Wikipedia:Categorization/Eponymous RFC

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Comments are invited on how we should categorize articles that have categories named after them.--Kotniski (talk) 12:22, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

This is a request for comments on an aspect of how we use categories in Wikipedia. It will affect how we categorize major articles, such as articles on countries, which have categories named after them.

For previous discussion on the topic, see WT:CAT#Eponymous cats. Please read the below, then share your thoughts on the RFC discussion page.


Many articles share their name with a corresponding category: for example, the article France has Category:France. This category is called an eponymous category ("eponcat" for short).

Currently, Wikipedia:Naming conventions (categories)#General naming conventions policy requires:

  • For a pre-existing category, the article of the same or similar name and (rarely, or) on the same topic should be added to that category. ...
  • Articles should be placed in the most specific categories possible. ...

Thus France is certain to be placed in Category:France (conventionally with a space character as the sort key, to ensure that it is listed before other articles in that category).

The question[edit]

When articles have eponcats, how should those articles and eponcats be further categorized? For example, should France, or Category:France, or both, be placed in Category:European countries?

Possible answers[edit]

1. The articles should be categorized as they normally would, and the eponcats should be categorized alongside them. (So both France and Category:France would be listed at Category:European countries, as article and subcategory respectively.) In order words, an article and its eponymous category should both always exist in same categories. This could be implemented with a bot for all eponcats.

2. The articles should be categorized as they normally would, and the eponcats should be categorized elsewhere. (So France would be listed at Category:European countries, but Category:France would not be, although it might appear in something like Category:European country categories – for a real example, see Category:Categories named after American politicians.)

3. The eponcats should be placed in the categories in which the articles would normally be placed, and the articles should be excluded from those categories. (So Category:France would appear as a subcategory of Category:European countries, but France itself would not appear directly in the latter category.) In other words, an article with an eponymous category should only exist in its eponcat and in no other category; the eponcat should be used in all other categories. This could be implemented with a bot for all eponcats.

4. Either the article or its eponcat or both can exist in other categories depending on individual circumstances of each such category.

Factors to consider[edit]

1. Appearance on the article/eponcat pages. If an article/eponcat is excluded from a category, then that category will not appear in the "Categories" section at the foot of that article/eponcat. This would appear to be a disadvantage of solution 3 (with respect to articles) and solution 2 (with respect to eponcats). Also if a mixture of solutions is used (as in solution 4), then a confusing subset of relevant categories is likely to appear at the foot of each page.

2. Navigation from article/eponcat pages. As above, solutions 3 and 2 have the disadvantage of requiring an extra click to get to the parent category (from articles and eponcats respectively).

3. Appearance on the main category page. If solution 1 is adopted, there will be two parallel lists (of articles and of eponcats) on the main category page. This produces clutter and may cause the 200-item limit to be exceeded, preventing the category from being viewed on a single screen. On the other hand, with solution 3, IF some articles have eponcats and others don't, then there will be two disjoint alphabetical lists, making browsing more confusing.

4. Navigation from the main category page. Solution 1 has the advantage of giving one-click access to both articles and eponcats, although this may be outweighed by factor 3.

5. Logical consistency. If there are no eponcats present, articles are normally placed in categories which describe their subjects (articles whose subjects are actors are placed in "actors" categories, etc.), and subcategories are normally logical subsets of parent categories. Solution 2 is consistent with that logic; however, different logical schemes may prove equally valid.

6. Ease of maintenance. If followed consistently, solution 3 avoids the need to maintain the same set of categories in two places (as in solution 1) or parallel sets of categories (as in solution 2).


Please state your thoughts not here, but on the discussion page.