Wikipedia talk:Categorization of people/Archive 4

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Archive 3 Archive 4 Archive 5

Ordering of Mac, Mc and M'

This came up is one of my early edits, when I knew less than I do now about Wikipedia. For ease of finding a name, even when the correct spelling is not certain, it is common practice to sort them all as if they were Mac. As described above this can be before the other Ms or after Mab... The Telephone Directory places them all ((including names such as Mace) after Mabbott and sorts all as Mac, but that is hardly a definitive source! I am told that this is documented in a "standard text" for librarians, but have not sourced that. All I have found on-line is Everything - third section; second bullet. Collation indicates that this practice may have fallen out of favour since computerisation. I agree that much of the time it is an unnecessary complication; even in List of Scots there do not appear to be a vast number of Macs and Mcs (m' less common nowadays). However I believe we should have an agreed style. Comments? Finavon 22:16, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

I would also advocate having all McX names sorted as Macx, but it's a lot of work, and I think we would need to establish a wider agreement (perhaps including groups like Wikipedia:WikiProject Scotland) before insisting upon it. There are a lot of McX articles still sorted as McX, and it might be suitable as a bot task once a general agreement had been reached. There are also good reasons for not sorting McX as MacX, so I don't think we should be too rash. --Stemonitis 07:07, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
I've just recently been applying the current guideline, WP:Categorization_of_people#Ordering_names_in_a_category, specifically the bit that reads: The first letter of each word should be in upper case, and all subsequent letters should be in lower case, regardless of the correct spelling of the name to a number of "Mac"/"Mc" articles when I noticed that there were too many "Mc" articles sorted as "Mac" to be coincidence. Assuming I'd missed a policy somewhere, I went looking, but I haven't seen it anywhere. This talk page seems to have the most serious discussion on the issue of whether "Mac" and "Mc" should be split or merged.
It's my impression that the merge approach, of having them all sort together regardless of actual spelling, is an older style that's fallen out of fashion, probably a victim of the shift from hand collation to machine collation. I used to see address books with a separate "Mc" tab, the 15th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (circa 1984) used merge (and had a one line assertion that it was the right thing to do in a well-constructed index, in the Mac article). I also used to see small-town phone books that had a separate "Mc" section.
However, most recent things that I can find have gone with split:
I do find some holdouts for merge:
Personally, I favor split because:
a) it seems to be the current trend, see above.
b) it's a straightforward mechanical rule that doesn't require any judgment calls. While Wikipedia guidelines shouldn't favor simplicity to the significant detriment of the encyclopedia, when it's a relatively free matter of style, the simpler guideline should be chosen. There's already a significant learning curve to becoming a good editor; I don't think adding more special cases helps.
c) Adopting the merge approach will lead to secondary rules that have to be made. Consider Dick and Mac McDonald; under a merge approach, they sort as "Mac"; what then do we do with the giant corporation named for them, McDonald's, sort it the same or different? And articles derivative of the company name, such as McJob and McMansion? We could have one rule for people and another for non-people, but that produces absurdity, with McMurdo Sound and Archibald McMurdo being separated.
d) It strikes me as being a slippery slope or Camel's nose. There are, for example, Chinese names that have several alternate romanizations, such as 王, which has been romanized as both Wang (surname) and Wong (surname). (And there's a different chinese name that commonly romanizes as both "Wong" and "Huang".) It could easily be argued that Chinese historic names ought to be sorted under a canonical name that represents some chosen standard romanization, rather than whatever happens to be the historical accepted romanization, but then we'd be arguing about which is best, for dozens of names, and new editors would have even more rules to learn. (We already have folks arguing that the historical romanization for Mehmed II ought to be replaced with the contemporary Turkish romanization "Mehmet"). I think accepting a split approach would be to throw an Apple of Discord, giving everybody with a socio-linguistic axe to grind that little bit of inspiration and ammunition to keep flogging their cause (but maybe I'm just paranoid). And no one seriously considers sorting "Derby" and "Darby" together, even though they evolved from the same name (and are pronounced the same in some parts of the world, though not mine).
e) It could possibly be argued that using the phonological argument for grouping "Mac" and "Mc", when we don't use phonological sorting anywhere else, is quietly promoting Scottish nationalism. While I'm proud of my one distant ancestress from Scotland (a McDiarmid), I don't think the Scots need special treatment.
Since it's a reasonable argument to have, given the historic precedents of sorting both ways, whatever we come up with as a consensus should be memorialized in the guideline. Studerby 21:11, 8 July 2007 (UTC)
Of these five reasons, only a) and b) are really relevant. The case under c) that it would introduce inconsistencies is not especially significant since it is rare that any such pairs of articles would be categorised together, most categories being either biographical or non-biographical, and relatively few being mixed (I can't think of any, although I'd be prepared to bet that there are some). Sorting rules already differ between categories, and that's not a problem. Transliteration of Chinese (d) is utterly irrelevant, because we would sort on whatever romanisation is used in the article title. Finally, e) doesn't apply, because this is not really a phonological argument; it's entirely to do with traditions of collation, and Mc and Mac have traditionally been grouped together, whereas others such as Darby and Derby have not. Scottish nationalism has no bearing on the issue, for several reasons, including that Mc- / Mac- surnames are also Irish. I think it is still unclear whether the general trend among relevant works is to lump or to split (my dictionary has McX explicitly under MacX), and that is more or less the only criterion we should be using to judge. Simplicitly is vaguely desirable, but not at the cost of authority. Surnames and their collation are surprisingly complicated, and attempts to over-simplify are likely to be fruitless. Please, let us stick to the relevant factors and not get carried away with speculation and invention. I might also note that whatever is decided upon (if anything at all), most of the McX articles will be ill-sorted, because a large majority have internal capitals in the sort key. If there weren't so few other surnames beginning "Mc" (cf. Leri Mchedlishvili and Guram Mchedlidze), this would be quite urgent. --Stemonitis 21:35, 8 July 2007 (UTC)

I agree with Stemonitis, and I always index both MacX and McX as Macx. This isn't just a a convention, it's a convention with a reason, because the spellings are not always handled consistently across a family or even for the same person, and there is no guarantee that an entry found somewhere for "John MacCarthy" will not be listed elsewhere as "John McCarthy", or (without capitalisation) as "John Mccarthy" or "John Maccarthy". The consistent approach makes it easier to find articles, and isn't that the whole point of indexing? --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 22:23, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

There's been a recent discussion of this and other alphabetisation issues at Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style#Alphabetization, which may be of interest. PamD (talk) 08:22, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

  • Oppose It's always best to spell the person's name correctly. As a "Mc" myself, I find it nearly offensive when someone misspells my name wrong the first time. When I correct the spelling and they continue to do so, it just makes me think they don't care about accuracy. Some will find it offensive. This is a guideline--one I will forever choose to ignore and I beg all other Wikipedians to follow my lead.--Paul McDonald (talk) 01:54, 15 July 2010 (UTC)
    • details I've put together the first draft of an opposition essay here.--Paul McDonald (talk) 15:34, 15 July 2010 (UTC)
    • It's not a question of spelling the name correctly. The sort key never displays anywhere; it just controls sorting. --Auntof6 (talk) 23:13, 15 July 2010 (UTC)
      • response I get that. Why in the world would Wikipedia ever choose sort articles incorrectly?--Paul McDonald (talk) 02:54, 16 July 2010 (UTC)
"Incorrectly" is a matter of definition, not of Universal and Absolute Truth. It's long been a common sorting practice to separate out all the Mc/Mac names from the other M names; we're simply continuing that practice, one that most people are familiar and comfortable with. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 13:20, 16 July 2010 (UTC)
"Incorrectly" is a matter of definition, and sorting "Mc" the same as "Mac" is incorrect. I know of no sorting algorythm that calls for equalization of different logical values. The other Mc/Mac names can be sorted differently from the other M names automatically because they are "Mc" and "Mac", which would be different from "Morris" -- "simply continuing" a practice because "most people are familiar and comfortable with" is another way of saying "we've always done it that way" which, of course, never makes it right.--Paul McDonald (talk) 18:07, 16 July 2010 (UTC)
When it comes to spelling, "we've always done it that way" is exactly what does make it right! This is why it's as incorrect to spell your surname MacDonald, as it would be to spell your neighbour MacDonald as McDonald; in both cases, you have family tradition to support your particular variants. Some Mc/Mac surnames have a space after the Mc/Mac, and some protocols would regard these surnames as simply "Mc" or "Mac"; thus "Mac Clellan" would sort before "MacAlister". Is that what you want? I also note your own username is Paulmcdonald, a name you yourself chose, yet you get nearly offended when someone misspells your name wrong the first time. What's the message there? -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 22:42, 16 July 2010 (UTC)
But the point that "we've always done it that way" loses its force when you realize that WE don't do it this way anymore...even the US Library of Congress stopped doing it this way 20+ years ago - look below in the other thread (search this page for the phrase "a couple of decades ago" to jump to it) for the email response I got from the Library of Congress when I asked them about it. Such a system might have made sense in former centuries when different people spelled the same names differently (even from page to page), but given that we Scots have been literate for a while (end sarcasm tag) and we really know how we want our names spelled, I cannot see any justification for continuing this archaic practice.
William J. 'Bill' McCalpin (talk) 18:51, 19 July 2010 (UTC)
Just a note: it isn't only entries for today's literate people that we're talking about, it's entries for people from all different times whose names might have been spelled differently in different places. --Auntof6 (talk) 20:00, 19 July 2010 (UTC)
Comment I'm reasonably sure that no one from the 1700's is going to look up anything on Wikipedia.--Paul McDonald (talk) 20:35, 19 July 2010 (UTC)
Of course not, but someone today might look up someone who lived then whose name might have been spelled in different ways. Not a big deal, just a thought I had. --Auntof6 (talk) 22:28, 19 July 2010 (UTC)
  • Point of order: This thread had a gap from Feb 2008 to July 2010. The topic was discussed again in 2009/2010 at #Mc_vs._Mac below. I'm not sure what the protocol is for merging the various threads on the same topic, but thought I'd alert you to it! It doesn't seem helpful to start again on a thread which is not the most recent on the topic. PamD (talk) 13:49, 16 July 2010 (UTC)
And see Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style/Archive_116#.22Mac_vs._Mc.22_Discussion_again for another archived discussion. PamD (talk) 13:52, 16 July 2010 (UTC)
    • Probably should have been archived. Ideas?--Paul McDonald (talk) 18:07, 16 July 2010 (UTC)

Does anyone else find it interesting that articles must have reliable sources but Policies and Guidelines are promulgated based solely on the opinions of the editors who voice their opinions, often in the face of reliable sources? It does no good to cite reliable sources, such as the Library of Congress, in these instances. Consensus, defined as those who can defend an opinion longer than those on the other side, will always take precedence over rigor and reliable sources. JimCubb (talk) 21:35, 16 July 2010 (UTC)

Deciphering "By the person's name"


Categories using the name of a person hold articles directly related to that person. Remember this when placing the article in larger categories. If the person is a member of a category, put the article about the person in the larger category. If articles directly related to the person are also members of the larger category, put the category with the person's name in the larger category. This often results in the article and category being categorized differently. ...

I have read this through three times, and I am still not clear on the meaning. The word 'larger' has ambiguity. Some examples on what is meant would be good. billinghurst (talk) 11:38, 24 July 2008 (UTC)

Some people care about places of birth

Despite what the main page says: Wikipedia:Categorization_of_people#By_residence: "The place of birth is rarely notable."
~ender 2007-06-17 17:14:PM MST

As CfD for 2007 June 21 noted, there is also interest in where people were buried. Biographies are interesting both from the perspective of the individual, as well as the perspective of local studies.Ephebi 16:57, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
after Wikipedia:Categories for discussion/Log/2007 June 29 and in the absence of other viewpoints, I have been bold Ephebi 18:44, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

Proposed redraft - Sorting of surnames with independent prefixes

This continues from the long discussion above.

current text:

  • People with multiple-word last names are usually sorted by the entire last name in English, and not (for example) according to the Dutch system which puts some words like "van", "vanden", "van der" after the rest of the last name. Example: (in Dutch)[[Categorie:Nederlands voetballer|Basten van Marco]]; [[Category:A.C. Milan players|Basten, Marco van]] → [[Category:A.C. Milan players|Van Basten, Marco]]
  • Note that some people are typically called this way in English, for example, for Beethoven, use [[Category:Classical era composers|Beethoven, Ludwig Van]]; similarly, for Montesquieu, use [[Category:Enlightenment philosophers|Montesquieu, Charles De Secondat, Baron De]].

Proposed new text:

  • People with multiple-word last names are usually sorted by the first capitalized element, though this is a complex field and there are exceptions and inconsistencies. The French and Spanish "de" and German "von" are usually not sorted on, except for some examples who lived in English-speaking countries, like Wernher Von Braun (V). But the Italian "De" or "Di" usually is sorted on. Often, historical European figures with local names are treated differently from modern figures with the "same" name living in English-speaking countries - thus Anthony van Dyck and Steve Van Dyck are sorted on D and V respectively. Examples:
Beethoven, Ludwig van
Bismarck, Otto von
Di Stefano, Giuseppe
Eyck, Jan van
Maupassant, Guy de
Van Basten, Marco
Van Buren, Martin

- Any comments? Obviously it could be extended to book length, but I think this is clearly more accurate than the current text. Johnbod 18:16, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

Just a couple of minor points: the list format should probably be run together into a single line, and all words should have an initial capital letter in the sort key, even if they don't in the text or title. I also prefer to have the articles linked, for several reasons. So the new text would end:
Examples include "Beethoven, Ludwig Van", "Bismarck, Otto Von", "Di Stefano, Giuseppe", "Eyck, Jan Van", "Maupassant, Guy De", "Van Basten, Marco" and "Van Buren, Martin".
Other than that, I think it's fine. --Stemonitis 06:08, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Why do all the words have to be capitalized - is this a rule? That is not how most editors (including me) usually do it on WP I think, and if it is like that, the names as they are normally written need to be visible in normal viewing mode as well to make the point about which words are capitalized, I think. Otherwise fine. Is there a way to display the full link as written, whilst keeping it functional? Johnbod 17:22, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
I take your point about the links (I hadn't really though it through), but I do think putting all the examples in a single line helps to keep it compact. The capitalisation of (only) the first letter of each word is necessary because the order in ASCII is for all the upper-case letters to precede the lower-case ones, and having a mixture of both leads to mistakes (e.g. "MacMillan" and "Macmillan" should sort together, not with "MacMillan" before "Macadam"). I added that recommendation to the guidelines recently, so I guess a lot of people haven't noticed yet. --Stemonitis 17:34, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Seeing how this looks:
Examples include: "Ludwig van Beethoven → Beethoven, Ludwig Van", Otto von Bismarck → "Bismarck, Otto Von", Giuseppe Di Stefano → "Di Stefano, Giuseppe", Jan van Eyck → "Eyck, Jan Van", Guy de Maupassant → "Maupassant, Guy De", Marco van Basten " →Van Basten, Marco" and Martin Van Buren → "Van Buren, Martin".

- not bad; I thought it was Van Basten under V, so conforming to the capialization rule; but it it seems he may be van Basten under V, so an exception. If so, he should be changed or explained. Like many of these examples, the uses within the WP article are inconsistent, & include plenty of both Van & vans. His official website goes with van, the AC Milan one with Van. Johnbod 17:52, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

Maybe use Jean-Claude Van Damme instead, better known, better looking, and certainly a V. Johnbod 02:31, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Final draft

  • People with multiple-word last names are usually sorted by the first capitalized element, though this is a complex field and there are exceptions and inconsistencies. But for coding reasons the first letter of each word is capitalized in the actual sort text. The French and Spanish "de" or "du" and German "von" are usually not sorted on, except for some examples living in English-speaking countries, like Corne Du Plessis (D). But the Italian "De" or "Di" usually is sorted on. Dutch/Flemish/Belgian/South African names are especially unpredictable. Often, historical European figures with local names are treated differently from modern figures with the "same" name living in English-speaking countries - thus Anthony van Dyck and Steve Van Dyck are sorted on D and V respectively. Some examples: "Ludwig van Beethoven → Beethoven, Ludwig Van", Otto von Bismarck → "Bismarck, Otto Von", Giuseppe Di Stefano → "Di Stefano, Giuseppe", Jan van Eyck → "Eyck, Jan Van", Guy de Maupassant → "Maupassant, Guy De", Martin Van Buren → "Van Buren, Martin, and "Jean-Claude Van Damme " →Van Damme, Jean-Claude".

- van (or Van) Basten, and Von (or von) Braun dropped as correct capitalisation & sorting unclear. Johnbod 17:13, 1 July 2007 (UTC)

Boldly adding now, but further comment welcome. Johnbod 19:03, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
I'd suggest: "But for coding reasons..." -> "For coding reasons...". Just think it reads better... Studerby 19:15, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
Well it is a bit counter-intuitive, as you decide the sort on whether it's a capital or lower-case in normal text, but code them all as upper-case. I think the "but" is a small alert to that. Anyone else? Johnbod 20:37, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

Biographical project notification

In case people here are interested: Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Biography#Sortkey and birth/death categories standardization project. Carcharoth 14:06, 18 July 2007 (UTC)

Subcategory for current sports team members

There are many categories that inexplicably lump a sporting team's past memebers with its current members. For example see: Category:New York Yankees players, Category:Boca Juniors footballers, and Category:San Antonio Spurs players. Why can't I start creating subcategories for every one of these cats to differentiate current players from players who are no longer on the team? For example, we would have Category:Current New York Yankees players and Current Boca Juniors footballers:, etc.

Granted keeping these categories maintained would take an enormous amount of work at first, but work is what we Wikipedia volunteers are all about, and I would certainly pitch in. And, yes, certain categorizations would become out of date quickly, but I believe editors who were fans of the respective teams would recategorize articles as new players joined and old players left the team. The result would be greatly useful.

I'm 90% sure that people have brought this up before and decided against this idea (if so, please provide a link to the old discussion), but I would like someone to confirm it for me. I have also left an identical note on Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Sports. If I don't hear back from any of you with reasonable objections, I will procede to begin making the subcategories. Thanks, --The Fat Man Who Never Came Back 17:19, 28 July 2007 (UTC)

Categorization of people: Biographies of living people

To quote:

Category names do not carry disclaimers or modifiers, so the case for the category must be made clear by the article text. The article must state the facts that result in the use of the category tag and these facts must be sourced.

Category tags regarding religious beliefs and sexual preference should not be used unless two criteria are met:

  • The subject publicly self-identifies with the belief or preference in question;
  • The subject's beliefs or sexual preferences are relevant to the subject's notable activities or public life, according to reliable published sources.

Why shouldn't these criteria apply likewise to biographies of dead people? They seem ideal for both the living and the dead, irrespective of the addition burden of accuracy and verifiability associated with WP:BLP. --Rrburke(talk) 22:56, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

I think there's a general consensus that privacy concerns don't apply nearly as strongly to dead people, particularly the long dead; that's certainly the situation legally in many jurisdictions. That eliminates the first criteria. The second criteria still holds though, and that plus WP:RS and WP:V do raise the bar for applying category tags regarding religious beliefs and sexual preferences. If for example, some famous dead general turns out to have kept a diary that indicates he once had gay sex a time or two, well BFD (ironic), that hardly deserves the application of the tag (nor mention in the article, unless it becomes a modern meta-issue of some kind). While interesting to narrow academics and activists, it's not relevant enough for encyclopedia inclusion. On the other hand, if famous dead general's diary tells us that he had a long term gay lover and it's somehow relevant to his public life (e.g. lover was a spy for the other side of a war), then the relevant aspects of relationship get included in the article and the category ought to get applied. The relevance criteria is really more general; the Category:Jugglers tag should only be applied to people to whom juggling is somehow a relevant notable part of their lives. Studerby 01:06, 29 September 2007 (UTC)
All such inaccuracies need to be corrected, but there is an important extra reason for caution in the case of living people, because dead people don't sue for libel as often as living people. With dead people, we can take time to consider our options, but time is an expensive luxury with people still able to engage libel lawyers. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 22:30, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Dead people and categories' inherent inability to express NPOV subtleties

A question: if something is disputed in an article about a dead person, should we go with consensus regarding the application of category at the bottom (since the choosing of the category itself cannot give both sides of the argument (ie. be wholly NPOV) and must come down on one side)?

For example, if someone was tried and acquitted of a crime in an earlier age - yet evidence (reliable, convincing and authoritative) is later published suggesting the person was not just guilty, but that the trial was interfered with by the authorities - can they then be placed in a category such as 'criminal'? Thanks for the views:) Malick78 (talk) 21:23, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Okay, no one responded so I'll be more specific. John Bodkin Adams was acquitted in a trial in 1957 that seems to have been fiddled with (Scotland Yard archives released in 2003 show this, according to Cullen, 2006). The archives show that pathologist Francis Camps identified 163 cases where Adams could have killed and multiple sources believe that, at the lowest, he killed dozens. Even the acquitting judge described Adams in a post trial (1984) book as a "mercenary mercy killer". Hence, critical consensus tends towards the view that Adams was a serial killer. And I would like to categorise him as such - something that would be useful to readers and allow them to find the article more easily and make their own decision.
Two other editors however insist that the 'not-guilty' verdict is unquestionable. Yet I contend a verdict is merely an opinion based on evidence presented (and not all evidence is always presented in a trial, sometimes it is presented badly... and in this case, the prosecution gave confidential police reports to the defence to aid them!) and can be questioned. These two editors, in my opinion (and in the opinion of the judge and other sources), are giving the verdict 'undue weight'. Also, it should be remembered that the subject is dead, so we have more leeway than if he were alive.
Basically it comes down to two things: can verdicts be questioned (not a suitable question for this page I realise), and can a categorisation come down on one side of a debate if critical consensus suggests it should, allowing the article itself to elaborate all the subtleties of the case in a way that better satisfies NPOV?
As a comparison please see Sacco and Vanzetti - two men convicted of murder but not categorised as murderers since critical consensus is that they were innocent. Also, less relevant but illustrating the point still, Jesus is categorised under 'Roman era Jews' - yet proof of his existence is hardly incontrovertible. There is just a consensus that he probably existed. So, having said all that, what may I do in Adams' case? Malick78 (talk) 11:14, 5 January 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Categorization of people#General considerations has:

For some "sensitive" categories, it is better to think of the category as a set of representative and unquestioned examples, while a list is a better venue for an attempt at completeness.

I bolded one word in that quote. Re. consensus, there is a consensus that categories should not include questionable examples. Sacco and Vanzetti would be an example of a questionable characterisation as murderers. Is JB Adams an unquestionable example of a murderer? I don't think it should be too difficult to form a consensus about that. If there is residual doubt, or if the characteristic is labeled "suspected" (as it is in the first line of the JB Adams article), then don't include in the category. On the other hand, it is possible to include both Adams and S&V in a list, if that list is properly annotated regarding the remaining doubts, and if the list is set up in such a way that doubtful inclusions are allowed (for some lists talk page discussions led to exclusion of doubtful cases too).

Re. your Jesus example, I think there is little or no residual doubt that he was in fact a Roman era Jew. Anyway, consensus seems to be there is no significant residual doubt in that case. Note also the difference in "sensitivity" (as it is called in the Wikipedia:Categorization of people guideline) between a category that indicates place, time and cultural association, as opposed to subcategories of "criminals". There is little residual doubt that Jesus was a convicted criminal (I think even Josephus as an independent source confirms that). But as a highly sensitive categorisation the actual category found at the bottom of the Jesus article is somewhat more convoluted, category:Disputed convictions leading to execution. Both Sacco and Vanzetti are in that category too (by categorisation of redirect pages, which makes that the category doesn't show up on the S&V page itself). --Francis Schonken (talk) 13:03, 5 January 2008 (UTC)

Note: there appears to be a Category:Suspected murderers, which might be something on which consensus might form for JB Adams. But I don't want to make you too enthusiast, the category is a few months old, with only one entry currently. No idea whether a "stable" category would be possible in the long run there, many people might object: category criteria should at least be set high enough in order not to feed suspicion where none is due. Anyways, the current category definition of that category ("This category is for those who are currently having proceedings brought against them for murder, but haven't yet been acquitted or convicted.") would exclude JB Adams. Then that category definition might be expanded (for which consensus would be the only way too), keeping an eye on criteria that should at least be set high enough in order not to feed suspicion where none is due. --Francis Schonken (talk) 13:16, 5 January 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for your erudite and constructive comments. More views of others would still be appreciated. Regarding the word 'suspected' in Adams' article's opening para - that's there for NPOV but I suspect few reading the whole article would doubt his guilt is overwhelmingly obvious. Malick78 (talk) 13:56, 5 January 2008 (UTC)
The "unquestioned" qualification has been put in the Categorisation of people guideline for NPOV too. It's the same principle. --Francis Schonken (talk) 14:03, 5 January 2008 (UTC)
I just found this which seems to be pertinent. Wikipedia:Neutral point of view#Undue weight says:

"Wikipedia aims to present competing views in proportion to their representation among experts on the subject, or among the concerned parties. This applies not only to article text, but to images, external links, categories, and all other material as well."

(My bolding of words.)
This would seem to suggest that Adams, considered by the majority of experts on the subject to be guilty, could be included in a serial killer category. It's not an 'unquestioned' categorisation as your guideline gives, but is unquestioned by most independent scholars (something I would give details of on the Adams talkpage). Views? Malick78 (talk) 14:33, 5 January 2008 (UTC)
There's nothing "proportionate" about categories in this sense, categories are a yes/no switch. The kind of "proportionate" you were referring to in your last paragraph above confuses "majority" and "consensus" - there is a "consensus" that all views have to be fairly represented, but not on selecting the "majority view" as the fair view when other views exist. Answering your initial statement: "[...] categories' inherent inability to express NPOV subtleties". Yes, true: one can't express NPOV subtleties with categories. Categorisation is a non-subtle system, and that's what it's for: 4 or 5 categories (or maybe a dozen) at the bottom of an article, no chance to express much subtleties.
The subtlety or "proportion" is in the whole of the article (including images, templates etc), which includes not labeling (nor in the lead section, nor in the categories at the bottom of an article) a person with an unmitigated vindicative epithet if you're not absolutely sure (and "absolutely sure" is subject to consensus and adequate references). Only if the *article* content itself excludes any remaining doubt that person X is a murderer – and the article could only say that based on a non-divergence of sources – the person can be categorised/labeled as such.
There's also subtlety and proportion on Category pages (that is the pages in Category namespace): there would be something disproportionate (for example) if Jove and the flying spaghetti monster were listed next to each other on a Category:Deities page, so the subcategorisation (involving intermediate steps like Category:Fictional deities and Category:Roman deities) is more subtle than that.
Note that the NPOV-related guidance specifically for categorization is currently at Wikipedia:NPOV tutorial#Categorization --Francis Schonken (talk) 15:07, 5 January 2008 (UTC)
Again, thanks for all the info. May I now suggest to everyone that we add a new section to this page? We have a section for bios of living people, so one for dead people would naturally fit in after it. Here we could mention that categorising is slightly less strict, and that critical consensus should be the guiding force in grey areas such as John Bodkin Adams and Sacco and Vanzetti. We could quote/amalgamate the passages we have quoted on this talk page and this would provide a ready and easily accessible source for editors seeking guidance. Would that seem reasonable to everyone? Malick78 (talk) 08:36, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Sorry, but I frankly doubt that a [Suspected serial killers] category would survive very long. Categories must still be accurate, and "Suspected ..." categories frequently get rejected at the WP:CFD, mainly on the problems relating to subjectivity. And the suggesting grouping of [Suspected serial killers] is not a true subset of proven [serial killers]. With these historical figures, there is no chance of a fair trial, regardless of what a few authors might say in their bestsellers. This is where the list has real benefits, and Adams is already mentioned in Most prolific murderers by number of victims. Ephebi (talk) 13:16, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
Hi, I wasn't suggesting a [Suspected serial killers] category. I want to put him in the main serial killer category because real works of research (not 'bestsellers') say, without a shadow of a doubt, that he killed. The whole issue has arisen because the page here gives advice for living people but none for dead. So an amendment is needed. NPOV says that a category should reflect all major opinions as fairly as possible. The majority of opinions (the trial judge, Cullen, the BMJ, the BBC website...) think he killed, only two sources don't (Surtees - a former colleague, Hoskins - who was left 10,000 pounds by Adams in his will) and they have serious credibility problems. To reflect this weight of opinion in favour of Adams being a killer means categorising him as such - does it not? This is what Wikipedia guidelines elsewhere suggest - I just want others to clarify and confirm this and then to include it on this page where it belongs and where there is currently a blindspot. Thoughts? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Malick78 (talkcontribs) 17:09, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I understand what you say, but, regardless of what the trial judge thought in the Adams case, the jury found him not guilty as charged. Another similar case where the modern forensics point towards a murderer is Charles Bravo, but this is (rightly IMHO) categorised as [unsolved ...]. If, as you seem to suggest, people should be classified as "murderers" on circumstantial evidence when the process of law (such as it was at that time) could not do so, I think that would be non-encyclopedic Ephebi (talk) 18:19, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
  • You seem to be missing something: a legal verdict is an opinion based on evidence produced. Making it unquestionable is giving this opinion undue weight, when subsequent opinions drawing on more evidence may be more reliable. While we should not question the verdicts regarding living people, dead people are fair game if reliable sources overwhelming question the verdicts pertaining to said dead people.
This however is only one of the two points I was making. The other is that there is no guideline for categorising dead people, only living ones. This needs to be rectified. Do people disagree with that? If not, please make comments in order for a new guideline to be drawn up - presumably based on the quotations of current policy given earlier in this discussion. Malick78 (talk) 18:48, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Please, with respect - opinions are what lawyers have. A jury's verdict in a criminal case is more than just opinion. Juries are not infallible, but its the highest level of judgment available. Regarding authors, the types of opinion they can produce is unlimited when their subjects are beyond the grave, especially as the sort of "evidence" they produce is never cross-examined, and not even subject to peer review in a scientific journal - that's their strength & weakness. Regarding your second point, the guidelines for biographical categorisation clearly already applies to both dead & alive biographies IMHO. However the level of verbal precision needs to be very much more accurate for living people. For dead people that does not mean we have carte blanche to be speculative. Your statement that something "may be more reliable" in hindsight is similarly speculation until it has been properly tested. Now, the fact that someone is subject to such speculation can be notable in its own right, but as wiki editors we still have an obligation to be accurate & verifiable, and so we should write this up as speculation, not as fact. Obviously as we go back further in time certainty can become more difficult, but this is where we have to work within reason. Ephebi (talk) 11:11, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
  • If a court in the middle ages decided a woman was a witch, we wouldn't categorise her as such now - we'd be happy to ignore the verdict. It all hinges on our perception of the safety of a verdict in a given era. Now Adams was acquitted in 1957, which I'd say allows us to question it - GB justice wasn't great then and the article goes into detail regarding how the trial was scuppered by the authorities on purpose. The verdict therefore is open to question.
  • Secondly and more importantly in fact, if we agree with Wikipedia:Neutral point of view#Undue weight:

    "Wikipedia aims to present competing views in proportion to their representation among experts on the subject, or among the concerned parties. This applies not only to article text, but to images, external links, categories, and all other material as well."

    (My bolding of words.) Then if the majority consider Adams to be guilty, it should be reflected in the category, should it not? I see few flaws in that logic. Whether the majority actually do consider him guilty can be discussed on the Adams talk page. I'm just attempting to establish the ground rules before doing so. Thoughts? And please, think about the theory before applying it to Adams. Malick78 (talk) 11:37, 8 January 2008 (UTC)


Bruce Willis and John McEnroe were born in American military bases in Germany. Are they German Americans (based on that sole fact)? I notice this Wikipedia:Naming conventions (categories)#Heritage. SamEV (talk) 17:52, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

Willis' mother is/was German, which is why people may have labeled him German-American. McEnroe currently isn't labeled as a German-American and that would be silly indeed unless his mother, who isn't mentioned, is/was German. Afasmit (talk) 15:16, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, just in case the person I named might be part-German after all, I named two. Ok, then. McEnroe is not so labelled, but Martin Lawrence, born in Germany to a military father, is categorized in Category:German-Americans, despite there being no evidence given that he's a German national or citizen, or has German ancestry. From what you tell me then, "Born in Foo" does not mean "Fooian" necessarily, as I thought too. I take it that you wouldn't object if I or someone else removed that category from his article. Would any one else object? SamEV 02:36, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
I've gone ahead and removed the category, as the article gives no indication that Lawrence is of German descent. Being born within the boundaries of Germany (or any other country) does not automatically imply German descent. – Black Falcon (Talk) 07:19, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Ok. I wanted to be as sure as possible that I understood the guidelines. Thanks again. SamEV 08:58, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Religion categories for living people

The current guideline states that for a religion category to be included for a living person, "The subject's beliefs or sexual preferences are relevant to the subject's notable activities or public life, according to reliable published sources. " We have some disagreement on how this applies to politicians. Does the fact that a person is a politician mean that the religion is automatically "relevant to the subject's notable activities or public life"? In many articles, a religion is listed in a politician infobox (sometimes sourced, most times not), and not mentioned at all in the article. If it is mentioned in the article, it usually just says "Subject attends Church X." I think that this means the religion is not relevant and religious categories should be removed. Others have questioned this interpretation. I'd like more community input on what is meant. Karanacs (talk) 18:11, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

Good luck achieving consensus in the U.S. that religion is unrelated to politics, is trivial, not relevant, etc. (I would rather see the focus on performance, but that's just me.) To many it seems as fundamental as someone asking, "So where are you from?" (In fact, upon moving to the Deep South one of the first questions from many older neighbors after introduction was "Have you found a church yet?") It is up to the reader/voter to determine whether or not the subject's public stances match with the basic tenets of their professed faith or that faith poses problems to them. Unless you are proposing to remove religion from all the infoboxes and text and only provide it if it has direct bearing on some issue, what you suggest lacks self-consistency. Many politicians advertise their religious faith--it's not something they typically try to hide in shame or concern. Some actors and others are also enthusiastic about their beliefs or lack of them. I have no problem with challenging accuracy or sources, but I do not accept the notion that religion should be held as some sort of secret only disclosed on a "need-to-know" basis in what is supposed to be an encyclopedia.Red Harvest (talk) 18:55, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
If the person advertises it, and this is published in reliable sources, then the religion can be included in the article. However, unless this has bearing on that person's notability (and that is spelled out), it shouldn't be in the categories, according to this guideline as it's currently written. For example, George W. Bush's religion is very relevant to his political notability because he repeatedly refers to his religion as reshaping his life and points to it in many of his political speeches. On the other hand, if all an article can say about someone's religion is an infobox entry relating the religion (oftentimes not cited), and there isn't enough information to relate that to any positions they hold or any other pieces of their life, then no, I don't think it meets this guideline for inclusion in religious categories. Karanacs (talk) 14:51, 15 February 2008 (UTC)
Republicans in particular tend to wear it on their sleeve. But disregarding that aspect, it's not some sort of secret for many or even most people. Unless the categorization appears incorrect or given for mal intent (absent any other reason for providing it), then I can see no reason not to allow such basic information. And if one removes the category, then the heading in the infobox must also be removed because it is not considered a valid way of classifying people. Is that what we really want done? I believe that the interpretation you are using has the unfortunate consequence of exposing wiki to charges of "politically correct" bios--where religion is pushed aside/suppressed. If the information/category in the bio is provided in good faith, is not inaccurate, and doesn't unreasonably slant the biography or slander the religion then what possible basis is there for removing it? So far I've seen no valid reason given and I don't believe it was the intent of the guideline to make the hurdle so high. Red Harvest (talk) 23:46, 15 February 2008 (UTC)
I think the standard applied to the categorization of people (living or not) should be left alone and continue to be included as it is seen fit by individual editors. Religion means many things to many different people. Being Jewish, for example, doesn't necessarily mean one is just a follower of the Judaic religion, but its also considered an ethnicity -- something no different than being African-American. Nsaum75 (talk) 01:18, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

The literature in question is out of date and out of step with current Wikipedia consensus. Other than religious figures no one else should be categorized according to that 2 point criteria. It needs to be rewritten so that either points mean a person is worthy of categorization by religion.

I do not follow these guidelines, for example in the category English Baptists I will add the category to every English Baptist I come across regardless of whether they are known as "That self-admitted Baptist guy" or as "an international cricketeer".

I am only annoyed because a person (anonymous person) of a certain nationality and a certain faith uses these guidelines to remove as many people (living or not) from the categories from said nation and not of said faith for... well God only knows why, but he feels it is necessary.

Why are sexual preferences and religious beliefs grouped together like this anyway? Why not religion and former occupation or sexual preference and place of birth?

If someone is reading this also feels they need changing then lets get some consensus together and rewrite the guidelines to include some common sense.--EchetusXe (talk) 23:51, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Categorization by name

Wikipedia:Categorization_of_people#By_the_person.27s_name suggests this should only be done in certain "very notable" cases, but there isn't any kind of criteria listed. There are now categories for Category:Dick Cheney and even Category:Fred Thompson (with 5 articles). I'm not sure whether that's legitimate or not. - TheMightyQuill (talk) 22:05, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

BLP,NPOV concerns

I think that categorization is one of the biggest problems the project has, with respect to attempting to adhere to the BLP and NPOV policies. It is far too vulnerable to exploitation by POV warriors, who can Wikilawyer a BLP or other article into a category and demand that it be retained there based on some sort of nominalist argument, which appears to be logically correct but defeats the purpose of core policies. Others have called this a vulnerablity to WP:POINT violations. I think that it is time to reconsider the use of any potentially contentious category. --Marvin Diode (talk) 21:16, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

For context, this posting appears to be based in the proposal to add Lyndon Larouche, sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud, to Category:American criminals. The person in question made numerous appeals, some eve to the U.S. Supreme Court, all of which were denied. Sice then the man and his movement have sought to portray the conviction as unfair. But the objective fact remains that the person was convicted of a major crime, and so he is a criminal and belongs in the category. I'm not sure how adding the person to a legitimate, objective category can be considered a violation of WP:POINT. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 21:49, 14 June 2008 (UTC)

Will Beback's attempt to add "context" is misleading. For the actual "context," see Talk:Neutral point of view#Templates and Categories. --Marvin Diode (talk) 00:08, 15 June 2008 (UTC)

That posting seems to have been inspired by these edits in the days before.[3][4] The response you got on that talk page concerned categories whose application was questionable (a person acquitted of murder added to the "serial killers" category). Objective categories, even if potentially pejorative, are still aproppriate if they're applied in cases with undisputed evidence. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 01:03, 15 June 2008 (UTC)
I'm afraid this talk page of the categorization of people guideline hasn't much of a "noticeboard" characteristic. WP:BLPN might be more suitable probably. That is, if this hasn't already been forumshopped all over. In general the categorization of people guideline advises to have the discussion on the article's talk page. And if categories (or category definitions) need adjusting, take it to the relevant category talk page first. --Francis Schonken (talk) 00:20, 15 June 2008 (UTC)
I have no desire to discuss particular cases here -- that's an unwelcome diversion by Will. I think my initial statement is clear enough. --Marvin Diode (talk) 13:55, 15 June 2008 (UTC)
It's just that when editors complain about the use of categorization or templates, it's usually inspired by a particular article. What categories and templates do you think are "potentially contentious"? ·:· Will Beback ·:· 04:24, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
Hoping that this doesn't sidetrack the discussion, here's an example: I have seen many disputes, both on BLP articles and on articles about institutions, over the use of "neoconservative" as a category, or on a template. Generally, the disputants prefer the term "conservative," which is not so much associated in the public mind with some of the excesses and failures of the recent administration. Typically, there are abundant sources (usually journalistic) to justify the use of "neoconservative," but ultimately, it's a judgement call, which I would prefer the reader make for himself, based on the evidence in the article, rather than accepting a categorization. --Marvin Diode (talk) 14:54, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
So your issue with the "neoconservatives" category is that applying it is a judgment call? So you don't have an issue with categories that don't require judgment calls? ·:· Will Beback ·:· 00:31, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

This talk page is for discussing guideline changes (that is: changes of the categorisation of people guideline): it is neither a forum nor a noticeboard, nor is it WP:VPP nor Wikipedia:Centralised discussion where changes involving several guidelines can be discussed (if the guideline updates you have in mind involve both "categories" and "templates", you could try Wikipedia talk:Categories, lists, and navigational templates also), nor is this a WikiProject concentrating on a comprehensive implementation of all sorts of guidance. It's unclear to me where the present guideline content regarding "categorization of people" would be insufficient to address the problems you mention in your 4 posts in this talk page section. Could you consider making your comments a little bit more ad rem: I've no clue what kind of changes to the guideline you actually propose or would favor?
Neither is it clear to me whether, thus far, you actually tried to apply the tools and recommendations offered by the guideline in order to sort out the problems you seem to experience? --Francis Schonken (talk) 16:09, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
I find the material at Wikipedia:Categorization of people#General considerations to be useful, but does it have the force of policy? In article content disputes, the NPOV and BLP policies are often invoked, to the effect that balancing information must be added or poorly sourced and contentious characterizations removed, or some combination of these two. But I don't see an equally potent core policy that governs the use of categories. --Marvin Diode (talk) 21:20, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
There's a tutorial section on how to apply NPOV in categorisation context: WP:NPOV tutorial#Categorization
There's a policy section that has the current policy-level guidance on categorisation in BLP context: WP:BLP#Categories (BTW that section's content was copied to Wikipedia:Categorization of people#Biographies of living people). At least one option would be to suggest to expand the "Categories" section in the BLP policy, with what you think would be better off at policy level. I'm not sure. Most of the time I think discussions of whether something should be policy or guideline boring: whether it should be one or the other usually grows kind of automatically. If you think this guideline isn't quoted with enough vigor and/or not often enough, then do quote it more where you think it appropriate to do so, and then more people see how it works, and if they think it useful they might find it time to move it up to policy.
Personally I don't see the need to change Wikipedia:Categorization of people from guideline to policy (technically it would be easy: change the guideline template on top of the page to {{Policy}}). Lots of its current content is definitely "guideline" level (e.g. the category sorting stuff). Cutting it in two guidance pages, one containing the "guideline level" stuff and the other the "policy" stuff, nah, don't see the use of that either. Maybe my suggestion to expand the "Categories" section of the WP:BLP page would still be best, if you can gather support for it. Or make a WP:NPOV/FAQ entry on categories (that page is policy too) if you want to combine categorization of people guidance with something with policy-level NPOV guidance (also: if you can find enough support for it). --Francis Schonken (talk) 22:01, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the useful suggestions. --Marvin Diode (talk) 00:21, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
Would a sub-category be more fitting? If a person was convicted for tax evasion, and another for murder, both are criminals, but Vive la Diférence. It would be more appropriate to use Category:Tax evaders and Category:Murderers respectively, rather than categorizing both as Category:Criminals which has an element of the fallacy of guilt by association, in particular if these people are living people ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 03:00, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

"Ethnicity-Nationality" categories

I tried to add the cat "Spanish-American" to Antonio Banderas and was told that I could not because he is not a naturalized American citizen though he resides in the US. I understand that the meaning of nationality can be different around the world. But appears to me that in these cats, the nationality part refers to the person being a citizen of that country, no? What is the guideline regarding nationality for these cats? MrBlondNYC (talk) 08:11, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

Alternate spellings of family name

I would like to see some guidance on what to do with people where historically there is no agreement on the spelling of a surname.

  1. Which source may take precedence?
  2. Clear guidance on how to add the family names to more than one surname category

Thx. -- billinghurst (talk) 15:17, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

Limit the number

  • General considerations
  • Limit the number: Try to limit the number of categories. For example, a film actor who holds a law degree should be categorized as a film actor, but not as a lawyer unless his or her legal career was notable in its own right. However it is also important to ensure that categories contain all of the most relevant articles. This means that some prominent people, such as senior politicians who have held many different offices, will be in a considerable number of categories. Apart from these factual categories, for those categories that require an assessment of personal characteristics (e.g. art movement style...), try to limit the number of categories to what is most essential about this person, something in the vein of: "give me 4 or 5 words that best characterize this person."

This appears to be contrary to practice. For example, George W. Bush has over 30 categories. The tendency I see is to categorize biographies exhaustively. (Every school they attended, their religion and ethnicity, their ancestry, their professions, everywhere they lived, selected honors and prizes, etc.) Or we see examples of editors agreeing to only list the few most important categories? ·:· Will Beback ·:· 07:14, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

  • Nah, the current guidance is entirely practical in keeping excesses checked, compare Talk:Erik Satie#Satie as opera composer.
  • Re. Bush example:
    • In fact not too bad, I mean not too far from the current guidance at first glance, although this succession looks silly in my eyes (with or without guidance): "Americans of Irish descent | Americans of Scots-Irish descent | Americans of Scottish descent". Note that the non-factual categories are fairly limited ("Politicians charged with alcohol related driving offenses", maybe "Converts to Methodism"), far below "4 or 5" per the guideline, and that "...senior politicians who have held many different offices, will be in a considerable number of categories" applies too of course.
    • The Bush article is permanently semi-protected, so I presume not even stable enough to start up a FA procedure: usually this means this would not be the best example to base guidance reorganisations upon. --Francis Schonken (talk) 18:52, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

Names... ugh

So I'm sorting some people, and the guidelines appear self-contradictory / unclear. So let's try to make them clearer. How about this? Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβςWP Physics} 05:30, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

  • Always categorise names according as "Surname, Name". Always capitalise the first letters of each word, and uncapitalized all the others.
  • Jim Morrison → Morrison, Jim
  • Richard P. Feynman → Feynman, Richard P.
  • Mao Zedong → Mao, Zedong
  • Names with articles in them should be sorted as Surname, Name Article.
  • Guy de Maupassant → Maupassant, Guy De
  • Otto von Bismark;Bismark, Otton Von
  • Pierre deGrasse → Degrasse, Pierre
  • Do not include punctuation and diacritics
  • Jean-Jacques d'Arsonval → Arsonval, Jacques Arsene D
  • Abū Ja'far al-Khāzin → Khazin, Abu Jafar Al
  • Patrick O'Neil → Oneil, Patrick
  • If the article is capitalized, do not treat it as an article, but rather part of the surname
  • John Hasbrouk Van Vleck → Van Vleck, John Hasbrouck
  • Corne Du Plessis → Du Plessis, Corne
  • Yehia El-Mashad → El Mashad, Yehia
  • "Historical names" with "de", "of", "the", etc... should be stripped of punctuation and diacritics, but otherwise unmodified.
  • Křišťan of Prachatice → Kristan of Prachatiche
  • Pierre de Maricourt → Pierre de Maricourt
  • Alexander the Great → Alexander the Great
  • Place epithets, suffixes, and nobility titles at the very end, in that order, each time preceded by a comma. Addendums such as "Baron of Seville" are placed last, preceded by a comma.
  • Saint Alban →Alban, Saint
  • Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury → Gascoyne Cecil, Robert, 3rd Marquess Of Salisbury
  • Robert J. Smith II → Smith, Robert J., II
  • George W. Bush Jr. → Bush, George W., Jr.
  • Sir John Rose, 1st Baronet → Rose, John, Sir, 1st Baronet
  • Names with "Mc" or "Mac" are always sorted as if they were names with "Mac".
  • Jules McGuyver → Macguyver, Jules
  • Kathy MacVey → Macvey, Kathy

This seems to cover almost everything but arabic names such as Shams al-Dīn Abū Abd Allāh al-Khalīlī (with two al-) or such as Muhammad ibn Jābir al-Harrānī al-Battānī (ibn, al-, al-) or Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Kathīr al-Farghānī (ibn, ibn, al-). Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβςWP Physics} 05:35, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

Can this be uploaded now?Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 04:40, 15 April 2009 (UTC)
I think the "names with articles" bits aren't right, that whether or not the article is included in the surname has more to do with culture of origin than capitalization... It's not an area I've focused on though, so I certainly could be wrong... However, I'm certain that the section on nobility titles only applies some of the time. For major English titles (dukes and earls), the person properly sorts by the nobility title. For example, Edward Fitzalan-Howard, 18th Duke of Norfolk properly sorts as {{DEFAULTSORT:Norfolk, Edward Fitzalan-Howard, 18th Duke of}}. This is a long-standing standard, and not just in Wikipedia.Studerby (talk) 20:08, 15 April 2009 (UTC)
Also, the bit about leaving the historical names unmodified, I have a tiny quibble with. This is probably the common practice, but for technical reasons I would argue that every word in a sort key ought to be "normalized" to first-letter capitalized, remaining letters uncapitalized, for each space-bounded element. The reason is that, in virtually all English-language reference works, sorting is by convention case-insensitive. Sadly, Wikipedia software uses case-sensitive sorting, and for relatively deep technical reasons this can't be changed (there's been a bug open on this for years); "normalization" has the effect of achieving case-insensitivity despite the case-sensitive sort. In actual practice, the case difference probably won't result in an order change 99.9% of the time, or more; still, if we're going to specify fix-up rules, they ought to be as right as we can make them. My biggest reason for emphasizing this is for non-personal name domains; for example, in film titles, "A Woman in Flames" should sort before "A Woman Rebels", and the only way to make that happen is to capitalize the "in". Making the rules for all article titles consistent in the area of capitalization would be a good thing. Studerby (talk) 20:34, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

French surnames starting with "Le" or "le"

If I can add to the above discussion. I appreciate that the surname is normally sorted by "the first capitalised element". However, this can lead to confusion with French names. Currently, names such as Maurice Le Boucher, Paul Le Flem, Philippe Le Goff, Jean-François Le Sueur etc are all grouped, and they appear before such names as Firmin Lebel, Charles-Édouard Lefebvre, René Leibowitz etc - see Category:French composers. This is ok, except where we have cases such as Maurice Le Roux (appears in the first group) and Maurice Leroux (appears later), who turn out to be the same person. I’ve added a merge template to both articles. Such cases would be more quickly identified if all surnames starting with "Le" or "le" were defaultsorted by removing all the spaces between the component parts of the surname. That is, Le Boucher would be sorted as if it were spelled "Leboucher", and a putative Martin Le Boucher would appear after a Louis Leboucher, as intuition (mine, at least) would indicate. Comments? -- JackofOz (talk) 00:41, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

There's relevant, if inconclusive, discussion at Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style#Alphabetization_and_collation! It's a non-trivial problem, probably best resolved reduced by creating redirects from every imaginable mangling of the article you're working on (to avoid duplication like the two Maurices above). PamD (talk) 11:38, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. I've also raised the matter there. Redirects have their place, but to me this is a question of principle as it relates to sorting, and I'd like to address the sorting protocol first before having to resort to a potentially huge number of redirects. -- JackofOz (talk) 21:49, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

What to do with duos?

On the page for Vernon and Irene Castle there are no birth or death categories given even tho their dates are established. Is this common practice? I see the Laurel and Hardy page does the same but also gives links to separate articles about each comedian (which provide birth and death categories). If there are no pages for the separate members of a duo, and there are no birth/death categories given, how does one solve the problem if separate pages are not there (and possibly not necessary or wanted)?

I have looked at WP:Categorization of people but it wasn't much help. Thanks for any info.--FeanorStar7 (talk) 03:13, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

One solution is to make for both people a redirect page including those categories. So Vernon Castle's page would contain #REDIRECT[[Vernon and Irene Castle]] and something like {{Lifetime|1800|1900|Castle, Vernon}}. Vernon Castle will then appear in italics in the 1800 births and 1900 deaths categories under Castle, Vernon. Afasmit (talk) 06:54, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Ok; thank you for the suggestion. Someone has already done that for both of the Castles back in 2006; I had trouble finding Vernon in the birth cat listing for 1889 but see it now.--FeanorStar7 (talk) 08:46, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

Mc vs. Mac

This seems to be discussed above, but is "For a surname which begins with Mc or Mac, the category sort key should always be typed as Mac with the remainder of the name in lowercase" necessary? I mean, I get McD should be Mcd, but why do we have to auto-change from Mc to Mac? Is there something I'm not getting? Wizardman 04:42, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

The reason is that we want McDonald/MacDonald or McAdams/MacAdams to be listed sorted as the same name.Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 04:52, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
Hm. to me they're still different, but to each his own, it's not something i particularly care about, just thought i'd ask. Wizardman 05:10, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
They are different names (Macdonald also exists), but if you only have the spoken version, this sorting lets you look in just one place. It doesn't matter where there are only a few Mc/Macs, but makes a difference to manual searching when there are lots. Please don't change the visible name, just the sort name (so no auto-change!). Finavon (talk) 14:00, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
This is something I've always hated, actually. There's lots and lots of names that have a most-common spelling and less common variants, e.g. Thompson, Thomson, but we don't "normalize" spelling for any of them, and would properly be reviled if we did. Mc/Mac was often treated differently from other spelling variations in the past, but it seems to be a usage that's dropped out of most common references, Wikipedia being the only current exception I happen to know. The Encyclopedia Britanica used to consolidate Mac/Mc, but no longer does so. Studerby (talk) 22:03, 14 April 2009 (UTC)
I see your point about Thomson/Thompson etc. The Mc/Macs are in a slightly different category, though. Each well known Mc/Mac surname can have up to 4 variants: McDonald, MacDonald, Mcdonald, Macdonald (and possibly others such as M' Donald and those that have a space after the Mc/Mac). Britannica etc can deal with these effectively as they're written by a relatively small coterie of experts. WP is written by, potentially, everyone in the world. Native English-speakers have a hard enough time remembering which notable people are Macs, which are Mcs, which capitalise the first letter of the rest of the surname, and which don't - let alone people for whom English is a second or later language. It makes very great sense to me to look at a category and see all the Mc/MacDonalds etc grouped together. They still come out with the correct spellings. Brian McDonald appears before Charles MacDonald, who appears before Egbert Mcdonald, who appears before Simon Macdonald. If we sorted them under their exact spellings, the number of duplicate articles would rise significantly; the number of merges necessary to fix them would be too great; and it would be virtually unmanageable. I've identified various duplicate entries by simply resorting any Mcs or Macs I come across as "Mac", and decapitalising the first letter of the rest of the name. It's simple, effective, and once done, it stays done. -- JackofOz (talk) 22:18, 14 April 2009 (UTC)
We conventionally de-capitalize ALL non-initial letters (we have to, to get correct sorting for things like "duBois"|"DuBois"|"Dubois"), leaving us with "Mac"|"Mc"; I don't think it's too much to ask for people to look in 2 places in very large categories. The issue is irrelevant in most small categories, as they don't have enough entries under "M" for the searched-for name to be missed. That said, consensus seems to be against me on this (although I don't think a formal effort to determine the consensus has been done), and I have no problem with following consensus or feel like agitating for a review - it came up, I commented.... A lot of lesser issues in sorting are matters of choice, and this is one. I don't think the current way is wrong, per se, I just really really don't like it and disagree with the common rationale for it and wish we were more like other major references in this regard. Part of the issue is really that Wikipedia needs to improve its finding aids; categories are a weak but necessary aid for finding people when you know a little about them but not exactly how the name is spelled. That is the only scenario (I can think of) in which the effort to sort all Mc/Macs together makes particular sense, and it does. Better finding aids would let us dispense with what I see as an oddity... but we're not there yet. Studerby (talk) 19:47, 15 April 2009 (UTC)
Because users have trouble distinguishing Mc/Mac is no reason for Wikipedia to start altering the way these names are sorted. Thompson/Thomson, Chris/Kris, Tom/Thom, and Evenson/Evanson are other examples where we would not change the sort order. Dictionaries do not purposefully mis-order the word "sophomore" simply because English speakers drop the middle syllable ("o"). This is senseless. It does not matter whether a non-English speaker can remember the difference between Mc/Mac or McDonald/Mcdonald/MacDonald/Macdonald. The information needs to be correct. Most English speakers do not pronounce the "g" in "Nguyen"; does this mean all Nguyens are now to be sorted as "Nuyen"? No, but we'll mis-sort Mc/Mac names. Senseless. - Tim1965 (talk) 00:22, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Well, it depends what you mean by "correct". Firstly, all the individual names appear correctly spelled, wherever they appear in a list. Secondly, it's very common in the real world for long lists of names sorted by surname to start the M section with a sub-section for the Mcs and Macs, and the remaining M surnames follow. That's a useful system out there, and it's just as useful here. It's a convention to do it that way; it's neither more nor less "correct" than having a list sorted strictly alphabetically. -- JackofOz (talk) 03:46, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
I too question the rationale behind this seemingly silly convention. What of Smith/Smythe, Nguyen/Winn, or any other hard to spell last names? The fact that one may not know which spelling is correct for a given individual is adequately solved by disambiguation. I don't see any reason that this would lead to duplicate articles, and I believe it's more correct to alphabetize people correctly than to worry about finding entries in large categories. I don't see any compelling reason that a non-paper encyclopedia would categorize names phonetically, and it's even more confusing when it's only done for one class of surname. Is there really consensus for this? Oren0 (talk) 03:41, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
I had trouble believing that this merging of Mc and Mac is a good idea (perhaps because my last name is 'McCalpin', I am entitled to have an opinion ;-) ). I noticed in the discussion at the top of the page that one part of the US Library of Congress uses the "split" method (i.e., not treating Mc and Mac as the same spelling), so I asked their reference section what the policy was for the entire Library. This was the answer I got:
Question History:
Patron: General Inquiry:
Wikipedia sorts last names that begin with Mc- 'merged' with last names that begin with Mac-, as if the Mc- names were actually written as Mac-. This leads to a different sort sequence in their lists than any computer would generate and different than most people would expect.
Their argument is that this is the way it's been done for a long time, because of the variations and unpredictability in the spellings of Scottish names. However, others point out that fewer and fewer institutions are building their sorted lists this way, choosing to go for the more straightforward "sort on the actual spelling".
Which does the Library of Congress do and why? Do you know if there have been international standards on this subject by those in library sciences?
Bill McCalpin
(here follows verbatim reply from the Library of Congress)
Librarian 1: Thank you for consulting the Library of Congress's Digital Reference Section.
It is my understanding that the Library of Congress rules for filing catalog cards changed a couple of decades ago [emphasis mine] from filing all the "M' " "Mc" and "Mac" together ("as they sound" it was explained to me) and the Library now files them exactly as they are spelled.
The official filing rules may be found in the title "Library of Congress Filing Rules" described here: < > and available in print via the Cataloging Distribution Service at the Library of Congress for $10. The title is also available as part of the "Cataloger's Desktop," an online subscription resource for catalogers.
The text confirms that the current practice at the Library is to alphabetize exactly as words are spelled.
Section 1., "Basic Filing Order" says the following:
(begin quote)
Fields in a filing entry are arranged word by word, and words are arranged character by character. ::This procedure is continued until one of the following occurs:
a. A prescribed filing position is reached.
b. The field comes to an end (in which case placement is determined by another field of the entry or by applying one of the rules given hereafter).
c. A mark of punctuation indicating a subarrangement is encountered.
1.1. Order of Letters
Letters are arranged according to the order of the English alphabet (A-Z). Upper and lower case letters have equal filing value.
(end quote)
After I have sent you my response, I plan to refer your inquiry to my colleagues in the Library's Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate (the most authoritative source of this information at LC), so they can confirm this information, and provide you with any additional information they may have on any incipient standards of which they are aware.
Another useful book that includes rules on alphabetizing, if you wish to explore this further is:
LC Control No.: 2005004214
Personal Name: Mulvany, Nancy C.
Main Title: Indexing books / Nancy C. Mulvany.
Edition Information: 2nd ed.
Published/Created: Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2005.
Description: xiv, 315 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN: 0226552764 (alk. paper)
You may want to check for this book at your local library.
We hope you find this information helpful. Good luck with your research!
Digital Reference Section
Ask A Librarian Service
The Library of Congress/lsg
So, could anyone give me a reason that actually makes sense to people who carry this type of last name why Wikipedia wants to sort differently than Library Science professionals, other than "well, that's how people used to do it"? Also, who makes this decision and how is it changed?
William J. 'Bill' McCalpin (talk) 17:36, 5 February 2010 (UTC)

Periods/full stops in sort keys

My interpretation of the rules is that periods/full stops should be included in sort keys, and that's reflected in an example given on the page: "Robert J. Smith II sorts as [[Category:New Jersey politicians|Smith, Robert J., II]]"

However, it also says "Punctuation, such as apostrophes and colons (but not hyphens) should be removed". If periods/full stops should not be removed, this should be mentioned in that sentence.

What prompted this is that ListasBot is currently removing any periods/full stops it finds in listas parameters. I would like to inform its operator of the correct sorting, but the bot is actually changing things according to the strictest interpretation of the currently listed guidelines. MANdARAX  XAЯAbИAM 01:36, 13 April 2009 (UTC)

I have no feelings one way or the other. I can change the code to not remove periods easily enough. Matt (talk) 02:17, 13 April 2009 (UTC)
(I was asked for my opinion, here it is.) I am trying very hard to think of an instance where a missing period / full stop whould be a problem. However, it is a significant style issue to some and I imagine that ignoring periods would simplify things for the bot.
JimCubb (talk) 01:37, 14 April 2009 (UTC)
I've done massive amounts of manual sorting in Wikipedia, primarily of living people. The real issue is that whatever we do, it has to be done consistently, and most sorting is done by editors who aren't going to learn all the special cases ("special cases" = changes to the article title that are non-obvious). Therefore it behooves the style policy deciders to minimize the special cases to only those that are necessary. The overall general rule is: the sort key should be the article title, reformatted to sort "correctly", with "correctly" being according to the expectations of English speakers using an English-language reference work, given the constraints of the Wikipedia software (which still leaves us a few arbitrary choices). For common format western-style personal names, that means sorting as in the example above, "last name, remainder of name, generation (if part of the article title)". Whether or not to include periods is an arbitrary choice; either will produce correct sorting if done consistently throughout wikipedia. Because most editors see the sort key for a personal name as simply a re-arrangement of what's already in the article title, most editors leave the period in place for middle initials, despite the policy statement. I've probably edited a thousand such sort keys myself and have always included the periods, despite being intimately familiar with the style guide (I just never thought about it; it seems so obvious to me). Therefore, I think the bot should leave the period in place, and the style guideline needs to be amended to match actual practice. The rule for apostrophes is as it is because there are some names that have evolved; earlier generations had the apostrophe and later ones dropped it (for example, see this). English speakers expect all such to be grouped together; that's why we drop the apostrophe in sort keys. The same rule applies as a default to less common and unusual punctuation. However, there's generally not a sorting issue with keeping or omitting hyphens as long as we do it consistently, therefore we keep them, to reduce the number of special cases. (I suppose that there might be a sorting problem in a really rare case here and there, e.g. if there were multiple "Doe Jones" and "Doe-Jones" people in the same category, in which case, WP:IAR applies. In practice, keeping the hyphen seems to work.)
A side issue is what to do with those relatively rare names that consist of a first name and last initial. Many of those articles are titled with the initial not being followed by a period; however some of them are. The period should not be significant to the sort, but Wikipedia software makes it so, and I've long thought that sorting policy should be to insert a period even where none exists following one-letter abbreviated names. At this moment, an example of where there is a trivial problem is here. Note "Alex K." versus "Allan K"; they should be adjacent and are not currently. It's not a major problem, as there are very few cases of regular categories containing more than one such name.Studerby (talk) 18:11, 14 April 2009 (UTC)
Since I have never heard of either Alex or Allan before, had I heard or read the name and wanted to look for either one I would probably have looked under "A". That shows how much I know. (Why would someone be sorted by an initial?)
By the way, the article for Joseph Ka-Chun Siu, Ph.D., is titled "Ka-Chun Siu" and had no DEFAULTSORT value. The page now has a DEFAULTSORT of "Siu, KaChun" and the listas parameter in the WP Biog template is the same. I am much more distressed about finding that lapse uncorrected than I am about the matter at hand.
JimCubb (talk) 20:38, 14 April 2009 (UTC)
Welcome to Wikipedia... There's a bazillion not-yet-properly-sorted articles out there. See for example etc. etc. etc. Studerby (talk) 20:39, 15 April 2009 (UTC)
Category:Biography articles without listas parameter is a more comprehensive repository of such pages and has been my "home" for many months. JimCubb (talk) 21:13, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

Well, there's two people saying "I don't care about this", and two people saying "periods should be left in", so as far as ListasBot's behavior is concerned, I'll assume the consensus here is to leave periods in. (P.S. -- for anyone who's curious, it only took the addition of one extra character in the source code to make this change.) Matt (talk) 20:13, 17 April 2009 (UTC)

I feel that periods should be removed. I think the sort order should be "John Public", then "John Q. Public", then "John Quincy Public", and leaving the period in might but all middle initials at the end rather than the beginning. (More importantly, though, I think it should be consistent.) – Quadell (talk) 20:28, 17 April 2009 (UTC)
The sort ordering works just as you desire with the period. For example, see this, with all of the Mark Smith entries followed by Mark A. Smith (which has a DEFAULTSORT of Smith, Mark A.), then Mark Andrew Smith. I agree with you and Studerby that consistency is important. I've probably examined over ten thousand DEFAULTSORT and listas values, and by a huge margin, the overwhelming majority do include the period where applicable. MANdARAX  XAЯAbИAM 21:03, 17 April 2009 (UTC)
As it's been over a week and the only argument in favor of removing periods has been addressed, I have changed the page to reflect that periods should not be removed. MANdARAX  XAЯAbИAM 01:48, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

Mc... vs Mac...

Why do we treat these two names as the same when the legal names have diverged and are no longer synonyms? As of now we force the sort key to always be "Mac", but why? --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 02:35, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

See "Mc vs. Mac" above. -- JackofOz (talk) 06:36, 16 April 2009 (UTC)


There is an approval request at Wikipedia:Bots/Requests for approval/tomerbot for a bot that would categorize people based information in lists and on other Wikis. If people familiar with these policies could comment there, it would be appreciated. – Quadell (talk) 13:25, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Cat by work

I thought I saw a FAQ answering this question somewhere, but can't find it. Can someone tell me what the guidelines are regarding putting actors/directors in the category for a book/movie/franchise? I seem to remember that this is frowned upon, since this might lead to cat clutter -- but, then again, if their involvement is key to their career, then it's okay. Or something like that. I'm asking specifically WRT to actors who have appeared in Star Trek -- is it appropriate to include "Star Trek" (or Star Trek actors) as a cat for William Shatner? What about an actor who played a minor character? --EEMIV (talk) 13:27, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

NM; found my answer at Wikipedia:Overcategorization#Performers_by_performance. --EEMIV (talk) 16:40, 7 May 2009 (UTC)


Should Saint, St. and St all be listed together (not as in people who are saints, but people like Pam St. Clement)? I see that some St and St. names are sorted under Saint but many are not, and where they aren't, St names are listed first, then hyphenated names such as Kim St-Pierre and then St. names are last. Shouldn't they all be together? AnemoneProjectors (talk) 23:48, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

I guess nobody knows or cares :) AnemoneProjectors (talk) 13:36, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
They should all be together. The abbreviations "St." or "St" or "St-" should always be spelled out as Saint in the sortkey. Bearcat (talk) 18:45, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Thanks :) AnemoneProjectors (talk) 19:07, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Major Exceptions

I detect a note of Cultural Imperialism in the guideline for DEFAULTSORT. Most people in the world do not have names that fall into the scheme "given-name family-name". Chinese, Koreans and Hungarians, for example, have the scheme "family-name given-name", no comma. Icelanders have the scheme "given-name patronym". Arabs and many others in the Middle East have a scheme that is something like "given name lineage", similar to pre-modern Welsh names, and should be sorted on the given name.

The notion that a name should be sorted as "family-name, given-name" is imposing a specific cultural notion on another culture. Put more simply, it is wrong. When followed it can produce results that are legitimate targets for ridicule. (Until a few months ago all the Ptolemaic kings were sorted by their epithets. Ptolemy I Soter had been sorted for months as "Soter, Ptolemy I".)

Stronger cautions need to be put into the guidelines to warn editors that the mores of their culture or sub-culture are not the laws of the universe and that people can be offended by a misuse of a name. If British Peerage naming customs can be described so that exceptions can be made the other customs should be described so that they are not forced into an alien naming convention.

JimCubb (talk) 06:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Disentangling race & ethnicity

We've a couple of related nominations, intended to help disentangle the many cross-categorization and category intersections that have arisen recently:

Should the first be successful, we must amend the Wikipedia:Naming conventions (categories) and Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons policies and related guidelines to clarify that "race" is not appropriate for categorization.

The second is somewhat dependent on the first. However, the inclusion of ethnic "origin" and "descent" is already against policy without notability, and these should never have been intermixed with the less contentious (more easily verifiable) nationality categories.

--William Allen Simpson (talk) 16:16, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

Biographies of living persons

The wording had gradually diverged from Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons main policy. Therefore, combined nearly identical sections into a Wikipedia:Categorization of people/boilerplate fact policy subpage to prevent any drift from policy language, and to ease editing.

--William Allen Simpson (talk) 18:07, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
  • This action was not popular; transclusion of subpages is not frequently used, despite the support for <onlyinclude> in the software. Therefore, to avoid textual drift, put all our eggs in one basket, and watch that basket.

Sorting where the article title has only first and middle initials with surname

For example, should H. H. Asquith be sorted as "Asquith, H. H." or "Asquith, Herbert Henry"? I always thought it should match the article title because that's how it will appear in the category (and presumably the article title will have the most common form of the name). However, I had such an edit reverted recently by a user who disagrees. Is there an existing policy on this? --Auntof6 (talk) 00:32, 7 June 2009 (UTC)

You're correct. From WP:COP#Ordering names in a category: The sort key should mirror the article's title as closely as possible, while omitting disambiguating terms. MANdARAX  XAЯAbИAM 02:07, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
This may be a case where the policy is misleading. There could be a Harald Asquith or a Hubert Asquith and H. H. Asquith should appear between them, should it not?
The sort value should be disambiguating. It should be as unique as possible, right?
JimCubb (talk) 06:51, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
The sortkey isn't disambiguating, it just moves things into the expected order. If the person is best known as "H. H.", then it's going to be confusing if he's sorted after Harald. If he's best known as "Herbert", then the article should be moved. If there are multiple "H. H."s, then their disambiguators will be visible to disambiguate them, though not used for filing, so they will file randomly in this very small sequence. PamD (talk) 07:06, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
To a degree, the sort key is disambiguating. For people in successions of whatever sort who have the same name, it acts as a disambiguation.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, father and son, were sorted so that the son came above the father because Jr comes before Sr. I have changed both sort values on both articles and the articles talk pages to 01 for the Autocrat of the Breakfast Table and 02 for the Jurist. While this is a nearly trivial case I think it is more important for monarchs and people with the same names in the same "profession" because one would expect to find the older one listed before the younger one.
I admit that expectation of listing order and ease of use facilitation could just be one of my quirks.
JimCubb (talk) 00:46, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
I expect to articles in alphabetical order (with some documented exceptions like the Mc/Mac thing), because the list of articles in a category is not a chronology. I've seen some cases where numbers were used: I changed the sort keys to match the article titles and I have to say I would do so again. --Auntof6 (talk) 03:01, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

by nationality

Surely this has been discussed and dealt with before but I just can't find where. What is the rule for people whose nationality is uncertain? Can a person only be in one nationality category or is more than one possible? If a person is born in a country but later in life moves to another country does he cease to be in his native country's category? Is it based on what passport they hold? As I say, I'm sure this isn't the first time it's been discussed, so could anyone point me in the right direction?--Jeff79 (talk) 12:49, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

A person is allowed to be in as many nationality categories as are appropriate. Note, though, that the birth nationality category should always stay permanently; moved-to nationality categories are applied on the basis of prominence. That is, a native of Germany who moves to Budapest, takes out Hungarian citizenship and lives there for 25 years would be categorized as both German and Hungarian — but he wouldn't also be categorized as Czech on the basis that he lived in Prague for six months before going to Budapest. Bearcat (talk) 18:43, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. But is there anything more concrete than a talk page that you can point me to which can confirms "the birth nationality category should always stay permanently". Seems like something with wide-ranging effects on Wikipedia articles, so might be detailed in a policy somewhere?--Jeff79 (talk) 16:10, 11 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't know if there's an explicit policy spelled out anywhere, so much as there's a standard practice of categorizing people by their formal birth nationality regardless of where else they may have lived as adults. However, that wouldn't be applied to, for example, a German national who was born while his parents were visiting Canada, but who never had any substantive connection to the country otherwise; a person would be categorized only by the nationalities that were prominent in their life in some way. Bearcat (talk) 02:38, 6 May 2010 (UTC)

Sr, Jr, III etc

In the sort order it would make sense to replace these with 01, 02, 03 etc. Rich Farmbrough, 14:40, 1 August 2009 (UTC).

Ethiopian names

Had I known this page existed before now, I would have mentioned this matter instead of reverting bot edits with little more than terse, snide comments: Ethiopian names are being butchered due to ignorance. They do not have surnames, but they do have patronymics. I'd like to direct your attention to Wikipedia:Manual of Style (Ethiopia-related articles)#Proper names, which explains the matter further. Thanks, & I hope I can leave off with the terse, snide edit comments on this matter. -- llywrch (talk) 03:39, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

Location question

Sorry if this has been asked before. Simple - Say we have a person from the United States from anytown, anystate. Is it incorrect to add category "anytown, anystate"? Note that the category "People from anytown, anystate" doesn't exist. The person is already in "People from anycounty, anystate".

Also, the person's presence in the location is not significant at all.

Thank You

--Omarcheeseboro (talk) 13:22, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

If the People from Anytown category doesn't already exist, you can add it to the article if you actually create it right away — what you can't do is leave an article with redlinked categories sitting on it. Note, though, that if you're creating a category for People from Anytown, it replaces the People from Anycounty category on that article.
And while it's preferred that you actually populate the new category by seeking out at least a few other articles that belong in it, you should at least put the {{popcat}} template at the top of the new category page. Bearcat (talk) 18:34, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm realizing now that I missed one more important part of your question: no, an article shouldn't go directly into Anytown's main category if there isn't a subcat for People from Anytown; it should only be in People from Anycounty if that's the situation and you're not inclined to create People from Anytown. Bearcat (talk) 19:12, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

::Thank you Bearcat, but I'm not sure if I explained my question correctly. Perhaps it is best just to give my specific example: Andrew Maynard (boxer). The subject is from Laurel, Maryland, which is in Prince George's County. His presence in Laurel, Maryland is not significant (he's not a politican, has done nothing specific for the town).

I recently added the category "People from Prince George's County, Maryland". Just this morning, a user has added the "Laurel, Maryland" category.
There is currently no category "People from Laurel, Maryland" (for now, I'm not concerned if that category should be created or not). My question is, should the "Laurel, Maryland" cat be removed?
Thanks again. --Omarcheeseboro (talk) 19:13, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Strike that, edit conflict and you answered it! Thanks again! --Omarcheeseboro (talk) 19:14, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Categorization by ethnicity

Hi, is it correct to put Friedrich Welwitsch in the category Austrians of Slovene descent? The article says: "It is known that Welwitsch's mother was a German, while the his father's family is probably of Slovene origin. However, this has not been definitely proven.[2] It is disputed whether Welwitsch spoke Slovene.[1]" --Eleassar my talk 10:52, 7 November 2009 (UTC)

Anything that is not proven, can not be cause for a category. Very simple. If it is sure, but unsourced, see Category:Articles with unsourced categories. Debresser (talk) 16:15, 7 November 2009 (UTC)

Category: Islamic terrorism

Is it ok to list Anwar al-Awlaki in the category "Islamic terrorism" (note: this is not "Islamic terrorist"), where:

  1. he served as VP for an organization that a FBI agent testified was a “front organization to funnel money to terrorists.”
  2. investigators believe he knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance.
  3. his name was placed on an early version of what is now the federal terror watch list.
  4. his name was on a list of 100 prisoners whose release was sought by al Qaida-linked militants.
  5. FBI agents have identified al-Awlaki as a known, important "senior recruiter for al Qaeda".
  6. the U.S. Undersecretary of Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis said he "targets US Muslims with radical online lectures encouraging terrorist attacks."
  7. according to author Jarret Brachman he is a major influence on radical English-speaking jihadis internationally.
  8. terrorism consultant Evan Kohlmann calls him "one of the principal jihadi luminaries for would-be homegrown terrorists. His fluency with English, his unabashed advocacy of jihad and mujahideen organizations, and his Web-savvy approach are a powerful combination."

--Epeefleche (talk) 19:53, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

  • I just realized it might make more sense to post this on the BLP noticeboard, so I've moved my question there -- where (to keep comments in one place) anyone who sees this may go to leave their comments. Many thanks.--Epeefleche (talk) 01:03, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

Category:Left handed people

Could I ask what people think about the idea of creating and populating this category? - Richard Cavell (talk) 03:41, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

It was resoundingly deleted in this cfd, although there is Category:Southpaw boxers. Occuli (talk) 21:32, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
Noted. Thanks for the reply. I note that the list that is referenced in that discussion has also been deleted since. - Richard Cavell (talk) 09:34, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

buildings, awards, etc., named for a person

What is the policy for sorting a building, award, etc., that is named for a person, e.g., Lt. Raymond Enners Award, Adam Jones Federal Building? Should it be sorted by surname (even though the article is not about the person) or should it be sorted by the first name of the article? Eagle4000 (talk) 21:51, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

This is relevant though inconclusive :Wikipedia talk:Categorization/Archive 9#sorting: things named after people, for what its worth I believe they should be sorted on the first name of the article... GrahamHardy (talk) 18:39, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
The following is an adaptation of a comment I made with regard to buildings on the Help Desk:
I'm of the opinion that such things are best sorted by surname. If one goes to the National Historic Landmarks page for the Samuel J. Tilden House, one will see that the page is titled "Tilden, Samuel J., House". And buildings that have official names like, for instance, John G. Shedd Aquarium are almost always referred to with common names like Shedd Aquarium, though in some cases the WP articles may be titled with the more formal names.
I think that someone looking through a category would expect to find our article on the Nicholas Jarrot Mansion under J rather than under N. And the refs in Lt. Raymond Enners Award seem to indicate that the award is frequently referred to as the Enners Award, so the same reasoning would appear to apply there. Deor (talk) 22:05, 31 March 2010 (UTC)