I was looking over the Help pages in regards to categorization, specifically Help:Category Names. I happened to notice some wording that I had never really payed attention to before. Under Category Names for Regions, there is wording that states:
“Category names for locations follow the same general principles as Location Fields.”
As I investigated a bit further, I noted that on Help:Location Fields, it states that:
“The rules above apply to Categories as well.”
I know that many of the high-level regional categories were created during the introduction of the Category: namespace, but country specific projects later took these categories over and started to propose and implement the regional naming standards from there. Everything has worked fine (with little to few major hiccups that I can see) for years, but now we may be starting to see some issues...
One of the fundamental features of the location field is that it uses the entire location structure. As an example, a search for “Houston” will return possible matches, including:
Houston, Harris, Texas, United States
Houston, Harris, Republic of Texas
Houston, Harrisburg, Republic of Texas
Through the use of the category namespace, and the current naming structure for United States regional categories, this would only be represented by [[Category:Houston, Texas]] (in this instance, the scope is limited to the naming of the category only). If we were to follow the guidance of the location fields, I would assume that the correct name would be [[Category:Houston, Harris, Texas, United States]]?
This recently came to light during another G2G discussion in a proposal for Norway regional categories. A comment in the proposal from Leif states that:
“In a constantly growing list of categories, some emphasis should be put on keeping the common namespace clean and tidy. This is the reason for spelling out intermediate units up to and including the country level in all place categories, ensuring a clear and unambiguous ... namespace.”
Through follow-up discussions and conversations within the thread, it started to become clear that some of the issues being seen in the category namespace relate back to the addition of the category picker tool that was released back in June. When you try to perform a search of a location, you receive a number of possible options that don’t always make sense to users from other countries. As an example, I worked on a profile a couple years ago, where the person was listed on a US Census as being born in “Moravia”. When typing in “Moravia” into the category picker tool, you are presented with multiple regional options, including:
In this case, is the first entry for Moravia perhaps meant to represent Moravia in Czechoslovakia, Moravia in Austria, Moravia in Costa Rica, Moravia in Jamaica, Moravia in Colombia, Moravia in Texas, Moravia in Moravia in Pennsylvania, Moravia in Idaho, Moravia in Ecuador, or Moravia in Oklahoma? (none of which are currently represented by categories in the category picker tool)?
To expand further, some might argue that a place as recognizable as Texas would be hard to mistake, but with the category tool, it is not as clear now. Could this be Texas in Bolivia, Texas in Ecuador, Texas in Australia… The same applied to “Houston, Texas”, and while it make sense as a category name, how does that now relate to places like Houston, Texas, Missouri?