and it has been since way before any software was made to do anything. Martin 23:13, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
Even looking through the histories of the articles in the quoted category category:Presidents of France, it is clear that birth/death cats first has always been the most common format. This is not a "hardline" it is plain common sense. Martin 23:16, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
Let's not confuse writing the article with adding the categories. Putting the birth date first in the article is fine, but that doesn't mean that the category should be listed first. Ordering the categories by importance has a certain appeal, but it is such a judgement call that it is a recipe for POV edit wars. I suggest we just order categories alphabetically. This is easy to-do, easy-to-understand, easy-to-fix if it gets out of order. It is also "bot-friendly". A bot that is automatically adding categoires will be able to put the category in the proper place. A bot can also be written to easily standardize the categories into alpahbetical order. Johntex\talk 18:44, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
Wonderful idea with the bot. Agreed on what Johntex said. JackO'Lantern 18:46, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
I think that overwhelmingly the Wikipedia custom is birth/death categories first, with subsequent categories grouped according to content (so, for example, categories relating to a person's acting career should go together, as should categories relating to her singing career, and so on. This makes more sense to me, too. With regard to Osomec's idea, which category is more relevant to a person is sometimes clear but sometimes not, so making it a guideline could give rise to much (pointless) disagreement (I'm in agreement with Johntex on that). As for bots, though — I think that it's generally a bad idea to set Wikipedia guidelines around them rather than around human editors (and users). --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 22:52, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
I just want to voice my objection to the custom that birth/death categories are usually placed first. I think they are the least useful and should always be placed last. -- Reinyday, 06:48, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

I think intuitively I did something like this thus far:

factual categories personal characteristics (max. 4-5 categories per the guideline)
birth year year of death official titles ("presidents of country X", "Oscar winners", "Noble prize winners") & professions (mostly by country) - ordered more or less in order of importance of the title/profession; however in chronological order (e.g. first governors of state Y, then presidents of country Z, followed by presidents of non-profit organisation XYZ,...) would be as acceptable IMHO. Things like "this-or-thatism" (e.g."feminists", "Dada",...) - ordered more or less in order of relevance to describing the person; chronological order only exceptionally advised, e.g. when first a prominent adherent of X-ism, and only in a later phase of his/her life adherent of the opposing Y-ism.

and preferably "no bots", also per the guideline that advises not to use bots for categorisation issues that might be sensitive. So a bot that puts birth year and year of death in front, that would be OK.[1] Letting a bot make distinction between "factual" categories and "personal characteristic" categories not OK.

To give an example of this: for the president of an animal rights organisation, categorisation w.r.t. this organisation is "factual"; for a reputable adherent of the views of that organisation, the categorisation would be "personal characteristics" --Francis Schonken 09:46, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

notes
  1. ^ except for P. D. Q. Bach, but that's a fictional composer, so doesn't fall under the "categorisation of people" guideline, but then: the bot should know that.

Support proposed addition Common sense is just a matter of opinion. I think it is common sense to put the most relevant categories first. This is most true for people with many categories as the important handful can get totally lost for people with many categories. The year of birth and death categories are almost useless for any purpose other than tracking whether likely deaths have been missed. As for the arguments about POV, I have adjusted hundreds of biographical articles and I have never encountered any such dispute, so it seems to me that it the issue is neither here nor there. Bhoeble 20:44, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Lots of opposition to alphabeticization on the Village Pump

Several people have objected to alphabeticization of categories in a discussion about year of birth and year of death categories on the village pump:

  • Melchoir "I wouldn't mind them so much if people didn't sort them (alphabetically) in front of infinitely more relevant categories."
  • Gene Nygaard "There are far too many bots and semibots running around alphabetically (with numbers before letters) sorting the lists of categories on the bottom of the article pages. I'd like to see that stopped."
  • Postdlf: "Categories should be grouped and organized based on importance; alphabetical is entirely arbitrary."

Kitteneatkitten wants the year of birth and death categories removed altogether: "I don't see why a link to these at most marginally and rarely useful pages should be at the end of each biography." No one has supported alphabeticization in the discussion so far. Osomec 20:24, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Added a topic to the semi-bot guideline proposal in this sense (Wikipedia:Semi-bots#Re-ordering category sequences alphabetically), hoping (naively, I know) that with enough support for this proposal we can avoid that sort of discussions void of real improtance in the future. --Francis Schonken 20:52, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps a radical idea, I've not yet heard it mentioned, but if the concern is the long list of categories at the end of the article why not use the categories, but make them invisible on the page? That way there would be no concern over the order, other than one that would help an editor to know what was already included. As I have stated somewhere before, from my perspective the value of categories is not at the article end, but the category end. The birth and death category is to review others born or died in the same year. All of the categories should be clear from reading the article anyway and perhaps the subject headers through the article should be the primary categories, backed up with the paragraph/s that follow. Doc 21:38, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
There are at least two types of categories.
Only a couple days ago, reading what User:Doc and others are doing in the find-a-grave wikiproject (under WP:MEA), I learned that the two date categories are valuable to editors who work on biographical articles en masse (missing, stub, and full articles). So I added those tags, which I had previously omitted as food for triviists.
One type is primarily useful for editors (secondarily, of course, anything may be useful for readers, including Category: 1811 births of People from New York). That includes cat by vital dates and cat by editorial tags such as {fact}. Below I have suggested that those category names may be prefixed with characters that sort below the ASCII alphabets, if auto-alphabetization persists.
But categorization is generally useful for readers (and editors helping readers). A category is semiautomated maintenance of cross-references, a vast and dynamic "See also" in effect. --P64 16:58, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Endorsement of sorting by relevance

We really need a sensible scheme here. I have been sorting some articles by relevance, and I have had one complaint, but only one. I have noted that good new articles tend to sort categories by relevance, and I believe it is the natural commonsense majority preference to do so. The alternative is easy but less useful. Having the cateogories in alphabetical order only helps the reader to find a particular category if the reader already knows which categories are there, but most of the time they will not know that. Hawkestone 09:40, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

Yes, ordering by reference to category name or tag placement is destructive.
Does someone (Wikimedia?) order categories by reference to the location of tags within the article? That is, all tag-generated categories always first when the tag appears above the category list, always last when the tag appears below the category list?
Categories such as "Articles needing lots of work before anyone bothers to read them" are only for editors. A few long category names beginning with the word "Articles" stretch across the the first line of the category list, relegating all the categories useful to readers. That is equally destructive whether caused by "Articles" alphabetical rank or by placement of the tag prior in the wikitext to the category links. Of course a tag such as {{fact}} will always be prior in the wikitext.
Given auto-ordering, the names of categories generated by the use of editorial tags may be prefixed with a character that sorts behind all the alpha(numeric) characters. Separately for consideration, the same may be done with yyyy births and yyyy deaths category names. (But because the two date tags are very short, sorting them to the top is much less destructive.)
The good old author-selected categories with meaningful names should be ordered by reference to their meanings, so these syntactical(?) suggestions only go so far.
Given auto-ordering, I do like the admonition to use "People from Foo". Put all those category names in the middle of the list. --P64 16:44, 31 August 2006 (UTC)


Inherent difficulties with sorting by "relevance"

  • As in our discussion, alphabetizing categories is NPOV. Deciding ordering of categories based on "relevance"/importance can be POV. Added comment - and it seems from the discussions above that I'm not the only Wikipedian with this opinion. Seems to be readily recognized that there is an inherent danger of POV problems when deciding on relevance. In addition ("good new articles"), the quality of an article and the categories are really separate issues. —ERcheck @ 11:24, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
    • This isn't any different than deciding what should be mentioned most prominently in the article. I think a "what's useful" standard would be better here, and sorting alphabetically just isn't useful. --JeffW 13:37, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
    • It's a non issue. Like User:Bhoeble I have fixed hundreds without a single POV complaint. We are supposed to be helping readers, not making their lives harder for the sake of imaginary problems or PC timidity. Hawkestone 08:22, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
    • Yes, I agree with rejoinders. Inherent difficulties are not much. Ordering by category name or by tag placement is destructive. --P64 16:25, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Occupational categories first

I am sorting the stand-up comedians by nationality, and I have to say that a lot of the categories are of very low value and should probably be deleted. The occupational categories are easily the most useful, so they should always come first in my opinion. Calsicol 17:12, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

A number of people have made this sort of comment. I think that it involves a confusion between hierarchical precedence and practicality; whether the more important go first or last is a matter of convention, but there's no difference in usefulness. First and last positions are equally easy to find; the only obcure position is somewhere in the middle. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 09:36, 4 June 2006 (UTC)
I am not "confused" and I don't think your asssertion about first and last categories makes much sense. I naturally look at the first category first, and I have a hunch I'm in a big majority in doing so. The first category always begins at the start of a line (the first line indeed) and is almost always wholly on that one line; last categories lack these user-friendly characteristics.Calsicol 03:47, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
I agree with the rebuttal. Qualification: The two vital date category names are exceptionally short, so that a numeral almost always appears on the last line. The numerals make vital date category names typographically distinct from most category names, too. For both reasons, they will not be lost at the end of the list. Other categories with typographically distinct, even shocking names will also be easy to find at the end.
The claim is a weak generalization. Maybe it is reliable for people without any proper noun categories. But "President" or "Olympic medalist", for exmaple, may well be more important (useful to more browsing readers) than occupation such as politician. Whatever reason there is for categorization as "Google employees" is likely tomake that category more important than any occupational one. --P64 17:14, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Another advantage of sorting by relevance

Even when categories are alphabeticized (which I agree looks silly) they don't stay that way. I've been looking at a lot of articles over the last few days, and in many cases there are a few in alphabetical order followed by some random ones at the bottom, presumably recent additions. This creates a worst-of-both-worlds situation which is neither tidy nor useful. At least if the most relevant categories are put at the top they stay at the top when more (usually relatively trivia) categories are added. In articles with a double figure tally count, the great majority of the utility lies nearly always lies in just two or three categories. The main aim should be to get the primary categories, which are usually the occupational ones, at the head of the list. If that is done and left in place the accretion of increasingly trivial categories does little harm. I've seen a lot of American politicians with 6-8 categories for fraternal organizations and the like today, and those categories most certainly do not deserve the equal treatment with the political categories which alphabeticization confers. Chicheley 01:33, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

It seems to me that this is similar to there being several styles of references used. There the guideline is to follow what the originator of the article or primary contributor has started with. My biggest concern is that without a guideline time is being wasted by the changes. Addition of missing categories is one thing. In my opinion, alphabetical is the only NPOV way to organize them. What's wrong with the dates being first? They are the first thing after the name in the article as well. Folks that are interested will scan the list of categories and again in my opinion the categories are the most useful from the category end, not the article. Why does the order matter other than that there is a standard and that one can find what has been omitted? Doc 01:53, 18 June 2006 (UTC)
In an article dates give context, though they are not as important for doing so as the statement of the subject's main accomplishments, which should also appear in the first sentence. However when people reach the bottom of an article, they no longer need that context. The role of the categories should be to provide easy navigation to other articles on closely related topics. Most of the other people born in the same year as the subject will not be closely related. The purpose of the article is to inform about the subject, but the purpose of the categories is to allow people to navigate away from the subject. These functions are so different that there is no reason to apply the same logic to them.
People shouldn't have to "scan" a whole list of trivia to find the key categories. Those should come first. If they want to find other connections, then they can scan, but it shouldn't be an effort to find a political category at the bottom of an article about a U.S. senator (and I've seen a lot today where it was). The category system reveals the lack of restraint that is one of Wikipedia's main flaws. I think in a professionally edited encyclopedia only a few key categories would exist, but in Wikipedia biographical articles are in all sorts of trivial categories and the situation is sure to get worse. Thus it is important to prioritise the main attributes of each article. As I said on my talk page the POV issue is a red herring. Editorial discretion is required from the first word of any article to the last, so it not a change of direction to apply it to the categories too. We owe it too the readers to give them a system that is as well organized and user-friendly as we can make it. Chicheley 02:08, 18 June 2006 (UTC)
I think that sorting alphabetically is the only logical way that will not get completely out of hand. For example, I tend to edit articles on hockey players. We have categories for hockey players by team, by nationality, plus other categoriess. It is quite normal for a hockey player to have played for ten or more teams in his career. e.g. Drake Berehowsky is in ten team categories plus three other hockey related categories. If you tried to come up with rules on how to sort these by relevance, it would be a nightmare to maintain. -- JamesTeterenko 18:28, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
I think that would be a mess if other categories end up being sorted in between the team categories. I would think that you'd want to make a rule amongst the hockey editors, or even more generally among editors that work on sports teams if that can be managed, that team categories should come after birth and death date categories and before political affiliation categories and that the team categories be sorted alphabetically (for example). Although I could see an argument for sorting the team categories chronologically by when the player first played for that team. --JeffW 18:56, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
My mind boggles that anyone can think that birth and death categories should come first. It is really not difficult at all. Just put the most useful categories first. When there are more categories, tidy things up. But the great thing about putting the key categories first is that they stay there when people add more categories because they nearly always do them at the end - that ruins alphabeticization, but it doesn't matter very much if you focus on having the key categories first. The birth and death categories are almost completely useless to readers. Does anyone seriously dispute that? Just because they are easy to make, that doesn't mean they are important. Chicheley 01:00, 23 June 2006 (UTC)
It just seems neat and orderly to me. Everyone has a birth and death (or living) category so just put them in front so that they'll always be in the same place. But maybe I'm being too anal. --JeffW 03:00, 23 June 2006 (UTC)

Personally, I have a tendency to sort them partly by relevence, and then alphabetically.

  1. The nice thing about the dates is they are short. So, I often put them first.
  2. Where something is very important, say the nationality and occupation, I put all the related occupation just after that (those 10 teams mentioned above alphabetically), and then the dates and residence.
  3. Contrary to Chicheley, there shouldn't be any trivia. When I find trivia, or categories for which the person isn't notable, I just delete them!
--William Allen Simpson 06:38, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
It's a fact that there are a lot of trivial categories - multiple fraternity organsastions for American politicians, multiple orders of knighthood for British politicians and Razzie nominations for actors are good examples, and the number is more likely to go up than down. Chicheley 13:46, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

Disputed cats

I recently came across {{SCD}} and {{Categorisation of people disputed}}. I'm rather curious about the utility of these templates. I don't see how they are helpful to either readers or editors. Since there is no way to determine which inclusions are disputed, the reader gains no knowledge from the template except that Wikipedia is unreliable. It's also useless to most editors of the disputed pages. Apart from the fact that many editors never bother to look at the categories in which a page in included, once again, there is no way to know which pages are disputed. I don't see these templates supplying any useful information. It just accepts low quality standards by throwing in a disclaimer. You might as well add these disclaimers to very page on Wikipedia. Guettarda 00:05, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

Re. "utility": the guideline (Wikipedia:Categorization of people) describes when and how to use these two templates. Did you have any trouble with these descriptions? --Francis Schonken 08:57, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
Yes - I don't see how they are useful. They don't convey any information other than "our process is unreliable". That's true for any category. If someone has a problem with inclusion of an article in a category, they should take it up at the article, and failing a resolution go for WP:DR. Adding a template to a category isn't helpful - it doesn't identify which articles are disputed. If a template conveys no useful information, why does it exist? On the other hand, if a category is inherently problematic, then there should be a clear explanation of the problem on the category page, not boilerplate. Guettarda 13:56, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

Split between policy and guidelines

Francis recently did a bit of reorganization, and re-added some text that is similar (yet not identical) to text on the Wikipedia:Naming conventions (categories) policy. While generally supportive of his changes, there is still too much duplicated between the two. I tried a more Wikipedia:Summary style approach.

I'm still not satisfied with the By gender, religion, race or ethnicity, and sexuality section. I combined the previous terms ("By religion, race or ethnicity" that Francis changed to "By gender, race and sexuality"). The text actually references categories "People by religion" and "People by race or ethnicity", so these should be mentioned in the section header. But all encompassing is rather long. Perhaps this could be split?

--William Allen Simpson 14:12, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

By residence: city demonyms

There's another category deletion debate, about varying from "People from Foo" to local usage Wikipedia:Categories_for_deletion/Log/2006_June_21#Category:People_from_Detroit.2C_Michigan_to_Category:Detroiters. This has picked up inconsistency, for example between Category:New Yorkers, which is redirected, and Category:Londoners which is live. Since local knowledge could be required in many cases, I'm only thinking about the cases where Google does confirm common usage, like "Londoners" (4.2m hits). So could we head towards adding a sentence or two of guidance about exceptions. Maybe something like: Exceptionally, where the commonly used English name for residents of a city is known globally, the category "Foocityers" may exist to redirect towards "People from Foocity".?? --Mereda 11:42, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

That may be a good way to handle it. The decisions have been extremely inconsistent, with Category:Dubliners (city) recently renamed/merged to Category:People of Dublin, but Category:People from Brooklyn recently renamed/merged 2 days later to Category:Brooklynites. I support using the {{category redirect}}. I'd like to emphasize "globally well-known" and "unqualified city name". Brooklyn, New York is merely a borough, I'd never heard of "Brooklynites", and most of the US thinks of them as "New Yorkers". There are other Brooklyns all over the world.
--William Allen Simpson 14:19, 22 June 2006 (UTC)
OK. No other comments at the moment, so I'll try it on the project page. --Mereda 08:41, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

By race or ethnicity

I've bumped into the issue of a full-to-overflowing race or ethnicity category, my example is Category:African Americans, so as a first step I've posted a suggestion on Wikipedia Talk:WikiProject Ethnic groups#User-friendly categories. There seem to be two problems: being able to see the sub-categories (against screen competition from large numbers of individual articles); and, settling expectations for using sub-categories for individuals (eg. main people + profession sub) within the ethnic group. I find it odd, thinking of a global readership, that for example Sammy Davis Jr. is only in the profession subs, while Charles Drew is in the main and profession subs. Since I strongly suspect that the "main" category is wanted, I'm wondering how to make that more workable. Who's got a neat answer? The closest I've got is to think of a catchall Category:African American individuals to head the list of sub-categories, along with posting helpful guidelines on the category pages. --Mereda 07:50, 23 June 2006 (UTC)

First of all, the Wikipedia:Categorization#Guidelines are very clear:
 3. Articles should not usually be in both a category and its subcategory.
Who the heck is making all these recent ethnicity+profession categories? That's clearly against Wikipedia:Naming conventions (categories) policy! We categorize nationality+occupation, and in notable instances (for activists in the field), race and/or ethnicity separately.
Stop this category clutter!
--William Allen Simpson 07:27, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
Best of luck, you'll need it :) --Tom 15:38, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

The Wikipedia:Categorization#Guidelines do say that "Articles should not usually be in both a category and its subcategory". However, the important word here is "USUALLY". There are many exceptions listed, and ethnic categories is even used as an example of the exception. There also has been broad support for duplication categorization when categores are broken up into small pieces because of multiple categorization. For more about this please read the recent archives of the categorization talk page. Before wholesale reorganization of the people categories, please discuss your plans on the categorization talk pages. --Samuel Wantman 19:59, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

I think Samuel Wantman's referring us particularly to the recent Wikipedia_talk:Categorization/Archive_11 discussion. My thought in starting off this discussion - firstly on Wikipedia Talk:WikiProject Ethnic groups#User-friendly categories - was to see if there might be a road towards consensus in choosing between a closed set of three logical options for this particular problem. (Are there others?)
  • Option A - status quo
  • Option B - let's do something, and push for consistent use of subcategories instead
  • Option C - let's do something, aimed at being user-friendly, using subcategories and also thinking about whether we want a method - like a catchall (sub)category - that gives users a big searchable list
More discussion would certainly be needed, towards a consensus on guidelines, before making changes if a "do something" option starts to look viable. I'm anti-A myself. What do others think?--Mereda 20:58, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

I'd like to give an overview of the situation as I see it, and some history. This problem has been discussed for quit a long time, and there is not as yet a clear consensus. The proplem is due to the inability to create intersections of categories on the fly. If it were possible, there would be no need to create all these smallest ethnic-national-profession categories. People would just be placed in categories that relate to their "lowest level of notablility" (this is my term for it). For example, Sammy Davis, Jr. would be in Category:American actors (* Singers, * Dancers), Category:Multiracial people, Category:African Americans' rights activists, and Category:Converts to Judaism, etc... A user could request the intersection of these categories to find all the African-American Jewish-American actors. This system of intersection has been discussed for years, and has been requested from the developers. Perhaps one day it will come to be.

The question is what to do in the interim. There is a consensus that the purpose of categories is to make Wikipedia more useful for browsing. It is not a pure taxonomy. As I see it, there are 3 alternatives and I think the third is the clear winner. Here they are:

1) Do not clutter up the category system with categories that are intersections of other categories. Eventually the software will be able to create these categories on the fly.

2) Create all these sub-categories now, and remove people from the larger categories and put them in the sub-categories. At a later date, if the software changes, the larger categories can be repopulated.

3) Create all the subcategories now and populate them. The difference from the second alternative is that the articles would also remain in the parent categories. At a later date when the software changes, the intersection subcategories would be removed and the larger categories would not need to be repopulated

The advantage of the 3rd system is that it creates all the functionality of having the upgraded software without needing the upgrade. People looking for a complete listing of all American actors would find it, and people looking for just African-American Jewish actors would find it as well. The disadvantage is that it would take some time to repopulate the larger categories that have been emptied, but this is work that would have to happen at some point in all three scenarios. The other disadvantage is that it will hard to determine if all the members of the subcategories are in the larger categories and vice versa. Bots might be able to help in this effort. To make this work would require making it clear that duplication is happening. For an example of this, see Category:American film actors. -- Samuel Wantman 23:11, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

The policy says that "there are many articles which should be in both a subcategory and a parent category". I don't see a problem with a flexible approach and it's a non-issue where people in an ethnic category are only notable for one reason. The practical problem I see arising from the ethnic categories arises when people in an ethnic category are notable for several reasons and could therefore be placed in several ethnic-attribute categories, which is overkill. In an ideal world I would like to see ethnic categories abolished altogether, but that is unrealistic. I don't see a solution to this other than to urge restraint. Certainly I don't want to see any bots let loose on the categories. Bots are like templates that do categorisation - they are never programmed to take all the issues into account and they make a mess of careful work done on a case by case basis. Hawkestone 19:10, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

I think there’s something workable getting closer, the 3rd way, aiming to clarify what’s going on. I think we agree that ethnic group category pages, like any others, ought to say clearly if the usual practice of not duplicating category+subcategory is NOT being used. How about this, aiming for something on the ethnic group Project page?

  • Some categories for ethnic groups also have sub-categories. The purpose of using sub-categories is to make it easy for users to browse through similar articles . See Wikipedia:Categorization#Guidelines Articles about individuals may often be in more than one sub-category (for example, as a notable activist for the ethnic group’s rights, and by profession). Articles should not usually be in both a category and its subcategory, so a category page should say if this usual practice is not in use. For an example of this, see Category:American film actors.

If that kind of thing is non-controversial (?) I'm happy to paste the suggestion over to Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Ethnic_groups#User-friendly_categories. Secondly, we might try to tidy up some of the category clutter, but without trying to pick a fight with Category:Irish-American boxers and so on.

  • Exceptionally, where it has become difficult for users to browse, an ethnic group may need a structure of sub-categories similar to that of a nationality. This means the ethnic group may become the grandparent of, for example, occupational sub-categories. For example, “Basque Elbonian businesspeople” would be a sub-category of “Basque Elbonians by occupation” which is a sub-category of “Basque Elbonians”.

I think the effect of that would be to compress the sub-category clutter on the screen for, say, Category:African Americans. What do others think?--Mereda 12:53, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

There MUST NOT be a category "Basque Elbonians by occupation" because there is no nationality (country) called "Basque Elbonians". We do not categorize occupations by ethnic group. That results in POV wars. What part of the meaning of policy is not understood? This is a guideline. It cannot override policy.
It is not difficult for users to browse. There may be many pages of Category:African Americans, and they should be nicely sorted by surname. But since readers are only browsing, there's no need for more. Since they are African-Americans, subcategorizing by country (the usual technique) is a waste of time.
There is no need to create intersecting categories, such as by occupation, or by religion, or by sexual preference. These are all indempotent, and unrelated.
If there is a deep need for a category intersection search, then check bugzilla. Until then, we just use CategoryTree.
--William Allen Simpson 02:26, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

I'm trying to understand whether there's a wide gap between that view of "need" and what numbers of editors are actually doing. There's what I would identify as a pattern, where we can see Category:Irish-American boxers and so on. Is all of that against policy?? My suggestions are trying to find a way of increasing user-friendliness, and that can include - as I've suggested - making conventions and guidance a bit more visible for "ordinary" editors so that there's more consistency and clarity in using categories for people. And where we can't get more consistency, then I feel we can still get clarity about any proposed exceptions and encourage full discussion about whether the exception is worthwhile, like that example of Category:American film actors. --Mereda 07:05, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

Trying to do that, I've now added some text at Wikipedia:WikiProject_Ethnic_groups#Categories_and_subcategories. I've just aimed to be accurate and non-controversial! And since I think the "all included" exceptions would be benefit from more consistency, I've raised that now at Wikipedia_talk:Categorization#The_Allincluded_template_for_duplication_cases. --Mereda 08:23, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

The damage that was done by alphabeticizing bots

As I categorize more articles, I see more and more clearer how much careful work was casually wrecked by the alphabeticising bots. There are many examples where people added hidden text to encourage people to sort the categories (nearly always with occupational categories at the top) which have been made a nonsense of the bots. Then there are all the cases where hidden comments have been added to explain individual categories, but these have been sundered from the relevant category. This applies to hundreds of Oscar winners and a good number of other articles. Chicheley 12:42, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

There was discussion at Wikipedia talk:Categorization (now archived) about alphabetizing of categories. The consensus seemed to be that there was no policy to alphabetize, and we requested on the AWB talk page that it not be used. However, once something is in a piece of software, it is hard to get people to refrain from using it. Perhaps the maintainers of AWB could be persuaded to do a new version that doesn't have it. --Samuel Wantman 19:21, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
From what you say there also was no consensus not to alphabetize, correct? So this means that consensus must be gained on each article? The archive link goes to a page which does not seem to have archives past mid April and I can not find this discussion. Thanks. Doc 21:54, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
If you click on the "discussion" link above, you'll see the discussion. There was only one person who was advocating a policy to alphabetize. Everyone else seemed to agree that it wasn't always the best idea, and often not a good idea to alphabetize. There was some agreement to let this be decided case by case, or subject area by subject area. That said, I think it is useless to talk about this unless AWB alphabetizing is either removed, or there is a warning whenever it is used. The warning could be, "CAUTION, there is no established consensus for the widespread alphabetizing of categories. This should be discussed before implementing. Alphabetizing categories withoug discussion may upset many editors. Remember, you are responsible for any edits made with AWB, so discuss alphabetizing with others. Are you sure you want to alphabetize categories?" -- Samuel Wantman 05:35, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
The alphabetising option was removed from AWB ages ago, so no warning is needed. Martin 08:50, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for drawing my attention to the correct link for the archived discussion. Since there is no consensus on dates at the beginning or the end and alpha vs. weighting categorys by importance which has, in my opinion POV problems, it would seem to me that if an article is already in alphabetical order with dates at the top, that the burden should be to bring up the discussion on the talk page first before changing an existing order. If after several days no objection is obtained on that article, change away, but consensus on each article should come first. There are clearly strong feelings on both sides of this issue and all parties should try to avoid edit wars. To make a change from existing order, based on one's own POV, without first gaining consensus, is just setting people up. Doc 16:06, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
That's ridiculous in my opinion. There are around a quarter of a million biographical articles, I am working to improve categorisation of them on a large scale and the rate of objection or reversals of sorting by relevance is miniscule. There is no more need to bring such edits up on the talk page than for any other small edit. Chicheley 13:40, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
From the comments here there seem to be a considerable number of editors that still believe that the alphabetical order with birth and death at the top is preferred. So in my opinion to set up edit wars is also ridiculous. The community here is built on consensus and until we have this to be making massive changes is unreasonable, in my opinion. Your effort will be for nought if the final guideline comes out with alphabetize. I, for one, have held off rv some of your orders solely to not start edit wars, hoping for some consensus to be gained. So far we don't have that. In my opinion you are not improving them when you remove alphabetical order Doc 21:49, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
You seem to me to be opportunistically proposing mechanisms to support the status quo because you happen to agree with it. I'm suspect your approach would be very different if they prevailing situation was different. But then the prevailing situation isn't really what you think it is. Across all biographical articles - not just those for prominent people, but all of them - the percentage with pure alphabetical categorisation is small. Even where the bots did there damage alphabeticisation is usually ignored when new categories are added. And as for the prominent people, well very few of those I amend are reverted. I am utterly convinced that I am doing good work and dismiss your attack on my efforts as nothing but a reflection of your poor judgement. Also your ignorance of all the incidental improvements I make as I go along, in terms of setting up new categories, sorting names alphabetically and so on.Chicheley 06:15, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
Wikipedia policies are more descriptive than proscriptive. That means that policies don't come first. At first, people just do things the way they think makes the most sense. At some point someone disagrees, and then you need to discuss the problem and come up with some sort of consensus. When the solution is widely adopted you write a policy. In this case, since everyone seemed to agree that there is not yet a standard way of ordering categories, there needs to be discussion at the appropriate forum. In most cases, I think that means discussion in WikiProjects. If there is a controversy on how to order categories for people, the WikiProject on biographies should be the place to discuss it. -- Samuel Wantman 01:28, 4 July 2006 (UTC)
No, this is the place to discuss it. I have never looked at the WikiProject on biographies and don't wish to. I can see little point in such an amorphous project and prefer to get on with improving Wikipedia rather than chatting in smoke filled rooms. Chicheley 06:17, 7 July 2006 (UTC)