Wikipedia talk:Categorization of people/Sensitive categories/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3 Archive 5

Comments originally on project page

I've moved these comments originally by User:Radiant! from the project page. I think we should use that page to summarize the discussion and any consensus that is reached. -- Samuel Wantman 02:42, 2 September 2005 (UTC)


Obviously we should have categories about feminism, race activists, LGBT liberalists etc. That is not being debated here. People who have made important contributions for equal rights should obviously be recognized as such. The issue here is whether it's appropriate to classify everybody as such, e.g. "scientists by race", or if it's more appropriate to combine those into "scientists" since that is the more important trait.

This is probably a controversial and sensitive can of worms, but it ought to be discussed at some point. However, as a ground rule (per WP:RPA), any remarks made purely to be offensive will be removed on sight. Discuss, not shout. Also, this is not a vote.

Gender

This usually appears in two ways: titles of nobility (e.g. should we have Category:Monarchs, or should it be Category:Kings and Category:Queens?) and professions (e.g. Category:Women scientists as a subcategory of Category:Scientists). Interestingly there are hardly any such categories for men. Is it useful to separate the categories for any profession into a male and a female section? Also, if we have it, should it be "female scientist" or "woman scientist" or what?

Well you must say there's more male scientists than female scientists. A woman may be particularly interested in female scientists (like Marie Curee) but I can't really see people being specifically interested in male scientists rather than scientists as a whole. Its not really sexist, its just something of interest. Redwolf24 (talk) 19:17, 2 October 2005 (UTC)
I have to agree. I believe the term "male nurse," for example, is very often used in conversation and can be utilitarian insofar as this often designates a nurse of greater physical strength than is expected. E.g., "Grandpa had a male nurse come in and move him." Jtmichcock 12:43, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
Interesting point. On the subject of monarchy, where should we put people like Hatshepsut, who were biologically female but reigned as "kings"? Anville 15:49, 31 October 2005 (UTC)

Race

This mainly appears for categories of African-Americans, sometimes called Blacks instead (and, of course, a uniform naming may be preferable). This issue seems mostly centered on America - indeed, you hardly hear about "Indian-Europeans" or "African-Asians".

You do however hear about "British asians", "French morroccans", etc. Europe isn't a country.

"African-Americans, sometimes called Blacks instead" Some people do mix up black people and African-Sowewhere people, but that is an erroneous point of view WP shouldn't adhere to. There are actually threee of four types of "black" and/or "African" people:
  • people who have a black skin (who don't necessarily have any direct or indirect link with Africa)
  • people who are labelled "black" but arenot black (e.g. Obama)
  • people who are African or whose an ancestor was an African (these people are not necessarily black, nor necessarily labelled "black")
  • I don't know to which extent people called "African-American" or "African-elsewhere people" are included in the previous category.

If we have an article about an association devoted to black people, we should categorize it in a category about "black people", not in a category about "African-Somewhere people", unless we have a proof that this association is actually interested only in African-Somewhere people. Apokrif (talk) 10:54, 16 July 2010 (UTC)

Sexuality

Categories for gay or lesbian people by profession are frequently seen, even if the sexual preference of those people seems to be irrelevant to the profession. The weirdest one I've seen was Category:LGBT Ancient Greeks or thereabouts, which really didn't make any sense as our values cannot be applied like that to a culture that existed 2000 years ago.

Apart from the appropriateness of this categorization, an interesting question is how the categories should be called. Should it be "gay" or "homosexual"? Should there be separate categories for lesbians and bisexuals (the latter being relatively rare) or should it be combined into something like "LGBT"? Or maybe a less PC term?

Maybe it should be Category:Ancient Greek Queens ?

Discussion copied in from Wikipedia talk:Categorization of people

I copied this here to give a quick breakdown of previous thoughts on the issue. Hiding talk 08:49, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

Splitting/not splitting categories by gender

Perhaps we should start with trying to agree on something small, and then move up from there. We currently have a proliferation of category schemes that both do and do not categorize people based on gender. Do you think there should be a rule?

Personally, I think the distinctions between "gods" and "godesses" and "actors" and "actresses" is an accident of English, and not a very useful semantic breakdown. So I prefer recategorization under gender neutral phrases like "deites" and "actors and actresses". I'm not sure just "actors" is acceptible, because it still has a gender connotation for many English speakers, and some people will assume the corresponding "actresses" categories exist, and try to look there or put people there without looking.

BTW, are there precedents elsewhere in Wikipedia policy? --Beland 04:32, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Hi Beland, there are of course Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style#Gender-neutral_language (treating gender-neutrality as a wikipedia policy), and the Sie and hir article that treats a particular implementation of gender-neutrality. Personally I'd try to make categories gender-neutral as much as possible (but not in the "Sie and hir" way, which seems over the top in my view). Some categories might be difficult: if Aris objects to using deities as example here, try this one: w:category:priests (I re-managed this one as an umbrella-category yesterday, so not limited to a single denomination) - making this category gender-neutral could be the next step. --Francis Schonken 07:48, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)
This isn't really the proper place to discuss the categorization of deities. That should be properly done in Category talk:Deities and probably add mention of the discussion as well in Category talk:Gods and Category talk:Goddesses. For the record I agree with you -- I'd prefer merged categories for all those deities, regardless of gender. That's what I did with the (much smaller) Category:Fictional deities category which was likewise subdivided into fictional gods and goddesses until I merged it. But as I said -- such an extensive change would need discussion of it in the relevant categories, not here.
As for actors and actresses, I do find the name a bit long and awkward. I'd argue in favour of putting them all in Category:Actors with a note that this category applies to both male and female specimens of the kind.. However I think this ought to be discussed again in the relevant categories, before we do any mass merger. Aris Katsaris 05:27, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)
At least in the US, we generally refer to all people who act, male and female as actors, so actor has become the gender-neutral term. I think also priests is gender neutral. A female priest is also a priest (except in certain religions, like Wicca, we don't use the term priestess). Generally, I'd like to see gender-inclusive categories, except when a category just is gender exclusive (for example, Category:Mothers or Category:Queens). -Seth Mahoney 21:22, Sep 17, 2004 (UTC)

I attempt following summary & list (Francis Schonken 19:05, 19 Sep 2004 (UTC)):

  • General policy: Category names as much gender-neutral as possible, unless where there is a specific & acceptable reason not to do so.
  • List (cases can be added as they come up, so we can keep this as a reference, and for voting where necessary):
    • category:actors: experienced as enough gender neutral (for the time being).
    • Priests/priestesses: proposition: category:priest(esse)s - or is that too unpractical? Note that "Wicca" would not end up in this category (for the same reasons as up till now "imams" are excluded by the category definition). But antiquity had quite some women whose function now generally is translated to "priestess" (see also priest article that explains that two different groups of ceremonial people are now translated as "priest", which implies "priestess" if they were a woman - which was not all that exceptional in antiquity). Other proposition: continue this exchange of ideas on w:category talk:priests
      • The problem with Category:Priest(esse)s, aside from its unreadability, is that, for example, in the Episcopal religion women can be priests, and they are still referred to as priests. The use of priestess seems confined to modern pagan religions and ancient religions, which would push a POV. Maybe have two categories (I know this goes against what I said above): Category:Priests and Category:Priestesses, and add people by title, not gender, so there will be women in Category:Priests. Then again, are there any people that are both encyclopedic and who it would be useful to categorize as priestesses? -Seth Mahoney 20:57, Sep 19, 2004 (UTC)
        • Look at my suggestion at Category_talk:Priests. We don't need the category "priests" at all -- it's bizarre to have the same category to refer to the priests of ancient Egypts and the priestesses of ancient Egypt and modern Christian clerics (whether Eastern or Roman Catholic) but *not* Rabbis. We can instead create a category "Christian clerics" and have "Episcopal priests" (or Episcopal clerics or whatever the title is) be a subcateg of *that* if the need ever arises for such a categ. Aris Katsaris 02:26, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)
    • Queens/kings: I don't think presently there is a need for either a "kings" or a "queens" category: the umbrella category would be something like category:royalty I suppose, and if this category gets too large I would rather split up by country than by gender. Also: for royalty "series boxes" seem more advisory than categories.
    • Don't know for categories like "mothers"/"fathers"/"parents" - would wait till someone would need/propose such category for a specific reason.
      • "Monarch" is the gender-neutral world for "kings"/queens and we already differentiate monarchs by country. Aris Katsaris 21:40, 19 Sep 2004 (UTC)
        • Indeed. No need to change. James F. (talk) 09:30, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
Dismissing all gender differences as an "accident of English" is way over the top, and not linguistically appropriate as most languages have gender differences, and in many they are more prominent than they are in English. I don't think we should split up every single category, but there should be flexibility. There are many cases where gender is important, and monarchy is one of them. Because male monarchs have always been the norm in almost all societies, a female monarch is in a different position, and comparison of what has happened to female monarchs is relevant. But I would keep single categories for "Monarchs of X" while also creating categories like "European female rulers". Also in sport, the genders generally do not compete. Combining male golfers with female golfers is only marginally more useful than combining them with male tennis players. The current policy denies freedom of debate in specific cases because those on one side merely have to say, "it's policy that we do it this way, so your views don't deserve consideration", while those on the other both have to argue the merits of the specific case, and confront the policy. CalJW 14:39, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
More generally, I think we need to treat Wikipedia policies dating from 2004 and earlier with scepticism, other than the five pillars of Wikipedia. The early Wikipedia contributor base seems to have been heavily skewed towards certain groups, eg Libertarians and technophiles, but now it is much more represenatative of the general population, and I believe that some things that are deemed unchallengeable consensus are not in accordance with the wishes of very large numbers of users. For example the minimal capitalisation policy, which I believe reflects the early predominance of techies. CalJW 14:47, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

Categorisation by race

We should not do categorisation by "race". At the moment, some people are categorised by "race" (Michael Jackson), while others are not (George W. Bush). It seems only "black" people are categorised by "race". This is a racist bias. To remove the bias, either no, or all, people should be categorised by "race". Since "race" is not clearly defined, it's better to do no categorisation by "race" than to try to define a "race" for every person in Wikipedia. Since "race" is not clearly defined, it is not possible to categorise by "race" at all. See User:Gerritholl/stupid categories for a list of race-based categories. Many should disappear. See also: Wikipedia:Categories for deletion. Gerrit CUTEDH 28 June 2005 13:17 (UTC)

If by "race" you also mean ethnicity, it is untrue that it is applied only to black people. It is applied across the board, the only obvious gap being that we don't have Category:WASPs. See Category:American people by ethnicity. These categories provide significant user value, and should be kept. Some individual ones may be stupid, but that needs to be argued on an individual basis. -- Visviva 29 June 2005 03:43 (UTC)
I say categorize by nationality and culture, not race. Michael Jackson is an African-American, so he should be classified as such. Robert Blake is an Italian-American, and should be categorized as such. To the best of my knowledge, George W. Bush has no strong ethnic ties to another culture, so he is properly termed an American. It is not POV to identify an African-American person as an African-American; some articles read rather ridiculously (Rosa Parks, for example) without the mention. --FuriousFreddy 8 July 2005 14:25 (UTC)
I noticed that Category:White people was deleted. I've been trying to wrap my brain around that decision. We have Category:People by ethnicity/race, Category:Black people, and Category:European Americans. Not having a Category:White people appears to create a gap. - Nat Krause 14:28, 3 August 2005 (UTC)
Category: Black people needs to be renamed to Category:People of African decent. And Category:European Americans is, in a sense, Category:White people because white people are indegenous to Europe. Something like Category:White Americans is not neccesary because, by default, Americans are considered to be white. African-Americans, Asian-Americans, etc. are sub-categories of the American population. It would be like having Category:Black Kenyans or Category:Hispanic Puerto Ricans. --FuriousFreddy 15:51, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
  • "By default, Americans are considered to be white." - I find that point of view discriminating. By default, Americans are considered to live in America, and they can have a wide range of skin colors and still be considered Americans. Radiant_>|< 10:19, September 2, 2005 (UTC)
When someone thinks of "Americans", they are far mroe likely to think of white persons (the overwhelming majority" than any other ethnic group or culture. The United States has never had a non-white President, and most of the politicians, celebrities, etc. that you see on the news are white people. Integration in America is barely a half-century old phenomenon, and is still not a complete success. That's why I say that having a category of "White Americans" is unneccessary. --FuriousFreddy 14:04, 2 September 2005 (UTC)
"And Category:European Americans is, in a sense, Category:White people" ... huh? White people = European Americans? What about all of those white people who don't live in America? Category:White people would, then, include all European-descended people in the world. In some cases, for instance when dealing with white South Africans, this can be a very significant piece of information. - Nat Krause 15:17, 4 September 2005 (UTC)
Don't disrupt Wikipedia to prove a point. A category of "Persons of Eurpean decent" is far better than "Category:White people", just as "Persons of African decent" is better than "Category:Black people". --FuriousFreddy 17:40, 4 September 2005 (UTC)
As stated before, "African descent" is still not clear cut. Moroccans and Egyptians are Africans, and have been so for thousands of years, and yet they look more like Arabs or people on the European side of the Mediterranean quite often. "Asian descent" covers a large number of backgrounds, from Turks (the original Asians), and Iraqis, to Indians, to Siberian Russians. In the USA and Australia, "Asian" is used to mean Oriental, but in the UK, "Asian" is used to mean Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi. Both are right geographically, and wrong because they exclude other Asians. It becomes even harder when people are mixed race... Malcolm X was of partial European descent too, like many other "African" Americans. --MacRusgail 22:21, 22 October 2005 (UTC)
I agree that we should not categorise by race; I think the argument...


difficult to term certain things "ethnicity" rather than race as a way of trying to get them in.

James F. (talk) 09:34, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
It isn't "racist" at all. I believe it is generally liberals who want to bring these issues to the fore nowadays. But it shouldn't be done as it represents an agenda, ie that splitting people of the same nationality up into slices by ethnicity is desirable. CalJW 14:33, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
...so this is a political thing? We have articles on African-Americans, African-American culture, and other such things. What is wrong with categorizing African-American people as African-American, Latino peopel as Latino, etc, long as it is not in a POV or offensive way? Furthermore, how can people who aren't directly affected by something determine if something is "racist" and "offensive"? It is not a thing of racism or singling out people; most cultures take pride in their identity. I say it's racist and offensive to disinclude such categories, to try and pretend like other cultures don't exist.--FuriousFreddy 15:51, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
It should be possible to categorize people as Category:Real blondes and Category:False blondes, Category:Blue-eyed males, Category:Brown-eyed females, Category:Bold people, Category:People born with a cleft. No, I am not being serious. But I can not imagine that anyone would seriously use "race" for categorization of articles on the wikipedia. First of all "race" isn't very clear, then there's all kind of mixtures, maybe not in the USA, but in other parts of the world different "races" do interbreed (and produce fertile offspring), and last but not least, it is not very important to which "race" somebody belongs. Taka 09:36, 1 September 2005 (UTC) This comment was posted on the project page; I moved it here where (I beleive) it belongs. I apoligize if this is not correct
I don't see it as categorization by race, but categorization by culture (which is why the category for mulattos was deleted). To beny that African-Americans, Italian Americans, Latinos, etc. each have a culture all their own is ridiculous. There's nothing POV about categorizing, say, Usher (entertainer) in a category of African-American muscians: it places him in a group among his peers and his predecessors. In most European countuires, I could see the point, as there, the prevalent nation establishes the culture (German culture, British culture, etc.). America being a melting-pot nation, we really don't have one definite identifiable culture, but little specialized subcultures. I would strongly oppose any decategorization by culture, as it would appear to be a whitewash of all cultures to create some sort of homogenized categorization that really doesn't exist. However, I would oppose things such as Category:Light skinned African Americans, Category:Mulattoes, and the like.
Are you worried about offending anyone? The (very few) black editors that are here (myself included) are far less than offended by the organization of African American categories. BTW, "African-American" is the US-Census approved term to define people with ancestors who are indegenous to Africa, and it is politically preferred over "Black" (note capital), although the two may be used in tandem. --FuriousFreddy 15:51, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
It is very telling that FuriousFreddy is arguing in favor of African-American categories, and I, a gay American, am arguing in favor of LGBT categories. I don't see African-Americans, Women and LGBTs clamoring for the removal of these categories. -- Samuel Wantman 05:01, 2 September 2005 (UTC)
I am in complete agreement with FuriousFreddy and Samuel Wantman. This being an encyclopedia, it should certainly provide a resource by which interested persons can find information about who falls into a particular social/ethnic group. To put it another way, eliminating such categories diminishes the importance of the achievements and contributions of members of groups that exist in a society where they are, in fact, set apart by those who do not share the characteristics that define the group. -- BD2412 talk 18:25, 3 September 2005 (UTC)
Of course everybody wants to make sure that the thing that he/she experiences as his/her own subculture, will want to categorize that as such. If only to make it a matter of importance and a matter of identity. The wikipedia is however not meant to give an identity to people belonging to subcultures. It is too much a US thing to ignore the fact that subcultures together create a culture. A category "African-American", although it might be recognized by the US government, is should in the light of the world-wide encyclopedia be something like "African-US", as there are large parts of of America (including a complete continent called "South-America" in which "African-American" is not a government-recognized term and if it is, it has a completely different meaning. US-culture is not world-culture. I will resist against pushing the US-view on the world as being the way the wikipedia should be categorized.
As about who wants which categories gone: you don't know which users belong to which subculture except when they say so. People that say so are explicitely propagating their subculture. Which is of course ok, but I don't think that propagators of a subculture to which they themselves belong have more to say then those who don't.
As for LGTB. I have seen efforts on nl.wikipedia to put everyone who was known to be homosexual in a "homosexual icon" category, even people that did not play a role in the emancipation of homosexuals. That fact that somebody is an "icon" and "homosexual" does not make him a "homosexual icon". This is because a categorization as "homosexual icon" makes somebody part of a subculture to which the seperate categories "homosexual" and "icon" do not give any necessity.
For example I fail to see why Roxann Dawson (B'Elanna Torres in Star Trek) should be categorized as Hispanic American actress, because she's only known from Star Trek, which is a series that very much bridges and ignores all those US-subcultures. And in the article about her, her hispanic backgound is not even mentioned. This counts for the majority of the Star Trek actors. Another example is Bill Cosby. I fail to see why he should be categorized as an "African-American" when it's a cultural category and not a race-based category. His TV-shows represent human culture, not African-American. And although Carl Lewis might have played a role in the african-american subculture in the US, he is mainly a very important athlete and in the article he is presented as just an "American athlete" and nothing is mentioned about his role in the African-American subculture. Need I go on? Because there are numerous examples like this.
I see the efforts to categorize everyone according to a subculture as an effort "claim" such people exclusively for an own subculture and thus "stealing" them from general culture. This has two effects: it effectively "steals" the importance of people from general culture and it also diminishes the role of such people to only the subculture.
My solution: mention such people in an article about the subculture, that is, if they are important enough. And mention their importance to the subculture in the article about the person itself. The categorization-solution is lazy and simplictic because it does not explain anything and leaves the readers wondering why the article is categorized as such (except when it is a race-based categorization, which it then apparently must be to readers, leaving them wondering why other race-based categories are missing).
Taka 10:50, 4 September 2005 (UTC)


1. You're splitting serious hairs with the "African-US" thing. Although it may or may not be 100% accurate, remember that this is an encyclopedia for people to read, and those people need to be able to find what they are looking for. I think it is far less than neccessary to change the category on African-Americans, to, say "Category:United States residents of African decent" ("African-US", wuite frankly, makes no sense); that's taking political correctness and the like to a ridiculous conclusion. I say stick with government-approved terms for whatever cultural categorizations there are.
2. As far as who wants what categories gone, none of the other African-American users (I only know of three other active ones besides myself) want any of the categories gone. In fact, we have to fight just to make sue that Rosa Parks and Eddie Murphy are mentioned as being African-Americans (the Rosa Parks article in particular does not read properly without such a distinction).
3. Roxann Dawson should be identified as a "Hispanic American actress" (or Latino actress" which I believe is he current proper term) because that is what she is and it is nothing to hide, delete, omit, or be ashamed of. She even apparently portrays a Latino-based character on her show (if the last name "Torres" ss of any indication, although I'm assuming that the character is not of this earth). Category:Hispanic American actors places her in a category of her peers and the people with whom she is compared and contrasted to. In fact, she appears in Hispanic interest works, such as Foto-Novelas , which is inspired by Hispanic literary traditions [1] [2].
4. To even attempt to state that Bill Cosby's television shows, not to mention his plethora of comedy routines and albums, his creation of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, and his political views as well, do not represent and have significant ties to African-American culture is to be completely and hopelessly oblivious to the truth. Cosby's very foundation is in African-American culture, and his work shows it. Cosby is an example of someone who absolutely should be in such a category. The Cosby Show was the very first American television who to portray a two-paent family as beingsuccessful and not poor or of low class. African-American culture is a subset of American culture (one of many), and Cosby's work is important to both, but remember that it is important to both, and not just one or the other.
5. the reason why Carl Lewis (and many others) are not mentioned as African-Americans is because people keep deleting such references, in some sort of an attempt to whitewash and homogenize notable persons into an "American culture" that doesn't reallyl actually exist. Using the categories, and not making a mention in the article, was a compromise for the (less than thoughtfiul) users who say things like "he doesn't have to be identified as "African-American": we'll just add a picture, while going on to put "Irish-American" here and "Italian-American" there.
6. YOur solution would not solve anything. Lists would never work, because there would be too many people to place on the lists (which is why we use cageories). There are 547 persons in the Category for African American musicians alone, and each of them is important enough, otherwise they wouldn't have an article here. As far as pointing out why each is important to their subculture, that is fine...as long as the same is done for every other biographical article on Wiipedia; otherwise, I would demand, in all fairness, a deletion of every culturally based category in the encyclopedia (which is just about the nuttiest thing anyone could do).
In conclusion, I am shocked, angry, and ashamed that we are even having this (admittedly ridiculous) conversation. It's making me re-evaluate whether the Wikipedia is something that I, or anyone else, should really want to continue to contribute to, if its users intend to attempt to undermine the importance of certain cultures's contributions to society.
--FuriousFreddy 17:40, 4 September 2005 (UTC)
No Categorization Unless It's Relevant To The Entry. There is an anonymous user out there who is trying to attach the descriptor "Jewish" to any and all celebs/musicians that may possibly be Jewish. Seems just as absurd to me as the A-A distinction, unless their race has some particular relevancy to their art/music/political view, etc. Let's keep the focus of an entry on why the person is notable, not on sidelines. If their race is important to their work, by all means include it. Otherwise not.  ::::--Morton ("Matt") Devonshire 11:24, 21 December 2005 (PST)
You might be shocked, but that is probably because you are a US-citizen. The wikipedia is not a US-project. This discussion probably shows the gap between the US and other parts of the world (I am from Europe, if that wasn't clear yet). People are in the first place human and contribute to a world-wide culture. Let me try to comment on your points, and keep in mind that it is in no way meant to shock or make angry. It is because there are other perspectives on the world then the US perspective.
ad 1) and 2). As I said: it should be clear that the separation of races/subcultures in the US in my eyes is quite strange. Politically I also think that it is a dangerous thing. In former Yugoslavia everybody had a thing called narodnost (nationality) written down in their passport, even though most people were of mixed narodnost. If people would not belong to some ethnic group, they hardly have a reason to kill people of another ethnicity. I don't think that stressing ethnicity is a good thing. I am aware of the fact that this probably looks different for US-citizens, and indeed that it can be a very sensitive matter. You should realize that this sensitivity is a US thing, not a worldwide thing. For me the categorization is mainly a matter of "if a war would start: on which side would somebody be on". And that is something i'd rather not see.
ad 3). My argument in the case of Roxann Dawson is exactly in the same line. For US citizens she might represent some Hispanic subculture, but if she had not been categorized in the current article as hispanic-american i would not even have known. It is not even mentioned in the text of the article. If she is a representative of a hispanic-american subculture then at least it should be mentioned in the text of the article, and not only mentioned, but it should be elaborated how she contributes to hispanic-american culture. That is information. The category itself holds hardly any information. Apart from the ethnicity of her parents, I still have no idea what makes her "hispanic". It has been argued that such categories are not ethnic but cultural. Then elaborate. Thats is exactly why i call categorization-only as lazy: it does not explain anything at all.
ad 4). Of course Bill Cosby is a black person. But frankly I have no idea how his views are typically "African-American", and what is probably more important: there is only very little to find about it in the article. But The whole concept of "African-American" is a US-concept. He is known here (in Europe) for his TV-shows, especially the Cosby Show. I completely agree that in the article is something mentioned about his views on african-americans. That is information worth mentioning. What is really missing in the article however is how the US black community has responded to his criticism on the black community, what the African-American community thinks of him: does he still belong to it or is he criticized back. Now that would be interesting.
ad 5). Of course there is a thing called US culture. One of the points of that culture apparently is not calling it an "American" culture but splitting everything into ethnic subcultures. Carl Lewis has done enough with the American flag to make him a representant of the American culture. Of course it is interesting to see how that works, while looking from the other side of the ocean. Carl Lewis is an American citizen, and that is why he is categorized as such. In the article there is plenty of room to mention his contributions to "African-American" culture, but there is nothing to find. Again here the text does not explain why he is then categorized as such. As far as the article concerns, this categorization does not root in anything or is a matter of laziness of not taking the time to elaborate it in the text of the article. The same counts for the categorization of Carl Lewis as a "vegetarian", "baptist", "drunk driver" and "born-again Christian" . It is not even mentioned in the text. So yes: here's my point of view: every categorization of an article should be a result of what has been written in the text of the article. If not then either the categorization is a matter of laziness (not taking the time to write some information in the article) or is not justified (there is not enough reason to categorize a person as such, because there is nothing to write about). Or - and that is worse in my opinion - the categorization is a politcal statement: "this person belongs to us and his achievements are ours". That is what i call "stealing" a person from a more general culture for a subculture.
ad 6.) I have never talked about lists. I have talked about information in the text of articles, as i have also explained in the above points. It is by far more informative to elaborate somebody's position in a (sub)culture then by just putting someone in a category. My point is in general that a categorization in stead of writing text is a wrong approach, because it does not explain anything. I understand that in the case of US-ethnicity-categories the matter is politically and emotionally sensitive and I even think I understand that for US-citizens it is such an obvious thing that it is politically incorrect to oppose such a categorization. The US-society is apparently experienced as such by all US-citizens. But things are a bit different when looking from another perspective.
So let me summarize my points:
1). Please put information in the text of the article when it is relevant. A categorization that is not explained in the text of the article in not a good solution.
2). I do respect that there are subcultural nuances in the US-culture and I find that information about this should have it's place in the wikipedia. But it should not be used for political means as "claiming" that someone (including his/her achievements) is part of a specific ethnic group or subculture. The wikipedia is not meant for such political activities. And it should not be used for pushing the US-view of the world on the wikipedia. I think that this part is the hardest to understand for Americans, because the ethnic seperation is rooted very deeply in US-culture. Efforts to resist a categorization acoording to this US-view are easily taken very highly, as if it were a denial of emancipation of blacks or something like that. I apologize if it is taken like that, because that is not my intention. Please don't be angry. This discussion is not ridiculous. This discussion is because also non-US-citizens contribute to the wikipedia, and because the wikipedia is also meant for non-US-citizens.
Look at some black Dutch soccer players: Ruud Gullit and Michael Reiziger are black, with roots in Suriname, but not born there. Others like Edgar Davids and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink are black as well and born in Suriname. The categorization is according to their country of birth. And all are categorized as Dutch footballer. That sounds perfectly correct and logical to me.
Taka 08:05, 5 September 2005 (UTC)
It's not correct, nor is it perfectly logical. I understand your perspective, but you need ot understand mine. Americ isn't like Europe, there isn't and has not really been much assimulation of seperate cultures into one American culture. Categorizing people by culutre is perfectly acceptable and reasonable, and each country or region should organize its residents based upon how they are organized in that country. I know Wikipedia is not just a US-project; I've always known that. However - people from the United States do read it and do contribute to it, and reguardless of who reads it, the encyclopedia should provide a factual world view and not some homogenized blanket of "Americaness". We should not have one large gigantic "category of American people"; besides being hard ot manuever through, it would be a whitewashing tactic that would offend me and several other people I know far more than anyone could ever presume such categorization could supposedly offend us.
If there is no black Dutch subcultre, good; there's no black Dutch subculture. But there is an African-American subculture, with cuisine, hairstyles, music, African-American literature, and more that are all unique to it. To try and disinclude the people who contributed to all of that is utterly ridiculous.
About your suggestion that it could be a "potentially politically dangerous thing", in America we call that sort of mentality "political correctness". While it is sometimes useful, it can often get out of hand or be used in a detrimental way. This is one of those times. I know there are racist people out there. African-Americans were enslaved for 400 years in this country; freedom for us is not even two centuries old. Asian-Americans were discriminated against when they first started mass migrations in the late-1800s, and certainly during World War II as well. But that doesn't mean that we pretend like their cultures don't exist and try to smother them with a whitewashing blanket. The categoriation is FAR more than a "if a war would start" mentality (how could you even suggest a thing like that?). I would almost demand that you (thoroughly) read the articles related to African American, Hispanic American, and other cultures before making another reply.
Perhaps the persone working on Dawson's article didn't have time to sit and elaborate on why Dawson is important to her culture. It's very possible that he person who made the article was a Star Trek editor trying to plug a red link with an article. But you need to understand: some people of certain cultures are important to that culture just because they are important enough to have articles. They are symbols for the people to look up to, persons to instill pride and faith in. Those people are important to the culture because they represent that culture to the world. Asian people who have never seen a black man in person know who Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan are. Don't yank people out of categories or whatever because their "importance to a culture" is not mentioned. If they have an article here, they had better be important to the culture and the world, or they need to be listed on AfD. It is not a "denial of emancipation"; it's a denial of assimulation and homogenization, two things that have not happened here and may not ever happen here. This is not a political thing, and should not be looked as such. It is a cultural thing.
People aren't "excommunicated" from the African-American community. No matter what Bill Cosby says, he's always going ot be important to the black community: he was the first black man to star in a television show--I Spy, he created Fat Albert, The Cosby Show, etc....all important television shows highly influential in improving the depiction of black people on television. The reason that you know about him and his TV shows in the Netherlands cements his importance to the African-American community; before Cosby, how many black television actors became widely well known over there? As far as how people view his comments, to be quite honest, they're devided. Young black people are mad, and old black people agree with him. Cosby's comments are typical of a black person of his age; I've heard my granddmother (and my father,for that matter) make parallel statements.
"this person belongs to us and his achievements are ours". What is the difference betwee nan African-American saying this and an American saying this? because it's a geographically-based culture, and not an ethnic-originated one and it's "safer"? African-American culture is a subset of American culture. That means Carl Lewis belongs to BOTH. That concept should not be so difficult to grasp. As far as those other categories go...perhaps they should be mentioned in the text. But just because they aren't doesn't mean they should be deleted on site.
I'm sorry I misread about the lists. Yes, mentioning someone's importance to a culture is worthwhile if they've done something truly extraordinary, but, again, many people are important because, as famous people, they are representatives and icons of their respective cultures.
Yes, this is a very silly argument, because you don't, and possibly would never be able to, understand the importance of this issue. No, Wikipedia should not be US-centric, but coverage of US subcultures should not be cut down as a result. These are my standpoints:
  1. Categorize by culture, not race. If a black person doesn't claim to be African-American, but just American, Cablinasian, or whatever, then don't put them in an African-American category. Simple as that.
  2. Mention when people have done history-making things for their people, but each and every article included in a category for a culture does not require a rationale for why they are important to their culture
  3. Do not whitewash the Wikipedia by reoving categorizations for subcultures. You'll open up a gigantic can of worms and give birth to a publicity nightmare that no one wants.
  4. People who do not understand a country's culture should be careful in suggesting solutions for that country's coverage in an encyclopedia. I don't know the first thing about the Netherlands, and I wouldn't dare trying to make judgements on how the related articles should be arranged or organized.

--FuriousFreddy 14:41, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

There are many points we do agree on. We agree that we are talking about subculture and not about race. We agree on the importance of information about the role someone has played or is playing in a subculture (and I really want to make sure that you know that i think this is important information). We agree on the intercultural approach of the wikipedia and the importance of that. We agree on the fact that i know next-to-nothing about the African-American subculture in the US.
What we disagree about is mainly the way the categorization (as a whole) should be done. That is why i am discussing here, not because I know a lot about the subject of African Americans, but because I have an opinion about the way categorization should be done. While i see there is a connection between all African Americans, I don't think for example that there is a difference between African American basketball players and other US basketball players, so they should not be in different categories (there is now a Category:African American basketball players, although Michael Jordan is not in this category). What would be needed is a keyword African American, and not a category. Because what you might want is to be able to search on "African American" in combination with anything desired. This in stead of having a seperate category for African Americans for anything thinkable. I have no objection against using "African American" as a keyword where it is fit. The wikipedia does not support keywords (yet). The question is then what will we do as long as the wikipedia does not support keywords. Do we make a category for now, or do we wait untill keywords are being supported. I do for axample think that a category like Category:Vegetarians does not make any sense, neither do Category:Drunk drivers and Category:Born-again Christians. If anything they are maximally keywords.
I do agree however that there is a African American subculture in fields as music (thank God for the blues) and literature. Maybe also in cuisine and haircut, but the finesses in those cultures don't have my personal interest, so i find that hard to judge.
Apart from the above: the whole issue African Americans is a very sensitive subject. I have no intention of whitewashing anything. But as you have a point of making clear that the US is not an all-white country, I do have a point that the world is not just the US. Surely it should be possible to make both points


Taka 21:04, 5 September 2005 (UTC)
  • This debate is getting nowhere. Of course the world isn't the U.S.; likewise, the U.S. has a large amount of influence on the world. Still, to try and force a category like "Category:United States residents of African decent" on people would be silly because few in the U.S. or the world would be able to understand it. Beside, in the U.S. there is a distinction between African Americans who have been in the U.S. for ten or more generations and the new African immigrants who have come to the U.S. in the last decade or two. While there is overlap in these cultures, they are distinct. However, "Category:United States residents of African decent" would not make any such distinction. The category would also seem to run afoul of the Wikipedia no original research mantra. Basically, Wikipedia users should not try to create racial or other categories that don't already exist in the greater literature and culture. Finally, I hope everyone here understands that this discussion has only a few users who are going around and around on this issue. As a result, it's ability to suggest anything to the larger Wikipedia community is limited.--Alabamaboy 00:14, 6 September 2005 (UTC)
Simply "Category:African American (US)" would do.
The influence of the US on the world is not of importance in this matter because we are talking about something that is only meaningful in the US itself.
You don't have to interprete things into silliness to make your point. That's a bad way of debating. Taka 16:12, 6 September 2005 (UTC)
Keep the category as "Category:African Americans". Anything else is silly and would be trying to impose a new category that is not currently in use. In addition, African American is understood around the world and "Category:African American (US)" is redundant since no other groups in the world use the term African American. BTW, when a debate decends into total farce, then using satire to make a point is totally acceptable. I also totally agree with Deeceevoice's comments below.--Alabamaboy 20:08, 6 September 2005 (UTC)
An interjection: As a Brit, i find African American (US) as absurd, as it only seems to have meaning if taling about a US-American. What is an African-American outside outside the context of the USA? Sandpiper 08:31, 30 October 2005 (UTC)
It's not silly. There are "African Americans" outside the US. Publications have been written with a title as "The Creolization of African-American Slave Kinship in Jamaican Free Village and Maroon Communities", "Afro-American Arts of the Surinam Rain Forest". There is a study-project focussing on "African-American History and Anthropology" that focusses on Suriname, Brazil and Mexico ([3]). Encarta speaks about "African Americans in Latin America" ([4]. The university of Idaho gives a course in "Comparative African American Cultures" with the purpose "to offer an overview of African American history and cultural expression in the United States and other regions of the Americas" ([5]). Need I go on?
The worst thing is that this shows again how neglectant US-citizens can be about anything that is not happening in their own country. Taka 14:19, 7 September 2005 (UTC)
          • Actually, I am well aware of events all over the world, having lived abroad for a number of years. The examples you cited are attempts to apply the use of a group name in the United States to other groups in other places in the Americas. My point is that Black groups and African descendents in Central and South America DO NOT use the term African American on their own. Your cited examples are where researchers from the United States and Europe applied the term to other groups in the Americas. My point before, and I repeat it again, is that in terms of racial categories, one should use the terms that the different racial groups use. One should not force racial terms onto other groups or change the terms by which these groups refer to themselves. To try and change the term by which Black people in the United States refer to themselves is the worst type of Eurocentric behavior.--Alabamaboy 14:32, 7 September 2005 (UTC)
Why is there no reason to use categories that researchers use to define something they identify? Sounds to me like a very good reason.
There is nothing wrong with specifying "African American" to a certain country, because in this case it *is* tied to a certain country. Sometimes a term has more meanings. That does not mean that African Americans in the US need to change how they call themselves, it's just that in a world-wide encyclopedia it needs to be specified by country. There's John Smith (Ohio Senator), John Smith (UK politician) and John Smith (Welsh politician), yet they never called themselves like that.
I thought that we were talking about subcultures, not about races. Maybe that takes a bit of the weight off the discussion.
Taka 16:15, 7 September 2005 (UTC)
Taka's point is a slam-dunk obviously correct one. While there is not a subcultural group outside the USA that broadly uses the phrase "African American" of itself, in academic discourse (yes, mostly in the USA), the phrase is used sufficiently widely of people outside the USA that disambiguation in the category titles is worthwhile. Putting the disambiguation parenthetically at the end is the standard WP way of showing that it is there for disambiguation rather than as part of the noun phrase itself. In other words [[:Category:African Americans (USA) in <profession>]] or the like.Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters 18:05, 2005 September 7 (UTC)
      • It is impossible to separate the discussion about the subculture from the discussion about the race. Personally, I wish we lived in a world where race didn't matter, but we don't live in this ideal world, we live in the real one. As a result, the discussion involves both. As I said, the term African American is extremely specific; it has no other meanings. Black people in the U.K. are not called African American. Black people in Brazil are not called African American. As a result, I oppose categorizing it by adding U.S. to the term.--Alabamaboy 16:25, 7 September 2005 (UTC)

Race and ethnicity matter. Always have. Always will. Keep the references to race and ethnicity. deeceevoice 01:35, 6 September 2005 (UTC)

Well said Taka and FuriousFreddy! Before, I contribute to the discussion, I encourage to read the article on Race and its subsection about the "social construction of race." I agree with Taka that the ethnicity catagories impose a typically American paradigm on Wikipedia. But, I agree with furious that this paradigm belongs to many readers, who will expect to be able to view wikipedia in that way. For example, someone may ask "who are the african american musicians of the twentieth century?"

Because Wikipedia works towards consistency, we need to either put catagories everywhere or nowhere. Personally, I think labels are the best way at it, but since we don't have them, I think we might have to stick with catagories that follow the existing hegemonies -- Which is very unfortunate, because I reject the conception of ethnicity, and think that looking at things in this way is wrong-headed and I think catagories imposes on me this way of looking at things.

Some more things:

This kind of catagorization opens up some difficult problems. For example, adbusters ran a list of jewish people in power in america last year that was very controversial. I think that some wikipedians would definitely freak out if someone did that here.

This is a reason that labels are much better; they don't coerce your thought to fit a way of thinking (i.e., they are npov). Instead, you can choose how to combine labels when you are searching.

Also, as a personal aside so that we can understand one another better :) FuriousFreddy, you wrote that we should "Mention when people have done history-making things for their people". To me, the idea that we all belong to individual people -- like team black people and team white people -- feels wrong. In my eyes, this paradigm enables racism, is unscientific, and has no social benefit. It was invented to maintain the power of some people over others (ever read or listen to Tim Wise, on znet?) and has since been maintained as the predominant way of thinking.

human, all too human, :)

MisterSheik 03:53, 7 September 2005 (UTC)

Criteria for categorization

This discussion, rather than try to decide on these categories by class, should examine the criteria for what makes for a good, useful category and apply those criteria to the categories in question. I think there are just two important criteria:

  1. Is the category useful to users. Will it make it easier to find articles of a similar variety. This might be because the members of the category are a small subset of a large category.
  2. Does the category cover a legitimate field of academic study. Are there articles in Wikipedia or elsewhere that discuss this category? Are academic courses taught in the topic?

Using these criteria to decide will result in different decisions depending upon the situation.

The decision might be that Category:American actresses is not needed because roughly half of the entries in Category:American actors are female. However, Category:Women composers would be useful because of the rarity of female composers.

African Americans have long been a legitimate field of academic study. Having categories of African Americans are useful to scholars of the field. I doubt there is a need for every ethnicity of American being in a category. If someone can show a need, then let them have a category.

Sexuality is covered by both criteria for categories like Category:LGBT politicians. I doubt it could be justified for Category:Straight atheletes or Category:LGBT Ancient Greeks.

So let's ask, "Is it useful?" and "Is it studied?". If the answer to either is "Yes", then just let it be. -- Samuel Wantman 19:58, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

My point precisely. That means I fully agree with the kind of discussion you propose, not necesseraly with all your conclusions.
Categories shall not, and can not, reflect all of a subjects characteristics. That's what the article is here for, right? So categories are for the highlights, for those those few charecteristics that are most relevant for the subject. This a general thought, not only for people which is the subject here.
Suppose we have someone here who could be described as a homossexual, white, male, American, politician. Why is the article here? That's what should go to the categories. He certainly is not here for beeing homossexual, white, male, American or any combination of those -homossexual American, white male, etc.. So, certainly politician is a must as a category. Even the choice of word's order says it all, some of you may have switched the first two but I think most would use the same order for the last three. He is a politician who just happens to be American and so on.
Both for the practical reason of not letting a category become so huge as to become useless, and for the usefulness of defining that politician scope of action, categorizing as an American politician is certainly desirable.
Being, say homossexual, is not relevant by itsel, as a cat. But if his politician action is mostly on homossexual rights that is. Even if he is heterosexual.
Hmmm... it looks like I agree with you fully, after all.
And I admit I'm not very used to Categories, and I wouldn't be surprised if we are simply stating some already existing policy or guideline.
Nabla 19:51:03, 2005-09-02 (UTC)
Well, the above criteria make plenty of sense. And, yet, we should be aware that, by following them, we risk, or even encourage, normalizing white-Americanness as "standard" and other backgrounds as "non-standard". In other words, if can try to categorize based on what we perceive as notability and relevance, but since people will always see whatever is different than themselves and their peer group as more notable and distinct than what is the same, so our categories will always tend to reflect the viewpoint of the editors (which is and, for the foreseeable future, will be mostly white, middle-class, and primarily American). - Nat Krause 15:13, 4 September 2005 (UTC)
Notice that I stressed that gender, race and sexuality are most unlikely to belong in a category. I guess no one has an article on WP solely for being (fe)male; white, black, or whatever skin color, race or culture; neither for being [hetero|homo]sexual.
Perception of others by some is hardly a problem. Except maybe when the "some" try to push a POV, but that's another problem.
For a while let's look at categorization from a far-point, i.e., lets forget gender, race, and sexuality. What is the real issue? Why do we need a category? Because the "parent" category is too large. "Too large" is left undefined. For example, in WP we can consider a category "too large" when it has more than a (couple) page(s). How should we split it? By maximizing the information we get from each division.
(I only have a somewhat basic grasp of information theory but here goes anyway. Coorect me where I'm wrong, please)
Considering a sub-category to be a "message", its information is -p*log(p). Where "p" is the percentage of articles that fit in a given category. This is maximized for p=0.37, so splitting in 3 categories of aproximally equal size would be ideal (p=0.33). Off course we obviously see some groups ought to be split in more than 3, so let's consider this to be a uppur bound: when splitting the largest category should have a maximum of 1/3 of the initial articles. A lower bound is more subjective. For a division to have half that maximum of information it should include 1/15 (7%) of the articles. Discussing that any further would be more off-topic than necessery for my conclusion. Let's just say that a good subdivision should have about up to 15 sub-cats each one larger than 1/25 (4%) of the total articles.
In conclusion, back to gender, race and sexuality...
When looking on how to subdivide we should look for subdivisions of about 1/3 of the total. Gender and sexuality can hardly fit that criteria. Race may, but nationality or culture are probably better. When we can only see a split by those, most likely it is not because its is the best split, but because we don't know how to split it better. If we know the subject well enough we will be able to see a set of some other 3 (or 5, or ...) caracteristics that distinguish the individuals.
Sorry for a long dissertation... In short, it's not your personal perception of what looks notorious whithin a set that counts. It's the set itself that shows what is notorious.
Nabla 23:54:11, 2005-09-08 (UTC)

Categorization by gender and sexuality revisited

There is one compelling reason for categorization by gender and sexuality: feminism for gender, and queer/LGBT studies for sexuality. These are useful categories for some people to use as starters for research in either of these areas. Its unfortunate that we can't just have Category:Men, Category:Women, Category:Intersexed people, etc. on one hand, and Category:Heterosexual people, Category:Lesbians, etc. on the other and then populate those categories with every article about a human being and have that prove to be useful to, for example, find examples of lesbian historians by somehow pulling out all those articles that belong to both Category:Lesbians and Category:Historians. This would avoid the complaints regarding ghettoization that have arisen from time to time.

There are, of course, also examples of people whose gender or sexuality has profoundly influenced their work. Mary Wollstonecraft, for example, would hardly have been as convincing were she a man. Likewise, Michel Foucault's work would likely have ended up very different (were he compelled to write philosophy at all) if he was not gay. In both the examples above, there are valid encyclopedic reasons for including the respective categories. In fact, any encyclopedia or work that failed to mention that the people in question were women, gay, or whatever, would be profoundly lacking.

There's one other issue regarding LGBT categories specifically. I highly suspect (in fact, I know this is true of many editors) that there would be no issue were the category not visible on the article page. To me, this (and the fact that even the most valid of these categories seems to show up on CfD every other week) suggests a subtle POV is at work: So long as that which these people share remains hidden (as is the case with lists), it is perfectly fine. When it becomes visible (as happens with categories), it becomes immediately problematic. It sounds a lot like the old "quit pushing it in my face" quip.

All that said, there are some very bad examples of gender and sexuality categories. As mentioned in the discussion above, Category: Women scientists would almost always be ridiculous. There are probably few cases where a scientist's being a woman would have had any sort of profound influence on her work (though there are feminists who argue, sometimes convincingly, that gender has a profound influence on everything a person does). Likewise, Category:LGBT Ancient Greeks was a mistake, since calling an ancient Greek person "gay" or "trans" would be absurd - the societies in which they formed their identities, sexual and otherwise, were just far to different from ours to claim that sort of continuity.

So, I'm gonna bring up an old proposal again:

Categories regarding gender and sexuality should only be applied to an article when the person's gender or sexuality had/has a profound influence on their work. The person's gender or sexuality must thus be mentioned (and not just a passing mention) in the article, along with an explanation of the influence it had/has on the person's work. Articles should not be put into these categories if such an explanation is lacking or suspect.

-Seth Mahoney 01:45, September 2, 2005 (UTC)

I agree with almost all of this, except for the proposal. Once a category is created it makes sense to populate the category with all the articles that fit the criteria for membership in the category. If you are going to have Category:LGBT actors it makes as much sense to have people included when their sexuality had/has NO effect on their work as it does to include those where the influence was profound. This illustrates that sexuality does not have an effect on some people. Who is to say why someone will be looking through the members of a category? -- Samuel Wantman 02:31, 2 September 2005 (UTC)
These LGBT people categories are almost always in violation of both WP:NPOV and WP:V. People are closeted. People are subject of gossip about their sexuality. People change their sexualities over time. Historical people live in societies where the categories were very different. And moreover, for any such category, there will be a dozen people with articles for every category-included person who no one has bothered to add. If categories were actually about what the people did, and what they're known for, fine: e.g. Category:Philosophers who write about sexuality, or Category:Actors active in gay-rights. But not just gossip about what someone maybe did/does, for all we and the National Inquirer know. Quick: is or is not Tom Cruise a Category:LGBT actors? Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters 05:26, 2005 September 2 (UTC)
  • I agree with Seth and Lulu. Wikipedia is not a gossip column. If there has been gossip about an actor's sexual preferences, it could possibly be mentioned in the article, but categorizing as such is not good. Categories are often created for reasons that are poorly thought out or entirely arbitrary, and the existence of a cat is not de facto grounds for populating it. Radiant_>|< 10:16, September 2, 2005 (UTC)
A quick correction/clarification: I do not think that mention of a person's sexuality amounts to gossip. The only way such a belief would make sense is if I also believed that sexuality should be / is an essentially private thing, and I do not. It is, and should be, public (in fact, I think it should be more public). That said, I also don't think that speculating about a person's sexuality is an acceptable practice for an encyclopedia. So if we are to have these sorts of categories, they should only be applied to articles about people who have verifiable identified as L, G, B or T. -Seth Mahoney 22:27, September 3, 2005 (UTC)
  • I can see where the proposal comes from, but I'm not certain I agree with where it goes. It is interesting to construct the cat structure from the pov of using it for research. The points about closetedness and changes over time are important ones, however. On balance, I think I'd prefer to see articles on Homosexuality in Foo (etc) rather than categories. That way, we can have a perfectly encyclopedic articles — the research field must be huge &mdash without having to speculate on individuals' cases. -Splash 14:51, 2 September 2005 (UTC)
  • Can you clarify what you mean by Homosexuality in Foo? I mean, is Foo to be replaced by societies, professions, or what? -Seth Mahoney 22:27, September 3, 2005 (UTC)
  • This proposal doesn't seem to accord with the way we categorize in most other areas, e.g. year of birth, year of death, country/state of origin, etc. It doesn't seem clear why we would want different standards for these two category types. Christopher Parham (talk) 17:56, 2005 September 2 (UTC)
  • That's only true if sexuality is somehow special and different from, say, birth dates. -Seth Mahoney 22:27, September 3, 2005 (UTC)
  • I see no good reason for people to be categorized by their sexuality. For example, Category: Gay athletes doesn't make any sense. Their sexuality has no bearing on their job or the celebrity status. Only mention it when the subject themself or a very reliable source close to the person confirmed it (for example in Elthon John). Wikipedia is not a gossip magazine. - Mgm|(talk) 18:05, September 2, 2005 (UTC)
  • Actually, gay atheletes are often known (at least in the gay community) because of their sexuality. That isn't to say that gay people are generally or always disinterested in following sports, but gay atheletes often hold a special place among gay people. -Seth Mahoney 22:27, September 3, 2005 (UTC)
  • I agree with Seth Mahoney, noted LGBT people in general are often known in the LGBT community because they are LGBT. One way to avoid the "gossip column" problem is to only include people who are publicly "out." One's public non-heterosexuality almost always has some kind of tangible effect on one's life, career, public perception. Kewp 19:00, 5 September 2005 (UTC)
I agree with Kewp here. If a person has declared themselves to be gay or whatever then it's fair game - but a source should be cited. For example, to say Angelina Jolie is bisexual is fair because she has said so in several interviews (though one should be cited, and at present there isn't one there). To claim that Greta Garbo was bi- is less cut-and-dried because there has only ever been third-person suggestions of this. On a related issue was the aborted attempt to list a number of actresses under the category "Gay Icons" which fell flat because no one could really come up with criteria for inclusion. If orientation-based categories remain, they should be vetted on occasion for non-cited claims. 23skidoo 21:31, 3 October 2005 (UTC)
  • In addition to the comments above, I'd say gender should be retained for a category, but that as Kewp says, only "outed" people should be listed as LGBT. --MacRusgail 22:24, 22 October 2005 (UTC)

Male and female foobar categories

I think it's better to split the discussion concerning categories by sex in contrast with categories by sexuality.

Seth Mahoney's proposal above was:

Categories regarding gender and sexuality should only be applied to an article when the person's gender or sexuality had/has a profound influence on their work. The person's gender or sexuality must thus be mentioned (and not just a passing mention) in the article, along with an explanation of the influence it had/has on the person's work. Articles should not be put into these categories if such an explanation is lacking or suspect.

I'm not sure either way about the general principle, but I do believe in at least one specific exception -- athletes. As a general rule, men compete against men, and women against women. If the person's field of endeavor separates the sexes, then it makes sense for us to recognize that.

And I believe many people will disagree, but to me the same principle holds for actors and actresses. As a rule, a man will not play a woman's role, and vice versa. Maurreen (talk) 05:58, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

  • I fully agree with the issue about athletes - since men's and women's leagues are generally separate, it makes sense to separate the categories. I don't agree about the actors, since they usually play together with actresses in the same films/series/etc. Radiant_>|< 10:13, September 2, 2005 (UTC)

Is this where I comment about the gender issue? I think that generally, we should have a presumption against gender-specific categories. Categories are to extract meta-information that is interesting by itself. Being a man or a woman is almost the least interesting piece of information available about someone who is already encyclopedic. However, there are clearly exceptions, such as athletics. So I suppose in fields where there is significant regulational separation between the genders, we should reflect that here. Since this arose out of Emperors/Empresses, and my country happens to have a head-of-state produced by primogeniture, I wonder if we should allow division on those cats too? the few Queens of England are significant for being Queens rather than Kings, apart from having the throne. Or perhaps that's just a UK-centric feeling. -Splash 14:43, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

Maybe it would be better to wait to try to nail down a general principle before addressing more-specific cases.
Maybe this is a way of restating Seth's proposal above, or manybe not, but it seems like within this discussion, there is general agreement that:
Categorizing people by sex is appropriate when the person's field of endeavor, or the subject or subjects the person is known for, separates the sexes.
The wording can probably be tweaked. And the same basic idea might apply more broadly.
Then once we get agreement on a general principle, we could take it to the community, because I expect some people would disagree. Maurreen (talk) 17:29, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

I generally think "is it interesting?" is a bad criteria for inclusion/disinclusion of any piece of information, since it is only interesting or not to a given person. What you and I find interesting are likely to be very different. In fact, though I generally agree with this proposal, I am very interested in how participation in different professions, etc. is broken up among the sexes, and how becoming famous for participation in a given activity is broken up among the sexes. I agree with Maurreen's proposal above, though. There's a fine line, when dealing with gender, between breaking up information in a way that makes it more useful, and sexism (and, with regards to the other topic, homophobia/heterosexism/heteronormativity), and I'm hoping that one of the results of this conversation is to find that line.

One quick note with regards to gender categories: If we use them, we should be prepared to add, when necessary and appropriate, similar categories for trans and intersexed people. -Seth Mahoney 22:33, September 3, 2005 (UTC)

Evidentiary and conceptual threshhold for memberships

Seth Mahoney above makes a good observation about noteriety. My take is that most of the sentiment for arguing in favor of LGBT person categories (where a person's reason for noteriety is not connected with their LGBT-ness) is as a "feel good" thing. It's just a theraputic way of saying "those famous people are queer, so it's OK that I am." While overcoming homophobia (and other prejudice) is a good thing, WP isn't supposed to be a support group, but an encyclopedia. Actually, I think there is a similar issue around the "race" categories, or specifically about "African-American member of profession X". The "feel good" thing works slightly differently though, since being Black isn't exactly subject of speculation in the same sense as being gay is (but see below).

As background, I am having a surprisingly similar problem in trying to clean up List of born-again Christian laypeople. Despite what some might claim, born-again xtians are not by a long-shot an oppressed group. But some of them really want to get names on that list, which I believe is mostly as an in-group affirmation; a "feel good" measure. The thing is, once I started looking through the list, only a minority—maybe slim majority—of the names listed had any obvious support for the assertion of membership (in their articles, in obvious linked sites, in what google shows). But the long-term editors there fought tooth-and-nail to keep every name, no matter how poorly evidenced; and more specifically fought to keep names w/o having to provide evidentiary support/footnotes within the list, because y'know it is "well known" in evangelical circles that so-and-so is born-again. Yes, it's a list not a category, but the same psychological mechanism is in effect. Actually, a category is worse, since it inherently lacks any place for evidentiary support within the page.

What I would be more sympathetic with than a category of "<Type-of-person> in <profession>" is a list of the same thing that provided a clear requirement for evidentiary support (just like with the born-again Christians). Probably specifically a footnote to some external reputable evidence of the category membership. In the LGBT case, ideal would be a quote from the actual person of concern saying "Yep, I'm <LGBT>". But for dead people, especially ones from before the time when "coming out" was a common (and meaningful) thing to do, obviously a somewhat different standard would apply.

Even for living people, direct quotes can be funny. For example, if there is a Category:LGBT musicians you might have either or both Elton John or David Bowie on there. Just because I happen to know (and there was a story in today's Boston Globe insert about Elton John :-)), both of them said in the 1970s, "I'm bisexual". Nowadays John says "I'm gay" (and is planning to marry his long-term boyfriend when some laws go into effect; the story I saw). And nowadays Bowie says "I'm straight" (and has apparently been happily married to a woman, Iman Abdulmajid for a number of years). For neither of them, are the "facts" exactly in dispute; but what we make of them is more ambiguous.

"Race" (or ethnicity) is not exempt from an ambiguity either. The category is not nearly as well defined as many people wish to suppose. For example:

  • I believe it was former 1980s New Orleans mayor Dutch Morial of whom it was said that he was "elected as a white man, and reelected as a black man" (i.e. how he identified followed the changing demographics of the city; though this is from dim memory, it doesn't appear in the current WP article). How do we categorize him? (stipulating the facts I mention). In general, lots of people in the USA (and elsewhere) have mixtures of European, African, Native American, Asian, and other ancestors; and what they get called or call themselves varies with political and cultural context.
  • A good friend of mine who is "Black" said something that struck me when I last visited him (in a different USAian city than where I now live). My friend doesn't have a WP article, so it's a bit moot, but suppose he did. My friend was born in the Caribbean, became a Canadian citizen as a teenager, and became a USA citizen as an adult (and now lives in the USA). The thing he said was that he had trouble fitting in as an immigrant, among other things because he was not African-American. Suppose my friend becomes sufficiently encyclopedic to merit an article, how do we categorize him? Or likewise, of course, lots of other people who are in WP?

Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters 03:40, 2005 September 6 (UTC)

Wikipedia already has many lists and articles that identify people as LGBT, African-American, or whatever. The issue of who to include and who not to include on a list gets discussed over and over. There are numerous debates about including or not including people's sexuality in articles. Wikipedia is supposed to be NPOV and not supposed to have original research. This would apply if mention was made in an article or if someone is included in a list or included in a category. The same distinctions would have to be made. Do you think that we shouldn't have any of these lists either? If someone says they are LGBT or African-American isn't that enough? We just need to require citations. BTW, both Elton John and David Bowie belong in Category:LGBT musicians. They both have cites. John is a "G" and Bowie is a "B". If you find a cite with Bowie saying "I'm not bisexual, and I never was" you could argue to remove him. -- Samuel Wantman 08:06, 6 September 2005 (UTC)
I have no agenda to push about Bowie. It's none of my business, and I don't care. I do like his music, and also think he's a fine actor, and that's that. But, for example, a quick google search finds:
You don't know how difficult it has been being a closet heterosexual. (David Bowie) [6]
He later turned around and admitted that he was completely straight, and that he'd pretty much used this "I'm gay" stunt to attract publicity in his early career. He claimed to be a "closet heterosexual" all this time and he is now indeed married to Iman, as far as we can tell, extremely happily. [7]
The categories just aren't a hundredth as clear as the "include everything that says LGBT" camp says. Do we take the most recent statement? The most common statement? The most believable statement? Do people ever lie? Or speak ironically?
Also, for example, the Category:LGBT philosophers that drew me into this contained overwhelmingly names of people who had never self-identified as as LBGT (i.e. just about anyone before 50 years ago). I de-categorized several others that had been there when I found no support whatsoever in the respective articles. Lists at least have the advantage of potentially including supporting citations. One problem with LGBT people categories is that they are so poor quality in these cases. It's almost always at the level "I heard it from a friend that so-and-so is gay". Seriously: return to the Tom Cruise example I mentioned before; he's been subject of "persistent rumors", but never self-identified as gay (and even denied it). What's the truth? I haven't the foggiest idea (and don't care), and neither does any other editor. It just doesn't begin to meet WP:V.
Y'know, SamuelWantman, try to put aside for a moment your personal warm-fuzzy about some famous people being listed as LGBT. Think about the List of born-again Christian laypeople that I mention, and how you feel about the warm-fuzzies the editors of that page get. That list is also of positively dreadful quality from a WP:V perspective; and it's so bad for almost exactly the same reason as Category:LGBT philosophers is (List of famous gay, lesbian, or bisexual academics is also pretty bad). It's true that I'm not so fond of lists or categories that are essentially doomed to never reach encyclopedic quality, if not quite on principle at least as a practical matter. Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters 08:29, 2005 September 6 (UTC)
Well, thank you for the info about Bowie. Yes, remove him from the category. I fully support cleaning up these categories. What you did is exactly what should happen. You removed everyone from the LGBT philosophers that didn't belong. I just don't support removing the category entirely. There are two people left that clearly belong there. Y'know, Lulu, try to put aside for a moment your feeling that I am motivated by some warm fuzziness. I have stated (above) what I think are criteria for keeping categories. If it turns out that "Born-again Christian laypeople" is a ueseful and studied field than let it exist as a category. It won't upset me at all. Wikipedia is based on consensus. In order to have consensus, not everyone will be satisfied, and not everything can be perfect. Consensus is by nature more inclusionist than exclusionist. If we start excluding everything that we don't like or that doesn't fit in our own tidy view of the world we are going to end up creating more and more hostility. If we all let things slide that we consider a little questionable we'll all probably get along better. Isn't that what tolerance means? -- Samuel Wantman 08:59, 6 September 2005 (UTC)
I'm not going to change Bowie's status myself, simply because I really don't endorse any judgment on the matter. It's not that I want to categorize Bowie as a "Straight actor/musician" (which his non-inclusion in the LGBT thing would kinda do, even if there isn't actually a Category:Heterosexual musicians), it's that I do not believe there is a "fact" there at all.
Just between the two of us, my wild guess is that John and Bowie each had sex with some men and with some women; and each enjoyed many of those encounters (quite likely not all of them). And then subsequently, for a various political, social, publicity, personal, and literary reasons, Bowie decided to say "I'm straight" and John decided to say "I'm gay". I believe Kinsey, and all other serious sexologists, that the vast majority of humans are "bisexual" (obviously, with variations within that between individuals). My guess also, just between you and I Samuel Wantman, is that neither Kierkegaard nor Kant ever had sex with anyone, which doesn't mean in my mind that they were "gay", despite their so listing. I have not personally had sex with any of the four (and even if I had, what would that mean?).
The idea of categories where membership is always inherently subjective and political/interpretational has lately been sticking in my craw (or lists, it's not so much different). The underlying motivation for these categories always seems to be that someone might "feel good" about finding such a collection, but I'm just not convinced that can ever be encyclopedic. It's fine to say "Judith Butler writes about sexuality": she does, and I can quote passages. And it's fine to say "David Bowie said he was bisexual in 1974": he did, and I can find some interview with a direct quote. For that matter, it's fine to say that "Tom Hanks was a evangelical youth minister when he was 14": that seems to be true; but to say Hanks is a born-again Christian is pretty wacky (and that's not even a name I've bothered to argue about, since it at least had some citational support, however misleading including his name is). But putting any of these names in their various categories is really a matter of interpretation and political activism, not a matter of stating facts. Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters 19:30, 2005 September 6 (UTC)
So, instead of LGBT Actors, for example, perhaps you'd advocate the creation of Category:Male Actors who've intentionally engaged in sexual activity with other men at some time in their life? No, no, only joking. But, that does lead me to say that it seems to me that much of your contention, Lulu, is centered around the relevance of the title of the category in relation to the member articles. Perhaps the more efficient way to address the issue is to work towards more descriptive titles of categories, which would make it easier to decide who should and who should not be included in the category or list. Am I missing your point entirely? Lekoman 00:49, September 8, 2005 (UTC)
Actually, that's pretty good. Obviously the title you (jokingly) use is a little long winded. And it raises the question of which actors accidentally engaged in homosex :-). It still leaves the Tom Cruise question floating, as you propose it: if he did so engage, it was presumably intentional; we just don't know the underlying fact. But if the category gives some less negotiable criteria, I'd like it more. Maybe Category:Actors self-identified as bisexual. The category could then well include David Bowie, given the information I found above. E.g., it might say: David Bowie - Self-indentified as bisexual in 1974[footnote/quote]; currently identifies as heterosexual[other quote]. I don't mind categories for clearly verifiable facts like this.
Hmm... that's not quite right, since a category doesn't have space for annotation. I guess if the category page pointed readers to a list that was intended to clarify the evidence for each categorized name, that would work out. Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters 01:45, 2005 September 8 (UTC)

Alternatives to categories

I think that making categories for race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation etc. is problematic for a number of reasons. These issues of personal identity are complex, and a simple yes/no category is often not enough to explain individual cases. These categories also can oddly and inappropriately separate out groups, as if an incidence of, say, ethnicity and profession, always represents a totally separate tradition (sometimes it does but often not). It's also quite awkward to have some groups (ususually minorities in one way or another) categorized by ethnicity etc. but not others. But I think there are better alternatives for reflecting personal identity. Certainly identity issues should be mentioned in each biographical article. Collections of such information I think belong better in lists than categories, as lists can be annotated for complex issues and don't establish a separate hierarchy for minorities (in the broad sense) in the categorization structure. For an example of how this might work, see List of Jews.--Pharos 17:11, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

Wrap up.

This discussion has been ongoing since September 1. I suggest it's time to come to some conclusions and wrap it up. Cheers!  BD2412 talk 05:31, 15 October 2005 (UTC)

My points would be as follows:

  1. If the information is presented in a neutral, objective way, there's no particularly valid reason not to permit this type of categorization. Gay categories, in particular, are often singled out as POV, but not having gay-related categories is not a neutral position; it's a distinctly unacceptable POV. Gay culture, like it or not, exists, and if a person openly identifies as LGBT, it's entirely appropriate to file them in a category that groups people who've openly identified as LGBT. It has nothing to do with "warm fuzzies"; it's an objective and identifiable fact about a lot of people.
  2. Gay literature is a distinct subject area in its own right. African American music is a distinct subject area in its own right. And on, and so forth. The "occupation/characteristic" categories are created where that combination exists as a distinct and identifiable subject area on its own; they aren't created for arbitrary reasons. For example, there would be no justification for a "gay linguists" or an "African American economists" category; these aren't distinct and identifiable subtrends within the larger context. (Which does not mean, however, that a notable gay linguist shouldn't be filed in an appropriate gay category or that a notable African American economist shouldn't be filed in an appropriate African Americans category; it just means that the intersection of that particular identity with that particular occupation doesn't deserve its own special dedicated subcategory.)
  3. The idea that the possibility of a person being added to the category who doesn't belong there invalidates the entire category's existence is both ludicrous and a red herring. If a person doesn't belong in the category, remove them from the category. It doesn't invalidate the entire category; it invalidates adding that particular person to the category. Tom Cruise is a red herring, given that nobody has ever actually added him to a gay-related category -- because despite persistent rumours, nobody can prove that he belongs in one. There's simply no issue there: if a person's inclusion in the category can't be objectively sourced by known facts, then they don't belong in the category. It's really that simple; it's not a valid argument against having the category in the first place.
  4. Being a member of the gay community in Toronto, I can personally name a couple of people with Wikipedia articles who are gay but not out, whom I've quite explicitly not added to Category:LGBT people from Canada. Not because I'm particularly opposed in principle to outing them, mind you, but because their non-outness means there aren't any unambiguous external statements on the web that I could post as external links to support the inclusion. In one case I've actually reverted other people's edits that too explicitly identified a person as gay without sufficient external source support, even though personally I happen to know that the assertion is true — but because the media generally tiptoe around the subject, there just aren't any credible external sources I can point to to prove it.
  5. While there are always going to be people who occupy the grey areas, they're very much in the minority, and in many cases (see e.g. Category:Multiracial people, Category:Blasians, Category:Hapas, etc.) there are already separate categories for the grey areas. For the vast majority of people, however, whether they belong in the category or not just isn't a contested or debatable issue.
  6. A "personal characteristic" category does not create conflict with a general occupational category. For example, if the categories were applied consistently, there would be no articles filed directly in Category:Writers in the first place; all writers would already be filed in one or more subcategories by their genre and/or nationality. So having a Category:LGBT writers category does not create the conflict that some people raise; a person shouldn't be filed directly in the Category:Writers parent anyway.
  7. Around terminology, and the application of terms such as African-American, this doesn't create a problem either; just make sure the category is properly applied. African-American is a legitimate term for a person of African descent in the United States; just don't apply it to a Canadian or a Jamaican. In the Canadian case, there's already a separate category; in Jamaica, black people are so overwhelmingly the majority that there's no need to create a special category for them.

Bottom line: while there's no question that the subject clearly requires some care, I don't see a valid reason why the categories shouldn't be allowed. Bearcat 19:54, 19 October 2005 (UTC)

  • Endorse all points raised. You raised excellent points all around. I totally agree with you on every issue you raised. If this is the outcome of this discussion, I would endorse it whole heartedly. --Alabamaboy 20:14, 19 October 2005 (UTC)

Sorry, one last thing to add

I don't think this got covered above, but what about categorizing Wikipedians themselves? There are currently Category:Queer Wikipedians and Category:LGBT Wikipedians. Someone is attempting to merge them, insisting that they describe the same thing, which to me is patently untrue. If "queer" were merged into "lgbt," there would be some users who could not use that categorization because it would be untrue for them, yet it would cause a lot of hullaballoo to recreate a category that has been deleted. In this case, there would no longer be a category for users in the above "grey area" that BD2412 cites. What should the policy be regarding categorization of Wikipedia users? --Jacquelyn Marie 04:16, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

I'm really not too clear on how a person can be "queer" and not "LGBT". Maybe that's just me...but I don't think it is. Bearcat 19:56, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
See the queer article for details on nuance. While it is generally used to mean gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered, it also covers other things, such as asexuals, intersex persons, polyamorists, genderqueers, and even, sometimes but rarely, heterosexuals who engage in sexual practices not embraced by the mainstream (such as BDSM). As I am a pomosexual, I much prefer the term "queer" to "LGBT." --Jacquelyn Marie 21:30, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

Proposed policy

Since there's been no further discussion, I'd propose the following as the formal policy to be adopted:

Categorization of this type is permitted, within certain bounds:

  1. Terminology must be neutral. Derogatory terms such as "faggots" or "n*ggers" are not to be tolerated in a category name under any circumstances, and should be added to the list of speedy deletion criteria. Note that neutral terminology is not necessarily the most common term — a term that the person or their cultural group does not accept for themselves is not neutral even if it remains the most widely used term among outsiders. (For example, labels such as "AIDS victim" for an HIV+ person or "Indian" for a native person are not appropriate terms. When in doubt, err on the side of respect.)
  2. Terminology should be appropriate to the person's cultural context. For example, a Canadian of aboriginal heritage is categorized at First Nations people, not Native Americans.
  3. Inclusion should be justifiable by external references. (For example, even if you have personal knowledge of a notable individual's sexual orientation, they should only be filed in a gay-related category if factual, reliable sources can be provided to support the assertion.)
  4. People who occupy the grey areas are not a valid argument against the existence of the category at all; they just shouldn't be added to it if they don't fit. In many cases, distinct categories already exist for ethnic grey areas, e.g. Blasians, Hapas, Multiracial people.
  5. Dedicated subcategories for minority group/occupation should only be created where that combination is itself recognized as a distinct and unique cultural topic in its own right. For example, gay literature is a distinct literary genre, and therefore an LGBT writers category is valid. However, there isn't a comparable phenomenon of gay linguistics, so a category for "Gay linguists" should not be created. For similar reasons, African American musicians is valid, but "African American economists" would not be. Similarly, an "(ethnicity) politicians" category should only be created if politicians of that ethnic background somehow constitute a distinct and identifiable group with a specific cultural and political context. Thus, a "Native American politicians" category would be valid; an "Italian-American politicians" category would not be. The basis for creating such a category is not the number of individuals who could potentially be filed in the group, but whether there's a specific cultural context for the grouping beyond the mere fact that politicians of that ethnic background exist.
  6. (added) If you're uncertain about whether a category qualifies, the basic rule of thumb would be whether an encyclopedic article exists or can be written about that particular subject. If an article can be written about LGBT literature, then a gay writers category is valid; if there's nothing unique that can be said about Italian-American politics as a distinct trend within American politics in general, then an Italian-American politicians category is not valid. Remember that a category is not necessarily a valid substitute for a list — if the topic's main article could never be anything more than a bulleted list of individuals who happen to meet the criteria, then a category is not appropriate.
  7. Concerns about the POV status of a particular category must be weighed against the fact that not having such a category is also a potentially unacceptable POV.
  8. (added per discussion below) Be aware that under these criteria, categories may change over time. Something that is not currently a valid category may become one in the future. A category's inappropriateness now is not necessarily a valid reason to not have the category in the future if social circumstances change. The criterion of whether an encyclopedic article is possible should be the gauge — if a new field of social or cultural study emerges in the future and lends itself to an encyclopedic article, the related categories will then become valid even if they have previously been deleted.
  9. (added per discussion below) Whenever possible, categories should not be gendered. A gender-specific category should only be implemented where gender has a specific relation to the topic. For example, there should not be separate categories for actors and actresses, but a female heads of government category is valid as a topic of special encyclopedic interest. That category, however, does not need to be balanced directly against a "Male heads of government" category; both male and female heads of government should continue to be filed in the appropriate gender-neutral role category (e.g. Presidents, Monarchs, Prime Ministers, Governors General.)
  10. (added per discussion below) Whenever possible, a valid occupational subcategory should be structured and filed in such a way as to avoid "ghettoizing" people, but at the same time, Wikipedia rules about not applying redundant categorization should also be respected. It is entirely possible to meet both of these expectations simultaneously; if you can't, consider alternative ways of defining the category. For instance, if you cannot create "Gay politicians from Germany" without ghettoizing people from Category:German politicians, then it may be more appropriate to eliminate the more specific category and simply retain Category:Gay politicians and Category:German politicians as two distinct categories, or to refile people from the parent category into more specific subcategories based on the particular legislative body their career is associated with (e.g. "Members of the German Bundestag", "Chancellors of Germany", "German Bundesland presidents" or "Mayors of Berlin").
  11. (added per discussion below) Also in regards to the "ghettoization" issue, a gender/race/sexuality subcategory should never be implemented as the final rung in a category tree. If a category is not otherwise subdividable into more specific groupings, then do not create a gender/race/sexuality subcategory. For instance: if Category:American poets is not realistically subdividable on other grounds, then do not create a subcategory for "African American poets", as this will only serve to isolate these poets from the main category. Instead, simply apply "African American writers" (presuming Category:Writers is the parent of Category:Poets) and "American poets" as two distinct categories.

Anything else to add? Any other feedback? Bearcat 20:45, 10 November 2005 (UTC) I think these are good guidelines. A couple of additions:

  • Categories may change over time. Gay linguistics may become a studied field in the future. If it does, it would be reasonable to categorize people as "Gay linguists".
  • People categorized in these ethic or sexual sub-categories should have duplicate entries in the larger categories. For example, African-American actors should be categorized in Category:African-American actors and Category: American actors.
-- Samuel Wantman 00:09, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
IMO, if this kind of duplication is actually necessary, it's almost always a sign that either the subcategory is being defined too specifically or the parent category is being applied too broadly. Frex, I remember a CFD debate about a "Gay UK MPs" category and how it created this ghettoization vs. redundancy problem within the "British Members of Parliament" parent -- the real solution was to replace "Gay UK MPs" with the broader "Gay UK politicians", which bumped it one branch up the category tree and thus eliminated the conflict. No rules needed to be broken at all.
In the case you raise, I'm not entirely sure that Category:African-American actors would survive under the criteria I've listed for discussion. Does it actually meet the guideline set out under #6? Could anything really be written about African-American acting as an inherently distinct phenomenon from unhyphenated American acting? Or would a better solution be to empty out Category:American actors by subdividing it into "American television actors", "American film actors", "American stage actors", etc.? Bearcat 01:31, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
    • With the long history of racism and prejudice in American society, and particularly relating to African-American entertainers, any African-American entertainer successful enough for a Wikipedia article of their own should be identified with their culture. There is no inherent difference between African-American acting and American acting, but there are significant difference between African-American actors' roles, the types of films in which these roles are taken, their business dealings, their fame, success levels, pay, etc. and American actors'. If asked, I could very easily write a decent article on the history of African-American actors, and a whole 'nother on the history of African-American filmmakers, fully referenced and without padding (I might even have trouble wringing both in at 32K). Whole books (many of them, at that) have been written on African Americans in cinema, the most famous being Donald Boyle's Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies & Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films. That particular book is updated every eight years or so, and, although it's about 600 pages long, isn't even comprehensive. By the way, no, I don't think people should be double-categorized. It's against Wikipedia policy to place a group in a subcat and its parent cat. --FuriousFreddy 07:15, 19 November 2005 (UTC)
  • I think it's good, but it could do with some more examples. For instance, since about half of all actors are female, it's not very useful to split out a cat:actresses. On the other hand since at a guess 95% of all senators are male, a cat:female senators (senatrices?) would be appropriate. Etc. Ironically, we still haven't really decided on using cat:monarchs, or cat:kings & cat:queens. Radiant_>|< 00:21, 11 November 2005 (UTC)


Sorry to bump in with a new approach, but I've some concerns about most categorisation in general. On other wikipedias (eg. German) it's informally accepted that a person's religion, ethnic background or e.g. sexual preferences should only be mentioned if there's evidence that it has or had influence on their encyclopedic relevance; else it's considered irrelevant (ethnicity) or private (religion/preferences).
Encyclopedias like the Britannica usually mention this personal data in the opening paragraph: Name and title, dates of birth and death, nationality, what the person did, why the person is significant. Coincidentally, the Manual_of_Style recommends this, too. Of course, the person's biography is to be expanded later on, but only on subjects that justify and explain the persons inclusion. In wikipedia, sometimes trivia is included as well: IMO that's a more than debatable practice, as it is a potential POV entry point by deliberate and targeted inclusion or exclusion of facts, that would be innocent and unequivocal in other contexts.
It is not POV to identify an African-American person as an African-American; some articles read rather ridiculously (Rosa Parks, for example) without the mention: That's only true as far as the given example goes - R. Parks' ethnic background is pivotal to evaluate her action and its consequences, thus mentioning is encyclopedically relevant; in contrast, there's no proof, that e.g. Frederick_M._Jones' skin colour had anything to do with his technical achievements. Of course, it could be assumed that he was subject to, say, discrimination in the course of his life, and it could be further speculated, that his life, possibly his work, too, would have been easier, had he been white - however, this remains to be proven to be worth of encyclopedical inclusion. Speculation or assumption (and certainly imputation) is not wikipedic, even if plausible.
With the long history of racism ... in American society ... any African-American entertainer successful enough for a Wikipedia article ... should be identified with their culture: I beg to differ - this could be called paternalism as well. Inclusion of blacks/white/greens should depend on their noteworthy achievements. Everything else particular about their life or person should be included only, if it had proven impact on these achievements. Woody Allen's jewishness must be mentioned, as his work epitomises self-deprecating Jewish humour. Should Oliver Hardy be Jewish -for the arguments sake- it shouldn't be mentioned: quite obviously it was nothing that made him, his work or his carrer special or noteworthy.
At the moment, I'm having trouble with some wikipedians, who systematically include information on alleged or factual Jewish descent with articles, that deal with politicians they suppose to be pro Israel.
To give an example: Paul Wolfowitz spoke about the influence his family's history had on his career and thinking (relatives where murdered by Nazis); thus mentioning it is relevant and legitimate. On the other side, whether Lewis Libby or Yevgeny_Primakov were influenced professionally by their or by their ancestor's religion is speculation at best, imputation at worst; thus their beliefs or ancestry are not encyclopedic. However, the guys mentioned above don't see it that way, whereas I suspect plain anti semitism.
The only way to prevent misuse of categorisation is to limit it to the cases, where religion, ethnicity etc. are unequivocally relevant for wikipedic inclusion. In dubio pro reo ...and contra inclusionem. (hopefully my homegrown Latin doesn't fail)
--tickle me 10:26, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
  • Excuse me, but that is a bit irrelevant here. This discussion page is about which categories should exist, not about which articles should be put in them. Radiant_>|< 10:42, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
You got me wrong: I've some concerns about most categorisation in general. My point is that some categories shouldn't exist. To a wikipedian with a hammer everything is a nail: check the discussion about L. Libby's religion - there was none. It turned out that he's Jewish, so he was sorted to the category, just because they could.
...not about which articles should be put in them: What good is a category, that should be applied to some, but not to others? If an actor is gay, there's no need to have a cat. for it, just say so ...if it is relevant - and if so, put it into context, state why it is relevant. The same doesn't apply to, say, a "biologist" or "politician" category. Any politician found encyclopedically noteworthy would infallibly fall into the latter. --tickle me 11:45, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
YMMV, I suppose, but as far as I'm concerned, if Lewis Libby is Jewish, then he belongs in a Jewish category whether his Jewishness had an identifiable impact on his public career or not. Because being Jewish is part of who he is. Sometimes I suspect that one has to be part of a minority group to fully understand this, but being part of a minority group is inherently inseparable from the person's identity and public role. Imposing a distinction between "Jewish people who belong in a Jewish-related category" and "Jewish people who don't belong in a Jewish-related category" on some point of distinction beyond their Jewishness is POV: it implies that Jewish people are somehow a monolithic bloc of political opinion and cultural expression, and even reinforces the implication by excluding anybody who differs from it. The fact is, if a person is Jewish, then they belong in a Jewish people category whether they somehow "exemplify" Jewishness or not. Bearcat 18:46, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
This is an encyclopedia: we aren't suppossed to include people for what they are, but for what the person did to merit inclusion. No one is wikipedic just for being Jewish, gay, black or white.
  • Because being Jewish is part of who he is....
  • but being part of a minority group is inherently inseparable from the person's identity and public role...
  • The fact is, if a person is Jewish, then they belong in a Jewish people category whether they somehow "exemplify" Jewishness or not...
Repeated logical fallacies: If he 'is, he belongs: That's a mere declaration, no proof or argument. The same is true for the other statements - merely repeated, tantamount assertions that remain to be substantiated.
Imposing a distinction between "Jewish people who belong in a Jewish-related category" and "Jewish people who don't belong in a Jewish-related category" on some point of distinction beyond their Jewishness is POV: it implies that Jewish people are somehow a monolithic bloc...: A fallacy as well: Imposing a distinction between people divides them, it doesn't unite them to a monolithic bloc. ...and even reinforces the implication by excluding anybody who differs from it.: The implication is void, it's based on the preceding fallacy. Besides, the black and white fallacy applies: We don't exclude people on ethical terms, depriving them of their rights or dignity, this is about mere wikipedic sorting ...and providing proper context.
Making a difference between people, whose Jewishness should be ignored, because it added nothing to their wikipedic relevance, and those, where it should be mentioned, because it did, does not constitute an discrimination on ethical grounds, it's an encyclopedical system of classification. Classification is what an encyclopedia is about, we don't do research here, nor moral evaluations on a topic or a person. Moral is guiding ground for our methodological approach. The issue is, categories don't allow to put information into context. The noteworthyness of someone being Jewish or gay ...depends. Categories allow for black and white, that's OK for simple cases. But if wikipedia talks about Ellen DeGeneres' sexual preferences, it has to provide the info on the public echo her outing provoked - cat sorting doesn't do. However, "outing" some biologist -just because there's a cat to do it- who cares more for shellfish or anatidae than for his sexlife anyway, is wrong, and we're morally speaking now - besides it adds trivia, where trivia is not wanted.
--tickle me 20:32, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
I'm wondering: Have you read the above proposals? Because it sounds as if perhaps you haven't. We've been talking about using these categories when they have an impact on the person's work, when such an impact can be documented, and when the intersections the categories point to are relevant to some field of study. We're not talking about outing anyone. NOW, if your gay biologist were publicly gay, and his sexuality had influenced his work (and, presumably, there were more gay biologists like him), then we would create Category:LGBT biologists and throw him in. Otherwise, not. There doesn't seem to be any conflict between what you're saing and what anyone else is saying. -Seth Mahoney 20:51, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
As far as I can see, there's no conflict between me and the criteria you stated above and earlier:
So, I'm gonna bring up an old proposal again: Categories regarding gender and sexuality should only be applied to an article when the person's gender or sexuality had/has a profound influence on their work. The person's gender or sexuality must thus be mentioned (and not just a passing mention) in the article, along with an explanation of the influence it had/has on the person's work. Articles should not be put into these categories if such an explanation is lacking or suspect.
...and I'm certainly relieved to understand this, however, I don't hear anyone saying so. e.g. I suppose Bearcat to not agree, at least what he mentioned is essentially contradicting.
I still feel that we'd be better off without the disputed cats, but that's a minority view. As for your old proposal: That's exactly my point indeed - provided ethnicity is added; however, your proposal had been disputed earlier - and I don't find it at all among the 11 items of the new proposal - and I think it's crucial. Only item 3 can be vaguely interpreted your way, but it's about checking factuality, really. Can it be, that your proposal got lost on the way and was just forgotten to be included? I read the 11 entries thoroughly: hopefully, I just missed a point for not being a native speaker. Anyway, some kind of misunderstanding must apply, and I'm really glad to understand that we will sort it out. --tickle me 22:15, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
What you're missing is that the criterion regarding the encyclopedic context of the topic itself already covers this. The Category:LGBT biologists example, for instance, is a category that would never be created under this policy as currently written. If a notable biologist is gay, then he certainly belongs in Category:Biologists and Category:Gay, lesbian or bisexual people (and he doesn't have to be notable specifically for being gay to be in the general "GLB people" category; he just has to be both notable and gay). But a distinct Category:LGBT biologists would only be created if one could somehow write an encyclopedic article about LGBT biologists as a unique group whose contributions to the field can be encyclopedically summarized as an inherently distinct phenomenon from those of non-LGBT biologists. If the topic can be written up as an encyclopedic article, then a person who meets the appropriate criteria of being both gay and a member of that occupation inherently belongs in the specialized subcategory; if the topic can't be written up that way, then the specialized subcategory shouldn't even exist. Bearcat 00:03, 26 November 2005 (UTC)
Imposing a distinction between people divides them, it doesn't unite them to a monolithic bloc. I agree entirely; my point is that you're the one proposing that this type of division be written into the policy, not me. Bearcat 23:11, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
Indeed, I do, and rightly so - and so does Seth Mahoney: Categories regarding gender and sexuality should only be applied to an article when the person's gender or sexuality had/has a profound influence on their work. The point is: This is neither evil nor good, it's encyclopedic.
What you're missing is that the criterion regarding the encyclopedic context..: To which of the new proposal's 11 items do you refer? Please number and cite. I can't find any such entry. The words "encyclopedic" and "context" do appear several times, but never together, and never with that meaning.
If a notable biologist is gay, then he certainly belongs in Category:Biologists: right
...and Category:Gay, lesbian or bisexual people: sorry, just wrong - only if his being gay had a profound influence on his work. --tickle me 00:27, 26 November 2005 (UTC)
Indeed, I do, and rightly so - and so does Seth Mahoney: Categories regarding gender and sexuality should only be applied to an article when the person's gender or sexuality had/has a profound influence on their work. No, you're talking about two different things. Seth is referring to categories that combine gender/sexuality with occupation into a single category name; you're talking about the application of any gay-related category whatsoever.
To which of the new proposal's 11 items do you refer?
  • Point 5: Dedicated subcategories for minority group/occupation should only be created where that combination is itself recognized as a distinct and unique cultural topic in its own right. For example, gay literature is a distinct literary genre, and therefore an LGBT writers category is valid. However, there isn't a comparable phenomenon of gay linguistics, so a category for "Gay linguists" should not be created. For similar reasons, African American musicians is valid, but "African American economists" would not be. Similarly, an "(ethnicity) politicians" category should only be created if politicians of that ethnic background somehow constitute a distinct and identifiable group with a specific cultural and political context. Thus, a "Native American politicians" category would be valid; an "Italian-American politicians" category would not be. The basis for creating such a category is not the number of individuals who could potentially be filed in the group, but whether there's a specific cultural context for the grouping beyond the mere fact that politicians of that ethnic background exist.
  • Point 6: If you're uncertain about whether a category qualifies, the basic rule of thumb would be whether an encyclopedic article exists or can be written about that particular subject. If an article can be written about LGBT literature, then a gay writers category is valid; if there's nothing unique that can be said about Italian-American politics as a distinct trend within American politics in general, then an Italian-American politicians category is not valid. Remember that a category is not necessarily a valid substitute for a list — if the topic's main article could never be anything more than a bulleted list of individuals who happen to meet the criteria, then a category is not appropriate.
sorry, just wrong - only if his being gay had a profound influence on his work No. If a notable person is openly gay, then he or she legitimately belongs in Category:Gay, lesbian or bisexual people; the only criterion required for inclusion in that category is "this person is gay, lesbian or bisexual". The existence or non-existence of a special relationship between the person's sexuality and their profession defines whether a special LGBT-people-in-this-particular-occupation subcategory is warranted or not, not whether they can be filed in the parent category. Bearcat 00:46, 26 November 2005 (UTC)
Nicely put. I'd definitely support putting this policy into practice, or at the very least copying it to Wikipedia:Categorization/Gender, race and sexuality. -Seth Mahoney 01:02, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

I have a particularly tough nut to crack: physicist Lise Meitner. Please offer feedback on how to categorize her religion/ethnicity. She was born in Austria, raised Jewish, and spent most of her career in Berlin. As a young woman she converted to Lutheranism and remained so the rest of her life. She did not self-identify as Jewish. That didn't matter to the Nazis. She fled on a midnight train in 1938 and settled in Sweden. This had a profound impact on her career: she was the first scientist to identify nuclear fission and got passed over for the Nobel Prize for complicated reasons in part due to her refugee status. Does it grant Hitler a posthumous victory to call this scientist Jewish against her own objections? Durova 18:19, 28 November 2005 (UTC)