Did you see that categories now appear at the bottom of profiles?

+37 votes

Hi WikiTreers,

Categories now appear at the bottom of a profile instead of above the biographies. See, for example, https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Eisenhower-1

There is a little "[categories]" link where categories used to appear. Where categories appear at the bottom, there is an "[edit]" link that takes you to the text section of the profile editing page. There's also a "[top]" link that brings back to the top of the page.

We discussed this change a lot (most recently here and here) but I realize it will be jarring, and not everyone agrees with it.

An important point that emerged in our conversations is that categories aren't just for us. They're not just for genealogy collaboration. They are part of the genealogy content that we're growing and what makes it accessible to others, now and in the future.

For example, categorizing people as farmers may seem genealogically meaningless and overly broad for any practical purpose here. But some future descendant might want to see all their ancestors who were farmers, or some historian might want to see farmers in a certain geographical area.

Categorization is very useful for search and navigation, but the usage of categories has been constrained because members have only wanted to use them for genealogically important things -- things that merit appearing above the biography. Their overly-prominent position made their usage controversial. Now I think members will feel more comfortable seeing them used more liberally.

By the way, all this is about their appearance on the profile page. The placement of the category tags when editing a profile doesn't need to change.

We've made two other categorization-related changes:

1.) We simplified the introduction to categorization and moved around the more advanced instructions.

2.) We created a form for requesting a new category. Creating categories isn't something most members need to tackle on their own. This form is now linked from the bottom of every category page.

If you're an advanced categorizer you'll also be interested in the nice Categorization Project newsletter that Natalie and Steven posted a few days ago.

Onward and upward,


in The Tree House by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
You can add a sticker. That's what stickers are for.

Just for the record:

  • I'm still unhappy about having the categories at the bottom
  • I'm still categorizing profiles I create
  • but I don't actually use them for discovery work as much as I used to. This may be because of the characteristics of the local community I am currently working on - or because the categories are no longer "in my face"
  • I stopped giving out downvotes long ago, when I understood they work as a black spot on the giver as well as on a receiver
Just to give my two cents:

* I did not particularly like the categories being moved.

* I still add categories to profiles I manage, and not less than before.

* I add categories to profiles I don't manage more often than before, because now no one can complain that they "clutter" the profile.

* I still don't like the idea of categorizing anything and everything, down to (for instance) defunct university hockey teams, and still very much dislike some types of categories.

* And yes, this whole episode has somewhat changed my work on categories because I now systematically take care to add an explanation and source to any category I add, which may not always have been the case before.

I vehemently disagree that moving a category down is "wiping out" something that was important in someone's life. If it was important then it should have a paragraph in the biography. Use a header. It will stand out and be easy to jump to from the Contents section. I fail to see how adding a category is honoring something.

And I no longer give downvotes either.

Here it is at last: the reason most people liked to have categories up top:

"feeling they should be honored for their service and now it is wiped out"

So many people used categories to show a person's military service, or to honour them in some way.  This is NOT what categories are for.  They are to make groups. It is not to show that one particular person was a chief petty officer at Pearl Harbour.  A category is to group all the chief petty officers at Pearl Harbour.

Well, it is not the reason I preferred to have them on top.

I use almost exclusively location categories, which are great for grouping families in the old Swedish patronymic society.

I liked the easy access of having them at the top, navigating back and forth between individual and neighbour group. Extra clicks and jumps add up when you spend most of your days WikiTreeing, as I do.
Exactly! takes longer to get things done
I do agree to let this lie.. but please let us me nice to each other.  no need to be harsh to each others ideas.  It is time to spend our time adding data, and bios, sources, and photos to our family TREE.
Carole, we have let this ride / lie without clear closing from leadership above. There are many differing and important points being made here. Just being 'nice' to the ideas of others does not do justice to where injustice is being felt. I do agree that we avoid DWWA but honest and straightforward conversation is what we are having here. And yes - it can be harsh without being insulting. We are all trying to spend our time adding data, and bios, sources, and photos to our family tree.

Which makes it all more so frustrating and even insulting is when there is no clear communication from above, not even on the status of possible amendments and / or the limits of what can be done.
So it's clear: there are no plans to change to the location of the categories section.


If you have any influence on changes,  the change that I believe is needed is that the  very small link to categories (now at the top of the biography) be made more visible.......  I'm usually pretty good at finding things but certainly missed this one.   I thought Categories had been eliminated from profiles because I didn't think to scroll down to the very bottom and I missed the new link.

Just my late opinion!    We were in the middle of a 700 mile move in April and May,  so I wasn't active in WikiTree!

63 Answers

+10 votes
So much better!  Thank you
by Amy Gilpin G2G6 Pilot (107k points)
+12 votes
Wow, that looks really clean now. And notice how the project box stands out on President Eisenhower's profile? I like the little link on the right so you can hop right down and see the categories.

Thanks for doing this.
by Natalie Trott G2G6 Pilot (782k points)
+84 votes

Sorry to dissent.  I wish they were not so far down.the page - they deserve more prominence than where they are currently situated- I was waiting for this to go live but didn't expect them that far down - I was wondering how I'd feel if they were to appear below the bio and sources.  

I recognize some felt categories were taking over on some profiles and pushed what they considered more important narrative content down below the fold (as they used to say in the newspaper era )... but to me they are highly productive tools and a large part of how I function.    

Even occupations are useful -- not to hypothetical curious future descendants - but now for active researchers - in dealing with large name studies and trying to see connections where crafts or professions are evidence or clues about family connections.

The change appears to disincentive the use of categories, and makes them less immediately useful.

I once suggested and would still like to see something different - a toggle button- which would allow the end user to hide or reveal categories.    I don't think it would be terribly difficult to implement, tho yes, somewhat more technical planning may be necessary to implement this.

Addendum:  I am editing here cause I am facing a glitch and can't simply add another comment on this thread - A question to Chris and team re: SEO -- if the default view showed the categories, then that is what the spiders and bots would catalog and SEO would be as it is... or if I have this wrong someone can clarify this point.  Even if this is turned off as a personal preference - the bots would be crawling the content as a non-member and would not have that option.

Addendum 2:   Another alternative I think would be nice is to scale down the category font to about the size of the new link that jumps you down to the category anchor.  If all categories stayed where they were but were rendered at the smaller size this of us with ailing vision such h as myself might not be super happy - but as one of them myself - I'd still be happier with it up at top though considerably smaller.   The scale of the categories link is probably the smallest I could handle.

Addendum 3:  Whether or not the bio and source section is long - the current placement is too far out of range (for categories) to be very useful.   Where else could they reasonably be placed?  A somewhat prominent place along the right hand column where DNA, Collaboration, Comments, then Research links are offered (in that order) could be the way to go.   I'd be happy if a Categories  block appeared after Collaboration and before Comments.    That way it would likely be "above the fold" - I think it could go in any position placed above comments really - but I can see that "Collaboration" as a value gives it a higher slot in that column .. and I don't want to get into a turf war with DNA folk, tho in my book I get more use from Categories than the DNA connections.  For my money those could be covered in a link in another tab - pretend I didn't say that -- but do consider the merit of a Category block in the right column as one of the first 3 items prior to Comments.

by Michael Maranda G2G6 Mach 6 (66.4k points)
Nick - I use the sticker to show immigrants, and that's still at the top.

Categories are there just for search purposes, usually I don't like to look at them when reading the bio.  This move is consistent with how Wikipedia is structured, but I would prefer to see the categories after sources, not at the very very bottom.  After sources that's just overhead stuff I don't pay attention to.  I really don't care how many steps from King George or whatever that profile is, so I stop reading by that point.

I've spent considerable time adding information to the categories and adding people to them---all with what I used to think was the goal of wikitree; to create/connect/collaborate. 


It seems now that the goal of wikitree has changed and we're more concerned about how pretty and shiny everything is versus how well it functions. 

The fundamental question is: Do you think I'm going to connect with MORE of my cousins by having the Casalvecchio category visible on top or by having it completely buried in a location where NO newbie is ever going to see it? 

If you think the answer (like I do) is that I will likely be connecting with fewer people (but look how nice the profile looks!)  then this change is a major negative--NOT an improvement

Hi, Nick --

Categories are generally intended to be used from the other direction. In other words, people will locate a profile because they went to a category page, and not, necessarily, the other way around.

I think it's more likely that anyone who is researching Casalvecchio di Puglia would come into WikiTree and search for that location within the categories. Since you have categorized the profiles for your ancestors who came from there, they will see the entire list of cousins and be able to go to any one of those profiles from the category page.

That said, it might be helpful for a few tweaks to be made to this change. For example:

  • make the [categories] link more prominent on the profile
  • enclose the categories in a boundary that will highlight them
  • move the list of categories to a location that's more meaningful
It seems to me that since the categories are information about the person, the person assigning a profile to a category should provide a reference/source that backs up the claim that profile belongs in said category. Since references/sources appear immediately after the Biography section and immediately before the Sources section in the wide left part of a profile page, it seems to me that a profile's categories should appear either before the Biography section (probably not a great idea) or before the Sources section.

Also, if the expectation is that anyone other then really serious WikiTree users will be assigning profiles to categories then the category notion needs to be really obvious. This is in some sense particularly true if the expectation is that "regular" people are going to be assigned to relatively mundane categories like farmer, doctor, etc. That's just not going to happen unless it is obvious that it should happen. Burying categories down in what amounts to the footnotes section doesn't do that.

On the other hand, if the intent / expectation is that categories are only used for really notable things like being a member of the Order of the Elephant (one of the categories that Ike is listed as being a member of) then it might make sense to hide them off at the bottom of the page where the typical WikiTree user is unlikely to encounter them very often.
Julie, I'm not sure what your experiences are, but what you are saying is diametric to mine. I can't think of a single connection I've made with someone who came to wiktree searching in categories...?...

What happens in my reality is that someone sees a NAME that is familiar in a google search etc....THEN they look at the wikitree profile...THEN they see the category...THEN they see the wealth of other information I have obviously wasted my time trying to create here.

THEN, hopefully, they are intrigued enough to contact me, join wikitree and begin their own collaborative journey here.
I just did a google search for Casalvecchio di Puglia---do you which page the Category here came up on?  I don't because I quit looking after FOUR pages......

Another quick search for Michelarcangelo Andreola and the ENTIRE first page returns nothing but wikitree links.....

Which seems most productive to you?

Hi Julie, yes I did.  Now I have found that if you click the [categories] box, have a look at the Category tags, then click [top] multiple times, when it comes to hitting the back arrow to go to a previous profile, it just jumps me up and down the profile I am on!  It also adds #categories or #top to the profile ID. Not ideal.

Since you took out the categories, take out the badges also.  They offer more clutter than the categories.  

I do not like the new move and think a toggle switch for both would be a better option.
I would agree that they are too far down. I was expecting them to be at end of the bio. That would make them more like WIkipedia.
I agree addendum 3. Categories would be better above DNA. DNA is only of relevance to relatives.

Also agree, the categories are not the problem as you hardly notice them, the project pictures and other pictures and flags are an issue.
+72 votes
That is definitely too far down. It wouldn't be so bad if the categories appeared above the "Invite / Cousin Bait / Tree & Tools" buttons, but now they look entirely disconnected from the profiles.

You might as well discourage use of categories altogether.
by Leif Biberg Kristensen G2G6 Pilot (104k points)
I would put them (if at all downwards) then above the links to the global tree. That way they are not THAT disconnected of the profile
+31 votes

As much as I really like that they don't clutter up the top of the Bio any more, they could be a bit disconcerting when there are more than a few. However, I agree with Leif in where I would prefer their placement (above the "Invite / Cousin Bait / Tree & Tools") over their becoming the red headed step children of Profiles. ;)

But LJ is just a pawn in the game of life.....  ;)

And the links (categories) and (top) are a bit small for my old eyes.

by LJ Russell G2G6 Pilot (171k points)
I agree.  Right after sources would be good.  This move is consistent with how Wikipedia works though, they have categories at the very bottom.
+9 votes

Is it possible that when you moved the categories it caused rootssearch to break?


by Steven Tibbetts G2G6 Pilot (285k points)
edited by Steven Tibbetts

Seems that way!  "If is ain't broke don't fix it!"  Very frustrating.


It's probably unrelated to the categories since it only seems to be a problem with familysearch.
+14 votes
On compact write-ups, this is a notable improvement.

For long entries, it becomes very hard to find. Especially so since it falls below the merge material (which most of use only rarely).  

Is it possible to have a Table of Contents link to Categories?
by Jim Wiborg G2G6 Mach 3 (39.4k points)
There is a link to the categories..look at Eisenhower's profile, above and to the far right of the project box. See the link to categories?
Appreciate your pointing that out. It does indeed help!
Not all profiles have project boxes.
The other option is to use ctrl-end (on Windows computers) to jump to the bottom of the page.  Then you're right there, no clicking or scrolling necessary.
+17 votes
I like the way things look now. It's now Biography focused and less cluttered, but I am in agreement with some of the others here that say they are too far down. Granted there is a clickable to be able go straight to them, but they are way at the end of nowhere land. I would rather see them at the end after sources, but that's just my opinion. In the least, it would be better if it were above the relationship finders and connections part.
by Misty Musco G2G6 Mach 2 (26.1k points)
+38 votes
Well, for me, I think this really ruins things for my Surname & DNA Projects as no longer at a glance can I see which Family line or DNA Group a profile belongs to.
by Chris Gilbert G2G6 Mach 2 (25.0k points)
I fully agree. I used to be keen to add placename categories because I found them useful where they were but  I doubt I will even bother using them any more because it just completely ruins it, being shoved at the bottom.
+14 votes
I sure did not see them at all at first, It will take some getting used to I guess
by Navarro Mariott G2G6 Pilot (146k points)
+10 votes
A big THANK YOU from the US Presidents Project and its members!!!!!
by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (679k points)
+50 votes

I agree with my fellow dissenters that the categories have been moved too far to be useful. In their current location, they seem too detached from the biography/main working area. In my opinion, they are essentially "Out of sight; out of mind."

At the very least, they seem hidden in their new location. If they are to remain in this location, could they be enclosed in a visibly-bordered bubble/box (with rounded corners, of course - or maybe surround them with devil emojis!)?




See how much more noticeable they would be!!

by Lindy Jones G2G6 Pilot (214k points)
I disagree with you, but thanks for making me laugh! Love the devil emojis. :-)
I see that the new border -- in green -- has been adopted. I'd like to thank whoever is responsible, it does help a great deal. Again, I was personally in agreement with placing the categories at the bottom to match other wiki formats but felt that with the false matches and such the very bottom of the page was too much considering the clutter. (Which other wikis do not have in their formats.)
+17 votes
They’re a fer piece down, but in a better position. Would like to see a box of some kind around them.
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.1m points)
+13 votes

I'm happy with the new position of the categories at the bottom of profiles. In many cases it works just fine. However, I think we're going to run into problems with the site's page design as the years go by. A long list of Rejected Matches creates a great deal of white space to the left of it. See Robert Webster. On a Wikipedia page, the text runs all the way to the bottom of the page with the result that the categories don't feel like an afterthought.

After reading all the posts, I would vote for putting the categories at the top of the right hand column or above the Matches and Merges. If the profile is concise without any photos, DNA matches, etc., the new position is okay, but as I've said above, too much white space and they're lost.

by Laurie Cruthers G2G6 Pilot (141k points)
edited by Laurie Cruthers
+33 votes

I'm glad to see this change, but like others who posted here, I would much prefer to see the Categories appear before the Matches and Merges section (either at the bottom of the left-hand column or at the top of the section that spans both columns).

As others have noted, some pages have a ridiculous number of rejected matches (an example is https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Martin-23874 -- which is actually a page where I once removed a lot of rejected matches, but there are still a lot left), and those lists create a situation where the category list is very far away from the rest of the profile content. 

Also, it bugs me that the list of categories falls below the "page footer" that identifies the page subject (in the case of the profile I linked, this is "M  >  Martin  >  George Martin").

It seems to me that the list of categories presents information about the person (not the only place it is presented, but still it's information about the person), while the "Matches and Merges" section and the Connection Finder links are content related to WikiTree administration. I'd like the list of categories to appear above that administrative content.

by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Unfortunately, removing rejected matches just increases the likelyhood someone will try to merge them again. And if you don't catch it in 30 days they can just do it.
Well said Ellen.

Also, if many comments have been left on the Profile, this too makes for a long Profile.

And the argument is that we have these links to go to the bottom and then back to the top.  Neat trick, but this is more akin to opening a new tab for most Profiles and having to jump back and forth.  Raise your hand if you like doing that.

Again, I like that they are not the first thing I see on a Profile, but making them dead last is not really the best option.  There should have been test pages for folks to view and comment on before the decision was made.
Steven, I'm talking about situations where someone received a very long list of possible matches when they created a profile and marked all of them as rejected matches. For an extreme example, maybe they were profiling John Smith and they entered a death date but no birth date, so they got a list of everyone named John Smith (or Smiths with a middle name of John, or men named John Schmidt) whose profile had no death date. That creates ridiculously long lists of rejected matches between people who are obviously different people. And the only way to clear them out is to remove the ridiculous matches one at a time. (But if anyone who is reading this is interested in increasing your edit count quickly, this is one way to do it!)
There's also the facility to find matches on your watchlist.  This will produce a lot of long lists.  If you go through them, you have to reject them, or you'll be back to square 1 next time.
Ellen, I agree the placement presents a major issue with profiles with long lists of rejected matches and with some surnames that's just a fact of many profiles. As a new coordinator for a state I don't see the point, right now, in setting up a project that will rely on categories until the location issue is resolved. Everyone talks about the old(er) hands being fine with the change and the newer people will catch on. Well, this older hand finds himself just not making yet another click or scrolling aaaaalllllllll the way down to the bottom to check categories unless there is a very specific need to check them. Except in that instance it is out of sight, out of mind and that's not productive for WikiTree.

There are several placements that would be better for categories but it seems the driving decision behind this change and the new placement was Google search results. Just for whom are we doing all this volunteer research and work? It most certainly is not Google or their search results.
+18 votes
I am comfortable with moving the categories down, but have two small suggestions. First, for the link to the categories above the bio, is it possible to use a larger font? If someone is not over familiar with Wikitree, it would be easy for them to miss the link, so it’d be helpful if it had greater prominence. Categories are, after all, important. Second, I agree with all the comments suggesting that categories should go above Matches and Merges.
by Michael Cayley G2G6 Pilot (101k points)
I agree. The link to categories needs to be larger and/or bold and/or a different color -- SOMETHING to make it stand out.  Preferably just plain larger.
+18 votes
I am one of those who is very much 'for' this move.  Such a positive change to be able to see the beginning of the narrative instead of 20+ categories!

I was a little uncomfortable to see they had been moved quite so far down, though.  In fact, I had to go to the Edit tab to make sure they were there!  Couldn't they be moved so they are just above the Invite-Cousin Bait-Tree & Tools buttons - or, at the very least, above the Matches & Merges section?  Yes, I know about the [categories] link at the top, but where they are, they just look like a technical "don't look at me, I'm just background technology sneaking in".
by Ros Haywood G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)

"don't look at me, I'm just background technology sneaking in".

Exactly. Even though it's there, it's invisible.

+10 votes
I'm thrilled with this! Like Wikipedia, having the categories at the bottom mean that the focus is on the story of the person who is represented by the profile. I do agree with some others that they should be above the connection finder at the very least, however.
by Amelia Utting G2G6 Pilot (183k points)
+26 votes

When adding {{Unsourced|Place}} templates to profiles, this automatically assigns the profile to a maintenance category but without any warning if the category does not exist (true for any category automatically added by a template or sticker). With the categories no longer at the top (and actually way down) the red link signalling a missing category after saving is less obvious.

Is there a risk of this generating more Wanted Categories?

by Isabelle Martin G2G6 Pilot (419k points)

Wow! Isabelle, I hadn't thought of the RED ERROR OF DOOM when a non existing category is added to a Profile.

Oh yeah, this is going to be fun.  I am sure this will cause these errors to increase exponentially. 

LJ, the errors probably won't increase much because I suspect many of us will stop taking the trouble to add categories that hardly anyone will ever notice when they're buried in small print all the underneath all the page footers.  If that is where they will continue to be displayed, I don't see any reason to bother adding them to profiles any more.
Sadly Gaile, I believe you are correct and this will have the opposite effect that Chris spoke of in this posting.  I see this akin to the enacting of Prohibition to stop drinking in the US.  Rather it made over 50% of the American population criminals during the term of its enactment and was the foci for the growth of organized crime from local hoodlums to an organization rivaling some of America's largest corporations in scope and earnings. Prohibition was meant to stop an activity and didn't.  This action is meant to increase an activity and more than likely will curtail it. Be careful of what you wish for, you might get it.  LOL

I personally am going to mull this over for the next few days before I make any decision on my further participation on the creation, updating or adding of any categories to Profiles.  At this point, I am leaning towards non participation as I believe this course they have chosen has basically made Categories superfluous.

While I am in total agreement that their position at the top of the Biography section of a Profile could be disconcerting when there where many.  This jumping back and forth from top to bottom to me is aggravating to say the least.  There should be a heading ==Categories== above ==Sources== where they would then be placed and in a position that easier for the viewer to find and use.

Googles spiders may be happier with this new positioning, but I am not. This is WikiTree, not Wikipedia!!!!!!
+13 votes
This made my life more confusing and complicated today when I added a cemetery category, but I realize that you not only didn't create Wikitree for me, you don't really care if I care about the changes.  Humans are infinitely adaptable, so we will adapt.
by J. Crook G2G6 Pilot (201k points)
Went and looked at a few of my profiles, and I think I'll probably stop using categories altogether. By sticking them at the bottom, you demonstrate that they are irrelevant.
I'm leaning that way too.  But I am going to give it thought for a few days.

I had a list of over 300 Categories I was going to clean up and add sources to over the summer.  Not sure if it is worth my time an effort now.

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