Wikipedia:Categorization/Ethnicity, gender, religion and sexuality
|This page documents an English Wikipedia editing guideline.|
|This page in a nutshell: Categorizing by ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, or disability should be done only as appropriate.|
Categorization by ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, or disability can be the subject of controversy. Articles are sometimes classified by:
- Ethnicity – e.g. Category:African-American poets, Category:Malaysian people of Chinese descent, Category:Romani people
- Gender – e.g. Category:Female bullfighters, Category:Male pornographic film actors, Category:Women composers
- Religion – e.g. Category:Christian theologians, Category:Hindu poets, Category:Muslim scholars
- Sexuality – e.g. Category:LGBT sportspeople, Category:Lesbian politicians, Category:Bisexual actors
- Disability – e.g. Category:Deaf musicians, Category:Amputee sportspeople, Category:Actors with dwarfism
These discussions occasionally pop up on Wikipedia:Categories for discussion, tend to be controversial, and vary wildly in their outcome. Cross-categories are typically used to split larger categories (e.g. Category:LGBT sportspeople is used to reduce the size of Category:LGBT people).
This advice applies only to the main namespace (articles, including lists, disambiguation pages, navigation boxes, and templates normally used in articles). It does not restrict categories that are used for WikiProjects, e.g., articles supported by Wikipedia:WikiProject LGBT studies, or on other project pages.
General categorization by gender, religion, ethnicity, disability, or sexuality (GREDS) is permitted, with the following considerations:
- Do not create a GREDS-based category for an area in which those characteristics are irrelevant.
- For example, most sportspeople should not be categorized by religion, since being Catholic, Buddhist, or another religion is not relevant to the way they perform in sports.
- Terminology must be neutral.
- Derogatory terms, such as racial slurs, are not to be tolerated in a category name under any circumstances, and should be considered grounds for speedy deletion. 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, "AIDS victims" is not an appropriate term for HIV-positive people. When in doubt, err on the side of respect.
- Subcategories by country are permitted, although terminology must be appropriate to the person's cultural context.
- Inclusion of people in a category related to GREDS must be based on reliable sources.
- For example, though an editor may have personal knowledge of a notable individual's sexual orientation, the article about that individual should be added to a sexuality-based category only if the article cites a reliable source in support of that fact.
- In almost all cases, a GREDS-based category should be non-diffusing. This means that membership of an article in the category will not require its removal from a parent category unrelated to GREDS. Note, however, that the parent category may diffuse on other criteria under which the article in question may qualify for one or more additional subcategories.
- For example, Category:American politicians has been largely diffused into sub-categories such as Category:American politicians by state but also has non-diffusing subcategories such as Category:African-American politicians. Membership in the non-diffusing subcategory Category:African-American politicians does not preclude membership in either diffusing subcategories such as Category:American politicians by state or other non-diffusing categories such as Category:20th-century American women politicians.
- The principle of "defining characteristics" applies to GREDS-based categorization as to any other. As the guideline on categorization says:
Avoiding categories based on non-defining characteristics will help in avoiding problems with GREDS-based categories.
The defining characteristics of an article's topic are central to categorizing the article. A defining characteristic is one that reliable sources commonly and consistently refer to in describing the topic, such as the nationality of a person or the geographic location of a place.
Ethnicity and race
Ethnic groups are commonly used when categorizing people; however, race is not. Ethnic groups may be used as categorizations, even if race is a stereotypical characteristic of the ethnic group, e.g. with African-Americans or Anglo-Indians. See Lists of ethnic groups for groups that are typically considered ethnic groups rather than races.
Citizenship, nationality (which country's laws the person is subject to), national origin, and national self-identity (which country the person feels closest to), although sometimes correlated with ethnicity, are not the same as ethnicity and are not addressed on this page.
A gender-specific category could be implemented where gender has a specific relation to the topic. For example, Category:Women contains articles such as International Women's Day, Women's studies, and female-specific subcategories. Similarly, Category:Men contains articles such as father, men's studies, boy and human male sexuality, as well as male-specific subcategories. Neither category, however, should directly contain biographies of individual women or individual men.
As another example, a female heads of government category is valid as a topic of special encyclopedic interest, though it does not need to be balanced directly against a "Male heads of government" category, as historically the vast majority of political leaders have been male. 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). Do not create separate categories for male and female occupants of the same position, such as "Male Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom" vs. "Female Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom".
As most notable organized sporting activities are segregated by gender, sportsperson categories constitute a case where "gender has a specific relation to the topic". As such, sportsperson categories should be split by gender, except in such cases where men and women participate primarily in mixed-gender competition. Example: Category:Male golfers and Category:Female golfers should both be subcategories of Category:Golfers, but Category:Ice dancers should not have gendered subcategories. Category:Male actors and Category:Actresses, and Category:Male models and Category:Female models are also divided by gender.
Categories regarding religious beliefs or lack of such beliefs of a living person should not be used unless the subject has publicly self-identified with the belief in question (see WP:BLPCAT), either through direct speech or through actions like serving in an official clerical position for the religion. For a dead person, there must be verified reliable published sources that, by consensus, support the information and show that the description is appropriate. Religion is not heritable. Never categorize by a religion of any parents or other ancestors.
Categories regarding sexual orientation of a living person are subject to Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons § Categories, lists and navigation templates: such categories should not be used unless the subject has publicly self-identified with the orientation in question, and the subject's sexual orientation is relevant to their public life or notability, according to reliable published sources. For example, a living person who is caught in a gay prostitution scandal, but continues to assert their heterosexuality, may not be categorized as gay.
For a dead person, there must be a verified consensus of reliable published sources that the description is appropriate. Historically, LGBT people often did not come out in the way that they commonly do today, so a person's own self-identification is, in many cases, impossible to verify by the same standards that would be applicable to a contemporary BLP. For a dead person, a broad consensus of academic and/or biographical scholarship about the topic is sufficient to describe a person as LGBT. For example, while some sources have claimed that William Shakespeare was gay or bisexual, there is not a sufficient consensus among scholars to support categorizing him as such—but no such doubt exists about the sexuality of Oscar Wilde or Radclyffe Hall.
Categories that make allegations about sexuality—such as "closeted homosexuals" or "people suspected of being gay"—are not acceptable under any circumstances. If such a category is created, it should be immediately depopulated and deleted. Note that as similar categories of this type have actually been attempted in the past, they may be speedily deleted (as a G4) and do not require another debate at Wikipedia:Categories for discussion.
Disability, intersex, medical, or psychological conditions
There are several guidelines that apply to categorization of people with disabilities, intersex conditions, and other medical or psychological states or conditions.
- People with these conditions should not be added to subcategories of Category:People with disabilities, Category:Intersex people or Category:People by medical or psychological condition unless that condition is considered WP:DEFINING for that individual. For example, there may be people who have amnesia, but if reliable sources don't regularly describe the person as having that characteristic, they should not be added to the category.
- Categories which intersect a job, role, or activity with a disability or medical/psychological condition should only be created if the intersection of those characteristics is relevant to the topic and discussed as a group in reliable sources. Thus, we have Category:Deaf musicians and Category:Amputee sportspeople and Category:Actors with dwarfism since these intersections are relevant to the topic and discussed in reliable sources, but we should not create Category:Biologists with cerebral palsy, since the intersection of Category:Biologists + Category:People with cerebral palsy is not closely relevant to the job of biologist nor is it a grouping that reliable sources discuss in depth.
- The final rung rule described below also applies to disability- or medical/psychological-based intersection categories; such categories should not be the final rung in a category tree, and should not be created if articles can't be otherwise diffused into sibling categories. For example, even if reliable sources regularly discussed Category:Deaf flight attendants, this category should not be created since it would be a final rung category underneath Category:Flight attendants, which isn't otherwise able to be diffused.
- All such intersections between disability or medical/psychological conditions and other characteristics like jobs should be treated as non-diffusing categories, meaning that adding Category:Blind musicians should not remove the article from Category:Musicians or any of its diffusing subcategories. All such intersection categories should be considered as "extra" categories, and people should still be placed in all other categories for which they would qualify if they didn't have this condition. A person in Category:Actors with dwarfism is first and foremost an actor, and should be categorized alongside other actors who don't have dwarfism.
Dedicated group-subject subcategories, such as Category:LGBT writers or Category:African-American musicians, should be created only where that combination is itself recognized as a distinct and unique cultural topic in its own right. If a substantial and encyclopedic head article (not just a list) cannot be written for such a category, then the category should not be created. Please note that this does not mean that the head article must already exist before a category can be created, but that it must at least be possible to create one.
Generally, this means that the basic criterion for such a category is whether the topic has already been established as academically or culturally significant by external sources. If this criterion has not been met, then the category essentially constitutes original research. Although there are exceptions, this will usually mean that categories relating to social or cultural subjects are more likely to be valid than others.
Remember as well, that a category is not automatically a valid substitute for a list. If the category's head article could never be anything more than a bulleted list of individuals who happen to meet the criteria, then a category is not appropriate.
For example, LGBT writers are a well-studied biographical category with secondary sources discussing the personal experiences of LGBT writers as a class, unique publishing houses, awards, censorship, a distinctive literary contribution (LGBT literature), and other professional concerns, and therefore Category:LGBT writers is valid. However, gay people in linguistics do not represent a particularly distinct or unique class within their field, so Category:Gay linguists should not be created. For similar reasons, Category:African-American musicians is valid, but Category:African-American surgeons should not exist.
Similarly, an "(ethnicity) politicians" category should only be created if politicians of that ethnic background constitute a distinct and identifiable group with a specific cultural and political context. There is no significant or notable difference in context between being a German American politician and a Swedish American politician. But an American politician of Native American descent is a different context from an American politician of European background. Thus, Category:Native American politicians is valid, but Category:German American politicians and Category:Swedish American politicians should not exist. 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 happen to exist.
Whether such a grouping constitutes a positive or negative portrayal of the racial or sexual group in question is also not, in and of itself, a valid criterion for determining the legitimacy of a category. At all times, the bottom line remains can a valid, encyclopedic head article be written for this grouping?
People who occupy the grey areas are not a valid argument against the existence of a category; if they do not fit, they simply should not be added to it.
Concerns about the neutral point of view status of a particular category must be weighed against the fact that not having such a category may also unacceptably advance a particular point of view. Your personal feelings should not enter into the matter: if a category meets the criteria defined above, then it is permitted, and if the category does not meet the criteria, then it is not permitted. This is the only way in which the myriad points of view on the matter can be realistically reconciled into a relatively neutral position.
Be aware as well, that under these criteria, categories may change over time. Something that is not currently an appropriate category may become a valid one in the future, or vice versa, 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.
Ghettoization: final rung
Try to avoid "ghettoizing" people, but at the same time, Wikipedia rules about redundant categorization should also be respected. That is, a person should not be filed only in GREDS categories, without also being placed in other more general categories alongside the GREDS. For instance, a woman poet from the United States should not be filed only in Category:American women poets, but should also be filed in Category:21st-century American poets; however, because the by-century category exists, the person does not need to be filed directly in Category:American poets on top of that. However, if a category isn't subdivided on other non-gendered grounds such as time period, then the person should be left in the ungendered parent category alongside the gendered subcategory until some other relevant subcategorization criterion is in place.
- in declarative statements, rather than table or list form