Wikipedia talk:People by year

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Wikipedia:People by year:
  • Rewrite main page/improve layout
  • Build/better present separate maintenance lists for
    • incoherences
    • bot errors
    • missing year categories in biography articles
    • sortkeys (for these categories and others)
    • expansion/overview lists by field/nationality (e.g. Canadians)
    • stats
  • Automatize rebuilding of stats/maintenance lists
  • Improve layout of Template:birthyr Template:deathyr
  • Automatize addition of interwikis (similar to year pages)
  • Add sql to build lists like Canadians for other fields/nationalities
  • Build lists of birthdays etc from category and initial article text (request from PedanticallySpeaking)
  • convert Template:Lived to categories
For the September 2004 debate about deletion, see /Delete.

Just a thought: it would be less ugly, and more sensible, if these additions were put AFTER existing categories. Norris Bradbury is more usefully a participant in the Category:Manhattan Project first and a Category:1997 deaths second. I'm not sure if this sort of logic is codified officially with the categories or not (better/more useful categories going first), but it ought to be, and this will make this People by year thing less annoying (it is really annoying to write a biography on somebody and then have them categorized primarily by the year of their death, as if that was really the most important aspect of their life!). Edward Teller is more importantly a Category:Physicists first, and a Category:2003 deaths second! It's insulting to do it otherwise, and even if "left-most is first-most" is not official, it certainly reads that way in English. --Fastfission 00:18, 22 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I agree, even though I think that the page about category style says that categories should be given in alphabetic order, ie numbers first. ✏ Sverdrup 19:48, 22 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I agree also. Alphabetical order makes sense if there is no other logical ordering, but it's silly to list categories such as birth year and year of death before more significant categories such as profession. The first category listed should be the one of most use to people unfamiliar with the topic—or at least, it shouldn't be a birth or death year (which implies that the person's birth or death is what makes them most interesting). --[[User:Aranel|Aranel ("Sarah")]] 19:55, 22 Sep 2004 (UTC)
The current ordering works as follows:
  • pywikipediabot removes all categories and interwiki links form the text, than readds them after the article text in alphabetical order (/a predefined order for interwikis). Thus it's likely that the sort order will be changed on the update of the interwikis as well.
  • If a category is added through a template (e.g. Template:1911, Template:Bio-stub) that category will appear before all the others.
Personally I prefer the current order, but I use the "Cologne Blue" skin displaying the categories on the top right corner, there the ideal sort is probably different. For Monobook (which aligns that categories on the bottom of the page), I agree that the year categories are not necessarily the ones needing to be listed first, but I think they are preferable to the Category:1911 Britannica which may preceed them.
Either way, the D6 wont change articles which already have both categories. -- User:Docu
It seems that you are also inserting deaths before births... needless to say I find this to be a little silly. Can't you just make it add the categories, first birth, then death, after the existing categories? It would save a lot of cleanup for those of us who care about such things... --Fastfission 23:14, 22 Sep 2004 (UTC)
As the order is alphabetical, the birth category should always come first (Robert_R._Wilson did have a leading space on one of the category names). As not all lists in Wikipedia contain both years, some people do have only a category for their year of death added first. I will do a query to find those who are supposed to have died before being born. The checks before uploading the categories didn't show any. It's possible though, that multiple lists in Wikipedia list the same article for two different people. Another query will show those with multiple years of death/birth. -- User:Docu

Where is this style guideline mentioned above for the order that categories appear on a page? From what I could see, Wikipedia:Categories contains no such thing. Within a category, alphabetical is the rule of thumb, obviously, but as for the categories that appear on an article? Alphabetical is totally arbitrary and makes no sense. As categories function as classifications on an article, categories should be ordered by their relative importance to the page. The more important categories are the ones central to why the article was likely written in the first place, the categories that you are most likely to be looking for. Otherwise, a slew of trivial categories could obscure the more important ones, and the year that someone is born in is very trivial compared to what notable things they have done in their lives. The birth and death ones should go last in order. Postdlf 04:23, 23 Sep 2004 (UTC)

It's not really a style guideline, it's just the way pywikipediabot works. In order to avoid undoing an in depth sorting that may have been done, I will try to avoid adding the categories to articles which have already more than two (not template based) categories.
(Read: by bot (D6) at the beginning of articles) -- User:Docu
Further, I will check manually articles that already have tons of categories, e.g. Lyndon B. Johnson. -- User:Docu
I'm not convinced that having the birth/death categories listed first is any improvement over not having them at all. --[[User:Aranel|Aranel ("Sarah")]] 19:19, 23 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Personally I prefer this, but I wouldn't to impose this on carefully sorted long lists of categories. BTW I saw one that listed them chronologically. -- User:Docu
I removed the articles with more than three existing categories from the upload list. There are now about 80 that need to be added manually at the appropriate place (beginning, end, chronologically, e.g.): Wikipedia:People by year/Reports/Manual_categories. -- User:Docu

The Birth and Death categories shouldn't be added at all right now. This move was nearly unilateral on the part of Docu, even in the face of numberous objections in Category talk:Years and previous WP:CFD discussions. Docu wrote this page, but did not solicate advice before setting his bot to perform hundreds of edits. -- Netoholic @ 04:41, 2004 Sep 23 (UTC)
I agree as stated on the years talk page. Docu should also sign his name with date, preferably. Cool Hand Luke 18:39, 23 Sep 2004 (UTC)
At the very least, the script should be stopped for now to put birth/death categories at the end. Humans are much better at evaluating the importance of these categories, and I think Docu realizes this with the way he fixed Joseph Smith Jr. for example. Cool Hand Luke 18:50, 23 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I'm also concerned about articles that already have too many categories. (For example, J. R. R. Tolkien, where with the addition of birth and death categories, the category list in the default style goes onto two lines with my resolution. I don't even want to think about what happens to folks with their resolution set to 800x600.) We had already been discussing eliminating some categories from the Tolkien article. The last thing we need is to add more. --[[User:Aranel|Aranel ("Sarah")]] 13:15, 23 Sep 2004 (UTC)
J. R. R. Tolkien doesn't have that many categories. As long as all the categories are appropriate and of some significance to the article's topic, there shouldn't be an arbitrary limit on the number of categories. Would anyone support a limit saying that all list articles should contain no more than 25 items in the list? Nope. And categories shouldn't be limited simply because they take up multiple lines on the page. —Mike 23:31, Sep 23, 2004 (UTC)
Yes they should be. They are clutter. List articles are specifically designed to list things, so it's a poor comparison. Everyking 21:31, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I agree with Netoholic; I have expressed my opposition to and annoyance with these categories on several occasions and I've been more or less ignored. It's very irritating to have to wade through hundreds of these edits every day, and even more so when you believe that they are essentially useless and a waste of time and space. Besides, as is being noted here, they aren't even always being added properly. Everyking 20:04, 23 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I too dislike the categories.

Could someone at least redesign the old Wikipedia skin, which some of us still prefer, to put the categories at the bottom? It looks just awful when there's a batch of them on top. Opus33 03:48, 25 Sep 2004 (UTC)

An option to somehow hide less-interesting categories on a page if so desired would help here, i think; the person would still be in the category, but won't clutter up the category box on the page. Pyrop 22:03, Sep 26, 2004 (UTC)

I'm in general agreement with Netaholic. We need to develop much better guidelines about when categories should be used.

Adding a category adds size to every constituent article, whereas a list keeps its size to itself. For this reason, I think there should be some threshold of specific relevance of a category to an article which must be met before a category is added. For example, an article on the U.S. Democratic Party would clearly belong in a category of U.S. political parties, but not in a category called "things than begin with D" or "organizations with which Bill Clinton has been involved".

Really, if we are to have Category:1909 births, why not Category:People Stm-Stn and such things? Lists have worked for those, and they can work for birth/death years as well. --Saforrest 18:24, Oct 12, 2004 (UTC)

person category[edit]

When a person has their own category, do we place the year categories in the person's article or in the person's category? --Joy [shallot] 21:38, 29 Sep 2004 (UTC)

The various queries work much better if the categories are on the article (e.g Nikola Tesla), rather than the person's category (e.g Category:Nikola Tesla). Thus, I'd prefer if they are added to the article. Besides, with the category on the article, it's more likely some corrects a year. -- User:Docu

Template for the description of Birth/Death categories[edit]

Seems the birth/death by year, by decade, and perhaps by century categories could be templates. Has anyone suggested this before? I suspect it would make life far easier for versions of wikipedia in other languages. Rick Block 00:24, 17 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Are you referring to the text on Category:1911 births? Last time I tried, templates like {{birthyr|1911}} didn't quite work. -- User:Docu
Yes. I ask after noticing template:cat more which uses {{{1}}} to refer to the part following the "|". Seems like there should be a way to work out something like {{birthyr|1911|1910s}} using {{{1}}} to refer to "1911" and {{{2}}} to refer to "1910s" (for i18n purposes, I suspect {{birthyr|1910|1911}} supplying the "s" in the template would be better). I haven't tried this, but according to m:Template it should work. -- Rick Block 15:17, 17 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Some time ago, I made Template:Yearcat, but that was easy. Let's try: template:birthyr: {{birthyr|1911|1910}}


It .. doesn't seem to work. -- User:Docu
After a change .. it does work. Great! I think maybe I will start using it for 16th century cats. -- User:Docu
Possibly, it could even be shorter, e.g. {{deathyr|191|1}} (e.g. Category:1911_deaths). -- User:Docu
Right at the moment, template:birthyr and template:deathyr have different usages. Are you intending to normalize these? I gather the bot has not been adding categories referring to these templates (yet). Are you intending to do this soon? User:Aranel is adding birth/death by year categories - I mentioned these templates to her. Is there perhaps some better place to move the discussion about these templates? -- Rick Block 20:12, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)
To Wikipedia talk:People by year? If you want I could let it run tomorrow for categories without descriptions and possibly later, to update existing categories. The delicate thing would be not to overwrite interlanguage links that have been added since. Shall we use {{deathyr|191|1}} ? -- User:Docu
I think it's marginally more readable as {{deathyr|1911|1910}}. The "by decade" categories could be done similary, e.g. {{deathdecade|1910|20th}}. Looking at Wikipedia talk:People by year it seems there isn't consensus about the whole concept of these categories (I actually find them a little odd). If we're to have them, I think they should use templates. -- Rick Block 23:09, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Maybe we could have just one with multiple uses, e.g. {{deathyrs|1911| |1910s}} {{deathyrs|1910s|the|20th century}} . The one suggested {{deathyr|1911|1910}} is ok with me.
BTW you might want to have a look at People_by_year/Delete as well. The extent of one of the main problems (duplicate categories with different sortkeys) has now been quantified (0.2% of articles) and even corrected (People_by_year/Reports/Multiple_cats), others aren't specific to these categories (sorting, who should be adding them, etc.). -- User:Docu
One more note on this - I added some "by year" categories (before about 1000 A.D.) that don't roll up into "by decade" but directly to "by century" and some even earlier ones (e.g. category:63 BC births) that roll up directly into the "by millenium" categories. Using the "by year" templates for these will necessitate creating the referenced "by decade" (etc.) categories whether or not there's truly a need. Seems like there should be years before which the "by decade" and possibly even the "by century" categories disappear. Thoughts on this? -- Rick Block 23:18, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Possibly, a more flexible template would be preferable (the one suggested above: {{deathyrs|63 BC|the|1st century BC}})? As I started out adding categories to specific years in the 20th century, then to people born since 1800, later 1700, 1600, currently 1500, I didn't get that far yet ... -- User:Docu

Yesterday, I added a navigation bar to Template:deathyr. To use this, we'd need to go with the shorter version ({{deathyr|191|1}}) though. For earlier years, I suppose we could add the century category directly into the category as well. This would make it fairly easy to implement. What do you think of it? --- User:Docu

Seems like using this we could dispense with the "by decade" categories and have the "by century" categories be a compact table (like the navbar) listing all years in the century. The same technique could be applied to the year number categories as well. Adding "<<" and ">>" links on the right and left in the navbar to the preceding and following years (e.g. 7 (number), done with a different template for each 10 numbers!) would be good as well. As far as the arguments go, I think I'd prefer {{deathyr|1911|191}} (more characters, but less clever). Doing the "<<" and ">>" links could be done with two more arguments (1909 and 1920, or 190 and 192, in the case of 1911). I haven't looked at the mediawiki source, but this would be easier if the template syntax supported arithmetic operations, There seem to be some variables that are supported (e.g. PAGENAME), generalizing this to functions shouldn't be impossible. -- Rick Block 16:47, 24 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I've reformatted category:20th century deaths as a table (not yet using a template). What do you think? -- Rick Block 14:41, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Come to think of it, the "by century" table should probably be an article rather than a category, in which case perhaps the "by year" categories should only be subcategories of the relevant year with a link to the "by century" article which in turn would be in the master "births/deaths by year" category. -- Rick Block 16:20, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)
AFAIK there are no artithematic operations available for templates yet, but the bot, when adding/updating category description can do those. Obviously, I'd prefer to keep the template as simple as possible, so there is a chance that we can edit it by hand, too.
Even if the layout options for tables (and regular pages) are much more conveniant, I think we should keep a basic category structure that fits in with the others of Category:Years. I think it's debatable if/how we should use the decade categories. Anyways, we can still have tables of categories in other namespace, e.g. /Reports/Stats. -- User:Docu

Lived template[edit]

Consider the Template:lived which I created~, please:

Usage: {{lived|b=1979|d=2079|key=Katsaris, Aris}}

I've already replaced some categs in some articles with this template (see Special:Whatlinkshere/Template:Lived) and it works fine.

Aris Katsaris 18:55, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)

You could do even shorter, e.g. {{lived|1979|2979|Katsaris, Aris}}. This would condense even more the space used. It would further settle the debate where the category will be listed (last, chronologically, alphabetically) as template based categories ususally precede the others.
As eventually the information used might be included in a more extensive template/markup system, I'm not sure if the additional complication is worth it. Besides the usual category links currently used are easier for pywikipediabot/D6 to add/maintain.
BTW I tried {{lived|b=1979|d=|key=Katsaris, Aris}} and it created a link to Category:Deaths (for people who disappeared this might be reasonable though).

BC births/deaths[edit]

How are these dealt with? A statement concerning this should be present on the main project page. Particularly in relation to template usage (or non-usage)--ZayZayEM 13:47, 6 Feb 2005 (UTC)

People by name[edit]

How about setting up a similar project by name (primarily surname). I would hope that this would allow people to find the name of people whos firstname they have forgotten. If this proves effective, a similar project for Christian names could be established. --Oldak Quill 19:12, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)

There already is List of people by name. Besides, the categories here can be used to build an alphabetical list, e.g. Wikipedia:People_by_year/Reports/All (first 1000 of 70000, the beginning of the list has/had the sortkey wrong). For this list to be complete, we would need to add a category to articles without years of birth/category. -- User:Docu

born/died/occupation template[edit]

Before I saw this talk page, I created Template:bio-cats because I was creating lots of short bios for the Wikipedia:Nuttall Encyclopedia topics project, and wanted to save typing. Example:

{{bio-cats|1703|1768|French mathematicians|Deparcieux, Antoine}}

although, confusingly, I put the occupation first in the expansion, because I thought of "bio" mnemonically as "birth, interment, occupation". I don't quite follow the arguments against such a practice though. David Brooks 04:32, 1 October 2005 (UTC)


Socks (cat) was born in 1991, so I added him to Category:1991 births. Is this appropriate or inappropriate? Discuss. – Quadell (talk) (bounties) 22:03, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

Inappropriate. Every entry with a date of birth and no date of death is supposed to have a Living people category, but animals aren't people! - Runcorn 23:48, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
Well, I don't think animals should be in a "living people" category. Perhaps they should be in a "living animals" category, but that's not really that important. I just think, when looking through who was born the year I was, it would be just as interesting to see Koko the Gorilla as it would to see Madonna. It would just be an additional piece of information. (Keep in mind that there are relatively few encyclopedic animals, so there will never be that many.) – Quadell (talk) (bounties) 00:20, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
The birth/death year categories are meant for people, not animals. Thus it would be inappropriate. -- User:Docu
Sounds like a tautology. "It's supposed to be for people, therefore it's supposed to be for people." The category can be for whatever consensus decides. Why limit it to people? I don't understand. – Quadell (talk) (bounties) 13:06, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

Categorization involving circa dates[edit]

What is the rule for assigning birth and death categories when you have a situation like the following: x person (b. c. 1091; d. c. 1155)?

do you put it in 1090s births and 1150s deaths or 1091 births and 1155 deaths? My impulse has been to put them into the nearest year possible as I expect readers would expect that. Please advise --FeanorStar7 23:37, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

I was just about to ask exactly the same question. The page seems a little ambiguous as it says
"Year of birth/death is approximate.
Use the categories by year (e.g., Category:2005 births, Category:2005 deaths).
Year of birth is unknown.
Use the categories by century, e.g. Category:20th century births.
Use Category:Year of birth missing. "
If the birthdate is approximate then in reality it is not known. I suppose what it means is if it's "really unknown" as in we don;t even have an age at death? Gustav von Humpelschmumpel 23:46, 8 July 2007 (UTC)

Alphabetization in the Cat[edit]

Anyone have a problem with changing {{subcat guideline|style guideline|Categorization}} to {{subcat guideline|style guideline|People by year}}? The only difference is where it shows up alphabetically, such as in a listing of all the articles in the style guideline category, and there isn't anything else that alphabetizes as a "category", so it's a category without a category. - Dan Dank55 (talk) 20:45, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

Moving from style guideline to editing guideline[edit]

As is says in the first line, this page is a spinoff of Wikipedia:Categorization of people. That's an editing guideline, and this article has the same type of material, so I'm guessing this should be an editing guideline, too. Revert me if I'm wrong. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 03:16, 27 April 2008 (UTC)


In the following case:

"Nathan Pennypacker Stauffer (January 1, 1875 – June 6, 1959) was an early American football coach in the United States."

and others like it, is there written guidance as to how to categorize by year? Currently even though there is an exact birth and death date, the categories are 19th-century births and 20th-century deaths. I assume this is because the dates are not sourced or justified. But I have seen cases where there are no justifications for dates and exact birth and death categories are used. Please advise. Thank you--User:FeanorStar7 09:08, 31 December 2012‎ (UTC)

The people-by-decade category 1870s births is nine years old but it and its siblings are not mentioned in the crucial section 2 that instructs category assignment. Instead the instruction is to use people-by-year on the one hand --including "Year of birth/date is approximate", as well as known, a matter under discussion immediately below-- and people-by-century on the other hand.
I suppose the by-year category should be used whenever we give the year of birth or death in the article (text, infobox, notes) without qualification. "Sourcing" is another matter. If anything, doubt about a vital date --including doubt for mere lack of a source-- should be visible elsewhere in the article (text, infobox, notes) before it justifies omitting the category. Why should the use of people-by-decade or by-century categories, or unknown, missing, etc, have higher priority as a way to express doubt?
In the next section Andy & Obi evidently support equal priority: use the precise category if and only if the article uses the precise year.
--P64 (talk) 22:58, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

Ambiguity vs accuracy[edit]

The ambiguous clause

Year of birth/death is approximate.

Use the categories by year (e.g., Category:2005 births, Category:2005 deaths).

is being as an argument for moving a subject who we know was born in 1982 or 1983 from Category:1980s births to Category:1982 births. This is surely not what was intended; it is definitely not sensible. Can the wording be clarified? Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 18:53, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

I now see that the same issue was raised above, six years ago, but remains unanswered. I'll post a neutral pointer to this discussion, on one or more of the busier MoS talk pages. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 22:53, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
why don't we change it to say 'Use the categories by year; if the exact year isn't known but the decade or century is, you can add one of those categories instead.--Obi-Wan Kenobi (talk) 00:02, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
The smallest accurate era-category could be very large. Suppose a person is only known to have been born sometime between 1490 and 1510: Category:2nd-millennium CE births seems scarcely sensible. One solution might be a special series of cats for these, e.g. Category:Uncertain births circa 1500, Category:Uncertain births circa 1982. In general, I should think that it better not to categorize at all if the only available choices are inaccurate.—Odysseus1479 04:44, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
I arrived here after a little edit war on an article that states (born 1921 or 1922) with someone insisting on putting it under Category:1921 births. I am working on software that validates information on Wikipedia pages, and having inconsistent dates and categories is putting that page into the cannot be trusted section. My esoteric choice would be Category:Year of birth uncertain. I agree with Pigsonthewing, surely putting an article into a category that has 50% chance of being right is not really the intention? Periglio (talk) 10:10, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm of the opinion that it's better to categorize biographies on a best-effort basis than to not categorize them at all, or to categorize them vaguely. In this case (Arthur Edward Blanchette), we have source stating his age in May 1976. Given that May is in the first half of the year, it's more likely that he was born in 1921 than 1922 (albeit not much more likely). I really don't have strong feelings either way, except that as long as we have a guideline we ought to follow it. If this article is an exception to the guideline for some reason, then it's not clear to me which articles wouldn't be exceptions. Pburka (talk) 19:09, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

2000s and 21st-century[edit]

1. These data may be interesting, suggestive, or useful.

14th-century births (630 pp ~6)


1400s births (54 pp ~5)
Category:15th-century births (532 pages ~5 per year)


Category:1500s births (213 pages ~21 per year)
16th-century births (627 pp ~6)


1600s births (223 pp ~22)

Roughly speaking: Century categories are all the same size (Births by year) as increasing numbers of biographies balance increasing knowledge of birth years.

2. Do we have an administrative category of pages that are now in multiple Births by year or multiple Deaths by year categories? Or any tool to generate a list of such pages?

--P64 (talk) 20:21, 6 February 2014 (UTC)