Wikipedia:Categories for deletion/Category:University people categories

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The following discussion comes from Wikipedia:Categories for deletion. This is an archive of the discussion only; please do not edit this page. -Kbdank71 18:42, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)

University people categories[edit]

Vote summary (categories only):

  • (4) Keep alumni: Greg Robson, James F., flamurai, Wincoote
  • (5) Delete alumni: Uppland, Lowellian, Postdlf, Radiant!, Neutrality
  • (2) Keep people/affiliated: James F., Wincoote
  • (7) Delete people/affiliated: Uppland, Greg Robson, Lowellian, flamurai, Postdlf, Radiant!, Neutrality


I want to suggest the deletion of existing categories of this type, and the policy that new such categories should not be created.

This issue has been up for discussion previously, in that case speifically concerning Category:People associated with Columbia University. I am now restarting the discussion. The old discussion was retired as "unresolved", and has been moved to Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Universities. The main reason against using categories in this case is the unmanageable number of categorizations some people would get.

Just to take one example: Samuel Pufendorf, a 17th century historian and political scientist, was affiliated (in chronological order) with the University of Leipzig and the University of Jena, both in Germany, the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, the University of Heidelberg, again in Germany, and the University of Lund in Sweden. Today, with almost every student participating in exchange programs, academics holding various visiting professorships etc, I have no doubt that some academics can have up to a dozen affiliations with different unversities throughout their life. And anybody notable enough to get an article, will sooner or later be claimed by anyone who feels justified to do so.

At present the following categories of this type exist:

  • Category:Athabasca University also contains a fair amount of people associated with that university in some way, such as Pamela Wallin, whose only connection (as far as I can see) is an honorary doctorate. Using that as precedent, various heads of state or Nobel laureates will get half the universities in the world among their categories, which makes the category system rather useless.

I want to suggest the policy:

As a consequence of this I also suggest that the above-mentioned, already existing "university people" categories should be deleted. There are, I believe, already lists for the institutions concerned.

I am not against categories for very specific positions, such as presidents or rectors of universities, but even that may possibly be better handled with (succession) lists in most cases. / Uppland 21:43, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

  • Delete I agree that the people or alumi or whatnot categories should be deleted, but not necessarily a category primarily for the main University (ie Category:Athabasca University). --Spinboy 17:23, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Small clarification: I have not suggested deletion of main university categories, only those categories specifically for people affiliated with the university. But the main university category should not be used as a substitute for that either, but reserved for things like museums, research institutes etc. / Uppland 19:27, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Keep "...alumni" and main university categories (change vote to Keep 'alumni' categories and 'list of people...' articles, remove 'people' categories - as they are not categorising data. And of course all these categories should have See also pages for extra detail. Greg Robson 15:36, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)) - previous reaons include (and have been revised since):
    • University articles should have a list of those who represent the university's "achievements" [for lack of a better word] i.e. academics, researchers, nobel laureates etc.
    • Some others like comedians and those who got a degreee unrelated to their profession should be categorised as they are notable, but only by association through the category.
    • The rest of those categories can go (people, graduates) as they are going to be far too large and serve no purpose when it comes to categorisation - it would be far better to put people under a profession tag (i.e. Category:Chemists in the United Kingdom) as this relates to the person regardless of their location. Typically people at many institutions will study/research/teach the same thing and it is directly related to the person throughout their life. Categorising people for every place they've been and everything they've done would be unconcise.
  • If a lot of people are in a main university category then see if there is a theme - and then sub-categorise! Make it better! The category system is very underused. Greg Robson 18:58, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)
    To repeat what I wrote above: I have not suggested deletion of the main university categories, only those specifically for people affiliated with the university. As for telling who represents the university's "achievements", I think that may be difficult to define in the case of writers, for instance. In any case, lists have the advantage of allowing annotating and sorting according to area of work for the individuals, as opposed to the purely alphabetic sorting in categories.
    A question: you want to keep alumni categories, but then write that "the rest of those categories can go (people, graduates)". What difference do you see between a category of alumni and one of graduates? / Uppland 19:27, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)
    My mistake when reading about deleting universities! I'm not against listing alumni in the articles - I just think it should be concise rather than complete. Wikipedia tends to sort head in that direction anyway. I rather it didn't link to stubs of people who haven't become well known for what they do.
    Regarding the question: Graduates are technically alumni and what I should have said was that I think we should adopt alumni instead of graduates as it's the term commonly used by universities - so it's probably more an issue of consistency and perhaps renaming. As for "people" - it's too general - much better to narrow to fields of study or professions. I don't know what to do about the staff who work at a university? Category:Academics at the Uni... of X?, Category:Scientists at the Uni... of X? I'd like to avoid people as it includes both staff and students - so ideally Alumni for past students and something else for staff that isn't people. Greg Robson 21:45, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Keep. James F. (talk) 20:12, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Delete. —Lowellian (talk) 08:45, Feb 21, 2005 (UTC) Since I've already written several long accounts explaining my reasons why, I'll just requote parts of them:
    • "There is nothing wrong with list of Columbia University people, but this [alumni] category is very much a terrible idea. It will grow to be huge, and clutter up the category bar on everyone it affects. This category would set an unfortunate precedent for categories, because it can be extended to every other school. List articles are okay because they don't disrupt other articles, but categories like this are not because they will touch upon and affect so many biographies. And if you want to see what a monster this kind of category could become, just take a look at list of Harvard University people (which is, I think, currently the longest such list) and think about how bad it would be after being turned into a category. Just think about what will happen once every university gets a category like this: every biography article for someone who's been through college and grad school will probably have multiple such university categories."
    • "...an additional problem with a category in this case is that when we have list of alumni/faculty, we are also looking for additional information: what that person is known for, and that person's relationship to the institution (was the person an alumni, a faculty member, a donor, and so forth; what year did that person graduate; etc.). That is why, for example, list of Harvard University people (go take a look at it right now) is more useful than Category:Harvard University people. Perhaps—and this is a very conditional perhaps—in the future the category system is improved, we might consider then creating such categories, but right now, the net effect of these university categories on Wikipedia would be huge and disruptive to Wikipedia's biography articles. Consider, for example, someone who has only the slightest association with a university (for example, the person lectured at the university for a single year). It would be acceptable to list that person on the list version, because it would not disrupt the biography article of that person. But if we had a category, then we would have to add the category to the biography article. Now what if this person had lectured at or been a visiting professor at many universities, as indeed many distinguished academic scholars have? We could end up with something like eight or more university-related categories on a single biography page (one university-related category for the person's undergraduate study, one for the person's graduate study, two for the person's past teaching appointments, one for the person's current teaching appointment, one for where the person received an honorary degree, one for where the person made a significant donation, etc.)."
      • In the case of Harvard, it has a large number of prominent people connected with it - so I understand that page, there are a few others like it that are the main institutions globally that require them (University of Oxford, University of Cambridge). However I disagree that biographies will get crowded. Most of the time people only become alumni of one or two institutions (for a degree/diploma/PhD), and if you read about John Lithgow I'd much rather click Category:Harvard University alumni than read "see list of Harvard University people for others who graduated from Harvard". Even the most eminent academics like Stephen Hawking have only ever been an alumni of a few institutions - if people are academics all their life, they tend to settle down in one place and spend the last 40 years doing research at a single institution.
      • Yes I agree the category system isn't ideal for large numbers of entries (yet) - perhaps we could sub-categorise by decade or school that they graduated from? Grouping be decade/year would paint a wonderful picture of who was studying there at the same time.
      • Alumni is an easily definable domain that we can work with - categories with "people" in them can include just about anyone - Bill Gates has visited MIT, and has visited Cambridge - but that doesn't mean he should be listed as an MIT person or Cambridge person.
      • I really don't know what to do about staff? People working at the Uni of X? You could categorise that into departments at least?
      • Vote moved near to original comment - see above. Greg Robson 15:36, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Keep "alumni" and other easily quantifiable categories. Delete generic "affiliated with" categories. I would also support "Hiram Walker University professors" and "Hiram Walker University presidents", as these are easily quanitfiable. "affiliated with" is too far-reaching and hard to define. – flamurai (t) 01:02, Feb 23, 2005 (UTC)
  • Delete all for the well-expressed reasons given above by Lowellian. We should always consider the mess that would result if certain categories are kept and how little is lost if they are deleted. Postdlf 07:26, 23 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Also concur with Lowellian, Delete. Radiant! 21:02, Feb 24, 2005 (UTC)
  • Keep I don't think it is a mess at all. It seems obvious to me that this type of category will be of wide interest. Incompleteness is no reason for deletion. Much will be lost if we don't make flexible use of the category system, and one type of category does not exclude or conflict with another. Wincoote 08:47, 25 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Delete. Useless clutter, belongs in lists. Neutralitytalk 19:40, Mar 6, 2005 (UTC)

By the numbers, it looks like there's a rough consensus to convert the "people" and "affiliated with" categories to lists. The alumni categories are unresolved for now. Automation for conversion to lists is not yet ready for prime time, so this will need to be done manually. -- Beland 04:36, 13 Mar 2005 (UTC)