Wikipedia talk:Categorization/Archive 12

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Categorising human settlements

This is an attempt by BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) to start a centralised discussion to resolve some issues which have arisen at CFD on categorising human settlements. It arises out of Wikipedia:Categories for discussion/Log/2010 March 14#Cities.2C_towns_and_villages and some related discussions, in which it became clear that there are multiple problems with both the current terminology and the current structure, and that no single set of changes will resolve the many problems identified.

The decisions made about the nomenclature used in this field will affect thousands of categories and many tends of thousands of articles on human settlements. After a huge series of out-of-process moves, it is important that a wide consensus is achieved before any further changes, so that any solution will be a stable solution.

The current situation

The top-level category for human settlements is currently Category:Settlements, whose sub-category Category:Settlements by country includes the top-level category for human settlements in over 200 countries (i.e. all, or nearly all).

  1. The overwhelming majority of the national categories are named Category:Settlements in Foo. Notable exceptions include:
  2. Below the Category:Settlements in Foo, 152 countries have a category Category:Cities, towns and villages in Foo, which in most cases appears to contain all the relevant sub-categories.
The problems

Several problems have been identified with this structure:

  1. So far, we do not have an agreed, neutral term for the top-level category of human settlements which can be applied to all countries. The convention of categories is that where possible a high degree of consistency should be sought across category trees, because consistency helps both readers and editors. The current situation is an unsatisfactory combination of inconsistency and a predominant naming convention which is inappropriate in many cases.
  2. The "cities, towns and villages" terminology is particularly problematic, because it suggests that other types of human settlement (hamlets, squatter camps, etc.) should not be included in categories thus named.
  3. It is pointless to have a Category:Settlements in Foo (even if renamed) which contains only Category:Cities, towns and villages in Foo
How this happened

It appears that much of this structure was created through a long series of out-of-process category moves and merges by an editor who retired today. Several editors have expressed concern about this, but please can we keep this discussion focused on finding a solution to the problems. (Discussion of sanctions or whatever on the editor who did the out-of-process moves can of course take place elsewhere).

--BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 22:13, 15 March 2010 (UTC)


The first question to be resolved is:

  • What is the appropriate term to be used for the top-level categories of human settlements? These categories are currently in Category:Settlements by country, and are mostly named Category:Settlements in Foo.
    The term needs to include all types of human settlement, and must not clash with any terms for specific types of human settlement. Suggestions so far include "human settlements" and "inhabited places".
  • Well, the 'obvious' name as at least some editors on CfD would say is to name it after the main article so Category:human settlements. Vegaswikian (talk) 23:50, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
    • Someone in one of the related discussions pointed out that "settlement" has political connotations in Israeli-Palestinian contexts. Unless you are eager to wade into that morass & spend hours debating your position (or the person in question is simply trolling), I suggest we use another term. -- llywrch (talk) 02:17, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
      • Whatever is selected at the top level and is generally used will not be forced into areas where it is not appropriate. We know settlement is problematic in Russia, Israeli-Palestinian contexts and others. But if no other neutral term is available, then we need to select one that will work in most places. Vegaswikian (talk) 02:21, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

*"Inhabited places" could be larger than what is intended here. Maybe "Inhabited localities" or "geographic communities." "Settlements" is not conversational. Maurreen (talk) 02:07, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

  • I like Localities by itself. "Settlements" should probably lose on the issue that some countries have defined settlement to mean something other than "the general category of places people live." So in those places, we'd have "Settlements (general)" and "Settlements (governmental)," or some other awful format. But I don't think any country has defined "Localities" as a geopolitical designation, though I would not be shocked to be wrong about that.--Mike Selinker (talk) 04:16, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
    • I like "Localities." It's short and sweet. The only flaw I can think of is a question of whether it would include counties and equivalents. Maurreen (talk) 04:34, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
      • Off the bat, I would not see counties, provinces or states being considered localities, under normal English definitions. At the worst, a valley might be a locality. Does "spot" work better? "Inhabited spots"? --Bejnar (talk) 01:59, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
      • I'm pretty sure any term we pick will have to be defined somewhere to say "this, but not that." It's just too spongy a concept to be consistent simply in its name, unless we overload in specificity like "Cities, towns, and villages."--Mike Selinker (talk) 04:39, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Yes, it's a difficult question, I don't think there's any answer that doesn't carry some problems with it. I'd prefer "Cities, towns and villages" to be the standard expression (most transparent), but whatever we go for, I think there are going to be differently-named subcategories due to the particular terminologies used in different countries.--Kotniski (talk) 10:18, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • As noted above, "cities, towns and villages" doesn't seem exhaustive. Here (UK) the grades are
    1. city
    2. borough (England) or burgh (Scotland)
    3. town
    4. village
    5. hamletPeter jackson (talk) 11:22, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • "Localities" seems like a Category for both settlements and political subdivitions (e.g. a province or county). "Cities, towns and villages" seems to exclude anything called by a different word in that language. "Settlements" (to me) sounds like a place that has not advanced to anything bigger than a settlements. Every term has proplems and most ever term will work okay once it is used with wide considancy and a few hatnotes and exeptions when needed (e.g. Russia, Israel, Palestine). "Settlements," or even others options that include "settlements," has the large advantage (among others) of already being in wide use here for the needed purpose, reducing the learning curve for any Wikipedian not reading this discussion.
That said, my preference order, would be
  1. Cities and settlements in Foo
  2. Settlements in Foo
  3. Cities and communities in Foo
  4. Geographic communities in Foo
  5. Cities etcetera in Foo
  6. Human settlements in Foo
  7. Cities and towns in Foo
  8. Localities in Foo
  9. Communities in Foo
  10. Cities, towns and villages in Foo and
  11. Inhabited localities in Foo Carlaude:Talk 11:40, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • I like settlements; it has a lot of tradition behind it on Wikipedia. However, I understand the collision of terms in a couple of countries. If consistency is that critical, then I would support communities. At any rate, I think it should be a single word. Ntsimp (talk) 14:01, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Hmm, this is proving more difficult that I thought: all the single-word terms have some serious problems. I think that the problems with the bare word "settlements" may extend to many more countries than those identified so far: for any country with a history of colonisation, the term may be problematic in some way.
    I am also uncomfortable with the word "community", because it implies a judgement on the nature of the human relationships in the place concerned. Many cities may be seen as a collection of communities, and in some places it is arguable that there is so little interaction that there is no community.
    "Localities" can equally well describe an uninhabited place, and it may be used to refer to administrative sub-divisions.
    I don't think that the terms which specify the type of settlement help, because even "cities, towns and villages" excludes hamlets (or equivalent terms), collective or co-operative farms such as kibbutzim or moshavim, squatter camps, and so on, despite the fact that squatter camps and shanty towns can be huge). So it seems to me that best chance of a globally acceptable convention comes from using one of the compound terms, such as "inhabited places", or "human settlements". I have just noticed that "human settlements" is the term used by the The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-HABITAT, which counts for me as big mark in its favour. Apart from obviously being a widely used existing phrase rather than a neologism, it wouldn't be in use by the UN unless it was widely accepted in the many UN members states. I have a feeling at this point that we'll be hard-pressed to find any alternative which matches the advantages of "human settlements": a) it's already in wide use, b) it has a presumption of political neutrality, and c) it doesn't exclude the various types of smaller or unofficial human settlement. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 14:49, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • I'm going to push back a little on the choice of "human settlements" for the reason that it sounds odd to me to refer to cities like New York, London, Berlin, Tokyo, etc. as "human settlements". What about "Urban centers and human settlements"? (And as a digression, would subunits of cities -- e.g. wards, boroughs & neighborhoods -- be a subcategory of whatever we name this category, or would it be included under an entirely different category?) -- llywrch (talk) 17:27, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Urban centers may have issues in that it means a group of cities or a collection of places that make up an urban area. Vegaswikian (talk) 17:43, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • (ec)Good idea, Llywrch; I think it's important to carefully test any term which might be used. It doesn't feel odd to me to call even a megalopolis a "human settlement", but then that's just as subjective as your reaction :)
    As to the big cities, this decision is about choosing a top-level category, and in most countries there are several layers of subcats between that and the city, so I think whatever term we choose will be directly applied to the world's major cities only for specialised categories; otherwise they would be in subcats. For example:
  1. London in Category:British capitals, Category:Capitals in Europe, Category:Port cities and towns in the United Kingdom, none of which would change. London is also in Category:Settlements established in the 1st century, and that should be renamed to whatever name we choose
  2. New York city is in Category:Cities in New York, Category:Former capitals of the United States, Category:Former national capitals, Category:Former United States state capitals, Category:Metropolitan areas of the United States, Category:Port settlements in the United States and Category:Settlements established in 1625. Only the last one would change.
Your suggestion of "Urban centers and human settlements" doesn't look great to me: it adds three extra words which are at best superfluous, and which could be read as implying that an "urban center" is not a "human settlement". (We wouldn't say "apples and fruit", because apples are a fruit).
Subunits of cities would of course continue to be categorised as at present, e.g. Cockfosters is in Category:Districts of London, which is a subcat of Category:Neighbourhoods in the United Kingdom, which is a subcat of Category:Settlements in the United Kingdom. So only the grandparent category would change. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 18:13, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • "Locality" was the compromise term we adopted at the Open Directory Project years ago, and I think it is the way to go. The UN Statistics Division defines a locality as
a distinct population cluster (also designated as inhabited place, populated centre, settlement and so forth) in which the inhabitants live in neighbouring sets of living quarters and that has a name or a locally recognized status. It thus includes fishing hamlets, mining camps, ranches, farms, market towns, villages, towns, cities and many other population clusters that meet the criteria specified above.
It was an unpopular term, but survived because it was better than the alternatives:
  • It is not common in any variant of English I am aware of, so it is unlikely to be conflated with any civil designation (unlike "city," et al). It is free from social connotations of size, government, cohesion, or economic status that come with terms like "community" or "urbanized area."
  • It is unfamiliar, but still friendlier than more wonkish constructions of familiar terms would be, like "concentrated population centers" or "population agglomeration"
  • It captures the sense of a localized population cluster, whereas terms like "inhabited place" or "human settlement" could be applied to national or transnational regions; Antarctica is an inhabited place, and Central America is settled by humans.
  • It avoids currency that may be inferred from names like "populated locations" or "settled places." Ancient Ur, or less ancient and more aptly-named Total Wreck, Arizona, may no longer be either populated or settled, but they should be navigable from categories of cities and towns respectively.
- choster (talk) 23:11, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • "Locality" also has a particular meaning in Australia (see Suburbs and localities (Australia)). With that said, I think it's a better choice than "settlement" if we must standardise, the benefits of which I still think are somewhat dubious. Lankiveil (speak to me) 23:33, 16 March 2010 (UTC).
    • With over 200 countries using "settlements" as the top-level category, we already have de facto standardisation. Unfortunately, there are a lot of reasons to think that it's not a good standard. :( --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 00:00, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Why do we need a catchall category, Cities in foo, Towns in Foo, Villages in Foo, Burbs in Foo...etc are sub cats of the state/province/country/locality in which they exist with inclusion being as the term is defined in the particular country. If you want top end categories then have, categories City, Town, Burb etc... then all thats needed is a single over all category of population centres. Let the branches follow local terminology and definitions as that is where most readers will be from anyway...In short broard brush terminology is only useful if its consistant across all english language usage, where language use differs we shouldnt be pushing our own terms that called systemic bias WP isnt in the business of standardising language. Gnangarra 09:53, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
    • I agree with the spirit of this. That is, I agree that the "X in Place" categories don't need to all follow the same pattern. But for the single overall category, I think "Localities" is better understood and more concise than "Population centers." Maurreen (talk) 10:15, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
      • except that localities are a political subdivision in Australia which contain multiple population centres(towns, burbs) Gnangarra 10:49, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
        • OK, you have a point there. Maurreen (talk) 10:58, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
    • The problem with using terms like "city", town", "borough", etc is that they can and do have differing usages and legal status across the English speaking world. For example, in the UK, the status of city is legal and is nominally conferred by the Crown (and is highly sought after), borough can be the same. At one time in New Zealand, a city was any settlement with a population over 25,000. The US seems to use it more freely still. A neutral term is needed. I tend to favour "settlement", mainly because it hasa quasi-academic(?) usage; locality is similarly neutral, but doesn't have the connotation for me of human occupation. I've been populating the family of categories "Former settlements" and the use of "settlements" was agreed after a discussion. BTW, please try to avoid a category based on "Urban centres", that we avoid spelling issues. Folks at 137 (talk) 18:55, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
      • (ec) The reason I came up with the pair "urban centers & settlements" was due to my experience with Ethiopian material. Based on what information I have found, habitations in that country seem to best divide into two groups: on one side there are urban centers -- cities & towns -- which I suspect but have no proof have a corporate identity, & on the other rural settlements -- villages & hamlets -- which clearly have no corporate identity, & in some cases may be quite transient. Beyond this, I really have no strong opinion over what the top-level category is called, as long as everyone can at least accept it. (And maybe in the immediate sub-categories beneath it we can have a more refined groupings, based on size, legal facts of the national entity, etc. Now this I have a strong opinion about. ;) -- llywrch (talk) 20:20, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Question -- Slightly tangential, but does anyone know of regional variations in the meaning of "municipality" or "incorporated community"? Maurreen (talk) 19:03, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
    • I'd look at municipality or incorporated community which starts to unravel the various differences. Vegaswikian (talk) 19:25, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
    • My copy of Black's Law Dictionary defines a "municipality" as a municipal corporation -- city, town, borough or incorporated village. It also gives three different definitions of "city", based on the country: in the UK, a city is a town where a bishop has its seat; in the US, a city is the top-level municipal corporation; in Germany, it is any town granted the rights/privilege of having walls. As for "town", my copy of Black's points out how its definition varies between states:
"In the New England states, the town is the political unit, and is a municipal corporation. In some other states, where the county is the unit, the town is merely one of its subdivisions, but possesses some powers of local self-government. In still other states, such subdivisions of a county are called 'townships', and 'town' is the name of a village, borough, or smaller city." -- llywrch (talk) 19:41, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
See City status in the United Kingdom. The connection between diocesan Anglican cathedrals and city status is archaic and no longer has legal effect. There are British cities without cathedrals. The connection however remains in the popular mind as does the connection between universities and city status. Perhaps Llywrch has an old version of "Black's"? Folks at 137 (talk) 09:19, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Er, mine is 3rd edition, 1933. But it has all of the legal citations, unlike the newer editions! And my point was to illustrate how definitions of population centers vary not only between countries & legal entities, but often conflict with definitions based on areas, like counties. (I did think the definition for British cities a little odd, but then I remembered the Latin cives civitas, often translated "city", is also used to refer to the seat of bishops. And much of the time legal definitions are archaic yet still in force. I'm still trying to figure out why suicide is against the law in some American states.) -- llywrch (talk) 17:13, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
  • At the highest level, I like "inhabited places." Cities in Foo, Villages in Foo can roll up to that. While "settlements" don't have unpleasant overtones in the US, it sounds a bit temporary in general conversations. The Paleolithic had "settlements." It seems like an inadvertent putdown. Student7 (talk) 21:36, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
I also like "inhabited places" -- I can find no over-specific or locally sensitive meaning--but of course someone else might find one. the alternative would be " Cities, towns, villages, etc. " DGG ( talk ) 01:22, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
"Inhabited places" would include-- or seem to include-- Africa, the Middle East, the Isle of Man, New England, Seneca County, the Black Forest, Ohio, France, the Red River Valley, and Borneo. Carlaude:Talk 06:08, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
  • I think population center would work nicely.
(BTW, "communities" would seem to include fraturnity chapters, monasteries, Internet communities, etc.) Carlaude:Talk 05:56, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
How would you reconcile the differing spellings of centre/center? Folks at 137 (talk) 09:19, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
The BLD citation above for the British definition of a city is mistaken. A city is one that has a royal charter saying it is, or has been regarded as such from time immemorial (perhaps being deemed to have a charter by legal fiction). E.g. Cambridge is a city by charter of George VI in 1951, but has no bishop. Peter jackson (talk) 09:54, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
6 French villages destroyed in the First World War are still officially recognized as communes, local government units. Peter jackson (talk) 09:59, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Next steps?

It seems like there's not going to be a perfect answer. Maybe we should make a list of options and summarize the pros and cons for each? Maurreen (talk) 07:01, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Let's go for it.—Ëzhiki (Igels Hérissonovich Ïzhakoff-Amursky) • (yo?); March 18, 2010; 13:27 (UTC)

The options I believe we have are as follows, with their problems:

  • Locality While we understand this word, it has problems due to its legal meaning in Australia. "Settlement", the current usage, has a similar problem due to real-world connotations. And any form involving "center" risks a conflict over how to spell the darned word. (One option in this category would be "habitation", which no one has mentioned.)
  • Human settlement Attractive because it is adopting an established term (by the UN) & shifts the blame for any problems off-wiki, yet doesn't intuitively fit some cases.
  • Adopting a term from a neutral third language Such as municipal from Latin, or polis from Greek; I don't think any possible candidate would clash with existing usage. One objection is that neither properly refers to villages or hamlets -- which I believe everyone wants to include under this top category. Another would be that we are being too ingenuous, & a simpler option already exists -- even if we can't think of it.
  • Making up our own term Such as "populated locale", "inhabited place", etc., which isn't used outside of Wikipedia. Same objection as the last category: too ingenuous. And we might all end up in an endless squabble over our own favorite combination instead of coming to a consensus.

Does that work as a summary of our options? -- llywrch (talk) 17:28, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Unless I misunderstand it, in your third option some terms would in fact clash; for example anything involving "municipal" would not work in countries which use the term "municipality" to refer to governmental areas that do not correspond one-to-one with human settlements. Other than that, this seems like a reasonable summary. - htonl (talk) 17:38, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
I was trying to remember the Latin word (is it municipalis? municipale? I can't find my Latin dictionary, so I'm going by my fallible memory here), which would be easily recognizable to anyone, yet by being different enough from the English word avoid the clash of meanings. And the other relevant Latin terms might not work as well: civitas, colonia, urbis, & oppidus. All of which have the same problem as municipalis above -- none properly refer to villages or hamlets .(For the record, the moment I saw "habitation" in print above, I realized that it was a bad choice. Feel free to act as if that it was never suggested.) -- llywrch (talk) 18:34, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
  • I like "localities," "communities," and "inhabited places" as the best of an imperfect lot. I would like "population centers" if there wasn't a centers/centres issue. No matter what we do, we will need some clarification of the term somewhere.--Mike Selinker (talk) 17:46, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
    • And "populated areas" would work just fine too, and not have the spelling question.--Mike Selinker (talk) 15:23, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
  • I like "inhabited localities" (extra emphasis on the fact that it's not just a random "locality" such as a river, a mountain, or an underground castle ;)) and "populated places".—Ëzhiki (Igels Hérissonovich Ïzhakoff-Amursky) • (yo?); March 18, 2010; 17:50 (UTC)
  • I like population centers or was the centres really does it matter what the end spelling of such a word is we know the differences in colour & color additionally center is a common spelling mistake when centre is the spelling anyway. This a catch all category any way so where the common spelling is centre we population centres in foo where its center we have population centers in foo. The spelling is only an issue if make it one, or we can shrug and goes who cares which way is up as long as its up, if really necessary we can redirect one to the other and protect both from moves anyway, even if the spelling went to CFD no would close with a clear concensus.Gnangarra 06:17, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
  • So far as I can see, the only viable options from Llywrch's are "Human settlement" and making up our own term. "Locality" has a specific (and narrow) meaning in Australia, as well as a more general meaning which includes uninhabited places.
    Of the other options:
  1. "population center" will lead to endless arguments over spelling in non-English-speaking countries, as is currently happening over "organi[sz]ations";
  2. "communities" implies a value judgement on the nature of social relationships in the settlement, and has a further flaw in that the internet has freed communities from geographical constraints: plenty of communities exist only through social networking tools such as Facebook, web forums or mailing lists.
  3. Using Latin or Greek terms will be obscure to most readers
  4. "inhabited places" and "inhabited localities" are both somewhat vague, because they include places with highly dispersed (and possibly nomadic) populations, such as busmen in the Kalahari.
So it still seems to me that "human settlements" is the least-flawed option, and has the strong advantage of being already in widespread usage through --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 15:43, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Another option more along the lines of option 4 is populated place, which is the term used by the U.S. Geological Survey. This at least has the benefit of being in some wide official usage. It also appears to be in significant usage by the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN) as can be seen from a Google search of their domain [1]. --Polaron | Talk 19:36, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
    • I like "populated place" the best so far -- although I can live & probably even grow to like BHG's "human settlement". Quite frankly, once I wrote down all of the possible choices it was clear not one of those proposed up to that point were anywhere as good as "human settlements"; "populated place" is a latecomer. (Some of the other options clearly sucked. "Habitation" anyone? ;) -- llywrch (talk) 21:17, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
      • How 'bout "human-infested areas"? :)—Ëzhiki (Igels Hérissonovich Ïzhakoff-Amursky) • (yo?); March 19, 2010; 21:19 (UTC)
        • I like "human polluted" better. That aside, unless someone can find a reason to not use populated place, that could be a winner. Vegaswikian (talk) 22:10, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
          • "Human polluted" floats my boat too, but might perhaps be seen as just as little bit POV :)
            Notwithstanding the USGS's usage, the plain English meaning of "populated place" goes beyond the clusters of dwellings we are trying to categorise. Cornwall, Skye and the Arabah are all, in plain English, "populated places", but they are regions of dispersed populations rather than the sort of population clusters which this category currently contains. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 00:25, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
  • I'm leaning toward "Populated locales". "Locale" is more specific than place, indicating size roughly in the middle of a range. Maurreen (talk) 22:26, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
    "Locale" that is a rarely-used loanword, whose precise meaning is obscure; that makes its use here problematic, because there is plenty of scope for different interpretations leading to disputes, and it was the lack of perceived neutrality of the current naming which triggered the need for this discussion. The Wikipedia article locale is about a computing topic, and the hatnote says For "locale" as a place, see location (a disambiguation page) or region. For the use of "locale" in order theory and pointless topology, see frames and locales.
    The "region" meaning is one we need to avoid here, because the concept we are trying to convey in whatever term is chosen is of a "cluster of population", not a region in which people live. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 00:01, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Aha LOL Ezhiki and Vegas. No Igaree with Llywrch actually. If we must change the naming I'd rather see Populated places in... There is something I dislike about settlements and community which makes me think of some kind of rural village. "Inhabited settlements" kind of makes it look stone age. Most settlements are inhabited. Populated places I'd go for although one can say "most places are populated" also. I'd also propose renaming the current Brazilian categories too to comply. I saw that there has been argument over naming. I started a number of Brazilian municipalities a while back actually and did not approve of the cities, towns and villages cat. Actually I thought Municipalities in... was more appropriate to Brazil. I'm not too certain that the name is suitable for every where as in Russia settlements mean different things. I would support Populated places in.... Remember also it has to be fairly obvious to readers. I have doubt average person would naturally catrgorized them e.g Category:Populated locales in Libya or something. When i started on wikipedia my natural way was to categorize them as Category:Cities in... but this was often empty or not existent Then when I looked in Category:Cities by country I saw someone had disrupted the system and the majority were named cities, towns and villages in the main City category and many of the town and village categories were empty. For a newcomer I found that cities, towns and villages thing quite confusing although I see now what has been done, basically means all settlements in given area. This is a good idea I think but we certainly need to simplify naming. I gather Places in .... would be too simple and place may also mean landmarks.

My concern about categories like Category:Settlements in Croatia is that many may confusingly categorizes places as Cities and towns or Villages or Settlements. How does somebody know whever it is a town or village or settlement? I think simple categories are better. Should not many of those categorized as Settlements in Croatia actually be under Villages in Croatia?Starzynka (talk) 22:58, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

This discussion is about a collective term for the top-level category for each region. Beneath that, there many be several sub-categories for each type of human settlement: e.g. in Ireland, the current Category:Settlements in the Republic of Ireland contains Category:Cities in the Republic of Ireland, Category:Towns and villages in the Republic of Ireland and Category:Coastal settlements in the Republic of Ireland. This discussion is about the term to be used in Category:Settlements in the Republic of Ireland, not about the sub-categories. -BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 00:12, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

What the hell would you know Starzynka? It would make more sense to name the main category Cities, towns and villages by country then if it is "disruptive" as you rather rudely put it. I oppose renaming these categories. Nobody has complained to date and I think it makes it clear exactly what it is. Many people create new articles, even newbies using this naming convention so to change it would mean everybody would have to relearn what the system is. Cities, towns and villages I don't think is as problematic or awful as you think. As for settlement category existing by country I don't know if we need it. We have plenty of small mother categories with lots of articles within sub categories. Why must we rename every category and merge them into whatever is being proposed here? If people insist on having the mother "settlement" categories then a rename to Populated places or whatever might seem plausible for I don't see there is this big need to sort this out as people are claiming here. Say for instance we were to rename all the Cities, towns and villages in Gabon as "Populated places in Gabon". What would happen to our City categories by country? PLacing "Populated places in Gabon" in the Cities by country would be even worse. Dr. Blofeld White cat 18:46, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Previous discussion

There was a discussion in 2007 about this - Wikipedia_talk:Naming_conventions_(settlements)/Archive_15#Settlements. There's some data and info there that might (or might not) be useful. What was found then, and is being found now, is that there is no perfect term, and it's about what feels most appropriate and is the best fit. The consensus of that discussion was to use "human settlements", though I am with those who feel that as we already use "settlement" that the distinction between the two is not significant enough to warrant a wide scale change - it is clear enough what will be in Category:Settlements by country, such that Category:Human settlements by country will not make any difference. Where there may be a misunderstanding we can accept the one exception: Category:Cities, towns and villages in Israel.

The term I offered then, Category:Human settlements and communities, was not accepted, and I agree now that it was trying to do too much. I think that "settlement" works, and we can live with what works. SilkTork *YES! 23:53, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for that link, SilkTork. It's a very interesting discussion, going over similar ground.
However, I disagree that "settlement" works. We got into this discussion precisely because there was a strong feeling at CFD that the bare word "settlements" causes too many problems. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 00:28, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Indeed - in some places settlements has a/an pejorative (e.g. South Africa) or anachronistic (e.g. Australia) implication which is jarring for people not used to it. I was first introduced to the term in its current use on Wikipedia during a particularly heated debate over some rather odd attempts to apply it to places where it clearly didn't fit (e.g. "port settlements") and I've been convinced since that it doesn't work as a catch-all. The suggestion I've heard so far that best fits is "inhabited place" (locality basically means "suburb" or "neighbourhood" in both Australian and NZ English, and municipality has connotations of incorporation that many places under it don't have in a legal sense), although no solution will be perfect for all situations. Orderinchaos 14:24, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
I think we need to distinguish between the bare word "settlements" and the phrase "human settlements". The bareword carries all sorts of colonial connotations, but the adjective recasts it to avoid those.
"Inhabited place" may not offend sensibilities, but it doesn't convey the right meaning: Canada is an "inhabited place". --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 20:13, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Straw poll?

Should we set up a straw poll to at least narrow the options? We could see which expressions have the most opposition and take those off the table. Maurreen (talk) 20:36, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

No. A lot of editors above have posted "I like it" comments about various options above, without apparently considering the previously-raised concerned about the workability of those terms. A straw poll is in general a bad idea, but in these circumstances it would undermine the efforts to try to examine the problems with various names. Counting heads rather than weighing reasons gives undue weight to ILIKEIT commenters. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 21:11, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

I think the proposal to change to categories has implications for the ordering of Category:Cities by country. By removing these categories for the sake of Category:Settlements by country you will be removing the navigation of most countries under the cities category which have the merged categories. I honestly think it is best left alone. Think of it in a real world context. People generaly do not refer to places as "populated settlements", "human settlements", inhabited communities or whatever they most commonly call them cities, towns or villages. I rarely here anymbody go, well in my inhabited human locality there are many farms.... or in my populated human settlement there are two churches. They say in my town or village plain and simple. I think this change will ruin the useability of places on wikipedia whihc most people term cities, towns or villages regardless of "settlements". I don't see a problem in the settlement categories not containing many articles and them being located in the cities cat. This layout works the best in my view. We currently have settlements by country for those countries like Israel etc which do have a diversity of settlement types to aid navigation and for those which don't they are immediately directed to Cities, towns and villages. This makes it readily accesible in both the Settlements by country and Cities, towns and villages categories. You can't replace one with the other otherwise it will mess up the current city categorizing system and make most of them inappropriate to adding to that category. Please stick with what normal human beings call places. Dr. Blofeld White cat 22:09, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

For the sake of simplicity, why don't we not change the current top-most category. But wherever "settlements" or other parts of our current structure are locally problematic, handle them on a case-by-case basis? Maurreen (talk) 22:21, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
(reply to Maurreen) The problem is that, currently, most countries (150+) have a "Settlements in X" and a "Cities, towns and villages in X" category, which are redundant, and we have to decide what to do with them. - htonl (talk) 22:35, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. Somehow I missed that.
Would it make sense to focus discussion on just those two options?
It seems like no option is perfect, and we're going 'round and 'round. Maurreen (talk) 22:43, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that would be a good idea; I think some of the other options we've looked at make more sense than either of those and I don't think we should limit ourself based on basically arbitrary history. - htonl (talk) 22:46, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
(reply to Dr. Blofeld) Then there should be "Cities in X", "Towns in X", "Villages in X", etc., categories to serve that purpose. The problem is, in the current scheme, you have, for example, Baardskeerdersbos (a village of 200 people) ultimately categorized under Category:Cities. (The chain is Baardskeerdersbos -> Category:Cities, towns and villages in the Western Cape -> Category:Cities, towns and villages in South Africa -> Category:Cities in Africa -> Category:Cities.) This does not make sense. - htonl (talk) 22:35, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Well, sometimes people call all settlements "cities". But the whole point in the cities, towns and villages naming is to stop people wrongly labelling tiny villages as Cities in ... and vice versa. Baardskeerdersbos for example is much better of named as Category:Cities, towns and villages in the Western Cape then Villages in South Africa or Populated settlements in South Africa etc If we decide to split and say yes lets have Cities in and then Towns and villages in .... there would still be the confusion as to whether a big town is actually a city or not so many would wrongly categorize towns as cities and people searching in towns and villages in South Africa would't be able to find it. Ultimately I think settlements in ... by country is a decent mother category but where I disagree with Brownhiaredgirl is that I don't think it is necessary to merge the categories just because many are not full. We have thousands of similar categories which act in the same way. The way it is currently organized it also allows people to browse both by city or settlement. If we name all the Cities, towns and villages categories as Settlements in.. or Populated place in we remove the standard cities by country structure which more people use than the settlements by country. This is not a good idea. Dr. Blofeld White cat 23:18, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

The reason we want to merge the categories is not because they are "not full", but because they are confusingly redundant. I think the issues of usability you mention could be addressed by appropriate use of {{category redirect}}. - htonl (talk) 23:22, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Regardless of any top-level category, can't we still divide by type, such as cities, towns, etc.? Maurreen (talk) 00:45, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes, absolutely yes. All the categories "Cities in X", "Towns in X", etc. would remain as subsets of whatever the parent category is ultimately named. - htonl (talk) 00:52, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
The goal of this discussion is to decide on a label for the category under which we can gather the categories of "Cities in X", "Towns in X", "Villages in X", etc. From what I've read "Settlements in X" doesn't work for enough people, & in most if not all cases, its only subcategory is "Settlements in X" with "Cities, towns and villages in X". If the decision is to subsume "Settlements in X" with "Cities, towns and villages in X", then that's good; if the decision is to remove both categories & create one with a new name, then that's good too. The important thing is to remember the following: (1) we probably won't find the perfect name, & Wikipedians 3-4 years from now may be taking another look at the result -- just as SilkTork has pointed out we are revisiting a decision made 3 years ago; (2) we are trying to label an abstract concept -- a specific place with a concentration of people & their housing -- of which the concepts "city", "town", "village" & "hamlet" are examples; (3) we need to do a good enough job so other Wikipedians actually use it without the coercion certain groups have resorted to (::cough:: WP:MoS ::cough::), & (4) we need to do this without being nasty to each other. -- llywrch (talk) 05:23, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

The way I see it, we have the following options:

  1. Make up our own term, which won't make sense to most Wikipedia readers;
  2. Use some existing generic term, which in some places may have unintended meanings;
  3. Use a list of the major types of such places; this list can't possibly list all possibilities, and shouldn't be too long
Htonl. It is important to note that the very reason that many categories are no longer split as Cities in Gabon, Towns in Gabon or Villages in Gabon is that most editors do not know whether a town of say 15,000 is a city or a town of 2,000 is a village. This is particularly an issue in African places where even though it may have a population the size of a fair sized town in say the Czech Republic it would still be classed as a village. This is why we have Cities, towns and villages together in one category and where appropriate sub split by area. The classification of what constitues a city isn't the same as in Sweden for instance which formally has recognized cities as guidelines. By splitting up the cities, towns and villages once again into three different categories or more you'd be replanting the disorganization and inconsistencies that were there previously. Trust me having Cities, towns and villages placed inside an otherwise empty Settlements by country is a lot less redundant and confusing as it would be to resplit these categories again. Nigeria as it stands for instance is perfectly organize by state. I would in all honesty hate to see them split and it to become something like Towns in Abia State. Villages in Lagos State. Cities in Rivers State etc. Its unnecessary and makes navigation more difficult having to search through multiple categories... Dr. Blofeld White cat 11:31, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
On the other hand, there are situations where one can find criteria for differentiating between the three. An example is Ethiopia, where towns & cities can be defined as those inhabited locales identified by the Ethiopian Central Statistical Agency, or the administrative center of a woreda; villages are all other inhabited locale (or whatever we end up calling this category). Cities may be distinguished from towns by the fact they are often organized into a separate local district -- either a woreda or a Special Zone -- based on the materials from the CSA. I further suspect that for many of the countries where no criteria has been found, it is only because someone hasn't dug deep enough to find the criteria; for some countries, finding the information requires time, patience -- & access to a useful research library. -- llywrch (talk) 00:09, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Yeah I didn't mean to imply that all African countries do not designate formal cities and towns against villages but finding reliable sources for many countries is often difficult, trust me I did look on a number of countries. Dr. Blofeld White cat 13:07, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

I (who live in a country where the word "settlement" has political meaning) think that #2 is the best - and that the word "settlement" makes the most sense. Obviously, this wouldn't include Category:Settlements in Israel, as the words "settlement" and "Israel" together have a meaning not intended; but in any country where the word "settlement" doesn't have such meaning, we should go by it. עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 08:19, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

I was also thinking that renaming the categories "inhabited places" or whatever would have consequences. For instance a number of countries have categories like Ancient cities in.. or ghost towns etc which are no longer inhabited. As it stands these can reasonably be recatergorized under Settlements in with populated places. But if you rename these categories it will mean that these anicent cities or ghost towns can no longer be categorized under the mother category "inhabited places". I really think this is a bad idea. If it aint broke, don't fix it. Dr. Blofeld White cat 11:27, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

I don't see this as an issue. They were inhabited places, so they can be classified as such. In many cases categories that attempt to split out former types are commonly upmerged to parents. In the case of Ghost towns, I see this as a subcategory for the state and maybe counties, as well as the country. Clearly something similar would work for the ancient cities. Vegaswikian (talk) 18:27, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
A ghost town fits into the category of "inhabited places" just as much as Meir Argov belongs in Category:Members of the Knesset (he died in 1963). They clearly were once inhabited places; the fact that thy no longer are isn't a problem. עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 19:49, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
  • So far, what I really like best is population centres. I have a strong preference for British spelling, but in this case I wouldn't mind American spelling if that would make possible choosing this option.
  • As a second option, I would go for human habitations, first suggested by llywrch, who then changed his mind, but I don't see what's wrong with it, I rather like it in fact. sephia karta | dimmi 12:24, 23 March 2010 (UTC)

Several points

Several points:

1. my preference remains with "settlements" (FWIW), but where these have an unintended connotation, then vary the name. The advantages are brevity and it's not a wholly unknown term;
2. Categorisation by town, city, conurbation(?), etc within a geographic area will require clear and accessible definition. This might take into account national definitions or usage or some arbitrary, but universal, Wiki definition;
3. There is already a Project WPCities. A problem with this is the varying understanding of "city", resulting in flip-flop edits. Another bigger issue is that the project does not sub-divide between types or location of "city"/settlement, and all are lumped together. Hasn't stopped me adding to it.
4. WPCities excludes places that have been abandoned, lost, destroyed, etc. Project Ghost Towns has been set up, but the term has a specific meaning for some (ie, abandoned town with most buildings remaining, probably American West or similar and 19th/20th century) which omits places such as Dunwich, Great Zimbabwe, Troy, etc. There are also regional and national categories based on "Former settlements", which was coined as a neutral term, which I have populated.
5. Use of words with differing US/British/ other spellings such as centre/center could be problematic, with the possibility of duplicated categories. Personally I don't want my town as a "Population center in the UK" any more than I would wish to impose "Population centre in the US". It would be unfortunate to have "Population center in Suffolk" alongside "Population centre in Norfolk", although this might be a slick way of differentiating US & UK locations (only joking).
Folks at 137 (talk) 18:23, 23 March 2010 (UTC)
Did you mean to type in point 5, "Population centre in the US"? If not, could you explain what an American (like me) would find problematic in "Population center in the US"? -- llywrch (talk) 20:10, 23 March 2010 (UTC)
Quite correct! "Population centre in the US" it is. (Typo corrected in situ) Nice to know someone reads it. Folks at 137 (talk) 15:16, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
Reviewing point 4 above, it may be best to move Category:Former settlements under this new category. (And I'm amazed that there isn't a Category: Deserted villages, since there are a considerable number of those in Britain.) -- llywrch (talk) 03:50, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
There should not be any overall "Deserted villages" category. If some place feels an urgent need to distinguish an unpopulated village from an unpopulated town and from an unpopulated city, you could still create two subcategories of "former settlements" for that location. But I'd say that once the people are gone, the particular type of government it might have had when it had people isn't terribly important. We also need better oversight over the categorizers and stub-sorters who keep subdividing to the point of uselessness; do we really need Category:Deserted medieval villages in England? Anyway, that's fine in the parent categories we have; we don't need either Category:Medieval villages or Category:Mediaeval villages or Category:Deserted villages.
There are way too many people here with strange notions that there are consistent definitions of "cities" and "dorfs" and "villages" and "hamlets" and "towns" and the like in English language usage across the world. Get over it. There isn't. Of course, "cities, towns, and villages" should be treated as a synonym of "settlements" and of any other term you might decide to replace it with. Don't forget that categories also have their own pages. If you are really concerned that somebody @@@@@ editor might quibble that a particular place is a "hamlet" and not a "village", just spell out what it is intended to include on the category page. Re point #3--in some places, all of them can be called "cities", and it is quite legitimate for our Wikiproject to use it that way, not making any senseless differentiations. We don't even have consistency from one place to another in the United States. In New York and Wisconsin, for example, a "town" is the same as a "township" in normal American English.
There isn't anything that appears to be a clear improvement over the current "settlements" and little reason for making any change. If anything, the U.S. Geographic Names Information System terminology "populated place" makes the most sense to me, but not enough to bother changing anything. Gene Nygaard (talk) 10:56, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
Your tone baffles me. "Deserted villages" (also known as "lost villages") is a recognized term in modern English historical studies. Maurice Beresford has written a book about them, The Lost Villages of England (Alan Sutton, 1983), in which the appendix lists several dozen. It appears that my only mistake was not thinking that I needed to add more words -- "medieval" & "in England" -- to find the category I had in mind, which does exist. -- llywrch (talk) 23:18, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
The name "Former settlements" was chosen after consideration & discussion. As well as "Ghost towns" there were several parallel titles with combinations of deserted, lost, destroyed, drowned or abandoned and city, town or village. All of these were felt to be too specific, for example, Dunwich is not "lost", we know where its site is, about a mile offshore. And do we have separate categories for drowned cities, drowned towns and drowned villages (and then argue about which a particular place should be assigned to). We looked for a universal term. "Former" didn't presume a cause and "settlement" encompassed all statuses. Since then, some of the various pre-existing categories have been linked to the "Former settlement" family (eg, Category:Former settlements in Canada). Folks at 137 (talk) 19:48, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Would it be helpful to identify what criteria we are judging on first?

I'm not sure this is a massively insightful point, but I'll make it anyway: the most important reason that the de facto standard "settlement" is disapproved, is that although its meaning is very clear in the vast majority of countries, it could be misleading in a few. That's a perfectly valid reason to disapprove of it, but there'd only be a good reason to replace it if an alternative could be found that is superior. The reason for the relative success of "settlement" is that it nicely sidesteps legally defined and therefore variable terms in most countries, but is specific enough in a way that "localities" or "inhabited places" are not. I really can't see a magic replacement candidate, since no suggestion to date solves the problem of "settlement" without introducing a new one (misleadingly vague and/or possessing an alternative specific meaning in some countries), so in practice a balancing act is needed. To decide which alternative is "best", it is necessary to determine which factors we are judging on, and how we weigh them - otherwise you will just end up arguing round in circles about which proposal sounds best to you. My suggestion is that the key to this issue is prioritizing specificity versus consistency, a theme that seems implicit in much discussion above but I don't think anybody made explicit. The former consideration may favor "settlements"/"population centers" or "centres", which are quite specific but with some variance from country to country (Russia and Israel; US vs British spelling). The latter consideration tends towards "inhabited places" or "populated locale"; terms that are clearly over-comprehensive but in practice people would probably grasp the correct meaning quickly from the context it is presented in and examples they see in the categories (although Belgium might technically be an "inhabited place", I doubt anybody would seriously and in good faith add it to the category once they saw its contents). If the two considerations are thought to be finely balanced, one might achieve a compromise with something like "localities" (as per the Open Directory project) or "inhabited localities" - fairly vague, but generally unlikely to mislead (perhaps somewhat in Australia, but not as egregiously as "Israeli settlement" might), and more clearly local and concentrated (no smartass messing around with Belgium). I suppose a third consideration is untortured language - probably the reason "habitation" loses out! Unless somebody comes up with an amazing solution that despite reading hideously, is utterly clear, with no pre-existing conflicting meaning, then this mostly serves as an exclusory preliminary criterion, rather than one that needs to be balanced with the other two.

NB folks, as for "center"/"centre", a similar situation of U.S. vs British English exists without causing serious problem in Category:Sport by country where the U.S. is listed with "Sports in..." while most other countries are "Sport in...", with a similar situation in subcategories e.g. Category:Sport in Berlin and Category:Sports in New York). So you may or may not regard this is a serious problem with consistency between categories, and it would certainly be workable to have two spellings in use for different geographical areas - the question is just how desirable that is.

For what it's worth, I generally favor consistency over specificity, because I believe that only a little common-sense is needed to understand the purpose of a category, even if the name may be regarded as slightly misleading due to its vagueness. Consistency also makes life much easier for people who use the category tree. However, I do not regard the "population center/centre" spelling problem as a major breach of consistency; the use of alternate spellings is predictable enough and works fine in sport[s] categories. It's certainly an improvement in consistency on "settlement", where completely different and unpredictable terms need to be used for Israel and Russia. So unless it turns out that "population centre/center" has a specific legal or statistical meaning in some countries, and hence can't be used universally, it has my vote as an effectively consistent solution that also scores highly for specificity (certainly better than "inhabited place" or "locality"). That's just my conclusion, but I do think this discussion might be better focused and productive if other people tried identifying their priorities and criteria, and how they feel they should be balanced. Other than consistency, specificity, and untortured language, did I miss any? How much weight should be given to each? TheGrappler (talk) 00:06, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

I agree with you on population centres/centers, but does human habitations really sound that torturous to you? Because it does seem to fit the other two criteria you identified.sephia karta | dimmi 00:29, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
Thinking about it, I suppose my reaction was entirely subjective. Somehow it just doesn't "sound" right, but I'd be hard-pressed to give an objective explanation. I suspect that determining whether language sounds natural or forced is always going to be somewhat subjective! TheGrappler (talk) 02:06, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
As the person who first mentioned "habitation", the moment I typed it out it felt, to use TheGrappler's term, forced. I'd rather go with any other option than that one -- even "population center" & risk Folks at 137's ire. :) -- llywrch (talk) 16:53, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
How about Population sites (or maybe Population hubs) as an improvement on "population centres." Carlaude:Talk 05:19, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
That certainly would evade the consistency problem of center/centre, and seems only slightly less specific (to me at least, "hubs" suggests larger urban areas or conurbations, whereas "sites" sounds maybe too small-scale or localized... I think "center/centre" captures the specific idea of a city/town/village a little more clearly). Perhaps like "localities" it's a compromise candidate? My main point wasn't really which suggestion I preferred, but how we could actually weigh up how good they are. TheGrappler (talk) 13:42, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
  • I like "populated places" for the top level, while "populated sites" isn't too bad, it reminds me of statistical analysis. "Settlements", whether human or not, has way too much semantic baggage. --Bejnar (talk) 02:07, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
How about sprimtons, it certainly doesn't have any additional nuances in any countries. OrangeDog (τ • ε) 23:12, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
Are those "Sport in" categories using British English for everything except the United States? If so, that is contrary to WP:ENGVAR; the use of American English is not limited to articles about the United States. Either Category:Sports in Berlin or Category:Sport in Berlin should be acceptable. Can't remember what it is, but there is another category in which that issue already exists, and some damn fools are always trying to make everything but the United States consistent in British English. That isn't correct. Gene Nygaard (talk) 17:45, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
I just checked, and there is no randomness in the variety of English used outside English-speaking countries in the "Sport in" category. There is a systemic bias; we don't want to create something like that here, too. Gene Nygaard (talk) 17:55, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
Gene, see Wikipedia:Categories for deletion/Log/2005 October 21#Subcats of Category:Sports by country where that explanation is made clear. My understanding is that "Sports" is a "pure" Americanism i.e. USA only, and in pretty much every other country in the world (even Canada), they talk about "Sport" in the singular for the kind of purposes for which that category is used . (Having a glance at the interlanguage links on Category:Sport by country this seems true in all the recognisable foreign languages too.) The American term "Sports" rather than "Sport" is actually very inconvenient for the category system for a second reason, if you contrast Category:Sport by country to Category:Sports by country you'll see what I mean. Being able to use "Sport" and "Sports" to make that distinction makes life much easier. To speakers of non-U.S. English that is a distinction that would make perfect sense, though it looks odd to speakers of U.S. English. Incidentally, the appropriate category for Berlin probably would be "sport" notwithstanding that CFD, because (a) it's in Europe, where British English predominates (e.g. for EU translation purposes and as the variety taught in schools), and like other non-U.S. English they use "Sport", and (b) Germans anyway tend to say "Sport" rather than "Sports" because it corresponds to the German language. If you want an example where two forms of English are dominant in different areas of the world, try Category:Transportation by country, where the two contasting forms are "Transport" and "Transportation". TheGrappler (talk) 01:02, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
It doesn't matter in the least what version of English "prodominates", as long as English isn't the predominate language. Nor does the spelling in a foreign language matter—it is of no consequence whatsoever that the unit of measure called a meter or a metre in English is a "meter" in Norwegian (both languages), a "meter" in Swedish, a "meter" in Dutch, a "Meter" in German, nor that it is a "mètre" in French or whatever. That has always been clear in our long-standing national varieties of English rules. If there is a close tie to an English-language country, use that country's language. Otherwise, its an open field, generally determined by the first major contributor rule.
This is very much along the lines of the improper, out-of-precess moving of Category:Educational organizations in Norway to Category:Educational organisations in Norway, then the improper move left standing while the discussion takes place.
American English is not limited to articles about the United States. Its as simple as that. Either "centre" or "center" is proper for an article, or for a category, dealing with Russia, or China, or Italy. Gene Nygaard (talk) 03:39, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
In practice, Germany-related articles tend to get edited by German-speakers, so it's not entirely surprising they tend to use a particular spelling variant, and that it "sticks". A lot of the articles on Scandinavian topics use "." instead of "," to mark off number sizes, which is obviously excessive localization (not acceptable in any variant of English) and needs fixing, but if they use "meter" or "sport" rather than "metre" or "sports", then that seems fine by me even if English is only the second language of the editors involved. Particularly in Europe, very many people are completely fluent in English, so it seems odd to impose a form of English upon the articles they edit different to the one they are used to using. As for "sport in X" rather than "sports in X", there is also an issue with consistency with the parent category. Even if you believe "Sport in Country X" and "Sports in Country X" should be a toss-up (as Country X has no identifiable preferred English variant) then the choice of "Sport in Country X" has an advantage of consistency with the parent category "Sport by country", and to make it clear that the parent category is not "Sports by country" (which serves a completely different purpose). The "Sport/Sports" category-naming thing is to some extent not a typical English variety dispute, because the U.S. term happens to be a plural of everyone else's, and in other English variants the singular and plural forms have distinct meanings with an obvious impact on category names (see Category:Sports by country versus Category:Sport by country) which happened to be an extremely useful distinction for category-naming purposes. Hence it's not surprising the non-U.S. variant got used so much - it reduces confusion to do so. With center/centre, the issues involved will be very different, partly because one is not the plural of the other, and partly because both forms have strong usage in different parts of the world. But I'm sure a consistent and reasonable distribution of "centre" and "center" between categories could be achieved. TheGrappler (talk) 21:55, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

Back to naming alternatives

Personally I think that 'Human Settlments' would be the best term. See Google search for this term, not 'Settlements', and review the results to see current public use of this term. I suggest an article on 'Human Settlements' should be created where the term can be fully discussed with references. If that works out, then fix the category structures. Hmains (talk) 02:36, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

Maybe we can narrow it down to 3 or 4 options first-- and then discuss among those futher. Carlaude:Talk 16:02, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
Why not try just human settlement? Are there any significant impediments to using human settlement? Settlements on its own does have some baggage, but does human settlement have the same problems? Vegaswikian (talk) 22:13, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
How would "Human settlements" be any better than "Settlements"?
If "Population sites" sounds small-scale, then "Human settlements" and "Settlements" sound even smaller. şṗøʀĸɕäɾłäů∂ɛ:τᴀʟĸ 03:45, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
Could we have a list of what the reasonable alternatives are? As far as I can tell, it's between "Human settlements" and "populated places". --TorriTorri(Talk to me!) 17:08, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
That may be right, but I'm still waiting to see any real objections to human settlement. The issue in some areas is using settlements on its own. I don't think that this baggage is there when used in the suggest wording. So are there any real issues with human settlement? Vegaswikian (talk) 17:54, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
Settlement sounds like a place that has not advanced past being a settlement; a very primitive place, such as the Jamestown settlement. Many alternatives are better than "Human settlements."
Reasonable alternatives are to the status quo are: şṗøʀĸɕäɾłäů∂ɛ:τᴀʟĸ 20:57, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Population sites
  • Populated places
  • Geographic communities
  • Human settlements
  • Population hubs
In my opinion, human settlement still carries the baggage of settlement; I'd favor populated place. --TorriTorri(Talk to me!) 21:00, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
I like "Geographic communities."
A flaw with "Population hubs" is that it has a connotation of a larger size, with smaller communities as the spokes. Many, if not most, of the places will actually be more "spokes" than "hubs." Maurreen (talk) 21:16, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

Coming late to this discussion, I would consider 'Populated places' to be the best of all the options I've seen. It is not overly long (unlike 'Cities, towns, etc. etc.'), doesn't have any potentially confusing meanings that I know of (unlike 'sites', 'hubs', 'communities' or 'settlements'), and it is spelled the same way in all regional variants of English. --RL0919 (talk) 23:06, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

That works for me. Maurreen (talk) 23:43, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
"Populated place" also has the advantage of already being used in an official capacity of sorts. --TorriTorri(Talk to me!) 01:28, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
After reading this entire page, I like populated place best. Human settlement is a close second. Jonathunder (talk) 17:10, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
  • I like the Human settlement as a broad top of the tree category as it captures by definition both current and past locations irregardless of size Gnangarra 02:52, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

Last time I stated I didn't like an option, a group of people decided they liked it best, so I'll state that I can live with the choice of the consensus here. (Although I'd like to point out that if the consensus embraces "populated places", then there appears to be a logical problem if we have under it the sub-categories on "ghost towns" or "deserted villages". But if I argue against that option, I fear that this will only convince everyone to choose it. :-/) -- llywrch (talk) 20:36, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

I don't think ghost towns are any different than lots of other situations where a subject used to be an X, but isn't an X at this moment. Richard Nixon used to be a president. Then he resigned. Now he's dead. But he's still categorized as a president. Most WP categories admit articles if the subject ever fit the category, regardless of whether they still do. --RL0919 (talk) 20:50, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes. Or to put it another way ghost towns are not currently towns at all, or any other option we are considering here.
And I agree the growing consensus for 'populated places' is an excellent choice. şṗøʀĸɕäɾłäů∂ɛ:τᴀʟĸ 04:53, 10 April 2010 (UTC)
"Human settlements" is completely redundant, unless we have multiples categories on say, gorilla settlements, dog settlements, sheep settlements, chimpanzee settlements, ferret settlements. Is it not true that most settlements are human and that animal settlements are generally included in articles as sanctuaries, forests or seas? The proposal is a dopey one. "Populated places" is probably the only renaming I find appropriate, I agree with Carlaude. I would support Populated places. Populated places in China, populated places in Tibet, Populated places in Senegal etc, yes that would look completely normal. Dr. Blofeld White cat 19:30, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

I'm also happy with the "populated places" option; slightly happier than I would be with "human settlements". - htonl (talk) 20:21, 11 April 2010 (UTC)


So is there a consensus for "Populated places"? --TorriTorri(Talk to me!) 17:59, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Works for me. --RL0919 (talk) 18:43, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm also OK with it.—Ëzhiki (Igels Hérissonovich Ïzhakoff-Amursky) • (yo?); April 16, 2010; 18:48 (UTC)
Me too. Maurreen (talk) 20:14, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes also. But what is the next step? şṗøʀĸɕäɾłäů∂ɛ:τᴀʟĸ 06:11, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Propose a rename of Category:Settlements to Category:Populated places. Vegaswikian (talk) 06:24, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
OK, the nomination is here. Vegaswikian (talk) 06:31, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Agreed. I'd be happy if Cities, towns and villages were renamed to this. But please not to anything like "Human settlements" or "communities". We seem to have a consensus here Brown Haired Girl. Populated places by country.. Yes that is fine. Dr. Blofeld White cat 12:07, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Love it.--Mike Selinker (talk) 05:33, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
And now there's 3 CfR discussions at Wikipedia:Categories for discussion/Log/2010 April 28. עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 18:47, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

Cities and towns

Discussion moved to Wikipedia talk:Categorization...


Can anyone explain why an active discussion was moved to an archive? This makes no sense. Vegaswikian (talk) 05:42, 22 April 2010 (UTC)