Wikipedia talk:Categorization of people

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RfC: BC births and deaths categorization scheme[edit]

The following discussion is an archived record of a request for comment. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
The strongest support appears to be #5 by far, with no clear responses against it. The other responses never gained close to consensus. AlbinoFerret 16:52, 14 October 2015 (UTC)

(Per closer's recommendations at Wikipedia:Deletion review/Log/2015 September 3#Category:1 BC deaths:) For the BC births and deaths categorizations the recommendations of WP:COPDEF ("...year of birth, year of death...") and WP:COPSEP ("...Keep people categories separate...") have been left. There are a few possibilities:

  1. Return to earlier guideline-conforming scheme;
  2. Middle solution (births and deaths remain by decade, but COPSEP applied by removing biographies from "by year" categories);
  3. Reflect current scheme in guidance.
  4. Middle solution variant (...merger by century for the most ancient BC centuries...)
  5. Return to earlier guideline-conforming scheme adding "rollup" categories by decade/century
  6. ...other... (feel free to propose additional options)

--Francis Schonken (talk) 09:22, 13 September 2015 (UTC)

  • Note that option 2 and option 4 belong together (see discussion below). Marcocapelle (talk) 11:54, 13 September 2015 (UTC)


please make clear which option is preferred, and clearly explain what the option consists of if proposing a new one
  • Comment – just starting up the RfC, links to earlier discussions can be provided as useful. --Francis Schonken (talk) 09:22, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Option 1 (Return to earlier guideline-conforming scheme), for reasons explained in earlier discussions. --Francis Schonken (talk) 09:22, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Option 2 This option maintains WP:COPSEP literally and I can clearly see that this guideline makes sense for this particular case. However for the other aspect of the discussion I don't see that WP:COPDEF is deliberately overruling WP:SMALLCAT, rather it's just explaining that birth and death are considered to be defining characteristics. Marcocapelle (talk) 10:24, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
    • Re. COPDEF, the guideline currently says:
    "rule of thumb ... year of birth, year of death and ..."
    Which for option 2 would need to be changed to:
    "rule of thumb ... (AD:) year of birth, year of death (BC: decade of birth, decade of death) and ..."
    ...which imho is an unnecessary complication. Following the acceptable WP:SMALLCAT exception ("... unless such categories are part of a large overall accepted sub-categorization scheme") seems much simpler. Note that the current "year of birth, year of death" categorization scheme is one of a few that has been put down in a guideline, and exists for a very long time. --Francis Schonken (talk) 10:48, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
  • I'm not suggesting the text of the guideline should be changed. Just saying we should look at what its intention is. Marcocapelle (talk) 10:51, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
    • Its intention is to have "year of birth" and "year of death" categories for every person with a Wikipedia page (and for whom these data are known), don't think there can be much discussion about that. --Francis Schonken (talk) 11:02, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
  • The title of the section is "Categorize by defining characteristics" so the intention is clearly to emphasize that birth and death are defining. Marcocapelle (talk) 11:45, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
    • The section marks "year of birth" and "year of death", neither narrower (e.g. "day of birth") nor broader (e.g. "century of birth"), as automatically WP:DEFINING characteristics for any biographical article. --Francis Schonken (talk) 12:49, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Also drawing attention to something that is happening concurrently to this RfC WP:VPPROP#Multiphase removal, where "Category:#### births" and "Category:#### deaths" are data presumed to be present in bio articles in order to be able to proceed with a removal of persondata (which was agreed upon some time ago). --Francis Schonken (talk) 11:02, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Posted this RfC at CfD. Marcocapelle (talk) 10:50, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Additional information: the original nominations have not been based on a cut of AD versus BC, it was really about a pragmatic judgment of WP:SMALLCAT. This means, for the most ancient BC centuries a merger by century has taken place instead of by decade. Marcocapelle (talk) 11:02, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
    • This is, alas, proposing yet another complication. --Francis Schonken (talk) 11:05, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Delete 1 and 2 article categories with no hope of growth (I don't know if that's Option 1 or 2) Some guidelines deserve a fundamentalist approach like WP:BLP. But both WP:SMALLCAT and WP:COPSEP have exceptions and the paramount goal should always be ease of navigation through the categories per WP:CAT. In this case, I can see how the purpose of WP:SMALLCAT of dicing up 1 and 2 articles with no hope of growth is being violated. I'm not clear on how the purpose of WP:COPSEP to preserve "clarity and ease of use, and to preserve the integrity of trees" is being violated. I'm open to reconsideration though if others can explain it.RevelationDirect (talk) 11:25, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Really, I think WP:COPDEF (specific guidance) making an exception to WP:SMALLCAT (general guidance with many more exceptions) makes more sense here. --Francis Schonken (talk) 11:49, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Suppose two groups of ten people were given computers to find as many names as possible of persons that were killed in the retaliations after Caesar's death, with for each of the casualties when and how (proscription? war?...) they were killed. One group has Wikipedia with the "by year" categorization scheme, the other with the "by decade" categorization scheme. All other things equal, I suppose the first group would win this little contest.
So, a first thing I want to say with this: don't assume you know what's best for navigation when just starting from prejudice.
Further, re. "the paramount goal should always be ease of navigation": actually the general guideline says:

The central goal of the category system is to provide navigational links to all Wikipedia pages in a hierarchy of categories which readers, knowing essential—defining—characteristics of a topic, can browse and quickly find sets of pages on topics that are defined by those characteristics.

WP:CAT identifies the hubs of navigation as "defining characteristics". Year of birth and year of death are defining characteristics for the people about whom we write biographies. That's how WP:CAT works, that's how WP:COP works. --Francis Schonken (talk) 17:37, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
Zing "Don't assume you know what's best for navigation when just starting from prejudice." --Francis Schonken @Francis Schonken: RevelationDirect (talk) 03:29, 14 September 2015 (UTC)
Re. "Zing": either my prejudice is as good as yours (but then my prejudice is at least based in current guidance, and confirmed by actual users of the categorization scheme like Lamassus below), either I'm a bit more experienced (by, for example, conducting the kind of usability tests I described above). No offense taken either way. --Francis Schonken (talk) 04:45, 14 September 2015 (UTC)
  • @RevelationDirect: Could you elaborate on WP:SMALLCAT a bit? Because I'm a bit confused on what you're implying here. It almost seems like you're supporting option 2 here but on the other hand (by "Recreate") you've voted for option 1. Marcocapelle (talk) 11:52, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
  • I favor deletion; my comment above is clarified. RevelationDirect (talk) 15:26, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Thanks, so that's voting for any option except option 1. Marcocapelle (talk) 17:00, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Give me back the single year categories ... I have published this comment in different places before. Hopefully this is finally the right one: Unfortunately I've seen this too late, when you started merging, but it affects a lot of pages I use. I had already written a comment in August, but probably in the wrong place. In my daily research Wikipedia Categories are one of the instruments I use most and I have to say that I really do not appreciate the changes decided on this one. The new config makes it much more complicated to find specific persons. Previously it was easy to find a person who died for instance in 333 BC and if my search was for someone who died in the 330s I had to click only a maximum of ten pages. But now, to understand who died in a specific year, I have to click many dozens of pages. This makes my work much more difficult. Actually, it is my impression that people discuss and decide these changes who have rarely used the instrument at all. I would therefore prefer a return to the previous situation. And if that is not possible, I'd invite everyone to reflect and and try to understand the function of a useful instrument before you "simplify" it to something much less useful. Unfortunately I have noticed this not only here, but even in other places, where guidelines were forced to "simplify" or "unify" things and the result was the exact opposite. Most features on Wikipedia were introduced for a reason, and the fact that someone doesn't get it on the fly should not be enough for abolishing them.
... why this change is no progress: For my kind of research it is exactly the opposite. I'm a writer of novels with exact historic reference. When I come to a specific year, I start looking for potential victims of murder and similar situations. To this purpose the yearly categories were perfect. Currently I'm writing on the year 226 BC. Previously to the changes I had a very simple overview over the people dying that year, but now the Category:220s BC deaths has over 40 entries and I have to read each article to understand who died in 226 BC. Please consider that many ancient bios haven't yet been categorized. One more example: In one of my novels (yet unpublished) I killed the philosopher Dio of Alexandria. I didn't know about him previously and I don't remember how I came upon him, though it wasn't the wiki category, because his year of death (57 BC) isn't given in the English article. But if he was categorized it would have been very easy to find him. However now the new Category:50s BC deaths has already 44 entries and if it was only half complete there would probably be hundreds. That means the more it gets complete the more it gets useless for my kind of research. And I think that my kind of research is exactly what the categories are made for. One last consideration: All these specific references like year of death or place of birth and similar have been included by the hands of Wikipedia editors who have done a lot of research to be as precise as possible. It is quite easy to undo with a single bot what was done by thousands of hands, but I don't think it is very fair. It would be more productive to help and categorize more bios regarding the year of death instead.--Lamassus (talk) 12:17, 13 September 2015 (UTC) Integrated to avoid misinterpretation of bold characters.--Lamassus (talk) 18:27, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
  • I'm not sure I understand your concern. Categories are meant to find related articles easily. With the single year categories it was very difficult to find related articles because many categories consisted of only 1 of 2 articles so you had to go to the decade parent, then go to another year etc. Categorization by decade facilitates finding related articles a lot. I think for your purpose listification would be much more suitable than categorization. And these lists already exist! See e.g. 333 BC
By the way, it looks as if you've posted two contributions from two different people now. Could you please integrate them? Marcocapelle (talk) 13:09, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Single year categories with "rollup" categories by decade/century I don't understand why single year categories, with tables like the one at Category:4 deaths are undesirable. Is the issue that if you want to find people who were born or died in a particular decade, you have to look at the contents of 10 categories rather than just one? How about adding <categorytree mode=pages>Category name</categorytree> to each of the BC decade births/deaths categories? I've done this (for example purposes) at Category:0s deaths. -- Rick Block (talk) 16:05, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
  • I think I prefer Option 1 (returning to the earlier scheme of single year categories). Single year categories in this case provide more information and make it easier to use the categories. I think one of the main purposes of these categories is to provide an easy way for people to see who died in exactly which years. So in this case I think WP:SMALLCAT shouldn't be applied, as it removes most of the utility that the categorization provides. Calathan (talk) 16:56, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Category:220s BC deaths has over 40 entries. I don't think that the difficulty is "insurmountable", but it's a difficulty, while this feature was meant to facilitate our work. Other categories have even more and will continue to grow. But now I've seen the Category:0s deaths and I think it's just great. A perfect solution! Go for it!--Lamassus (talk) 18:27, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
    • The deaths side definitely has more items going back further. (Looking through a lot of the articles, the ancient sources often lost the birth dates or they're "circa"). RevelationDirect (talk) 22:41, 13 September 2015 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

For the record, the implementation of this is traceable at Wikipedia:Bot_requests#BC_births_and_deaths_categorizations. – Fayenatic London 13:46, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

Clarification about the DEFAULTSORT/sort key for the Icelandic names[edit]

In Talk:Pétur_Marteinsson#Value_of_DEFAULTSORT, we are discussing the interpretation of Wikipedia:Categorization_of_people#Sort_by_surname for the Icelandic names. Is someone able to clarify this part of the guideline? In particular: the sentence "However, on English Wikipedia, the DEFAULTSORT value is Western order while an Icelandic category's sort value is as the name is written." could perhaps be rephrased to be more clear? --NicoScribe (talk) 13:32, 17 February 2016 (UTC)

It is perhaps an obsolescent idea, but an "Icelandic category" is supposed to be something exclusively consisting of Icelanders with Icelandic style names (-dottir etc). This could be sorted differently from say Category:Oboe players while retaining consistency with the Icelandic telephone book. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 20:00, 19 March 2016 (UTC).
@Rich Farmbrough: Thank you very much. What about a reformulation of the mentioned sentence ? I don't want to do it myself, because I hold one interpretation of the guideline in the mentioned talk, and because I am not a native speaker of English. Whatever the reformulation, I will be happy about it, because the mentioned talk has begun on 4 January 2016 and I would like to move on... --NicoScribe (talk) 13:27, 21 March 2016 (UTC)
Perhaps "However, on English Wikipedia, the DEFAULTSORT value is Western order apart from categories exclusively populated by Icelandic style names where it is as the name is written." All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 13:55, 21 March 2016 (UTC).
@Rich Farmbrough: Yes, I think that your sentence is better than the sentence in the guideline. But two things are bothering me. I think the word "style" is unnecessary (because the sentence belongs to a chapter dedicated to Icelandic names). And I think that the words "it is" should be "the sort key is" (because your sentence could be understood as "the DEFAULTSORT value is X for some categories and Y for other categories", whereas the DEFAULTSORT value is unique in an article (and can be overridden category by category)). --NicoScribe (talk) 17:05, 21 March 2016 (UTC)
...but an "Icelandic category" is supposed to be something exclusively consisting of Icelanders with Icelandic style names... This is slightly incorrect. Need to remove "exclusively". There is a small percentage of the Icelandic population that have western style names. There are also foreigners that will be put in Icelandic categories... Icelandic football for example. Bgwhite (talk) 18:14, 21 March 2016 (UTC)
@Bgwhite: Well, yes, there is a small discrepancy in all that: the reasoning in the guideline is based on the names, whereas the categories are usually based on nationalities. But, in the end, I think it is not a problem.
For me, an "Icelandic category" is used to list (exclusively) Icelanders, regardless of the type of their last name (patronymic or matronymic or family or western style name). I don't understand: how foreigners could be put in Icelandic categories? Even if the categories that you are mentioning are correctly populated with some foreigners, Icelandic category's sort value is as the name is written so these foreigners will appear in the category as the name is written...
But let's get back on track. All the Icelandic people, regardless of the type of their last name, are properly referred to by their first names, I think that it is the reason why Icelandic category's sort value is as the name is written. So, when I combine this remark with my previous remarks, I think that the proposition by Rich Farmbrough should be tweaked like that: "However, on English Wikipedia, the DEFAULTSORT value is Western order apart from categories exclusively populated by Icelanders where the sort key is as the name is written." --NicoScribe (talk) 20:42, 21 March 2016 (UTC)
That would be fine by me. The deeper question is whether we should sort them this way, given our readership, and the complexities of mixed sort orders, I leave to another time. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 20:56, 21 March 2016 (UTC).
It's not exclusive. There are foreigners on Icelandic football teams and in Icelandic Universities. People have moved there and became artists, musicians, etc. These people are in Icelandic categories. There is no such thing as a category, "exclusively populated by Icelander". This goes for every country's categories. It should stay "Icelandic categories". Bgwhite (talk) 21:51, 21 March 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── OK, I am sorry, my words an "Icelandic category" is used to list (exclusively) Icelanders are wrong. Icelandic categories are larger than that. For instance, everyone playing for the Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur football club appears in the Category:Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur players, where the descriptive note confirms that the sort key should be "as the name is written".
I don't want to redefine "Icelandic categories". I don't want to change the meaning of the guideline. I only want to clarify one sentence, so that the mentioned talk can be "closed".
So, a new proposal could be: "However, on English Wikipedia, the DEFAULTSORT value is Western order apart from Icelandic categories where the sort key is as the name is written."
@Bgwhite and Rich Farmbrough: do you agree with this proposal? --NicoScribe (talk) 12:02, 22 March 2016 (UTC)

"However, on English Wikipedia, the DEFAULTSORT value is Western order, overridden for Icelandic categories where the sort key is as the name is written." would be better. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 12:15, 22 March 2016 (UTC).
I agree. Thanks! --NicoScribe (talk) 13:18, 22 March 2016 (UTC)
@Bgwhite: do you agree with the last proposal by Rich Farmbrough? --NicoScribe (talk) 09:14, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
@Bgwhite: the proposal has been adjusted due to your remark. Do you agree with the last proposal by Rich Farmbrough? --NicoScribe (talk) 10:00, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
imho "is ... overridden" is a bad word choice here: it seems to imply the MediaWiki software overrides automatically, while the intention is to say that editors should implement a differently structured sort key manually for Icelandic categories. Further, what makes a category "Icelandic" is left unexplained, bolstering up the idea, for the unsuspecting editor, that the system will take care of it without the editor needing to worry ("is ... overridden for Icelandic categories"). --Francis Schonken (talk) 10:17, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
@Francis Schonken: I agree, we should write "manually overridden". But I think that we don't need a clarification about the Icelandic categories. You have certainly seen in this talk that I made a misinterpretation about Icelandic categories but, in the end, I think that everything is explained in the section Categorization schemes which is just above the section Ordering names in a category: an Icelandic category is associated with an Icelandic organization / association / institution / company / team, or with Icelanders (by occupation), or with an Icelandic place. --NicoScribe (talk) 17:26, 27 May 2016 (UTC)
Hello, @Francis Schonken, Rich Farmbrough, and Bgwhite: do you agree with the addition of the word "manually"? The new sentence would be: "However, on English Wikipedia, the DEFAULTSORT value is Western order, manually overridden for Icelandic categories, where the sort key is as the name is written." --NicoScribe (talk) 17:39, 5 July 2016 (UTC)
I would have no objection to the above, as reflecting the intention of the original better. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 19:10, 5 July 2016 (UTC).
Adding manually isn't a good idea. There are bots that could do some of this work. Having a bot update some of the more common Icelandic categories would be a good idea to do. Bgwhite (talk) 21:34, 6 July 2016 (UTC)

Conclusion of Mac and Mc sorting debate?[edit]

Sorry, I see this has been argued a lot, and I don't mean to stir things up again for nothing, but I can't find any discussion of the subject from the last few years. On the project page here it says to sort them as they're spelled, as if that were the consensus, but I can't find a discussion where a consensus was reached. I was looking into the topic because I came across a page with an Mc name sorted as a Mac. This was the case for a few others I looked at as well. Should they be corrected? --Languorrises (talk) 18:50, 3 July 2016 (UTC)

There's a statement somewhere which says MCSTJR was changed in 2010 (from "Mc files as Mac" to "all file as spelled"), and it looks from discussions as if AWB was slow to catch up with the change - here are a few links to discussion:
But I'm not sure that any of that actually amounts to a concluded discussion about the change! PamD 09:21, 4 July 2016 (UTC)
Is there a definite rule about these names when Mc or Mac names have a capital letter at the beginning of the remainder of the name; e.g. should "John MacLean" sort as "Maclean, John" or not?--Johnsoniensis (talk) 13:03, 4 July 2016 (UTC)
Sorting on English Wikipedia is now case insensitive, a well meaning change that broke a lot of things. MacLean and Maclean would now require special efforts to sort differently: e.g. using "Mac Lean" as the sort key for MacLean. If we then wanted to sort "Mac Lean" separately we would need to sort it as "Mac  Lean" (two spaces - or similar). All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 19:14, 5 July 2016 (UTC).
That seems reasonable; I am sure that Mc/Mac names in English should not have an inserted space. Only Mac names in Irish or Scottish Gaelic are customarily written with Mac as a separate word.--Johnsoniensis (talk) 07:51, 6 July 2016 (UTC)
This is a confusion that has lead to "more and bloodier wars" (to paraphrase Douglas Adams) than most things on Wikipedia. Changing the {{Defaultsort}} or individual sort order does not "change the spelling".
Thus in the example I gave above we would have in the category:
Mac Lean, Fred
MacLean, Zachary
Maclean, Albert
all spelled exactly as their respective article names.
With the current method:
Mac Lean, Fred
Maclean, Albert
MacLean, Zachary
again all spelled exactly as their respective article names, but sorted in a different manner.
All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 10:08, 17 July 2016 (UTC).
P.S. it's actually lead to relatively few disagreements, but they were completely unnecessary, and I like quoting Douglas Adams. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 10:10, 17 July 2016 (UTC).
I updated the entire WP:NAMESORT section around 2012. I gave three refs for "sort them as they're spelled", Chicago Manual of Style (Section 18:71), British standard (BS 3700:1988) and ISO 999:1996 standard. In addition, American Library Association, The MLA Style Manual, The Indexing Companion, The Cambridge Handbook for Editors, Authors and Publishers and Society of Indexers all say sort as spelled. British phone books do not follow this as told by other people. Bgwhite (talk) 08:32, 6 July 2016 (UTC)

Military service categories[edit]

An editor has recently been deleting RAF categories from individuals who served in the RAF in the war but were not regular RAF personnel. See for instance [1] and [2]. I believe this is against the spirit of categorisation and should be reverted. Military service is usually very defining for those who served, even if they only served for a few years, and especially if they served in a world war. It's also something that interests many people and deleting these cats is doing them a disservice. Thoughts? -- Necrothesp (talk) 13:56, 5 August 2016 (UTC)

We normally categorise people only by those occupations for which they are notable (see WP:COP#N). If someone spent a period (e.g. during wartime and/or as a conscript) in military service (alongside many thousands/millions of other people) which did not make them notable (or, for that matter as a non-notable fireman, barman etc) before going on to become notable (as an actor, politician, businessman etc) then the military service is a WP:NON-DEFINING characteristic. It may be appropriate to mention the military service (and other occupations) in the article text (alongside info about parents, marriage, children and many other things that may be an important part of their life, but we don't categorize for), but not categorizing them for it doesn't "do them a disservice" (the purpose of categories is to organise articles, provide navigation etc). DexDor (talk) 09:38, 6 August 2016 (UTC)
Whether something is non-defining or not is entirely down to interpretation. I would say that military service is extremely defining (I would certainly expect my military and police service to be categorised if anyone ever wrote an article about me, even though neither of them have been my main career!). Would you say receipt of a gallantry medal is defining? Surely it is, even if the recipient is not a regular member of the armed forces. If that is defining is then the fact of military service not defining? Of course it is. Or is it only defining for people who weren't decorated? None of this makes any joined-up sense. Just as where someone went to school or university is defining (surely we'd just delete all these thousands of categories otherwise, since nobody goes to school or university professionally). Your interpretation would actually lead to most categories being removed from articles. Discussing such moves before you impose them unilaterally is always a good idea. Our guidelines are not set in stone and not everyone thinks as you do. "the purpose of categories is to organise articles, provide navigation etc"? Er, yes, exactly.
I should point out that one of the categories you have removed is Category:Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve personnel of World War II. Given the RAFVR was for part-time and war service personnel only, what's the point of it at all if everyone who only served part-time or in the war is removed from it? The same goes for other categories (e.g. Category:British military personnel killed in World War I. Most of them weren't regulars and had other careers outside the forces!). As I said, this all makes no sense and has not been thought through. You are basically arbitrarily deciding what you think is defining. That's not necessarily what others think is defining or what the subject themselves thinks is defining. -- Necrothesp (talk) 09:48, 6 August 2016 (UTC)
I will give you a perfect example. My father gave six years of his life to the RAF and his country during the Second World War. He was in the RAFVR. He wasn't a regular RAF officer. Like the vast majority of other people who served, he wasn't killed or decorated. At the end of the war he returned to his old job as a cinema manager and never set foot in a Spitfire (or any other aeroplane) ever again. But did his service define him? Yes, most definitely it did. It defined him and his memories and it defines my memories of him. He wasn't notable enough for an article on Wikipedia. But it's just as defining for those who are, even if they're famous for other things. Military service, especially in war, is defining, both personally to those who served and to the historical record. Make no mistake about that. -- Necrothesp (talk) 10:19, 6 August 2016 (UTC)
Having served in the military may be a (very) important part of some peoples lives, and for many people other things (e.g. being a parent, having a religious faith, being gay/straight, male/female) might be an important aspect of their life (and all are worthy of mention in the article text) - but, we are talking here about how we categorize encyclopedia articles so, for example, a person who was a non-notable soldier then a non-notable clerk, then a notable politician only needs to be categorized for the occupation(s) that made them notable. DexDor (talk) 06:15, 7 August 2016 (UTC)
Second what Necrothesp is saying. In particular, removing the RAFVR category is completely bizarre, and should stop forthwith, regardless of any other community consensus reached in this discussion. Removing the other categories is, at the very least, removing truthful information about a person!! Buckshot06 (talk) 21:11, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
Removing a category tag is not removing information from an article as the information should also be in the article text (where it can/should be cited) - and if it's not then the category tag should be removed anyway.
Are you saying that you think WP:COP#N is "completely bizarre"?
COP#N exists for a reason; many people who are notable for one occupation have also done a variety of other occupations (for which they are not notable) (for example actors before their acting career takes off and sports stars after their sporting career is over) and it is not appropriate to categorize for such occupations (e.g. Clint Eastwood should not be categorized as a firefighter and Cecil Parkinson should not be in an airmen category) as this causes category clutter on articles (see essay WP:DNWAUC) and makes the categories less useful (e.g. anyone looking at categories such as Category:Soviet military personnel is probably interested in notable personnel, not the many thousands of people who were a non-notable conscript before becoming a notable artist or whatever). It could also complicate categorization - e.g. if an article just says "After doing national service he..." then we wouldn't be able to put that article in a category for a specific branch of the military and info about a previous job could be removed from the article text. Many articles about people who have served in the military are currently in such categories, but many others are not (e.g. Nicolas Sarkozy, Ora Namir).
It might be possible to make an exception to COP#N for military service, but then why not firefighter, police officer, coastguard, miner...? An exception only for military service in wartime could also be considered, but that would still mean many people (e.g. Israelis) being added to such categories.
Part of the problem here may be that we do have some categories for non-defining characteristics (e.g. year of birth, place of death and sometimes university/ies attended), but those ("standard biographical characteristics") are different in several respects - (1) normally a person is only in one (or a very small number) of each of such categories and (2) such categories don't mix people who are notable for that characteristic with people who aren't. DexDor (talk) 06:59, 9 August 2016 (UTC)
I think the problem here is that you have interpreted WP:COP#N in a specific way and assume everyone else will agree with that interpretation. I don't think we're making an exception for military service at all. We are taking it as a defining characteristic. Because it is a defining characteristic. It is indeed true that many jobs people held for a bit may not be defining. But military service not defining? Frankly, utter rubbish. Look in Who's Who, the principal British biographical reference work, for example. Almost everyone who has done military service will list that military service, often in some detail. They probably won't list the fact that they worked as a builder's labourer; they will almost certainly list the fact that they served in the Royal Air Force, even if it was only National Service. -- Necrothesp (talk) 09:17, 15 August 2016 (UTC)

D'Agostino sorting[edit]

Just trawling through Category:Living people correcting Default sorts, and have found 17 D'Agostino's sorted as Dagostino, looking at the guidelines am I right in thinking they should be sorted as D'Agostino instead (to join the 4 already sorted thus ? Thanks GrahamHardy (talk) 21:30, 14 September 2016 (UTC)

GrahamHardy Per WP:MCSTJR, apostrophes should be kept, therefore D'Agostino is correct. The only exception is if the surname starts with O, such as O'Neill. This would be sorted as ONeill. Bgwhite (talk) 22:03, 14 September 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for confirming, I will correct them GrahamHardy (talk) 22:27, 14 September 2016 (UTC)
All done, thx GrahamHardy (talk) 22:40, 14 September 2016 (UTC)

Categorization of people by place[edit]

Re this edit - North Norfolk District did not exist in Cubitt's lifetime. Does that matter ? Feel free to point me at archived discussions, Thanks GrahamHardy (talk) 09:37, 25 September 2016 (UTC)

I have found Wikipedia talk:Categorization of people/Archive 9#by place but it appears inconclusive. My feeling is that he was born near Dilham, and Dilham is in North Norfolk. We should try to as specific as possible in such categorization, hence my belief that the change was correct... GrahamHardy (talk) 20:38, 27 September 2016 (UTC)
Yes, in these circumstances we usually categorise by the current district unless that would be completely anachronistic (usually where the county boundaries have changed). -- Necrothesp (talk) 14:09, 28 September 2016 (UTC)

Sortkey ONeill vs Oneill[edit]

@Bgwhite: My edit, summary...:

  • Eugene O'Neill is sorted {{DEFAULTSORT:Oneill, Eugene}}. not {{DEFAULTSORT:ONeill, Eugene}}

...was reverted, summary:

  • No it's not. See ref. It also no longer matters as Wikipedia has changed to treat upper and lower case letters as the same

There are three relevant questions:

  1. Does the English Wikipedia setup permit case-sensitive sorting?
  2. Does the reference specify case-sensitive sorting?
  3. What is the actual DEFAULTSORT of the Eugene O'Neill article?

My original edit reflected the answer to question #3, namely that the article actually uses "Oneill" and not "ONeill". I presume this dates to the old days when the answer to question #1 was "Yes", and you had to use be careful with sortkeys to ensure case-insensitive order. The answer to question #2 seems to me to be "No", despite the exhortation "See ref". The reference (Chicago Manual of Style 15th ed. 18.72) says:

Names with "O'." Names beginning with O' are alphabetized as if the apostrophe were missing.

Onassis, Aristotle
O'Neill, Eugene
Ongaro, Francesco dall'

Only a pointlessly literal interpretation of "as if the apostrophe were missing" would demand {{DEFAULTSORT:ONeill, Eugene}} rather than {{DEFAULTSORT:Oneill, Eugene}}. There is no point in changing the thousands of DEFAULTSORTs that use the no-longer-necessary "Oneill" convention. jnestorius(talk) 19:59, 4 November 2016 (UTC)

Jnestorius I've changed tens of thousands of articles that had the wrong defaultsort. Spanish, Asian and Icelandic are the worst. But you are missing the entire point:
  • It doesn't matter anymore about lower vs upper. Wikimedia software treats {{DEFAULTSORT:ONeill, Eugene}}, {{DEFAULTSORT:Oneill, Eugene}}, {{DEFAULTSORT:oneill, Eugene}} as the same sort value. There is no reason to go change any article's defaultsort value, Originally, the software treated upper and lower case differently. This change was made around May-June 2011.
  • Sorting references from International Federation of Library Associations, British Standard and national libraries all sort with case sensitive. The Chicago Manual of Style ref says the same thing... are alphabetized as if the apostrophe were missing Thus O'Neill, Eugene becomes ONeill, Eugene. It doesn't say remove the apostrophe and use lower case. When it comes to rules, don't imply something that is not there.
All bots and scripts will sort as {{DEFAULTSORT:ONeill, Eugene}}. This is because things are sorted as spelled (unless an exception happens).
The point of the rule is about apostrophes, not case. There is no reason to change case in any new or old defaultsort because there is nothing that says changing case must be done. Bgwhite (talk) 21:13, 4 November 2016 (UTC)
  • "There is no reason to change case in any new or old defaultsort" — I agree. "there is nothing that says changing case must be done" — I disagree. I interpret For example, Eugene O'Neill is sorted {{DEFAULTSORT:ONeill, Eugene}} as implying that {{DEFAULTSORT:Oneill, Eugene}} would be wrong. If this is not the intended reading, it could be clarified, say: For example, Eugene O'Neill is sorted {{DEFAULTSORT:ONeill, Eugene}} (or equivalently {{DEFAULTSORT:Oneill, Eugene}}) If the parenthetical is too cluttering it could be relegated to a footnote.
  • As a factual statement (as opposed to a normative one) For example, Eugene O'Neill is sorted {{DEFAULTSORT:ONeill, Eugene}} is false. Check the article's markup and you will see. An MOS example should be an article that actually does what the MOS says it does. Simplest would simply be to edit Eugene O'Neill to match.
  • There is in fact nothing on the page that explains that sorting is technically case-insensitive. I have added a statement to Help:Category#Sort order to that effect; perhaps it might also be made at WP:SORTKEY and/or WP:NAMESORT.
  • The Chicago example above is type C not type B in the table below; O'Neill is after Onassis.
A. Sort case-sensitive with apostrophe B. Sort case-sensitive without apostrophe: C. Sort case-insensitive without apostrophe:
  1. O'Neal, Shaquille
  2. O'Neill, Eugene
  3. ONERA
  4. ONElist
  5. Onassis, Aristotle
  6. Oneida
  7. Ongaro, Francesco dall'
  1. ONERA
  2. ONElist
  3. ONeal, Shaquille
  4. ONeill, Eugene
  5. Onassis, Aristotle
  6. Oneida
  7. Ongaro, Francesco dall'
  6. ONERA
jnestorius(talk) 22:54, 4 November 2016 (UTC)
Jnestorius It doesn't matter who's right or wrong, what you think about the table or what should/shouldn't be capialised. Wikipedia is case insensitive. Stop. There's no reason to add a disclaimer about Oneill and ONiell. To be thorough for your disclaimer, you need to add {{DEFAULSORT:oneil eugene}} too, but it's not needed As bin, von, dell and the other 50 particles can be lower or uppercase, I'm not adding disclaimers for them. I'm not changing every example to have only lowercase letters, {{tq|DEFAULTSORT:oneill, eugene}}, because that's what Mediawiki treats defaultsort as. The example is only about apostrophes, not case. You are way over thinking this. Nothing on this page needs to be changed to talk about lower or uppercase. How MediaWiki functions is at Help:Category. This is where cases should be mentioned and you have already added it. Bgwhite (talk) 04:58, 5 November 2016 (UTC)

Country-specific WP:NAMESORT cases (Thailand)[edit]

I previously asked this some time ago, but the answers weren't conclusive then. Although Thai names follow the Western order, they are academically sorted by given name, and this is reflected in the guideline. This is good for categories containing only (or as the majority) Thai people. My question is this: Should the Thai order apply to all categories, or should the Western order be used for international categories? I.e., should articles just list

{{DEFAULTSORT:Forename Surname}}
[[Category:International people]]
[[Category:Thai people]]

Or should a distinction be made, like this?

{{DEFAULTSORT:Surname, Forename}}
[[Category:International people]]
[[Category:Thai people|Forename Surname]]

--Paul_012 (talk) 11:39, 7 December 2016 (UTC)

Oh. I just noticed the #Clarification about the DEFAULTSORT/sort key for the Icelandic names discussion above. This probably means the distinction should be made for Thailand as well. --Paul_012 (talk) 06:03, 13 December 2016 (UTC)
I've edited the guideline to read, "In categories mostly containing articles about Thai people, Thai names should be sorted as they are written with the forename first." --Paul_012 (talk) 20:50, 16 December 2016 (UTC)