User:Alan Liefting/Essays/Stub categories are project categories

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Stub categories are project categories

Wikipedia can be thought of as having two parts - the content that is of use to readers and the project side for the editors who participate in building the encyclopaedia. These two parts are kept separate for very good reasons. The vast majority of visitors who come to Wikipedia do so since they want to read the content of the article pages. They are not interested in the administration or "nuts and bolts" of the project.

To this end various guidelines and conventions are adopted. Any self-references are avoided and most cross namespace redirects are avoided. However, in order for editors to find information about editing, a parallel set of pages is needed that do not impinge on reader satisfaction. This is achieved by having "project" pages. These are the article talk pages (easily accessed via the "discussion" tab) and all of the pages in the Wikipedia namespace. User pages for editors are also used for building the Wikipedia project.

One area of Wikipedia where the content and project separation is not kept is the categories. Throughout Wikipedia thousands of stub categories are displayed in categories that are otherwise for content sub-categories and articles. It has even led to a situation where the only subcategory, being a stub category, was prominently displayed at the top of the category page.[1]

The stub article system developed quite early on in the history of Wikipedia. At some later date the WikiProjects developed. The WikiProjects have a wide range of topic areas, as do the various stub messages. The WikiProjects now have a set of stub articles (along with other article class status settings) associated with the project and are give their own category. These these are all subcategories of Category:Stub-Class articles. Note that stubs are also sorted into the sub-categories of Category:Stubs.

Some editors wish to retain the status quo.[2] One rationale, which is quite understandable, is that it prevents readers who want to find stub articles in order to edit them. This is true to some degree but of little consequence. The categories are not visited as often as articles and there are other ways for a reader who does not have an account to find the stub articles.

As it can be seen, the stub articles are very well classified - and this is laudable since they require work in order to improve their usefulness to readers. But there is no reason for the stub categories to be visible in the content categories. Two simple solutions exist that will benefit readers and not prevent the work being done by editors on stub articles. Firstly, all the stub categories should be set as hidden categories. This allows all logged in editors to see the categories but they are hidden from readers who are not logged in. Secondly the stub article categories should be listed in the related WikiProject categories rather than in content categories.

Alan Liefting
July 2010 - April 20112


  1. ^ This occurred in Category:Carex until I removed the stub category and subsequently re-added.
  2. ^ See Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Stub_sorting/Archive 15#Should stub categories be in Wikipedia namespace rather than article namespace?. Also, at least one attempt at hiding a stub category was quickly reverted.