Wikipedia talk:Overcategorization/User categories

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Would you like some help?[edit]

Excellent start. Would you like some help, or would you prefer waiting for such collaboration after it's been moved to Wikipedia space? - jc37 21:40, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

Help? Yes, please! :) I was planning on asking you, Horologium, VegaDark, Kbdank, et al. to share your thoughts after I'd brought it to a more complete state, so... Black Falcon (Talk) 22:48, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

A thought[edit]

After looking this page over quite a bit, I think that this is probably better as a user category version of Wikipedia:Overcategorisation. Would you be opposed to this being moved to Wikipedia:Overcategorization/User categories? - jc37 16:09, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

Not at all, if there is support for (or, at least, no opposition to) it. Black Falcon (Talk) 17:47, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
Ok, moved. Also merged a few things to Wikipedia:User categories. - jc37 00:57, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedians by interest[edit]

You wrote "This includes any grouping of users by interest in a subject – that is, interest in editing articles related to a certain topic".

If interest equals willingness to edit articles about a subject, then I have no specific interests.

If people have to categorize themselves by what they are willing to edit, then rename the categories to Category:Wikipedians who will edit subject. To make the category names shorter, drop "Wikipedians who will edit" in favor of Category:Editors of subject.

You won't need to keep many categories at that point. What would be the point of having categories relating to which schools users are attached to since not many schools have more than one article? The same will be true of the musical instrument user categories. The language categories could be deleted. If they edit another language Wikipedia, their user pages would be attached to the other language through the multilingual links on the left. The WikiProject categories could go, since those would basically be repeats of the main editor categories. Some categories would empty out rather quickly.

An article threshold would have to be established before a subject category for editors could be created. In my opinion there should be at least 21 articles before a category is created for the editors of those articles.

I wonder how many people have left Wikipedia because of the sterilization of these categories? I have heard of places like MySpace and Facebook but have no interest in them. I have a web site which I have put most of my interests on, but it is in the boondocks of the web. I use various forums, but those don't serve all of my needs. Wikipedia prior to the sterilization of these categories did serve my needs. I was able to find like minded people who I could chat with outside of Wikipedia. Getting rid of some of the purely social aspects of Wikipedia may not be a good idea. This used to be a place where I could get valuable information while being in a relaxed atmosphere. It seems that the new direction is to put everyone in metaphorical straight jackets. - LA @ 18:08, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

There is no need to adopt an "all-or-nothing" approach. Attempting to utilise user categories for collaboration is always a probability game; however, we should distinguish between cases where the chances that a category will facilitate collaboration are virtually zero and those where they are slightly or significantly higher. There is no guarantee that the users in an interest category will actually want to collaborate on certain articles, but there's a chance, since "interest" often can and does imply "encyclopedic interest".
The utility of the language categories lies in the ability of users to translate; again, there's no guarantee that any user will actually agree to translate something, but it's possible. (Incidentally, one does not need to edit another-language Wikipedia in order to be able to help translation with the English Wikipedia. I can and have translated information from a few languages, yet only edit on en.wikipedia.) As for the musical instrument categories, I don't endorse their existence, but perhaps they can be useful in procuring free audio samples.
I do not know whether anyone has left Wikipedia because his/her favourite user category was deleted, but I do know of a few who have left (or gone on extended wikibreak) because of the perceived MySpace-isation of Wikipedia (someone even posted on WP:AN/I not too long ago). One thing I note from the way your comment is written is that you view the deletion of user categories to be an inherently bad thing, and it seems to me that, to a certain extent, you seek to preserve user categories for the sake of preservation itself. For me, user categorisation is a means to an end, not an end in itself; the existence of thousands of random categories unrelated to encyclopedic collaboration undermines the utility of user categories as collaborative tools. Black Falcon (Talk) 18:40, 6 March 2008 (UTC)
I am not categorically against the deletion of user categories. I think that there was once a user category for editors who edited while barefoot. That is a bit too fluffy for me, so I wouldn't object to its deletion if it were ever recreated.
Using Category:Wikipedians who play Dungeons & Dragons as an example of why fan-ish categories can be useful, let's say that someone is looking through recent changes and sees an article related to Dungeons & Dragons that seems to have been vandalized but isn't sure. Instead of reverting the article, this editor looks for someone who knows the game by going to the category above, choosing a user at random (me), and leaving a message on my talk page asking for a my opinion before reversion.
I go to the article and look at the changes. I find that it was vandalized by several people who edited it. The previous editor of the article went through it and replaced all of the long forms of abbreviations with the abbreviations. I know what the abbreviations mean but know that not everyone does. I go through the history and see that this has been going on for a while. Since there were some good edits between the bad, it can't be reverted back too far. So, I can go into the article and expand all of the abbreviations and write up brief inline definitions of what the terms mean.
If I had been in a category which just stated interest, the first editor would not know which users know the game through playing and which users haven't a clue but want to learn.
I hope all of that made sense. - LA @ 14:29, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
It did, and I appreciate the detailed example. I diagree on one point, though: someone who plays a game is not necessarily more knowledgeable about it than someone who has an interest in a game (e.g. consider the case of new players). Moreover, I think that the knowledge likely to be possessed by players of a game is different from the knowledge likely to be possessed by those interested in a game. Players of a game could be expected to know about the game itself, whereas those interested in a game may know about the real-world significance of the game (e.g. reception, sales).
My concern with "who play" categories is that they often exist as a user page notice only, where a user has no desire, ability, or willingness to help to improve an article, even if solicited. Perhaps this reflects, to a certain extent, my personal situation. I have played many (card, board, and video) games, yet have little first-hand knowledge of them that would be useful for improving articles. On the other hand, I do have a substantial interest in topics related to Africa, despite the fact that I'm neither currently in or originally from the contintent.
Returning to the categories at hand (D&D and the other game categories), I will remain neutral on those in light of your example, except where there are other factors involved (e.g. if collaborative potential is limited to 1-2 articles). I still feel that an "interest" category would be more effective (and that, perhaps, deletion without prejudice to creating an interest category is a good option), but I can see your point. Cheers, Black Falcon (Talk) 17:50, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
I agree with BF on the "desire, ability, or willingness to help" issue. I've always said a wikiproject is far superior to randomly asking people for help. People only join wikiprojects when they are interested in collaboration. People who join will usually watchlist the project, so anyone needing assistance can go to one place and ask for it, and is relatively assured of getting a response. Now compare that to randomly asking people for help because they are in a user category. There is not only no way to tell if they have the desire, ability, or willingness to help, but there is no way of knowing when they will get your request for help. You'd have to essentially spam everyone in the category to have a chance of getting a useful response, which will make you unpopular pretty quickly. Add that to the fact that most people are only in user categories because they have a userbox on their userpage. That's like asking me for help about automobile articles because my dealer put one of their stickers on my car. Finally, wikiprojects add a template to article and category talk pages. You immediately know where to go for help. As opposed to user categories, which are not advertised as a place to go for reference or assistance. Even if you knew about user categories, how long would it take to research a) whether or not a D&D user category even exists, b) figure out what is the exact name so you can find it? You are better off just doing the research yourself, you'll waste less time. --Kbdank71 16:50, 8 April 2008 (UTC)


In looking over the various "literature through various media" cats, it seems there is a "trend" or convention to delete individual titles, but to retain a series. "By genre" seems also to be retainable. As well, retaining, "by author" (books), or "by director" (film). People such as Aaron Spelling, Glen A. Larson, Garry Marshall, and Sherwood Schwartz, might also be good examples for television (should such categories ever be created).

I wonder if there is a way to "work this in", of if it might be "too specific" (even though I would guess that these consist of a rather large "bulk" of the categories). - jc37 17:57, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

Links and examples[edit]

One thing that had (as I recall, unanimous) consensus at WP:OC, was to not have redlinks as examples, but to link the examples to the discussion resulting in the deletion. We should follow that example here. Any help doing this would be welcome : ) - jc37 19:20, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

Is this what you had in mind? Black Falcon (Talk) 23:58, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes. (Linking the examples turned out to be very effective at Wikipedia:Overcategorization.)
We should probably move the examples to the top of each section as well (matching OC's layout). - jc37 01:51, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
Hmm, maybe not. In most cases, you were rather effective in how you did the examples "case-by-case". I dunno. - jc37 01:55, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

Central policy on user categories[edit]

Of all the pages that discuss User Categories, it seems that Wikipedia:Overcategorization/User categories is the most useful.

Other pages include:

I think some tidying is in order. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 12:50, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

I suppose that this page could be merged to Wikipedia:User categories, which provides mainly basic information offering context for links to other pages with more detailed information. I'm not sure what ought to or can be done with the inactive pages. I noticed, by the way, that Wikipedia:User categories#Syntax for including user categories in a userbox needs to be updated to mention {{Userbox}}. -- Black Falcon (talk) 16:16, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
I think we can ignore the historical pages/discussions, when considering "too many pages". And I'm kinda on the fence about merging, since WP:USERCAT is mostly about usage, naming conventions and syntax. That said, it wouldn't be too difficult to add that to the WP:OC/U page and merge the two. But since the two do have a decidedly different set of things they cover, I'm not sure that's the best path.
Regardless, I've templated the two for merging. - jc37 21:16, 8 November 2010 (UTC)


Per the above, suggesting to merge WP:OC/U to WP:USERCAT.

It would essentially be adding the other 3 sections of WP:USERCAT to this page, and then moving this page to there.

I considered moving WP:USERCAT to a subpage of Wikipedia:Naming conventions (categories). But it's now a redirect to Wikipedia:Category names. And I don't think renaming "User categories" to "User category names" is helpful or entirely accurate. - jc37 21:16, 8 November 2010 (UTC)

Did the merge. If needed, it can be easily undone.
Please feel free to note any concerns. - jc37 21:37, 8 November 2010 (UTC)
Neat. I was concerned that merging the pages might make the resulting page too long, but it's currently less than 16 KB. -- Black Falcon (talk) 04:19, 9 November 2010 (UTC)
Changed it so that this page transcludes to WP:USERCAT. That gives the best of both worlds, I think. - jc37 05:42, 9 November 2010 (UTC)
Would redirecting to the section in WP:USERCAT break incoming links (e.g., WP:OC/U#not-based)? -- Black Falcon (talk) 19:50, 12 November 2010 (UTC)
The link in your example still seems to work. And WP:USERCAT#not-based seems to work as well.
Though maybe I'm not understanding your question? - jc37 10:38, 24 November 2010 (UTC)
I reread my question and I can see that I didn't express it clearly. What I meant to ask was: Would converting Wikipedia:Overcategorization/User categories into a redirect to Wikipedia:User categories#Overcategorization break links such as WP:OC/U#not-based? -- Black Falcon (talk) 00:06, 25 November 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure, to be honest. Having two # in a single link (which is what the result could be) would probably not be handled well. Though, as I said, I'm unsure.
That aside, I think having this here semantically ties it (in a way) to WP:OC, which I think could be a good thing.
I think it helps especially in that sometimes commenters forget that Wikipedian categories are still categories. - jc37 00:21, 25 November 2010 (UTC)
That's a good point. In addition to the guidance that is specific to user categories, several of the points in WP:OC (such as WP:OC#ARBITRARY) apply equally to user and content categories. -- Black Falcon (talk) 06:37, 25 November 2010 (UTC)

Inappropriate example[edit]

Below is a sample of the page overleaf containing (as you can see) an example of an all-inclusive category that would not be appropriate to create. "Wikipedians who walk" is clearly not going to be all-inclusive and frankly the example is tasteless and (if taste doesn't matter) simply doesn't demonstrate the point it is there to demonstrate. My alteration from "...walk" to "...respire" was undone.

Inappropriate types of user categories

Since the purpose of user categories is to facilitate improvement of the encyclopedia, categorisation on the basis of any characteristic (including particular abilities, interests, knowledge, or skills) that has no or limited relevance to the encyclopedia is inappropriate. Some examples include:

  • Categories that are all-inclusive

This includes any grouping of users on the basis of something that may be a characteristic of most or all Wikipedia users (e.g. Wikipedians who use the Internet, Wikipedians who use personal computers, Wikipedians who play video games), or humans more generally (e.g. Wikipedians who walk, Citizens of Milky Way).

I recently changed the example to "Wikipedians who respire" since all living things respire. Not all Wikipedians walk (don't bother with the citation needed crap). I'd like good sense to prevail, and the example to be changed to something as uncontentious as "Wikipedians who edit Wikipedia". The change I already made was an attempt to keep the idea of a biological constant that links all Wikipedians (as walking attempts fails to do), whilst offering an unarguable constant. If a shift away from a biological constant is needed to satisfy all comers, so be it. But, "Wikipedians who walk" has simply got to go. They would be a sub category, just as "Wikipedians who don't walk" would be. fredgandt 21:43, 16 January 2012 (UTC)

You oppose the example being "Wikipedians who respire" because that is not the human default? I can assure you it is. Someone born without the use of their legs (or indeed born without legs) would (I'm sure) be far from pleased to hear that they are somehow less than Human. The purpose of the example is to show that there is simply no point creating some categories, since all users could be in that category. Thus, any chance that the example category could have any omissions, makes it less that suitable as an example of an all-encompassing category. The main reason I believe the example should be changed is that it is presently insulting to those who cannot walk. It should be an example that doesn't exclude any user. After all, that is precisely what the example is supposed to be demonstrating. fredgandt 07:18, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
So I see two problems here:
  1. Whether the choice of language should be motivated by the goal of the policy or by the will to please disabled people.
  2. What is the purpose of the section. The answer will either allow or disallow categories like Wikipedians who walk, Wikipedians with eyes, Wikipedians with hands, Wikipedians with legs, Wikipedians who lives longer then a year, Wikipedians who have appendix, Wikipedians who don't suffer from mental retardation and so on.
For me the answers are pretty evident: I don't want neither to humiliate the disabled people with pretending that I don't notice physical differences nor to hurt Wikipedia with myriad of useless categories. — Dmitrij D. Czarkoff (talk) 08:01, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
I also don't want either. That's why I suggest we use an example that does both jobs. It indicates that all Wikipedians would be in that category, so there is no point creating it, whilst not insulting anyone excluded from what is being given as an all-encompassing example. I can't understand why "Wikipedians who respire" is such a contentious idea for an example. I'm open to a better suggestion but, cannot accept any example that is by default exclusive, since it is neither a good example or a tasteful example. fredgandt 08:48, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
As I get it, the categories that include all Wikipedians is too narrow reading of the guideline. In contrast, the categories, which generally apply to Wikipedians as whole are the thing to be deprecated. Thus your example only fuels the concept, while eg. Wikipedians who have appendix would do the right job indicating that as long as most people normally have vermiform appendix, this category is senseless. — Dmitrij D. Czarkoff (talk) 10:31, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────So "Citizens of Milky Way" also isn't a good example since all Wikipedians live here? The examples are provided to show (as is stated) that "all-inclusive" categories shouldn't exist. fredgandt 18:57, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

I think you are getting the "all-inclusive" thing too literal. There are two excellent examples in the paragraph: Wikipedians who use personal computers and Wikipedians who play video games. Both categories don't include all Wikipedians, but they describe the default Wikipedian and thus are useless. I would indeed consider the Citizens of Milky Way a bad choice both for the weakness of illustrative purpose and for the word "citizens" which, if read literally, actually exclude almost all Wikipedians. — Dmitrij D. Czarkoff (talk) 21:30, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

Wikipedians who respire. "who walk" instantly makes editors think of counterexamples. Nobody Ent 14:58, 28 January 2012 (UTC)

Hi. I personally think this is an incredible tempest in a teapot. Just as not every human on earth plays video games, neither does every human on earth walk. The point of the examples was apparently missed. But regardless, since it was just an example, and other examples are possible, I just removed the example for now. - jc37 03:49, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

  • "This includes any grouping of users on the basis of something that may be a characteristic of most or all Wikipedia users" (emphasis added) - Thus, the example was perfectly valid - "Most" Wikipedians walk, and it's a good example of a category we shouldn't have. I think your main issue is that, obviously, Wikipedians who walk is not literally all-inclusive. "All-inclusive" is not intended to be interpreted literally, replace that with "most-inclusive" would be a better literal wording, but that would be worded very awkwardly which is why "all-inclusive" was made the section title of those types of categories. If you really want, include both the "who respire" and "who walk" examples, but the "who walk" should absolutely stay IMO to convey that even categories where merely most of Wikipedians would apply also are inappropriate. VegaDark (talk) 20:26, 2 February 2012 (UTC)